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Hockey Games, Russian Memories

DEC. 18, 2010

It was a big time in our little town last night. Our hockey rink, the Waverley Sports Gardens, was filled to capacity and overflowing with people from near and far. The occasion was a hockey game between our 15 and under aged girls and a touring team from Moscow, Russia. Our team is called the Woodriver Ice Cats and is made up of 15 and under girls from surrounding towns.

The Russian girls’ team is on tour in Saskatchewan and we were lucky enough to be chosen for one of their games. It was obvious to see that the visitors were better than our team. However, we gave them a good game for the play but the Russian girls seemed to finish their plays better. Final score was 9-2 for them.

We had no reason to be disappointed. Before coming to Glentworth the Russian team had won over Swift Current and Weyburn by 7-1 and 9-1. So, our score at 9-2 was not too bad. It was a great thrill and a great honour to have this team come to our little centre and all the people that helped get them here and look after them can be very satisfied with their efforts being so successful.

Meeting and seeing so many Russian people right here at home put me in mind of the many times in the past when Russian people had crossed paths with me and our area. I was just a little boy on my father’s ranch at Rock Creek where we had two hired girls that helped Mama with housework. These two girls were from a large Russian family six miles from us. Their names were Lillian and Pauline. Later in life, Pauline died from tuberculosis and Lillian moved on to California.

When I was six, two Russian government men along with a Canadian government trades man came to our ranch and they bought 40 head of brood mares from Dad. They were restocking the Russian ranges following the devastation of the revolution. The railroad had reached Rockglen that year and Dad shipped the horses from there in 1926. The railroad reached Wood Mountain in 1927.

We had Russian settlers in our area all the way from the U.S. border north to Fir Mountain and even north of there. Some of the settlers came up from North Dakota and some came right from Russia. It seemed to me that they were very resourceful and were very good farmers and ranchers. Anyway, we were in contact with them at an early age and we got along well with them.

During the Second World War, I met up with many Russians in the German prisoner of war camps that I was in. The Russian soldiers often had bread, turnips and other farm produce and if we had any cigarettes and coffee or chocolate bars that were extra, we could trade with the Russian prisoners for their goods. It was against the German regulations to do this. So, there was some risk but when hungry, we would take some risk. I made many trades after dark and I found the Russians to be very honest.

We seem to be getting along well with the Russian people and government right now and I hope these good relations will continue. I have always wanted to go to Russia to see their great land and their cities. I may not make it now. I have great feelings for them. It was a great honour to have the hockey team here at Glentworth in southern Saskatchewan, just north of the U.S. border.

DEC. 19, 2010

Christmas is coming up fast. The weather here has been cold with lots of snow and wind for about six weeks now. Lloyd and Nyla have been very busy. They have been bringing in the cows from the summer pastures to the winter quarters. The calves have been weaned and sorted off from the cows. The calves are treated with vaccines and both cows and calves are treated for lice and warble flies. Except for 50 of the two-year- old heifers, the cows are all at their winter homes now. These 50 young cows are near Glentworth where they are easy to care for.

Lloyd and Nyla have also been very busy stacking bales. Lloyd has bales that are now covered with snow. He may not get them all in until spring. It does not matter too much. The cows can go out and then get them in the field if necessary. Lloyd and Nyla’s oldest boy Connor, who is a graduate geologist, is now working in the oil fields east of Weyburn. The younger boys, Lander and Chay, are still in university at Saskatoon. They often come home and help on weekends. Transportation is surely something these days. Back in the early 1930’s when my oldest brother Lawrence went to school, the only time he came home was at Christmas.

I have been at a few cattle sales at Assiniboia and Mankota. It sure is a pleasure to see these better prices back again. Some bred cows and heifer sales have been quite good. So, now the old merry-go-round starts again and I expect for those who can hang on to the cow she will pull us through.

(A belated) Merry Christmas to all and I hope you had a good Christmas with your friends and family. I will be at a gathering of about 40 family members at Medicine Hat and then a smaller gathering at Calgary. Then, I will be back home at Fir Mountain and Glentworth. This past year has been one of the best of my times. All the best to everyone in the New Year.

BoydAndersonisamostlyretiredrancher fromGlentworth,Sask.andhasbeenacolumnist forGrainewsformanyyears.

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