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Later General Page:
page has: Old Recipes from
Memories of George Barmby
Recipes from Vira Wight's book
sections: preserves, great aunts, oddities
very small note book (well
worn, grease spotted, floured and torn) was with mother's cookbooks. It
is in Grandmother Vira Wight's hand writing and has her name on the
first page. It was very hard to read.
Preserves: Here is a
selection of some of the recipes I could read that illustrate the scale
of preserving food in an early western farm. I remember
the canning seasons when I was a child. I am just old enough
to remember preserving meat in crocks and homemade ham - but I do not
remember whether it happened in our house or neighbours. I remember
eggs that were stored in lime water but only vaguely.
Grandma Wight's mince meat (this
would be from Clarence Wight's mother)
15 cups chopped apples
5 cups chopped meat
4 cups sorgum
3 cups sugar
¾ cups vinegar
3 teaspoons cimmamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons salt
Scald altogether and pack away.
Mock Mince Meat (Grandma Wight) (ditto)
1 peck green tomatoes, chopped fine, drain one night in colander
3 pounds brown sugar
1 cup vinegar
Make syrup of sugar and vinegar.
Add tomatoes and cook until clear (1 ½ hour).
4 cups seeded raisins
4 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon cloves
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
Seal in sealers when ho.
Corn beef hams or mutton (Mattie Peirce)
For 50 pounds meat
pounds brown sugar
Boil 10 minutes, skim well, set to cool.
Put meat in crock, cover with the brine, weight meat under and set in
cool dark place.
If meat is kept in this brine several weeks it should be soaked over
night before using.
Sunny Crest Bacon Recipe
Rub every second day for three time if it is to be used up in the cold
weather. To keep longer rub 4 times. Hams and shoulders need more
3 cup salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt-petre
For 1000 pounds of meat
bushel common table salt
pounds dark brown sugar
pounds black pepper
Rub on meat and with a sharp pointed knife run to the bone of hams and
fill incision with mixture. 9 days after first application, apply more
till it is all absorbed.
Rhubarb Conserve (Mrs Blair's)
6 pounds rhubarb pealed and cut fine
5 pounds granulated sugar
Let stand over night, drain liquid off and boil it 1 hr. Add rhubarb
and boil ½ hr.
Have ready the grated peal and juice of 4 lemons or oranges and ¼ pound
of walnuts chopped fine. Just come to boil.
1 quart rhubarb cut up
1 quart onions cut up or ground
1 pint vinegar
1 tablespoon of mixture of allspice, cinnamon, cloves
2 tablespoons salt
4 cups brown sugar
Boil till soft and rather thick. Find on meat.
6 pounds cut rhubarb
5 pounds granulated sugar
Mix and let stand over night. In morning drain off liquid and boil ½
hour. Add grated rind and juice of three lemons and 1 cup chopped
walnuts to rhubarb.
Boil till thick. Watch carefully.
Slice oranges and 2 of the lemons thin. Put 1 ½ pints water to each
pint fruit. Let stand overnight. Boil 40 minutes the next 3 days and
let stand during nights.
Add 1 ½ pints sugar to each pint of fruit. Put in juice of 2 lemons and
let boil 45 mins or till it gells slightly.
Piccallili (Mrs. Keup)
1 peck green tomatoes
6 large onions
1 large cabbage chopped
sprinkle with a cup of salt and let stand over night. Drain and cook 20
mins in 2 quarts water and 1 pint vinegar. Drain again.
Heat of 10 minutes the following
2 quarts vinegar
2 pounds sugar
½ pounds white mustard seed
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons allspice
All the pickle and when cold add 1 teaspoon ginger.
Piccallili (Mrs. McAuliff)
Chop one peck of green tomatoes, add ½ teacup salt and let stand over
night. Strain thru a colander. Add to it
green peppers chopped fine
cup grated horseradish
2 quarts vinegar
2 cups sugar
Let it boil gently. Stir constantly until tomatoes are cooked then add
a teaspoonful each of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Mrs. Leonard's Green Tomato Pickle
6 pounds green tomatoes sliced and let stand in weak salt water over
night. Cook a little.
1 quart vinegar
3 pounds sugar
2 or 3 green peppers chopped fine.
Boil and pour over tomatoes.
3 pounds brown sugar
¼ pound Mustard
1 ounce turmeric
2 cups flour
1 gallon vinegar
Mix and cook till think. Pour over the vegetables already cooked till
Dill Pickles (Mrs. Hill)
Fill ½ gallon sealers with cucumbers and add
1 cup vinegar
3 tablespoons salt
dill with some stems
Fill with water. Ready to use in about a week.
8 cups peas
3 cups water
½ cup sugar
½ cup salt
Boil 20 minutes and can.
For preserving eggs (Gladys)
1 pint salt
2 pint fresh lime (this would not be the fruit but the mineral)
3 gallons cold water
Mix and let stand two days, stiring frequently. Let settle and use the
cleared water for eggs.
Great Aunts: Some
recipes that were readable appeared to be from Grandmother's sisters
Oatmeal Cookies (Mama) (this would be
great grandmother Krewson)
Scant cup lard or butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup raisins stewed
5 tablespoons juice
2 cups oatmeal
2 cups flour
1 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon cinnomon & cloves
drop in pan and pat with spoon
Lois' Devils Food (no last name so assumed
to be her sister, Lois Wight)
1/4 cup butter and 1 1/2 cup sugar beaten together
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup chocolate and 1/2 cup hot water together
Grandma Wight's doughnuts that stay soft
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sour milk
1 1/2 cup sugar
cinnamon & salt
1 teaspoon soda
Mix (I assume with flour) until stiff enough to
Vida's Dressing for cold slaw (no last
name so assume her sister-in-law, Vida Krewson)
2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vinegar
salt and pepper
Boil until it thickens.
Minnie's Bread Pudding (no last name so
assume her sister-in-law, Minnie Wight)
2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon clovis
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt, a little nutmeg
Steam for two hours.
Lois' fruit puddling (no last name so
assume her sister, Lois Wight)
nice with sliced apples
1 table spoon butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup flour
heaping spoon baking power
Pour over the fruit, grate nutmeg on top and bake.
Lottie's Nut Cake (no last name so assume
his sister-in-law, Lottie Wight)
1 cup sugar
butter size of egg
3/4 cup milk
2 spoons baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 cup nuts
1/2 cup raisins
Oddities: On early
farms all sorts of recipes were needed.
Gargle for sore throat
1/4 ounce chorate of potash
40 drops hydrochloric acid
1 pint water
2 ounces dry ammonia
1 ounce salts of tarter
3 ounces borax
1 box potash
2 gallons water
Cure for lice on little chicks
For 1 dozen chicks - as much sulphur as will lay on a ten cent piece,
mixed with feed, twice a week. Increase as they grow older. Feed only
in dry weather.
Recipe for rheumatism
Juice of 3 lemons, 4 ounces epson salts, 1 quart water.
Dose - 2 tablespoons before breakfast. Also drink lots of water before
Eulogy Mother's memories Janet's memories
given July 3 2007 in Lang Saskatchewan by Janet Kwasniak
It is difficult to talk about George's life because there was so much
of his life that we knew nothing about. This I can say -
George was a cheerful, optimistic man, usually quite contented. How
often did you hear him complain? Simple things gave him comfort and
happiness. I have learnt that this quality was appreciated by many sick
or disadvantaged people he chatted with. He encouraged others or simply
took their minds off their pain and worry. He was a welcome visitor at
drop-in centres, soup kitchens, shelters and church groups because of
his ability to help people feel better.
Another quality that George had was a nature that was gently and good.
I don't know of any mean, cruel or unkind words from George's mouth. He
was almost saintly in his actions. He did not knowingly hurt anyone, I
am sure. Despite the rough world he sometimes lived in, his moral
standards remained intact. If he could not live the way he wanted to,
he moved on.
George, like many in our family, had learning disabilities. And while
some of us had some luck in handling ours, George seemed plagued with
bad luck. A string of illnesses and a few disasters were his lot but he
did manage in his own way to live an independent life and to be proud
of many of the things he had done.
The congregation he belonged to in Merritt BC had had a funeral for
George. The Soup Bowl where he spent much of his time has had a
celebration of him. Here in Lang we are now putting his ashes into his
grave and saying goodbye. Now his cousin, Harold, will say a prayer.
(Thanks to all who helped: Harold for a short religious contribution,
Bob for placing the ashes in the grave, Madeline for flowers to put on
the grave, Marcia for looking after the cremation paperwork and
bringing the ashes in a lovely package, Heather for refreshments, Mel
for a grave marker, Al for preparing the grave. This was a simple event
that I am sure George would have approved of.)
Message sent to Merritt congregation to be read at funeral
The last time I spoke to George, he told me how much he liked the town
of Merritt, the church he attended, and its pastor. I want to thank you
for the welcome you showed my brother in this last year or so.
Everyone who knew George had his own perception of understanding of
him. Let me say a few words about the George Barmby I knew. He was an
extremely gentle person. The lot he drew was not an easy one, and he
was often hurt. His way of dealing with this was often to just leave.
What he did not do was to return unkindness with unkindness. This meant
that when he moved on, he inevitably left behind people who respected
him, and who cared about him a great deal, as well as those with whom
he could find no way of dealing.
How much good George did I have no way of knowing. But I am sure he did
very little harm, and I know that he meant none.
And so to his dying - this time he had little to do with choosing to
leave, but, as usual, he has left behind the people he cared about and
who cared about him. So it is, and so it must be.
among May Quale's papers
July 21, 1945 was a rainy dreary day. A good day for curling up in bed
with a good book. I woke up in the middle of the afternoon and looked
out to a sea of mud in the yard. Our yard was very low and I knew what
that meant. I called Wally and told him we'd better get the truck
across the track. I knew we would have to go to Weyburn. We couldn't
doctor in Regina during the war because we only had a truck and it was
restricted to 40 miles. My labour pains were starting. So we gathered
up the bag I had packed ready and 5 year old Janet and her bag. We
would leave her with Mother and Dad in Yellow Grass on the way.
By nine-thirty I was in hospital. It was the old one on signal hill.
I'd been there before when I had false labour pains a couple months
earlier. I don't know at just what hour George was born because they
had put me under. When I woke up they told me I had a fine boy! How
delighted we were. We named him George Michael Barmby. Six days later
Wally came for me and we took him home. He was a precious baby.
Everything seemed fine at first. However I had quite a time feeding
him. George had a partially cleft palate. It wasn't a hair lip but
there was a hole in the roof of his mouth and he was lacking the little
part hanging down in the back of his mouth. This made swallowing
tricky. Food would go up into his nose and then he would sneeze and out
it would come. I was forced to put him on the bottle, as he had to be
held upright to get as much help as possible from gravity.
He didn't have much interest in learning to speak. The doctors could
not operate to correct his problem until he was a year old. After that
we did a lot better.
When George was two years old he seemed to be dragging one foot. It
alarmed me and back we went to Dr. Brookler in Weyburn. He checked him
over and couldn't find anything wrong. We were sitting in the car
wondering what to do when the Dr came out to us and said he'd like
another doctor to see George. I don't know who he was, but he said that
George had polio. The air ambulance happened to be in Weyburn and we
were hustled on it to fly to Saskatoon. It was a four seated Cassna.
Premier Tommy Douglas, a nurse, the pilot and I made up the passenger
list. It was the first time I had ever been in a plane. I was very sick
all the way to Saskatoon. Of course I was worried and I had had nothing
There was a polio clinic in the St. Pauls Hospital. George was admitted
and had treatments there for a whole month. I was not allowed to visit
him so had to come home without him. When he was finally discharged he
hardly knew me. I think the nuns there talked French to him all the
time. For weeks I followed a course of exercises to build up the
strenght in his legs and back.
George did not do much talking. He had trouble trying to express
himself. And it was no wonder after what he had been through. He was
not much for sport either. When he went skating in the Lang rink he
fell and broke his collar bone. He was not eager to go back skating.
About that time, Wally was very sick and I didn't spend enough time
helping George with language arts of any kind. When I should have been
reading to him I was busy with Wally. George was just five when Wally
He started to school in Lang to Freda Howlett and then at Christmas
time I was hired to teach at Waverly. Then George and Janet stayed with
Mother and Dad in Yellow Grass and went to school there. George was
very unhappy but couldn't explain his problems to us. His teacher said
he cried a lot. I was broading with Jack and Phyllis Cook so didn't get
to see the children except on the week ends.
During the summer I took a course at the University to up-grade my
teaching certificate and left the children in Yellow Grass. That fall a
teacherage had been moved to Waverly and I could have the kids with me
all the time. I think those were happy years for George. But in 1955 I
was hired by the Regina Public School Board to teach in Regina. And
George had to attend school in the city. It was a big move for him as
he was lost in the big classes. He found school in Regina quite
different and never did very well. Also in 1955 Melvin Quale became his
new stepfather. Somehow they never seemed to bond the way I had hoped
they would. Neither one was properly prepared for that step.
memories of George
George was very good looking as a child. He had curly, curly hair and
long, long eye lashes. He had a great smile. I always thought as a
child that his good looks were wasted on a boy; I should have looked
George was ill every summer in his first few years. He had a cleft
palete and two operations to correct it. He had polio. He ate 97
aspirins and burnt his stomach lining. He had all his childhood
diseases at the same time. So his fifth birthday was the first he had
at home rather than in the hospital.
I remember Mom feeding him when he had the cleft palette. She would
make a huge bowl of Pabulum and feed george in his high chair. He would
swallow each spoonful and part of it would go down his throat and part
would go up his nose. When his nose was full, he would gasp, Mon would
duck down under the high chair table and George would sneeze out all
the Pabulum that had not made it to his stomach. Then Mom with sit up
and start spooning in the Pabulum again.
George had polio before Rick (at the start of the epidemic in Sask). He
started to drag his foot and so was taken to the doctor in Weyburn. The
doctor diagnosed polio. The only polio clinic at that time was in
Saskatoon so the doctor arranged an airplane to take George and Mom to
the clinic. Tommy Douglas rode with them. I had always thought that
they hiked a ride with TC Douglas but Mom told me a few years ago that
it was the other way around. He hiked a ride with her. Mom left George
at the clinic and came home. He was there for about 6 weeks. He was
just at the age where he should have been learning to talk. The clinic
was staffed by nuns who mostly spoke French. We took it at the time
that this slowed down his learning of English, but we were probably
wrong. He did come back talking with his hands. He gesticulated about
everything in a big way. When he came home, he went around the house
and put everything back were it had been before he left. He repeated
this for days; he was determined that the house would be as he left it.
He had excerises to do everyday. Mom put a sheet on the table and he
was stretched out on it. She took him though all the excercises that
the clinic had given her. He was bent and pulled and pushed this way
Dad had a bottle of aspirin by the bed and a glass of water. It was
almost a full bottle. George apparently saw him take an aspirin and
thought it was a candy or something. So after Dad had gone out, he ate
the rest. Dad had used 2 and 1 was found in the bed clothes so George
had eaten 97. He started acting weird and stumbled around. Then Mom
noticed the emply aspirin bottle and he was rushed to Weyburn to have
his stomach pumped and to be feed by IV until his stomach mended.
I don't remember the measles, mumps and something else episode except
that he had a very high fever and was hospitalized. I think I was
staying with an aunt when it happened.
What was missed in all the illnesses was that George was not learning
to talk. He did start later but he mumbled unclearly in a way that only
Mom and I could understand. He was very hard to understand when he
I remember George was fun to play with. He laughed a lot and liked all
sorts of games and toys. He was always willing to play a new game. He
was also affectionate.
Once I had George in a little wagon and was pulling him around the
yard. The turkeys came and surrounded us. I was frightened of turkeys
and ran; then I was really frightened because the turkeys were all
around the wagon and I couldn't even see George. They were going
gobble, gobble. I ran to the house to get Mom, yelling, 'The turkeys
are eating Goergie, the turkeys are eating Georgie'. I was very
suprised when Mom found George was perfectly OK and not at all scared
of the turkeys.
Sometime when we were young, the hired man disturbed a jack rabbit nest
with the plow. He got off the tractor and ran down a baby rabbit, put
it in his shirt and presented it to George and I when he was finished
his work. Mom warmed milk and feed it with an eye dropper. George and I
picked dandelions for Rover. George had named the rabbit Rover (maybe
he wanted a dog). It was an odd pet, hiding most of the time and soon
died. George and I had a little burial: Rover in a shoe box about 6
inched down, a few pebbles and some dandelions on the surface. That
should have been the end of it, but George came in the house with the
shoe box and said, 'Found Rover'. We heard 'found Rover' a few more
times until the body was finally lost for good. (I remembered this
episode when Dad died as George didn't get that right for a while. Mom
packed the clothes for Dad to be buried in in a suitcase and that
suitcase went out the door with Dad's body. George thought Dad went on
a trip and was not convinced otherwise until the suitcase came back
Granddad taught George to play chess (as he did all the grandchilden
that he could) and George became a pretty good player. I remember once
that Granddad was beaten by George in a very clever way. It was one of
those touch and go games where both of them were within a few moves of
checkmating the other and winning depended on who got the drop on the
other. Granddad thought he had the advantage and allowed George to
'waste' a move to bring a pawn to the last rank, knowing that George
would not be able to use the new queen before he was mated. But George
did not change his pawn into a queen but into a knight with the new
knight immediately checking Granddad's king. In a couple of moves
George delivered a checkmate. Granddad was really surprised that George
remembered the exact wording of the rules.
Once when he was little and we were visiting Marjorie and Walter's
house in Regina, he was brought home by the police because he was going
up and down in an elevator in one of the buildings downtown. It turned
out that he heard Aunt Marjorie say that dinner was almost ready.
George thought that Mom had not returned from her doctor's appointment
and would miss dinner so he set out to get her. When someone said
something later about George having been lost, he was very indignant.
'I wasn't lost; I knew where I was; Mom was lost.'
George was a great walker. He often walked long distances. I think a
couple of our cousins did that sort of thing too. He wandered for miles
in the country and in Regina. Once he got into a construction site and
was watching what was going on. He got in the wrong place and had a
load of concrete dumped on top of him. The workmen hosed him off and
one of them drove him home. (That was the same day that I fell into a
Once he went to a summer camp. Mom got a phone call from Uncle Ralph
that George was at his place. Ralph lived on the Barmby farm that
George and I grew up on. He had noticed that he had someone around the
place. Things were moved and some food was missing; there were little
signs that someone was sleeping in the barn. He kept watch and catch
sight of George. He had walked miles from the camp to Ralph's and there
was never an explanation.
For most of his adult life, until I had hip and knee problems, he
walked enormous distances around Canada.
George cannot have remembered Dad in the good times. He was 5 when Dad
died and for a year or so before that George and I could not play near
him. Our shrill voices literally were painful to his ears. He was too
weak to do anything with us and fairly blind. So most of the attention
we had from Dad was when George was 3 or younger and he would not have
remembered much of it.
It is my impression that George felt the lack of a father acutely. A
few years back when he was diagnosed with diabetes, he told me about it
with a great deal of pride in his voice. And he mentioned that our
father had diabetes. I didn't have the heart to tell him that he had a
different type of diabetes than Dad.
He was so happy when Mom married Mel that he would have a father. It
was such a disappointment to him that Mel was not what he expected. He
was such a needy child in this respect that it would have been hard for
anyone to make a satisfactory father. Mel was not prepared for
fatherhood and besides that seemed to find George embarassing. There
was also the problem of Mel being very under-educated and ignorant
about many things while George was a bit of a know-it-all. The whole
thing was a disaster for George, for me, for Mel and for Mom until
George and I left home.
I believe that George was bullied, although I was often not living in
the same house after Dad died. I was with my grandparents, the
Houghtalings, Marjorie and Walter, on my own, with the Wilberts etc.
etc. when George was school aged.
The time he walked to Ralph's from camp, he ran off across the fields
when he saw Mom and Mel. It took Ralph and Mel some time to catch him.
He would never say why he left camp. I have to believe he was either
bullied or assaulted.
After I was living away from home but George was still there, I was
asked by Mom to talk to George because he was staying in his room and
not talking to anyone. I went up and talked and asked questions but I
got no reply from George. I think it was over 30 minutes that he said
nothing and gave nothing away. Again, I have to assume that someone
treated him very cruelly.
He was just the sort of kid that would be bullied and the sort of child
that might be groomed by an adult. But when he was older, he think he
had a very good sort of street wise sense of danger and quietly avoided
George was trained as a cook and worked in a hotel in Moosomin. I was
not around then but I understood from him that all his possessions were
burnt in a fire and it was very tramatic for him. He left there
sometime after and did not cook anymore or ever again had more
possessions then he could carry.
George had great difficulty with reading and writing and this made
school hard for him. I remember once he had to write a thank-you
letter. For some reason it really was important. After a couple of
hours, the sheet of paper was so messed up and worn out and tear
stained that he had to start again with a new sheet. Then, Mom wrote
out what he wanted to say so that he just had to copy it. It was still
extremely difficult for him. Heaven knows what sort of torture exams
were! He knew a lot and was very interested in many things even though
he could barely write. In later life, he spent many years writing out
the Bible in shorthand. This may have been therapeutic as well as
interesting to him.
George's interaction with people was often odd. He had a distinct lack
of appropriateness, proportion and perspective. He could be a boring
conversationalist. He often took what others said in a naive or literal
sense. He avoided saying meaningful things about himself or others. But
he chatted easily.
Granddad was concerned about the way George stood to attention at the
anthem at the end of the television transmission for the day. He often
visited Granddad and Aunt Lois on Rae St. and sometimes stayed until
the end of the TV before going home. Granddad and Aunt Lois would be in
bed by the time the anthem came on and so Granddad was surprised to
find out that George would stand to attention all alone in the living
room because that is what you are supposed to do.
I remember a cousin visiting our house and poking George over and over.
He just would not stop. I said to George that he should give him a big
poke back. But George wouldn't because the cousin was a tiny bit
shorter than him and 'you can do that to someone who is not as big as
In recent years there has been articles on conditions that are not
autism but that are milder conditions that resemble autism in various
ways. In reading the symptoms of these, I find them very descriptive of
George. I have had a neurologist suggest that he my have been in some
sense 'split-brained' if he had a severe cleft palette. I and other of
his relatives are dyslexic. Whatever a diagnosis might have been, the
situation was that George never was diagnosed or treated but there was
definitely something amiss. Unfortunately, I think my mother always
thought that she was somehow partly to blame and felt some guilt, no
matter what others said. She did not believe, as I did, that George's
problems were there from birth and that George did pretty well
considering. She believed that his early life was the source of the
problems, but that if she could just find the right way to approach
them, she could still save him. She never did see him as an adult, who
was what he was and needed to be treated as an adult. Her guilt about
George was painful to her. The last real conversion I had with Mom when
she was dying was about her feeling that she had not been a good
mother. I hope I convinced her that she had been a great mother.
So George lived his adult life with problems of language and social
behavior, not really understood by him or his family or friends. He
lived his life more or less alone, moving often and always poor. But he
did live with an amazing amount of dignity.
Despite his handcaps, there were good things about George's life. He
was always fairly happy. He apparently had fun running for mayor of
Moosomin when a young man. He and a friend hunted for Big Foot, an
adventure. He was very proud of the amount of hard physical labour he
could do (before his health failed him). He helped with the Pan
American games as a volunteer and loved it. He was a board member for a
Mission in Winnipeg and was took his responsibilities very seriously.
He was proud of his pin collection.
He had liked Winnipeg and his position at the Mission until someone was
in his room and the landlord would do nothing about it. He told me that
he moved because he wanted to get away from the big city and live in a
town. He liked Merritt and seemed to fit in there.
I think it is interesting to hear what the hospital staff thought of
him in his final days. "Most people have difficulty with being in
isolation but George adapted well. He was a man of simple needs." "I
was looking forward to doing rehab with George because he was so
willing and positive." "He never complained." " He was so cheerful and
easy going." "He must not have felt pain when he died because he looked
so very very peaceful."
- my grandparents and their parents
|John R Barmby
|Sophia (England) Barmby
(clear pics of grandma Barmby are rare)
|Emma (woodward) England
|Clarence E Wight
|F Elvira (Krewson) Wight
|Orson C Krewson
|S Elizabeth (Osborn) Krewson
|Margaret (Gilkison) Krewson
|Catherine (Ashburn) Osborn
Barmby (and brothers), his
wife Sophia England (and brothers), Clarence Wight (and brothers) and
his wife Vira Krewson, and some families that married Barmbys and
Wights such as the Houghtalings, Perkins etc. all settled in the
Milestone-Lang part of the Soo Line in the early 1900s. Here
parts of Garratt's account of early Milestone, History of Milestone
1893-1910 as compiled by A.W. Garratt of Milestone Sask.
1893 to 1900
The Soo Line
extension of the Canadian Pacific Rail-way was completed from North
Portal to Pasqua Junction during the summer of 1893, and
appeared on the first passenger time card under date of
September 24th, of that year. As the construction of
the Railway progressed, section houses were erected at
Macoun, Yellow Grass, and Rouleau and station houses at
Estevan, Weyburn and Milestone. Milestone was named
in honour of C. W. Milestone, the Superintendent of
the new Soo Line extension.
All that vast tract of open
prairie through which the new railway had been constructed
was called the South Regina Plains, and was known back
in the eighties and early nineties as the "Dry Belt."
In fact the whole region south of Regina was set down in
1857-58 by Captain Palliser, as being included within
the boundaries of the "Great American Desert."
For nearly six years after
the advent of the railway there was absolutely no settlement
or signs of life except the section gangs at their work on
the track, or the antelope and jack rabbit as they
flitted away from the passing trains. Passengers on the
early trains were amazed at the vast expanse and
beauty of the level prairie which swept away unbroken
to the skyline on every side. They were puzzled by
the fact that such a beautiful tract of land was not
being settled. They had reason to wonder, for it is
doubtful if either of our railway systems have ever opened up a more
Prior to 1898 several
ranchers had established themselves on Long Creek, Rough Bark and Moose
Jaw Creek. The Hugh Armour ranch was located
on Long Creek about 25 miles south west of
Milestone. Mowatt Brothers had a large ranch also on Long
Creek near the present Town of Avonlea. At one time this
ranch handled about 2,000 horses. Lew and Will Bratt, Ed. Jones and C.
Jones, all of
the Buck Lake district, had ranches on the Rough Bark, where for 15 years they
wintered most of their stock. Bratts specialized in
pure bred Clydesdale horses and Shorthorn cattle, prize
winners at that. Other ranchers on the Rough Bark were
Albert Parrot, George Grassick and Whitmore Brothers, all
of Regina. J. R. Egerton established a ranch on the
Moose Jaw Creek about six miles west of Milestone
in 1894, which he operated about 4 or 5 years, when
he sold out to H. Molleken.
It was reported that some
of these ranchers kept the 'Dry Belt' idea well advertised,
perhaps to retard for as long as possible, the settlement of
this beautiful stretch of farm land. Be that as it may, no
development of any kind was attempted in what is now
the Milestone District, until the fall of 1898. The section
gangs moving up and down the line at their work, noting
the luxuriant growth of grass and wild flowers, were
convinced that the soil must be good. The 'Dry Belt' idea
had become a joke for these early homesteaders were all satisfied that
offered excellent opportunities for farming. The first homesteads were filed on
by two section-men, John and Thomas Barmby, in the fall
of 1898. During the year 1899, thirty-eight
homestead entries were made in the district.
The first sod
was broken by rancher Egerton, four or five acres on which he raised oats
in the summer of 1896. It was a fine stand and although he
had no machinery to handle it, the evidence was
there, that the soil was first class. The next braking was
done by John Barmby in the spring of 1899. He was still
working on the section and before and after C.P.R. hours
he did his breaking with a team of oxen. The mosquitoes
were so bad that it required two or three men to
handle the job. Tom Barmby, Arthur and Robert Rennick,
all section men, also had a little breaking done that spring on their
From the time that the
railway was put through, the station house was the home of the
C.P.R. agent or operator; also the home of both of
the section foremen and their gangs. For some six years
these few people made up the whole population.
In addition to those
already mentioned, the following is a list of the C.P.R. section
hands employed during 1899 and 1900. Ole Sanquist, foreman;
Bert Fisher, Sylvester Fisher, Jack Douglas, Geo Rooney,
Robert Rennick, Arthur Rennick, Alfred Carlson, foreman;
John T. Rooney, Clem Wyler, Jake Abelson, and Sam
Stephen. Most of these men took up homesteads and remained
as citizens of the district, becoming successful
What made life tolerable in
those early days was the fact that there was a daily
passenger service each way. The nearest Post Office was at
Moose Jaw, and the C.P.R. baggage man brought daily, all the
mail for the Milestone community, leaving it at the
station, where every man sorted out his own. This primitive
postal service for which the few residents were
extremely thankful, continued until the spring of 1900.
Alfred Carlson, also a
section foreman, succeeded Bergsteinson as occupant of the
station house. Mr. Carlson immediately sent for his wife and family,
still resident in Sweden, who arrived in September
1896. Mrs. Carlson started the first real boarding house, and as one
old-timer declares, "It was a good one". By
this time there was considerable travel between Regina,
Buck Lake and several ranches to the south; also
some travel up and down the railway. Carlson's
boarding house was the only place for miles where a
traveler could get a meal or shelter for the night. At times
the Carlson 'Half-way house' as it was frequently called,
became so seriously overcrowded, that even floor space
was at a premium. Mrs. Carlson was always equal to
the occasion. She became a mother to all the younger
C.P.R. employees who boarded with her, and to some
bachelor homesteaders living near. She endeared herself to all the
travelers who passed that way, even the hobos
always getting a hand-out with a cheery word. Since
her recent death, a neighbour who knew her in the
early days remarked, "She was a good soul, and has left
behind her a memory fragrant with an influence which
cannot be estimated."
Years after the opening up
of any new section of country, when a new generation or
two have appeared, arguments or speculation often
arise as to whose father or grandfather actually did file
first on certain homesteads in the community. Anticipating such
a probability, a careful inspection of the old
records of the office of Dominion Lands has been made, revealing the
names of the earliest homesteaders, the exact
date on which they made entry, and the quarter section
filed on. A list of the first 96 entries made from 1898
to 1901 follows in detail.
Barmby ................Oct.13. 1898 ..........N.E. 10-12-19-2
Thomas Barmby ...........Oct.13. 1898...........S.E. 10-12-19-2
Arthur Rennick .............June29; 1899......... N.W. 10-12-19-2
Robert Rennick .............June29. 1899..........N.E. 4-12-19-2
Walter H. England ......Oct.9, 1899.............N.E. 22-12-19-2
50 Richard A. England…..May 5, 1900….......N.E 24-12-20-2
The first actual settlers
to bring in a car of settler's effects were:(names listed. They all
hastened to get a little early breaking done in order to sew some oats
for feed and plant some potatoes. The potatoes were dropped into the
furrow as the breaking was done, and the raw sod turned over on them.
Unfortunately the summer of 1900 was exceptionally dry. There had been
no snow the previous winter, no moisture in the spring, and not a
shower that would dry the dust until the ninth day of August. It was
the most trying year the Milestone pioneers ever experienced; and being the first one, many were
rather discouraged. A prairie fire had swept the whole
country the previous fall and no grass grew in the
spring for stock to forage on. All feed had to be purchased
and hauled long distances, and besides, it was
extremely hard to get. The Moose Jaw Creek, their only
source of water, went dry and the farmers had to dig
shallow wells in the creek bottom which supplied barely
sufficient water for their needs. This water had to be hauled
in barrels; and when a farmer used an eight horse
outfit and kept a cow or two, it occupied about one third
of his time hauling enough water to satisfy the stock
during that extremely hot summer.
The new settlers had been
warned that they were coming into a desert country and
they now began to realize that the "Dry Belt" story
might be true. However, they all endeavored to break up as
much sod as possible for crop the following year. Some
of the settlers broke their land deep and disced it well
to provide the necessary seed bed; others broke theirs
shallow and backset it in the good old accepted Indian Head
style. The deep breaking and discing proved the
better plan for the Milestone land.
The long looked-for rain came on August 9th, a regular soaker. Immediately their little
crops began to show up but they were too late to be of any
benefit. However, the heavy rain put their breaking
in good condition for crop the following year, and gave
the settlers hope and confidence as they looked forward
to the spring of 1901.
The severe drought of 1900
left the district completely destitute of feed. The nearest
location where hay could be obtained was at a large hay
marsh near Charles Kessler's ranch about 30 miles
south-west of Milestone. Here during the summer the new
settlers congregated and co-operatively put up scores of
tons of hay. The winter following proved to be
exceptionally severe; and the hauling of that hay home to
Milestone was an experience never to be forgotten.
Sub-zero windy weather was common, almost constant, and the haulers were often caught in blinding blizzards.
How they all managed to pull through that terrible
winter without a tragedy is a mystery. At times Kessler's shack
would be crowded for two or three days, the men
waiting for the storm to cease so that they could take a
chance on starting home. Mr. Kessler's kind hospitality was
much appreciated by those early pioneers.
Had it not been for the serious damage done by wire worms, 1901 would
have produced a bumper crop. Oats were excellent, running as high as
one hundred bushels per acre; but the wheat yield was cut about fifty
per cent by the wire worms. They continued to be a serious menace while
the land was new, but almost disappeared as it was brought under
summerfallow. The season of 1901 absolutely banished the "Dry Belt"
bogey, and for 30 years the Milestone District knew practically nothing
of crop failure.
The spring of 1901 arrived with an abundance of moisture, and by July
1st prospects were good for a fine crop on the limited acreage prepared
the previous year. Over fifty homesteaders had filed on land at
Milestone in 1900, and many of these were returning in the spring of
1901 with their families and cars of settler's effects. This created
considerable stir and new business for the village.
During the year 1901 other settlers arrived who secured their land by
applying Government 'Script' originally purchased from
The Script could be obtained at the ridiculously low price of $1.65 to
$2.00 per acre. In fact, in 1900, Script was actually offered by Mr.
Bunn to the early settlers, but none was sold owing to a lack of ready
cash. Outsiders bought Script at Regina and elsewhere, coming to
Milestone to place it. Still other settlers purchased land from the
Canadian Pacific Railway, the Canadian North-west Land Co and the
Hudson Bay Company at $2.50 to $3.00 per acre.
THE AMERICAN LAND BOOM
Just at the break of the century the first faint rumblings of a land
boom were heard that was later to develop into one of the most
remarkable agrarian movements in the history of the North West. The
American Middle West had been enjoying a long period of agricultural
prosperity. Much of that region had been settled during the tremendous
movement across the Mississippi that had followed the American Civil
War. The people on the land were prosperous and vast areas had gone
into cultivation. The rural banks were bursting with money. So much
cultivation had been done that there was little land available for the
children of the original settlers, and they began to look afield for a
new country to satisfy the inherent pioneering spirit of the American
A visit was made to the plains of Saskatchewan and a man named C.H.
Davidson, a large dealer in farm lands from St.Paul....organized the
Canadian American Land Company...
During September and October of 1901, this new company inspected nearly
all the Soo Line territory north and south of the railway from Yellow
Grass to Drinkwater. They finally purchased from the CPR and from the
Canada North West Land Co....some 200,000 acres...
The slow-going Canadian homesteaders stood amazed at such a huge deal,
figuring that it would put a serious crimp in their plans and their
opportunities for development and progress.... However, they soon had
reason to know that their fears were unfounded...The policy of the
Canadian American Land Company was to sell all their holding at
wholesale prices to smaller companies, who agreed to retail a large
portion of it to actual settlers from the United States....
The anticipated rush of American land seekers began about July 15th.
The Harry E Hopper Land Company with headquarters at Indianola Iowa had
purchased much of the holdings in the Milestone district. A
campaign was launched at Indianola and agents appointed at various
points throughout the state to drum up prospective land buyers who
wished to go to Canada as actual settlers. A railway coach was
chartered for each trip to Milestone...scheduled to take about six
days...The Hopper Land Company operated in this manner for four years;
and during that time brought in a great number of good settlers,
locating them on lands lying open among the early Canadian
Showing the land to the successive groups of prospectvie buyers who
arrived in 1902 entailed a tremendous amount of driving, and taxed the
resources of the livery men. ...At times the traffic was so great that
they had almost to commandeer every available horse and rig in the
community to handle the rush. The homesteaders were glad of the
opportunity to make a few odd dollars, and came with their democrats or
wagons provided with spring seats, to assist in handling the crowds.
The Milestone land was hummocky, the mosquitoes were terrible, and the
poor land seekers would return in the evening, thoroughly punctured by
mosquitoes and exhausted by their rough ride. However they liked the
land, were pleased and even astonished at some of the crops they saw
growing on the farms of the homesteaders, and the majority bought land
on their first trip to Canada....(W.A.Houghtaling came in this group in
1902 or 3, also Peter and Ed Martin.)(The land was about 1/10 the cost
of Iowa land)...
There was an excellent crop in 1902. The farmers did not have to depend
on the little threshing outfit of 1901. A large steam tractor outfit
was in the field, owned and operated by William R Perkins. Mr. Perkins
enjoyed a heavy run and was able to collect most of his thresh bills.
The winter of 1902-3 was comparatively mild and spring came with the
soil almost as dry as the spring of 1900. In fact, a number of farmers
remembering the conditions of 1900, hesitated to sow their seen until
there were some signs of moisture. However, on May 21st, the heavens
opened and rain fell spasmodically for three days. The ground became so
wet that farmers could not touch their fields for a week. Those who got
their seed in before this rain had a heavy crop of good quality, while
those who hesitated found themselves with frozen crops in the fall.
The spring of 1903 opened with the arrival of a great number of new
settlers, the majority being from the US. This was the direct results
of the policy and efforts of the Hopper Land Company during the
previous year. ..
The winter of 1903-04 was very severe. After the 14th January, nearly
three feet of snow fell in the Milestone district... That was a
terrible winter for the new settlers living at any considerable
distance from town. The snow was so deep they could hardly get supplies
and fuel out to their hemsteads. The roads piled up four feet high and
it was dangerous to turn out for passing, especially with a load. The
low board roofed stables which nearly every farmer used, were in many
cases completely covered over with snow banks and had to be dug out
after every storm. Their feed was principally straw and oil in stacks
in the fields which were also covered with snow. It was an arduous task
digging the feed out of those stacks and getting it to the stock. That
spring the Moose Jaw creek was in flood higher than it had ever been
known, even by the oldest ranchers. It was a very difficult spring for
the incoming settlers, who suffered severe hardships fighting snow,
slush and mud for six weeks.
Another wave of immigration for both East and South began to arrive
about April 1st 1904, not only at Milestone but at every town along the
Soo Line from Weyburn to Moose Jaw. Thousands of people were entering
Saskatchewan, the majority from the Unitied States. One American
newspaper trying to explain the vigorous 'Treck' to Canada from Dakota,
Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and other states, said, "There must be
somthing behind the statistics and colored folders to keep a wide-awake
Iowa farmer contented in the Canadian West. This something appears to
include, a vigorous businessplike government, a low rate of taxation,
excellent protection for life and property and form lands of exceeding
productive quality, dark clay loam from six to ten feet deep."....
By the end of the year 1904, all of the available homesteads within a
radius of 10 or 12 miles of the town had been filed on by homesteaders
or taken up by holders of Government script. The interspaced lands were
quickly being filled up by American settlers and others with sufficient
means to purchase land.
A correct is required here. I learn from Jean Martin and Barry Barmby
that Ralph did not service in Europe during the war and so he would not
have returned on a troop ship. Either the story was about someone else
Ralph knew or Ralph was somewhere else down east when the story
Uncle Ralph told me the following story about Milestone. When he was
returning from serving in World War 2, the troop ship arrived in
Halifax Nova Scotia. the soldiers disembarked, they went pass a ticket
window thing and
asked for the ticket they needed to get home. Ralph was in a very good
mood so when he was asked for his destination he said, "the bread
basket of the world". The ticket master answered, "so, a single ticket
to Milestone". Milestone was a dinky prairie town over 2000 miles away
and Ralph could not stop the line to ask how the ticket master knew it.
The really good years mentioned in this piece ended with the 'dirty
thirties' and the combination of depression and drought. This part of
the province produced record yeilds in the early part of the century,
year after year.
Milestone district filled up first before other districts along the Soo
Line. John Barmby sold his homestead in Milestone and bought a larger
piece of land in neighbouring Lang because there was no longer nearby
land in Milestone to purchase.
Land in this area of Saskatchewan is surveyed in 36 square mile blocks
known by the township and range number. Townships were rows 6 miles
wide down the province and ranges were columns 6 miles wide across the
province. The 36 individual square miles (called sections) in this
block were numbered 1 to 36 starting with the south-east corner section
and zig-zagging to the north-west corner. Each section was divided into
In the block of 36 sections: 2 sections were earmarked for the support
with schools, 1 3/4 sections were given to the Hudson Bay Company for
resale to pay them for the lost of their fur trading rights to the
land, 16 sections were given to the Canadian Pacific Railway to help
them recover the costs of the railway and about half (16 1/4 sections)
were open for homesteading or to be taken up by holders of NWHB Script
holders. So Grandfather Barmbys homestead is listed as NE 10-12-19-2
and this would be the Northeast Quarter of Section 10 of Township 12-
Range 19, West of the 2nd Meridian. The land he purchased was
14-11-18-2 or Section 14 of Township 11-Range 18, West of the 2nd
Meridian. Grandfather Wight's farm was 28-12-17 and was referred to by
the family as 'section 28'.
Script (North West Half Breed Script) was grants of land given to the
Metis by Act of Parliament as part of the settlement of the Reil
Rebellion. The way in which the Metis lost this land for very low
prices was a scandal. Grandfather Wight's land had been Script and it
would have been sold 2 or 3 times before it was sold to him. Each piece
of script could be used to obtain 160 acres, it would take 4 pieces of
script to obtain a section. Mr. Hitchcock who sold the land to
Grandfather would have collected the 4 pieces of script before sell
them as a section.
Interpretation of the Indian Act says, "The cause of the Riel Rebellion
was of course unrest by Metis persons who demanded that they held claim
to certain areas of land. White settlement was coming and they were
losing their land. In 1869 there was open rebellion to enforce these
claims, and troops were used to dispel the rebellion. Again in 1885
there was rebellion. The Federal government later realized the
"justice" of the Metis claim with the result that script was issued. A
fellow by the name of J.A. McKenna toured the North West Territories
and script was given, I.E., a document was given to Metis in which the
government promised, usually $140.00 or 140 acres of land to settle the
Metis land claim. The script was transferrable. The script was given to
non-treaty Indians and Metis."
The land in the area is said to have been hummocky at the turn of the
century. During the dust storms of the thirties, land in southern Sask.
became much flatter, as it is now.