Friday, 31 March 2017

Pete Rae's Story Continued

The most exciting part in writing this family history blog is hearing from someone with "The Rest of the Story" .  Only a few hours after posting the piece about Peter Deans Rae, I was contacted by Pat, the Google user Pamaga who started my quest from Gateshead in the UK.  She tells me that Pete was a cousin to her grandfather and she knew him to be a lovely, quiet, unassuming man who had quite a resemblance to her grandfather.

Her family photos taken overseas show her grandfather on the left in the front row and Pete beside him.  The four standing left-right are Pete, her Aunt Maisie, her Dad, and Pat in about 1961.

The other picture Pat sent me below is of Pete in the back of his truck box in Canada with Doyle Baily standing behind.  Doyle bought Pete's farm in 1961 and continues to own it today and live on the next quarter to it where he and his wife Lynda raised a family of 2 girls.  The sign on the truck box with the words "Oak River, Man" were what led Pat to my blog post in the first place!

At the tender age of 17 in 1910, Pete left Galashiels, Scotland and came to Canada.  He worked for Eaton's in Winnipeg and then went farther west to Blanshard Municipality to work for various farmers until beginning to farm for himself.  He returned for a visit to Scotland in 1921 and must have then convinced his mother Elizabeth to join him and keep house for him. She stayed in Canada for the rest of her days and died on May 11, 1952 and is buried in Oak River Cemetery.

 In 1946 Pete bought the north half of section 31 range 14 township 22, pictured in the previous post. My mom found his name on a list of annual yearly canvas donors for the Oak River United Church in 1957.  In the late 50's they were also raising money for a new church organ and he likely contributed to that cause along with much of the community.  The organ was purchased and later moved to the new church when it opened in 1964 and still sees occasional use.

Pete retired to Scotland in 1961 but was no doubt fondly remembered across the pond by the people and the community where he spent his working life.  Thank you, Pat for introducing him to me as well.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Canadian Story of Peter Deans Rae

Although not a relative, the story of Peter Rae has emerged from a comment on this blog.  On the post from 3 years ago for my grandfather Alexander Simms, I recently received the following comment from Google user Pamaga:
My great uncle Peter Deans Rae had a wheat farm at Oak River, Manitoba. He emigrated from Scotland aged 19 in 1910 and ended up with the farm. He came back to Scotland in the 1960s and lived with my grandparents until his death. Thank you for sharing your photographs. I have only one of Pete in his time there. He is in a farm truck with one of his neighbours. I wonder if he knew your family?
The name rung a bell with me and I went searching through the old pictures that had belonged to my Great Aunt Lizzie Sinclair Morcom and her husband Jack.  My Aunt Dodie had gone through the pictures years ago and wrote names on the back for the people she knew and on this postcard, she had written Pete Rae (r).  The man on the left is unknown.  It appears to be a studio photo in front of a backdrop and this blog says using cars as props was popular in the 1910's - 20's.

In talking to my Dad, he recalled that Pete had a half section farm 1 mile west of Oak River and a half mile north off 24 highway.  He also remembers combining for him a couple of years in the 1950's.  I took a picture of this farm today from the highway (below), the grain bins being put there by subsequent owners, Doyle and Lynda Baily. The view of the old Rae farm from Google Street View from the highway is here at this link. 

Another look through my pictures turned up another neat old postcard of Pete Rae and I am assuming Jim was his brother.  The strange attire they are wearing was answered on Google by researching "vintage wooly chaps". They became popular with cowboys in the late 1800's especially during cold and wet weather. They were made in a wide variety of furs and wool including bear, sheep, cow and buffalo but the most prized was Angora goat fur. These chaps were worn by not only cowboys but Wild West performers who loved how "showy" they were.


A similar log cabin background can be seen online in this postcard that is listed for sale for $20! These would have been souvenir postcards that may have been sent back to family and friends in Scotland and the Morcoms were neighbours and must have been Oak River friends to receive them as well. I imagine that photo studios in cities like Winnipeg and Calgary would have been the setting for these postcards.
Pete's story is continued here:

Saturday, 11 March 2017

A Blizzard Like the Old Days

A recent three day blizzard here in Western Manitoba reminded me of pictures I had copied from old Kinnaird pictures.  I recall the hen house above that was on my Grandpa and Grandma Kinnaird's farm north of Hargrave at W1-11-27.   The middle picture of the three shows after a tunnel was dug to get to the door and the last picture looks to be before.  Helpfully written on the picture is the year 1947 - 70 years ago!  Thousands of pictures were taken of the storm of 2017 but to take three in a row of the hen house shows it must have been outstanding to them! 
The photo above was also captioned 1947 - Snowplow on Cecil Carruthers' road.  Further research online turns up that January 30 - February 8, 1947 goes down as one of the worst blizzards in prairie history. Stories remain about farmers who had to throw feed down holes that they chopped in the roof for animals trapped in barns and coops. Some roads remained blocked for months until the Spring melt. Other pictures of the aftermath of the Blizzard of '47 that were taken in Saskatchewan and found online are below:


What a huge challenge that must have been with limited communication,  no prior warning and only the most basic in machinery to clean it up!  I have a feeling the people of the post war time, including my grandparents, looked after themselves and their neighbours without expecting any outside help and without complaint.  It was just a reason to take pictures for their granddaughter to see 70 years in the future!