‘They couldn’t get rid of me’

From our January 2014 issue

By Dorothy Willson – Boissevain, Man.

My grandfather, William Willson, and grandma homesteaded in 1882 from the Blenheim and Ridgetown areas of Ontario. Then dad and mom took over in 1910. They planted 4,000 trees from Indian Head, Saskatchewan.

I’ve had to bury the barn. The foundation was of stone, cut by stonecutters in 1898. The grain elevator was built in 1903, is in terrible shape and parts are falling down.

It had a pit which I went down in to sweep out the corners with a broom and a slanted floor so the grain could move to the hole where the hoist with the metal holders on it to pick up the grain as it was going by the hole.

The operation was done first by one horse going around in a circle, which was before my time, and then dad got a 7 hp engine. He seemed to be the only one who could crank it to get it going! Then when we got hydro on the farm, I believe in 1948, and dad had an electric motor.

The ceiling was low so we shovelled out the grain with a scoop shovel at the end of the truck box (hole). You couldn’t really stand up. He had a 1928 International truck, the only one-ton he ever had.

I loved the life and now live here all by myself. The rest of the kids, all six of them, went away and got married, but they couldn’t get rid of me.

I worked for Jack Gelling from the Prince Albert area. He was a jeweller and watchmaker in town. He wanted me to buy the business so I had it from 1966 to 1989.

His niece wrote a piece on Jack’s gun collection of over 200 guns. As soon as I saw the headline, I thought to myself ‘I bet that’s Jack’ and sure enough, it was. The story was in The Senior Paper.

I’m now 84 and never married – the only kid in our family who didn’t get married. I never got to see the Gaar Scott steam engine running.

It sat here on the farm for years because my grandpa and dad got an International combine and swather and 1530 McCormick Deering tractor.

Then when the war came along, some fellow was going around wanting scrap for the war effort. Dad was sorry he let it go.