Shortly after the turn of the century, many settlers took out homesteads in the Elk Point district. They came from the United States, Eastern Canada, the British Isles and from many European nations. Many of them stayed for the remaining years of their lives, while othÂers decided to leave for one reason or another. Since their belongings were difficult to move from one place to another many sold their houseÂhold goods, machinery, livestock, and real estate by public auction before leaving our district.
Every town or village usually had one or more aucÂtioneers who were capable of conducting auction sales. The auctioneer agreed to sell the farmer's household goods as well as the rest of his belongÂings to the highest bidder in return for a share of the receipts. The goods to be sold were all listed on a sales bill then widely circulated so that the sale received sufficient advertisement. It was strongly believed that the bigger the crowd the better chance the sale would be a success.
One of Elk Point's first aucÂtioneers was George M. GoÂben. His sales ad appeared in a 1912 Vermilion Standard and read: 'George M. Goben Farm and General AucÂtioneer, Elk Point, Alta.' Another early district auctioneer was Fred E. Van Arnam. He placed an ad in the 1918 Elk Point Agricultural Fair bookÂlet which read "If you want to buy or sell A farm or have an auction sale see F. E. Van ArÂnam, Elk Point, Alta. â I am also the local agent for CPR land. One of our better known auctioneers was Capt. B.C. Edwards. Barney, as he was known to all, started his auctioneering trade in PonÂoka, Alta., later moving to the Mooswa district (Lindbergh). His business card read: 'Capt. B.C. Edwards, Auctioneer â The Man Who Makes Your Auction Sale A Money Maker." Barney remained in our district for many years before moving to British Columbia where he, passed away.
Other nearbv auctioneers were W.M. Brunelle, Dan Joyal, Sam Hassam, and J. Victor Lafrance, all from St. Paul. Checking an old 1920 Vermilion Standard the folÂlowing auctioneers appeared in the paper's directory: Campbell and Dickinson (Maughan), Wm. Young, A.M. West, and C. Swan. OthÂers closer to home were Ed Caskey, Paul Petrosky, and W.J. Casterton. They conducted auction sales thoughout our district during the 1930s and on.
All auctioneers had their own little way of trying to hold the interest of the buying public. They were never short of words. Many kept up a conÂtinuous chatter of meaningÂless words or phrases such as "Abba Dabba Dabba' or 'let's get along now' throughout the sale.
âGood auctioneers always made the difference between a good sale and a bad one. The more talented auctioneers soon became well known and were in demand, while the others found it difficult to survive and eventually gave up in the auctioneering field.
Many humorous happenÂings occur at auction sales. I recall one auctioneer who reÂminded his audience not to be, afraid to bid openly â he'd tell them when their bidding was too high. At another auction sale a man and his wife beÂcame separated in the crowd and began bidding against each other, running up the cost considerably.
During another sale in proÂgress, the auctioneer was suddenly interrupted by his clerk who whispered someÂthing in his ear. The aucÂtioneer then straightened up and made the following anÂnouncement. "A gentleman in the crowd lost his pocketbook with $600 in it â he will give $50 to anyone finding it." He no sooner made the announÂcement than someone in the audience raised his arm and hollered, "Iâll give $60!"
The auctioneer, like many other tradesmen, performed a useful service â that of getting top dollar for the person disÂposing of his real estate, livesÂtock, machinery and houseÂhold goods.