Chapter Twelve: Early Families of Tofield “R-S”
Schultz p. 319
Shupe p. 322
Stauffer p. 323
Note Re: BIOGRAPHIES OF PIONEER FAMILIES
The committee responsible for the compilation of this book felt that for practical reasons the accounts of pioneer families should be limited to those families who were in this area by 1910. After this date, a large influx of immigrants entered the Tofield district; the pioneer era was over.
Members of the pioneer families were asked to submit their family histories. If direct contact was impossible friends of the family were consulted.
Since the excellent history of the Bardo district, “Pioneers of Bardo, Alberta” by Ragna Steen and Magda Hendriksen contains biographies of the families in that district, no attempt has been made to duplicate this material. We are well aware, however, of the invaluable contribution made to Tofield area by the Bardo pioneers.
Those submitting biographies were encouraged to record family legends and experiences as well as the relevant statistics and dates. While this anecdotal approach has enlarged the book, thereby increasing its cost, we feel that the spirit of the pioneer era has been accurately presented for future generations.
THE RAY FAMILY
Frank H. Ray left Boston with the intention of joining the Gold Rush. Landing in Camrose in 1902, he met Mr. Wildman, a surveyor and a brother-in-law of Amanda Mitchell, who told him of some wonderful land near Tofield. This appealed to the traveller who was very weary and felt he had travelled far enough. In 1904,accompanied
by his wife, he Came to Tofield and “squatted” on land next to Mr. Wildman; soon he filed on this land as his homestead. He also hauled freight from Camrose to Tofield for several years. Later he clerked in Morton and Adams General Store. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Ray were: Milton, Roger, Franklin, and Grace, (later Mrs. Mitchell). Frank Ray also worked in the L.C. Hay store before retiring to the farm.
Still farming here are: Oliver Ray (Roger’s Son ), Charlie Ray (Milton’s son); Bruce Ray (Roger’s son), and Harold Ray.
In the year 1893, on September 27, the Rickner family left Colfax,Washington, by way of the Mullen trail. It was a bright sunny morning when they departed from that good country to get a taste of pioneer life in Sunny Alberta. Their reason for leaving Washington was their inability to buy land of their own.
They had a family of seven, two boys aged 14 and 8; the girls ranged from 10 years to 3 months. They travelled all the way on two covered wagons. Mrs. Rickner and her eight year old son managed one wagon while Mr. Rickner and the eldest son managed the second wagon as well as the band of extra horses. Mrs. Rickner commented “This was not a pleasure trip.
Some of the trails were dangerous; more than one stream had to be forded and this meant that the belongings of the wagon were frequently soaked. Even the crossing on the ferries were at times nerve-wracking. Camping along the trail was the order of things most nights but the occasional night was spent in deserted houses along the way.
The roaring of a mountain lion was frequently heard but fortunately for their peace of mind, the Rickners could not identify the animal at the time. When they
were told later, it was too late to be alarmed, but they understood why their horses had come into camp from the grazing area.
Other circumstances made travel slow and difficult. Several times the horses strayed away at night causing the travellers to fear that their means of transportation had gone back to Washington. The horses got sore feet, too, and this caused delays in travel as did illness among the children.
Mr. Rickner occasionally sold some of the horses and though he got poor prices for them, the extra cash was welcome. Horse trading was also carried on; not always to the Rickners’ benefit. Mrs. Rickner commented, “I shall never forget the day that a stranger led away our sure-footed Creamy and left us that pretty, but worthless black, and how the boys longed to have our own lovely beast back again.”
The Rickners arrived at Lethbridge in a blizzard on November 3 and had considerable trouble finding shelter. During the winter Mr. Rickner and the boys worked in the mines; Mr. Rickner’s health was failing, and he could work only spasmodically.
Next September saw the Rickner family again on the move, this time to Edmonton. They lived for two years ten miles out of the city during which time Mr. Rickner filed his claim on a homestead in the Tofield area. On this homestead, Mr. Rickner and the two boys with the help of the kind neighbors laboriously constructed a log house. Finally, shortly before Christmas in 1896 the Rickners made ready to move to the Tofield homestead but Mr. Rickner fell seriously ill and died on January 23, 1897. On February 11 of that same year, Mrs. Rickner and her bereaved family arrived at the log home, ready to begin the hard life of homesteaders. Of such stuff were the pioneers of this area!
It was, needless to say, hard going with this young family. As soon as possible, the boys prepared some land and raised what grain they could.
Even though in the wet years the grain was usually frozen, it was always good for feed. The season of 1898 was exceptionally dry and the crop yielded only enough for the next year’s seed, but the quality of the grain made up to some extent for the low yield. At no time did the Rickners experience a complete crop failure. Even when the grain was completely lodged by a heavy snowstorm, the boys mowed it and stacked it like hay.
A good garden was a necessity for the Rickner household as was a supply of milk and butter. In summer, when butter was more plentiful, Mrs. Rickner packed the excess supply into crocks until winter when she then made it into prints which she then took to Edmonton, the nearest market, for sale. Since in winter, butter was worth twenty cents per pound rather than the 12 1/2 to 15 cents obtained for it in summer. Mrs. Rickner thus made a little extra cash for her family. In addition to butter, Mrs. Rickner sold dressed chickens at ten cents a pound.
Supplying meat for the table was a recurrent pioneer problem. Prairie chickens were often on the table as were rabbits in various guises. Dinner fare was plain but hearty and no one needed to go hungry. Mrs. Rickner had a high opinion of bread and milk as components of children’s diets. She maintained “if all children liked bread and milk as well as mine, there would be fewer cases of appendicitis.”
Soon the Rickner boys were old enough to work away from home and add their wages to the family coffers. When seasonal help was required, in turn, by the Rickners, some kind neighbors were always available. The Rickner family reciprocated this kindness in traditional pioneer fashion.
Mrs. Rickner was a thrifty, capable housewife. She sewed for her own family and for the neighbours. She took the raw, sheared wool, carded it, spun it, and knitted it into mitts, stockings and socks. Working by coal oil if possible, by tallow candle if necessary, Mrs. Rickner ensured her family a supply of warm winter clothing
A home-made loom produced, under Mrs. Rickner’s hands, yards of carpeting which made the house warmer.
Mrs. Rickner’s service to ‘ her neighbors included nursing. Doctors were not always available so a skilled nurse for confinements, serious illnesses and accidents was always eagerly sought for. Mrs. Rickner was apparently a successful nurse; she said, “I can thank the Lord for my success.”
Any money the Rickner family could earn was solely needed to buy the necessities of life. She commented, “When I bought dry goods for the family, there were no silk and fancy broadcloths, or silk stockings included, in supplies. More material was needed for skirts then; we didn’t see so much hosiery then.”
Travel was no pleasure for the Rickners. Edmonton, the nearest market, was 40 miles away in winter; in summer, the poor roads forced travellers into a circuitous route which was much farther. Thus summer trips, especially in wet years were avoided at all costs. If a summer trip became urgent, several families would go together thus ensuring help in getting out of the ever present mudholes and up the steep, slippery hills.
Mrs. Rickner had particularly vivid memories of one summer trip. Leaving Edmonton, she found the ferry in-operative due to the dangerously high Saskatchewan. She was forced to wait there three days for the river to subside! “Three days might not seem like much to some people but it seemed to me when my purse was so flat and I was so anxious knowing four girls under 14 years were home under a sod roof. Sure enough, when I got home, they told me that the barn had been a better shelter than the house. Soon after that, we got a board roof.”
If, when on a journey, a stopping house could not be reached, travellers were forced to camp by the trail. Once when Mrs. Rickner and her fourteen year old son were in this predicament, a bear smelled the dressed
chickens Mrs. Rickner had placed on the seat of the wagon to keep cool during the night. Mr. Bear was so entranced by the smell that he came right up to the wagon, frightening the horses badly, and, needless to say, preventing the Rickner mother and son from completing their needed night’s rest.
While keeping up a brave front for her family’s sake Mrs. Rickner, in her own words, “could have died of homesickness the first two years on the homestead.” After she lost her husband, Mrs. Rickner’s sister offered to finance her return to her old home in Missouri; but she always felt that if she could just hold out a little longer, she would win. In this new country, each new quarter of land obtained was a jewel beyond price.
Soon conditions became easier for the Rickner household. A saw mill not far away made lumber from the logs cut by the Rickner boys. Soon a comfortable five room frame house took some of the hardships from pioneering. Economy was still a necessary practice, but eventually the house was comfortably furnished. No purchases were made on credit; what the Rickners couldn’t pay for, they did without.
A better market and local stores made life more pleasant. More milk cows, more hogs for market, more grain to sell, all increased the Rickners’ income. In 1904 the railroad came in; this was a great asset to the country. Shortly, Tofield became a town and in 1912 a gas boom raised land values. Mrs. Rickner sold her homestead for $150 per acre. Unfortunately the gas boom did not last. Soon she repossessed her homestead which she later resold when she acquired more land.
Pleasure of pioneer life, said Mrs. Rickner, included attending church and the Union Sunday School. Her greatest pleasure was in seeing her family grow up.”There is always a laugh where there is a family of jolly children,” she said.
As the Rickner family grew up, they took an active interest in the affairs of the community, especially in those of the church. At one time four of the Rickner girls sang in the choir.
The eldest son, Perl, returned to the U.S.A. Though he is dead, his wife still lives there in 1967. The eldest daughter, Tealy, married Harry Neal; of the marriage, five children were born (Bertha, Mrs. T.E. Seale), Dorothy (Mrs. Bert Calbert), Ralph, Edith, (Mrs. C.A. Everitt), Nettie,(Mrs. Stan Yakabuski). Mrs. Neal became a widow and later married Jack Munro; the Munro family consisted of Frederick., Archie, Kenneth and Jessie. One son died in infancy. Lillie, Mrs. R. Hazelhurst, is, in 1967, living in Merritt., B.C.; Oma (Mrs. C.McKeoun) is in Calgary. Venah (Mrs. J. Appleby) and her husband live near Tofield; Fannie (Mrs. D. Munro) is deceased as is the other brother Marvin.
The Appleby families are all active in community and church work. Clifford and Barbara have four children; Kenneth, Leslie, Nettie and Susan. Keith, the youngest son, died in 1967, leaving his wife Elsie and four children: Robert, Heather, Donald and Dale.
THE ROBERGE FAMILY
Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Roberge were married in Armand, Ontario on April 24, 1872. They came to the west in 1890 and were residents of Edmonton for three years before they took up residence on their homestead north of Tofield in what is now the Ross Creek district. Mrs. Roberge, coming west to join Mr. Roberge, was a passenger on the first passenger train that went over the steel from Red Deer to Edmonton.
The Ross Creek district at that time was nearly all bush; only about four acres on the Roberge homestead were available for breaking. For some years, Mr. Roberge worked as a carpenter in Edmonton and Mrs. Roberge and children were alone on the homestead.
Edmonton was the nearest trading point and it took a three-day journey to reach it and another three days to return to Tofield. These journeys held no terror for Mrs. Roberge even though they involved sleeping under the sleigh when the temperature registered as low as 30 or 40 degrees below zero.
For some time Mrs. Roberge and Mrs.Daniel Francis were the only two white women in the area; the rest of the population consisted of Indians and Metis.
To these neighbours, Mrs. Roberge paid fine tribute, stating that they had always treated her like a lady.
Mrs. Roberge was friends not only with the Indians but with Mr. and Mrs. Frank Oliver and felt that no man had done so much for the west as Frank Oliver, former Minister of the Interior and original editor of The Edmonton Bulletin. Mrs. Roberge was proud to declare that she had always taken the Tofield paper and The Edmonton Bulletin “Ever since it was a small 6″ by 9″ sheet.”
The Roberge family endured the pioneer hardships common to the era. Oxen were the motive power of travel for the first eighteen years of Mrs. Roberge’s life in the West; later, horses became valued possessions.
Mr. and Mrs. Roberge endured all the hardships which were part of the pioneering era, not the least of which was the impassible condition of the roads, if indeed the vaguely defined trails through the bush could be called roads. On one occasion while driving cattle to Edmonton Mr. Roberge and his two sons.,William and Albert, were lost for several days, the last four of which they were without food.
Mr. and Mrs. Roberge were charter members of the First Baptist Church in Edmonton and their names, among others are under the cornerstone of that ediface.
During the winters of the early years, Mrs. Roberge lived in Edmonton to enable her children to go to school and it was thus possible for her to continue her active work in the church. She was an active worker in the church. She was an active member of the Mission Circle and the W.C.T.U.
On June 24, 1924, the Jubilee of the Mission Circle was celebrated and Mrs. Roberge was presented with a gold pin to commemorate her work as a member of that organization. The following letter which was sent to her shows how highly her work was regarded and the difficulties which she overcame to do her work in the church which to her came next in importance to caring for her family.
“As one of the Baptist trail blazers, we feel you are in a class quite by yourself, for we are sure there never was another woman who drove an ox team fifty miles to attend church. As a financier, too, you have surpassed us all, for even Mrs. Bellamy, who, in olden days, could get blood out of a stone, never wheeled a team of stubborn oxen freighting for storekeepers and neighbours. You freighted your way to church. The fact that you could drive a team of oxen at all and keep your religion proves you to be a Christian, worthy of lasting tribute.
We are not unmindful of your courage in sickness and trouble, neither hard work nor trouble has ever daunted your efforts to render aid.
For such labor, self-sacrifice and not least, for the happy, loving spirit you have always brought with you, we are grateful. We wish you every blessing and many years of wear this Jubilee pin. On behalf of the Mission Circle,
signed, President, Mrs. H. H. Hall
Secretary, Mrs. K.E. Meades.”
In 1922,Mr. and Mrs. Roberge celebrated their golden wedding. They were honored by gifts from organizations in the community. In the evening for their golden wedding day, a large crowd danced in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Roberge.
The Roberges had three sons, Austin, Albert and William, and two daughters who later became Mrs. Cameron and Mrs. Harris. Two sons, Edward and Charles, died while still young.
Until his death in 1967, Charles Roberge, son of William and grandson of the pioneer Roberge family, lived in Tofield. His wife, Mary, and his two sons, Kevin and Brendan remain in Tofield in 1967; his two daughters Georgina and Patricia are married and no longer live in the area in which their great-grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. C.C. Roberge were pioneers.
Long connected with the industrial activities of Tofield, Mr. J.W. Robinson came to Tofield in 1913 from St. Anthony’s, near Newcastle, in Northumberland, England. He and his brother Christopher started a brickyard in Tofield. For twenty-four years Mr. Robinson was a steam engineer with the Tofield Coal Co. During World War II, he spent four years at Coal Valley as engineer. In 1947, he helped to construct the Tofield Municipal Hospital before working for two years in the Northwestern Utilities’ shop in Tofield. In 1951 and 1952, he supervised the building of St. James’ Church, Edmonton; in 1953 he performed the same service for the Tofield United Church.
He has been connected with Holy Trinity Church, Tofield since April 20, 1913, holding the offices of People’s Warden, Minister’s Warden, Secretary, Lay Reader, and Choir member. Mr. Robinson was also a member of the Tofield School Board, as well as its chairman for many years.
Mrs. Robinson (nee Isabel Bundy) graduated from Portsmouth College, Portsmouth, England in 1909. Coming to Canada that fall, she taught near Leduc and Wetaskiwin. While visiting Rev. J.P. Mason and his wife at Tofield, Miss Bundy met her future husband. They were married July 21, 1917 in All Saints’ Cathedral, Edmonton.
Mrs. Robinson has taken an active part in work for the Red Cross, the Bible Society, the Musical Festival, and Sunday School services. Both Mr. and Mrs. Robinson
have been faithful visitors to the sick and the shut-ins of this community. They have two daughters, Mrs. J. A. Smith, and Mrs. J. Brickman and one grand-daughter Edith Mary Smith.
THE ROWLAND FAMILY
The Rowland family is one of the earliest in the Tofield area. William Rowland was a trader for the Hudson’s Bay Company. William’s son, Billie, and his wife were Tofield residents. Their children were: Jim, Charlie (who was killed overseas), Edith, George and Ellen. Ellen is now Mrs. Giffin of Washington, U.S.A.
Cousins of the Billie Rowland family, Art Rowland and Russel Rowland are still living in the Tofield district. Art Rowland is the maintenance man for the Town of Tofield.
THE SCHULTZ FAMILY
Charles L. Schultz, widower, from Sioux City, Iowa, arrived at Strathcona, on September 3, 1901. With him came his three sons, three horses and a carload of settlers’ effects. Charles and the three boys, Walter, Otto and Tom were all in search of land to homestead.
Their first winter in Alberta was spent a few miles south of Strathcona. They did not live in luxury; part of their shelter was a dug-out on a hillside.
1901 was an open winter, at least in its early months, and Otto and Tom journeyed on horseback east and north of Beaverhill Lake to Vegreville. They then went southeast around the lake to Northern (later Bardo), on to Wetaskiwin and back to Strathcona. This was really a scouting expedition as the boys were searching for homesteads.
On October 30, 1901, Otto obtained his first job. Working for McCauley, he cut wood for the ten-horsepower
steamer. This steamer was an upright model and took sticks of wood two and a half feet long. It operated in the Blackfoot Reserve on the east side of Beaverhill Lake.
In the spring of 1902, Otto and Tom again headed east from Clover Bar to the north end of the Beaverhill Lake. Here they were amazed to see the amount of water covering the land. A small river, Beaver Creek, ran out of the north end of the lake. The horses had to swim part way across this river.
The Schultz brothers decided, after travelling around the lake, to take up land in the Tofield area and in the next few months all had filed claims on homesteads. Charles Schultz’ homestead was N.W. 34-5O-19-W.4, the home for the father and the three boys.
In the summer of 1902, another Schultz boy, Alfred, came to visit his father and brothers. He had come from Chicago and felt he was a long way north when he reached Tofield.
Al Schultz had been a construction worker in the U.S.A. a long time. He was assigned to help move the world’s first Ferris Wheel. The Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 saw this gigantic wheel put into operation for the first time. It cost $350,000; the problems of construction were enormous. The axle was 45′ 6” long, 33′ in diameter, weighed 46.5 tons and was the largest single piece of steel ever forged in America up to that time. The passenger cars were 24′ long, 13′ wide, 10′ high. Each car carried 38 passengers to look out both sides of the car.
After ten years’ of successful operation in Chicago this gigantic structure was dismantled to be moved to St. Louis for the Louisiana Exposition. It was at this time that Al Schultz was engaged in helping move the Ferris Wheel. Harold Schultz., Alfred’s son still has his Father’s “Workman pass” to the Exposition and a picture of his father among a gang of men who were engaged in dismantling the huge wheel.
Twenty flat-cars were required to transport this structure; the cost of the move was $265,000.00. Later, because no further large fairs were in sight, the World’s first Ferris Wheel was dynamited and sold for scrap.
Before returning home from Alberta to Iowa, Alfred bought land in the Didsbury area. On his return to Alberta in 1906, he purchased land in the Ketchamoot area. This was S.W. 10-50-19-W4. (the James Ingram homestead) and S.E. 10-50-19 (previously owned by Doug Black). Here Al Schultz farmed until his retirement. After the death of his first wife, Margaret (Appleby), he married Miss Frances Fawcett who cared for the four Schultz children – Russel, Harold, Alvin and Helen (now Mrs. Jack of Edmonton.)
Alvin died in 1954 leaving three children: Robert, Alfred and Babs. Mrs. Jack has one daughter, Dawn (Mrs. Haug); Russel, now of Edmonton has two children, Duane and Lana.
The original Alfred Schultz land in 1967 is the home of Harold Schultz and his wife Lily (Haugen) who have four children: Betsy-Ann (Mrs. Claude Gallinger), Frances, Brian and David.
In the winter of 1902, both Otto and Tom worked for McCauley’s mill on the shores of Island Lake. The mill ran on a twenty-four hour basis in two twelve-hour shifts.
The men were paid one dollar for each twelve- hour shift they worked. When the mill was shut down in April, Tom worked as a horse-wrangler, breaking horses for Mr. McCauley.
In the spring of 1904, Otto again worked at the mill which was then located two miles east of Hasting Lake on Hastings Creek. It had been hoped to float the cut logs down Hastings Creek but had constant trouble due to the sharp turns in the creek. J. McGinitie was hired with his team of oxen to pull the logs out of the creek. For his services and those of his team he was
paid $1.50 per day. Mark Ferguson, later a member of the Town of Tofield’s first council, was also a member of this crew of log floaters.
In the spring on 1903, Tom and Otto trapped 2,000 muskrats in the area between the north end of Miquelon Lake and the present Highway 14. They “camped out ” using a canvas canopy over a wide sleigh as a portable home. Here they slept, dried furs beside the light metal stove which was used for heating and cooking. This mobile home was shifted from place to place by pre-arrangement with homesteaders. Once an area was “trapped out,” a move must be made to a new site. The pelts were sold in Edmonton for 11 cents each.
All four of the Schultz boys engaged in mixed farming in the Tofield area. With the coming of the railroad, Otto worked on sub-contracts, running an outfit consisting of 25 teams, 7 dump-wagons, 10 wheelers and an elevating grader.
Two sisters, Minnie and Doris, visited their father and brothers from time to time, taking back stories of Alberta pioneer experiences to their home in the States.
Minnie became Mrs. George McConnel and some years after her husband’s death, married R.C. Phillips. She died in 1965.
THE SHUPE FAMILY
Frank Shupe’s family homesteaded in the Tofield area before Frank and Mary were married in Pawnee, Oklahoma on April 9, 1911. After living in Pawnee for a year, Frank and Mary came to the Tofield district where they lived with Frank’s folks for a year. Then they moved to the town of Tofield where Frank did team work hauling coal, etc.
On April 2, 1913, their first child was born; she passed away February 8, 1917. Their second daughter, Irma, was born February 6, 1918. Irma is now Mrs. Arthur Francis.
In the spring of 1918, the Shupes started farming and continued until 1943 when they moved to the acreage west of Tofield which had formerly been owned by Frank Pruden who had hauled water to the town for many years.
In 1963, the Shupes retired and moved into town.
MRS. PETRA STAUFFER
Mrs. Petra Stauffer, a member of the Bardo Norwegian community for the earlier part of her life and now a resident of Tofield, wrote the following account of her life. It was written for the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Bardo Lutheran Church several years ago but it is equally valuable in the year of the Diamond Anniversary of the Town of Tofield.
Mrs. Stauffer says:
“I was born here in Alberta on the bank of the Amisk Creek in a log house with a sod-roof built by my father. I was ushered into the world by the kindly competent neighbor ladies. There were no doctors or trained nurses available in those days.
No doubt we had rain then, too, for mama used to tell me that the only place she could protect me from the leaky sod roof was in my cradle under the table.
It was a friendly peaceful country I grew up in. Everyone was a neighbour and a friend, willing to help each other whenever and wherever needed. There was no class distinction.
There were only two things we feared: the dreaded forest fires and a few Indians who travelled along the trails. The only reason we feared the Indians was because we had no common language. We spoke only Norwegian at first so could not understand even the limited English the Indians knew.
I’m sure our folks faced many difficulties and
hardships but they did not despair. They lived for each other and looked forward to the future of their family.
Looking back over the past fifty years, I feel I have so many things to be thankful for. I’m thankful for being here today celebrating our Golden Jubilee Thanksgiving among friends and neighbours. I’m thankful to have been born and raised in Alberta where we are free to think as we like. We have never known fear and persecution as have so many other lands. I’m thankful to have been born in a new country and to have seen its growth from the beginning until now.
Fifty I years ago, I was rather small and had just barely started school; I was not so thankful for the many things at that time – for instance, walking to school. We walked three miles to the school which was opposite the Bardo cemetery. There were no school buses nor any cars, so walking was the only way to go if you had no horse.
Our school days were limited. We started at eight years and went until we were fourteen, but if, at anytime we were needed at home, we could stay out. Our school year was six months to begin with, then eight, and since it is now ten months,, we must have all been very clever!
Most of our parents were very poor; they came as empty-handed immigrants. We were all needed at home so very few of us could go on through high school.
Our roads were only trails and we had a lot of rain with the inevitable mud-holes on the trails making travel difficult. When our first roads were built we were so thankful – more thankful than we are now for our paved highways. We were grateful to be able to ride in wagons and when buggies came in, we were really well away! We went many a mile with horses and wagon; today, we often consider a similar journey too far by car.
Speaking of journeys by wagon reminds me of a teacher we had who went to a neighbourhood picnic in a wagon.
She was dressed in a nice white dress and when the horses splashed mud on it she was ‘put out’ about it. During the day when ‘Canada the Land of the Maple’ was being sung, she was heard to murmur, ‘It may be the Land of the Maple to some, but to me, it’s the Land of the Mudhole.’
We surely did not have the material things that the children of today have but maybe we learned, through lack of them, to appreciate things when we got them. I remember Mother making our summer dresses of flour sacks. When Christmas came., she would dye them and we were so happy to have new dresses for Christmas!
Our shoes were home-made for a long time. My father was the shoemaker for the entire community, and a very fine one too; the shoes he made lasted a long time –too long it seemed. So I really treasured my first pair of “boughten” shoes. Walking to school, I stopped every few yards to dust them.
My first train ride was taken from Bardo siding to Kingman in company with Inga Johnson with whom I walked to Bardo to take the train.
We had been told that riding on trains made some people seasick; so after riding a few minutes I asked her “Do you feel anything?” “No,” was the answer. After a while she asked me “Do you feel anything?” I, too said “No” and we felt we were very lucky indeed not to get sick on a train ride.
My first trip to Edmonton was an event. I was sixteen years old and was thrilled to get my ticket and fifty-cents spending money for the three days I would be gone. I accompanied Agnes Haukedal to visit her cousins. It was really an occasion; out of my fifty cents, I came home with thirty-five cents. Could we do that now?
One time my father and my Uncle Haugen took their steers to Edmonton on foot, walking all the way. After a few days journey through the Beaver Hills and around
the lakes, they arrived in Edmonton and Uncle Haugen left his there, feeling that he had chased them far enough.
Our mothers were hardy too. The district stretched from Tofield to Round Hill and from Kingman to Ryley. Once when Ladies’ Aid was being held at Mrs. Hunt’s (now the Jack Appleby home), I remember the mothers skiing all the way, some of them even carrying their little ones on their backs.
Thinking of these difficult years makes me very grateful for the progress which has taken place in our community. It seems that God has blessed us and our country most wonderfully. From walking behind the plough and tilling our soil the hard way, we have advanced to sitting in comfort on tractors which pull modern machinery. We have new cars, modern homes, new schools and churches and we ought to be thankful indeed.
I’ve enjoyed wonderful health and a nice home. I am thankful to be living among my children with so many lovely neighbours and friends.”
Thus ends Mrs. Stauffer’s account of her life but it is by no means complete. For several years, she drove one of the County of Beaver school buses. She decided to leave her farm home and so built a lovely modern home in Tofield, doing much of the work herself. Her son Leonard and his wife, Evelyne, and their sons, Kenny and Warren, live in the Bardo district; now in Edmonton but until recently in Tofield, were Mrs.Stauffer’s daughter, Mrs. Norman Stauffer, her son-in-law, Norman, and the grandchildren, Sylvia, Duane and Patricia.
Petra is still an active member of the community. In the Centennial year, she was chosen by the mayor of Tofield,, Dr. Freebury, to be the Centennial Queen, a post which she fulfilled with charm and dignity. As well as presiding at all official functions, Petra visited the Senior Citizens’ homes and the hospitals both in Tofield and Camrose, bringing pleasure to the residents of both institutions. She was also instrumental in the
construction of the Tofield Centennial Park, on the main street of the town; in fact, due to the interest she had in the park and the work she put into it, the park is frequently spoken of as “Petra’s Park.”
THE W.C. SWIFT FAMILY
The material for the following article was kindly sent by Mrs. W.C. Swift, long-time resident of Tofield., later of Edmonton.
Mr. Swift was on the council of the village of Tofield in 1907, two years before the date of incorporation as a town. Before coming to Tofield Mr. Swift worked for four years for Revillon Freres in Edmonton.
“November 1906, we left Edmonton for Chipman by Canadian Northern Railway now the Canadian National. After spending the night there, we were driven by bob-sled, I think, by Jeremie Gladue. We had very heavy going because of the deep snow. When we reached Ross Creek., we stopped at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Logan. Here we had dinner and rested the horses.
We arrived at the hamlet of Tofield (named after Dr. J. H. Tofield) at 6 p.m. We were welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Cress. Mr. Cress later became the first station agent for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in Tofield.
The hamlet was situated on the farm of Mr. George Cookson sr. where the Rempel family now live. The post office was on the Cookson farm, too, just a little east of Mr. Cookson’s home. Mail came once a month at first but soon came every fortnight. Mr. Cookson was the Postmaster.
Like most pioneers of that day, the Swifts lived in a small two-roomed shack and also operated the newly established business from it. Mr. Swift established his lumber yard that year (1906). The following
merchants were also in business then: Mr. Robert Logan, with a general store one mile north, C. Cress and J. Harper with general stores at the townsite; Morton and Adams had a butcher shop; Mr. R.O. Bird had a hardware; Mr. Omar Mahaffey had a blacksmith shop; Mr. and Mrs. James Mahaffey had a stopping place. When the noon meal was ready at the stopping place, Mr. Mahaffey played a tune on a huge metal triangle. Dr. McKinnon had a dispensary. The two resident ministers, Rev. Bradley (Presbyterian) and Rev. Laidman (Methodist), held services in the school house, a mile north of the hamlet.
In 1907, Crafts, Lee and Gallinger had the quarter section where the school now stands surveyed and gave free lots to anyone who would build a home or place of business there. So the town was moved to a site just west of the present school. The Presbyterian congregation brought the Presbyterian church from a site just north of Mr. John Thompson’s present residence to a site just north of the Methodist Church.
Mr. Swift, following the general exodus to the new townsite, built a larger house in that locality. The front room served as office by day, as a living room by night, and as a church on Sunday.
As the village moved to its present site, the Swifts followed suit. The house of Mr. Swift’s partner, Mr. Emery was, Mrs. Swift tells us, the first house in the new townsite. This house (in 1967) is now occupied by the F. Shupe family. Mr. Swift built the house now owned by Earl Moore in 1910. In 1917, the Swift family moved to the Nickelson house now owned by the Leo Bauer family, and finally in 1923 to the Stewart Hall house (now the John Wall home). Here they remained until they moved to Edmonton in 1947, where Mr. Swift still resides.
The partnership of Swift and Emery began in 1907 and continued until 1934, though Mr. Emery died in 1934 and his interest was taken over by Mrs. Emery. In 1915, the business became lumber and implements. This paved
the way for the Ford garage which Mr. Swift ran until 1947.
Mr. Swift served Tofield well. He was on the Council in 1907 and was mayor of the town for sixteen years in 1917 – 18, 1929 – 32 and 1937 – 46. He was councillor for fourteen years. He was an early member of the School Board; he was on the Official Board of the United Church and Sunday School Superintendent for many years.
Mr. Swift was a member of the Palestine Lodge No. 46, AF & AM and an ardent curler. Chess was his recreation.
Mrs. Swift shared her husband’s interest in church work. She taught a class in the primary department of the United Church Sunday School for many years and was also treasurer of the W. M. S. of the United Church for many terms. She also shared the family interest in curling. Knitting and crocheting were her hobbies at home.
Mr. and Mrs. Swift have four children. The eldest Dr. W.H. Swift, B. Ed., MA., Ph. D., has climaxed his career by becoming Alberta’s Deputy Minister of Education. Mrs. English (Ann), R.N. was also a teacher and now lives in Edmonton. John Swift, B.Sc., is plant superintendent with C.M. & S. in Calgary. Arnold carries on the family business as well as the family traditions in Tofield, for he is an ardent curler, a member of the Town Council and an active member of the Palestine Lodge AF & AM. Arnold’s wife, Joyce, is active in church and community work and also adds to the family curling trophies. Arnold and Joyce have two children Shirley and Donald. A third generation of Swifts calls Tofield home.