My family lived on a Ranch full time from 1993 until 2015. We were a 5th generation family farm.
I am writing this blog to share my experiences living there. It is best to read the blog chronologically by going through the archives, starting with the introduction in January of 2010.
The blog starts with the arrival of my great-grandparents to the farm in 1947 and will follow the families to the present.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

CANOE POINT - SICAMOUS B.C. Saturday March 19, 1948

The pioneers of Canoe Point were an eccentric bunch.  They were drawn together despite differences in education and language.  The Woods family were the closest neighbor farmers and were well known for their ingenuity.  They developed a "phone system" between the houses which allowed for basic communication.  They also created their own electricity by channeling Blackwood creek into a power house. The farmhouse had a pulley system which allowed the Woods family to choose to route the power either to the house or to the dairy barn.  The dairy barn itself was a beautiful structure and the parlor had a system installed for cleaning the floor as well as an automatic watering system.  The Ranch did not have such a watering system until 1995. 
The Herald Family lived 11 kms. to the west of the Ranch but despite the distance the families shared pasture and labour.  Dundas Herald graduated from Queen's University Medical College in 1891.  He immediately moved to British Columbia and worked in Vancouver for a number of years.  He then moved to Quesnelle Forks where he practiced for five years.  He married Edith Walsh of Corona, Ontario and moved to Bonnie Bray which is now the famous Herald Park.  There he lived a very isolated existence with his three children.  Jessie Herald lived her whole life on the farm after she sold it to the B.C. government in 1975.
It appears that the residents of Canoe Point began to object to their isolation.  In 1948 they began to try to pressure government to build a road to Canoe Point.  The road fell short by about ten miles.  There are two letters dated both in March, but one in 1948 and the other in 1949.  They were addressed to the Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer. Evident in the letters is the frustration of having endured the winter in challenging conditions.

Click on letters to view (click on image until letter is magnified)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A sense of belonging


She dreamed of a green pasture and a green oak tree.
She dreamed of cows. She dreamed she stood
under the tree and the brown and white cows
came slowly up from the pond and stood near her.
Some butted her gently and they licked her bare arms
with their great coarse drooling tongues. Their eyes, wet as
shining water, regarded her. They came closer and began to
press their warm flanks against her, and as they pressed
an almost unendurable joy came over her and
lifted her like a warm wind and she could fly.
She flew over the tree and she flew over the field and
she flew with the cows.

(Excerpt from the poem by Norah Pollard "She dreamed of cows") 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What is between you and freedom?

In what was one of the last letters that Gus wrote to Renee before her arrival on the Ferme Fleur de Lys he writes of the long discussions about the stable for the horses.  There is much thought where the stable should be and where the cows would go as well.  There seems to be no resolution in sight and he ends with "maintenant c'est des tracteurs que l'on parle" - now it is tractors that we are talking about. 
Gus said that by the second day he already felt "chez moi" - at home.  "The four of us live very well the evenings we often speak of Geneva and all that we would want to see there one day..but of course especially you....Edmond waits for you so much and wants to make the house bigger.  We are very close together in the house which is good during the winter as it helps to keep us warm!".  Gus feels he has adapted very well to the farming life, even getting up before Edmond and waking him up.  He writes that he watches, thinks and reflects on how much he would like to live in this very beautiful country that offers so many opportunities.

The immigrant experience to Canada often reflects a sense of sovereignty.  I think that is what appealed to my grandmother; the ability to direct her own life and develop new interests without the confines of old expectations.  In Canada the newcomers had the immigrant experience in common and differences in background, education or culture became less significant, particularly in the isolated areas.

but we are more
than genteel or civilized
we are an idea in the process
of being realized
we are young
we are cultures strung together
then woven into a tapestry
and the design
is what makes us more
than the sum total of our history
we are an experiment going right for a change
Gus on Molly

we are the lost-and-found for all those who might find themselves at a loss


We are the true north
strong and free
and what's more
is that we didn't just say it
we made it be.

"We are More" by Shane Koyczan


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

To Love What Is

To Love What Is

In this choiceless
of life,
there is an infinite array
of choices.
One alone
brings happiness-
to love
what is.

Dorothy S. Hunt

Renee left Canada as a widow with three young children, Jean being only a baby.  Renee had never met Henri's mother, Mathilde Miege, who she was to live with.  Mathilde was a widow herself who quickly developed an aversion to my father as apparently he strongly resembled her late husband. This resemblance unfortunately did not bring her joy.  Mathilide was an intense, complex woman.  Renee had the top floor of the house but never felt truly independent while she lived there.  As a young grieving woman in a new country it was a truly challenging time.

Madame Mathilde Miege

I believe that Renee struggled to define herself and move forward with her life during her years living with Mathilde.  Renee's work with the Red Cross became a source of pride to her which many years later still gave her pleasure to talk about.  However, the family did survive, and indeed flourish.   

On June 28 1948 Renee did make the choice to leave Switzerland to go to Canada. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Keep Your Appointment with Life

Renee moved to Montreal from Switzerland when she was about 5 years old.  She came with her father,  her mother was delayed for health reasons and joined the family a few months later.  During those long months without her mother Renee claimed that she stayed alone in the house while her father went to work.  Renee married her first husband at a young age and quickly had her three children; Michelle, Edmond and John.  Her husband, Henri, had come from Switzerland a few years previously with a goal to develop the arts in Canada. He had graduated from an Art school in Geneva and had started to establish a reputation for himself when he decided to travel. His work had been noted for it's qualities of "simplicity and harmony while retaining a practical use". In both Geneva and Montreal he had been awarded "best of show" in various expositions. In Montreal he taught lessons in textiles, pottery and oil painting and actively marketed and sold his work. In the year before his death he was in the process of purchasing a building on Melville Island in Shawinigan Falls for the cost of $40.00, payable at $5.00 per a month.  He faithfully submitted his payments and in May of 1931 the building was his and was to become a Technical Institute for the Arts.
It was a financial struggle to support his growing family on Art and Henry started to work as a chemical operator at "Shawinigan Chemicals".  He worked the night shift and used the ovens in the factory to fire his pottery.  The long nights in the factory took a toll on his health.  He died at home in 1932 of pneumonia. His infant son"s Baptism papers state "John Henry David Miege, infant Son of the late Henri Louis Constant Miege chemical operator of the Shawinigan Chemicals of the City of Shawinigan Falls...." Perhaps the arts were not recognized as a true occupation but  I know for certain that Henri did not see himself as a chemical operator.  It is often a struggle to keep your appointment with life.