Edna’s Story 22 (FGK 139)

I remember Mom telling me how thoroughly annoyed she was (at 5 or 6) with Aunt Irene when she showed up on the scene and took away her beloved Uncle Clarence. But then, Mom said, she got to know her and also fell madly in love with Aunt Irene- a love that lasted the rest of her life. My parents both loved Aunt Irene and Uncle Clarence and I can see why, they were both lovely people. Uncle Clarence died when I was fairly young, but I remember him as a man who loved to make people laugh. We were fortunate enough to borrow “Chubby” for a while when I was about 4 so that I could learn to ride. One time I was in the field with Uncle Clarence and Chubby came over looking for attention. Uncle Clarence held his head and said to me “you see this big bump on his nose? Well that means his nose is out of joint because he’s not getting enough attention. It’s very important that you spend time petting his nose every day” and he laughed and laughed, and damned if I didn’t have to spend the rest of the summer petting his nose just in case he wasn’t teasing me.

Frank pulled out of the CL outfit in 1944. Percy and Clarence missed him because it is always cheaper to run a big outfit than a small one. You used almost the same number of men and the same machinery. But they still worked together for some of the big jobs. When the war was over in 1945, we quit raising hogs because the income tax slapped on us then took all the profit. By now we were able to contract a lot of our haying to farmers who were glad to do it while their crops grew all summer. This took considerable of the stress of cooking off my shoulders as they would look after themselves, usually camping right in the field.

Clarence got married to Irene Robertson in 1946 and the ranch was divided and we were on our own. We missed Clarence a lot, the children did especially, but he wasn’t far away and we could visit often.

Percy got Griffin Bros to come in with their huge machinery and clear brush off some of his land. This was sort of a pioneer project in our part of the country. The cost was drastic and so was the job of picking roots for years afterwards. But he has grown some wonderful crops on that land.

I stopped making butter and took the cream and eggs to “Swifts” in Calgary and often bought bread instead of baking it so often. We still had several steady men working for us and living in the bunkhouse. All through the years we made the most delicious homemade ice cream with the plentiful supply of cream we always had on hand. Sunday mornings the boys would take turns cranking the ice cream freezer. Every Sunday morning we had really good buttermilk pancakes for breakfast too, such mounds of them with Roger’s Syrup. When roads were passable I would go to church in Cochrane taking the children to Sunday School and taught Sunday School for many years.


Edna’s Story 21 (FGK 138)

I arranged for Sheila and Marshall to ride down the two miles north to the Brushy Ridge road and tie their horses in the brush and be picked up by Mrs. Wark who was driving her children to Brushy Ridge School every day. They attended Brushy Ridge for Marshall’s grade 3 and Sheila’s grade 5 in 1945-46. Margi was old enough to start school in 1946 and they had a steady teacher, Miss Thomas, in Jumping Pound School so the children started there again. We bought a lovely little horse for Marshall from Freda Permal and called him “Pinkie”, and Margi rode Buck. Nicoll’s had a field of grain planted just opposite our house and Buck sure loved to swipe his share of that when riding by. Margi was so tiny she had quite a struggle climbing on. Sometimes Buck would get impatient and swing his head around and boot her on with his nose. I think Clarance has a picture of him doing this. Then Ellen Norris came to board here in 1946-47 and rode to school with the kids, teaching in Jumping Pound School. We felt fortunate to have her and enjoyed that year. But in the fall of 1948 Miss Demisick came to teach but left mid-term and we were very fortunate to persuade Mr. O’Brien to come and teach in Jumping Pound.

Mr. O’Brien did so much for the children and the social life in the district it is difficult to tell just how far reaching his influence really spread. He had been a sergeant major in the army, a scoutmaster of many years experience and had taken a course in drama. All these talents and experiences were put in action immediately and the students experienced the unaffected pleasure of discipline, responsibility, and a scope for their own create originality. The fame of the Jumping Pound Christmas concerts was so wide spread the community hall had crowds far beyond its seating capacity, standing room only. I remember one concert where one part was a quadrille on the stage by the students to the tune of a current favourite at the time “Buttons and Bows”. The crowd just went hilarious, stomped their feet, clapped their hands, and sang their loudest. Another time he used an Alberta artist’s talent of a play taken from the book “Johnnie Chinook” a local story. And it was a big success. He formed a Red Cross Society among the students, made them elect their own president and other officers in the correct parliamentary procedure. All this besides their regular schoolwork. And for the first time the students learned how to enjoy well organized sports at recess. Every so often the students would invite the parents to the school and entertain them by having them take part in spelling matches etc. We became involved in many of the students’ activities, especially helping with the concerts and enjoyed the social life to match. The annual school picnic was an elaborate affair where presentations were made to students graduating etc. All the speeches and work was done by the students themselves.

Mr. O’Brien would just stand in the background. But the results of his guidance were made manifest in so many ways. For a little one room rural school house the ultimate achievements of most of its graduates is quite impressive. Six ended up with a degree in education, one her R.N, one a B.A. LL.B., one a B.Sc. M.A., Ph.D and five were graduates of an agricultural college.


Edna’s Story 20 (FGK 137)

There are so few photos of mom before polio – I love seeing them. I do have to ask, as a kid who regularly got in to massive amounts of trouble from both Mom and Grandma for climbing things and leaving for day long horse rides without saying where I was going – why did I get in so much trouble since clearly this is a generational issue? One I have passed down to the next girl in our generational line as well (ok, as the parent of that one I can see how sometimes it can be a bit worrisome).

About 1943, Percy built a big new garage and near it a nice new bunkhouse. The garage has an upstairs in it so it is quite high. When he was shingling the roof, Marshall as usual was right beside him trying to help. They heard a little voice and looked around and there was three year old Margi at the top of the long ladder climbing onto the roof too. Marshall was nearest her so Percy told him to grab her and hold her until he got there. As soon as Marshall did, he got an awful scape on his hands. Margi fought to come onto the roof too. Poor old Robert stood at the foot of the ladder wringing his hands and crying “Oh my God” over and over. They got her down safely. Another time I checked to see where she was and could get an answer quite close but couldn’t see her. She was only two and a half years old then but had climbed to the top of one of my very tall trees she had her arm around it, standing there looking down at me. Another time I found her on the roof of Annie’s two story house. As I said before, Margi was an extremely lively child. One night when she was about two years old, we had a very busy day branding. That evening she was watching the boys put iodine etc on all the wounds from wrestling calves etc. Percy and Clarence had to go out to do some more riding after supper and after I got the kids to bed and to sleep (I thought), I also hit the hay and went sound asleep. When Percy came in, there was Margi sitting in the kitchen all by herself dabbing iodine on herself here and there and she also had the little aspirin bottle beside her with the top off. Our medicine cabinet was in a place where I had to climb on a chair and reach over the ridge to get into it. How she ever climbed up to it I’ll never know and I certainly put in a bad night worrying about her, but she was fine, thank goodness.

We decided to turn our lean to eating area into a kitchen as it was three steps down from our tiny kitchen and the steps proved very awkward. Mr. Mervin Wallace, the carpenter, came out and he built that kitchen with loving care. I was so proud of it, it was beautiful and quite convenient but could have been larger. it was all white and blue with accents of red here and there. It had a long low window in the west and I made cottage style curtains out of white and blue polka dot material with a wide border of white eyelet embroidery. By now I had a gas-served refrigerator. Mr. Wallace also built me a sun porch for my houseplants. From 3:30 on in the afternoon, I used to just wear a hole in that window watching for the kids to come riding out from the bush at Nicoll’s field a mile or so west of us. I would always have a dish of dessert or a bowl of soup waiting for them and would listen to them unload all the problems of the day, then all was forgotten and the real enjoyment of the day would begin for them. Each one to his or her liking, such as curling up with a good book to read or outside to play. The school was now called Jumping Pound School and it had the misfortune of having a succession of teachers such as a new one every few weeks for a while. It was all very hard on the children. We live only five miles from Brushy Ridge School where Mrs. Callaway, an exceptionally talented teacher, was teaching.


Chew the Dog’s Ear Off (FGK 117)

I wish mom had written about her time in the hospital, but I think the whole thing was so traumatic for her that she didn’t even want to talk about her experiences. It certainly was a taboo subject in our house, so much so that it took 70 years – including 3 after mom passed away before these experiences could be discussed. I’m assuming Aunt Annie baked mom dog shaped cookies, not that she had some poor pup whose ears she would chomp on during challenging emotional times, but one never knows haha…

DeWinton, Alta

6th Nov. 1952

My dear Margie,

I do hope you’ll feel like eating these cookies and that it is all right for you to have them. I thought you could at least chew the dog’s ear off when you feel a little blue and let down. It might give you great satisfaction. I am sure the pup won’t mind.

I hear you have Mrs. Brown for a nurse. I think she would be very lovely to have around when a fellow isn’t just up to scratch. Please give her my kindest regards. We used to bowl in the same league but she could bowl just about twice as good as I could.

Wee Clarence David is creeping all over the place. You’ll see a big change in him from the time you saw him last spring. He likes getting into my cupboards and he just loves tearing up the papers and magazines around the place.

You’ll be able to write a book about your experience in the hospital when you get home. I am sure you’ll be having lots of different experiences and meeting new people. Nobody will be able to tell you anything you don’t know about the hospital. I am looking forward to hearing all about it.

I guess I had better close for now.

With love and good eating, Aunt Annie


Woodland Club (FGK 116)

Everything about this letter cracks me up. I love that they had a meeting and made a motion to write a thank you letter, I love even more that this appears to actually be the thank you letter. I’ve never heard of the Woodland Club, and this is the first time it has come up in these letters. Anyone?

RR#2 Calgary

Alberta, Canada

March 25/55

Dear Margie,

At a meeting of the Woodland Club on March 21st, the following motion was unanimously passed: moved by Lynn, seconded by Raymond, that we send a note of thanks to Margie Copithorne for the lovely box of chocolates sent to use on Valentine’s Day. The motion was carried with hearty applause.

Yours Sincerely

Woodland Club

Sec. John Sibbald

Pres. Jim Bateman


Letter from the Post Man (FGK 115)

I really wish we had mom’s letter back to this man, and kind of wish that he’d sent more letters – he sounds like quite the character. The first letter was more of a note, written on a torn green piece of paper. For perspective on time, 1908 was the year my grandma was born, and my grandpa would have been 9 at the time.

Correspondence Branch

Feb 18

Dear Margaret

I wonder if you are related to a Copithorne family who I knew in 1908-1910.

They lived in the Jumping Pound just north of Bateman’s Post Office. I was working for Mr. Byron at the time. He lived just south of the Post Office. I drove the mail occasionally between Jumping Pound and Calgary.

I expect since oil came the ranching country has changed.

Let me know re the family.


Very truly yours

Leo L Piercy

I was in Holy Cross Hospital Calgary about 1911

This is his second letter, presumably in response to the one mom wrote to him.

March 31

My dear Margaret

It was nice of you to answer my letter in such an interesting manner. Jumping Pound indeed must have changed sine I knew it. I drove the mail at times for Bateman – with horses of course. One day he gave me a team of broncs. Try as I would, I reached Calgary ahead of schedule. The Post Office refused to accept the mail. My horses wouldn’t stand. I drove to the Pacific livery barn on 8th ave and 4th (?), could attract no one’s attention so had to unhitch myself and put the horses in. I did not take long, but on my return my precious mail bags were gone. I was distraught, in panic, expecting to be sent across the line.

Just before mail time, a man sauntered up with “are you looking for mail bags? They are under the pile of hay.” The joke was on me. Best wishes for a speedy recovery


Leo L Piercy


Mom’s Tour de France 23 (FGK 114)

This is the end of mom’s letters that were published in the Cochrane paper. I”m kind of disappointed, I wasn’t ready for them to end- what happened? Did she get to stay and keep travelling? Check out the price of her little punchbuggy!!

About 6 o’clock we went searching for the Youth Hostel. It was a quaint little cabin in a groove of trees run by a darling little man who spoke no English but seemed to be accustomed to this situation. By this time we knew enough German to tell him we were cold and wanted to stay only if there was some heating. He showed us the room with a usual row of bunks and with a little coal stove in the corner. He soon had a roaring fire going and we were huddled around trying to get warm for the rest of the building was like a refrigerator. As we were finishing up our supper of bread and cheese, four other girls came to spend the night with us. They were from Manitoba and had just finished university there. The four of them were going all through Europe in their Hillman for a year. They had already been to England, Spain, Morocco, etc and had some fascinating stories to tell.

Thursday morning, Pat, Carol and Jeannie visited the old fort which overlooked the town and I went for a drive in the country. It had stopped snowing and i could see the mountains which surrounded us. There are many interesting little villages in this area. I had all sorts of fun poking around them and trying to talk to them in my inadequate German vocabulary of about five phrases. We met again for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon looking at the shops. It was tempting but since we were all in the same financial situation we helped each other resist it to mostly window shopping. Thank heaven I’m not a skier or it would have been irresistible.

We planned to spend all day Friday driving to Vienna but road conditions were so good that we arrived there in the early afternoon. Our meals of bread and cheese which we ate in the car also helped save time.

We were fortunate in the fact that the Youth Hostel was along the route which we took into town so we were able to find it comparatively quickly – ie., after asking two gas station attendants, a man in the street, and a postman. We were completely overwhelmed when we saw the building. It was built two years ago, has an elevator and heating!! We really couldn’t have asked for a better place. I have to go to lunch now so will write more about the trip later.

If you’re interested I have some of the costs of the car broken down so you’ll know where some of your steers are going. The car itself totalled $1,361.00 US dollars, the insurance $120 and about $40 for the transportation etc. From what I’ve heard I should be able to get a fairly good price for it at home. It’s really nice to have something to ride down to the restaurants in now.

We are going to London for three or four days next month for a field trip. It should be interesting, I’m very excited about it. If it’s ok with you I think I’ll stay out of Stanford Spring Quarter and travel over here with Gail for a while and go home about the first of June and then to summer school. Let me know what you think about this ‘cause I have to let Gail know soon, her mother is coming over next moth too.

Lots of love



Mom’s Tour de France 22 (FGK 113)

I had to laugh at mom’s speedy driving. I come from a family of speedy drivers – I remember white knuckling it a lot when I was a kid and Grandma was driving me somewhere. Dad always seemed to be one demerit away from losing his license (but swore he needed to drive that speed just to keep up with everyone else on the road). As a kid, I always tried to get in the back of the suburban my uncle would drive when we would do family visits to my aunt and uncle in Arrowwood, partly because it meant I could hang with my cousins and partly because it meant the long trip would take about half the time. If it took my parents an hour and a half to get there, it would take my uncle about 45 minutes and we would have stopped at allllll the feedlots along the way as well. I am speedier than my kids, but remain a family disappointment on trips as I hold up the line with my relatively slow driving). Mostly I’m cheap and don’t want to pay tickets.

We found a little restaurant near the hotel where we had one of our best meals in Germany. We ordered rindsgulasch in the hopes that it would turn out to be something good – and it was. Hence, another word was added to our growing German vocabulary. I think “rinds” means beef, at least it tasted like it.

We ended the day by doing some window shopping and going to the bahnhauf (which had finally appeared again) to have milkshakes. It tastes so good to have milk products again that we each had two helpings. It’s the first time I’ve made such a glutton of myself, usually I stopped at just one! We got lost again when we stepped out of the bahnhauf and it took us almost an hour to find our hotel which was (in the book) a ten minute walk from the station. Someday I’m going to solve the Great Mystery of this city. As we were entering our hotel we heard someone calling our names – it was Bob, Tim, Bill and Denny, some boys from the Centre who were staying in the hotel just across the street. They had just arrived as they had taken a longer route. I was able to get their advice on the roads, my car, etc as they are all quite experienced in that sort of thing.

We left the next morning for Salzburg. As there is an Autobahn all the way it was no time at all until we were in Austria. As usual we were completely lost as soon as we entered the town. I, who happened to be driving at the time, chalked up some sort of record for the trip by being stopped by three different policemen within fifteen minutes. Since we had such an obvious problem of communication, they never bothered giving us a ticket.

Salzburg is a fascinating town and is one of the places for which I would enjoy returning in the summer. It is noted for its beautiful scenery which we could not see because of the snow, its music, history, and of course Wienerschnitzel. From the moment I discovered a taste, this meant I ordered it for almost every meal in Austria. As you can see I’m really turning into a gourmet.

The streets in Salzburg are of the small narrow and twisty variety. It’s very easy to find parking places in Austria which was fortunate because everyone walks in the middle of the street, a situation somewhat frustrating for a driver.

It was a snowy afternoon – perfect for museums, so we went to the place where Mozart worked and some of the churches. One of them was particularly interesting as it had something from almost everyone period. Romanesque to late Baroque in it. We also tried some of the Salzburg coffee made with mounds of whipped cream. I think it’s the best I’ve found in Europe. I like it even better than the Italian.


Mom’s Tour de France 21 (FGK 112)

This is the last letter of mom’s that was published in the paper. I am really hoping that we discover the rest of them and I can read about the remainder of her year abroad. Thank goodness Grandma kept everything. This letter is a long one, so part one is today and there will be at least one, perhaps two more instalments before I go digging through boxes again (there are still a few more letters sent to mom while she was in the hospital).

It’s weird for me to think of how drastically mom’s life was changing. 10 years ago she was still a healthy and rambunctious kid, getting into everything, riding her horse, and playing with her siblings and cousins. 5 years ago she was working her way out of a long hospital stay and then moving to Florida for school. Not too far in her future she would graduate from Stanford, move to Toronto, go to law school and meet my dad. 10 years in her future she was just about to give birth to me (taadaa!!)

I remember mom making this cake and wanting so badly to become the Queen. I have no idea whether or not I ever did though.

Tours, France, January 15, 1961

Dear Folks

I’ve just returned from Suzanne’s having done nothing but EAT all day. She invited Gail and I over for lunch today but asked us to come early if we wanted to help prepare the meal.

I made a cake!! It is my failure kind so Suzanne taught me how to make it – you won’t believe how domestic I’m getting! We also helped with the other things. It’s so much fun in the family now because we feel free to play with her little sisters, tease her brothers, and gossip with her mother. They are extremely patient with our French so we don’t mind making lots of mistakes. Since we are still celebrating the feast of the Three Kings, we had a galette (a type of cake) for dessert. The prize was in my piece so I was the Queen. The suspense while everyone bites into their piece is terrible. After lunch we drove out to Suzanne’s aunt’s in the country. They are having a special celebration there to taste the wines in the caves which line the hillside. Everyone in the village was there with venders at every turn calling crepes, roasted chestnuts, etc. I was amazed once we entered the caves to find it exactly like an exhibition at home. Lining the walls of dirt were washing machines, television sets, and I even saw in one cavern a car!! I was driving so I didn’t taste the wines like I was supposed to, but it was fun watching all the others. After we went back to the aunt’s house where we had another galette – this time Gail was the Queen.

I think I left off in my last letter just as we were entering Munich. We got there after dark so were able to see the brilliant Christmas decorations. The main streets were lined with huge lights in the form of stars etc. It is possible to sense the quick tempo of this city the moment one enters it. It is alive and growing in the sense that all of Western Germany seems to be moving forward and looking to the future instead of the past. This is especially noticeable if you see it compared to some other European countries. We managed to find our way to the famed Rathskeller in the basement of the town hall where we had a dinner composed of a variety of German sausages. I ate so many I never felt quite the same towards them again and started ordering other dishes from then on. The Rathskeller itself was a fascinating place with its huge German style of architecture and costumed waitresses. You could practically feel yourself back in the Middle Ages. We had the name of a good but cheap hotel which we found in our “Bible” ie “Europe on $5.00 a Day” but in spite of the directions which were given in the book we found it impossible to pick the right route. We were told to start at the Bahnhauf (railroad station). This was a formidable task in itself for it always failed to show up when we expected it but on the other hand, we kept running into it at the oddest places. It continued like this during our entire stay in Munich and we always found our way home more or less by chance. This lead us to the conclusion that the Munich bahnhauf has the astonishing ability to disappear underground for hours at a time only to appear later at the other end of town. That is The only explanation I can give. The first evening we gave up in despair and finally stopped at a gas station to ask directions. We were so baffled by the German answer that was given us, two travellers who had their car there offered to lead us to the hotel. We turned so many corners and got so throughly confused that we decided we were being led on a wile goose chase. Just as we were going to turn and go in another direction their cart stopped right in front of the hotel! We felt rather guilty of being so suspicious of people who were simply being kind.

The next day we prepared to see the Glockenspiel when it went off at 11 am. We spent so long over breakfast that we barely had time to get down in front of the city hall to watch the big clock. Pat was driving when the car with four confused jeunnes filles made their left turn in its main intersection on the wrong light. Imagine our horror when we saw the policeman blow his whistle and flag us down to the curb. He stomped over to the car to find four frightened faces peering up at him and babbling away as fast as they could in French. When he found out we spoke no German, he went around to the front, saw our French license plate, got a resigned look on his face shrugging his shoulders, and said helplessly “La va!” We thanked him profusely in French and made our escape quickly before he discovered what terrible accents we had. By this time it was almost eleven so we decided that Carol and Jeannie should go watch the clock while Pat and I tried to find a parking place. We soon discovered that we had set ourselves an impossible task. We were all the more nervous because we were stopped by another policeman – that made two intersections we had to avoid henceforth at all costs! We finally found Carol and Jeannie a half hour later. We were told that for the first time in years the Glockenspiel hadn’t gone off. After the big airplane crash, which you probably heard about, there was no singing or dancing in Munich for a week. The whole city went into mourning for the dead. We spent much of the afternoon riding around in the car and looking at various buildings. We visited Maximillian Palace which was so huge we couldn’t get through it all. It is still furnished in late baroque and rococo style. The grand ballrooms with enormous chandeliers, lavish furniture, and magnificent carriages make one wonder how the princes lasted so long without a revolution. Their wealth must have been incredible. We couldn’t appreciate the beauty of the gardens as they were covered with snow, but they surrounded the huge central building for acres. One needs a lot of stamina to live in a palace like that as the rooms are so far apart.


Mom’s Tour de France 20 (FGK 111)

December 1960


We are now in a youth hostel in Salzburg. There are also four other Canadian girls who are driving through Europe for the winter and staying here. The is place seems like sheer luxury because the one we were in at Neuchatel didn’t have any heat. This one has a lovely little stove right by my bed.

It has been snowing here all day so we haven’t had much of an opportunity to see the scenery which is supposed to be lovely. We are trying to economize because we stayed at a hotel in Munich and they charged us far more than we thought they would – not a very nice surprise.

We have been having all sorts of adventures. We are constantly lost in the cities and usually end up going the wrong way on a one way street. The policemen have been very patient and nice (mainly because we couldn’t understand them). People have helped us out on the street and in the stores. Every time we hit a new town we head like homing pigeons to the nearest Shell Station, which has maps of the city. We now know the German terms for left, right, etc.

The weather hasn’t been nice enough to take any pictures. I was foolish enough to put slides in my camera instead of black and white. I was so enthusiastic over the results of the ones I took in Rome that I got carried away.

(The next night)

I did some shopping today and spent my spare money. Austria is as bad as Italy, it is a terrible temptation to pass a store.

I wandered around some of the mountain villages this morning. They still use horses on many of the farms. It looks very Christmassy to see them pulling sleds full of firewood.

If people have sent me letters etc but haven’t heard from me, tell them not to worry, because we left on December 17th and won’t pick up our mail until the 9th of January. It will be nice to have that pile waiting for me!

I also haven’t mailed all my Xmas cards yet – so some of them will be New Years! I usually cannot get very much writing done while we are travelling. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas. I’ll be thinking about you then – in Venice I think. From what we hear, it is going to be a white Christmas which is something new for the kids from California.

I’ll try to write again soon