Telephones connected neighbours

It was expensive for government-run telephone companies to connect every homestead, so farmers did it themselves

The next time you slip your cellphone in your pocket and leave for the day, give a nod to your predecessors who worked hard to get any kind of communication to farms. For the first 100 years or so of settling the West, farmers’ only communication to a neighbour was by sending someone on horseback […] Read more

Harold helped Len Espetveidt build his new shop.  | Hathaway family photo

A farmer finds his first love

Harold Hathaway had a passion for tinkering with machinery and continued to do so even after leaving the farm


My father, Harold Hathaway, hated farming with horses. He remembered them as being temperamental and labour-intensive and much preferred to farm with tractors. He used to say if you take care of the machinery, keep it oiled and repaired, it’ll always work for you, and in bad weather you don’t have to go out to […] Read more

James and Sheri with Lassie.  |  Hathaway family photo

Farm dogs’ role has changed over the years

Introduction of commercial dog food and the publication of Lassie in the 1940s changed how pets were viewed

SASKATOON — Today, almost every farm has a dog. Their loyalty and intelligence make them a valuable resource as companion, security guard and farm labourer. In pioneer days, a dog was a luxury because many farmers lacked extra food to feed it, but by the 1940s almost every farm had at least one dog. With […] Read more


Harold Hathaway helped deal with the Marwayne elevator fire of 1973.  |  Hathaway family photo

Solitary life still left time for neighbours

SASKATOON — For Harold Hathaway and many other farmers, one of the best things about working on a single family farm was working alone. His wife never understood how he could stand it, but it suited him. He loved getting up early, doing his own thing without the need to co-ordinate tasks with someone else, […] Read more

The author’s daughter, Raelene Henderson, and a friend, play  in 1990.  |  Hathaway family photo

Snow creates winter playground for farm kids

The farm gives lots of space for kids to play, and my childhood was no different. For my brother and me, our farmyard was one giant playground of bush, junkyard, tall trees to climb, water to get soaked in, and of course, a barn and bale stack to re-explore. Each new season had its characteristic […] Read more


Marilyn Hathaway (now Blomquist) stands among the cows.   |  Hathaway family photos

Cows played important role on family farm

Looking back: The cows all had names were considered part of the family

My dad loved to tell a well-worn story that went like this: “Old Dandelion came up behind and sniffed the back of your head. Out came her long tongue and licked up the back of your hood. You were only about two feet tall and your little body was so stiff, packed into your snowsuit, […] Read more

Adventures of finding the ‘perfect tree’ bring smile

The tree is the focal point of any home at Christmas, often displaying sentimental ornaments and always creating cheerfulness and excitement. For many families, bringing home the tree is a happy and much anticipated tradition. When I was growing up on a farm near Marwayne, Alta., it was our usual habit to pack up hot […] Read more

Ross Hamilton, The Memory Project, Historica Canada photo

War challenged curious farmer, pilot

Military life suited Malcolm McLean’s restless curiosity and need for challenge. He was farming outside of Dewberry, Alta., in the fall of 1939 when Canada entered the Second World War. Of the first local boys to sign up, he joined the 16/22 Saskatchewan Horse Infantry and took his basic training at Dundurn, Sask. By December […] Read more


Louise Hathaway taught school for decades. | Hathaway family photos

But who will mind the kids?

Finding suitable child care has always been a challenge. It was especially difficult in the 1950s when married women often did not work outside the home and child-care workers were few. Louise Hathaway, my mother, trained as a teacher at age 17 and began teaching in a one-room multi-grade school at age 18. In 1945, […] Read more

The farm as it looked in 1974 when times were better. | Hathaway family photo

Family provides comfort after crop disaster

After being wiped out by hail, Dad heads 
north to earn a living for the family, 
but soon faces further tragedy

Disaster can happen to anyone at any time. Both the memory of the event and the victims’ reaction to it will affect their decisions for the rest of their lives. Harold and Louise Hathaway, my parents, were 100 percent hailed out in 1947. This single devastating event caused a landslide of tragedies that transformed them […] Read more