Life in Pioneer Days


Life in pioneer days consisted of hard work and many difficulties. The pioneers have accomplished what at first was thought impossible. When they first came here most of them had very few tools. Their houses were of hewed logs with a sod roof. They had very little store furniture most of it was made by hand from local wood. Their heating system wasn't very efficient, some used cook stoves while others used heaters. Clothes were difficult to obtain and were made of heavy material. The women wore sun bonnets and home spun dresses, while the men wore sheep and moose hide coats instead of our fur coats of today. Clothing was handed down to younger members of the family, thus preventing waste.

Food was scarce and many of the settlers brought large supplies from their former homes. There were many wild animals and fish that were caught for food. Berries were dried and stored for winter use. Most of the vegetables they grew themselves. Additional supplies were brought from Vermilion and Vegreville. Some early settlers were known to grind peas as a substitute for coffee. When the first settlers came this country was heavily wooded and many swamps and lakes existed that are now dry. In order for the men to plan they had to cut down huge trees and grub the stumps. There were very few implements. The walking plow was used drawn by mules or oxen. Some early settlers had to sow their grain by hand. Threshing machines were unknown at first but later they used a threshing machine which had to be fed half a sheaf at a time. The twine had to be cut and the straw carried away by hand.

Roads were not very passable at that time. On account of the heavy forests many travellers and settler used to get lost and wonder in circles. The closest railway was at Vermilion. For supplies they went to Vegreville through St. Paul and Brousseau. They travelled in rough carts drawn by oxen. The mail was brought from St. Paul. The only river crossing was at Hopkins where a ferry was installed.

The winters were cold and snow drifts were deep, on one occasion a settler had to use a shovel to get his team out of the drifts.

For entertainment they had a few parties and dances. Each year a happy time was had by all at the Indian treaties. Through all these hardships the settlers survived and gave us a better land to live in.