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Thomas Loveridge and Hannah James Loveridge
Albert John Loveridge and Lydia Barnsley Loveridge
This is the story of the pioneer Loveridge family. It chronicles their journey from England in 1871 to Canada – first to Ontario, then to the Pheasant Forks Primitive Methodist Colony in the North West Territories in 1884, and eventually to Grenfell in 1897. The story is taken from the written memories of Albert Loveridge and the diaries of his father, Thomas, who was a Methodist lay preacher.
My name is W. Dale Loveridge (WDL), a grandson of Albert and Lydia. I have edited these original works and added some explanatory material.
We Move to Canada
Albert: I was born in the aristocratic city of Cheltenham, England, on April 7, 1863. My parents were Thomas Loveridge, a shoemaker, and his wife Hannah (James). My brother Alfred was three years older than I. My parents, and my mother’s brother Thomas James, a butcher in Cheltenham, decided to emigrate to America with their families and bought tickets for New York.
Thomas, diary: June 17th, 1871. Set sail on board the “China”, Cunard line. We retired to our berths about 9:30 P.M. We were all together did not undress – can we feel secure enough to sleep?
Sunday – June 18th. 4 o’clock Sunday morning. We have had a very quiet night in our berths – the children have slept as well as at home.
Monday – June 19th. All of us are very sick today, and unable to help one another. Oh it is dreadful, nothing but retching and vomiting everywhere. The bell rings for meals but there seems to be no one scarcely at the tables. The very smell of food makes one sick.
Wednesday – June 21st. We have had a good night – all seem to have slept well and very few continue sick. The sun shines out beautifully, and we have all passengers on deck. The deck is literally covered with men, women and children – English, Welsh, Irish and German – to hear the conversation reminds one of Babel – all seem to be in very good spirits.
Saturday Morning – June 24th. It has been very cold all night. We were called up at about 7:15 to see two icebergs. They were to the north of us and looked like great blocks of white marble.
We all seem to have recovered our appetites and can eat almost anything. We had need to have good appetites for the food served to us is very coarse and they serve it out as though we were pigs.
Sunday Morning – June 25. We had a very interesting service in the steerage at 10:30, conducted by the Rev. Mr. Payne. There were a good number present and they were very orderly.
The Germans who are amongst us, spend their time in singing and dancing, and card-playing. There is a great deal of card-playing on board, and much profanity. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Monday – June 26th. I have heard that we have made over 350 miles during the last 24 hours. We expect to get into New York tomorrow evening.
In the evening we saw great numbers of fish sporting themselves in and out of the water – causing much amusement. There is very little variety on the sea and anything like this causes great excitement.
Tuesday – June 27th. We have just taken the pilot aboard. We have had a beautiful afternoon and sighted land on our right about 3 o’clock – everything begins to look like the end of our voyage.
We cast anchor in the harbour about 11:30 PM but it is too dark to see much of it.
Wednesday – June 28th. Everybody was astir this morning to see the harbour. Staten Island is a very beautiful place to look at – gently rising slopes covered with houses and trees and green fields. We can see but little of New York yet, as it lies at some distance from us.
Now everyone knows that we have smallpox on board. It is a young lad who came on board with his parents from London. He has been very ill – but is recovering. It is an inconvenience to all of us, however, as we are not allowed to go ashore till tomorrow morning and have all been vaccinated.
WDL: After two days in New York they took tickets to Omaha, Nebraska.
Albert: We boarded the train for Buffalo, reaching that city on July 1st. Here we stopped off to visit a cousin of Father who lived on a small farm, on the river road, two miles below Fort Erie in Canada.
Father, Alfred and I crossed the Niagara River on a ferryboat to Fort Erie and then walked down the river road over a mile to see them. We had dinner with them and enjoyed picking the ripe cherries from the trees and these we ate until it seemed we could eat no more for the trees were loaded, and we boys thought this was a good country. After some talk with the Canadians, the parents of the two families decided not to continue on to Omaha and Nebraska as intended, but to stay in Canada.
Life in Ontario
Albert: In the spring of 1874 we moved to the town of Victoria, which had just sprung up at the end of the International Railway Bridge. Father purchased a house and two lots and continued to work as a shoe-maker. It was then that I began to work in the shop. In 1881 Father had a building constructed on Jarvis Street which served as a combined business place and house. Mother often waited on customers and always took a great interest in the business.
We also bought some cows and Mother milked; Alfred and I delivered milk around the village. In summer the price was five cents per quart and in winter, six cents. We carried on this business for several years.
As a boy I was very fond of skating and skated on ponds and at times on the Niagara River, which was dangerous. We had a good-sized sleigh, large enough for 3 of us to ride on. When there was sufficient snow, we would coast on a gentle slope down to the Niagara River, about 3 or 4 blocks. Oh, that was great fun and we did have good times.
Surveying in the North West Territories
Albert: In 1882, my Aunt Sarah Morse and her daughter Fanny came from England to join Aunt Sarah’s husband in Manitoba. They called on us at Victoria, and I accompanied her to Winnipeg in April. The only route at that time was by rail through the United States.
Winnipeg and the surrounding country was booming. On July the first I joined up with a Dominion Land Surveyor. I was told that this was a good way to see the country and I found this to be only too true.
Our outfit consisted of two oxen, four Indian ponies, two genuine Red River carts (made wholly of oak, with no iron in them not even a nail), three other carts, and a buckboard for the boss and his assistants. There were also tents, provisions, bedding and surveyor’s equipment, all of which we loaded onto the rail cars at Winnipeg and brought to a place known as Flat Creek, the end of the steel, now called Oak Lake. We also had one milk cow with us and it was my duty to milk the cow, for I was the only one in the party who could milk.
At Flat Creek we loaded up our carts and proceeded over the prairie. We followed the Hudson Bay Company’s freighter trails leading from Fort Ellice in Manitoba to Qu’Appelle in Saskatchewan, over country that was uninhabited by anyone save the Indians and the Half-Breeds. The boss and his assistants rode in the buckboard, but the rest of us walked. Our cow followed along of her own accord.
All the sloughs were full of water and the creeks had to be waded. Sometimes the carts had to be pulled through by men using a long heavy rope. Progress was slow, and we made between fifteen to eighteen miles per day. The mosquitoes were exceedingly bad all summer. Following the freighter trails, we touched the construction work on the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway at a point now called Broadview.
Then we travelled northwest and entered the Qu’Appelle Valley down the Hudson’s Bay Hill, north of the present town of Summerberry. We proceeded up the valley and crossed the Qu’Appelle River at a place now known as Ellisboro, where a family of half-breeds by the name of Rosette lived in a log house. They operated a raft as a ferry, as the river was high that year and could not be forded. Our carts etc. were taken over on this ferry. The oxen, cow, and ponies were forced to swim across.
We called at the Lebret Mission, where three French Half-Breeds were engaged to go with our party. They proved to be valuable helpers and they remained with us until our work was completed. However they were Roman Catholics and refused to travel or work on Sundays contrary to the wishes of our boss!
At Fort Qu’Appelle we stopped at the Hudson’s Bay fort and trading station for a day or two, camping outside, and then continued on a trail north and west over prairie and bluffy country and overtook a band of Half Breed freighters with whom we traveled for a day. I counted over ninety carts strung out, one behind the other. They were freighting goods from Winnipeg to Fort Carleton, about 500 miles. We did not see any buffalo, for they had disappeared many years before, but we did see many deer.
We finally struck across country to the south of Township 29, Range 3, west of the Third Meridian. We ascertained our position by the survey marks for that country was being surveyed at that time. It had taken us four weeks to reach the point where we began surveying, near where Dundurn now is, about 20 miles south of the present city of Saskatoon.
There were thirteen in our party. The boss was a wild Irishman, a Catholic, and at times there was trouble between the men and the boss. Two or three of the white men would not put up with him and deserted the outfit, one being the assistant surveyor. He was replaced by the boss’s son, Dave. I was the youngest man in the party being nineteen at that time. The wages I received were $24.00 per month
Our party consisted of two surveying crews. In each there was a surveyor with a theodolite, sometimes a picketman, and two chainmen. In addition there was a cook and another man who went to the bluffs to bring firewood for the camp and green poplars from which survey posts were made.
I, as the head chainman, had to be most careful that the measurements were correct and that the section posts were correctly marked, especially along the correction lines. We usually chained ten miles per day and set up the wooden stakes in the proper places. The man would come later to build mounds around the stakes.
We finished our work on November 10th. I think that we outlined and sub-divided fourteen townships. We once touched the South Saskatchewan River, where there were high and steep sand hills, muskegs, scrub and bluffs. We started back, crossing bare prairie for about a hundred miles with no trails to follow. In all that distance there was not a single settler. There was very little snow, but the sloughs were frozen and we took about five days to cover this part of the journey with our oxen, cow, ponies, carts and buckboard.
We reached the Touchwood Hills and stayed at the trading post over-night. Here we slept in an unoccupied log building and this was the first shelter we had been in, except our tents, since we left the train in July.
We then continued to Fort Qu’Appelle, where our party disbanded. Several of the men hired a livery to take us to the railway station at South Qu’Appelle, about twenty miles distant, where we boarded the train to Winnipeg. The railway had been built as far as Moose Jaw while we were surveying.
We reached Winnipeg on or about the 20th of November. One of the first things we did was to have a good clean up, a shave and a haircut, for we had let our beards grow and we certainly looked like wild men. Then I returned home to Ontario to report on what I had seen in this “Great Lone Land”. I helped Father in the shop that year but I found I had a yearning to return to the west again. There is a saying, “That when one has tasted the water of the Saskatchewan, he will want to return” and this I found to be true.
Homesteading in Saskatchewan
Albert: On the first day of April 1884, my father and I left for Winnipeg. We left Mother and Alfred at home to look after the shoe shop. We planned to go to the Primitive Methodist Colony, at the Pheasant Hills north of Wolseley, with the intention of taking up homesteading and becoming farmers. We took the train through the United States to Winnipeg where we bought a yoke of steers, a cow, harness, wagon, breaking plow, tent, tools, cook stove and provisions and brought them with us by rail to Wolseley.
The previous winter, my future father-in-law John Barnsley and several other settlers had returned to Winnipeg to earn more money for starting up. Along with us, they had loaded their settler’s effects in Winnipeg on April 9, and were unloading at Wolseley. Several ox teams with wagons had come from the Colony to meet them.
There were about six or eight teams who travelled together and helped one another. There was, at that time, only one trail to the Forks and there were only a few settlers for about twelve miles out. The winter snow had mostly disappeared between Winnipeg and Wolseley and northwards for about twenty miles but on the level country beyond the bluffs around the Forks, the ground was still covered with snow. John Barnsley’s wife, Mary, and son Willie with his wife Florrie, were along with us. They had a team of horses to ride behind, whereas all the others had oxen.
We crossed the Qu’Appelle Valley at Ellisboro, where there was a store and post office kept by a man by the name of J. H. Ellis. About half way to the colony the trail passed through several miles of bluff. The whole party camped together in this bluff overnight in tents and reached Pheasant Forks the next day, where Father and I camped. Pheasant Forks was the name of the post office and store, the storekeeper being a man by the name of J. W. Perigrine. It was situated about thirty miles north of Wolseley.
The next day we went to see Rev. C. S. Willis, a retired PM Minister four miles north, who was the company agent and also Dominion Lands Agent. He could take entries for homesteads and pre-emptions. From him we learned where the vacant lands were and he told us of Section 10, Twp. 22, Rge. 8, which had been taken, but those who had entered for it were not returning. On one quarter, five acres had been broken the year previous. We entered for the whole section.
There were settlers all around that section for two miles. It was about four miles from John Barnsley’s homestead. We were near the bluffs where there were plenty of trees large enough to build houses and stables, and for firewood, so there were no sod buildings erected as there were out on the open prairies. Pheasant Creek also flowed through the section (it actually flowed in the springtime but never later) so it seemed to be a desirable place on which to make a home and the five acres broken were an inducement.
Neither of us knew much about farming. We tried to backset the five acres, which had been broken about two inches or so deep, with our breaking plow and had Mr. Munt come over to show us how to adjust the plow. But we found that it could not be done, for the breaking had not been done early, and there had not been sufficient rain to rot the sod. Then we were told that the only way to seed it was to harrow it until we made a seed bed, which we did with a set of light harrows borrowed from Mr. Kent three miles away. We went over it many times length ways and across and angling.
We had ordered 10 bushels of Red Fife seed wheat to come from Wolseley which cost $2.00 per bushel when the freight on it was paid. It was good wheat. We had Mr. Munt come and sow it for us. He used a frail (flexible basket) in his left arm and sowed the wheat with his right hand. Some men sowed with both hands, using a box to hold the grain hung onto the shoulders. The rate of sowing wheat was 2 bushels per acre, more for oats. We harrowed again and again to try to cover the wheat but could not cover it all, so the birds and gophers got some of it.
Father returned to Ontario in July, leaving me on the homestead in a tent, and sent my brother out to me at once.
There was little or no rain that spring, so the wheat sown in early May did not come up till some June rains came which was too late, There was a fair crop, which might have yielded 15 bushels per acre had it matured but it was frosted in late August when frost always came in those years. However, we cut it with a scythe to which I fixed some sticks to make it like a cradle (a frame which forces the cut grain to lie in bunches.) I cut it and my brother tied up most of it. We dried it up and stacked it and then threshed some of it with a stick in the wagon box, but it was poor stuff so we fed it all to the oxen and cow.
There was an abundance of hay in sloughs to the north of us a mile away. I cut some with a scythe and we had Mr. Barnsley to cut for a day, for he had brought horses and a mower from Winnipeg. We got acquainted with one another a little at that time, as he was with us for a couple of days. I paid him $5.00. He cut 10 loads and lent us a one-horse rake with which we raked it with our one ox, and had to borrow an ox to haul the hay in with.
We never had any trouble with the Indians. We had some call in to visit us and they always wanted some tea or net-tes as they called it. We always gave them some, and some bread, or pacushicon as they called it.
The first winter on the homestead with my brother, the winter of 1884-5, was a normal winter. I was then 21 and had not had any experience on a farm. We made a dugout in the east side of a hill for a stable for the yoke of oxen and a cow, and a room adjoining for us to live in. We logged the wall around and the partition, and put on a flat roof of green poplar poles which was covered with a layer of hay and then a few inches of earth which we had dug out.
In our room we made a floor of poles flattened at the top. It was heated with a small cook stove burning wood and was very warm all winter. We kept potatoes in there. About mid-winter the roof poles budded out and grew small branches with full sized leaves, all over the ceiling of our room, which was a sight to behold especially to visitors. We were certainly very comfortable, never more so.
It was Father’s intention to close out his business and come with Mother in the spring of 1885, but because of the Riel Rebellion they did not come until the spring of 1886. With them they brought a car of settlers effects, which consisted of their household furniture, a cow and steer, a heifer calf too, a new mower and rake, two hives of bees, for Father (and Mother) had kept bees for years, a dog and cat, hens, and some fine geese, and some pigs. Some neighbours and I took our ox teams and wagons and met them at Wolseley, and brought the car-load of effects up to the Colony. My mother walked behind at least part of the way.
With help, I built a log house for my parents, one for my brother, and one for myself. I dovetailed the corners, hewed the logs with a broad axe inside and out, used poles for rafters and joists, shingled the roofs, and used six inch matched flooring. My parents lived in a tent until the log house was built in the fall of 1886.
A Year on the Farm, 1888
Thomas, diary: Sunday, Jan. 1: Fine day but cold, 35 below. Albert and I went to Willis’. I preached there, audience small.
Monday, Jan. 9: This morning we found our colt dead in the stable having been strangled with the mare’s rope in the night. We are very sorry to lose him.
Thursday, Jan. 19: Very cold this morning, 48 below. Bright and sunny.
Wednesday, Feb. 15: A bright day, quite warm in the sun. Mr. Barnsley borrowed 1 bag of flour, 99 lbs. with bag.
Thursday, April 5: A blizzard all day. The snow that fell yesterday has drifted badly. We never had such drifts about our stable before. The blizzard quieted down in the evening.
Saturday, April 7: It thawed fast today – the cattle had a good roam around on the bare places.
Saturday, April 21: Cold and dull today with cold rain and sleet in evening. Done some seeding on my 5 acres. I was sent for to see Hattie Dawson this morning. Found her very low but in a happy state of mind waiting for the end. She died this evening.
I was thrown from my pony in going to Mr. Dawson’s this morning. She got scared – I was stunned for a little while and felt very stiff with headache ever since. I am thankful it is not worse as I might have been killed.
Monday, April 23: A fine day. Sowed my 5 acre piece of wheat. Put in well.
Monday, May 7: A very fine sunny day. The wheat is come up in many places.
Monday, May 14: Fine day. Planted garden seeds.
Saturday, July 14: We had a few nice showers this week and everything is now looking green and fresh. Wheat just coming in ear, a few peas fit, some nice lettuce and radishes. Mosquitoes very bad.
Friday, July 27: Still warm but a nice breeze. The grain is headed out well. Potato beetles are come.
Monday, July 30: Alfred and I went to Valley to pick juneberries.
Thursday, Aug. 9: A white frost last night and this morning which cut down potatoes, beans and other things badly. Hope the wheat is not damaged. Drew in 4 loads of hay. A slight shower in evening.
Friday, Aug. 17: A fine day and warm. Drew in 2 loads of hay. There are great complaints of the wheat being frozen.
Friday, Aug. 31: Still fine but a sharp white frost this morning. Almost everything cut down.
Wednesday, Sept 5: Still fine and pleasant. Cut the 5 acre wheat for good crop.
Friday, Sept. 21: Very fine and summerlike. Drew last of wheat today. 39 loads of wheat altogether. Some good, some frozen.
Saturday, Sept. 29: A fine pleasant day. We finished drawing in our grain. A prairie fire started south west of us today, and the wind being from that quarter it spread in the direction of our place, and came upon us in the night. We sat up all night and watched it and protected the place and thank the Lord we suffered little damage though at one time we were in great danger on account of the fierceness of the wind. Most of our grass on homestead is saved though all around is burnt black.
Thursday, Oct. 18: Quite wintry with some snow. It has snowed a good deal today and looks very wintry tonight.
Saturday, Oct. 27: A dull morning. Snow still on ground, too much for plowing.
(End of 1888 diary.)
Courting in the Colony
Albert: I never heard of the Barnsleys until we met them at Wolseley. In 1887 John’s daughter Lydia came up from Winnipeg to visit her people for she had never seen the Colony, and she stayed and kept house for her brother Sam. I first saw her in a church service at Pheasant Forks. That fall I went around cutting grain with the only binder in that part and Sam wanted me to cut his crop. And so I did with my two oxen and one of his, for it needed two oxen on the binder. After that I used to go over there to visit, either horseback or with a buckboard, so probably we took a few rides together.
The next year it was very dry and there was little or no crop, so Lydia went back to Winnipeg to work for the following winter. I drove her to Qu’Appelle Station. That was 60 miles, and we drove with a team of ponies and a jumper which I had made.
Looking over my father’s diary, I read where he and Mother and myself went to Mr. Bee’s on January 1, 1889, took dinner, and had a very pleasant evening. The weather was fine and there was an eclipse of the sun. We stayed at Mr. Bee’s all night and went home the next day.
Then, on Jan. 3, there was a party at my father’s house. Mr. S. Barnsley and sister attended. There was a “pleasant time.” On the 6th which was a Sunday and still fine, Mr. Cooke came and preached to a good company, and we had a good time, and Mr. Cooke stayed all night. Those were the good old days that people talk about.
Sam Barnsley farmed for a few years, then in about 1890 took a trip back to the Old Country to visit his relatives. He returned in the spring of 1891 and started to walk out from Wolsley to the Colony. He walked out about 15 miles, then took sick and called in at a bachelor’s shack and became unconscious and delirious. No one around knew who he was until a man who knew him came out from Wolseley and then they got in touch with his father who fetched him home. It took him all summer to recuperate. His sister Lydia came from Winnipeg to see him and the family.
It was then we decided to get married and the wedding took place in my father’s home (August 19, 1891) because the Barnsleys were then living in a poor log house while they were building their own.
The Move to Grenfell
Albert: Several of our neighbours moved to Grenfell and bought land within a few miles of the town, where they did better than they had been doing on the Colony. In 1897 we decided to follow them and purchased a half section one mile south of the town, on which was a small house and about 40 acres of land under cultivation. The price was $1200.00 cash. We paid $400.00 and borrowed the balance from a mortgage company at 9 %.
We moved to be nearer a town, railway, creamery and school and to grow more grain and less cattle. We moved down in early summer, my father and mother and wife and two children. We had to get another house for my parents, and build a stable, and dig wells to get water, so that it was like starting up all over again.
Early in the spring of 1898 our small house in Grenfell was burned to the ground with nearly all the contents which we had accumulated since we married six years before, which was a decided setback for we had no money. We bought some lumber with the $200.00 insurance money and built a new house ourselves. I had only about six horses, two wagons, one walking plow and an old mower, rake, and binder. During the 13 years of our pioneer life we had made little progress financially but we had gained valuable experience. We still milked about a dozen cows, which provided most of our living, and I also raised a few steers and some hogs.
We fenced a pasture on the farm and so had no more herding to do. We broke the land as fast as we could. In the year 1903 we built a barn 34 x 60 ft. making the walls for the stable in part of field-stone and boulders of which there were plenty on the farm, too many! We done most of the stone work ourselves, although we were decided amateurs; however the work still stands today (1952) as good as ever.
Our house was far too small for the increasing family and the hired help so in 1905 I built a seven room plain lumber house with a full basement in front of the four-room house. All the arable land had been broken and I had acquired another quarter and later leased a quarter for pasture.
Four more children were born on that farm, making six in all, two girls and four boys. All attended the public school in Grenfell, and some the high school; three sons attended the University in Saskatoon soon after it opened.
WDL:The Loveridge family grew and prospered in the Grenfell area. The family farm passed from Albert and Lydia to their son Gordon (wife Tillie Reeve Loveridge), then to their son Lorne (wife Glenna Lewis Loveridge). Now, in 2004, it is being farmed by the adult children of Lorne and Glenna, aided by Lorne. Other family members also have farms in the Grenfell area.
Thomas Loveridge died July 13, 1925 at the age of 92; Hannah James Loveridge died February 9, 1907 aged 80. Albert Loveridge died January 6, 1962, aged 98; Lydia Barnsley Loveridge died November 3, 1940, aged 78.