‘Loud voices and table pounding’

From our January 2014 issue

By Jeannette Rapley SauntryFredericton, N.B.

In the summer of 1915, George Rapley and his wife, Gunda Serley, arrived from Chetek, WI to take possession of land grant 22-1-17, their new homestead seven miles south of Canuck, Sask., joining a number of other homesteaders already living in the area.

They spent their first winter at a boardinghouse in Shaunavon, where their first son Raymond (Ray) was born. They returned to their homestead in the spring. Over the next few years three more boys and five girls joined the family; Donald (Don); Maynard; Robert (Bob); Edna; Helen; Lyla; Shirley; and Betty.

The children attended the nearby Patriot School until it was closed and then Daffodil School. Daily life was one of hard work accompanied by the occasional neighbourhood social at the local school.

In 1938, George died leaving his wife and children to continue to farm and in 1940, Gunda died after a short illness. This was a difficult time for the family as the youngest was only five.

Ray, who had been away working, returned home to the farm while Don joined the army, Maynard joined the air force, and Bob joined the American army. Edna and Helen went off to work leaving Lyla, Shirley, and Betty with Ray on the farm. It was decided in the fall of 1942 that these young sisters would go to live with their mother’s brothers in Chetek, Wisconsin.

The four Rapley brothers were reunited again following the end of the war. Don, Maynard, and Bob all found land to farm near Waldville, Sask. They married, began families, ran cattle, and harvested together for many years.

Over this period they came together for large family dinners and fall harvests. Meals were frequently enlivened by the loud voices and expressive table pounding of the brothers. Not infrequently, these same brothers were often seen standing on Main Street in Climax having a heated argument over the issue of the day.

After the death of the last remaining brother Don, his daughter-in-law, Rita, had the idea that the Rapley brothers should be remembered in some special way. The end result was a commemorative bench which was placed in front of the store in Climax on July 1, 2012, where many of those famous arguments were held.

Rapley commemorative bench on July 6, 2013 at Climax, Sask. Left: Ray’s son, Bob; Ray’s wife, Jean; Don’s son, Clint; Maynard’s wife, Pauline, and son, Charlie; and Bob’s son, George.