Graves, Orvill Curtis

O.C. GRAVES AND FAMILY 1reftext77_162.gif

by son O. C., Jr., and danghter, Alberta

My father, Orvill Curtis (O.C., Sr.), came to Canada in 1909 from Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.A. He homesteaded N.E. 22-57-6, Spring Park, Alberta.

After he proved up the homestead and built a house, he worked in Alberta and British Columbia for several years at bridge work, lumber mills, and building river scows that were used to haul freight on the Fraser river in B.C. He made several trips from Tete Jaune Cache, where the scows were built, to Prince George. They floated the scows to Prince George from Tete Jaune Cache and then would walk back, 150 to 175 miles.

He spent some winters on the homestead when he couldn't get work. For food he had dried beans and dried fruit; for meat, deer and prairie chickens. He walked to Hopkins Ferry for groceries.

In 1917 or 18 he went back to Tennessee, where he met Ethel Major, a school teacher. They were married in 1919. I, Orville Curtis, (O.C., Jr.), was born in 1921; in 1923, a daughter, Alberta Louise, named after the province of Alberta where Dad had homesteaded.

My father worked in Tennessee as a carpenter until 1924. Then he moved his family to Canada to the homestead. We came by train to Vermilion, then Mr. Monkman brought us to Elk Point by team and wagon. Mr. Monkman hauled passengers and freight for fifty miles.

We stopped a few days at Caskey's Hotel in Elk Point.

My father bought four horses from Lars Johnson, a horse trader about two miles from town. I believe he bought a wagon and some old machinery from him, too. That wagon was our transportation to the homestead.

My sister and I attended the Spring Park School. That school was one room, built in 1917 and closed in 1950, but still standing.

Before the railway, grain or livestock was hauled by horses on wagons or sleighs to St. Paul, thirty miles.

I, Alberta, was only one year old when my parents came to Canada so I know very little of the hardships. I recall a few stories though -- one where my brother and I were tied to a near-by tree while my mother and father cut brush around the house.

One of my greatest thrills was Christmas, when we would drive for miles to attend the local concert and receive a bag of treats from Santa.

I attended Spring Park School from Grade I to IX. This was a one-room building with as many as thirty pupils. We walked the three miles in summer and went by horses and cutter during winter.

Our first car was a 1929 Model A, purchased from Mr. Markstad for $900.00. We drove to Westlock one summer to visit an old friend of my father's.

From 1937 to 1940 I attended Elk Point High School under the supervision of Mr. Jensen.


Mr. and Mrs. 0. C. Graves Sr. 45th wedding anniversary April 6, 1964.