Home Town or Home Community:
Respectfully Dedicated to Elijah and Anne Fisher
Some of the following account is by their son, Albert Fisher. The remaining portion is by his eldest daughter, Olive June Fisher-Lucas.
The story all began when the Barr Colonists journeyed to Canada in 1903. In March my parents left their coal-mining village of Howden Le Wear in Northern England. Dad, at age 47, was a railway guard, and Mother, age 43, was a homemaker, with four sons: Henry, age 21, William, age 20, Albert age 15, and Frederick, age 13, (their third son Elijah had passed away at the early age of 11 years). My parents had a conversation with us about going to the “Promise Land”, Canada. I did not want to leave the village of Howden Le Wear and my friends. Mother and dad were only able to take with them oil paintings of themselves, and of their young son, Elijah Jr.
They were heading to a western wilderness, known only to North American natives and a very few other people.
Dad was born January 11, 1855 and came from Bresslingham, Norfolk, England. Mother was born May 20, 1859 and came from Redcar, Yorkshire. Dad was a guard on the railroad and would regularly take his lunch break under a tree in the park. It was there he noticed a young woman with children in her care, and took it upon himself to start a conversation. He learned that she was a nanny and they got better acquainted through their meetings in the park. Mother worked in Thirsk in her younger years. This could be the place where they met. Mother and Dad were married in the Parrish Church in the Parish of New Shildon, County of Durham, on February 18, 1881. Mother’s maiden name was Outhwaite and the witness to their wedding was Jane Hannah Outhwaite. James Mills, a friend of Dad’s, was the other witness.
Sometime in 1890-91 Dad moved his family to Hargill Street from Victoria Road, a street of housing nearer to Howden Le Wear railway station where he worked. The church we attended was Trinity Chapel. Back then the pews were rented (5 pence decimal currency).
The journey to Canada was named for Isaac Barr, who organized the trip. The S.S. Lake Manitoba was an old Boer War troop ship, made for far less than the 2500 people who were crammed onto it. Better accommodations were given to the married people. The young singles bunked below in poor conditions. All went aboard on March 31. After the first day out, we were all sick except for Dad; he did his best to look after us. The living conditions were appalling. Food was scarce in steerage. Everyone was really glad to see the Canadian shore-arriving on Good Friday, April 10, in St. John, New Brunswick. The journey took twelve days.
When arriving in Canada, unless you could show a vaccination mark, you were detained. We climbed aboard the fourth train heading west and enjoyed the trip across the vast country. As the trip progressed, we recovered from our sea-sickness. The train arrived in Saskatoon the following Friday, April 17.
Saskatoon was a small village on the bare prairies with houses and shacks and a few stores with supplies of all kinds. The population was 113. In Saskatoon the Barr Colonists spent a pile of money on their supplies to continue westward to their destination. When they arrived in North Battleford some of the people were getting upset with Isaac Bar, so Reverend George Exton Lloyd took over as their leader. He was with the main party coming out to the “Promised Land.” Canada’s border city, Lloydminster, was named in his honor.
In Saskatoon, Dad bought what was needed to start our trek. He bought a team of oxen, a wagon, equipment and food. Isaac Barr had set up tents every twenty miles, as a stopping place for feed, fuel and water. Everyone tried to go the twenty miles a day between tents. The trek to North Battleford would be a frightening one. The roads were merely trails across the prairie. The river banks were steep, which we had to travel down to reach the bridge that would take us to the other side. Traveling westward, there were obstacles to encounter at Eagle Hills. Wrecked wagons along the road bore witness. After two weeks on the trail, the Fisher Family left the Barr Colony and decided that was where their new home was to be. Camp was set up a mile south of where we are now— Lakeview Farm.
Dad, Henry and Bill set off for Lloydminster, (to be), to see about filing for land. Fred and I were away gathering firewood, when a prairie fire swept along. If it had not been for two passers-by, mother, the camp and all our belongings would have been burnt. When Dad came back, we moved to the homestead he had filed on about two miles north. It was two miles east of what is today the village of Marshall. There we set about building a sod house. Bill and I carried 1 x 8 foot sods, day after day, and a good house was built. The roof rested on the sod walls instead of on the frame, and it settled with the sods. The roof was made from woven willow, like a basket, and was admired by many. With sods on top it was nice and warm in the winter. Lighting was by coal oil lamps.
Potatoes and oats were planted, and a hole was dug near a slough from which we had a water supply. Next to the sod house was a cellar for storing potatoes. Cured meat (pork) was kept in the smokehouse or in a bin of oats. Beef was frozen in the snow.
That winter there was a lot of snow. Our neighbor, Mr. O’Connor went back to England to get his family, and we looked after his oxen team. They were snowed in, in their shelter, and we had to carry water and feed to them over the snow banks.
In the spring, there was water everywhere and much flooding. The railway bridge was washed out in Saskatoon, and the O’Connor’s had quite a time getting back. I remember the livery stableman in Lloydminster bringing them back from Saskatoon in his democrat.
Land breaking was done by ox and grub-hoe, which removed all the roots. A 12 inch walking-breaking plow, with wooden beams, was also used to break the land. To do an acre a day was doing well. The Sully plow was introduced (16 to 18 inches), a one-foot furrow riding plow, a gang plow, and a two-furrow riding plow.
Bill spent that winter in the lumber camps at Prince Albert. Back home we were hauling poles from the gully with wagons. Fred stayed with Mr. Bromley and cut poles. We got enough poles to make a four-pole fence around 40 acres.
Henry went to Edmonton in the winter and worked in the Cameron Mines in Edmonton.
Henry helped put the first sidewalks down on Jasper Avenue.
Dad, sons, and neighbors went up to Beaver Lake; north of Vegreville with sleighs to get seed wheat. The snow melted so fast, we had to take wagons to bring the sleighs home.
Many farmers seeded too early, and frost caused them to have to reseed. We had lower, wetter land and didn’t seed so early. It was a dry year later in the season, and a steam outfit from Maidstone threshed out what we had. It had no band cutter and the straw had to be bucked away with a team.
Bill and I decided to go to Edmonton for work in order to work to buy a binder. We went canvassing with Mr. Bromley-Moore, around the Alexander constituency, soliciting votes. When we reached Isley, we caught the first passenger train to Edmonton. We got jobs at Willmer’s Coalmine; Bill cooking, and me pushing coal cars out. We were paid twenty dollars a month. The chief cook used to spend his weekends in Edmonton, so we would sleep in his much warmer bed. We got lic and then typhoid fever (possibly from drinking un-boiled water). I went to hospital one day; Bill the next. We were in hospital for three months.
We headed home to help the others break land and build a six-room log house. (We didn’t supply the money for a new binder). Breaking land was hard. It was done by horse and oxen on gang plow, oxen got the least pull on, as they pulled slower, yet stronger. Mother kept her family going on oatmeal. Maybe a rabbit or prairie chicken would wander into the snare, but mostly it was oatmeal. Firewood was brought from the North Gully and sold for three dollars a load. We bought our first load of lumber from further north at Fort Pitt. The trip to Saskatoon for groceries took two weeks with a team of oxen and a wagon. It was done just before freeze-up. Necessary supplies were purchased – a wagonful – to last all winter: big wooden boxes of soda crackers, syrups, prunes, molasses, and apples, rolled oats, flour, and other baking supplies. Mother canned our own meats, made bread, butter and grew a large garden. It was a good year. McNaughton and Jacobs from Lashburn threshed us out.
Dad won the following certificates, (not all marked with the year 1906 on them):
-Elijah Fisher for a collection of vegetables – 2nd Prize
-Elijah Fisher for Wheat – 1st Prize
-Elijah Fisher for Swedes – 1st Prize
-Elijah Fisher for Barley – 1st Prize
All certificates were from Lashburn & District Agricultural Society.
Elijah Fisher for Barley – 1st Prize
This certificate was from Lloydminster & District Agricultural Society.
The crops froze.
The crop was partially frozen; Garrish and Cowdy of Marshall threshed for us.
It was a late spring. We didn’t seed until the 9th of May, then it froze up for two weeks. It turned out to be a good crop year as they ripened quickly. We bought our own 22” Case separator with a steel body, and a gas I.H.C. Mogul tractor, 15 hp on the drawbar. The radiator was prominent on the front, with screening at the top to allow a degree of cooling as the hot water came in at the top to fall into the tank. If a bearing went out, a new one was poured on the spot, out of the babbitt.
The separator cost $965.00, and the tractor cost $1,945.00. We had a good run, and at George Ranger’s – we broke our record – putting through 3,600 bushels in one day. We covered a lot of country, and finished up at Frank Jellis’ at Christmas. The later threshing was done from stooks, as people brought them in from the snow. There was a lot of extra help needed.
It was a dry year with lots of second-growth. What a time we had with material wrapping around the canvas rollers.
1911 – 1912
Bumper crops, mostly of oats, were grown. We bought an extra quarter of land from Henry. In 1911, Henry went farming for himself. He bought his first quarter from Jack Rowley and built a house, shop and barn made of logs. He acquired a herd of cattle and horses. Then, he lost his first house to fire. His next house was built by Street & Kerswell and it still stands today on the Henry farm. While threshing, a teamster pulled the feeder off the machine. The cylinder shaft broke, and it took two weeks to have one brought from Regina. In the meantime, snow came, but we shook the snow off and continued threshing. The oats were tough and started to heat, but we got two bins full. In the spring, they fetched 2.C.W. at the elevator. Dad also made a homemade buzz saw, as it was needed to cut the lumber. Dad worked with four horses on Sulky Plow, I with six horses on Gang Plow.
We showed oats at the Lloydminster Seed Fair and took first prize in competition with Mr. Hill, who had become World Champion. He had previously won three years in succession at Chicago. We won two first prizes for our oats.
Dad bought his first family car; it was a 1912 E.M.F. by Studebaker.
We had a bumper wheat crop and the weather was good.
The Fisher Family decided to move their site half a mile east, to start their new farm. The barn was the first to be built. It was a 60 foot long hip-roof barn with a lean-to, which served as a temporary living quarters.
In the spring, Dad built a four bedroom two-storey house. He named our new farm Hargill Farm after the street in our village. The house was very modern for that time. It had hot-water heating, running water, (the water was pumped upstairs into a holding tank in the attic, which supplied pressure for the water system), a regular flush toilet, (with the tank above the toilet), and a cast iron tub with claw feet. Water was heated in the cook stove reservoir. The house sat on a full cement basement.
The crops didn’t fill out that year- rust got them.
This was the year that I went into a farming partnership with my brother Bill. Bill was a fireman on the C.N.R. out of North Battleford, but came home when needed. Crops were all cut by horse and binder, then later by a ten-foot power binder. The stooks were gathered up to be threshed.
Sometime in the late teens or early twenties, Clydesdale horses were purchased from Tighnduin farm, later traded for more modern farming equipment. Farming got physically easier as the years went by, with the coming of new machinery. We did lots of hard work, continuing to break new land and to farm.
In the early 1920’s, the family car was donated to a raffle.
I played soccer for Lloydminster in Edmonton – beat Edmonton 3-1 (not sure). I scored on a free kick. Huxley was the captain of the Lloydminster team (I believe it was the Bennet Sheild). When time permitted in the summer, I always enjoyed playing football, (now called soccer), for Fartown, Lloydminster, and Marshall. In 1914, The Lyle Cup was a trophy to be coveted in football and was won by Fartown. Included in the league were: Lloydminster, Lashburn, Forrest Bank and Marshall. Some of the players had to walk miles to play after a hard day of work in the field.
Fred was captain of Marshall’s team for several years. The first team that Marshall had consisted of was: A.L. Crone, Bill Hodgson, Harold Collins, Joe Gibson, Alf Illsley, Bill Miller, Fred Street, Billie Jones, Henry Fisher, Bob Hodgson, Stan Moffat, Anthony Hodgson and Jack Rowley.
Neighbours were friendly. Social visiting was done without formal invitation. Some of our friends and neighbours were: the Henry Beavingtons, the William Topotts, the Alf Halls, the 0’Connors, Anthony Hodgson and his brother, Jack Rowley, (he was a school teacher from the Old Country),and the Kitchings. We use to gather at Soda Lake, southeast of Maidstone for swimming and picnicking. There was an island a quarter of a mile away which we would swim t. Berry picking was also done in the north gully.
I decided to go farming on my own. Bill and I had become partners. He was now a locomotive engineer. In later years he came back to the farm for seeding and fall harvest. Lakeview Farm was built. T. Eaton House designed the two- story house. It was started in the winter of 1923 and finished in the spring of 1924. The house had a large back veranda entrance to the north into the kitchen. The kitchen was on the southwest corner of the house with nice sized windows which let lots of sunlight in. Later on Chokecherry trees were planted outside the kitchen window. The cook stove had a hot water tank hooked up, so there was always hot water in the reservoir. The pantry had a hand pump to bring water up from the cistern in the basement. The living room was extra large and faced the southeast. The veranda on the east was all windows; the entrance to the veranda was from the living room through French doors. Upstairs were four bedrooms. The house sat on a full cement basement. The house also had a brick fireplace and mantel in the living room. The lake was close by at the bottom of the hill.
Soon after Lakeview Farm was established, 1200 trees were planted by hand as a windbreak. Bill, his wife Gert, Minnie Formal and I did the planting. Minnie, a Norwegian woman, met her husband William Hobbs at the farm.
I had bought a case combine, and previously had bought a power binder.
Poor crops, and later, a hard frost was welcomed to do away with the weeds and green kernels that might have caused the samples to be tough, as chemical sprays were not used at this time.
This was the year we hired a housekeeper for Lakeview Farm, a Norwegian woman named Suneva (Eva Apold). She stayed with us until her passing in the spring of 1978. She was a wonderful cook, and every enjoyed eating what she prepared.
Suneva Apold (Eva) came to Canada from Norway in 1927. She came by train to Marshall, Saskatchewan in the spring of that same year, on the way to work for Jack and Maude McDougall as housekeeper. With no English, Eva still managed. Her love of animals kept her on the farm for many years. We always had lots of cats on the farm and Eva loved them all; one beautiful cat she called “Momma Cat”, because she was always having babies. Eva stayed with the McDougall’s until 1930 when she came to work for us at Lakeview Farm. Eva retired to Jubilee Home – later transferred to Auxiliary Hospital. She was our housekeeper for over 50 years; Eva passed away in April 1978.
In the early 1930’s, Bill and I purchased a house in Saskatoon. Time would be spent between the farm and Saskatoon. The house was in the Nutana areas, one block from the river, with Broadway Bridge and the 19th St. Traffic Bridge one block in either direction. Nutana Collegiate was high on the river bank overlooking the river. In the other direction was Victoria School on Five Corners. The house was built in 1912 with oak hardwood floors throughout and mahogany in the large front entrance. The house has a balcony on the second floor above the veranda. The yard was picket fenced with a mature trees and lots of flowers. In later years, I moved to Saskatoon with Gert and Bill for the winter.
Gert was involved in politics; the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. She won many awards for her floral displays at the Horticultural Society at the University of Saskatchewan. She was also presented with a silver bowl which had inscribed on it “Presented to Mrs. Gertrude Fisher, by the women of Farm Women’s Week at the University of Saskatchewan, 1935”.
Mr. J. S. Woodsworth was a frequent visitor to the Fisher residence. Pictures show him with Bill sitting under the shade of the trees in lawn chairs. Our family was honored to have special guest, the Right Honorable T.C. Douglas, drop in frequently over the years in his early politician days, and even after he became well known.
There were vies that crawled up the west side of the house. The yard was picket fenced in with a mature arrangement of flowers and trees.
Gert did a lot of entertaining.
On January 21, 1933, dad passed away at the age of 78 at Hargill Farm. Dad lived to see his family expand to have three large productive farms. I had nine men working for me at one time, and 500 head of cattle which grazed in the gully north of the farm. The bunk house still stands where the men once lived. There were 22 quarters of land farmed by the Fisher brothers over the years. As the siblings left home they got their allotted acres. Bill and I farmed 1280 acres. With the passing of Dad, Mother moved to Saskatoon to live in a smaller house on 7th Street. In later years, Mother moved in with Bill, Gert, and I in our house on 11th Street. Mother always had beautiful geraniums in the plant rail on the veranda and lace curtains on the windows, Boston Ferns hanging from above the windows, and wicker furniture on the veranda. Mother was a wonderful, loving person.
In 1936, Bill, Gert, his wife, and I traveled to the States for holidays to see such places as Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful, and the Petrified Trees. We took the long drive up the summit from St. Mary’s in Glacier Nation Parks in which we traveled over Logan’s pass (elevation: 6,466 feet). The grassy plain swept upward toward more mountainous peaks. Other places that Bill, Gert, and I traveled to were the Great Divide, Marble Canyon, the Colombia Ice Fields, and the Paint Pots. We also took trips to Cold Lake, Alberta to fish, as well as Waskesiu Lake.
January 1, 1938, Gert passed away. As we were in need of a housekeeper after her passing, a young woman was hired by the name of Nellie Schartner through a government program that was offered at that time.
In 1939, Brother Bill passed away, on February 6. The water glass in the locomotive broke. He saved the locomotive but the hot air in his lungs proved deadly when combined with the extremely cold weather. His lungs were so badly scalded; he passed away the same day in hospital.
I married Miss Nellie Schartner. Nellie and I raised six children: Olive June – October, 1943, Judith Sarah Anne – December, 1945, Albert Nelson – May, 1949, Paul Howard – August, 1950, Winston Joseph – September, 1954, and Rhonda Vanessa Nellie – February, 1960.
As time went on, our children grew up and moved on with their lives. Olive June married Neil Lucas; three children: Olive Cherie-Lee, Meredith Dale, and Melissa-Suzanne Rose. Judy married Ray Burke; three children: Vincent Jeffrey, Heather Anne Elizabeth, and Kelly James. Albert Jr., raised his son, Robert Douglas. Paul married Kim Boechler; three children: Todd Ryan, Brett Lyndon, and Jaimee Rae. Winston is not yet married. Rhonda married Garry Benkendorff; 2 children, Garrett Lyndon and Aunna-Marie Jade.
In the late 1940’s, newer equipment was purchased and I only have a few men left working with me.
As the years went by, Mother needed extra help, as she was in her nineties and her health was failing. In the spring of 1952, I had to make the decision to see about a private nursing home. Our Sunday outings were to visit mother. We also drove around the University grounds to see the University of Saskatchewan Hospital being constructed. The hospital consisted of an iron lung- the most modern in North America at that time. In the spring time, we would go and watch the ice go on the South Saskatchewan River. Mother had celebrated her 93rd birthday in May, 1952. In July of that same year, Mother passed away. Her English accent was still with her all those years.
I took Nellie on a trip to England, the first time I had been back to the Old Country in fifty years. We sailed first class C.P. Ship lines, the Empress of Scotland and the Empress of France. We toured England, Scotland, Wales, France, Holland, and Belgium. I had reliable help to manage the farm work while we were away on our trip, which was from mid-May until near the end of August. I remember the day Nellie and I returned – Olive was so happy to see her parents’ home. She sat on my lap and I hugged her and she cried because she was so happy to have us home. Her mother showered her with hugs and kisses as well.
In the summer time, there were always lots for young children to do on the farm. When the children came to the farm for their summer holidays from Saskatoon, everyone looked forward to seeing the new kittens and calves, and playing hide and go seek in the dark amongst themselves.
When school was out the housekeeper and the children went to spend their time at the farm. There was always a lot to do for young children.
I continued to farm with newer machinery. Olive accompanied me in the exhibition in Saskatoon, where later a new self-propelled swather was delivered in time for fall harvest.
I am a great sports fan. Often my son Winston would watch sports on TV with me. I also enjoyed reading the newspaper, to keep up with current events, and feeding the dogs, Squawky, Rusty and Sandy.
In the springtime the children and I always looked forward to Mom’s fresh rhubarb pies. She also made delicious sauces and jams.
This is the year our family moved to the farm permanently. My sons, Albert Jr., Paul and Winston, were able to learn farming from me. They heard me say, “First-hand experience is the best there is”. Another quote was: “A job well done the first time does not have to be done a second time”. I never really retired from farming. In the late 70’s I could still be seen now and then in the tractor cab with Winston or checking the wheat, crumbling it in my hands to see if it was ready for harvest. Lunch was brought to those who were harvesting in the field.
When the berries were ready we would go to the gully with our family and take lunch for the day. Eva packed a delicious lunch. There were always boxes of berries to sort the next day, and Eva would make pies and can the remaining berries.
When Mom was making her rhubarb and famous apple pies, sometimes she would call Olive and say, “Lovey, come over and have some fresh apple pie”. (Mom also called her “Ollie”). I would join them and my sons too if they were around. Only Rhonda has come close to the same taste of Mom’s apple pie.
It was a rare occasion when I played the organ, but when I did all the children gathered around. Nellie also played the organ from time to time. I taught my grand-daughter Cherie to play a short turn on the organ when she was four years old. For Cherie’s tenth birthday, her parents bought a portable organ. I showed her how to use the keys; the tune I played was “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning”.
As the years went on, my three sons learned more about farming. Albert Jr. went to Agricultural classes when they were offered in the winter at the U of S. Later on Olive moved near home where she was able to take me out to see the countryside so I could view the crops. After that we would go to Olive and Neil’s place and we’d listen to the old music from the 1920’s and 1930’s that I was familiar with on the gramophone. Olive now has the gramophone at her home. When she was small, I would put the lid up on the gramophone for her so she could use it.
I would be seen frequently checking my garden to keep control of the weeds. There were several big stones going down the short hill where I would sit for a rest under the maple tree.
My father passed away in March of 1982, and the funeral was held in the Marshall Community Hall. The attendance was overwhelming. The hall was filled to capacity. Dad’s doctor, Dr. Marfleet, and his banker, Mr. Wood, along with many who remembered my father were in attendance. Dad was laid to rest in the Marshall cemetery next to his Mom and Dad; he had outlived his entire family. Dad had celebrated his 94th birthday in September. My father saw many changes through the years: from horses and oxen breaking the land, to threshing machines, to track tractors, and tractors with great horsepower. It is left to us who are still living to miss those who are not.
Reading back over my grandparent’s and their son’s histories’, it was a struggle and an adventure, as no farmer knows what lies ahead of him. It could be drought, early frost, or bugs, but they persevered, taking the conditions that were presented to them. We need to look at the great qualities the pioneers brought with them: fearlessness, determination, resilience, and energy. Our prairies have grown from their beginnings. More than honoring their deaths, we need to honor their lives. The energy shown by the early pioneers was incredible.
Dad watched his family grow, and have families of their own. He saw his sons work on the land as he and his Father before him had done.
Family gatherings are quite frequent with the Fisher family. On January 1, our gatherings start with Mom taking all of her family out for a New Years’s meal – usually 25 or more show up. Our next family gathering is in February for Mom and Rhonda’s birthdays. As the year progresses, Easter may be our next family gathering. In May of 1999, my brother Paul gave Albert a surprise birthday party for his 50th. Albert was really surprised! Over the years, Neil and I have come to have the family barbeques at our home in July. In early September, on the Labor Day weekend, we would celebrate Dad and Winston’s birthdays as they followed each other. Aunt Elisabeth would come on the bus from Saskatoon to join us for the birthdays. Depending how harvest was coming along, my brothers would only stop for a meal and a short visit before going back out to the field. We would meet for the Thanksgiving meals, and after Dad passed away, we alternated between Saskatoon and Marshall for Christmas. As time has gone on, we still have family get-togethers, but they have become less frequent.
Olive June Fisher-Lucas– Eldest child
Childhood Memories – in no particular order
In the summer of 1945, I went to Vancouver and Victoria with Mom and Dad. Mom went on a harbor tour while Dad and I waited. At about the age of 4, I followed Dad around the farmyard, asking questions or just silently watching as my Dad worked. I remember wandering down to the yard where the bunkhouse is. On the other side of the fence, Dad was working, and with him was a big grey dappled horse. The horse came to the fence so I could pet him. Dad told me he was blind in one eye and his name was Jock. As a child, I liked to watch Dad shave when we were at the farm. He would take his long leather strop that hung on the wall to sharpen his straight razor and soap his face using a brush and the soap from a wooden bowl.
On the farm it was a familiar site to see Dad in his pinstriped overalls and sometimes matching cap. Dad put in many long hours rising early for breakfast, coming in for dinner, taking a short snooze and work until 9:30 p.m.
Sometimes when Dad would be fixing things in his shop, having the forge burning, I would be able to fan the fire for him with the bellows.
Dad always had a huge garden planted with a variety of vegetables. Eva would let Dad know when we had our first potatoes from the garden. I remember Eva making lots of bread, kneading away, squeaking it and getting the air bubbles out. I cannot forget the pancakes on Sunday mornings and homemade hot cocoa that was made in a double boiler with milk.
When I was very little I remember Mom wasn’t quite ready to leave for the farm, as planned. I was in such a state, I cried and cried. Well, to my surprise. Dad said we would leave – it was late at night. At 50 mph in the late 1940’s, the trip took some time. We arrived very early in the A.M. to Eva’s surprise. She was our housekeeper for over 50 years and retired at Jubilee Home. Eva passed away in April 1978.
When we were children growing up we were able to go to the lake and swim by ourselves. We even had our own sandy area to put our towels on and sometimes Mom would come with us. In the evening we would listen for dad’s tractor to come in from the field.
I remember my Dad as a very handsome man. When he went downtown shopping, he always wore his blue checked coat and his cap and his black leather boots, brown dress pants with his suspenders and the vest to match that had satin on the back. In the winter Dad had a brown fur coat that he would wear. Dad also had a very good sense of humor. He had a way of making us laugh so much that our sides ached and the tears would run down our faces.
Sometimes, when shopping with Mom, we would go to Lehrer’s on the West side. We had to walk up many stairs and across The Foot Bridge; it was built in 1910 over the CNR tracks. The station was built in 1890. The tracks were torn out in 1963 to be replaced by Midtown Plaza. At Lehrer’s I used to sit at the top of the stairs on the second floor and watch the budgies and canaries in the cages.
I remember the first time I drove our ‘59 Mercury Monterey at night. It was on our way home from a Sunday Drive to Prince Albert. Another driving experience was maneuvering the car across 19th St. Traffic Bridge. The Traffic Bridge is Saskatoon’s oldest bridge. It was constructed in 1907, to link Nutana to the North side of the river. It opened October 10th, 1907.
Aunt Elizabeth used to come and help Mom sometimes. In between domestic help, she would sing us songs when she bathed us. Dad would sing to us when he rocked us on his lap songs such as “Beautiful Katie”, and “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain”. Our family played tiddlywinks, snap and gin rummy. Sometimes I would just sit on Dad’s knee.
I had a happy childhood. I grew up in the Nutana area of Saskatoon. It was one block to transportation on Broadway, where we would catch an old wobbly streetcar. Later on, it would be the trolley bus. Mr. Epp was the grocer – his produce included fresh fruits, and vegetables and he had candy for the children. In much, much later years, Mr. Gibson and his son were in that same location, (he was a photographer). Bill’s B.A. Garage, Roger’s Drug Store, Willie’s Jeweler’s, and. Mr. Harrington had the other Jewelry Store – old friends of Grandmother Fisher’s. His daughter, Francis Morrison has the Saskatoon Library named after her. I went to school with her son David. There was the Purity Dairy and somewhere over behind the Red Robin Cafe on Main Street – were the barns for the horses that pulled the Milk wagons. There was also the Broadway Theatre, opened in December of 1947, with the open house featuring “Shine on Harvest Moon”. Another store was Assley’s Department Store on Broadway Avenue. Growing up, we knew all our neighbours, especially our dear neighbour next door, Mrs. Kinch and Mr. and Mrs. Harding across the street. I also remember Dad reading the funny papers to me. He would read Joe Palooka the Katz and Jammer Kids and other cartoons – how I would giggle!
On our way back to Saskatoon from Dalmeny, I would look for the water tower; it was on Avenue F and 22nd Street. The other water tower was on 11th Street, just off of Broadway Avenue. I watched the Quakers play hockey in the Saskatoon Arena. It was built from local funds – opened October 30th, 1937. The first event was a hockey game between The New York Rangers and The New York Americans. It was a long way to travel for a game.
Where City Hall now stands, on that ground used to be King Edward School built in 1906; the city bought that land to build the first city hall in 1911, which was officially opened in 1912. In front of our city hall today stands our cenotaph, which at one time stood on 21st Street, just off 2nd Avenue. It was moved in 1957. The cenotaph was unveiled November 11th, 1929. Also on City Hall Square is a sculpture called “The Rainmaker”, by Bob Murray, erected in 1960. I enjoyed walking across the Broadway
Bridge. The Broadway Bridge was funded by City, Provincial, and Federal Governments as a relief project.
Built by hand, designed by C.J. MacKenzie of the University of Saskatchewan, and opened in November 11th, 1932. I also remember seeing the ski jump in the distance, towards the dam, built in 1929, first used January 18th, 1930. Later it was moved north towards the CPR Bridge. It was last used in 1974, torn down in 1978. At the top of the Broadway Bridge on the river bank is a cairn “To the Pioneers of Saskatoon”, built September 14th, 1952.
My husband, Neil and I have three children: Cherie, born in July, 1969, Meredith, born in December 1970 and Melissa, born in July, 1976. We have five grandchildren as of April 2005. We now reside in Marshall, Saskatchewan.
These childhood memories have been good for the soul; I smile to myself thinking of them – sometimes laugh out loud.
Albert N. Fisher – Childhood Memories
Eldest son and third child of Albert and Nellie Fisher
I am Albert N. Fisher (Albert Jr.), the oldest son of Albert and Nellie Fisher.
I have two older sisters, one younger sister and two younger brothers. My grandparents were Elijah and Annie Elizabeth Fisher. They all farmed near Marshall, SK from 1903 on.
I was born and raised in Saskatoon, had all my schooling in Saskatoon and started to farm soon after I finished high school. I spent the summer at the farm from the end of June to late August just before school went back in.
During the summer my brothers, sisters and I played at the farm. When Dad wasn’t out working on the land or on a Sunday afternoon, he would take us for a drive in the old 1953 Lincoln car. Sometimes we would go driving in the summer fallow fields as there weren’t too many good roads to drive on.
When I was about 9 years old, I could sometimes talk dad into letting me drive the car. He would put me on his knee and let me drive in the field coming down a small hill towards the house. We would just coast along to the bottom of the hill.
When Dad was out doing some new breaking in the fields, he’d let me ride on the tractor with him sometimes. There was part of an old boat close to where Dad was plowing so I would curl up in this old boat and sleep. Then when Dad was heading back to the house for supper he would come and wake me up and I’d ride back with him.
There were other times when my brothers and I would help Dad with rock picking on some of the fields that needed it.
Dad would pay us $0.10 per pile, which we thought was pretty easy money to earn. We’d all go into the fields and start picking in the morning and work until dinner time. After dinner Dad would bring the stone boat behind the tractor into the field and we would then load the piles of rocks onto the stone boat and unload them in a place somewhere off the field. This is how we earned some of our allowance through the summer.
There was one summer when I was at the farm, I was 13 or 14 years old at the time, Dad was again doing some plowing of some dry lowlands. He asked my younger sibling and me if we would like to help and of course we said sure. Dad had two smaller horse-powered tractors, an IH 600 and an IH WD-9 to use. Dad showed us how to fire up the WD-9 tractor. It had to be started on gas and then switched over to diesel power. Once we mastered this then Dad showed us what we were going to do to help with the plowing. This was our first experience with doing field work.
Winston Fisher – Childhood Memories
Fifth Child of Albert and Nellie Fisher
Our farm was located east of Marshall, Saskatchewan. Our family lived in Saskatoon. I remember sitting on Dad’s knee in the kitchen of the house in Saskatoon pretending to go to the farm. While rocking in the rocker, Dad would ask me which town we would be going through next.
We made many real drives to the farm at a much slower pace than today. Lunch was often enjoyed by the banks of the North Saskatchewan River by the old steel bridge at the Battlefords.
In Dad’s farming days, a notch dug out of a hillside behind the barn was where the tractor would be parked to be fueled up. The fuel tank was sitting on the top surface of the hill above the notch. I remember many times accompanying Dad for the trek to the fuel tank. I also remember the notch being filled in when tanks were put on stands in the farm yard.
Machinery had kept advancing and Dad was now using a self- propelled Versatile swather. I do not remember if we had a real purpose but I and my older two brothers would ride on the machine behind Dad going round and round the fields. When turning, the rear wheel could swivel right around so we had to watch how we dangled our legs over the edge of the platform, not wanting to get them struck with the wheel.
These self- propelled swathers turned very quickly. It was pretty easy to go a little too far into a corner. Dad did go a little too far and swing the swather around entangling the edge of the swather in the barbed wire fence. It wasn’t a big job to get untangled. What makes me remember this incident is it happened in the same corner of the quarter where my home residence is now built and located.
One last memory was the wonderful cucumber and tomato sandwiches my mother prepared for us to eat at lunch time during harvest. I don’t believe I’ve eaten one for years now.
One summer, Dad had bought a new Massey Harris combine and had parked it in an open spot in this tree bluff close to the house. He took us for a short walk outside towards this bluff and showed us the new equipment exclaiming to us with surprise as to how did it get there. We all knew he was just kidding with us.
When combining started, we were still there sometimes before school started. Dad would let us ride on the combine for a while. We would watch the grain hopper filling and then let him know when it was full.
There were times when school was going back in Dad couldn’t drive us back so Mom, my brothers, my sister and I would ride the train back to Saskatoon. We would arrive back around dusk in the city.
When I turned sixteen and had received my driver’s license, Dad, my brothers and I took a July holiday out to Vancouver Island, where my eldest sister and her husband lived. This was my first long trip after getting my license. That was the only summer that we actually all had a holiday together with Dad and my two brothers, before finishing high school.
When Dad finished the years farming we still spent winters in Saskatoon.
Then in 1970 Dad moved the entire family to the farm and that was when my brothers and I started our farming careers.
Rhonda Benkendorf – Childhood Memories
Sixth child of Albert and Nellie Fisher
This Centennial project brings many memories flooding to the present; some put a smile on my face and others bring a bittersweet sadness of days gone by. I grew up on stories that are now a part of our province’s history.
A story of my Dad not wanting to come to Canada with his parents, Elijah and Annie Fisher along with his three brothers was one that Dad shared. This fifteen-year-old boy did not want to leave the small village of Howden-Le-Wear in the country of Durham, England. But Elijah, a railway guard for a mining company was looking to the future. He understood the economics of the times and that the future for his sons was limited. When Reverend Barr started advertising about “the promised land” in that far away Canada, he along with his wife and his boys had a ticket on the ship “Lake Manitoba” sailing from Liverpool in the Spring of 1903; destination Canada. More specifically, Saskatchewan! They were going to become farmers! It wasn’t long before Dad realized the wisdom of his father and grew to love his new home.
Dad’s experience deeply influenced us as we grew up on that same arm that he carved out of the virgin soil all those years ago. I remember riding on old open aired tractors. There would be Dad, my three brothers and me, a little girl of five hanging on for dear life! Riding on the old combine was a regular fall event. I remember making gum out of the wheat, shelling it just the way Dad showed me. Chasing cows that busted out of the fence and riding old Rosie, Dad’s old riding horse, were some of my adventures. Berry picking was a favorite pastime for Dad. Yes, that meant that we had to go too. Saskatoon and choke cherry picking was not just an hour here and an hour there. No, it was a full day sport with a lunch thrown in for us to gather our strength for the duration. It was worth it in the end when Mom made the most delicious preserves, pies, jellies and jams. Then there was Sunday, as my brothers got older and could drive, Sunday became family day. It was the day that you got out of your work clothes, Mom packed a lunch and we headed out on a family drive. Where? It didn’t really matter. We saw the sights, ate lunch, and swam if we were at a lake, played ball if we weren’t. Sometimes there was just Mom, Dad, the boys and myself, other times my sisters and their families would join us. Friends were always welcome. It was just great to be together!
Yes, the memories come flooding back as I recall life as a child and think of all that has influenced me. I am in awe of people such as my grandparents, who could risk it all and carve out a new life and a new identity for themselves and their family in this wonderful land of Saskatchewan. I am also equally in awe to be a part of rural Saskatchewan. When I look out at our beautiful golden field of wheat with all of the autumn colors providing a backdrop, the beauty overwhelms me, just as it must have overwhelmed my father and grandparents all those years ago.
Olive June Fisher-Lucas