Left over cottages hidden under the ground

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Yup. And it wasn’t so long ago.

My dads first home was(very briefly) a sod house with a whitewashed floor. We used to drive by it when I was a kid; it had fallen in, but there was still a mound and some wooden beams sticking up.

Grandpa had actually grown up in a proper house in British Columbia, but homesteaded in the Peace Country. They first had to clear their land, so they built a sod house to live in.

Later they built a 2 room log cabin on my grandmothers parents homestead, and when the family hit 6 kids or so, they moved into a farm house and had 6 more. Someone else moved into the old sod house.

When my dads grandmother came to the Peace River region in the 1920s her family travelled by ox pulled wagons, because they were told that oxen could survive on swamp grass, while horses cannot. Farms and fields were sparse and sustenance level, and you couldn’t just buy hay and grain from anyone. They didn’t have the money anyway.

They crossed the Peace River on a barge, and it was pretty much pure wilderness after that. Grandma spend her first years in a community just south of the Peace River crossing.

In comparison to American development, this was happening while the Empire state building was being erected. Flappers were dancing the Charleston. The Scopes trial on evolution was in the news.

My family lived in sod and log. The civilised world was enjoying Art Deco.

Over in England, the famous red double decker buses started running.

Hitler published “Mein Kampf” in Europe.

My grandmother grew up picking berries for extra food and pulling stumps. Dad was still picking rocks out of the fields as a kid in the 50s. If the numbers seem strange, it is because my grandfather served in WWII, and they didn’t start having babies till he was 27. Grandpa was born in 1917. Grandma in 1920. She is 93 this year.

It was the atomic age, but lots of western Canadians were still carving lives out of the wilderness. It was far less civilized than the Mississippi river that Mark Twain piloted 100 years earlier.

So it really burns me when people say that Western Canadians are Canada’s religious nuts. Religion was important to those pioneers, but they didn’t have the level of comfort that allows a person to be a busy body about anyone else’s beliefs. And that attitude has coloured our society.

Civilization came in the blink of an eye here. The late 1940s introduced universal health care in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and now 5 generations have lived under it.

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