Friday, February 20, 2009
LIFE OF MY FATHER - 9
When my grandfather returned from the War in 1919, the family moved to a homestead at Kinuso on Lesser Slave Lake, where my grandfather's older sister, Maria Jeanne, and her husband, Emile Vanderaegen, had a general store. A homestead was a large piece of government land that was made available to pioneers who were willing to work hard to establish a farm. In Alberta, the main homesteading years were from 1870 to and 1930. By 1919, it is likely that most of the best land had already been taken.
There is very rich farmland west of Kinuso in the Peace River District. As I was curious about how far east this good land extended, I made an Internet search and found Statistics Canada information from the 2006 Agricultural Census. In the Big Lakes Area which includes Kinuso on its eastern boundary, small amounts of rapeseed, oats, and barley are grown. By far the biggest crops, however, are used as fodder for cattle and pigs. Annual gross farm receipts in Alberta that year were $470.90 per acre, whereas in the Big Lakes Area, they were only $174.00. Agricultural capability of the land seems to be limited largely to stock raising.
I don't know if the family had livestock. If they had cattle, they wouldn't likely have had to eat so much fish. I can remember my father telling us about the family's efforts to grow timothy. He said the whole family sat around the kitchen table, placed the timothy on the table, and pounded at it with their hands trying to remove the seeds from the chaff. When I searched timothy on the Internet, I discovered it is a type of hay or alphalfa used for cattle feed. I don't know what the seeds would have been used for, but the attempt was not successful. I can only say that I admire their determination.
Pictured in the photos are my Dad and his brother, Albert, in a dugout canoe; my grandfather Albert Darimont with horses; my Dad flying a kite; and my Dad's sister Jacqueline aged 18.