World War I broke out in 1914, Europe being at war, with Britain and the rest of the world gradually being drawn into the fighting, but at home life went on as usual. Dad had gotten another quarter section (NE 1/4 of 18) just west of the northwest quarter from the farm yard. It also was a fairly good laying quarter. We didn’t have high or steep hills on any of the quarters, but the northeast quarter of seventeen had a steep ravine cutting diagonally across it near the north end.
Dad also got some horses, though the oxen were best for breaking the land. Johnny Manion, a bachelor, left a driving horse and buggy with Dad when he joined the army. It was so nice to be able to go to town and not take all day. This was the horse Mother would drive to town for supplies when Dad was away.
Hilda realized her Mother was expecting a baby in the fall of 1915, and returned home to help with the household chores and take care of her mother when the child was born. On September 26th, Bainard Vernon Sklapsky became the first little Canadian to be born to this homestead family, and the second son born on his mother’s birthday. He was born in the house his father had built several years before.
His nurse, a Mrs. Bredner, returned to the site many years later, to find her ‘baby’ Bainard grown with a family of his own living on the same piece of land he was born on, though in a new house. He’d torn down the old house and found in the attic, a board on which was written “God Bless this Happy Home signed Perry Pettit”. God had blessed the home which was a happy one. I had hoped the board would be a keepsake for the family, but it has gotten lost somehow. I thought it was a nice tribute to a family he’d not yet met. He had homesteaded near George Krepp’s homestead.
My sister Lottie Krepps recalled the first Brock fair. Dad loaded his whole family into the wagon and took them to Brock to enjoy the spectacle. They won a hundred pound sack of flour for being the largest family to attend. In 1919, Brock was all but destroyed by a fire. For details you are urged to read the Hillsburgh Memories book. Hillsburgh was the name of the Rural Municipality, apparently pulled out of a hat in 1911 by Elizabeth More who became Mrs. J. Hyde.
1915 was a pretty good crop year, but war was still raging in Europe and a loi of the young lads had enlisted, leaving their homesteads. Some left theirs in care of renters. The two Parks boys, Ernie and Bruce, were two from close to the Sklapsky home being sons of Fennel Parks. One of the lads drove Dad’s team of horses hauling the stook wagon tile fall before they left for overseas.
In these early years, before the land was all broken up, at night you could see lights like balls of fire rolling along over the ground. Sometimes they would bounce up and down and chase each other then suddenly they would go out. No one seemed to know exactly what they were. There were many theories; methane gases, marsh gases, will o’ the wisp, ghosts. Today they would probably be attributed to UFOs.
In December 1916, Lottie married George Krepps in Saskatoon. Dad and Hilda went to Brock to meet the train of the returning newly wedded couple and though it is not known but to a few of the immediate family members, the honeymoon night was rather hilarious from an onlooker’s point of view. Hilda absolutely refused to return home with Dad. She said she was not going to leave her sister alone with that man. Lottie and George Krepps shared their bed the first night of their married life, with Hilda. She laughed about it for years. Lottie and George never said much about the incident at all.