Monday, February 16, 2009
LIFE OF MY FATHER - 5
HOMESTEADING IN FORT SASKATCHEWAN
Homesteading turned out to be a financially disastrous venture. Because they knew nothing about farming, the family hired people to do the work. According to my mother, they also enjoyed lengthy visits at Edmonton hotels and regarded themselves as the Canadian version of landed gentry. The result was that they soon ran out of money. In 1909, my great-grandfather became ill and with two of his children and their spouses returned to Belgium. My grandparents remained in Canada, and were poor - very poor at first until their situation gradually improved.
After my great-grandfather's return to Belgium, my grandfather and his sister with their spouses moved to Kinuso on Lesser Slave Lake. I'm not sure how long they remained in northern Alberta before moving to Edmonton. My guess from dated photos is that it would be around 1926. During that time, farming efforts remained unsuccessful and there was increasing indebtedness. There is no doubt they suffered hardship: two of their children died, their first son, Jean, as an infant; and their daughter Jeanne from what sounds like pneumonia at the age of ten. On the other hand, their daughter, Jacqueline, became a school teacher, their sons John and Albert both became engineers. They had ten healthy grandchildren, and, most important of all, their three children who survived to be adults were all very fine people.
My grandfather is on the left in the photo. It was taken in the Belgian Congo some time between 1906 and 1908.