Choosing to laugh: a family’s approach to life

The author’s father made it his life’s mission to coax laughter out of his family — but sometimes it was best to wait awhile

One time my sister got two baby ducks and named them Harold and Louise after our parents. The next spring, an egg appeared in the duck pen. Being in about Grade 4, she reported this event for her “news of the day” at school. “I have two ducks named Harold and Louise,” she said, “and […] Read more

Cara and Todd hold their anniversary present as Sheri Hathway tells the story of the quilt during the couple’s anniversary party.  |  Supplied photo

Anniversary quilt turns into a labour of love

Tragedy cut short plans for a wedding present, but the project was revived in time for the couple’s 10th anniversary


SASKATOON — When my daughter, Cara, married Todd in 2008, Todd’s mom, Brenda, and grandma, Marge, wanted to give them a quilt for a wedding present. They were gifted quilters, creating detailed, intricate designs. For Todd and Cara’s wedding, they had a special quilt in mind. They bought fabric in the wedding colours of mauve […] Read more

Fences didn’t do much good the year the author’s family’s cows decided they no longer wanted to be in the summer pasture.  |  Clayton Henderson photo

Remembering the year the cows ran away

The herd got spooked, broke down the gate, disappeared into the bush and didn’t come out for much of the summer

SASKATOON — Almost anyone with cattle works in close proximity to nature and sometimes nature takes an unexpected hand in our livestock business. My father’s experience was no different, especially one particular time when he took cows to the Kettle’s quarter. Dad bought Alex Kettle’s quarter when Kettle retired from farming. He only had the […] Read more


Harold Hathaway was the first Hathaway brother to enlist in the First World War.  |  Hathaway family photo

When the Hathaways went to war

Surviving letters from one of two prairie brothers shed light on the tragic experiences of Canadian soldiers in the First World War

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice Agreement, which ended the First World War on Nov. 11, 1918. When it began in 1914, most thought it would be a brief skirmish. “I’ll be home by Christmas” was the phrase used often by volunteers. On their homesteads west of Lloydminster, two […] Read more

Provinces began wiring the countryside in the 1950s, changing how farmers lived.  |  File photo

Electricity forever changed life on the farm

The prosperity of 1950s allowed farmers to look toward an easier life as electrical appliances became commonplace


SASKATOON — We take electricity for granted today. Our hands move to the switch to turn on the lights almost automatically when we enter a room. But electricity wasn’t always taken for granted on our farms. In fact, in the 1930s, it was taken for granted that farms wouldn’t have it. The cost to install […] Read more


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