Foreclosed-on farmers refused to leave

From our November 2013 issue

By Scotty Wells – Scarborough, Ont.

I was born in 1930 on a rented farm in Manitoba, six miles southeast of Rapid City. In April 1937, dad had managed to buy a bank-foreclosed farm two miles southeast of Rapid City in the Municipality of Saskatchewan 16-13-19.

Come moving day, our neighbours Victor Kille, Les Cornish, Bright Nesbitt, and Addison Garbutt came with their wagon boxes, loaded up what furniture we had and farm equipment, and we set off for the new farm. When we arrived at about 1 p.m. the original owners, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Pierce, wouldn’t let us in the house.

In the fall of 1936, Mr. Pierce was mowing hay, and when the mower jammed, he got off to clear it. At the same time, a low flying plane flew over him. His horses bolted and he was caught in the mower blade which badly cut both his legs. They were obviously in unfortunate circumstances.

Dad rode our horse, Prince, to Rapid City to call the Mounted Police. They arrived a few hours later. After some negotiations, the Pierces agreed to let us move upstairs while they stayed downstairs. Dad, mom, my sisters, Alma and Helen, and I moved upstairs.

The cook stove was left outside and mom did the cooking outside for a couple of months until the Pierces found another place to live.

The farm was pretty well run-down. Dad and mom did a lot of work getting it in shape for seeding. About the only thing that was thriving was a bountiful supply of gophers.

Fortunately for me, Mr. Jim Warren had a fox/mink farm a half-mile across the field from us. He was paying 1¢ for each gopher. The second day after our arrival, I was at his place with six gophers I had caught for a total of 6¢. I took them without their tails because dad had told me the municipality also paid 1¢ per tail. This was my first cash income.

Dad and mom stayed on the farm until they retired in 1967. Mr. Pierce became a good friend. He became a councillor, and because of his recommendation, he got me a job grading eggs for Dominion Poultry sales in Brandon in the fall of 1947.

The next year I joined the navy for a five-year period, and served two tours on board the HMCS Cayuga, a tribal class destroyer, during the Korean War from July 5, 1950 until June 1952.

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