Susan, Brian, Crystal, Beth, Scott.
The Maitlands arrived in Big River July 1, 2000, with Brian as the new minister for First United Church here and Trinity United Church in Canwood, and a brand new minister at that! This was stage two of the family's Saskatchewan adventure, having moved from Airdrie, Alberta to Saskatoon in 1996 so Brian could enter St. Andrew's College, the United Church of Canada seminary on the University campus there.
Brian, Susan and two of their children, Crystal and Scott, settled into the United Church Manse on 5th Avenue South. Their oldest daughter, Beth, stayed behind in Saskatoon to continue her studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Crystal only lived here for her year in grade 12, graduating from Big River High School in 2001. She then headed off to Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. Scott started grade nine here, and in the spring of 2003 completed grade 11 and looks forward to grade 12.
Church and community have made the whole family very welcome. Good school friendships developed for both Crystal and Scott. Susan had great enjoyment as she began creating a large vegetable garden and perennial garden, trying new things and watching a vibrant community of birds. Brian's and Scott's involvement in community drama productions, and Susan's part-time work at the public library broadened their community connections and added some laughter, great friendships, and good books into their lives! After their first three years in Big River, Brian and Susan were not ready to go anywhere else just yet and intended to stay for at least a few more years. They found that Big River had everything they needed, and, in addition to the wonderful people, they especially enjoyed the trees and lakes, canoeing when they had the chance and going for long walks.
Martel, Isabelle (Snyder)
I finally got my birth certificate straightened out. I was born in the United States on November 28, 1907. My mother and I came to Battleford, Saskatchewan in the fall of 1917. My grandparents had settled in Battleford and my Grandpa was very sick. We lived a while with my grandparents until my Dad came to Battleford. He got a homestead and from there we were farmers.
I went to a country school and from there to high school in Battleford. I passed grade 12 successfully and from there went to Normal School in Moose Jaw where I trained to be a teacher.
It was the 'roaring twenties', a time when farmers had good crops and everyone had money. We were selling cream at a good price and Dad had a lot of land by then.
I taught school for about four years and got married in the hungry thirties. In 1939 World War II broke out and my husband joined up.
Now I have two children, Yvonne and June. We carried on until the end of the war in '45. My husband came home and got a job. Through the years we had three more children, Kathy, Rod and Sandra. This was my family, two before the war and three after the war.
My husband and I separated and I, with three children still at home, went back to teaching. I taught at Crescent Ridge for a year. There weren't enough kids to reopen the school in the fall and I was sent to Lake Four to teach and was there for about two years. I then went to teach at Winter Lake in `57. I finally ended up in Big River in the '60s. This place is heaven to me. Big River is like magic, when you settle in you just can't leave it. I am still here and am hoping to be for a few more years.
I now have nineteen grandchildren, forty-one great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. My great-granddaughter Sabelle attends the school where I used to teach and I help her with her homework so I guess I'm still teaching.
Joe was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan in 1960 to June Martel. He has a sister Elaine. They moved to the Big River area that same year. Joe attended grade one at the Winter Lake School with his Granny Martel as his teacher. They moved to the town where he continued his schooling. Joe had various jobs through the years, truck driving and heavy equipment operator to name a few. In 1994, he took pre-employment for electrical. He apprenticed with Garry Cooper. In 1999, Joe received his Journeyman's Certificate. In 2000, Garry was ready to retire and Joe purchased his business from him.
Joe has one daughter, Jolene Potts, born in 1985 and is presently living in Regina attending grade 12.
I, Liane, was born in Big River in 1965 to Les and Gail (Gallant) Dunn. I'm the youngest of three girls. I took all my schooling in Big River. When we girls were younger we helped out cooking in Dad's bush camp in the summer months with Sharon Bradley as our chief cook. I also worked at Third and Main Restaurant and am now presently employed at Big River Co-op Food Store. I also do books for Martel Electric. I have two children, Justin and Felicia Betchel. Justin was born in 1982 and graduated in 2000 and is presently employed by Ritchie Construction. Felicia was born in 1986 and is currently in grade 12. Joe and I were married in 1996 and live in the old Dube place.
Martel, Roderick and Ellen (Olson)
My family's connection to Big River began in 1910 when George and Mary Thibeault arrived from Montmanie, Quebec, with their young family in tow. Like so many other new arrivals they were looking for work and a place `to call home'. Their daughter, Desneiges, was my Grandmother.
Henri Bouchard came to Big River around the time the lumber mill was nearing completion in 1911. He was a strong young man from La Toque, Quebec, and soon had a job with the lumber company. In the '20s he opened a blacksmith shop. He could shape iron into things of beauty. The cross on the steeple of the Roman Catholic Church was made by this fine man and remains a reminder of our connection to the early years. In 1922, Henri married Desneiges Bouchard, a wonderful caring person and accomplished horsewoman. They had six children. Their daughter Rita, born on April 21, 1929, was my mother.
Oscar Olson was born in North Dakota where his parents Bertel and Bertha Olson had emigrated to from Norway in 1880. They came looking for land in the North West Territories in 1904 and settled on a homestead in the Ordale District. Oscar was my grandfather.
Adelaide Cook was born at Redberry Lake. Both her parents, John and Kathleen, passed away before Adelaide was four years old, the Gouldehawke family raised her. Oscar and Adelaide married in 1908. Oscar, a carpenter, built a house on their Ordale homestead. They had eleven children. Their son Jack, born on the family farm September 7, 1922, was the second youngest of this boisterous fun-loving, musically talented family and was my father.
Adelaide passed away in 1935 and Oscar made his way to Big River along with his son, Jack, in 1940. Jack married Rita Bouchard on October 5, 1949, in the Roman Catholic Church. Two years later he built a house. It became home to a family of five kids; Vince, Carol, Ellen, Lynn and Wade and a never-ending succession of pets.
One of Mom's many talents, which she passed on to Carol, was sewing. She made our clothes, curtains, quilts and rugs, even a leather harness for our dog to pull the sleigh in winter. Dad, meanwhile, worked for several road construction companies and several years for Max and Laura Wilson. He started a carpentry business in 1967. Several people worked for him through the years, including Nap Chenard, his sons Vince and Wade, sons-in-law Rod and Larry, Neil Martin, Robert Fontaine, Ron Gilbert and even me. All the people who worked with Dad became valued friends to him as well.
Dad's workmanship is evident in homes and businesses in Big River and area including mine. His daughter, Lynn and family live in the house that he built in Debden.
Mom was busy doing the books for the business and caring for her family. Our home was a haven to my friends who loved Mom's homemade jellies, bread, beans and her. They loved Dad's teasing nature and his ability to make a seesaw out of a few pieces of wood in no time flat. Mom worked as a telephone operator when the switchboard was in Tom Young's home. It was later moved to Jack and Ivy Johnson's home and both Mom and my sister, Carol, worked the switchboard. I used to ring them up just to hear them say, "Number please". Mom also did books for Young's Garage and would often send Tom, Bill and Jim meals. Their garage was on the corner where the Co-op Store is at this time.
I was born in Big River Union Hospital on November 21, 1954. I went to the same school my Mom had as a young girl, swam in the same swimming hole, went to the same theatre and travelled many of the same paths.
I married Roderick Martel, son of Isabelle and Pete, in 1972. We bought a house from Earl and Betty Reed in '74. It is one of the many houses built row on row by the Big River Lumber Company years ago and is one of few still standing. The bricks from the original chimney were made here in Big River and have been put to new use as a winding footpath in our flower garden. Our home has undergone many alterations over the years and Dad was a part of them.
Our three children loved that we lived near their grandparents and took full advantage of it. Mom now sewed for her grandchildren making quilts, clothes and clothes for their cabbage patch dolls. Grampa now had a whole new generation to tease and make seesaws for. The kids spent a lot of time in his shop making things out of wood scraps while Grampa worked. Our son, Etien and our daughter, Melissa, went to the same junior school their Gramma and their Mom had. The school was closed before our youngest could walk those same halls.
My Dad retired in 1987. Mom had passed away the year before. Dad continued to donate his skills as a carpenter to all sorts of projects and family and friends. He was now able to enjoy his music, winning many fiddle competitions and composing the kind of music he could play so well. He helped form the Parkland Fiddlers Club and with them travelled all over the country sharing the gift of music. He married Dorothy Isbister nee Brown in 1990.
She became a much-loved member of our family. Together they were often on the road with members of the Fiddle Club. I often called on Dad to entertain at Lake-Wood Lodge for the residents. Dad passed away on May 2002.
Rod, a millwright, works at the Big River Lumber Mill. An archery enthusiast, he and his cousin, Kevin Olson, started an archery club in 1996. He now has the whole family involved in this wonderful sport.
Sadie, Sophie, Braiden, holding Riley,
Paige, Emily, May 2003.
We are blessed with six grandchildren. Our son, Etien and Erryn Wall have a son, Braiden, born May 2, 1996. Etien and Tina Reimer have two daughters, Paige, born August 1, 2001, and Emily, born April 12, 2003. Etien and family live in Big River in the house where I grew up. Our daughter Melissa lives in Saskatoon. She and husband Trever, have two daughters, Sadie, born January 17, 2000, and Sophia, born November 28, 2002. Our daughter Erin lives in Big River with husband Rick Croshaw, and they have a daughter Riley born, December 10, 2002.
Martin, Arnold and Sylvia
Submitted by Allen Martin
Arnold Martin met Sylvia Hartney when she came up to Ladder Lake to vacation with her family. Her father, Russell Hartney, was a lawyer in Saskatoon and her mother, Phyllis Hartney, was an RN. Phyllis Hartney's father, Hubert Boyce was a Natural Path Dr. at Ladder Lake. Arnold married Sylvia on October 17, 1942.
Melvin, Clayton, Arnold and Louis were in World War II. Louis was killed overseas. When the war was over, Arnold and Sylvia settled at Stoney Lake Road. They farmed and commercially fished. Allan was born in 1947, Harvey in 1948, Phyllis in 1949 and Neil in 1951. In the late 1950s, Arnold and Sylvia and the children operated the commercial Fish Shop at Waskesieu, Prince Albert National Park. They operated that business for about five years during the summer months. Arnold continued to farm until Neil bought the farm, then he worked for the Department of Highways until his retirement. He died of colon cancer in October 1994.
Sylvia was very involved with her children's education and sports activities and always helped out anybody that needed help or rides to different locations. She was very active in many volunteer groups in town and helped in many different fundraising projects to help the community of Big River. She always put other people ahead of herself and gave to whoever was in need. She died suddenly of a heart attack in April 2001.
Allen and Margaret live in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. They have two children, Russell and Reid and their families.
Harvey lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Phyllis lives near Abbotsford, British Columbia with her husband, John Klassen. They have four children, Michele, Cheryl, Rejean and Christian and their families.
Neil and Diane Martin are farming on Delaronde Lake Road. They have three children: Rory, Andrea and Brent and their families.
Submitted by Allen Martin
Arthur Allen Martin went to Saskatchewan from Young Street in Toronto to be a professional left-handed baseball pitcher. He earned five dollars for every game he pitched. He loved it out west so he decided to stay and homestead. He met and married Maude Colenutt, whose parents were farmers and the family members, are still on the original farm at Caron, Saskatchewan. They were married in 1910.
In about 1921, Al, Maude and the four boys, Melvin, Clayton, Arnold and Louis moved to Big River, Saskatchewan. Their daughter Helen died at two years old in the flu epidemic of 1918. Arnold nearly died of it at age four, but fortunately recovered. Al loved to go fishing and hunting in the northern region and that is the main reason why he moved to Big River. At first, they lived in the town on the south side of OP Godin's Store. Al worked for the Forestry at the nursery. They bought property out towards Stoney Lake, now known as Delaronde Lake. He farmed and commercially fished with his sons. Later, all the boys owned property in the Stoney Lake area.
Alma and Kenny were born after moving to Big River. Al Martin grew lots of vegetables and hot houseplants in his hothouse. Many people would come to get his tomatoes, cauliflower and cabbage plants. He would give all his topsoil from around the little lake on his property to a lot of people in town. Many of the beautiful lawns and gardens in Big River are from Al and Maude Martin's topsoil. Al loved to find all the best berry patches and send people in to pick them. Maude did lots of gardening and all the canning of fruits and vegetables. She loved quilting, crocheting knitting and making lots of horse blankets. She did all the baking for her sons at the fishing camps.
Martin, Charles Melvin (Mel)
Charles Melvin (Mel) Martin was born December 2, 1910, on a farm 11.5 miles north of Morse, Saskatchewan. His father, Arthur Allen (Al) Martin, was born in Toronto in 1887 and had come west to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in 1906. His mother, Ella Maud Colenutt, was born in the district of Assiniboine in 1890. They were married in Caron, Saskatchewan.
Allen and Maude Martin had seven children, four born on their farm near Morse (Mel, Clayton, Helen and Arnold) and three born in Big River (Louis, Alma and Kenny). One of their daughters, Helen, died in the flu epidemic in 1919 and one son, Louis, was killed in a crash while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War and is buried in Oxford, England.
In the spring of 1920, the family moved from Morse to Big River. Travelling separately by train and taking 14 days, Mel and his father rode in a boxcar with the animals while his mother Maude along with Clayton and Arnold took the passenger train.
During the summer of 1920, Mel met Ivery Newton, a game warden, who had sleigh dogs. Mel cared for the dogs during the summer and Ivery taught him to drive the dogs that winter. After one of Ivery's trips, he returned with a female Husky pup that he gave to Mel. This was soon joined by an older Husky sleigh dog, which his father had obtained from Louie LeValley. This dog was a trained leader and Mel had the start of his first dog team. During the winter of 1921/1922, Mel started training his team and in 1923 he was introduced to the sport by running in his first Dog Derby.
The summer of 1921 saw the formation of a boy's baseball team for 14-year-olds and under. The Big River team played teams from towns like Debden and Canwood. When not playing ball the boys would go to the swimming hole on the river, many will remember the place, but sadly it is no longer there. Mel's love of baseball led him south in the summer of 1925 to the area around Morse, Saskatchewan, where he started playing ball for a fee of $25.00 per game, which was considered big money in 1925.
In 1923, at the age of 13, Mel spent the winter fishing with his father and Geo Pease at Little Trout
Lake. During the winter, while at fish camp, he found out that the Hudson Bay Co. was looking to buy some good sled dogs and in February Mel sold eight of his ten dogs to the Hudson Bay Post for credit with the company and two Husky pups. After the fishing season, Mel stayed with Geo Pease to try his hand at trapping muskrats. In the first week of May, they returned home with five hundred pelts.
The winter of 1924 saw Mel and two other boys, Alex Webber and Slim Nicholson, head out to fish camp with the outfit Mel had bought from his father. During a bad storm, Alex went through the ice and was up to his armpits in the freezing water. Slim and Mel were able to get him out and started for camp, but before they could reach it, Alex's clothes were frozen solid. Alex survived the cold waters but Slim, who stated that he never wanted to see the north again and that this kind of life wasn't fit for man nor beast, left to join the RCMP so he would never have to spend another day in the north. Slim Nicholson went on to become an RCMP Superintendent stationed in Ottawa, but not before spending five years in the Northwest Territories and on Ellesmere Island.
In mid-February 1927, Mel drove his dog sled team to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, to enter Prince Albert, Dog Derby. He placed second behind Tommy Elvery. The next morning Mel returned to Big River for their Derby, a 150-mile non-stop event. The field consisted of ten teams. The race started at 3:30 pm with the course going through the town of Big River, then on to Stony Lake, Sled Lake, Green Lake and back down Crooked Lake (Cowan Lake) to Big River. After 17 hours and 20 minutes, Mel had completed the 150-mile course 1.5 hours ahead of the nearest competitor, setting a world record for the distance.
The winter of 1928 saw an undefeated season for Mel, for which he won the Pat Burns Northern Saskatchewan Cup. The rules of the derby stated that the driver who had the most wins in ten years owned the cup. The cup never left Mel's possession until it was lost in a house fire in 1956.
In 1931, Mel's brother Clayton bought a quarter section just south of his farm, during the same year, the Millikin family moved to a homestead on the south end of Stoney Lake. The family had two boys and four girls. One of these girls, Eva, was to be Mel's future wife. Eva was born in Greenock, Scotland and immigrated to Canada in 1926 at the age of seven.
Wanting to fly aeroplanes, Mel applied to join the Royal Canadian Air Force in February 1936. He was accepted in June of that year and posted to Jericho Beach Air Station in Vancouver, British Columbia, identification number 324. Unfortunately, flying was not to be, as after basic training Mel was assigned to the Marine Section that used crash boats to patrol the water in case an aircraft crashed in landing or on take-off.
On October 15, 1936, Eva Millikin arrived in Vancouver by train and later that same evening Mel and Eva were married in a church on West 3rd Avenue. The first of Eva and Mel's children arrived on May 6, 1940, while Mel was on air patrol in a flying boat. With the help of the Station CO, Mel was able to fly to Vancouver to visit his wife and new daughter Myrna.
Mel served on the west coast of British Columbia and north to the Aleutian Islands. When the war with Japan broke out, his boat and crew carried out various duties including submarine baiting and rescue work. Sadly, many of the friends he and his wife gained during the war were lost in action. In 1943 Mel was posted to Pat Bay near Victoria, British Columbia, where he was in charge of the Marine Section and later that year he took over command of the Marine Sections on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
After a varied career in the RCAF, Mel was discharged in February 1946. He then returned to Big River and worked at several endeavours. The following year, Mel and Eva had a son, Allen, born on January 20, 1947.
In 1949, Mel and Eva bought a parcel of land on Stoney Lake, NW 35-56-7 W3rd. Mel traded his homestead (NE 32-56-7 W3rd) to his brother Arnold to purchase 150 mink and pens. In the fall of 1950, the family moved into the house that Mel, Eva and the children had built. Both Mel and Eva ran the mink ranch while Mel also logged and fished until, in December of 1956, this phase of their life took a tragic turn. Their house was destroyed by a large fire, which resulted in the complete loss of all their possessions. Thankfully, no one had been injured and the only life lost was that of a pet turtle.
In the spring of 1957, after this devastating fire and loss, the family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to begin a new life.
Charles Melvin (Mel) Martin passed away in September 2001 at the age of 91 just before his 65th wedding anniversary. His wife Eva, daughter Myrna and son Allen and their families still live in the greater Vancouver area.
Martin, Clayton and Irene
Freddy Thompson, Bill Ethier, Clayton Martin
Clayton Martin was born to Al and Maude Martin on May 15, 1912, in Morse, Saskatchewan. He had two sisters: Alma (deceased) and Helen (deceased at two years of age) and four brothers: Melvin (deceased), Arnold (deceased), Louis (deceased), and Kenneth.
The family farmed in the Morse area and in 1923 they boarded the train with their furniture and livestock and moved to Big River. They lived where Darren Osinchuk now resides on Hwy 55 and pastured their livestock just behind their place. The livestock drank from a natural spring that ran down where the Post Office is situated. Not long after moving to Big River, the Martin family moved to a farm in the Delaronde Lake area.
At the age of twenty-nine, Clayton joined the air force. He was stationed in England for three years. There he sustained a back injury and was returned to Canada. His brothers Melvin, Arnold, and Louis also joined the air force. Louis was killed in England when the plane he was in was shot down during a raid. The pilot, unaware that the communication system was damaged, told everyone to bail out. Louis and another man did not get the message and were killed when the plane crashed.
Clayton met and married Irene Sweeney, daughter of Jim and Parmela Sweeney. Clayton and Irene had two children: Della (Keith Berg) and Dale (Laurie). Della had two children: Shanna (married with two children) and Heather. Dale had two children: Charlene (has two children) and Trevor.
Clayton and Irene farmed in the Delaronde Lake area and raised their family. They were avid ballplayers and spent many weekends away at ball tournaments. They also enjoyed camping, travelling throughout much of the Western Canadian provinces. Clayton drove a school bus for twenty-six years and two months and was a babysitter at the local RCMP jail for fourteen years.
In 1965, Clayton and Irene moved into the town of Big River. They moved an RTM home onto a lot on 6th Avenue South. Clayton says the house, including floor tile and a stove, cost him $7,100.00.
In 1980, Irene became afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. After a while, she required placement in Lakewood. Lodge in Big River until her death.
Clayton was a daily visitor at the Lodge taking care of Irene's needs just as he did when she was at home.
Clayton still resides in the house on 6th Avenue South. He passes the time doing his crafts: building
dollhouses, knick-knacks, chair/footstep combinations etc. out of scrap wood and rug hooking. Until recently, Clayton also tended a large garden and his fruit trees in his back yard.
"Marie and Eric.
Marie, oldest daughter of John and Delina (Ethier) Dalton was born in Big River, February 3, 1920. She lived in Big River until she and her family moved to the Debden area known as Wanakena. Marie was about ten years old. In the Wanakena school, she received the rest of her education.
Eric Mayoh was born on April 13, 1906. He received his education in Regina, Saskatchewan. When Eric was 18 years old his family moved to Mattes, Saskatchewan, a few miles from Debden. His father was a carpenter and he went out to work, leaving his wife and children, (Eric being the oldest), to farm. This was quite a task after coming from the city. There were six children in the family: Eric, Iris, Elsie, Jim, Ralph and Doris.
Eric and Marie were married on July 22, 1940. Eric farmed, sometimes alone and sometimes with his brother, Jim. Some winters, he went to work in the bush. In some of the camps, Marie cooked for the men. Some of the bush operators he worked for were Eikel and Lomsnes, Roger Roy, Chalifours and Marcel Lamothe.
Several winters the family would move to a neighbour's farm to look after cattle while the owners were away working. Because of some of these moves, the older children received their education in Mattes, Wanakena and Debden.
During the 1960s, Eric and Marie moved away from the Debden area and worked out, first farming for Harris's at Briarlea. Later, they moved to a small community in the Tisdale area, called Algrove. There they ran a small store. In 1967, they moved to Prince Albert and when Eric's health failed and he was no longer able to work, they took handicapped children into their home for some years.
Following five years of poor health, Eric passed away in 1975. Marie later took senior citizens into her home to help them when they could no longer look after themselves.
When Marie retired she remained in Prince Albert for a few years. Later she moved to Big River, where she lived for two years in the Senior Citizen's housing by Cowan Lake. She then decided to move back to Prince Albert where she rented a suite in Sherman Towers.
Marie now resides in the Herb Bassett Special Care Home in Prince Albert. Marie and Eric had six children: Bertha (Frank) Smith, James (Penny), Louise (Bill) Nicklin, Phyllis Morrisette, Gordon (Vivian), and John (Brenda).
Mazurkewich, Frank and Alexandra (Rawlyk)
Frank, the second of nine boys, was born to Joseph and Eva Mazurkewich in 1909. He moved from his birthplace of Ethelbert, Manitoba to a farm in the Meacham area at the age of two. Here he attended Trojan school until grade seven, then was sent to Saskatoon for high school, and later attained his teaching certificate in Moose Jaw.
I, Alexandra, was born to Theodore and Pearl Rawlyk in 1913, in the farming district of Sokal, twelve miles west of Wakaw. I was the youngest of my family. I had two brothers, a sister and two stepsisters. My schooling through grade ten was obtained at the local school in Sokal. I then moved to Saskatoon to complete my high school and obtain my teaching certificate.
Frank and I were married in 1934. There were no engagement rings and the wedding rings cost $5.00. Because of wear mine is quite a bit smaller, but I still wear it.
We were blessed with two sons and a daughter. Leonard, our eldest, was taught by myself through grade nine, and then moved to Saskatoon for high school and university. He attained his Bachelor of Education and went teaching. He married Margaret Wilson, a Home Economics teacher. Their daughters, Lisa and Margie, are both University of Saskatchewan Commerce graduates and are currently employed in Toronto. Ted, our second son, graduated from Kinistino High School and went into banking. He is currently employed with the Government of Saskatchewan. He married Linda Otte, a Big River resident, who is a teacher and librarian. Their daughter Nicole is teaching in Lloydminster, and their son David is a surveyor working out of Calgary. David is married to Janna Pearson of Prince Albert. Sandra, our daughter, completed grade 12 in Big River and her Psychology degree at the University of Saskatchewan. After several years of employment in Saskatoon, she travelled the world landing in the British Virgin Island of Tortola. She married Elroy Henley, an Islander, who is a skilled carpenter. They have built a tourist apartment complex in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola.
At the beginning of our teaching careers, Frank and I both taught in one-room country schools in the Roster and Aberdeen areas, each earning about $300.00 per year. Then for a few years, we laboured at farming on my mother's homestead. We did return to teaching and, after several years in the Pahonan area, we accepted teaching positions in Big River. Upon our arrival in Big River in 1963, we rented (and later purchased) a house from Mr Friedman. It was situated on Main Street across from O.P. Godin's Red and White Store.
Teaching in Big River was a real joy with only one grade in a room, many other teachers and lots of children. Frank taught in high school and, due to his health, took early retirement in 1970. I had the joy of the grade four class until retirement in 1973. There are many fond memories of friendship and fellowship from these years.
It didn't take long for both of us to enjoy fishing the Cowan with Alex Pankoski's directions. The only unpleasant part was cleaning the fish. We soon purchased a boat, and, after meeting Tommy Michel and family, graduated to fishing Delaronde Lake. Fishing was great, company was plentiful and the fish cleaning was done for you. Gardening for me and golf for Frank was a must, as was berry and mushroom picking and seeing the wild animals - except for the bears. Winter brought card playing with friends, worked in around the curling schedule.
Big River residents were always very friendly and helpful. The lake, pines, flowers, gardens and scenery, in general, made you feel you were in paradise. Ravens were a new wonder, as were the loons with their haunting call in the evening. Our thirteen years in Big River went quickly.
In 1976. we moved to Saskatoon, where we had many friends and relatives, but our hearts were never far from Big River. Frank passed away in 1983 and I continue to reside in Saskatoon. Big River is a dream gone by, but not forgotten.
Bessie McCarthy was born in 1905. She married Clifford McCarthy on November 30, 1927. She discovered three years later that he was already married to a lady residing in Nova Scotia. Bessie left Clifford and was now a sole supporter of her three-year-old son. She came from Woodrow, Saskatchewan in 1927 and settled on SE 14-54-7 W3rd, in the Winter Lake area. She was granted homestead rights in 1937, where she had a log house and a barn. She had a crop on eleven acres and nine head of cattle. She also worked as a housekeeper for Maurice N. Peterson.
McCreight, Bill, Fern and family
Submitted by Doreen (McCreight) Wood
My parents, Bill and Fern (Swihart) were married in 1916, in Vidora, Saskatchewan. They farmed in the Stone District, on the Bench located between Eastend and Tompkins. They raised a family of nine children: Edna, Lloyd, Doreen, Earl, Arthur, Lelah, Clifford, Gerald and Raymond.
In the years of the dust storms on the prairies, they decided to move north. In May of 1933, with a bunkhouse, driven by my mother, one hayrack load of furniture, driven by Edna and myself, one grain tank of grain and feed for the stock, all pulled by horses, 35 head of cattle, two riding horses, ridden by Earl and Arthur herding the cattle, and a truck driven by Lloyd. Lloyd would drive ahead to make arrangements for accommodation and water for the stock for the night, we set out on our trek to Big River.
After three weeks of travel by day, stopping at places where the stock could graze and have access to water for the night, we arrived at Eldred. My Dad and brother Lloyd got work with three teams of horses, for the highway that was being built between Debden and Eldred. We stayed in Eldred until fall until Dad rented a farm in the Ormeaux district east of Eldred. We farmed there for two years and then moved to the homestead in Ladder Valley in 1935, one and a half miles north of the school SW-31-55-6-W3rd. My Dad was very proud of his horses and when they all died from Swamp Fever it almost broke his heart. In the spring of 1941, they moved to Enderby, British Columbia and farmed there for a few years, then to Castlegar where they had a rooming house for several years until they retired. They are both buried in the Castlegar Cemetery.
Submitted by Linda Anderson
Don is the son of Florence (Hodgson) and Thomas McGrath. He was born in Halifax and came to Timberlost with his mother in 1950. He lived with his grandparents, Dave and Gertrude Piche in Timberlost. He went to school in Big River until he quit in 1961 to go to work. He worked in mines in LaRonge, Saskatchewan and Thompson, Manitoba. He started a logging business with his Uncle, Bill Piche in 1974. He started dating Marlene Olson, also from Big River. Marlene is the daughter of Leslie and Ida Olson. Marlene was working at the IGA at this time. Don and Marlene were married in 1980. Marlene started working at the Big River Union Hospital in 1981and is still employed there. Don sold his partnership in the logging to Bill and went into the logging business on his own in 1984. In 1987 he sold his business to Del Lake Enterprises and went to work at the Big River Sawmill where he is presently employed. Don and Marlene have two children: Tanya and Derek. Tanya has a family in Big River. Derek is working for Del Lake Enterprises and is living at home. Don and Marlene have three grandchildren: Brock, Hayley and Brenden.
McGrath, Sharon and Randall, Murray
Submitted by Linda Anderson
Sharon is the daughter of Doug and Florence Anderson and Murray is the son of Hank and Lil Randall. Sharon, Murray and Cory moved north to Yellowknife in February 1986. Amber was born in Yellowknife in May 1987.
Murray is employed with Miramar Giant Mine. Sharon is with Northwestel. Amber attends high school in Yellowknife. Cory is employed with Weyerhaeuser at the mill in Big River.
Murray, Sharon and Amber return to Big River on a regular basis and are owners of a home on Main Street that did belong to Murray's parents. Cory presently lives in the house. Sharon and Murray plan to move back to Big River shortly.
McInnis, Alexander (Harry),
Jane and Mary
Harry McInnis' main livelihood had always been in the hardware business, having owned stores in Saskatoon and Mildred, Saskatchewan. The difficult times of the 1930s and '40s brought many problems to small business owners and Harry like many of them was forced to decide to find a more profitable income. He accepted a position of Local Improvement District Officer, which was offered to him in Meadow Lake. He was employed there until 1942 when he moved with his wife Jane and daughter Mary to the office in Big River.
The trip from Meadow Lake to Big River was memorable, in those days the road was not gravelled and the thick sloppy mud made it necessary for Harry to go around by Shellbrook, this added many extra miles to his trip. He arrived muddy and tired. He checked into the hotel for a few days. He soon found it was impossible to find a house to rent or buy in the town. It wasn't until some days later that Harry was able to rent one of the old airbase buildings along Ladder Lake. The building itself was large for such a small family and often cold. It was later moved into Big River and became the Red Cross Hospital. The building underwent many facelifts and additions before finally being destroyed in 2001.
The building Harry and his family moved into overlooked Ladder Lake. Ladder offered many amenities; it had nice clear water perfect for many boating activities and swimming. The area's beaches and bush trails provided ample space for scenic walks and berry picking. Every Saturday night a truck pulled onto the beach with a piano; from its' truck box Mrs Wilfred Godin, a resident would play dance music for the crowds that gathered.
Harry worked in the Local Improvement Office in Big River for several years. Jane and Mary purchased a small house in Big River after his death in 1945.
McKay, Ken and Brenda (Gunderson)
Back Row: Kenny, Mark, Penny.
Front Row: Brenda, Ryan.
Brenda Lee (Gunderson) McKay was born in the Big River Union Hospital on March 29, 1959, to Roy and Mildred Gunderson, the tenth child of twelve. I was raised three miles west of Big River on Jim Cowies' old place. My mom was a housewife and my dad worked in town at Mike Skopyk's blacksmith shop. In 1973 some of us moved to Pine Point, North West Territories. I completed grade nine there. I met Kenneth McKay of Sled Lake, Saskatchewan at this time. He is the son of William Creighton and Mary Alice Dare' (both now deceased).
Ken was working at the nickel mine in Pine Point North West Territories. We left Pine Point in 1975. I worked in Saskatoon at McDonald's for a year and then moved back to Big River. Ken moved to Big River and over the next few years worked in the bush as a skidder operator and a faller. I received my GED twelve and did some cooking in a couple of camps.
June 1, 1977, our daughter Penny Rae was born in the Big River Union Hospital. At this time we lived with my mom and dad on Pederson Ave. In October 1977, my mom and dad moved to their current residence of 801 Main Street and we stayed on at Pederson Avenue. Over the next five years, we moved about from one and a half miles west of Big River on the land now owned by Leonard and Diana Darbyshire, to an old townhouse now owned by Bruce Neufeld on 2nd Avenue South. Then we moved into 6th Avenue North (Sesame Street). I worked weekends at the theatre and the Chicken Koop. The theatre was situated where Northwest Regional College is now and the Chicken Koop was located where Sandra's Beauty Salon and Panter Agencies is now. Ken worked at Key Lake for two summers.
August 2, 1983, Ryan Kenneth, our son was born in Big River Union Hospital. August 27, 1983, we had a double-ring ceremony with my brother Bernard and Mary Ellen Cromartie (Bernard the sixth born to our family) by John R. Graham in his yard just out of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Our daughter Penny was our only guest. Her brother was with my Mom and Dad in Big River, Saskatchewan.
At this time we moved to Gordon and Helen Betchel's farm about three and a half miles west of Big River. In 1991 I started to work at the Lakewood Lodge in Big River. Shortly after I received my special care aid certificate. I remain at work at the Lakewood Lodge. In 1986, Ken started work at Len's Gas Bar, which changed to Federated Co-op and then to P.A. Co-op. Ken currently works for Federated Co-op. We moved to town in 1992 to 96 on Gilbert Street. Over the years I sat on Minor Sports, Big River Recreation Board, School Board and now I am currently the Treasurer on the Big River TimberKings executive. Ken is also a member of the Timber Kings executive.
Our daughter has played on the Big River Crusaders Broomball team through the years. Penny graduated in 1995 and worked away in Hinton Alberta and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan until August 18, 2001, when she married Mark Grambo. He is the son of Dave and Roxanne Grambo of Saskatoon. Penny and Mark now reside in La Ronge, Saskatchewan. Penny works for Watt Agencies and Mark works for Sask-Tel. In 2002 our son Ryan graduated and is currently working for Martel Electric and waiting to go to SIAST in Prince Albert for his apprenticing course for an electrician. Ryan played hockey from age four and was fortunate enough to play on our first junior "B" hockey team, "Big River Timber Kings" of Big River 2002/2003 season. Currently, we live in the trailer court at 227 Sundby Crescent in Big River.
Born: Newtownhamilton, County of Armagh, Northern Ireland - September 24, 1905. Died: Big River, Saskatchewan - Lakewood Lodge - March 7, 2000 - Age - 94 years Land Location: NE 4-54-8 W3rd.
Sam came to Canada as a teenager in 1924. He left his family and homeland behind while internal conflict raged throughout Ireland. This caused many people to leave Ireland in those years. His Uncle Sam McConnell and sister Jenny McKee came out shortly after. Sam made his first home with a family near Woodrow, Saskatchewan. He lived there and worked on the farms close by for many years. In 1931 Sam McKee and his uncle moved north to homestead in the Erinferry district. They farmed together until his uncle's passing in 1960. Sam remained on the farm until 1998 spending the winters in Big River in an apartment and the summers at "home" as he referred to the farm.
In the mid-1930's Sam spent his winters in northern Saskatchewan on the freight swing. Some winters he worked in Big River on the "dray". That job was hauling the freight off the train and delivering it around Big River. He was often seen carrying more kids and other passengers with the team and wagon, than freight. Somehow he always managed to deliver the mail.
The late 1950's and into the 1960s, he worked in the bush camps skidding logs with his crawler cat, in the winters. He always returned to the farm for the summer and fall. Over the years and the trails, he met many people. He enjoyed visiting over a cup of tea, a drink and lunch. Every year on March 17, Sam would toast the shamrock. His favourite day was April Fool's Day. He loved to catch somebody unprepared for his trick of the day.
Sam was known well throughout the communities and being a bachelor he loved to be invited to dine out. He loved the sweets and goodies most of all. His friends and neighbours always teased him about his Irish temper but we also know that he had a lot of Irish luck. He loved to play cribbage and won more than his share of games.
Sam always felt that he had been blessed with many friends in this country. He never forgot those who had helped him out and befriended him in those early years.
McKenzie, Charles and Emily
Submitted by Ted and Yvonne McKenzie
Charlie was born in Banff, Banffshire, Scotland in October 1896. He and his family immigrated to Canada in 1905, to the Kinley, Asquith area. Charlie was 16 years old when he lied about his age and enlisted in the First World War. After the war, Charlie returned to the family farm. He married Emily Rhodes, an immigrant born in England, September 1912.
Charlie and Emily had a dairy farm but in 1936 because of the drought they were forced to move north. They, with their three children, squatted 16 miles north of Big River along the Cowan Lake. There Charlie trapped, fished and picked wild berries to sell. He also worked on the Cowan Lake Dam, which was being constructed from wood to concrete. They became close family friends of the Craddocks who lived a few miles away.
The family moved to Big River and in 1942 Charlie reenlisted in the army and was stationed in Canada for the duration of the war. After the war, Charlie worked at the Big River Nursery and also on road construction until he retired. He bought the old poolroom and lunch counter which he operated until it burnt down in 1959. Charlie was an active member of the B.P.O.E. and was the Justice of the Peace for many years until his death April 28, 1970. Together Charlie and Emily raised eight children.
Phyllis (Abe) Epp - Stettler, Alberta, Abe is deceased,
Ted (Yvonne Pruden) McKenzie - Big River,
Shirley (Merle) McNabb - Kamloops, British Columbia,
Jim (Donna) McKenzie - Cranbrook, British Columbia,
Enid (Stan) Sprecker - Lady Smith, British Columbia,
Bob (Gail) McKenzie - Port McNeill, British Columbia,
Rae McKenzie - Calgary, Alberta,
Ron (Tracey) McKenzie - Big River.
After Charlie's death, Emily with her youngest son Ron moved west, living in various cities close to her children. She now resides in a senior's lodge in Calgary Alberta.
Ted was born November 4, in Regina Saskatchewan to Charles and Emily McKenzie. In 1936, the family moved to the Big River area, 16 miles north along the Cowan Lake. When Ted was ten years old the family moved to town and Ted started school, but at the age of 16, he quit school and started working on the oilrigs. In 1949, he started driving heavy equipment on road construction for Evan's Construction. He bought his first gravel truck in 1956 and worked around the country for various gravel outfits.
In 1958 he married Yvonne Pruden. Ted hauled gravel during the summer months employed by Department of Highways, D.N.R and the R.M. In the winter he hauled logs and lumber for Sask. Forest Products. He and Mervin Sundby formed a partnership running loading equipment for a few years, and then in 1969, they sold and went their separate ways. Ted built a shop next to their home but when the town of Big River developed the industrial area he bought the old mill shop and in 1980 moved where he had more room for his expanding business, hauling and loading logs for Weyerhaeuser. He continued to work until his semi-retirement in 1997, selling his trucks to his sons. In 2002, he turned over the shop to them but still spends many hours there.
Yvonne was born to Margaret (Otte) and Robert Pruden on December 18, 1938. At an early age, she quit school to work at Godin's store for Joe Friedman and then at Yurach's store. In 1956, she moved with her friends to Prince George, British Columbia where she worked in a grocery store for one year. Returning to Big River she met and married Ted McKenzie. Here they raised six children all residing in Big River. They are Shannon (Terry) Bogner, Crystal (Rick) Reimer, Trent (Linda Thiessen) McKenzie, Doug McKenzie, Kirby McKenzie and Joel (Cara Reich) McKenzie.
McKnight, George and Francis
George and Francis.
George McKnight came to Big River with his mother Martha McKnight, sister May, brother John and other sister Freda, after their father died in 1900 at the age of 50 years.
George worked at the mill until he enlisted in the army in 1914. George was wounded and was sent to England to the hospital. This is where he met Francis Everitt whom he later married. They returned to Big River after the war with their daughter Freda. They lived down by the water tower.
The family later moved to a homestead on Ladder Lake. In 1927 they moved back to town where they opened a bakery, (where John Jezowski lives). Mr and Mrs McKnight operated the liquor store from 1932 to 1936.
While George was in Big River he was the overseer for the town in 1930. He was also a chartered member of the Royal Canadian Legion, and a member of the Elks Lodge. He belonged to the Mason (Masonic) Lodge where he travelled to Shellbrook, Saskatchewan to attend meetings. He belonged to the gun club along with Constable Sexsmith, Pete Bush, and Father Defossier. After George was finished in the Liquor Store he went to work with Ed Otte in O.P.Godins Power Plant. Later he went to work at Royalties, Alberta, in the oil wells.
In the meantime, they bought the Figeland house. One of the fond memories from this time was sliding down the hill on sleighs all the way to the lake. They didn't have to worry about cars in those days, as there was very few around. The section men would pile the old ties in the V of the tracks by Sundby's and then in the fall they would light them on fire in the afternoon and in the evening they would allow us to have a potato and corn roast. While waiting for their food to cook they would play games like Hiding and Seek or Run Sheep Run. Then after finishing their meal, the section men would return to put out the fire. The only rule was that nobody could play in the fire and as long as this rule was followed each year the day of fun continued.
The house where we lived was very large and in the front room, Mrs.Godin and Midi Chamberland would play music while others danced between the living room and dining room. The two bedrooms were cleared out so that people could play cards in both rooms. After the dancing and card-playing lunch was served and any proceeds would be donated to the Anglican Church.
Mr And Mrs George McKnight had five children; Freda (Cliff Felt), Sam (Peg Hepburn), Majorie (William Yurach), Viola (Albert Colby), Bill (Beryl Pinchin) a war bride.
He was to return to Big River to move his family back to Alberta where he worked, but just before he was to board the bus he had a fatal heart attack and passed away at a young age of 47 years.
George died in 1937 and Francis worked to support her children until she passed away in 1942.
McKnight, Warren and Martha
Warren and Martha.
After the passing of her husband Warren on October 25, 1909, Martha McKnight and her four children, May, John, George and Freda came to Big River from Ontario. Warren was buried in the Utterson/Port Sydney cemetery in Ontario.
Mrs McKnight opened a restaurant and ice cream parlour. This was a very popular stopping place for the hungry freighters, trappers, and citizens. Each customer was welcomed with pleasant hospitality and a hearty meal.
Mrs McKnight lived in Big River until 1930 when she left to stay with her daughter Freda who had moved to Turner Valley, Alberta.
May received her training in Prince Albert and became a nurse. John returned to Ontario and later passed away and is buried in Toronto, George worked in the Big River sawmill and later joined the army in 1914, and Freda taught school in Big River.
Martha passed away in 1938 and is buried in the Okotoks Cemetery.
McKnight, William (Bill) and Beryl
Beryl and Bill.
William (Bill) McKnight was born in Big River in 1925, son of George and Frances McKnight. Bill attended school in Big River and during his school years did chores for different people in town. Dr Afanasief, Howard Darbyshire, Mrs Clarkson, Joe Sexsmith, the Hotel and Rex Cafe were some he worked for after school and on Saturdays. His father died in 1937.
He left school in the fall of 1942 after the death of his mother that spring, and then he worked at numerous jobs until he joined the R.C.A.F. He worked with the engineer to install the first sprinkler system at the Big River Tree Nursery, hung nets for Waite Fisheries and also cut and shaved ice for Waites. He also winter-fished for Sam Lyons.
He had tried to enlist in the air force in January 1943 but was turned down on medical grounds. He tried again in August 1943 and was accepted for aircrew, graduating as Sergeant Air Gunner in March 1944. He was then posted to England and served as Tail Gunner on a Lancaster bomber in #153 squadron (R.A.F.).
Bill married Beryl Pinchin in London in July 1945. He returned to Canada in February 1946.
He began taking a carpentry course in Saskatoon, left after two months and moved back to Big River. He then started a welding and machine shop where the C.I.B.C. bank is today, with his brother and brother-in-law Bert Colby. In 1947, he sold out his share and worked for Eikel & Lomsnes in the mill and the bush.
In September 1948, Bill started work in the Post Office. After more than three years, he left and worked for Sask Timber retail sales. In 1952 he applied for and received the job of Postmaster and also served as Supervisory Postmaster of all small offices in the area, including Debden and Canwood. Bill retired in July 1980.
After retirement, he did some carpentry work and was housing manager. Some of the things he has been busy with are: hockey, Boy Scouts, Red Cross, first closed- in rink committee, Board of Trade, Hospital Board, Town Council when sewer and water were installed, active member of the Legion (held most offices) and also Legion Deputy Zone Commander.
I, Beryl McKnight, was born in London, England in 1928 and lived there until coming to Canada in 1946. I met Bill when he went to visit his cousin Helen Gilbert (Panter). I had known Helen for a couple of years by then. She was in the R.C.A.F. WD.
We were married in July 1945. I arrived in Saskatoon in May 1946. In July we came to Big River and have lived here since that time. We have two sons. Clifford, born in 1947, and lives in Saskatoon with his wife Betty. He has a son, Terry, from his first marriage. Terry has two children: Kristen (nine) and Andrew (six). Denis was born in 1953. He had a Body Shop in Big River. He sold that and then bought a hotel at LeRoy, Saskatchewan. He is still there. Denis and Janice have three children: Kristy, Sean and Spencer.
Back Row: Betty, Clifford, Sean, Denis.
Front Row: Spencer, Bill, Beryl, Kristy.
I always wanted to live in the country "being a city girl from Regina" so the move to Clearwater Lake by Big River in 1978 with my partner at the time, Garry Mclean and our three young kids Rechelle, Rebecca and Carla was a welcome adventure. And it was that! It was about one and one-half years after we got there that our mill and cabin burnt down and a whole new life began. I separated from Garry and the girls and I moved into a school bus with Alex Fontaine and then we settled into a little cabin for a few years while Alex worked on his log cabin masterpiece. That was a fun time, but a bit too much of a party for me. I bought a cabin from Frank Hildebrand with my hard-earned tree planting money and moved it down to the lake where I lived with Bob and Jude Marshall and their two kids for a while. I had the chance to travel lots and found my interests took me to healing fields of Chinese Medicine in Victoria where I moved to make a new life in 1989, bringing Rechelle with me.
McLean, Garry and Braidek, Carla
Back Row: Rebecca, Zach. Rechelle, Carla McLean.
Front Row: Garry. Meadow, Carla Braidek.
Clearwater Lake has long been a community lake. People from Big River used to go there to picnic on the beach and fish and swim in the lake. Winterkill depleted the fish stock so fishermen and picnickers became fewer. But in the late 70s, many young people were attracted to the area.
In 1975, Garry McLean and his brother Doug purchased 33 acres of land from Bill Smith. SW 155-7 W3rd is on the East Shore of Clearwater Lake. Doug and Garry started building a house and in 1978, Garry and his wife Gail and their three girls (Rechelle, Rebecca and Carla) moved onto the land.
Carla Braidek moved to the Big River area in 1975. She and Roy Gilbert purchased land in the vicinity of Clearwater Lake in 1977, the same year their son Zachary was born. They purchased the NE 34-54-7 W3rd with Dick Braidek. It wasn't too long after that they sold their share to John Murray and Cathy Saunders. Garry and Gail separated and after a couple of years, Gail moved to Victoria. Roy and Carla also separated. Roy still lives in the community. Carla and Garry started living together and in 1980 Carla bought Doug's share of the lakeshore property.
The area around Clearwater Lake, already home to some, became more populated. The locals continued to use the lake for recreation. Summer was swimming, canoeing and sailing, while winter meant skating and cross-country skiing. Hockey was a favourite pastime and drew participants and spectators from town and farther.
The McLean/Braidek family includes Rechelle, Rebecca, Carla and Meadow Star McLean and Zachary Gilbert. They homeschooled until they were each about 12 years of age. Many friends and relations came to visit for various lengths of time. These people joined the family in experiencing what the lake and bush had to offer. Something was always going on: a camp-out on the lake islands, a horse trip or a project someone dreamt up. Frequently it involved horses, and it seemed like there was a gymkhana every year, either in Clearwater or nearby. There were always animals (besides horses): dogs and cats, rabbits, hamster, turtles and fish, a calf and bees. Extracting the honey with the hand extractor took up a day in early September. The real highlight being unlimited sweet treats.
The children all grew up, and moved away for work, school and adventure, but are always drawn home. Rechelle has been living in Clearwater for a couple of years now but plans to leave again. Zach and his partner, Kristal, added to the family with a son of their own, Dawson Gabriel. They also live in the neighbourhood. Another family member is expected soon, from Meadow. Young Carla is pursuing her education in Vancouver and Toronto, while Rebecca has made Saskatoon her home. Carla and Garry continue to live by the lake, with a never-ending stream of people flowing in and out.
Hazel and Jack.
I am Hazel (Woods) McLean, born in Rosetown, Saskatchewan February 1930.
When I was about three and a half years old my parents and sister and I moved to the Witchekan/Leoville area. My parents were farmers; my father worked at farming and my mother cooked for a widower and his boys Eldin and Roy. We lived in that area for about two years for both my brother Jack and sister Doris were born at my Grandma's and Grandpa's place attended both times by midwife Lillie Fee.
My aunt and uncles moved to Witchekan too. My father and uncles went to Meadow Lake to file on Homesteads in the Spruce Creek district. When we all moved to Spruce Creek I was five years old, Jean four years old, Jack two years and Doris was our baby. We went to live in our uncle's log house. It had sod on the roof and a dirt floor. The snow was so high my sister and I could walk on the roof. We gathered what we thought our mother could make a pie of, when we presented our find to her she just laughed we had picked rabbit turds. Our brother Bill was born attended by Lillie Fee; he only lived three months. In February us kids were very ill, Mother took Doris to Prince Albert, how they got the money I do not know and Doris got well.
Our father learned to trap wild animals, which brought in some cash. We lived on relief for some time. My father paid it back by taking a team of horses to help build a road with a horse-drawn Fresno (big scoop).
I started school at seven years old; I had to wait until Jean was old enough to go too. Our first morning we had to go past a boggy place, we called it Hokey Lake. At the edge of the lake stood a white horse, we carefully walked over the crunchy mud and climbed on its back and pretended we went riding. When we told our parents my father went to see what it was and found our neighbour's horse standing there very dead.
Another day coming home from school we came upon an animal and decided to kill and take it home for our father to skin. We knocked it out, then each grabbed a hind leg and we dragged it home. When we let our father see what we had brought him, the animal got up and ran away. It was a full-grown groundhog. He made us promise to never do that again.
My father and his faithful horse Ned, built a two-story log house on our homestead. My father hewed the inside logs until he got to the second story. My sister Helen was born in our new home again attended by Lillie Fee. We had a cellar that everything froze down there in the winter, the main floor was a kitchen and pantry on one side, a dining and sitting room on the other side, upstairs there were four bedrooms curtained off with sheets and blankets. Our mattresses were straw or hay, refilled twice a year.
When I was 33 years old my father told me he had finally paid all the hospital bills when I had my appendix and tonsils out. Doris had been in the hospital and mother had made many trips being treated for a spot on her lungs.
I left home at 18 years of age; my uncle got me a job caring for an invalid lady. What a shock for me for I had to sponge bath her every morning, do the cleaning, cooking and garden work. I stayed there for one year.
Sister Jean was going to Normal School in Saskatoon so I went with her. I got a job at Community Apartments to pay our room and board. I worked in the kitchen. This is where returned soldiers lived with their families. I eventually went back to a small town south of Regina. I married in 1951 and from this union, I had Stuart, March 23, 1952, Terri Leah, August 28, 1954, Shelley, October 6, 1957, and Russell, June 15, 1960. I left there with my children and went to work in Manitoba. I worked as a cook in a cafe, also worked at a Lucky Dollar Store. In 1964 we came (Jack, I and family) to do my parent's plumbing then we were off to Hollywood California to see my Uncle Bill who worked as a make-up man for the Bonanza Show. We decided to stay in Big River and do plumbing as water and sewer were being installed. We worked in the plumbing trade for 30 years.
We hired many people some of them were John Gilbert, Garry Offet, Mac Scriven, Leonard Young; Chuck Morin, Robert Dunbar, my son Stuart. The last three got Journeyman plumber's papers. I received second-class papers and Russell got his papers in plumbing many years later. We hired many native people too.
When I was 40 years old I learned to drive a motorcycle. Jack and I spent many happy miles travelling to rally's across Canada and to the United States. In 1991 we sold our business to Russell and Margo, we retired but knowing us we kept busy. I could shop sit when necessary and Jack drove many miles picking up materials for the shop. We started going south for the colder part of our winters staying in Casa Grande Arizona. We made many friends there. We lived in our RV for three and a half years after selling our beautiful country home. While we were living in our RV Jack made a cement pad 24 x 32 with water and sewer and heating in it, situated in Russell and Margo's yard. Jack passed away July 2000 I lived with Margo and Russell and family until March 2001 when friends of my children built me a new house. Barry and Caroline Moule, Norm and Mike Laird, Darryl Meyers, Steve Raymond, Russell, Margo, Dana, Tanner, Doug and Mary, Stuart, Keith and Karen. I call my home "a little bit of heaven".
My parents came to Big River in 1956. My father worked at Sask. Timber Mill till he retired, my mother took in Welfare children for many years. My youngest sister married a farmer and still lives in the area.
McLean, Russell and Margo
Russell was born on June 15, 1960 in Regina, Saskatchewan. Along with his brother Stuart, sisters Terri Leah and Shelley they moved to Big River in the summer of 1964. Russell took his schooling in Big River. Following in the footsteps of his parents, he went to plumbing school in 1978. Russell worked for Jack and Hazel and in 1993 Russell and I took over the plumbing business. Russell has been very active in the community. He belongs to the Elks and was a Volunteer Fireman and was on the Town Council for 14 years.
I, Margo was born on Feb 5, 1961, in Craik, Saskatchewan. At a young age, we moved to Saskatoon where we lived for many years. I received all my schooling in Saskatoon. I graduated from Walter Murray Collegiate. I met Russell in 1978 and we were married in 1980. We have two children, Dana born in 1989 and Tanner born in 1991. I worked for Russell's parents after we were married and Russell and I took over the business later on. I belong to the Royal Purple, Kinettes and have helped with various other clubs. We now reside on our farm where we have lived since 1999.
I was born Shelley Dee Quigley, the daughter of Hazel Frances Woods and Roy Irwin Quigley in Regina, Saskatchewan on October 6, 1957.
I began my life in Regina and was raised for a season of time in Rouleau Saskatchewan.
I remembered wanting to go visit a friend who lived across the tracks from where we lived. I decided to head out and was stopped at the doorway by a dog (that I was sure was ten feet tall!). I was stopped in my tracks. I am sure this huge dog would not have harmed a flea, but I was scared and in many tears. To this day I have a healthy regard for large dogs.
From Rouleau, we moved to a farm. I can remember the times we'd go out for picnic lunches - quite likely illegally crossing the Canadian-United States border. On one of our jaunts out, my older brother, Stuart, and older sister, Terri Leah proudly caught a gopher. We stuck it in a box to bring it home.
From the farm, I believe we moved to Reston, Manitoba. This was quite a journey, I remembered my step-dad, Jack McLean, letting both Russell, my younger brother, and I steer the vehicle down the road. Not totally in a straight line, I may say! We lived in Reston until I graduated from grade one.
The adventures continued I fell asleep under the bunk bed in my room one day. As a result of this, no one knew where I was. They had the whole town looking for me, supposing I might have fallen into an open hole that was being dug for plumbing in the town. Two teenage boys came up with the idea that I had fallen asleep under my bed. They found me! Another interesting adventure that Russell and I had, we went to get the mail and on the way home, we got stuck in the mud in the middle of the road. A man came along and very graciously offered to go get Mom. She had to come and get us in the car (dressed in her nightgown and housecoat). I lost my boot that day. I lost my tonsils in the Verden Hospital, I enjoyed the ice cream and JellO that I was able to eat and I will never forget my grade one teacher, Miss Abrahamson, coming to visit me. She was a very kind lady.
From Reston, we moved to Big River, Saskatchewan in the summer of 1964. Many adventures and gifts of life were to unfold during the time I lived in Big River. We lived for a time with my grandparents until we moved into the house Monty Thompson now lives in down by the river. Then my folks bought the house that used to be the jail. We found out years later that John Diefenbaker had visited this building at one time. I lived in this house until I moved away in the fall of 1975.
Big River a land of forests, lakes, rolling hills and vast beauty. I am thankful for the environment I grew up in and the many opportunities I have had in learning to enjoy the nature that surrounds this town. Some interesting things during my time in Big River were, learning to swim in Delaronde Lake, swimming and fishing in many other lakes, such as Chitek, Smoothstone, Nesslin, Sled, Little Ness, Candle, Hackett, and Jackfish Lake and many others that we found off the beaten track. I am thankful for the many outings we took as a family. Often we would explore the area called the Block. We were out with my cousin and his family one evening. He had a walkie-talkie and was able to pick up someone as far away as Texas. The night was so clear. There was one summer we went out every weekend exploring and subsequently got stuck? I learned many techniques of how to get unstuck which helped me in good stead when I worked for the Department of Silviculture in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Summers and winters would see us heading out for a picnic lunch somewhere, whether to go fishing, swimming, picking berries, exploring, tobogganing, skidooing, or boating. On one such outing, we were walking back to the vehicle through a wet boggy area. Dad told us to take our shoes off to make the walking easier. I did not like walking in muck so I didn't do as he suggested. Partway through the wet area, I slipped and ended up sitting down in the water. Dad never once laughed when he came back to help me up. Mom and Russell quite enjoyed themselves.
Other adventures of travel included going to Expo, in Montreal, Quebec, in 1967 with my family, working in Rankin Inlet, North West Territories, Northern Ontario, and Jasper National Park. I attended schools in Missouri and Hawaii and worked and lived in the lower mainland of British Columbia. I enjoyed my trip to Expo, in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1986 with my mom. And especially enjoying our family reunions at Shuswap Lake, British Columbia, then years later at Sylvan Lake, Alberta. I believe my love for travel; experiencing new adventures and meeting new people came from the example set by my parents, Hazel and Jack McLean.
Springtime, I would often go up into the hills along the railroad tracks to pick crocuses for my Grandma - Helen Woods. One time my brother's, sister and I were picking berries. Not sure who accidentally disturbed a bee's nest, but we all took off. I got stung and lost almost all of the berries I'd picked. We must have been a sight, racing down the hillside!
School adventures included being chosen for the best-supporting actress for the local School and School Unit in January 1975. I was awarded the Royal Canadian Legion, Remembrance Day Essay Trophy for District 6 Zone 4 (see end for entry). I had the privilege of being chosen to attend EDU-Canada in the summer of 1973. I was one amongst many students from across Canada that met in Ottawa for two weeks of educational touring. It was a wonderful adventure, which I am most thankful for. Winter school activities included ice-skating on Ladder Lake and in the town rink, learning to figure skate, curling, building ice sculptures, tobogganing down the hill across from the Catholic Church. I remember attending Mrs Burt's after school arts & crafts class. I was a member of the girl guides. I attended school sock hops and enjoyed going trick or treating until we got pelted with frozen eggs one Halloween. I remember being chased by boys at recess time (elementary school) to see if they could catch and kiss the girls (really didn't much like this game). Other enjoyable school adventures included singing in the Glee Club under the capable leadership of Vivian Zinovich. I was chosen to be the class secretary. I loved writing, directing, and acting in many plays. I participated in the Prince Albert Radio station "Search for talent", by playing my mom's organ (being embarrassed by the emcee when he asked if I had any boyfriends in the audience).
The greatest adventure of my life began the day I met Jesus. I was attending Renewable Resources Technology at Kelsey Institute of Applied Arts & Sciences in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Friends invited me to attend a College and Career Group at University Drive Alliance Church. I was struggling with life's purpose, and I saw that this group of people had something that I did not have. I was invited to the home of Glenn and Gail Stevenson's, I thought for coffee and I do enjoy meeting new people. When I arrived at their home, Glenn brought out a small booklet called the Four Spiritual Laws. Within the contents of this book, I came to realize that God loved me. From that day on I have had a purpose for living. God has wonderfully directed my footsteps. I worked for a season of time with the Department of Silviculture, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. During this time of work, I attended and graduated from Miller College of the Bible, in Pambrun, Saskatchewan. I have had the fantastic adventure of travelling to the Philippines with Venture Teams International the fall and winter of 1984-85. When I landed in the Philippines I felt like I had come home, and hope to return someday. While there, I had the wonderful adventure of travelling in a canoe up a river to Pagsanhan Falls, in a boat out to Sombrero Island on Christmas day and on our return to the main island we assisted in rescuing eight travelling businessmen from perishing in the ocean (their boat had sunk).
Many more adventures of serving God have included being a camp counsellor at Torch Trail Bible Camp and camp speaker for Big River Bible Camp. I spent a summer as a summer missionary with Northern Canada Evangelical Mission and was also a leader in a ladies Bible study. I received the lay/teacher trainer status with Evangelism Explosion III and was a missionary for eight years with Child Evangelism Fellowship. I was also in Oregon for two years, as an Area Director for Curry County. I am presently serving in my local church as a Sunday school teacher, librarian and nursery worker. I have had the unique privilege of this past year (2002/2003) of teaching English as a second language to some wonderful people from Iran, Japan, China, Germany, El Salvador, and Korea. One of my childhood dreams of being an English teacher has indeed come to pass. The other of my dreams was to have a drama major. I am thankful for the realization of this dream as well as coming to pass through the many experiences I have been able to participate in. I was able to act and tour in two dramas while attending Bible School. I played the role of Ma Baker in 'It's A Wonderful Life' put on by Westside King's Church, in Calgary. I also acted as an extra, in the movie "I've Seen you Before" put out by a movie company in Bombay India. I have volunteered with a local theatre group as a sound technician, lighting technician, props, and front of the house. We even have our form of the Grammys. I have been blessed by the recognition received by my peers for the participation I have had in various capacities. My life indeed has been a gift and a series of adventures that are far from over.
THOUGHTS ON A QUIET DAY
"It's quiet, standing here, on the grounds of Heaven." The wind is blowing gently through the poppies. The angels playing around the markers.
I stand here thinking, dreaming, of the glorious, yet sad past. It seems that the field is coming alive with images and memories of days gone by...
It comes to me, as a thing of yesterday, the fighting, the killing, and the loss of many lives...
"Why was the war started? Could the loss of many lives be prevented?" We ask ourselves these questions and many more. The most important question of all is "Why?" "Why did they have to die?" Many people try to answer this question, some within their hearts, do answer it.
I feel that the men of all countries died for their country. They fought for peace, liberty, and freedom. They gave their lives for others.
"Christ gave his life so that the people of the world could be saved; justly so, we can compare the men to Christ. They gave their lives so that the people of the world could live in a state of democracy."
It wouldn't be befitting for a king to come upon his subjects and they, the subjects, show little or no respect for him. Just as Remembrance Day slips by and people forget to acknowledge the time for remembering.
"It is strange the way war breaks out. One country formally announces to another country that they intend declaring war on them. Think of those that suffered throughout the long, hard, weary years. The mothers and sisters not knowing whether their men lived or not. They suffered, they knew the fear of waiting, of wondering, Will we die tonight, tomorrow, the day after?"
"How would we cope with war (in this day and age)?" Strange, how the passing of time dulls one's senses; dulls one's nationalistic pride.
"We should acknowledge the bravery and goodness of our countrymen. Of their sacrifice's made for their children and grandchildren.
I feel that the time allotted for Remembrance Day is short, too short for us to appreciate and to thank those that died for Canada.
We live for that moment, on Remembrance Day, in silence."
"The winds whispering tune, in the poppies, tell of good deeds, done by brave men...
The sun sets slowly and the grounds of Heaven fade...
I am thankful for the sacrifice, very thankful that I may live on this earth in peace."
McLellan, William Arthur (Bill)
I was born on June 28, 1939, in Fredericton, New Brunswick. I joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on April 1, 1958, and retired July 15, 1994, in Regina, Saskatchewan. I am presently living in Regina, Saskatchewan.
I married Jeanette Pillipow on May 13, 1967. We had three children: Todd age 35, Trent age 34 and Tracy age 34.
We moved to Big River On December 14, 1961, transferring from Island Fall Detachment to Big River Detachment. Cpl. Seth Ginther was in charge of detachment at that time.
Other than the usual police duties I took an active part and played on the Big River Braves Senior Hockey Club, Big V League, which consisted of teams from Big River, Prince Albert, Canwood, Shellbrook, Debden and Blaine Lake. I played in the 1961-62 and 1962-63 season in which I might add; Big River won the championship in both years. I also participated with the Big River Baseball team.
All of my RCMP services were in Saskatchewan except for one year in Ottawa, Ontario. Having completed two years in Big River, I was transferred to Prince Albert on December 10, 1963.
I can honestly say that the two years in Big River are the most memorable of my service with the Force. I met many great friends and to this day I still keep in touch.
McMahon, Neil and Daley, Debra
Neil and Debbie were both raised in Big River, Saskatchewan. Neil quit school at the age of sixteen to go to work while Debbie continued until she graduated in 1975. She then went to Saskatoon Business College and then moved to Thompson, Manitoba. Neil stayed in Big River but travelled a lot with his friends. He has been from Vancouver Island to New York City.
In the meantime, Debbie got married in 1980 and then had Marlise Alexa in Winfield, British Columbia, in 1983 and Cassie Danielle in Thompson, Manitoba in 1985. While there, she continued with more education.
Neil continued to work and help with his family until 1988, when he moved to Faro, Yukon. He worked there for the winter and then moved back home. He started working in the logging industry. Neil worked like this for a total of twenty-three years. He did a lot of fishing, hunting and travelling. He was also active in the Big River Trail Ride.
Neil and Debbie met again in 1991 and in June of 1992, they moved to their first acreage. They raised Marlise and Cassie until 2000 when they all moved to their new home on Cowan Lake.
Both Marlise and Cassie graduated from Big River High School. Marlise took a medical secretary course, while Cassie is enrolled in the University of Manitoba. Both girls are doing well.
Marlise made us grandparents on July 18, 2003, with the birth of Hanna Lynne. She is a marvel and everyone's joy.
Debbie started driving a school bus in 1993 and is still driving. Neil finally got out of the bush when he acquired a job with Weyerhaeuser.
Neil and Debbie do a lot of fishing, hunting, camping, as well as quadding and sledding. Hanna is starting to participate as well. They are active outdoor people and hope to remain that way.
McMillan, Duncan and Annie
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979
Duncan, Annie McMillan and their children, Henry, Ida, Mary, Violet, Dorothy and Hazel had been farming in the Indian Head district. They sold out and moved to Big River in 1931. Annie had made patchwork quilts to take north with them from old coats, heavy pants, and odd pieces of blankets.
They shipped their things by train as settler's effects and the family went by car. The family stayed at Ladder Lake, living under the trees for two weeks. The children were then taken to Tom Murphy's home while Duncan and Annie went out to the homestead to build a cabin. When complete, the house was twenty-five by forty-two feet. Many dances were held during the next few years in the great log house.
Rita and Irene were both born on the homestead with the assistance of Mrs Fortin and Dr Afanasieff.
Duncan cut ties for John Swanson for one winter and also cooked in the camp. He worked two summers surveying. He went to Deep River and Buffalo Narrows and packed fish for one dollar a day and board. They took carloads of firewood and shipped it to Saskatoon and were paid very little.
Duncan remembers that you made your living by the sweat of your brow in those days, but there was a good feeling of togetherness.
The McMillans moved south again in 1937. In one way it was sad to leave, yet there was nothing to stay for. There was no work.
Tony Lueken and his family now live on the original homestead. One can get in touch with the McMillans by writing: Mr Duncan McMillan, Strasbourg, Saskatchewan. SOG 4V0.