THE FRANK PINDER FAMILY
by the Pinder family
Alvin Frank Pinder (Dad) was born at Laverne, Iowa in 1883. Charlotte Gideon (Mother) was born at Seneca, Iowa in 1886. They grew up there and were married in Minnesota in 1905 where the two oldest children, Harold and Ella, were born.
Soon the "Call of the West" and the cheap homestead land in Alberta gave them the urge to move. So.. in the spring of 1909 they loaded their possessions in a railway car and chose the farthest north location that was marked on the map, namely Lavoy. They stayed there that summer while Dad was looking for land. In August, their third child, Alberta, was born, and in October they moved three miles west of Elk Point where Dad had filed on a homestead: N.E. 4-57-7.
We had a one-room log house with an upstairs; there was no floor in it the first winter; then Dad got some lumber to put one in. Later he added a lean-to for a kitchen.
Harold Pinder on his return from his trapline.
Log house on farm in background, 1924.
We had a few pigs, cows, and chickens and a yoke of oxen which were used for transportation and working the land. They were much too slow to suit Dad so it wasn't long before they were traded for horses. A grey pony, Dick, was the family transport to school and the store for sixteen years.
Other buildings were gradually added to the farmstead. Dad dug a cave in a hillside to use as a smokehouse and he and mom cured their own bacon; they picked wild berries and grew a big garden. Wildfoul, such as prairie chicken, partridge and geese was abundant and there were a lot of moose. Some fishing was done. Consequently, moose and fish were the main sources of meat. Dad would take a load of wheat to Vermilion to the mill for flour and bran.
Vermilion was fifty miles away and the nearest railroad was located there. It was a three day trip and he would make several trips a year with the horses. He also did freighting to Vegreville.
The first store was Hopkins Store near the Saskatchewan River and was operated by Mr. Jack Valentine. In later years Dad operated a store in Elk Point with Mr. Jim Babcock, who came from the same area in the U.S.A. After a short time Dad left the store and Mr. Babcock carried on.
Mail was received at the Caskey residence, the first post office. Mail was carried from Vermilion by Mr. Monkman with the team and wagon or sleigh; he was always a reliable mail carrier.
Very early in this period a country school was built, called the "Caskeyville School". At Christmas time the traditional concert was held - complete with Christmas tree. There were few presents but candy was available for all.
In the summer of 1914, another school, called Paramount, was built three miles N.E. of the homestead. School was held from spring to December with grades from one to eight. Miss Elsie Bradshaw was the first teacher and she boarded with us. Other teachers during this time were a Mr. Richardson, who later became a lawyer, and Dr. Hustler, who was a medical student. He lived in a tent and walked to school; he also organized the first Sunday School where Elk Point is now. Mother always took us to Sunday School and assisted Dr. Hustler.
Dad served on the school board and was also the first Justice of the Peace. Several trials were held at our house.
Early law was enforced by the Mounted Police. They wore red coats all the time so they were commonly called "The Red Coats". There were no roads around our homestead so they travelled through our place and always stopped to chat. Indians travelled in groups with scrawny horses and would often wander into the house uninvited.
In February of 1912, Eunice was born; she was always a delicate child and developed a pneumonia-type disease and died at the age of ten.
In July of 1916, Don was born. Doctors and hospitals were unavailable in these days so the closest neighbor, Mrs. Valentine, was the midwife.
The family outgrew the homestead and in April of 1917 we moved to a farm twelve miles north of Vermilion for two years. Paul was born there. Crops were dried out so we returned to Elk Point and lived where the town now stands. Dad then purchased the south half of section 32-56-6 and this became our permanent home. Later he bought the N.W. quarter from mother's brother, Freemont Gideon, who had homesteaded this land. Uncle Freemont then returned to the U.S.A.
In the years that followed we had many happy times and also some sad ones. During the winter of 1925 Harold became very ill. Dr. Miller was called to the farm and diagnosed the illness as smallpox. We all had to be vaccinated and a quarantine sign was put on our gate. None of us could leave the farm, nor could anyone come in for six weeks. Mother and Ella had a severe reaction from the vaccine and they were also put to bed. We were fortunate to have Mr. Henry O'Kane staying with us at the time, and since he couldn't leave until the quarantine was lifted, he took over the duties as "chief cook and bottle washer".
Dad was a great horseman and Mother was also very good with the reins. He raised many horses, and was always buying and selling or trading. One favorite high spirited driving team was "Prince and Bess". We remember Mother going to town with them one day and in only a few minutes she drove into the yard again. Dad rushed out to see what was wrong.. but she had just made an extra-fast trip! Runaways weren't uncommon either. One time we were going to a stampede at Queenie Creek and we were almost there when the horses spooked and started to run. Something at the front of the wagon broke and we were all tipped out. The wagon wheel ran over Dad's leg and it was pretty sore for a few days. Mr. Elza McMurdo came along in his car and took Mom and us kids on to the stampede and brought us home. Dad stayed behind to catch the horses and patch up the wagon. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt.
Harold drove a six horse outfit on the breaking plow and broke many acres of land for the neighbors. He lived and worked at home until he rented the Joe Quin land one mile west of Elk Point and batched there until he married the former Isobel Antoniuk, a nurse at the local hospital. Ella, who was very clever with her hands, took a course in millinery and then operated a hat shop in town for a few years (about 1928-1929). Kitty Fenton was teaching at this time and they batched together at the back of the shop.
Ella married Roy Peterson in 1930 and they lived two miles N.W. of Elk Point until 1943 when they moved to Armstrong, B.C.
As there was no high school in Elk Point, Alberta left in 1924 to finish her education in Iowa, staying with Grandma Pinder. She took her normal schooling in Edmonton and her first year of teaching was at Paramount.
Don and Paul attended the old school across from the Tom Aarbo farm until it was moved to town where they finished their education. "Old Dick" was still around to transport the boys to school. In early summer when the strawberries were ripe they would stop at the berry patch and Ella would meet them there and they would pick berries until supper time. The mosquitoes were so bad they would carry a smudge along in a pail. Later on there were saskatoons to pick and then the blueberries. It was nothing for the family to pick a wash boiler full of blueberries in a short afternoon. It was such hot hard work but we forgot all that when Mother's good preserves were put on the table.
Eunice Pinder in front of house on homestead 1913
Harold, Ella, Alberta, and Eunice Pinder on "Old Dick ", 1913.
Harvey Fish, Don Pinder, Paul Pinder, Alberta Pinder, Mary Fish, and Harold Pinder, 1920.
Pinder home built about 1927.
There was always plenty of good home-cooked food for us to eat and Mother sewed most of our clothes. We always remember when she would give l0 cents to the one who could catch a chicken for her to cook for supper. Alberta was the fastest runner so she could corner the chicken but she was afraid of them so she would call for someone to come and catch it. She never got the l0 cents!
Much to our joy, in March of 1926 a baby sister joined our family. Lura Belle. We were delighted and couldn't wait until we could take her horseback riding; she became an excellent horse woman and transported herself to school in town. Bringing in the milk cows was a daily chore for her and she spent many an hour herding the sheep.
About 1925 we got our first car, a Model T. ford, 1924 model. Dad learned to drive this car but it seemed like he was always stalling the engine. At least Don thought so as he was the one to get out and crank it. One day Dad was taking us to St. Paul to a circus; we got as far as the big hill west of the Springsteel farm when a sudden rain storm came up. Dad backed the car into the storm and we put the top up and waited until the storm was over. Then we couldn't make it up the hill, so we were forced to turn around and come home.
On May 3, 1937 Dad passed away after a short illness. Mother and Don and Paul carried on the farm until Paul was married in 1941 to Ruby Heacock of Elk Point and then Mother and Lura Belle moved into town. Don was married the following year to Grace Lambie of Landonville. In 1943 they bought the N.E. quarter from Ole Jacobson to complete the section of land.
Mother died on March 7,1967 and was laid to rest beside Dad and Eunice in the west cemetery. Harold passed away on February 20, 1962; Isobel lives in town. They had three children, Raymond, Dorothy and George. Ella Peterson now resides in Nanaimo, B.C. Her four children, Signa, Eva Lu, Frank and Keitha all live in Canada. Alberta Billings is in Los Angeles, California and has one son, DonaId. Don and Grace reside on the N.E. of 32-56-6, east of Elk Point. They have two sons, Kenneth and Gary, and one daughter, Carol. Paul and Ruby are in Edmonton as is their son Keith, and daughter Judy. Lura Belle Greckol lives in Vilna where she teaches school and her husband Bill is postmaster. They have five daughters: Vonnie, Mona Lee, Sheila, Debra and Allison