Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Growing up as a child I often wondered how my parents could afford to buy a brand new home in the city when they couldn't afford to buy a farm.  I admit, this wondering stemmed from my disappointment is not being able to be a "farm girl" as I always wanted to be.

It was a loan - given to them by the same Grandmother from Iowa who years before had come to the rescue of 11 children left without a Mother or a Father to care for them.  My Great-Grandmother Effie Owens!

So, in 1953, My parents moved into Winnipeg into their brand new home in the Crescentwood area.  It was their first home of their own, and it was also their last.  They lived there until my Mother passed away in 1984.

They might have had a new home, but they didn't have much else.  My Dad's education ended at  grade 7, and other than his work in the mines, his only skills were in farming.  So he took a job as a door to door salesman for Kitchen Queen.  He sold pots and pans, and then vacuum cleaners.  It really wasn't enough to sustain his family so he did odd jobs for pay wherever he could - and his three young son's got paper routes.

I came along in 1955.  Even though life was financially a struggle for my family, somehow they managed to keep their bills paid, and they managed to keep their home.

Shortly after I was born, Noranda Mines of Quebec opened Canada Wire and Cable co. in Winnipeg, and because my Dad had worked for Noranda Mines during the war, he was hired on the spot.  He stayed in that job until he retired in 1985.

Dad quickly became involved in his community through his older son's.  He coached hockey at the local community club, and became a Scout troop leader.  He and my Mother joined Oxford United Church Congregation - and he never left here either until he moved from the city.

Here we all are in front of our house.  He was so proud of 1313... always boasted that it was the luckiest house number anywhere - and for it - it was.  My brother Merv is not in the picture because he took the picture.

Things were easier after Dad got a better job.  His family was growing up, and he was able to start doing the things with his family that he truly loved.  One of those things was fishing.

In the mid 60's Dad bought a very small, used pull trailer and hauled it to a seasonal spot at Caddy Lake.  It became our summer home for many years.  Every weekend we went to the lake where we all enjoyed nature, fishing, boating, swimming.  It was Dad who taught us to appreciate nature - the birds, the wildlife, the constellations, the weather... he was a natural teacher in all things of the outdoors.  His favourite pastime was trolling the shores of Caddy Lake and beyond in his aluminum fishing boat.  The picture isn't a great one, but Dad's boat was always filled with children - his and other peoples.

- Fishing for  "Jacks" and "Pickerels" was always a fun time with Dad - and our catch went straight into the frying pan as soon as they were cleaned!

Did I say fish?  Notice how Dad's eyes are not on the camera but on the fish  - and while you are busy noticing - check out the chubby little girl that just seems to be in every picture - me!

Please don't tell me you never saw fish fillets hanging from the cloths line - didn't every one's Dad's do that.?  Well if your Dad smoked his own fish - he did - these are fish drying from the salt water brine they had been soaking in prior to going in the smoker...

We went on road trips to see Great Grandmother "Effie"many times - the whole family squished into Dad's car, but now the older boys were able to help drive.

Both my parents loved children - but especially my Dad.  So to supplement the household income, my parents started taking in foster children.  Even though at times I am sure my mother was overworked, and our home was less than perfect, I believe it was an experience that everyone in our home benefited from.  We all had to pitch in and help with the additional children in a house.  Sometimes there would be newborns, sometimes toddlers, sometimes older, but always we were taught to consider these strangers our family - and so we did.  We watched and learned from both our parents how to give love and show love to those less fortunate than ourselves.  Even though Dad worked every day, he did dish duty, bottle duty, diaper duty, rocking and singing duty right along with everyone else - and he always did it with a smile... I think this was something he remembered doing in his youth with his own siblings as they were growing up  In the end, my parents made a home for 32 foster children in all.

The years rolled on - Wayne and Mervyn married and started families of their own.  Norman -  that handsome hunk in the second to last picture, moved to Northern BC to work on the Power Dams - and life went on for us all...

to be continued...  

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