Edna’s Story 19 (FGK 136)

You know, I used to complain bitterly about walking the kids to the school bus in the dark and the cold. AND we were living so much further south than here (RI and VA) that we didn’t even have the Alberta cold to deal with. But here’s Grandma and Grandpa walking down the hill to help their kids cross the creek with their horses. Grandma was so gutsy. I kind of knew that when I was younger, but the older I get and especially now reading the letters and her stories- there didn’t seem to be anything that she was afraid of. Or at least nothing that she let stop her. That’s true of all of them – just getting to school took courage.

By 1943 when Marshall was old enough to start school, the Clemons Hill School was moved over to a spot south of Harry Copithorne’s – west of Bateman’s. Marshall rode a very fine old character of a horse named “Buck”. Buck could run very fast, could jump quite well, and was especially skilled in looking after himself, which is a good characteristic in a horse. By now Sheila was riding a beautiful little pinto called “Paint”. I remember one morning when the water was running over the ice in the creek and Paint was just terrified to step into the water knowing there was slippery ice underneath. Percy and I were down trying to get Paint to lead the way. We chose a narrow spot between the bank and the island in the creek but Paint still balked. Buck was getting impatient with it all. Finally I caught a glimpse of Buck out of the corner of my eye and he was all hunched up to jump. I yelled to Marshall to hang on just as Buck jumped from the bank to the island. Poor Marshall, I’ll swear he flew away up in the air as far as the reins would let him but seconds later he landed back in the saddle and led the way for Paint to follow across the creek. He and Buck had many escapades that first year at school.

One day when out robbing crows nests he was galloping across a muskeg and Buck stumbled and threw Marshall off onto a broken sliver of a willow. It cut such a gash over his eye and bled so much, the teacher sent someone up to Harry’s to phone me to come and get him right away. It was too muddy for me to get there by car. The men weren’t home. The only saddle horse available was one Chick Coolen had asked Clarence to break for him. It was in the barn and fortunately Clarence had given it a long ride the day before. I was very worried about being unable to ride it, but it didn’t buck when I saddled it and once I was on it I didn’t give it time to think about anything but go. Percy and Clarence came home shortly after and were very worried when they heard what I was riding. Marshall and I were heading home when we met them in a field, driving the Jeep truck. They sneaked up on my horse, grabbing it and ordered me off in no uncertain terms. Poor Marshall got little attention. We decided to doctor it ourselves, as this was the second time he had a wound like this and near the same spot. The other time he was trying to keep up to his dad walking across a corral that had been full of cattle and muddy the day before. The cattle tracks were frozen that cold morning and Marshall had both hands in his pockets and couldn’t save himself. We took him to a doctor and got several stitches in it. This time we teased him and said the doctor would likely only put a zipper in it. But it did leave a scar.


Edna’s Story 18 (FGK 135)

I remember Grandma telling the story of bringing the wild horses to the corral. I was always very firmly “team horse” and as I’ve gotten older and more things have changed I’m glad that we now have other ways that we can work with a horse to let us ride them rather than “breaking them”. However, given the time and the situation I’m not really sure what else there was to do. My little demon Shetland pony Tango, while he wasn’t a wild horse, also headed off to the fox farm after he finally attempted to kick Dad in the head – instead landing both evil little hooves on each shoulder. Apparently him trying to murder me on a daily basis while I rode him wasn’t quite enough – but the boot to the head was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

About the time I spoke of when I bought Sheila and Marshall sleds, we had what we call open? winters. In the fall it would rain, then freeze, and then rain again.

Those were the years when our range was infested with wild horses. We would haul blocks of salt up to Sibbald Park and other ideal areas to feed the cattle and the bands of wild horses would come down and drive the cattle away from the salt and also eat the cream of the crop of grass to be found there. Our men all rode bigger and stronger horses than in most districts because they needed a wonderfully strong and intelligent horse under them to be able to race across the muskeg, fallen timber, and badger holes without piling up. And they had to stand an all day ride.

The fall when the ice formed over the pasture was hard on the wild horses. Our men decided to put new shoes on their mounts and go after those slicks and clear the range of them. They were successful in rounding up several hundred and bringing them down to the big corral at the Star, then here. The fact that the saddle horses were shod and the wild ones weren’t was a great advantage. But no one could match the cunning tricks of escape those creatures knew. When they got them to the Star corral they had to rope the leaders of each band of horses. They had to put several ropes on it to hold it and get it down. Then they put a rope through its mouth and under its jaw with a tourniquet in it and twist hard enough to hurt enough to keep the pony’s mind on fighting that and only that. They turned them out and headed for home. What a ride that was! Fences meant nothing to that herd of horses. Only the solid log corrals would hold them. I’ll never know how they got them here but they did. I went out to the corral to see them and have regretted ever since that I didn’t take a picture. They were small and scrubby little horses, their hooves were long and turned up. Their mane dragged in long ratty masses to the ground and so did their tails. When anyone would dare step into the corral they would charge him with their mouthes open to bite and would wheel and kick so fast you could hardly see them. Just a long-haired shaggy bundle of dynamite.

After getting them here, then and only then did the men start to wonder what they would do with them. I can tell you that I was kept busy. for the next few days it was not unusual to have dozens of extra men for meals. The government men were here to see that everything was legal. There were scores of Indians and whites who tried to claim what their thought might be their horses now they were safely available. Nearly all were slicks (no brand) and just had to be turned over to the government to be sold as fox meat (fox farms were popular then). But getting them anywhere was a major problem for any but the most skilled horsemen. When all the dirt settled and they were gone, our men nearly sat down and cried when they saw the miles of broken fences to be repaired. The range was a better place for cattle for the next few years.

Clarence did manipulate another wild horse drive a few years later. His was a sheer case of having to outwit them. He built a trap back there somewhere and managed to bring down a fair number. A few were quite good looking horses and he was at the age when he rode broncs, so he had fun trying to ride some. His friend Chet Baldwin nearly got killed out in our corral trying to ride them too. So the fun cooled off.


Edna’s Story 17 (FGK 134)

I read these stories and I have to ask – If the generations before us knew what little asshats Shetland ponies were, whey did they make us ride them??? Aren’t we supposed to be making life easier for the generations that follow us??? I suppose it must have been an early method of toughening us up haha. Here’s A link to a write up about that war prison camp Grandma mentions.

One fall a cattle buyer who bought our steers, gave Marshall a Shetland pony when he was about four years old. I have never liked Shetland ponies but Marshall was very happy and wanted to be on it all the time. One fine afternoon when I decided to ride across the creek and get the milk cows in, I let Marshall ride his pony and come with me. My horse stopped half way across the creek to have a drink and I looked back to see how Marshall was doing. Clarence was building a fence nearby. The Shetland had stopped at the edge of a deep pool to have a drink too, and I could see both Marshall and the saddle were slowly sliding over his head. I called to Clarence just about the time Marshall plopped into the cold water. The dumb Shetland sat on the bank like a dog sits down and it had the saddle on its head like a hat. Clarence and I both headed to the rescue but things happened too fast for us. Marshall no sooner hit the water when he bounced out again and was in a howling rage. It all looked so comical. Clarence and I just went into helpless laughter which only made Marshall furious. He walked home in a huff and we were so weak from laughing at that crazy looking pony we could hardly get the saddle off. Later that pony ran away with Sheila one day and threw her onto a big rock and broke her elbow.

My father had sold his farm and rented an apartment in Calgary. While Sheila was in the hospital with her broken arm – it had to be broken a second time to get it right – my Dad visited her every day and read stories to her. He also helped Percy cut crop a few times when help was scarce. He loved the children dearly and always called Margi “Peggie”. The last day he visited us in November 1942, Marshall and Margi clung to his legs and begged him to stay but he had two companions with him and returned to town. That night he died of a heart attack.

As the war advanced, our lack of manpower became a real problem. The French Canadians came to work in the harvest fields but were unused to our ways. One year we had a harvest crew of soldiers and they were very good. The Indians helped us a lot as long as the work wasn’t too steady, and we always liked working with them. During the war there was a war prison camp up at Kananaskis and every now and then one or two would escape and we were about the closest area of civilization. We were nervous but usually the persons were quite thankful to be captured again after a night or two in this rugged country.


Edna’s Story 12 (FGK 129)

I remember how fantastic Grandma’s garden was, and I’ve heard stories about the garden at the old house. Even when we moved in there 6 years ago there were still a few old perennials that were growing – old reminders from the days of Richard and Sophia. There also is still one lonely asparagus plant at the very edge of the old garden that often makes an appearance -this one solo plant has been there for as long as I can remember.

Spring finally came and we had the big garden to plant that Percy’s Dad always grew so well. I shouldn’t say “we”. Percy has always looked after the vegetable garden just like his Dad did, only he never had time to try any unusual plants in it until lately. I remember his Dad growing asparagus and raspberries, and he even tried celery once. He was a wonderful Gardner and taught me such a lot. Percy and I have always had pleasure in our flower garden, but it was never so extensive as the one his Dad grew. Gardening began in April when he built the hotbed. Only a big load of fresh manure would be used, as other manure doesn’t heat enough. The frame, a bottomless wooden box about six feet by four feet was placed on the pile of manure that was piled beside the garden in a sunny, sheltered spot. The box was filled with good garden soil. Old storm windows were used for a lid and this covered with old horse blankets, binder canvas, or any discarded robe until the weather got warm enough to put a roll of white cotton over it. In this we started all our cabbage and cauliflower, snapdragons, stocks, petunias, marigolds, and anything else that needed to be planted early – before April 15th.

After the garden was planted, and the crops too, then we got ready for haying. But first came the branding in June. There was a lot of riding and sorting cattle before the big day. The neighbours all helped each other brand. We would take tea and lunch out to the men in the morning, then hurry in to prepare a big, hot meal for about 25 or 30 and sometimes 40 sat down to that meal. But they would have the job done by noon. One man was kept busy stoking the fire and handing hot irons to the men. One branding man would look after four flappers or men who wrestled the calves down. And two or three men did the cutting, which included ear marking, castrating, and cutting off horns. Another man vaccinated for blackleg. It always has been a gory business, but the men seem to enjoy working together like that. And there were always some faithful lady friends who came to help me with the meal too. Our little group of about eight ranches around here who work together must brand many thousand head of calves every hear and very efficiently.

The haying is a big job all summer long. I’ve always regretted I didn’t have time to get out with the camera some morning and take a picture of the men and horses as they left for the hay field. The valley east of our house is a lovely long valley which was an ideal natural hay field. Our two neighbour’s outfits and our outfit would all be going over the hill to the field about the same time each morning. There were 32 head of horses in these outfits, all tied together, some to the horse’s tail in front. The men change horses at noon, that is why they had to have so many in the morning. Most of the horses were four year old broncos that had just been broken to harness in June. The stores of the hair-raising experiences with those wild horses in the hayfield would fill a book. A hearty breakfast of porridge, meat and eggs, huge plates of toast and homemade jam was ready at seven am. By then the men had their horses in the corral, and we would have the lunch box almost ready for the field. Their lunch consisted of six or eight big loves of homemade bread with a variety of fillings, two pies, and cake. This was enough for their morning lunch and a noon meal and afternoon lunch. They drank cold tea. We have nine men in the field, three mowers, three rakes, two men on the stack, and one in the sweep. Percy stacked hay all through the summer – a heavy, hot job.


Edna’s Story 5 (FGK 122)

One Saturday, George Camden decided to be generous and let his sister Elise and me go fishing with him. We walked the two miles down to Big Hill Creek and got quite bored standing there, quiet, watching George fish. Suddenly he caught one. Much to his surprise too, I think. He yanked it out and hit Elise across the face and she fell off the bank into the muskegie edge of the creek. She got all wet and muddy and so did I helping her and we got heck from George for being so noisy and clumsy, so we went home and left him there.

I sold Gold Cross garden seeds to the neighbours and got a beautiful violin from the company. The seeds were really good and grew well but I have my doubts about the violin. Anyway, I took lessons form Mrs. Easton in Cochrane and conned Ruth into playing those horrible scales on the piano so that I could follow in tune. I loved the violin and still do. Alex Beadle took violin lessons from Mrs. Easton too and once we had to play a duet at a concert in Cochrane. I shudder yet when I think of the awful squeaks I got out of that instrument. But the Chautauqua that used to come to Cochrane was wonderful. They really were an inspiration. Then came the radio. And Oh My! It was wonderful. We got Philip Aries to make us a crystal set and we would sit there just enthralled. And dare help anyone who walked across the floor and jiggled the needle off the crystal. I still think it’s magic that a thin delicate little thread of wire touching a piece of crystal rock could connect us to the world. Cochrane had an active minstrel show every winter for many years. We always looked forward to that. They used local talent and were popular in all the neighbouring towns too.

Once when I was riding home from school there must have been a wagonload of household furniture far ahead of me and they lost a stuffed bird off their load. I picked it up and took it home, it was quite nice. But later I got the bright idea of playing a joke on my Dad. So when he came home for supper, I put the bird up on a post and ran into the house all excited and showed him the bird. He got his gun out and sneaked around the corner of the house and shot it. His eyes sure popped out to see the stuffing all flying out and I sort of regretted losing the bird.

Riding to school all winter was quite a challenge. The horse would stand in the cold barn all day and could hardly wait for me to get on at night. By now I had two or three lively horses to ride. Sometimes it seemed we would hardly touch the ground, but just sailed out of town until we climbed the hill north of the creek. I often drove a cutter to school when the sleighing was good. A kind neighbour gave me a set of sleigh bells and the pony I drove tried her best to run away from those bells but the harder she raced the more music they made. It was exciting.

One very foggy morning while riding along the little path over the hills to school, I heard what seemed like a whole pack of coyotes howling quite close to me and he had his head thrown back and was halfway through a shuddering howl when he saw me and shot straight up in the air then hit the ground and disappeared in a flash. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen a coyote howl.

High school was fun but hard work too. We had a young people’s group called the “Rustler’s Club”. At that time the Russell Hotel had no bar, a lovely dining room, and very nice people named “Dickensons” running it. They allowed our group to meet and dance to their big gramophone on Friday evenings. The dining room was closed to the public and made a grand club room for us. The teacher joined too. It was very enjoyable, it gave us a chanced to learn to dance. We also had a high school orchestra about that time and that was great fun.

Those were dry years and poor crops and I worked in Brought’s Cafe one summer holiday. Then later Mrs. Allan asked me if I would help her in the busy summer months and it’s was like a home to me to be with her. It was like home to many people to stop into her store for a visit. I took my grade eleven in South Calgary High school and decided to work steady with Mrs. Allan before completing my grade twelve and going to Normal School.

Edna in the middle

Edna’s Story 3 (FGK 120)

Our mother had taken a tailoring course when she was a girl and she used to make nearly all our clothes. I remember one Christmas she made us each a beautiful navy blue velvet dress, the neck piped with pale blue satin. I also remember white lace stockings I loved and a white fur muff and cape.

When the 1918 flu epidemic was raging I had to wear a mask when out playing with other kids. My mother fumigated our house every morning by putting sulphur on the stove. We had to go out for an hour or so and it was a very cold winter but we didn’t catch the flu. Mrs. E.C. Johnson, a nurse, was a very dear friend of Mom’s and she certainly was busy. She just opened her home to any victims that needed care. Every room in her house was full of beds and her husband Dad Johnson did the cooking and laundry. They were both extremely kind people. I think you could write a book about the service Mrs. Johnson did for the whole Cochrane district through her years there; but she would scoff at the thought of it. To me, she was beautiful. One memory I have of her, she was all dressed up to go to town. Her hair was always shiny black, even when she was ninety years old. This day it was done beautifully as usual, piled up high on her head. She was always very kind to me and I loved to visit in her home. For a while Dad Johnson ran the butcher shop in Cochrane. I was too young to know but I wonder if he didn’t run himself out of business, he was so generous. Just about everyone and his dog got a big plump turkey from him as a Christmas present. They had the restaurant for a while. They were both excellent cooks. Copithornes always shipped cattle from Cochrane then and one day when Percy, Claude, and Charlie all walked through the door to the restaurant, Dad bellered out to the kitchen “Ma put the soup pot on now, here comes eighteen feet of Copithorne to feed.” (Donna Butters is her granddaughter).

My uncle Robbie Brown built and lived in the house R. E. Moore lived in for years. He had to move to Cochrane from his homestead that was later signed over to the Crawford’s so his children could attend school. His daughter Jessie was my age and we had a great time together as children. She had a buckskin mare called “Fairy”, it was just a darling, so intelligent and gentle. One day Fairy nearly cut her hind foot off. I remember the men packing her foot in a sack of flour to stop the blood flowing. She got better and raised a magnificent palomino colt called “Monkey”. Later Jessie and I had a lot of rivalry over “Monkey” and my horse “Kit”. She was trained for a show horse and loved to be ridden in the ring. She was Ruth’s horse but the apple of my eye and a few years after we moved to the farm I persuaded Ruth to trade her to me for my Welsh pony “Polly”. I rode Kit in the Cochrane Exhibition Ladies Saddle Horse Class several times and although there was usually a large entry she always won first prize. But she was always a very flighty craggy nature.


Edna’s Story 1 (FGK 118)

So, I was in the basement this morning looking for my winter boots because eventually winter will show up and I know I shoved them in a mouse proof (haha) container in the basement sometime last spring. I didn’t find the boots, but I did find another random box filled with Grandma’s memories. It’s got old newspaper clippings, photos from the 1920s to the 1970s, photos of her 80th birthday, a gorgeous painting that she must have done, and the complete version of her life story!

I know I shared the abridged version earlier – I had given up on finding the complete story. But now that I have it I’m going to share it in its entirety. So there will be parts that repeat what was shared before- but I think sharing the whole thing again will make the story flow better than trying to chop it up.


“Ouch”, that was me when Dr. Park spanked my bottom when I was born in our house in Cochrane. What a difference to the soft touch the babies have now when born. No wonder we’re a hardy race, it was survival of the fittest. Then I remember my mother trying to talk to me into an afternoon nap a few years later. My father rocking me in his arms in the rocking chair and singing to me to ease the pain of an earache with a bag of warm salt pressed to it. The rocking chair had a coyote skin draped over it, a big hide tanned and lined with red felt with scalloped edges.

These dear old hills of Cochrane provided endless fun and adventure for a child living in the village. Picking flowers in the spring, building playhouses out of stones just a laid on the ground in a pattern, etc. And galloping around on my stick horse. Then when the winter snows came there was nowhere could compare with the marvellous speed of a bobsleigh coming down the Cochrane hill, then hitting the road and flying on down nearly to the front street. The only traffic was horse-drawn and they panicked from us, not us from them.

It was awful having only one sister and she was six and a half years older than me. I just couldn’t keep up to her, hard as I’d try, and she tried equally as hard to leave me behind. So I amused myself with whatever was handy and nearly always was a horse. My dad had an old black race horse loose in the yard and I would often crawl up on his back from the fence or the back porch or a pile of boxes placed on top of the other and I could ride him around the yard when I was three or four years old. One day when I was playing quietly in the shade of the house, Father Hermes rode by on a spirited horse which suddenly dumped him off on the dusty road and jumped the fence into our yard, racing around with dad’s old horse.

We milked a cow. I remember her well, she was mostly black with a bit of white and we called her “Sloppie”. Bought her from Bobbie Butler. My mother churned and I used to take a pail of fresh buttermilk over to Mini Bailey (Now Mrs. Allan). She loved it and I loved to visit her mother “Granny Bailey”, the dearest Scottish lady anyone could ever wish to know. Jean Russell, Granny’s granddaughter used to spend much of her time with them and she and I have been the closest friends ever since we were five years old. Jack Bailey was the baker in Cochrane and he had a confectionary store and ice cream parlour. Jena and I spent many, many happy hours down in the store with Uncle Jack.

Ruth and her friends used to spend hours racing around with a stick, letting a small wheel roll down the stick then controlling it with the cross bar of the stick and racing as hard as they could go. I don’t remember ever doing that much myself. Ruth walked around on stilts a lot more than I did too. Our father built us a marvellous swing in the yard. The poles seemed like telephone ones to me they were so high, and then he put a long pole across the rope with handles to hang on and you sure could swing high. One day when Ruth and Dot Johnson were swinging, a man came up behind Ruth and spoke rather harshly to her while she was down and Dot up. Ruth jumped off, raced to the house, and let poor Dot down with a plunk.

All the girls Ruth’s age had lovely ponies to ride so our Dad bought quite a beautiful colt from an Indian. It was extremely quiet but also extremely thin. She called him “Spider”. Of course I rode it around the yard every chance I got, but my… it became mean! The fatter it got, the meaner it was and even Ruth couldn’t handle it finally. There is nothing much meaner than a mean horse! It always ran under the clothes line and got rid of me quite easily and my neck had quite a scar on it. Then it would charge us with its mouth open. How I envied Ruth going out riding with her friends, Amy Cook on her lovely pony “Snowball”, Dot riding old “Pod” etc. My favourite dream when a child was me riding an extremely beautiful big white horse, and I’ve never owned a white horse.

I’m adding what has to be the weirdest photos – but goodness they look like they’re having fun. And also the actual meanest pony that ever existed.

I love this photo. Massive weirdness. I think Grandma is the one ‘riding’
At the front on the left is me on Tango – the actual meanest pony to ever exist. Don’t let his chubby cuteness fool you.

A Brief History of the Ranch part II (FGK 87)

I quite like the name Upside Down Teepee Creek. It’s a bit long, but I could get used to it. I do have to add that the only part of my recording that was quite difficult to hear was the part where my uncle announced he was retired – and that was due to all the snickering and comments from the peanut gallery. My uncle maybe retired, but he still is busy working and I would bet knows just about everything that goes on at the ranch.

Much of my childhood was spent on horseback winding around the cliffs at the buffalo jump, or skating and swimming in the creek below it. I remember finding arrowheads and other artifacts – no idea what happened to them, we probably left them there. One of the more powerful lessons I had in leaving things untouched was as a small child when the university came out to examine the teepee circles that were in the field next to us. I remember having been taken out to see them – and from my memory they looked similar to the photo below (which was taken from This website and is from Saskatchewan). Anyway, the university’s way of “studying” the formation was to gather up all the rocks and take them away with them. My feeling was once they removed the rocks and destroyed the formation, the rocks were just rocks and all they managed to do was permanently remove some pretty cool history.

But in those days, he really built the foundation of this ranch on work horses, draft horses, Clydesdale horses. They had Durham cattle and our beef herd expanded slowly, but not as Clydesdale horses, and of course that ran through till First World War. And a good number of those horses were broke and trained here on the ranch in the haying season and whatnot and sold to farmers for the harvest. But our best customer was the Canadian army, they went overseas and there are some sad stories about what happened to those horses.

But that’s how we arrived here, and my grandfather had 4 brothers and by the time the 20s came along they had a couple of townships of land each.

So going back to the history of why we call this Jumping Pound. If you look in the history books and the written history of the Stoney Indians you’ll find out that the Stoney Indians were for the most part, pretty much back in the mountains. And you go back to when Anthony Henday from the Hudson’s Bay Company was starting out this way, he came from Fort Edmonton in 1750. The Indians that were scouting ahead, they wouldn’t come any further south than Innisfail. And you’ll see a sign on the highway “Behold the Shining Mountains” and it’s a story about Henday. And the reason was Blackfoot to the South, and the Bloods and those folks, they got horses, and horses were like tanks in those days. The rest of them were still running around on foot. That kept things kinds of off balance here. The Stoney were on the edge of the mountains, they’d creep out once in a while and the Blackfoot would move away and then they’d run back into the mountains when they weren’t. But at any rate, that’s sort of the history, and this creek over here which is Jumping Pound Creek, in those days was called Upside Down Teepee Creek and that’s a Stoney Indian term. The Blackfoot have probably forgotten all about that. But the Stoney found an upside down teepee, which is a place where they bury a chief, a famous chief of the Blackfoot. I don’t know who he was, but that was the name of the creek until the white guys got here.

Now we’re going to go back a thousand years, and this Jumping Pound creek, if you’re ever driving up the highway and you look to the north, you’ll see those high cliffs on the creek bank? For a thousand years, five thousand years – I don’t know – these Indians on foot, long before they had horses worked their way out behind the buffalo herd and manoeuvred them, maneuvered them, maneuvered them to a point where they must have given a big whoohaa and these buffalo stampeded and went over the cliff and that’s how they got their winter meat supply. So that’s why the white people when they got here called it Jumping Pound.

And when my grandfather first arrived, that was one of the big industries of the country was digging buffalo bones out of the bottom of the creek. They must have been piled 20 feet deep because they had – there was a hill over there they called “Pile of Bones Hill”, they picked these bones out of the creek bottom there and hauled them over to this Pile of Bones Hill. and then they had great freight wagons that would come over from a little town called Midford, which was before Cochrane, which was on the railway tracks on the South side of the river. And they’d haul these bones over and they’d send them over to Europe or China for fertilizer or whatever else they used them for. But that was the first industry in the country.

My grandfather got married in 1895 and he got married in Midford in a little Anglican Church in Midford, which they later picked up and moved across the river and set it up in Cochrane, in the old Anglican Church in Cochrane, if you have ever seen it or are familiar with it that’s where it came from Midford and was my grandfather’s marriage place.

Anyway, what else can I tell you?

Tell us about the pastor who got lost in the snowstorm out here – do you know that story?

George McDougall? I do

I found that sad. they had no direction

And he was travelling with the Indians too

It was just one of those things that happened, and like I told you before, there were no trees out here. Believe it or not, there were no trees out here. These hills to the west of us, it’s hard to explain that to the government, there were no trees out here. The reason there were no trees is that there were fires, and they would start with lightening and everything else. And the Blackfoot – you know how they got their name? They wanted to burn the grass, so that in the spring the fresh grass would grow up and the buffalo would come up to the new grass rather than the old grass. And they were called Blackfoot Indians because they were always walking around on burnt ground. But those hills had no trees on them. I’m sure there were some on the creek bottoms on the north side of the hills here and there but not like there are now. Like Aspen poplars, forgive me for saying this, are primary and not just weeds in my language, they’re an encroachment and have come in in the last 150 years for sure with fire control. But anyway our ranch has been divided up, and now we’re running the home ranch unit – my family are – I’m retired and I’m very proud of my family.

What more can I tell you about my community. This hall, it was built in 1927 by the locals. And was all done by my old uncle Harry who was a character in his own right. You’ll see some of his pictures on the wall, one I saw where he was making hay. That guy playing violin in the corner is my father, they had their own little orchestra here. But it was, the whole neighbourhood came together on it, and in order to fund it they formed a company and it was called Jumping Pound Hall Ltd. And we still have ownership shares.

And I think that’s about the end of my story.


A Brief History of the Ranch Part I (FGK 86)

My Uncle gave a talk at the Jumping Pound Hall on July 14, 2016 to a group of people. I can’t remember who they were, or what the function was about, but somehow I was there and not only did I gorge myself on the family famous garlic cheese dip, but I sat with my kids and cousins at a front row table while he gave a brief history of the ranch. About 30 seconds into his talk I realized this was one of those recollections I was unlikely to hear again and recorded it on my phone. I’ve had a few suggestions that I should be turning this into a book, and I’ve decided to take some time and lay everything out and do just that!! I’m not sure how to put it together yet, but I do think it would be a lovely way to remember who we are and where we come from.

When I was a teen I spent a summer working at Mackay’s, and I spent many lunchtimes sitting at the Lodge with Grandma while she told me stories of the “olden days”. In my teen arrogance I thought I would always remember those stories, but I quickly forgot them. I swore that if the opportunity came up again that I would make sure I recorded them.

As my uncle’s story begins, I believe he is talking about my great-grandfather Richard and his brother John.

..and the reason why they both wanted to homestead here is because it was close to the railway, close to fresh water, close to firewood. They went through miles of prairie, and don’t kid yourself, in those days prairie was prairie because it was continuously burned off by Indians travelling through it, and there were miles and miles and miles of nothing, not even a stick of wood to burn. So everybody burned buffalo chips, you know all about that don’t you? That’s why they did it. Even the old round up wagons in the early days burned buffalo chips – there was no wood except for along the odd little creek.

Anyway, getting off the story a bit but.. the fact that this country was homesteaded is sort of why our family ended up here and I’ll go back a notch further again, the original settlement in this area was at Morleyville, with the McDougalls and the mission there. And there’s another old family that lives to the west of us, their name’s Sibbald, and they came in in the 1870s and he was the first white teacher in Morley, and we’ve had a great relationship with the Stony Indians for a long, long time – due to the fact that way back in Ireland sometime in the late 1870s – our family was a family of Protestants in Cork, the County of Cork in Southern Ireland, and that seemed to be kind of an event.

They were quite religious, my great great grandfather was a pastor there. He raised 7 sons and they travelled out, one of them went over to Africa and they never saw him again. He went with the missionary work with the Dr there.. Dr. Livingstone. Another one went to Australia, but anyway they were poor, worked real hard, and they decided they were going to take the youngest son and educate him, so everyone worked real hard to get this young guy an education. And talk about kind of picking the black sheep, I don’t know… sent him to school and he ended up back home, with a little bad reputation behind that, and anyway, stayed home.

My grandfather, I didn’t hear him say this, but my dad always told the story, they were over digging peat bog there my great uncle John, which is who I’m talking about, he stuck the shovel in the ground and my grandfather said you could hear the shovel vibrating and he said “I’m going to Canada”. So the family settled on that and they bought him a boat ticket to take him to Montreal and that’s all he had was a boat ticked and no money.

He ended up in Montreal and they didn’t hear from him for two years. Until, they heard from him in Brandon, Manitoba and he got a got a job with a farmer there and learned to drive mules, they never had mules to drive in Ireland, I don’t know what they were using – donkeys probably, But, he was a mule skinner and he became friends with a band of Cree Indians who were camped in that area and were in the area, and he also worked for the Canadian army as a mule skinner. And he learned to speak a little Cree Indian so the army hired him, he was an adventurous young guy no doubt about it, they hired him to travel west with this little band of Cree Indians.

He spent his first winter in Fort Qu’Appelle and his job was as an informant for the army and the RCMP <I believe at this time they were the North West Mounted Police>, which hadn’t been formed at that time, I guess they were, with regard to the Riel Rebellion. So he travelled West and ended up at Calgary. And his first job was as a freighter from Calgary for the East to bring supplies to Fort Denton in Montana, to Fort Whoop-up in Lethbridge, and then on up to Calgary and his job was to distribute some of this stuff out to the Tsuu T’ina over here, we used to call them Sarcee, and also Morley. And the old Morley trail, kind of wagon ruts, that he carved across this part of the country.

And as a result of that, he became the first Indian Agent, the first white Indian Agent for Morley, and he spent the early years of the Riel Rebellion in Morley, had lots of friends there and they looked after him, but it was quite a dangerous thing. There are quite a few stories about what happened you know, unsettlement, and anyway he survived that. In his travels back and forth across here, he sent letters back to the family and attracted the interest of my grandfather who arrived here in 1885. By that time the railway was here so he didn’t have to walk all the way across those prairies. And he set up a homestead over here, my great uncle set up a homestead over here, and they homesteaded together. My grandfather bought the property just to the west – where those buildings are – you saw the CL barn – and so they were right next door to each other. My great uncle down the hill, and my grandfather was on top of the hill and they were stockmen, and they loved livestock. My grandfather tried raising some sheep and he finally ended up getting up page-wire fence to keep the sheep in and the coyotes out, but the coyotes still got in so he quit raising sheep I guess.


Curling is one of the best games going (FGK 85)

I was going to title this “Skinny cows and fat cows too” but I figured that would be taken wrong if one just read the title. Sometimes the gas plant near us lets off the most horrific smells, but nothing like what my uncle is describing here – it sounds pretty grotesque.

Mount Royal College

Thursday, Jan 29 1953

Dear Margie

How are you doing? I’m sorry I didn’t write sooner, but I just didn’t get around to it. I am going to curl tonight. My curling team is fourth best on the league. I sure like curling! I think it is one of the best games going besides baseball or hockey. I’m getting so I can throw the rocks about right by any sweeping is kind of slow.

There hasn’t been much going on around home I don’t think. Dad and Ken went over to Grand Valley to help Reese build the frame of the barn. You know that they’re building a new barn over there don’t you?

We started to feed all the cattle last Saturday. We cut the cows and heifers into two bunches, the skinny ones in one, and the fat ones in the other. We took the skinny ones to 21 to fed them sieves. I think dad’s figuring on taking the other bunch to Springbank in a little while. Buckles or whatever you’re going to call him is sure putting on weight. Last weekend I was going to get him in and work a little of the fat off of him but I didn’t get around to it. I’m going to try and find time this weened or I’m liable to have to halter break him all over again. Him and the other three colts are out with the bulls doing nothing but eat and sleep and get in the road.

They tore the goose pen down and got quite a lot of lumber from it. Boy the oil well has sure been cutting up lately. Early Saturday morning they turned it on full blast without setting it on fire. The gas fumes caught in the wind which swept them down on me and Red who was riding through some cows and _____ stuff by the machine shed. There was some liquid gas with it and when it hit your face and eyes it would sting like the dickens. It pretty near choked you when you breathed. The cattle sure did some running around in circles.

They’ve got a new well site staked out in 24. You know where the ditch is where we dug out the den of coyotes when old Alex was along, it’s about a hundred yards west or so. It’s kind of going to be a bother but I guess we will get used to it. That are moving this same rig over.

I sure have been teasing Anne lately. Jeff N. has taken quite a shine for her but she hates him. Last Friday night at the dance he danced nearly every dance with her.

Last Sunday I came in with Ken and Delores and we went to Blanch and Fred’s and played cards till ten o’clock. When I got to the College I was locked out. I sure was scared for a while. Finally Mr. Schultz let me in. This week we had to change rooms. Wayne and I are in Bernard and Jim’s old room now and they are up on the third floor. I’ve had the whole afternoon off today because Mr Schultz was sick and couldn’t teach health. I always get off at two o’clock Thursday though.

Well I hope you’re feeling alright


Love, Marshall