THE ARTHUR AND CECIL ANN (MAXWELL) CHILBECK FAMILY
by Thelma Doughty and Isabel (Anderson) Wingerter
Arthur J. Chilbeck, of Crookston, Minnisota, in the summer of 1907 was working on a Canadian government survey in Alberta around the Athabaska and Lesser Slave Lake areas when he sent news to his family in Crookston of the good homesteading opportunities in northern Alberta. In the spring of 1908 Art met his parents John E. and Isabel J. and younger sisters and brothers in Edmonton where the family stayed while Grandad went about two hundred miles east to file on a homestead and put up temporary shelters. Art and a friend, Bill McCormick, started log cabins for both the Chilbeck and McCormick families. In 1909 Art and Grandad built a barge at Edmonton on the banks of the Saskatchewan River. This barge was to float the family belongings, farm tools and supplies, down the river to the homestead site easier and more quickly than freighting over land. The lumber from the barge was later used to finish the log house walls and floor. It was while building the log house that Art met Cecil and her older sister Louella Maxwell, daughters of Stewart B. Maxwell who was the engineer at a sawmill on the river south of Elk Point. The family had homesteaded in the area above the sawmill in the fall of 1907. In these early years everyone exchanged work and it was in this manner at the logs were cut and hauled for the Lambright house the Maxwell home, built on the hillside above the mill. Lloyd Lambright worked at the mill rolling and scaling the logs.
Our father (Arthur) married in 1910 and after a briefhoneymoon in Edmonton spent the next year working on the construction of a government asylum in Ponoka. Dad reurned home with a doctor brought from Edmonton, to give medical aid to his father who had been accidently injured in his right arm by a shot gun blast. This happened when he was removing the gun from a wagon. The arm was very badly battered and infection set in making it necessary to amputate the arm. Dad and his sister Edna assisted the doctor. Edna, who had been visiting, stayed on and helped until their father was somewhat recovered. Edna returned to her husband and home in Grand Rapids to return a year or two later to homestead and run a store for a few years after which they eventually sold it to a Mr. Hogan and Mr. Mayben. Mother and Dad returned to live on and improve their homestead starting in 1911. In December the following year their first child, a baby boy was born, but lived only a few hours. In December of 1912 a baby girl died at birth; both of the babies were buried in the Mooswa Cemetery at Lindbergh. The local doctor, Dr. Miller and his wife were the only ones to serve the area and with the very severe winters and the difficult modes of travel the doctor did a marvelous job. A bit later Dr. Ross assisted Dr. Miller. People in those years were ready and willing to help one another and our parents were no exception. They worked long hours helping build their houses and barns and harvest their crops. They made fun out of a lot of the chores by getting together to pick berries, gathering cranberries and blueberries and perhaps ending these chores with a community picnic, social or dance. The dances and socials were usually held in someones' barn or house, and anyone who could play any kind of a musical instrument came from miles around to play and dance. In the winter the men did a great deal of hunting of wild animals, providing food for the table.
Mother and Dad's third child, Thelma, was born in Greenfield, Iowa, while Mother was visiting her aunt, and had the close care of a doctor needed for her medical problems. Dad joined us and when I was about a year old we returned across country to our homestead in Alberta. The trip was made by Model T Ford.
Income in those early years of farming was augmented by carpentry: house building with Grandad Maxwell, also barn building. Coyotes were hunted in winter and the pelts sold.
In 1918 after the bad flu, Grandad died of lung complications and in the year that followed all the sons and daughters and their husbands and wives helped take care of the farm for Grandmother but she died of a kidney ailment in the spring of the following year.
In the summer of 1919 we moved to the town of Islay where Thelma started school in 1921 and sister Isabel was born in October of the same year. Dad did mostly carpentry in the summer and hunting in the winter. This was during the years from 1919 to 1923. In 1923, Dad, in search of work went to the United States to Shelby, Montana where an arena was built to hold the world championship boxing match. In the summer of 1923 Mother and ourselves, (Thelma and Isabel) joined Dad in Shelby and the fall of the same year we moved to Vancouver, Washington, where we resided until 1930 when we moved to Seattle, Washington, where Isabel and I still reside.
Dad continued to work in the construction and building trade for the balance of his life but he never forgot his many adventuresome years in northern Alberta and the Elk Point area. Many of our friends and relatives and their children still live in or near Elk Point.
Dad passed away in 1962 and Mother in 1971.1 (Thelma) have one daughter Diane Olson and a son Christopher who died in 1971. Isabel has two daughters and two sons: Barbara Harker, Donna Huston, Patrick and Wesley.