O.P.Godin's Store

Family Histories, Part 22



Odgers, William

William was a twenty-year-old man who came from South Africa in 1928. He had shown interest in locating to Winter Lake (NW 36-54-7 W3rd) but he must have moved on, as records do not indicate he stayed in this area.


Olafson, Christina
Eva Emmie (Warriner)

She was born on October 4, 1913, on the Hagg Farm at Kirbymoorside, England. She lived there with her parents Eleanor (Jennings) and George Warriner, two brothers; Richard and Thomas, and four sisters; Jenny, Madge, Annie, Agnes (died as an infant) and Alice. At age four her family moved to a community near Kirbymoorside called Westings.

Kirbymoorside translates to the church by the pasture; Kirby is a church and moor is a type of land used for grazing sheep. Moorejock is a name for a particular type of sheep. The heather plant grows on the moor.

In 1927, Connie (as she was known) and the family travelled by car to Liverpool and prepared to embark across the Atlantic Ocean to Canada. They had signed up for the "3000 Family Scheme", a program designed to populate the prairies.

The prairies of Canada seemed somewhat familiar to Eleanor. She had often heard of them in letters written to her and her grandparents (Henry and Eleanor Coverdale) from her father John Jennings, who had come to America in the 1880s after his wife Jane (Coverdale) passed away. In letters to his daughter, he spoke highly of the newfound country and it's vast and plentiful land. He often invited them to come and join him.

Connie was thirteen years old when she and her parents, along with siblings Thomas, Alice, and Olive boarded a ship called the Montcalm, bound for Canada. In Canada, they would be reunited with brother Richard, who had left one year previously. Sisters Jenny, Madge and Annie were grown women at the time and did not move with them.

The ship was luxurious as Connie recalls, with white linen table cloths and fine china. Connie also remembers being seasick and a terrible storm that forced everyone to "stay-put" on the middle deck. A week to ten days later, they docked at St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Unaware at the time, Connie would never cross that ocean again and would never see her sister, Jenny again. Madge visited Canada once and Annie lived here for a short time. Ivy, Annie's daughter, was born in Ottawa.

The next leg of their journey involved many days travel by train to Spy Hill, Saskatchewan. Diddy (Tom) had stowed away the family dog, Rags, by safely wrapping him in a blanket. The girls attentively kept a lookout for any protruding body parts as the conductor made his rounds. George went grocery shopping at each stop and Eleanor prepared meals on the train for the family.

The Warriner family arrived at their destination and were pleasantly greeted by neighbours who had prepared biscuits, butter, milk and tea for them. Three or four men eagerly set up the stove and furniture that was supplied for them by the "3000 Family Scheme" program. The Saskatoon berry blossoms and pin cherry blossoms were so beautiful that they decided to name their farm "Cherry Tree Bluff'. Naming your farm is customary in England.

They homesteaded in a predominantly Icelandic community near Tantallon, Saskatchewan called the Holar District. This is where Connie met Walter Olafson (b. May 3, 1907 - d. September 20, 1991), she believes it was at a ball game. The Olafson boys were good ballplayers, as she recalls. She and Walter courted for seven years before marrying on June 9, 1935. They wed at Cherry Tree Bluff by the United Church minister. Notably, Walter was the youngest brother of Alice's husband Ingie Olafson.

They soon moved to Big River, Saskatchewan. Connie remembers travelling in a one-ton model T Truck, 500 miles from the prairies to the forest. They ate and slept in the box along the way. Walter and Connie homesteaded nearby and spent many hours cutting down trees by hand to build a house and clear the land.

Initially, they were given a job at the cordwood camp for their room and board. Walter made a caboose (trailer) out of green spruce and lined it with brown paper for them to live in. The winter was long and cold, some times as low as -60 F. Connie remembers a time when the train had to keep moving back and forth, night and day, along the track for fear it might freeze to the tracks.

Walter and Connie cooked at the camp for forty-five men. The menu consisted of five gallons of sourdough pancake batter every morning, four gallons of stew and dumplings, twenty loaves of bread a day (except Sunday), Tullibee fish scaled with the axe, too many potatoes to count and fresh cake daily (same recipe with different icing for variety). It is easy to see how they used 100 lbs of flour every 1.5 days.

Connie and Walter's first child was born June 7, 1936, a son Gunmunder John Gilbart. Just before his arrival, they had gone back to Tantallon, to be near Connie's mother who was a midwife, so she could deliver the baby. When Mundi and Connie were well enough to travel, they went back to Big River. Diddy, Olive, Eleanor and George soon followed by train with the animals and machinery. Eleanor Beatrice Ann (Ellie) was born June 25, 1939 (named after Little Grannie and sisters of Connie and Walter, Annie).

In August 1939 George Warriner passed away, and one month later Diddy went off to war. Walter also joined the army and left for training camp at Dundurn. A short leave in the fall of 1940 to come home for a visit, left Connie expecting again. The following spring, Walter was again granted special leave to come home and meet his newborn twin boys. They were born May 2, 1941, and were named Walter and Alfred, after the two men in Connie's life who had gone off to war: her husband Walter and brother Thomas Alfred. After a short visit five months later, Walter went overseas. In 1945, five years later, he returned. Little Grannie (Eleanor) and Olive lived with Connie and helped with the children and the farm.

Connie has many memories of those days. She recalls Diddy and a friend being close-by to help protect the family from a large 300 lb. black bear that had shredded the laundry off the clothesline the night before. They bravely shot at it and frantically ran back to the house, both getting stuck in the doorway trying to get in first. Its enormous body was found nearby the next morning.

The story about Alfie and Trigger chopping the head off the chicken with their new axes, when they were only four years old, is a favourite. The question of how "Trigger" got his nickname is frequently asked. The story is: Uncle Diddy liked to tease the boys about passing gas, hence Whistle Trigger. Funny how that stuck for the rest of his life. Alfie's nickname didn't stick and has been forgotten over the years??

In 1946, the Olafson family moved back to Tantallon. They took possession of the Vopni farm, across the road from Cherry Tree Bluff. 011ie Jennings was born May 4, 1936 (named after Walter's oldest brother and the Jennings sir name) He died ten months later on March 24, 1937, from pneumonia, a complication of the chickenpox and red measles. Mundi passed away on May 18, 1950, at the age of 14 years. He had suffered for three days prior, with a fever and a headache.

Walter and Connie farmed in the Holar district for many years. They were involved in all types of activities and community groups. Walter coached the twins' first hockey team. They had borrowed skates from Jenny and Helga (Walter's sisters) for the boys to use. Connie often speaks of two of her favourite groups as being the Messengers and the Explorers. Walter was employed by Canada Post for thirteen years, as postmaster in Tantallon. One of Connie's most pleasurable events was the annual Tantallon Fair. She took great pride in showing all kinds of flowers, canning, baking and crafts. Many red-ribbon loaves of bread and jars of jam were shared with family and friends, along with a cup of tea. The only years she missed entering at the fair, from age 14 to 85, were during the war and when she was at Big River.

Connie and Walter enjoyed watching and guiding the lives of their eleven grandchildren. Grandpa always had lots of patience and nerves of steel, as he let the grandchildren learn how to drive with his car. A large pail of gingersnap cookies, often frozen, were always in stock and available for dunking in your tea when you got back from driving lesson or helping in the shop. Some special "life lessons" were learnt while golfing, playing whist and Yahtzee.

Walter and Connie retired from farming to Rocanville, Saskatchewan. They enjoyed golfing and visiting with friends and family. Walter passed away at age 84, on September 20, 1991.

Ellie and Joe LeSann presently live near Calgary, Alberta; Alfie and Marie Olafson have retired to Yorkton, Saskatchewan; Trigger passed away January 23, 2001, and Sylvia (Trigger's first wife) died November 27, 1995. Connie lived in her own home in Rocanville until the fall of 2002. At age 89 she moved down the street into the seniors' lodge, where she currently resides.


Oleksyn, Glenda (Swanson)

Glenda Oleksyn.

Darrell, holding Nicholas, Glenda, holding Erin.

Glenda, the third child of Eugene and Merle Swanson, was born November 1968 and grew up on the farm along Cowan Lake just north of Big River. She started school in the old Primary School with the many nooks, crannies and that unique room at the top of the building. Christmas concerts, sliding down the old hospital hill, skating on the lake, and skating in the old rink where the Co-op now stands are some of her memories. With her classmates, she moved on to the Junior and Senior Intermediate schools and the high school. None of those schools is any longer in existence.

In high school, she took part in numerous extracurricular activities including sports, student council and drama. She served as secretary-treasurer on the student council for two years and took part in drama productions locally as a co-director and as an actor. Some students she enjoyed performing and directing with were Jelaine Klassen, Gina Kuxhaus, Corrine Cooper, and her sister, Sherri Swanson. Her favourite directors were Mr D. Lee Cooper and her mom, Mrs Merle Swanson. Some of these plays went on to the regional and provincial levels. In 1985, at the regional level, Glenda won a trip to the drama festival in Stratford, Ontario.

Throughout these 12 years, she recalls many pleasant memories including friends Elaine Meyers, Glenda Labach, Shirley Fabish, Glenda Fonos and Myrna Young.

After graduation, Glenda spent a year at the U of S and then decided that her future would be in Design. She graduated with distinction in Interior Design from Lakeland College in Vermilion and then went on to finish her Graphic Design at Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton.

Throughout high school and college, she worked at several summers and short-term jobs in Big River and Saskatoon for Ritchie Construction and Doctors K. and S. Shukla in Big River.

In 1999, Glenda married Darrell Oleksyn. They have two children, Nicholas and Erin, and are enjoying living on their acreage near Prince Albert where technology allows her to continue her work as a graphic designer in advertising for her Saskatoon employers.


Olenchuk, Donna

Born and raised in Big River, the second daughter to Peter and Margaret Olenchuk.

From the time I was twelve, I did a lot of babysitting and working summer and casual jobs before being hired at Midtown Service. I worked at the garage after school and weekends during high school. After graduating from high school, I moved to Saskatoon to attend Business College. I graduated from my program in nine months and moved back to Big River for a short time before taking a job on road construction. I worked on construction jobs in Big River, Lloydminster and Bainbridge.

In January 1991, my precious son was born. Galan is the first grandchild of Peter and Margaret Olenchuk. He was also a male child to carry on the Olenchuk name! There are very few of them. We stayed in Big River for the first five months of Galan's life and then moved to Prince Albert where I had found work. I worked several part-time jobs, sometimes three at a time, until full-time work in 1993. I was hired at the Prince Albert Housing Authority as a temporary assistant in the Maintenance Department and then two years in Accounts Payable. In 1996, I moved back into the Maintenance Department where I worked until 2003. In April 2003 I was hired part-time with SaskTel in the Business Office.

I am a firm believer in continuing education and have continued to take classes in the evenings. In 2004, I was awarded my Business Administration Certificate from SIAST. As plans are being finalized for this history book, I am making plans to finish two other diploma programs through extension and distance learning.

Galan has been a true blessing from the moment of his birth. He was born in Prince Albert and transferred to Saskatoon Royal University Hospital NICU the next day due to breathing complications. He came through this very well and was home within two weeks. Several health concerns arose during his childhood years, but the doctors seemed to have logical answers. Then, in January 2003, it was discovered that Galan has a rare blood disease that was previously undiagnosed since infancy. He has endured through some very difficult and painful experiences and yet he still has the most incredible smile I can think of. He has taught me so much, I have learned to live through him, to laugh through him, but most of all . . . Galan has taught me to love. He is so very special. Oh, he's gotten into some fixes and we have our differences from time to time, but I couldn't have custom-ordered a better child to a parent than him. Something I am really glad for . .. he is going to be tall!! He was already taller than me when he was only 13. Guess there is something to the adage of eating your meat and potatoes (and dirt in my garden)! Yah, yay, genetics help too.

To everyone from the past, this is what's been happening in our lives. For the future, who knows. The best could yet still be. To the History Book Committee, THANK YOU, for letting me share in this project. Until the next issue...


Olenchuk, James Peter and
Margaret (Warriner)

I, Margaret, was born on April 2, 1947, on the homestead west of Big River (now known as West Cowan Apiaries). This is where I learned most of my life lessons. As the second daughter of Richard George Henry and Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Warriner, I had a lot of chores and responsibilities growing up on the farm. I received all of my schoolings in Big River all the while making the trip across the lake, even in the winter. While in school, I had jobs at Waite Fisheries and the telephone office.

On May 7, 1966, I married James Peter Olenchuk, son of Pete and Josephine Olenchuk. Peter was born on January 12, 1943. His family lived in Prince Albert until he was three years old and then they moved to the Timberlost area where they lived until 1954. The family moved one more time to the present homestead in the Greenmantle district.

home with a newspaper ad for room cleaners in Jasper, Alberta. After one phone call, I was on my way out west. That was a very interesting experience. I met and kept a lot of good friends.

In July 1993, I moved back to Big River and on October 26, I gave birth to my oldest daughter, Morgan Lynne. In January 1994, we moved to Ladysmith, British Columbia to live with my oldest sister, Natalie, and her family. Due to health problems, we moved back to Big River in December. In January 1995, I started working at the Big River Esso and worked there until July 2001. It was while working at the Esso that I met Chris Reimer.

Christopher James, son of Raymond Reimer, was born in Shellbrook. At the age of six months, he moved with his family to Quesnel, British Columbia. Chris lived there until he was eighteen years old and then moved back to Big River. In Big River, he worked with the bush crews starting with Ron Hodgson and then C.R. Logging. Presently, Chris is driving a semi-truck for Les Bueckert.

On April 11, 1999, we had our first daughter together - Desirae Sierra Daun. On January 27, 2002, our second daughter - Kacie Alexandria Margaret joined the family. On April 2, 2003, Chris finally got his wish. Our family was blessed with beautiful, bouncing twin boys, Wesley James Peter and Sean Christopher Raymond. Grandma Margaret got the best birthday present ever that year. Twins on her birthday, "What more could a grandma ask for!" Needless to say, I will be a full-time, stay-at-home Mom for a while, but I wouldn't have it any other way!


Outdoor Rink behind Elk's Hall.

Back Row: Chris, Veronica.
Middle Row: Margaret, Peter, holding Desirae.
Front Row: Morgan, holding Kacie, Wesley and Sean.

Olsen, Clarence and Rita
Submitted by Noreen Wilson

Edwin Olson.

Clarence, Rita, Terry, Trenna, Leah,
Noreen, Gwen, Celina.

Clarence Edwin Olsen was born to Edwin and Alice Olsen on August 8, 1944, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He was the second of five children. He has an older sister, Linda, a sister, Bertha who died at the young age of forty, a younger sister, Lois and a younger brother, Owen.

Until the age of eight, Clarence lived at the Narrows on Delaronde Lake. Edwin and Alice then moved the family to the southern end of Delaronde Lake where they built their home. The children attended school. Edwin poured his heart into trapping, fishing, and his mink ranch.

Clarence met Rita Swanson in 1968. Rita Janet Swanson was born to Howard and Margaret Swanson on October 17, 1951, in Big River. She was the sixth of seven children. She has four older brothers: Norman, who died in a plane crash in May 1990; Roland, Camille, and Maurice; an older sister, Lorraine and a younger brother, Richard. Howard and Margaret farmed and Howard worked at the mill in Big River.

Rita worked at the local telephone office for a couple of years before marrying Clarence on June 7, 1969, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Clarence purchased land from his father where he and Rita built their home and raised six children. Their children are Trenna, born July 23, 1970, Leah, born December 28, 1971, Noreen, born August 25, 1973, Gwendolyn born August 31, 1974, Terrence, born December 8, 1975, and Celina, born July 30, 1979.

Clarence and Rita operated a mink ranch with Edwin and Alice until 1975. Clarence then started working in the logging industry. He had a successful partnership in Del Lake Enterprises until his retirement in 1999. While Clarence worked during the week in the bush, Rita maintained the home and raised the children. Clarence came home on the weekends where the family would fill their days with camping, fishing, going for boat rides, and going to Sunday Mass.

In 2002, after living on the acreage for many years, Clarence and Rita sold their property and built their retirement home in town overlooking Cowan Lake where they are presently living.


Olsen, Edwin and Alice
Submitted by Noreen Wilson

Edwin and Alice Olson.

Edwin. Alice, holding Linda.

Edwin Olsen was born on February 20, 1920, in Kerrobert, Saskatchewan. He was the son of John Olsen and Elmire Ethier. His father was from Denmark and his mother was French Canadian. At the age of two, Edwin, his parents and two brothers, Marshall and Lloyd moved to Stoney Lake, now called Delaronde Lake.

Edwin married Alice Patterson on April 22, 1942. Alice was born December 3, 1923, in Green Lake, Saskatchewan. She was living in La Ronge when they met. Edwin would ride his bike from Big River to Prince Albert to catch a plane to La Ronge to visit Alice. After they married, Edwin bought a commercial fishing license from fishermen in Dore Lake. This included many fishing nets, a fishing boat, and a one hundred ton freezer. Edwin started raising mink when he was fifteen years old and went on to raise them for almost fifty years. He and Alice worked hard side by side raising their mink until retiring in 1980. They ranked among Canada's top breeders. Edwin was also a trapper and was involved in tourism.


Edwin and Alice Olson.

Back Row: Bertha, Linda, Clarence.
Front Row: Lois, Owen, June 1958.

Together Edwin and Alice raised five children. Their eldest daughter Linda (Skilliter) was born June 7, 1942, in Big River; a son Clarence was born August 8, 1944, in Prince Albert; a daughter Bertha (Lamarche) was born December 3, 1946, in Prince Albert; a daughter Lois (Inglis) was born April 21, 1954, in Big River and a son Owen was born May 31, 1956, in Big River. Bertha died in 1987 at the young age of forty years.

They lived at the Narrows on Delaronde Lake until moving to the southern end of Delaronde where they had their mink ranch and from where their children attended school in Big River.

Alice became ill with Muscular Dystrophy and Diabetes. When Edwin could no longer care for Alice she became a resident at the Lakewood Lodge in Big River. Alice lived at the lodge for seven years until she passed away on their 54th Wedding Anniversary, April 22, 1996, at the age of seventy-three. Edwin trapped and kept busy on the ranch until his passing on January 15, 2001, at the age of eighty.


Olsen, Martin Benjamin
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Martin Benjamin Olsen was born in Denmark in 1879 and came to Canada in 1909, landing in Dauphin, Manitoba. He planned to make a fortune in trapping. In 1910, he came north to Big River and helped to establish the Ile-a-la-Crosse Fish Company. He worked in the fishing business for many years but later took up homesteading in the Delaronde district. In 1913, he married Anna Ethier and they had two daughters, Florence and Myrtle. Anna died during the influenza epidemic and the girls were raised by Mr and Mrs Appleby until Martin's second marriage.

Florence Olsen married Tom Nicholson in 1937. The children: Jim, Priscilla (Mrs. Clarence Pister), Ben, LaVern (Mrs. Davis), Grace and Nadine. Jim was killed in a plane crash at La Ronge. Priscilla and Ben still live in this area.


Olson, Gilbert and Audrey
Written by eldest daughter
Louise (Olson) Viden

Gilbert Olson.

Gilbert and Audrey, 1985.

Gilbert Olson family.

Raymond Gilbert Jr., Lloyd, Ron, Bud, Dianne, Louise and Darlene.

Mom and Dad moved to Big River in 1947. Dad worked at various jobs. I remember him packing fish for Waite Fisheries for almost twelve years. He also worked at sawing logs for Ivor Fonos. From then on he sawed lumber for many years. He worked in Meadow Lake for Oscar Eikel and Andy Sundby at South Stoney Lake. (now called Delaronde Lake)

Gilbert and Audrey had ten children. All were raised in Big River. They lost two boys (aged four and five) leaving eight surviving children.

I remember a lot of things growing up. Mom used to send me to O.P. Godin's Store and Wilfred's Bakery. (His last name was `Godin' as well. I think they were brothers). A can of milk cost ten cents and a loaf of bread was fifteen cents. Dad used to smoke Vogue tobacco and it was thirty cents a package. We could go to a show at the theatre for twenty cents admission, ten cents for pop and ten cents for a bag of popcorn. I still have a coal oil lamp globe with a sticker that says '0. P. Godin, fifty-nine cents'. I always kept a spare one. We still have coal oil lamps at the cabin and home. I bought two globes in Prince Albert last year and I paid $8.00 each for them. What a difference for the same item!

My brothers and sisters are all scattered throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta:


Clarence (Bud) is married to Betty (Johnson) from Swift Current. They have three children (two daughters and a son) and three grandchildren. They all live in Drayton Valley, Alberta. Bud has always been into bush work. At present, he has three log trucks and a slasher deck. He contracts for Weyerhaeuser.

Ron is married to Honja (Boychuk). They have four children (two daughters and two sons) and one grandchild. They all live in Saskatoon. Ron is the manager for Boychuk Construction & Real Estate. He is also one of the owners of Crystal Lake Lodge on Cree Lake.

Gilbert Jr. and Adradiene live in Edmonton, Alberta. They have four children (one stepdaughter, twin daughters and one son). The girls are all in school and their son is three years old. Gil has a roofing company (Advanced Roofing) and is busy with it.

Darlene (Olson) Robertson and her husband, George, farm at Canwood, Saskatchewan. They have four children (three sons and one daughter). Two of the boys are still at home in school. Darlene and George also have two grandchildren. Dianne Olson lives in Saskatoon. She has one daughter (in school). She was married to Don Millikin of Big River.

Lloyd lives in Saskatoon and has three children (two daughters and one son). He was married to Brenda Ausland of Big River.

Raymond and Debbie live in Big River. They have no children. Ray is the baby of the family.

Louise and Teddy.

Louise and Teddy.

Louise (Olson) Viden and Teddy were married forty-two years on January 28, 2003. We mink ranched on Dore Lake for ten years or so and commercially fished the out-lying lakes. In 1972, Teddy decided to take his commercial pilot's license. In 1973, he attained a job flying with Fire Control out of LaRonge. In February 1974 we moved to LaRonge. It was a good move for us. Our four girls all graduated Grade Twelve. They went to the Community College there as well. They are all married and we now have an addition to the family of four sons-in-law and nine grandchildren. Two of our girls and their families still live in LaRonge. They have good jobs and both have built new homes.


Gilbert Family.

Penny, Teddy, Louise, Holly,
Cindy and B.J.

Teddy and I retired and bought a house in Shellbrook in 1996. Teddy passed away from cancer on February 12, 2004.

Cindy (our oldest daughter) is married to Rodney Jonasson. They have two daughters (Tianna & Tara) and one son (Justin). Justin is fifteen and in Grade Ten. He is a goalie on a hockey team. Tianna is in university and Tara is going over to China with her boyfriend to teach English. They leave in September 2003. Rodney is a contractor for Weyerhaeuser in the Fort a la Come area. Cindy is at home right now. They bought a house in Shellbrook in July 2002, just up the street from us.

Holly (our second oldest daughter) and Dave McPhee have one son (graduated High School and working construction in LaRonge) and one daughter (in Grades Eleven/Twelve). Holly works in administration at the Health Center and Dave is head of sewer and water and assistant foreman for the town.

Penny (our third oldest daughter) and Mike Towill have two sons (seven and eleven years old). Penny works for N.L.S.B. and Mike is an aircraft engineer on the C.L. 215 water bombers.

Bonnie (BJ) (our youngest daughter) and Michel Mailloux live in Prince Albert. They have two daughters (seven and eleven years old). BJ works for S.E.R.M in Prince Albert and Michel works in refrigeration. They own their own home and in the spring of 2003, they purchased a trailer and lot at Emma Lake. They just love it!


Olson, Helen (Kazmiruk)

Olson, Helen (Kazmiruk).

Nancy, Mark, Janet, Leslie, Helen (1985).

I was born January 30, 1932, at home on SE 34-55-7-W3rd in the Ladder Valley District (in the vicinity of the present ski hill) about five miles from Big River. My parents were Daniel and Barbara Kazmiruk, who emigrated from Eastern Europe in 1925 and homesteaded on this land. My brothers and sisters were:

Anna (1918-1994) Anna married Nick Kuryk in Vancouver, British Columbia and they raised five children - Audrey, Leonard, Diane, Linda and Marlene. Leonard died of Leukemia in his early twenties.

Alec (1922-1980). Alec married Therese Bouchard and raised a family in Big River. (See own story).Mary (1925-1991)

Mary moved to Vancouver to join Anna and find work. She married Peter Billy (a chef who emigrated from Greece) and they raised two daughters, Paulette and Marilyn. On holiday in Vancouver once, they took me to a major league baseball game and I got a great recipe from Peter for a curry sauce. The marriage did not survive and Mary later married Tommy Eagle and they had a son, Darrell, and a daughter, Kim.

Andrew (1927-1997). Andrew joined his sisters in Vancouver. He married Ann and they raised two daughters, Joanne (Hoyrup) and Judith (Turner). They lived in New Westminster, British Columbia. While still at home on the farm, Andrew was an avid reader (like myself) and was the source of most of my reading material (Zane Grey westerns, mystery novels and detective magazines) (I was fond of gruesome murder mysteries at one time).

George (1930- ) George liked to hunt and trap, and I remember squirrel and fox hides curing around the house. He had a talent for carpentry and mechanics. He built us a wonderful log playhouse. His interest in things mechanical led to his career in the Navy as an engineer; he could fix anything on a destroyer, etc. He was with H.M.C.S. Crusader during the Korean War. He travelled all over the Pacific with the Navy; he loved Japan, Hawaii, Australia, etc. George married Frances Purcell in Victoria, British Columbia and made his home in Victoria during his Navy career and raised four children: Daniel, Peter, Robert and Margaret (Vause). Since retirement, George has made frequent trips back to visit Big River. He does excellent woodworking as a hobby and spends the summers in their trailer parked on Vancouver Island beaches, salmon fishing with his grandchildren.

Sophie (1934- ) My remarkable younger sister, the fleet-footed one, completed high school in Vancouver where she lived with sister Mary and family, and there she excelled in track and field. She married Lloyd Zehner and they raised eight children: Christian, Larry and Garry (identical twins), Deborah, Lloyd Jr., Kenneth, Donna and Dean. They lived most of their married life in Mission, British Columbia. Sophie worked as a letter carrier. Sophie was remarried in recent years to Robert Parks and they made their home in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. Sadly Bob passed away in early 2003.

Katrina (Kathy) (1937- ). The youngest, Kathy was two months old when our father passed away. Mother remarried and moved to a farm when Kathy was fourteen, so Kathy came to live with me in Hudson Bay to take her grade eleven. A positive, cheerful, optimistic and ambitious teenager, she cut hair and babysat to make spending money, sang in the church choir, made good friends and excelled in school. As I was planning a career move, she took her grade twelve at the Qu' Appelle Diocesan School in Regina, moved to Vancouver to join her sisters for a year, then returned to take nurses training at the Regina General Hospital. On graduation, she moved to Lethbridge, Alberta to work and there met her husband, Harry Goett, an RCMP Corporal, and they were married in 1961. She continued to nurse, specializing in O.R. Kathy is multi-talented; she took up hunting with her husband (took me with her, pheasant hunting once), became an excellent golfer and entered tournaments all over Alberta, and taught herself to play the piano. Harry's career took him to Red Deer and Edmonton and there she excelled in interior decorating their new homes. On retirement, Harry sold real estate and they decided to move to Hemet, California (year-round golfing!). Kathy continued nursing in California. They are now both retired and living in Thousand Palms, California. Kathy raised two step-daughters, Patricia and Joanne.

I was the third youngest in the family. My father passed away in 1937 when I was five years old. I attended Ladder Valley School, three miles away, until grade eight. In early years I enjoyed the walk to school down the winding wagon trails; you could meet a deer, fox (or a skunk!) around the next curve. They then put through grid roads, and I hated them because the wildlife retreated and the walk to school became boring. Walking to school in the winter was difficult, and I remember we stopped at a farmhouse on the way to warm up on cold days.

On my first day at school I apparently talked too much and was smacked on the hand by the teacher, Mr. Grimoloski, and behaved myself in school thereafter right through grade eleven, except for the time I did something to cause Mr Gould to spin around from the blackboard and fire a piece of chalk in my direction. I met Mr Grimoloski again, now in his eighties, at the 1997 Ladder Valley reunion, and mentioned that he had punished me on my first day at school. He was quite alarmed, but I assured him that the smack on the hand did me a lot of good.

Life on the farm was great (not that great for Mother, perhaps). Our garden and livestock supplied us with good food and I'll never forget Mother's home-baked bread, homemade sausage, perogies, etc. There were lots of wild strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, saskatoons, pin cherries, mushrooms, etc. We didn't have a freezer, of course, but did have ice and a cool well, and a root cellar. Mother canned fruit and vegetables and made sauerkraut. Mother sold milk and produced butter for sale at Glowaski's store in Big River. She drove to town by horse and wagon and brought back newspapers and we looked forward to reading the comics, etc. each week. The newspapers were very useful, especially in the outhouse.

The nearest high school was at Big River, five miles away, and for a few months, I cycled to Big River High School to take grade nine. Mother then rented the farm and moved to Big River so that we could be nearer high school.

George left home to join the Navy, and Mother and my two younger sisters lived in Big River where Mother obtained employment. I found a job on Saturdays helping Mrs Afanasieff, the doctor's wife, with her housework and gardening. She was a very interesting lady, and I remember listening to the Metropolitan Opera every Saturday afternoon while I worked, and her canaries always sang up a storm while the opera was on. I've enjoyed listening to opera ever since. She gave me a lot of perennials from her garden to transplant at home, and gardening is still one of my favourite pastimes. I finished grade eleven and got a summer job at the Waite Fisheries filleting plant at Dore Lake. The trip to Dore Lake and back by Norseman aircraft was quite an experience at the time. We packed fish fillets all day and although we ate whitefish every day I never tired of it. The other girls came up with quite a variety of ways to cook fish.

Instead of taking grade twelve, I decided to get some secretarial training at the Prince Albert Business College. I discovered I had some aptitude for this type of work (I could spell!) and obtained my first job at the L.I.D. Office in Big River in June 1950, which was the start of my career in the Saskatchewan Civil Service.

After a year at the Big River office, I was transferred to the L.I.D. Office in Hudson Bay. Lyman Johnston of Big River was the L.I.D. Construction Supervisor, who piloted his plane from one L.I.D. to another, and I recall I had one opportunity to catch a ride home to Big River from Hudson Bay by plane although we took off in a fog and brushed some treetops. I recall seeing the Saskatchewan River Forks from the air on that trip which was interesting.

From Hudson Bay, I transferred to Prince Albert and worked for the D.N.R. Construction Branch, and one of the people I worked for was the engineer who was busy plotting the route of the Hanson Lake Road before its construction.

In 1959, I received another promotion, this time to the Public Works Maintenance and Operations Branch at the Legislative Building in Regina. There I had a great view from my office window of gardens, fountain and Wascana Lake, and often strolled around the grounds on my lunch break. In the cafeteria, I often saw T.C. Douglas, who was Premier at the time, sometimes at the next table. I recall one spring a duck nested on the roof of the Legislative Building and our staff kept an eye on the nest and gave the baby ducks a helping hand down when they hatched. We all stood at the window and watched them follow the mother duck to the lake in single file. I loved the occasion of the Opening of the Legislature each year. There were always spectacular displays of flowers from the Greenhouse, the Rotunda, and the Legislative Library where a tea party was held for the wives of the Members. I didn't dream that some years later my daughter, Nancy, would be part of the Prince Albert Girls Choir invited to sing at the Opening of the Legislature.

I met my husband, Leslie M. Olson, in Regina and we were married on November 12, 1960. Our son, Mark, was born in Regina on January 1, 1962, and our daughter, Nancy, was born December 24, 1963, and I continued working. However, with two small children, a long commute to work, and problems finding good daycare, I thought it might be nice to be back in Prince Albert, where I used to walk to work in ten minutes. In 1966, I transferred to the Provincial Correctional Center in Prince Albert where I worked as office manager and Director's secretary, a very interesting job. My husband immediately found a job with the Prince Albert Separate School Board in maintenance and life in Prince Albert did prove to be easier. On March 10, 1969, our daughter, Janet Claire, was born.

In 1975, I transferred to the Department of Northern Saskatchewan and worked as Executive Secretary in the Assistant Deputy Minister's Office. In 1982, when D.N.S. was disbanded I worked for the Northern Boundaries Commission and Provincial Court until I obtained a permanent position with the Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture in Prince Albert, where I worked until early retirement on March 31, 1987. I had spent 37 years and five months in service to the Government of Saskatchewan.

Since retirement, I worked part-time at the Prince Albert YWCA for several years. My husband suffered a heart attack in 1989 and was hospitalized many times, but enjoyed life until his passing in March 1995.

At present, I still live in the home we built in Prince Albert in 1969 and can continue gardening. I enjoy lots of flowers and bird-watching in my back yard in summer. I love bowling in the seniors league and playing Kaiser. I take part in activities at the Heritage Center and help out with bridge tournaments, etc. held there.

My son, Mark, and daughter, Nancy (Ms Cameron Hagen), live in Prince Albert, and Janet and her husband Christopher Korpan live in Saskatoon.


Olson, Leo and Pat

Leo Olson.

Back Row: Kevin. Penny, Leslie, Gordon, Doug.
Front Row: Pat, Leo

Pat McNabb arrived (I believe) in Big River in 1944-1945, as a teacher for the Big River School. Initially, Pat fell in love with the beauty of Big River, especially the view you see as you come over the hill when you arrive in town. Leo Olson returned from Europe where he was fighting in WWII, I believe in late 1945.

Pat recollects that she met Leo, the love of her life, at a dance. After a year or so of courtship, they were married in July of 1946.

They raised five children, and Pat taught school off and on during the first years of their marriage, but it was difficult to continue with a growing family. Leo was away from home a lot of the time, so she eventually decided to be a full-time mom, making the children her priority.

Leo worked as a truck driver and large equipment operator, primarily in the north. In the mid sixty's Leo, along with a friend, formed their own company working primarily in communities in the North. During this period Leo and Pat pursued their dream of acquiring a farm in the Bodmin area. They enjoyed the solitude, beauty and quietness of their life there.

Pat and Leo had a rich family life together raising their five children.

Penny is Leo and Pat's firstborn child, born in 1947. Penny graduated from high school and went on to get a Bachelor of Arts, Sociology Degree in 1973 and later a Social Worker Diploma in 1989. She now works as a social worker at the Adelle House and lives in Saskatoon. Her first son Nathan was born in 1979. He graduated from high school in 1997, and now lives and works in Calgary, Alberta as a card dealer at the Elbow River casino. Penny's second son Michael was born in 1982 and graduated from high school in 2001, the same year he met his now-wife, Nahanni. Nahanni is finishing her Honours Degree in English at the University of Saskatchewan, and Michael is working towards a career in the music recording industry. They married in 2003, and both live and work in Saskatoon.

Leslie was the second child born to Leo and Pat Olson. She married her high school sweetheart Garnie, in 1968. Garnie worked for the Western Producer and Leslie was a student. They eventually owned hotels in Plunkett and Lanigan. Life took them later to Hinton, Alberta where Leslie worked co-managing Olson Ventures, her younger brother Doug's tree-planting company. Garnie was busy working for the Legion and driving the bus for the mine.

They now reside and work in Airdrie, Alberta. Tasha is their oldest child and was born in 1971, and she had three daughters of her own, Jessica (1991), Brooks (1992), and Haley (1995), who are all doing well in Elementary School in Airdrie. Tasha was happily married in 2003 to John and is working towards a career in Nursing in Airdrie. Leslie and Garnie's second child Dustin was born in 1974 and he's been happily involved with his girlfriend Stacey since 1996 (and married any day now!) They live in Calgary, Alberta and Dustin hopes to someday own his own restaurant.

Doug, their third child and first son, was born in 1950. Doug married his high school sweetheart Carmen in 1971 and worked a variety of jobs. He owns his own tree-planting company, Olson Ventures. After his divorce from Carmen, Doug went on to meet Michelle Good in 1987, with whom he is still very happy with. Michelle stays busy keeping Doug in line and managing Olson Ventures out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Doug's first child Trent works at Weyerhaeuser sawmill in Big River. Mishel, Doug's first daughter, was born in 1972. She graduated from Big River High School and now works as an Elementary School teacher in Prince Albert, where she lives with her two adorable children Douglas and Andy. Doug's youngest child, Misty, was born in 1976 and graduated from Big River High. She recently acquired her certificate as a Registered Massage Therapist in Saskatoon, and now has a private business in Big River, where she lives with her long-time boyfriend Gary.

Gordon, Pat and Leo's fourth child, was born in 1955. He graduated from High School and shortly thereafter formed the tree planting company Smokey Lake Reforestation with Big River local, Tom Hartnett. His tree-planting career has allowed him to meet his partner Kerrie, travel extensively and help organise the annual festival, Ness Creek in Big River. Gord's first child Jesse was born in 1977. He graduated from high school and has worked a variety of jobs, most recently as a foreman for Smokey Lake reforestation. Jesse soon will be moving to Vancouver, British Columbia to pursue his life's passion for acting. Gord's second child Alicia was born in 1979. She was homeschooled and graduated and now lives with her partner Aaron in Saskatoon. They gave Gord his first grandchild, Rowan, in 2002. Gord's youngest child Dylan was born in 1987 and he is currently completing high school in Saskatoon.

Kevin, the youngest child born to Pat and Leo was born in 1957. He travelled extensively and became involved in Smokey Lake Reforestation-so much that he eventually became a partner. In 1993, he married the love of his life Kim, and together they took over maintenance of the Olson farm, just outside of Big River. While Kevin is busy co-running Smokey Lake Reforestation, Kim stays busy caring for their two children Josh and Sarah, and they are both kept busy keeping up the maintenance of the Olson farmland. Josh was born in 1994, and soon after Sarah was born in 1995. The kids now attend Debden Elementary School, enjoy life on the farm with their animals and play hockey (as well as other sports) in the footsteps of their father.

Leo Olson passed away in 1991. He was a kind and doting grandfather and head of the Olson family and is greatly missed. Pat lived in Big River for several years and now resided in Saskatoon where she still plays a mean hand of rummy with her many grandchildren.


Olson, Leslie and Ida
Submitted by Linda Anderson

Leslie is the son of Olie and Jessie Olson from Big River. He married Ida Drangsholt from Ordale, Saskatchewan. They had six children; Dwayne, Marlene, Debbie, Kim, Lyndon and April. Leslie drove a truck for Max Wilson Trucking. Unfortunately on August 15, 1965, while driving a babysitter home, their vehicle went through the railing on the bridge west of Big River. Leslie, his two youngest sons, Kim and Lyndon, along with three other passengers never survived this accident. Ida was left raising her surviving children alone. She lived in Big River until her passing in June 1998.


Olson, Ole and Jessie
Submitted by LaDonna Sundby

Ole Olson.

Ole and Jesse.

Ole and Jessie Olson moved from the United States in 1928 with their four children: Sylvia (Jack Servatius), Viola, Leo and Orlan. LaDonna (Mervin Sundby), Leslie and Harty were born in Canada.

They first settled in Mont Nebo and then in Valbrand, Saskatchewan. Ole worked for the Department of Highways and helped with the construction of the highway from Prince Albert to Big River.

In 1934, they moved to Big River to work at the Power Plant. He was also a blacksmith, so he was kept busy repairing sleighs and shoeing horses as this was how the freight was hauled north.

Later, he was the janitor at the school. Mom was kept busy cleaning and helping him. He also worked as a carpenter with H. Chenard when they built Waite Fisheries, the Power Plant and Waite's house.

Ole passed away in 1957. Mom kept busy cooking in different logging camps. She was a very avid gardener. She loved to give fresh vegetables and flowers to all her neighbours and friends. She also took pride in her baking and loved to give fresh bread and buns to her friends. Mom was loved by all. She passed away in 1981.


Olson, Oscar and Adelaine
Submitted by Shirley Yurach

Oscar was born in Goodew County, North Dakota on August 15, 1882. Along with his parents, they moved to Canada in 1903 and settled around the Ordale area. In 1907, Oscar met Adelaine (Cook) and they were married on February 8, the following year.

In 1916, they built their first new home. This home is still lived in today and is situated in Canwood.

In 1917, they purchased a new Model T Sedan. This was the first new car in the Ordale/Parkside area. Anytime anyone had to go anywhere they came to get a ride in that motorized buggy.

Besides farming, he sharpened plough shears, did some welding, carpenter work and had a steam engine, which was used to clear land. He also had a threshing machine that was used all around the area.

In the fall of 1932, the whole family moved to the Wanakena area, seven miles from Debden, where once again farming became their livelihood. Cows were milked and the milk was separated and the cream was shipped in five-gallon cream cans. This was sold for $1.25 per cream can. Earlier, the same amount was shipped for only .35 cent and no cream can be returned.

Adelaine was laid to rest on February 12, 1935. This was a great loss to the family.

In 1938, Oscar and two sons went out to Salmon Arm, British Columbia where they worked for a year. In 1939, Oscar and Jack came back to Saskatchewan and then moved back to Big River.

Oscar got a job with the D.N.R doing carpenter work. Most of the jobs were around Nesbit just out of Prince Albert. After retiring from D.N.R, he and Jackie did carpenter work around Big River. At the age of 83, Oscar suffered his first stroke, followed by two more. In January 1967, he was admitted into a convalescent home in Saskatoon, and passed away on February 1, 1967. He would have been 86 years old in August of 1967.

Oscar and Adelaine were blessed with ten children; Bertha, Edwin, Mena, Gilbert, Ida, Stina, Bertle, Anne, Jack and Clarence.


Osinchuk, Al and Loretta

Alexander Osinchuk was born April 22, 1927, in Hoosier, Saskatchewan, to Onufry and Thukla Osinchuk. Al worked for the Canadian National Railway for several years before opening a watch repair and jewellery shop. It was known as Al's Jewelry and was in business for over thirty years.

Al was a war veteran and was active in the Royal Canadian Legion.

Approaching retirement, Al and Loretta sold their shop to Casey Robb for an Internet Cafe.

Al was very active in hockey, curling, skiing and golfing. They enjoyed their cabin at Delaronde Lake.

Al passed away on June 25, 2003, after a short illness with cancer. He is laid to rest in the Big River cemetery.

Loretta was born on August 8, 1940, in Big River, Saskatchewan to Alonzo and Gen Gallant. She worked at the Lakeview Cafe and for several years at Waite Fisheries. Al and Loretta were married on November 7, 1962. They lived in the back of their jewellery store. Loretta worked in the jewellery store until they sold it. Loretta is still very active in curling, golfing, Royal Purple and her first love - BINGO!

Al and Loretta have two children. Darren was born on February 24, 1964. He is married to Trish (Reimer). They have three children: Drew (from Darren's previous marriage), Amanda Couture and Brock. They reside in Big River where Darren owns and operates Big River Truck and Trailer. Valerie was born on February 17, 1965. She is married to Wes Stapleton and has two children, Sean and Ashlee. They reside in Winnipeg, Manitoba.


Otte, George and Antoinette
Submitted by Paulette (Otte) Cooper

George Otte.

Antoinette, George (Oct 11, 1938).

George Otte was born to Joseph and Lena (Hoffarth) Otte on July 13, 1912, in the Shellbrook district. In 1925, at the age of thirteen, he moved with his family to Big River. After quitting school he worked on the family farm in the dairy and market garden businesses.

George married Antoinette Chenard, daughter of Horace and Maria (Godin) Chenard, on October 11, 1938, in the Big River Catholic Church. (Antoinette was born on November 19, 1917, in Big River.) At this time they bought the farm and took over the family businesses. The farm home is still standing at 116 - 5th Avenue North. The farm was north and east of this location. Currently, the recreation centre and the T.D. Michel Elementary School are on this land. They worked in the dairy business delivering milk, door to door, and in the market garden business selling garden produce until the late 1940s. They then sold the business to Ted Otte and Armand Chenard. Shortly after, it was taken over by Hubert Michel. Slowly the land was subdivided into lots and sold.

George started to work as a butcher in the early 1950's at the O.P. Godin Store. His first employer was Eikel & Lomsnes, then Joe Friedman, and later Anna, Reider and Len Lomsnes. In the 1960's he went to work for Waite Fisheries where he stayed until his retirement in 1977.

George loved to read and always had a book or magazine of some sort in his hands. He also loved gardening, going to hockey games and most of all, curling!

Antoinette loved to sew, knit and crochet. She sewed most of her girls' clothes as they were growing up. On summer weekends she planned many family picnics at near-by lakes as well as many berry-picking outings.

George and Antoinette raised six children. The twins, Paulette (Garry Cooper) and Pauline (Felix Sanche), were born in Prince Albert. Paulette was born on December 23, 1942, and Pauline was born on December 24, 1942. At the age of eleven, Paulette and Pauline started taking piano lessons from Mr Arthur Nichol. After a few years, they achieved Grade Eight Level in piano and Grade Two in music theory. This led to them becoming the organists at the Catholic Church at the age of thirteen (a job Paulette still holds today). In June 1961 Paulette and Pauline graduated from Big River High School. Both found employment right away, Paulette as a nurse's aid and Pauline as a receptionist for Dr Kiltz. Later, Pauline joined Paulette as a nurse's aide, working for $130 per month before deductions. Also born to George and Antoinette were Linda (Ted Mazurkewich) on July 18, 1946, in Prince Albert. Lorraine (Glen Padbury) followed on June 9, 1948. (She was also born in Prince Albert.) The only boy, Neil (Johann Markowsky) was born in Big River on March 28, 1953. Carol (Terry Krienke) was born in Prince Albert on November 13, 1956.


Pauline, Paulette Otte.

Pauline, Paulette and Neil Otte.

The children were all raised in Big River and throughout their early years, there were a lot of relatives around to play within the neighbourhood. They were kept busy doing chores in the summer and winter. In the winter some of the older children spent many happy hours skating on the outdoor rink behind the Elks' Hall and later curling in the brand new rink across the road (1st Street North) where the town shop is now located.

George passed away on May 15, 1985, in Big River. Antoinette still resides in Big River.


George Otte Family.

Back Row: Neil. Middle Row: Pauline, Antoinette, George, holding Carol, Paulette.
Front Row: Linda, Lorraine, Jan. 1958.

Otte, Joseph and Lena
Submitted by Paulette Cooper

Joseph Otte.

Back Row: George, Margaret, Ted.
Front Row: Joseph, Lena.

Joseph W. Otte was born May 13, 1864, in Winstead, Minnesota. From his first marriage, he had five children: Clemens (Lillian Fuller), William, Edward (Helen Fuller), Irene and Hubert. Joseph was a farmer in Long Prairie, Minnesota. After the death of his first wife, he moved with his second wife, Lena Hoffart (born May 5, 1872, in Long Prairie, Minnesota), and his three older children - Clemens, William, and Edward to the Prince Albert area where he farmed.

Joseph and his family moved to the Shellbrook area where he farmed and operated a sawmill. From there they moved to Big River. He bought a small farm adjoining the village and started a dairy and market garden operation in 1925. The farm home still stands at 116 - 5th Avenue North. Joseph and Lena had four children: Anthony (Ethel Robins), Margaret (Robert Pruden), Theodore (Loretta McNeil) and George (Antoinette Chenard). Joseph operated his business until 1937 when it was taken over by his son, George Otte. George continued the business until 1949 when it once again changed hands.

Joseph's sons, Ted and Ed started a repair shop, blacksmith shop and a car repair shop in 1931.

Joseph Otte was Overseer of the Village for three terms of office.

Joseph passed away on September 14, 1944, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. His wife, Lena, also passed away in Prince Albert on August 21, 1965.


Otte, Neil, Johanne, Gina and Dion

Neil Otte.

Neil, Johanne, Gina and Dion.

Neil George Joseph Otte was born on March 28, 1953, in Big River to George and Antoinette Otte. Neil was the first and only son and a brother to five sisters, Paulette (Gary Cooper), Pauline (Felix Sanche), Linda (Ted Mazurkewich), Lorraine (Glen Padbury), and Carol (Terry Krienke). Neil went to school in Big River, having some well known and remembered teachers such as Mrs Burt, Mr Mazurkewich, Mr Labach and many more. After grade ten, and for many summers after, Neil worked as a lumber piler, which was on the present site of the Recreation Center.

Neil graduated from Big River High School in 1971 and then went to work for Waite Fisheries in the fish plant, and as a log scaler for the Timber Board at portable mills. From here an opportunity came for him to work as a manager, trainee with the CIBC in Prince Albert. Neil has fond memories of working as a banker in Waskesiu and using a tackle box as the cash box and till. He was then transferred to Swift Current until the winter of 1973.

In May of 1973, Neil started working at Saskatchewan Forest Products, first as a lumber piler, and later as an office clerk and then office manager. Through his work, Neil was sent on numerous courses to aid in his work but also received a diploma from the University of Regina. Neil began work for Saskatchewan Forest Products, then for Weyerhaeuser until the present day in different capacities including his present job as Business Marketing Manager. Neil always liked to play hockey and curl and still curls in the regular draw in town.

Neil married Johanne Markowsky, a Grade One teacher, on July 5, 1975. Johanne Carol Markowsky came to Big River in the fall of 1972 to teach Grade One to stay only one year. She was born in Wakaw and took her junior and senior matriculation at Wakaw School. She comes from a family of two older sisters - Iris (Marcel Malo), and Eileen (Russel Hanson) and one younger brother Gene (Shelly - Deceased) Markowsky. In the fall of 1970, Johanne entered the college of education at the University of Saskatchewan. At this time teachers were allowed to teach with just two years of university and so this is what she did. She began her teaching career in the old Primary School (now demolished), and then in the T.D.Community School. She has taught Grades One through Six in almost thirty years of teaching. During this time, Johanne completed her Bachelor of Education and numerous other courses dealing with education. Johanne likes to curl, read, sew, visit, learn, and follow her children to sporting events. Neil and Johanne enjoy time at their cabin at Philip's Grove on Delaronde Lake.

Neil and Johanne have two children. Gina was born on April 24, 1983, and is presently attending the University of Saskatchewan in her third year of Kinesiology. Dion was born August 10, 1991, and is presently in Grade Seven at the Big River Community High School.


The Oudshoorns: Chris and Fran,
Caleb, and Phoebe

The Oudshoorns.

Chris and Fran.

Chris and Fran Oudshoorn arrived in this area on June 1993. Chris's interest in Saskatchewan was sparked by his father-in-law, Frank Dittrick, who brought him here on a deer hunting trip in 1992. This was the kind of land and way of life that Chris and Fran enjoyed, so they looked for an opportunity to move to northern Saskatchewan.

Because Chris was a licensed minister, after inquiring to his district office, he was asked to be the Pastor for the Debden Pentecostal Assembly. They rented a farm home near Eldred. After being the Pastor there for a while (Sunday services were in the basement of the Centennial Hall in Debden) the Church was relocated to Big River in September 1994 since many of the members had been driving down from Big River. The United Church was approached as a possible place to share as a facility with them, but it did not work out at the time. Services were then held at T.D. Michel School, and later in the High School Library. The Church was renamed Big River New Life Fellowship (PAOC). This Church continues today under different leadership and is now known as the Abundant Life Fellowship (ACOP). It now shares the building with the United Church.

Also in September 1994, Chris took a maintenance position at the Big River Union Hospital, and this made the way for Chris and Fran and baby Caleb born June 1994, to move to their home in the Ladder Lake subdivision. Fran was a substitute teacher at T.D. Michel School until Phoebe was born in October 1996. In January 1997, Fran's dad, Frank Dittrick, moved back to Saskatchewan to be near his daughter and grandchildren. He moved into the stone house that Art Hunt had built near Bodmin. In September 1997, Chris took a year of Small Business at SIAST in Prince Albert and started a T-shirt printing/sales business.

In the summer of 2002, Chris decided that it was time to return to his former trade as a millwright. They purchased Sask-Can Wood Specialties, and Earl and Wendy Meyer's home on Highway 55, across from the Big River Lumber sawmill. This business had been started by Ray Mitchell in the mid-1980s, and then was run by Earl Meyers for some years. They produce a variety of wood products.

Chris and Fran also train and breed Labrador Retrievers as a CKC registered Kennel called "Trailrunners". She competes in hunt tests, working with them to obtain hunting titles, and become hunting (waterfowl retrieval) dogs. Caleb loves baseball, skiing, and music. Phoebe loves looking after and training animals, and one day hopes to be a vet.


Phoebe and Caleb.

Phoebe and Caleb.

Over, E.C.
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Ernest Charles Over was born in England and came to Canada in the 1900s.

He came to Big River as an employee of the Forestry Branch for the Federal Government and worked with Joe Nicholson as Game Warden.

He enlisted in World War One and then returned to this area where he took up a homestead in the Black Duck district.

Ernie was well known and is fondly remembered for his fair and honest work. He was in charge of the airbase at Ladder Lake. He looked after the sale of equipment and the relief camp.

Ernie married Hazel Johnson and they lived at Ladder Lake and in Big River until Ernie's death in 1954.



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