Saturday, February 25, 2017

Remembering the Farm: How I met your mother

The last Sunday in May 1956 was warm and sunny with the lilacs starting to bloom. Your mother, 7 in March, drove with her parents from Viscount to our little church in Cavell, where her father ministered that day.  She was the cutest girl I had ever seen, in my 8 years going on 9 in September. I fell for her like Charlie Brown for the Little Red-Haired Girl.  With roughly the same result.  The family went for dinner across the street to my Aunt and Uncle's and she never came with her parents to Cavell again.

The family moved from Viscount to North Battleford in 1960.  I would see her once in a while at Easter and at the eight days of church meetings held the first week of July every year.  (They were dubbed "Camp Meetings" from the by-gone days of evangelists coming to an area, setting up a huge circus tent and people coming from miles around, camping out, while they attended services).  Most people went to North Battleford for the entire week, except my folks who were pretty hit and miss when I was in my teens.

By the time I got there, all the cool kids, of which your mother was one, had already formed cliques.  So I hung out with other loners and outsiders, which was good.  We did not get along.  Your mother considered me a hayseed with no social skills, which was correct.  I considered her more than a little stuck-up, which years later I was to learn was merely a cover for shyness. I still thought she was very cute.

University came and went, along with other girlfriends.  I moved to Ontario.  Then in 1971, I moved back to the farm. There were a number of young people my age at North Battleford so I would drive the hour to visit, skate, play ball or what ever.  I saw your mother more frequently then.  She had gone from cute to beautiful but was dating a friend of mine.  THE RULES are that you cannot even approach the girlfriend of a friend.

So that September I hatched a nefarious plan.  We would host a wiener roast in our pasture and invite the young people from several of the Churches around such Rosetown, Saskatoon, North Battleford.  I wrote to your mother to organize the kids from North Battleford (long distance phone calls were prohibitively expensive, stamps were cheap). Foot in the door. We continued to write periodically.  Her friend worked for my dad that winter and she would come down to see him occasionally.

Things were not going well between your grandfather and I.  The French Foreign Legion having been disbanded, the only choice left was the Canadian Arctic.  Company of Adventurers trading into Hudson's Bay aka HBC or Here Before Christ were hiring "Bay Boys" on a regular basis.  My girlfriend at the time, a friend of your mother's from Edmonton, was working temp at the Northern Stores HQ in Edmonton and got me an interview. I was on my way to Inuvik.

So I was writing boy-friend letters to the girl in Edmonton and friend letters to your mother. I was careful to get them in the right envelopes, unlike your father's Uncle Joe, (which is not just another blog post but an entire book should someone have nerve enough to write it). 

The two girls accompanied your mother's aunt and uncle on a trip through the western states as far as Texas. They crossed into Mexico for a day, either at Nuevo Laredo or Ciudad Juarez, I forget which. My girl friend's following letter was filled with all the exciting sights and sounds of Mexico.  Your mother's with the contrast between the terrible poverty on one side of the road and the huge wealthy mansions on the other.  I knew then I was writing the wrong letters to the wrong girl.  She broke up with my friend the spring of 1973 and I immediately wrote her a long letter.  It was more de Neuvillette than de Bergerac but it did the trick and was apparently not unexpected.

I flew out for a month's holidays in July.  Your mother met me at the Edmonton airport and we were insufferable inseparable while I was home.  She came out to the farm with me.  We went for a walk up the north lane and she parked on a big rock and said "Well, are you going to ask me?" So I did.  Then I went back up north to Cambridge Bay. More letters and a monthly phone call at $70.

She flew up at Christmas 1973 to visit and see how I lived.  One of the nurses had gone home from Christmas so she could stay at the Nursing Station.  Normally a PWA 727 made the direct flight from Edmonton to Cambridge but she ended up on a Lockheed Electra going via Coppermine. It was storming very hard when they flew over Cambridge Bay and visibility was nil.  The pilot circled three times and would have had to go back but a light appeared in a break in the clouds and he pulled it into a steep dive and set it down.

She quickly sized up the situation and made an offer I could not refuse.  We would get married in April 1974, I would go back to University and she would work to put me through for my MSc.  Then she would stay home and raise a family.  So we did and I did and she did.


  1. Wonderful story and from all I've heard, a very wonderful lady! She was also a pretty good judge of character.

  2. More stories please! I love hearing about other people's lives. Especially romantic stories like this one. I've never thought about blogging some of my life experiences. Too personal I think. I don't want to expose myself!!!!

    1. Remembering the Farm series is for my kids. All the stuff I never told them about my early life before they arrived. I try not to tell other people's stories unless I can do so without harm. Their mother is not here to defend herself unfortunately. There will be another chapter to this tomorrow, by the way.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you. We were married thirty years and two days and raised four wonderful children.

  4. What a great story. I smiled the whole time I read it. <3

  5. A true prairie love story! I enjoyed reading it!

  6. This was a great story and a great idea, Dad. Thanks for posting it.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. How can I save and print just the Remembering the Farm posts?


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