Foreclosed-on farmers refused to leave

From our November 2013 issue

By Scotty Wells – Scarborough, Ont.

I was born on a rented farm six miles southeast of Rapid City, Man.,  in 1930. In April 1937, dad managed to buy a bank-foreclosed farm two miles southeast of Rapid City.

Come moving day, our neighbours Victor Kille, Les Cornish, Bright Nesbitt, and Addison Garbutt came with their wagon boxes. We loaded up what furniture and farm equipment we had and set off for the new farm. When we arrived at about 1:00 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.  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. It badly cut both his legs.  They were now, obviously, in unfortunate circumstances. He couldn’t farm and he and his wife had no place to go.

Dad rode our horse to Rapid City to call the RCMP, who 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.

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, got me a job grading eggs for Dominion Poultry in Brandon in the fall of 1947.

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