Wally, Gaye, Laura, Max,
Gina and Wanda.
I was born in the Allen Hills area of Saskatchewan, the youngest son of George and Violet (nee Nelson) Wilson. When I was two years old the family which included brothers, Ed, George (Jake), Russell, Gestie (Bud) and sister, Maudie moved to Canwood and then to Marchant Grove. In 1935, they moved to a homestead along the Shore of Egg Lake.
Around 1943, we moved into the town of Big River, to the house we always refer to as The Darbyshire house. Then my dad bought the cheese factory and made it into a house located at 209 4th Avenue South.
I attended Delaronde School, the present site of Barry Moule's farm. I walked, rode horseback or took my dog-team the three miles to school. Area people that attended school then were Ed Bradley, Robert Halsall and John Dunn.
I went to work at an early age. I celebrated my fifteenth birthday while winter fishing for Emil Zinovich on Dore Lake. There I received a total of $75.00 a month for my horse and myself. Later I fished with my dad, brothers Ed and Jake, and John Dunn. I drove cat for Waite Fisheries; hauled lumber from Dore Lake via Delaronde Lake for Midgets, and drove a truck for Dick McIntosh, Harry Phillips, Pete Pister, Joseph Coleman and Ed Wirtz.
In January 1951, I bought a truck from Ed Wirtz. Then began the story of Max Wilson Trucking Service Limited.
On July 9, 1951, I married Laura Gould, only daughter of Bill and Grace Gould. We lived in my dad's house, which we ended up buying. In 1957, we put a basement under it and added on. We remained there until 1967 when we built our present home at 203 4th Avenue South.
Laura and I had five children: Wallace, Wanda, Maxine (deceased), Gaye and Gina. We are very fortunate as three of our children still reside in Big River. Gina lives in Calgary. We have eleven grandchildren: Ryan and Kiel Wilson, Scott, Jade and Amber Hartnett, Justin, Nina, Kayla and Dane Lindskog, Jesse Osarchuk and Jakob Roland. Four great-grandchildren: Maxwell, Kelly, Taylor and Austen.
I was involved, when the Big River Memorial Rink was built on 4th Avenue South, organizing logging crews to cut logs that were later made into lumber for the rink and hauling of the same. I was on the board of directors of the Big River Braves, sponsored a minor hockey team, Wilson's Valiants, and was the manager of the team. Leo Olson was the coach. Members of that team were Harvey and Kenny Pederson, Blair Bradley, Wally Wilson, Wayne Dunn, and Gordon Olson to name a few.
I have spent many enjoyable hours hunting with Bill Young, Leo Olson, Bill McKnight, Harry Stobbs, Grant Gould, Bill Anderson, Norman McNabb, Richard Waite, Allan Anderson, Ed Wirtz, and Peter Kasdorf. For a few years, I enjoyed curling on a trucker's rink with Ed Wirtz, Allan Anderson and Leo Olson.
Laura and I have had cabins at both ends of Delaronde Lake. Lots of good times were enjoyed at both places. We liked to boat on both Cowan and Delaronde Lake. Picnics with Bill and Beryl McKnight, Donna and Mervin Sundby, Leo and Pat Olson, Grant and Vivian Gould and Harry and Helen Stobbs was a common occurrence. It was on these picnics that Bill McKnight became hopscotch champion.
We camped at Zig Zag Bay and Ness Lake with our motor home. Laura and I have had some great motoring trips, sometimes with relatives and sometimes alone. We have flown to a couple of far off places, too.
We are still fans of the Big River Braves hockey team, fans of the new Big River Timberkings Junior B Team, as well as whatever hockey team, grandson Dane, is playing with.
My activities have been curtailed a bit for a couple of years but hopefully I can still do the things I enjoy for a few more years.
(son of William Badham Wilson)
Murray Wilson Family (1956).
Murray grew up in Big River around the logging camps that his father worked in.
In the 1920s, Murray moved to Tisdale, Saskatchewan. He worked in the garage there for a while, and then he went to work in the elevators.
On October 24, 1925, Murray married Gertie Elliott. In 1926, a daughter Sadie was born. Soon they moved to Armley, Saskatchewan where Murray worked in the grain elevators.
On November 12, 1928, twins were born Myrtle and Murray Jr. Two years later, Cameron came along. He was born on September 27, 1930. The family stayed in Armley for a time before moving to Arborfield, Saskatchewan to farm.
In 1938, the Wilson's packed up and moved to Big River. They homesteaded here till 1943.
In 1943, they moved to Vancouver but soon moved back to Big River living at Stoney Lake. Hard times struck again and in 1947 they were moving again to Kamloops, British Columbia. Murray worked in a sawmill. He lived in Kamloops until his passing on March 23, 1956. Gertie lived around the area until her passing on October 23, 1996. Their children are as follows:
Sadie Wilson married Henry (Bud) Thibeault in 1945. They lived in Big River until 1947 and then moved to British Columbia. They had six children, Sherron, Ed, Neil, Linda, Ron and Brenda. Bud passed away September 15, 1988.
Murray William Wilson Jr. worked for the Department of Highways until his accident in 1955. He had serious head injuries and as a result Murray passed away February 14, 1966.
Myrtle Elliott Wilson lived in British Columbia and married Kay Harding July 4, 1950. (She was Murray's nurse). They moved to Saskatoon where Myrtle logged for many years and Kay nursed. They have a son, Barry, who lives in Williams Lake, British Columbia. Myrtle and Kay were blessed with three grandchildren, Brent, Denna, and Ryan.
Cameron Cecil Wilson married a schoolteacher named Dorothy Wilson. They have one daughter, Michelle, and two grandchildren. Cameron worked for the Department of Highways until his retirement.
Scott, Reg, Tami, Meada, Stephen.
Reg was born on July 30, 1939, the oldest son of George (Jake) and Irene Wilson. He was born in Jack Rae's house. (Dave Krawetz presently lives on this location.) He grew up in the Big River area. He remembers walking to school over huge snow drifts from Sam Lyon's corner into town. Later on, the family moved into town.
He attended school in Big River until he left at age 15 to find work in British Columbia. He worked in logging camps in Williams Lake and Kamloops until he was about 20 years old.
He returned to Big River in 1959 to work in the sawmills, driving truck and logging. His uncle, Max Wilson, was his primary employer for several years.
During 1959, he met Meada Morin and they were married on May 20, 1960. They began their married life in Big River, where Reg worked at the mill and drove taxi for his father.
In 1961, Reg and Meada decided to explore the world and moved to Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. Reg was employed on a large farm owned by Ramsay McIntosh. The farm consisted of an alfalfa dehydrating plant, beef cattle and grain farming. They remained there for six years.
In 1966, Reg and Meada returned to Big River to be closer to family. Reg was employed by Max Wilson Trucking and later at the Big River Sawmill.
Reg thoroughly enjoys his ski-doos, quads and boats. Some of his very special times have been spent on the lake with his sons and his friends. He enjoys his family, which has now grown to include six grandchildren: Chelsey, Karli, Brett and Jessamy Sundby and Chalyssa and Brielle Wilson.
Reg retired from the Big River Lumber Mill on July 30, 2004, after spending 38 years in the forest industry.
Meada Wilson was born on March 5, 1944, at the `old farm' where Jeremy Morin now resides. Her parents were Louis and Edith Morin (Smith). The family moved to their first "lumber" house when Meada was about three years old. She recalls moving in a wagon pulled by a team of horses. The family lived in that same residence where Willie Morin presently resides.
Meada attended Bodmin School from 19481953 taking grades one to six. The whole family walked together to school in the warm seasons. During the winter, they were able to hook up "Major", the horse, to a caboose and head into school.
In 1953, Bodmin School closed and everyone had to go to Big River School. Urgel Brunet was hired to run the school bus. The kids still had to walk to the 'crossing' to meet the bus.
Meada attended school in Big River for grades seven to eleven. It was during Grade eleven that Meada decided she wanted to get married and have a family as soon as possible. So, in May 1960, Meada and Reg were married in the United Church in Big River.
An unexpected opportunity came up in April 1961 and Reg and Meada accepted a job on a farm in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. Meada cooked for the farmhands.
With gentle persuasion from the McIntosh family, Meada went back to school in Lac du Bonnet to complete her grade 12. She graduated in June 1962 and was selected for "Student of the Year" in the Lac du Bonnet High School. After receiving a scholarship, she took her teacher training at Manitoba Teachers' College in Winnipeg.
She began teaching in Lac du Bonnet in September 1963. She taught there for three years until Reg and Meada decided to move back to Big River.
In September 1966, Meada began teaching grade one in the old elementary school. She continued to teach in Big River until 1995. She continued with her education and achieved her Bachelor of Education with Great Distinction in 1991. From 1995-2000, Meada was the principal of the T.D. Michel School in Big River. She retired in June 2000.
However, Meada continued to teach school as a substitute teacher and filling various short-term teaching positions. Working with children is simply her life, loving the challenges and at the same time giving of herself to help children.
Meada enjoys her grandchildren fully. She is also active in the Royal Purple having served three terms as Honored Royal Lady. She assists family and friends with their record-keeping and Income Tax preparations. She was an avid curler and was on the executive for several years. Travelling around the country enjoying grandchildren's sports and other activities take up much of her time. Living on the shores of Delaronde Lake, add enjoyment and moments of relaxation to her life. Reg and Meada have three children:
Tamara (Greg Sundby), born in 1969. Tamara and Greg have four children, Chelsey, Karli, Brett and Jessamy. (See their history)
Scott (Karla Auckland), born in 1976. Scott and Karla have two daughters, Brielle and Chalyssa. (See their history)
Stephen, born in 1980. Stephen graduated from the Big River High School in 1998. He was employed in this area before moving to Saskatoon. He has been an apprentice plumber since 1999. Stephen enjoys outdoor activities especially fishing, water skiing and boating.
Back Row: Scott, Chalyssa.
Front Row: Karla, holding Brielle.
Karla Wilson was born on April 24, 1976. She was a chosen daughter for Ken and Pat Auckland.
Her younger years were spent in La Ronge, Saskatchewan. In 1990, she had to board in Big River to attend High School. By this time, her family had moved to Sled Lake and there was no high school in that community. She graduated from Big River High School in 1994. During the final year in High School, she became interested in Scott Wilson, a classmate, and in 1996 they began their life together. Scott and Karla were married in Big River on August 16, 1997.
Scott Wilson was born on April 8, 1976, in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan, a son for Reg and Meada Wilson. He grew up in the Big River area and graduated in 1994. He was one of the first recipients of the Weyerhaeuser scholarships that recognize academic excellence. However, Scott's interests were not in the field of forestry or engineering. After he completed his Truck Driver training course, Scott moved to Lloydminster where he works as a supervisor for TriCan Oilwell Services.
Chalyssa was born on October 14, 1996, in Saskatoon Royal University Hospital. Due to premature birth, the ambulance ride to Saskatoon was Chalyssa's first ride. Chalyssa attends school in Lloydminster. She is talented in the art area.
Brielle was born on November 13, 2000. This completes their family. They enjoy camping at Nesslin where they can fish and swim. Big River is still a second home to them and travelling to Big River is always a joy and special time for them.
Tyler and Noreen.
Tyler Wilson was born to Phillip and Velma Wilson on January 13, 1975, in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. Tyler is the fourth child born to Phillip. He has two older brothers, Troy and Coby, and an older sister Jodi, from Phillip's first marriage. Tyler is the third child born to Velma Wilson (Papp). He has an older sister, Laurie (Leach) and an older brother, Randy (Maim), from Velma's first marriage. Phillip and Velma met in British Columbia and were married on August 27, 1973. Tyler was four months old when his family moved to Big River.
Noreen Wilson (Olsen) was born to Clarence and Rita Olsen on August 25, 1973, in Big River. She was the third born of six children. She has two older sisters; Trenna (Lukan) and Leah (Lehoux), a younger sister Gwendolyn (Sawatzky), a younger brother, Terrence and another younger sister, Celina. The family lived near Delaronde Lake.
Tyler and Noreen were high school sweethearts and were married on August 19, 1995. Tyler worked on the oil- rigs for eight years, mainly working in Alberta. He then got hired at the Weyerhaeuser mill in Big River in 2001, where he is presently working. Noreen worked as a waitress for a few years before receiving her HC/SCA diploma she is presently employed with Prince Albert Parkland Health Region and works at the nursing home in Big River as a Special Care Aide. Together, Tyler and Noreen have three children: two girls, Terryn, born August 10, 1998, Kendra, born December 4, 2001, and a boy, Corbin, born July 25, 2003.
Corbin. Terryn and Kendra.
Wally was born in Big River in 1954, the only son and eldest child of Max and Laura Wilson.
I was born in Big River in 1954, the second youngest child of Art and Ethel Kennedy.
Wally and I have been together since 1991. We each brought two children into our marriage in 1994. Jill and Jodi Chenard, and Ryan and Kiel Wilson.
Kiel, Jodi, Ryan, Melissa,
Jill and Kevin.
Presently we live at 507 Gallant Street but are in the process of building a new home on the property that we purchased from the Emde girls on the Shore of Cowan Lake. Parcel C SE 24-56-8 W3rd.
We are lucky that our community has to offer many of the things we love to do in our "away from work" time. We look forward to the days when we can spend more time with our growing number of grandchildren, boating, fishing, swimming, skiing and vacationing.
Wilson, William and Laura
Mr Wilson, Laura, Bill.
William Badham Wilson was born July 27, 1875, at Torbolton in the county of Carleton. William, who was mostly called Billy, married a lady named Sara Styles from Arnprior, Ontario in about 1889. In 1900, they had a son Murray Cecil Wilson.
On December 8, 1909, at the age of 35, Sara passed away from typhoid fever. Soon after that, Billy and Murray moved from Ontario to Big River, Saskatchewan.
Billy worked for the Ladder Lake Lumber Company. This is where he met and married Laura Ethier on September 12, 1912. Laura, Alma and Parmalia worked in cafes and the hotel in Big River, Saskatchewan. After Billy and Laura married, she went cooking in camps where Billy worked. When the Ladder Lake Lumber Company closed down, Billy and Laura bought a farm southwest of Big River where they farmed until 1955. They sold this farm to Jake Miller from Timberlost and moved into the town of Big River. Billy would walk downtown every day and visit with the other men. There was a bench on the side of 0.P Godin store where they would meet. Billy Wilson smoked a pipe and drove a car until the age of 90.
Billy and Laura never had children of their own but took Ernest and Cecile's children under their wings. (They loved them all very much).
Billy was 92 when his kidneys started giving him a problem and he just got to the point where he was tired of living. Laura would walk to the hospital every day and visit Billy. When she'd come to leave, she'd lean way over the bed to kiss Billy, her husband of 56 years, goodbye. Billy died on October 12, 1968, at the age of 93.
Laura missed her husband terribly but managed to live by herself for quite a few years. When she started slipping. Ernest & Cecile's Ethier's girls stayed with her. Finally, Ernest & Cecile moved into her home and took care of her till her death on September 16, 1975, at which time she was 82 years old.
Laura left her place in town to Ernest and Cecile and this is where they retired.
Wirtz, Belroy (nee Newton)
I was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on December 1, 1926. I am the third daughter of Ivery and Mary Newton. I had two sisters, Blanche, who married Peter Kasdorf and resides in Saskatoon and Lorna, who died at the age the four. People always ask how I got my name, My mother's sister, Isobelle Motherwell and boyfriend, Roy Phillips were drowned together in Round Lake which is near Prince Albert. I was born six months later so she joined the two names to make "Belroy".
I was raised and took my schooling in Big River until my mother's death in 1940. My sister Blanche and I went to live with our Uncle and Aunt (mother's sister), Bill and Grace Gould. They lived in Asquith, Saskatchewan, where he was Principal of the school. We were only there one term as my uncle joined the RCAF. Aunt Grace and her family, Laura and Grant, my sister and I came back to Big River.
I went to the Convent of Zion in Prince Albert for only three months. Even though I liked it very much, I became ill and had to come home.
In December 1944, I went to work at the telephone office. The switchboard was very small having only fifteen to twenty phones. I talked several people into putting a phone into their homes and businesses. That was the start of people getting used to phoning. I worked every day from 8 am to 8 pm, except Sunday, which was from 1 pm to 4 am, all for $45.00 a month. The phone office was at Tom Young's house. Once in a while, his son Jim would tell me not to come back in the evening, as he would look after it. I thought that was very nice of him. I enjoyed the work but quit when I married Eddie Wirtz, on September 10, 1945. The hours were just too long.
In 1947, I started to work in the office at Waite Fisheries. It was a seasonal job, just four or five months each winter. I helped with what they called local orders.
One winter during a slack period Aunt Grace taught me to type (I guess she couldn't stand listening to me poking away at the typewriter.) It was good that I did learn as it helped me to get a job in later years. I then addressed most of the envelopes for the local orders; there were many thousands. I was there thirteen winters.
In 1959, we moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where I worked at Mumford Medland as a receptionist and typist I was there till we moved to Elrose, Saskatchewan in 1968. Eddie had two trucks hauling cattle and feed for Myers Feedlot at Houghton. I helped out by looking after the books.
In 1972, we moved to a farm between McGee and Fiske, where with several partners they built a custom feedlot. After some time, he and Bob Thrasher bought out the partners. Later I purchased Bob's shares. I looked after the books in both cases.
Due to ill health, we sold the Feedlot in 1988 and moved back to Big River in 1989. We were gone thirty years but when we retired we had to come home. I met a fellow recently, and when he knew how long we were gone, he asked, "how come so many people, who leave Big River, come back? I answered the only way I knew, "because it's the best place to be".
Wirtz, Edwin (Eddie) Peter
I was born in Bruno, Saskatchewan on September 10, 1924, the fifth child of Leonard and Ottilia Wirtz. I had two brothers and three sisters, Werner, Isabelle, Joseph, Catherine and Charlaine. I was raised and took all my schooling in Bruno. I always liked to build things and repair anything that was broken. In the summer I spent a lot of time at the farms of either my grandparents or uncle and aunts.
I couldn't join any of the armed forces as I was rejected, so in 1942 I went to Dawson Creek, British Columbia to work on the Alaska Highway. This is where I learned to drive a truck.
When the highway was finished I went to Loon Lake, Saskatchewan and hauled gravel for the summer. In the fall I went to Meadow Lake and drove a truck for Porter's Transport.
In 1945, I drove a truck for Nick Labossiere, who was hauling for Waite Fisheries. It was during this time that I met Belroy Newton and decided to stay in Big River. I was hired by Waite Fisheries to drive their truck. They sold it to me the next year.
I married Belroy on September 10, 1945, on my twenty-first birthday, (she always teased me as to what a wonderful birthday present she was).
I hauled freight and fish for Waite Fisheries for the next six years. In the summer during slow periods of freighting, I hauled lumber to Prince Albert for the Saskatchewan Timber Board and loaded sawdust into boxcars, which were then sent to Rural Municipalities in the south. It was mixed with poison to kill grasshoppers. I also gravelled streets in Big River, which meant shovelling the gravel on and off the truck. When the ball team needed transportation to a Sports Day, everyone that wanted to go climbed aboard and away we went, sometimes getting back after the sun was up.
Needless to say, there were some trying times hauling freight north during the summer. The Government of the day was trying to promote Meadow Lake as "The Gateway to the North". Therefore with the extra traffic, our road to Green Lake was usually a muddy mess, as we received a lot of rain during this period.
After so many years of fighting mud, mosquitoes, and bulldogs (horseflies), I decided to haul gravel in the summer and freight logs in the winter. During my gravel hauling days I met Elmer Peterson and we became friends. I was tired of driving trucks and Max Wilson was looking to expand, so I sold out to him. This led to Elmer and me, buying a Big River Garage from Percy Cunningham. It was destroyed by fire in 1958.
I then bought another truck and hauled logs for the Timber Board. When this job was finished I took a contract to haul logs from the Park (Nesslin area) to Old Battleford. If today's load limits had been enforced in those days, I would be in jail. The logs were to rebuild the stockade that was in place since before Saskatchewan was a province. It housed the North-West Mounted Police, the North West Territory Government, and pioneers of the district when Indian trouble looked as though it might start. It now is a North-West Mounted Police and Pioneer Museum.
In 1959, we moved to Winnipeg. I worked for Atomic Transfer and became their shop foreman.
In 1968, an opportunity arose to get back in the trucking industry. We moved to Elrose, Saskatchewan where I hauled feed and cattle for Myers Feedlot. It was the largest feedlot in the province at that time.
In 1971, the sudden death of Tom Myers slowed down the cattle operation as well as the trucking. In 1972, I sold my trucks and trailers. I then became involved with some Rosetown farmers and business people to build a feedlot in the McGee area. I was made foreman as well as having shares. It became known as "Spring Valley Feeders". After several years Bob Thrasher and I bought the company. Bob later sold his shares to Belroy, so then we owned it by ourselves and Belroy then looked after the books. We had our ups and downs but were one of the feedlots that survived the bad years.
In 1988, because of the poor health of both Belroy and myself, we sold the feedlot and retired and moved back to Big River in 1989.
Back Row: Garnet, Gail, Grant.
Front Row: Margaret and Allyn.
Allyn Wesley Wood was born May 29, 1928, at Dodsland, Saskatchewan. His parents Robert and Catherine and siblings, Edgar and Leone lived at Smiley, Saskatchewan. His brother, Russell was born September 7, 1930.
When the family came to Ladder Valley and settled on NW 19-55-6-W3rd in 1933, Allyn recalls it was his fifth birthday the day they arrived. The family lived in a tent until their house was built. The mosquitoes were thick and there was heavy bush everywhere. Allyn remembers how he and Russ would get lost going from the house to the barn.
Growing up in those days meant having daily chores like bucking wood and seasonal things like picking berries. Going for the cows was a daily time-consuming chore, but fun, as Allyn and Russell, along with Leonard Young, who also lived at the "corner", roamed the countryside finding and bringing the cows home. When Allyn's Dad and Edgar joined the armed forces and Leone was away working, Allyn and Russell assisted their Mom with the farming. Some of the duties included clearing land and preparing feed for winter. Their duties required using their frisky horses, and many an upsetting episode they experienced with them.
Transportation was limited and during their teen years the Ladder Valley boys, as a group, walked to and home from Big River to see the Saturday night show.
Allyn attended Ladder Valley School for Grades One to Nine and went to Big River for Grade Ten. He assisted Mr Forbes at the post office that year.
I, Margaret Thelma Wood (nee Egglestone) was born in Saskatoon, January 8, 1927. My parents, Jack and Florence, older sister, Jean (Becker), younger sister, Marie (Brumwell), and brother, Max, lived on the farm near Colonsay, Saskatchewan. Max, who was my childhood pal, passed away in 1981. Our family was limited to any luxuries while growing up during the thirties. However, we were a close-knit family and had wonderful times with family and extended family nearby.
I attended Colonsay Consolidated School from Grade One to Twelve. Late August of 1944, Jean and I attended a six-week course at Saskatoon Normal School, which was our guide to "teaching in the North".
Allyn and I were married August 5, 1947, and lived in the house he built on SE 24-55-7-W3rd. In 1954, this house was moved to NW 19-55-6-W3rd next to Allyn's folks. Allyn's folks retired to Shell brook in the fall of 1965 and Allyn and I purchased their farm property and moved into their house where we spent twelve years before building the home we live in today. Our children Gail (Gear), Grant (Janice) and Garnet (Tammy) grew up on the farm and attended Ladder Valley and Big River Schools. Their histories are in this book.
I came to Ladder Valley to teach in October of 1944 and taught at intervals for nine and one-half years with Gail and Grant as students. Garnet attended Ladder Valley for his first year of school, 1966-67, the year the school closed. This same year I began teaching at Big River Elementary. Although it wasn't planned, I remained there for nineteen years until early retirement. Needless to say, I missed the children, staff and routine and for the next seven years, I was back in the classroom as a substitute teacher.
Allyn has experienced many occupations. He worked at Waskesiu, at Burns in Prince Albert, on road construction in Shellbrook area and spent two seasons fishing on Great Slave Lake, North West Territories. He owned and operated a sawmill planer and edger, logged and sawed lumber and assembled fish boxes. Later, with his portable planer, he planed lumber as far north as Canoe Lake and as far south as Shellbrook. He cleared power lines and cleared and broke land with his cat. While all of these activities were happening, Allyn's basic job was mixed farming. Although we are now operating on a smaller scale, Allyn continues to enjoy the activity of grain farming and is still creating and renovating.
Since retiring, the time has passed very quickly. Allyn and I have enjoyed being "home on the farm", the travelling we have experienced, being a part of the community and above all the time spent with our children, their spouses, ten grandchildren and to date five great-grandchildren.
Garnet was born to Allyn and Margaret Wood in Big River on April 23, 1960. He was the baby brother to Grant who was eight years old at the time and Gail who was eleven.
As a youngster, Garnet remembers spending many happy times playing with the school children in the playground at the Ladder Valley School or the rink, both located across the road from the family farm. The Sunday night ball games at the diamond located one mile east of the school are a favourite memory, even if it meant riding sidesaddle on a hard bicycle crossbar to get there. Garnet attended grade one at the Ladder Valley School with Mrs Rusk as a teacher. After the school was closed in 1967, he attended school in Big River where he graduated from grade twelve in 1978.
Garnet's most memorable experiences during his school years included the many hours he spent participating in sports and the many friendships that developed at this time. He likes to tell the story of how he was one of two grade four students to participate in the 1970 Parkland Unit track and field meet where he won the 100-yard dash. He also likes to reminisce about time spent working with his father on the farm, travelling from place to place with the sawmill and planer mill and the various logging adventures that were undertaken during his school-years. The Ladder Valley curling rink was always busy during these years, providing entertainment during the long winter months.
After graduating from high school Garnet worked on the oilrigs for a short period before attending the University of Saskatchewan where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Geophysics in 1987. Since graduating, he has been employed by various mining and contracting companies located both in Canada and abroad. Through his job, he has travelled extensively throughout North America and the world, working in many countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He also spent over a year working in Australia.
Garnet married Tammy Cooper on July 24, 1993, in Big River. They have three children; Anthony (Tony) born in 1995, Kale born in 1998 and Dana born in 2000. The Wood family currently resides in Saskatoon where Cameco Corporation employs Garnet as a geophysicist. He still enjoys playing competitive volleyball and is an avid golfer. Much of the vacation time is spent camping and fishing around Big River and working on the family farm in Ladder Valley.
In attempting to write a history, I am amazed at how difficult it is to capture the past in a few words. Much of the history of my family seems so rooted in the Big River area.
I was born in the Big River hospital in 1952. It was common in those days to have a baby in Prince Albert, but for my first outing I was a little early and so Big River was the place. My mom and dad, Margaret and Allyn Wood took me home to Ladder Valley where we lived.
Early life was very good in the valley. My grandparents, Bob and Kate Wood, ran the Ladder Valley store and post office. The store was a wonderful place because there was always something going on. Mr Archibald would bring the mail out from town or there would be someone in picking up something and visiting while shopping.
My mom was the teacher at the Ladder Valley School so it was quite a change when one day I realized my sister, Gail, and mom went to school. Then, of course, that is where I wanted to go, but I had to wait my turn and finally, the big day came! A whole six years old and going off to school now, that was a wonderful time. There were all sorts of books and papers. A revolutionary way to copy anything called a hectograph and all sorts of great things like flashcards and bats and balls. The coolest things though were the older kids. They knew pretty well everything and really could play sports.
In our school, like most country schools, there were eight grades and so the older kids helped out the ones learning to read. The grade five and six students would often take us out to the school porch and give us flashcards or have us read to them. It seemed that we would never be as good at reading as for those students.
There are many school memories but the day came when we had to leave our safe little place and go into that extremely scary institution called High School. Before I left for Big River High School in 1966, I remember taking my sister's yearbook and memorizing the names of the kids that would be in my class. It didn't take long to meet a set of new friends and we had some great times in BRHS. Activities in high school included sports, dances and being with friends. During these years, there was a youth group in the United Church called the teen club. We had dances, sliding parties and other activities.
High School came to an end in 1970 and it was off to University. At University, Janice and I began dating. It wasn't long before we were talking about marriage and on October 13, 1973, we were married in Big River. We moved to Loon Lake where Janice taught school and I worked for the Bank of Commerce. We stayed in Loon Lake for two years and at that time decided to go back to school. Then a complication arose, Janice was pregnant. We went back to school. I went full time and Janice part-time. Ryan was born on October 20, 1975. Our daughter, Catherine, was born on January 28, 1977. Janice and I graduated from The College of Education in May of 1977.
In the fall of 1977, we moved with our little family to Meadow Lake where I taught at Carpenter High School. We stayed there for one year and a teaching position opened in Big River. In 1978, we moved to Big River. We purchased a house from Charlie Scrimshaw and moved in. Janice was a part-time teacher and a full-time mom. She was just going to get back into teaching on a more permanent basis when we realized that our daughter, Marie, was on the way. Marie was born on April 30, 1981. Laura followed two years later on March 11, 1983.
Living in the Big River area has been very good for us. We have been able to be close to family. We spent so many summer days with Grandma and Grandpa Michel at their cabin at Delaronde Lake and with Grandma and Grandpa Wood on the farm. Over the years, we have been able to have countless family gatherings. Some were just small events but many times a hall had to be rented to accommodate everyone.
Janice began to get back into teaching while the family was growing. Janice taught in the TD Michel Elementary School and then in high school. I have taught Math, Science, Physics, Chemistry and many other subjects over the years. A great benefit to teaching school in one place over so long is to be able to get to know so many people. These people have given some great memories over the years.
Wood, Robert (Bob) and Catherine (Kate)
The Wood family was settled in the Smiley, Saskatchewan area, renting a farm when rain and frost ruined their crops and left them with only one hundred dollars. They decided to apply for their farm and therefore filed for a homestead NW 19-55-6-W3rd in 1931. Their application was accepted, as Mr Wood was a veteran of World War One. They moved to their new home in Ladder Valley in 1933. They made the journey by train. Robert and their son, Edgar, stayed in a boxcar with the animals for the entire trip. They brought two cows, three horses, two sheep, a sow and her litter, and two dogs. The trip took three days, and amidst the confusion of having numerous animals crowded into one car, the cow had to be milked at regular intervals. When the train stopped in Saskatoon and the boxcar door was opened for fresh air, one of their dogs jumped out and was never seen again.
When the family reached their destination, they had to live in a tent until late fall when their sixteen by twenty-foot log house was finished.
That winter, Robert hauled ties with Billy Wilson. Mr Wood joined the army in 1939 as a veteran guard. He was enlisted for five years.
One January, when Robert was home on leave, the temperature was recorded at Bodmin Station at seventy-two degrees below zero. The train couldn't leave until the gas was poured over the wheels and ignited to give the train its required heat.
During the five years that Mr Wood was away, his wife Kate and their sons Allyn and Russell were responsible for their thirty-two-acre farm. They later purchased NW 19-55-7-W3rd.
In 1950, they moved into their newly built home located at the corner of their quarter. They operated a store as well as the Post Office out of their home.
Allyn purchased their farm the fall of 1965 and Mr and Mrs Wood retired to live in Shellbrook. Here they met many card-playing friends and joined in various activities with the seniors. They also volunteered at the hospital and walked there rain or shine.
They celebrated their 50th and 60th wedding anniversaries. In 1981, they passed away and were buried in Shellbrook Cemetery. Mr. & Mrs Wood had four children, Edgar, Leone (White) Allyn and Russell.
Allyn, Margaret, Doreen.
Edgar, Leone, Donna and Russell.
Edgar and Doreen Wood Family, 2000.
I, Robert Edgar Wood, was born December 6, 1920, at Islay, Alberta, the eldest of four born to Mary Catherine (nee Lumley) and Robert Albert Wood. When I was about three years old, we moved to Kelwood, Manitoba where Dad worked on the railroad for a couple of years. But Dad swore he wasn't going to spend his life carrying a dinner pail, so to Saskatchewan to farm at Stornaway, then to Smiley, and in the spring of 1933 moved to Big River "someplace we can at least keep warm", and to the homestead at Ladder Valley, where Allyn lives today. (NW-19-55-6-W3rd)
Life wasn't easy. Dad had survived all the major battles fought by the Canadians in the First World War and joined the Veteran's Guard in the World War Two. They retired to Shellbrook where they both passed away in 1981 and are buried in the Shellbrook Cemetery.
Other than living in Manitoba for a few years as a child, and three and one-half years in the Army Signal Corps, I have spent my life in Saskatchewan, most of the time in Prince Albert.
In May 1941, I married Doreen McCreight and we moved to Prince Albert. We raised a family of seven, five girls and two boys. Carol became a teacher and married Lyle Sanderson, and they live in Saskatoon. Darlene is a nurse and married James Noyce and they live in Lloydminster. Janet is a Librarian at Frontier school and is married to Jack Wilkenson. Lynn is also a Librarian in Old Trail School, married to Michael Saddleton in Akron, Ohio. Meryl is a teacher, married to Larry Marshall and they farm at Wildrose, north of Holbein. Guy works for Sasktel, is married to Sharon Ashby and they live at Meath Park. Scott lives in Toronto, is married to Terry Obrien, and his interests are in computers and cooking. We have sixteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
When I returned from Overseas, I went back to Burns & Co. for about six months and then got on Meat Inspection, a Department of Agriculture, which I didn't like. I had been relieving at the Field Office in times of sickness, holidays, etc, for several years and the boss there phoned me one day and asked if I would consider transferring to the Field Office permanently. Would I? Lucky me!!! All in all, I worked for the Health of Animals Branch, Department of Agriculture for 34 years, the last 6 years in Regina. Doreen had been working for the Dept., too and was Office Manager of the main office in Regina.
I retired October 31, 1980, and Doreen retired the end of the same year. We moved back north and built permanently at Candle Lake. Twenty years have gone by and we are still doing fine.
Like most people, we've seen some pretty rough times but I believe that our generation has lived through some of the very best times. One wonders if they can ever be that good again.
In the beginning, I said that we were a family of four: myself, Leone, better known as Nonie, lives in Victoria; Allyn at Big River; Russell passed away in Kimberly with cancer in the fall of 2002, shortly before his 72nd birthday.
Russell Stuart was born to Robert Albert and Mary Katherine Wood on September 7, 1930, in Smiley, Saskatchewan. When Russell was three, the family decided to pick up stakes and head north to escape the hard times the depression had imposed upon them. The family travelled by train to Big River, everyone finally arriving on May 29, 1933. They immediately settled in Ladder Valley on NW 19-55-6- W3rd. This movie had a profound effect on Russell, as he soon became an avid hunter and outdoorsman, characteristics that he retained throughout his life.
The two constants in Russell's life were his family and the military. After completing grade 11 in Big River, Russell departed for the West Coast to seek his fame and fortune. After taking on various construction jobs in Vancouver, Russell decided that the armed forces were his calling, entering the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1951. His military career began with various training sessions at bases located near London, Ontario, Gimli and Portage La Prairie, Manitoba and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. While stationed in Moose Jaw, Russell travelled with a friend to Watson to attend the New Year's Eve dance, 1955-56. It was there that he met Donna Schultz, his future bride. In 1956, Russell was assigned to an Air Force base located near Brandon, Manitoba as a private in the supply department.
On November 10, 1956, Russell and Donna were married at the Schultz family farm located near Dafoe, Saskatchewan. Their first son, Daryll was born in Brandon, on April 4, 1957. Another son, Rodney, was born in Watson on April 12, 1958, just before Russell being transferred to a base in St Avoid, France. The young family followed Russell to Europe in August of the same year. The timing of this move proved costly, as Rodney was lost to a blockage of the large intestine while he was being attended to in military hospitals in both France and Germany.
While stationed in France two sons William and Robert were born on September 26, 1959, and February 21, 1961, respectively. In 1962, Russell was promoted to Corporal and the family returned to Canada, settling in Red Deer, Alberta. Charlene, the first and only girl, was born on February 5, 1963. With a growing family and after being overseas for several years, Red Deer truly felt like home to the family. It was for this reason that the family stayed behind in Red Deer while Russell was stationed in Armstrong, Ontario in 1965 and 1966. In 1967, the family made one last move, to Holberg, British Columbia, a place they called home until 1970. The final year of Russell's military career was spent in Winnipeg at the Queen's Printer office. In 1971, Russell finally retired from the RCAP.
Immediately after retiring from the RCAP, the family moved to Kimberley, British Columbia where Russell had taken on a maintenance job with the City of Kimberley. On November 10, 1971, the last boy, Lorne Thomas, joined the family. Russell worked in various departments with the city of Kimberley until his retirement in 1991. Donna was employed at the Sullivan Mine for several years until health problems forced her to retire in 1994. Russell and Donna both enjoyed the mountains and community spirit that Kimberley offered them. When the boys were still at home any spare time was spent either hunting or fishing or enjoying the trap line that they worked together in the Kimberley area. Russell was an avid member of the Royal Canadian Legion throughout his years in Kimberley.
After a brief illness, he passed away in Cranbrook, British Columbia on August 22, 2002. Donna remains in Kimberley to this day, close to Charlene and her husband, Pat and their family.
The remainder of Russell and Donna's children are spread throughout British Columbia and the Yukon.
Wood, Tammy Lynn (Cooper)
Standing: Dana, Tony.
Sitting: Garnet, Tammy and Kale.
Tammy is the second born to Garry and Paulette Cooper. She was born in Big River on March 19, 1965.
Tammy was raised next door to her maternal grandparents, George and Antoinette Otte and a few blocks away from her paternal grandparents, Anthony (Tony) and Belle Cooper. Besides the grandparents, the proximity of many other extended family members is a large part of Tammy's childhood memories. It seemed that everyone was an aunt, an uncle or a cousin.
Tammy's fondest memories are of playing with her older brother Lee, younger sister, Corrine and her cousins "from the city" Glenn and Clifton Sanche. The neighbourhood was always full of adventures waiting to be found. They walked the tracks to Waite Fisheries to spend their allowance, explored the forest between the old mill and what was once Gould's Campground, built forts out of trim ends found in the lumber yard and slid on crazy carpets down the backside of the chip pile all summer long. Every summer weekend was spent camping, swimming and water skiing at Nesslin Lake. Climbing and running the sandhill and building the "secret" fort proved entertaining whenever they couldn't be on the beach.
During the winter, many hours were spent at the old rink figure skating, watching hockey and curling. Being apart of a very active curling family, Tammy remembers her first year of curling at the age of thirteen. Though she wasn't very big, she put a great effort into trying to make a loud noise with her straw broom and pushing with all of her might to get the rocks down the ice. The Open Bonspiel was always a very exciting time. There were so many teams entered that they had to curl through the night to complete all of the games. The possibility of sleeping in for your 4:00 am game was always a worry.
Tammy graduated from Big River High School in 1983. She immediately attended the University of Saskatchewan and obtained a Bachelor of Education in 1986 with French as her major. Since that time, she has taught French Immersion at many grade levels in Regina, Prince Albert and finally Saskatoon. She is currently teaching French Immersion Kindergarten at Ecole River Heights School in Saskatoon.
Tammy married Garnet Wood in 1993. They have three children Anthony (Tony) born in 1995, Kale born 1998 and Dana born in 2000. Although much of her time is devoted to working and raising a family, Tammy also remains active as a volunteer in the community. She still enjoys running, working out and yoga classes. Weekends and holidays often find the Wood family in Big River visiting or camping with their family and friends.
Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979
Chris Wopnford arrived in Big River in 1920 from Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, followed by the family in November of 1925. The Wopnfords spent their first winter on Dore Lake.
Chris spent the summer fishing on Delaronde Lake and then for the next five consecutive years he was employed with Big River Fisheries, and with Olafson Fisheries for six winters. In the summer, he would work in J.K. Johnson's sawmill.
In 1937, Chris Wopnford bought the cartage and operated this business for nine years before selling out to John Hoehn. After this, he worked for Waite Fisheries and operated the Dore Lake plant for five summers. Chris left Big River for two years to work at Fort Simpson and returned in 1954. At this time, he worked for Waite Fisheries until 1968 when the Wopnfords moved to Hay River, Northwest Territories.
Chris and Lil Wopnford now live in Calgary, Alberta. They have five children: Max, Anne, Lorna, Audrey, and Donald.
Submitted by Michael Woroby
Tillie and Harry, 1961.
Harry Woroby arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia via Canadian Pacific Railway Steamship on March 16, 1926 leaving his wife Tillie and four-year-old daughter Mary in the small village of Kydanci, about 26 kilometres east of Ternapol in Ukraine. Harry had served four years in the army in Ukraine, Austria and Italy. Being an adventurous man, Harry left Kydanci deciding that there were other, better, prospects in life than fighting wars. Harry was the only member of the family, or person from his village to leave Ukraine to seek a life abroad.
Arriving in Halifax with little or no money, Harry rode the "boxcar special", as they then called it, across Canada to Alberta, and on to the Peace River region. However, relief grants were better in Saskatchewan so Harry decided to try for land there. He arrived in Big River and immediately purchased a quarter section of land in the Ladder Valley district for ten dollars. He then proceeded to carve out a homestead by hand and axe in an attempt to fulfil the requirements of land ownership as stipulated by the Municipal District. His own immediate needs were a shelter, a cow, a horse and a little money to live.
Three years later, Harry had built a log house and saved enough money for tickets for his wife Tillie and daughter Mary to come to Canada. They arrived on August 4, 1933. A son, Michael, was born to Harry and Tillie the following year.
During the cold winters, Harry would cut cordwood and haul it to Big River for cash to buy extra groceries. He also made many winter trips with a team of horses hauling freight north and fish from Dore Lake, Meadow Lake and Sled Lake to Waite Fisheries in Big River.
Harry and Tillie worked the homestead until 1960 when they retired and moved to Rosthern to be near their daughter Mary and son-in-law Mike Prima who lived in Laird, Saskatchewan. Tillie passed away in Rosthern on July 18, 1962. After many happy retirement years in Rosthern with friends and relatives, Harry passed away on August 18, 1984.
Mary Woroby met Mike Prima while working in the Big River area. They married and moved to Laird. Mary and Mike Prima had three children, Elsie, Bob and Danny. Mary Woroby Prima passed away in Rosthern on September 2, 1991.
Michael Woroby attended school to grade ten in Big River and then completed his high school in Laird where he stayed with his sister Mary. He then attended Business College in Prince Albert for three years, obtaining a Business Administration degree. He worked in Regina for three years as a junior accountant for Canadian Pacific Railways. Mike then went to Calgary and applied for a job with the Department of Public Works, Highway Division in the Development Engineering branch. He was accepted and worked out of Banff from 1953 to 1957. He was then briefly transferred to Victoria and then to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. In Yellowknife he worked as office manager for the company, in charge of a large area of the Northwest Territories, hiring road construction crews, calculating road construction costs, as a radio operator, and flying to inspect construction camps.
While in Yellowknife, Mike met Helen McKenna from Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia. Helen had been teaching in Montreal but then decided to brave the wilds of the northwest and accepted a teaching position in Yellowknife. They were married on July 2, 1960.
Back in Calgary, Mike took some accounting classes at the University of Calgary and then worked as an accountant and then as a purchasing agent for Mobil Oil from 1965 to his retirement in 1989.
Mike Woroby has returned to Ukraine three times over the years. He travelled to the village of Kydanci and found a cousin living on the lot where his parents' house had been. A man 85 years of age could remember when a young Tillie carried him around and played with him. Nearby a pear tree planted by Harry Woroby many years ago was still bearing fruit.
Mike and Helen have three sons: Joseph, Trevor and Todd. Todd lives in Calgary with his wife Candace (Laing) Woroby and their two children, Alannah and Owen. Joseph lives at Salmon Arm, British Columbia, and Trevor lives in Calgary, Alberta.
Michael and Helen Woroby are now retired and living in Kelowna, British Columbia.
Mike, Trevor, Todd. Joseph, Helen.
Wright, Francis Elvin and Mary Jane (Wigton)
Submitted by Catherine Gunderson (Wright)
My father, Francis Elvin Wright was born in Chatham, Ontario on March 23, 1876. He came west with his folks at an early age to farm at Vonda, Saskatchewan.
He married Mare Jane Wigton who came from Glasgow, Scotland to Grandora, Saskatchewan in 1921. From this union four children were born, Sylvester, Nelson, Catherine (myself), and Ewen.
Hard times came to the prairies and with a mortgage, Dad lost his farm. In 1931 we packed up all our worldly possessions, which fit in a covered wagon. With an old team of horses, a cow tied to the back of the wagon and a box of chickens we headed to Big River where homesteads were opening up. It was 189 miles and took us eleven days. I don't remember too much of the trip, but when we had to cross Sandy Lake a native warned dad of holes in the lake. Dad asked him if he would drive us across and he did.
One other incident I do remember is when the horses bolted on a ferry. It could have been a tragedy, but Dad was able to quiet them. When we arrived at our destination, Ladder Valley, a log house awaited us on NE 26-55-7 W3rd.
Our mother died in 1933 and Dad was left with four small children. The Clark family took me, the only girl, and Dad kept the three boys. Three years later I went to live at Young's for a time before going home to Dad and the boys. I always lived in the same district and went to the same school as my brothers.
Times were very hard, but we were blessed with good health, good neighbours and friends. When we finished grade eight we left school to find jobs wherever available.
The two oldest boys joined the forces when they were of age. One in the army, and one in the air force, but neither one went overseas. Sylvester developed rheumatic fever and was discharged while Nelson had just finished pilot training when the war ended.
The boys all worked harvesting in Kinistino and in 1945 moved Dad and me there. I worked for a year and a half for an uncle to the man I later married. Dad lived with me in that home.
In October 1947, I was married to Orval Gunderson. From this union, Larry and Joan were born. We took over the family farm from Orval's folks and dad lived with us until his death in 1954.
We continued there until 1979 when we moved into town, and Larry has remained on the farm since. Joan married Don Wingfield in 1971, and from this union, Michael and Shannon were born. Orval passed away on August 26, 2000, and I continue here, next door to Joan and her family.
Wychodzew, Mr and Mrs Ted
Submitted by Margaret Greipl
Dad came to Canada from Russia, Germany in 1927. Mom's brother, Max Beggar, also came the same year. They worked in southern Saskatchewan for a few months. They then travelled to Big River where dad got a homestead at Black Duck Lake. The two of them cleared some land and built a log cabin to be ready for mom when she arrived in 1930 from Germany.
It was a drastic change for her as she had been living in a city in Germany, then coming to a place in the bush. In the fall, dad would leave to go north to trap fish, leaving mom at home with a baby (Margaret), a few chickens and a cow to look after. Summers were spent cutting hay and wood for the winter.
The closest neighbours were Mr and Mrs Lorenz. They helped mom out those first few winters. In 1942, mom and dad moved to town where they lived in the old R.C.M.P. barracks and jail. In one room, you could still see the bar marking on the walls and windows. It was quite exciting for me as I would sit and wonder who all had been in there and what they had done.
My sister, Ruth, was born in 1943 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She married Jerome Wapple and has three children. They reside in Saskatoon.
Dad worked for Rizer's Fish Company and hauled lumber, loading it onto boxcars to be shipped elsewhere. Later, he worked for the Saskatchewan Timberboard, and in bush camps where he sharpened chains for the chain saws.
Our school was four rooms, grades one to twelve. We later had to move to the United Church, as there were too many students. One of my teachers, Mr Unruh, went skating on Cowan Lake. He got out onto thin ice and fell through. They found him the next day. The water was too cold and deep and he couldn't get out. It was a very sad day for all.
We had fun in those days, sliding down the tower hill, skating on the lake or at the old skating rink. We also would walk to Ladder Lake to skate. Mrs Goliath would let us come into her house so that we could warm up. We would also catch rides on the back of cat trains that were going north to bring back frozen fish.
In the summer, we walked down the railroad tracks to the old swimming hole for a swim to cool off. Walking back, we were just as hot as what we were before. We also all gathered at Charlie McKenzie's to play ball, including Holmers, Millikin's and a few other families.
In 1950, I met Arnold Greipl, a nephew of Leo Greipl. We were married in 1951 and moved to Carmel, Saskatchewan. We had five boys; Terrance, Gordon, Leslie, Russell and Garnet. In 1969, we moved to Camrose, Alberta. The boys now live in the following centres: Terrance/Joan - Grand Prairie, Alberta, Gord/Colleen - Calgary, Alberta, Russell/Doneal - Camrose, Alberta, Les - Ponoka, Alberta, Garnet - Calgary, Alberta.
Max Beggar passed away on December 24, 1955. Dad passed away on August 6, 1975, after having a stroke.
Mom moved into a senior's residence and remained there until her passing on January 26, 1980. Mom and Dad are both remembered as Mr and Mrs Ted. All are buried in the Big River Cemetery. (My husband Arnold, passed away April 18, 1994.)