Old friends, with your permission I will reminisce (about) the early history of the area west of the Kiskatinaw River, later to be named Sunset Prairie (where they never did find the prairie!) and Progress where they have been struggling for years to establish the meaning of the name.
To begin with, the first two families settled in the area about 1916. The Murphys in township 79, Sunset Prairie, and the Roseneaus in township 78, Progress. With them were two bachelors — Walter Groat, a trapper with the Murphys and Bob Kerr, a brother of Mrs. Rosenau and who later worked with a government survey of the Peace River Block. By the way — Bob Kerr, who is eighty-eight, is still on his homestead living with himself and his cooking. What endurance!
After World War units of the Canadian Armed Forces were part of the army of occupation in Germany during the winter, 1918-19. At the sprout of spring we found ourselves back in Canada, demobilized. The Canadian government was afraid that the veterans, having the habit, would unite and occupy Canada so they — the government — as far as possible dispersed the vets to the four corners of the Dominion. I joined a group in Calgary, organizing to settle in the aforementioned area of the Peace River Country. The government, bursting with generosity, gave us a loan with a $2000 limit to push us on our way. We outfitted in Calgary, bought horses, machinery [and supplies] and entrained to Grande Prairie, the end of steel [at the time].
We stayed in Grande Prairie two weeks breaking horses, setting up wagons and generally readying for the trek to the Promised Land. However, we were not so fortunate as the Israelites to be blessed with a Moses who would part the raging waters of the Kiskatinaw River, where we drowned three horses making the crossing. The crossing completed, we continued west, doubling up when stuck in mud-holes. At the Rosenau homestead we got a warm welcome from the family and given useful tips about what to expect from the raw frontier of the beautiful Peace River Country.
Having arrived at our different locations, we came face to face with reality. That meant work and more work, and doing our thinking while we worked. One fellow, a bit fed up, remarked, “anyone who would go homesteading hadn’t much to think with anyway, naturally adding to the difficulty.”
However we tackled the job successfully and developed a community spirit of good fellowship that has lasted through the years, and has made the area a good place to live. George Mounsey is the only one left of the original gang living in Sunset Prairie. George and his family have been a strong sustaining influence for the good of the community ever since grubbing out the first tree for his cabin clearing.
In such settlements as ours the first thing to do, after squaring things up around the home, is to build a community hall, the centre for public activity. We punctuated our dances with entertainment items from the various talents among our bunch