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Valley Park

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Newman Family in Valley Park, Saskatchewan 1912-1953

The promise of adventure and prosperity lured many young men to Saskatchewan in the heart of Canada. The Newman brothers were two of these adventurers. In 1912, Jack Harold Percival Newman, then 23 years of age, and his brother Arthur, aged 21, left their home in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England in search of a new life in Canada.

Percy and Arthur boarded a ship to begin the first leg of their journey. The crossing took ten days. Following their arrival in Canada, they had a five-day train ride to the heart of the prairies to reach the bustling city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, population 18,086 according to the civic census at the time. Percy found work on a farm with Mr. Cory at Pike Lake. The Corys were former neighbours from England who were farming a day’s ride south and west of Saskatoon. Arthur began working for the Canadian National Railway in Saskatoon. The boys’ father, Henry Newman, was a professional gardener in England and both his sons had acquired their father’s love of horticulture; Percy felt particularly fortunate to be working on a farm. He loved the land and the enjoyment that farming gave him.

In 1914 the First World War erupted and the two brothers joined the Canadian Army. On November 23, 1916 Percy enlisted in the 243rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, as Lance Corporal 1051450. A short while later his unit was shipped out to France where he was wounded. He was sent back to recover in England. Brother Art was also wounded; younger brother George died in the conflict.

Studio portrait of Newman family in 1945 Year: 1945 The Newman family in 1945. Front row, left to right: Percy, Daphne, Gertrude. Back row, l-r: Judith, Jack, Joan, Ken, Doris, Shirley, Bernard.

Studio portrait of Newman family in 1945
Year: 1945
The Newman family in 1945. Front row, left to right: Percy, Daphne, Gertrude. Back row, l-r: Judith, Jack, Joan, Ken, Doris, Shirley, Bernard.

There was a silver lining in Percy’s enlistment. It was during his recovery that Percy met Miss Gertrude Annie Payne, whom he began to court. They were married on September 20, 1917 at the parish church at Harrow Weald, Middlesex. He was 28 years old; Gertrude was 25. Percy returned to Canada and was discharged at Regina on March 20, 1919. Under the provisions of the Soldiers Settlement Act he acquired land. The land, in the district called Valley Park, was situated in the South Saskatchewan River valley, 35 miles south of Saskatoon. The quarter Southwest 14, Township 33, Range 6, West of the 3rd Meridian had been homesteaded by Charles Broughton.

Gertrude left her home in Harrow Weald in the county of Middlesex to join her husband in October, 1919. Gertrude’s mother, Marion Payne, had supported her family as a seamstress after the death of her husband, Gertrude’s father. Marion stitched a coin into the hem of Gertrude’s coat, a last loving gift from a mother who knew she would not see her daughter for many years to come. Along with other war brides, Gertrude sailed from Liverpool on the SS Minnedosa, docking at Halifax, Nova Scotia. She made the long journey to Saskatchewan by train, and was met by Percy at the station in Saskatoon. That night, the young couple stayed with friends, the Milburns, in Saskatoon. The Milburns owned a livery stable located at the foot of the Broadway Bridge, at the intersection of 4th Avenue and 19th Street.

The next day Percy and Gertrude left for Valley Park. They bundled up in the cutter to follow the “low road.” This trail ran south along the west side of the South Saskatchewan River to their home in Valley Park. Their first Christmas was spent at the home of the Beals. From that first warm welcome, a friendship grew between Lizzie Beal and Gertrude.

When Percy and Gertrude were expecting their first child, Dr. Cameron from Delisle advised Gertrude to go to Saskatoon for the birth. Kenneth Harold was born in Saskatoon’s City Hospital on July 21, 1920. It was then that Gertrude unpicked the threads her mother had lovingly stitched into her coat, and with the hidden coin bought the layette supplies she needed to take home for the new baby. Other children were born at the home of Mrs. Price, the Valley Park mid-wife, who lived a mile west of the Newman farm. Percy and Gertrude were blessed with seven more children: Bernard William born August 29, 1921; Shirley Francis Lily born November 11, 1922; the twins – Jack Miles and Joan Eileen born on May 30, 1924; Judith (Elsie) Marjorie born July 6, 1926; Doris Nina Gertrude born September 30, 1928; and Daphne Enid born December 17, 1929.

Percy with two oldest children pose with logs. Year: 1925 Percy cut firewood with Ken and Bernie to keep him company in 1925.

Percy with two oldest children pose with logs.
Year: 1925
Percy cut firewood with Ken and Bernie to keep him company in 1925.

The 1920s saw the Newman farm prosper. Nature, the weather, and the marketplace cooperated. Wheat crops flourished and yielded bountiful harvests. The farm, like many others, was self-sufficient. It was truly a mixed farm. There were six horses – Frenchie, Sammy, Prince, Bonny, Ted and Captain or Cappy as the children called him, milk cows, 20 head or so of beef cattle, 15 or 20 pigs, and at least 100 chickens and turkeys. Percy regarded milking the cows as men’s work; however, it was the children’s job to get the cattle from the pasture. Raising the chickens was mainly a job for the women. It was vital to many pioneer families, not only for the eggs and meat eaten by the family, but also for the cash from selling the eggs.

The chores were shared by everyone from the youngest to the oldest. Everyone was expected to help. The older girls helped with the cooking and cleaning. Gertrude ran the household without the help of electricity. Laundry for a large family was a time-consuming chore. The washing machine, cream separator, and churn for making butter were all operated by hand. It was the children’s job to turn the handle of the cream separator, until the bell told them they had reached the perfect speed to separate the cream from the milk. Lighting was provided by coal-oil lamps which needed cleaning and filling daily.

Generally, the boys helped in the barn and with the field work. The younger children were responsible for collecting the eggs each day, fetching the cows, making sure the watering troughs were full, and filling the wood box. Once, when the two youngest girls were helping on the seed drill, Daphne lost the end of her finger as she poked the seeds down into the drill.

Water on the farm was cold, clear and plentiful. There was never a shortage of water from the farm well. A stationary engine on the outdoor pump made the job easier. Percy built a shower out in the trees. He sank four posts into the ground and built a solid floor. Then he mounted a barrel above, which was filled each evening from the hose on the pump at the well. The sun heated the water all day and at day’s end, after the work was done, a warm shower waited. Although there was no running water, there was a hand pump in the kitchen. A kettle was always kept on the stove and the stove reservoir was always full. On bath nights, a portable tub was brought out into the kitchen and filled with warm water, and the line-up of children began.

Both Gertrude and Percy were active in their community. Percy ran the animal pound for strays and lost animals. He had a machine shop on the farm, with a forge and blacksmithing tools. He was a blacksmith, carpenter, harness maker, barber, and on those rare occasions when he was called upon to cut glass, he borrowed Gertie’s diamond engagement ring and became a glass cutter. Percy was also a deacon at St. John’s Anglican Church at Gledhow. His older children were baptized in this church. (The church closed in 1925 and was moved to Conquest, Saskatchewan. Percy kept the church records until they were destroyed in the flood of 1951.) Percy was often called upon to write letters and to witness an X signature. In later years, he was a councillor for the RM of Montrose. In 1954, through the initiative of Gilbert Wright, construction of St. Martin’s Anglican Church at Pike Lake began. The church was built with volunteer labour. Percy spent many hours on this “labour of love.”

Gertrude, in addition to raising a family and being a homemaker, was also very active in the community. She was a role model, a bookkeeper, seamstress, baker and storyteller. Gertrude was a member of the Homemakers’ Club which later became the Women’s Institute, and the church auxiliary. Through the war years, she knit countless pairs of socks and packed food parcels to send overseas. Gertrude’s penmanship, as well as Percy’s, was often in demand. She too was asked to give assistance in writing letters for others. She proudly taught her daughters the art of knitting, sewing, canning and cooking. She decorated her kitchen walls with pictures from the Star Weekly, thanks to the magazines that came to the farm with Mr. and Mrs. Watson of the Saskatoon News Agency.

Judy feeding the chickens / school house / photo of reunion Top left - A young Judy helps to feed the chickens in 1927. Top right - Valley Park School in the 1920s. Botton - Valley Park School Reunion held in Saskatoon on 23 July 2005. Back row, standing: Derry Kinzie, Maynard Erickson, Don Kinzie, Doug Olver, Jack Newman, Emil Erickson, Mel Dahlen, Harvey Dahlen, Joyce Olver, Keith Dahlen, Rey Dahlen, Margaret Dahlen, Judith Newman. Front row, seated: Iris Dahlen, Shrley Dahlen, Cora Dahlen, Joan Newman, Florence Benolkin, Shirley Newman, Daphne Newman.

Judy feeding the chickens / school house / photo of reunion
Top left – A young Judy helps to feed the chickens in 1927. Top right – Valley Park School in the 1920s. Botton – Valley Park School Reunion held in Saskatoon on 23 July 2005. Back row, standing: Derry Kinzie, Maynard Erickson, Don Kinzie, Doug Olver, Jack Newman, Emil Erickson, Mel Dahlen, Harvey Dahlen, Joyce Olver, Keith Dahlen, Rey Dahlen, Margaret Dahlen, Judith Newman. Front row, seated: Iris Dahlen, Shrley Dahlen, Cora Dahlen, Joan Newman, Florence Benolkin, Shirley Newman, Daphne Newman.

Good neighbours were what kept communities going through good and bad times. Percy and Gertrude had many fine neighbours. Company came and went at a steady pace to and from their home, especially on Sunday afternoons. There were the Duckworths, friends they had met through brother Arthur. There were the Phelps, the Sawyers, the Pinkertons, the Kays, and the Benolkins. Chuck Buckman, who lived in a little shack in the hills, came most Sundays to do a bit of work in return for a meal. Then there was Mr. and Mrs. Watson who delivered for the Saskatoon News Agency and the Saffrons. The Saffrons never appeared for Sunday supper; instead Mr. Saffron came for the pleasure of hunting prairie chicken, partridge and duck. Percy’s nephew, Arthur’s only son Harry, spent entire summers at the farm.

In March, 1928, Valley Park farmers witnessed the brute force of nature that had shaped the valley over hundreds of years. The valley was rich and fertile because it was a flood plain, with spring flooding adding layer upon layer of soil to the valley floor. In the spring of 1928 an ice jam flooded the valley with speed and ruthlessness. Percy was in the yard, listening to the groans of the breaking ice when he heard the sharp, grinding screeches of an ice jam. He quickly harnessed the horses and wagon, calling for Gertrude and the children to clamber aboard. Gertrude, pregnant with her seventh child, had time only to grab the children and a few possessions. At the back of the wagon, the children held the leads of the other horses. They headed straight west to the hills. The water rose so quickly that the horses were pulling through a foot of icy water before they reached safety. Staying with neighbours, first the Prices, then the Hawkins who had the only T. Eaton home in Valley Park, it was six weeks before the Newman family returned home to a house and buildings which were watermarked by a five foot high silty stain left by the floodwaters. The kettle on the stove was full of South Saskatchewan River silt. However, the Christmas cactus loved the dunking and welcomed the family home with branches full of pink blooms.

In the late 1920s the Newmans bought a Model T Ford. This was their first vehicle and would last for many years. The Model T had a box on it, so the whole family could fit in. It wasn’t until the end of the 1930s that Percy was finally able to purchase a 1938 Ford half ton for the farm.

In the summer, the river valley was lush with vegetation. Cottonwoods and poplars were abundant; red willow and wolf willow grew thick along the river’s edge. The growth was a bonus to farmers in Valley Park who usually had to make only one trip to Donavon for coal each winter. Sometimes they crossed the river ice to Dundurn for their coal. Trees were cut down and hauled to the farm where they were cut into stove lengths, split and stacked, ready for the long winters. Some farmers sold wood to others and this helped supplement their farm income. The Newman house was heated in the winter by a large cook stove and a space heater. Both of these burned wood during the winter, spring and fall of the year. Coal was added only in the winter months.

Horse-drawn swather in field. Year: 1938 Ken on the swather with Percy standing, 1938.

Horse-drawn swather in field.
Year: 1938
Ken on the swather with Percy standing, 1938.

In the 1920s and 1930s the garden was important to farm families. In the fall of the year, the root cellar under the house was filled from the chute outside with vegetables harvested from the large garden. A trap door in the kitchen floor provided access from inside. During berry picking time, everyone helped gather the sweet treasures of nature. When berries were ripe, the two youngest children, Doris and Daphne, climbed onto the backs of two old horses, Sammy and Frenchie, and stand so that they could reach the lush branches of chokecherries and pincherries. The docile work horses stood still while the children picked until their pails were full. The jars of saskatoons, chokecherries, red currents, black currents, gooseberries, strawberries and crab apples helped nourish the family throughout the winter months.

The fall of the year brought the harvest and was an especially busy time of year. Cutting, stooking, threshing, storing, and hauling the grain filled the long autumn days. A District Wheat Pool was formed in the valley in 1924. Because there was no railway access, the farmers from Valley Park and Gledhow hauled their grain by horse and wagon to Donavon or Vanscoy. This was a full days trip, leaving early in the morning and arriving home at dusk.

After the grain was harvested late in the fall, butchering time arrived. Percy had learned this skill from Bill Beal. Neighbours came together to help. Gertrude accompanied Percy and while the men butchered, the ladies socialized and prepared meals. Cooler temperatures at this time of year allowed the freshly butchered meat to be preserved. Ice for the ice house was cut from the river, from late November through to February. It was stored in a deep excavation covered by a roof and insulated with straw. Sometimes, remnants of winter ice survived into August of the following year. Another way to preserve the meat was with smoke. The Newmans had their own smokehouse. The smoke of willow and corncobs often flavoured their bacon. Gertrude also made head cheese and sausage.

In the early years, communication was difficult, especially during the winter. Mail was taken to Gledhow by horse and sleigh from Saskatoon. Later the Pippins used a snow plane to deliver the mail in the winter months. The Campbell’s mail route was from Saskatoon to Pike Lake, Valley Park, Gledhow, O’Malley, then back again. The teams of horses were changed along the way. A truck route eventually took over from horsedrawn vehicles. When the telephone came to the valley, communications improved. The telephone was operated by the Merrill Telephone Company. Mrs. Elizabeth Bond was the telephone operator for the area. The phone was on a party line. The Newman phone was powered by batteries; a phone battery cost about $3 and lasted a year.

The district doctor, Dr. Cameron, as most country doctors of this time, made his rounds in the winter in a horsedrawn cutter. In the summer he used his automobile. However, with the help of her medical book and the telephone, Gertrude handled most of the family’s medical concerns without consulting the doctor. But, some emergencies required the expertise that was only found in the hospital. Joan, and later Doris, were rushed to City Hospital in Saskatoon with appendicitis. Joan was only six when her appendix burst; Doris was 12 or 13 when it happened to her. In both cases there was a real urgency as the appendix had ruptured so surgeries were immediately performed. When Doris needed hospital care, it was her older sister Shirley who provided the blood transfusion – directly from Shirley’s arm into Doris’s. Joan and Doris both required extended hospital care. (Mrs. Kay always considered the Newman girls as “her daughters.” Fred Kay provided emergency transportation for Joan when she had to be taken to the hospital in 1930. Some twenty years later in 1950, the Newmans were able to return the favour. Joan’s twin, Jack, drove to Saskatoon and guided an air ambulance pilot back to the Kay farm to transport Mrs. Kaye to the hospital for emergency surgery.)

Collage of four ice jam photos. Year: 1947 After the valley flooded on March 27,1947, the Newman family investigated the remaining ice about half a mile inland from the river on April 6, 1947. Top left is Doris, top right is Daphne, bottom left is Percy, bottom right shows Doris and Daphne.

Collage of four ice jam photos.
Year: 1947
After the valley flooded on March 27,1947, the Newman family investigated the remaining ice about half a mile inland from the river on April 6, 1947. Top left is Doris, top right is Daphne, bottom left is Percy, bottom right shows Doris and Daphne.

Gertrude met the majority of minor crises with a mother’s love, patience and knowledge. One particular crisis required the love and patience of a saint rather than medical care. During a measles outbreak in the mid-1930s, all the Newman children plus one of the McNeil girls were quarantined in the Newman home for three weeks with German measles, then another three weeks with red measles.

The Newman children, when not helping their parents, played the games that children of that time played: steal sticks, fox and geese, ante-I-over and red light. They swam in a safe spot in the river where a natural pool had been created by a sandbar. The children’s first bicycle was bought from Gordon Beal for the sum of $2. They played baseball and football and in the evenings they played cards. In the winter the garden plot was flooded to make an ice rink for hockey and skating. For hockey games, Percy played goal while the children formed the team. On many winter evenings the family children and neighbours skated and enjoyed a bonfire that had been made for light and warmth.

Valley Park school was located centrally in the community. It was the typical one room school – grades one to eight, with one teacher. The enrollment varied in number, reaching as high as 48. High School was taken by correspondence or students went to high school at Vanscoy or Saskatoon. The school had a barn for the horses that were used to transport the children from the various farms. The Newman farm was located three miles from the school, which meant a long trek for the children. The school was also used for social events such as dances, card parties, plays and concerts. The Newman children took Sunday School lessons through the Sunday School by Post. Summer visits from the Sunday School van were always exciting.

At Christmas, there was the annual concert and Christmas tree. Percy almost always played the part of Santa Claus. Christmas shopping was done mostly from the T. Eaton catalogue, along with a visit to Saskatoon once a month to shop for groceries and other supplies from the T. Eaton store. Then, too, there were always exciting Christmas parcels sent by relatives in England.

The 1930s brought new challenges and hardships for the farmers of Saskatchewan. The farm families in Valley Park were not spared. Following the market crash of 1929, things got bad. The price of wheat fell to 33¢ a bushel. Then the drought of the Dirty Thirties gripped the province. The Newmans, like the majority of farm families in the province, had to accept relief. Percy worked as the foreman of the RM road-building crew, in lieu of taxes. He and his crew built the half mile of road from the bottom of Hermund’s Hill to the school. The monthly $5 relief cheque was stretched to the limit with ten mouths to feed. It was fortunate that Percy was able to grow a garden and that Gertie was able to make good meals from the most meagre ingredients. She handled the salt cod, received with the relief packages, with skill that would have been envied by the best of chefs. She soaked it in milk or water and poached it. Meals often included fish that had been caught in the river. Gertrude faithfully baked bread every Tuesday and Saturday. The only time she missed was when she went to England in 1938 for a visit.

Even in these difficult times, neighbourliness was extended to those in need. Scottie Woods, a bachelor who worked for Jack Lemon or the Mercers in the summer months, became a wintertime regular at the Newmans. Because he had nowhere else to go, Gertrude’s soft heart prompted her to offer him a cot in the kitchen and a home for the winter.

Percy and his brother Art loved hunting for prairie chicken, partridge, geese and duck. The brothers were often found walking the bush in search of game. Percy and Art were both good shots. The children were also good with a shotgun. They kept their skills sharp with target practice on crows, magpies and gophers. This was a source of income for them. The RM had a bounty on many of the pests. Mr. Mercer paid 5¢ for a gopher or 2¢ for the tail. Coyotes netted $2.50; weasels brought in 75¢; jack rabbits brought 50¢ and bush rabbits 25¢. In 1936 or 1937 Bernie and Jack held the Saskatchewan record for the number of magpie and crow eggs they collected. In all, they collected 1700 eggs, as they ranged six or seven miles up and down the riverbank from the farm. They took the eggs carefully to Mr. Kay at the RM office. Bernie won a Cooey 22 rifle and Jack won a hunting knife.

There were often visitors to the Valley Park farm. M.J. Coldwell, the CCF MP for Rosetown-Biggar, visited often during the 1930s. There were many CCF picnics at Pike Lake and there were Dominion Day celebrations on July 1st each year. The sports days in summer included races, ball games and family picnics. Prize money was given and quickly spent at the ice cream stand. Neighbours like the Phelps, the Sawyers, the Millers, the Benolkins and the Prices came from miles around to picnic at Pike Lake, or at the Valley Park Sports Grounds east of the school in the Derdall pasture. There were many baseball games during the 1920s and 30s won or lost in the Newman pasture. Friends like the Duckworths, the Milburns and the Watsons often came to visit. In the early 1930s, Percy’s father visited, staying for a couple of years.

Finally, when the dry years began to ease, farming again became a pleasure. Percy was the first to buy and plant Thatcher registered wheat from the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. He tested a small plot of sugar beets for the Alberta sugar refineries to see if growing sugar beets was an option in the valley soil. Percy had inherited his father’s “green thumb.” His garden was his pride and joy. His love for gardening was shared with his family. He encouraged the children to help with the garden and he passed on the many skills he had learned from his father before him. Percy was a frequent competitor at the Saskatoon Exhibition and the Saskatoon Horticulture Shows. The Horticulture Shows were held in the Massey-Harris building in downtown Saskatoon. In 1938 he was the Grand Aggregate winner at the Show. Today, the Saskatoon Horticultural Society still displays the trophies that were awarded to Percy and his brother Arthur, along with many other exhibitors.

Toward the end of the Depression, in 1938, Gertrude’s family in England sent her a ticket to return home for a visit. The neighbours in the valley took up a collection so that she could have some spending money for her trip. Gertrude went back to England for the first time since 1919. (She would visit several times in later years when air travel became more common.) While Gertrude was away, Shirley and Joan took on running the household and looking after the younger ones. The boys helped in the barn and fields as they had always done.

As the Depression ended, the Newman children began to leave home. Jack was left at home when Percy signed up for the Veterans Guard in 1940. Jack and his mother took over the farm during the war years. Starting with a herd of fewer than 20 head, Jack increased the herd to over 65 cattle before the War ended.

In 1947, 1951 and 1952, the power of nature claimed the valley in three more spring floods. When the 1951 flood occurred, Mr. Kay who was 70 years old at the time, remained at his house, hoping to save his belongings. As the water rose and cut off any hope of escape, he retreated to the attic with a loaf of bread and a tin of sardines, a book, a lantern and coal oil. Two good neighbours rode and swam their horses to the rescue. Alex Auckland Jr. and Fred Bond brought Mr. Kay to safety, riding him double on Mr. Bond’s horse.

After the war, Percy was a councillor for the Valley Park district in the RM of Montrose for six years. The Newman family stayed on the valley land until the floods drove them to safer ground. With a government-subsidized program to assist with the move of houses out of the valley, the farm home made the journey to Pike Lake in 1953. It was located on the spot where the Dowling Store once stood, at the north edge of the original Lakeside Country Club quarter. This was just west of St. Martin-in-the-Field, the Anglican Church which held its first service in 1954; Percy and Gertrude donated time and talent when the church was being built, and the baptismal font. Percy’s green thumb soon coloured their corner lot with an array of flowers filling the front yard. He established a reputation for successfully transplanting delicate wildflowers like lady slippers and native ferns to his corner garden. When Percy was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer in 1956, the family moved to Saskatoon.

Ken left the farm in 1939 at the age of 19 years to look for work in Saskatoon. He enlisted in the Canadian Army in the fall of 1941. Returning to Canada at the end of the war, he found work at Yellow Cab and later Parr Motors. On December 28, 1946 he married Elizabeth Tett. They had four children: Rodney Kenneth born July 30, 1948; Janis Lynne born April 22, 1950; James Preston born December 21, 1954; and Barbara Joyce born June 5, 1957. The family lived first in Saskatoon, then moved to a job in a garage in Radisson, Saskatchewan. In 1958, Ken and Betty and their young family moved to Fort Frances, Ontario in 1963 where Ken had accepted a job in a local garage.

During the Second World War, while in the navy Bernie was assigned to a corvette in the North Atlantic, the New Glasgow. Although he was a radar operator, he also learned to barber on board. It was that skill which he carried back to civilian life, cutting his own children’s hair and eventually giving his grandchildren their first haircuts. Growing up on the farm, it had been his dad who had been the barber. Bernie returned to the CNR after the war. His younger sister Judy introduced him to a girl she worked with at Modern Press, Evelyn Shaw. They married in Saskatoon on April 26, 1946. They lived their entire married lives in Saskatoon. Bernie and Evelyn made their home initially in the Drinkle Block downtown, then purchased one of the wartime houses quickly erected to accommodate young families after the war at 434 2nd Street East. Their first three children were born while they lived there: Gregory Bernard on February 17, 1948, Leslee Joanne on July 14, 1950 and Larry Bruce on September 2, 1953. In 1956, Bernard built a new home for his young family at 3303 Caen Street, a Veterans Land Act development on Saskatoon’s southwest outskirts. They moved to the new home in Montgomery Place in the fall of 1956. Their last child, Dale Shawn, was born on November 2, 1957. After the CNR, Bernard worked as a letter carrier for Canada Post.

Percy and Gertrude’s third child, Shirley Francis Lily (Francis as the namesake of Gertrude’s mother; Lily was the name of Gertrude’s only sister), became her “mother’s little helper,” lending small hands to the household tasks. She was her dad’s little girl too. It was Percy who christened her with the nickname “Bobby,” a name which has followed her through life. Shirley could sing. Following in her dad’s footsteps, she was often chosen to sing and recite at local Christmas concerts and get-togethers. She sang and played her guitar at weddings and other socials. Bobby was 18 years old when she left the farm in 1940 for a job in the baby ward at the Saskatoon Children’s Shelter in Saskatoon. Then she worked in a photo developing studio, following in her mother’s footsteps. As a young woman in England, Gertrude had been a Kodak girl, working in the Kodak camera factory. Bobby became an expert colour tinter, adding oil paint to black and white photographs in the days before colour film. She left Saskatchewan for work at the Egg Lake Coal Company in Alberta.

A year and a half after Shirley was born, twins Jack and Joan were born to Percy and Gertrude. Imagine that early farm home, before electricity, before running water – with five little ones under the age of four. Gertie and Percy must have had their hands full. Joan joined Shirley as a little helper to her Mom. Always quick and energetic, she was seldom still, always doing something. Joan left for war work in Ajax, Ontario in 1940 and on June 16, 1945 married Allan Zavitz from Ontario.

Of the three sons born to Percy and Gertrude, it did not take long before it was clear that Jack was the “farm boy.” He loved nothing better than to be outdoors with his older brothers and dad, working on the farm. Jack left the farm when it was sold in 1953. He married Leona Van Impe Crooke in 1957, becoming a father to Leona’s children – Jim, Larry, John and Theresa. Jack and Leona had a son Miles on February 11, 1959. After Leona’s death, Jack married Jean Adolph Tickner on May 27, 1967.

Just after the twins turned two years old, a third daughter was born to Percy and Gertrude – Judith Marjorie. Although not christened Judith, her dad took to calling her Judy and the name stuck. She was like her dad in many ways, a born leader. Playing around the farm, it was Judy who instigated many of the games and activities. In 1939, she left the farm for high school at the Technical Collegiate in Saskatoon.

Doris was 13 years old when she left the farm after Grade 8 to take high school at the Technical Collegiate in Saskatoon in 1941. After high school she attended Saskatoon Business College then went to work in the income tax department. She met John Richard Butler of Delisle at a dance. They married on September 2, 1950 at Third Avenue United Church in Saskatoon. They had five children: Patricia Lee born March 27, 1951; Brenda Joan born November 27, 1952; James Richard born October 25, 1954; Kathryn Ann born June 7, 1956; and Diane Doris born November 21, 1958.

Daphne was the last to leave the farm for high school in Saskatoon in 1942. She married Douglas Smee in Saskatoon on November 9, 1957. They had three children: Karen Michelle born September 21, 1958; Craig William born September 11, 1960; and Grant Douglas born September 6, 1963.

With a diagnosis of cancer in 1956, Percy and Gertie made the decision to move to Saskatoon. The home at Pike Lake was sold two years later. Percy died on Mother’s Day, May 8, 1958. Gertrude died at the age of 91 on October 20, 1982. Their descendants include 19 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren who reside in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, as well as England.

Looking back at our family history, it is apparent that the unselfish love and cooperation of family, friends and neighbours working together wove a fabric that still remains today. This history is a tribute to the courageous and creative women and men whose energy and talent have made the Province of Saskatchewan what it is today.