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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Leaving Essex

No date on this letter but it would have been spring of 1906 when Horace was preparing to leave for Canada to join brothers Arthur and Ernest.
My dear Alice
I am just writing you a few lines hoping you are quite well as I am up to the present. It is getting rather close now for me to be off.
I should like to have seen you once again before I went but suppose I cannot, but cheer up, there will come a time some day.
I went last night to see my friend off. I expect you will not know who I mean but Louie does. H. Buck. It was not a very nice night
but he seemed cheerful.
I am just having a look now to see what I want to take with me and the others are sticking away and Cecil is writing labels and
marking my things. I went to town today and bought a few more things and had a good look round. I have just been to choir
practice for the last time. I expect you have gone to bed by this time. It is about 11 o'clock and I don't think I shall be about much
longer so goodnight and God bless you.
Friday afternoon
We have just finished dinner and Mary is washing up. Who do you get to help you wash up now have lost the butler? I daresay he
will come and help you again some day. Don't you think so?.
Of course you will not be able to answer this letter as you will not know my address, but I shall let you know it as soon as possible.
I daresay you will think it a curious letter and written rather funny but I thought it would be easier with a pencil. We had a letter from
Arthur yesterday and he said that Ernest was at Indian Head so it wiill be better for me won't it? I will write and let you know what
sort of a voyage I have. Louie said in her letter that you got home alright. You must not worry you know or you will get thin and
worry killed the cat. And every cloud has a silver lining.
Saturday afternoon
I have been packing my box and have just been to Pickfords office with it. We had rather a heavy load so Mr. Beaumont took it
I had a day yesterday of saying goodbye, a job that I did not care about but I have got it over at last and I am just going to have
my dinner and then off. So goodbye and cheer up. May I always remain your ever loving boy

Monday, January 21, 2008

This month in history

Just past a family history milestone here on Jan. 15. It marked the date of the funeral in 1942 for my Dad's Uncle Alf. He would have been 71 give or take a year or so. Just about 39 years earlier he had come to homestead in Sask. on this location with his brother and cousin.
Alf was born in Chetnole Dorset, U.K., the son of an agricultural labourer. In his early twenties he travelled by sailing ship to Queensland Australia. A voyage that took well over a month .Living conditions were not the greatest in Dorset at the time with little chance for improving your lot in life. Although why he went so far as Australia is not known. He did have a cousin living there at the time so this may have been a factor He worked on a sheep ranch near Graceville, Queensland for several years before returning to England. Then he and his brother Tom (my grandfather) sailed for Canada. Few details remain of this adventure but it is known that they worked on the railroad construction crews through the Canadian Rockies.
Continueing on their way south into the U.S. they worked on threshing crews eastward eventually arriving at New York harbour to return to England. This would have been in the early 1900s as by 1903, Alf, Tom, and cousin Jack all left Dorset again and sailed for Canada to homestead farms in what was at that time the Northwest Territories, later known as Saskatchewan.
The rest of his life Alf lived alone in his log cabin, never travelling any further than the 11 miles to the village of Lipton for his mail and other supplies. It must have been a quiet life especially in the winter. No tv, radio or telephone. Long cold nights with only the light of a coal oil lantern or the flames of poplar blocks burning in the wood stove. No sounds other than the howling of coyotes or the wind swaying the trees outside his log cabin.
This photo was taken of Alf in the early 1930s just in front of the door of his cabin.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

1907 letter to the Homesteader

This letter was written by Emily Nevard of Lexden, Essex, England, to her brother, Horace, who had emigrated to Canada a year earlier in 1906. It gives a bit of insight into the hardships of travel, homesteading, etc. The date , "guy day" I believe refers to Guy Fawkes day , early in November.

Lexden, Essex
1907 (Guy Day)
Dear Horrie
I am just writing to let you know Mother is sending you a parcel. Cecil posted it off today. It is the vest you were to have
taken with you when you went away. You know you put Cecil's on instead of your new one so Cecil had to wear it last
winter and one like the one you took away. Now mother has mended them both well and has sent them to you as she
thought even if you have the money you cannot get them so good out there. Mother has sent another old one as besides
she thought it would be handy for Mary to patch yours or Arthur's vests or pants, or Ern's if they wanted it instead of
darning so much. Unless she would like to make a vest out of it for young Ernie.
You will find a small pair of pants in the parcel. Mother made them for him. The parcel weighed about 3 1/2 pounds before
we put them in. Mother didn't like the idea of paying 6d for the half pound so she thought she would send all she could.
She made the pants in a hurry out of a pair that was too small for either you or Cecil. I hope you will get them alright.
Cecil wrote on the post office form (which we have to put on the parcel) "worn underwear", not subject to duty. The post office
official told him to write on it, "made in England" as he said if it is made in England and there is any duty to pay they deduct
some. You might let us know if you have to pay any duty. You don't ought as they have all been worn and mended.
Mother put one of your white collars in that is marked with your name. There is a skein of wool sewn into the sleeve of one
vest which you can take out and give to Mary. There is a piece of white cotton wool. Mother thought it would be handy if
your toes were sore at any time.
The things were sewn up in brown calico, new. We thought it would be stronger than paper and would come in useful for
Mary. So take care of everything and take them up to Mary when you go.
I do hope you will get the parcel alright as it is worth a good bit as the vest you left is a very good one.
Mother did think of sending them to Headlands but as you are stopping on she thought you might be glad of them.
Mother will be very anxious to know if you have got it. She is going to buy Cecil 2 new vests out of her club ticket.
We are very sorry to hear from Arthur that their corn was frozen. It is very discouraging to Arthur after so much labour.
I expect it will make it bad for you all. How will Arthur and Ernie get on this winter? Do you think they will have money
enough to carry them through or will you have to lend them some? You need not let them know I ask you this as I know
Ern is very much against being in debt to anyone. But if you cannot help being so you must.
I expect Ern gets very worried over it all sometimes. Do you think he wish he never went out? Of course the first few years
is rough to everyone, especially without money.
Will Arthur and Ern be able to sell their corn at some price? I expect they are going to have it thrashed as Mary said something
about the men coming in one of her letters. If I had a nice sum of money I would lend them some.
How will you travel when you get to Headlands, by road or rail? How did Ern go? I hope you won't have a rough journey like
you had last year.
We have had lovely weather for the last few days. We didn't light a fire in the room Saturday or today until just before tea.
Of course its chilly but when we are busy we don't notice it.
I haven't seen one Guy today and we are not haveing any fireworks on the shed at the back.
Friday morning
Dear Horrie
We haven't much work this week. We done the mangling last night. I have a fire in the ironing stove and shall soon make a start.
I often wonder what you all are doing and I expect you do the same of us. Cecil was busy putting panes of glass on the greenhouse
yesterday as there were several off. Mrs. Wilson of Colne Rd. is painting the house in front so we shall look smart.
Mr. Wilson left R. Beaumont's 2 years last March and has been working on his own ever since and have got on well. You see I
reckon he does it cheaper than Beaumont's firm. He do a bit of carpentering or put a tile on where it is wanted so he is the handyman.
Arthur Clayden is still at home. He has no situation at present. We had very nice services at the Church on Sunday as we kept all
Saints day then as it was last Friday. Father used to like "The saints of God , their conflict past".
Grandmother went to the 8 o'clock service on Friday morning and to evening service on Sunday. They are both fairly well, as well as
one could expect for their age. Grandfather still takes the pail and gather manure.
We are all well and hope you are well. I hope you will get nice weather. I shall have to leave off now as Cecil is going.
So goodbye with love from us all, from your loving sister ..
Emily E. Nevard.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Another letter from the "Homesteader"

Headlands P.O. Sask.
April 27, 1908
Dear Horace
We got your letter alright and I sent 2 letters off to you and I am sending 2 more off today that Earn brought
home last week, he forgot the address.
Earn has seeded about 9 and a half acres of wheat and I have 7 acres ready to seed and my stubble burnt
off ready to seed.
I shall disk it twice and seed it. We have picked a flour bag full of wheat and another one half full so we may get
enough for 1 acre each. I have hand picked 1/2 bushel of oats. The wheat is easy now as there are not many weed
seeds in it. The oats are easy too. Jerry's ride is a good big one. I have written off to the Free Press to say what they
say about it. We use the two oxen on the seeder. It is a bit heavy for them but they manage it. I used the two
horses on the disk but the shag is not heavy enough or she is getting too near foaling as she nerly played out.
I had a letter from Aunt Eliza and Aunt Annie. Uncle George was to be married on Easter Sunday. Willie Luceny
is out in Canada at Quebec working for the Dominion Bridge Co. Cecil Nevard is working in the bush in New Ontario.
I had a letter from Emily and Louie as well. Grandmother is getting a little better but she is not right yet.
Canon Lester is leaving Lexden. He is exchanging livings with a clergyman in Somersetshire. He is leaving 2 weeks
after Easter.
Billy started opening one of your letters before Mary noticed him so you can paste him for that when you come up.
Mary asked me to tell you one of the pullets has been setting for 3 weeks and I have no money to buy her eggs.
I took a load of wheat down and got $4.10 for 16 !/2 bushels. I don't want to take anymore as we have only the fanning
mill cleanings to take or the stuff we got out for seed and it is like throwing it away. I do wish you could send us some
money the end of the month or in May I mean, if you can get some as I am nearly ashamed to go and see Mrs. McNeil
after butter as I can not get any money off Chapman and we will be out of bacon and sugar in a few days.
We have enough bacon for a week and sugar for 2 weeks. I have $14 to come from Chapman yet and I am bound to get
even if he threshes for me in the fall as I will stop it out of the bill.
Earn has built the pig pen and has only to sod the sleeping place up to be ready for them to go into. I expect you are
having rough weather down there like us. We have quite a snowfall up here. The rain came alright to soften the breaking
up. We can knock up the lumps better.
I will let you know about the wife later on as I have to get a letter from her. But I shall try and persuade her to come
out next spring to spare me going home as it will cost a lot one way and another and will take off money that will be
wanted for other things.
Cecil sent me a note last week in the People and asked me to tell you the K.R. Rifles beat the town for P. Charity by
3 goals to 2. They are very dirty players Cecil says. Young Horace is going to stay with Mother and Emily for a time at
And now I am going to have my dinner so I will have to conclude as there is nothing going on up here. I forgot we are
getting some hay for the use of the feeder off Bonham. And now don't forget the money if you can get some. I would not
ask but the need is very great.
Goodby, love from all, I remain your loving brother, A. Nevard.
I tore one of the envelopes off to make it lighter as I did not want it to cost more than 2 cents as I have not many stamps

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Homesteader's Letter
This letter was written by A.W. Nevard to his brother Horace who was working for a farmer at Indian Head , Sask.
for the summer. A.W. was back at the homestead taking care of the farm. It gives some idea of the hardships and
obstacles faced by the early homesteaders that came to this country from England.

Headlands P.O.
Summer, 1908
Dear Horace
I thought I would write to you as Mary is writing to Earn. We have put 29 loads in a stack of hay at the back of the stable
and Mr. McNeil I expect has cut the hay on his own place so I am going to team on there on Monday and then he will
move over and cut about 10 more loads on our section.
There were 12 cows and 4 calves on my oats on Wednesday afternoon so I got Mr. McNeil to help me and we fetched
them over here and put them in the pasture field and while I was gone the blamed things broke out and went in the oats
and Mary sent them down the bottom and they went in the barley.
Between the cattle and gophers we won't get much barley and between the gophers and cattle and oxen I won't have many
oats on my place.
I went over to see the Jew and charged him $10 for my own time and Mr. McNeils and damages to the grain so he will work
for me with a team for 2 days.
If you have not written about that homestead you had better get a move on and write as it is over now about 9 days and you
want to come up and enterprise as soon as possible so you are not doing that when you might be out harvesting as I would
like you to be here from Sat. to Monday night so you could help me put that roof on the house as I have got the roof lumber.
You might fetch me a pair of work boots when you come , like the picture if you can get them or something like them.
Size 11. You can get them at Chisolms near the P.O. in Indian Head.
There is no one on that quarter so Brown has no right to it now and if you do not get it we shall have a blame Jew on it and have
about 20 head of cattle running in our crop I expect. So get a move on. I will pay you for the boots out of the first money I get......

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Winter birds

Starting out with a pic of one of the more colourful birds that show up at the feeder most days this winter. Its a male Pine Grosbeak. They love the black sunflower seeds. Strong competition for the chickadees who are a lot smaller.
January has been way above normal temps so far . Global warming maybe? Or just a temporary break from normal. Whatever, we won't be complaining I think.