O.P.Godin's Store

Family Histories, Part 2


Ausland, Halvor Sr. and Mary

Submitted by Olivia Thibeault and Ann Kituik.
With additions by Selmer Ausland

Halvor Ausland (left) prior to departure from Norway to Canada, 1920.

Halvor Ausland (left) just prior to departure
from Norway to Canada, 1920.

Halvor and Mary Ausland at Deep River, 1920s.

Halvor and Mary Ausland at Deep River, 1920s.
Addition by Selmer Ausland

Halvor Ausland was born in Evje, Norway in 1902. He attended school until he was eight years old. His father passed away and Halvor left school to start working in a nickle mine at nine years of age. When he was 16 years old, he travelled by ship to Bear Island (Svalbard), in the arctic with a group of men to mine. They hit a big storm enroute and their sister ship sank with all on board. Halvor said he was so seasick he didn't care if his ship sank too. He earned 10,000 Norwegian dollars from this job which he used to emigrate to Canada at the age of 17, in 1920.

He then went to Watrous, Saskatchewan to work on a farm. He worked for a farmer there for six months. When he quit, he asked the farmer for his pay, but the farmer told him he had no money to pay him, but gave him a shirt that was worth one dollar.

He then went to Prince Albert and got a job cutting cordwood for ten cents a cord. All he had was ten cents in his pocket so he couldn't afford proper boots so he had to cut cordwood in his dress shoes. He next got a job helping to build the old Shellbrook theatre, that stood until just recently. While he was working on this job, Sam Lyons from Big River, persuaded Halvor to go trapping in the North, so he then went to Big River by train for that purpose, and the rest is history.

After a few years trapping in the far north at Island Lake and on the Mudjatik River, south of Cree Lake. He decided to move to Deep River with my mother, Mary Ausland.

Mary Ausland was born in Sandnes, Norway in 1905. Mary, along with her family, set sail for Canada in 1912 on the S.S. Asonia. If their documents had been ready, they would have sailed on the Titanic with their other relatives and all would have likely perished.

In Canada, the Waage family travelled to Saskatchewan and settled on a farm in Renown.

In nearby Watrous, Mary met and married, Halvor Ausland and they then travelled north in a scow via the Beaver River to Ile-a-la-Crosse Lake and on to Deep River (Aubichon Arm on the map).

Deep River is twenty-four miles north-west of Ile-a-la-Crosse, where Halvor set up trapping, commercial fishing operations and established the first mink ranch in northern Saskatchewan.


Halvor and Mary Ausland at Deep River with their scow.

Halvor and Mary Ausland at Deep River with their scow.

Mary and Halvor Sr. had six children, Marjorie, Annie, Mary, Irene, Halvor Jr. and Selmer, all born at Ile-a- la-Crosse.

Halvor bought a property in Big River and Mary and the children moved to Big River around 1936 in a scow Halvor had built. The children lived with Mary so they could attend school as there were no suitable schools in the North at that time.

The teachers then were: Meta Brownfield, Mrs Margaret Bouchard, Nora Flanagan, Mabel McLaren, Mrs Hartnett and Mr Wearing. William Gould was the school principal.

Halvor Sr. remained at Deep River to trap, fish and operate the mink ranch. For more information on the mink, ranch visit the website: Memories of Deep River created by his son, Selmer.

Olivia, Karen and Helen were my younger sisters. Olivia is now deceased.

Helen worked as a telephone operator in Big River and now lives in Airdrie, Alberta.

Marjorie is married to George Carlson who worked in the Big River area. They now live in Grand Forks, British Columbia. Both are now deceased

Mary lived in Bellingham, Washington, USA. Mary is now deceased. Irene resides in Edmonton, Alberta.


Halvor and Selmer Ausland at Big River.

Halvor and Selmer Ausland at Big River.

Addition by Selmer Ausland

I have twin sons Erik and Eilef, sons, Stephen and Bruce and daughters, Carol and Kari. My wife Dorothy passed away in 2011.

Erik, is employed by the Federal Government in Ottawa as a policy Analyst. He is married to Marcia Erwin and they have two children, Anastasia and Odin. Marcia is also employed by the Federal Government.

Eilef lives in Aylmer, Quebec and publishes his own family magazine, Ottawa Parenting Times. He is still single.

My daughter Carol Ausland - Hicks, lives in Winnipeg and works for M&M Meats. Her husband, Tim works for the City of Winnipeg. They have five children, Kendra, Jeffrey, Christian, Caleb and Cambrie.

Stephen lives in Winnipeg and is employed by Air Unlimited in Winnipeg. He has one daughter Cora-Lee.

Bruce Lives in Florida and is employed as a Chef. He is married with one child.

Kari lives in Temecula, California and is employed as a nurse at Loma Linda Hospital. She Has two children, Garnet and Skyler. Garnet lives in Vancouver and Skyler is presently playing Jr. Hockey for the West Kelowna Warriors

Selmer Ausland and Family.

Dorothy, Carol, twins - Erik, Eilef and Selmer Ausland.

Erik, Carol and Eilef Ausland.

Erik, Carol and Eilef Ausland.

Selmer Ausland and daughter Kari Ausland at Torre Pines Golf Course, California.

Selmer Ausland and daughter Kari Ausland at Torre Pines Golf Course, California.

Halvor Jr. was a mink rancher and a fisherman. He worked in Clarke Lake and grew wild rice. He married Darlene Cowan and they had five children, Darren, Wilo, Candy, Sandy and Brenda. They also have thirteen grandchildren. Halvor passed away in Big River.

Selmer was born in Ile-a-la-Crosse hospital in 1935. As a young man, he attended school in Big River and Prince Albert. After his school years, he worked on his father's mink ranch at Deep River. He then moved to Thompson, Manitoba, where he was employed as a development miner. He met and married his wife, Dorothy, in Winnipeg. Later he moved to British Columbia, where he was a development miner at several locations including the Granduc Tunnel in Northern B.C. They then moved back to Winnipeg with their children in 1971. Selmer then worked for the Manitoba Government Correctional Branch for thirty years. He retired in 2001. They have seven children and fifteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Annie recalls spending summer vacations in Big River. One summer, during July and August, she was employed at the Lakeview Hotel. Some summers, during July or August, George Greening would fly the family up to the mink ranch from Big River. Annie left Big River and went to Prince Albert where she attended Park City Business College. She moved to Drumheller, Alberta, where she worked for the mayor and then for a lawyer. She eventually moved to Calgary and worked for the Department of Internal Revenue. She married Don Kituik and has four children. Her oldest daughter lives in North Vancouver and has two children. Her other two daughters live in Calgary and her son lives in Airdrie, Alberta. She has one grandson residing in Calgary. He is a great joy to her.

Olivia married Ron Thibeault and they reside in Calgary, Alberta (Refer to her personal history). Karen resides in Calgary, Alberta.

Halvor Sr. remained at the Deep River mink ranch until he sold it. He moved to Ottawa and then to White Rock, British Columbia. He passed away in 1987.

Mary Sr. was brought to Calgary by her family after she suffered a stroke. She resided there for ten years and passed away in 1990. She was buried in Queen's Park Cemetery in Calgary, Alberta.


Selmer, Irene, Mary, Ann, Marjorie and Halvor Ausland.

Selmer, Irene, Mary, Ann, Marjorie and Halvor Ausland, 1948.

Babin, Marie Rose (Tardif) and Family
Submitted by Helen Scherger

Back Row: Helene, Norman, Edmond, Denis, Marcel, Florance. Front Row: Marie, Hubert (1999).

Back Row: Helene, Norman, Edmond, Denis, Marcel, Florance.
Front Row: Marie, Hubert (1999).

Marie Rose was born on April 18, 1922, in Debden, Saskatchewan. She married Hubert Babin on February 12, 1945, in Clearwater Mission, Saskatchewan. They bought and took over the family farm where they remained until the early seventies when they moved to Canal Flats, British Columbia. In addition to farming, Marie and Hubert were caretakers at Debden School for many years. They also spent one year in Creston, British Columbia as caretakers of an apartment building. Their retirement took them to Kimberley, British Columbia and then to Bellevue, Alberta. Marie still lives on her own. She makes jams, jellies, and looks after a garden. All her grandchildren and great-grandchildren enjoy her home-cooked meals and, best of all, her bread and buns. Marie loves to knit and to keep in touch with family. Her husband, Hubert, passed away on June 19, 2001, at the Crow's Nest Pass Health Care Centre at the glorious age of 93 years.

Marie and Hubert had seven children:

Alphonse was born on February 25, 1946. His short life of eighteen months was taken by Meningitis on August 30, 1947.

Helene was born on June 26, 1947. She married Elmer Scherger. They had three sons: Durwin, (Marge Bensmiller) - Brandon, Rudy, and Sadie; Devin (Phoebe Burgart) - Everett and Eric; and Darren (Tara Heinneman). Helene and Elmer live in Canal Flats, British Columbia. Helene retired after seventeen years of teaching.


Back Row: Helene, Norman, Edmond, Denis, Marcel, Florance. Front Row: Marie, Hubert (1999).

Back Row: Helene, Norman, Edmond, Denis, Marcel, Florance.
Front Row: Marie, Hubert (1999).

Norman was born on July 14, 1948. He married Rosalee Receveur. They have two children: Murray (Janette James) - Cory, Miki, Jamie, and Acadia; and Michelle (Jason Odland) - Morgan and Kyle. Norman and Rosalee live in Invermere, British Columbia.

Edmond was born on September 26, 1950. He married Joanne Gaudray. They have six children: Caroline, Marie-France, Jean-Francois, Marc-Andre, Jerome, and Laurent. Edmond and Joanne live in Montreal, Quebec. Edmond is retired from the Montreal Police Force.

Denis was born on September 11, 1952. Denis met Linda Fitzpatrick. Their children are Stacey and Natacha. Denis has a granddaughter, Kyra. He lives in Faro, Yukon Territory where he does guiding, trapping, and fishing. He is a great outdoorsman.

Marcel was born on April 19, 1955. He married Mona Milikin. They had a daughter, Karli-Ann. He then married Pat Van-Veen who had two children, Tanya and Jamie. They now have two grandchildren, Joel and Bryce. Marcel and Pat live in Onoway, Alberta where Marcel is a crane operator.

Florence was born on February 26, 1962. She married Guy Desaunoy. They have two daughters, Kayla and Laura. They live in Bellevue, Alberta. Florence works in the pharmacy at Blairmore Hospital.


Bahm, Lori Lynn (Bradley)

I was born January 1959 in Big River, Saskatchewan to Barb and Ed Bradley. I received my schooling in Big River and graduated in 1977. After graduation, I left Big River and lived in the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alberta, and southern British Columbia before settling in Fort St. John, British Columbia in 1980. My son, Charles, was born on May 11, 1982. In 2003, he graduated from the Devry Institute of Technology in Calgary. For the last twenty years, I have been looking after and owning trucks in the northern British Columbia oil patch. Having been born in Big River has given me a great sense of family. Many people over the years have said how lucky I was to have been raised in a small community. After years of being away, you realize how fortunate you were. The neighbourhood we lived in was like one big happy family. We always had six or seven mothers watching over us. The whole neighbourhood was one big playground.

The recreation in Big River is like no other place. All the neighbourhood kids would pile into Mom's vehicle to go swimming at South Stoney. If it was the first swim of the year we had to clean up the beach. It was wonderful to grow up in Big River and will always be "home sweet home". I have been in many places where they call us stubble jumpers. I am proud to say I was born and raised in Big River, Saskatchewan.


Bale, William and Maryann
Submitted by Barbara Bradley

William, Minnie Bale.

William, Minnie Bale.

William and Maryann (or Minnie, as she was called) came from Chaplin, Saskatchewan in the 1930s. They settled on the land where Danny and Darlene Michel now live. There was already a house on the property as someone had had a homestead, but had given up and left. At this time there were only two children left at home. Edith married Victor Pruden, who died at an early age, leaving her with two small sons, Dennis and Jim. She later married Lawrence LaFontaine. Beulah married Ralph Huxted. Their other children were: Johnny, Orville, Viola (Louis Bradley), Fred and Dick (Myrtle Olson).

William cut and peeled pulpwood by hand for a living. He hauled it to Big River where it was taken to Prince Albert and then shipped to the United States.

Minnie took in a few teachers as boarders. She carded and spun wool and knit socks and mitts on a knitting machine. She sold her mitts to fishermen for about $2.00 a pair.

William and Minnie moved to town in the 1950s where they lived until they passed away. Minnie was born in 1878 and died in 1958 at the age of 80 years. William was born in 1870 and died in 1960 at the age of 90 years. Josiah Bale, William's brother, was born in 1868 and died in 1945.


Balone, Frank
as told by Earl Meyers

Along the road into Ernest Vandal's place, there is a huge hill which we called "Stearn's Hill". Frank B alone lived on the opposite side of Stearns. Those old bachelors could hide like gophers. When my father, Joe Meyers, drove his wagon to the station at Dumble to drop off the cream, he would always carry along some firewood to drop off at Frank's place.

Frank was old. This one time my dad could see that Frank's door was open and no smoke was coming from the chimney. Frank had passed away.


Barrone, Floyd

Floyd Barrone was born in 1884 and applied to settle in the Winter Lake area on SW 25-54-7 W3rd in 1934. He was married with a family of five children: one son, thirteen years of age, and two daughters, fourteen and twelve years of age. He also had two children under the age of twelve. The family had lived in Hanley, Saskatchewan but travelled north for better opportunities. By 1939 the family had an 18x34 log house, a 26x40 log barn, a hen house and a tool shed. He also had two horses, twelve cows and had fourteen acres in crop.


Baskott, Beatrice Olive
Submitted by Barbara Wilson

Beatrice Baskott is the daughter of Edwin Charles Baskott and Emily Maude Vickers Baskott. She was born in Big River, Saskatchewan on March 4, 1921, and passed away on March 13, 2003.

The family moved back to Ladder Valley, Saskatchewan to homestead on a quarter section of land that they owned. Beatrice was raised as an Anglican and went to the Anglican Church that her father helped to build. She completed her education in 1935 at Ladder Valley School, District 4831. Meta Brownfield was her teacher. Beatrice left Ladder Valley to work in Debden for five years before leaving for Ontario in 1942.

Beatrice met and married Alexander C. Richmond in 1943. They raised five children in Dundas, Ontario. One son, Raymond, passed away in 1957. The remaining children are Barbara, Wayne, Connie and Marilyn.

Beatrice and Alex retired to Caledonia, Ontario for the remainder of their lives.


Baskott, Edwin and Maude
Submitted by Shirley Tye

Edwin Charles Baskott was born in Marton, Warwickshire, England on June 13, 1880. He immigrated to Canada in 1905 to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He always said that he wouldn't return to England until they built a bridge. This was because he came to Canada in a small cattle boat and was so seasick he thought he would die. He was followed by his wife, Maude Emily Baskott (married in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, England on May 28, 1903) and their two sons, William Richard and Fredrick Charles. (My Grandmother used to say that she had to wait so long until Grandpa had the money to send for them that she feared that he would never do it. However, they finally made it in 1908.) In 1911 they had a daughter, Doris, who died in infancy on July 13, 1911, in Prince Albert. Frances Henry Baskott was born on March 17, 1910, in Prince Albert and Edwin George Baskott was born in Prince Albert on March 12, 1913.

They came to Ladder Valley in 1916 to homestead a quarter section of land. During this time my mother, Marjorie Louise (1918), and her sister, Beatrice Olive (1921), were born. Edwin (Ted) worked in the Big River Sawmill. He was employed at several jobs in Ladder Valley and Big River. Some of these jobs were as a village Police Constable, as the Justice of the Peace, and as a Notary Public; as well as, with the IC Fish Company. While he was Justice of the Peace, he struck up a friendship with John Diefenbaker. (I can remember as a young girl coming to Prince Albert from Ontario with my grandmother. We were on our way to Big River to visit. A staff member from John Diefenbaker's constituency office picked us up at the train station. He took care of us until it was time to deliver us to the bus station.) Edwin Charles was also an Anglican Churchwarden and a charter member of the Royal Canadian Legion.

My grandmother, Maude Emily, was a homemaker and was also a person to who people in the area turned with minor medical problems. My mother, Marjorie, told me that it was not uncommon to have men brought in for grandma to dress a bad cut. She also served as a midwife delivering her granddaughter, Lorna Dulcie Baskott, daughter of her son, Frances Henry and his wife Muriel Young Baskott.

The family moved to Big River in 1925. Another daughter, Alice Maude, was born that year. The Baskotts returned to Ladder Valley in 1933 to continue homesteading and in 1939 they operated a small Post Office. The store was run by Mr and Mrs Wilfred Young who would become their in-laws when their son married the Young's daughter. (I think that the section of land that they had was adjacent to the Anglican Church and not too far from the school. My mother told me that the whole the family would go to dances held at the school. The women would bake something nice to take along.)

Edwin Charles was instrumental in building St. Leonard's Church. As a warden he wrote on behalf of the committee to Mackenzie King, the Prime Minister at the time, to secure a bell for the new church. (When the Church had a reunion several years ago my mother and her sister Beatrice attended and donated a picture of Edwin Charles which, I believe, is hanging on a wall in St. Leonard's.)

The Baskotts were related to the Gilbert family. (I guess that was a factor in the decision that Edwin Charles made to immigrate to Saskatchewan.)

Marjorie married Bert Handley Staples in Big River on December 5, 1939, at St Martin's Anglican Church. The minister was William Craven. Before her marriage, Marjorie worked in a hotel as an assistant cook and various other duties. (I think this was about 1934-1938.)

My father, Bert, was born in Leicester, England in 1901. He came to Canada out of a sense of adventure. He and a friend flipped a coin to see if they would go to Canada or Australia. Canada won! He first lived in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan before moving north to homestead in Ladder Valley. He used to tell me that as well as homesteading, men used to go up north fishing in the winter. Shortly after their marriage when my father, Bert, was travelling home from one of these expeditions he fell through the ice and barely made it home. Marjorie and Bert decided that they could be better off if they moved to Dundas, Ontario where my father had been offered a job (for which he had trained in England) with the Bertrum Company. So, in 1941 they gave up the homestead and came to Dundas with Beatrice Olive (Mum's sister). I, Shirley Staples Tye, was born in 1944 in Dundas. Bert died in 1979 and Marjorie in 2000 in Dundas.

Edwin Charles, Maude Emily, and their daughter Alice followed them to Dundas in 1942 where Edwin Charles became a special constable with the Dundas Police until his retirement. He died in 1955 in Dundas. Maude Emily lived with Marjorie and Bert until her death in 1963.

In 1959, I visited my Aunt Irene Baskott and my cousins. To my delight when I walked down the streets of Big River people would stop me and say "I went to school with your mother" or "I remember your grandparents". It gave me such a feeling of belonging! To this day I have a special place in my heart for Big River and Ladder Valley.

The children of Edwin and Maude:

William Richard was born in Leamington, England on June 1, 1904, and passed away on May 24, 1933, in Big River, Saskatchewan.


Fredrick Charles was born in Leamington, England on August 25, 1905. He married Muriel Young. Fredrick passed away on August 29, 1948, in Dundas, Ontario.


Frances Henry Baskott was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on March 19, 1910. He married Edith Milligan. He passed away on July 23, 1979, in Dundas, Ontario.


Edwin George Baskott was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on March 10, 1913. He married Irene Milligan. He passed away on November 3, 1964, in White Rock, British Columbia.


Beatrice Olive Baskott was born on March 4, 1921. She married Alex Richmond. She passed away in 2003 in Dundas, Ontario. Alice Maude Baskott was born on November 21, 1925. She married Walter Hayward. She passed away in 2000 in Dundas, Ontario.


The Young and Milligan families continue to be family to the Baskott descendants. I remember visiting "Grandma Mary Young" and Leonard in Ladder Valley and having "Grandma Young" come to Dundas to visit. I also remember "Grandma Milligan" on my visit to Big River and seeing the other "uncles, aunts and cousins". We were all one big family as far as the Baskotts were concerned.


Baskott, Fredrick Charles and Florence Muriel (Parkin)
Submitted by Lorna Bock

Fred was born in England in 1905 and emigrated to Canada in 1908 with his parents Edwin and Maude, and his two brothers, William and Frank. They settled in Prince Albert and then moved to Big River in 1916. His two sisters, Marjorie and Beatrice and brother, Edwin were all born in Prince Albert, and sister Alice was born in Ladder Valley.


Muriel Parkin, 1931.

Muriel Parkin, 1931.

Fred married Florence Muriel Parkin in 1935.

Muriel was born in England in 1916 and immigrated to Canada in 1923 with her uncle and aunt, Wilfred and Mary Young, leaving behind her father, sister and two brothers (her mother and one sister died in the flu epidemic of 1918).

They stayed on a farm in Forest, Ontario, for one year and in 1924, moved to Beaufield, Saskatchewan, where Muriel went to school.

In 1930, they moved to Ladder Valley and she lived on the Young farm until her marriage in 1935. Fred and Muriel homesteaded a quarter section in Ladder Valley (SW-30-55-6-W3').

They had three children, Ronald Richard born in Armley, Saskatchewan, in 1936, Lorna Dulcie born in Ladder Valley in 1938, and Douglas Fredrick born in 1945 in Hamilton, Ontario. Ronald was the first child to be christened in the Ladder Valley church.


Fred with children Lorna and Ronald, 1941.

Fred with children Lorna and Ronald, 1941.

Fred and Muriel left Ladder Valley in 1941 and settled in Dundas, Ontario, where Fred was a machinist at the John Bertram & Sons Co Ltd. Fred died of a massive heart attack in 1948, at the age of 42. Muriel took her family to East Coulee, Alberta, to be closer to her family, the Youngs. She returned to Dundas in 1949, where she was better able to get work to support her family.

In 1966, she married Donald Moore Day. He passed away in 1987.

Their son, Ronald, married Shirley Ann Edworthy in 1960, and they had two daughters, Jodi and Michelle. They have a grandson and granddaughter. Ron passed away in 1994 at Hamilton, Ontario, at the age of 58.

Their daughter, Lorna married Donald Stanley Bock in 1963, and they have a daughter, Susan and a son, Ian.

They have two grandsons. They all reside in Dundas, Ontario, except their son who resides in Calgary, Alberta.

Their son, Doug, married Lilian Tennant in 1968. They were divorced in 1983. They have one son, David 'Douglas' and one grandson. Doug married Helen Huffman in 1984 and have since separated. Doug lives in Dundas with their son, Kenny.

Muriel passed away in 1998 in Dundas, Ontario, at age 81.


Beaulac, Stacey - nee Piche

I was born March 27, 1975, the second daughter of Bill and Margarette Piche. I received my schooling in Big River completing my grade eight, and then I quit and moved to Debden. Before moving I did two years of upgrading. In 1992 I got pregnant with my oldest son, Kody Edmond Dean born September 3, 1993. His father, Leslie Baily and I parted company in 1996, and we moved back to Big River.

Once back in Big River I continued with my upgrading for two more years, completing two more of my classes for grade 12.

In the fall of 1997, I got together with Lucien (J.R.) Beaulac from Debden. J.R. is the son of Lucien and the late Therese Beaulac. Growing up in Debden, J.R. spent a lot of time working for his Uncle Yoland Couture doing farm work. At present, he works for my dad Bill in the bush as a heavy equipment operator and also owns his own semi. Most of the logging season J.R. lives in Nipawin and comes home on weekends.

On June 29, 1998, we had our first child together, Tessa Lynne. On September 5 of that same year, we were married in Big River. On June 30, 1999, we had our son Blaine Claude. At present, I am a stay at home Mom being active in my children's after school activities. In the winter I am at the rink for either hockey or figure skating and in the summer at the ball diamonds.


Beaulieu, Spencer and Tanya Lynn

Tanya,holding Ethan, Gabriel, holding Mackenna, Spencer.

Tanya (holding Ethan), Gabriel (holding Mackenna), Spencer.

I was born on July 11, 1975, in Hay River, Northwest Territories. I moved to Big River from Fort McMurray in 1979 with my parents, Hal and Sharon Bradley, and my younger sister, Leanne. We lived with Grandpa Sid Cookman for a few months before we moved into our house on 3rd Avenue. I was in the last kindergarten class in the old school by the Elks' Hall. I completed my education in Big River and graduated in 1993. I was very involved in sports, broomball, volleyball, baseball and whatever sport was going on at school. I was also involved in the community. I taught Brownies, Sunday School and Playschool. I coached baseball and broomball when I wasn't babysitting. I left Big River in 1993 to further my education.

On July 8, 2000 I married Spencer Beaulieu of Balgonie, Saskatchewan. Spencer is a Chartered Accountant. We moved to Regina from Saskatoon and on September 3, 2000 our son, Gabriel Ryan, was born. Hal and Sharon became grandparents for the first time and Barb and Ed Bradley became great-grandparents. On October 1, 2002, our daughter, Mackenna Lynn, was born. Both children were born at the Regina General Hospital. On January 30, 2004 our third child, Ethan Daniel, was born.

In November, 2003 we moved back to Saskatoon where Spencer is working for an accounting firm.


Bechtel, Gordon and Helen

Gordon, Helen.

Gordon, Helen.

Gordon Bechtel was born in Cabri, Saskatchewan. He moved with his parents, William and Margaret Bechtel to Big River in 1934 when he was seven years old. The drought was one reason for the move. The family bought a section of land three and a half miles south west of the town of Big River (SW 1-56-8-W3"). They built their home there from lumber bought from an old feed granary in Big River. This granary was one that was built to feed the horses that worked at the first mill in Big River and was owned by this company. When renovating this house to make room for the growing family, we found grain still imbedded in the 2x8 lumber up in the attic.

Gordon, at the age of eight, attended school in the town of Big River and when the winter months came he and his brother Jack took home schooling. This went on for about four years at which time the boys took full years of schooling in town.

They eventually farmed two sections of land and in the later years his parents moved to town to live. Gordon married Helen Woods in 1959. He worked at truck driving in the winter months hauling logs to the landing from Smoothstone Lake area, and at the planer mill in town in the summer months. They made their home out on his parent's farm. For many years he cattle and grain farmed as well as doing mill work in the summer. He drove truck in the winter until the mill started operating year round.

Daily his neighbors would meet him on the road at twelve noon, rushing home from the mill, when it was located in town, for his dinner break and rushing back to get there on time after a quick meal and a few chores.

In 1987, they built a new home over on the 2nd quarter of land (SE 2-56-8-W3') and sold an acreage containing the old home place keeping the rest of that quarter for farming.


Troy, Lee. Insert: Corena, Holly.

Troy, Lee. Insert: Corena, Holly Bechtel.

Gordon and Helen have four children, two girls and two boys. The boys Troy and Lee are still in the Big River area, but the girls Holly and Coreena both live in the Lloydminster area. From this family have come ten grandchildren.

Gordon retired from the planer mill in 1992. He had worked there for thirty-four and a half years before retiring. He continued to farm for a while and has since rented out his land. Gordon spent a lot of time after retirement, at the ski hill, volunteering and downhill skiing until an injury caused him to give up this hobby.

He still lives in his home on the farm with his wife and can be seen frequenting the coffee shops in town to pass the time with old friends daily. The only difference now than in his early years is he doesn't have to rush for these visits.

Helen Woods moved to Big River with her parents Frank and Helen Woods in 1957 from the Spruce Creek area just west of Leoville. Frank and Helen bought the old Huxted home on Main Street of Big River and Frank went to work at odd jobs in town until his retirement. Helen lived there with her parents for three years finishing grade nine in the Big River High School.

She married Gordon Bechtel and went to live on the farm in 1959. The first winter was spent mostly in town with her parents while Gordon was driving logging trucks, but after the family started to arrive Helen stayed out on the farm.

For many years, she helped with the farming, learning to run all the equipment to help Gordon, but eventually, as the children grew up and went to school, Helen went to work at the planer mill out at Bodmin. She has been employed there for twenty-three years and works mainly as a lumber grader. She has seen the lumber business out there go through many new phases right from working outside in forty below temperature to now enjoying working from an air-conditioned grading booth.


Bechtel, Jack and Anne
Submitted by Helen (Zinovich) Vik,
as told by Jack Bechtels

I, John Alexander (Jack) Bechtel, was born on June 23, 1925, in Cabri, Saskatchewan. I was nine years old when my parents, Bill and Margaret Bechtel, moved north. This was in October of 1934 after several years of poor crops, lack of moisture and dust storms in the southern part of the province. I remember that it was a late fall and a beautiful time of year.

My parents filed on a homestead about three miles southwest of Big River. My Dad worked hard clearing the land and planting oats or barley to feed the livestock. The Depression was also evident in the north as bad crops and frost would often ruin the incomes of many families. However, the fresh waters nearby provided fish and a source of enjoyment. My brother, Gordon, and I walked to school in town. Our "walkmates" were Joe and Meada Cowie, Rosella and Elnore Bittman, the Duncan McMillan family (Ida, Mary, Violet, Dorothy and Hazel) and the Rainville's.

In the summer of 1943, I drove truck and cat for Northern Areas. I worked on the road (not yet a highway) with Lyman Johnson from Green Lake to Big River and with Murray Wilson from Big River to Green Lake. I joined the army in February of 1944 and spent time in Camp Borden, Ontario, in England and Holland. I was a gunner operator on the tanks.

After the war, I returned to Big River. I worked with road contractors (Evans Construction) and hauled logs and lumber for Eikel and Lomsnes. In the summer of 1956, I got a job with Saskatchewan Forest Products at the planer.

Anne Drangsholt was born in Ordale, Saskatchewan on February 29, 1928. She worked in Big River at the Rex Cafe, at Dr Crux's Drug Store and the hospital. We were married on August 3, 1956.

When I quit working at the planer I bought a school bus. My route was the West Cowan area. I sold the bus to Lloyd Gerow and bought the dray business from Dick Gilbert. Jake Belfry had a dray business too. Our major contract was with the C.N.R. I sold that business to Art and Freddie Anderson.

The Diefenbaker Dam was under construction at this time and I began working for Piggott Construction at Cutbank, Saskatchewan. We had a house trailer and Anne accompanied me.

On November 5, 1973, I bought a Dodge gravel truck from Ted McKenzie. I hauled gravel for various contractors throughout Saskatchewan until November 12, 1992, when I sold the truck to the Town of Canwood.

I retired in 1992. We lived on Mill Avenue since 1956. Anne passed away on October 1, 1999.

My parents William (Bill) and Margaret lived on the homestead property until they moved into town. They bought Dr Afanasieff's house from Charlie Muir (next door to the old United Church and across from the Elks Hall). Mom had family in Regina so they moved there. Dad passed away in 1970 in Regina at the age of eighty-two years. Morn returned to Big River in 1986. She lived at the Lakewood Lodge until her passing in 1993 at the age of ninety-seven years.

I enjoy my unobstructed view of Cowan Lake and the sunsets from my deck.


Bechtel, Troy and Michelle

Troy and I were married on September 29, 1990, in a little country church just outside of Langham, Saskatchewan. I went to high school in that town and have many relatives living there. My maiden name is Wiens.

Troy has always lived in Big River. He started working at the mill in 1986 while he was still in Grade twelve and he's been there ever since. He is currently working at completing his millwright ticket.

We first rented a house-trailer from John and Eileen Thiessen. Years later we bought thirty acres along Cowan Lake from Eugene and Merle Swanson and moved there in 1996. Our son, Harlan David, was born on July 15, 1999. Ledeen Michelle, our daughter, was born on February 12, 2003.

Right now I stay at home with my children. At this time I am memorizing my lines for the Big River Drama Club's next play.


Harlan, 4yrs. - Ledeen, 16 weeks.

Harlan, 4yrs. - Ledeen, 16 weeks.

Becker, Theodore (Ted) Clarence Michael

I, Ted, was born in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan on August 3, 1943. My parents were Clarence and Elizabeth Becker. Clarence and Elizabeth were both born in Minnesota, United States, Clarence in St. Michael and Elizabeth in Melrose. They migrated to the Humboldt area when they were both very young. Elizabeth was fourteen and Clarence was about one. My siblings were Walter Becker, Lorraine Reimer, and Eileen Watson.

I was raised in the Ladder Valley, Prince Albert, Erinferry, Canwood and Big River areas. My father was a bit of a nomad. We moved more than any other family I knew. From Ladder Valley, we moved to Prince Albert where my dad built a home, sold it, and then moved to a boarding house across the city. Dad did cement work and stuccoed homes and commercial buildings, while Mom took in roomers and boarders at the Boarding House.


Clarence, Elizabeth.

Clarence, Elizabeth.

When I was in grade three, we moved to Erinferry, south of Big River. I attended school in Big River at the old primary school along the highway and graduated at the high school. My brother Walter and his wife Jean lived in the same yard as us. My mom knit Siwash sweaters and my dad did cement work. There are many houses in the Big River area that he stuccoed. I recall the quiet, long, hot summer days in the country.

When I was in grade seven, we moved to Canwood for a couple of years and then back to Big River. My parents bought a home next to Dick Gilbert across from the J.K. Johnson home. In the early '60s, my parents purchased the Godin's Bakery which they ran until they sold it to my sister, Eileen Watson.

I graduated high school in Big River in 1963. Three days later, I was working in a bank in Vonda, Saskatchewan. There was no summer off in those days. I was transferred to several places in Saskatchewan remaining in this job for about three years. I got a job with the Saskatchewan Timber Board at the lumber yard in Prince Albert. I worked at that job for about six months when I was offered a position with the International Woodworkers of America Local 1-184 in Prince Albert. I accepted and retired from the IWA thirty-five years later. I feel I was very fortunate, as the IWA is the Union that represents the Big River Sawmill. I worked for and kept in touch with many of my friends over the years.

When I was back in Big River, after my stint in the Bank, I met Marlene Gillespie, who was in her first year of teaching. We dated and in 1969 we were married. We have two boys, Coleman Theodore (lives in Big River) and Wade Michael (lives in Lloydminster, Alberta).

I retired on July 1, 2002, and live in Prince Albert with Marlene who retired three years earlier.


Ted, Wade, Marlene.

Ted, Wade, Marlene.

Wade, Cole.

Wade, Cole.

Becker, Walter and Jean

Back Row: Cindy, Faye, Linda, Barry, Jack, Pat. Front Row: Jean, Walter. insert Brad.

Back Row: Cindy, Faye, Linda, Barry, Jack, Pat.
Front Row: Jean, Walter. insert Brad.

Walter Becker was born in Humboldt on Apri 17, 1925, the eldest child born to Clarence and Elizabeth Becker. Jean Becker was born in Saskatoon on July 26, 1924, to John and Florence Eggelston of Colonsay. Walter moved to the Big River area in 1940. Jean moved to Big River in 1944 and taught school at Rapid Bend and Erinferry. Walter and Jean were united in marriage in 1946 and lived in Ladder Valley and Erinferry Walter worked at the Big River Nursery for 15 years and then at the Lumber Mill. Both Jean and Waiter worked at the Big River High School as custodians They retired at the age of 63 and enjoyed working as well as being active members of the church and community. Jean and Walter were blessed with 7 children:


1. Faye Becker born January 20, 1947 (Murray Smylie). Faye and Murray live in Big River. Faye works at the TD Michel School and Murray is employed at Weyerhaeuser.

2. Linda Flint (Becker) born January 24, 1950. married Roy Flint on February 7, 1970. They live in Saskatoon and own and operate Mail Boxes Etc. Roy and Linda have 2 children. Brent (Cyndi) who has a son Ryan and reside in Calgary. Kent (Kelly) who live in Kitchener, Ontario.

3. Pat Swanson (Becker) born May 15, 1951, married Mery Swanson on February 7, 1970. Pat and Mery reside in Saskatoon. Pat operates a Gel Candle business. Mery works for the Provincial Government. Pat and Mery have 3 children. Myrna (Trevor) Wagenaar who has a daughter Madisson and reside in Edmonton. Sheldon (Tania) who has a son, Kayden, and reside in Calgary, and Darren who resides in Saskatoon and works for Federated Co-op.

4. Brad Becker born September 12, 1953, married Kay Nordin on February 28, 1976. Kaye is the Director of Resident Care in Tisdale. Brad and Kaye have 2 sons. Christopher who lives in Edmonton, and Liam who lives in Tisdale. Brad was an ordained minister and living in Winnipeg at the time of his death, on July 18, 1990.

5. Barry Becker born on January 3, 1955, lives in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, where he works for the City of Port Coquitlam. Barry has 3 children Blake, Malia and Addison who all live in Regina.

6. Cindy Welter (Becker) born June 20, 1957, married Harvey Welter on October 21, 1978. Harvey and Cindy operate a mixed farm at Viscount. Cindy owns a hair salon in both Viscount and Meacham. Harvey works for Saskatoon Livestock Sales as a Marketing Representative. Harvey and Cindy have 2 girls Raylean and Leah who both reside in Saskatoon.

7. Jack Becker was born on February 28, 1967. (Karen Tyson). Jack and Karen reside in Edmonton. Jack works for Hertz Rentals and Karen works in the Food Services Industry.

Walter and Jean moved to Saskatoon in 1994 and enjoyed many happy retirement years together in Saskatoon. In December 2001 Walter passed away in Saskatoon. Jean still resides at Columbia Manor in Saskatoon.


Beebe, Charlie
Submitted by the Beebe Family

Charlie Beebe arrived in the Big River area in the 1920s from the Veteran area of Alberta. Before moving to Big River, the family had immigrated into Canada from the Nebraska area of the United States around 1900. They settled in Veteran, Alberta. The family had at least two branches, some of which still reside in the Veteran area today. During the 1920s, Russell Beebe and eight children moved from Alberta to the Leoville area and then on to Timberlost and Big River. The four Beebe sons, Frank, Charlie, Johnny and Clarence remained in the Leoville and Big River area all their lives. The daughters moved on to various areas of North America.


Charles, Dorothea in Timberlost, 1947.

Charles, Dorothea in Timberlost, 1947.

Charlie was born in 1913 in Veteran, Alberta, moving to Saskatchewan with his family around 1920 and settling in Capasin. He enlisted in the Canadian Army and served for six years in Europe during the Second World War. While in England he met and married Dorothea Margaret Duffield. Their eldest son Roger was born in England in 1944. Charlie returned to Canada in late 1945. Dorothea and Roger arrived in Canada in 1946 after an ocean passage aboard the Cunard liner Queen Mary. They took the train from Halifax to Regina, where Charlie was employed with Imperial Oil and a house was supplied. His dad, Russell, was convinced that a fortune could be made in Northern Saskatchewan around Big River in the forestry business, so he bought a truck and moved the family north.

Charlie and his brothers set up a business at Camp 16, west of Big River cutting logs and pulpwood. We had a steam engine and a small sawmill. We moved from Camp 16 to Sharp Lake to cut pulpwood. In this time we had horses and wagon, sleighs, etc. We lived in cabins with only oil lamps for light and wood stove for heat. In 1946 to 1950, Barbara and Walter arrived and joined the family. Mum (Dorothea) came from London, England, and had limited cooking and bush living skills. She soon learned how to make bannock and bread from Granddad Russell. Roger would not eat the crust from her first pie, she asked why and he replied that he could not eat the bones. Food consisted of rabbits, deer, and prairie chickens and in the summer we ate fish and spent a lot of time picking berries.

Once the CCF government arrived they made private logging business untenable and Charlie moved to the town of Big River and worked at the Big River sawmill until his death in 1964. Roger and Barbara only saw the town on rare occasions as Mum and Dad came in to buy supplies. When we moved to town we began school in a regular school. Life in town was not easy either. Dad bought a 3-room home on the north side of town on Johnson Avenue overlooking the lake. He expanded the house by adding rooms as the rest of the family arrived. They are Anita, Corrine, Vernon and Michael.

Mum had a typical women's life for the times. She had lots of kids and lots of work raising them. She canned, cooked, mended clothes and occasionally worked with dad peeling pulp logs. She earned her money to buy a sewing machine that way. She had a lot of friends, including some other English war brides; one of these was Barbara Warriner. She never got back home to England and her parents both died without ever seeing her again.

Our family was Anglican but Dad had been raised Catholic. We attended the small Anglican Church and went through the normal processes. We remembered being in Christmas plays, etc. The school was an interesting experience as we moved with our friends from grade to grade. We had the usual sports days, tree planting, some side trips and cadets. Roger was able, through cadets, to travel to British Columbia to Camp Vernon.

Some of the fun times we remember are: Roger building a cardboard boat and floating it on the creek (it sunk, of course), long summers at the lake, running the log booms, rafting, swimming, family picnics at Hooker Lake and South Stoney, berry picking, hunting, etc. As a family, we had a lot of fond memories of our friends, family and neighbours in the Big River area. Some of the neighbours were: Bill and Mary Potts, Calvin and Myrtle Buchanan, Les and Mary McMahon, Cliff and Flo Kemp and Myron Parrish.

After Dad died in 1964, Mum raised the family on her own. Mum eventually moved to Prince Albert and lived there until she passed away in 2001. Roger lives in Stonewall, Manitoba, with his wife Gerry. His son Michael lives and works in Ottawa. His daughter Tamara, her husband Kirk and son Dylan live in Edmonton, Alberta. Barbara also resides and works in Edmonton. Her daughter Melissa and granddaughters Jazmine and Jessica also live in Edmonton. Walter still lives in Big River. Anita, her husband Denis along with their children Aimee, Kevin and Jonathan (Rachelle and granddaughter Hailee) live in Prince Albert. Corinne and her daughter Jennifer live in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. Vernon, his wife Mary Jane and their children Connor and Erin live in Whitehorse, Yukon. Michael, his wife Lynda, their sons Joshua, Jonas and David live in Big River. Their daughter Crystal is attending University in Saskatoon.

Our family was not blessed with riches except in that we had a wonderful family life in Big River.


Beebe, Clarence and Vivian

Miss Newton performed the marriage of Clarence Russell Beebe and me, Vivian Erla Anderson, daughter of Frank and Tina, in the St. Martins Anglican Church in Big River, Saskatchewan on December 31, 1952. We lived at Timberlost awhile and then moved on to the Skopyk farm in the district of Sleepy Hollow. Later on, we bought the Skopyk farm (SE-17-55-8-W3).



Rose, Clarence (holding Holly), Vivian, Pearl, Russell.

Rose, Clarence, holding Holly,
Vivian, Pearl, Russell.

We raised our family here, Pearl Darlene born April 17, 1955, Rose Carolyn born May 13, 1959, Russell Wilbert born December 12, 1961, and Holly Marie born December 21, 1966. Our children rode the bus to school in Big River. We had range cattle, also milked cows, had chickens, pigs, turkeys, and lots of work. Clarence worked in the bush logging and cutting pulpwood.

At present Holly and Buster live in our yard with their two children Joanne and Brandon. Russell and Patricia live across the road with their four children, Dwan, Dana, R.J., and Clarence. Pearl and Lloyd live in town. They have four children all of whom have left home. Denise, Janet, Carla and Gary. Then there is Rose and Patrick Henry with their children Raelene and Daniell. Rose had three children before which are Clarence, Maxine and Tina. We have 15 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.


Beebe, Earl, Shirley and Family

Earl and Shirley Beebe were married on May 23, 1970, in Big River. Earl logged in the winter and drove a truck in the summer hauling fish. In 1972 Earl's father (John Beebe) suddenly passed away. Earl and Shirley then moved to the Beebe farm which consisted of three-quarters of land and eighty head of cattle.

They enjoyed trucking and farming together. In 1972 their first son, Jason was born followed by a daughter, Leanne, in 1973. They formed a trucking company in 1976 with three employees. In 1977 their second son, Dallas was born. They continued trucking and farming until 1982 when they sold the cattle. Their trucking business expanded to twelve trucks and twenty employees. On May 31, 1985, Earl Beebe passed away suddenly. He was thirty-six years old.

Shirley and her young family continued to operate the business. Jason and Leanne finished school and moved to Saskatoon to continue their education. Dallas completed Grade Ten and started trucking in 1995. Jason and Leanne returned home to work in the family business. Dallas was the first to marry. In 2001, he married Rebecca Campbell. She is a teacher at the T. D. Michel Elementary School. Their daughter, Kalli-Rae, was born on June 3, 2003.

They purchased the Beebe farm and added a quarter of land to complete a section. They own eight to ten horses. Rebecca and Dallas used to rodeo in the summer and train horses for resale. Rebecca does some horse training and gives riding lessons in her spare time. Dallas has two semi-trucks hired on with Earl Beebe Trucking Ltd. He owns and operates these units with the help of two drivers. He is also involved with the maintenance and operation of Earl Beebe Trucking Ltd.

Leanne married Lee Holbrook on November 16, 2002. Lee manages the Big River and Jackson Lake Community Pastures for the Saskatchewan Department of Agriculture. Lee and Leanne also raise one hundred head of Black Angus cattle on a section of land they have purchased north of Big River. Leanne is the accountant and general secretary at Earl Beebe Trucking Ltd. and hopes to continue learning the business for a future lifetime commitment.

Jason is living in Saskatoon and attending the University of Saskatchewan. He is currently working towards a Political Studies Degree and hopes to further his education. He enjoys lifting weights at the gym during his spare time. Jason is a very social person. He likes meeting new people and finding out their interests.

In 1996, Shirley married Adrian Schwab. They live in Big River on thirteen acres north of town. They enjoy working in their yard, gardening and spending time with their families. They have five horses and especially enjoy trail-riding in the summer months. Shirley owns and manages Earl Beebe Trucking Ltd. Adrian drives a truck and works for the Department of Agriculture. Together they are proud sponsors and supporters of community functions in Big River.


Beebe, Meriny Joseph (Johnny) and Nora (Parent)
Submitted by Eva Larsen

Johnny was born in Veteran, Alberta on August 14, 1921. He was the sixth child born to Anne and Russell Beebe. The Beebe family had eight children: Madelaine, Pearl, Charles, Frank, Effie, Meriny (Johnny), Ida and Clarence. They came to Saskatchewan in 1923 and settled in the Witchekan Lake or Laventure district. They ranched in that area for several years.

Nora was the third child born to Wilfred and Germaine Parent (Proulx). Nora was born on August 20, 1927, in Vonda, Saskatchewan, and raised in the Spiritwood area.

Johnny and Nora were married on November 6, 1944, in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan. They farmed and ranched near Capasin for five years. In the winters, they worked in the bush cutting "cordwood" to make extra money. In 1949, they moved to Timberlost, a new settlement southwest of Big River, where they bought the general store and post office from Louis Pelchat. Johnny and Nora had four children:


Earl Maurice - born March 18, 1949, and died May 31, 1985
Eva Marie - born December 22, 1956
Alice Anne - born April 30, 1964
Wilfred John - born September 18, 1966.

Standing: Eva Seated: Earl, holding Alice, Shirley Schneider<br> Nora, Johnny, holding Wilfred..

Standing: Eva Seated: Earl, holding Alice, Shirley Schneider
Nora, Johnny, holding Wilfred.

When Timberlost's population declined from sixty families down to only a few, Nora and Johnny closed the store and moved into Big River. After one winter in town, they moved back to the country. They settled in 1956 on NW 14-55-8-W3" in the district known as "Greenmantle" or "Sleepy Hollow". They had a mixed farm, always a large garden and plenty of visitors. They raised all of their children there and Johnny continued to work in the bush each winter, while Nora fed and watered the cattle.

On January 21, 1972, Johnny suffered a heart attack and passed away on his farm. Earl was grown and married. He returned to the farm to help his mother. Earl had already started his own trucking business. With his help, Nora finished raising the three other children.

In 1976, Nora moved into town and worked as a custodian at the T.D. Michel Elementary School. After residing in Mildred, Saskatchewan for a few years, Nora is now retired and living back in Big River.

Earl passed away in 1985. Eva and her husband live south of Bodmin on Highway 55. Alice lives in Lloydminster, Alberta, and has a daughter Nicole Jolene, born September 5, 1983. Alice is a licensed hairdresser and an excellent gardener. Wilfred also lives south of Bodmin and is a truck driver and an avid outdoorsman.


Beebe, Russell William
Submitted by Clarence and Vivian Beebe

Clarence, Frank, Russell, Johny.

Clarence, Frank, Russell, Johny.

Russell moved to the Timberlost - Big River area in the early 1940s along with four sons. The mother and four other daughters moved elsewhere.

Russell and his sons went into logging and making lumber. Now Russell and two sons Buster and Johnny have passed away. As for the other two sons, one lives in Capasin and Clarence lives in Big River.


Beeds Family
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Thomas Beeds came to Big River before the construction of the railway and the first mill. He used to freight with horses from Prince Albert to Ile-a-la-Crosse.

When the building of the railroad from Shellbrook to Big River commenced, Mr Beeds was employed to help with the construction. Mr Beeds also put up hay for the IC Fish Company and spent much time trapping.

For a short time, the Beeds moved away from Big River to Norberry, Saskatchewan to homestead. In 1910, Sid was born and in 1914, Thomas Beeds moved back to Big River. During this time, Mr Beeds ran a stopping place through the winter at Rat Lake. In 1918, he went back to Norberry and during the winter months, he would trap in the north.

In 1928, Sid Beeds came back to Big River to trap up north. In 1938, he moved into Big River to live and work for H. Boyd and later, Mr Sundby. Sid and his wife Mary lived in Big River for 20 years. They had three daughters, Joyce, Joan and Maizie, and one son James. All were born in Big River.


Beeds, Sid and Mary and Family

First, let me give a little background on Sid and then myself. I was born in Biggar, Saskatchewan. There were four of us: two brothers Paul and George, my twin sister Kate, and myself, Mary. Our childhood was spent in different places, Biggar, Saskatchewan, of course, Sifton, Manitoba, Regina, Saskatchewan, and finally in 1929 to Mildred, Saskatchewan. We also lived for four years in Detroit, Michigan. We moved there from Biggar when I was four years old and moved from there to Sifton.


Standing: Jim, Mary, Sid. Seated: Mazie, Joyce, Florence, Joan.

Standing: Jim, Mary, Sid. Seated:
Mazie, Joyce, Florence, Joan.

It was in Mildred that I met and married Sid. Memories of this small settlement include hard work, horseback riding and my favourite, old-time dances. We used to walk six miles to go dancing. Sid's family had lived in the Mildred area for years. Sid was from a much larger family than I was. He had six sisters and three brothers. The girls were Sarah, Martha, Rose, Ida, Grace and Christine, and the boys were John, Edwin and James. We were married in November of 1935. My sister Kate was my Maid of Honor, and Charlie LaFleur, Sarah's son, was Sid's Best Man.

A year later we left Mildred for Big River, we travelled with two teams of horses taking with us all of our belongings. Tom and Mary Jane Beeds, Sid's parents, as well as Edwin, James and John and his wife Ethel moved with us. We settled at Halls Bay, where Sid trapped and worked for Harry Boyd. The first people we met there were Jessie and Julie Leverton, who remained our friends throughout our lives. Sid and I were married for fifty-four years, and during that time we travelled by every mode of transportation available, oxen, dog team, horses and finally in 1949 we bought our first car, a Model T. By this time we had our family, which consisted of four girls, Doris, Joyce, Joan and Mazie, and our son James. We lost our firstborn, Doris while living at Halls Bay. Edwin's daughter Florence also lived with us.

During this time, we left Halls Bay, lived at Stoney Lake for a time, moved to Egg Lake, and finally into Big River where we resided for twenty-one years. In 1957, we once again packed up and relocated, this time to the Interior of British Columbia, to a small town called Clinton. Sid worked in the logging industry, in various mills situated around Clinton. I cooked in some of these mills and when we moved into Clinton, I cooked in both the Frontier Hotel and the Caribou Lodge. Later on, I spent seven years cooking in the oil patch. When Sid retired from logging he would sometimes join me as cooks' helper. Cooking in the Oil Patch took me all over Northern British Columbia and to all parts of Alberta.

Both Mildred and Big River have remained part of our lives through memories and contact with dear friends. A trip to Saskatchewan to visit family in Saskatoon was never complete without a visit to Big River and Mildred. Sid passed away in March of 1989, he is missed by all. He had built a trapper's cabin on the shores of Truean Lake, where all the family gathered for camping and ski-doing, on most long weekends. He was nicknamed "Trapper Sid", and the cabin was called "Whispering Pines".

Our children all live in British Columbia, Joyce and Florence in Clinton, Jim and Mazie in Kamloops, and Joan in Salmon Arm. Joyce had three boys, Edward, Timothy and Kelly. Jim has three children as well, two boys James and Gregory, and a daughter Elizabeth. Joan has three girls, Kim, Shannon and Sherie, and three boys, James, Timothy and Chad. Florence has four girls, Deana, Joan, Tammy and Gaytan.

I remain in Clinton and remain active, gardening, cooking and baking. I see my children often. In closing, I would like to share a Rhyme with you that my daughter wrote for me on Mother's Day.


Egg Lake, the farm, the one-room school, I remember them so well

Riding in the sleigh in the wintertime, getting to ring the school bell

Playing with the Thompson boys, the Holmes' and the Dunns' too

The Nicholsons', the Bales', the Huxteds', I'm sure I've missed a few

Going to Big River on a Saturday, riding in the wagon so slow

It was either that or walk, there was no other way to go

Life was simple, so good and pure, I was never aware of strife

Childhood to me was a fairy tale, with you the centre of my life.

I was the youngest, so never had much to do, we left before I was nine

But that farm lives on in my memories; it's a favourite place of mine

You worked so hard, we have had much, but then we never knew

To complain about your lot in life, was never a thing you'd do

We had all we needed and I felt as if I had as much as any other kid

I thank you for that because I never felt envy, as I know others did

I loved that place and I still do, I know I probably will forever

It holds a place within my heart that time will never sever

I'm all grown up or like to think I am, but I wonder if any of us do

For I know when I'm home, I'm a child again, I feel like that with you

You've stood by in everything, whether you thought I was right or wrong

I love to go home, for no matter what, I always know and feel I belong

You've dried my eyes, you've held me close, you've loved me all the time

God gave me a wondrous gift of love, when he made you mine

On Mother's Day, I get the chance to tell you this and more,

You are my harbour safe and sure, you are my welcome shore.


Beeson, Mr and Mrs Frank
Submitted by Beryl E. Steel
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Family particulars: Frank William Beeson, born King's Lynn, Norfolk, 1884, died in Big River, February 7, 1923.

Laura Beeson (nee Hitchings) born Bury St. Edmunds, England, October 24, 1878, died Edmonton, Alberta, 1958.

Father came to Canada in 1910. He married Laura Hitchings in 1912 and they established their new home in Big River.

My three brothers were born in Big River between 1913 and 1919 and are as follows: Frank W. Beeson, now residing in Prince Albert; Beryl E. Steel, now residing in Edmonton, Alberta; Stanley H. Beeson, now residing in Vancouver, British Columbia; Reginald J. Beeson now residing in Prince Albert.

My father preceded mother to Canada, coming first to Prince Albert and then to Big River. Mother came to Canada in 1912 and they were married in St. George's Church in Prince Albert, on April 1912, and lived in Big River until my father died, except for one year spent in Quill Lake, Saskatchewan.

When we left Big River I was in grade one and still have my report card signed by Martha Meyer (Mrs. Len Waite).

My clearest recollection of Big River is being bundled up and being taken, along with all other children and mothers during the night by train to Bodmin. Big River was in danger, I believe twice, of being levelled by forest fires. There was always a danger of forest fires, which were usually started by lightning.

Mother told of people digging pits in their yards and burying valuables, silverware, etc. hoping to save them from burning.

A neighbour who had a new sewing machine and insisted that her husband dig a pit and bury it.

I remember Brownfield's store "on the hill". A grandmother was living with the Brownfields and I remember her as being very kind to us, particularly when my father died. Later Carl Brownfield and Guilda Gilbert were married. The Gilberts lived next door to us and Mr Gilbert was very interested in racehorses.

Most of the social activity centred on music and church. My father played both piano and mandolin and was one of the first people to have a piano shipped into Big River. Social events were held in a hall belonging to the Lumber Company. I can remember Mrs Thompson who was the Station Agent's wife, singing at a concert.

We first met the Waites (John) when Mr Waite brought Mrs Waite to our house each day to have her arm dressed. The Waites had come from England to homestead and Mrs Waite was helping clear land when Mr Waite accidentally cut her arm with an axe. Later, their son Leonard was to marry my grade one teacher Martha Meyer. The youngest daughter, Victoria and I started school together and we now visit her and her husband in Portland, Oregon.

My father ran a barbershop in Big River; the location as I remember was behind Mahoney's big house. Mahoneys lived on Front Street across from the station.

Mother, being a nurse, was sometimes called to help out at the Company Hospital. This building later burned down. Following this, many people came to mother for nursing advice and she made calls at many homes for the sick.

Even in those days, Big River was a very "dressy" village and the ladies used to don hats and gloves to call on their neighbours in the afternoon. Several ladies had brought very lovely things from their homes elsewhere, particularly linen and dishes and were very anxious that everyone is duly impressed.

I also remember the Houses. Mrs Harry House's mother, Mrs Service, looked after us while mother took dad to Rochester for surgery. The Houses had a daughter called "Pinky" who later married Cliff Stewart.

The Beeson family resided in Big River until Mr Beeson's death, Mrs Beeson and family moved to Prince Albert, where she nursed until retirement.


Belair, Marc and Sandra (Smith)

I, Marc, youngest child of Yvan and Edouardine Belair of Debden, was born October 13, 1968. I received my education in Debden until graduating from Grade 12. I entered the Northern Institute of Technology in Prince Albert in the fall of 1986 and finished in 1987. I was on my way toward becoming a carpenter. I began working for Jean Construction of Leask the fall of 1987 and continued with them until November 1994. During this time, I would go back to school during the winter until I received my Journeyman's Certificate in Carpentry in 1993. In January 1995, I began working at Nor-Sask Builder's Supplies Ltd. in Big River and worked there until the business was sold to Prince Albert Co-op. I worked for the Co-op until March 1999. In March 1999, I began working for Ken Lueken Contracting in Big River and am still with him.

In 1991, Sandra and Marc met. I, Sandra Dionne Smith (Sandy), was born January 27, 1973, the fifth and youngest child of Frank and Bertha Smith of Big River. I attended Big River schools, graduating in 1990. Upon completion of Grade 12, I moved to Saskatoon and enrolled in the University of Saskatchewan in the College of Education. After four years of studies, I convocated in May 1994, with a Bachelor of Education Degree. In May 1994, I began working for Ahtahkakoop Education (Sandy Lake Reserve) in Prince Albert, training for my new position with them. I was hired as a Special Education teacher for one legally blind student. I learned Braille in Prince Albert while getting to know this student. In September 1994, I moved to Debden, Saskatchewan and continued to work with this child on Sandy Lake Reserve. In September 1996, I became a Grade 1 teacher on Sandy Lake, a position that I held until June 2002. I am currently still employed there, as the Grade 1-12 Computer teacher.

On July 22, 1995, we were married in Debden. We have moved to and purchased the Belair family farm, two miles out of Debden. On November 21, 1996, our daughter Brooklyn Chase was born. On June 1, 2000, we had a son Brayden Gerald.


Belfry, Jacob and Eleanor

Eleanor, Jacob, 1970.

Eleanor, Jacob, 1970.

Jacob was born in Kenmount, Ontario in March, 1893 to Albert and Emma Belfry. He came to Saskatchewan with his parents at the age of eighteen. The family settled in the Shellbrook area where they began homesteading.

Eleanor was born in England (town unknown) in October of 1900 to Edward and Emily Jones. She came to Canada with her parents at the tender age of five. The family settled in the Shellbrook/Parkside area where they also homesteaded.

Jacob and Eleanor were married on December 7, 1921 and made their home in the area where they had lived with their parents. Farming was their occupation.

Jacob and Eleanor raised a family of four: Gloria married Orville Horan (both are deceased), Bernice married Robert Snell, Jean lived and worked in Fort Qu'Appelle for "Indian Health Services" and Keith was a Histologist in the Lab at what used to be the Grey Nuns Hospital.

In 1941, Jacob came to Big River looking for employment at J.K. Johnson's saw mill. In the summer he operated the saw and in the winter he was employed in the logging camp. Eventually the work with Johnson was depleted. Jacob found work with another employer, Oscar Eikel, who was also in the sawmill and logging business.

After many years of this type of work Jacob bought the Dray Line. He operated that until the task of loading and unloading heavy freight items became too much for him. He was then employed by Waite Fisheries as a night watchman. He worked there until his retirement.

Eleanor spent most of her years being a farm hand, housewife, and mother until 1941 when her family moved from Big River. She then took on various cooking jobs. She cooked for a number of years at the Big River Hospital and retired after a heart attack.

In 1966 Jacob and Eleanor moved to Regina to be closer to some of the family. They resided there until their passing. Eleanor passed away in November, 1976. Jacob passed away in January, 1979. Gloria passed away in June, 1973. Jean passed away in March, 2001.

Keith still resides in Regina. Bernice and Robert have retired to Big River.


Bell, Dick
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Mr. and Mrs. Dick Bell and daughter Doreen arrived in Big River in April 1927, from Prince Albert.

The family lived by the C.N.R. water tower for many years. Mr. Bell was the engine watchman until the time of his death by drowning in Stoney Lake in 1954.

An active member of the Big River Legion, Mr. Bell helped with many community events throughout his lifetime.

Mrs. Bell passed away in England in 1975.


Bengtson, Kurt and Aleada
Submitted by the Bengtson daughters,
Shirley and Esther

Kurt Bengtson was born on April 14, 1908. In 1926, at the tender age of eighteen, he left Trollhattan, Sweden to follow his older brother to Canada. Together they worked in southern Saskatchewan as farm hands for the Smalley family who treated them like their own sons. A few years later Kurt moved north to Big River. Commercial fishing for various outfitters followed. Kurt also worked for O.P. Godin, Waite Fisheries, Yurachs, and Joe Friedman. For awhile he ran the poolroom until, in 1952, he took on the job of foreman at the Big River Tree Nursery. Later he became the manager and retired in 1973.

His wife, Aleada (Ziegler), was born on April 24, 1915 in Strasbourg, Saskatchewan. At the age of five she moved with her parents, Karl and Eva Ziegler (Hanschu), to Saginaw, Michigan. At the age of twelve she returned with her brother, Helmot, to Saskatchewan. For almost two years she stayed with her uncle, Ed Ziegler, in Big River. After that she spent time in Dore Lake, Saskatchewan living with her grandparents, Karl and Marie Ziegler.

Originally the Zieglers came from Germany. Karl was born in Bad Soden - Salmunster on March 4, 1861 and Marie (Traband) was born in Hanau on February 15, 1864. They homesteaded near Strasbourg and later owned two livery stables there. They finally moved north to Dore Lake. When Aleada was sixteen she and her grandparents moved to Big River. Karl and Marie Ziegler died in Big River and are buried in the cemetery there.

Years later she met Kurt. They were married on October 13, 1934. Their first child, Shirley, was born on February 14, 1935. Esther followed on July 10, 1940 and finally the long-hoped-for boy, Garnow, on April 4, 1946. The years went by; the children grew up and had children of their own. Shirley married Ed Pudde (born on April 11, 1930, in Glucksthal, Volhynia). They have four daughters: Roxanne (born on July 4, 1960), Kim (born on September 30, 1963), Bridget (born on August 4, 1968) and Sharon (born on June 25, 1970). The Puddes live near Newbrook, Alberta.


Aleada, Garnow, Kurt, Shirley, Esther, 1980.

Aleada, Garnow, Kurt, Shirley, Esther, 1980.

Esther married Helmut Gebhardt (born on November 11, 1935, in Berlin, Germany) in 1961 at the Big River United Church. They have two boys: Attila was born on April 1, 1962, and Brian was born on March 7, 1963. The Gebhardts live in Port Moody, British Columbia.

Garnow married Leslie Olson (born on December 2, 1948, in Prince Albert). They have two children: Tasha was born on December 15, 1971, and Dustin was born on April 26, 1974. The Bengtsons live in Airdrie, Alberta.

Beginning in 1968, Aleada worked at the Big River Hospital as a nurse's aide until her retirement in 1976. Kurt died on January 17, 1988, and was laid to rest in the Big River Cemetery. Kurt was an outstanding citizen in the community and, as an honour, the street they lived on was named Bengtson Street. Aleada still lives in Big River and is known for her expertise at cards. Over the years the families expanded and Mother Bengtson now has eight grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren. Here's a shortlist:


Roxanne and Grant M. have two children, Darren and Sara
Kim and Dave Y. have three children, Spencer and twins, Owen and Ethan
Bridget and Calvin S. have two boys, Chase and Connor
Shannon and Tod F. have a girl Carly
Tasha and John K. have three girls, Jessica, Brooks and Haley.
The boys, Dustin, Attila and Brian are still single at the time of this writing and there are no rumours of a family.

Bergen, Diedrich and Anna
Submitted by Diedrich (Dick) Bergen

Diedrich Bergen was born on September 7, 1895, in Rosthern, Saskatchewan. Anna Neufeld was born March 8, 1906, in Laird, Saskatchewan. They were married on August 21, 1924, in Rosthern, and lived there for a short time. They moved to Paraguay, South America, in 1926.

While they were there, their first son Peter was born in 1927. Because they were unable to secure land there, they moved back to Rosthern within a year. They moved to River Hill in the Wynyard area, and then to Hepburn in 1930 where they farmed eighty acres until 1947.


Children of Diedrich and Anna Bergen:

Peter Bergen - b. August 26, 1927 - South America While living at Hepburn, eleven children were born at home with the help of midwives:
Henry Bergen - b. June 20, 1930-d. September 20, 2002
Abraham Bergen - b. November 12, 1931-d. July 2, 1993
Diedrich Bergen - b. October 13, 1934
Cornelius Bergen - b. July 10, 1936
Margaret Bergen - b. December 17, 1937
Jacob Bergen - b. March 10, 1940
Anna Bergen - b. June 4, 1941-d. June 24, 1941,
Nettie Bergen - b. July 20, 1942
Helen Bergen - b. March 26, 1944
Tena Bergen - b. July 10, 1945
Johan Bergen - b. February 28, 1947-d. May 8, 1947

Two more children were born in the Big River area:

Susan Bergen - b. July 24, 1949
Elizabeth Bergen - b. December 30, 1952

Having a difficult time providing for such a large family on eighty acres, Diedrich and Anna decided to move to the Lake Four area. In August 1947, they loaded up their belongings in two rail cars and headed for Big River. Seven cows, four horses and four pigs made up one car, with the other car loaded with the few possessions they had: beds, bedding, clothing, kitchen utensils, etc. Diedrich and his son Abe also travelled in the second car, so they could keep an eye on the livestock. The second car also had a wagon, buggy and harnesses for the horses.

The rest of the family was transported to Big River by an uncle with a model T Ford. When we left Hepburn for Big River, I was told later that we still did not have a place to go to when we got there. Dad had a relative, Henry Thiessen, who said we could stay at their place until we found a place of our own. By the time the train arrived in Big River two days later, the news had gotten around. Tom and David Giesbrecht had decided to rent their land and twenty cows to us if we wanted to. I wasn't in on the conversation, but I don't think it took Dad long to say yes. This was his home until he passed away on February 1961. This land was located at SW 1-55-6W3 in the Lake Four District.

After unloading the cattle, my brother Abe and I were in charge of driving the twenty miles to our new home. We each rode a horse, leaving Dad to follow with the other two horses and wagon to bring the pigs and whatever else the wagon could hold. We rented this land for two years, and then bought the two quarters, later buying more land and leasing pasture land. We milked between twenty and thirty cows. The cream cheque was our income and at times the skim milk was taken to the cheese factory in Park Valley. The help received from surrounding neighbours was much appreciated. This new land was a challenge, but also provided many opportunities lots of space, forest and open range for the cattle. My job right after school was to get on the horse and see if I could find the milk cows that were on the free-range on the Lake Four meadow. More than a few times I would find them three or four miles away. By the time I got them home, we were milking by hand in the dark.

Lake Four School was about three miles away. In the winter, we had a horse and a caboose. In the summer, we walked. I still tell my kids it was uphill both ways.

With a large garden, milk cows, poultry, salt pork and many berry-picking expeditions, life was pretty good. Visitors were always welcome and many pots of coffee and goodies were shared with neighbours and friends. Evenings with music and song were also enjoyed by all. Sundays meant church and Sunday school at Lake Four Mennonite Church. Mom passed away on November 26, 1995.


Diedrich Bergen Jr. Family

Diedrich Bergen Jr. Family.

Diedrich Bergen Jr. Family.

Diedrich (Dick) Bergen - m. August 6, 1957
Rita Diehl b. October 13, 1934 (Hepburn) Family b. October 8, 1940 (Marcelin)
Karen Bergen - m. August 5, 1978 Stephen Hayduk b. July 12, 1960 (Prince Albert)
b. September 5, 1959 (Prince Albert)
Megan Hayduk b. July 29, 1983 (Prince Albert)
Nicholas Hayduk b. June 25, 1986 (Prince Albert)
Katherine Hayduk b. February 14, 1989 (Prince Albert)
Kevin Bergen m. July 17, 1993
Isleta Ricketts Merkley b. July 19, 1961 (Prince Albert)
b. Nov. 27, 1965(Pietermaritzburg, S.Africa)
Krystle Merkley b. August 11, 1984 (High River, AB)
Michael Bergen b. August 10, 1994 (Edson, AB)
Ethan Bergen b. June 7, 2001 (Slave Lake, AB)
Donna Bergen m. November 29, 1988 Michael Tabachniuk b. March 5, 1963 (Prince Albert) b. November 23, 1959 (Prince Albert) Amanda Kuhn
Huan Ly b. April 5, 1983 (Prince Albert)
Boe Jun Ly b. December 18, 2002 (Courtney, BC)
Kayla Tabachniuk b. August 12, 1989 (Edmonton, AB)
Erica Tabachniuk b. April 8, 1993 (Edmonton, AB)
Darlene Bergen m. October 8, 1983 Lyle Reves b. October 29, 1964 (Prince Albert) b. April 11, 1963 (Prince Albert)
Benjamin Reves b. August 13, 1984 (Regina) Justin Reves b. January 11, 1987 (Regina)
Rodney Bergen b. June 17, 1968 (Prince Albert)
Roxanne Bergen Murphy b. July 21, 1970 (Prince Albert)
Jason Murphy b. April 13, 1988 (Prince Albert) Jeffrey Murphy b. July 31, 1989 (Prince Albert)
Jared Murphy b. April 1, 1993 (Prince Albert)

Bergquist, John and Alice

I was born Alice May Johnson on August 23, 1940 in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan and was raised in Big River by my parents, John K. and Huldah Johnson, and, I suppose, by a few older siblings. It was wonderful to grow up in a large family.

We were blessed to have Grandma and Grandpa Lundy close by. They were great with us kids and a lot of fun. I remember Grandpa popping corn on Grandma's wood stove with a basket-type popper and just when the corn was popping, he opened the lid and let it fly - an exciting moment for us kids and Grandpa but I imagine it was Grandma who swept up the mess!

We lived just north of the "burner" until 1948. Mom cooked for her eleven children as well as the mill crew that worked in Dad's mill. She needed a lot of cookware. It seems to me that our big yard must have been a great place for the neighbourhood kids of all ages to congregate. There were various games. One I remember was a snowball fight where everyone had a lid from one of Mom's many pots, pans and broilers. We used them as shields. You were given a lid size depending on how small you were - mine was quite small.

I was eight years old when we moved to "uptown Big River" in 1948. It was a big house on Main Street and we had a lot of room to run. We would lie awake in bed and watch the glow and the sparks from the fire in the burner and be hummed to sleep by the sounds of the mill running.

I spent two summers on Cree Lake with Mom and Dad working in the fish plant that Dad managed for Waite Fisheries. In 1958, my second summer up there, Marlene (Evans) Lomsnes came up with me. It was a much different summer than we would have spent in Big River but fun and eventful just the same. While up there, Marlene and I had moccasins made from Indian tanned hides. When it was time to leave we packed our clothes - moccasins and all - in our bags and flew home. Anxious to unpack and see all our friends again, we quickly realized that we would need to wash everything before wearing them or take an awful ribbing. Everything was saturated with the smell of those moccasins!

I was twelve years old when my eighteen-year-old brother, Bob, was killed in a logging accident in 1953. One of the things that I remember most is the way that the people of Big River rallied around us with food, love, and support.

I took my schooling in Big River and in 1958, I went to Business College in Prince Albert. I worked in various offices in Prince Albert and met my husband, John Bergquist, there. We were married in 1961. We have four wonderful children and seven beautiful grandchildren. We moved from Prince Albert to Spruce Home in 1974 and then to Candle Lake in 1996. John retired from Weyerhaeuser Pulp and Paper in 1999. We keep busy and are thoroughly enjoying our lives here.

I am proud of where I came from, of my siblings and, mostly, of my parents. Mom and Dad worked very hard to make life good for us. They lost three of their children. As a parent, I cannot even imagine how they got through all that. I miss them so much.


Billesberger, Ernest & Margaret
Submitted by Marion Dunbar (Billesberger)

Outdoor Rink behind Elk's Hall.

Margaret and Ernest, 1992).

The family of Ernest Billesberger moved to Big River from Carlton, Saskatchewan on November 21, 1970. The family included Ernest Billesberger born July 30, 1918, in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Margaret Billesberger born September 25, 1924, in Aberdeen, Scotland, Marion Billesberger born September 3, 1954, in Cudworth, Saskatchewan, and Allan Billesberger born May 28, 1957, in Watrous, Saskatchewan.

Ernest and Margaret took on the running of the pool hall and confectionery after a lifetime of farming and brush cutting. Marion and Allan were in high school and soon made good friends. We lived in a house on the site of Phil and Pat Devonshire's present home and later in a trailer next to the pool hall right beside the Legion Hall. Margaret was the caretaker of the Legion Hall for many years, and also worked for the Meiklejohn family when they ran the hotel. Ernest worked for a time at Yurach's IGA, but the pool hall and confectionery kept him busy.

In October of 1981, Ernest and Margaret retired and moved to Prince Albert. Ernest died June 14, 1993, in the Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert. Margaret lives in a senior citizens complex in Prince Albert and keeps active in church and community.

Marion married Robert Dunbar in July 1973, and they have two daughters, Candace born March 25, 1977, in Big River and Crystal born December 25, 1979 in Big River. Marion and her daughters live in Prince Albert, and Robert lives in Saskatoon.


Candace, Marion, Robert, Crystal.

Standing: Candace, Marion, Robert, Crystal.
Sitting: Margaret. Allan, Jessica, Kathy, Barbara E. Phillips (June 1997).

Allan worked for a time at the mill in Big River, he then moved to Prince Albert to work for Frank Ruzkowski. He married Kathleen Allen of Prince Albert in August of 1978. They live in Martensville where Allan is employed with Trimac as a driver trainer and Kathy is a teacher's aide. They have one daughter Jessica born February 10, 1994, in Saskatoon.

Margaret and Ernest were avid curlers, taking part in many bonspiels, and league curling. The family was members of the Catholic Church. We lived in Big River for many years and have fond memories of friends and neighbours. We try to visit a couple of times a year.


Billinger, Fred and Leona

I was born on January 24, 1941, the only child of Joe and Ludwina Billinger. My childhood was spent on the family farm on the shore of Cowan Lake, (SE 16-57-8-W3rd).

Some of my earliest memories were celebrating Christmas at the Grimmler farm as well as visiting the Pilney's and Greipel's. When I was older, I would ride my bike to visit Hans Feldmeir.

I started school at age seven. Since there was no school bus, I stayed with several families including the McCauley's, the Bowie's, the Volkenburg's, the Buchanan' s as well as Margaret Pruden's. My parents would bring me to town on Sunday evening and take me back home on Friday evening. Seven years later, when the Nichol family moved into the area, I was able to travel back and forth with them. The following year, Alex Pankoski put a caboose on the back of a half-ton truck; this was our first school bus.

Leona, Fred (Nov. 18, 1964).

Leona, Fred, Nov. 18, 1964.

I left school after grade 10 to work at the mill, scaling in the bush and helping on the family farm. In 1962, I met Leontine Chretien. Leona and I were married on November 18, 1964, in Debden. We were blessed with three children, Neil was born January 9, 1966, followed by Valerie on June 15, 1968, and Murray on July 23, 1970. I continued to work at off-farm jobs until 1973 that's when we decided to start a dairy farm. We built a barn and bought Albert Hannigan's dairy cattle.

In 1975, we started producing industrial milk, which was used to make ice cream and cheese. A few years later, we started shipping fluid milk to a processing plant in Prince Albert. Later on, a new milk plant was built in Saskatoon and our milk was hauled to Saskatoon. A truck came every second day to pick up the milk. Running a dairy farm was a family affair. Leona, the children and I were kept very busy milking, keeping the milk machines and bulk tank very clean, and growing crops to feed the cattle. Leona and I sold the dairy in 1995. In 1999, we built a new house and are semi-retired, keeping some beef cattle on the side.

Our three children have gone on to successful careers. Neil graduated from high school in 1984. He took a broadcasting course at Mount Royal College in Calgary, Alberta. His first job was at CJVR radio in Melfort. He spent five years in Melfort before moving to Saskatoon to become the Agriculture Director at CJWW radio.

Valerie graduated in 1986 and went to N.I.T. Business College in Prince Albert. She went to work at the doctor's office in Big River and is still employed at the Big River Medical Clinic. On July 19, 2003, Valerie married Gordon Dumais.

Murray finished high school in 1988. He went to the University of Saskatchewan and earned a Bachelor of Education degree. His first job was in LaLoche, where he met Marli Antoine, who was also a teacher. They were married July 3, 1993 in Big River. They have two boys, Colby and Kyler. They are now living in Melville.


Fred, Leona, Neil, Murray, Marli.

Back Row: Fred, Leona, Neil, Murray, Marli.
Front Row: Gordon, Valerie, Colby, Kyler (July 19, 2003).

Billinger, Joseph and Ludwina
Submitted by Fred Billinger

Joseph Billinger was born on August 15, 1905 in Munich, Germany. He was raised on a large farm with a sawmill. His father died shortly after World War 1. His mother kept the family farm but had to sell the sawmill.

When Joe was 19 years old, he decided to immigrate to Canada after receiving his mother's permission. His destination was a farm near Bruno where he worked as a hired hand. One year later, Joe returned to Germany-following his mother's death. He came back to Canada for good in 1925.

Joe wanted to have his own farm. He pursued his dream in Big River by taking out a homestead at SE 16-57-8-W3rd. It was not an easy task. Acres of trees had to be cleared by hand to get title for the land. The winter months were spent working in town or fishing in northern Saskatchewan.

During this time, Joe began an overseas correspondence with Ludwina Beck. Ludwina was born on March 3, 1910 in Straubing, Germany. She worked on the family's small farm until 1932 when she moved to Canada to marry Joe. The wed ding took place on September 12, 1932 in Big River.


Ludwina, Fred, Joe (1952).

Ludwina, Fred, Joe (1952).

The Billinger's lived on the shores of Cowan Lake. The farm continued to grow as Joe cleared more land. As they cleared more land they also purchased some cattle and chickens. Joe would continue to travel north in the winter to earn some much needed money, fishing.

The Billinger's only child, Fred, was born on January 24, 1941. When it was time to go to school, Fred had to stay with families in town because there was no school bus until he reached grade seven.

Joe continued to work off the farm to support his family. He had several jobs in the 1950's including packing fish at Waite's, as well as working in the bush and for the LID. Eventually, he got a full time job at the Big River sawmill where he worked until he retired in 1970.

Ludwina was instrumental in keeping the farm going while Joe was away. She raised registered chickens and sold eggs to the hatchery in Prince Albert during the hatching season. She also sold eggs in town.

In 1971, Joe and Ludwina moved to town. Joe never lost touch with the farm. He would go out to help his son nearly every weekday. Ludwina grew a garden and made many friends in town. They played cards many evenings with the Holmers, Wychodzews, Hoehn's and Mrs Caissie. They returned to Germany to visit family twice, the first time in 1968 and again in 1973. They also went on several bus tours with the local senior citizen's group. Joe's green Toyota truck was a common sight around town.

In September 1995, Joe and Ludwina celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary. In October, Ludwina passed away at the age of 85 following a heart attack. Joe lived on his own for another three years with the help of his granddaughter Valerie. He spent his last year in the Big River Hospital before passing away at the age of 94.

Joe and Ludwina went through plenty of hardships but also had a lot of good times. They took great pride in their son and his family. The three grandchildren (Neil, Valerie and Murray) were their pride and joy. They also cherished the opportunity to see two great-grandchildren, Colby and Kyler.


John and Martha Grimmler, Ludwina

John and Martha Grimmler, Ludwina
Joe and Fred Billinger.


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