Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In her own words, cont.........

Ethel Glewwe (1910-1986) memoirs writing about her life on the Saskatchewan prairie.  This chapter details her move to Canada in the spring of 1911.

        "It was at this time that a tragic event happened - my brother became seriously ill.  The doctors couldn't agree as to what ailed him and he gradually weakened and died - he had an intestinal blockage.  He died just two weeks before we were to leave for Canada.*  We had no way of notifying my father and he couldn't be reached before he would come to meet us at the train. 
        My mother and I, with most of our possessions and a year's supply of canned milk for me and other essential baby foods, medicines, etc., left the security of her family and boarded the train for the unknown.  Plans had been made to go to my grandfather's sister Sarah's at Summerberry, Saskatchewan, about one hundred miles north of our farm, where we were to meet my father.
        My mother had never met these relatives, but she became very close to Sarah and her daughter, Maud.  I suppose I was a welcome addition - a baby always wins the hearts of young girls and Sarah had three daughters and four sons.  They were all at home except Bud and Bert, who were out in the same new territory my father and grandfather had laid claim to.  The many stories and experiences my mother had in adapting to pioneer life and just preparing for the long trip to the new country we were to call home would be a chapter in itself.

          Eventually my father came and we were saddened again over the telling of my brother's death.  My father, they say, just cradled me in his arms and said I'd be his daughter and son.  There was no time to waste.  Papa had to get his wagon ready and buy supplies.  We had to carry our drinking water.  Papa bought lumber to finish the interior of our house - we had three setting hens in a crate and eggs.  Papa's Uncle Jim gave him two horses and we had oxen to pull the wagon, with the horses tied on the back.
          I was told the wagon was like a covered wagon, but at night we would sleep under the wagon and Papa would take some of the lumber and some canvas and put it against the wheels to break the night's cool air.  With straw and horse blankets we would keep warm.  Mama told me one night it rained and rained but we kept dry under the wagon.  That must have been difficult with a baby.  I wonder what happened to the things in the wagon - maybe Papa had enough canvas to cover the flour, sugar and other perishables.  Mama had the chickens with us under the wagon. 

          I don't recall how long Mama said it took but usually with oxen one made about 10 miles from sun up to sun down.  I'm sure Mama was tired of it all.  I was probably fussy - after four or five days I wonder if I even got a bath.  Mama told me that at night Papa would light two lanterns and keep them burning so the coyotes wouldn't come too close.  Mama said she could see their eyes shining in the dark, but they never came real close, just whimpered and cried almost like me.  I wonder if Mama got any sleep - I'm sure Papa had to hold her in his arms to chase away her fears."

*Lloyd Alvin Hymers (1906-1910)

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