O.P.Godin's Store

Family Histories, Part 25



Rae, Jack and Alma
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Jack Rae came to Canada from Scotland in 1904 and spent some time in Manitoba and Alberta. He came to Big River in 1910 to work in the mill. He was employed in the mill until it burnt and then worked in various small mills at Ile-a-la-Crosse, Buffalo Narrows, and at Stoney Lake in OP Godin's mill. He and his wife, Alma, ran a stopping place at Stoney Lake for the freight swings. Mr Rae has been a long-time pioneer of the district.

His memories of the early days revolve around the mills, the bush and on freighting throughout the north. Jack Rae became a well-known figure.

His wife, Alma, came with her parents from Domremy, Saskatchewan, when about fifteen years of age. Her parents, Lusenda and Alfred Ethier, came to this district in 1910 in search of work. Their family consisted of the following: Parmelia (Sweeney), Laura (Wilson), Rosanna (Isabel), Alma (Rae), Delina, Emile, Ernest, Zenon, William and Andrew. The family came by wagon and moved into a mill house near where the Pharmacy is now.

Parmelia, Laura and Alma worked in the hotel at that time. Mrs Rae remembers working very hard for wages of twenty-five dollars a month. The highest she ever received was twenty-eight dollars a month.

Her happiest memories of the early days were the many dances they had. Often the orchestra would play until early in the morning; people would continue to dance even though everyone had to work the next day.

From a previous marriage to Mr Blanchette, Alma had four children: Grace, Rose, Rita, and Peter. Several years later after Mr Blanchette's death, Alma married Jack Rae. Jack died in 1978. Mrs. Rae still resides in Big River.


Randall, Henry and Lillian and family
Submitted by Brian and Annette Randall

Henry Randall.

Hank and Lil.

Henry Arthur Randall was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on August 16, 1916. His mother and father (Owen and Hilda) were both from England. Hank remembered going to school in Winnipeg for a short time before his parents eventually settled in Outlook, Saskatchewan, where he grew up.

Lillian Rae Gavel (Lem and Jean) was born on February 4, 1924, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. She also grew up in Outlook where she knew Hank. They were married in Outlook on October 30, 1946. Hank had just been released from the Canadian Armed Forces WWII, where he had served from October 23, 1940, to February 13, 1946; he was an army radio signaler also laying line. Lillian had just finished her Registered Nurse training. Natural Resources moved them to Hudson Bay, Carrot River, and Sandy Bay between 1946 and 1955. They were relocated to Big River on June 1, 1955, from the Sandy Bay Northern District, part of Saskatchewan Natural Resources. At the time four of their five children were already born.

It was in Big River that they finally stayed and raised their children. It did cause a little excitement though when Hank was transferred to the Loon Lake District in 1973. He had been in Big River for eighteen years and wasn't ready to leave. So he didn't. He just commuted weekly, keeping his family in Big River. He retired three years later in 1976 and returned to Big River where he then continued to work for another five years as the maintenance person for the Big River Hospital until he retired at the age of sixty-five.

In his many years with the Department of Natural Resources in Big River, one of the projects dearest to his heart was the development of Nesslin Lake into a park area. This park thrives and is one of the nicest spots in the area.

Hank was known for two things; one was his sense of humour - he was always trying to sell his children off to the local trappers for a quarter. His second was his driving speed during fire season, a good friend of Hank's (Jim Munro) was a helicopter pilot, and he was at the dock ready to take some men out to a fire. Jim asked someone if he was ready to go and the guy said, "Hell no, I'm in a hurry, I'll go with Hank"!

Hank was a member of the Legion and the Elks; he played ball, curled and loved to golf. He spent many hours helping with the golf course.

Lillian, of course, had four small children when she moved to Big River, so her hands were full and within the first year their youngest child, Jeannie, was born. The children were Myrna, Murray, Brian, Shirley, and Jeannie. They lived in a Natural Resources house down towards Cowan Lake from the elevator (by Clarence Petersons). They later moved up by the new Natural Resource Office. Before long Lillian went to work at the hospital because they had decided to buy a car. So off to work went Lillian, and a young girl by the name of Merelyn Doucet (Schuler) came to look after the children at home. Merelyn stayed with the family until she married; she was always considered part of the family, and she kept the children in line. Lillian later became the Director of Nursing, staying on until she retired at the age of sixty. It was an expensive car!! Lillian found much joy in nursing and knew many people from her work at the hospital; she was well known for her kindness to all. Lil also loved the community of Big River, she was active with her crafts and ceramics and playing cards with her group of friends. In the community, she was part of the Royal Purple and became a lifetime member.

Hank and Lil spent their retirement in Big River, doing some travelling and enjoying life. Lil passed away in Saskatoon on July 19, 1996, at the age of seventy-two, Hank passed away in Prince Albert on May 14, 2002, at the age of eighty-five.

They were survived by their five children: Myrna (Eli) Jalbert and her children: Grant, Scott (Shannon) and daughters Alyssa and Alexis, Dorothy and daughter Chelsea and stepchildren Sheldon and Darwin; Murray (Sharon) Randall and children Cory and Amber; Brian (Annette) Randall and children Jennifer (Warren) Doak, Alicia (Ryan) Walter, children Randall and Megan, Sussanne, Lem, and Rianna; Shirley (Vince) Olson and son Devon; Jeannie (Robert) Marchewka and son Tyler.


Randall family.

Shirley, Brian, Jeannie,
Myrna and Murray.

Rauch, George and Iris

We moved to Big River in 1999. George was transferred here to work for Weyerhaeuser Canada Sawmills. We came from Merritt, British Columbia.

We have three children. Kim and Jack and their son live in Okanagan Falls, British Columbia; Dale and Vicky and their two sons Justin and Austin live in Clearwater, British Columbia; and Michele and her children Aaron and Kylie moved here in 2002.


Rawlick, Pat and Laverne

Pat Rawlick.

Laverne and Pat

I, Laverne Colby, was born to Carl and Grace Colby on January 20, 1955. I was the fourth child in a family of eight children. I received all of my schooling in Big River and graduated from Big River High School in 1973. I participated in many school and community activities, as well as, working as a nurse's aide at the Big River Hospital.

I married Pat Rawlick on June 14, 1975, in Big River. Pat was an RCMP officer stationed within the community. We lived in Big River for a short time and then were transferred to Lumsden, Saskatchewan. We remained in this community for seven years. Our family included three children by the time we left in 1982. Kevin, Krista and Kimberly blessed our home and provided completeness to our family.

We departed from Lumsden in February 1982 and made our next home in Punnichy, Saskatchewan. Pat had been promoted to a Corporal and looked forward to his new position. We enjoyed three wonderful years in Punnichy. I was fortunate to be able to work at the Lestock Hospital and attend classes that gave me my Home Care Aide Certificate.

In April 1985, our family was once again on the move to Kyle, Saskatchewan. Pat went to Kyle in charge of the detachment and I worked at Elrose, (the neighbouring community) in the nursing home as a nurse's aide and assistant cook. The children were involved in many communities and school activities, which made our home a busy place. Kevin became very involved in competitive hockey. This saw him and his dad on the road to Swift Current for practices and travelling throughout the province to games and tournaments.

In October 1989, Pat was promoted to a Sergeant and we were transferred to Carrot River. This move was difficult as we chose billet Kevin, to allow him to play with the Swift Current Hockey Association.

I worked at Arborfield Nursing Home and was fortunate to receive my Special Care Aide Certificate. I later obtained work at Carrot River Hospital as a nurse's aide. Our family enjoyed six and a half years within this community and found it very difficult to leave.

Pat was promoted to a Staff Sergeant in July of 1995 and became part of the District management Team for Southern Saskatchewan. This required us to move to Yorkton, Saskatchewan where we continue to live today. Our children completed their education and went on to Post Secondary School.

Kevin played for the Melfort Mustangs, Estevan Bruins and North Battleford North Stars in the SJHL League and received a College Scholarship to Erie, Pennsylvania in 1995. Kevin completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1999. He then went on to play in the Semi-Pro League for a brief time but returned to college to obtain a degree in Computer Programming. Kevin married Patti Reese from Cleveland, Ohio in 2002 and they continue to work in their respective fields as a computer programmer and a research chemist. They reside in Painesville, Ohio with their dog Hunter. We hope they someday will re-locate to Canada.

Krista completed her Cosmetology/ Hairdressing course in 1998 and moved to Yorkton to work. Krista married Jason Gordon in 1999. Jason is a teacher and a school principal in Springside, Saskatchewan. Krista and Jason blessed our family with our first grandchild. Olivia Grace Gordon graced our world in December 2000 and continues to bring joy to our lives. Krista, Jason and Olivia continue to live in Yorkton.

Kimberly received her Education Degree with Honors at the U of S in 2002. Kimberly began work in the 2002-2003 school year in Strathmore, Alberta. Kimberly moved back to Yorkton in August 2003 and began teaching Kindergarten for the Catholic School Board.

Kimberly recently became engaged to Lee Poncelet from Whitewood, Saskatchewan. Lee is presently teaching at the Yorkton Regional High School. Kimberly and Lee will be married on July 24, 2004, in Whitewood, Saskatchewan.

Pat and I continue to live in Yorkton and are looking forward to retirement soon. Pat is still part of the RCMP District management team and travels extensively throughout southern Saskatchewan with his job. Pat has served the RCMP with loyalty and dedication for 35 years and still maintains he enjoys every day that he goes to work. I worked for five years at a Women's shelter delivering an Educational Program. In 2000, I acquired work as a teacher's assistant in a Catholic Elementary School and remain there today.

Throughout our travels, in Saskatchewan, our family tried hard to be involved within the various communities. Our interests included: Service Clubs, Brownies, Guides, pathfinders, Boy Scouts, Hockey, Figure Skating, music, and dance, Church, Sunday School, School Board and Credit Union Boards and numerous school activities. Each community holds a special place in our hearts and our memories. We developed genuine, deep friendships, which we continue to nurture and maintain today. Being involved allowed us to become a part of each community in a true sense and each place was home. The Rawlick home has been enriched with friends, family, wonderful jobs, caring communities and God's Blessing.


Rawlick family.

Back Row: Kimberly, Kevin, Patti, Krista, Jason, holding Olivia.
Front Row: Pat, Laverne.

The Raymond Family

The Steve Raymond family descended on Big River in January 1988. Steve came in December 1987 and the rest of us (Amber - seven, Nick - five, Jessica - four and myself, Linda) followed at the end of January after we sold our house in Swift Current. We had lived in the southern part of the province for the previous seven years and so when we moved to Big River in the wintertime, it was the first time our kids had seen any amount of snow. They thought it was pretty great, for a while anyway.

We came to Big River to operate Len's Gas Bar on the north end of town. We were fortunate enough to be able to rent a house beside the lake. There were quite a few locals who thought we were crazy wanting to live by the slough known as Cowan Lake. For us, after being born and raised on the prairies, we were happy to have a view. Neither one of us wanted to be surrounded by trees. Once in a while, we had to go south. Some say it was because we were a little "bushed".

All three of our children finished their schooling in Big River and are all now in Saskatoon, either going to school or working. Steve is now operating his own backhoe business and I work at the RCMP Detachment.


Redhead, Fred and Flora
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Mr and Mrs Fred Redhead moved into the area in 1942. The family first settled in the Beaupre Lake Game Preserve as Mr Redhead was in charge of this district.

Later, the Redheads moved to the north end of Delaronde Lake. Some of their dear and close neighbours were Edwin Olsen and family, the Kilbreath family, Olaf Neilson, the Schmidt family and Chris Christiansen. Close is estimated from anywhere between ten and twenty miles along the lakeshore. The people in this area would often have Sunday dinners, birthday parties and old-time dances.

The form of transportation was by boat in the summers and by horse and sleigh or tractor in the winter. Mr Redhead had a motor toboggan, which he used for patrolling the large district. On occasion, planes would be flown into the area, and since there were no airfields, the planes would be equipped with skis or pontoons.

Mr Fred Redhead was a field officer with the D.N.R. He was transferred from Ile-a-la-Crosse to the Beaupre Lake Game Preserve.

Mr Redhead was often called upon to fight a forest fire. At one time Fred and his crew were attempting to put out the flames and the Redhead family was preparing to evacuate, as the fire was so close that ashes were falling in their yard. Luckily, the wind shifted and the family did not need to leave.

Mr Redhead made the newspaper headlines with the rescue of three R.A.F. pilots. These men were Aussie Pilot Trainees flying from a base in North Battleford. They were forced to crash land on the shore of the lake, and Mr Redhead rescued them from the muskeg area. The men were given some brandy and some good home cooking at the Redhead home and soon recovered. Later, Mr Redhead returned to the area to find the wreckage and helped to pull it out by tractor and sleigh.

The Redheads kept a two-way radio as a form of communication, and as a source of help to pilots who flew by visual means.

The Redhead family later moved to the Sled Lake District, and then to Highway junction thirty-two, now known as the Forks.

Flora would run a stopping place in these areas for the fishermen, loggers, trappers, and visitors. Mrs Redhead was known as the "Hostess of the North". The Redheads had seven children: Jean, Louise, Douglas, Fred, Ron, Donald, and Gertrude. Fred passed away in 1966, and Flora died ten years later.


Reed, Bruce and Lynda

I was born on February 8, 1951, at the Big River Union Hospital, the second son of Oscar and Helen Reed. I attended school in Big River from 1957 - 1969. After leaving school I travelled to Vancouver Island, then worked my way from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland. In the summer of 1971, I travelled to Europe, and after returning home I decided to work with my father on the family farm.

In 1974, I went into the business of school bus contractor, and I continued with this until 2000 when I then decided to sell the buses.

In 1975, I married Lynda Leszko. Lynda started work with Saskatchewan Environment in 1975. In 1978 our daughter Brooke was born. Brooke has attended the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Calgary, and is presently living and working in Edmonton. In 1981, our son Lance was born. Lance received his Heavy Equipment Mechanic License at SIAST and is presently working in Big River as a mechanic. At present, I am still farming and Lynda continues to work with Saskatchewan Environment.


Reed, Earl and Betty

Earl Reed arrived in Big River in 1930 from Saskatoon. He homesteaded on the north end of Stoney. Mr Reed remembers when he was crossing Stoney Lake during a blizzard and his team of horses went through the ice; he spent the entire winter in the hospital as a result of this accident.

Earl cut ties, worked in the mill, freighted, logged, and farmed. He married Betty Snell in 1950 and they resided in the farming district north of Big River.

Betty had been a cook for several years. Her first job was cooking for her father in a camp across Stoney. When she started there were ten men but by spring she had to cook for a total of thirty-two men.

During the Depression, the camps were on rations of syrup and sugar, so cooking was difficult. In 1943, Betty joined the army and served until 1947. She was a cook during this time. After the war, Betty cooked for the DNR for nineteen years, until 1971.

Earl passed away on February 10, 1994, and then Betty moved to Big River and later passed away on April 9, 2001.


Reed, Oscar and Helen

Oscar Reed and Mike Skopyk were in partnership for several years. They ran a small sawmill and shingle mill and also cut ties. They broke land for five dollars an acre. Most of the buildings out at Green Mantle were built with the lumber and shingles from their mill.

Oscar remembers when they sawed and piled cordwood for seventy-five dollars into the boxcar on the railway tracks. Block wood cut and piled, sold for one hundred dollars per box carload. Mike and Oscar sawed logs for the first school in Greenmantle. When the school was finished a fire swept through destroying the new building.

Oscar married Helen Neale in 1947. They bought their present farm the following year and have farmed there since. Oscar and Helen have three children, Bruce, Scott and Doug and have adopted Fred and Brenda.

Oscar passed away on June 12, 1985. Helen retired from teaching in 1989. She later married Carmen Weir in 1990 and lived on the farm. In January of 2000, Carmen passed away and Helen now lives in a Primary Care Home.


Reed, Samuel and Martha
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

During the Depression, Samuel and Martha Reed, with their son, Oscar, were forced to leave Saskatoon. There was no work and the Depression was getting the best of everyone. Samuel bought a team of horses and they left Saskatoon with their belongings, to Greenmantle.

The first winter they stayed at their son's place. Earl had moved to Greenmantle earlier. In the spring they started building their cabin on their homestead and moved in that summer.

Samuel also did construction work. He was the Superintendent for the work being done for the Cold Lake Air Force and was the foreman for the construction of Burns.

Samuel and Martha also ran a stopping house for the people going to town from Greenmantle or Timberlost. It was a long ride to town and the people were grateful to have a place to stop and eat and to feed their horses. Samuel and Oscar, after their arrival in Greenmantle, took out a contract on ties and sold them to O.P. Godin's.


Reed, Tom and Ida
Submitted by Florence Kemp,
with Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

My father Tom Reed, his wife Ida, their three daughters, Sarah, Dorothy and myself, Florence, a nephew, George Reed and Cliff Kemp arrived in Big River in the spring of 1934.

We travelled by horses and wagons. One wagon had a canvas shelter, which served as our home en route, while the other one contained all our belongings. We girls and George rode horseback and drove our cattle.

Someone had told dad some glowing stories about Big River, a place where fish were for the taking and wild game was in abundance. This turned out to be very true and so I am sure that's the reason why he chose Big River to be our new home.

We pulled into town and stopped close to Godin's store. While sitting there wondering about our future, a friendly lady came over and started talking to us. I'll never forget Mrs Milligan since she was so cheerful and encouraging.

While talking to this woman, we couldn't help but notice the newspapers she had wrapped around her legs under her stockings. Later we found that they served the purpose of protecting her legs from mosquitoes.

We camped across Cowan Lake, close to the forestry until dad could find a place for us. It wasn't long until he found Ted Otte's, a place about two miles north of Big River. We spent the summer there, and since it was close to the lake we were able to fish. The wild raspberries were abundant that year, so with lots of cream, we were able to enjoy them.

Dad was able to find work at what they called a relief camp. The government was levelling off some land for an airstrip. This is the land where the rodeo grounds and golf course are presently located.

Dad got twenty cents a day plus some clothing, his boots, and a package of tobacco and papers once a week. He also got one dollar a day for the work of four horses. He worked there most of the summer, and during this time he had filed on a homestead across Cowan Lake, about three and one-half miles from town. We built a log house there and moved that fall.

The men worked at anything they could find that winter. Cliff went fishing on Dore Lake and dad freighted fish.

That first winter was hard on our stock. Horses that came from the prairie would get swamp fever from grazing in the swamps, so we lost some horses. Also, one of our cows got caught in a snare that was meant for a coyote. She was lost for ten days before we found her. We doctored her diligently, but her foot finally fell off where the wire had cut in. The foot had probably frozen from the lack of circulation; therefore she had to be destroyed.

Dad finally set out with a team and sleigh and a load of freight for Buffalo Narrows, then went on to Fort McMurray, and Yellowknife. Dad more or less made his home there, coming to Big River to visit off and on, until his death in 1966. Mother lived in Big River until her death in 1965.

George worked around Big River for a few more years, served overseas in the war and finally went to Calgary and married. Dorothy married Dave Blatz in 1935, and Sarah married Jack Teer in 1937.

Cliff Kemp and I were married in the log house on the homestead in the winter of 1935. We worked out at Sundby and Anderson Logging Camp, and later Cliff worked for J.K. Johnson, booming logs down Cowan Lake until the Timber Board took over the business. Cliff and I have six children: Leonard, Jack, David, Bob, Ruth and Norma.


Reid, Esther (Isaacson)

Grandparents, Isaac and Susana Miller settled at Timberlost, relocating from Sandbeach along with their six children George, Martin, Mary, Sam, Tom and Bill.

I was born there in 1941. As I recall, our nearest neighbours were Jake and Aganetha Miller, their children Betty, Ann, Cornelius, Helen and later Danny. Helen was my playmate.

There were one-room schools. I believe one was located at Otter Lake. Dances, church and daily vacation bible school were some events which took place in the Timberlost School.

There was a store operated by Ted Pelchets. Summer brought an exciting picnic. Homemade ice cream and lemonade could be obtained from hastily erected stalls which were covered with poplar branches for shade. Foot races and baseball took place at these events.

At the age of six, my parents Mary and Il Isaacson moved to Big River. For a short time, we lived at Colby's Rooming House. Shortly after we moved to Stoney Lake where Eikels had a mill. I was terrified of the noisy lumber trucks, which I was certain had but one purpose and that was to send me running home in tears. Thus putting a halt to the fun sliding down an old sawdust pile with companions Albert and Elmer Wall.

Others living nearby include John Walls, George and Susan Miller, Oscar Eikel, Cliff Felt, Gorals and Neilsons Mink Ranch. There I met the future's great hockey player, Jimmy Neilson.

Later we moved to Big River. After Christmas began my attendance at the Big River School. I hated school. I couldn't speak English properly which caused great hilarity among various classmates. To get there I had to pass Jim Forbes's home, where they had several barking hunting dogs. There I met the fearless Gracie Forbes. The teacher was Mrs Moffet.

That summer we lived in a trailer (caboose) where Il did custom land breaking in the Canwood area. There I began my second year of school. Later we moved to Timberlost (The Block) where I attended school for a short while as Il was doing some custom breaking in that area. Classmates I remember best were Shirley Anderson and Betty Hansen.

Back to Big River, and school, Mrs Dion a teacher whom I liked probably due to mastering the English language. A favourite classmate was Esther Bengston. Eventually, I made it to grade two. Mrs Bouchard taught grade two and some grade three. Mrs Bouchard sounded fierce but was an excellent and fair teacher.

Then we leased Fred Doucette's farm in the Bodmin area. Now I had about a three-mile hike to school. To shorten the distance entailed following a large field, through some dense bush, crossing a small barley field, some more dense bush, a makeshift bridge and more bush alongside another field until I came to the rural road across from Phillippe Laurins'. Mrs Laurin taught school at Bodmin. She too was an excellent teacher. There my favourite classmates were many. I 'almost' began to like school. She was an extremely organized teacher. Not only did she teach 12 grades, nobody ever repeated a grade there. She had the students continue where they left off from the end of the term. In reality, probably taught more than 15 levels. Basics were drilled daily: arithmetic, spelling, reading. After lunch a story. Social Studies alternate days language, health, library or art. I do not believe any student of hers left school without the ability to read and write well. They probably knew all the timetables from one to twelve and never forgot them. Each day began with Mrs Laurin at the piano and 'God save the King (Queen)' and 15 minutes of song. Each day closed with O'Canada, the Lord's Prayer followed by 'The Queen' daily.

With winter approaching, we had to move back to Big River. I dreaded leaving Bodmin School. Mrs Laurin assured me that Mrs Bouchard would permit me to continue at the level I was working.

However, I did not continue where I had left off and Mrs Bouchard was not my teacher. My extreme dislike for school was once again confirmed. I shall never forget the horrors of that chalk throwing, brush tossing teacher, she with the poor aim.

The following spring we purchased the South acreage, directly below the Bodmin Tower Hill. It was a beautiful location with a small lake. There, I spent many hours harvesting the biggest bloodsuckers I have ever seen. There were black ones with orange undersides measuring a full six inches long by one inch across. Also, brown and pure black. They came in many sizes. I was fascinated with them. Many times I'd take a pickle jar and capture a dozen or more. Not having siblings, I would proudly display them to my mother. Not once did she stop shuddering long enough to appreciate the time and effort which went into my expeditions. Her response was always the same, "Get those things out of here, no not on the doorstep, Far away" or Put them back!"

Our nameless lake held a great attracting for wildlife, including the odd beaver, muskrats, Canada geese, snow geese, mallards, pelicans, loons, a blue heron and a large assortment of shorebirds. It attracted deer, fox, coyotes, bears and lynx. In winter, skating was hazardous due to the thin ice on muskrat runs. There was lovely inch to two inch long minnows until the pelicans arrived. The large minnow population never recovered.

Flora and Fauna were unmatched: blueberries, strawberries, gooseberries, saskatoons, dewberries and high bush cranberries along with pin cherries and chokecherries. Huge ladies slippers which I have never seen elsewhere. Fireweed, wild roses, bluebells, Indian paintbrush and hazelnut to mention a few.

Our farm was one mile from the Bodmin settlement where Marcel and Betty Lamothe operated a store, post office and a hand gas pump with a choice of red or amber gasoline. Also, a telephone, the only one in the area. Joe Harvey had the other general store. There was a one-room schoolhouse and a small railway station where large parcels where dropped off for pickup. The door was never locked. The cream was also picked up and delivered to Shellbrook and Prince Albert and also eggs.

Caisses lived across from the station. Tardiffs lived behind Joe Harvey's and in summer Jamaican born Mrs Kelly. South of Bodmin lived Alex Doucets, Percy Johnson, Alphonse Laurins and Fredric sons.

The Wrixon school bus, driven by Urgel Brunet, he dropped kids from Erinferry for grades one to seven at Bodmin School and on to Big River with students in the senior grades. The school bus was a green window van with wooden benches, which ran the length of the bus from the front seat to the back doors. Urgel never lost time while driving. To my knowledge, he had but one upset during many years of bus driving.

The year of my fifth grade, we moved to Primrose Lake for the winter, working at the bush camp of Eikel and Lomsnes. I was to take the school by correspondence. This created complications as Primrose Lake is in Saskatchewan. However, our mailing address was Cold Lake, Alberta. It was difficult for the Department of Education to understand that a Saskatchewan education was required while the address was in Alberta.

Grade six was completed in Bodmin. What a trial that must have been for Mrs Laurin. She had 36 students that year. The Greenmantle School closed and Cronks bussed the students to Bodmin. This included Alice and Robert Cronk, Emil, Vivian and Walter Vermette (I think). There may have been a grade one, Johnny Vermette, Gary and Sharon Alcock, Carol Kennedy and Nancy Sandry. It was the best year at Bodmin School for me.

The road between Greenmantle and Bodmin was clay, no gravel. The bus couldn't get through one day due to muddy roads. Mr Alcock came to school with a small tractor. Somehow, he managed to load all the kids onto the tractor and took them home.

That spring we travelled to Big River to compete in field and track with some other schools. We won the cup but for some reason, the cup never did appear at the Bodmin School.

In the early fifties, Saskatchewan Power came through to Big River, taking with it some of the most beautiful trees and foliage. There was a lovely tree-lined path from the post office to Laventure's store building. There were hundreds of bottle caps walked into the surface of that path. Some brands I'd never seen. Many years of students had trekked that way. All that was lost to the construction of Saskatchewan Power.

For five cents, a small paper bag was filled with mixed candies, purchased at Harvey's store. Pop was eight cents with a promise to return the bottle.

Laventure operated a store until Joe Harvey reopened his. The building was purchased by Huxted and moved to Big River.

There was only one well at Bodmin Hamlet. All the drinking water was drawn from that well. When various unwanted particles appeared in the school's drinking water, several men would clean the well. I won't describe the carcasses, etc. scooped out at these times.

Phillippe and Joan Laurin not only had a power supply but also, indoor plumbing. Wow!

Grade seven was barren and sad. Greenmantle was now bussed to Big River. The older students were gone. It was a sad time.

Before Christmas, we moved to Meadow Lake for the winter. Mr Ivan Booker was an excellent teacher. I loved the art, music, gym and drama available in Meadow Lake schools. Unfortunately, spring came and we returned to Bodmin. Meada Morin and I had been the only Grade Seven students that term. Mrs Laurin decided Meada should transfer to Big River after we moved. Upon returning I found school would continue in Big River. I was horrified!

Mr Worbets was the Grade Seven teacher and his reputation had been fully and completely relayed to me before we returned to Bodmin.

Fortunately for me, Mr Worbets and Hermes Laurin were operating the quarter section next to our farm so he was less vocal and violent towards me. He was mean but I did learn from his instructions.

We were very fortunate to have Mr Labach in the eighth grade. He had a sense of humour and gave up many of his lunch hours to tutor students who found math difficult. Schoolmates with whom I frequently associated were Helen Zinovich, Angeline Karloff, Linda Olsen and Carol Kennedy.

Grade nine was a miss. First of all, we had no homeroom teacher. When we did get one the students were so rude and nasty. I left school that fall. The torment continued. I can't remember whether they actually ran the teacher off or if he just passed them all and moved on.

The fall of 1956, I went to work in Prince Albert. A week later I contracted the Asian Flu. I joined my parents as they moved west. Il worked for the Gypsum Mine near Invermere, while Mary cooked at the Invermere Hotel. In the spring we went back to Bodmin. I only stayed a week then boarded the bus for Radium, British Columbia, where I worked for Emil Hess's Restaurant.

June 13, 1959, Roy Reid and I were married in Kimberly, British Columbia.

Roy worked in the bush and lumber mills. I cooked in various restaurants between babies.

We moved back to Big River and Bodmin for a time. Roy worked in the bush and Big River Sawmill in the mid-1960s. We square danced for one season. I worked relief in the hospital in the summer of 1966.

We moved to Prince Albert that fall. Both Roy and I took upgrading at Sasknewstart. I got my Grade 12 diploma while Roy drove transport. I was hired by Sasknewstart as receptionist, software librarian and public relations. The company Roy drove for sold out so we moved to Savona, British Columbia where Roy drove forklift and crane operator for Evan's Products and Ainsworth Mills for the next 17 years. I cooked in cafes, worked at the post office, on-call, for five years. Eventually operating our own cafe in 1979 to 1980.

In 1988, I took training and for the next four years did occupational training and sensory integration with learning disabled boys in Savona Elementary School.

Roy contracted rheumatoid arthritis and became quite disabled for a painfully long time.

In 1990, our daughter and I opened a restaurant in Spences Bridge, British Columbia. Paulet got engaged so we moved to Savona. At that time my sight began to fail. I no longer worked outside the home. Instead, I became the local Watkin's dealer.

Our four daughters are very musical and entertained the Kamloops area from 1972 until 1980. They went their separate ways but were still involved in music. Their brother, six years younger, was frequently their special guest from age four on.

Having managed the Reid sisters for several years and organizing local entertainment for several community functions; began the theatre group known as 'The Savona Guild'. We put on one big dinner theatre annually as well as entertaining at various functions.

In 1996, we moved to Ashcroft, British Columbia, where we are retired. Here also, began a theatre group, 'The Prickly Pear Players'. Much of my time went to organizing and entertaining the Ashcroft Seniors Organization. This led to round and square dancing activities. I attended callers schools and called for the day-lightful club for three years as well as a guest caller for several other clubs.

At present, Roy, John Farmer and I have become `The Kitchen Cowboys', a singing trio. John and I write cowboy poetry which we enter at Clinton's Cowboy Poetry Festival annually as well as performing skits or song at these events. Retirement? We start hundreds of flower and tomato plants. Our yard is our oasis in the middle of the desert.We have 5 children:


Mary Anne States was born on April 10, 1960, and now resides in Hawaii, United States.

Dixie Lynne Bennett was born June 20, 1961, and now resides in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Paulet Rice was born September 25, 1963, and now resides in Spences Bridge, British Columbia.

Melinda Kinaschuk was born February 10, 1966, and now resides in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Wayne Reid was born April 16, 1972, and now resides in Kamloops, British Columbia.

We have eleven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, four step-grandchildren and one step great-grandson. Il Isaacson died October 1990 and Mary is well and active in her 80th year. She lives alone and is very independent.


Reilly, Albert (Bert)
Submitted by Ella Leach

Albert (Bert) Reilly came to Saskatoon from Ontario sometime before 1920, where he farmed west of Saskatoon, near Alsask, and later in the Grandora and Vanscoy districts. He went back to Ontario and married Olive Brown, and they came back to Saskatchewan to his farm. Ella was born on January 24, 1922, Doris was born in February 1924, and then Earl (Bill) was born in 1927.

Farming went from bad to worse, so they decided to homestead up north. They had thought of going to Peace River. In 1933, Bert and Olive, and Bert's sister Martha and Sam Reed moved to Big River by train. Earl Reed was up at Big River homesteading before that and wanted them to come up there. Ivan Leach had a homestead already west of Big River, the first one out there, and he took them out to look for one. They both filed on quarters of land across the corner from each other.

It was all bush, and it took a lot of work clearing and breaking the land. They finally got enough land broken to grow gardens and grow some feed. It was so nice to pick wild berries. Uncle Sam told us what kinds of berries there were as he had been around a lot, being a carpenter by trade.

It rained so much there the first year that everything grew fast and there was an abundance of wild hay. Bert had four horses and two colts; one colt was born after the family moved to Big River. But the horses started getting sick and died with swamp fever. He lost them all, along with the one he bought.

He then bought a team of oxen, and then another team of them. Everybody got together to go to town with the ones that had horses. The horses that were raised here did not get swamp fever.

Olive passed away on August 17, 1936, and Bert passed away in 1960.

Getting back to the Reilly family, four of them came to Big River to homestead. A sister Jen and Tom Watson, and sister Martha and Sam Reed, and a brother Miles Reilly, all homesteaded near Big River. Ella married Ivan Leach in 1939. Doris married James Sandry. Bill stayed on his dad's homestead until he passed away in 1993.

Ella had nine children, and Doris had six.


Reimer, Billy and Carol

Bill Reimer.

Bill, Carol and Brent.

I was born on April 24, 1952, to Thelma and Henry Reimer in Big River, Saskatchewan. We lived on the west side of Lake Four. My first home was a log house. In 1958 we moved into a one and a half story house which my parents had purchased from the Stuessers north of Big River. Unfortunately, the house burnt down in 1963. My parents then bought a house from Corny Bergen and lived in it till their passing.

I first went to school in Lake Four from 1958 till 1965. For part of Grade One, I stayed with my grandma, Goldie Hyllestad. Her house was a lot closer to the school. After that, I went to school from home. In winter I would get a ride but in the summer I would ride horseback or bicycle or walk back and forth to school. In 1966, I went to Ladder Valley School for one year. I rode my bike or got a ride. In 1967, I had to go to Big River and the school bus picked us up.

After that year I started working out. In 1969, the mill in Big River burned down and they moved in four portable mills. Then I worked for Johnson and Dalton on one of the mills for a short time. Then I went with Earl Meyers and got a job on the oil rigs, 100 miles north of Fort St. John, British Columbia. I didn't like that very much so I came back and worked for Wilson's sawmill.

The next two winters I went to Quesnel, British Columbia and worked in the mills there and came back for the summers and helped my parents on the farm with the cattle. I spent a short time working at Camp Seven, then went to work for Saskatchewan Forest Products. For the next two years, I worked for the mill in the summer and for Wilson's in the winter. I then stayed at Saskatchewan Forest Products working in the mill and today I work for Weyerhaeuser as a button top crane operator. In 1975, I married Carol Bergen.

I was born on February 25, 1955, to Susie and Abe Bergen in Big River, Saskatchewan. We lived on the east side of Lake Four. I started school in Big River in 1961. The bus ride seemed very long, and very cold in the winter. I went to Grade Ten and decided to quit school and go to work. My first job was working at Park Valley General Store. It was a lot of fun a lot of the neighbours would come there to shop. The next summer I got on at the Big River Union Hospital and worked in housekeeping for the summer months, as their regular employees took their holidays.

I spent most of the next year working at the Rex Cafe for Art and Mae Chu. Then I went to British Columbia and worked as a live-in housekeeper/nanny for two different employers. I came back the next spring and helped mom at home. I then married Billy in August of 1975.

Our first home was a small trailer and then in 1987 we bought an RTM (ready to move) home from North Battleford and had it moved onto the farm. We have a small herd of beef cattle. In 1978, I was hired as a seasonal part-time worker at the Big River Forest Nursery. I got on full time in 1980 and worked there till 1990. Brent was born on October 26, 1994. He goes to school in Big River. A few years ago I started a small business doing housekeeping within the community of Big River.


Reimer, Henry and Thelma

Henry Reimer.

Thelma and Henry.

Henry Reimer, the third child of John and Anna Reimer, was born at Great Deer, Saskatchewan in 1912 and raised at Moon Hills until 1917 when he moved to Lake Four with his parents.

Thelma Woolhiser was born at Shellbrook, Saskatchewan in 1922 and was raised in Foxdale, Saskatchewan until 1938, when they moved to Lake Four in 1939.

Henry and Thelma were married in 1941. They moved to Maria Lake (now called Nesslin Lake) and had a mink ranch for a short time. They moved back to the south end of Lake Four SW36-54-6-W3rd and in 1947 they moved to the north-east side SE8-55-6-W3rd. Henry farmed and raised cattle. He especially enjoyed fishing, hunting, and trapping. He was a great walker. He would walk up into Jackson Lake Pasture to trap, often backpacking two large beaver all the way home. They lived there until they passed away; Thelma in July of 1979 and Henry in March of 1985.

They had three children. One daughter passed away at birth in 1943. The second daughter Ann was born in 1945 and a son Billy was born in 1952.


Reimer, John P. (Jack) and Susan

Jack Reimer.

Jack, Bobbi Jo and Susan,
April 29, 1997.

Jack was born at the Holy Family Hospital in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 1946 to Pete and Lorraine Reimer. Pete passed away in 1987 and Lorraine currently lives in Prince Albert. Jack went to school in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia and changed schools twelve times in eight years. He stayed with his Grandma and Grandpa Becker during part of his early school years as his parents lived too far from the school for him to attend. He helped out on the farm and recalls haying and logging in the Prince Albert National Park. He remembers his dad shooting rats at night with a .22 rifle in one of their first homes as he held the flashlight for him. The house was so cold in the wintertime that they'd have to break the ice in the water pail with the dipper handle in the mornings. They had one of the first televisions in the area.

I was born in the Big River Union Hospital in 1949 to Annie and Diedrick Bergen who moved to this area in 1947 from the Hepburn district. Dad passed away in 1961 and Mom in 1995. I was the eleventh of twelve children and the first to be born in a hospital. I went to Lake Four School, until Grade Eight, then to Big River High School for four years. I grew up on the farm and remember the walk across Lake Four meadows to school. In the winter we'd sometimes go to school with the caboose and horses. We milked a lot of cows, had pigs, chickens and horses. Pig butchering day was a big event as the neighbours would come over to help and sometimes we even got to miss school. I faintly remember the threshing crews and the enormous amount of food Mom would prepare. We had huge gardens and did a lot of canning. We carried wood and water, as there was neither running water nor telephone in those days. Of course, everyone had an outdoor biffy.

What an exciting time, when we got the power in the late 1950s. Mom's first electrical item was a kitchen clock, which still runs in my kitchen today after 45 years. Next came a fridge and deep freeze, so we had no more need to make our ice house. In the spring our yard would flood and we'd go "boating" in an old leaky water trough. Giesbrecht's lived just across the road so we had close neighbours and playmates. The telephones came in the late 1970s.

Jack hauled thousands of square bales and pitched them by hand until we got a front-end loader. A lot of the land had to be cleared and broken and Clarence Pederson did much of it. The roots and rocks were picked by hand. It was 1988 before we got a rock-picker.

Jack got a job with the Department of Highways and after graduation, I worked at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. We got married on September 21, 1968, and began farming. We grew crops and raised cattle. We bought Carl and Kay Larsen's and Johnnie and Tena Reimer's land. We have one daughter. Bobbi Jo was born on June 18, 1974. She took her schooling in Big River and her law degree at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. She is currently practising in Camrose, Alberta.


Rempel, Henry and Helen (Bergen)

Henry Rempel.

Back Row: Henry, Helen, Jimmy, Merlin.
Middle Row: Myrna, Shawna. Middle Row: Teryk, Jayden.
Front Row: Micah, Brett, July 28, 2002.

Henry was born at Rosthern, Saskatchewan on October 20, 1941, to Peter and Annie Rempel. He is the second oldest of twelve children. When he was nine years old, the family moved to a farm at Ladder Valley where he went to school. At the age of sixteen he went to work on the oil rigs in Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon and the North West Territories for twelve years until he got married, and then for one year after. He worked at the Big River sawmill for a while, then did mixed farming for thirty-five years.

Helen was born at Hepburn, Saskatchewan on March 26, 1944, to Diedrick and Annie Bergen. They also had a family of twelve children. When I was three, the family moved to a farm at Lake Four where I attended school for eight years. Then I stayed at home to help on the farm. We had a lot of chores to do: milking cows, feeding pigs and pumping water by hand. We had a big barn to clean every day in the winter, which was kept full as all the cattle were kept inside. A few years later I went to work in Debden for Peter Marchuck as a housekeeper, then to Prince Albert to work for Dr Janzen. Next, I worked on a farm at Wilmer, Saskatchewan and last I worked at Yurach's IGA until I got married.

Henry and I were married on April 20, 1968, in the Elks Hall in Big River, Saskatchewan. It was a double wedding with my sister Tena and Raymond Amundson. Reverend Peter Funk married us. We moved into a tiny shack on SW 18-55-6-W3rd. It was all bush, no buildings or fences. We moved a building in to live in with no power or running water. Our first child, Myrna, was born while we still lived there. I washed many diapers by hand.

We started with one cow and one-quarter of land. We rented cows, which we milked, and slowly started buying them. It took a long time to get a herd built up. Our two children spent many hours playing out in the fields where we worked while they were still very small. We built a new house in 1981 where we still live. We have a few head of cattle and pigs and still grain farm a little. I have a big garden. Henry traps in the winter. I keep busy making quilts from old clothing, and blankets, and make many slippers.

Myrna, our daughter, was born on January 29, 1969, in Big River, Saskatchewan. The year she turned five she started kindergarten, and when she finished high school she went to the University of Saskatchewan for five years, then University in Minot, North Dakota for three years. She taught school there for one year and then married Jimmy Mindoro on February 23, 1996, and moved to Hawaii. For three years she taught school in Hawaii and now they have moved to Denver, Colorado where she is still teaching. They have two sons, Teryk born September 18, 1996, and Micah born May 26, 1999.

Our son, Merlin, was born on January 28, 1972, in Big River Hospital. He went to school through to Grade 12 while working part-time at Pioneer elevator. He left home and went to St.Walberg, Wilbert, Rosthern and now lives in Nipawin. He is still working for Pioneer Grain. He married Shauna Mercer on July 10, 1993, and has two children a girl, Jayden, born April 14, 1994, and a boy, Brett, born May 21, 1997.

As children, we, the Bergen children, had quite a time going to school. We had to cross, Lake Four through some awful snowstorms in the winter, and in the spring the water was so deep we wore rubber boots halfway through the summer. Sometimes we waded through the water with our bare feet; our boots were not high enough.


Rice, Earl and Lorna

Earl Reimer.

Earl and Lorna.

We came to Big River in 1981. I was the Town Administrator for nine years. We rented a house in town at first and in 1983 we bought part of what was referred to as the Hannigan place just north of town. The old house burned to the ground in the fall of 1985. We were not able to save much but the community support was tremendous and we were able to set up housekeeping in a rental house within a few days. Jack Olson and his crew built the new house in the summer of 1986.

We have enjoyed our years in this area. Earl has trapped, hunted and fished. He worked at the government tree nursery and in the Big River and Jackson Lake Pasture. Since 1990, he has guided American hunters.

While Earl was working in the pastures we kept saddle horses. We went on the annual trail ride to Timberlost four times. One year I was very pleased to drive Bob Dunn's team, Riley and Riley. The CBC videotaped that trail ride for the "On the Road Again" show. Earl was active in the roping club and I tried barrel racing when Canadian Cowboy Association rodeos were held here.

I have done various things since leaving the Town Office in 1990. A job I enjoyed was cooking in Wilson's Bush Camp; I also was an active member of the farmers' market for three years. I had a used clothing and craft supply store for a couple of years, then groomed dogs for a while and am busy doing quilting now.


Ritchie, George and Arlene

We moved to Big River in August 1973, after George accepted his first teaching position - Physical Education teacher at Big River High School. Having grown up in Shellbrook, and being involved in track and field as well as a hockey player he was moving right into opposition territory! During the three years that George taught at BRHS, he coached volleyball, basketball, and track. George also coached the Big River Braves senior hockey team.

Arlene, formerly of Melfort, Saskatchewan, was employed as the Adult Education Program instructor from 1973-1981. She spent the next year as a tutor at T.D. Michel School and then one year teaching the Co-operative Work Training program at Big River High School. She coached volleyball and fast-ball, and also directed drama. Since 1984, she has worked full time at the construction business and has worked as a substitute teacher when time permitted.

In the summer of 1975, we built our first house. That fall and winter we spent evenings and weekends working on other construction projects and in June 1976, George traded in his running shoes for steel-toed boots when he decided to do carpentry work full time. Ritchie Construction Ltd. was started in June 1976. We built our construction shop at 600 Hoehn Road in the industrial area and have remained at this location. During the first few years of operation, most of the focus was on residential construction which included private houses but also many RCMP houses throughout northern Saskatchewan. Although we still do residential work, the majority of our work is now commercial and industrial projects throughout the province. Our work includes: placing and finishing concrete, building water treatment plants, sewage lift stations, arenas, restaurants, motels and community centres, erecting metal buildings, construction using the Logix block system, landscaping; backhoe and bobcat work, etc. Our number of employees has varied throughout the years from as few as four to as many as twenty. Two of our present employees, Walter Wiebe and Edwin Davidson, are inter-provincial journeyman carpenters.

In 1977, we and Carla and Brian Blampin started B.R. Concrete Ltd. In 1985 we sold our shares to the Blampins.

In 1978, Mery and Patti Weiss and Brian and Carla Blampin, purchased Saskatchewan Forest Products lumberyard and commenced operation under the name Nor-Sask Builders Supplies. In 1983, we sold our shares to Mery and Patti.

In 1989, Len Zinovich and us started Nor Track All Terrain Transport. Initially, we had Nodwells and cats that were used in forest fire fighting. Presently we do only cat work.

In 1994, we added another challenge to our lives when we ventured into the bison industry. Although we do sell meat, our main focus has been on developing and marketing breeding stock. As a result, some of our breeding bulls have won grand champion awards at shows and sales. The last couple of years George has switched from entering bison in competitions to being the judge at numerous shows and sales including Regina Agribition and the Denver, Colorado Gold Trophy Show & Sale. In addition to the bison, we also raise Palomino and Paint horses.



Roberts, May and Johnson
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Mr J.B. Roberts arrived in Big River around 1910. He was a carpenter and worked on the construction of the sawmill. After completion, Mr Roberts worked in the sawmill until it burnt in 1913. The mill was reconstructed and later torn down in 1921, at which time the Roberts family moved to Prince Albert.

Mr and Mrs Roberts had three children: E.L. Roberts, Mrs Vera Allan Falls, and H.J. Roberts.


Robertson, Darlene Emelda (Olson)

Darlene Robertson.

Back Row: Ian, Middle Row: Jay, George,
Front Row: Chase and Darlene.

Hi. I'm Darlene Emelda Olson-Robertson, the second daughter and child number six in a family of ten. I was born in Big River, to Gilbert and Adrienne (Boulet) Olson on October 24, 1953, and that is where I grew up. I am the mother of four beautiful children and two grandchildren. My daughter Kim Ann (Schmidtz) was born on December 3, 1971. She has two children - Jordan (11) and Vicky (8). They live in Saskatoon. Ian Mark (Schmidtz) was born on March 16, 1974. He is single and has no children and he also lives in Saskatoon. Jay Arthur Olson-Robertson was born on June 30, 1986, and Chase Emmerson Olson-Robertson was born on November 25, 1987. The two younger boys are still living at home and going to school.

My husband, George, and I live at Canwood, Saskatchewan. We farm 2000 acres of land and we also run about three to four hundred head of cattle and eighty cows year-round. So this keeps us very busy. I am a Trauma Counsellor and worked for the Parkland Ambulance and Emergency Shelter, both located in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Ian, Jay and Chase, along with George, are into restoring old vehicles, so this has become one of my pastimes as well. I also crochet, knit, sew and tat, or almost any hobby going. I've always loved music and both of the younger boys are interested in the piano and fiddle.

Even though we are very busy, we always have time for visitors. Our welcome mat is always out and the coffee pot is always on.


Robinson, Tom and Jane

We arrived in Big River in early April 1957 after five years of living on the farm in Ontario.

Homesteading just having finished, we were given a 33-year grazing lease on NW36-57-9-W3rd and 18 months later given the option to buy, which we took.

We went broke by October 1959, due to poor returns on our saleable produce, and I applied for a job advertised in the Big River Post Office for Radio Operators with the Department of Transport. I would have been accepted except my British Certificates were invalid, due to time lapse, but could be re-validated by taking the appropriate exams in the United Kingdom.

In November, we sailed for the United Kingdom but in one of the few smart moves I ever made, I retained ownership and kept up the taxes on NW36-57-9-W3rd.

Being desperately short of money and credit in the United Kingdom, I also went back to sea from the United Kingdom until April 1962 when I returned to Canada. There I took Radio and Meteorological training with the Department of Transport in Ottawa and was assigned to Mayo in the Yukon and given adequate housing for my family who joined me there.

Promoted and transferred to Whitehorse, where we lived for 14 years, I requested a transfer to a location within an easy flight of Big River. I was placed in charge at Fort McMurray, and in November of 1976, I took early retirement, returning to Big River permanently in April of 1978. Here we are today, as the old-time pilots used to say "FAT, DUMB and HAPPY".


Wagons Ho for the West
by Thomas Robinson

About 1925/26, my mother took me to the movies, (at that time called the pictures, in black and white), an occasional caption along the bottom and a pianist seated at the base of the screen with a range from tender and seductive to exciting cavalry charge type music. People were still abandoning their seats and bolting up the aisle from approaching trains and charging horses.

I was fascinated by a fellow swinging a long stock whip over a span of about eight mules drawing a covered wagon, and calling out (by caption) "Wagons Ho for the West" which my mother whispered as the pianist broke into a brisk and lively tune...

After many incidents, they came to a very broad river and the caption read "and so we come to the mighty Mississippi" with appropriate music. Here they took the canvas top off the wagons, draped them underneath to form a type of boat and with mules swimming alongside, crossed over not without the heroine falling in and the hero going to her rescue (with suitable piano backup).

In 1957, after five years working on Ontario farms, we loaded our red 1955 Ford half-ton to the top of its racks, squeezed in wife and two small daughters and said goodbye to the East. I should have said "Ford half-ton, Ho for the West" but didn't think of it at the time.

Highways north of the Great Lakes were not yet built and our route lay southwest to Sarnia for a first overnight stay. The next day we crossed over into the United States, then north up to the Michigan Peninsula to Cheboygan, then west and another overnight stay at Escaba. The next day we were on to Minneapolis, Grand Forks and back into Canada at the portal, with an overnight stay at Regina and then on to Prince Albert. Here we stocked up with necessary supplies and headed north once more. It was here that we learnt to say P.A. for Prince Albert. As we headed north to Shellbrook we crossed the old bridge and began our education on driving on gravel highways. It was a single number highway in those days, either five or seven. In some places narrow and high crowned with large ditches full of water from the snowmelt in progress. It rained heavily all day and I learned to be extremely diligent in sticking to the crown. Occasionally we had new experience-large trucks (to me) with goalpost frames over the cab and large trees draped over the cab and almost touching the ground behind. I judiciously pulled over to the side as far as I dared, as they edged past, but even so, I took a fair smothering of mud and, windshield washers not yet been invented, I got out to clear the windshield quite often.

Pulling into Big River and with fuel gauge pointing south, we drove into the Esso bulk station where a man and a boy took us in hand. Working the wobble pump the man looked over the truck and said "What colour's that truck of yours" Looking it over I saw what he meant. The driver's side, hood and tarped load were a chocolate brown of caked mud and the other side was still reasonably red from the rain.

Heading north for the Pankoski place (now Gladys and Denis Dyers), Alec hitched his team to us and we muddied down to the Craddock place where a fine supper and warm beds awaited and became our first base before moving up to the old Pankoski lakeside house, whilst building our house on the NW 36-57-9-W3'. Lately, in a more recent Star Phoenix, we were saddened to read of the passing of the young lad that had filled our vehicle up and was among the first people that we came acquainted with when we arrived in Big River.


Rogowski, Nicholas and Mary
Submitted by Jean Leschyshyn (Rogowski),
Dan Rogowski and Darlene Yungwirth

Nicholas Rogowski.

Back Row: Helen, Daniel, Nickles, Mary.
Front Row: Jean and Harry.

Nicholas (Nykola) Rogowski was born on August 19, 1901, in Galacia, Austria. He immigrated to Canada, where he resided in Meleb, Manitoba with his parents, brothers and sisters. On November 22, 1925, he married Mary Kressock, who was born on August 28, 1910, in Meleb, Manitoba. Together they had three boys and two girls: the eldest son, Dan (Dorothy Montgomery), Helen (Jim Hunchak), Joseph, who passed away as an infant, Harry (Opal Palchet), and Jean (Bill Leschyshyn).

On June 10, 1938, Nicholas paid a $10.00 fee for an application for a homestead entry at Bodmin, Saskatchewan to purchase a parcel of land of one hundred sixty acres at NW 4-55-8-W3rd. On June 15, 1938, he sent another $10.00 and applied for the same parcel again. Finally, on August 11, 1938, the application was accepted with a third $10.00 fee.

The Department of Natural Resources granted the NE 4-55-8-W3rd homestead for a one-quarter section of land. Within six months from the date of entry within which he had to take up possession of the land by going into personal occupation of the land and reside thereon, or he had to take up residence in the vicinity as provided. Mr Swanson, an Inspector, was to arrive to survey and investigate the claim and then submit a report. At that time, nine and one-half acres were to be broken and in crop, value work at $20.00 per acre, and ten acres were needed to be broken at the time of inspection.

Nicholas commenced building on March 12, 1939. He resided on this new homestead permanently by April 28, 1939. Nicholas had one-quarter of an acre broken for garden purposes. Another eight acres were cleared in preparation for breaking.

On July 3, 1939 entry was perfected and the Land Title granted by A.V. Paterson, the supervisor of lands. They paid taxes of $12.80 in October of 1939, and another $2.10 in taxes was due by December 30, 1939. Nicholas applied for relief allowance, and on January 10, 1940, he was granted a $5.00 per month allowance. With this allowance, Nicholas could make purchases from J.M. Halle, General Merchant Licensed Fur Buyer. On January 20, 1940, he made purchases such as ten pounds of cornmeal for $1.50, five onions for $0.25, one loaf of bread for $0.08, one bag of flour for $3.10, two tins of lard for $0.25 and ten bags of sugar for $0.80.

Nicholas farmed in the Greenmantle district and sold cordwood. Some of his neighbours were the Skopyks, the Websters, and Vermettes.

The children attended school at Ladder Valley until the school was built at Greenmantle which was closer to home. They held many lunch box social events, and dances were very popular to attend. Ball was a very popular sport at the time during the summer seasons.

Nicholas and Mary later farmed in the Blaine Lake district, followed by a move into the Town of Blaine Lake.

Nicholas passed away on December 30, 1985, in a Saskatoon hospital. His wife, Mary, resided at Pine Terrace Lodge in Prince Albert until her passing on July 22, 1995.

Dan left home at the age of fifteen to go fire fighting. When winter came, the call of employment at Dore Lake drew Dan into commercial fishing for Verner Johnson. Part of his duties also included looking after the mink on the farm.

After this experience, the city of Prince Albert awaited. Dan took on work at the Burns factory for awhile. With the war on in Europe, young men were recruited for the Emergency War Trade School. It was here that Dan learned to weld. After completion of his courses, Dan went to Fort William to build aircraft to do his part for the war effort.

In 1945, Dan enlisted in the army. But with the end of the war, this challenge did not last long. In September, Dan was discharged and he returned to Prince Albert. With a trade now under his belt, he went to work at Leach Iron.

In 1948, Dan returned to Big River where he opened a welding shop, which he purchased from Jalmer Johnson. Out of this shop, he conducted repairs and did blacksmithing for the local farming community.

Dan and Dorothy Montgomery were married in August 1952. They sold the welding shop that year and travelled the country as Dan worked on various natural gas pipelines. They have three children: Brian, Dwayne and Coleen.

In 1963, Dan and Dorothy settled in Preeceville, Saskatchewan, where they still reside today. Dan continued to weld on the pipelines until his retirement.

Helen stayed on the farm and after her schooling went to work in Blaine Lake. It was here that she met Jim Hunchak. They were married and have five children: Fran, Terry, Patsey, Sue and Janice.

Jim and Helen still live in Blaine Lake where they farmed and operated a tractor parts business. Jim was also an antique dealer.

As a young man, Harry continued to work on the farm while attending school at Greenmantle. After receiving his education, he worked in Blaine Lake delivering gas and also helped on the farm.

Harry then moved to Churchill, Manitoba where he worked on the docks loading ships. He also learned the trade of plumbing. He applied this trade in various places before settling in Prince Albert. Once in Prince Albert, Harry went to work in the pulp mill doing construction. He continued his career in the pulp mill until he retired. In 1953, he married Opal Pelletier. They have two children: Roxanne and Monica.

Jean stayed on the farm to help her mother. After school, she went to Blaine Lake to work in a hair salon. It was while she was in Blaine Lake that she met her husband, Willie Leschyshyn. Willie and Jean have three children: Wayne, Dale and Darlene.

After getting married, they farmed in the Krydor, Saskatchewan area. Willie and Jean moved to Prince Albert where Willie was hired by the pulp mill. It was here that he worked until his retirement.


Romanica, Kari Dawn (Schneider)

Kari Romanica.

Kari Romanica.

On May 15, 1966, in the Big River Union Hospital, I, Kari Dawn Schneider, arrived, the second child of Bob and Clarice Schneider. I am their "middle" child, between their eldest and only son Kelly and their younger daughter Stacey.

I feel fortunate to have grown up in Big River, a small, safe and close community that not everyone gets to experience in their lifetime. The community support of our small town still amazes me today.

I went through my elementary grades in the old white school. I still remember the track and school-yard of the elementary school. I had great teachers that provided the education to help me on the road to secondary education. I played most school organized sports such as track and field, and basketball, and became rivals with the small towns around us that we competed against. Like most kids in Big River, I was also a Rink Rat. I treasure the years of the old rink with hockey, figure skating and the winter carnival. As a teenager employed by Parks and Recreation, I also had a part in working on the new arena during the summer. I then was able to teach figure skating in the new arena when it was up and operating. I also worked at Grant's Shell and Len's Gas Bar during my teenage years. This provided the means to cause mischief and the grief teenager's cause their parents.

1980 was a tough year for me, and my family. My dad died of cancer and turned our world upside down. Again, with family, friends and our tight-knit community support, we survived and moved on. A short time later, Larry Hunter entered our lives. I am grateful to this day that he was part of my life. If you can't have your own dad, he was the next best thing. He was a great man and helped my mom prepare us for the real world, but he also succumbed to cancer in 1995.

In 1984, I graduated from high school and that fall moved to Saskatoon. I completed the combined lab/x-ray course at Kelsey Institute in 1985 and that summer moved to Regina to work at the Medical and Dental Building in my new profession. In October 1986, I was married to Bill Romanica and in January 1987, we moved to Edmonton, Alberta. We lived on the military base just outside of Edmonton, and I worked for Kasper Laboratories, and also worked at the University of Alberta Hospital as a Registered Cardiology Technician, a course I had completed while in Regina. I continued to play fastball and volleyball while in Edmonton.

In 1990, we were transferred to Portage La Prairie, Manitoba with Bill's military career. This allowed me to go back to school and do what I felt I was meant to do: NURSING. I completed the Registered Nursing program at the Health Sciences School of Nursing in 1992. I graduated with Honors and was awarded the Murphy award at my graduation ceremonies for the highest overall theory and clinical excellence in nursing. I know my parents were very proud of me on this day, but my grandma Norrie beamed.

We moved on to Thompson, Manitoba in 1992 where Bill was back with the RCMP and flying for a commercial helicopter company and I worked in the Specialty Care Unit in the Thompson General Hospital. It was a great northern experience. I played broomball, slo-pitch and ball hockey, but we were both glad to leave and head south again. The fact that our transfer was taking us to Kelowna, British Columbia could have had something to do with that.

1994 took us to the sunny Okanagan. Bill started flying with the RCMP and still is today. I started at the Kelowna General Hospital in the Intensive Care Division shortly after arriving in Kelowna, and in 1996 moved down to the Emergency Department where I continue to work today. Kelowna also offers ski hills and beach. I am the Nurse Coordinator at the Big White Ski Resort Patrol Hut and am an avid snowboarder. I spend most of my time off in the winter months at the hill and I still play volleyball. I spend my summer in the sunny Okanagan at my beach lot riding my watercraft. I love what Kelowna has to offer. I also teach at the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program in Kelowna.

I received a promotion in March of this year and I presently am the Assistant Head Nurse of the Emergency Department in Kelowna. I love what I do, I find it challenging and rewarding.

1999 was a trying year for Bill and me, we separated but remain friends. Following this change in my life, I took the opportunity to do some travelling. I backpacked for four weeks with some friends through parts of Europe, including Turkey, Greece, Belgium and Holland. I had a great time and unforgettable experiences. I had the opportunity to go to Russia with my mom to meet friends who were living there at the time. Incredible! I went, as well, on some shorter tropical adventures.

I am still playing fastball in Kelowna, as well as slo-pitch. My ladies team had the opportunity to play "A" Slo-pitch Nationals in Saskatoon August 2001 and brought home the gold medal. Great experience!

The devastation the Okanagan fire caused our community this summer is something I can't even find the words to explain. But what it did show me was that the community I now belong to has the same ability to come together and help each other out, as the community I came from and lived in, has done for years. It gives me comfort. I am proud to have grown up in Big River and cherish the memories and the support the community has given me, and my family throughout the years.


Romaniuk, Nestor Wm.

Nestor Romaniuk.

Nestor.

School principal, Grades 1 to 12, 1961 - 1963

Big River is an emission of starlight and genesis. It displays the mind of the Creator in all entireties. The intellectual potential of its people cannot be stifled by bureaucratic adversities.

My high school students progressed beyond my expectations. There was no frivolity, but we had wholesome enjoyment. Our optimism paid off in human dividends and they are priceless. They cannot be laid into a crypt as an archaeological souvenir.

That combined beauty of nature and the spirituality of people invoke a famous quote: "He does not die who can bequeath some influence to the land he knows; he does not die but remains substantial to his darling plains!" God bless you all!


Roth, Mr and Mrs Robert
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Mr and Mrs Robert Roth moved from Mildred in 1935 because of poor soil and crop failure during the Depression. They were farmers who came to Big River in search of better land. Mr Roth homesteaded on Egg Lake, cut pulp, logged, and even ran a sawmill for a while.

He would haul pulpwood twelve miles to town by oxen. This was a slow form of transportation so Mr Roth purchased a team of horses all of the hauling was done by team and wagon.

One of their six children still lives in Big River, Bill Roth. Mr Roth passed away several years ago.


Rowan, Neal and Cathy.

Neal Rowan.

Cathy, holding Andrew and Neal.

My name is Catherine Jane Rowan (nee Wood) and I grew up in Big River. I was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and moved to Big River with my family as an infant.

My mom, Janice Wood (nee Michel), grew up in Big River and my dad, Grant Wood, grew up in Ladder Valley. I have an older brother Ryan, who is married to Dana (nee Froese) and they have a son Micah. I also have two younger sisters, Marie and Laura. I met my husband Neal Rowan, who is from Saskatoon, in Big River and we are proud parents to a happy baby boy, Andrew.

Neal is an Emergency Medical Technician and has worked for Big River Ambulance for the last few years. He also worked at the mill for two years. I am a teacher and I have done some substitute teaching in the Big River and area schools.

Big River has been and always will be my home. I love the beautiful landscape, the friendly people and most of all, being close to almost all of my family. I am so blessed to have many generations nearby. We have lived in Big River for the last three years but due to Neal's line of work as a Firefighter, we are not able to stay here and will be relocating.

Rudolph, Gladys

I am the fourth of seven children, born June 2, 1946, to Jim Forbes and Georgena Anderson. When I was nine years old, Grandpa Forbes hired me for one dollar to wash the floors in the Post Office and his kitchen and hall every Saturday morning. I was eleven when I got my first babysitting job. Soon I earned enough to buy my clothes and whatever else I needed. I remember starting Grade Nine and having to buy textbooks for the first time. It cost me $34.00- a fairly high price at twenty-five cents an hour for babysitting, though I earned twice that after midnight. Later on, I worked casually at the telephone office and earned the really big money, fifty-five cents an hour.

I was fifteen when our mom died, and the housekeeping became my job since I was the oldest still at home. Saturdays I did the family laundry with the wringer washer, baked a dozen loaves of bread and washed floors. The ironing, mending and darning somehow got done but the cleaning was always neglected. My schoolwork began to suffer and I had a difficult time with Grade Eleven. Clearly, I would fail so after Easter Dad arranged for me to stay with Doris and Bruce Wreford (my oldest sister) in Shell brook and attend school there. Some of their courses were different so I dropped them and passed the rest. Back in Big River the next term, I had to finish Grade Eleven and so graduated in 1964 with a partial Grade Twelve. By then I had a job babysitting and doing housework in Prince Albert, also taking correspondence courses to finish high school. The next summer I got a job in Tisdale with Saskatchewan Government Telephones.

On December 10, 1966, I married Dennis Wreford and moved to the farm near Canwood. Our children are Cheryl Joyce born October 4, 1971, and Clark Dennis born May 2, 1973. By the time the children were two and three years old, Dennis' health was seriously compromised by diabetes. He had a successful kidney transplant but many complications resulted in his death on August 9, 1975.

I stayed on the farm with the children while my brother-in-law, Bruce Wreford, farmed the land, which he still does in 2003. During that time I leaned heavily on family and friends and the United Church in Canwood. I was very fortunate to have Dennis' parents near, as well as Doris and Bruce and my sister, Lorrie, and some good neighbours who were wonderful friends.

After ten years of widowhood, I was ready to socialize with adults again and began attending dances every Saturday night in Prince Albert with my two single sisters and various friends. It was there I began a relationship with Jack Rudolph, who I had met many years previously through Doris and Bruce. Jack's wife had died and he had five adult sons. Jack and I were married on April 5, 1986, and spent weekends together until my children were out of school in June. I then moved to Jack's farm south of Shellbrook. Jack died of a heart attack on March 21, 2001. I am still on the farm with the land rented out. I now keep busy as an Avon Dealer, as a member of the Shellbrook Royal Purple, and my involvement with the Lutheran Church in Parkside.

Cheryl earned an arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon in 1994. She worked at the Bay until she married Paul Steckler on April 13, 1996. Paul has a Commerce degree and is employed by TD Bank. Cheryl managed bookstores in Prince Albert, Edmonton and Calgary. They have a son, Dominic John, born August 10, 2001, and Cheryl is a stay-at-home mom.

Clark had difficulty finding enough work to support himself, and so lived at home most of the time until the spring of 2003, when he moved into Shellbrook and is employed by Danger Sandblasting.


Runge, Frank Jr.

Frank Runge Jr.

Ruth, Frank Jr. Engagement, 1939.

Frank Runge was born May 11, 1911, in Berlin, Germany and immigrated to Canada with his father, Franz Runge and his mother Cora and other family members (See Frank Runge Sr.). They boarded a ship in Hamburg and following a stop in London, and after picking up more passengers in Ireland, they landed in Montreal, Quebec. From Montreal, they were taken by car to live with the Eismann family relatives (Tietjents) in Kenaston, Saskatchewan. Frank recalled the entire trip taking sixteen to seventeen days. The newly arrived relatives lived in a granary on the farm and the family referred to it as "Visa Scholoess", the "White Castle".

When the Government of Saskatchewan offered homesteads for ten dollars ($10.00) for each quarter section, Franz Runge and Max Eismann went to look at the land and they decided to register quarter section homesteads for themselves and also for their sons, Frank Runge and Horst Eismann. The homestead was located seven or eight miles north of Big River on Black Duck Lake.

Frank stayed with the family and worked on the homestead for a time. Together, Franz and Frank built a log house that had a kitchen, bedroom area and dining area, all in one room. There was no insulation. The house was never painted.

Times were tough on the homestead in the "dirty thirties". The Runges worked the farm with a team of horses clearing five acres of trees and rocks the first year, the next year doubling the clearing. Frank, on remembering the homestead said, "On the homestead, we got nowhere. It was tough." An example of how hard times were is expressed by those who claim that freshly churned butter was used instead of axle grease when needed because it was cheaper than buying grease.

During this time the Runge family and their team of horses was hired to work at the sawmill at Stoney (Delaronde) Lake. Cora cooked, Franz drove the team and Frank worked as a labourer. Together the family and horses made $175.00 per month. And that was good money then. The family worked at the sawmill for about a year. Afterwards, Frank stayed on at the sawmill as a "bull cook" for $45.00 a month.

pFrank Sr. stayed on the homestead. Cora and Ursula returned to Germany for two years. Frank's sister Ursula had returned to Canada and when the movie "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was showing in Prince Albert Ursula invited Frank and Horst Eismann to Prince Albert to see the movie. Frank and Horst were both bachelors at the time and they took the train from Big River to Prince Albert and stayed with Ursula. They enjoyed the movie. They returned to Big River by train.

Frank worked at various jobs during this time: J.K. Johnson's mill, Godin's store, Friedman's store and on a farm near Goodsoil and most of these jobs paid a dollar a day.

When Frank was 21 or 22, he went to work for Harry Sharp who needed men to go fishing on Dore Lake. The pay was $45.00 per month, but fishing didn't start until the first of November. However, Frank started working early and for September and October, he cut wood and walked the trap line for his board. As Harry was unable to pay Frank immediately, Frank trusted Harry and eventually received full payment for his wages. Harry taught Frank to fish and hunt and that's where Frank's love of the outdoors and trapping and fishing and hunting developed.

Frank met Ruth Anderson at a July First dance. They were married in Big River in 1940. Frank was working at George Anderson's mill when Halle, a man from Quebec, approached him and offered him ten or fifteen cents more a day to come and work for him in his store. Frank worked there for about a year.

When the war broke out in 1940 there was more money available right away. Frank started a job in Prince Albert working for Burns Meats. He didn't stay at Burns long as one day Len Waite and George Greening met Frank coming out of work at Burns and offered him a job working for Waite Fisheries, starting immediately. The new job involved summer fishing. Up until this time, the only fishing that had been done was in the wintertime when the fish would stay frozen. But the purchase of a freezer all owed summer fishing to be done, and Len Waite needed more men to run the summer fishing operation. Frank started out buying fish, and that led to keeping accounts, handling cash and keeping books. Frank and his family worked for Waite Fisheries and lived in Buffalo Narrows twice during that 30 years. Frank worked for Waite Fisheries for over thirty years until he retired in 1972.

During this time Frank served as Justice of the Peace and Big River Hospital Administrator for a few years.

Frank was a diligent, steady, hardworking, responsible, devoted, quiet, humorous husband and father. He always had a job and was a good provider. He liked to garden, hunt, and fish. He took his young family to Banff and Yellowstone. He often took the family to the movies at the Big River Theatre, or drove the family to Bodmin for an ice cream.


Runge, Frank and Cora

Frank and Cora Runge immigrated to Canada in 1924. They travelled with Cora's brother, Max Eismann who was married to Frank's sister, Frieda. Frank and Cora's children: Frank Jr., age thirteen and Ursula, age five, and Max and Frieda's children: Horace, age twelve and Fred, age three rounded out the group.

Frank Sr. was born, Franz Karl Runge, February 23, 1887, in Rixdorf, Germany. Cora was born, Cora Gertrude Eismann, September 24, 1893, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She immigrated to Germany with her parents in 1894. Frank and Cora were married on June 18, 1916, in Neukollen, Germany.

The first stop for the group of eight was Kenaston, Saskatchewan where relatives had settled earlier. Their accommodation there was a granary-type building, which Ursula remembers as cold and drafty. The men worked in the Kenaston area until they were able to find, and then purchase land for themselves. In 1925, the Runges and the Eismans moved to their homesteads in the Big River area. Max and Frank Sr. had each purchased a quarter section midway down Cowan Lake and about half a mile from the lake. Frank and Cora had a tall, log house. Ursula recalls that one-year during a wicked windstorm, the roof blew off.

A story is told about the children, Frank and Ursula, skating down the lake to or from Big River and the homestead. They had one pair of skates between them. One would start skating down the lake while the other started walking. After some time, the skater would take off the skates, leaving them for the walker to find and would then start walking the next distance. Trading off in this way, both of them got home in a shorter time than if they had both walked.

Ursula remembers the first crop harvested as being promising and the future looking rosy. However, the land was poor and the depression years changed everyone's fortunes. During those years, Frank and Cora held a variety of jobs in and around Big River. Cora cooked at hotels in Debden, and Waskesiu. Frank Sr. worked at Stoney Lake as a logger for a short period. For a time, Ursula helped Mrs Anna Holmer care for her family. Frank Jr. was busy, first hauling logs for Billy Wilson, then fishing with Harry Sharp at Dore Lake. One year, during the '30s, Cora and Frank were the operators of the Lakeview Hotel in Big River. For many years before their retirement, Frank worked at Waites and Cora did house cleaning for various Big River residents.

It was while working with her parents at the Hotel that Ursula met her future husband, Jim Dawson. Jim was driving the bus on the Prince Albert/Big River run. Jim's older brother, Bill, owned the bus line plus a taxi service in Prince Albert. Jim was a bit of a tease and formed a good relationship with Cora. One day she took him back to the homestead to meet her daughter. And the rest, as they say, is history. Ursula was no slouch at being a tease herself and would play tricks on Jim on those days that his job had him overnighting in Big River. Jim and Ursula were married September 8, 1939, in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan.


Runge, Ruth Caroline (Anderson)

Ruth was born on Section 21 on a farm near either Rudde 1 or Denholm, Saskatchewan (see George Albert Anderson and Mary Ellen Burton Anderson). Ruth was the seventh child of George Albert Anderson and Mary Ellen Burton Anderson. Ruth was eight when the George Anderson family moved to Big River in 1926. Ruth lived in Big River until she married Frank Runge Jr. Then they moved to Buffalo Narrows for a couple of years, then back to Big River, then back to Buffalo Narrows, one year in Meadow Lake, back to Big River, and eventually to retirement in Vernon, British Columbia. These moves were because Frank worked for Waite Fisheries as their bookkeeper in both Big River and Buffalo Narrows. The Meadow Lake portion was to accommodate Ruth and Frank's children attending public school.

Ruth was laid to rest in Vernon where she lived the last thirty years of her life.

Some highlights: she was particularly proud of the fact that she graduated from grade twelve after she had been married for many years. She remembered with fondness her Grandma Hannah Thompson who used her own money from a government cheque to buy Ruth a pair of shoes at a very important time in Ruth's life. The shoes made it so that Ruth could attend school with shoes, as opposed to going barefoot.

Ruth met her future husband, Frank Runge Jr., at a July 1st dance. Ruth was teaching Sunday School when Frank first met her. She was twenty-one years old when she married Frank. Joan Dahl (Otte) and Frieda Felt (McKnight), were in the wedding party; along with Frank's cousin Horst Eismann. She and Frank went to Prince Albert by train for their honeymoon the day after they were wed in Big River, and they had their professional wedding photo was taken in Prince Albert (Ruth often commented that her dress was wrinkled for the photographs).

Ruth took music lessons from Mrs Dolmage. Ruth and her brother Allen played their violins, and their brother Wesley played the organ at their Mother's funeral. They played "Whispering Hope" beautifully.

Ruth loved to laugh. You could always count on her for a good joke, some of them a bit coloured. She was accepting of life and wasn't demanding of material things. Her kids remember her special way of preparing wild duck, partridges, and prairie chicken (Plymouth Rock) that Frank would bring home from his hunting excursions.

She had a silver tea set that she used to take to people's homes to prepare a special tea for them, especially through activities in the United Church. She loved to sew dresses for Francine and Fay. And she was always knitting siwash sweaters for her husband, which he used for curling and chopping wood and fancy dress.

Ruth loved her flowerbeds. She had the "English Garden" style. Ruth and Frank had chickens and one summer Ruth had a special pet hen. What a shame for the hen when the fall came! Ruth loved the 'mystique' and every time she spotted a clover patch she was down looking for that four-leaf clover. Ruth loved the heavens, the stars and moon, and was a stargazer all her life. Her children remember being wakened in the middle of the night to see some heavenly wonders. Ruth had a thorough knowledge of the contents of her Bible and had definite ideas and beliefs, which brought her and her family comfort right up to the time of her passing.

Ruth loved playing cards (cribbage, poker and bridge). Ruth's mother, Mary Ellen, believed playing cards belonged to the devil. Children of Frank and Ruth:


Herbert Frederick, born January 4, 1942, and currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia

Francine Hannah Runge, born September 20, 1944, and currently resides in Calgary, Alberta

Fay Helen (Runge) McLaughlan, born March 21, 1949, is married to Clinton Burns McLaughlan formerly of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. Fay and Clint now reside in Cochrane, Alberta, and have two children: Cari McLaughlan, who is currently on a five continent twelve-month tour; and Jason McLaughlan living in Calgary, Alberta, where he and his wife Karin are patiently awaiting the arrival of their first child, expected in early November 2003.


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