History Of Eston submission – by Pearl Sklapsky-Holben

With the help of our neighbours, the first eighty acres was stoned and broken and we were ready to start farming this quarter. We had gotten the NW quarter of 29-27-19 W 3rd for pasture. Later on Jim Duncan went out of stock so we took the SE quarter of section 29 and Bob Duncan took the NW quarter.

Our first crop of flax was a beautiful sight. It was as blue as a calm lake reflecting a clear blue sky, and was very thick. Alas, it froze in August and had to be swathed and burnt. Grandpa Holben helped Jim in the burning and lost his wallet. Somewhere in that eighty acres lies the remains of a Perkins leather wallet and who knows how much money.

It was around about this time Jim and Grandpa Holben were seeding up on the N half of 35. It was so dry and windy. I believe this was our last real dust storm. They had to quit and come home as the man on the hind tractor could not even see the front tractor.

Ours was a mixed farming operation. We had cattle, pigs and fowl, dogs and cats. Annie Mae Duncan, Jim’s school teacher who had survived the great explosion in Halifax, gave us our first kittens. They were black and white and prolific. Someone asked Jim where he’d gotten hold of the Holstein cats. But the children had to have pets.

I always had a big garden and the children liked the fresh vegetables, especially right out of the garden. There were really no fussy eaters in our family. There was lots of canning and later freezing and the pickling.

By now we had Julie, Arnold and Arletta completing our family. Sheridan had started school at Red Rock, a mile east of home. We had a big collie dog called Boy who walked Sheridan to school every day and looked for him at four o’clock. One day Auntie Bella brought him home as he had given her a big story about a poor little boy walking home alone in the rain. The sun was shining!

Jim cured our own hams and bacon and we made our sausages and I canned beef and chicken so our meals were always ample and good. I made bread, two dozen loaves a week at first and when all the kids were in school, four dozen a week, plus all of our cakes and cookies. We had lots of milk, butter, cream and eggs. Any bought bread was welcome for toast but I sure heard about it if it went into the lunch pails. Our family was well provided for as far as food went at any rate.

We seldom sat down to a meal by ourselves, except breakfast, as friends or family usually popped in. I remember one Sunday my sister Lottie Krepps came down from Brock before breakfast. She brought her son and daughter-in-law. She told them Jim would make pancakes. How we enjoyed the surprise! And Jim’s pancakes were always a treat. We always had buttermilk and the pancakes fairly melted in your mouth, not to mention his coffee. It was always so good with the fresh cream!

I remember one day we were doing chores in the barn when a friend stopped by. We told him to go in the house and make coffee but when we got in, he was reading and there was no coffee. We asked him where it was and he replied, “I can’t make it taste like Jim’s so I never made any.”


  1. To us, Uncle Jim was a giant. I remember mom giving him an apple. One bite and half of it was gone! Another time, he came over and told us about his tractor tipping over; he crawled under it and lifted it upright. He was scolded but said it was easy. Another time, Linda needed a paint brush for school. Uncle Jim asked her to find a stick. He cut a bit of his hair off, attached it to the stick. I don’t remember what he used for metal to hold the hair on to the stick, but Linda was so happy. He was a man of many talents.

  2. I really enjoyed the descriptive writing, thanks for posting this. It brought back memories of our family visit, I think that was in 1973. Dad (Norm Craddock) driving the VW van with us girls sprawled out over the bed in the back (seat belts weren’t required then either), we saw the places that mom (Maddy Sklapsky Craddock) had told so many stories about their growing up there in Brock. I am sure we drove many flat miles and met mom’s Aunt Pearl and Uncle Jim, who were very hospitable to us. Good times! Thanks again, Jo-Anne Kerr

    1. My pleasure. Thanks should also go to Linda for putting it in her book in the first place and now allowing me to post it here.

      I’d love to get more stories like this if you think of someone who may want to share. I find tales of their trials and tribulations fascinating. Did you read the Charles Reeves memoir? He was Grandpa Frank Sklapsky’s father-in-law (Bernice’s dad).

      Pictures would also be welcome…

      Take care

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