Bought a homestead and left the city behind

From our March 2013 issue

By Elizabeth Harder – La Crete, Alta.

Dad decided in 1951 he didn’t like the thought of raising a family in the city.

He returned north to see about getting a homestead. Land was being offered for a small fee plus improvements to the land each year. He was fortunate to get two quarters of land in what is now called the West La Crete area.

Jake Friesen also went and leased right across from us. They moved north that fall and lived on the yard of Grandpa Braun’s that winter and the following summer until they had a house to move into.

We stayed in Edmonton another winter. It wasn’t hard to sell off our house and other belongings that we wouldn’t be taking with us.

One incident that stands out to me was the sale of our car. Dad advertised and it seemed we got an answer almost right away. Dad was at work and these two men arrived at our door asking about the car. They didn’t question the price but were just so ready to make a deal. They even had cash!

Mom phoned dad and while she was out of the room one man asked the other if he thought “it would work”. The other guy said, “Don’t worry, it will be okay.”

Well, mom came back in and said they would sell but dad couldn’t be home just yet to take their cheque. Well, they said, “We have cash. All we need is for you to sign that you sold to us and we’ll be on our way.”

Three days of travel

This was done and they quickly left with their car. We always thought there was something not right there, but the money was good and that’s what counted with us. Dad bought a good pickup to help with the move north.

After travelling three days, camping in a tent for the night, we arrived in La Crete. It was raining very hard and we children were under a tarp covering on the back of the truck. We got soaked and were not a happy bunch.

Arriving on our homestead site we set up camp: two tents, one for cooking and one for sleeping. Not for long though, as we put up the frame of a small house and moved in.

Our brother, Carl, had the habit of bumping his head against the couch back until he fell asleep. Not having a couch proved a real trial to him, but he solved that problem by sitting in the truck and banging his head on the seat back until he fell asleep.

We didn’t go visiting often. Sundays there would be a gathering in our home or later in the schoolhouse for singing and reading the Bible together, and this usually turned into an all day visit.

I don’t remember ever missing the city, but it seemed a very long time before we were accepted as part of the community.

Coming from “outside,” we dressed differently, drove trucks, and wanted schools and this was part of the reason we had our own little gatherings on Sundays.

The spring sister Anna arrived, mom and dad had to go to Edmonton for the event. Before they left, dad made chop for the animals and forgot to drain the tractor of water. After they left it turned very cold once more and the tractor block split.

Baby chicks were on order and arrived during this time. Helena and I fenced off a corner of the kitchen and put down lots of newspaper, sharing the room with 112 baby chicks.

After a few days they had grown quite a bit and developed funny brown spots on their backs and heads. We finally found they got singed every time they passed under the air hole of the gas lantern we were using to keep them warm.

We fixed that by enclosing the base of the lantern to keep them away and didn’t lose one chick.