From a taped broadcast
GUS DUMONT: I came to this country in 1920 with my dad, who was a miner in Frank, Alberta. We decided to come to the Peace River to see the country, so we loaded a railroad car with six horses and machinery. From Edmonton to Grande Prairie it took us two weeks by rail. We were delayed one week at Smith , Alberta, because the railroad had washed out at Slave Lake, causing us to unload and reload to get to Grande Prairie. It took another eight days with horses and wagons to get to Pouce Coupe. We looked around but didn’t take any land. In February 1921 we went back to Frank. In March we came back to the Peace River with the rest of the family — mother, brother, sister, dad, and I — to stay. Then we rented land from Tom Reardon, Albert Jalbert, and “Handsome Harry” (whose real name was Harry Horton). It made about eighty acres to crop. When time came to harvest it was all “trade work” with the neighbors, as there was no money. The grain was hauled to Spirit River in winter — six days for a round trip.
In the summer to Grande Prairie it took nine days. Most of the farmers hauled by team to Spirit River. Freighting was the winter occupation of farmers, too, as often as there wasn’t enough snow for sleighing to get in Christmas supplies. The trail was kept busy by a steady stream of about fifty haulers, until breakup of the roadbed in March. We would meet farmers from the whole settlement, about fifteen miles around them. Getting all the local news was just like in a big family.
The worst experiences we had were when the railroad bridges had to be used. By paving the trestles with railroad ties, an eight-foot wide bridge was constructed. Being very high, long, and shaky they made the horses very nervous. One nice but skittish team was blindfolded to make them cross. One horse stepped over the edge and was held in mid-air, but he slipped through the harness, and fell on the snow below.
We had lots of fun in the bunkhouses along the trail during the long evenings. Then during the winter we formed three hockey teams between Rolla, Pouce Coupe, and Dawson Creek. To play competition games we traveled across country with a fast team of horses. I recall some of the players; Wes Harper, Jim Reasbeck, Orville Cusack, Arthur Pelletier, and the two Bower (Bauer) boys. For baseball we formed a team between Pouce Coupe, Dawson Creek, and Rolla. Some of the players were the Harper brothers, and two Dumonts — Leon and I. The main contests were at Beaverlodge on May 24, and Grande Prairie on July 1. I remember Leon and I took a load of grain to Grande Prairie so we would have more money for the game. It took nine days for the trip to make it back for the Sports Day, as we called our rodeo then. Local dances were also very popular. In 1927 the Spirit River trail was replaced by trucking grain to Grande Prairie. The pioneer era was ended.