Labach, Andrew and Shirley
Back Row: Shirley, Glenda, Andy.
Front Row: Marlon, Wendy, Michael, Ken (1969).
Andy's grandparents, both maternal and paternal, immigrated to Canada from Ukraine around the beginning of the century. They settled in the St. Julien district near Wakaw, Saskatchewan where they farmed.
On November 1, 1926, Andy was the youngest of six sons born to William and Pauline Labach. He later became the brother of three younger sisters. Growing up on a farm, he attended the rural elementary school in St. Julien and High School in Wakaw. Because of the war, and three older brothers in the armed forces, he was needed on the farm. Sadly his brother Peter, who was also a teacher, was shot down over Holland. In 1949, Andy continued his education by enrolling at Teachers' College in Saskatoon.
My parents, Richard and Vera Marks, moved from the States to a homestead near Leask. About one year later, my father purchased a garage, eventually, it evolved to a hardware store and theatre. I was born in Leask on January 24, 1931, and attended school to graduation. Our family consisted of our Mom, Dad, three girls and two boys. My older brother, Vernon, an air gunner made sixty flights over enemy territory and was one of Canada's witnesses at the Nuremberg trials. My family was very thankful for his safe return. After graduating I attended Teachers' College in Saskatoon. It was there in Room D, Mr Mill's class, that I met Andy.
Soon after graduating from Teachers' College, Andy and I applied for teaching positions in rural schools. Andy taught at Cosy Nook, near Neilburg and I taught at Tyrone, near Lashburn.
In June 1950, we were married in Saskatoon and spent our honeymoon enrolled in summer classes. In the fall of 1950, we accepted positions in a two-room rural school near Goodsoil. We spent five years at Waterhen School where we had no electricity and just the school well for water. While there, our neighbours got us interested in bees, so with their help we started a hive. Believe it or not, that one hive produced 250 pounds of honey. With all the wild blueberries around, that honey came in handy when canning berries.
On December 25, 1952, Ken was born to us, a very special Christmas gift. Anne Schreiber, a neighbour became Ken's babysitter and later spent a couple of years with us in Big River.
That first winter in Big River, 1955, was very cold and a huge snowfall occurred in October. During a blizzard on Hallowe'en night, Mr Burt, who was patrolling near our teacherage (on the highway), stopped in to keep from freezing. On our way to school, we would occasionally stop at Young's Garage to warm up. Both Andy and I taught Grade Six classes for several years. My career was put on hold for a year when Marlon was born on December 1, 1959.
In 1964, we moved to Saskatoon so Andy could attend University. He graduated with his degree in Education in 1965. After returning to Big River, Tommy Michel persuaded Andy to take on the principalship. Then on September 24, 1965, our twins, Michael and Wendy came along and to complete our family, Glenda was born on May 13, 1968. We continued to teach in Big River, I taught Grade Six and Andy was principal of Big River schools. During many summers Andy corrected departmental exams in Regina.
Our stay in Big River for thirty-five years where we brought up our five children seemed to pass so quickly. We worked with so many wonderful children and eventually their children. We have many pleasant memories from over the years. In June 1984, Andy and I retired. The climate in British Columbia has always appealed to us, so eventually, we made it out to Abbotsford. Just a few years later, Andy, unfortunately, passed away suddenly on August 1992. Our children are:
Ken married Nancy McCullough. They have two sons, Ryan and Nolan, one daughter, Lindsay, and one granddaughter, Natalie and all live in Kelowna.
Ken is a pilot and flies out of Kelowna and Vancouver.
Marlon lives in Prince Albert, where he works with the Natural Resources as well as being a helicopter pilot. During the winter months, he resides near Victoria. He has two sons, Khristopher and Brett and a daughter, Shanelle.
Michael lives in Kimberley, British Columbia. He enjoys downhill skiing and working at his "East Kootenay Sporting Adventures" business. Michael has one son, Jesse.
Wendy married Les Pack in 1985. They make their home in Big River with their two children, Blaire and Kelly.
Glenda and Luke Thoma have a dairy farm in the Fraser Valley. They married in 1990 and have two girls, Stefanie and Nadine.
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979
John and Alma La Gouffe with children Paul (who later married Tesa Swanson), Philomine (Lamothe) (Laurin), Anna (Mrs. Phil Doucette) and Emma (Mrs. Degrasse), arrived in Big River in 1911.
Mr La Gouffe came as a millwright to work in the sawmill. He was also a blacksmith and would construct parts for the mill. The family homesteaded in Bodmin, living there for a good number of years. Alma, John and Emma are all buried in the Big River Cemetery.
The Laird Family: Norman,
Lynnette, William and Michael
Willie, Lynette, Norm and Mike, May, 1993.
Norman Jack Laird was born January 16, 1953, in Falkirk, Scotland. He immigrated to Canada on the S.S. New York in 1957, landing at Quebec City with his parents, Donald and Nancy (Agnes), and his older brother Malcolm. The family travelled by train to Edmonton, and Don found work in the quickly expanding oil industry. The family moved to Grande Prairie, Edmonton, and finally Pigeon Lake, west of Wetaskiwin. Two more sons, Scott and Gordon were to join the family. Norm graduated from Pigeon Lake Regional High School in 1971. He enjoyed hunting, curling, golf, and swimming.
I was born Lynnette Cheryl Dawson, in Camrose, Alberta, to William and Fern Dawson on January 11, 1955. Our family lived in and around Wetaskiwin, where both parents taught in several County schools and Dad became principal and assistant superintendent. I have one younger sister, Janine. I attended Pigeon Lake Regional High School and graduated in 1973.
It was in February of 1972 that I first dated Norm. He was working at J.K. Campbell Sheet Metal in Edmonton while waiting for the call to join the R.C.M.P. in October. Our relationship continued, despite the distance. Norm took his training at Depot in Regina and graduated in April of 1973. He was posted to Regina Town Station, Carlyle, and Uranium City. Meanwhile, I graduated from high school in June 1973, attended Camrose Lutheran College (now Augustana University), and the University of Alberta. I graduated with a Bachelor of Education Degree, with Distinction.
On June 5, 1976, after hundreds of letters, phone calls, and a 17-month long engagement, Norm and I married at the First United Church in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. We set up our first home in the small southeast Saskatchewan town of Climax. (Yes, there were plenty of jokes made about being newly-weds at the point of Climax!). Norm loved the caring people of the southland, the deer and goose hunting, and the work (or lack of it). I taught Grade One, then a Grade Two and Three class at neighbouring Frontier.
On August 2, 1978, our family increased by one. Our beautiful son, William Donald Laird was born, in Swift Current. He was a tiny man, and because of a heart problem was often sick. But he would grow! In the summer of 1980, we moved to Onion Lake. Norm would no longer have the problem of ever being bored at work. The detachment site was always busy, and the staff and their families became our family too. Here all three wives were into maternity clothes in the summer of 1981. Michael Graham Laird made his entrance into our family on August 29. He was a happy and good-natured baby and his brother's constant companion.
In 1981, we moved north to Pierceland. Our boys grew and we formed wonderful friendships there. It was in Pierceland that William and Michael first played hockey, baseball, joined Beavers and Cubs, and learned to swim. We camped at Pierce Lake each summer, and Norm found hours of enjoyment hunting, fishing, visiting friends on their trap lines, and learning to fly. Norm was very proud of earning his private pilot's license and bought a Cessna 170B aeroplane, which he named Agnes, after his mother.
In 1988, another transfer came this time to Naicam. William started Grade Five and Michael Grade Two. I frequently substitute taught and had a term Grade One and Two position. The boys loved this sports-minded town. They played hockey, street hockey, baseball, golf, swam and rode motor bikes. Michael played on a team with three other Michaels, so to most of his buddies he was just "Laird". William's hockey coach started calling him "Willy", which seemed to fit this sizable player. We started taking his birth certificate with us to hockey tournaments, proving he was in the proper age group, and he and his linemates were dubbed "The Meat Line". "What do you feed those boys in Naicam!" we were asked. "Lots!"
In 1992, the Lairds were once again on the move and Norm was promoted to Corporal in Big River. Willy started Grade Nine, and Mike started Grade Six. Once again the hockey rink and the ball diamond were places to meet new friends. We enjoyed being back in the "north" to camp, boat, water-ski, and skidoo. Lynnette did many stints of substitute and term teaching. A basset hound puppy, named Flash, moved into our home and our hearts. Willy completed his high school and loved the work he found with George and Arlene Ritchie. Though he did do carpentry, his love was for animals. He picked up George's passion for bison and ate heartily at Arlene's table. Willy also enjoyed going trucking with Dallas Beebe and earned his Class 1A license. Both our boys helped George build his bison handling facilities, and put up "the straightest fence" in the district. Willy bought a home at 506 Forbes Street, was planning his marriage to Kim Kerfoot of Saskatoon. I taught a class of thirteen Grade Two students in Pierceland and travelled home each weekend. Norm had started to build our home, with the help of the boys on ten acres north and east of town. We purchased the land from Melvin and Jeanette Leach and started to clear trees and build our home among the bears, deer, elk and squirrels. We moved into the house on SE 28-56-7W3', in June of 1998. All seemed right with the world.
On Saturday, September the 12, 1998 William Donald Laird died suddenly at his home, and our lives were forever changed. We were so grateful for the support and care showed to us by Big River Community at that time.
Michael completed his high school, worked part-time for Ritchies and at the Co-op gas bar. He loves to go with his friend, John Farago, to Clarke Lake. He enjoys camping, snowmobiling and ice-fishing and playing broomball with his many buddies. He graduated with the B.R.H.S. class of 1999. Mike then attended Kelsey Institute, taking Auto Body courses, before working with Martin Hanson at the Big River Auto Body Shop. He won the Andy Lomsnes Memorial Award as Rookie of the Year for the Big River Braves 2001-02 season.
I taught at Big River High school from September 1999 to February 2000; in a maternity leave position for Jocelyn Kennedy. In September of 2000, I gladly accepted the Grade Four position at T.D. Michel School, (vacated by Pat Warren's retirement.) In June, Norm had decided to retire from the Force after twenty-eight years of service. He and Flash made frequent trips to town for coffee at H. and J. Plumbing or Midtown Service. Flash was partial to the ice cream at D. & D. or Rolo Bars from the Co-op. Norm fenced the land we bought from Lyle and Twila Meyers, just a mile and a half north of our home. He loved to tease and tell "tales" up at Barry and Carolyn Moule's, especially if it was over coffee with their wonderfully thick farm cream. Norm bought himself a Honda Gold Wing motorcycle. He grew himself a biker beard, got chaps made from bison hide, and cruised down the highway. He also purchased a quad for his annual hunting pilgrimages to Pierceland country. I know that hunting became secondary to his enjoyment of the outdoors, and spending time with his friend, Danny Frolick. He put his energy for service work into volunteering with the Timber Trails Snowmobile club and liked running the groomer. He also was the Big River Trustee on the Parkland School Board.
The summer of 2002 was one of travel for us. Michael had just been hired at Weyerhaeuser's Big River Mill. Norm and I revisited Climax country, shared special times with family and friends in Alberta, and enjoyed our home and the quiet life we had built.
On September 7, 2003, he was swiftly taken from this world and has been laid to rest in the Big River Cemetery next to Willy. The Local School Board has set up the Norman J. Laird Memorial Scholarship, awarded for Citizenship to a Big River graduate. We are very proud to have his memory honoured in this way.
Michael and I continue to live and work in this wonderful community, and we hope to spend many more years here. See you at the rink!
Jeff, Danika, Brady, December, 2003.
My name is Jeffrey Thomas Lalonde. I was born in Big River, Saskatchewan on December 25, 1980. I am the middle son of Margaret Warriner and Michael Lalonde. After Christmas, we headed back up to Uranium City, Saskatchewan where I spent the first three years of my childhood. At this point, my family and I moved to North Battleford, Saskatchewan where I started my education at Brady School. Soon after entering kindergarten, I moved back to Big River with my mother and two siblings, Nolan Michael and Kevin Gordon. I continued my education from kindergarten to grade nine (1986-1995) beginning at the T.D. Michel Elementary School and then proceeding to the Big River High School. I then moved to a farm just outside of the city of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. I lived there for approximately ten months (January 95-October 95). At this time my mother and two brothers moved to the city. I lived with my family for grades nine, ten and eleven and then moved out to live with friends until I graduated in 1998 from Wesmor High School.
After finishing my education and working at an A & W restaurant in Prince Albert, I decided I needed a change. I packed up some of my belongings and moved to Chatham, Ontario in July of 1999. Two years after moving back I was blessed by the birth of my first child, Brady Michael Robin (May 16, 2001). One year after Brady was born I was again blessed by the birth of another child, Danika Elizabeth Margaret Lalonde (June 4, 2002).
I am currently living and working in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. I am employed full time as a supervisor at the Prince Albert Garden Market IGA. My schedule is pretty full with raising the kids and working full time. I somehow manage to find some time to help my older brother restore his 1980 Camero. I plan to gain knowledge and experience to one day become a certified auto mechanic and auto body technician so I can begin a career in restoring classic automobiles.
I, Kevin Gordon Lalonde was born on March 16, 1983, in Big River to Mike Lalonde and Peggy Warriner. I was named after my Grandpa Gordon on father's side. I currently reside in Prince Albert. In the past years, I have lived in Uranium City (moved October 1983), North Battleford, Big River and currently Prince Albert. In 2001, I graduated from Wesmor High School. During my senior years at Wesmor, I had the honour of representing Saskatchewan in Winnipeg for ICS (Interchange on Canadian Studies) and the following year in Ottawa for Forum for Young Canadians. After graduating, I took the following winter off to work and save money. In April of 2002, I headed out on my own to Ontario. I spent some time in Toronto, then to settle down for the summer in London, Ontario. In September of that year, I headed out to the East Coast and then headed west visiting Uncle David in Kamloops, British Columbia. In October 2002, I arrived at my mom's house to call it home for the next ten months. This brings us to a new year and in September of 2003, I headed east again to make my new home in London, Ontario again. (In the upcoming years, I plan to leave Canada and explore Europe and the surrounding countries).
My name is Nolan Michael Lalonde. I was born in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan in 1978. I am the oldest son of Margaret Warriner and Michael Lalonde and a brother to Jeff and Kevin Lalonde. We resided in Big River from 1986-1995. I then moved to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan with my mom and two brothers where I went to school at Wesmor High and then St. Mary's High School. I graduated in 1999.
During this time I worked as a cook in a few restaurants. I started a security job at the Gateway Mall in March of 2001. It is now July 2004 and I'm still doing security. I hope with knowledge and experience I can pursue a future career in law enforcement or corrections. At this time, I am currently trying to restore a 1980 Camero that seems to be taking a while. My brother, Jeff, is doing a lot of the work. I try to help as much as I can. It should look pretty good when it is done. If all goes well with it, I plan to keep it and pass it on to my kids (when I have some) when they are old enough to be responsible. Maybe times will have changed by then and it might end up in a museum. My younger brother, Kevin, is living in London, Ontario.
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979
In 1932, Mr and Mrs Lamberton came to Big River from Davidson. They homesteaded west of town until Mr Lamberton died in 1938. Seeing that a homestead was too much to manage alone, Mrs Lamberton moved to town to live with her mother, Mrs Alma Dunn.
Lamothe, Joseph and Philomene
Submitted by Rudy Lamothe
Joseph Lamothe came to Western Canada from Three River Quebec in 1912. His first stop was in Regina the day after the Regina Tornado, June 30, 1912. Being a carpenter, he immediately went to work helping to rebuild Regina. He worked there for a year and a half. In the fall of 1913, he travelled to Prince Albert and then on to Big River where much of the lumber he had been using in Regina came from.
There he met Philomene Legouffe who had arrived with her family in 1911 from Cabano in the area of Dalhousie, New Brunswick.
When the First World War broke out in 1914 Joe volunteered, training in Prince Albert and Winnipeg before going to England and then France by March 1915. He fought at various times at Loos, Ypres, Hill 70, Passhendale. He was invalided to Canada in September 1918 with a leg wound that bothered him for the rest of his life. He was discharged in Regina in December 1918. His return to Regina coincided with the armistice on November the 11th. Joe and Philomene married in 1919 at Prince Albert.
Joe filed on SW and SE 9-55-7-W3rd in 1919. The first order of the day was a house, which he immediately started on by digging a cellar; cutting spruce logs from the bluff to the south for lumber that would be milled locally for the floor and roof. His brother-in-law, Paul Legouffe, and Joe Doucette were his construction crew.
My father believed that you used the material at hand. The roof framing of the house was fire killed spruce poles as was the floor joists. As it was necessary to match the floor poles all the big ends were on one end so the other end was kind of springy but that was rectified with a round log for support and a couple of posts.
Local mud, moss, straw, and cow manure (to temper the mix) was used between the logs on the outside, which lasted for years in spite of the weather. All the exterior was sheathed with drop siding in the 30s making the walls, with the original log construction about fourteen inches thick. The inside was strapped with 2x3s shiplap and the space filled with coarse sawdust. The ceiling was fire killed spruce poles, shiplap, and about a foot of sawdust making an insulated envelope. This lasted till the 1970s when the house was pulled down.
The heating was provided by a cast-iron box stove in the cellar for winter, providing radiant floor heating (a long time before it had been invented). The installation was completed with a chemical toilet (used in winter only) salvaged from the mill fire, vented into the brick house chimney. The trail to the outhouse was left to drift over in the winter.
The Lamothe's had three boys, Rodolphe (Rudy), Marcel, and Roger. Rudy and Marcel served in the War, Marcel being overseas for three and a half years.
Rudy married Mary McLagan and has six children, Jim, Roger, Bob, Kathryn, Laurin, and Paul. Marcel married Betty (from London, England) and has seven children: Susan, Peter, Joanna, Pauline, Jeanette, Stephen, and Barbara. Roger married Sharon Goodman of Melfort and has Richard, Bill and Nova. Rudy lives in Edmonton, Roger in Vermilion Alberta. Marcel and Betty lived in Bodmin till their deaths and are buried in the Big River Cemetery.
Joe Lamothe, as well as farming and being a carpenter, was called on to build various structures in the district such as the school, O.P. Godin's store in Big River, Joe Laurin's house, Harvey 's Store, etc.
Joe was drowned in an accident on Cowan Lake in 1930. He was the first veteran of the war and member of the Legion to die so was given a full military funeral.
Philomene later married Alphonse Laurin and resided in the district till 1967 when they retired to Edmonton. They are both buried in Big River.
As mentioned before local material was used as much as possible. The school was built with hand-hewn logs (four sides) done with broadaxes by John Legouffe, my grandfather and Fidel Doucette, my uncle. This type of construction was brought from New Brunswick. The logs were squared and the corners dovetailed like the corners on the old style butter boxes, not just notched like log shacks. There were several other buildings in the district built like that such as the John Legouffe and Fidel Doucette residence.
Another unique building is the Joe Lamothe barn built in 1929 that still stands plumb and square on the Cyril Proulx farm at Bodmin. The roof is unusual in that the roof trusses are framed with fire killed tamarack poles cut on the ground, assembled on the loft floor then hoisted up into position with a stiff leg derrick with a team of horses. The walls were framed with 2x6 rough planks and then filled with sawdust for insulation. (Father insulated everything he could.)
There was homebrew still (a travelling still), in the district that was used at some time by most of the people. Alcohol could be distilled from practically anything, barley, wheat, saskatoons, chokecherries, dried peaches, apples, anything that you could add sugar and yeast to. The liquid was run through the still to get an overproof brew that burned clean on a spoon. Each time it was put through the still the proof went up.
There were some family feuds in the district at times so this time someone reported the still to the RCMP. The person that had the contraband was raided and fined $250. One of the neighbours paid the fine and the whole district pitched in to reimburse the neighbour with card parties, dances, raffles etc. Dances at which much fun was had helped along with some of the booze in question.
As an adult, I always had something about railroad crossings. Something made me slow down and look both ways especially if the crossing was the least blind. I was at least 40 before it dawned on me why. When I was five or six years old, I used to visit our neighbour, Mrs Allenson who lived a little over half a mile away through the bush. (Everything in those days was through the bush). In the summer I would walk over. In the winter, I had a dog that I would hitch up to the sled and he would whip me over to her house. On the return trip, she would put me on the sled point the dog towards home and say mush and presto in a few minutes I would be back in our yard. One time when I got to the railway crossing which was at the half waypoint, it had started to snow very hard and visibility was very poor. The dog stopped and wouldn't go any further, so I got off the sled and tried to drag him across the track, but he would not go. I looked up and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the headlight of a railway engine bearing down on me, not more than fifty feet up the track. I don't think the engineer saw me because he didn't even blow his whistle. I should have hugged old Sport, maybe I did. As it turned out, a man had been seriously injured at the mill, in Big River. The regular train had pulled into a siding, dropped off the freight and passenger car, hooked onto the caboose and was on a rescue mission.
Once my father was going to a convention in Prince Albert and slept in. When he awoke he could hear the train whistling as it arrived in Bodmin. He quickly dressed and grabbed his lantern and ran down to the railway track and flagged down the train. He left his lantern in the snow where mother was to pick it up. Steve Kowalyk, the section foreman, saw the lantern still burning by the track. He stopped his jigger, got out and followed the tracks to our house wondering what had happened. This was in the winter so tracking was good.
People took care of each other. They never knew when they would be in a position to need help.
We lived across the river and as there were no bridges everything had to cross by fording the river. My father uses to put in a footbridge every spring after the ice went out. The car, however, had to stay across the river in a garage we had built.
One day my Dad was down by the river when a sawmill owner from Clear Lake came riding up on horseback at full throttle. One of his men had fallen into a saw and was badly cut. Would he drive the man to the Doctor in Debden, twenty miles away? The horse was tied to a tree and off they went in the car thinking they would be back in a couple of hours. In the meantime, mother came looking for dad, found the horse tied to the tree, but my dad and the car gone. She figured he must have gone on a mission, as his car was the only car in the area. She rode the horse across the river, put it in the barn, and fed it. The short trip to Debden was suddenly extended to Canwood but no luck there as the Doctor was out of town, so on to Prince Albert. Now they were eighty-five miles
away and no way to communicate with home. The plan was then to start back as soon as possible. During the night, however, it started to rain so the trip home had to be postponed. On the third after noon father showed up dirty, hungry, and practically played out. His patient was expected to live and did.
Pioneer wives had some very anxious moments as their men often started for short trips but were delayed by weather, accidents, etc. When my father drowned he was just going out fourteen miles to pick up a rifle and he never came back.
Lamothe, Marcel and Betty
Submitted by Peter Lamothe
Marcel and Betty Lamothe.
Marcel Achilles Lamothe, born May 12, 1923, to Philomene and Joseph Lamothe, served with the Canadian Forces in World War II. He met and fell in love with Pauline (Betty) Barnes Blyth, born May 24, 1922, to Sarah and Herbert Blyth in London, England. He returned to Canada after the war and then sent for Betty to join him. They were married April 28, 1947, and lived in the hamlet of Bodmin wherein 1948 they bought a store and post office. They also farmed, raising cattle and horses, which was Marcel's favourite pastime. Marcel cut fire-killed pulp in the Prince Albert Park in the early '50s. Later he logged with Reg Wilson, Joe Morin, Fred Emde and others during the winters. He went to work for Big River Sawmill in 1972. Betty and Marcel raised seven children: Susan (1948), Peter (1949), Joanna (1950), Pauline (1951), Janette (1953), Stephen (1958), Barbara Jean (1959) and one granddaughter Charlene (1970). Joan Blyth came from England several times to help with the children, store and farm while Marcel was in the bush. Their home was always a gathering place for friends and family. The store eventually closed.
Marcel was an avid sports fan. He coached hockey, where he befriended everyone. He started a track team that competed at Saskatoon Knights of Columbus Games. He was on the executive for Big River's hockey league.
Marcel took four years training and obtained his millwright certificate at the age of 60 years. After a full day at work in October 1985, he settled into his favourite chair to watch a football game and quietly passed away.
Betty's family meant everything to her. Her books were her relaxation and later bingo with her chums was added. She died on May 4, 1999.
Susan (accountant and Massage Therapist) now lives in the family home in Bodmin. Peter (millwright) and his wife Marilyn (nee Weir, registered nurse) and their three children, Jerelyn, Logan and Nathan own and operate the family farm. Joanna and Brian Huffman reside in Saskatoon with their children Darrell, Kimberly and Andrea and a grandson, Aza. Pauline (teacher) and Bob Gerow (Director of Education for First Nations) live on a farm in Debden and have two children Candice and Adam. Janette Wilson lives in Lloydminister and has two sons Ryan and Kiel, and grandson Max. Stephen (electrician) and Lorna (nee Michel) live on Cowan Lake north of Big River, with sons Joseph, Lance and Stuart. Barbara Jean (teacher) lives in Lloydminister with her children Mathew and Rachel. Charlene (lawyer) and Trevor Wall (engineer) lives in Edmonton with daughter Madeline.
My name is Marie Lamothe, born Marie Alice Caissie in Big River on March 19, 1930. I was raised on the farm about three miles from town. My parents were Joseph and Brianne Caissie. They moved into town from the farm when they retired. I have two brothers, Norman and Edmond (Dora) and three sisters, Exelda (Fred) Emde, Therese (Nap) Chenard, Yvonne (Victor) Simpson, a half brother Arias (Josephine) Richard. My brother Norman passed away at 26 years of age in Montreal in 1951. I am Catholic and received my education in the Big River School.
I met my husband, Emile, in 1945. He was born in Shell River, Saskatchewan, and moved to Port Alberni, British Columbia in 1936 with his family. He came back to Saskatchewan after the war. We were married in Big River in 1947 and moved to New Westminster. Then we moved to Big Lake, British Columbia in 1953 where we had a small sawmill. We moved to Williams Lake in 1965. Emile worked as a grader man for P & T Sawmill and I worked for Canada Safeway.
We had two girls, Lina (Scott) Cameron who lives in Williams Lake, and Donna (Michael) Galchuk, who live in Niagara Falls, Ontario. We have three granddaughters, Candice (Arne) Grant and Ashley and Kayla Galchuk and have two great-granddaughters, Alexa and Taylor Grant. We retired in 1981 and still live in Williams Lake.
Lamothe, Stephen and Lorna
Back Row: Lance, Joseph. Front
Row: Stephen, Lorna, Stuart.
Stephen George Lamothe, the sixth child of Marcel and Pauline (Betty) Lamothe, was born January 13, 1958. He attended school in Big River, graduated in 1976, and began work at the sawmill for Saskatchewan Forest in 1977.
Lorna Joan (Michel) Lamothe, the third child of Hubert and Mary Michel, was born May 4, 1959. She attended school in Big River then moved to Saskatoon to attend university. She graduated from U of S in 1981 with a Bachelor of Education degree.
Stephen and Lorna were married at the Roman Catholic Church in Big River on June 13, 1981. For the first few years of their marriage, they lived in Debden, Saskatchewan where Lorna was teaching. In 1987 they purchased a lakeside acreage on Cowan Lake from Ray and Carol Wilson and moved to the Big River district. Stephen continued to work at the sawmill and Lorna taught at the T.D. Michel Elementary School.
Stephen and Lorna have three children. Joseph Marcel was born on December 27, 1985. Lance Dolan was born on March 12, 1988, and Stuart George was born on February 6, 1992. At present, their oldest son, Joseph, is at university in Regina, while Lance and Stuart are attending high school in Big River. Stephen is an electrician, working in process control for Weyerhaeuser and Lorna is at home exploring a career as an artist. She works in watercolour, acrylic, oils, and clay.
The Lamothe's love to boat, swim, travel, and ski. They are active members of their church community. They have several fruit trees and a large garden that keep them busy in the summer. Most of all, the Lamothes enjoy spending time with family and friends.
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979
The Lanes moved to the Ladder Valley district in 1934 from Lancer, Saskatchewan. He made the journey driving a team and wagon with their equipment loaded on a hayrack, a distance of about three hundred and fifty miles. Mr Lane was a veteran of the Boer War and homesteaded first at Lancer. He moved north due to the drought conditions in the south and homesteaded once again. All are now deceased.
Maggie, Mary (holding Jimmy), Rose, Tommy, Johnny,
George Sr., Charlie, Martha, missing George Jr.
George Langford came from Gloucester, England to Winnipeg, Manitoba on May 23, 1895. He settled in Winnipeg, working as a railroad worker. Later coming to Big River and then homesteading in the Bodmin area, close to where the Big River Lumber Mill is situated. At this time, he became a freighter. Due to his crippled foot, he was commonly called "Clubfoot". He married Mary Smytaniuk, a mail order bride, on August 20, 1914. They had five children while living at Bodmin:
George (Jenny Boran). In his adult years, they moved to Spruce Home area and raised a family of five boys. One of who is Jim Langford, father of Pat Beebe (Russell Beebe).
Martha (Ivan Frigstad). Her family resided in Meota and raised one son.
Maggie (Alone Inglehart). They resided in Smeaton where they raised a family of five children, Alfred, Leo, Doreen, Betty and May (Henry Fabish). See personal history.
Johnny (Anne Kalika). They resided in Prince Albert where they raised one son.
Tommy (Jeanette Harold). They raised a family of five residing in Spruce Home area.
In 1920 while living in Bodmin, he was one of the three men appointed to make an official application for a new school at Bodmin. In 1924, the family moved from Bodmin to Kalyna, near Prince Albert, and farmed there for 30 years. They had three more children:
Rose (Perkins). They moved to Ontario where she had three boys. She passed away at the age of 26 due to cancer.
Charles (Irene). They raised a family of seven children. Jimmy passed away as an infant.
George passed away on November 1, 1954, and Mary passed away on June 22, 1965. Both are buried in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
Langford, James (Jim) Charles
He then met the woman of his dreams. Jim married Vi Bickert in January 1960. Jim would get upset at times when people would ask him about his daughter, Vi because she was so petite. They lived at Spruce Home. The first place they lived was on Jim's parent's farm. They said their place was so small, you could sit on the bed and cook breakfast at the same time. They soon bought a place of their own in the Spruce Home area. They had a son, Darrell James and a daughter Patricia Dawn. In 1973 they moved to Big River (NE 22-56-8 W3rd). It was John and Liz Heiberts farm before that. Their neighbours were Bob and Ann Normandeau, Mrs Betty Warriner, Ross and Bernice Kilbreath and Herb and Eleanor Lueken. They visited quite often with them. Jim and Vi had a few cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, geese, turkeys, dogs and cats.
Jim was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan at the Holy Family Hospital on November 29, 1937. He was raised in Kylena, Saskatchewan until he was eight years old. In 1945 the Langford family then moved to the rural area in Spruce Home, Saskatchewan. His parents are George and Jenevieve (Jennie Boran) Langford. Their five boys are: Jim married Violet (Bickert), Thomas (Tom) married Pauline Stratychuk, Gordon married Annie Olinyck, George married Ruth Morash and John (Jack) married Marilyn Atkinson. They had a brother that died at birth. Jim and George Johnson bought a yellow Mack truck to haul logs. The nicest one around, or so we thought anyway. Jim later owned it by himself and Richard Bickert was his cross shift. Jim helped coach hockey with Gary Cooper and was involved with the Kinsmen Club.
Jim's dad worked for the D.N.R. out of Prince Albert. He started as an equipment operator, then a construction supervisor. Jennie was kept very busy with the farm and housework. Luckily they had five boys to help out. Jim (being the oldest) remembers working in the fields, milking cows and bringing in wood for the winter. Everyone was kept busy while George was out working to earn wages so they could buy necessities for the family. Jim often stayed home to help with farming. They went to Wheatley School.
One of his biggest highlights during and after school was baseball. He was captain of a team he helped put together called the Wheatley Rockets. He still has the minutes of some of their meetings as well as his uniform.
He owned his own business for a while called The Corner Service.
In 1980, Jim and Vi moved to Vernon, British Columbia and Jim did construction work there. Then in about 1981, they moved back to good ol' Big River. Their house was like the grand central station, with friends and family dropping in. Some stayed for hours, days, weeks, months and Bob Heibert lived with them for a couple of years. He also built their kitchen cupboards. Jim did construction work for Ken Hodgson, then worked at the sawmill. He then settled in doing janitorial work at the Big River High School. He loved being around the kids and staff members were great! He liked to joke around with everyone and had a lot of good visits as well.
In 1991, Jim's wife passed away. He sold their place in Big River and moved to Prince Albert for a few years. He lived with his daughter and her family for a while and worked for Len Zinovich. He now resides in Stealer, Alberta, where his son and family live, working for an oil reclamation company.
Eva Violet Bickert (Vi), daughter of Jacob and Mary Bickert was born on a homestead by Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on January 28, 1940, and passed away on November 25, 1991. Her brothers and sisters are Dick Bickert, Mary and Robert Halsall, Ann and Lou Sladich, Tina and Don Casmey, Betty and Dick Meyers, Agnes and Olaf Hyllestad, Glen and Willma Bickert, Grace and Curt Forsberg and Ed and Marlene Bickert. They lost a baby sister as well.
About 1947, her family moved near Delaronde. They then moved closer to Big River, 2-km south. The Bickert children had gone to the Lake Four school as well. There may have been other moves in between, but unsure of. This was the last place she lived with her parents. She chummed around with Louise Olson and heard mention of Anderson's, Leaches and Cranks.
Vi moved to Prince Albert and was a waitress at the Princess Cafe on Central Avenue. She roomed with Eleanor Hansen. She then met and married Jim Langford of Spruce Home in 1960. The same year she lost her mother to cancer. They lived on a farm at Spruce Home and had two children, Darrell and Patricia. They always had a house full. At one point they had 11 kids at their place. Their two, then nieces and nephews, Claudia and Richard Bickert, Brenda, Phillip and Jeff Miller and four foster kids, Malcolm and Moses and Rhonda and Donald, (two-month-old twins). Vi was quite happy to be busy farming and raising a family and family meant anyone staying with them. There was plenty of room in her heart for everyone.
In 1973, they sold their farm and moved to Big River. Her dad Jacob was now living with Christine Arcand. Jim and Vi had bought John and Liz Heibert's farm. She was glad to have more family close by.
Jim drove a logging truck and Vi started work at the tree nursery. She enjoyed meeting new friends that became very dear to her. Vi also enjoyed curling and visiting. Once again the company was always welcome at the Langford home. Family parties were always a great time, especially New Years at her Dad's place. The Bickert's were very musical. Out would come the guitars and there was singing and dancing all night long. In 1980, Vi and Jim sold their farm to John Teer and moved to Vernon, British Columbia for a year. There, Jim drove cat and Vi worked at a tree nursery. Then in 1981, they moved back to Big River. They had a house built on a piece of her Dad's land, 2 km south of Big River. Vi had a beautiful garden and loved to work in it. She worked at the Lakewood Lodge and there again loved being around people.
In 1983, their daughter Pat married Russell Beebe and then in 1987 their son Darrell married Christine Cadrain. In 1990 she was able to take Pat to Prince Albert to have their first grandchild. That was quite a trip. It wasn't long and the new grandma was busy sewing diapers, pyjamas and blankets. She was always a busy person but enjoyed what she did.
About 1989, her dad moved into their basement suite. Her brother Dick moved in with Jacob in 1990 due to having cancer. There she was able to help him out a lot with his medications. When she couldn't, his family was able to help and there he wasn't alone. That same year he passed away. Vi had also lost others to cancer, a sister, Betty Meyers, her father-in-law and a brother-in-law (Olaf Hyllestad). In December 1990 she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the same thing that took her sister and brother and possibly their mother. The Langford family spent that Christmas in the Saint Paul's hospital. It wasn't home, but home is where your heart is. She enjoyed visits from the Herberts, Forseburgs, and Bernstein's family and countless friends. Back home in January 1991, they celebrated their thirty-first anniversary and her fifty-first birthday.
By July of 1991, Darrell and Christine were expecting their first baby. Unfortunately, Vi was too ill to do her sewing and such, as we knew she would.
Determined to do some Christmas bargain hunting, her and her sister Agnes went shopping in Prince Albert on November 22, 1991. Surrounded by a family that loved her, she passed away on November 25, 1991. She is loved and missed by many.
Darrell James Langford son of Jim and Vi Langford was born in Prince Albert Holy Family Hospital on June 29th, 1963. He has one sister Pat. His first home was at Spruce Home and chummed with a neighbour, Shaun Fisher. He had a pet calf and a dog named Pepper, that wouldn't let anybody get near Darrell. Darrell and his sister Pat would go picking bottles to bring to Alingly store to buy goodies. Pat would stop and eat baking at the neighbours; Andy and Adrianne Campbell's while Darrell made the trip to the store and back. Darrell learned to skate on a slough close to their place. When he was 10, they moved to Big River. He chummed with Brady and David Kilbreath. Darrell and Walter Heibert would go chicken hunting. Richard Bickert stayed out at our place a lot. Darrell always got very good grades in school but didn't like to be there. So at age 17, he left for Fox Creek, Alberta to work for a truck company that moved oil and gas separators. In 1981 he moved back to Big River and worked at various jobs. In the fall of 1986, Darrell was driving for Brian Blampin when he met Christine Cadrain who was a teacher here. They rented Jim and Vi's basement suite. It was true love and by August 1987 they were married. After that, they moved in the rural area of Prince Albert, then to La Ronge where they lived for 12 years.
They have three children: James born in 1992, Sherri born in 1995 and John was a New Years baby born in 1998.
Darrell and his family enjoy trips "home" to Big River. In 2000, Darrell's family moved to Stettler, Alberta. Grampa Jim joined them that fall. They still enjoy visiting their Big River cousins and friends.
Patricia (Pat) Dawn Beebe (Langford)
Daughter of Jim and Vi Langford was born in Prince Albert Holy Family Hospital on March 17, 1966. I have one brother Darrell. My first home was in Spruce Home. The best times I remember was when there was a house full of people, which was most of the time. We also went visiting a lot. At that time my best friends were Connie Short and my cousin Bonnie Langford. In 1972 I was in grade two when we moved to Big River. My teacher was Ms Joanne Markowski (Joanne Otte). I chummed mainly with Holly Beebe. My brother Darrell used to pull me behind the ski-doo on a sled. We spent most of our winters that way. We used to go camping a lot and when I was eleven years old my parents bought me a horse. I spent a lot of my time with her. I used to ride my bike halfway to Herb Lueken's and his daughter's Sharon and Carol would meet me halfway on their bike's. Once we were over at Betty Warriner's with Christopher outside and we got chased on to the stack of bales by their turkeys. We ran like a bunch of chickens. I used to drive our lawn tractor over to Lou and Ann Normandeau's. We would play "holes" or as she called it "Hell of a game" and then she would put out lunch with her homemade bread. I remember having water fights at Ross and Bernice Kilbreath's place and their cousins from Lester and Daisy's place would join in.
In 1981, I moved to Vernon, British Columbia with my mom and dad for about a year. In 1981 we moved back to Big River and in 1983 I married Russell Beebe. Our first home was a house trailer on Clarence and Vivian Beebe's place (Russell's parents). In June 1990 we had a baby girl, Dawn V. Beebe and in 1991 we bought Roy and Shirley Sharp's place. In November 1991 my mother passed away and in November 1992 we had another girl Dana V. Beebe. In April 1998 we had our first boy Russell Jr. C.W. Beebe followed in August 2000 with our second boy Clarence E.C. Beebe.
My husband Russell has always enjoyed working with his dad in the forestry business and would like to keep logging but because of Weyerhaeuser right sizing, that may not be the case. I like raising our family. The best times are when we get together for family gatherings.
LaPlante, Gerald and Rosemary
Alan, Shaye, Rosemary, Gerald LaPlante.
Gerald Francis was born on August 24, 1953, in Big River to Hercule and Jean LaPlante. He is the last of seven children, Evelyn, Raymond, Larry, Wilson, Angeline, and Rita. He attended school in Big River, Grades One to Six and Nine and Ten; and in Saskatoon Grades Six to Eight.
He married Rosemary Bogner on March I1, 1977. On June 30, 1977, their first child was born - Shaye Lynn. Their son, Alan Gerald was born on February 14, 1981. They lived in Saskatoon briefly in 1977, then returned and remained in Big River.
Gerald's employment has included Andy's Transport in Saskatoon in 1975, Max Wilson Trucking in 1978-79. From 1979 to present he has worked at Earl Beebe Trucking. In 1987 he bought his first truck, a 1988 Peterbilt and another new one in 1993. He has left seasonally to work in Edmonton hauling to Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon and North West Territories, but is still employed for Beebe's.
Working has always been the main thing in Gerald's life. He's the type of person who is interested in doing almost anything. He's known to be very accommodating to everyone and he'll go out of his way to help anyone. He's very dedicated to his children and grandchildren.
Gerald's mom was killed in a car accident in 1999 at the age of eighty-one and his dad lives at Lakewood Lodge in Big River.
Rosemary Bogner was born December 10, 1959, in Big River to John and Vicki Bogner. She's lived in Big River all her life. She is the third of six children. She married Gerald LaPlante in 1977 in Saskatoon. Their daughter Shaye lives with Jeremy Morin and they have five children, Chaneil Victoria Lynn, Kaden Jeremy Paul, twins - Roan John Lewis and Rhea Barbara Jean, and Damon William. Their son, Alan is employed as a truck driver. He has lived in Red Deer, Alberta and recently moved back to Big River and drives a truck for John Teer. Rosemary has worked at the Big River Hotel Cafe, Waite Fisheries grocery store, Third & Main, cooking for highway construction camps and since 2001 is cooking at the Rabbit Lake Mine for Athabasca catering. Rosemary is also very dedicated to her children and grandchildren. She is very talented at crafts, she enjoys crocheting, interior painting and decorating.
LaPlante, Hercule and Jean (Anderson)
Submitted by Evelyn Neufeld
Raymond, Evelyn, Jean,
Wilson, Hercule, Larry, 1944.
Rita, Gerald, Hercule.
Hercule was born on February 28, 1916, in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan to his parents Salamon and Olivine (Racette) LaPlante. Hercule attended school in Titanic, Saskatchewan.
Jean was born on April 15, 1918, in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan to her parents Frank and Tina (Mackie) Anderson. Jean attended school in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan. Jean met Hercule in Spiritwood.
Hercule worked for Wilfred Parent on the 7-T Ranch. Jean worked for Germain Parent.
Jean and Hercule had seven children, Evelyn, Raymond, and Larry were born in Spiritwood and Wilson, Angeline, Rita, and Gerald were all born in Timberlost.
Hercule and Jean and their three children Evelyn, Raymond, and Larry moved to Chitek Lake where Hercule worked cutting railroad ties. In 1941, they moved to Timberlost where they tended their cattle and some other livestock and as well as doing some bush work. In 1956, the LaPlante family moved from Timberlost to Greenmantle. Hercule and his sons worked in the bush around Smoothstone, Sled Lake, Delaronde and Carrot River. In 1964, their home in Greenmantle burnt down. The family then moved to Saskatoon around 1965, where Hercule got a job working in the Potash mine. In 1970, they moved to Big River, where Hercule worked at a portable mill after the big mill burnt down. They moved back to Saskatoon around 1971 were Hercule worked at the Robin Hood Flour Mill.
On February 5, 1976, Hercule was in a car-pedestrian accident and lost his kneecap. Jean did various jobs including housekeeping for families and hotels. In 1979, the LaPlante family moved to Bodmin where they had the Bodmin store with their son Raymond and his wife Colleen.
In 1984, Jean and Hercule moved to Prince Albert. They lived there until a tragic car accident took Jean's life on June 28, 1999. Hercule was badly injured and now resides in Big River, at the Lakewood Lodge.
Larry was born on June 4, 1941, in Spiritwood to Hercule and Jean LaPlante. They lived in the Timberlost area until 1955 when they moved to Big River. Larry started working in the bush operations with Jerry Watier. He also worked for his dad cutting pulpwood. He worked for Saskatchewan Forest Products at the mill for a couple of years. He also worked for Max Wilson and then started his own business hauling gravel and logs. Presently, he has several motor graders that help maintain Weyerhaeuser roads in the Big River area.
Larry married Elaine Johnston in 1962. They have two daughters. Shelley married Richard Jezowski and they have two boys, Tyson and Greg. Sherry and Scott Hartnett have two daughters Kelly and Taylor. One son, Kevin passed away in 1983. Elaine passed away in 1999. Larry currently resides in Big River.
Standing: Cortney, Bernard, Eva,
Seated: Naomi, Noland.
Bernard, son of Myrtle Larsen, was born on January 15, 1947, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Eva was born on December 22, 1965, to Meriny and Nora Beebe. They were married on March 16, 1974. They both have worked at various jobs but mostly farming and logging. Bernard and Eva have three children:
Courtney was born on March 10, 1977, and resides in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan. Naomi was born on June 23, 1983, and lives in Red Deer, Alberta.
Noland was born on July 19, 1985, and is living in Lloydminister, Alberta.
Bernard loves hunting, fishing and is looking forward to retirement. Eva's hobbies include gardening and entertaining family and friends and travelling.
Larson, Kitty (Warriner) and Harold
I was born Christiana (Kitty) Eleanor Warriner in Farnham, Surrey, England on June 12, 1945, to Richard George Henry & Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Warriner (Ellerker). I came to Canada, disembarking at Pier 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia with my mother in July 1946.
I was raised on the family farm, which is now owned and operated by my brother, Christopher. It is known today as West Cowan Apiaries.
Mom and I arrived in Canada and set out with other War brides and children for the trip across Canada to be met in Prince Albert by my dad. Arriving at the homestead tired and sick, Mom commented on how nice it was that the cow has such a lovely log barn, but where's our house? Little did she know then that lovely log cow barn would be her only accommodation for 30 years! By the way, that old log shack is still there. Can you imagine! Two adults and 6 kids living in that!! Dad bought a building from the plane dock and attached it to that shack, oh the room!
Times were hard during our childhood, milking cows, feeding and watering livestock, chickens, and turkeys, butchering, planting crops and gardens, and picking and canning all our preserves and jams. To this day I cannot stand the smell of high bush cranberry. We also had a year's supply of wood to cut and haul, and roots and rocks to pick from a cleared field. At the same time, Dad was working at Waite Fisheries to bring a bit of cash in.
Some of my earliest memories are of cutting the end of my finger and going to Mom asking her to stick it back together. Mom found Dad, where he was logging with horses at the time. He took me to the hospital. I remember thinking about how disgraceful the doctor was because he was still in his "underwear." (Doctors and nurses all wore white in those days.)
Another memory was Polly, my Shetland pony. Mom was upset at me over something and I knew I was going to get what for, so I went and stood under Polly's tummy, much to the chagrin of both my Mom and Dad. That horse was my best friend. Not knowing she had been sold to Mr John Hiebert, I was very upset with him when he wouldn't give her back to me when we returned from England in 1952.
A memory that has always been very special to me was meeting Mr. & Mrs Pete Olenchuk. There was an epidemic of measles and I had started walking home from school. Because it was so hot, I guess I had a fever, I had lain down in a snowbank and had gone to sleep. They found me and took me to Mrs Bill Nichols because they didn't know who I was. Today as I write this I know that Mrs Olenchuk has turned 100 years of age. I often wonder if she remembers that first trip to town since immigrating to "The Block." She is a grand lady. "Thank you for saving my life those many years ago." Their son Peter is now my brother-in-law.
I left home at fourteen years of age, working for Tommy & Pat Michel at Stoney Lake. What a glorious summer; my first taste of freedom! In the fall, I went and stayed with Uncle Tom & Auntie Barbara and family. Their house was full, but there was room for another. I often wonder if Linda and Susan have forgiven me for being forced to sleep three to a bed.
The following summer I left Big River and finished my schooling at Wild Rose Central School near Holbein. I worked there, then Prince Albert, and then Edmonton.
I met Harold Larson and married him in 1968 in Leduc. Richard Scott was born in Edmonton, and Treena Louise was born in Leduc. Harold has worked in the oil patch in the four western provinces, so we have lived wherever the jobs took us. The kids took most of their schooling in Camrose, Alberta.
Scott married Kim Frose of Saskatoon in August 2001. He is a sheet metal worker and draftsmen. He and Kim do a lot of work with wayward teens.
Treena has been in the Airline industry for twelve years. She's divorced and today is living and working in Halifax, Nova Scotia for Air Canada Jazz.
Harold is now on a medical pension since suffering from a near-fatal heart attack and undergoing heart by-pass surgery.
I am still working for IGA in Calgary, having advanced to head decorator for one of the busiest stores in Western Canada.
Lattenville, Jack and Mary
Joyce, Elaine, Andy,
Mary, Jack and Jack Borden, 2004
Jack was born on July 30, 1922, in Bodmin, Saskatchewan. He grew up in this area where his family operated the Bodmin General Store. He was the grandson of Harry and Fanny South. Jack joined the Canadian Army in 1939 and served in WWII arriving in France on D-Day Plus One. After returning home, he married his childhood sweetheart, Mary Egeland on November 25, 1946. Mary Egeland is the daughter of Andrew and Audru Egeland. She was born in Bodmin on November 25, 1925. Her parents owned land on NE 8-55-7 W3rd.
Jack and Mary sold the store in Bodmin and moved to Alberta where they raised their four children.
John Jr (Dana Tucker) had five children: Angie, Justin, Melissa, Ryan, and Blake.
Ellie married Len Letawsky and had four children: Amy, Jennifer, Chad and Dana.
Arleen married Brian Krause and they have five children: Paul, Adam Treva, Corey and Ryan.
Elaine married Jack Borden and their children are Jack, Rob, Lorrie, David, Christopher, Taylor and Sedonia.
Jack was a master carpenter and supervised many southern Alberta projects. Jack and Mary semi-retired to Vernon in 1975 where Jack started his own construction company.
Jack passed away on June 28, 2003, after being married to Mary for fifty-six years. Mary still resides in Vernon.
Philomene, Roger, Alphonse.
Alphonse Laurin was born in November 1905 at Ste. Hermas, Quebec. He and his identical twin brother, Philippe, lost their father in 1916 and their mother a year and a half later. The orphaned boys lived with various relatives for a few years and then worked on farms and in the city of Montreal until an opportunity out west presented itself. Alphonse and Philippe came out to the Bodmin area in 1928. The boys worked at opening the south half of section 21-55-7-W3rd, which belonged to their Uncle Joe Laurin.
A year later they started breaking land on the NE 17-55-07-W3rd, which they had purchased.
After Joseph Lamothe passed away Alphonse did chores for Mrs Philomene Lamothe who was pregnant and had the farm (South half 9-55-7-W3rd) and two young boys to look after. In 1932, Alphonse married Philomene and took on the shared responsibility of helping her run the farm and raise three young boys, Rudolph, Marcel, and Roger.
The older boys went off to boarding school in St. Louis, Saskatchewan and later Edmonton, Alberta. A story is told of shipping a whole rail cattle car of cattle to market and getting hardly enough to buy the boys enough clothes to go off to school.
In the mid-thirties, Philomene moved into Saskatoon so that the boys could continue their schooling.
Alphonse continued to farm in the summer and work at various jobs in Saskatoon in the winter. In 1938, the farm was rented for a year and the family moved out to Kimberly, British Columbia. They returned to Bodmin and the farm in the fall of 1939. For several winters Alphonse was involved with logging operations north of Big River. As the war progressed, the need for hog and cattle production took over.
In the period before World War II, any surplus grain produced had to be taken to Debden by horse and wagon or sleigh. With the building of a grain elevator in Bodmin in the early 40's the marketing of surplus grain was greatly simplified. The building of the elevator in Big River soon caused the closing of the one in Bodmin, for lack of business. During World War II, trucks were available, but the roads were so poor that cattle and hogs were shipped to market by train. Hogs belonging to many owners could be shipped to market in one cattle-car. The various owners could be sorted out at market because of a marking system (tattoos). The slaughterhouse could recognize the owner and pay them accordingly. Cattle could not be shipped in rail cars with mixed ownership because no marking system for separating them was available.
Alphonse became a livestock buyer as well as a farmer to help solve this problem. This continued until the roads to market improved and most farmers owned their trucks.
In the early day's, surplus eggs, poultry, beef, pork etc. were taken to Bodmin or Big River and traded for staples available in the stores. In the early '40s, the cheese factory in Big River used up all the milk that could be delivered. When the cheese factory closed the fresh milk demand was met and the surplus was shipped to the Shellbrook cheese factory or dairies in Prince Albert. The dairy operation, cows, milking machines and all were eventually sold to Hubert Michel who was delivering fresh milk in Big River. In the '50s Alphonse worked as a carpenter during the building of the Big River Mill and the new schools in Big River.
Following World War II, Marcel Lamothe (1923 to 1985) bought land nearby and he and Alphonse farmed together until 1967 when the farm was sold to Gilbert Proulx. The Saskatchewan Government awarded Mr and Mrs Laurin a plaque for the Master Farm Family Competition for District 33 in 1966. Alphonse and Philomene retired to Edmonton where Rudolph, wife Mary and their six children lived. Roger, his wife Sharon and their three children live in Vermilion, Alberta which is not too far away. Philomene died in 1981 and Alphonse in 1984, they are both interred in the Big River Cemetery.
Len and Rosalie.
J.H. Laurin, "Joe" as he was known by all, originated from Montreal, Quebec. He worked his way west as a young man and schooled himself by night. Eventually, he became a Station Agent for the CNR Railway. He worked in that capacity in Fargo, North Dakota, then up to Grand Forks, before coming to Humboldt, Saskatchewan and then finally to Debden. There he met and married Jeanne Corbeil in 1924.
Around 1930, due to circumstances beyond their control, they moved to Bodmin to take over "the homestead". Times were hard and cash was scarce. They thrived, working hard at mixed farming, and putting in various crops like wheat, oats and alfalfa, and trying to put up hay and raise pigs.
Joe owned a threshing outfit and did the threshing for many folks all around the country. In winter, with hired men, he cut and shipped cordwood, which helped to supplement a meagre farm income. Joe was always involved with community endeavours. He served as chairman of the school board, was instrumental in the project of a Credit Union for the area, and politics was one of his major interests.
Joe and Jeanne raised three children: Rosalie born in 1929, Hermas born in 1930, and Yvette born in 1936. They all received their elementary schooling in the Bodmin one-room schoolhouse. Many happy memories remain of the good times had in that schoolhouse: wonderful Christmas concerts, many, many dances and parties until the war came. Times were not much easier during the war years with so many young men and women away to join the forces. Then, just as things began to look up and the hard times easing Joe passed away suddenly in 1946 at the age of 72.
Hermas, at the tender age of 15, tried with the help of relatives, to make a go of the farm. Inevitably, he had to leave, to seek work in Big River. Rosalie and Yvette went away to a convent school in Marcelin. Jeanne remarried in 1949 to Isidore Landry and some years later, sold the farm. It is now the site of the Big River Sawmill with not a remnant left of the old farm place. Jeanne passed away in Big River in 1975 at the age of 72.
Rosalie, who made nursing a lifetime career, met and married Len Fallows, (also a nurse) in Edmonton, Alberta in 1986. After retirement, they are now living in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and enjoying summers at beautiful Candle Lake.
Hermas married Laurette Dufour from Victore, Saskatchewan in 1958. They raised three sons; Gregory, Richard, and Philip and have always made Prince Albert their home. Both have worked in various capacities in the Health Care system, especially at the Victoria Hospital. In 1972, Hermas suffered a ruptured aneurysm, which left him a hemiplegic and confined to a wheelchair. After many years at home and being cared for by his devoted wife, he is now a resident of the Herb Bassett Home in Prince Albert.
Alphonse, Philippe, Romeo, Joe, Jeanne.
Yvette married Nick Lischka from Lampman, Saskatchewan in 1960. They settled in Prince Albert and raised a beautiful family of seven, five girls and two boys, all of whom, except the eldest, live and work in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. After some years doing secretarial work, needless to say, Yvette spent most of her life being a good homemaker. Nick did mechanics mostly and worked many years at the PA Pulp Mill until retirement. They now live in Prince Albert, where fourteen grandchildren still keep them very busy travelling back and forth to Saskatoon.
The Laurins are happy to be reunited in good old Saskatchewan so close to their very roots. They get together a lot and reminisce a lot! Isn't that what old age is all about?
Nelson Lavoie was born in 1902. He settled and improved his land so he was granted a homestead on NW 33-54-7 W3rd in the Winter Lake area. He built his log house in 1933 and broke his land using a tractor.
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979
Ivan and his parents arrived in Big River in 1925. Ivan took a job on the freight swings. He later married Ella Riley whose home was at Greenmantle. The Leach's remember one of their more unfortunate trips to Buffalo Narrows. Upon reaching the Beaver River, Ivan observed that the ice was getting soft. He kept the horses at a full gallop so they would not breakthrough; however, in spite of this, the sleigh was leaving a track of broken ice behind. Finally, their thin support collapsed and the horses went down. Quickly, Ivan lassoed the horses and kept their heads above the water. Due to extreme fighting and kicking, one horse had to be let go or everything would be lost. After much effort and hard work, the remaining horse was pulled free. The Leach's had to purchase another horse for their journey home. They received forty dollars for the entire trip of freight, which just paid for the new horse.
In later years, Ivan worked for the Timber Board. He retired in 1978 after many years of service. The Leach's live on their farm home in the Delaronde area.
Ivan and Ella had nine children: Fern (Mrs. Ken Martin), Nancy (Mrs. K. Fast), Orville, Melvin, Ellen (Mrs. Paul Fonos), Caroline (Mrs. Martin Wilson), Jeannie (Mrs. Lukan), Raymond and Vernon.
My father, John Lebizczak, came to Canada in 1928 from Eastern Poland to Beatty, Saskatchewan where he worked for the C.N.R. as a track section man in the summer months. The layoff came in the fall, so he was a farm labourer in winter, then back to track work in the summers. This went on all during the Great Depression until about 1938 when he became a permanent worker. My mother, Pauline Foremna, also came to Canada in 1930 from Eastern Poland and worked her way as a domestic, first in England, then in the Beatty area. John knew Pauline back in Poland. They lived in neighbouring villages so fate brought them together in Canada. They were married on Valentines Day, February 14, 1932, at Brooksby, Saskatchewan and lived in Beatty, Saskatchewan for five or six years. When Dad got a steady job with the CNR crew we moved to Dumble, Saskatchewan, which is non-existent today as the rail line has been torn up.
Just before I turned seven, I started school at Erinferry about two and a half-mile distant and had to walk that distance for Grades One and Two. That would have been about 1939-1940. The old highway was just south of the rail line.
How times have changed. My wife and I made a trip in late August of 2003 to find the location of Dumble. With the help of George and Donna Dodd, we finally found the area where I lived as a child in 1939-40. Nothing existed except part of a cement footing where our shack was. There was an indentation in the ground where the small cellar used to be. There was no trace of the small barn where mother and dad kept a cow, or of the chicken coop.
Directly across the trackbed, we found where the track foreman's house was. A filled-in well with the above-ground cribbing remains. Nearby we found the top stovepipe where the jigger and tool house used to be. In front of our old location, we found the remains of a footing and cellar where a man by the name of Cecil Henderson used to live.
This is about all there was to Dumble. Now it is all overgrown with trees. We also drove to Erinferry and located the decrepit log school that I attended. It is pretty well caved in and overgrown with trees.
We moved to Clouston for a year in 1941, where I attended a country school for Grade Three. In 1942 we moved to Duck Lake where my dad worked on the track until he retired in 1969.
I attended school there for Grades Four to Twelve. After that, I trained at the railway station and was hired in May 1952 as an assistant Agent and then in 1956 as an Agent Operator.
I worked in many locations in my 37-1/2 years with the railway until I retired in 1989 in Saskatoon. A few of the places I worked were Kindersley, Nokomis, Raymore, Fort Qu' Appelle, Semans, Moose Jaw and Saskatoon.
A brother Gerald was born at Shellbrook in 1941, and now lives in Saskatoon and works for a Potash Mine.
As for myself, I married Gladys Forden in 1960. We were blessed with two sons and two daughters.
Elaine Cole (Wes) works for the library in Saskatoon, James (Elaine McPhee) works for Harris Steel in Saskatoon, Allan (Donna) is an accountant for a property management firm in Saskatoon, and Shirley (Winston) Hall works for Zurich insurance in Edmonton. We have two grandsons and four granddaughters.
Since I retired in 1989, Gladys and I travelled and toured Canada from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island and north to the Yukon and Alaska. My father John passed away in 1996 at the age of 92. Mother passed away in 1986 of cancer at the age of 73.
Leverton, Fred and Wilma (Adair)
Back Row: Lyle, Debbie, Bruce, Walter.
Front Row: Fred, Wilma.
I am the youngest son of Jesse and Nellie (Premischook), Leverton. I was born December 2, 1928, two and a half miles north and east of Debden, at the farm of Theophile Leclerc. Mrs Leclarc was a midwife. I have one brother William, who was born on November 24, 1927. We lived in the Debden area, and then in 1930 we moved to the homestead on the SW 20-53-5-W3'. Mom and Dad parted in the early 1930s and William and I lived with Mom on the homestead. There was no school until the Rabbit Bluff School was built in 1937. William and I started school when it opened in the fall. We were three miles from the school, and there was no such thing as a road, so we travelled on wagon trails and paths through the bush. Lots of times we walked twenty miles in a day, walking to and from school then after chores and supper were over, we would walk seven miles to Stump Lake Store and home again.
While going to school, I looked after the cattle and did chores for people. Wages were a whole fifty cents a day. I was in grade nine when I quit school, in the mid-1940s and headed for British Columbia, I went to Princeton. I worked at several jobs. I finally got a good job in a copper mine at Alanby, six miles out of Princeton. Mom moved out to British Columbia in December of 1947.
I came home to Saskatchewan in the spring of 1948 to do the farming. Then I worked for Ross Adair as well as for Charles Duvall. In 1952, I bought a tractor and plough and began breaking on my own. I have done a lot of custom work around the area. I sold the tractor and plough in 1958. I also worked for Bruce Scorgie, doing some custom breaking for area farmers.
I married Wilma Adair and we moved to Big River in 1959. In 1960, I bought the homestead at Debden back for tax arrears and other debts that were against the land. I rented the land to Herman Martin and we stayed in Big River to work with my Dad. We had gone into cattle and had 120 cows. Our daughter Debbie was born on August 12, 1960.
Like many other people of this era, Wilma and I decided to try our luck in British Columbia. So we packed up and moved to Clinton, British Columbia. This was June of 1962. I worked in a sawmill until late fall and then we moved to Williams Lake, where I worked in the bush, falling timber. On January 20, 1963, our son Bruce was born. In February, we got a big thaw and the bush work was completely shut down, so I went to work for Harold Edmonds, a potato farmer. We had rented a house from him when I was working in the bush. Mr Edmonds offered Wilma a job also, cooking for the crew, so we got to move into the main house, running water, bathroom oh such luxury! We worked there for over a year. The first fall we harvested 214 tons of potatoes. I was sick a lot, so in 1964 we moved back to Big River. That winter we went into a logging camp and sawmill near Ile-a-la-Crosse. Wilma was a cook and I was Bull cook. We left home on January 3, 1965, and didn't come out of camp until break-up in April. Debbie and Bruce were pretty small and were at the farm with Grandpa and Aunty Julie. Lonesome we were, but the money we needed.
The fall of 1965 we thought sheep would be the thing, so we bought 150 ewes. The following spring we were some busy when the lambs started coming.
The fall of 1966, I went back to the land near Rabbit Bluff and started building a house. Wilma, Debbie and Bruce stayed at Big River and looked after the sheep. I got the basement finished that winter. We sold off most of the sheep and moved into the basement on April 1, 1967. Then we bought some Holstein cows and went into shipping cream. In the fall I started driving a school bus for Lorne Park. Sometimes things got rather hectic around our place because we didn't have a good well. That meant we had to haul water for all the cattle.
Our second son, Walter was born on March 26, 1968. The weather was so nice that the roads had all been graded and almost all the snow was gone. When Wilma came home with the baby, she had to walk in from the main road, as our driveway was underwater. I quit driving school bus in 1972.
Our third, and last son, Lyle was born on July 11, 1973. In 1976, we sold the dairy cows and went into beef cattle. I bought a larger tractor and a round baler and did a lot of custom bailing.
In 1980, Wilma went to work at the Gulf Restaurant in Debden and worked there for two and a half years. In 1983, we sold the cattle. In November that year, we took Mom Adair with us to British Columbia, to visit my Mom.
In 1984, we went to work north of Big River, in a camp owned and operated by John and Ross Dunn. We worked for John and Ross for four winters. Wilma was a cook and I was cooky.
In March of 1988, when we finished in the bush camp, we were only home about a week, when Wilma was called to come for orientation for Dietary work at the Lake Wood Lodge. She worked there until bad knees forced her to quit working.
We sold the farm to our son Walter and moved into Debden. We have now moved to Holbein. We are both healthy and happy and enjoy travelling and camping, visiting and playing cards. The coffee pot is always on.
We have been blessed with nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Our children are all living fairly close, Debbie married Doug Gunderson, and they have three children, Roxanne, Leanne, and Chad and one granddaughter, Brittany. Debbie and Doug live in Big River. Bruce married Treena Pister, and he has three children by a former marriage, Jesse, Gary, and Warren. Bruce, Treena and the boys live in Big River. Walter married Lisanne Cyr and has three children, Brandynn, Craig and Devon. Walter and Lisanne and children live on the homestead in Debden. Lyle married Tina Rooks, and they have no children yet. Lyle and Tina live on a farm at Outlook, Saskatchewan.