Gold Must be Tried by Fire – Part 18

Gold Must be Tried by Fire

At some point, after getting her driver’s licence, mom began to experience new freedom. We took several trips, just her and us children. One trip was to Alberta where we visited old friends of the Wilsons. Their name was Hurd, and they sang very well together in harmony. One original composition was of a professional quality, and the name of the tune is “This Great Caravan”  Dad liked it because it had lots of accidental chords.

This Great Caravan

We are traveling on a trail that is winding

over mountains and through the valleys below

Bubbling springs of pure living water we’re finding

this great caravan keeps on rolling along

Dangers all around lurking in the deep shadows

we will never fear, Christ is always along

He will never refuse to captain our battles

This great caravan keeps on rolling along.


“We will never fear…”  ha ha!  But I…

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Gold Must be Tried by Fire

Those childhood years in Trail seem so far off. They almost belong to some other dimension as though maybe I had died and since then, I have come back as another person. That’s my right brain at work, then my left brain kicks in and says, uh uh, buddy, here are the pictures, check ‘em out, it’s you alright. There you are are at  five, there you are at fifteen, there you are at twenty, there you are at thirty, forty and fifty. Now go look in the mirror. Okay, okay, I’m convinced already. Still, it freaks me out a little. I can only imagine what it will be like to be eighty or ninety if I make it there…must get worse!

As I said, my friends were Kenny Del Puppo and Bruce Callendar. I wasn’t an angel, by any means and here are some stupid things that I did…

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The history of rock and roll from an eye/ear witness of the 50s!

Gold Must be Tried by Fire

Music came to me at an early age. I could not play an instrument, but I could hear the chord changes which my dad performed on the accordion. He and his sister Myrtle both had lessons to grade twelve on the piano, and they could sight-read music with no problem.  My dad, however, preferred to play by ear and he was good enough to have played on Lawrence Welk. I think. I have his accordion and I remember him playing by the campfire when we miraculously made it one more time over to Christina Lake or Deer Park. Lying in the tent, I could hear them singing:

“Oh we ain’t got a barrel of money,

maybe we’re ragged and funny.

But we travel along, singin’ a song

Side by side.

Through all kinds of weather,

what if the sky should fall.

Just as long as we’re together,

it doesn’t matter…

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Stories about disobeying and parental discipline.

Gold Must be Tried by Fire

Anyway, if it wasn’t fear of bullies and bears, I now know that I had fear of what was going on in our home, as I often witnessed fighting or heard dishes breaking in the night. My mom had no qualms about flying at my dad to punch him in the face. On one occasion, she had spent ten dollars to buy her mother a new coat for winter (why her father, Ross Wilson, did not buy his wife a coat is another question since they had no children to raise)  Now, in 1956, ten dollars easily equaled half a month’s worth of groceries, so Sandy Nord was quite upset about this and said so. In fact, he said so just a little too much and Audrey Wilson raced over to him and punched him in the eye. Dad, promptly and wisely, got up and left, not returning for hours…

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From Alberta to B.C.

In 1953 my grandparents made the move from Alberta to B.C. Unfortunately, the reason to move was a sad one. In 1951, the family was visiting other family in California when they received a terrible telegram. Dennis, their oldest son who had stayed home on his own, had drowned. What horrifying news. He was eighteen and out in a canoe with his friend at night. The boat had capsized. Dennis’ friend got to shore, but Dennis didn’t make it. How devastating.

Dennis died at Alberta Beach on St. Anne’s Lake in Edmonton.

Alberta Beach, Edmonton, Alberta
Alberta Beach, Edmonton, Alberta
Alberta beach
Alberta beach

After Dennis’ death and then my great gradmother’s death my grandparents decided to move to White Rock in B.C. They opened a restaurant there called the Tip Top Cafe just up from the ocean side walk. They lived on the corner of Oxford Street and McDonald Avenue.

White Rock postcard 1953 by J. K. Walker
White Rock postcard 1953 by J. K. Walker

Later they built a house on Dominion Ave. in Port Coquitlam. This was the house I remember visiting as a child. My grandfather worked as an electrician at Essondale Mental Hospital in Burnaby B.C.

Essondale, Provincial Mental Health Hospital in B.C.
Essondale, Provincial Mental Health Hospital in B.C.

Some pictures from Port Coquitlam



I am Canadian – Alberta Bound

“Alberta Bound”

Alberta Foothills
Alberta Foothills
Oh the prairie lights are burnin’ bright
The Chinook wind is a-movin’ in
Tomorrow night I’ll be Alberta bound
Though I’ve done the best I could
My old luck ain’t been so good and
Tomorrow night I’ll be Alberta bound
No one-eyed man could e’er forget
The Rocky Mountain sunset
It’s a pleasure just to be Alberta bound
I long to see my next of kin
To know what kind of shape they’re in
Tomorrow night I’ll be Alberta bound
Alberta bound, Alberta bound
It’s good to be Alberta bound
Alberta bound, Alberta bound
It’s good to be Alberta bound
Oh the skyline of Toronto
Is somethin’ you’ll get onto
But they say you’ve got to live there for a while
And if you got the money
You can get yourself a honey
A written guarantee ta make you smile
But it’s snowin’ in the city
And the streets and brown and gritty
And I know there’s pretty girls all over town
But they never seem ta find me
And the one I left behind me
Is the reason that I’ll be Alberta bound

Alberta bound, Alberta bound
It’s good to be Alberta bound
Alberta bound, Alberta bound
It’s good to be Alberta bound
It’s good to be Alberta bound

by Gordon Lightfoot


10020-153 St, Edmonton, Alberta - 1945, the house my grandfather built
10020-153 St, Edmonton, Alberta – 1945, the house my grandfather built


1937 the jobs had dried up in Saskatchewan, so my grandparents, along with a few friends, packed up and moved to Edmonton, Alberta. The men got jobs right away and so they embarked on the next chapter of their lives. They looked with fondness back on those years in Edmonton. No one had much money and the neighbours all helped each other and got together for fun times. There was a great camaraderie going through the depression together. Gramps worked at Aircraft Repair during the war.

Historic Pictures of Edmonton



Edmonton is a big city now.

Night Skyline of Edmonton from
Night Skyline of Edmonton from

I am Canadian – Saskatchewan Bound – Part 2

My 99-year-old grandmother has tough Swedish roots. She’s still got all her sensibilities and is in good health. I sure hope she can hang in there to make it to her 100th birthday!

Me with my mom and gramma
Me with my mom and gramma

Gramma’s parents came from Kansas, but their parents were from Sweden. Both families came over in around 1869 and headed to Olsburg, Kansas where there was a fairly large Swedish population.

the Holm siblings - my great grandfather is the upper left man
the Holm siblings – my great grandfather is in the upper left

Olsburg was founded in 1880. The majority of the settlers were Swedes. I believe it was on the railway line, but later the train stopped going that way. Olsburg’s population is about 200 now.  Charles Holm built this house out of sandstone and it still stands in its original site in Olsburg. Charles and his wife Lovissa emigrated from Sweden with two older children in 1868. My great grandfather was born later while they were living in Kansas.


Charles Holm's house built in Olsburg 1876
Charles Holm’s house built in Olsburg 1876

My great grandparents were married 1896 in Westmoreland, Kansas

They had several children in Kansas all of whom died in childhood. After Frank’s parents died, he and two of his brothers moved to Nebraska. I guess Nebraska was good luck for them because the children they had there all survived and lived long healthy lives. My great uncle Eldon worked for Boeing in Seattle. My great aunt Helen lived in California. She and her husband owned a restaurant named Earl’s Restaurant.  Tate, Nebraska was another railroad stopping town and the Holm’s had a general store and hotel there.

My Uncle Eldon can tell the story better than I. He wrote it before he passed away.

Tate Nebraska was a little town consisting of a general store, a hotel, one grain elevator and a corn crib. The town was serviced and connected to the rest of the world by a Rock Island Rail Road spur track from Virginia, Nebraska and terminated in Tate about eleven miles away. The spur also had a small depot at the end of the line, and Frank, among other things, was the ticket agent and worked the turntable to head the locomotive around for the return trip to Virginia.  In addition to the store, hotel and depot there were two houses up on the hill from the single street through town. Frank was the proprietor of the store but had a man by the name of Neilson to manage it for him because he also operated the elevator and took care of the corn crib. Matilda managed the hotel with the help of Mr. Neilson’s daughter Mamie. Eldon was born in the hotel and Helen was born in the brown house on the hill, where the family moved before her birth. 
General story in Tate
Frank prospered in Tate, but in 1914, Rock island took the train off this spur because motor trucks were now handling deliveries to the door more efficiently than the train without door delivery. The elevator and the corn crib went out of business and the store lost business because the farmers shopped where they hauled their grain. Tate is no longer on the map.
When Frank closed out of Tate and moved to Virginia the partnership with brother Will led to going into the dairy business. Frank bought a farm just a quarter mile out from town. It was to be a model dairy complete with a milking machine and they would invest in some thoroughbred Holsteins and raise heifers of purebred stock. They secured two registered Holsteins, one from Scotland and one from France, at the outrageous price for that time of over two thousand dollars each. People came from all over the state to observe the milking machine and to see what a $2000 cow looked like. It really was a model dairy with sterilizing equipment to match. However, when the State, in about 1918, mandated that dairy cows must be tested for tubercular strain some of the cows tested positive and milk from this dairy farm could not be sold. Pasteurization was not on the horizon then and the dairy farm was out of business. Frank had to do away with the cows that tested positive, he sold some and kept two for their own milk. The partnership with Will dissolved and the Frank Holm family moved to Canada in 1920. By this time, another child had been born to Frank and Matilda in Virginia; Virginia Aileen Holm born in 1915.
Virginia Nebraska
Virginia Nebraska
Frank Holm's family
Frank Holm’s family
My grandmother Aileen is named after Virginia in Nebraska where she was born, but really the only home she remembers is their home in Saskatchewan.
In about 1918 Frank put the dairy farm up for sale including the milking machine equipment, the farm implements and the 140 acres of land. It took a year and half to find a buyer for the acreage and in the meantime  Frank heard about cheap land in Canada. The Canadian government was encouraging settlement in the prairies of Saskatchewan with cheap land, but wanted $15 per acre for roads and schools. Frank took a tour of the land with the White Land Company in Lincoln, Nebraska and apparently made a commitment on a section of land (640 acres). He came home to Virginia enthused about a new life in Canada. Late 1919, the 140 acres was sold and preparations were made to move.
Aileen (Holm) Sharples recalls they traveled by train in an immigrant’s car. There was a cook stove and the car was shared by several families.

An example of the Immigrant rail cars. This is what the Holms traveled on from Nebraska to Canada
An example of the Immigrant rail cars. This is what the Holms traveled on from Nebraska to Canada
The two families arrived at a little prairie town called Milden, Saskatchewan.
And so during a community dance my grandparents met. My grandfather from Wiseton and my grandmother from Dinsmore. They were married in 1932 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. When work got scarce in Saskatchewan they made a move to Edmonton. That finished their Saskatchewan chapter and it was the beginning of their moves west. That will be another post.

I am Canadian – Saskatchewan bound – Part 1

My maternal grandparents were raised in Wiseton and Dinsmore Saskatchewan. Both of their families, one set from Nebraska and the other set from Ontario, arrived in Saskatchewan expecting to make some good money by farming.

Immigration to the Prairie Provinces from Wikipedia:

In the 18th to 19th century, the only immigration western Canada or Rupert’s Land saw was early French Canadian North West Company fur traders from eastern Canada, and the Scots, English Adventurers and Explorers representing the Hudson’s Bay Company who arrived via Hudson Bay. Canada became a nation in 1867, Rupert’s Land became absorbed into the North-West Territories. To encourage British Columbia to join the confederation, a transcontinental railway was proposed. The railway companies felt it was not feasible to lay track over land where there was no settlement.

Back when the British first came to North America, Canada looked like this:

Rupert's Land 1670 extends over parts of Saskatchewan
Rupert’s Land 1670 extends over parts of Saskatchewan

The fur trading era was declining; as the buffalo population disappeared, so too did the nomadic buffalo hunters, which presented a possibility to increase agricultural settlement. Agricultural possibilities were first expounded by Henry Youle Hind. The Dominion government with the guidance of Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior in charge of immigration, (1896–1905)[5] enacted Canada’s homesteading act, the Dominion Lands Act, in 1872.

The borders looked like this in 1870. Saskatchewan is part of the North-West Territories.

Canadian provinces 1870-1871
Canadian provinces 1870-1871

An extensive advertising campaign throughout western Europe and Scandinavia brought in a huge wave of immigrants to “The Last, Best West”. (In 1763 Catherine the Great issues Manifesto inviting foreigners to settle in Russia,[6] and in 1862 the United States enacted a Homestead Act inviting immigration to America.[7]) Ethnic or religious groups seeking asylum or independence no longer traveled to Russia or the United States where lands were taken or homestead acts were canceled. The Red River Colony population of Manitoba allowed it to become a province in 1870. In the 1880s less than 1000 non-Aboriginal people resided out west. The government’s immigration policy was a huge success, the North-West Territories grew to a population of 56,446 in 1881 and almost doubled to 98,967 in 1891, and exponentially jumped to 211,649 by 1901.

Canada West poster
Canada West poster
Canada 1882
Canada 1882
CPR land sales ad
CPR land sales ad
Canada 1895
Canada 1895

Ethnic Bloc Settlements[9] dotted the prairies, as language groupings settled together on soil types of the Canadian western prairie similar to agricultural land of their homeland. In this way immigration was successful; new settlements could grow because of common communication and learned agricultural methods.

Census divisions 2005
Census divisions 2005 showing ethnicity spread over provinces

Canada’s CPR transcontinental railway was finished in 1885. Immigration briefly ceased to the West during the North West Rebellion of 1885. Various investors and companies were involved in the sale of railway (and some non railway) lands. Sifton himself may have been involved as an investor in some of these ventures.[10] Populations of Saskatchewan and Alberta were eligible for provincial status in 1905.

Canada 1905
Canada 1905

Immigration continued to increase through to the roaring twenties. A mass exodus affected the prairies during the dirty thirties depression years and the prairies have never again regained the impetus of the immigration wave seen in the early 20th century.

My great grandfather Alfred Sharples was one of those people who took out a homestead out in Wiseton, Saskatchewan. He had emigrated from Walton-le-Dale, Lancashire, England with his first wife in 1883. The family sailed on the SS Polynesian from the Allan Line. They left from Liverpool and landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

SS Polynesian of the Allen Line
SS Polynesian of the Allan Line

They settled in Brantford, Brant, Ontario and had three daughters.

Sadly, Alfred’s first wife, Lizzie, died in 1905 before they could make the move to Saskatchewan. We don’t know why or how, but Alfred was on his own with three children to raise. Needless to say, he was eager to find a mom for them. Somehow he wound up in the Zephyr Hotel where his next wife was the cook. Her father, William Bennett Foote, was the owner of the hotel. I guess Alfred liked her, Alfretta’s, cooking and decided she would be a good mother to his children. They were married 1907 in Toronto, Ontario.

By the time Alfretta and Alfred were married Alfred already had the farm in Wiseton. He went back and forth between Saskatchewan and Ontario until the land was ready for settling. When my grandfather was born in 1910, he was born in Zephyr or Uxbridge, Ontario. Between 1910 and 1920 they joined Alfred during the summer in Saskatchewan and went back to Zephyr during the winter. Once the farm was ready for the family Alfretta and Floyd joined Alfred in Wiseton full time. The family is living in Wiseton in the 1921 census record. By this time the older daughters were married and gone.

Young Floyd, my grampa
Young Floyd, my grampa in ringlets

About fourteen kilometers from their farm in Wiseton was the village of Dinsmore where my grandmother was living with her parents. I guess they had some community dances back then and that’s where they met. I’ll tell more about my grandmother in the next post.

I am Canadian – the Scottish Connection

I think this will be my last post for ancestors on my father’s side. John Bean is my 7th great-grandfather. He was born in Scotland and came to North America probably 1652 after the Battle of Worcester. He landed in Exeter, New Hampshire and is the progenitor of hundreds of thousands of people including Alan Bean who landed on the moon. So to end off this part of the Canadian chapter I will give you a little history on John Bean.


From Wikipedia

John Bean of Exeter, New Hampshire was born John MacBean before 1634, in Strathdearn, Inverness-Shire, Scotland. His father was Donald MacBean and his grandfather was Aaron MacBean – b. 1570 in Inverness-Shire. Strathdearn lies about ten miles south of the village of Inverness. These are pictures of Inverness nearby to Strathdearn.

Inverness on the River Ness
Inverness on the River Ness
Castle Inverness in winter
Castle Inverness in winter

John was one of 272 Scottish Prisoners of War from the Battle of Worcester who arrived in Boston on 2-24-1652 to be sold as indentured workers to pay for the cost of their transportation.

From Wikipedia

The Battle of Worcester took place on 3 September 1651 at Worcester, England, and was the final battle of the English Civil War. Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarians defeated the Royalist, predominantly Scottish, forces of King Charles II. The 16,000 Royalist forces were overwhelmed by the 28,000 strong “New Model Army” of Cromwell.

Oliver Cromwell at the battle of Worcester
Oliver Cromwell at the battle of Worcester
Boston was where John was destined after the Battle of Worcester
From Boston John made his way north to Exeter, Rockingham, New Hampshire
From Boston John made his way north to Exeter, Rockingham, New Hampshire

John d. between 1-24-1718 and 2-18-1718 at Exeter, NH. He is buried in the Church yard of the Congregational Church (Old Meeting House) in Exeter, NH.

John Bean's gravestone at the Congregational church in Exeter
John Bean’s gravestone at the Congregational church in Exeter
Water Street, Exeter New Hampshire
Water Street, Exeter New Hampshire


Here’s what is written on astronaut Alan Bean’s (my 7th cousin once removed) website:

The official records show that when Apollo 12 flew to the Moon, the crew was Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon, and Alan Bean. That’s true…as far as it goes.

We also represented the hopes and dreams of the scientists and engineers who designed the rockets, spacecraft, and experiments. Our skilled instructors and flight controllers were there, too, as were our families and friends and all the American taxpayers who paid the bill. I found out later that as I stepped on the Moon on the morning of November 19, 1969, I represented my forefathers of the Clan MacBean.

The first mention of the Clan MacBean in Scottish history occurred about A.D. 1300. The word “Bean”, at that time, meant “the lively one”, and the “Mac” signified “the son of Bean”. I think my mother would have agreed, when I was in my twos and threes, that she had a lively one.

The clan flourished in the Scottish highlands. John MacBean brought the clan to the new world, but not by choice. He was in the ranks, fighting for the Scottish King Charles II against Cromwell, the British dictator, at the Battle of Worcester. The Scots lost the battle and John MacBean was deported to Boston as a prisoner, arriving there on February 24, 1652.

John Bean (the ship’s clerk had anglicized his name) was sold as an indentured servant to a sawmill operator in Exeter, New Hampshire. The boss’s daughter quickly fell in love with him and, a short while later, they were married. Pete and Dick have laughed at this story and said, “The gift of great good luck was in the Bean genes even way back then.”

Editor’s note: A widely circulated story claims that Alan placed a piece of MacBean tartan on the Moon. We have the following from Alan, written on 30 April 2005: “As I remember it, I took Clan McBean Tartan to the moon and returned it to Earth. I did not leave any Clan McBean Tartan on the surface. I did, in fact, give a piece of the Tartan to the Clan McBean and also to the St. Bean Chapel in Scotland. And I’ve still got some of it in my possession. I did not, however leave any of it on the moon.”

Allan Bean
Alan Bean

Here’s how the line goes from me to John Bean of Exeter, New Hampshire:

me- my father – my grandmother, Rose Morrill – my great-grandfather, William Charles Morel – my 2nd great grandmother, Lucy Bean – 3rd great-grandfather, Joseph Bean – 4th great-grandfather, Samuel Bean – 5th great-grandfather, Samuel Bean – 6th great-grandfather, James Bean – 7th great-grandfather, JOHN BEAN of Scotland and Exeter, NH


The Founding of Boston