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Nick Hack

In Alix, Alberta, Dugout, Farming, Livery Barn, Pioneer Farming, Pioneer Medical Health, Settlers on November 17, 2020 at 6:48 PM

From “Nick Hack – By Neighbours”

Pioneers and Progress, Alix – Clive Historical Club, 1974

The west was the destination of many characters, remittance men were one kind, men with a past to leave behind, others came from wealthy families with no desire to maintain any sort of the elegant past. Such a man was Nick Hack.  It was known that he had thousands of dollars in a safe in Alix, yet he wanted to be and certainly was a hermit.  Well educated, schooled in the use of his fists if necessary, yet he lived on the dregs of the land.

His land was NW1/4 24-39-23 where he lived in a dugout in the ground.  Several animals helped keep him warm, he never cut his hair which hung to his shoulders…. His footwear was brown paper wrapped around his feet and then wrapped with gunny sacks.  It was a common sight to see him… with a gunny sack across his shoulder, carrying home food scrounged from garbage…. He got buttermilk from the creamery and heated it on a stove in Hoppus’s Livery barn.  He would boil various things there and eat them, courteously asking others to join him.  He was apt to show up at some home at mealtime, eating huge quantities of food….

Nick Hack was a real pioneer.  His sister, a doctor’s wife, tried to take him down to live with her in California.  He stayed for only a few months…. His sister ten came back with him to the shack which he called “Eagle’s Eyrie” which was about a mile and a half south of Alix.  She stayed with him for a few weeks and tried to fix up the place with dishes, cupboards, curtains at the window etc.  As soon as she had gone, he threw them all out….

Nick would buy ewes in the fall of the year, animals that were old and cheap.  Then he would haul bedding from the livery barn on a stone boat hitched behind two mules. The sheep never did survive the winter….

Nick was a prodigious reader and regularly requested books from the Extension Library of the University of Alberta.  Little children were not afraid of him but used to gather around to hear the stories he could tell in the most dramatic manner.  Each tale was almost acted out by Nick which made a vivid impression on his little listeners. The last that is known of Nick Hack is that he went to Calgary and died there in the late twenties

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