Home Town or Home Community:
Prince Albert area
Daughter’s Note August 31, 2005: The following piece is a compilation of several writings put together by my mother, Nonie/Nona/Winona Potts (nee Pocock) starting in 1986, with revisions as late as 1997. As her daughter, Kari, I pulled this piece together and formatted for this submission to the Saskatchewan Western Development Family History, Centennial Project in August 2005.
Somewhere in the early 1990s Mom stopped her writing in mid word (and in 1938) and never did get back to it. I remember her being overwhelmed that she had just got up to her days living in Prince Albert National Park, and had so much to tell, and then she was going to have to work on her army experiences – and there were even more stories! Mom died February 17, 2003. And her stories now are only in us, our children’s heads and smiling out of her photos. And of course there are the stories gone, that she never was going to tell us kids anyway! Regardless I am pleased to present you with this vastly edited version of her work – to honor her, her stories, writings and life.
POCOCK HISTORY 1730s – current
COMPILED by N. Potts (nee Pocock)
Generations 1 – 3 of Record:
In the late 1730s a John Pococke married Ann (?) in the Greater Berkhamsted district and they had eight children between 1740 and 1755.
Their fourth child was also named John and was born on 24 Feb. 1745. This John married Rebecca Wood on 13 April 1769 (still in the Greater Berkhamsted area). They had six children between 1770 and 1778.
Their first child, Richard Pococke, christened in January 1770, married Frances Westley in 1792 at Northchurch.
Their son John, born in 1794, generation 4 of record, begins the more detailed history to follow.
John Pococke was born in Tring in 1794. (Died Dudswell, Northchurch 23 Dec. 1858). He worked as an ironmonger, then a blacksmith. He settled in Dudswell in the parish of Northchurch because it was an ideal spot for a smithy. Here the barges freighting goods on the Grand Junction Canal passed through the Lock Gates and thereby insured a good business shoeing the horses which pulled them.
John Pococke married Lydia Davis (born 1801) on Nov. 14th 1815 at Northchurch. The 184l census records show seven children living at home at the time: Rebecca and Fanny both 15, Matthew 10, Joseph 7, William 6, Elizabeth 5, and Flora 3. Two older children, Martha born 1819, and George born 1820, had already moved out on their own. By 1851 John was listed as a blacksmith and employing two people. Lydia had died since the previous census (1841).
Matthew Pocock (b. 1831) followed in his father’s footsteps in the smithy. Matthew married Mary Bryant in the parish church of Northchurch on April 25th 1848.
Matthew and Mary had fourteen children. They brought them up in “Forge Cottage”. (This Cottage is significant in the Pocock history. Pocock descendent Ellen Coupland/Gilroy has copies of the original deed.)
The eldest of Matthew and Mary’s fourteen children was Alfred, born on 15 May 1850.
Mary Pocock died July 2, 1906. Mathew Pocock died in 1919.
Alfred Pocock, the eldest son of Matthew and Mary, was born on 15 May 1850 at Dudswell, Northchurch, District of Berkhamsted. In September 1874 he married Louisa Norris; born 15th February 1851 (died at Bath in 1935). It is interesting that Alfred, the son of an illiterate blacksmith, married the granddaughter of one of the best known merchants in Berkhamsted, and at reputedly the most wealthy.
Alfred, progressed over the years from blacksmith to Master Coachmaker. His business was known as “A. Pocock Coach Builders”. The business prospered, and early in the 1900s Alfred was approached to turn his shop into a plant for making motor car bodies. He decided that motor cars were just a fad which would never last – and stayed with his horse drawn carriages. Thus, the Pocock business and prosperity would also dwindle away. Alfred died in 1911.
Alfred and Louisa had eight children, three of which emigrated to Canada.
Generation 7 in Pocock History, Generation 1 in Canada:
HENRY the oldest son. (Born 1876. Died 1906 as a result of injuries sustained with the British Army during the Boer War.)
Henry married Alice Nora Edwards around 1898. They had five children. Nora (born 1900, died 1990), Kathleen (Kitty) (born 1902, died 1968), Alfred (born 1903, died 1905) Hector McDonald (born 1904, died 3 September 1993), Margaret Louise (born 1906, died 1985). After Henry’s death Alice had immigrated to Canada where she married Henry’s brother William (Mont).
FANNY KEY (Cissie) their oldest daughter (Born 1877. Died 1932.)
Fanny married Jim Smith, who died in 1918. They had three children: Marjorie (Born 23 July 1904, died 24th of Feb. 1995), Muriel (died 1984), and James (born 16 Jan. 1907, died 8 March 1992). Neither Marjorie nor Muriel had children. James was married twice and had a son Christopher (born 4 Dec. 1939), and a daughter Carole (born 9 Jan. 1945).
ALMA their second daughter (Born 1880).
Alma married Tom Brosnan. They were both teachers and very concerned with social reform. Alma had three plays published depicting the drudgery and hopelessness of life in the working class families in England in the early 1900s. Alma and Tom had three children, Marion, Michael and Barbara.
MARGARET (Mag) the third daughter (Born 1882. Died 1953).
Mag married George Dickson. They had two children, Margaret and Kenneth. Kenn was born 19 March 1913 and died in Sept. 1992. Kenn married Jeanne, born 1st Sept 1912. Margaret died in 1985. Ken died in Sept. 1992.
WILLIAM MONTAGUE (Mont or Billy) the second son (Born 1883 (?). Died at The Pas, Manitoba 1969.)
Mont married Alice Edwards Pocock (Henry’s widow). They had four children. Gladys, was born at Ruby Lake, Manitoba 1909. She married Gordon Crassweller, and died in Winnipeg 1993. They had Harold and Mildred, twins, (born at Tisdale in 1913). Mildred married John Gregg and died in 1986. Harold married Gertrude Eady. They had three daughters and one son Thomas Harold. Thomas has two sons, Kevin and Kenneth. Kevin has one daughter Kristin and two sons, Tyler and Shayne. These two boys bring this branch of the Pocock name to a fifth generation of Canadian Pococks. The last of Mont and Alice’s children was Olive, born in 1915 and died in 1921. Mont and Alice eventually moved to Vancouver Island. Alice died in 1956 . Mont returned to The Pas to stay with Hector until his own death in March 1969. He was buried beside Alice at Swan River, Alberta.
WALTER the third son (Born Berkhamsted, 10 Oct. 1885. Died Vancouver 1963.)
Walt came first to Northern Manitoba in Canada at the age of seventeen. He eventually came to reside in Radisson, Sask. in 1906 where he took up a homestead. Walt and Gertrude Marshall were married in 1907. Walt and Gert had eight children. Margaret (Greta) and Doris (Dulcie) (born on a farm near Radisson, Sask.) Daisy, Phyllis, Georgina and Gwen (born in the village of Radisson) Olive and Marshall (Bud) (born in Unity), where they had moved in 1919. Bud has two sons Walter Mark and Robert Blair, also two daughters Marsha Lynn and Lori Ann. The two sons carry this branch of the Pocock name to the third Canadian generation. Blair has one son Mark who carries the Pocock name to the fourth Canadian generation. Walt and Gert moved out to British Columbia in 1937. Bud died in 2000.
Some notes on this sizeable but close knit family:
I well remember visiting the Walter Pocock’s in Unity, Sask. I was overjoyed – and to say the least overwhelmed – at being surrounded by all these cousins I had never previously met. Such an exciting and busy atmosphere compared to my practically ‘only child’ status with my brother being ten years older than I. My brother Eric at the time was working close to Unity at North Battleford. He had a red ‘roadster’ – circa 1928. In the early thirties, on one of his holidays, he came and picked up my mother, father and I and drove us from Prince Albert to Unity. How well I remember that trip! My mother rode in the front with Eric, Dad and I were ensconced in the ‘rumble seat’. The ‘thirties’ were known for good reason as the ‘Dirty Thirties’, not just for economic reasons. The countryside was parched, the sun blazed, the wind blew ferociously. Two hundred miles on rough gravel roads – at a top speed of thirty to thirty-five miles per hour! And I loved every minute of it! I suppose my mother and Eric travelled in what could be called the luxury class. The sun didn’t beat down on their heads as it did on my father and I in the rumble seat. However the ‘air-conditioning’ was the same. Lots of air – no conditioning. Actually we were glad of the air, hot or not. It kept at least some of the dust and dirt blown off the gravel roads and the fields from sticking to our perspiration soaked skins.
Then we arrived. A kaleidoscope of pictures and impressions flash through my mind. Sleeping between Olive and Gwen in a big bed – if sleep we did. Olive and I sitting at the piano picking out the only tune we knew – Doris coming down stairs to meet her fiancé Jack McAlpine and them kissing – sending Olive and I into fits of giggles.
FELIX the fourth son (Born in 1888. Died in 1894 in England.)
SAMUEL CLIFFORD (Cliff) the youngest member of the family (Born 21 May 1892. Died 30th November 1986 in Shellbrook, SK).
When this new baby brother was born, father Alfred came home with the news that he had registered him as Samuel. This was not at all to the liking of the three older sisters. Back Alfred had to go to the registry office and add the name ‘Clifford’.
Samuel Clifford (Cliff) Pocock and Norah Maud Barton (born Oct. 4 1889) of Watford, were married on the 16th of November 1910 at the Register Office, Watford, Herts. At the time of her marriage to Cliff, Norah was a seamstress. Most of the detailed intricate work on fine clothes was at that time done by hand, and Norah made good use of this training for the rest of her life.
Cliff at the time was ‘going up’ to London every day while employed as a clerk in a government office. As a boy he had always been intrigued by stories of the “New World” – in this case Canada. Specifically Canada I would guess because his two older brothers, Mont and Walt, had already emigrated there. In 1911 he was happy to follow Walt and join brother Mont in northern Manitoba. Norah came over some time later with their infant son. I am not sure when, sometime in 1911, tragedy struck Cliff and Norah with his death. I don’t even know his name, but I think it was Clifford.
Like the rest of the immigrants Norah experienced the ‘cultural shock’ of the move from urban England to rural Canada. Some months earlier she had waved good-bye to her London clerk husband – business suit, bowler hat, leather shoes with spats and walking stick. She was met at the railroad station by – was this Cliff? – A lumber jacket had replaced the suit; a cloth hat with ear flaps the bowler, moccasins the leather shoes, and a rifle the walking stick. Cliff had really thrown himself into the new life, and was grinning from ear to ear at how proud he was of his ‘new look’. Norah’s reaction was not recorded, only imagined.
However, with youth, and in the spirit of adventure, many good times were enjoyed with the other ‘displaced’ newcomers in the ‘wilds’ of Northern Manitoba. The housing was to say the least innovative. Raw lumber straight from the mill replaced the stone and brick they had left. “Green” lumber was the word, just as ‘green’ as the Englishmen who built them. As the boards aged they shrank until you could see through the cracks, no need for picture windows here. No need either for pampered house plants. As the floor boards shrank green shoots found their way up from the ground below to the comparative warmth above.
Generation 8 in Pocock History, Generation 2 in Canada:
In 1912 Cliff and Norah were in Radisson, Saskatchewan where Eric was born on the fourth of June. In 1913 Cliff, Norah and Eric were in Hudson’s Bay.
In 1915 Cliff, Norah and Eric were in Prince Albert when Cliff enlisted in the 5th Battalion (later the 188th Battalion) on the 4th of December. Early in 1916 Cliff was sent on a training course to Winnipeg. Norah and Eric followed Cliff to Winnipeg where he was in training for several months. They then returned to Prince Albert when Cliff returned to entrain with the Battalion for “Overseas” on 6th June 1916. I remember Mother telling me that everyone put on a brave face and a smile (or tried to) as they waved their soldiers good-bye. It was just not the thing to do to have them see their loved ones crying. Cliff was later transferred to the 5th Battalion of the Canadian Army with which he served overseas until 1919.
We have Cliff’s diary for the year 1918. It is really quite clear for having been written in pencil and under adverse conditions, all those years ago. Cliff never talked much about the war. Very few of the men from the trenches did. Most of the stories that are told and retold are the funny ones.
Dad’s claim to fame in his unit was his love of jam. The men were sometimes issued a ‘tot’ of rum, and sometimes a ration of jam. Dad always offered to trade his rum for someone else’s jam – there were never any lack of takers. At one time it was decreed from higher up that the men were not to shave their upper lips as it was thought to impair their eyesight. Despite Dad’s black hair his moustache came in a real ginger. Quite a sight.
While overseas Dad served with the signal unit of the 5th Battalion. Most communication in the field was by telegraph rather than radio. This necessitated running rolls of wire to different parts of the unit, and this was quite often cut by enemy fire, or sometimes even their own. They took turns manning the base stations or up ahead of the lines to report back on the progress of the fighting and the deployment of enemy troops. At the forward stations there were always two men. One to stay with the equipment and observe, and one to run back with messages and fix the lines, if the lines were out. On one of Dad’s message runs, he returned to his station to find that during his absence his partner had been shot. What fate decided which one should be there and which one away when the bullet found its mark?
Norah and Eric stayed in Prince Albert while Cliff was overseas. The wives kept themselves busy with Red Cross work, wrote letters and sent parcels to keep up the moral of their men. They themselves banded together in what would now be called support groups, sharing the ever present worry of the dreaded telegram at the door.
Following his discharge from the Army in 1919, Cliff went to work as a guard at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary on 1st September. They lived in the Holmes Block on Central Avenue at this time. It was here that Norah suffered a miscarriage; the baby would have been a second son.
One evening during the Penitentiary employment, Norah and Eric attended a movie (silent, of course). A picture of a jail of some sort was shown. Loud and clear in the quiet audience Eric piped up “Look Mamma, isn’t that where Daddy is?” Oh the embarrassment! Norah felt compelled to say, equally as loud, “Well dear, that’s where Daddy WORKS”. The only comment I remember Cliff making about his employment there, was that in general he liked the inmate population better than the staff.
Cliff left the Penitentiary service on 15 April 1921 to work with the Department of Natural Resources. He was stationed for a time in the “Red Rock” district across the North Saskatchewan River from Prince Albert.
In 1922 a sister arrived for Eric, Winona (Nonie/Nona) Joan, born August 17th. Cliff’s fascination with the ‘new world’ was manifested again. She was given the Indian name of “Winona”. I don’t know if he knew at the time that it meant ‘Laughing Water’ but it was in “Hiawatha” and that was recommendation enough. I really haven’t minded living with it. At this time the family lived in a house on River Street about what would now be 7th Avenue East. Eric went to Connaught School which was further East on the river bank.
CLIFF POCOCKS AT HOLBEIN
In 1922 Cliff was posted to Holbein, twenty miles west of P.A., as the Forest Ranger for the Nesbit Forest Reserve. Six happy years were spent here, many good friends were made.
At Holbein also my own memory starts – augmented it’s true by often told tales of the other members of the family. I remember the house well. The back closed in porch where I used to sit in the sun and play with my kittens. One named “Blobs” because of the way he “blobbed” his mouthfuls of porridge down. The mother cat would lie and watch her offspring with a smug complacent smile on her face. A look which was used often for the phrase “the mother cat grin”.
I remember the front porch where I sometimes got to sleep in the summer, the smell of the pines, the sound of the wind in the poplar trees and sighing gently through the screens. The kitchen which to me always smelled of fresh baked bread and washing. Although I’m sure Mother didn’t bake bread or wash clothes every day.
The living-dining room with the leather couch under the window on the west wall, the round oak table and chairs in the center, the north-west corner a circular table that matched the oak dining room suite and had a carrousel for books on the bottom (a marvelous piece of furniture that I have never seen duplicated) the north-east corner where the Christmas tree always stood, the south-east corner by the door to the upstairs, where a table held the wonders of the first crystal radio set. The upstairs had two bedrooms, one for Eric, and one for Mother, Dad and I. The latter with a wash stand, basin and pitcher on top, and a cupboard underneath.
Downstairs I remember lying in pain and in a sort of a haze on that stiff leather couch, I was two or three at the time. The haze was caused by a high temperature, which in turn was brought on by an infected appendix. I was rushed into P.A. and operated on by Dr. Chisholm. The appendix had ruptured and there was quite a stay in the hospital. I can still picture the nurses coming in with the dressings on a tray covered with a white cloth. To me it was a tray of fresh baked bread, just as Mother covered her new loaves with a clean white dish towel when they were set out to cool. I don’t know how we got into P.A., but when it came time for me to go home – the Doctor drove us the twenty miles! As we were travelling over the old iron traffic bridge the doctor called to me where I was lying on Mother’s knee in the back seat – he asked me if I wanted him to turn around at the other end of the bridge and go back to the hospital. A chill went over me, but I managed a “No thank you”. I can hear the doctor chuckling at his little joke.
Dad was essentially a very mild mannered man, but occasionally had flashes of temper. He was splitting wood in the yard one day when Eric pestered him beyond that moment’s endurance. He chased Eric with the hatchet shouting “I’ll cleave you down the middle!” At the sound of his own voice uttering these ridiculous words he burst out laughing as did the onlookers. It was so outrageous that it became a catch phrase for a lot of assorted conditions and became a magical mouthful to end various family arguments and frustrations i.e. “If you don’t stop doing that I’ll CLEAVE you down the middle!”
Mother was a marvelous cook – the smell of fresh baked bread, roasting meat, pickles cooking, soup slowly simmering, still puts me right back into her kitchen. When making either bread or pastry she always gave me a small portion of dough to knead or roll out as the case may be. Pummeled and rolled for ages till it gained an unhealthy grey look, then baked to a rock hard finish. How proud I was. After Dad and Eric had been given a piece that I had made to exclaim over, but the dog always seemed to get the rest. Our dog Puck undoubtedly had the healthiest set of canine teeth in the area. Puck by the way was my constant companion. A beautiful collie, very intelligent, and a friend rather than a pet.
About the age of four, following some slight, either real or imagined, I ran away. What a frantic search ensued until I was finally ‘found’; through the trees and down the path that Eric used to take as a short cut to school. How relieved they were to find that lost little girl, and I was admonished never to leave the yard in case I became ‘lost’ again. It may have been a good thing for me that they didn’t know I wasn’t lost, that I had run away. I just enjoyed the attention and kept quiet.
The main event of the week was the trip to Cowles General Store in Holbein. One step inside and a person did not need eyes to tell them where they were! The smell of new leather harness hanging on the south wall; the permeating odour of kerosene for soft glowing lamps; the tangy aroma from the big block of cheese and pickle barrel; the fresh clean smell from the dry goods section of crisp ginghams and calicos; all mingled with the oil smell from the floors and rifles. Where eyes were important, at least to he children, were for the big glass cases on the counter filled with all sizes and shapes of candy. On the outside of the cases there was a fine selection of little hand prints as children peered as closely as they could to make their selection from the fascinating array. In winter the big heater in the middle of the store made its own contribution to the general atmosphere. The comforting sound and smell of burning wood was overlaid in the snowy season with the steamy small of dying wool socks. Also, it must be noted there was a faint aroma of ammonia brought in from the many barns around the country. The men gathered here to discuss farming, cattle and grain prices, and the government – pro or con. While the ladies waited for their purchases to be wrapped they discussed these same topics, as well as children’s illnesses, recipes, and clothes.
The main events of those summers were the “Picnics”, especially the one at Sturgeon Valley. Weather was all important. Everyone watched anxiously for patch of blue sky big enough to make a pair of sailor’s pants, this would mean the weather was going to clear. The ball diamonds would be dry enough to play on, the race tracks would be dry enough to run on, and the roads would be dry enough to get there in the first place! The highlights here, at least to one small girl, were not the ball games or races, but ICE CREAM and BANANAS.
A trip to Waskesiu was more in the nature of a safari. A full day’s trip, with a couple of broken springs to attest to the conditions of the road, but what a beautiful spot, and well worth the trip. That large beautiful blue, blue lake surrounded by poplar, birch, spruce, all manner of wild berries, ferns. A veritable Eden. There was a lumber operation in the area at the time, but for us the main beach was our private camp ground – which we deigned to share with the lone Forest Ranger.
Hamish and Lucy Seggie were special friends of Cliff and Norah. Many trips were made to their farm, by car in summer and by horse drawn ‘cutter’ in winter. Many card games were played by lamplight on a green baize cloth with huge yellow sunflowers embroidered on the corners. Auction bridge was the game, until the new craze came in – Contract Bridge. As well, the Seggies often came to the ranger’s cabin, and always at Christmas. What warm happy times! Too ‘warm’ on one occasion. The Christmas tree candles set fire to the decorations. Such excitement! Luckily little damage was done except to the tree itself.
There were many ‘firsts’ for the Pocock family at Holbein. The first radio – a crystal set. For the uninitiated, to receive on a crystal set one had to pass a fine wire slowly back and forth over a piece of crystal until, wonder of wonders, faint voices, or perhaps music, could be heard from far away Salt Lake City, Utah. No speakers then, and everyone had to anxiously wait his turn with the headphones.
At Holbein, their first car was a source of much pride, excitement and adventure. Was man really meant to travel by machine? Probably not over the corduroy part of the road from the cabin to Holbein. Again for the uninitiated – a corduroy road was one where enterprising travelers laid logs close together across the road in low spots to prevent becoming mired. And we complain about potholes making a rough ride? One trip was the occasion of an especially hard jolt, and for good reason. The car came to a sudden stop, and the occupants were amazed to see the front right wheel rolling out in front of the car by itself. It had been bumped right off.
Norah was an exceptional housekeeper, cook and mother – but it seemed to be a good idea to broaden her horizons by teaching her to drive the car. With Cliff and Eric as instructors, and Noni an excited but fearful passenger, the momentous event began. Careful adjustment of spark and choke, Eric turning the crank, Cliff with detailed instructions about the gas, bake, clutch and gears. Then jerk, stall, starting sequence over. It must be noted with regret that Cliff and Eric found the whole procedure extremely amusing, and could restrain their laughter. After about twenty minutes Norah descended quietly, vowing never to sit in the driver’s seat again – and never did!
An intriguing place for Noni at the rangers cabin was the fire watch tower. In spring and fall her father disappeared up the long steel ladder to be gone for hours at a time. What fascination in the unknown! This must be explored! So up the ladder those short legs started to climb. A few feet up the wind was whistling in the struts, a few more feet the tower was gently swaying. The mundane ground seemed to become much more desirable than the fascination unknown; but by now so far away! Easier to go up than down, so climb again up to the rap door – where the feeble knocks of a five-year old finally attracted the attention of a very surprised and horrified father.
Eric completed Grade 8 at Holbein school, which at that time did not go on to Grade 9. The teacher from Nisbet School, Mackenzie Ellis, volunteered to pick up Eric and another boy and drive them the six or seven miles to Nisbet School and teach them personally. This was a prime example of dedication to profession and community.
In 1928, just before his sixteenth birthday, Eric went to work for F. W. Woolworth Co. in Prince Albert. Noni would soon be six years old and ready for school. With these two events, the Pococks moved back to Prince Albert as at this time no one ‘commuted’ from Holbein – the trip one way took a good part of a day. The move from Holbein was not without regret. However, good friends, good times, and a good place, were always remembered with affection.
SCHOOL DAYS – BACK TO PRINCE ALBERT
In 1928 we moved again back to the city. Cliff became an insurance salesman. Everything went well for a few years – then the ‘Dirty Thirties’. Who could sell insurance in the middle of a depression?
Our first house in Prince Albert was at the eastern end of the 400 block of 8th Street East and Prince Edward School was at the western end of the 100 block also on 8th Street. Four fairly long blocks, but nothing like the hike it would have been through the bush to the Holbein school from the Rangers Cabin. Actually it was very close for a city school. Very close to the school on our way home there was a stonemason’s yard, lots of marble and other material from which to choose ornaments and gravestones. We could often pick up chips. A real find were those that had already been polished, and a really great find might be one with some letters on it – a gravestone which had been broken up because it possibly had a mistake on it or didn’t come up to standard in some way. Across the street from the school was a hatchery. In the spring we could stand in an admiring group and watch the baby chicks in the window as they bobbed and flurried around. Such delightful little bundles of yellow fluff with matchstick legs and tiny beaks.
At sometime in those public school years I had an unfortunate year health wise. I had mumps, whooping cough and a tonsillectomy all in quick succession. As Mother waited for me outside the operating room after the latter, the doctor came out all alone. Mother was sure something had gone drastically wrong. However he had just come to tell her that I had a lot of decayed baby teeth and he would like her permission to extract them while I was under anesthetic. Of course she said yes. It was not a good idea, and would never be done now. Baby teeth were considered just temporary and readily expendable – no thought given to the fact that they also were supposed to retain space for the permanent teeth to follow. They were never filled. I sure had a mess of crooked teeth when the permanent ones came in. When I was recuperating at home after one of these illnesses a salesman came to the door selling Bibles. And with each Bible the purchaser received a looooong string of PEARLS. Mother bought me a Bible, and gave me the ‘pearls’. Made my day! (Kari’s note – I have this Bible today, 2005) Anyway after all these things happening in a short space of time I became very run down. I had to take a couple of kinds of medicine to build me up. One was a particularly noxious thick heavy syrup of which I had to take a whole tablespoonful. Midge Shears usually called for me to go to school – she was so small, Mother used to say here was a big mosquito at the door. With the advent of my medicine several more ‘friends’ came to call for me too. They all wanted to watch me take this ghastly medicine. Guess I must have put on quite a show.
The summer after Grade 10 (1937) Dad obtained a permanent job as one of the first warden with the new Prince Albert National Park and Mother and I moved up there with him.
TO THE PRINCE ALBERT NATIONAL PARK
Summer of 1937 – Now a real change of scenery. Dad’s first permanent posting in the Park was away over on the west side, to a district known as German Crossing, so-called because there were a couple of German settlers across the Sturgeon River from the Park. With the advent of the Second World War in 1939 the name was changed to Sturgeon Crossing.
But to our move. Dad had the use of a small Park truck that went with his district, and with this he transported Mother and me and our small personal possessions. A larger Park truck brought our furniture. The road from P.A. to the Park border was pretty good, and then eight miles west to Rabbit Cabin was at least graded.
The next sixteen miles to Sturgeon Crossing was just a bush trail, and took two hours to negotiate. With rocks and roots it was very rough going, but in compensation one wasn’t likely to get stuck on such a road. All in all it was an exciting trip for me. And then – our new home – and what a beautiful view! High on a hill overlooking the Sturgeon River we could see to the south just a short distance of river flat with all kinds of vegetation – across the river, still on the flat a small cabin with the ground rising behind it to the hill on the opposite side. Looking north a mile or so of more river vegetation and towering above at sporadic intervals tall spruce trees. The sunsets from our new home site were to prove spectacular. (Kari’s note – Mom and I visited this site in the summer of 1996. The foundation of her cabin was still there, but Mom was very disappointed the trees had grown up to block the view!)
At ‘The Crossing’, a crew were in the process of building a new cabin, high on the hill overlooking the Sturgeon River and facing west. In the meantime we were to live in an old log cabin that had served for years as a stopover when wardens were patrolling the district. Just one room, but Mother made it ‘home’. A good sized tent was put up on one side of it and this was my bedroom. That summer three friends from P.A. came out to spend some time with me. Gladys (Midge) Shears, June Miller and June Sutherland. I can’t remember how they came out from P.A., probably Dad had to make the long (time, not distance) trek to get them. A tumultuous twenty-four hours followed. June Sutherland was crying when she got there and never stopped! Homesickness I guess. Anyway the result was that Dad had to make the trip to take her back the very next day. Midge and June M. and I had a marvelous time for the rest of their stay. We swam a lot in a pool formed by the Sturgeon River and just generally horsed around. How did we manage without TV, VCRs etc.? It must have been horrendous for Mother feeding us all. The nearest store seven miles away and just a small country establishment. I think Mother enjoyed the company though. She liked young people and was herself ‘forever’ young. In the same pool mentioned above I later taught myself to swim properly. I had a Red Cross instruction book on the different strokes, and I used to prop it up on some branches of the willows that overhung the river and religiously follow all the moves. There was only one drawback. The pool was only about twenty feet long. Forever after that was about the extent of my swimming distance.
Our new home was finished for us to move into in the fall of 1937 – a living room across the middle of the house from west to east, two bedrooms on the south side and a kitchen on the north. Also a small basement reached through a trap door in the kitchen floor. A veritable palace after some of the small quarters we had lived in since our move from the three level house on 8th Street East in P.A. I was thrilled with the room and also to sleep in a proper bed again. For two years I had slept on a couch in combined kitchen – living room areas. At least I guess I was thrilled. I don’t remember minding the two year experience at all. The financial worries that necessitated this arrangement must have been of great concern to Mom and Dad, but I guess I just accepted everything as “the way things were”.
Now Dad had a regular pay check and his work — watching for and fighting fires in the summer. On the lookout for poachers all year round. Poaching was a serious threat to wildlife and one of the main jobs of the wardens was to try and prevent this loss. With a large area to cover no warden could be everywhere at once. Cliff rigged up his old box Brownie camera with a tread attached to the shutter. He placed it in a spot close to some traps he had found. The result – a perfect picture of a poacher with his spoils. This was an innovation in crime detection at the time, and was written up in an R. C. M. P. journal. It was a crude but effective forerunner of the sophisticated surveillance cameras of today. (Kari note: we have a copy of this PANP archival photo.)
And Mom? Well we all know that for Moms the work is never done. And me? Well at 15 I wasn’t ready for the big outside world on my own, so correspondence lessons were sent for Grade XI from the correspondence school in Regina. Going solo was quite different from the crowded classrooms. Dad built me a desk, sloped like school desks with hinged top that opened up with a place for books inside. As I remember the top was made out of some very good heavy wood. All that was to be scrounged for the legs was some strips of one by twos. Not very sturdy for the heavy top, but served admirably. I was very proud of my desk and felt very officially “in school”. I set up a schedule just as I had been used to. In the middle of the morning on the first day, I was sitting on the back step eating an apple. Dad came across the yard and asked what was going on – he thought I was supposed to be doing school work? I told him I was – it was now recess!!
Work went very well, with the lessons coming by mail to the Park Valley post office, and my completed lessons going to Regina the same way. There was a bit of difficulty with the chemistry lessons – I had never taken the subject before, and for some reason the text books didn’t arrive until the next April. I didn’t have a clue what anything was about. I got the grand sum of 22 on my final in June. Certainly my first failed exam. I took the exam again the next year and got 82. A little late, but I felt somewhat redeemed.
During the winters we could no longer get from the Crossing to Prince Albert through the Park. Dad would go over to Park Valley every week or so with a horse drawn toboggan to get the mail etc. Occasionally he would take the ‘caboose’ and mother and I would go also. At least I think it was occasionally – I only remember one trip. Our so-called ‘team’ consisted of a fair sized gelding and a little short mare. Hardly a ‘team’! On the trip I remember – for some reason the gelding bolted, dragging the mare with him. In the small confines of the caboose Dad had no leeway for pulling on the reins. After a speedy but very short run – the caboose tipped over – an effective brake on the runaway! Our biggest concern was the wood burning heater, and an acid battery that we were taking to be re-charged, both of which were also tipped over. S
(Kari’s note: Mom’s writings stop here mid word, mid-story.)
(Nonie did however write the following summary elsewhere 🙂
Cliff retired from this job in PANP in 1951 and Norah and Cliff moved to Prince Albert where Cliff worked in the office of the Department of Natural Resources. Norah was delighted to be back with people, running water and electricity. She had always loved company, but true to the precept ‘Wither thou goest, there go I’ she had spent a lot of time with Cliff in quite lonely surroundings. Unfortunately her time back among people was of short duration. She died on August 10, 1953. Cliff was very lonely after losing his constant companion of forty-three years. He kept on working for some time and was an avid bridge player. He died in Shellbrook on November 30th 1976.
Eric spent many years with F.W. Woolworth Co. and in 1942 joined the R.C.A.F. He eventually served two years overseas as a wireless air gunner, returning to Canada in 1945. With the cessation of hostilities after VJ Day, he took his discharge and returned to Woolworths in Calgary. On October 8th, 1947 he married Lilian Henriksen (born August 15, 1925). With the exception of a couple of years in Edmonton they resided in Calgary until his death on the 3rd of July 1984. Lilian died May 15, 1996.
As for myself I went to school in Prince Albert, and by correspondence while at the Prince Albert National Park. I enlisted in the Canadian Women’s Army and served for two years with the Signal Corps in England during WWII. On my return in 1946 I was a dental assistant with Dr. Partridge and in 1949 married Bob Potts (born June 3, 1924) of Shellbrook.
Generation 9/10/11 in Pocock History, Generations 3/4/5 in Alberta and Saskatchewan:
As of August 31, 2005:
From Eric (generation 8) and Lilian Pocock:
Calvin Arthur Pocock born March 19 1948. Calvin currently resides in Calgary, AB.
Randall (Randy) Eric Pocock born August 8 1949. Married Marilyn Wice, born Feb.12, 1950, on June 8, 1974. Randy and Marilyn currently reside in Lethbridge, AB. They had three children.
Michelle Andrea Pocock born April 19, 1979.
Liana Christine Pocock born July 7, 1981. Married Jonn Skoolkate on July 16, 2005.
David Shane Pocock born September 17, 1983.
Janis Onalea Gilbertson born December 3 1952. Married Grant Gilbertson, born December 28, 1951, on May 12, 1973. Jan and Grant currently reside in Calgary, AB. They had four children.
Onalea Kirstine Gilbertson born January 10, 1975. Married Doug McKeag on August 4, 1998.
Leif Jeremy Gilbertson born September 3, 1977.
Arianna Solvei Gilbertson born July 25, 1984.
Lucas Eric Gilbertson born November 16, 1986.
Guy Lionel Pocock born February 18 1956. Married Dianne Carlson, born June 9, 1951, on September 30, 1989. Guy and Diane currently reside in Calgary, AB.
From Nona (generation 8) and Bob Potts:
Shirley Noreen Weiss born April 12 1950. Married Allan Weiss born March 25, 1946, on October 11, 1969. Noreen and Allan currently reside outside of Shellbrook, SK. They had three children.
Jeffrey Robert Allan Weiss, born August 7, 1974. Partner Donna Kindrachuk, born December 10, 1976.
They have one son, Maddyx Richard Allan Weiss, born July 8, 2004.
Todd Evan Allan Weiss, born November 19, 1976. Married Andrea Sterling, born May 20, 1979, on July 30, 2005.
They have one son, Kaiden Reece Thomas Weiss, born July 29, 2002.
Kristyn Kimberly Noreen Weiss, born February 23, 1982.
Frances Joanne Helm born June 3 1951. Married Verne Helm, born September 24, 1946, on August 22, 1970. Joanne and Verne currently reside in Shellbrook, SK. They had three children.
Tyler Verne Helm, born March 27, 1997. Married Crystal Cymerys, born February 18, 1977, on June 22, 2002.
They have one son, Gage Robert Helm, born June 23, 2003.
Nicole Joanne Philp born June 2 1981. Married David Philp on August 16, 2003.
Kyle Verne Helm born November 1, 1983.
Derek (Rick) Arthur Potts born October 11 1953. Married Nora Taylor, born October 20, 1956, on July 1 1979. Rick and Nora currently reside in Saskatoon, SK. They had three children.
Graham Michael Potts born November 17, 1982.
Ian James Potts born March 22, 1986.
Brendan Thomas Potts born May 14, 1991.
Robert Kevin Potts born February 5. Kevin married Dorle Geitz, born September 8, 1954, on January 23, 1986. They divorced in 1996. Kevin currently resides on a farm outside of Shellbrook, SK. Kevin had four children.
Eric Florian Potts born May 30, 1986.
Heidi Andrea Potts born July 12, 1988.
Marike Julia Potts born April 17, 1993.
Ryan Samuel Potts born September 21, 1999. Ryan’s mother is Angela Leski.
Karen (Kari) Leigh Potts born May 13, 1966. Partner Gordon Hutchings, born March 13, 1960. Kari and Gord currently reside part-time in Victoria BC, and part-time in Shellbrook SK. They parent Gord’s daughter.
Ernette (Ernie) Madelaine Hutchings, born February 26, 1994.
See POTTS Family – Shellbrook story also in this Saskatchewan Western Development Museum Family History website, as Mom marries Robert Potts in 1949. Contact Tom Potts for more information, photos and documents on the Potts history.
See Ellen Gilroy for more Pocock history in Canada and earlier documents from the Pocock history in England.
See Lynn (Pocock) Cullen for Walt Pocock’s history in Saskatchewan and writings, photos and archives compiled by Marshall (Bud) Pocock.
For all other information, comments, corrections please contact Karen (Kari) Potts