Memoirs of Hillsburgh – Clarence Federspiel (1909)

Memoirs of Hillsburgh – Clarence Federspiel (1909)

Here is another installment from the book “Memoirs of Hillsburgh”, in this case a piece written by Clarence Federspiel around 1909. 

Clarence is the brother of Elmer Federspiel, who married Lillian Mae Sklapsky in 1905. 


I, Clarence Federspiel, come to what was then Assiniboia N.W.T., in 1905 and homesteaded twenty-five miles east of Davidson. After proving up my homestead there, I decided in 1909 to purchase South African scrip which was available at that time and could be purchased at the local bank for $500.00 to $1100.00. This scrip was allotted by the government to veterans of the South African war, which allowed the holder of such scrip to file on a half section of government land or to sell it, and whoever purchased it had the same right. It was generally understood there was available government land south-west of Saskatoon, where the Canadian Northern Railroad was building a line from Saskatoon to Calgary. This was known as the Goose Lake line. After purchasing my scrip at the bank at Craik, I, with three other homesteaders decided to drive through with a team of horses and light wagon and see what the country looked like. We started about July 6th and drove west, crossing the Saskatchewan River on the ferry at Outlook. We kept on west until we came into what is now called the Brock district. At that time there was just one house in township 28, range 20 — Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hyde’s place on section 24. Rather, they had not built their house, but were living in part of the barn until they could build a house. We camped at their place for a few days while we looked over the surrounding country. I finally decided to file my scrip on the east half of 10-28-20-W. 3rd. The other three men did not take up any land, but returned to their homesteads by way of Rosetown which was the end of the steel at that time. I left them there and took the train for Saskatoon where I filed my scrip on the above mentioned land.

I then returned to my homestead at Davidson, and after harvesting the crop in 1909, I sent my wife and little daughter Vera back to Michigan which was their old home. After that I went back to build a home for them on our newly acquired land. At this time, about October 10th, the steel was laid to Netherhill, so we were able to take the work train from Rosetown, which was as far as the passenger train came then. The work train let us off at what was then called mile 106. l must mention that John Ward and Louie Keil arrived on that train and had with them a huge tent which become our first hardware store operated by Louie Keil, and our first general store by John Ward. I remember I bought my first carpenter tools from them and I used the tools to build our first house on 10-28-20-W. 3rd. This house was 22’x24’ and is now occupied by my daughter Maxie and her husband Andrew Melville who bought the place from me through the V.L.A. in 1945. Both my daughter and her her husband were veterans of World War Two.

Our house was built in the fail of 1909 with lumber and material which was shipped from Rosetown, and was part of the first shipment of building material which arrived at mile 106, later called Brock. The balance of this shipment of lumber consisting of two cars was for J. R. Ward’s store and W. L. Keil’s store. These were the first buildings in Brock in 1909. One cold day in December, Bert McBain and I walked to Rosetown a distance of 36 miles to catch the train to Saskatoon. We had missed the work train and we froze our faces. The only place we could find to sleep was on the floor of a new restaurant that was being built there. Needless to say we slept well as we were tired after our long hike.

The next morning I took the train for Michigan where my wife Blanche was waiting for me, and I saw for the first time our second daughter Clara, born October 29th, 1909. Then I returned to Brock with my wife and two daughters just as a big prairie fire swept past our house, which was just off the grass on the land that already had been burned off. There were many new settlers in 1910. Some of my new neighbors were Jack Maloney on the north half of section two, Charlie Parks and Jim Staples on section 14, George Shea on section 22, Ole Skrove on the south half of section 16, and George B. Mason on the N.E. of section four.

The two first reeves of the Municipality of Hillsburgh were John Craig and William Dale, two outstanding men who gave the best of Ieadership to the council through good times and bad. I cannot speak too highly of them both with their gift of leadership to the municipality during their terms of office.

In 1910 a little story went the rounds, and I don’t know if it were true
or not, but one day Bill and Jack were very busy when a man come into their store and bought an ox harness, and asked Bill to charge it to him. Bill being very busy didn’t make a note of it at the time, and in the evening when he remembered about it, he couldn’t think of the man’s name, so he asked Jack what to do about it. Jack said, “Every man who has a charge account we will charge with one ox harness, then when they pay their bills if they say they didn’t buy an ox harness, we will just strike it off the bill.” Well they never did find out who bought the ox harness, but when they closed their books in the fall, they found that 14 different men had paid for the ox harness.

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