happiness

A brief history of the Copithorne family 3 (FGK 153)

As far as I know my cousin still has Sophia’s sidesaddle and it’s in working condition. I remember she used to use it to ride in the Stampede Parade when we were younger.

“Well, it was tough going. Dick and John carried on mixed farming. They used to make butter and bring it into Calgary twice a year to trade for goods. No money in those days. You had to leave at daylight to make the trip in one day. There wasn’t money to pay for feed, so they took what they needed for the four-horse team, and of course, no money either to pay for a night’s lodging.

“They used to trade with I.G. Baker, probably the first storekeeper in Calgary. They did that right up to 1895.

“They had a great big barrel churn; it used to hold fifty pounds of butter and you had to have a man on beach end to turn it. There was no cream separator in those days. Them milk was left to set for 36 hours and the cream was then skinned off.

“They used to pack the butter into big wooden tubs and when they took it to the store, a man used to poke a broom handle right down to the bottom of the tub and then smell the butter on the stick. That was the way he graded it.

“They had about fifty hens and were able to trade the eggs, too.

“Dick had got married by then to Miss Sophia Wills of Springbank, and the women had lots of work. No fancy gadgets to help them with the washing and cooking and sewing. The women helped cut firewood sometimes, and the men also cut down trees to make A-fences and X-fences. We used to work in the bush all winter.”

Dick and John went out of mixed farming in 1898 and into beef cattle. Herefords. It was difficult to get a good sire so they raised their own and tried to improve their stock by culling. It was a good thing when the Calgary bull sale started, Sam remarked, because a rancher could get good animals then.

Asked how Jumping Pound got its name, he said it was one of the places where the Indians stampeded the buffalo. The animals, terrified and crazed by the Indians rushed to the cliffs and plunged over, breaking necks and legs as they crashed to the bottom. There was a good price for buffalo hides so the Indians were intent on collecting.

It wasn’t all work and no play. Men and women used to hunt coyotes and great was the competition to see who had the best saddle horse. They’d forgather with their hounds and off they would go across the country; no fences to bother with in those years. Percy, who is Dick’s eldest son and a substantial cattle rancher in the Jumping Pound district says, “I remember my dad mentioning Mr. Kerfoot and Captain Gardiner, father of Clem and Teddy Gardiner, as some of the enthusiasts. My mother used to take part also and was considered a good horsewoman. My dad said that very few women could sit on a bucking horse in a sidesaddle, but she had preformed the feat on several occasions. I still have her sidesaddle which is in excellent condition. There were also the kit-foxes to chase, a nearly extinct species of animal now. The men too, went out hunting lynx, for these great wild cats were a constant menace to the cattle. Sam Copithorne killed 21 lynx in the spring of 1907.

That was the year John and Dick made a trip back to Ireland, and Sam went over in 1911. He stayed three months, but Sam just didn’t care for Ireland; he said, “You couldn’t give it to me.”

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