O.P.Godin's Store

Family Histories, Part 29



Tardif, Alphonse and Family

Alphonse Tardiff.

Leontine and Alphonse.

Alphonse Tardif was born October 7, 1893, in St.Agnes Hammond, Quebec. He grew up in the area and took what little education he had there. At the age of 17 (1910), he came west to live in Debden where he worked for Joseph Couture. He later met Leontine Corbeil (born April 8, 1903 in Terrevonne, Quebec). They were married in Debden on April 18, 1921.

From Debden, they moved to Bodmin, and later to a farm by Clearwater Lake. Alphonse and Leontine also lived for some time behind Joe Harvey's store in Bodmin. Big River soon became home. Their retirement took them to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Alphonse passed away at his daughter's home in Debden on March 6, 1971, at the age of 78. His wife Leontine lived for years in Cranbrook, British Columbia. She passed away August 29, 1997, at the age 94 years. Alphonse and Leontine had eight children:

Marie Rose (Hubert Babin), Henri (Louise Harty), Alcide (Betty Welsh), Leo (Irene Schuler), Patrick (Eileen Welsh), Simone (Douglas Muir), Robert (Carol Kennedy), and Rosaire (Lena Lavoie).


Tardif, Leo and Irene
Submitted by Nancy (Tardif) Nelson

Leo Tadiff.

Irene and Leo Tardiff.

Leo and Irene Tardif were married October 11, 1952. Leo was the son of Alphonse and Leontine Tardif. Irene is the daughter of Fred and Gwen Schuler.

Dad worked for Saskatchewan Forest Products and enjoyed spending his time camping, fishing, and hunting. He was always raring to go with someone here. Dad passed away on May 14, 1980, of aplastic anemia.

Mom still lives in Big River and enjoys her time with her grandchildren and spends her summer gardening.

They have three daughters: Nancy, born January 9, 1955; Phyllis, born April 16, 1956; and Judy, born September 19, 1962.


Teer Family

Samuel Henry Teer was born in Ireland. He immigrated to Canada in 1911 to work at the Big River Sawmill. In the spring of 1912, his wife Lucy and their five children were to set sail to Canada on the Titanic; however, they were late arriving at the Titanic and missed the sailing. This saved the lives of this Irish family.

Lucy and the children arrived in Canada on another ship. John Robert (Jack), Samuel Henry, Alice, Kathleen, Anne and James Mitchell joined their father in Big River after he had thought they had sailed on that doomed ship. William, Frances, and Ethel were born in Canada.

Samuel Teer worked at the sawmill until it burned down in 1919. He passed away in 1922. His widow Lucy moved to Witchekan area along with some of her family. She later returned to Big River to live with her son, James, until her passing.

James Mitchell Teer married Rosella Johanna Bittman and to this union came seven children. Samuel Henry (III) is married to Jean Gosse and they have a son James, born September 19, 1986. They live at McKenzie, British Columbia where Sam works as an electrician.

Kathleen Anne Teer is married to Victor Einar Nording and resides at Shellbrook, Saskatchewan. They have two children; David James was born August 28, 1983, and lives in Saskatoon and Kimberley Anne who was born May 5, 1985, and is presently attending the University of Regina. Kathleen has worked in the newspaper industry for many years and continues to work for the Shellbrook Chronicle. Her husband Vic is a heavy equipment operator.

John Robert Teer resides on the homestead quarter, west of Big River. John owns his own trucking company. He has served on many local boards and has served as the Reeve of the RM.

Daniel George Teer is married to Donna Thibeault. They have three children; Krista Dawn Marie was born on December 30, 1981, and is married to Colyn Swanson and has a son named Jesse. Rachelle Katherine was born July 13, 1987, and Landon Daniel born July 9, 1990. Rachelle and Landon are attending school in Big River. Dan works in the trucking industry at Lloydminster and Donna works at the Big River Health Center.

Douglas James Teer lives in Big River with his young son, Mitchell Fraser, who was born on August 10, 1992. Doug also works in the trucking industry in the oil patch at Lloydminster.

Ronald William Teer lives at Big River and works for the Beebe Trucking Company.

Evelyn Grace Teer is married to Baron Smith. They have two children, Courtney Lynn born May 31, 1989, and Michael Tyler born December 25, 1991. They live in Olds, Alberta.

James Mitchell Teer passed away on October 9, 1967. His wife Rosella lives in Big River where she continues to be a very active member of her community.


Teer, Mrs Sarah
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Sarah and her husband Jack lived along the lakeshore on the West Side of Cowan Lake. Jack trapped during the winter and his summer hobby was experimenting in growing fruit trees. He passed away suddenly a few years ago and Sarah now lives in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.


Thibeault, George and Mary
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

In 1910, George and Mary Thibeault arrived in Big River from Montmanie, Quebec. George moved to Big River to work for the prosperous Lumber Company. He then homesteaded at Stoney Lake, moving to town a few years later. While living in Big River, George was employed at various jobs, and among these was a bakery at O.P. Godin's Store.

George and Mary raised their family in Big River and lived here until their deaths in 1951 and 1952. Their children were Jean-George, still residing in Big River, Emile, Albert, Desnieges and Joseph.


Thibeault, Mike and Ella

Michael (Mike) Thibeault was born April 25, 1893, in Belledune, New Brunswick. He was the older of two children. His mother died in childbirth when his sister Julie was born. As a young lad, Mike was befriended by a Captain and crossed the Atlantic from New Brunswick to England many times. Once, while over in England, he met and became friends with a boy named Frank Schofield. Mike served in World War One in the Cavalry. He was wounded while fighting overseas and was sent to hospital in Liverpool, England. While there, his friend Frank came to visit and brought his sister Elizabeth.

Elizabeth (Ella) Schofield was born May 20, 1899, at Liverpool, England. She was the second child of Frank and Margaret Schofield. She had an older brother also called Frank, and younger siblings Ida, Queenie, George, William (Bill), Elsie, and Mabel. Ella worked in a Confectionery store for a time before sailing to Canada. After being discharged from the war because of injuries, Mike moved to Big River, Saskatchewan to join his father who had moved here from New Brunswick. He then sent for Ella in England to join him.

Sailing from England, Ella left on January 1, 1920, and arrived in Prince Albert on the train on January 12. Mike was there to meet her at the station and they immediately went to be married. They settled on Section 32, as Ella always referred to it. Mike and Ella raised 13 children. They were John, Henry (Bud), Harry, Robert (Bob), Patricia (Fussy), Ken, Doris, Edna (Tillie), George, Norman (Tiggy), Elizabeth (Tootsie), and the twins Ronald (Riley), and Margaret (Peggy). Their first child was a boy and he died at birth. Ella also lost two more male children, one between Henry and Harry and another between Harry and Robert.

In 1935, from Section 32, the family moved to Mariah Point on Delaronde Lake but only ended up spending the winter. From there in the spring of 1936, they moved to the southeast side of Delaronde Lake. They lived there for ten years and then moved to Cold Lake, Alberta for a summer and then moved back to the same location on Delaronde. They resided there until 1956 at which time they moved to Big River.

Mike made a living from sawing lumber and shingles. He made fish boxes for Waite Fisheries for years. He fed his large family by hunting and fishing large and small game. Ella always planted large gardens and the family picked many, many berries. The kids went to school at the south end of Delaronde Lake.


Thibeault, Ronald and Olivia

Tudy Ausland.

Back Row: Kirby, Derek, Travis, Ron, Scott, Rhonda.
Front Row: Dane, Drew, Frances, Mary, Olivia and Margie, holding Evan.

Ronald (Riley) and Olivia (Tudy Ausland), moved to Calgary in April 1963. We have lived here ever since. I was a housewife and homemaker. We have five grown children and three grandsons. Ron is in masonry. We have our own company called "Thibeault Masonry Ltd". He does a lot of commercial work. He has won eight awards for some of the buildings that he built. Ron is still active in his music.


Derek Thibeault, is 42 years old and has a Bachelor of Physical Education degree. He went into real estate and works for "Remax" where he has achieved the honour of becoming a member of the 100% Club. He married Frances (Osmond) of Trail, British Columbia. She works for the law firm "Milner Fenerty". They have two boys, Dane age ten years and Drew age six years.

Kirby Thibeault, is 40 years old and has a Bachelor of Commerce and Masters of Economics degrees. He is president of his company called "Kapital Investment Corporation. He is the author of a recently published book of inspirational poetry, entitled "Wealth".

Travis Thibeault, is 38 years old and is a bricklayer for Thibeault Masonry Ltd. He is also a fitness instructor. He married a girl from the City of Orange, Orange County, California. She is a trader in the brokerage industry.

Scott Thibeault, is 35 years old, is in reality and works for Century 21. He is a number one agent and has been a top producer since 1999, receiving the Emerald Award in 2001 and the Centurion Award in 2002. He is a member of the real estate MLS (Multiple Listing Sales) Million Dollar Club. He is married to Margie (Kent) of Cloverdale, British Columbia. They have a son Evan 16 months old and she is a stay-at-home mom, housewife and homemaker.

Rhonda Thibeault, is 30 years old and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She has an Animal Health Technology diploma and also a Bachelor of Nursing. She is presently working at the Rockyview Hospital.

Thibeault, Rosemarie

Rosemarie was born to Margaret and Robert Pruden on December 6, 1937. Rosemarie did her schooling and resided in Big River all of her life. After she finished her schooling, she worked in the old post office. From there, she cleaned rooms at the hotel.

Rosemarie married Norman Thibeault on December 31, 1956, and they divorced in 1979, They raised two daughters Donna (Dan) Teer, Big River and Norma (Vernon) Hyllestad, Big River and they had two sons Brent (Gina Henault) Thibeault, Shellbrook, Saskatchewan and Glen (Janis Nikkel) Thibeault, New Hazelton, British Columbia.

Rosemarie worked at the Big River Hospital from March 1978 to March 1998 and then started her retirement.


Thiessen, Abraham (Abe) M
and Mary (Veer)

Abraham Theissen.

Mary and Abe, April 7, 1947.

Abe was born on April 15, 1916, in the Great Deer District of Saskatchewan to Mr Henry H. and Margaret (Reimer) Thiessen.

He arrived in the Park Valley area in the mid-1930s with a few cows and horses from Hague, Saskatchewan. The first time he stayed with his brother, Henry and also at his Uncle Peter Reimer's place. From there he came to the Rapid Bend District. Then his parents came, bringing along with them more cows, horses, pigs and chickens with no fences, buildings or corrals to keep them in. They had a good well by then, so they quickly built a small one-room shack, with those good old time flour bags for windows, and a heavy homemade quilt for the door. A barn and a hay corral were made also, so they were now set for their first winter. But of course, there was feed to haul for the winter. Abe had someone with him so they did well digging, built buildings and made corrals.

He rented land locally and as far away as about 17 miles, and he worked with horses. People used horses to go to town, to haul grain, pigs, and to ship cattle. There were country Post Offices and some groceries, but not full stock in some of them, but you always made do.

I, Mary (Veer) arrived here in November of 1942. I was born in the Great Deer area, land location (27-41-7 W3rd, about two miles from where Abe was born. I was born on December 11, 1929.

We were married on April 7, 1947. We had a hard-working life, but yet a good life. We have four children: Nancy, born September 1947, at home (NE 15-55-6 W3rd), Donald, born October 16, 1952, at the Victoria Hospital in Prince Albert, Linda, born on November 7, 1962, at the University Hospital in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Aaron was born on September 13, 1966, at the Holy Family Hospital in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

I remember the winter of 1942-43. There was quite a lot of snow and night after night the temperature dropped to -50 and colder. About four days a week Abe would haul an old fashioned wagon box full of oats (of course on a sleigh with the team of horses) to Big River, which was four miles' one way. Also some years later, I don't recall the exact date, when in the morning the weather was not too bad, so the then so-called school bus picked up the children and was off to school, while in the midday a real snowstorm hit... dumping lots of snow and the wind accomplished its business as well. Anyway, the bus could not come the whole trip back. Later, a cat came to plough open part of the way. I'm sure there are still others that remember those days.

Due to the extra cold weather, we ran out of firewood, and trudging through the snow while doing the chores was very tiring. Abe would somehow manage to bring in some trees to the house, and many times he'd bring them into the kitchen, in lengths. By midnight he would have them all bucked up, ready for the next day's use. He did this because of health reasons, for it was far too cold outside. What a mess. But it fed and warmed us. Of course, he did not always do it alone, I did my best to help.

Life and work were not easy, but all around every family lived each day at a time and endured it alike. Yet there were those birthday get-togethers we enjoyed, and at that time our church, the Lake Four church, was well attended. Abe passed away on March 17, 1967, and I still reside on our homestead.


Thiessen, Henry, Anne
and family

Henry Thiessen.

Thiessen family.

Henry Thiessen was born on October 25, 1908, on a farm at Great Deer, Saskatchewan. His father was Henry Thiessen Sr. and his mother was Margaret Reimer. Henry had one sister, Margaret, who passed away at the age of fifteen from diphtheria. He also had a brother, Abram. They went to school at Clear Spring School at Great Deer.

I, Anne (Rhodes) Thiessen, was born on August 29, 1913 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. My parents were John Rhodes and Katherine Klassen. I had five brothers: John, Jake, Abram, David, and Bill. I also had four sisters: Katharine, Helen, Mary and Sadie. Only three of my siblings are alive today.

Henry and I met at a dance in the fall of 1931 and a few weeks later we went to Saskatoon and were married. We lived with his folks during the winter of 1931-1932. In the spring (1932) we went to work in Borden, Saskatchewan. In the fall, we built a small house near the North Saskatchewan River about a mile north of Hepburn ferry.

In 1933, we loaded what we had on a hayrack and started for the north to find a place to live, where there was feed for the cattle. Henry relied on his trapping to keep us going. Our daughter, Margaret was born on February 11, 1933. On our journey north, Margaret was kept in a cradle under the table where she was very content and happy. We slept outdoors for nine of those nights.

When we arrived, we found a small shack and fixed it up to live in. Henry had been to the north before, as he had relatives there. To me, it was all strange and very lonesome. Our cattle were in a herd with Pete Reimer's. This place became our homestead. We added on with more land and hay leases.

We were blessed with ten more wonderful children: Tina. Helen, Sarah, Mary, Henry Jr., Herman, Abram, Martha, Bernard and Bernice. Helen, Tina and Henry Jr. have passed away.

In the fall of 1973, my husband, Henry and I moved to the Town of Big River. Henry passed away on November 1, 1973. I continue to live in Big River. I am an active member of my Church and I enjoy being a member of the Big River Seniors group.


Thiessen, John and Eileen (Wall)

John was born on December 4, 1937, at Gruenthal, Saskatchewan to Isaac and Elizabeth Thiessen. He was one of nine children. Eileen was born on December 17, 1939, at Rosthern, Saskatchewan to Pete and Gertrude Wall. She has one younger brother. John and Eileen were married on June 6, 1959, at Waldheim, Saskatchewan and have four children, Travis (1960), Brad (1961), Warren (1966) and Lorelei (1971). John and Eileen moved to Big River from Dodsland, Saskatchewan in 1981 to expand their family farming operation. Sadly, John passed away unexpectedly on April 25, 2000.

Eileen continues to farm with two of their sons, Brad and Warren, while Travis resides in St. Albert, Alberta and Lorelei in La Ronge, Saskatchewan. Travis and Cindy (Hayes) have one son, Mackenzie (1988). Brad and Rhonda (Pinter) have two children, Jordan (1990) and Rachel (1992). Warren and Barb (Contain) have two sons, James (1995) and Justin (1998). Lorelei and Shawn (Reich) have two children, Brett (1996) and Brianne (1999).


Thomas, Fletcher and Lillian (Doucette)

Thomas Fletcher.

Lillian and Fletch.

Lil was born on October 14, 1924, in her home at Bodmin. Her maternal grandmother, Emma LeBlanc, was the midwife for all eighteen children born in her family. Lil was named Maria Anna Lillian by her parents, Anna (LeGouffe) and Fidele Doucette. Lil had eleven brothers and six sisters: Joseph, Anna, Adele, Gertrude, Clifford, Ernest, Beatrice, Adrien, Alexander, Roland, Jean-Baptiste, James, Bertha, Paul, John, Julien, and Juliette.

Lil attended and finished grade eight at Bodmin School. She got a job as a farm and home-helper for Omar Demers, an MP. She offered to do anything except milk cows. Lil pretended that she didn't know how because she hated cows and milk! Lil also worked as a babysitter in Holbein, a housekeeper and waitress in the Debden Hotel, and while pregnant at age seventeen, as a waitress at the Rex Cafe in Big River.

Lil married Harold Magrath in 1941 and had three children: Gary Harold John, Jacqueline Ann, and David Clifton. While Harold was serving overseas, Lil, her eleven-month-old son, Gary, her brother John, and her mother Anna moved to British Columbia. Three of Lil's brothers were overseas and many of her siblings had already moved to British Columbia in the '30s, searching for work. In 1952, Lil and Harold divorced. She later met Fletch Thomas and in 1957, at age thirty-three, Lil remarried. Lil and Fletch have been happily married for forty-seven years. They moved to Big River in 2002.

Fletch was born January 27, 1924, in Nanaimo, British Columbia. He was named Fletcher William Lillian, Fletch. by his parents, Julia (Hiquebran) and Fletcher Thomas. He had three sisters and two brothers: Gladys, Margaret, Alice, Douglas and Joe. Fletch went to school until he was fifteen. He worked on a dairy farm, in a coal mine, and on the CPR railroad before serving overseas in the army from 1942 to 1945, (Loyal Edmonton Infantry Regiment). Fletch drove a truck, worked in a sawmill, and worked at the pulp mill in Nanaimo for many years until his retirement.

Fletch and Lil have six grandchildren: Tammy Morin (Magrath), Allan Magrath (Died 2000), Shane Magrath, Kurt Magrath, Shaya Magrath, and Dylan Magrath. They also have four great-grandchildren: Talia and Thomas Warriner, Owen and Isha Magrath.


Thompson, B.L.

He attempted to obtain a grazing lease in Winter Lake on W'/2 of 9 and all of 16-54-7 W3rd. Records from 1920 indicate that the lands were within the "Soldier Settlement Area" and therefore no guarantee could be given by the Dominion Land Titles.


Thompson, John
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

John Thompson came to Big River from Dafoe, Saskatchewan in 1924. He spent several years fishing and trapping at Dore Lake before moving to Big River. He married Grace Blanchette in 1934 and in 1937; they bought a farm in the Stoney Lake District and raised mink. Mink ranching became Mr Thompson's occupation and for the next twenty years, he lived and worked on the fur farm.

In 1957, he moved to Buffalo Narrows where he continued to raise mink until his retirement in 1974. He chose to spend his remaining years in Big River and resides here today.

The Thompson's raised a family of five boys, their names are as follows: Fred, Stewart, Howard, Jack and Ronnie. Fred and Ronnie are both professional boxers. Fred held the Provincial Middleweight Championship for two consecutive years. After Fred retired from boxing, he became interested in politics and for the last several years he has held the position of MLA for the Athabasca Constituency.


Thompson, Thomas Burton

Thomas Thompson was born on February 5, 1869, in Osseo, Minnesota, USA. He was sixty-four years old when he settled in the Winter Lake area on SE 21-54-7 W3rd. He had a log house and two log stables where he raised eight horses. The residents in the area knew him as "Cordwood Thompson".


Topham, Melanie (Gear)

Melanie Topham.

Back Row: Gene, Melanie.
Front Row: Jolene, Joey, Jill.

Melanie grew up on the family farm NE 32-556-W3'. Melanie enjoyed spending time with her cousins and her school friends.

She graduated from Big River High School in 1985 and started her career in banking at the Bank of Montreal in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

She moved to Regina in 1988 to work for the Royal Bank and transferred back to Prince Albert in 1992.

Melanie and Gene were married in 1993 and continue to live and work in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.


Traill, Walter and Family
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Mr and Mrs Walter Traill moved from McDowell to Big River in 1912 with their family of seven children. Mr Traill became manager of the Ladder lake Company store where he worked until 1917. After the death of his father in that year, he moved to the family farm at Meskanaw. Mrs Traill died in Victoria in 1948. Mr Traill died in Garrick in 1957. Their family consisted of the following: Dougal, the oldest son, was employed at the railway station until he joined the army in 1916. He was awarded the Military Medal. He was killed in action in 1918.

Harry the second son, worked as a filer in the sawmill until he too joined the army. He was wounded but served again in World War II. He died in Victoria, where his widow and four children still live.

Evelyn married Reverend Douglas Andrews, who died in 1957. Evelyn now lives in Victoria.

Katie married William Tatty who farmed at Garrick where she still lives. Her husband died in 1963. Edna married Reginald Kirk of Plenty, Saskatchewan. He died in 1978 and Edna still resides in Plenty.

William homesteaded at Garrick. Jessie married Percy McKay and they homesteaded at Garrick.

Florence, who was born in Big River, married Bishop Walter Bird who died in 1939. Florence died in Victoria in 1974.

Roland, also born in Big River, served in the Second World War and later farmed at Plenty, Saskatchewan. He died in 1977.


Tremblay, Augustine(Gus) and Bernice Marie(Dumeresq)
Submitted by John Tremblay

Gus Tremblay.

Gaudoise and Gus Tremblay

Gus, 1906 - 1994, Bernice, 1919 - 1971

Thomas and Marie Tremblay must have been a couple with Great Spirit. They had to be brave, challenging and very optimistic to pick up their seven children and move from a well established (for that time in Canada) farming community in Quebec to the virginal, unbroken, land of Big River in Northern Saskatchewan in the year 1908. Many French Canadian families moved to communities throughout the province. But it was as if Thomas had to move past all those other towns and hamlets to end up at (what was then mostly thought of as) the end of the line for farming in Northern Saskatchewan. I for one, as you will discover further on, was very fortunate they pushed ahead and settled in Big River.

Joe, the Tremblay's eldest son, was the first to move out to Northern Saskatchewan. His first job was building a General Store in Eldred, a small community north of Prince Albert. While there, Joe heard about job opportunities at a sawmill, located still further north of where he was building the store, in a town called Big River. He immediately sent for his parents and the family left it all to come and settle in this new land and never to return to Quebec.

As time went on, the children grew up and moved around Saskatchewan. Eventually, all but Alma would move to British Columbia. I believe Joe, who married Jenny Delisle, was the first to venture to British Columbia, where he raised his family and remained on Vancouver Island until his passing. Alma married Charles (Charlie) Michel and lived on Stony Lake or what is now known as Lac Delaronde. Their property was exactly where the Resort stands today.

Anna Marie moved to Jack Fish Lake, Saskatchewan where she married Albert Lavigne and raised their family. Her husband, Albert, died the day her youngest son, Albert, was born. Later, she moved to Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, where she spent the rest of her life. Elzear went to fight the First World War and then after a brief time in the Leoville area, he moved his family to Vancouver. Gaudiose (better known as George) stayed on in the Big River area for quite some time. Eventually, he married Maryanne Gallant and moved to Port Alberni in the '50s along with his three children: Leo, Terry and Rosemarie. Lorenzo also stayed in northern Saskatchewan for many years. He married Lucienne Renault and they moved to Port Alberni in the early '50s as well, bringing with them his then widowed mother, Marie and their daughter, Jeanette. Augustine (Gus) was the last to leave Big River, and he moved wife Bernice and son Francis (John) 1955.

Now that you have a brief history of the Tremblay dynasty, I will proceed with my purpose in this writing and that is to provide a history of my parents, Gus and Bernice Tremblay:

My dad was three years old when he arrived in Big River from Quebec. Because of his young age, he would hold no real memories of his home province; Saskatchewan became very much his home and its form of French was what he learned and adopted as his own.

His mother, wanting Dad to maintain his French, decided to have him sent to a convent. Though she preferred a school in Quebec, Dad didn't want to be so far from home, so they chose a boarding school run by the Grey Nuns at Isle-a-la-Crosse, north of Big River. This proved to be a very good school where most of the grades were in one room and there was no telling how many grades one could accomplish in one year. Going so far north for education would have a lasting effect on Dad and certainly mapped out how he would live the rest of his life. I don't recall what his actual education worked out to be, but I do know that he could write fluently in both French and English and his mathematic skills were often complimented.

Throughout his life, Gus proved to be very resilient and tough, as were the pioneers of those days.

In the early days of living in Big River, he worked on the farm for his parents. As well as his normal chores, he was responsible for delivering milk to town every day. He carried the milk on a buggy called a Democrat that was pulled with one horse. He would go into each house with a milk can and a measuring can. He would then measure out what the customer would need into their container and go on to the next house. He had the horse trained to the point that it never needed to be tied up while Dad was in the houses and if he was to go out the back door of one house and into the next one, the horse would be waiting at the front of the next house when he came out.

His next choice in work was to become involved in freighting fish from the far north of Saskatchewan to Big River. This was big business in those days and not for the faint of heart. It had to be done in the wintertime when the lakes were well frozen so that large sleighs pulled by enormous teams of horses could make the passage. It was a very tough life where horses came first and men second. The teams pulling their sleighs were formed into large trains. The front team would push a snowplough, while the following sleighs would carry hay and sacks of feed and of course their payload, which was fish one way, and freight the other. Six men would man each train and each man would have two teams of horses to pull one sleigh. There was also one man called the "Swing Boss" who had only one team and in case of an emergency, he would be able to tend to the injured man and possibly go on ahead, taking that person to additional care.

As I mentioned, these men were not the faint of heart. They worked in sub-zero weather, only eating or sleeping long after the horses were well-bedded down and fed. Only then would they quickly eat and bed themselves in huge feather comforters made into a bed in the nearest snowbank. Then they would wake up in the morning and start over again As spring would approach and the lakes would start to melt, the freights would have to be shut down until the next freeze up. During the spring and summer, Dad and most of the local men would work in the sawmill, in the woods or on farms. As time went on the fish companies would start flying their fish to Big River and then on by train and truck to be sold around the world. This very suddenly brought to an end a difficult way to make a living and the end to a very tough breed that had opened up our North, making way for another group of risk-taking individuals, the bush pilots and the long - haul truck drivers.

In the early 1930's, Dad and two close friends, Albert Fortin and Alf Tinker decided to set out on an expedition to explore even further north than they had already experienced while they had been hauling freight. They purchased an excellent team of dogs and nested a canoe in the sleigh. Then, as was customary, all of their gear was stored in the canoe. The man operating the team was called a Musher. He would occasionally ride on the sleigh and the rest of the time he would run along with his partners. Normally they would trade this job off, giving them all an opportunity to ride and mush the team as well.

Eventually, the time would come for them to leave Big River for the Far North and parts unknown. Now the lakes and rivers would be frozen and the snow was adequate on the ground to provide easy pulling for the dogs. As I remember my dad telling the story, they hadn't travelled too many days when their sleigh and team went through the ice and gave their gear a good soaking. It was very cold and difficult to thaw everything out. All the salt and flour was lost along with any other seasoning. Their bullets and gunpowder were soaked and had to be dried out slowly and over time. Soon they became hungry and food would have to be found. The men called upon their skills and made snares to trap a gourmet dinner. Dad was to tell me later that it was then when food was very scarce that he would eat porcupine and beaver. He said he would not recommend either of those food sources to anyone.

As time went on and they continued north, they had many exciting experiences and returned with many memories they would recount all of their lives. I only wish I had written or recorded all of the stories because one fault Dad did not have was the ability to exaggerate. He only told it one way and that was just the way it was with no exaggerations.

I do remember he once told us of coming, across a deep ravine where they could not see the bottom. He said they threw rocks down and they waited a long time to hear them hit bottom.

Dad was fortunate that when he went to school at Ile-a-la-Crosse he was taught along with the Native children and he was able to learn to speak the Cree language quite fluently. Now as they travelled further and further north and they met tribes that spoke no English, he was able to communicate very well. On one occasion, when speaking to a group of natives from one particular tribe, possibly into the Northwest Territories, the natives commented that they had heard of "you people with the lighter skin, but we have never met one". This was a very special occasion for the adventurers and one Dad would speak of many a time over the years.

Another occasion would prove memorable to them, but most of all to his mother, Marie. Apparently at one part of their trip, probably during the early spring, a trapper was following their trail, when he saw their sleigh tracks cross a lake and disappear in an ice break, with no sign of their making it out on the other side. The trapper, seeing this, immediately thought they had broken through and perished. Not long after that, the trapper would return to Big River and give the sad news to Dad's family. What the trapper didn't know was that the hole in the ice had occurred shortly after they had crossed the lake and they had made that journey across the lake quite safely. When Dad eventually made his way back home all in one piece in the late spring and walked into his mother's kitchen unannounced, she took one look at him and collapsed to the floor. I do remember him saying that he had a lot of explaining to do once his Mother recovered.

Later Gus was to go on to work for the local General Store. First, he worked for a man called St. Arnaud and as time went on the store was bought out by O.P. Godin. In this store, he would bake bread, butcher and cut up beef, pork and other domestic animals. When this work was completed, he would go out to what was called the Gas Shed and sell and deliver fuel oil throughout the area. Some folks may remember him going to the farms in the district and butchering their livestock. Dad would do this type of work for many years, off and on, interspersed with work in the local sawmill. He always found a way to make a living and to survive. I can remember well when he would be doing private butchering and meat- cutting that he would bring home various cuts of meat. Many times it would appear that some of the cuts would not be the run-of-the-mill cuts, the type of cuts you would see in the meat market. For example, he'd have the head of a cow or pig or even perhaps the hooves of a pig, which he would pickle. He would consider these a delicacy and mother would make items like pickled pigs' feet or headcheese. I got to enjoy these items and others very much, though as I remember it wasn't until long after I had gotten to enjoy these dishes that I learned just what parts of the animal they came from. Sometime later I was to realize that he was paid for butchering with these offerings of meat.

Dad decided to settle down in 1936 when he married Bernice Dumeresq, the daughter of Arthur and Rita Dumeresq who lived on the east side of Ladder Lake. All of their seven children, except for one, their son Philip, eventually settled in British Columbia. Philip settled in Bounty, Saskatchewan, where he was Postmaster and owned the General Store. Later another brother, Perry, would leave British Columbia to settle in Alberta and become a Cattle Rancher. The rest: Lawrence, Archie, Anna and Reggie, remained in British Columbia for the rest of their lives. Anna married Maurice Tremblay from Northern Saskatchewan but no relation to Dad's family.

Not long after Mom and Dad married, they moved to Port Alberni in British Columbia (19361940). Dad worked in a shingle mill where the work was very difficult and dangerous. He would tell a story of his last days on the job in Alberni. He said a man got caught up in a saw and became mortally injured. He said the men were instructed to move the body out of the way and to continue working. The body was to be picked up later. Dad said he went up to the Foreman and stated that where he came from they treated their horses better than that, after which he picked up his lunch box and went home. With Mother's health becoming very poor and both of them missing Saskatchewan very much, they soon moved back home, where he would resume working in the mill and at O.P. Godin's store.

This move back to Big River would later prove to greatly benefit me. In 1943, my Mother-to-be, Bernice, fell ill and was hospitalized in the Holy Family Hospital in Prince Albert. While she was in the Hospital another woman had a baby boy and gave the child up for adoption. Mother met that baby in the hospital and became quite attached to him during her stay. Before she was to be discharged and returned home, arrangements were made for Gus and Bernice to adopt the baby and he would return home with them. As I said, I would benefit by the Tremblay's return to Big River and of course her hospitalization, because that baby was me and I was to become part of a family that I am eternally proud of, the Tremblay Family.

In 1955, Dad moved the family back to Port Alberni. Unfortunately, wages were very poor and the need for a better existence caused him to pick up the family and move. With the help of his dear friend, Ivan Edson, (son of Nels Edson, a Big River pioneer) he was to find work in the Pulp and Paper mill where he worked in the Garage until retirement. Less than a year after he retired, Mom passed away in her early 50's from cancer. Later, while playing cards; he met Jean Hebert, a long-time widow, who had moved to British Columbia from Saskatchewan to be with her family. They would soon marry and have a very happy life together until Jean's death some ten years later. Dad would carry on and eventually move into a Seniors' Home called Fir Park, where he would stay until his death.

It is with great pride that I can write this brief history of my Mother and Father and the Tremblay family. I believe their contribution to the community of Big River has made it a better community for everyone today. Their unquestionably honest nature, warm friendliness and loving hospitality, coupled with a very strong work ethic, were common throughout their families. Through adoption, I have been very fortunate to be part of their family.


Tremblay, Thomas and Mary
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Thomas Tremblay came to Big River in 1911 to join his son Joseph who had a store at Eldred. He purchased a large house from the priest, Fr. Gagne and sent for the rest of his family who were at Lac St. Jean, Quebec. His wife, Mary, and children, Elizior, Alma, Gaudoise, Anna Marie, Lorenzo and Augustine came by train in 1912.

Joseph filed on one of the earliest homesteads in this district. He later sold this land to Paul Dube.

The Tremblays found they could not get the title to the land on which their house stood so decided to move to a homestead just south of town on Ladder Lake. They operated a small milk route for a time and the boys fished and freighted as well as farmed.

During the 1940s, Thomas and Mary moved back into town to retire. They lived in the house where the bus depot is at present.

Joseph, Elizior and Anna Marie (Lavigne) moved from the district many years ago, but Gaudoise, `Gus' and Alma (Mrs. Michel) remained and are well-known pioneers of the district.

Thomas is buried in the Big river Cemetery and Mary passed away in Victoria.

Gaudoise, Gus and Lorenzo are now living in Port Alberni, British Columbia, where they are retired. They still enjoy coming back to Big River to visit old friends.


Uhrich, Phil
Submitted by Ken Uhrich

My father Philip F. Uhrich was born in Morden, Manitoba in 1903. My mother Catherine (Kate) Lummerding was born in Bruno, Saskatchewan in 1904. They were married in Saskatoon in 1923.

My father started working for the CNR in 1920 and then learned the Morse code and became a telegrapher in 1922. In August 1925, their first son Kenneth Philip was born in Bruno, Saskatchewan. Their second son, John was born in 1931 and a third son William was born in 1933. Then came two girls to round out the Uhrich family. Phyllis was born in 1941 and Patricia born in 1947.

Working for the CNR as a station agent, we must have moved ten times, our last place, before going to Big River, was Loverna, Saskatchewan, right on the Alberta border. When our family heard that my father was the successful applicant for Big River, my mother and dad were so happy. After living in stations for twenty-seven years, this was the first time they had electricity, water and an oil-burning furnace. They held a large auction sale at Loverna and sold all their living room furniture, lots of kitchen furniture, our battery-powered radios and the old square top Maytag washing machine. A boxcar was loaded with the rest of our furniture and we drove to Big River arriving in the late fall of 1948.

Big River was a very busy job in those days. In the winter, the station employed five people. Waite Fisheries were extremely busy shipping out frozen fish to all parts of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. They shipped about three carloads of fish to New York. The lumber traffic was quite heavy also. My family was well-liked in the town. Len Waite took my dad on a few trips by plane away up north. I recall one trip they both went caribou hunting and were successful. Another trip to the far north in the winter was made to catch Arctic char. They also used to visit back and forth. Another friend he had was Blackie Page the RCMP officer. They used to go fishing and hunting ducks and bears together. There were numerous other people but I have forgotten their names.

I still remember a story Len Waite told my dad when they were up visiting him in his new home on the hill. As the people in Big River know, Len operated under three names. If you looked in the Western Producer you would see his ads: Waite Fisheries, Big River Fisheries and Northern Fisheries. Any way this farmer from Saskatchewan ordered his winter supply of fish, which were shipped in boxes. He wrote that last year he got fish from Northern Fisheries and he was not too happy with the product. So this year, he is ordering from Big River Fisheries hoping the fish would be much better.

Tragedy struck our family two times in a short period. My brother William passed away in Big River in April 1954. Then in June 1954, my father, along with a CNR Conductor, named Harry Wallace from Prince Albert, and another CNR employee from Big River who was the engine watchman and I believe his last name was Bell all drowned in a boat accident on Stoney Lake. And, by the way, for those of you who read this and say where is Stoney Lake, that's what it used to be called. It is now Delaronde Lake.

When he didn't return, the next morning, my mother called Blackie Page, the RCMP and Len Waite who immediately took off in one of his planes and started searching Stoney Lake where they had gone fishing, in my dad's 18-foot boat powered by a new 20 HP Mercury motor. It wasn't long before they saw the 18-foot boat, washed up on shore, and then found my dad. He was floating with a life jacket on upside down. They were returning from the narrows on Stoney Lake when they struck a deadhead in the water that threw them out of the boat. All three men were above average swimmers, but the cold water in June was just too much.

He, along with my brother William, is buried in the Big River Cemetery. There was an extremely large funeral for my dad; so large the Catholic Church could not hold them all. Many people were standing outside. My mother had to move out of the station and managed to get a suite above Waite's store. She remained there for six months then moved to Blackfoot, Alberta, and finally settled in Kerrobert, Saskatchewan. She was out in Mission, British Columbia, visiting with my sister, Phyllis, when she took sick and passed away in June 1987. She too is buried in Big River alongside my father and brother.

Their son, Kenneth, who wrote this story, and wife, Shirley, now live in Saskatoon. The other son, Jack farmed at Wiseton for several years and now retired in Camrose with his wife, Mae. As for the girls, Phyllis is married to David Parnell whose family lived in Big River. The youngest of the family, Patsy, is living in Nanaimo, British Columbia, and is married to Wayne Westlake.


Unrau, Jacob and Mary

Jacob Unrah.

Back Row: Sarah, Bill, Tena, Abe, Ann,
Henry, Mary, Margaret.
Front Row: Mary. Insert Jacob.

Jacob Unrau was born on October 6, 1907, in Plum Coulee, Manitoba. His parents moved around a lot and it was hard for him to attend school. Jacob quit school when he was twelve years old and went to work for a threshing crew. His job was to haul water (up to fourteen barrels a day) for the steam engines with a team of oxen. Later his parents moved to Alberta, then back to Great Deer, Saskatchewan.

Mary Rhode was born on October 18, 1916. She was raised on her parents' farm in Aberdeen, Saskatchewan.

Jacob and Mary were married on October 27, 1935, at Great Deer, Saskatchewan. They moved around for a few years getting jobs where they could. Then in the spring of 1939, they got their homestead (NW 35-55-6 W3rd) and built a log house there. When Jacob and Mary first moved to the homestead, they had a team of oxen. Later they bought a team of horses. They used the horses for several years (before they bought a tractor), to break the land, put up the hay, and haul wood for the winter. They had their milk cows, pigs and chickens. They also put in a big garden, which supplied them with their vegetables for the winter.

In October 1947, they bought another fraction of land, (NE 16-55-6 WY') from Nils Isackson. This land they used for hay and pasture. Jacob was a good mechanic. He did mechanical work for a lot of the people in the district. He was also a home barber and enjoyed woodworking and repairing clocks and watches.

The family got most of their groceries at Pederson's store at Lake Four which also served as post office and a cream depot. After the store closed down they hauled their cream to the Big River Depot and got their mail and supplies there. They also attended the Mennonite Church at Lake Four.

Mary was kept busy looking after the children, helping with the outside chores, and doing the gardening and canning. She made quite a few of the kids clothing, socks and mitts. She also hand-carded the wool for the quilts.

The older children started school at Rapid Bend. In about 1955, they closed Rapid Bend School and the children were bused to Big River. Jacob and Mary had nine children in all:


Jacob Junior was born on January 4, 1936. He died on January 5, 1936.

Tena was born on May 12, 1938. She married Leslie Boyle and has four children Mervin, Cynthia, Brad, and Sherry.

Mary was born on October 14, 1939. She married Clinton DeWalt and they have three children, Lynn, Rick, and Bill.

Bill was born on June 4, 1942. He married Gloria Gerber and they have four children, Tamara, Brian, Shelly, and Darcy.

Sarah was born on March 22, 1944. She married Jim Bell and they have three children, Robert, Vincent, and Angela.

Henry was born on January 3, 1946. He married Karen Proctor and they have two children Maureen and Kelly.

Margaret was born on December 2, 1949. She married Bert Wilkins and they have two children Jason and Travis.

Abe was born on November 3, 1951. He married Judy Lehman and they have two children Steven and Christie.

Ann was born on April 8, 1954. She married Paul Marcel Arcand and they have two children Carmen and Shondelle.

The youngest three children were born in Big River Hospital. In 1962, Jacob and Mary were separated and Mary moved to Vancouver for a while. Then in 1969, they moved back to Big River. Jacob remained on the farm until September 1972, when he sold the farm to Lloyd and Nancy Davidson and bought a house in town.

For some time, Jacob alternated summers in Saskatchewan and winters with his children in Alberta. In about 1977 he sold the house and moved into a senior citizens apartment in Canwood. In the fall of 1981, Jacob moved to Edson, Alberta. He purchased a mobile home, which he installed on his daughter Mary and Husband Clinton's farm. He resided there until his death on January 20, 1986.

Mary moved into a senior citizens apartment in Big River, which she enjoyed for many years. She continued to do quilting and gardening and made many friends.

Mary has 22 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren. In September 2001, Mary left her apartment and moved in with her daughter Sarah, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, she is still enjoying life there...


Unrau, John and Nettie
Submitted by Esther Gear.

John Unrau.

Nettie and John, 1962.

John was born on May 3, 1910, and Nettle (Bartsch) was born on January 8, 1915. They both grew up in the Great Deer Community, near Rosthern, Saskatchewan. They were married there on June 13, 1937.

They worked on the farm for the first few years. Their first two daughters were born in Borden, Ruth on February 6, 1940, and Marlene on June 12, 1941.

In 1942, they moved to the Rapid Bend District bringing with them horses and cattle and plans for a farm of their own. They bought a house that was located on the land that belonged to his brother Jake and leased land in the Lake Four Meadows.

During this time their third daughter Esther was born on February 27, 1945, and their son Alfred was born on May 13, 1948.

In 1949, John purchased two-quarters of land SE 15-55-6 W3rd and SW 14-55-6 W3rd. The house was moved from Jake's land across the meadows to their land. This proved to be quite a challenge. The house being made of logs was very heavy, so they got stuck a few times.

In 1952, they decided to move to British Columbia. They bought a car to travel with and had an auction sale in October. Before they got away the kids all got sick with the measles. By the time they were all better winter had set in and due to other problems, they never did get away.

They continued on their farm for the remainder of their lives together.

Ruth moved to Saskatoon after finishing school, to take a hairdressing course, where she met Sinclair Ward and were married in 1964 and now live in Leduc Alberta. Marlene (Herdman) and Esther (Gear) continue to farm near here, and Alfred still lives on the farm.


Unrau family.

Esther, Marlene, Ruth, holding Tracey, and Alfred.

John died of lung cancer at the age of 58 years in November 1968. Nettie spent the next three years on the farm. In 1970, she bought a small house in Waldheim, Saskatchewan where she lived until 1978. During this time she met Dave Wall from Saskatoon, and they were married December 10, 1978, and made their home in Saskatoon.

Nettie died of cancer July 22, 1986, and is buried in the Lake Four Cemetery beside John.


Utley, Kathleen (Tomporowski)

Kathleen Utley.

Kathleen Utley.

I was born on October 17, 1932, at Shellbrook, Saskatchewan. I was the eldest child of Stanley and Clara Tomporowski of Holbein. I have two brothers, William and John and one sister Shirley Marud.

I attended Holbein School from Grade One to Ten and then attended the Convent of Sion in Prince Albert for Grade Eleven and Twelve. After attending teacher's College in Saskatoon, I taught at Ladder Valley School from 1952-1955. Next, I taught Grade Two at the Big River School for four years. I also taught in Big River from September 1961 to January 1962 and from September 1962 to April 1963.

In August 1959, I married George Utley of Holbein. We purchased a house and land just north of Holbein and lived there for five and a half years. During this time our three daughters were born: Roxanne in March of 1962, Colleen in June of 1963 and Charlene in September of 1964. In March 1965, we moved to Saskatoon. George passed away in September 1970 after a lengthy illness.

After George passed away, I looked after children in my home for six years. In November 1976, I started to work in the housekeeping department at Royal University in Saskatoon. I retired from the hospital in March 1996.

I enjoy visiting with my children and grandchildren. Roxanne married Doug Brunskill in 1992. They live in Calgary and have girls, Valerie and Christina. Colleen married Michael Brockbank in 1987. They live in Saskatoon and have two boys, Anthony and Patrick. Charlene married Trevor Friesen in 1989. They live in Kingston Ontario and have two girls, Hannah and Hailey.


Vallentgoed, Janice (Watier)

My name is Janice Vallentgoed (Watier). I was born the eldest daughter of Joe Watier and Rose Anne (Scott) Watier in Big River on February 5, 1955. I have an older brother, Paul Watier, a younger brother, Wade, and three sisters: Jane, Roseanne and Patricia. Trish lives in Regina. The rest of us live in this area.

I hear it was a very cold winter the year I was brought into the world and there was a lot of snow. My earliest recollection about a year later is of standing on snow-covered Stoney Lake (as we called Delaronde at this time). My mom and new sister approached with Einar Anderson in his aeroplane. I was very happy to hear that mom was coming home! We lived on Shipwreck Island on Delaronde Lake. It was an isolated home. My father brought a cow to this place on a barge of his own making. He crossed Delorande Lake with his wary passenger in a crate. When it was time for supplies dad would make a pair of skis and ski down the lake, and then find a ride into Big River from the south end. He would fill the list and fly home with Einar.

Later, when we lived at Bodmin, I went to school in Big River. Miss Scott's grade one class on the lower west side of the old elementary school was just down from the Catholic Church. I remember playing jacks under the shady trees on the cement outside during recess.

We moved out to Winter Lake in 1963. There we attended classes at the Winter Lake School in the Provincial Pine Forest near Erinferry. My favourite days were the ones when we could go skating on the pond just behind the schoolhouse. Mrs Martel would occasionally give us extra "ice time" on nice afternoons. We had great fun sliding or gliding across the pond! The school was about three miles from home and we would often walk. Our trail wound down, out of the Winter Lake hills, across a beautiful meadow and through the pines to our little one-room schoolhouse. In the dead of winter, we would do correspondence at home because it was too cold to walk and the roads were impassable for months at a time.

As a young teen, I would walk to Pete Rempel's farm to visit Helen Rempel, my friend from school. This was about four miles to the north, across (what was then) Bill Smith's cattle pasture. That Black Angus herd of his once chased me out of the pasture and I had to go the long way around to get home! I didn't always walk. My first vehicle was a John Deere B then Dad's '51 International truck. My horse was good transportation too. I would ride south four miles to Ernest and Evelyn Vandale's farm to visit Linda Vandale, a friend who also went to the Winter Lake School. It was a little harder" getting out" in those days.

I married Darryl Vallentgoed of the Meadow Lake and Glaslyn area in 1977. Darryl had a brother, Dugald in Saskatoon, and a sister, Della Carmichael in Lloydminster. Darryl and I farmed with my parents and then with my brother, Wade, on the family farm southeast of Big River since 1977. We built our home on Winter Lake just a quarter of a mile away from my parents' farm. The location is NW 30-54-6 W3rd, in the RM of Canwood.

Below our yard is the site of the Warden's cabin, so-called, by Bill Smith. We found a garbage pit with old medicine bottles and the flashing from his chimney. All else was disintegrated with age. When that cabin was new the landscape must have been very different. There was a lot of fish in this lake and it was part of a major water route. I believe that the name comes from a story about a native band that was forced to winter here in the shelter of these hills. The lake froze early and so they stayed: hence, the name Winter Lake.

In 1986 our daughter, Sara, was born. In 1989 our son, Harley, came along to complete our family. Sara and Harley both enjoy country life, the animals and the outdoors.

We all love this place. The rolling hills of this windy esker are home for us and several other families. We are glad to be part of the history of this beautiful area overlooking the Prince Albert National Park.


Veer, Abram and Mary (Unrau)
As told by Mary Thiessen

In 1942, my Mother and Dad came here from Amiens, Saskatchewan, ten miles west of Shell Lake. They were Abram and Maria Veer. They rented Peter Rathje's farm for 2 or 3 years, and then Pete came back and sold his cattle and some other items. Dad and Mother then bought a quarter of land from one of the Larson's in the Lake Four District. Dad farmed and did a lot of local veterinary work for people. Dad also did R.M. road maintenance with horses. Due to Dad's poor health, they did not have an easy life. Both of them stooked grain bundles for other people, and dad worked on threshing machines when he was able to. Later they moved to town, where they always had a good garden. Dad passed away in 1967 in Big River. Mother moved back out to live in the same yard as me and spent many years tending to her flowers and gardening. Mother spent the last couple of years of her life at the Lakewood Lodge and passed away in 2000. They had five children:


1. Johnny, born March 31, 1928, at Great Deer, Saskatchewan

2. Mary, born on Dec.11, 1929 at Great Deer, Saskatchewan

3. Susie, born November 10, 1932, at Mayfair, Saskatchewan

4. Abram (Abe), was born Dec 13, 1936, at Amiens, Saskatchewan and passed away August 16, 2002, in Quesnel, British Columbia

5. William, was born on March 15, 1947, at Lake Four, Saskatchewan

Vik, Helen Katherine (Zinovich)

Helen Vik.

Bert and Helen, 1967.

I was born on July 2, 1943, in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, the eldest of three children, to Emil and Alexandra Zinovich. I lived at the corner across from the elevator all my years in Big River. (The photograph of the elevator taken by Carol Klassen that hangs above my fireplace could have been taken from my upstairs bedroom window except for the trees that would have been in the way.) I am grateful for having had the privilege of growing up in a small town where, in those years, the town was our oyster, so to speak. We never had a second thought about being anywhere in the town at any time of the day or night. (Now, maybe our parents worried but we didn't have to remember the rules that today's children need to be "street safe".) I spent my youth, skating, sledding, curling, shelling peas, and especially, enjoying the social aspects of school!

I remember the days when one went to Yurach's, Godin's, Huxted's, Kathy Waite's, or Waites stores shelves as they were ordered. (Granny Yurach would sneak candy into our hands...) When Christmas season was approaching I loved to mull over the huge display of toys. I could see the prominent display in the large window at Waite's Store from our house!

I remember jumping on the back of the flat deck "dray" as John Hoehn drove his horses, "Jiggs and Maggie: all the while instructing them with "Gee", "Haw", "Whoa" or the clicking of his tongue.

I remember when Verner and Ida Johnson arrived in the yard from Dore Lake on a cold winter day in a caboose with a wood-burning heater in it drawn by a pair of horses. The horses were taken to the Livery Barn by the dock. (Eventually, Verner had one of the first four-wheel-drive vehicles made by Jeep that was so necessary for those roads...not the SUV of today...) I remember when the train would come chugging into town and, on occasion, when steam was released from the engine it came right into our yard! Even today I love to hear the sounds of a train.

Uncle Mike Demkiw, who worked for the CNR in Prince Albert, would operate the snowplough and would drop in for a short visit before the return trip. He always had Lifesaver candies for us. We walked to and from school with our friends, including coming home for "dinner" at noon. In retrospect, this was physically and mentally therapeutic.

I remember many of our former neighbours especially the Larsens: Andy, Alice (nee Dube), Roland, Marguerite and later, Garry. I am still in touch with Marguerite. I remember "running the booms" with Tudy (Ausland) Thibeault, swimming at the swimming hole, putting a gallon of gasoline (50 cents) into my Dad's car and driving twenty-eight miles around town (he tried to explain that there was more expense to running a car than the cost of the fuel...).

I graduated from Big River High School in 1961, bit the bullet and went to the "big city" of Saskatoon to Teachers' College. Ann (Dawson) Herman was my roommate. I taught one year at Pemmican Portage School near Cumberland House, Saskatchewan. The next year I went to the University of Saskatchewan. This was followed by a year of teaching in Smith, Alberta, in the County of Athabasca. For these two years Eileen (Margaret Pankoski) Appleton was my roommate.

In 1965 I went to Hinton, Alberta, where I lived for two years. Here I met Bert Vik who was with Calgary Power. We were engaged in 1966 to be married in 1967. Bert had an accident while on a trouble call in February of 1967. He suffered massive electrical burns resulting in skin grafting and the loss of his left hand. After four months at the University Hospital in Edmonton and despite his weight loss and weakened condition he was obligated to travel to Big River to be married on July 22, 1967, as originally planned. Bert joined Calgary Power's Land Department in Edmonton where we lived for eight years.

I taught school and also completed my Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Alberta. In 1975 Bert was transferred to Calgary. (Calgary Power was renamed TransAlta Utilities). I continued teaching and also completed a postgraduate diploma at the University of Calgary. The best part is that I retired with Bert. He was fifty-four with a full pension; I was fifty with no pension...until I was fifty-five. I had nearly thirty years in the Teachers' Retirement Fund. Bert maintained that I ruined his retirement...I insisted that he needed supervision!

We traveled extensively over the years from visiting our "roots" in Russian and Hungary, to touring with a rental car on the "wrong" side of the road in Australia and New Zealand, to several parts of Europe, the Middle East; the United States and Canada, to cruising the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas, to "Cruising" in the motorhome (though the meals were not as gourmet...), to a week at the cabin in Dore Lake, to house/pet sitting in Fiji one summer, to nearly two months each winter on Kaanapali Beach in Maui, Hawaii.

Bert died of cancer in 1996 at the age of fifty-eight. I learned about independence from my Mom and, did like she did, I do all that I ever did: volunteering with the Calgary Seniors' Resource Society (Escorted Transportation), with the TransAlta Retirees' Association's projects, with AASRA (Alberta Amputee Sport and Recreation Association) and as a "White Hatter" at the Calgary Airport; flying to Maui each winter; travelling with the motorhome; keeping up with home/yard "stuff'; crocheting, reading, dabbling at skiing, cycling and tennis and keeping a busy social schedule. I am a member of the Calgary Board of Education Retired Employees' Association. My goal in retirement was to loaf. After ten years I'm still working to achieve this goal. I am grateful for good health and the wherewithal to continue doing all that I do consider I had that surprising 60th birthday this year (2003)...WHERE DID THE TIME?????? I do have lakefront property adjacent to Ken and Mavis. It is my peace, Big River.


Vold, Mr. and Mrs.
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

The Vold family came to Big River on June 1, 1932. They lived in an old log house for the summer and in the fall they moved into Brownfield's old store. They paid eight dollars a month for rent. About a year later, Mr Vold made a deal with Mr Figeland for a house across from the station.

The Volds had a truck and took many homesteaders across the forestry for berry picking in the summer. Mr Vold also had a livery while in Big River. He had two driving horses and a caboose built on a sleigh, and with this, he used to drive the RCMP Officer, Joe Sixsmith, Mr Potter, the Homestead Inspector, Dr Afanasieff and the Anglican Minister.

The Vold Children all received their education in Big River. Their names are Donald, Kathleen, June, Godfrey, May, and Luella.

The Vold family lived in Big River for approximately fourteen years. Mr Vold passed away in 1952. Mrs Vold passed away in September 1978 at Calgary.



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