MRS. BUD PIPER:
I’m telling this story for my husband, Bud Piper. His family came to the Peace River Country in the spring of 1912, shortly after the Miller family had arrived and settled in Rolla.
We came from New Mexico, traveling by train to Edson, then purchased four large oxen, two covered wagons, a tent and a walking plow. There were six mules supplied free. My family were my mother and father, Willis and Sally Piper, my sister, Helen, and my brothers Ernest, Bill and myself – Bud. The Edson trail was rough. Rivers had to be forded, muskeg patches to cross and mosquitoes were in abundance. Fishing in the Smoky River though, was a thrill. Some days the going was so rough that we only made a few miles and of course there were days when we stopped to bake bread and wash clothes.
When we arrived in Grande Prairie my father and elder brother went ahead scouting for the land. They came back to Grande Prairie and filed. Then, we all proceeded to our new homesteads on the Saskatoon Creek.
That summer we lived in the tent, trimmed a bit of sod and planted a few potatoes and vegetables. Then set about building a small log cabin. We traded one of our wagons to Mr. Hector Tremblay for a milk cow and calf. Our family was soon firmly established in our log cabin with a rock fireplace built by my father for heat. The next winter we set a few traps and soon made that our main means of livelihood.
We had our oxen for about three years and broke some land, growing mostly food for our stock. The first wheat we seeded froze so badly that it wasn’t any good. Later when we did manage a small mature crop it was threshed by Mr. Tremblay who had a threshing machine drawn by horse power. A cog wheel broke when he was threshing for us and parts weren’t obtained until the next spring. We had wheat ground into flour and meal by a mill owned by Mr. Trelle, father of the late Herman Trelle who was named the first, ‘Wheat King’ with his winning the award for wheat grown in the Wembley District.
Mr. Harry Gibson traveled with us over the Edson Trail and Mr. Frank Haskins also accompanied us as he was making his first trip in on foot. He soon established the first general store in Pouce Coupe, first in a tent, until the store building could be built. Harry Gibson had a hay mower and mowed our first hay. Having no regular hay rake we raked it into mounds with pitchforks.
The first mail came to the families by team from Grande Prairie and the Metis named ‘Buckle’ carried it from there to Fort St. John. Sometimes he used a team and left his horses at our place on Saskatoon Creek and carried it the rest of the way on his back.
Mr. and Mrs. Louis Cadona and son Bill came in 1913 and homesteaded near us. Later on they had the first Post Office named ‘Kilkerran.’
Much wild meat was killed for food. Wild strawberries and raspberries and saskatoons were plentiful. We ran very short of flour sometimes and my mother would add mashed potatoes to the bread dough to make the flour last longer. A trip was made back to Edson in the summer of 1913 to replenish our groceries.
The first Anglican Church services were held in our home by an Anglican Minister, Mr. Speke, from Lake Saskatoon. The Harpers, Cadonas, Atchisons, Mrs. Kate Edwards, and the Sheppard and Addy families were some of the people who attended those first church services.
A trapper living in the Dawson Creek area had a few horses and we took them to feed and pasture on a partnership basis and so disposed of our slow moving oxen. Our first cow and heifer calf produced many nice calves and by 1920 we had a nice herd of cattle.
In 1918, I joined the North West Mounted Police, trained in Regina, and was sent to Siberia in a mounted army unit. So with our specially trained horses it took us seventeen days to sail from Vancouver to Vladivistok. Many of our men had the flu and even the horses were sick and some died on the way. We spent a year in Siberia and then returned to Vancouver. We were held there to help quell a riot in a strike that had developed there, but we were happy not to be involved in any real trouble in Canada.
After I returned home, my brother, Willy, mother and father and sister, Helen, decided to go back to Oklahoma, which was my birthplace. Thus, they worked in their own fields there and my brother Ernie and myself batched and looked after our cattle and horses. In 1923 we sold most of our cattle and built our first large frame house.
Our father passed away that fall.
We still trapped in the winter, raised only enough food for our stock. Also, we played baseball a lot, traveling with the Dawson Creek Ball Team to Grande Prairie, to Spirit River, Beaverlodge, West Saskatoon, Wembley and all the small surrounding districts. During sports and picnic days where baseball was always the main attraction, and almost always followed as it was by a dance. Those were the good old days.
There were many hardships both on the trapline and in clearing, breaking and farming with horsepower, but we were happy and content in our new home in Canada.
In 1926 I married a local girl from Rolla and we raised a family of five — two daughters and three sons. We are now the proud grandparents of sixteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren and still live on the farm on Saskatoon Creek.