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This page has:  Old Recipes from Vira Wight    Memories of George Barmby
  Pictures of Grandparents   The Soo Line

Recipes from Vira Wight's book
sections: preserves, great aunts, oddities
cookbookA 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
 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 hour).
When cooked
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
        2 gallons water
        4 pounds salt
        2 pounds brown sugar
        1 oz salt-petre
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 rubbing
3 cup salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt-petre

Curing Pork
For 1000 pounds of meat
         bushel common table salt
        5 pounds dark brown sugar
        3 pounds black pepper
         pounds salt-petre
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 hr.
Have ready the grated peal and juice of 4 lemons or oranges and pound of walnuts chopped fine. Just come to boil.
(Stir constantly)

Rhubarb Chutney
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.

Rhubarb Marmelade
6 pounds cut rhubarb
5 pounds granulated sugar
Mix and let stand over night. In morning drain off liquid and boil hour. Add grated rind and juice of three lemons and 1 cup chopped walnuts to rhubarb.
Boil till thick. Watch carefully.

Orange Marmalade
12 oranges
4 lemons
Slice oranges and 2 of the lemons thin. Put 1 pints water to each pint fruit. Let stand overnight. Boil 40 minutes the next 3 days and let stand during nights.
Add 1 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
 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 teacup salt and let stand over night. Strain thru a colander. Add to it
        6 green peppers chopped fine
        1 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.

Mustard Pickles
3 pounds brown sugar
 pound Mustard
1 ounce turmeric
2 cups flour
1 gallon vinegar
Mix and cook till think. Pour over the vegetables already cooked till tender.
Dill Pickles (Mrs. Hill)
Fill 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.

Canned Peas
8 cups peas
3 cups water
 cup sugar
 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 and sister-in-laws.

Oatmeal Cookies (Mama) (this would be great grandmother Krewson)
Scant cup lard or butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
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
3 eggs
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 (Clarence's mother)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sour milk
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
cinnamon & salt
1 teaspoon soda
Mix (I assume with flour) until stiff enough to handle nicely.

Vida's Dressing for cold slaw (no last name so assume her sister-in-law, Vida Krewson)
1 egg
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 egg
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 egg
Beat throughly.
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 eggs
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

Washing fluid
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 breakfast.

George Michael Barmby
Eulogy  Mother's memories  Janet's memories

Eulogy 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.

Found 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 to eat.
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 died.
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.

Janet's memories of George
Pretty baby:
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 that good.
Sick Baby:
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 and that.
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 started school.
Playing with George:
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 empty.)
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 manhole downtown.)
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 it.
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.
Learning difficulties:
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 you'.
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."

Grandparents Pictures - my grandparents and their parents

John BarmbyJohn R Barmby
thomas barmbyThomas Barmby
jane barmbyJane (Coultas) Barmby
sophie barmbySophia (England) Barmby
(clear pics of grandma Barmby are rare)
Richard England
no photograph
emma englandEmma (woodward) England
clarence wightClarence E Wight
wk wightWilliam K Wight
mary wightMary (Eastman) Wight
elvira wightF Elvira (Krewson) Wight
orson krewsonOrson C Krewson
sarah elizabeth krewsonS Elizabeth (Osborn) Krewson
and Grandma Wight's grandparents:

margaret krewsonMargaret (Gilkison) Krewson
levi krewson5Levi Osborn
Catherine (Ashburn) Osborn

The Soo Line
John 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 are 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 productive area.
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. E. 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 the Milestone land 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 homesteads.
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 farmers.
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.
Name                                 Date                        Land
1 John Barmby ................Oct.13. 1898 ..........N.E. 10-12-19-2
2 Thomas Barmby ...........Oct.13. 1898...........S.E. 10-12-19-2

6 Arthur Rennick .............June29; 1899......... N.W. 10-12-19-2
7 Robert Rennick .............June29. 1899..........N.E. 4-12-19-2
35 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 from outside 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 Half-breeds. 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.
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 prairie people.
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 publicity 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 homesteaders. ...
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 happened.)
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 quarters.
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.