O.P.Godin's Store

Family Histories, Part 12



Gietz, Keith and Sharon

Outdoor Rink behind Elk's Hall.

Back Row: Kevin, Keith, Calvin.
Front Row: Sharon, Glenda.

Keith Gordon Gietz arrived in Big River, Saskatchewan in February of 1954 from Hazlet, Saskatchewan. Gordon Gietz had purchased the Imperial Oil bulk station from Ed St. Arnaud. For the first while, Keith boarded with Mr and Mrs Walter Glowaski. Then he boarded with Eddie and Cora St. Arnaud. Later, his dad rented the Eikel house where Keith batched until his parents moved to Big River in August of 1954. His dad then bought the Chenard house across the street. Keith ran the business alone until his parents moved up there.

During that summer, Keith had several rides with George Greening in his aeroplane. It was something Keith enjoyed even though George was making those flights to check out his plane.

Keith lived with his parents until he got married. On June 29, 1955, he married Sharon Maureen Jansen of Verlo, Saskatchewan (northeast of Gull Lake). He purchased the house directly north of his parents from Mrs Alma Michel.

Keith and I were active in the community. I had trained as a school teacher but there was no position available, so I went to work at the Bank of Commerce. This became the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in the fall of 1956, while I was employed there. The manager was Fred Reed. I worked with Lillian Miles and Ernestine Paradis who both left shortly after I started. The other fellow employees were Jack Wallace, Garth Hendricks and Gerry Goots at different times. I remember the spring of 1956 when Mrs Fred Reed invited all the ladies who had moved to Big River during the previous year to an evening at her house. There were twenty-five of us.

Keith was a member of the volunteer fire department for most of the time we lived there. At that time the Fire Hall was located about half a block west of our house. We had no trouble hearing the siren. Two times stick in my mind: Albert Hannigan's barn and when a little boy fell down a well on the north side of town.

Keith's main interest was sports. He fished, hunted, curled and played with and coached the Big River Braves baseball team. He was their catcher and he was good at it. Before he started coaching, Cliff Charlton was the coach. I joined Keith in all these endeavours. After all, I wanted to see him once in a while. I was the scorekeeper for the ball team for several years and still have the old scorebook.

I joined the Royal Purple Lodge and did my part in the organization. I still have the silver fork they presented to me when I left.

We purchased our farm from Mrs Winnifred Muir in about 1960. It was located west of the Bodmin Store. When we moved there about June 5, 1960, it was still so muddy we had to pull our vehicle into the yard with the tractor. The crop from the previous year was still in the field. Keith finally put duel tires on the little Clipper combine as he was getting stuck trying to harvest the crop. We lived on the farm during the summer and returned to town for the winter months. Our closest neighbours were George and Beverly Halter and family to the east of us and Mr.and Mrs George Beattie lived a little farther east, close to the creek. In the fall of 1964, we sold our farm to Dan Braidek. A point of interest... the Muirs bought the farm from a family named Rhiome.

Ironically, shortly after we sold our farm, my dad contacted us to say he was quitting farming and were we interested. Keith had always wanted to farm. On December 8, 1964, we became the owners of the farm where I was raised. In February, our two kids and I moved back south. Allan Martin and Bob Dunn moved us back. It was -35 degrees E when we left Big River. Bob laughed at Keith when he donned his hat for the trip.

We stayed overnight in Rosetown and arrived in Gull Lake at noon that day. When we arrived, guess what? The water was running and it was 35 degrees above F as we headed north to the farm.

While we were in Big River, we had two children. Calvin (August 7, 1957) and Glenda (July 17, 1959) were both born in Prince Albert. After we moved down here, we had another son, Kevin (March 7, 1969), born in Gull Lake.

Keith worked for his dad who owned the Imperial Oil bulk station and later built a service station. Some of Keith's co-workers were Bill Olenchuk, Ralph Morin, Lloyd Gerow and Jake Bergen.

Our closest neighbours in town were the George Otte family, John Hoehn family, George and Eileen Dunn and May and a lady who became a very special friend of our family, Grandma (Margaret) Pruden. Raymond and Doris Mitchell lived across the street from us for some time.

We had many friends up there so we left with mixed emotions. But Keith wanted to farm and I agreed with him.

We grew to love the north country very much. I guess you could say we became "bushed" as we started planting trees around here the year after we moved here. Cal and I just planted another 70 spruce trees in the spring of 2003.

Keith passed away on June 2, 2002. I still live on the farm and Cal does the farming.


Gietz, Kevin

Kevin Gordon was born on March 7, 1969. He attended Hazlet Public School, then transferred to Gull Lake High School where he graduated in 1987. He took his post-secondary education at Treasure Valley College in Ontario; Oregon, USA and Valley City State University in Valley City, North Dakota, USA. He graduated from there in 1992 with his degree in Physical Education and Mathematics. He was the High School Principal in Big River for the 1999-2000 school year.

In September 1999, Kevin married Sasha Lingenfelter from Regina and she moved to Big River with him.

At present they live in Redcliff, Alberta where Kevin is about ten minutes from Medicine Hat High School where he is the principal.

Sasha is employed by McMann Youth Services and during the summer she manages the clubhouse at the Cypress Hills Golf Course.


Gilbert, Bart and Kim

I was born on January 31, 1972, in Big River, Saskatchewan. My parents are John and Susan Gilbert and I have two sisters Tracey and Brandy. I went to the primary school in Big River until grade two and then moved to Fox Valley, Saskatchewan where I stayed until graduation in 1990. While I was still in school I played hockey, volleyball, badminton, baseball, and ran track and field. I moved to Saskatoon after graduation to attend university, and after two years, I decided to change my career path and later went to Western Academy Broadcasting College.

During the summer of 1992, I was participating in a performance country-dance team and that is where I met Kim. She grew up in a small town called Demaine and attended school in Beechy. In 1991 she came to Saskatoon and attended SIAST Kelsey where she received a diploma in Recreation and Leisure. We danced with the team for a few years, and then we had two very successful years competing as a couple throughout Western Canada and the United States.

In 1994, we went to live with my aunt and uncle in Armstrong, British Columbia and I worked at a radio station in Vernon. In the fall of that year, we moved back to Saskatoon, and I worked at a radio station and as a mobile DJ playing dances all over Saskatchewan. In the summer of 1995 I was offered a job at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens; not the field that I expected I would work in, but the company is great and I enjoy the work.

On June 27, 1998, Kim and I were married. It was a great day, my Dad was my best man and Tracey and Josh were also part of the wedding party. In January 1999 we moved into our present home on Elm Street and we got our wise old dog, Mercedes, from a friend. She turned 15 this June and is still really clever and well trained. Kim works at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Saskatchewan as the Area Manager for Saskatchewan North in fundraising. Kim also has a diploma in Interior Design and is working at starting her own business. We play beach volleyball in the summer and Kim takes horse-riding lessons. I like to golf, play the guitar, and I do a lot of gardening. We are both involved with our church and spend most of our free time with friends, or enjoying time in our yard.


Gilbert, Cuthbert and Augusta
Submitted by Richard Brownfield

Granny Gilbert.

Granny Gilbert.

Cuthbert Hargraves Gilbert "Harry" was born in England in 1879.

Augusta May McKnight "May" was born in Ontario in 1883.

They first met in Prince Albert around 1910. May was enrolled in the first class of nursing at the Victoria Hospital.

Upon her graduation from nursing in 1912, they returned to Ontario, where they were married and then came to Big River to live. In the early years, he operated a pool room, a barbershop and later a butcher shop.

Mrs Gilbert, being a nurse, worked in the hospital in Big River. In the many years that there wasn't a doctor in Big River, she did double duty attempting to do the work that would be normally done by a doctor. Delivering babies and setting broken bones were some of the tasks she performed. On one occasion, she was called out to deliver a baby and had to travel several miles taking along her own baby. While she was nursing the new mother, the mother of the patient was looking after her baby.

The Gilbert's then moved to a farm in Ladder Valley. It was here that his title of "Wheat King" was established. His wheat, oats, flax and field peas earned him national recognition. The only reward for his efforts was small cash prizes and ribbons from the exhibitions he entered. Perhaps the most memorial reward was in 1931 when he received first prize for his Hard Red Spring Wheat at the Chicago Exhibition. This earned him the title of World Wheat King. He also received a $100.00 prize from the C.P.R. for his efforts. This variety of wheat and his Victory Oats are no longer grown.

Family members recall the tedious hours spent producing the grain under the supervision of their father. The grain was weeded, cut and harvested by hand. After the grain was harvested, the difficult work began. Each kernel had to be analyzed, selected and polished to qualify as award-winning produce. Mr and Mrs Gilbert had five children: Guilda, Joe, Helen, Richard and Cuthbert.


Cuthbert, Joe, Helen and Guilda.

Cuthbert, Joe, Helen and Guilda.

Gilbert, Guy and Donna
Submitted by Linda Anderson

Donna is the daughter of Doug Anderson and Florence McGrath. She was born in Big River. She attended school in Big River. She married Guy Gilbert, son of Dick and Phyllis Gilbert on September 4, 1982. They have five girls, Michelle, Nadine, Ashley, Kari and Celynne. Michelle is married to Jeff Swanson, and they have one son, Brody. Guy has worked in the bush for J & R contracting since 1979. Donna has worked at the Big River Health Center since 1997.


Gilbert, John and Susan

I, Susan, the 4th oldest child of Thomas and Barbara Warriner was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on June 19, 1948. We lived in the West Cowan District on the family farm and attended school in Big River. I have many fond memories of our life on the farm.

I married John Gilbert, son of Joe and Alma Gilbert on April 15, 1967. We have two children: Tracey Sue born in 1968 and Bartley John born in 1972 (both born in Big River). Both of the kids attended school in Big River until June of 1980 when we moved to Fox Valley, Saskatchewan where we presently live.

Tracey married Barry Schmaltz on January 5, 1997, and has two sons Josh and Peter John. They reside in Fox Valley. Bart married Kim Erikson on June 27, 1998, and lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Brandy, John's daughter, was born in 1976. She married Merle Catarat on September 29, 2001. They have a daughter Mandy born in 2003 and they presently reside at Dillon, Saskatchewan.

John works for a private contractor (Don Reinboldt Trucking) as a heavy equipment operator/trucker. He is kept very busy during the year. I work for Valley Variety Vendors (liquor and whatever) and at Blue Sage Services (gas company outlet) and also as a home care personnel.

We still come home to Big River and spend most of our holidays up there visiting family and friends.


Gilbert, Richard and Phyllis

Dick was born in 1928 in Blaine Lake, Saskatchewan to Harry and Augusta May Gilbert. Dick grew up in Ladder Valley on the family farm. Dick left home at the age of fifteen. One of the first jobs he had was at the fire tower on the Park border near Nesslin Lake.

He met Phyllis Gouldhawke in 1950 and then joined the air force in 1951. He and Phyllis married on September 1951. He did a one-year tour in England in 1954. He then came out of the forces and started his career driving truck.

Dick and Phyllis raised six children: Sandra, Ron, Roy, Guy, Holly and Heather. They raised their family here in Big River.

Dick was the consummate truck driver and showed his skills at the local Truck Rodeo, going as far as the Provincial Competition where he placed third. He was the first driver to go that far.

Dick and Phyllis spent the first two years of their marriage in Portage La Prairie where he was stationed before moving back to Big River.

Phyllis came to Big River where she started working for Dr Crux and then met and married Dick. She also worked as a telephone operator in the phone office located in Bill Young's house on Third Avenue North. As a child, she had lived at Blain Lake, at the north end of Delaronde (then known as Stoney Lake), and the south end of Delaronde. She and her family then moved to British Columbia.

Dick and Phyllis also ran the Lakeview Cafe at the Hotel for two years. Phyllis is also well known for her homemade bread and buns as well as her cooking. Big River was always home to them and their family.


Gilbert, Roy and Watier, Jane

Roy was born November 5, 1956, in Shellbrook. He is the son of Dick and Phyllis Gilbert. He grew up in Big River.

I was born in Big River on March 25, 1956. My parents are Joe and Roseanne Watier. I was raised at Winter Lake.

Roy and I live on an acreage that is a subdivision of the Watier Farm at Winter Lake (NW 25-54-7W31. We live at Sharkwell Slough and we named our place "Windswept." We're on Maurice N. Peterson's pasture quarter. Peterson was the original homesteader of my family's farm.

Roy and I have lived here since 1983. I keep busy on the place and plan to go back to work at drawing. Roy has always been a labourer and in spring 2002 he became a millworker. We enjoy walking in the countryside around our place. Roy has a son, Zach, with his first wife, Carla Braidek.


Gilbert, Sandra

I was born in 1953 to Dick and Phyllis Gilbert, the first of six children. I took all my schooling in Big River. I like all school sports and figure skating.

In 1975, I had a daughter Christa and decided I needed a career. In 1976 I went to Saskatoon and took a course in Cosmetology. In 1977 I opened my Salon in a small room in Guilda Brownfield's trailer. Thank God for Auntie Guilda and her belief in me.

In 1978, the salon moved to the Metis Building (the old theatre building) and in 1987 the Salon moved again to its present home on First Avenue North in the building with Panter Agencies.

I started curling in 1976, which then became my winter passion, and I'm still curling.

In 1998, Christa and her then husband-to-be made me a grandmother to a beautiful baby boy named Alexander. Three years later a second charmer named Riley completed the family.

I am currently working full time in my Salon and spending the rest of my time sitting on Town Council and Curling Club executive (there is no time to be bored) and playing with the grandchildren.


Glendinning, Mr. and Mrs.
Excerpts from Timber Trails 1979

The Glendinning family came to the north in 1925. They lived in Bodmin for one year before moving into Big River. Bodmin was a French community during this time, and therefore one of the daughters (Alice) decided to take the opportunity to learn French. Alice arrived home and proudly displayed her ability to speak French. Her father could understand some of the language, which was why she was never allowed to repeat the new words she had learned. The French lessons ended.

Mr Glendinning was a carpenter and worked at several different jobs. He also worked for the R.C.A.F. at La Ronge.

In 1933, the family moved onto a farm east of Ladder Lake and remained there until 1942. From there they moved to Prince Albert and then to British Columbia.

In 1964, Mr Glendinning passed away. Mrs Glendinning is still living in a nursing home in British Columbia, at the age of eighty-seven. The names of the children are Ray, Irene, Eddie, Ida, Stewart, Bernice, Colin and Alice.


The Goliath Family

Heinrich Goliath.

Heinrich Goliath.

Heinrich Goliath was born in a village in northern Germany, which in 1907 was part of East Prussia. He came to Canada in 1927 at the age of twenty, and found work on farms in southern Saskatchewan, before coming to Big River. During his time in Saskatoon, he met Marianne Gasper, who had emigrated from Austria, and they later married.

Along with several other like-minded pioneers of that time, in 1931 Heinrich made the seventy-mile trek north from Big River to Dore Lake, where the commercial fishing industry had been expanding since at least 1910. This was a three-day trip across Delaronde by skiff, portaging sixteen miles to Sled Lake, and on to Dore. In the winter, the trip to Dore Lake was by horse sleighs on the freight swings.

Heinrich established a commercial fishing operation at Camp Four Island, later moving to Michel Point. He went on the trap line in the fall and commercial fished when the lake was frozen. Travel and hauling nets, fish, supplies was done by dog sleighs.

Heinrich and Marianne lived and worked on Dore Lake until 1938 when, since the children were nearing school age, they moved back to Big River. The children then were Reinhold, Gertrude, and Heinrich Wilhelm. Ernest was born in Big River in 1939.

The Goliath's purchased the OP Godin cottage in the Ladder Lake Beach subdivision, a mile to the east of Big River. This was adjacent to a former air force base, which was subsequently occupied by the Department of Natural Resources and later became the L.I.D. road maintenance operations base.

Heinrich Goliath died at Dore Lake in 1938. Marianne and the children continued to reside at Ladder Lake.


Marianne Goliath

Heinrich Goliath.

Marianne Goliath.

Marianne Goliath (Gasper) came to Canada in 1929 from a small village, in southern Austria, where she was born in 1906. During her two years in Saskatoon, she met Heinrich Goliath, and they later married.

The couple established a homestead at Dore Lake in 1931, where Heinrich was engaged in the commercial fishing industry and trapping.

With a large garden and an abundance of fish and game, the couple lived relatively comfortably and met many new friends on the lake. In an interview for the Dore Lake History Society book, "A Look at the Past" (1983), Marianne described her seven years on Dore Lake as the best years of her life.

The family moved to Big River in 1938, where they purchased one of the cottages in the Ladder Lake Beach subdivision, one mile east of Big River. The property included four lots, which, with a little clearing, allowed enough room for almost an acre of garden. Space was used to its fullest extent, and the garden became the main source of sustenance. Along with the chickens, sometimes a few turkeys and geese, the milk cow, and occasionally pigs, the family managed to produce enough food for them, and even a little for the market.

After Heinrich's death in 1938, Albert Dumat, who had been a good friend of his and one of the commercial fishermen on Dore Lake came to the assistance of the family, which now numbered four children.

Marianne managed the little acreage, planted, tended and harvested the gardens and tended to the animals with whatever assistance the children were able to provide. When the children finished school and "left the farm", she was almost on her own. Albert Dumat had come to live with the family, and for much of the time while the children were growing up and going to school, was able to assist with the work and finances. It also helped that he had a truck to haul fish, firewood, produce, and to provide occasional transportation.

In the 1960's Marianne began a long battle with cancer and spent her last days in the Big River Hospital. She died in 1982 and was laid to rest beside her husband in the Big River Cemetery.


Goliath children.

Back Row: Holty, Gertie. Front Row: Henry, Ernie, 1982.

Reinhold Goliath

Reinhold Goliath was born on April 16, 1932, at Big River, after a three-day trip by horse sleigh from Dore Lake. His mother, Marianne, described the trip back "amongst swarms of mosquitoes and flies with a baby" as "no picnic".

The family moved from Dore Lake to Big River in 1938 and purchased a cottage in the Ladder Lake subdivision across from the former air force base.

Soon after Reinhold began school, it was found that his poor eyesight was becoming a handicap. Arrangements were made for him to attend school at the School for the Blind in Brantford, Ontario, where he completed his high school. Since he was not able to commute to Big River frequently, his family did not see much of him during that time.

Reinhold, who was nicknamed 'George' by his Toronto friends, took an electronics course and worked as an electronics technician for a time, and later operated a bowling alley in Thornhill. He married Yvonne Boulton and had a daughter, Lisa. He and Yvonne retired to Sebright in the Lake Simcoe area of Ontario. Reinhold died in 2002. His wife and daughter still live in the Lake Simcoe area.


Gertrude Kezar

Gertrude Kezar (Gertie) (nee: Goliath: Born, Dore Lake, June 1935).

Our family moved to Big River from Dore Lake in 1938. The move became necessary so that the children could attend school. The family bought their first home near Ladder Lake.

In the early 1940s, our playground was the abandoned Air Force base. I remember so well all the buildings painted green with white trim, the huge hangar and the icehouse, filled to the rafters with curly shavings. You could bury yourself up to the neck in shavings until someone came and kicked you out! There was also a pigeon house, the long dock, and the mess hall. We learned early not to play in the mess hall. It was infested with wasps, as my older brother painfully learned.

The mess hall was later moved into Big River, where it became the hospital. We then had neighbours move into some of the buildings at the base; Ernie and Hazel Over, and later Harry and Jane McInnis, then Lyman Johnson and family.

Down the road from our place lived the Bruce McTaggart family and Ernie Brownfield. They were all very good neighbours.

Some childhood memories of Big River are skating on Ladder Lake, the old swimming hole, playing yard games (red light green light, tin can, etc.), the sliding hill (hospital hill), and trapping gophers (to this day, the gophers are still winning that battle!).

I also remember the bush pilot George Greening buzzing over Big River in his plane. We would run, or bike down Main Street to the end of the dock on Cowan Lake to welcome him. Then we would follow him, like the Pied Piper, up to the Rex Cafe. "Ice cream cones for everyone!" he'd say. He was a great character.

My children always lovingly referred to my mother as "Chicken Grandma".


Gertie married GL (Len) Kezar, of Prince Albert. They had three children:

Sherry (married Wayne Bueckert; grandchildren Adam, Nelson, Landon)

Trent (married Janice Szabo; grandchildren Everett, Kristen, and Jarrett)

John (married Kathy Petruk and since divorced; grandchildren Kyle and Courtney)

Len Kezar died in 1995. The family still lives in Prince Albert.

Heinrich Wilhelm Goliath

Heinrich Wilhelm Goliath born at Dore Lake, March 12, 1937. My earliest recollections of Big River are of life on the little acreage in the Ladder Lake Beach subdivision where my parents had acquired a cottage when we moved there from Dore Lake. The cottage had a large sun porch and three more rooms, which served as kitchen, dining, living room, bedrooms, storage, and whatever else seemed convenient for a family of four children and two adults. The porch seemed always to be full of everything from chicken feed and old car parts, to boxes, bags, books, old clothes, and anything else that wasn't needed or used very often. Digging through these old relics was always interesting after several years' absence.

The cottage was not insulated. I recall that on cold winter mornings after the old airtight heater had burned out, everything that could freeze was frozen, including the pot under the bed. Mom was always the first one up to start a fire and thaw the place out.

Our water supply was hauled up by pail from a well, or collected in rain barrels in the summer or from snow melted down on the woodstove in winter. Toilets were outdoors and very uncomfortable. The black and white pages of the Eaton's catalogues were better than the coloured ones.

The old Big River School, which was demolished, was a little more than a mile from Ladder Lake. This was not an unpleasant walk in the summertime, but sometimes difficult in the winter. We were fortunate that the old air force base became a L.I.D. maintenance site, which meant that the roads were cleared frequently. When I got my first bike, getting to and from school became a lot easier. The school commute got a bit shorter when Junior High School was located in the new building on Main street.

Our teachers seemed to come and go frequently in the 1940s. Everyone in our earlier classes will remember Margaret Bouchard, who used to throw her keys at anyone who was not paying attention. Others I can recall are Miss McKay, Miss McNabb (we knew them all as Miss), Miss Neely, Miss Gagen, Miss Rowles, Miss Gervais, Miss Lavasseur, and later, Martin Streicher and principal William Gould.

The old school had outdoor plumbing and a barn where some of the students who came to school by horse team could put up their horses. Some of these hardy souls would come to school after a few hours of hauling hay and doing chores and were ready for a little rest. They would occasionally have a little nap at their school desks. The teachers seemed to understand.

Our neighbours at Ladder Lake during the early years were Ernest Charles Over and his wife Hazel. Ernie had an old open-top Model A, which Hazel loved to drive. Ernie and Hazel were like family to us. They had no children of their own, and we spent a lot of time with them when Mom was working in town or was otherwise occupied.

Harry and Jane McInnis and daughter, Mary, were the next occupants of the old airbase residence. Sometime after Harry McInnis's death, Jane and daughter Mary moved to a place on Fourth Avenue in Big River. Lyman Johnson was the next occupant of the airbase site. Originally quartered in the old air force hangar building, he built himself a small house on the site, where he lived for several years. He married Jean Crawford and had a daughter, Elaine. He later moved to a new location farther south in the subdivision.

Other occupants of lots in the subdivision from time to time were, Ernest C. Brownfield, Bruce McTaggart and family, Bill Garnot and family, the Jack Lanigan family, Boyces, and Doughertys. Other earlier residents were the Schlitzes, Kesslers, Walrods, and Volds.

In the 1950s, Wilfred Godin and his wife operated a screened dance pavilion on the shore of Ladder Lake just down the hill from Joe Dougherty's place. They made for some lively Saturday nights. Mrs Godin, whom we knew as "Ma" Godin, played a very vigorous piano and accompanied herself with some equally vigorous vocals. Amedi (Middy) Chamberlain played the drums, and John (Jack) Millikin played several different instruments. The music carried to our place, which was at the other end of the subdivision, and I'm sure that when the band was in full flight, "Won't You Come Home Bill Baily" was heard across the lake as well. Since there was no liquor licensing for such facilities, guests would simply retire to the surrounding bushes for refreshments on their own. Judging from the number of beer bottles, which we (and the Doughertys, and others) collected in the mornings, this must-have occurred frequently.

Memories of growing up in Big River would fill volumes. A random collection would include cranking out theatre calendars for Pete Bouchard on the old treadle printing press with Big River Printing Company partner George Apps. Cruising the marshes on the edge of Cowan Lake with Keith Kowalyk in a leaky homemade tar patched boat. Mini-warfare with bows and lead-casted arrowheads in the bush south of town. Rolling tires from the nuisance grounds down the hill and over the tracks. Biking to Bodmin and back during school lunch hour (sometimes we made it); and working the green chain at the sawmill, the Timber Board piling yard, and loading boxcars at the planer mill.

Earlier memories would include long, barefoot hikes around Ladder Lake. Plinking gophers and crows for a few cents bounty on tails and feet. Digging out groundhogs from log piles with a fierce little mutt. Frank Schlitz ploughing our garden with his horse team. "Getting the cow" after school, which would take hours and many miles to locate our free-range beast and bring her home for milking. The three-mile-long skates on Ladder Lake when it was frozen (or almost frozen), and catching rides on the hayracks or cabooses that went past our place in the winter. As the song goes, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone"!


Heinrich W. Goliath

Heinrich W. Goliath graduated from William R. Gould's grade twelve class in 1956, and from the College of Engineering at U of S in 1961. He worked at various mining operations, and then studied law, graduating in 1967. He married Jacqueline (nee Paul) in 1964. They had two children, Henry Anton (Tony), who married Selina Mackie, and Cassandra Lyon (Cassie), who married Bradley Tolley. The Tolleys had two boys, Reece Wilhelm and Brett Thomas. The Goliaths live in Prince Albert, where he is a judge of the Provincial Court.


Ernest Goliath

Ernest Goliath: born, Big River, June 16, 1939. My memories of the winter's in Big River:

My first toboggan ride down "Tower Hill" (from just below Apps' house to approximately Rae's house). I cried all the way down.

Toboggan or sleigh rides during school recess. One ride was from Rae's, down Third, left on Main, down Main, across the tracks and almost to the dock.

"Brushing out" and developing a ski trail from just south of Waite's house, west for 1/8 mile, south 1/8 mile, and west again for 1/4 mile, ending at the train water tower by the Cowan River Bridge.

Walking to school past McKenzie's and stopping to look at Mac' great dog team and watch as Ted and his dad steamed planks to curve them for a new dog sled.

The hours that it took for the men to pull a team of horses out of Ladder Lake after they had broken through the ice (was it Gagne's team?)

Visiting with Sam Olson and his wife, across the lake from us and trying to coax their many Chihuahuas out from their hiding place behind the stove.

My memories of the summers in Big River:

In the early to mid 'forties when scrap metal was fetching one cent a pound. We kids were all going to be rich if we could only get that train wheel out of the mud on the shore of Ladder Lake (what the hell was a train wheel doing there anyway?)

The "swimming hole" and the races between Larry McNabb and Gasper Lacendre. Larry was the stronger and faster, and Gasper was the more graceful and quieter, and the best girl swimmer was Anita LaRose.

The fierce dogfights between McNabb's dogs ("Silver" and the dark one) and Young's bulldog (was his name Danny?); and the sad day in school when Gould's dog Terry didn't show up as usual. All the kids knew he must have died.

Sometimes walking with Tony Hendrickson on his daily trip to Mac's poolroom.

At about four years old sitting on Vold's Shetland pony to have my picture taken.

And I remember so much more, but so do we all, especially when we begin to talk about it and reminisce.


Ernest Goliath (Ernie) married Joyce (nee Butler) from Marcelin, in 1963. They moved to Port Alberni on Vancouver Island in 1963. He was employed with Macmillan Bloedel Ltd., in various positions, from 1965, retiring as personnel manager in 1991. Ernest and Joyce had two daughters, Andrea Jean and Alison Dawn, born in 1970 and 1972. Ernie still lives on Vancouver Island, as does Joyce and their two daughters.


Albert Dumat

Albert Dumat was born on March 11th, 1900 in Trakeningken in what was then East Prussia. He came to Canada from Germany in 1927. He and several fellow immigrants worked as farm labourers in southern Saskatchewan for several years before moving north to Big River. He and some of his friends had heard that there were opportunities to be had and money to be made in the commercial fishery up north, so he went there to learn the trade.

Albert and a friend Pete Busch commercial fished with Robert Kochendorfer, who had a camp at Spruce Point. He later bought Kochendorfer's operation and continued to fish for almost twenty years.

Albert eventually sold his fishing operation and moved to Big River, where he worked at various jobs in the lumbermill operation. He had been lending assistance to the Goliath family since Heinrich Goliath's untimely death in 1938. He came to live with the family in the 1940s, until his death, of a heart attack, in 1971.


Gould, Grant and Vivian

Grant and Vivian (Servatius) were both born and raised in the Big River area. After completing high school in 1956 Grant went to Alberta to work in the oil fields. Vivian finished school in 1956 and went to work for Waite Fisheries Limited, first as a clerk in the store and then as a bookkeeper in the office.

Grant returned to Big River in September 1960 and married his high school sweetheart. Together in 1962, they started Grants Shell Service, a business they ran for thirty-three years. They also operated Gould's Campground from 1970 to 1982. Their son Travis and his wife Regine took over the Shell business and ran it for five years.

Both Grant and Vivian are community-minded people, especially anything to do with the rink or sports. Vivian was a member of the Order of the Royal Purple (O.O.R.P.) for forty years, and only recently took out a demit. They and their company have been generous supporters of many community projects.

They have three children and six grandchildren. Charlaine (Leon Lindskog) who works for Social Services in Lloydminster, Alberta, Celynne, who is a high school teacher in Calgary Alberta, and Travis (Regine Gerow) who have a bulk fuel business out of Saskatoon.

Grant and Vivian have recently sold their home in Big River and moved to Prince Albert, where Grant is on dialysis.


Gould, Mr and Mrs W.R.

Grace and Bill Gould.

Grace and Bill Gould.

William Roland Gould was born in Walkerton, Ontario. He came west with his parents, William and Isobel (nee McRae) Gould, a brother George and three sisters, Muriel, Norma, and Elsie, to reside in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where his father became the station agent in East Prince Albert, at that time called Goschen. They later moved to Saskatoon. Among his family he was known as Rollie, when he arrived in Big River, he said his name was Bill.

Grace Y. Gould was born in Scotland and came to Prince Albert with her parents, Alexander and Mary (nee Maxwell) Motherwell, sisters Mary and Isabella and brothers Thomas and Robert. Grace attended Queen Mary School and P.A.C.I.

Grace first came to Big River in 1922 to visit her sister Mary. In 1926 having completed her business course at The Prince Albert Business College, she moved back to Big River to work for Big River Consolidated Fisheries owned by George and Carson Rizer. Grace was one of the first guests to stay at the Lakeview Hotel owned by Ernest Brownfield.

Bill served in Russia in the First World War. On his return to Canada, he attended The University of Saskatchewan, taking a two-year course in engineering. He then attended Normal School, later obtaining his B.A. from the University. He taught school in Jansen and Harris, Saskatchewan. In 1926 he came to Big River as Principal of the school.

In June of 1927 Grace and Bill were married in Prince Albert. Grace was shy and knew there would be people at the station in Big River, so they arranged for Mr And Mrs Rizer to meet them at Bodmin. All their planning was for nothing, as they were met at the hill by members of the community and paraded through town.

In 1929, their first child Keith was born. He died later that year. A daughter Laura and a son Grant were children born to them and have grown up and resided in Big River.

Grace and Bill were both very active in the community. Bill liked track, baseball, tennis, soccer, basketball, hockey, badminton and curling. He loved the outdoors, tenting, hunting, fishing, boating and walking through the forest. He loved a good thunderstorm. He was a long-time member of the Legion; a charter member of the B.P.O.E. He worked with the Red Cross for many years receiving their long service pin. He was a member of The Board of Trade, an Elder of the United Church, President of the Big River Braves and acted and directed in drama productions. He was often called upon to chair meetings or emcee at gatherings; he liked to sing and could play the piano some.

Grace enjoyed swimming, basketball, skating, tennis, dancing, singing, drama, and she was an avid curler. She loved to read, knit, and do embroidery work. She was a member of the Curling Club, U.C.W. Good Cheer Club (during the war years), Hospital Board, Board of Trade, Hospital Auxiliary, Senior Citizens, Museum Committee, a charter member of the O.O.R.P., The Big River and District Recreation Board, The North Central Regional Recreation Association and the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association. In 1982 she received an award of merit from the S.P.R.A. She was also on the United Church Board.

Bill joined the R.C.A.F. in 1941. He received his discharge in 1945 with the rank of Flying Officer.

When he got out of the services he went to Buffalo Narrows to manage Waite and Company. In 1946 he became Principal of the Big River School. He retired in 1963. At his retirement party, many of his former students were in attendance, and he received many cards and letters from far and wide. Lots of his students would make a point of visiting him when they returned to Big River for a visit, which he enjoyed.

Grace went to work at Waite Fisheries Limited in 1943. It was only going to be for a short time. That short time turned out to be 35 years. During that time she became Vice president and Secretary-Treasurer of the company.

They received telephone service in 1946. Their number was 13. Bill got his first car in 1955. He was 57 years old. Sometimes he drove someplace and walked home, as he was so used to walking. Grace never learned to drive.

Grace and Bill never agreed on politics, she was a Liberal and he was a Conservative. In spite of this difference, she was always a gracious hostess when Bill's long-time friend and schoolmate, John Diefenbaker came to call.

Grace enjoyed travelling, sometimes with Martha Waite and sometimes alone. She always dreamed of going back to Scotland, which she did.

Grace and Bill had many friends over the years; Alice and Mernard Abbot, Mary and Steve Kowalyk, Wilfred and Yvette Godin, Joe Friedman, Kathy Waite, Len and Martha Waite, Cliff and Ev Charlton, George and Jean Apps, Norman and Fran Crux, Hulda and John Johnson to name a few.

After Bill's death, Grace stayed at their home at 107th Ave. South until 1992, when poor health made it necessary for her to move to the Lakewood Lodge. She passed away in 1998.


Graham, Jesse Francis

Jesse Graham originally came from Castleton, Ontario. He settled in the Winter Lake area on SE 15-54-7 W3rd in October 1932. He built a log house and barn and raised about twenty head of cattle on this quarter. This land was registered in his name on August 19, 1938.


Grimmler, Hans
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Hans Grimmler.

Hans Grimmler

Hans Grimmler came from Germany in 1926 with his mother, Martha. His father, John, had arrived in Canada a year earlier and established a home in Big River. John Grimmler took a job cutting and loading cordwood for the Power Plant in Prince Albert.

The Grimmlers moved to a homestead and Hans later farmed this land. Hans also trapped and worked for the Timber Board. He still resides in Big River.


Gruben, Halfdan

Halfdan Gruben was born in Christiania, Province of Odalem, Norway. When he was thirty-eight years old, he settled in the Winter Lake District on NW12-54-7 W3rd on June 15, 1931. He lived in a tent until November of that year, when he finished building his tiny log house. Records are not clear regarding how long he stayed at this location.


Gunderson, Doug and Debbie

Gunderson family.

Back Row: Chad, Doug, Debbie.
Front Row: Roxanne, Brittany, Leanne.

Douglas Roy Gunderson was born September 29, 1949, in Leoville Saskatchewan; he is the fourth-born son of Roy and Mildred Gunderson.

Doug's family lived in Timberlost until 1955 when they moved to Big River. They lived three miles west of town. Doug attended school in Timberlost in grade one and the rest of his schooling was in Big River. When Doug was still in school he worked after school and weekends for a few different people. He worked for Leonard Young digging a well and milking cows, Waite Fisheries Ltd. packing fish and delivering groceries, Eugene Swanson, cutting hay and Sherman Harty threshing.

Debbie Leverton was born August 12, 1960, in Prince Albert Saskatchewan. She is the first-born and only daughter of Fred and Wilma Leverton. Debbie spent most of her childhood years living on the family farm in Park Valley. Debbie attended school in Debden. Debbie and her brothers spent time during the summer vacation in Big River with their grandparents Jesse and Julie Leverton.

In 1977, Doug and Debbie met in Big River and shortly thereafter Debbie moved to Big River to be with Doug. At that time Doug was driving truck for Mervin Sundby. In 1978 Doug went to work for Piche/McGrath Logging. On October 1, 1978, Doug and Debbie's first daughter Roxanne was born in Big River Union Hospital. In 1979, Debbie worked at the hotel cafe for Wayne and Audrey Hamon.

On October 18, 1980, Doug and Debbie were married in the Anglican Church in Big River. At this time they lived in a new Sask. housing house on 6th Avenue North. Doug was hauling for Earl Beebe Trucking. On September 3, 1981, Doug and Debbie's second daughter, Leanne was born in Big River. Nineteen months later their family was complete with the birth of their son Chad on April 21 1983. Doug and Debbie's children were all born in Big River with Dr.'s K & S Shukla attending.

In September of 1983, Roxanne started school at T. D. Michel and graduated from Big River High School in 1996. In 1984 they moved out of town where Debbie's grandparents, Jesse and Julie Leverton lived. In 1985 Doug and Debbie built their house in the same yard as Jesse and Julie. Roxanne, Leanne and Chad became very close to Jesse and Julie, Julie would take the kids and go for long walks exploring beaver dams, picking berries, climbing trees and having picnics.

Debbie started work at Lakewood Lodge in June 1986 as a Special care aide, she still works there today. Leanne started school in 1986 and graduated in 1999.

While Doug and Debbie worked, Chad spent many hours with Grandpa and Julie. They had a large hard-covered bird book and Chad would lie between them in the afternoon and they would go through the book. He got to know every bird in that book and even settled an argument between Jesse and Julie about one of the birds at the feeder. Chad started school in 1988.

Doug worked for Len Zen. Trucking from 1985 to 1995, hauling gravel and later running the NRT truck on the long hauls. In October of 1995 Doug started working for Wilson Ent. hauling logs and pulpwood, he still works there today.

On February 5, 1997, Roxanne gave birth to a baby girl, Brittany, born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She's Doug and Debbie's first grandchild. Roxanne moved to Lloydminster in October 2000. Brittany spent time between being with Papa and Grandma in Big River and being with her mom in Lloydminster. In August 2002 Brittany moved to Lloydminster and started kindergarten, spending her holidays in Big River with Papa and Grandma. In August 2003, Roxanne and Brittany moved closer to home. They now live in Prince Albert with Leanne. Brittany is in grade one at Vincent Massey Community School.

Leanne went to SIAST in September 2000 and graduated from the Correction Workers program in October 2001. Leanne moved to Prince Albert in August 2002 where she began work at the Northern Lights Casino, where she still works today.

Chad has stayed in Big River; he worked at Midtown Service, McKenzie Trucking LTD, and is now working for Darren Osinchuk at Big River Truck & Trailer.


Gunderson, Gordon and Sherry

Gordon was born July 1, 1948, in Leoville, Saskatchewan, to Roy and Mildred Gunderson. He was their third child. At that time, they lived in Timberlost, which is where Gordon started school. The family moved into Big River when he was in Grade Two, and he finished his schooling there.

At age sixteen Gordon began working away from home at various jobs, such as clearing land for farmers, working at the Gardiner Dam, bush work in the winters, driving a semi, carpentry work and hauling gravel in summers. Gordon married Gail Menard in 1969. They divorced in 1988. They had three daughters:


1. Tracey - born August 1969, works and lives with her family in Lloydminster, Alberta,

2. Denise - born February 1972, lives in Big River with her children.

3. Melanie - born June 197, lives in Big River.

Melanie, Tracey and Denise.

Melanie, Tracey and Denise.

Denise and Melanie are employed at Big River Lumber.

The family moved to Hudson Bay in 1970 where Gordon worked in the Aspenite Plant for the summer, then moved back to Big River to drive a truck for Max Wilson, and South Construction.

In January 1972 Gordon moved to Pine Point, North West Territories, and worked in the Cominco Open Pit Mine. He moved back to Big River in 1975 and worked at carpentry and drywalling with Bruce Neufeld.

Gordon began work with the Department of Highways in 1977 and is still employed with them. He became Supervisor of the Highways Maintenance crew of Big River in 1993.

Gordon married Sherry Gallant, October 11, 1990, in Las Vegas. Sherry has been employed with Saskatchewan Environment in Big River since 1978. Gordon and Sherry have a son, Derek. He was born in November of 1989.


Sherry, Derekk, Gordon.

Sherry, Derek, Gordon Gunderson.

Gunderson, Roy and Mildred

Roy and Mildred, 1985.

Roy and Mildred, 1985.

I was born Mildred Olive the daughter of Frank and Tina (Mackie) Anderson. Mom passed away in 1959 and Dad in 1961. I was born in Lily Plain Saskatchewan on September 9, 1922. We moved to Shellbrook and I started school there. My dad had a team of horses and his saw rig. He hauled and cut firewood and sold it.

For the summer holidays, we would go to Spiritwood and pick berries to bring home and can. My brother's Albert and Harry were killed overseas in the war in 1944. Arthur and Wilfred are also deceased.

Doug is in Big River and Dennis is in Prince Albert. My sister's Grace and Jean are deceased. Jessie, Myrtle and Vivian are still living.

I was in grade 7 when we moved to Spiritwood Saskatchewan by team and wagon. We attended Wild Bear S.D for 2 years. In Spiritwood, my dad worked on a ranch for Wilfred Parent, and my oldest brother worked for Bert Cadieu. He had a farm and then went into politics.

We then moved to the East Creek S.D. A year later my dad went north. The Government sent a group of men to take up homesteads. That was in 1937. Each person was given a quarter of land. They were also given other things such as horses and cattle. My dad was given a cow and my mom and two sisters got T.B from the milk and were in the sanitarium for some time. We helped dad clear the land, we had to get up early and cut brush until it was too hot and if it was cool in the evening we had to go back out to work again.

We had a few cattle and horses, chickens and some pigs and a garden. Mr Olenchuk came to mom one day. He wanted "egg seed", he had some hens to set but no rooster. He got eggs. We were about the first family in the area they called the block. Dad took Wilfred, Vivian, Dennis and I in the spring of 1938. He brought Mom and the rest of the family a few weeks later. When we got to the homestead there were no door or windows in the downstairs. We were upstairs and I had to cook on an airtight heater, but, when Mom came it was all done. Four men came up there, so my mother baked bread for them. There sure was a lot of bread to bake. They moved their families up later and they all helped each other as the houses were built from logs.

There was no store or Post Office and when we did get them it was named Timberlost. Mr Thibeault and his son Albert ran our first Post Office and store. Louis Pelchat and Johnny and Nora Beebe ran them later. Quite a few people were living out there and we would have picnics, ball games and dances. We would go to other places to play ball and we had some really good times. Mr and Mrs Cleaver would make ice cream and bring it to our ball games.

I met Roy Gunderson in 1938, he went overseas in 1941 he was in a Belgium hospital for a while and returned in 1945. We were married in 1946.

In 1955, the Government gave each family $500.00 to move from Timberlost as they could not make a living as the land was too poor. So everyone went their separate ways. We moved to Green Mantle and my dad moved to Big River. We lived on Mr Reed's place in Green Mantle for a while and then moved closer to town as Roy was working for C.N. He then worked for Mike Skopyk for a few years.

In 1973, we moved to Pine Point Northwest Territories. Roy worked in the mine for two years and then we moved back to Big River. We raised a large family six boys and five girls, one of the boys was a twin but the girl only lived for 24 hours. When the kids were small they all used the same bathwater, as there was no running water, so you can imagine the soup we had at the end of the cycle. Our children are:

Earl (Cec) in Big River

Grace (James) Forbes in Big River

Gordon (Sherry) second marriage in Big River

Doug (Debbie) in Big River

Geraldine (Stan) Millikin in Big River

Bernard (Maryellen) in Big River

Norman (Jenny) in Meadow Lake

Norman was the twin (Darlene)

Dwayne (Leslie) Prince Albert

Brenda (Ken) McKay in Big River

Judy (Marlow) Pister in Big River

Bev (Lyle) Lindskog separated.

Roy passed away in 1992 at the age of 73. I now have 27 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren and I am now 81 years old.


Gunderson Family.

Back Row: Bev, Brenda, Grace, Geraldine, Judy.
Front Row: Dwayne, Bernard, Earl, Mildred, Gordon, Doug, Norman.

Gustafson, Albert
Submitted by Eugene Swanson

Esther and Albert Gustafson.

Esther and Albert Gustafson.

In 1910, Albert Gustafson emigrated from northern Sweden where the growing season was short and the land stony, hoping for a better future for his wife and small son. He travelled to Prince Albert where he worked with pick and shovel installing sewer lines. He heard of homestead land available and walked to Canwood to file on a quarter of land, and then on to Big River to work on the new sawmill foundation and burner. While he was here, one of the workers on the burner fell to his death. After two summers in Big River and a winter building a log cabin on his claim, Albert was ready to send money to Sweden so his wife, Esther, and son, Wally, could come to Canada.

The Gustafsons had two more children, Viola and Helge. Esther passed away in 1923. Viola finished Grade Eight and then came to work in Big River in 1929, where she later married Gus Swanson. Helge and Albert farmed together until the late 1940's, with Helge working out most of the time. Then, Albert sold his farm to Helge and built himself a small house near his daughter Viola at Big River. He lived there until his death in 1955.



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