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Family Histories, Part 1

Abel, Holly, Joy (Bradley)

Ron, Holly, Haley, Moppy the dog.
Ron, Holly, Haley, Moppy the dog.

I was born and raised in Big River. We lived on Fifth Street right across from Daley's Funeral Home. Many young children lived on our block. I have fond memories of playing with the Andersons, Smiths, Olsens, Beckers, Cookmans, McGraths, Colbys, and many others. We would play kick the can and slide down the hospital hill for hours in winter. We also built forts and played hide and seek in the forest that used to exist behind Max and Laura Wilson's house. I also have many fond memories of spending hours at the rink. My friends and I would go from figure skating to public skating and then to hockey all in the same day. Sports and leisure was my life while growing up. I played every sport that I could: volleyball, basketball, badminton, hockey, figure skating, track and field, softball, and swimming. I was also in Girl Guides and was active in the United Church. April Johnson (Olson) and I did a figure skating duet for more than eight years in our famous Winter Carnival. I played a lot of my school sports with Celynne Gould and Kari Schneider and spent hours riding horses at Paige Ann Hegland's.

My father was a truck driver for Max Wilson for many years and when the business sold, he worked for Earl Beebe Trucking. My mom was educated to be a teacher though once she started having children she gave up teaching. My brothers and sisters are (oldest to youngest): Hal, Blair, Arlene Gilbert, Heather, Lori Bahm, Greg, and Kelly (passed away on July 3, 1988).

I graduated from Big River High School in 1983 and then went on to graduate from Kelsey with a diploma in Recreation Technology. I have worked as a Recreation Therapist in Prince Albert at the Victoria Union Hospital and then in Banff, Alberta at the Mineral Springs Hospital. In 1989 my husband, Ron Abel, and I were married and we have been in Calgary ever since. Our daughter, Haley, was born on September 1, 2002. Haley is a wonderful addition to our family. I continue to work as a Recreation Therapist in Neuro-Rehabilitation at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary.

Adair, Catherine Emma

Catherine Adair was born in 1878 and applied for patent of SE 25-54-7-W3rd on September 1, 1934, in the Winter Lake area. Her husband, Arthur Adair, passed away on July 14, 1931, at Big River, Saskatchewan. Hans Hansen had owned the land before that date. There was a frame house, a log barn and a workshop. They had six head of cattle and two horses. She received a patent on this land in 1935.

Afanasieff, Dr. and Mrs.

Excerpts from Timber Trails (1979).

During troublesome times in Russia, Dr Afanasieff and his wife, Emily, fled to Canada. Their son Alex was born en route while at sea. Dr Afanasieff was a pioneer doctor of this district for many years, serving the people throughout the hard times of the 1920s and 1930s. He was the/ first doctor in the Red Cross Hospital and had used his home for an office before this. Dr Afanasieff had been an army doctor of high rank in the Czarist army in Russia. When he escaped to Manchuria, to reach a free country, they managed to bring photographs with them, which bore witness to their former way of life.

Emily is remembered as a kindly lady who could make any plant grow and look beautiful. She was a great help to her husband and both were well known throughout the community for their quiet dignity and charm.

Emily, Alex. Dr Afanasieff.
Emily, Alex. Dr Afanasieff.

Ahearn, Joe and Harriet

Excerpts from Timber Trails (1979)

During the years of the depression, the people in the cities suffered from the absence of jobs and in turn the absence of money. Joe and Harriet Ahearn lived in Saskatoon at this time, Joe is an engineer for the C.N.R. Even though Joe was paid a wage of forty-three cents an hour, his work was not steady, as the railroad was only in operation for certain months of the year.

In 1930, Joe and Harriet moved north. They had purchased a homestead in the Rapid Bend district with hopes of starting a new way of life.

The Ahearn's came up in a boxcar along with their possessions and livestock. Once they arrived in Big River they set out on their journey to reach the homestead. It took them three or four days to get there, a total of ten and one-half miles from Big River.

They built a log house immediately. It had a slab roof and dirt floor. Mr Ahearn had a steam engine and with this was able to open land quite rapidly. Wild game was in abundance so they had no problem getting meat.

On one occasion when Joe was clearing land near a beaver dam, he found a large number of buffalo bones. Before the white settlers began moving in, the Indians had chased the buffalo across the dam and had slaughtered them on the other side.

Mr Ahearn still worked for the railway when he could; many times he would stay away for the winter months and part of the summer. During this time his family was left alone on the homestead.

The Ahearn's had three children; Jack, Myrtle and Joe.

Amundson, Irvin and Elaine.

Irvin and Elaine Ahearn.

The year 1931 would have come and gone uneventful, but it not been for my arrival to Omund and Inga Amundson of Park Valley, Saskatchewan that year.

My father Omund Amundson came from Norway in 1917 at the age of ten with his parents and siblings. They settled in the Weldon, Saskatchewan district, south-east of Prince Albert. My mother Inga (Dynna) Amundson was born in the United States enroute from Norway settling in the Southy District. Dad homesteaded on NE 15-54-6-W3rd, which later became the Lake Four District. He arrived in 1928 with his father and two brothers to raise cattle. The plan was to make lots of money and then leave because the price of cattle was good. Well, Dad was the only one who stayed and I was born on the home place with the assistance of a midwife. Five brothers and two sisters Gladys Aarrestad (Aadne); Raymond (Tena Bergen); Harvey (Ruth Olson); Lloyd (deceased); Melvin (deceased); Esther Miller (Alwin), Baupame, Saskatchewan; and Harold (Elinor), Shellbrook, Saskatchewan were born there also.

I attended Lake Four School completing grade eight and then took grade nine by correspondence. My younger years were spent helping Dad on the farm and participating in sports, mainly ball. I was part of a local baseball team. I spent two winters in the city of Edmonton and several winters doing bush work. In 1957, I purchased the SW 3-55-6 W3rd, which was formerly owned by Ted Johnson and Ray Wilson.

My adult years were spent farming, raising cattle, playing sports and fishing. I spent 25 years on the Canwood Agricultural Board, 25 years on the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Board, 10 years on the Canwood Health Care Board and also the Ski Timber Ridge Board. My present commitment is an Elder of the Local Church, which I have had since 1970. Music has always been a great part of my life, spending 11 years with the musical bluegrass group "The Baler Strings." This has been a highlight of my life.

I look back with nothing but fond memories over the years and the future with great expectation.

On December 15, 1967, I married Elaine Dodds of Edmonton. Since our marriage we have lived on SW 3-55-6-W3rd, where together we have enjoyed raising our three children; Carrie, Stanley, and Darryl. They attended school at the Debden School where they all successfully graduated.

Brad, Carrie, Jonathon, Sarah, Victoria.
Brad, Carrie, Jonathon, Sarah, Victoria.

Elaine enjoyed staying at home while raising the children but has also been actively involved over the years in the community. She served on the Debden School Board, Secretary/Treasurer for the Big River Elevator Co-operative for several years, was involved with Ski Timber Ridge from January 1993 to December 2000, and for the last 3 and a half years before retirement was the Ski Area Operator.

With being involved in the ski industry, she also served at the Secretary/Treasurer for seven years for the Saskatchewan Ski Area Operator's Association and five years as Director, representing the Saskatchewan Ski Areas on the Canada West Ski Areas Association Board (out of Vernon, British Columbia).

Since 2001, Elaine, due to cancer, has retired from all community involvement and we now have more time to enjoy our children and grandchildren. We travel often to Grande Prairie, Alberta, New York, United States, and Terrace, British Columbia. We are fortunate enough to have Stan and Mel and their three children close by to enjoy often.

Carrie Marie was born on March 9, 1969, and married Brad Wensley of North Battleford, Saskatchewan on October 14, 1989. They have three children: Sarah, born 1993; Victoria, born 1995; and Jonathan, born 1997. They have lived in Edmonton and Saskatoon and now reside in Long Island, New York. Carrie has always loved to sing and play the piano and has recently taken up guitar. Her first love is spending time with her family. Brad works as an editor for an Advertising Agency on Long Island.

Mel, Jett, Camryn, Stan, Shaye.
Mel, Jett, Camryn, Stan, Shaye.

Stanley Earl was born on March 24, 1971, and married Melanie Tremblay of Debden, on December 16, 1995. They have three children, Shaye, born 1998; Camryn, born 2000; and Jett, born 2002. They live on the Omund Amundson homeplace. Stan is employed by Millar Western Pulp Mill in Meadow Lake and in his spare time farms his several quarters of land in the Big River area and the Irvin Amundson farm.

Stanley is athletic playing hockey for Debden Minor Hockey, Double AA Midget out of Shellbrook and the Generals in Prince Albert. He also plays for Meadow Lake, Big River and Debden Senior teams from time to time. He coached broomball and also played baseball and football. He also took up the carpenter trade, now a family man, he enjoys supporting his wife, playing ball, and broomball, and soon the children's involvement in sports.

Christina, Darryl (holding Sonora).
Christina, Darryl (holding Sonora).

Darryl James was born on March 11, 1973, and graduated from Lethbridge Community College with a Diploma in Renewable Resource Management in 1993. He married Christina Thomas of Checotah, Oklahoma in March 19, 2000. They presently live in Grande Prairie, Alberta with their daughter Sonora Rose, born April 1, 2002. He has been involved with music all his life. He taught himself to play several instruments. He has been involved with a bluegrass band "The Baler Strings" for eleven years and "Up Stream" for a few years. He continues to write music and producing CDs.

Amundson, Tena (Bergen) and Raymond

Amundson, Tena (Bergen) and Raymond.
Amundson, Tena (Bergen) and Raymond

Back Row:
Clifton. Lucille, Cory
Middle Row: Tena, Raymond
Front Row: Robyn, Ty, Tavis.

I was born at Rosthern, Saskatchewan on July 10, 1945, to Annie and Diedrick Bergen. We moved to the SW 1-55-6-W3rd in the Lake Four district in 1947.

I attended the Lake Four School for eight years. I did babysitting, worked at the Lakeview Cafe in Big River, worked in bush camps up north as cook's helper and worked at the Park Valley store both before and after I was married.

I married Raymond Amundson on April 20, 1968, in the Elks Hall in Big River. We had a double wedding along with my sister Helen, and her husband, Henry Rempel.

Raymond was born on July 26, 1938, to Omund and lnga Amundson. He was born and raised on their farm which is located on the NE 15-54-6-W3rd. He also attended the Lake Four School. He drove a truck for Bob Dunn for many years hauling gravel and logs. In 1966, he bought land from the Lemires at Park Valley, located at the SW 12-54-5-W3rd and began mixed farming. Raymond played baseball and enjoyed curling for many years.

On November 30, 1969, the first of our two sons, Clifton, was born at the Big River Union Hospital. He went to school in Debden, where he played hockey and football. Clifton married Lucille Cyr on October 8, 1994. Lucille is a nurse and works in the Big River area. She was born on January 7, 1970. They live on the NW 12-54-6-W3rd and farm. They have three children: Tavis, born April 8, 1998, Robyn, born November 5, 1999, and Ty, born February 7, 2001.

Our second son, Cory, was born on January 6, 1975, in the Big River Union Hospital. Cory went to school in Debden and lives at home with his parents. He raises cattle and is employed by Marcel Seeds near Debden. Cory plays hockey and curls.

Anderson, Art and Lisette

Submitted by Linda Anderson

Art was the son of Frank and Tina Anderson. Lisette was the daughter of Rene and Reinee Duquette. They were married on January 30, 1946, in a double ceremony with Roy and Mildred Gunderson. They had eight children. All went to school in Big River.

1946 - Marie (Sonny) Panas of Prince Albert

1947 - Lionel (Jan) of Saskatoon

1948 - Fred - Passed away, April 1995

1949 - Margarette (Bill) Piche of Big River

1950 - Therese (Ron Clyde) of Spruce Grove, Alberta

1952 - James (Sharon) of Maidstone, Saskatchewan

1958 - Harvey of Edmonton, Alberta

1962 - Suzanne (Fred) Bruneau of Leoville, Saskatchewan

All were born and raised in Big River. Art and Lisette lived in various places after they were married including Timberlost and Shellbrook. They moved to Big River in 1956.

Art worked for John Hoehn driving a team of horses hauling the "honey wagon" as we used to call it, emptying sewers in town. He worked at cutting ice blocks at the lake and delivering them to the business places and the hospital for their iceboxes. He also hauled coal for their furnaces.

He worked for Jack Bechtel on the Big River Dray hauling freight off the train to all the business places. He bought the dray business from Jack and it was then known as Art Anderson and Sons. The boys helped him in the family business.

He then worked at the Big River Tree Nursery and was foreman there for several years. Later he worked at Waite Fisheries delivering groceries and unloading fish trucks until his retirement. He passed away in January 1995 in Big River.

Lisette worked in many places in Big River including the Lakeview Cafe, Big River Hospital, and as a salesclerk in Big River Red and White Store, Yurach's Hardware, and Waite Fisheries. She was a member of the Royal Purple. She passed away on September 30, 2003, in Big River.

Anderson, Bruce, Norah and Family

Bruce was born in Wiseton, Saskatchewan, April 20, 1928, to Roy and Clara Anderson. They had twelve children, six of whom lived to adulthood. Bruce was their seventh child. In 1939 the family moved to the Big River area to the homestead at what is commonly known as "The Block". The name of the post office was "Timberlost".

Bruce attended school at the Big Ravine School until Grade Five when he left school to work at various jobs. He played the guitar at dances and social gatherings with the Miller brothers and at times with Margaret Bergen and Leo Harty. He worked at Waite Fisheries packing fish and with his father on the construction of the Big River Mill. Somewhere along the way, he got his class 4 stationary steam engineer papers. He worked for Russell Beebe Sr. at his Otter Lake Sawmill as a steam engineer, Pete Pister's sawmill north of Big River as a steam engineer and the Eagle Lake Sawmill in Giscombe, British Columbia. He joined the armed forces in 1951. Bruce had many award presentations during his army life and has qualified in driving training, first aid, fire fighting, man-management, and training instructor to name a few.

Norah, Bruce, 1960.
Norah and Bruce, 1960.

Bruce met and married Norah Margaret Duncan while stationed in Victoria, British Columbia. They have seven children. Norah was born the second of four children on June 10, 1934, to Richard and Norah Duncan in Chemainus, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, another mill town. She quit school in Grade Ten and went to work in Chemainus as a waitress and later as a telephone operator for British Columbia telephones. To bring a little income into the family, Norah worked during the lull between children. The first job was a switchboard operator for the Brandon Daily Sun Newspaper office in Brandon, Manitoba and later for York Farms Cannery in Sardis, British Columbia. In Regina, she worked at an answering service and did babysitting for neighbours.

Bruce and Norah's different postings were not always to an Armed Forces Base, but also militia units as a training instructor. In Niagara Falls, Ontario, the only rental that allowed both children and pets was a fruit farm. For four years they cultivated, picked, packed and sold fruit. There was a large open area near the house that became a truck garden and half an acre of ground past the grapery was used for plum tomatoes. There were a lot of Italians in the Niagara/Toronto area who wanted these tomato paste and sauces.

Our grapes were called white grapes but were green Niagara's, which made beautiful wine. Some were contracted out to Bright's Wines of St. Davids, some sold on the fruit stand and some went to a white Russian gentleman 80 years old. Once the grapes started to mature, he would come to the farm to test the grapes for sugar content. When he felt they were ready to cut, we put them in bushel baskets and transported them to his home. He did his processing in his basement and once started, no one was allowed into the basement and no one was given his recipe. One year when his brew was ready to bottle, his sister-in-law said she would help by capping the bottles.

About two hours later, she crawled up the stairs drunk as a skunk. When asked if she had been drinking the wine she said, "no!" Sometimes if she got the bottles too full she sipped it out until there was some air space between the wine and the cap. He would sometimes offer a glass of wine but always mixed it with 7-Up, so you can see where it had to be pretty potent.

The posting to Veddar Crossing, British Columbia was interesting, as Bruce was instructor at the Officer Training School. He had the honor of instructing the first female platoon of sixty women. He really endeared himself to them right from the start by telling them, tears didn't bother him one bit, and on barrack inspections, sometimes the girls were a little slow getting covered up and once again he informed them not to worry, he'd seen it all before.

The last posting was to the Regina Armories and another Militia unit. This meant summers on maneuvers with the militia and training sessions with the regular forces in Shilo, Manitoba. Summers were usually spent away from home no matter where we were stationed and vacations were either not the right time of year or not affordable.

Bruce took his retirement from the forces while in Regina. While the paperwork was being done, he took his annual and retirement leave. With the help of his brother Henry, he started building a home on his parent's acreage, which was now located ten miles south west of Big River. Most of the children had grown up and gone there own way by this time so Norah and three children came to Big River in the summer of 1979.

Bruce's release from the forces was in effect in 1980. Not one to sit around, he ran for councilor for Division Two on the R.M Council. He served as councilor for one year then ran for Reeve. He held that position for ten years. Bruce has sat on many boards and committees over the years such as: Ambulance Board, Hospital Board, Waste Disposal Committee, RM Fire Committee, Hwy 55 Mutual Aid Committee, Recreation Board, Regional Park Authority and was on the board when they amalgamated the hospital and nursing home boards. This was done prior to the Health Districts being named or coming into effect.

Bruce was the primary founder and was instrumental in establishing the Big River Regional Park. He has worked with and for the community for 23 years and with the park for 18 years. A few years ago, the Day Camp at Cowan Lake was realized and he is still active with the upkeep and expansion of these facilities.

Norah served on the Big River Nursing Home Steering Committee for four years and then the board for one year.

Norah worked at the Big River Library for a number of years and is currently on the Library Board. She worked at the Big River Tree Nursery for a few years during the lift periods while it was in operation.

Both are retired but still keep busy. They look forward to living in Big River and have been blessed with good neighbors and a wonderful family. They have time now to sit and watch the clouds and listen to the birds sing. Their children are six sons and the last little bit of heaven, one daughter.

Scott, Roy, Shelley, Jeff, Norah, Bruce, Robert, Bruce, Steven (1999).
Scott, Roy, Shelley, Jeff, Norah, Bruce, Robert, Bruce, Steven (1999).
They are:

1) Bruce Anderson Jr. lives in Mission, British Columbia. He is a Corrections Officer.

2) Robert Anderson lives in Big River, Saskatchewan and is a Computer Technican. Robert is married to Susan Cole. They have three children: Brian Michael, Shauna.

3) Steven Anderson lives in Petawawa, Ontario and is in the RSM Canadian Armed Forces. He married Karen Miller. They have one child, Jessica. Steven has three sons from a previous marriage: Matthew, who has two sons; Christopher, who has one daughter; and Shawn.

4) Jeffery Anderson lives in Pike Lake, Saskatchewan and is a Central Dispatch Coordinator for Ridsdale Trucking. He is married to Sharon deVlaming. They had one child, Taylor (deceased - daughter). Jeffery also has two sons from a previous marriage: Andrew and Daniel.

5) Scott Anderson lives in Big River, Saskatchewan and works for Weyerhaeuser Canada. He is married to Silke Serzisko. They have three children: Tony (Tammy Donald), who has one son, Eric; James; and Jackie.

6) Roy Anderson lives in Big River, Saskatchewan and works for Weyerhaeuser Canada. He is married to Kim Offet.

7) Shelly Anderson lives in Big River, Saskatchewan and works at the Co-op Gas Bar. She is married to John Johnson and they have two children: Samantha, Amanda.

Anderson, Darren and Hegland, Candy

Submitted by Linda Anderson

Darren is the son of Doug Anderson and Florence McGrath. Darren was raised and went to school in Big River. He graduated Grade Twelve from Big River High School in 1986. He then went to work in the bush for his uncle Bill Piche. He has been with Candy Hegland, daughter of Gordon and Lynn Hegland, since 1992. They live west of Big River. Darren works for Del Lake Enterprises and Candy works at the Big River Health Centre.

Anderson, Darryl

Submitted by Linda Anderson

Darryl is the son of Delbert and Linda Anderson. He was born in Prince Albert on January 27, 1977. He went to school in Big River and graduated from Big River High School in 1995. He tried a few jobs such as selling insurance and a DJ business before settling in Big River. He works at the Big River Sawmill. Darryl loves to play the guitar and sing. He played with a band for a while in 2001 but living in Big River and travelling to Saskatoon for band practice was not working so he quit the band. He still plays for his own and other people's enjoyment. He lives in Big River with Desiree Stehr. They have one son named Kaiden.

Anderson, Darwin and Lynn

Submitted by Linda Anderson

Anderson, Darwin and Lynn.
Anderson, Darwin and Lynn.

Darwin was born in Big River on May 30, 1971, to Delbert and Linda Anderson. He has lived in Big River most of his life. In 1988, Darwin joined the Militia and spent three summers in Dundurn. He graduated grade twelve in 1990 along with his classmates as the first graduating class in the new high school. Darwin started working at Big River Lumber in the summer of 1990 and is still there today. On July 11, 1998, Darwin married Lynn Prefontaine from Debden. They have three children: Emily born September 30, 1997, Jenny born April 1, 2001, and Nathan born September 10, 2002.

Anderson, Delbert and Linda

Linda, daughter of Florence (Hodgson) and Thomas McGrath, was born on August 7, 1950. She moved to Big River with her mother in 1955. She went to school in Big River. In 1963, she moved to Toronto with her father. She lived in Barrie, Ontario with her aunt Lillian (Piche) McCutcheon for a year and attended school there. She moved back to Big River to attend school again but quit in 1965. She married Delbert, son of Harry and Alveda Anderson, in 1967.

Delbert was born in Shellbrook on January 25, 1935, and lived in Shellbrook with his mother, sister Dorothy and two brothers, Calvin and Clayton. Delbert was nine years old when Harry was killed overseas in WWII. Shortly after that Delbert and his brothers moved to Timberlost to be raised by his grandparents, Frank and Tina Anderson.

Delbert and Linda had five children: Donald (1967), Darwin (1971), Darryl (1977), Debra (1978), and Dallas (1984).

Delbert drove gravel truck for Bob Dunn, Max Wilson, and Larry LaPlante. He hauled logs for Bill Piche Logging and Wilson Trucking.

Delbert and Linda enjoyed camping and trail riding with their family. Weekends were spent driving out to Hookers Lake with the horses and camping. Delbert passed away on December 26, 1995.

Delbert and Linda's children all live in Big River. Donnie, Darwin, Darryl, and Debbie have families of their own and Dallas still lives at home with his mother. Dallas loves to sing and play the guitar.

Delbert, Linda and family.
Delbert, Linda and family.

Linda worked at the tree nursery until its closing. She opened a business in 1997 (Creative Embroidery) and now works it out of her home. She drives a school bus on the Delaronde route. She loves her crafts which include sewing, knitting, photography, and scrapbooking. She loves her family and has eleven grandchildren with probably more to follow in the future. She also has a great-granddaughter, Kaylee. She loves to spend her time camping and going hunting with Ralph Hansen who has become a very important part of her life.

Anderson, Don and Sarah

Submitted by Linda Anderson

Don was born to Delbert and Linda Anderson. He met Sarah Elliott from New Castle on the Internet and they were married December 31, 1999, in St. Martin's Anglican Church in Big River. They have five children altogether. Don has two from a previous relationship: Amy born in 1986 and Ronald born in 1987. Sarah has Blake Matthew Neal born in 1993 from a previous marriage. They have Dylan born in 2000 and Michael born in 2001. Don also has a granddaughter, Kaylee Dawn (daughter of Amy Anderson and Kevin Jim) born May 14, 2003. Don works for BR Concrete & Excavation. He also works at the local ski hill, Ski Timber Ridge. He is an avid skier and snowboarder. All their children have learned to ski and snowboard.

Back Row: Linda, Sarah, Donnie, Darwin. Front Row: Shae-Lynne.
Linda, Sarah, Donnie, Darwin and Shae-Lynne.

Anderson, Doug and McGrath, Florence.

Submitted by Linda Anderson

Florence (Hodgson) McGrath was born in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. Doug was born in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan. Florence was raised in Timberlost with her mother Gertrude and stepdad, Dave Piche. Doug, son of Frank and Tina Anderson, was also raised in Timberlost. Florence moved to Toronto in the early forties and married Tom McGrath. She had two children from that marriage, Donald and Linda. She came home to live in Big River in 1955.

Florence and Doug had seven children together: Sharon, Darlene, Patsy, Diane, Donna, Gary, and Darren. Florence stayed home and raised the children while Doug was away a lot driving truck in the north. Doug worked for Andrew Sundby, Melvin Hodgson, Max Wilson, and Larry LaPlante. Florence cooked in a bush camp after the children were older. She cooked for Piche and McGrath Logging for a few years then for Bill Piche Logging. Florence passed away on August 23, 1993, from complications of diabetes. Doug lived in their home in Big River until his passing in 2004.

Linda, Sharon, Darlene, Patsy, Diane, Donna.
Anderson, Doug and McGrath, Florence

Back Row:

Linda, Sharon, Darlene, Patsy, Diane, Donna.

Middle Row:

Doug, Florence.

Front Row: Gary, Don, Darren.

Anderson, Frank Wilbert and Tina

Submitted by Vivian Beebe

Vivian Erla Anderson was born in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan on September 29, 1931, daughter of Frank and Tina Anderson. In this family, there were thirteen of us: Albert, Frank, Harry, Grace, Jean, Arthur, Mildred, Wilfred, Douglas, Jessie, Vivian, Dennis, and Myrtle. We moved from Shellbrook to Mildred, Saskatchewan. Then from there, we moved to Timberlost, Saskatchewan in March of 1937. Dad brought Mildred, Wilfred, Dennis, and myself and left us there while he went back for the rest of the family. While he was gone Wilfred put the door, windows and floor in the house which was made out of logs.

The barns were also made of logs. We had cattle, horses, chickens, pigs, and a big garden to keep us busy. We had lots of milk, cream and butter, and a lot of good neighbours to share it with. Dad and the boys cleared the land to plant the grain, and they were also kept very busy putting up the hay for winter feed.

We were very poor but had a very good life. We were taught hard work, love and respect.

Two schools, along with a store and a post office, were built in the area making it necessary to bring in two schoolteachers every year. Frank Anderson, our father, was on the School Board. The schools were named the Big Ravine and the Otter Lake School. We went to Otter Lake School. We had church at the school, as well as dances. We also had house parties where everyone danced and lunch was served later. At the end of every school year, a school picnic was held which everyone enjoyed.

Otter Lake School had big windows on the west side. Along the north wall and partway down the east wall were blackboards. It had a very large cast-iron heater to keep us all warm in the winter. Brother Dennis and I started school at the same time. We sat together in a double desk right in the front row by the teacher's desk and close to the blackboard. One day Dennis got up and was heading for the door. When the teacher asked him where he was going, Dennis reply was, "Out to pee". Another time the teacher asked Dennis if a white cow gives white milk what colour does a black cow give? Dennis' reply was black. Those were the good old school days. Later we moved into the town of Big River.

Anderson, Gary and Gina.
Submitted by Linda Anderson

Back Row: Huston, Gary. Front Row: Colton, Gina, Levi.
Back Row: Huston, Gary.

Front Row:

Colton, Gina, Levi.

Gary was born to Florence McGrath and Doug Anderson on December 14, 1964, in the Big River Union Hospital. He attended school in Big River quitting in 1980 at the age of fifteen, as many people did back then, to work in the bush. He drove skidder for Piche and McGrath Logging, Del Lake Enterprises, and J&R Contracting. He got a job at the Big River Sawmill in 1989 and is still employed there today.

Gina, daughter of John and Dorothy Kuxhaus, was born in Regina, Saskatchewan on October 6, 1967. She graduated from Big River High School in 1986. Gary and Gina were married on August 23, 1986. In 1987 she started driving the school bus for her father. In 1998 she became self-employed with her own bus contract.

Gary and Gina have three children. Huston Joseph Frank was born on August 27, 1985. He graduated Grade Twelve from Big River High School in 2002. Colton Douglas John was born November 12, 1989, and Levi David Gary was born June 25, 1991. Both Colton and Levi attend Big River High School. Together the Anderson Family enjoys hockey, camping, and motorbiking. Gary and Gina are very active in the community.

Anderson, George Albert and Mary Ellen (Burton)

George, Mary Ellen.
George, Mary Ellen.

George and Mary Ellen both grew up in Ontario. George had come west and worked at various jobs, mostly carpentry; Mary Ellen and three of her brothers came to Regina, where George and Mary Ellen were married December 28, 1904. They lived in Saskatoon that first winter and then moved to the Ruddell area in the spring, where they took out homesteads - George and Mary, George's Dad Allen, and uncles George and Ernest.

For some months, severe headaches and some kind of a convulsion had plagued Mary. These would come on at any time and anywhere. She saw many doctors but none were able to help. Her mother, Hannah Mathilda Burton Thompson came out from Orillia to assist with the family. Finally in the spring of 1913, when the fifth child, Marguerite was less than a year old, Grandma Thompson took Mary and the baby to Mary's sister's place in the eastern states to Doctors there, then back to the old family doctor in Orillia. He asked, "Did she ever hurt her head?" Neither could remember if she had or not. Later events proved he was on the right track.

Seemingly at death's door, Mary's friends and neighbours held a prayer meeting, to pray for her and that night the abscess broke and she recovered gradually. She was like a child having to learn everything, how to cook and sew, and to play the piano and organ. She had fallen and hit her head on a rock when she was 17 years old. She never did remember those years during which she was married and had given birth to these first five children.

They eventually sold the homestead and bought Section 21 near Denholm. George moved from Denholm to Big River in 1925, where he established a logging camp the previous year. The family stayed on the farm until 1926 when they also moved to Big River. There were ten children but only seven at home at that time to make the move, also Mary's mother. Velma was teaching at Witchekan, Burton was away on his own seeing the world and Grace was going to High School in North Battleford.

The children were:

Velma Ilene - November 15, 1905

Cecil "Burton" - July 15, 1907

Evelyn "Grace" - August 2, 1908

Glen Stanley - October 12, 1909

Mathilda "Marguerite" - July 23, 1912

Georgina Marie - April 21, 1916

Ruth Caroline - August 23, 1918

George "Allen" - August 23, 1921

Wesley Newton - March 15, 1923

Arthur "Ronald" - July 3, 1924

George continued in the lumber and logging industry. He had a big boat on Stoney Lake that he used for pulling in the booms of logs.

Anderson, John and Jenny

Submitted by Len Lomsnes

Jenny Anderson was born in Sweden and married Andrew Nylund. They had two daughters: Anna (Reidar Lomsnes), born in Nas, Sweden on September 17, 1917, and Viola (Alfred Swanson), born on August 14, 1919, in Sweden.

John, Jenny, Jimmy Simpson.
John, Jenny, Jimmy Simpson.

Later, Jenny married John Anderson who was born on June 29, 1894, in Helsingland, Sweden.

Jenny and John decided to move to Canada and sailed in 1928. It was on this voyage that Lily (Richard Smith) was born.

By August 1931, the family had settled on SE 35-54-7-W3rd in the Winter Lake area. They were neighbours of Louis Morin, Tom Smith and the Klyne families. John and Jenny worked hard to break the hilly land and built a log house, a granary and a barn.

While residing at this location, they had four more children: Jean (Ivan Edson), Florence "Tootsie" (Wilfred Pister), Olaf (Hilda) Anderson, and Carl (Aline) Anderson.

Jean and Olaf have passed away. Tootsie resides in the Lakewood Lodge in Big River. Carl and Aline live in Elkford, British Columbia.

John became ill and was hospitalized in North Battleford. He passed away there in 1962 and is buried in the North Battleford Cemetery. Jenny moved into Big River and lived with Anna and Reidar Lomsnes until she passed away in 1969. She is buried in the Big River Cemetery.

Anderson, Olaf and Pearl

Excerpts from Timber Trails (1979)

Pearl, Olaf.
Pearl, Olaf Anderson.

Pearl and Olaf Anderson came from Wilkie, Saskatchewan to Big River in 1927. Their reason for coming was the result of the drought conditions on the prairie. They made the journey aboard the freight train.

Their first three years were spent on a farm and in 1930, the Anderson's moved into town and took over the livery barn.

In 1935, Mrs Anderson, later Pearl McNabb, had a small boardinghouse between the present location of Yurach's hardware store and Mr W. R Gould's house.

The men from the freight swings used the boarding house and approximately thirty to thirty-five men could be housed at one time. The boardinghouse was also used by people in the winter months that were in town during the day and had no place to eat their lunch. They would go to McNabb's boardinghouse and Mrs McNabb would thaw out their frozen lunch and provide them with a warm place to eat their meal.

Mr and Mrs Anderson had three children: Floyd, Bill and Elnora. In her later marriage, seven more children were born: Laverne, Nioma, Norman, Gordon, Clifford, Nova and Larry.

Anderson, Roy Franklin and Clara

Submitted by Norah Anderson and Eileen Hannam

Roy, Clara, 1919.
Roy, Clara Anderson - 1919.

Roy and Clara Anderson were both born and grew up in North Dakota, United States. They married in 1919 and Roy worked as a steam engineer on the railroad for a few years. Roy was known as Frank or "Stub".

They moved to Canada and Frank went to work as a steam engineer in Drumheller, Alberta. He also worked in a coal mine in Outlook, Saskatchewan. A few years later, they moved into Saskatchewan to a farm three miles out of Wiseton, a small town on the prairies. They were there for many years of farming and doing custom thrashing. They had the usual farm animals, cows, chickens, pigs, and horses. Frank did his own blacksmithing. The dry years that came lasted for seven years. There was no growing of crops or anything else. The land suffered, the animals suffered and the people suffered.

Once again they moved, this time they headed north. With one hayrack and team of horses, they hauled their belongings and the farm implements as well as some of the kids. They had one young calf in the rack; a colt following behind and a cow tied to the hayrack. The colt's mother was ridden by Henry and Eileen who took turns riding her. Clara drove the team of horses and Frank drove a car he had made into a truck to haul more stuff. The younger children rode with him. There were numerous overnight stops and it took days to get to where they wanted to go. The first night they stopped at a farm where they were welcomed to stay. The house had dirt floors and the people treated them very well. The next stop was the west-end of Saskatoon at a garage. They slept on the floor of the garage. They eventually arrived at and settled near Victoire for a few years. They had a big house, a barn and land to farm. They got more cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep, horses, and more children.

In 1939, they decided to move again and this move brought them to Timberlost (The Block) to homestead. In 1958, the families at the Block were all relocated and they bought property ten miles south-west of Big River. With their pensions and a little farming, they managed to keep going. Their son Henry lived with them until both Clara and Frank passed away.

Frank died in 1970 at the age of 82 years and with his passing the property was turned over to Henry. In 1978, Bruce wanted to come home to retire and in the spring of 1979, Henry turned the property over to Bruce. Clara lived another 21 years and died in the Lakewood Lodge Nursing Home in 1991 at the age of 91 years. Henry remained on the farm until 2002.

Clara and Frank had 12 children, only 6 lived to adulthood. Henry lives at Cowan Court in Big River.

Back Row: Henry, Shirley, Bruce. Front Row: Eileen, Myrna, Evelyn.
Back Row:

Henry, Shirley, Bruce.

Front Row:

Eileen, Myrna, Evelyn.

Eileen (Albert Hannam), who was widowed in 1999, still lives in her home in Big River. Bruce and wife Norah live on the property that once was his mom and dad's in the R.M. Myrna is married to Gordon Gamble and lives in Medstead, Saskatchewan. Evelyn is married to Pat Harty and lives in Edam, Saskatchewan. Shirley married Roy Sharp and lived in the R.M. of Big River until her death in 1988.

Frank and Clara enjoyed long lives, some happy years and some very hard times. They were married for 51 years.

Anderson, Walter and Hazel (Bradley)

I was born to Louis and Viola Bradley on the homestead (SE 9-57-7-W3rd) in the Delaronde area. My grandmother, Minnie Bale helped with the delivery as the doctor was not available. I took my schooling in Delaronde and Big River. My sister, Grace, was the first baby born on the homestead. Grandpa and Grandma Bale lived down the road from us where Danny and Darlene Michel now live. My grandparents had seven children: John, Viola, Orval, Dick, Fred, Edith, and Beulah. All but Orval have passed on.

I married Walter Anderson of the Grant Anderson family. He had one sister and four brothers at this time. Walter is the only living person of that family. He worked on the oil rigs in Saskatchewan and Alberta. I travelled with him for about a year until we started our family. We would send money home to his parents to buy us a house and lot in Big River. Our first home was a two-room house over-looking Cowan Lake. Two of our children, Ken and Donna (Greenwood), were born in the Big River Hospital. We later moved to Edmonton, Alberta where Walter worked in construction and drove the truck. Our third child, Shirley (Woodman), was born in Edmonton. We have nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Walter and I have been married for fifty-three years.

Anderson, Wilf (Bill) and Maude

Submitted by Maudie Anderson (Wilson)

I was born on a farm at Hanley, Saskatchewan in 1930. My parents, George and Violet Wilson, had just lost their home and all the contents to fire so I drew my first breath in a granary that Mom and Dad lived in for a short time. My mother recalled the rain coming down and Dad placing pots and pans on the bed to catch the drips, to try and keep us both warm and dry. My five older brothers, Ed, George, Russ, Gestie (Bud), and Max were staying with neighbours. About this time Dad made a trip to Big River and filed on a piece of land at Egg Lake, seven miles north of Big River. A short time later we moved to the Canwood area where Dad rented and farmed some land for a few years to have enough feed for the horses to last until new crops were produced. When we settled at Egg Lake, Dad and the older boys made several trips to the homestead during that time.

Dad and the boys built the house, barn and sleeping quarters for the boys and cleared a bit of land before Mom and the younger ones arrived in 1935. This new area was frightening to me but with orders from Mom, our dear old Collie dog Buster accompanied me on short walks and trips to the little log toilet which Dad had built. It had one seat at regular height and a second seat which was just the right height for me.

Two years later, I started school at Delaronde. It was a three-mile walk. Trying to keep up to my brothers wasn't easy, so Russ and Bud would take turns carrying me on their shoulders. In later years, Max and I went to school in the winter by dog team.

Four of my brothers married local girls - Ed married Lily Dunn; George married Irene Bradley; Russ married Dorothy Dunn and Max married Laura Gould. Bud met and married Diane Pasek in Victoria.

Over the years there were many humorous happenings. One that comes to mind was on a very hot day a friend and I decided we should take a dip in the lake. We gingerly picked our way across the meadow through the stinging nettles to the swimming hole. We were having such a great time that we never noticed the black clouds rolling in until the wind came up. We hurried to get dressed and I can still see my "sugar bag" panties Mom made for me snapping over my head every time I tried to step into them. We were only partly dressed when we heard Max yelling and charging across that meadow to get us. He grabbed hold of us, and we tore right though those nettles with hail peppering us, and my friend yelling "HELP". I have to say it was the first and only time my Dad ever smacked me: with one good swat on the bottom. I guess that was for not paying attention to those clouds.

It wasn't too often there was a dull moment with so many boys around. One day a neighbour friend was over and he, Bud and Max were fooling around in the haystack. I thought I should see what all the laughter was about and as I got nearer to the racket. I saw my favourite hen, Maggie, tumbling down the stack. Reaching the ground she toppled over on one wing and then the other trying to get across the barnyard like the drunken hen that she was. Those boys had taken a jar of dandelion wine from the cellar and poured quite a lot down poor Maggie's gullet. I thought Maggie was done in for sure. That's just a couple of the things we still laugh about. However, some of that fun subsided when the war broke out in 1939 and George, Russ, and Bud enlisted. Although they never saw action, my parents worried they would get word any day that one or possibly all three were on their way overseas.

In 1943, we moved to town so I could attend the Big River School. Our home was the old Cheese Factory that Dad had renovated into four rooms. Wilf Anderson, known as "Bill" to family and friends and I were in the same schoolroom the following year and after a time we started dating and married in 1947.

Maudie, Wilf (Bill) (50th wedding Anniversary 1997).
Maudie, Wilf (Bill) (50th wedding Anniversary 1997).

Wilf was born in Dilke, Saskatchewan and came to Big River as an infant with his parents, Olaf and Pearl, and his sister Elnora and brother Floyd. His brother, Leonard, was born in Holdfast, Saskatchewan. There were seven more brothers and sisters at Big River to the union of Pearl and Dalton McNabb: Laverne, Nioma, Norman, Gordon, Clifford, Nova, and Larry.

Wilf got all his schooling in Big River and being one of the oldest he went to work at an early age and always shared his earnings with his mother to help out at home.

The first year of our marriage, Wilf had fourteen different jobs taking on anything available - but always had work.

In the fall of 1948, we took our new baby girl Corliss and moved to Victoria to be near my ailing mother. Wilf worked in a mill in Victoria. Beverly was born there. Mom passed away in 1950 and Dad passed away thirteen years later in 1963.

We returned to Big River in 1950 and Wilf got on with the L.I.D. doing road construction. In 1956, we moved to Eastend, Saskatchewan where Wilf was the L.I.D. foreman, before buying and operating a garage as well as having the Imperial Oil Bulk agency and the John Deere dealership. Two more children were born in Eastend - Morley and Laurie - where they received part of their schooling before moving to Calgary. The two older children completed high school in Eastend and then moved to Calgary to further their education.

I did quite a lot of singing in those days for almost any or all of the town's celebrations, house parties, and weddings in both Eastend and Calgary.

In 1969, we moved to Calgary where Wilf was employed by Welder's Supplies and then Bow Valley Welding until his retirement in 1992. Wilf played, lived and breathed hockey from an early age. He coached kids hockey for many years in Calgary. A funny thing happened one night while he was coaching from the box and yelling as only he could. His false teeth flew out onto the ice! He jumped over the boards, popped them back in and jumped back into the box and I would guess that he never missed or took his eyes off the play - What a guy!

Our four children are: Corliss married to Lorne Moore. She has a son, Aaron French, from a previous marriage; Beverly married Jim Mitchell and has three sons - Trevor, Jeffrey and David; Morley is still single; Laurie married John Maher and they have a daughter Kiara and a son Rowan.

The saddest occasions in our family were the passing of Jim, Bev's husband, on March 6, 2000, and the passing of Wilf, my husband and my friend of 55 years, on May 31, 2002. As well, three of my five brothers have passed on, Ed, George and Bud. Wilf's parents are also departed, as is his sister Elnora, and three of his brothers, Floyd, Clifford, and Leonard.

Appleton, Eileen Margaret, nee Pankoski

I, Eileen Margaret Pankoski Appleton, was born July 6, 1944, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan to Alex and Mary (Bill) Pankoski. Our first home was situated fifteen miles north of Big River on Cowan Lake (a little north of Cyril Craddock's home). Around 1950 the family built a new home on the highway north of Big River still fifteen miles north of town. I have one brother, Allen David Pankoski who lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta.

At the time that my brother, Allen, and I were of age to go to school there were no school buses and to get an education we had to board in Big River. We would be driven in on Monday and picked up on Friday and this was how it was done. My first home was with the Charlie McKenzie family who lived at the top of Main Street. Next, I lived with the Buchanans. Here were often other boarders, both adult and school students, and we were pretty much on our own, coming in from play was governed by the 9 p.m. siren. I also boarded with two other families, the Meyers and the Whitrows. Mr Whitrow was a minister.

Finally, in my fourth year, a school bus system was set up. We were then able to remain at home. Even as a very young person sports were an important part of my life. I can vividly recall hanging around Waite's pasture or other fields where the older kids played ball or cricket (a home-made game when there weren't enough people to play ball) hoping that I'd be asked to be on a team. Getting skates, even if they were boy's, enabled me to spend winters at the old open - air skating rink. Then there was track and field. In the spring everyone was herded to the front of a classroom according to age and four pairs of high school students chose everyone onto their teams. Days later there would be a one-day competition in five different events for a silver cup.

Even when I had graduated from high school in 1962 there wasn't a gym although sports had been expanded in the school system. Coaching was minimal and teams travelling to other towns were comprised of those who were most interested. Often we would plead with people to come on a team so we'd have enough people to field the appropriate team. Surprisingly we occasionally won something at the unit level.

My first "out of town" trip was when I was eleven years old and was on the six-person track and field team (we all had to fit in Mr Gould's car) at the unit competition and competed at the midget level. We won the unit banner. What a coup! Years later I qualified to attend the provincial high school track and field competition in Saskatoon. This was the first time that I saw people doing warm-up exercises.

In high school, curling became the winter sport and one year I skipped the girl's rink (Paulette and Pauline Otte and Helen Zinovich) at the Northern Saskatchewan Division. Due to my final shot we lost!

As a teenager, I had decided that I wanted to become a police officer and was planning on taking a legal secretary's course and to work until I reached the magic age of twenty-one. The principal, Mr Romaniuk, convinced me to attend university where I took two years toward a Bachelor of Education degree. Following that, my friend, Helen Zinovich and I accepted teaching jobs in Smith, Alberta (east of Lesser Slave Lake).

The following year I went to Toronto where I was accepted onto the Metro Toronto Police Department. I was an officer for 26 years. During this time I worked in many different areas and had many interesting experiences. I must say that only once did I have to deal with someone from Big River.

In 1973, I married my husband, Jack, who was with the RCMP in the Security Section which later became CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service). I retired in 1991. Jack retired in 1993. In 1994 we moved to Niagara Falls, Ontario where we currently live. We have a motor home and generally spend our winters travelling in Mexico. Yes, I still curl, and my only other sport is running.

Apps, George and Jean

George, Jean.
George, Jean Apps.

George was born Archibald George Apps at Chertsey in the County of Surrey, England, on February 24, 1904, the second youngest in a large family. His father died when he was only seven and life was a struggle for the family after that. Like many Englishmen of his generation, the Canadian West intrigued George and so as a young man he immigrated to Saskatchewan where he spent the rest of his life without any real interest in being anywhere else, and it would be fifty years before he visited England again.

George was strong, an excellent horseman, and he spent the first few years in Canada working on farms and ranches in the Herschel, Quinton and Nokomis districts.

Jean was born Eigunie Ulmer at Feoderovka, Russia on August 31, 1903. The Ulmer family was part of a large German population that had farmed in Russia since the 1700s maintaining their communities and culture. Jean's grandfather, Andreas, had a significant position in the community but due to the political unrest in Southern Russia at the end of the 19th century, he influenced his children and their families to immigrate to Canada with him. Jean's family arrived in Saskatchewan in 1907 when she was only a toddler and her only recollection of the ocean voyage from Odessa was the dishes sliding around on the table as the ship rolled and pitched in the heavy sea.

Life was very different for the Ulmer's in Canada. They exchanged a comfortable home in Russia "with hardwood floors", orchards and a close community, for a sod house on their lonely homestead near Guernsey, Saskatchewan. Although life was difficult, and the homestead eventually-failed because of the poor soil in the district, the large Ulmer family was very close and Jean would always recollect her childhood on the prairies with great affection. Although she was only 5'2" and didn't weigh much more than 100 pounds as a young woman she could milk before daylight, harness a six-horse team and plough all day and still have enough energy to attend a schoolhouse dance in the evening, according to people who knew her then.

George met Jean while he was working on a farm just down the road from her parent's farm near Nokomis, and on April 1, 1927, they were married in Saskatoon. At first, the young couple hired out together on farms and ranches, Jean cooking and George working as a hired hand. But, in 1929 George reluctantly gave up farm life' and joined the Regina City Police to give his family some financial stability. Here all three of the Apps children were born: Harry in 1929, Doreen in 1932 and George in 1938.

Standing: Doreen, Henry, Jean, George Jr. Sitting: George Sr.
Standing: Doreen, Henry, Jean, George Jr.
Sitting: George Sr.

In 1949, George joined the Federal Department of Fisheries as an Inspector and after his initial training "down east," he was posted to Big River. For the first few months, he slept on a cot in his office, which was located upstairs on the south end of the Waite Fisheries building. He later boarded with Muriel and Chuck Tuck. Chuck drove the bus on the Big River to Prince Albert run for several years, and the two families eventually ended up living side by side on the hill.

Jean arrived with their youngest son, George, in December of 1949, spending the first night in Big River with the Tuck family. It was a difficult transition for Jean as Harry and Doreen were young adults and chose to remain in Regina. It also took her some time to adjust to this new environment of trees and lakes as she'd lived her entire life in very open country. Jean never lost her affinity for the prairies but she did come to love Big River and the countryside and she developed deep loyalty and friendship to her "family" of close friends in the community. George and his son knew from the beginning that Big River was where they wanted to be although they all missed Harry and Doreen and there was great rejoicing when they came from Regina to visit and tears when they left.

Commercial fishing was an important industry in Northern Saskatchewan and George's primary responsibility was to inspect fish destined for export. This required irregular hours of work as the refrigerated train cars or semi-trailers from the USA were sometimes being loaded with fish late into the night. The upside to this was that occasionally on a quiet day, George would be waiting for his son after school and they'd take off for a little fishing.

For years George had an office in the Waite Fisheries building until it was relocated to the new post office where it remained until his retirement in 1969. Sometimes George would team up with the Department of Natural Resources and travel the area with Ernie Over or Carl Colby. Occasionally his work would take him into the Northwest Territories for a few weeks at a time.

When Jean and George arrived in Big River, housing was a bit of a challenge. During the first winter, George managed to rent the furnished home of Walter and Jessie Leverton, an elderly couple who were away for a few months. The Leverton house was a very large mill house just below the Catholic Church and the accommodation was on the second floor reached via a long very rickety stairwell. When the Levertons returned George moved his family into the front portion of "Granny" Gilbert's house across the street from the J.K. Johnson house. Fortunately, Len Waite agreed to build some homes on the hill to accommodate some of the new families in town one of which he rented to George.

Years later, George and Jean bought the house where they spent a very comfortable retirement. Both Jean and George were avid gardeners and many people still remember their beautiful flowers. George was also an excellent woodworker and he could often be found in his shop working on some project.

Young George enjoyed an idyllic childhood in Big River and then joined the RCMP when still a teenager. Although he never lived in Big River again he was back every chance he had for many years. Eventually, his children and his wife Deborah accompanied him on these trips and they all spent wonderful lazy summers with Grandma and Grandpa.

Both Jean and George loved the company and there were many gatherings at their house.

There were also lots of visitors from "down south" and young George was often moved onto the sofa so guests could sleep in his bedroom. Summers always seemed to be an endless series of berry picking, picnicking, fishing and hiking.

George passed away in the local hospital on December 30, 1990, with Jean holding his hand. The following year, mainly because of her failing eyesight, Jean agreed to spend a winter near her daughter, Doreen in Penticton with the understanding that she would return home to Big River in the spring. Doreen did bring Jean back to see her friends but she never returned to her home again and died in Penticton with her daughter at her side on February 6, 2002, at 98 years of age. During the last visit her son, George had with her shortly before her death, the one thing on her mind was her friend's in Big River. George and Jean's oldest son, Harry never left Regina and lives there today. Doreen passed away in Penticton after a brief illness, on November 10, 2003. George Jr. and his wife Deborah live in Calgary on the edge of Fish Creek Park, because the park reminds him of Big River. George and Jean are buried together in Big River.

Arcand, Orville (Chubby) and Darlene

Submitted by Linda Anderson

Darlene is the daughter of Florence McGrath and Doug Anderson. She was born in Big River. Chubby is the son of Victor and Emma Arcand of Debden. Darlene and Chubby were married in 1984. They have four children, Wanda, Lance, Gina and Victoria.

Wanda graduated in 1993. She married Jeff Neufeldt in 1997. They have two children: Demi and James.

Lance went to school in Big River and graduated in 1996. He is going to school taking Industrial Mechanics.

Gina took her schooling in Big River and graduated in 2001. She and Phillip Grassick have a daughter, Kaitlyn. Victoria attended school in Big River. She graduated in 2004.

Chubby has worked for Del Lake Enterprises since 1980 and has been foreman since 1998. Darlene started working at the Big River Union Hospital in 1979 and transferred to the Big River Health Center when it opened in 2000.

Archibald, Mr and Mrs A

Submitted by Ash Archibald

I, Walter Ashton Archibald, was born on June 22, 1916, in Watrous, Saskatchewan. The family then moved to Regina. At twelve years of age, I accompanied my parents and sister, Gladys (Henry) Parker, to Ladder Valley. At age eighteen I filed on my homestead (NE 8-55-6-W3rd).

On October 17, 1936, I married Dorothy Marie Lane. We lived in my parents first log house. A neighbour, George Gibson, kindly offered us furniture. The next year we moved into our own home which I had built. It was 12ft x 20ft. Because of his poor health Dorothy's father, Harry Lane (who was batching), moved in with us. Later we moved into his larger house (NW 30-55-6-W3rd). By this time we had been blessed with two girls (Florence and Grace). We had a horse and a cow and received eight dollars plus fifty pounds of flour monthly from government relief.

I remember building a toboggan and driving our one horse to the dances. (Dorothy and the girls were in the toboggan while I rode the runners.) As an old-time fiddler, I played in Ladder Valley, Rapid Bend, Bodmin and Big River. Later, six more youngsters were added to our family: Lorne, Doug, Sally, Sandra, Neil and Beth. Dorothy passed away February 3, 1967, and is buried in Big River Cemetery. Later I married Helen Fehr and together we raised my three youngest children. We reside on Dad's homestead (which we bought) and are blessed with good health and a loving, caring family.

Ash, Helen.
Ash and Helen Archibald.

Archibald, Neil

Memories by Neil Archibald

One afternoon when I was in Grade Twelve a few of us took off out of town to have some fun riding a young man's small motorcycle. All was going well until it was my turn. I was doing all right going along at a moderate speed. I turned onto another gravel road where the bike ran into a foot-high ridge of gravel created by the grader. The bike decided to catch some air and do a couple of aerial flips. I was thrown to the ground! I was shaken up but all right. However, the bike had some damage that, unfortunately, we were not able to repair on the spot. Our afternoon of fun-riding came to a fast end. I was truly sorry for all of us and especially for the young man whose bike was damaged.

The next story takes place in Ladder Valley when I was around eight years old. There was a group of people trying to build an outdoor arena. They had pushed the snow out of the space and had piled it up around. They then put four-foot boards all around. Being a real pain, I decided to throw snowballs at some of them. Well, after a few snowballs hit their targets, some of the men got a little excited and decided I should be brought to justice. So, when they could, one of them grabbed me. He then proceeded to grab my ankles and lift me over the boards using me like a jackhammer to drill an upright hole in a pile of snow! Needless to say, at this point, I decided that enough snowballs had been thrown.

These are just a couple of the memories that I cherish from my years in Ladder Valley, of my town, Big River, and also of the good times, I had with the many wonderful people I call friends. I miss a lot of them. Life moves us all in many directions. Over the years some friendships are lost and new friendships grow.

I still travel to Big River a couple of times a year to visit my parents Ash and Helen Archibald, my brothers Lorne and Doug, sister Grace and Joe Harty and my nephew Jeff and Sue Harty as well as golfing friends. Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts.

Archibald, Mr. & Mrs W.W.

Submitted by Ash Archibald

Walter Willis Archibald and Florence Rachel Martin were married February 14, 1900, in Hanover, Ontario. They moved to Lumsden, Saskatchewan in 1904 and later to Watrous, Saskatchewan. They had six children: Norman (deceased), Florence (deceased), Irene (deceased), Roy (deceased), Gladys (deceased), and Ashton.

Father was a carpenter. In 1931, Father's job ceased to exist. He filed on a homestead at Big River (SW 20-55-6-W3rd) and made the move on June 4, 1932. He travelled by C.N.R. (It must be noted that this mode of transportation was a mixed train which travelled very slowly and took three days).

We unloaded the livestock then walked around town to meet other old-timers. Upon returning to our boxcar we found that our dog (who had been tied inside) had tried to jump out and had hanged itself.

(Our miseries had already started). As Mother had a bulldog and a canary, she still had pets.

We started out to Ladder Valley on June 5th. Our guide took a shortcut down Ladder Lake and the road was terrible. We got stuck twice and had to double our teams to pull us out. Arriving at 8:00 p.m. we were tired, wet and covered with mud!

Mother and sister Gladys stayed at Fred Bond's until Dad and I had erected a home. The next morning Dad and I went down to the homestead. We made camp there. (I don't know how the neighbours knew we were there, but about five came and helped us build a log house, all except for the floor which was dirt.). We moved into our home on June 9th. Next, the house had to be mudded. As neither of us knew how to mud, we hired a neighbour. We dug the mud and the neighbour mixed it. This mudding was done using a trowel to throw the mud between the logs. This neighbour did a real fine job. We were surprised when the clay turned out to be blue, which made the house look painted.

An incident occurred while Dad and I were batching. We had a new galvanized pail in which we boiled our tea water. Needless to say, we got very sick.

Next, we dug the well. We went down twenty feet and got about eight feet of water. We cribbed it with white peeled poplar poles and were, therefore, concerned when the water turned very black. We were told by another neighbour that we made a BIG mistake using the poplar. Another lesson learned!

Mother and Father retired to Big River in 1957. They celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1960 and their 67th in 1967. Dad passed away on December 27, 1968, and Mother on June 25, 1971. Both are buried in Big River Cemetery.

Arial, Bradly and Carla (Gear)

I, Carla Lorraine Arial (Gear), was born on October 6, 1977, in Shellbrook Union Hospital. My home was SW 32-55-6-W3rd. I attended school in Big River. I enjoyed drama, softball, figure skating and singing.

I worked in Prince Albert after high school. In 1997 I attended Briarcrest Bible College in Caronport, Saskatchewan where I met Bradly Arial. We were married in Morinville, Alberta and lived near Onoway, Alberta from 1998 to 2002 when we moved to Big River. Our children are Daylin Tamara (born June 30, 1999, in St. Albert, Alberta), Ethan Bradly (born June 24, 2001, in St. Albert, Alberta), and Foster Mason (born November 5, 2003, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan). We are settled in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan where Bradly is employed by the Meadow Lake Oriented Strand Board (OSB) plant.

Back Row: Bradly, Daylin. Front Row: Carla, Ethan.
Back Row: Bradly, Daylin. Front Row: Carla, Ethan.

Arsenault, Theodore and Eva

Compiled by: Sherry Gunderson

Theodore was born in Tracadie, New Brunswick on March 2, 1877. His parents were Richard Arsenault and Adele Drisdel. He had one sister and six brothers.

Theodore came West to Saskatchewan about 1910. Some of his family moved to Berlin, Nev, Hampshire. He married Eva Ethier on September 5. 1913, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Theodore and Eva had six children:

1. Mary - born in 1914 - married John Redekopp in 1933

2. Genevieve - born in 1915 - married Alonzo Gallant in 1939

3. Joseph Richard Arthur - born 1917 - died 1918

4. Ted (T. J.) - born 1918 - married Mary (May) McMahon in 1945

5. William (Bill) - born in 1920 - married Rose Oleksuik in 1949

6. Blanche (Rosie) born in 1922, married (1) Ron Morrison in 1941 and (2) George Corbin in 1962.

Theodore and Eva.
Theodore and Eva Arsenault

The Arsenault family moved to Big River from Domremy about 1920. Theodore's main employment was a cook in logging camps. He also worked in the sawmill, was a commercial fisherman, trapped and opened a small shoemakers shop.

For some unknown reason, Theodore was also known as Tom Murphy around Big River.

After a lengthy illness with cancer, Theodore died in Prince Albert hospital in April 1959.

Eva Claire Ethier was the eldest child of Arthur and Lumina (Fortier) Ethier. She was born September 5, 1889, in Crookston, Minnesota. In 1903, the Ethier family left the United States and journeyed to Luke Lake by train. They then trekked to Bellevue - Domremy area and made an application for a homestead.

Eva, at age 24, was working at the boarding house in Big River when she met Theodore. They married and settled in Big River with their children.

Eva had a stroke, and she never regained her speech. She spent many years being cared for by her daughter-in-law Rose, then in a nursing home in Prince Albert. At age 80, Eva passed away in 1969.

e-mail me.

Author: Webmaster -
"Date Modified: March 23, 2024."

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