MARCH 1, 2009
March came in like a lion this morning. It is -25C with a cold wind blowing. Today is my birthday and I am now 89 years old. According to my mother, my actual birth on March 1, 1920 was also a cold blustery day. As I look back over the years, I can remember March first as usually a cold day. There have been a few birthdays when it was thawing with snow water running, but not often.
Many of the purebred cattle ranchers have been calving for some time now. Most of them are well equipped with good barns and sheds to keep the new born calves in. Even so, it is cold for the little calves. Harry and Murray Blake have a good Charolais herd north of Glentworth and Harry told me that they had only lost one calf out of 140 births. They are doing very good. I have heard that some of the commercial herds have started calving in March. Most herds will start up in April. That is when we will have our calves.
Other than caring for cattle, most of the activities around Glentworth are the hockey games. The rink has been very busy this winter with about 10 hockey teams of boys and girls and some of the teams are presently playing across the province. Lloyd (my son) is the manager of the Midget boys. Besides being in a league of about ten teams, they are also involved in what is called the Provincial playoffs. A few days ago, I rode with the hockey team on a bus to Fox Valley, which is north of Maple Creek. The bus was full of players and parents. I enjoyed the trip even when we left at one o’clock in the afternoon and got back home at three o’clock the next morning. It was cold but the bus was warm and comfortable.
When going west on Highway 1 from Swift Current to Maple Creek, I thought back in history to the 30s when thousands of sheep would come from this area and be sold at the Moose Jaw Feeder Show. There were sheep ranchers at that time from nearly all of the little towns such as Gull Lake, Tomkins, Piapot and Maple Creek, just to name a few.
My Dad had just started up with sheep and in 1933 I rode the stock train from Fir Mountain to Moose Jaw. This was my first meeting with sheep men from the west. Their headquarters at that time was at the Brunswick Hotel on River Street West. Many of them had brought sheep dogs and one day there was a sheep cog contest. A very well trained dog owned and controlled by Mr. Martin of Maple Creek won first prize. In the later years, this Mr. Martin performed with his dog at Madison Square Gardens in New York and also over in London, England for the Royal Family.
During and after the war, most of these sheep men sold out and turned to raising cattle. The cattle took less work and with sheep there was always the threat of losses to coyotes. The sheep men certainly had their days at the Moose Jaw Feeder show. I never missed the show from 1933 to 1942. After that time, I was enlisted in the army and went overseas and it was three years before I got back home.
After that, I kept my sheep for 10 years until the fall of 1956 and then I sold the herd down and ran a few hundred under a fence for a few more years. We do not have any sheep now. I liked the sheep and I had great admiration for their ability to stand cold weather and their ability to forage in the cold weather. One of my sales was at a sheep sale in Tomkins. Many of the small towns here have got smaller (just like down our way) but it seems to me that Gull Lake and Maple Creek are still quite active and serve many rural people.
The hockey game against Fox Valley was a good game. They won and came back to Glentworth two nights later. This time the game went to overtime and Fox Valley won. They have not lost a game all winter. Glentworth is now finished with the league games but we are still playing for the provincial championship in the Midget class. We have a home and away series against Aberdeen for this category.
MARCH 9, 2009
The Aberdeen hockey team came down to Glentworth for the final game. A big crowd turned out and after a hard fought series, our team came out on top and the Glentworth team is now Midget champions for the province in their class. Lloyd is now done as manager and Chay (Lloyd’s son) will not play hockey until next year. Our community can be very proud of winning this provincial championship. We have less than one hundred people in our little village. It has taken a lot of dedication by management, players and parents to bring this about.
MARCH 14, 2009
A few days ago, my grandson Justin Froshaug drove me down to Rockglen where we took in a memorial service for Hartley Urqhart. Hartley was a long time resident at Canopus, Saskatchewan. During his 86 years of life, he had lived at Canopus in his own home and farmed and ranched. Hartley was a very interesting person. He had worked and maintained Highway 2 from Rockglen to the West Poplar Port of Entry. He had married Yvonne Chartrand of Rockglen and had five children. Hartley’s family increased and he had 21 grand and great-grand children.
When Justin and I arrived at the Rockglen community hall, it was pretty well filled with people of all ages from near and far. An estimation of the crowd was at 400 or more. The hall was very well arranged. A member of the Cowboy Christian Fellowship led the memorial service. In various ways, Hartley’s life was brought out to us. As time went on, Hartley and his family became more and more involved with people. Hartley and his first wife Yvonne always volunteered and helped the Rodeos at Canopus and also at Wood Mountain and Rockglen. Hartley and Yvonne organized a riding school and contests for the younger children at Canopus. Through the summer, the kids came with their saddle horses. If they did not have a horse, Hartley would find one for them. One summer my own grandson, Ryan Froshaug, won a saddle put up by the order buyers that Hartley worked with.
After Hartley’s work on the highways was over, he started order buying feeder cattle and also started buying horses for the meat plants. He also became more involved with the rodeos. There was not a horseman or a cowboy or a rodeo promoter that did not know Hartley. Along the way, Hartley started to compose and recite poetry. For this, he became well known. He also received much recognition from various organizations for his volunteer work. He loved visiting his children and also playing cards.
The service also had a Rockglen group of musicians playing different music. There were church songs as well as country and western music and at the end there were a few people who recited some poetry. Two of the hymns were the Old Rugged Cross and Amazing Grace. A very good lunch was served to the hundreds attending by the United Church Women. During lunch time was a good time to visit and I met people I had not seen for many years. A rural funeral service is a place to gather and I have often thought that a family that can get together is very fortunate. Hartley was one of those individuals who always left one with a good feeling. He always had a smile and a positive thought. To Hartley’s family, I send my thoughts and prayers.
Boyd Anderson is a mostly retired rancher from Glentworth, Sask. and has been a columnist for Grainews for many years.