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ESTHER COMMUNITY HISTORY


came here, and it was quite desolate to take a walk out. The twenty-fourth of May,
we had a picnic. The neighbours all around came to it. In the evening we had a dance
out on the prairie. Everyone was very friendly and we met some very nice neighbors.
We had little parties after that in the homes and got better acquainted. We had
some very good times and some poor ones.
Grandma Pratt came to live with us on the homestead and was a great help
for me with the children as she was very strict. I did not mind as I knew it was the
right thing for children to mind and she was a good Christian and a good singer.
She got the first readers and taught them to read as the school was quite a distance
away. After a while the train came through from Loverna so we got our mail twice
a week and of course could spend our few odd cents at the store.
Mr. ALLAN STEWART
I was born the 26th November, 1878, near Poland, Dalhousie Township in
the county of Lanark in the Province of Ontario. In my young days I remember we
always had lots of apples and plums. At that time it was no trick to grow lots of good
fruit as there were no pests like there is now, a good many of the trees I knew 60
or 70 years ago are all gone now, of course others have been planted at different
times up through the years. The old farm is rough, hills and a good supply of rocks,
but until I moved around I thought there was no place like home.
In September of 1901, Robert A. Ballantyne and I went up to Desbarats,
the second station east of Saulte St. Marie. I worked in the woods in the winter, at
saw mill in the summer,I remember one chap in particular a Frenchman tried to
teach me French. I guess I was a poor pupil, the most I learned was to count up to
twelve and say good-day and good-night in French and maybe a few scattered words.
In August of 1902, I thought to try my luck in the West so boarded a Harvest
excusion train. I worked in North Dakota and Manitoba for a few years, then struck
out for Cranbrook, B.C. I worked then in B.C. for a few years and bought a few
acres and planted fruit trees in 1910. I put up a small house and a stable for a saddle
pony. About that time my sister and brother came out.
My mother was ill back in Ontario so my sister and I left there in the spring
of 1914. My brother stopped at Field, B.C. and worked for the C.P.R. and my sister
and I came back to Eastern Ontario. In 1920, in late August, I came out on the Harvest
excursion to Loverna and worked for Wm. Ballantyne at harvest and threshing.
I bought a half section from George W. Cope that fall, so went back east
but came back in the spring. My youngest sister came out with me. In 1923 she
married Elias Greig and is now living in Edmonton.
I do not think I was a huge success as a wheat farmer. I seemed to do the
wrong thing at the right time. Anyhow if I was a young man I would be somewhere
out there yet. I started planting shelter belt trees in 1925 and in 1929 planted my
first fruit trees. That was what I called the old orchard. Then in the hungry thirties
I planted more shelter belt on the east and west side of orchard no. 2.
A lot of people around and I was one of them, who in the summer of 1937
nad practically no crop, so Frank Polley Jr., Jerry Bolby and I went up to me Peace
River Country, some 22 miles west of Beaverlodge, and helped ' ith harvesting and
threshing. Cutting was pretty well over, the roads something awful, they had quite
a snow storm a few days before. We stopped in Edmonton two days but we should
have stopped longer. I liked the country fine but all good things come to an end, the
season was getting late so had to go back.
I had planted on the N.E. 1/4 of 14-T-31-R2-W4th.M. around 400 trees including
the low growing cherry-plums. When ever it would come a windy, dirty day on the
land I would go into the orchard and all was well with the world. Although we got
some hard knocks there, I liked the place and the people. In the fall of 1954, I left
there and now am gardening as you might have guessed, roses in particular and also
perennials - a good pastime.
Allan Stewart
EXCELDA BLACK AND WHITE MINISTRELS
In the early 20's few cars were running - all saddle ponies, buggies, etc.,
not too much land under cultivation, power chiefly oxen and horses. Settlers were
just getting acquainted, and things a little dull. These conditions were instrumental
in the getting together of a handful of boys (seven in all), who decided to form the
"Excelda Black and Whites". The troupe consisted of the League of Nations. Frank
Polley Sr. from Ireland, Jim Landreth, Canadian, Paul Sauers and Orvel Twaddell


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