Home Town or Home Community:

Kisbey, Lashburn, Floral, Meskanaw, Ethelton, Saskatoon

Our Story:


This is the story of Will and Gertrude Chapman who came with their pioneer parents to what is now Saskatchewan. It tells of their gambling with the odds to make a good life here for themselves, their seven children and succeeding generations.

William and Gertrude Chapman Year: 1914 Wedding picture - Jan. 1914. They were married at Kisbey and made their home at Lashburn. The photo may have been taken during their honeymoon in Winnipeg.

William and Gertrude Chapman
Year: 1914
Wedding picture – Jan. 1914. They were married at Kisbey and made their home at Lashburn. The photo may have been taken during their honeymoon in Winnipeg.

Will’s father, John Armstrong Chapman was born on March 3, 1851 at Roslin, Ontario of United Empire Loyalist stock. The sixth of seven children, he was married to Alice Morton on December 3, 1878. Alice was born on June 17, 1850 at Thomasburg, Ontario, the ninth of twelve children.

John and Alice Chapman farmed for about 17 years near Roslin, Ontario. He seemed to be always looking for new challenges, and by 1895 they had moved from the Roslin farm to nearby Tweed where they operated a grocery store. Four years later they responded to the exciting reports of family and friends who had recently made the bold move to the West. In 1899 John and Alice went to what was then the Northwest Territories, homesteading in the Kisbey district about one hundred miles southeast of Regina. They took three freight car loads of personal effects, including a car load of lumber for a house, horses, cattle, household effects and farm supplies. The end of the railroad was then at Alameda so they traveled the remaining thirty miles to their new home by horse and wagon . Within three years the CPR line was extended from Alameda through Kisbey on its way to Regina, and the Chapmans’ new rural community a few miles southwest of Kisbey had built Kitchener School and Coteau Church (Methodist).

John and Alice had four children: Arthur born in 1883; Harry, born in 1885 died at the age of six months; William (Will), born July 12, 1888; and Blanche, born in 1890.

Neighbors of the Chapmans included the Barker family who arrived in1903. Both families attended Kitchener School and Coteau Church. Many years later Will told about first seeing Gertrude Barker when she arrived one day at Kitchener School while he was lighting the fire, apparently his regular task at the time. Gertrude was 12 and he was 15.

Gertrude Barker was the daughter of Aaron and Catherine (Umphrey) Barker whose family consisted of Wilbur, Wesley (died of pneumonia at age 15 and buried at Hartney, Manitoba), Louella (Ross), Mina (Browne), Alma (died at 1 1/2 years), Edna (Code), Gertrude (Chapman) and Harold (killed in the First World War). Gertrude was born at Pinedale, Ontario on June 11, 1891, and moved with her family to Hartney, Manitoba, in 1892, and then to Kisbey in 1903.

In later years Gertrude wrote about those pioneering days: “Money was a very scarce commodity but we never went hungry or cold in the winter. In the early days we had a great deal of snow with blizzards that would last two or three days – buildings would be almost submerged in snow. Doorways would have to be shoveled out… In the summer prairie fires were common, sweeping across the level prairie – fire guards were plowed around the buildings and stacks of feed. Our men would join neighbors to put these fires out. In the summer mosquitoes went in swarms and plagued the men and horses in the fields; however, there was a saying: ‘Lots of mosquitoes, lots of wheat’, and this was correct for if mosquitoes were bad the weather was wet. And, old timers…do you remember the flies? Insecticides were unknown in the early days, so sticky coils were hung from the ceilings. Sheets of tangle foot paper and also poison pads were moistened and put on plates around. Sometimes two or three would take aprons or towels and shoo them out the open door.” (From Ten Happy Years in Luther Tower 1988 pp. 65, 66 )

After farming in the Kisbey area for 13 years, John and Alice sold their farm and in the spring of 1913 purchased a general store at Lashburn in northwestern Saskatchewan. Will joined his parents in operating the store under the name of J. A. Chapman and Son. His sister Blanche also worked in the store. Elder brother Arthur had gone to university, studying law and education, later to become a teacher in Kelowna.

Will Chapman and Gertrude Barker were married the year after the Chapmans bought the store at Lashburn. Following high school at Arcola, Gertrude had attended Normal School at Regina and then taught school in some southern Saskatchewan locations. She was teaching in Moose Jaw at the time of her marriage on January 1, 1914 at Kisbey.

Chapman's General Store at Lashburn Year: 1913 Place Name: Lashburn General store operated by J. A. Chapman and Son (Will) from 1913 to 1916. In the picture (from left) Ruby Ewens, John Chapman, Blanche Chapman (later Woulds) and Will Chapman.

Chapman’s General Store at Lashburn
Year: 1913
Place Name: Lashburn
General store operated by J. A. Chapman and Son (Will) from 1913 to 1916. In the picture (from left) Ruby Ewens, John Chapman, Blanche Chapman (later Woulds) and Will Chapman.

Will and Gertrude went to Winnipeg for their honeymoon and then settled in at Lashburn, living above the store. Gertrude wrote in the Lashburn and District History (page 330): “We were welcomed by a hilarious chivaree led by Bunt and Lena Smith and Casey Lejere. They expected some money, as was the custom, to spend in the hotel, but Will insisted that they all come in and meet his bride,… and Will brought in a big box of apples….We found Lashburn to be a friendly little town and keenly sports minded. Will belonged to the baseball and football leagues that included Maidstone, Waseca, Lloydminster, etc. and Lashburn won their share of games….There was also a ladies baseball team to which Blanche Chapman and Gertrude belonged. We had many good games until near the end of the season, Ida Haugen, running into first base broke a leg. This unfortunate accident ended our playing.”

Will and Gertrude always spoke fondly of the “Lashburn years”. Their eldest son, Jack, was born while they were there. They enjoyed being active in the community and Will appreciated the business association with many people. “Our customers came from a large area from Waseca to Lloydminster East and West to Banana Belt to Neilburg North to South. They came mostly by wagons drawn by horses and several by oxen that would be tied to hitching posts in front of the store.” (Lashburn and District History. p. 330)

However, the confinement of the store didn’t seem to agree with John Chapman’s health so a decision was made to go back to farming. John and Will traded the store for a 11/2 section farm in the Floral district just southeast of Saskatoon where the partnership of J. A. Chapman and Son continued. Will and Gertrude lived on and operated the farm while John and Alice lived in Saskatoon with John helping on the farm in the summer months.

The house on the farm was not adequate so a cottage was purchased in Saskatoon for $1,000.00 and placed on a foundation for $100.00. Horses and machinery, seed and other supplies were required. To cover these “start up” costs a mortgage of some $10,000.00 was taken out which they expected to pay off in a relatively short time. Unfortunately a series of poor crops made this impossible and the mortgage with its relentless addition of interest increased each year as the family struggled to survive.

In the Floral and District history book, Our Heritage, Gertrude noted (page 264): “Some of the misfortunes we experienced during the years were: two local devastating hail storms, frost, several years of drought when dust storms cut off the young stocks of grain and made working the fields most disagreeable….One year grasshoppers cleaned the fields as the green shoots appeared….I might add an incident: Grandpa (John) Chapman left his coat and water bottle at one end of the field when he went to work in the morning. When he went back to pick up the coat at noon there was nothing left but shreds and buttons. Army worms also visited us, doing a lot of damage to crops. Russian thistles infested the fields for several years….In eighteen years we had three paying crops.” (A major fire which burned the house with most of its furnishings in the fall of 1916 was another calamity.)

Will and Gertrude had six more children born during their years at Floral. Besides John Wesley (Jack) born in 1915 at Lashburn, the family included Harold Everett, 1917; Gladys Victoria, 1919; Robert Earl, 1923; Charles Edgar, 1925; William Alvin (Bill), 1927; and Alice Gertrude, 1933.

How did they manage during these difficult years? Well, much of the family’s basic food needs was produced right on the farm – milk, butter, meat, eggs and vegetables. Being close to Saskatoon provided a ready market for farm produce delivered every Saturday to private customers. Will and Gertrude took pride in the quality of their produce and over the years built a close bond with many of their customers. The University barn and the livery stable in Saskatoon provided ready markets for hay and oat bundles. All of these were a source of cash for meeting daily household and farm operation needs. In some years Will took a team of horses and helped with road work, thus “working off” taxes.

Community life was in many ways quite fulfilling and enjoyable. Most of the neighbors were living under similar economic stress so they were able to share their problems with each other. As the family grew up they attended Melness School where Will was a trustee for a number of years. He played baseball with the “Melness Piledrivers” and was involved in and directed some plays that were produced in the Melness and Floral communities. The Chapman family were active members of Floral United Church, Will and Gertrude giving leadership in the choir and Sunday School. The family developed many friendships in the community and Will enjoyed meeting business people in the Broadway area of Saskatoon.

However, that original mortgage loomed ever and ever larger. Will and Gertrude felt that they were barely meeting their growing family’s needs. Disappointment after disappointment left them depressed and dispirited. They didn’t want to “go on relief”so began to look at other possibilities for the future.

John and Alice Chapman Year: 1936 Place Name: Meskanaw Visiting at the farm at Meskanaw - both aged about 85

John and Alice Chapman
Year: 1936
Place Name: Meskanaw
Visiting at the farm at Meskanaw – both aged about 85

Gertrude’s sister and her husband, Luella and Luther Ross, had moved in the fall of 1931 from the dried out Stalwart area south of Watrous to Meskanaw in the Melfort area. They were among the many prairie farmers who trekked north in the early 1930’s to get away from the drought, dust, grasshoppers and Russian thistles. Settled at Meskanaw, the Ross family sent glowing reports of the fine crops, gardens and wild fruits that were growing there in abundance. In the late fall of 1933, Will went to Meskanaw to see for himself. Through a land agent he arranged the purchase of a half section of Hudson Bay land. About thirty acres were cultivated, with the rest mainly bluffs and heavy bush.

After signing a quit claim deed early in 1934, the Chapmans literally abandoned the Floral farm, taking everything that might be useful in establishing themselves anew at Meskanaw. For instance, the bottom wire was taken off a number of three strand barbed wire fences (all the better for letting the Russian thistles move freely across the countryside!) It was rolled up and taken to Meskanaw. Shiplap lumber was removed from the upstairs interior of the house to be used in building a new home. Altogether, three freight cars of “settler’s effects”- cattle, horses and other livestock, farm machinery, household furnishings and the personal belongings of a large family – were loaded at the nearby Grasswood siding. An acquaintance, Cecil Tegart, shared one of the freight cars as the Tegarts also were moving to Meskanaw. It was a sad departure. Gertrude later wrote: “When the cars were loaded, the Chapman family simply left their home and seven quarters of land to the Mortgage Company and walked off. It was a bitter pill to swallow!” (MESKANAW Its Story and Its People p.61)

Will (45 years) and sons Harold (16 years) and Charlie (8 years) along with Cecil Tegart rode in the freight cars to look after the livestock. They left about 4:00 a.m. on April 3, 1934, so everything had to be loaded by the previous night. Cows had to be milked on the train and the milk was then given to the cows to drink. They arrived that evening in Meskanaw and the livestock was unloaded and taken to Lawrence and Edna Reid’s, a mile east of the hamlet. (Edna was Gertrude’s first cousin once removed.)

Meanwhile, Jack (18 years) drove the family’s 1928 Chrysler car with Gertrude (42 years), Gladys (15 years), Earl (10 years), Bill (6 years) and Alice (1 year). In the process of cleaning up the yard the day before departure, a strong gusty wind blew a live coal from burning garbage against the new tire just installed on a rear wheel of the car. The large hole burned in the tire had to be repaired the next morning before they could leave for Meskanaw.

It was a challenging day and a half trip. The snow had long since melted around Saskatoon, and the first half of the journey went well. But further to the northeast the roads were still covered with snow, and the car ended up stuck in slush and mud near Hagen. A gracious farmer came with his team of horses and pulled the car out, and his family provided lodgings for the night. The next morning the roads were frozen so the travelers were able to make their way over the rough but solid roads. They ended up “breaking trail” and around noon Meskanaw was indeed a welcome sight.

The “new place” was not yet ready for occupancy so initially the livestock was attended to at the Lawrence Reid’s and the family divided between Reids (they had nine children at the time) and Rosses. The house on the new farm was a 20 by 20 foot shack consisting of one layer of shiplap on the outside of studding – but it did have a shingled roof. It is hard to understand how the family got by that first summer. In that little place where Will and Gertrude, their seven children ages one to eighteen plus Will’s elderly parents, John and Alice, who came up from Saskatoon for the summer, and two teen-aged cousins who came from Lashburn for July and August. There was also all the industry that went on in such a farm home – regular meal preparation and eating, “separating” the milk twice a day, making butter, baking bread, looking after the eggs and washing the clothes. The family lived there for some eight months.

By late fall Will and his sons with hired and donated help had completed a two-storey 20 by 26 foot log house which became home for the next twelve years. They also built log barns for the livestock, a hen house and other required shelters. Fortunately it was a lovely open fall extending well into December and this made it possible to do the “mountain” of work that had to be done before winter.

The partnership of J. A. Chapman and Son was dissolved at the time of the move to Meskanaw and the farm was only in Will’s name – W. L. Chapman. Grandpa (John) and Grandma (Alice) Chapman kept their home in Saskatoon but came up to the farm at Meskanaw in the summer time. This continued until Grandma passed away on December 3, 1937 following a brief illness. She was 87 years old . Grandpa then lived with Will and Gertrude until his death in March of 1949 at the age of 98 years. A fall immobilized him and his death was probably the result of pneumonia. For a person who apparently experienced some ill health earlier in life his later years were very healthful ones. He and Grandma are both buried at Meskanaw.

The Chapman farm was located half way between Ethelton and Meskanaw, three miles from each. There were no graveled roads within fifteen miles in the early days so ploughing mud with the car and trekking through it on foot or behind a team of horses were familiar experiences. Initially the farm consisted of a half section with about thirty acres broken. A lot of work went into clearing and breaking up more land over the next few years. Five healthy sons were a big help in getting along with this challenging task. The family was fortunate to be able to rent a quarter section of land just across the road (the Fraser place) and later buy it. There was also custom work available from time to time and the older sons “hired out”, especially at harvest time for stooking and threshing. Younger family members joined in picking wild saskatoon berries and raspberries. Gertrude canned dozens of quarts of fruit, and then sold surplus pails of wild raspberries at Boyd’s store in Ethelton for seven cents per pound to help pay for groceries. The men cut trees up into “cordwood” – four foot lengths that were split and ready for the furnace. (A cord of wood was a quantity four by four by eight feet and at that time sold for $2.00.) As well as selling some to the store, the family was able to sell cord wood to Ethelton High School to pay for tuition fees. Annual fees of $50.00 per high school student were necessary because the Chapmans lived outside the Ethelton school district hence their taxes went to support the nearby Galabank rural school.

Jack, as earlier noted, was the oldest of the seven children. While machines, motors and electronics were his main line of interest and aptitude, the depression era provided little opportunity for him to get into this line of work. His best opportunities seemed to be in farming and he purchased a quarter section of land about a mile and a half from the home place. On July 3, 1941 he married Pauline Getz whom he had met in his Floral (and her Clavet) days. Her family moved from Clavet to Birch Hills, and at the time of her marriage she was teaching in that area. Jack and Pauline established a home on their farm, pooling with Will and other family members in the operation of the two farms.

Harold was the second of Will and Gertrude’s children. Before the Chapmans left Floral he had completed his Grade 10, but the severe depression and the move to Meskanaw in 1934 interrupted his education at this point. In 1937 he returned to school taking Grades 11 and 12 at Ethelton High School and graduating in 1939. That year he enrolled in the College of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan and graduated in 1943, specializing in Farm Management. He then served in the Armed Forces for two and a half years. On November 27, 1943 he married Mary Bonnett who had grown up on a farm in the Palmer district south west of Moose Jaw and was working in Saskatoon when they met. Harold was released from the armed services in 1945 and in October of that year began employment with the Department of Co-operatives in Regina.

Following the move to Meskanaw, Gladys took her Grades 11 and 12 at Ethelton High School. She graduated in 1937 and then went on to Normal School in Saskatoon. As money was very scarce her tuition fees were borrowed from a “benevolent friend” (and later paid back from her teacher’s salary). In Saskatoon she lived with her grandparents John and Alice Chapman until Alice’s rather sudden death in December. Gladys was able to make other living arrangements and finish her teacher training. She began teaching in 1938 at Thatch Creek rural school (between Melfort and Beatty). She moved soon to Beatty and taught in the village school until the time of her marriage in 1943 to John Dexter.

John’s family were neighbors, well established in the Meskanaw community. John’s father, Foster Dexter, had taken out a homestead in 1901 and over the years built up a farming operation that consisted of eleven quarters of land, a sizeable farm for those times. John, the only son in a family of three, was interested in farming as a career and in preparation attended the School of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan, obtaining his diploma in 1941. By this time John’s parents were wanting to retire so arrangements were made for John to purchase the Dexter family farm in 1942. John and Gladys were married on July 3, 1943 and took over the farm when the senior Dexters moved first to Saskatoon and then to Victoria, B. C.

In January of 1946 a major decision was made as to the long term management and operation of the three farm enterprises. In a very bold step, John and Gladys Dexter, Will and Gertrude, Jack and Pauline, Earl, Charlie, and Bill Chapman pooled their land and machinery and established the Laurel Farm Co-operative Association. They decided on a common building site at what had been the “Dexter place”.

The idea for the formation of the co-operative farm at this time perhaps came from Harold Chapman who was employed by the provincial Department of Co-operatives. Part of his job was to give guidance to new types of co-operatives including production co-operatives, and the assistance he was able to give was very helpful in the initial establishment of the farm.

There were some very practical reasons for establishing the Co-op Farm at this time. Earl, Charlie and Bill were all interested in farming careers. Following High School at Ethelton, Earl attended the College of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan, getting his degree in 1946. Charlie and Bill each took the University’s two year School of Agriculture course, Charlie getting his diploma in 1946 and Bill in 1948. Co-operative farming provided an opportunity for these three young men to get started. For John and Gladys Dexter the co-op farm was a way of sharing the management load – a challenge on their large farm – and sharing the work so that it was not necessary to have hired men coming and going all the time as John had experienced in his growing up years. All of the co-op farm members could expect an increase in efficiency of farm operations through the pooling of equipment, and they could enjoy the social advantages of having a common farmstead site.

In the first instance, equity in the farm was very uneven. John and Gladys Dexter brought in by far the most equity while Earl, Charlie and Bill Chapman brought in only an initial payment of $1,000.00 each. The intention was that equity would be evened up over a period of years by paying interest on it before dividends were paid (profits dispersed). Also it was planned to pay out dividends as much as possible to those with the most equity while those with the least were encouraged to leave their dividends in the farm to build up their equity. Over the years this was effective in evening up members’ investment in the farm.

The Co-op Farm operated the eleven quarter sections it owned plus four quarters it rented from John and Gladys Dexter. Organizing the farm was an exciting process – establishing a common farmstead site, consolidating the equipment and purchasing new equipment to fill gaps, and agreeing on the specialization of the work force. There were lots of decisions to be made and new patterns to be established. Wives were members of the Co-op Farm and were involved in much of the major decision making. The men were responsible for the day-to-day operation of the farm and Monday mornings were regular meeting times for the planning of the week’s work. Earl Chapman was the ongoing secretary and bookkeeper and the chairperson’s role generally rotated amongst the other men. An outside auditor was hired to check the books each year.

In the ensuing years a number of changes took place in membership on the farm. In 1947 Earl married Elsie Carpenter of Meskanaw and a house was purchased and moved onto the farm for them. Nearby neighbors Irving and Marian Reid joined in 1948 bringing their half section of land and accompanying equipment into the Laurel Farm Co-op. Their house was moved the three miles to the Co-op farmstead. In 1950, Will and Gertrude retired from the farm and they, along with their daughter Alice, moved to Saskatoon. In 195l, Bill made a major vocational change. He became a candidate for ministry in The United Church of Canada and left the Co-op Farm to begin studies at the University of Saskatchewan. In 1957, Jack and Pauline with daughter Phyllis moved to Saskatoon where Jack, after taking some courses, bought and operated Hub City Radio and TV. In 1959, Charlie married Yvonne Preete of Melfort. Irving and Marian Reid withdrew from the farm in 1965 and moved to Sardis, B. C. where they went into the poultry business.

Breaking the land on the Co-op Farm Year: circa 1947 Place Name: Meskanaw Image Source: Everett Baker International tractor - TD35. Bill Chapman on the plow; Charlie Chapman operating the tractor.

Breaking the land on the Co-op Farm
Year: circa 1947
Place Name: Meskanaw
Image Source: Everett Baker
International tractor – TD35. Bill Chapman on the plow; Charlie Chapman operating the tractor.

The co-op farm continued for six more years with just the three couples as members: Earl and Elsie Chapman, Charlie and Yvonne Chapman and Gladys and John Dexter. In 1971 they decided to sell the land and equipment.

In its twenty-five years of operation the Laurel Farm Co-operative Association farm was certainly a successful enterprise. Initially quite a lot of land was cleared of trees by professional “brush cutters”and broken up with the farm equipment. At times feeder cattle were kept but growing cereal and canola crops was the main enterprise for the most part. The Farm was well equipped and had a modern, efficient seed cleaning plant. It produced registered and foundation seed with many, many bushels cleaned, bagged and shipped across Canada, to the United States and overseas. The children growing up on the farm were hired to “rogue” the registered wheat fields (weed and pick out unsuitable heads of wheat), pick roots and do other necessary tasks. Eventually Charlie, Earl and John experienced allergies to the grain dust which became a major problem in the operation of the farm in general and the seed cleaning enterprise in particular. This along with realizing that their children were choosing careers away from the farm spurred the decision to move on.

Following the sale of the farm, John and Gladys Dexter retired to Victoria. They did a lot of traveling and were involved in Gordon United Church and the local senior citizen’s group. They also enjoyed entertaining family members and friends from afar while their health allowed. Gladys died of cancer on February 13, 1998. John died suddenly on June 6, 2000 while on a tour to Israel and Germany.

Jack enjoyed a number of years as the operator of his radio and TV repair business in Saskatoon. His marriage to Pauline ended in divorce and in 1978 he married Phyllis Slater. He retired in the early 1980’s and enjoyed a number of special interests, including gardening, church and barbershop choir singing and riding his motor bike. He and Phyllis joined a round dancing group and did some traveling with a trailer club. Following a brief illness Jack died of acute leukemia on October 15, 1990.

Harold and Mary moved to Saskatoon in October of 1955 where Harold started and operated the Co-operative Institute, which later became the Co-operative College of Canada. Here courses were developed and training provided for co-op and credit union personnel across Canada and in English speaking developing countries throughout the world.

In 1973 Harold joined the staff of Federated Co-operatives Ltd. as Member Relations Director. This involved developing and conducting educational programs for members, delegates and directors of retail co-operatives in Western Canada.

Following Harold’s retirement in 1982, he and Mary bought a motor home and traveled extensively in Canada and the United States for a number of years. They moved to McClure Place, a senior’s high rise, in Saskatoon in 1989 and take an active part in the life of that community.

When the Laurel Co-op Farm was sold in 1971 Earl and Elsie moved to Melfort. Earl was a handyman with Home Care until 1990. In these “Melfort years” he has also done a lot of driving for people requiring medical care in Saskatoon and Prince Albert. Earl and Elsie, when her health permitted, enjoyed traveling to the United States and across Canada. Following several years of failing health, Elsie passed away on October 18, 2001. Earl is currently living at Diefenbaker Place in Melfort.

Upon the dissolution of the Laurel Farm Co-op in 1971, Charlie and Yvonne also moved to Melfort. Charlie worked for a flooring firm for a time and later worked as a parts man at the John Deere agency. Following his retirement Charlie and Yvonne have enjoyed traveling in their motor home, and recreational bowling and golfing in Melfort where they continue to live.

Bill was married in 1955 to Mary Morgan who had grown up on a farm at Burstall, Saskatchewan. She attended Normal School in Saskatoon in 1946-47 and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Education degree in 1955. Following Bill’s ordination in 1957, they lived successively at Rockglen, Quill Lake, Three Hills (Alberta), Saskatoon (Grace-Westminster United Church) and Elrose. Upon retiring in 1992, he and Mary moved to Saskatoon.

When Gertrude and Will retired from the Co-op Farm in 1950 and moved to Saskatoon, Alice, the youngest member of the family, came with them. She took a course in hairdressing and worked for a time before her marriage to Gene Bader on February 28, 1953. He had grown up in the Meadow Lake area (Rapid View) and was in the plumbing and heating business in Saskatoon. They moved to Rosthern where they operated their own heating business for many years serving a large area between Saskatoon and Prince Albert. Alice did much of the office and book work. They retired in the early 1990s and moved back to Saskatoon.

The family at Will & Gertrude's 50th Wedding Anniversary Year: 1964 Place Name: Saskatoon Image Source: Louis Tubb Will and Gertrude and their seven children and spouses and all their grandchildren at that time - one granddaughter was born later

The family at Will & Gertrude’s 50th Wedding Anniversary
Year: 1964
Place Name: Saskatoon
Image Source: Louis Tubb
Will and Gertrude and their seven children and spouses and all their grandchildren at that time – one granddaughter was born later

Alice and Gene are enjoying retirement in Scott-Forget Towers and are using their musical talents for the enjoyment of the residents there. They are also giving important support to relatives and friends who require “a helping hand”.

In conclusion we return to Will and Gertrude Chapman, the central figures in this family story of “winning the prairie gamble”. They lived long and healthy lives, retiring from the farm in 1950 to live in Saskatoon. For a few summers they spent time back on the farm. In the wintertime Will would walk over to the Nutana curling rink for a curling game or to play cards with other retired people – mostly farmers. For a number of years he helped son Jack look after the “desk” at his radio and TV repair shop. Will chatted with customers while Jack tended to his repair work. Will loved meeting people and visiting. They became a part of the Grace United Church congregation and Gertrude took part in women’s groups there.

A new experience for Will and Gertrude for several years beginning when they were in their 70’s and 80’s was to drive down to Brownsville, Texas for the winter months. In 1978 when they could no longer look after their home and yard they moved into a senior citizen’s high rise, Luther Tower, where the supper meal was provided. Some five years later they required more living assistance and moved into the adjoining nursing home, Sunset Home.

Will celebrated his 100th birthday there on July 12, 1988 and a large number of family and friends were able to share in this memorable occasion. His health declined rapidly following this celebration and he died on August 9, 1988. Gertrude was also in failing health by this time and she died on November 23, 1988 at the age of 97 years.

Will and Gertrude’s wedding anniversary, January 1, was celebrated with gala events to mark the major milestones. In the later years of their 74-year marriage each anniversary was a special family gathering time.

During times in their lives they struggled simply to make a living for their family but they never lost sight of the values that they wanted to pass on – worthy moral standards, honesty and simplicity of life style. They gave high priorities to taking part in church life and in getting an education for their children. Music was part of home life. Family members recall gathering around the piano to sing the old songs, and the hours spent at the kitchen table with Gertrude supervising their homework. She initiated these activities, but Will was a strong supporter.

Will and Gertrude Chapman were undoubtedly made of tough pioneer stock. Now in Saskatchewan’s Centennial Year we trust that their example and influence live on in the lives of their children, grandchildren and succeeding generations. They surely deserve to be honored for accepting the challenge of the prairie gamble and in spite of obstacles coming out as winners.

Prepared by Bill Chapman with the assistance of other family members, September 2004


Arcola Kisbey History Book Committee: Arcola-Kisbey Golden Heritage, 1987

Floral History Book Committee: Our Heritage, Era of South and East of Saskatoon, 1985

Lashburn and District History Committee: Lashburn and District History, 1983

Lloyd, Daniel Boone: Chapman, 1979

Luther Tower Anniversary Committee: Ten Happy Years in Luther Tower, 1988

Meskanaw Celebrate Saskatchewan Historical Committee: Meskanaw, Its Story and Its People, 1980