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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Back In Dorset For Next Christmas

Those were the words that my Grandfather's cousin, Jack Goff said around the time of his first Christmas in Canada in 1903. Out here on the homestead in the district of Assiniboia that would later become the province of Saskatchewan it was a pretty harsh change from a winter in the south part of England. Jack along with his cousins, Tom and Alf Goff had just arrived on the homestead in May of 1903. Homesteads were cheap, 160 acres of land for $10 but a man had to work for it. They had to build a place to live, good enough to survive a Canadian winter, break a few acres of land. Plus buy some horses or oxen to pull the breaking plough. The closest settlement was Fort Qu'appelle some 20 miles south which was a long journey in the days before roads.After spending their first few months in a tent they managed to construct a 10x12 foot log cabin in which to live which was a big improvement over the tent. Still, it must have been a real eye-opener when the snow came and the temperature dropped to the -20s for long periods. It was likely during a spell of that weather that Jack made the statement that he would be back in Dorset for next Christmas. He never did make it back to Dorset though. As they made progress on the farm he may have come to accept the extreme weather conditions as normal. Or it may have just been lack of funds to make a return trip to England that kept him here. He farmed the land for another 40 years before retiring to town. Here's a picture of the little homestead shack as it stood in 2003, a hundred years old.

1 comment:

  1. We'll never really know what those first hardy souls endured. Many of us today might not stand the strain. Some back then didn't.