The advent of the internal combustion engine signaled the beginning of
the end of my horse and buggy days. With amazing rapidity Henry Ford's Model T cars took possession
of the old trails, and the new graded highways. Huge tank trucks hauled the grain to the elevators
while gasoline powered implements became the work horses on the farms for cultivating and harvesting
I bought for cash of $540.00 a 1917 automobile. That was the first of a long series of new and used cars I was ever able to pay for in cash. My next car was a Chevrolet, and when I drove it out to my country mission at Patience Lake, an admiring parishioner remarked "Well you can drive that bus into the city and not have to seek a back lot, where you can park it out of sight".
One year and a half after my removal to Elbow I motored to Sunkist in company with my parents and my bride of six months, the former Muriel Porter of Regina. We crossed the river at Riverhurst. The ferry had to anchor several yards from the west bank, on account of the sand bar. We plunged into the water, but had not gone far, when our car stalled. Another car that was in the ferry with us, profited from our mishap, and took a slightly different route, and reached shore safely. The driver, an elderly man, got a team of horses from Mr. Belleheumer and came to my assistance.
He placed his democrat in front of my car to give me a tow. I took off my shoes and socks, climbed out over the engine, and standing on the crank, attached a logging chain. The man lay down on the bottom of the democrat and was in the act of fastening the other end of the chain to his rear axle, when another car which had just come over on the second ferry splashed into the water. The team took fright and bolted, tossing the driver overboard.
He managed to catch the tailboard of the wagon with his hands, and the chain tightened with a jerk, tossing him back into the vehicle. I sat astride the hood over my engine. My father grasped the steering wheel and guided the car. My mother threw her hands over her eyes and shouted "O my God!" My wife too frightened even to speak. By the time the teamster had picked up his reigns the horses had reached dry land. The offending motorist never stopped to see how we fared, but roared up the hill in a cloud of dust.
At Demaine school a reception was held for us. The room was gaily decorated and a banner was stretched across the front blackboard bearing the legend "God Bless Your Home". In contrast with the occasion when those people marked my fictitious marriage by placing a bowl of flowers on the table, this time Mrs. Greene appeared in person. It was threshing time, so the function was held at 10 p.m. They came from threshing outfits and homes all over the country. There were felicitous speeches, a written address and the presentation of a kitchen cabinet, which had been ordered to be delivered to our home.
I thanked the people for everything, particularly mentioning the consideration they had shown for my feelings during my courtship days by never alluding to the subject. Mrs. Mason spoke in reply and said they never knew such proceedings were going on. They attributed my visits to the city solely to a desire to see my parents, and had not
suspected there was young lady in the case.
We visited in the district a couple of days, and then made a final crossing over the swift waters of the Saskatchewan River.
(Addenda - 1960 - a note by the author.)
Saskatchewan celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1955, and I was invited to participate in the local festivities in the old Sunkist area. But Sunkist no longer officially existed. The Post Office was closed, while the new railway towns of Lucky Lake, Demaine and Beechy had become the trading centres. Farmers were living in these towns, and driving out to work their land. Small schools had been supplanted by consolidated schools.
On the Sunday morning we held a service in my old Trinity Church, which stood on its elevation overlooking the countryside, the sole remaining reminder in its gleaming white, of Sunkist's departed glory. After church we ate an outdoor lunch in the church's shade. The aged carpenter, Alex Heggie, was seated beside me at the head of the table. We reminisced about the building operations. When in a brief speech I mentioned the tea I had brewed, and the sandwiches Alex had provided, someone interjected "I'll bet they were strawberry jam sandwiches". "Ay, they were that", Alex agreed.
In the afternoon we held a public service in the Beechy Agricultural Grounds with the minister, pianist, and the choir, occupying a small truck. On the weekday there was a parade, and some fellowship hours, followed by a banquet and a dance. One of the mothers reminded me "You baptized my baby forty years ago, sure you remembered". I had to concentrate hard to recall the occasion, but it was fresh in her memory.
In June 1947, after several crop failures, one major depression, a Second World War, and exactly thirty orbitings of the earth around the sun, the purchaser of my team of black driving horses Jared Paisley, paid his promissory note for my horses. I thought that constituted some kind of a record in horse trading and integrity.
While living at Duck Lake, Sask., I received a telephoned request from a son of Mr. and Mrs. Rusnell, my old Sunkist friends, to come and conduct the funeral of Mrs. Rusnell. That meant a drive of two hundred miles, but I was very glad to be able to go.
Again in November of that same year, I was asked to come to officiate at the funeral of Millie Cornish. We buried Millie in the same grave in which we had interred her infant daughter, Henrietta, thirty-five years, previously. I was impressed with the number of familiar names on the tombstones, which now dotted the Canaan municipal cemetery, we had inaugurated so many years ago. I also noted with genuine approval that my old cottage had been moved from the church site, to the cemetery, for use as a tool shed. Further, regarding my former abodes, I took a picture of my shack of 1910 on the farm of Herb Anderson, where it had become a chicken house.
(The author resumes his narrative as follows):
On arrival at Elbow from Sunkist I bought a meal ticket at a Chinese cafe but on learning that there were better meals at a
local hotel I joined some bank boys there for midday repasts. On the subject of desserts one of my
friends declaimed on the merits of apple pie. "You always know what you are getting in good old
apple pie". He forked a bit and to our consternation there remained on his plate half a fat
cockroach. "Ah" we chorused "You always know what you are getting in good old apple
My vicarage at Elbow was a tiny two roomed shack. I found in my mission that most of my flock lived in and about Loreburn and it was decided that I should move to that town. A lot was purchased and on a chilly morning a small party of us set to work shoveling snow off the site for a new home and we proceeded to build a house on blocks.
It being the last year of the first World War there were no carpenters available so the house was built by voluntary labour. Right after Easter I went to Regina to be married. The bride-elect was Muriel Porter who was acting Secretary to Premier Martin of Saskatchewan. She was also organist at St. Mary's Church. She was the first of the four Porter sisters to marry Incumbants of Missionary Parishes in the Diocese of Qu'Appelle.
The Rector of St. Mary's Church, Canon William Simpson officiated at our wedding assisted by the Bishop Harding. We went to the coast on our wedding trip and we appreciated the balmy weather there after the cold of the prairies. We also noted the prevalent rains of Vancouver. Our friends consoled us with the assurance that their rain did not wet you - which was a fib comparable to the prairie fable that you do not feel the cold there because the air is so dry. However it was note-worthy that most pedestrians carried umbrellas.
We were impressed with the sight of holly trees growing in profusion but we resented the ubiquitous mountains obstructing one's view in every direction. We were intrigued with the rising and falling of ocean tides. We gazed across the water at the lair of "the Lion's" wrapped in their eternal sleep. We wished that they would stand up and roar occasionally. Small boats raced up and down the Inlet and at evening came the "play of the pied frogs' orchestra." Motorists from outside British Columbia and pedestrians crossing streets found the local customs confusing. In B.C. you turned to the left to meeting oncoming traffic. It was the law when you are in China you do as the Chinese do.
In Victoria we observed the local convention of taking tea and crumpets at the Empress Hotel. We reached Prince Rupert after a passage across "The Sound" which our boat Captain rated as his roughest passage in three months. The new Coast terminal of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway gave the impression of a cluster of houses placed on stilts which merged out of muskeg and rocks. There were plank roads with passing bays at regular intervals. High stairways connected streets of various levels. There was an imposing dry dock which had not yet been used. We visited a fish packing plant where we saw huge quantities of fish being processed for shipment to prairie and Eastern markets.
We had planned to return home via Edmonton but several trains were held up by mud slides, and we had to remain in Prince Rupert for nine days. Finally our tickets were taken up and replaced by boat tickets home by Vancouver.