This message is in reply to your invitation to send along mem-ories of the good old days with The Western Producer.
I don’t remember back 90 years, but I’ve been around for a good two thirds of that time.
The Western Producer was always a part of the scene on the family farm where I grew up near Viscount, Sask.
Of course, it was my dad’s paper most of all. He still subscribes even though he and Mom now live in a condo in Saskatoon and have just this year sold the land that was in on our family’s care for 104 years.
Dad (Norman Thoen) was a strong (Saskatchewan) Wheat Pool supporter, and The Western Producer was his window on the world of agriculture — his trade magazine.
As the only male in a household of eight, The Western Producer was also Dad’s first line of defence. In the evening after a long day’s work in the field, Dad often hid behind the Producer. That was his main way to escape the commotion created by seven females, with only one bathroom to share and chores to dispute.
The WP was also important to our family for its coverage of 4-H events. My sisters and I were very active in the program, inspired to be more so by the WP coverage of 4-H public speaking events, Dress Revue, bus tours, camps and Provincial Selections trips to exotic locations across the country. Seeing the success of others, we dared to dream that one day that might just be us with our name in the news.
My mom, Ruth Thoen, was a 4-H leader for most of her adult life. In fact, she was the first volunteer 4-H leader to serve as president of the Canadian 4–H Council. We often found news of her doings in your 4-H pages.
For me personally, the WP is responsible for encouraging my career as a writer. As soon as I could read, write and mail a letter, I joined the YC (Young Co-operator’s) club under the pen name, Princess Dale. I spent many hours out on a rise overlooking the pasture, pencil and paper in hand, crafting poems and stories to send off to The Western Producer.
Every Wednesday after school (although officially published on Thursday, the paper often arrived a day early), I’d race from the school bus to the kitchen table.
I hoped that Mom or Dad would have been to town to pick up the mail and that this week Bluebird or Sister Ann had chosen one of my pieces to publish in that week’s paper. I did eventually win my HC designation, which I think marked 20 submissions in print.
It was seeing Princess Dale’s name and words in a real publication that inspired the desire to someday see my real name on the cover of a book I’d written.
Since then, I have gone on to author a total of five books. Each time one rolls off the press and into my hands, I am just as thrilled as I was that very first time my scribbles appeared in your paper.
Thanks to the staff and editors of The Western Producer for your service to rural life on the Prairies for all these years. Thanks, not just for covering the news, but also for inspiring dreams and helping them come true.
Congratulations to you all.
Western Producer readers have moulded the farms, villages, towns and cities throughout the West into the rich, vibrant communities we see today.
We’ve enjoyed being there alongside for the past 90 years.
As part of 90th anniversary celebrations, our Tell Us Your Story project invites readers to share their memories and connections.