Bill Johnston collected 23 toy bulldozers after he retired from farming.  |  Supplied photo

Toy bulldozer promise results in a road trip

An ailing father drew inspiration from toy models of heavy equipment he had worked with decades ago on the farm


“Now a promise made is a debt unpaid,” wrote Robert Service in his Klondike poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee. I couldn’t help thinking of that admonition as I followed up on a purchase of a toy bulldozer collection for my late father. When Alfred Kihn of Didsbury, Alta., reached his mid-80s and became more […] Read more

Rancher was pioneer of continental breeds

Richard Kanegawa, a long-time farmer, rancher and entrepreneur from Calgary, died of a recurring lung condition Oct. 8. He was 90. Kanegawa may have been best-known for his Heritage Inn hotels, first built in 1974 in Taber, Alta., and then expanding to seven other locations. He is interned with his family at Lethbridge. Originally from […] Read more

Jim Van Wert uses his 1960s-era John Deere to pull the 1940s potato digger.  | Maxine Abraham photo

Spuds harvested for food banks

It wasn’t quite an old-time gathering of “bringing in the sheaves,” but Jim and Lynne Van Wert recently hosted a Food Bank Potato Harvest that featured several aspects of those old-fashioned work efforts: hard labour, hearty appetites and common goals. Their farm, six kilometres northwest of Carstairs, Alta., became a hub of activity Oct. 3. […] Read more


Cattle publisher dies at 66

A well-known promoter and publisher in the beef cattle industry has died. Laurel “Laurie” Watson, 66, of West Montrose, Ont., died Sept. 3. Together with her father, Harald Gunderson, they produced the World of Beef and the Limousin Leader in the 1970s and 1980s. Laurie was a prominent beef industry personality, whether on the phone […] Read more

Ken Greenfield is ready to pick saskatoons on the eastern edge of Calgary’s Nose Hill Park. He enjoys sprinkling them on his morning porridge.  |  Mark Kihn photo

Saskatoon berry expedition turns nostalgic

If I look closely, my fingers may still have those purple stains on them from saskatoon berry picking as an adolescent on the farm at Basswood, Man. However, I did not volunteer for berry picking, rather it was coerced. Mom would have led me to the patch by my ear, if necessary. It was often […] Read more


Brian Nicholls, left, and Mark Kihn visit the Old Abe eagle statue in Wisconsin.  |  Supplied photo

Courageous Civil War eagle inspires old J.I. Case logo

Serendipity? Coincidence? Who knows when two mysteries converge? We often make discoveries accidentally. I still recall going to an auction sale with my dad in about 1973. Dad bid and bought a like-new Case 830 tractor, complete with a cab. After the sale, we even drove it home about 80 kilometres to our farm in […] Read more

Alfred Kihn battles snow in the mid-1970s with one of his favourite machines — his 955 Caterpillar loader.  |  Kihn family photos

Necessity and Dad — both fathers of inventions

“Work is its own reward.” My late dad quoted this often to motivate his six children on the farm at Basswood, Man., 50 years ago. However, that didn’t stop him from making a few inventions to make the work lighter. The inventions may not have been unique, and a few were merely “a new use […] Read more

Mark Kihn stands in front of an old grain elevator at Clanwilliam, Man., which is no longer standing.  |  Brian Nicholls photo

Cycling the Great Trail is well worth the effort

Those soon-to-be forgotten prairie sentinels — who ever thought they’d find a subtle new purpose? I was cycling with a former high school classmate, Brian Nicholls, and we had turned around outside of Erickson, Man., and were cycling back toward Clanwilliam on the Trans-Canada Trail, more recently renamed the Great Trail of Canada. After a […] Read more


Life lessons from the summer of ’77

One seldom becomes restless about the known; rather, about what you don’t know. So it was with me at age 17 when the summer of 1977 arrived. As one of four Manitoba farm boys, Mom relented and said I could get a summer job. Maybe I could make a few dollars and discover the working […] Read more

On the trail of the real Sam McGee

The subject of the famous Klondike poem immortalized by Robert Service was actually a farmer from Beiseker, Alta.


Robert Service made him famous in his 1907 Klondike poem titled The Cremation of Sam McGee. However, the real Sam McGee was not from Tennessee, he did not perish in the Yukon winter, and he was not cremated on the “marge of Lake Lebarge” in a derelict stern wheeler. William Sam McGee was an actual […] Read more