The first cattle were brought from Dawson Creek area to a meadow on the edge of this district by Mr. Liveborn of Dawson Creek. He used this meadow just in summer — this was in 1918. The first permanent cattle were brought into the district in 1920. They were brought here by a group of ex-service men that settled in this part of the country in 1919.
The first field crops were green feed (oats). The first threshing machine into this district was in about 1925. Mr. J. Stubley bought it.
The first agricultural Fair was a local fair in the early 30’s, but the Kiskatinaw Fall Fair was started soon after this and sponsored by a group of Institutes — Arras, Willow Valley, Bon Accord, Groundbirch and Sunset Prairie. This went on for 16 years, not running during the war, but on until 1956, when it was agreed to postpone it for a year to enable members to attend the Dawson Creek Fall Fair, which had recently started. During the 30’s people here used to ship cream. It had to be taken by team and wagon to a creamery near Pouce Coupe. The return trip took about 3 days, the driver bringing back groceries and supplies and sometimes mail. Before there was a Post Office at Sunset Prairie, for many years the mail was brought from Dawson Creek to Sunset Prairie, 30 miles by team and wagon or sleighs. The driver gave a wonderful, efficient service; always coming through no matter what the roads were like.
The settlers built a church (Anglican) in Sunset Prairie in 1927.
LIVESTOCK IMPROVEMENT IN THE SUNSET PRAIRIE AREA
That was the beginning of the cattle raising industry in this country. Nondescript sires were used because a good bull was too expensive. The number of cattle gradually increased during the 1920’s. Some were bought in the Dawson Creek area.
During the life of the creamery on the Pouce Coupe River, some of the families augmented their income by shipping cream once a week, which was a great help.
When the 1920’s arrived so did many more settlers and they took advantage of the Federal Government bull-loaning policy. To qualify we had to form three cattle associations within easy distance of each other thereby establishing a livestock improvement centre.
Each association had to have at least three members with enough cows suitable to the bull as near as possible to capacity. Yearling – twenty-five cows. Two-year olds – forty cows. Three-year olds and over – seventy-five cows. The government delivered a purebred bull to each association — actually to the nearest railroad depot — where the appointed caretakers took charge. After two or three years the associations exchanged bulls, this giving the livestock association about nine years of purebred bull service for the low cost of care and feeding. The breeding fee was one dollar payable to the caretaker, with usually a free meal thrown in to the customer. Hence it was a social occasion all around. From then on the number and quality of cattle increased quite satisfactorily, proving the government policy a welcome success.
Of special note in the cattle breeding history are Mr. & Mrs. Henry Bentley of Benlyn Farms, Progress. With his sons Bill and Doug, Henry built up from scratch an excellent herd of purebred heifers which would do a stockman’s heart good to look over. How this excellence was achieved you know best, and for sure it was not with too much rest. With the number of expanding herds, it promises a profitable business in this area.