From “Mr. and Mrs. H. M. Illsley”

In 1930s Depression, Alix Creamery, Business, Oats, Pioneer Farming, Railway, School Teachers, Settlers, Wheat on January 3, 2020 at 1:00 AM

From “Mr. and Mrs. H.M. Illsley”

Pioneers and Progress, Alix Clive Historical Club, 1974

My wife and I were both Nova Scotians by birth…. [In ] April 1913… we went west to get rich.

I worked in Calgary for the C.P.R. for one year and was told of a half section that could be homesteaded as the original man had to move…. A new railway line was surveyed within half a mile and the grade was.  within seventy miles, and still is [1974] the location of Garden Plains Coal mine, post office and store. There was mail three times a week.  This sounded pretty good to a greenhorn. But it actually was nineteen miles north of Richdale and twenty-seven from Hanna, nearly thirty from Castor and twenty-one from Coronation or in other words nineteen miles from anywhere and two miles to the start of Berry Creek where we had to get our water as it was just about the same distance to drill for water.

In 1915 there was a wonderful crop of grain all over; of course, I did not have but about fifty acres ready.  We decided we wanted to be nearer to town so my wife got a school to teach near Coronation and I finally rented a half-section quite near.  First year there were eighty acres of wheat, and one hundred sixty of oats.  We were hailed out; just two loads of oat bundles, no wheat.  Second year one hundred sixty acres of wheat and eighty of oats.  There was no rain until it was too late to produce a decent crop, eight bushels of No. 6, no oats to mention.

The third time trying was sure to be good, but no luck. Hail and frost did their worst.  That was enough.  I sold the cattle and the hay I had stacked and turned the horses out as per usual.  We went to the west coast…. Edmonton…. Nova Scotia …and Boston…then back to Alberta in early April of 1921.  We went to Edmonton and Imperial Oil said I could have their agency in Clive and told me to go look over the situation.

We stayed at the Reynolds Hotel and became fast friends with the Reynolds family.  This had been a very hard winter and feed was very scarce.  Jim Fife was buying carloads of oat sheaves wherever he could get them dug out of the snow and shipping it to various places.  We decided to stay there and get a place to live as soon as possible.  I went to Coronation to get our horses… and move our furniture, farm wagon and sled and buggy…. Got everything loaded and the freight train pulled out early in the morning.  About half way to Clive we met the passenger train and learned that Clive was well on the way to being totally lost by fire.  As I remember it was the post office, one store, the bank and a small apartment block, nearly half the Village.  The livery barn was not burned so got the horses unloaded and fed and we went to the hotel for supper.

The Reynolds had an old warehouse they told me I could store things in…. My wife got a school for the summer term up near Vegreville, while I bought a site from the old Townsite Co….

I think the first building was twelve by twenty feet, I bought this and started buying cream for the Woodland Dairy, Edmonton…. [I] was starting a store on a shoestring…. I made my holder for charge accounts out of a smooth board and fastened fifteen mouse traps so had room for fifteen accounts….

My wife was teaching at Westling at this time and I soon had to have help as the cream by this time was pretty well all going to Alix and I had got more groceries as well as flour and fruit; so, Helen Reynolds came to help in the store.  Took on the Cockshutt plow agency…. My wife was now in the store and by this time we had to deliver oil.  I bought a truck and employed Milton Coote.  He married Helen Reynolds and they were with me until after the crash of 1929…. It was about 1924 that we sold so much farm machinery, seed drills and harrows and ploughs and in the fall, we sold seventeen Frost and Wood no. 4 binders….

I was Mayor of Clive from 1936-43…. Sam Scott was Secretary-treasurer, Mr. Coote was one member, also Harry Williams…. Douglas Wilson. I got out in 1943 and was in B.C. for a while….My wife passed away… in March 1948.   I have since married Miss Ida W. hunt who taught at Clive from 1926to 1932….

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