Archive for the ‘Pioneer Farming’ Category

from “The Alvin Maurer Story – by Florence Maurer”

In 1930s Depression, Clive AB, Eclipse, Pioneer Farming, Pleasant Valley, Settlers on April 8, 2020 at 8:59 AM

From “The Alvin Maurer Story – by Florence Maurer”

Pioneers and Progress, Alix Clive Historical Club, 1974

Alvin G. Maurer was born November 1915 to Martha and John Maurer of the Pleasant Valley district.  They had lived here since 1905.  Alvin received his schooling at the Sargent School, and then took over most of the farm duties.

He married the former Florence E. Nesbitt who was born in May, 1916, and who was the daughter of Isabel and Nelson Nesbitt.  Mr. and Mrs. Nesbitt came to Clive on the north ridge of Pleasant Valley in 1915.  She received her schooling at Eclipse and then left for a few years as a beautician. 

Being born W W I babies, and living through the depression of the 30’s, our sports and social lives were of original being.

Community skating at the John Elliott farm.  Alvin was goalie for the team.  Dancing was our one joy, for fifty cents an evening, singing by the creek with our friends were other things that Alvin excelled at.  One of our most favorite pastimes was eating ice cream at “Mother” Dean’s café.

In 1940 during the W. W. II years we received ration stamps for food and gas; also, at this time were the births of our children.

The supplementing of income consisted of driving caterpillar tractors, breaking land the veterans had purchased in the district, and for the first seismic oil crews over knob hill and the valley filling oil sumps.  Later filing boilers on oil rigs and helping fellow farmers when possible.

We moved to the Village of Clive in 1949…. Florence held the position of postmaster’s assistant for 13 ½ years.  Alvin was contract mail courier for nineteen years, until his passing in 1972.

He has left two children, Thornton….  Sharlene [Tonneson]… four grandchildren, and his wife Florence…[1974]

From “Thomas and Margaret Semple History – By Jean Hutchison and Margaret Rice”

In 1930s Depression, Alix, Alberta, Farming, Mirror AB, Pioneer Farming, Pioneer Medical Health, Pioneer tools & Machinery, Railway, School, School Teachers, Settlers, Stone School District on February 16, 2020 at 4:40 PM

From “Thomas and Margaret Semple History – By Jean Hutchison and Margaret Rice”

Pioneers and Progress Alix Clive Historical Club, 1974

In 1910 Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Semple emigrated from Scotland, arriving in Calgary in a snow storm on the first day of June.

They spent the first winter in the village of Alix, moving onto a farm (N.E. 6-39-23-W4) about nine miles south west of Alix in the spring of 1911.

Mother found it quite lonely in a new country, after life in the city of Glasgow.  A trained nurse, she was much in demand when illness struck a family…. Mother helped to deliver a good number of babies…. It might mean a drive of 10 to 15 miles with a team and sleigh or buggy.  She would be expected to take care of the mother and new baby, as well as the other children in the family, cook the meals and do all the other household chores.

We used to walk to Stone School, going across the Stone fields part of the way.  Jean started with Miss Clowse (1918).  The old double desks had been dismantled, and we used them to coast down the hill.  Slates were just on the way out.  Miss Clowse got some clay from a nearby creek bank and we did our own version of ceramics.  We used willows for weaving small articles, had plasticine, colored pegs, paper mats to weave etc. The old Waterbury heater took till about recess to throw out much heat in the winter.  We sat around the stove until we thawed out enough to walk around.

There was little, if any, playground equipment, perhaps a bat and ball.  We played steal sticks, run sheep run, drop the handkerchief, fire on the mountain and other favorites.

Later, Stone School was moved to a different location….

Early teachers were Miss Green in 1912 or 1913, Miss Skeuse, Miss Clowse 1918, Miss Edith Code, Miss Bradshaw, Miss Freddie Halpin, Miss Gough, Miss Treena Hunter 1922-23, Miss Harriet Stone, Miss Graham, Lorne Trace, Miss Hawthorne, Miss Chisholm.

We lived about half a mile from the C.N. Railway on the Mirror-Nordegg (Brazeau) line.  I recall a crew of Chinese building or repairing the line in the early days.  Probably the coal from Nordegg made up most of the freight that was hauled.

In the early days coal from the mines on the Red Deer River was the main source of fuel and it was hauled many miles.  Long strings of teams, often with four horses and sleighs would pass our place all winter.  The men sometimes wore buffalo coats and quite often walked beside the sleigh to keep warm.

Dad made trips to Lacombe occasionally, a distance of 30 miles, with a team and wagon to deliver lambs to market.  This took two days for the round trip.  Dad had been accustomed to raising sheep as a boy in Scotland and continued to do so after he came to Canada.  During the depression years of the 1930’s, the price for wool was very low.  I remember once, instead of a cheque for the wool we shipped, we received a small bill for the freight…. In later years, he built up a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle.

The first car our parents owned was a Model T. Ford, purchased about 1924 0r 1925.  Learning to drive was a real experience.  The roads were narrow and usually had mudholes at the foot of each hill.  Gravel wasn’t available and when it rained, we just stayed at home.  Living on a hill was the most convenient, as when the car wouldn’t start we would haul it around with a team of horses.

From Hiland H. and Frederick Mann – By Kathleen Mann

In Alix, Alberta, Pioneer Farming, Ripley, Settlers on February 11, 2020 at 5:37 AM

From “Hiland H. and Frederick Mann – By Kathleen Mann”

Pioneers and Progress, Alix Clive Historical Club, 1974

It was during the years around the turn of the century that the Canadian West gave an urge to many people for a new venture.  People came from Eastern Canada, United States and many parts of Europe.  Ripley District was one of many formed at this time.

The Mann brothers, Hiland H. and Frederick A. were fortunate to find homesteads in the Ripley District. Uncle Fred had been out as far as Saskatchewan on a “Harvesters Excursion” about 1901…. Also, letters had been received from former Petrolia, Ontario, telling friends of the Lacombe area.  Money and experience were in short supply; but Uncle Fred knew how to harvest a team, and Dad could harness a single horse.  So they pooled their resources and on March 3rd, 1902 headed for Lacombe, North West Territories.

On arrival some six days later, they learned all the land in the Lacombe area had been filed on, and they would have to look elsewhere.   Fortunately, they met a friendly American from Kansas.  He knew of two quarter sections some forty miles around sloughs and through brush, east of Lacombe. Better still, this new friend had good friends, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Barritt, already settled in the area…. In April 1903 Dad filed on the N.W. quarter of S. 32-Twn 39 Rge.22 and Uncle Fred filed on the N.W. quarter….

Logs and cattle barns were erected on each quarter, and livestock and some machinery bought.  Cattle were to be branded….

Breaking the land, tilling, seeding, haying and harvesting and countless other tasks filled each day. Almost before it could be realized the Fall season had arrived.

October saw the reunion of Dad with his wife and two children from Ontario.  Olive, the eldest child did not come West until three years later.  This was an especially happy time for Uncle Fred.  His bride-to-be Miss Phoebe Smith of Petrolia, Ontario came West with Mother, Mark and me…. [They] were married by Dr. George Kirby.

Uncle Fred and Aunt Phoebe had five children…Audrey…Allyn….Marjorie…May…[and] Ira.

Mother and Dad… spent their latter years in Lethbridge.  Mother passed away in 1950 and Dad in 1958.

Of their family of six: Olive…Mark…Kathleen…Isobel…Emmett…[and] Grace.

Yerburgh, Richard Eustre Vertue

In Alix, Alberta, Churches, Farming, Hickling, Lamerton, Pioneer Farming, Settlers on February 4, 2020 at 8:57 AM

From “Yerburgh, Richard Eustre Vertue – as told by R.E.M. Yerburgh and H. Parlby”

Pioneers and Progress, Alix Clive Historical Club, 1974

Rev. R.E.V. Yerburgh (Dick) was born in England in 1879, came to Canada early in 1906 and bought the S.E. ¼ of 14-40-22.

He married Gladys Eileen Marryat, a daughter of Colonel Ernest L. and Mrs. Marryat, on December 11, 1906 in the little log church of St. Monica’s near Lamerton.  The marriage ceremony was going very smoothly when suddenly the whole congregation were startled by a hoarse but determined voice, “This marriage must stop!  Miss Marryat is going to marry me!”

A young Englishman by the name of Burrows had risen at the back of the church and drawn a revolver.  Quickly several of the men present took the interrupter in hand and hustled him out of the church.  Then the ceremony went on.

Three children were born to this marriage:

  1. Richard Eustre Marryat Yerburgh, January 12, 1908.
  2. Robert, born April 1, 1910 and died at about six weeks old.
  3. 3. Ernest Robert Marryat Yerburgh, born November 4, 1910.

Tragically the mother did not survive, but died on November 6, 1910, and her husband was left with two small sons. Members of the Marryat family living near came to his assistance in caring for the little ones.

Some time later Dick Yerburgh returned to England and took as his second wife Mary Eleanor Thorhill on April 18, 1915.  Returning to Canada and Alix they settled down on the land.  “Mary Yerburgh” as she is called by her old friends became in every way a real mother to “Dickie” and “Bob.”…

With the Yerburghs came Celia Giles, later Mrs. John Mansbridge….

The Rev. R.E.M. Yerburgh (Dickie) writes… “Our house was called “The Hill” after Dad’s old school…. Water was a problem and the remains of many old wells were scattered around…. My last remembrance was of water being hauled from a well dug close to a small slough on the way to Dartmoor Ranch. (Parlby’s).”

Like a lot of other people, I expect, we were chronically hard up, and one year about all the meat we had was that of rabbits which Dad shot.  The next year came the disease that killed off the rabbits every few years.  That year there was very little meat.   I remember my father spotting a partridge or a prairie chicken, and to make sure he got it he stalked it, but got too close and blew it to pieces,”

In 1916 the Yerburghs sold out and went to Victoria B.C. to live.

from “Mr. and Mrs. John Rasmussen, Mary and Bruce Marsh – by Mary Marsh”

In 1930s Depression, Alix, Alberta, Carradale School, Coal Mining, Farming, Gough Lake, Heatburg, Hickling, Mirror AB, Museums, Pioneer Farming, Railway, School, Settlers, Zenith on January 19, 2020 at 4:03 AM

From “Mr. and Mrs. John Rasmussen, Mary and Bruce Marsh – by Mary Marsh”

Pioneers and Progress, Alix Clive Historical Club, 1974

Copies of this book are available for purchase at Alix Home Hardware and the Alix Wagon Wheel Museum.

Mum, Dad and I came to the farm in March 1917.  I remember Daddy telling about how much snow there was when we arrived at the siding at Heatburg.  If I remember correctly, they bought the land from a fellow by the name of Lunn. … We were on the farm until 1921 when we moved to Nordegg, where Dad worked in the mine for a year.  In 1922 we returned to the farm where we stayed until the folks sold it in 1945.  They rented it to Victor Mitchell for two years and they lived in Alix where I went to High School. 

During those years between 1922 and ’45 Daddy worked in the mine at the river, also in the mine in Ardley (where he lost his eye) and then on the railway as a sectionman. All the time he ran the farm as well, raising a little grain, pigs, a few cattle and a lot of chickens.  When they sold the farm they moved to Edmonton where they lived until they passed away, Mum in 1960 and Dad in 1970.

Note – Mrs. Rassmussen was a good gardener, did beautiful needlework, smocking, crocheting, tatting.  She taught the neighbourhood girls to do these things and they appreciated it very much. – M.P.

About me – I was born in Calgary and was three years old when we moved to the farm…. I went to school by van to Alix (grade 1), at Nordegg for grade II.  Carradale school district was formed the winter that we moved back to the farm.

I remember my dad and a friend used eight horses to move the school building from Horse Shoe Lake Ranch across the lake, with the with the ice cracking underneath it, and Mum and I running alongside….

I finished Grade 8 at Carradale, then took grades 9 and 10 in Alix and Grades 11 and 12 In Stettler, went to Normal School in Camrose in 1931 and ’32.  I taught the Carradale School for three years, then Gough lake, Zenith, Mirror and Hickling.  I married Bruce Marsh in June 1940 and we finally moved to Leduc where we both carried on with teaching until June, 1970….

Bruce taught at Stanton School and… formed an orchestra in Alix….

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….

Marshall Dilts

In 1930s Depression, Farming, North Star, Pioneer Farming, Pioneer tools & Machinery on January 1, 2020 at 3:45 PM

From “Marshall Dilts”

Pioneers and Progress Alix Clive Historical Club 1974

Marshall Dilts was born about 1873 and grew up in the corn belt of Iowa. In 1900 he married Catherine Elizabeth Gilbert, sister of Bill Gilbert, and in 1908 they moved to Canada by way of immigration train, unloading their effects in the hamlet of Tees.  They lived for a while on the N.W. ¼ of 15 now [1974] farmed by Bill Hecht.

He later purchased E.1/2 21-39-24-4 in the North Star District from J.L. Jackson and built a log house hear the middle half section.

In 1916 he bought the N. ½ of 22 in the same township from Jay Baker, originally homesteaded by C. Buckley and D.A. Kennedy.  This land was later purchased by Wing Wong and is presently [1974] owned by Stanley Wong.

The Dilts family consists of four sons.  Ralph, the eldest, born in 1903… Rollo born in 1905….Ora born in 1911….[and] Gilbert the youngest was born in 1918.

In the fall o 1920 the Dilts rented the farm to Alex Norquay and moved to the town of Clive, where they bought an acreage near where the old brick school used to stand.

In 1921 the log house burned down and a new one was built the following year.  In 1923 Jim Bates came from Saskatchewan and rented the farm for about two or three years…. In 1925 Vin Carter took over until 1928 or 1929.

By now Ralph and Rollo (Dilts) decided to go back to the farm so they bought a Rumley Oil Pull tractor….and used it along with horses to do their farming. This was the time of the dirty thirties, when times were hard and the skies were dark with blowing dust both day and night.  Consequently, with little or no crops, the boys had to give up after a few years, and went into other businesses….

It was now Mr. Dilts himself who continued on with the farming for a few years, but ….it was rented out to various tenants, one of whom was Dick Waddy who farmed there for several years, then  was sold to Alex Otto and Sons….

from “Charlie Chapman” and “John Chapman” by Al Chapman

In Alix, Alberta, Business, Erskine, Farming, Pioneer Farming, Pleasant Valley, Settlers on December 2, 2019 at 9:54 AM

From “Charlie Chapman” and “John Chapman” – by Al Chapman

Pioneers and Progress, Alix Clive Historical Club, 1974

“Charlie Chapman”

In 1891, Charlie Chapman arrived in Pleasant Valley from North Battleford.  He homesteaded the NW1/4-16-39-24-W4.  His wife Lil, and daughter Zeta, joined him soon after.  Three children were born at the homestead, Verne, Marjorie, and Lotus.

To supplement his farm income Charlie ran a freight line from Edmonton to the surrounding towns, and on the railroad. In 1896 Charlie and his brother Will bought a number of horses in North Battleford and drove them overland to his homestead at Pleasant Valley.

Charlie purchased his brother John’s homestead, and also three quarters from the C.P.R. in 1902.His death in 1905 caused his family to return to North Battleford, where they resided until moving to Edmonton in 1910.

Charlie was an extraordinary businessman, as he had an interest in two hotels, a freight line, as well as a farm.

His only son Verne joined the Canadian army in 1915.  After discharge from the army, he returned to the family homestead, where he resided periodically.  Verne died in 1962…Marjorie and Lotus both reside in Vancouver [1974]….


“John Chapman”

John Chapman came to Pleasant Valley in 1893 and took out a homestead on NW1/4-16-39-W4.  He and his brother Charlie worked jointly in their many enterprises.  He moved to the Erskine district in 1903, and began the battle of homesteading once again.

He married Caroline Erickson in 1911, and to this union five children were born, Madeline, Al, Horace, Doreen and Marjorie. Madeline and Doreen reside [1974] in Calgary with their families.  Marjorie and family live in Glasgow, Montana.

Al, his wife Eva, and daughter Yvonne moved to the Pleasant Valley homestead in 1936 Two of their children were born there, Gary and Beverlee.  They resided in Pleasant Valley until 1948, when they moved to the home farm at Erskine.  Dianne, their youngest daughter, was born there. Yvonne, Beverlee, and Dianne all reside in Edmonton. [1974] Gary resides on the farm with his father.   Horace, better known as “Pony” farms his homestead and other land south of Erskine.  He married Eileen Ritchie.

from Ewen Alexander MacKinnon

In Alix, Alberta, Clive AB, Farming, Horses, Pioneer Farming, Pleasant Valley on November 30, 2019 at 12:04 PM


Pioneers and Progress Alix Clive Historical Club, 1974

Ewen Alexander MacKinnon was born May 9, 1873 near Dalkeith, Glengarry County, Ontario.  He came to Alberta in 1891, where he joined his sister and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. R. McLeod. He made a home with them till a house could be built on his nearby homestead, S.W. 2-40-24-4.

Horses were a very important part of homesteading years and Hughie, as he was affectionately called by all who knew him, was, I believe, one of the best horsemen in Alberta.  There was a strong rapport with his horses which worked to the advantage of both.  The first fair ever held in Alix was in late summer of 1909 and Hugh won two first prizes…. It was around that time he sold his homestead in Pleasant Valley and purchased a half section of land from Mr. Frank Mitchell about five miles west of Alix.

On March 28, 1911, he was married to Luella Brown of Alix district.  In 1912 Hugh sold his farm at Alix and purchased a half section of land east of Lacombe, where they moved in May, 1912.  Their first son, Graeme Ewen, was born May 12, 1913. Later the farm at Lacombe was sold and Hugh purchased a half section east of Clive, from Fred Fisher and moved his family there. There was also a daughter, Flora Luella…. Donald John … Hazel Kathleen…. Lachlan Alexander [were] born…. Later they moved to the Alix district where Moira Janice was born….

“Cyclone Event by Tom Ralston”

In Alix, Alberta, Farming, Pioneer Farming on November 29, 2019 at 5:03 PM

Cyclone Anecdote by Tom Ralston

In 1920 a severe cyclone hit our district.  Geordie and I and … Chet Dean took shelter in Old Bullocksville.

Neither Geordie or I had ever had any experience with cyclones, but Chet had lived for a number of

years in Oklahoma and knew how dangerous and destructive they were, so we looked to him for

instructions.   First off he said we must hold the door, which we did till the hinges and lock came loose,

then he said we had better get into the cellar.  On opening the door we discovered the cellar was full of

 water so it was back to hold the door.  Logs were torn from the back of the old building and we really

thought our time had come.  However it didn’t collapse and the worst of the storm was over in about

forty minutes.  When it calmed down, we went out to view the damage, and Chet suddenly

remembered his horses that he had put in a new log barn that Jim had just built.  The roof was taken off

level with the loft floor and was resting right side up not far from the barn.  The horses were calmly

eating hay now wore for their soaking.  The democrat was out in the slough with a log off the house

through one wheel.  A mower had the bar broken off and the sickle was left waving in the wind.  A half

barrel that we used for a watering trough was found away back in the bush.

This article is from the book Pioneers and Progress, a history of the Alix-Clive area printed in 1974by DW Friesen and Sons Ltd., Calgary.  Copies of it and of its follow-up Gleanings are available for sale at the Alix Public Library, Alix Wagon Wheel Museum, and Alix Home Hardware