DECEMBER 5, 2009
I have just returned from a 10 day trip to Ontario. I went down and back by VIA Rail and here is how it happened. In early summer, I received an invitation from my grandson, Jason, to come to his wedding, which would take place in Toronto in late November. Jason has been a freelance writer in Toronto for sometime. With my poor eyesight and my age — almost 90 — I am not much use on the ranch. So, I decided to go if I could and represent the family that is living in and around Glentworth and Fir Mountain. Now that my mind was made up to go, I started planning details.
I have always liked train travel and I discovered that VIA Rail would provide passage from Melville, Sask. to Toronto in a few days and that the return times would fit in with my schedule. I decided, because of my eyesight and other reasons, that I needed a companion. I was lucky and found a woman who is a widow who was also interested in the trip.
She was a life long family friend and like myself was living in Assiniboia. She has two sons, one daughter and some grandchildren farming and ranching in the Killdeer-Rockglen area. Peggy had a good car and volunteered to drive us from Assiniboia to Melville to catch the train when it was time to go.
My daughter, Marion, and her husband, Dave, were flying from Calgary and she arranged for us to have rooms at the Sutton Place. Jason’s brothers, Jim and Donald, and Donald’s wife were also flying in from the west. Jason’s father and mother, Arnold Boyd and Jennifer, were flying in from Arizona and so all arrangements were made and Peggy and I were on the train heading for Toronto. We found the train travel interesting and easy. There were good comforts available, good service and many people on board to visit with. There were especially a lot of American travelers.
We got to Toronto on time and took a taxi to the hotel. We soon met up with the others and that night all the family gathered for a dinner party held for Arnold Boyd and Jenny to celebrate the occasion of their 40th wedding anniversary. On Saturday night, the wedding took place on the 54th floor of the Toronto Dominion building. The wedding, social and meals were all held there. There were 100 guests, with some from Europe and others from the United States and all areas of Canada. Jason’s wife is of Armenian background and she had three aunts there as well as other relatives. One of the aunts had land north of Toronto.
The next day, Marion and her husband, Dave, along with Peggy and I drove to Listowell which is located northwest of Guelph. There we played a few cards and watched the Saskatchewan Roughriders give the Grey Cup Game away at the very end. The next day, Dave stayed at Listowell to look up old friends while Marion, Peggy and I met up with George Adams who showed us farms and feed lots around Brussel and other agricultural areas.
George Adams seemed to know most of the people in the area and we visited with quite a few and had a real good look at Ken Alton’s feed lot. Ken was in the hospital, but his son and daughter seemed to have things under control. The daughter had checked over 3,000 head for health the morning that we were there. The cattle are kept on a slatted floor and under a rain proof shelter. Ken told me that they had sold over 3,000 head this year and he said five loads of 44 were now ready to go to market at the Coargville plant at Guelph.
Ken Alton and George Adams have been to our ranch at Fir Mountain several times. They are proud of their feeding accomplishments and they should be. Some of these men are good travelers. George Adams and Ross Proctor have been south to the Antarctic Ocean and as far north as possible to the North Pole.
The first Ontario farmers that I met in 1933 were when Charlie McLean brought Bill Kendrick and Howard Armstrong to our ranch. I will never forget the honey and the watermelons that they had brought all the way from Essex County. The Ontario Feeders have been good buyers of our feeder cattle over my life time in the cattle business.
Our trip to Ontario was very good but all too short. When Peggy and I got back to Assinboia and then I returned to Glentworth, I found everything fine here at the ranch. Lloyd and Nyla have weaned more calves and the cows are all to their winter quarters.
A CHRISTMAS STORY
A few days before Christmas, Dad had come home from the town of Lafleche, which is 40 miles to the north. As usual the kids ran out to meet him at the gate hoping he would have something for us. My brother Cliff (two years older that me), my sister Verna (three years younger), and I were there to meet him. This time Dad really surprised us. He opened the back door of the 1927 Dodge Sedan car and out jumped a little black and white Shetland pony mare. What a surprise and were we ever excited.
Cliff was 10 and was already a very good rider. I was eight and was a good rider also. Verna, who was five, was also able to ride. We had always learned on and rode big horses and now we had a little one. Because of my small size and my age it turned out that the little mare would be my responsibility.
The little mare was called Trixie and her name should have been Trickster. She was always running away with me. I could ride her but I was not strong enough to guide her. Once I hooked her up to our prized and only toboggan and she ran away smashing the toboggan to pieces. She was tricky.
Dad said we should ride her to school, which was six miles to the south. It was a good idea, but she would not go. Cliff was bigger and older so he put a rope on Trixie and led her while I sat in the saddle. After a few weeks Cliff only had to lead Trixie one or two miles and then she would follow along with Cilff’s big horse.
She would go good coming home after school except once in a while she would break into a run-anything to scare me. When we got within a half a mile of home, there was a steep hill, which we had to go down and the barn was at the bottom. Every day when we came in sight of the yard she would run hard and stop at the barn door.
One late afternoon in the spring when the ground was slippery in the yard, she was running pretty fast and as she turned the corner at the barn, she fell down side ways. She jumped up quickly and ran into the barn, but one of my feet was stuck in a stirrup and she was dragging me on the ground. She ran in the barn and right up beside a big stallion. Luckily for me, Cliff was a very quick thinking, resourceful person. He very quickly got off his horse, followed into the barn and managed to get my foot loose, pulled me out of the saddle and away from the stallion’s big feet. As time went on, Trixie became a broke, gentle horse and all of our younger brothers and sisters rode her the six miles to school over the years.
Trixie had colts and they grew up and had more colts. Soon, there was a herd of half blood Shetlands and they all played a role in getting Leonard Anderson’s children to school. Trixie and her little herd became a nuisance too. She would lead her little herd of horses through open gates. She would take them to the feed grounds in the winter and chase and annoy the cattle. Finally, Dad put Trixie and her herd in the Big Pasture down south (30 sections). Here, Trixie and her little band of horses had their own way — lots of grass and good shelter in the winter time.
As it happens to all of us, Trixie, the grandmother of the herd, became older and older and the winters were hard. One Christmas Day, little, old Trixie left her herd and walked slowly but surely one little step at a time until she had walked the 15 miles to the home ranch. It was late afternoon on Christmas Day when she walked into the yard of our home ranch. She then spent that winter and a few more with the weaned calves.
How did that little old mare know that she had to have help to get through the coming winter? Trixie stayed around the home ranch for a few more years and then one summer day she laid down for the last time. This is one of my favorite animal stories from the ranch.
Boyd Anderson is a mostly retired rancher from Glentworth, Sask. and has been a columnist for Grainews for many years.