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"...I have devoured your book in 2 days... Mother would have been so proud to have her name in your acknowledgements and to have made a contribution..."
Forest Hagen (son of Berit Hagen, a close friend of the Roseland family in the 1920's)
"History buffs, genealogists, writers and anyone who likes a good story will enjoy Shirley Walker’s book... followed the family's movements from the US to Canada as if she were riding in the back seat of their jalopy..."
Lana Rodlie, Trail Daily Times
"One thing that sets this book apart is that it is not a fabulous success story, but a true, down-to-earth, immigrant story that tells about the true lives and struggles of the great majority of immigrants."
Per Kavlie Anderson
Canada Should Be Perfect for Oats and Wheat
(Canada 1912-27) - Synopsis
Selected Readings: Chapter 8
"There is not a stump on this land, or stones to break"
In the summer of 1911, Gustav and Anna stepped off the train with their three little girls, Magnhild, Gudrun and Faye, at Castor, Alberta, about 100 miles northeast of Calgary. The new Canadian Pacific Railway.... Free land had run out in the United States and the economy of Canada was booming. Immigrants were coming into the country in record numbers.
Railroads were under construction across the country, and cities and towns grew all along the rail lines....
....In July 1909, a land auction was held, at which time a piece of bald prairie was sold off in city lots....
....Two years after construction commenced, Castor had an official population of 1,400, and the population of the larger area it served had grown considerably.
"This piece of land is totally flat, not a stump on it, or stones to break. All one has to do is to use the plough and then throw in a potato, or a handful of oats, or wheat in the furrow, plus some fertilizer like we used to do in the old country." Other than the willows, the growth on the land was stubby, dry grass and that hated weed, the Russian thistle.
....After he put it down, the wolf got up and walked away, back to the woods. Anna stood there and laughed. "It was alive on the way home and all the time it played like it was dead!"
Like the rest of Alberta, Edmonton was experiencing a real estate boom....
..."There are very few Scandinavians around here. All our neighbours are Americans. But many of them we knew before."
Many homesteaders built their first home from sod. Late summer and fall was the time to build a sod house, when the roots of the sod were tough and dry.
Until 1670, this land had been inhabited chiefly by nomadic tribes and bison. About 15,000 years ago, the most recent Ice Age ended, and the western prairies became a great lake. This eventually drained, leaving a great sandy wasteland carved by coulees....
Great Britain had concerns about the administration of this vast and remote land....
The problem escalated after the American Civil War, when demobilized soldiers headed west and north in search of land, threatening encroachment into Canada.
In January 1870, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald wrote, "It is quite evident to me that the United States Government are resolved to do all they can, short of war, to get possession of our western territory, and we must take immediate and vigorous steps to counteract them."
....Considerable lawlessness prevailed, but Macdonald put an end to this by sending a newly formed North-West Mounted Police force to Alberta in 1875.... A way of life and an abundance of wildlife had been destroyed by the white man within a generation.
The prairie west was rife with activity and optimism in 1912. The future for the province of Alberta looked bright indeed.
Selected Readings: Chapter 9
"If nothing unforeseen happens"
"It is inexpensive to get land, but it is hard anyway to get things going when you have nothing to start with...."
Olav wrote, "Albert, Juergen and I have not made very much money. That is the case for workers all over Canada..."
Olav wrote, "Easy jobs are what everyone is looking for, but I don’t think one in a hundred finds it."
....Later, Gustav wrote, "The crop was not good this year, so we didn't make much money, but I will try for better luck next summer. The weather was dry in the spring, so it took a long time for the seed to grow."
Juergen wrote in response, "I received your letter yesterday and I have to tell you that I have no money. To top it off I have no work....
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, initiating a whole series of events that led to a world war....
Selected Readings: Chapter 10
"It is a disturbing world we are living in"
The outbreak of the First World War took many by surprise. Up to the last minute nobody believed that war would come.
Olav continued, "In Winnipeg, U.S. papers were banned on account of the news from Europe, which Canadian newspapers are not allowed to write about...." When war broke out, President Woodrow Wilson had admonished Americans that "every man who loves America will act and speak in the true spirit of neutrality."
To break the stalemate in the war in April 1915, the Germans resorted to chlorine gas....
"They try to get every man to join the army from over here, and many have joined. Several from Youngstown have joined, and some are already dead, and others have been casualties....
The promising summer had turned into a wet summer.... ....In 1916, farmers lost millions of bushels of wheat to stem rust.
Early in 1917, submarine warfare reached a peak of intensity, and after the Germans sank several American ships, the United States entered the war in April.
It is not clear exactly when Olav and Albert left Alberta.... ....They were safely hunkered down, high in the coastal mountains of British Columbia for the remainder of the war, as far away from Canadian officialdom as they could get at the time.
Selected Readings: Chapter 12
"Full of hope and ambition"
In the long, dark evenings of winter, Gustav or Anna would read to the children by the light of a coal-oil lamp, or Gustav would tell the children stories about his life as a sailor and his travels around the world—climbing Table Mountain in Cape Town, or discovering ports in South America, Australia or other faraway places.
Gustav added a room to the sod house, the full length of the original sixteen feet by twenty feet, and divided it into two bedrooms.
In the spring of 1918, the German army went on a renewed offensive on the western front in Europe....
But even more devastating to the wheat farmers was the collapse of wheat prices after the First World War....
Selected Readings: Chapter 13
"We closed the doors and left"
In 1924, Gustav entered into a contract. The Hogarth property included a large wood-frame, two-storey house. Gustav paid $750 cash, and assumed two mortgages.
Automobiles were becoming much more common in Alberta, with 42,000 licensed automobiles in 1924, and 10,000 more licensed in 1925.
Prior to Christmas, advertisements featured new tube radios run on battery power. Previously some had owned crystal sets. In the early '20s, both Calgary and Edmonton initiated new radio stations....
Fighter pilots who returned from the First World War were highly enthusiastic about their flying skills and had purchased surplus aircraft, which they used to travel the country.... ....the public was wildly enthusiastic for these feats, as the whole notion of flying seemed an unbelievable possibility.
....where the auction would be held, and included a list ....The terms were cash—no reserves. The families who were leaving took very little with them....
Rather than risking the loss of any more of their financial resources, Gustav and Anna decided to leave the area....
There was no hope of selling the large house they had lived in for only two years. They packed their belongings and shipped their animals and farm equipment to Okotoks. Then they closed the doors of the house and left to catch the train.