In the hole went the horse, o’ course!

From our October 2012 issue

By Cecile Kropinski – Port Alberni, B.C.

This was written with the help of my brother, George A. Coutu of Assiniboia, Sask.

After lunch one day about 1946 our oldest brother, Paul E. was taking a wagon load of wheat to the McCabe Elevator in Scout Lake, five miles from home.

He had a team of horses which pulled evenly, although they were an odd team. They were called Ti-Prince, a small horse, and Grand Prince, which towered over the other by about ten inches.

Nothing was unusual this day. When Paul E. reached Scout Lake, he had to wait in line before going in the elevator to unload. The agent at the time was Leo Fafard.

When Paul E. pulled inside the grain elevator, he stopped his horses at the usual place, where a stopper was usually raised behind the horses so that they wouldn’t back up when the wagon box was tilted to unload. For some reason, this stopper was broken and Leo had thrown it out.

He said to Paul E., “Your horses never move when we unload so we’ll go ahead even if the stopper isn’t there.”

As soon as the wagon box was tilted, lo and behold, Ti-Prince backed up and fell into the hole. He broke through the harness and was left with only the collar around his neck.

Where could he have a better meal than to start eating wheat, into which he had fallen? Now the rush was on to the store to get a screen-nose basket to prevent the horse from eating more wheat. The fear was that if he ate too much, he would bloat up and might burst!

Bursting was the reason farmers were always on the lookout so their granaries didn’t leak, especially through knotholes, which kept leaking until the grain was as high on the outside as the knothole.

This is going back many years. There was no electricity, no doors, and no windows on this bottom floor. There was another rush for lanterns.

There were no power-saws, just handsaws. What made it worse was that the walls of these elevators were built by nailing 2x4s over and over again, as they alternated them.

All that they had were handsaws and once they broke the teeth, they were no good anymore. They would hit nails after nails because they couldn’t see where the nails were. Imagine the turmoil!

After four hours, they were finally able to pull out this horse, but their problems weren’t over. Now was the trouble of making another pole, which had been broken, and fixing the harness so that my brother could go home.

Dad was worried about him because it was already dark and he hadn’t arrived. Paul E. was fuming by the time he reached home after such an incident!