Home Town or Home Community:
Harry Butters and Bessie Bullis were married December 25th ,1925 in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Bessie, born May 29th, 1899 in Emerson Manitoba , came to Weyburn with her family in 1906. Bessie’s parents were William and Ellen Bullis. William was secretary of the R.M. of Weyburn from 1910 -1919. Harry, born October 31st, 1892 near Harwood, Ontario came west in 1909 as a farm hand. After a short time near Calgary, Harry settled at Weyburn. He worked on the Bowditch and Freeman farms before renting land to farm on his own.
Harry and Bessie worked long and hard, as did their neighbors. A half section of land would not feed a family so most people had cattle and pigs as well as a team of horses. Dad always had two or three cows milking so he was on call at 6 o’clock, morning and night. In the winter, feed had to be hauled and water pumped for thirty or forty animals. Spring, summer and fall he worked the land, fixed the few machines he owned, and prayed for rain (without hail) and no grasshoppers. In the winter life was a little easier for him but Moms work was never done.
Mom raised chickens and turkeys, sold butter, cream and eggs weekly in Weyburn. Each fall chickens were killed, cleaned and plucked for sale, or for our own use. These, along with the produce from a large garden and the beef and pork which we raised were our main food source. All extra garden produce, as well as chickens, beef, and store bought fruit were home canned. Mom made all our clothes, (including coats and snow suits) mainly cut from old garments. New materials were too costly. There was always time to help a friend and to do one’s part in the community. Harry served several terms on the Riverview School Board . Several teachers boarded at our home, which meant extra work for Mom. The highlight of the week was a trip to Weyburn on Saturday for groceries. This provided a great opportunity to visit with friends from other communities when they met in “Stinson and Powers,” or later the “Weyburn Co-op Store.”
The family was the center of farm life. Lorraine was born in 1926 in Weyburn. Isabelle in 1929, followed by Wilma in 1932 and Shirley came as a surprise at the height of the depression in 1937. The latter three girls were all born at home on the farm. Of course each of the babies was to have been a boy but that wasn’t to be, so we all had to work outside with Dad as well as doing housework. We later realized this was an opportunity, not a punishment. Supplies were meager in the early years, but no one felt deprived, as every family was in the same situation. Many hours were spent around the kitchen table playing card games, listening to the radio, or around the piano singing. Dad played the mouth organ, Isabelle the guitar and Shirley the piano accordian. We had all taken piano lessons, but Lorraine was the only one to do well. She could play anything by ear, never mind the lessons. Wilma was a more diligent student than either Isabelle or Shirley. On Saturday night Isabelle would spread out her hockey cards as we listened to “Hockey Night in Canada with Foster Hewitt”.She knew every player. Of course there were only six teams in those days. Other favorite programs were “Lux Radio Theatre” and “Fibber McGee and Mollie”. During World War 2, all talk came to a halt when the news came on the radio.
Mom had a sister and brother-in -law in Weyburn, otherwise we had no family near-by. Our neighbors were our family. When others shared Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions with Grandparents and cousins, we shared with neighbours .
Rural communities were a wonderful place to grow up. Shirley, being the youngest, had the opportunity to belong to the Lomond 4 -H Baby Beef Club. It provided fellowship and leadership that she’s never forgotten. The older girls belonged to poultry club, which they didn’t think was as much fun. All four girls were privileged to attend Farm Girls’ Camp in conjunction with the Weyburn Exhibition. Each girl had to provide a specified baked item and article of sewing to attend camp. Poor Dad, had to eat a lot of terrible baking powder biscuits, as they always seemed to be on the compulsory list. Sometimes the chickens wouldn’t even eat the product we turned out!!! Dad was a great critic as he made wonderful biscuits. In 1954 Donna White, Audrey Hawton and Shirley, were fortunate to be chosen from the Weyburn Camp to spend a week at the Regina Farm Girls’ Camp. This was a terrific experience, meeting and competing with girls from all over the southern part of the province.
Our country school was named “Riverview,” and there wasn’t a river within miles. The story was that some of the school names had gotten mixed up. We girls each took grades 1 – 10 at Riverview, getting correspondence courses from Regina for grades 9 and 10. This was much less expensive than going to Weyburn, paying tuition for the older two girls and board and room for all four. The Larger School Unit came into being in 1945, and then the tuition was paid. The one room school was often cold. Some cold or stormy days only a few students would show up, then we would all sit huddled over the big floor register with our “Readers”. “Riverview’s” Ball team was a source of community pride. For many years the parents took us to the Goodwater Field Day. We competed all morning in Track and Field. In the afternoon the ball teams took to the diamond, and you can be sure Riverview would be in the final game, often bringing home the cup. After the advent of the “Unit” we had a Sub-unit meet at Goodwater and the winners went on to Weyburn to compete with the best of each sub-unit. Many of us did well at the Goodwater meet, but the Weyburn contenders were usually too much for us at the finals. Our Ball team still did well.
In 1942 the family purchased the Harm Stutt farm N7/14 W of the second (9 miles south of Weyburn) where they had been living since 1939. The papers were just signed when a cyclone struck. Lorraine and Isabelle were away from home at the time. The storm came up very quickly. Fortunately the Gabb family intercepted Isabelle who was riding a horse home from pasture. Wilma and Shirley were holding a west bedroom window to keep it from blowing in.(Little was known about cyclones !!) A strike of lightening lit up the yard and both girls exclaimed, “The roof is gone off the barn!”. The twister had split the roof , landing on out buildings. Our family felt very fortunate to all be safe, and with the help of neighbors from miles around the mess was soon cleaned up and the roof replaced. Harry still found pieces of wood three years later in different areas of the farm.
Our religious upbringing was not forgotten. Mom was one of the prime movers in getting ministers to come to our little country church named St. Andrews located 7and 1/2 miles south of Weyburn. Isabelle, Wilma, and Shirley were all baptized at the same service by Rev. Cobb in May of 1938. Lorraine had been baptized as a baby in Weyburn. During the depression Sunday School was held in homes or at Riverview, or South Weyburn Schools. In later years the Weyburn United Church Minister came out for Sunday afternoon services from April till October. The little church could be very cold, even when the pot-bellied stove was very hot. Lorraine pumped the church organ for many years, and Mom was Sunday School Superintendent. Church was followed by a social time with neighbours. Everyone looked forward to serving supper to friends or being entertained. The children thought they were the ones who enjoyed the time, but we realize now how important these visits were to the adults. St. Andrews Ladies Aid was an affiliate of the church, and the highlight of the month for many of the ladies.
Harry died suddenly in 1955 due to a massive Heart Attack. Bessie, rented the farm, moved into Weyburn and went to work for Dr.Ferg Eaglesham and Dr. Jim McGillivray. She had been the receptionist for Dr.Hugh Eaglesham and Dr McGillivray before she was married. Mom died in 1978 of Leukemia after a relatively short illness.
Some of this information can be found in the R.M. of Lomond book, or the R.M. of Weyburn book Hopefully some of these stories are different.
Wilma tells a wonderful story of the night Shirley was born .The shortened form is that Wilma was awakened during the night to hear Dad taking the bed apart and moving it downstairs for Mom to get into. Dad, for the next 10 days would sleep on a cot upstairs and Mom would share the bed (in the livingroom/kitchen) with Susie Ketter, the nurse who came to help when babies were born. She and Dr. Eaglesham both arrived that night and not Little Harry, who was so hoped for, but Shirley was delivered. Of course Wilma knew nothing of this until she arrived downstairs the next morning to be shown her new sister. Five year olds were much less worldly in those days!!
Shirley recalls the time her sister’s boyfriend arrived fresh from the city. Somehow he was conscripted to paint the peak of the barn. This of course took a long extension ladder and was not too stable. While he was painting, a cow decided to scratch herself on the bottom rungs of the ladder. Shirley, of course, thought this was hilariously funny, while the poor man suffered on the top of the ladder. This man became her brother-in -law, and she has never been allowed to forget the incident. Fortunately no one was hurt.
There are so many stories to be told, about Christmas Concerts, Sportsdays, Picnics, Blizzards, Hailstorms and Duststorms. Those of you who lived through these years also experienced these events and those who didn’t live through it cannot really comprehend what it was like. Driving 2 and 1/2 miles to school with a horse and cutter in -35* weather is incomprehensible to our children and grandchildren.
Lorraine ,trained as a secretary , then worked at Stinson and Powers and the Weyburn Co-op before marrying Keith Boyle,( a Colgate farmer) in 1948. Lorraine, was a wonderful homemaker, and as mentioned a beautiful pianist. She has always shared her talent with the community by playing for Church, Dances, and other functions. Keith died in December of 2000. He was proud, as is Lorraine, of their two children and three grandchildren, one great grandchild, and at the time of writing two more on the way.
Wilma moved to Winnipeg as a seventeen year old to become a comptometer operator. This left a big hole in the Butters’ family. In Winnipeg Wilma met her life partner, Al Oliver, an entrepreneur. Married in 1953 they boast three children and seven grandchildren. Wilma worked part-time for many years but was, and is, always available for family and friends.
Shirley went to Moose Jaw Teachers’ College, taught for a year in Creelman, Sask. took one year of Education at the U. of S. and then took up a teaching position in Lloydminster. Here she met Doug Aston, a pharmacist who became her husband in 1960.Teaching was given up to become a Mom. When the children were older, volunteering became her profession. Three children and four grandchildren have enriched the Astons’ lives.
Isabelle, who trained to be a secretary, went on to become the manager of the Weyburn Co-op. She was an Alderman and Mayor of Weyburn. Isabelle has been recognized repeatedly for her volunteer work and commitment to community and country. She is a member of the Order of Canada, receiving that honor in 1980. In 1998 she was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. Butters Court in the Weyburn Square, Butters Bay, Butters Butte, were named after Isabelle. The Butters’ name will live on in Weyburn.