Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Remembering the Farm: Little Church on the Prairies

My sister, Evelyn, in front of the little church we attended from birth until we left home.

My sister sent me a picture taken this fall of the old church we used to attend and many of her memories of it. That got me thinking about the many years I attended services there.

My Grandfather Freke  Wolfe Hingston (who was also DC Power's grandfather) was a sincere man of God and minister of the gospel. He immigrated to Canada from Skibbereen County Cork Ireland in 1906 at the age of 21, settled on his homestead and then began holding church services in the Landis Saskatchewan area. A Pentecostal Church was established in Cavell in 1926 and the following year, my Grandfather took over as Pastor while continuing to farm on the home place two miles south of town.

Ad from The Landis Record c. 1910

In 1946 the building pictured above, a former butcher shop, was purchased and renovated and served the local assembly until 1987. The name Beulah Mission on the front was missing the first S for as long as I can remember. My grandfather retired in 1952 and my father took over in the position, as it was then called, of Elder, where he was later joined by Floyd Nasheim. The little flock, never numbering more than 20 to my recollection, which attended faithfully every Sunday, were now followers of the North Battleford based “Move of the Spirit” and that is the faith in which my brothers, sister and I grew up.

My father or Floyd led the services and along with my Uncle Cyril led the singing too. Hymns were all acapella as the old pump organ rarely had someone to play it. Dad would start on keys that were comfortable for him to sing and had a fine singing voice. Mostly we sang the old hymns, without aid of hymnal. At the Cross, It is Well with My Soul, The Old Rugged Cross, Great is Thy Faithfulness, I am Thine, Oh Lord and dozens and dozens of others.

Services were long for young kids and to pass time we would look out the window, trying not to get caught, and count the rail cars as the trains went by or watch the birds in the caragana hedge or anything that moved for that matter.

We looked forward to visitors, especially the “Traveling Ministries” who would come from North Battleford to minister to the little assemblies all over the country. One was Brother Hunt (we were all Brothers and Sisters in the Lord) who was a Greek scholar among other things and very interesting to listen to but also very long winded. Apparently I told him one Sunday that if I had known he was coming I’d have eaten a second bowl of cornflakes. He was the man who convinced me that education was important and that cattle were an integral part of a well managed farm environment. He set me on my life’s journey as a beef cattle specialist. I owe him for that.

Another favourite family was the Hinchliffs. Their son Mark was my age and we would always have a great time playing in the afternoons while the folks visited. And (my future in-laws) the Livingstons. They were Aunt and Uncle long before they became Mom and Dad. Ella came with them the first (and only?) time when she was seven and I was eight. I was smitten and she was less than impressed. Seventeen years later she married me anyway.

The last service was held in the old building in 1987. The young folks all moved away and the old folks either died or moved away. So Dad closed the building down and for the next 15 years drove the hour or so to North Battleford to attend church service. The old church and my grandfather’s old house are about the only two “original” buildings left standing of the little town where I went to school and to church.


  1. not to sound critical - but purely to keep you well-informed: it is pronounced "freak" in Ireland. Ky & I learned that when we were in CastleFreke and had to ask for directions to the castle... they kept telling us, "your IN CastleFreke" and we were like, "ummm... but where's the CASTLE?" Some Irishfolk may pronounce it "Frake", but not the people who live there... :)

  2. We always knew our family was a bunch of freaks.

    I like this story, Dad.

  3. Thanks, Steph. That makes May-B's comment doubly accurate.

  4. Comments from my siblings:

    Looks fine Al. Didn't see any errors. The church and the Hingston house are the only 2 original buildings left.
    Adding the 1910 Landis Record ad was a nice touch.

    Yes Dad loved to sing, really had a good voice - and he would sing the "parts" which I loved, like in the song "It is Well with my Soul", in the chorus, he would sing the second shadow part "It is Well ...It is Well....."With my soul ...With my Soul"

    Some other memories were the venetian blinds - Dad always adjusting them just right every morning before service. He was always making sure everyone was comfortable and all their needs were looked after.

    I remember Lorne coming to church there, and saying "he who stinketh in church must sit in his own pew"

    I remember Mike and May coming in every Sunday morning, Mike would come in practically on the run, and May would walk more slowly and gracefully. I remember when Wes was a baby and a little boy growing up, the Simpsons were so delighted about him. And I remember Emma and Brian and Barry, sitting near the back. And Freda, Shirley and Jean.

    I remember that Ross thought the words to the song "The Church in the Wildwood" went like this:

    Oh, come, come, come, come
    Come to the church in the wildwood
    Oh, come to the church in Cavell
    No spot is so dear to my childhood
    As the little brown church in Cavell.

    Very wonderful! thanks for writing that and thanks for sharing it with me!

  5. This was a great post, my old man. I loved hearing about the old building and you growing up in it. I'm also glad to hear that it was running until 1987, because I felt so sure that I remembered going to it when I was really, really little.
    And you would not believe my word verification: "preacher."
    I think they do that sort of thing on purpose.

  6. Great post, daddy-o. I like to hear about when you were a kid.


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