German, Catholic, Homesteader in Canadaby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Q: When and where were you born?
A: On the 27th of June, 1917. Mrs Marguerite Saul was the midwife, a real kind soul, was a great help to many families in the district. All the family, including 4 sisters, and Fr. Clem, who was born in 1913, were born at home, this was the normal, given practice those days. On Pa's homestead in the folk's 2nd log house. It was 22 by 26 feet, 1&1 /2 stories. we kids slept up stairs, taking advantage of the fact that heat rises. It was quite comfortable till the wood fire burned down in the big heater, there would be a skim of ice on the water pail in the kitchen, and we snuggled deeper in the fluffy feather tick.
Q: Where were your ancestors from?
A: Both Dad and Mother's families were born in Germany.
Q: Do you know why they immigrated to the Canada and what that experience
A: The reason for immigrating, was to seek out and improve their economic position. From the time they married and filed on the homestead in 1911, they along with hundreds of other young, and inexperienced people, determined to make a go of things in a new land, encountered loads of problems. The town of Edson, on the Grande Trunk Pacific railroad to the coast, now known as the CN, was the take off point to Grande Prairie. Over 250 miles across rivers, creeks, up and down hills, over muskeg, though heavy timber, and burnt areas. The mode of transport was a team of oxen, pulling a wagon. the average cursing speed, about one mile per hour. Time required, if the weather co-operated, [not too much rain, making the mudholes impassible] and other incidentals, like breakdowns, would be about 6 weeks, steady plodding. The filing fee for the SW-3-74-8 west of the 6th meridian, was $10.00. The applicant agreed to break 10 acres each year, for 3 years, and reside on the property 6 months out of each year, at which time the homestead Inspector would issue a clear title to the original applicant.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: On our farm, Dad's homestead, plus the adjoining 1/4 of the section, to the east.
Q: What would the average day consist of as a child?
A: Each of the young folks were given specific chores, jobs. Keep the
woodbox filled from the big pile outside, as both the cookstove, and the big heater burned wood. Keep the 2 pails of water near the sink, filled, along with the reservoir on the cook stove, the well was about 200 yards away, near the barn.
Q: What was your occupation?
A: Occupation was making a living on the farm. Grew grain, wheat, oats, and barley. Raised livestock, horses, cattle, pigs, some times sheep, chickens, and turkeys, always a big garden, plenty spuds, there was a big cellar under the kitchen part of the house. It would hold all the root veggies for a year, plus a couple hundred jars of wild fruit, Saskatoon's, raspberries, and blueberries. There were always 6 or 7 cows to milk, twice each day, the mild separated, the cream put in the icehouse, to keep it sweet till Monday morning when the 8 gallon cream can was taken up to the store at La Glace where the regular hauler took it to the creamery, where a 3 dollar check was issued, this was real money.
Q: What was the feeling in your community regarding WW1?
A: Most of the single homesteaders joined up early, since the war was scheduled to be over in a year.
Q: Did you find it hard being German in Canada during WW1 and WW2?
A: The Police would check us out every month.
Q: How did the war experience affect your life?
A: Gasoline was rationed, and tires were not available, food rationing was not a hardship, since we were living off the land.
Q: What did you think about the development and use of atomic weapons?
A: It is a very efficient method of exterminating life, if that is the objective.
Q: At the time, what did you think of the reestablishment of the nation of Israel in 1948, and what significance do you now think that event held?
A: Israel along with their other neighbouring states, definitely deserves to have it's own independent territory, and homeland of their own.
Q: Did the Korean War in the early 1950's affect you personally?
A: It had no effect on me, and was a product of the cold war, China, and
Russia, versus the USA.
Q: When the USSR launched Sputnik in 1957, what was your reaction?
A: Very positive, to attain weightlessness in space, is akin to finding
Q: During the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, did you feel safe?
A: Yes, not overly concerned.
Q: What did you think about the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1975?
A: It was a super power determined to make it's influence felt, and establish a permanent base in the Orient. The real winners of the action, were the huge armament builders, munitions makers, chemical giants, making Agent Orange, like Monsanto, all gained enormously.
Q: Did you watch on TV as man first walked on the moon in 1969? How did
A: A very notable achievement.
Q: How did the great depression affect you?
A: This was in my teen years, and had not the burden of heavy responsibility, as were my Parents, the 30s moved along as normal life. [we knew no other life] No one had a job that paid money, Dad's Essex car was blocked up in the shed, no money for gas or license.
Q: Do you remember the stock market crash?
A: The news traveled slowly in 1929, we did not have a radio till 1935, the Free Press Prairie Farmer, was a weekly paper out of Winnipeg was our main source. The problem did hit home when Pa took a wagon load of wheat to the elevator, instead of the usual dollar for a bushel, he got 23 cents for the same bushel.
Q: Where were you when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were
destroyed on September 11, 2001? What did you think, and how did you feel?
A: We were living in Beaumont, as now. The US being the lone super power was very busy around the world, engaging in numerous covert actions against target nations, and governments, destabilizing them, and setting up their own puppet dictators, for their own profit, and always to the detriment of the local people. one example, in the 70s, they organized a coup de tat in Iran, drove Musedeg from power, and installed their own puppet, the Sha of Iran, so as to get cheap oil. The same thing is happening in Iraq today. This type of piracy has prompted retaliatory action.
In Your Opinion
Q: Do you think it is important to study history? If so, why?
A: Yes history is very important. Since we are without even a hint of accuracy, able to see ahead, looking back into the past is loaded with things to mull through. Being human we have a special knak of making the same mistakes, not only once, but many times over. Our ancestors were fine people, they left us many tried and true sayings, eg. don't count your chickens before they hatch, don't look a gifthorse in the mouth,[he probly has no teeth, therefore will die soon], strike while the iron is hot.
Q: Are you glad to see where the world is headed in the future?
A: throughout history we humans have proved to be great achievers, massive advances in arts and sciences, we even show compassion at times. The flip side is, we are also prone to willful destruction, our averus, and greed has caused massive suffering, displacing whole populations. Very comforting to know that the Good Lord is still in charge.
Q: Over the years, do you enjoy Canadian’s approach on world situations?
A: Am very satisfied with Canada's approach to world affairs. We live in the best country in the world.
Q: Your thoughts on the separatist movement among French Canadians.
A: The fact that Quebec insists on retaining their language and culture, is to be applauded. Culture promotes harmony among people, encourages achievement, it also gives you identity. The Native People of Canada has had their culture, and language stolen by we Europeans, we also stole their land without compensation, leaving them devastated.
Q: What do you think have been the most significant changes in the world
in your life time?
Q: What changes were you glad to see and which ones do you think have had a negative effect?
A: There are not too many positives around, the big one would be in medicine, helping to cure. The flip side is the systematic destruction of nature, eliminate the forest, all tree cover, poison and pollute all the waterways and streams, and this new thing, of bio diversity, changing the gene structure of plants,forcing millions to a life of poverty.
Q: What religious beliefs do you hold? How do you think religion has shaped the last 80 years?
A: Very happy being a Roman Catholic, as the numbers get bigger in age, I treasure it more.
Q: What do you think about the technological advances made during your
lifetime, such as advances in transportation, television, and computers?
What invention came as the biggest shock to you?
A: There are truly loads of advances, from the ox team at one mile per hour, to far passed the sonic barrier, in travel. Communication is fabulous, and is still advancing to a great new world.