Pearl Sklapsky-Holben Memoir – written April 22.1989

Mother thought ahead to what awaited her. Here in Michigan they had no real home, and they always had to work for other people. In Canada, there was a house waiting for them, no rent to pay, one hundred sixty acres of their own to work with a promise of more once they had proved their land in the first three years so she was convinced it was the right move to make. The children would need sturdy clothing and of course good Sunday clothes were a must since Mother and Dad always observed the Sabbath day all their lives. They would also need serviceable dishes, pots and pans, and bedding.

Mother could not imagine looking out and seeing for miles, not seeing your next-door neighbour, and being away from all that was familiar. Oh well, they would go, see and find out. Then of course they would write and they would be back sooner than you’d know, having done so well in Saskatchewan. Then they would buy their own place. Such dreams, such glorious thoughts and such high hopes!

Oh well, that is life in Saskatchewan, or is it life of the young? If not this year, then surely the next! It reminds me of a saying I came across once, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”. We seem to live our lives as a trial run, rather than our one chance at living life to the fullest, and relishing each moment for whatever it can teach us, whether the lesson be sweet or painful. We can learn a lot from our children who live for the moment in the present. As we grow older we tend to live for the future and not realize, each day passing is a day gone forever. Of course our children are our future in a way.

Mother realized her future and that of her children lay in a country to the north. So they packed and so they came to Canada, a family of ten. Eight children and two adults. Lottie continued to be poorly in health and there was some talk of leaving her behind in Michigan, to be sent for later or to await their return, but Lottie was bound and determined she was going with her folks. She was around thirteen or fourteen and Mother could rely on her for lots of things, but to get things done, Hilda and Frank were the troopers.

They were taken to the train station by an Aunt and Uncle in a horse drawn sleigh, and bidding good-bye is always hard, especially if you don’t know for how long or what exactly is in store. Mom didn’t know if she would ever see her parents again in this world, though she knew she would in the next. Well-wishers said, “Take care; watch out for the children. You know in those wide open spaces you can lose them so easily. They’ll wonder away if your back is turned. And Indians, my dear, you just don’t know about the wolves and those wild Indians. They can snatch up the kiddies so quickly, especially white children, and so on.” Until poor Mother was almost ready to turn back.

She must have felt like clutching her children close to her and not budging an inch from home, but she told herself Frank had been there, and Lillian was there, so she’d be brave and they did have all that land, more than any of the rest of them had in the States. She was made of good stuff and was ready to meet the challenge. She had visited old Doctor Hudson, the doctor she had nursed with for a good many years, and he’d given her many pills and salves and medicines, telling her what each was for and making notes of it all. She was ready to be a pioneer out in the west on the prairies. She was fairly well armed except for wood. How would she cook? How would they keep warm? Well, Frank should know since he had cooked there for himself for a couple of seasons. She had faith in The Lord and would put her trust in Him and nothing would go wrong.

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