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MEMORIES OF MELVIN CLAYTON BOLTON
Melvin Clayton Bolton was born October 28th, 1925 to Catherine Pearl (Hartley) and Howard Malcolm Bolton. Melvin took all his schooling in Kelliher Sask. He graduated in June, 1944.
When he was 9 years old he started working for Mr. Alex Smith, who asked him to be the delivery boy for Smith’s Grocery Store. They had a bicycle with a large basket on the front. Mel delivered groceries after school and on Saturdays for $.25 a week. He also received $.25 a week for carrying in the wood and coal for the stove and the ice for the icebox, which was used before electric refrigerators. Years later he would drive Smith’s truck to Yorkton for supplies for the store.
Melvin left Smith’s store and went to work at the Kelliher Creamery for Fred Saunderson, in the plant, and later his job was driving the cream truck out to the farms in the surrounding area to pick up their cream to make butter and also crates of eggs. This was during WW2 and the trucks were installed with governors, so they could only go so fast, to save gas. This also prevented a lot of spilt cans of cream and broken eggs, as the roads in the 30s & 40s were deep rutted prairie trails with large pot holes. Most people traveled by wagon or buggy in the summer, and in the winter, sleighs or closed in cutters with a small stove inside for heat. When there started being more cars and trucks in the area the roads were built better by the RMs.
Melvin’s family would take a refreshment booth out to the country schools on picnic day, in the 30s & 40s. The boys would help set up and then play ball. In the evenings they would attend the school dances with music supplied by local bands.
In 1941 at the age of 16, Mel went to Regina to take a drivers test for his drivers license. A lot of young men had been called to join the armed forces since 1939, which left very few to do trucking jobs. He hauled cattle to the stock yard to be loaded into CNR cattle cars, which took the cattle by rail to Winnipeg.
Melvin built a portable loading shoot and side racks for Bolton’s truck. Mr. Fuchs, a cattle buyer would get Melvin to go pick up the cattle he had purchased from the neighboring farmyards. Mel was one of the first to haul cattle and horses loose. Prior to trucking them, they were either herded or tied behind a wagon or sleigh, depending on the time of year, for the trip to the CNR yard. I remember Melvin speaking of getting a semi trailer truck and wanting to haul the cattle straight to Winnipeg himself.
While in the war in Europe, he had seen how almost everything, was transported by large trucks. He was told, at the time, that railway was still the best. Times sure have changed, no cattle are shipped by rail anymore all live stock are transported by semi trucks. Melvin loved trucking; his idea was ahead ot its time, but unfortunately he didn’t have the money to purchase a semi unit. If Hagen’s Transport ot Regina would have told Melvin sooner that they were selling out, Melvin may have been in the freight trucking business. But by the time he found out, he had already purchased some farmland.
Melvin had helped Sandy Sommerville, a grain hauler, who had hooked up an auger to his truck’s power take off. Melvin was in the granary, pushing the grain to the auger with his hands. His one hand got caught in the auger he frantically piled the grain to the auger to plug it and stop it. Amazingly he only had a bruised hand from the incident.
Another farming accident, years later, would not leave him so lucky. In May of 1970 Mel was combining oats, which had been left out over winter. A long stick was left on the swath and Mel had gotten off the combine, left it running and went to throw the stick away. While he was throwing the stick away, he was also walking past the pickup on the combine. His left hand went back and the glove was caught by the chain and gears used to run the pickup reels. Upon freeing himself from the chain and gears he pulled out his left index finger and the joint, also half of his middle finger was cut off and the thumb was severed at the base, with only the skin holding it on. He had a pin put into the thumb.
Kevin, our oldest son at 13, was in the grain truck. Melvin ran over to the truck, instructed his son to drive. Kevin went about 1 mile down an old trail, before Mel told him to stop at a neighbor’s field. Ned Hryniuk and his son Wayne, were having lunch in their car, along the trail. Kevin ran over to get Ned, who took Melvin into the car, put a tourniquet on his arm, using a piece of rope from the truck. Ned drove to the Ituna Hospital, which was 15 miles away. On the way there, Mel used his straw hat to catch the blood he let drain from the injury. From his army training, he knew that blood still had to flow to the arm below the tourniquet, or the veins would collapse.
It was a Saturday and the doctor had to be called in to clean and dress the wounds, before being sent onto Regina. There was no ambulance service at the time. Mel told Dr. McCourt to call John Kayter, the Ford dealer from Kelliher. John put plates on a new vehicle and he and his daughter Joyce, took Melvin from Ituna to Regina. The doctor must have called the RCMP to alert them to the emergency, because John was speeding all the way there and was not stopped.
When he arrived at the General Hospital, the surgeon Dr. Alverez told Mel, that if this accident would have happened a couple of years earlier, he would have removed his hand at the wrist. Instead, they cut a flap of skin and placed his hand inside his abdominal cavity, where it remained for 3 weeks. Then the hand was cut free of the stomach and skin taken from his abdomen replaced the missing skin and tissue on his left hand, while they grafted skin from his leg to cover the abdomen. He was home in 28 days, because he never smoked or drank alcohol. He suffered from phantom pains regularly, but they were on the parts of his hand that were missing.
Kevin had told his dad not to worry, he would look after the family. The day after the accident, Kevin and I went back to the field to finish combining. Kevin had never combined before, but had rode with his dad and watched him. I rode on the steps watching for roots and sticks, so that we would not plug it, or break something. We finished that field, but left the back swath, which was close to the power poles. Our United Church Minister, Rev. Jerry Day, loved to come out to the farm and work in the fields or combine. So the Monday following the accident. Rev. Day said that he would go and bring home the combine. He decided to do the swath that had been left out but, unfortunately, he never put the auger arm back into position along the combine and hit one of the poles and bent the unloading auger. I never told Mel about that until he was home.
Kevin started getting migraine headaches about this time. Our family doctor, Dr. McCourt, assuming it was the stress of trying to be the man of the house, told him “be a boy before a man”.
ARMY & OVERSEAS
Melvin got his call while still in Grade 12 at Kelliher School. He enlisted in the army and was sent to Shilo, Manitoba for his basic training. He joined the Royal Regina Rifles, Pte. Bolton, Melvin Clayton – L-109290, 3rd Division. He was in the army from July 26, 1944 to Sept. 28th, 1946. On January 31, 1945, he was off to Halifax N.S. by train and onto a ship to England. On February 11, 1945, they disembarked the ship in England and Mel was approached to take officer training. There were only 4 men in the 3rd Division that had completed their Grade 12. He refused, saying he wanted to stay with the guys he’d been training with.
On April 11, 1945 they were sent to Holland & Germany. While there, they were searching through a house in Germany. A boy about 12 years old shot his Sergeant and killed him. The war ended not a month later, on May 5th, 1945. Melvin stayed on to do guard duty. They sent those soldiers who had been overseas the longest, home first. Melvin was assigned to guard the S.S. soldiers, who were prisoners of war, and had been put into a fenced in camp. Melvin took classes at the 3rd Division Canadian Training School in England before returning to Canada. He was assigned to talk with the soldiers about what jobs they could get once they were home.
Melvin was discharged on Sept. 28, 1946 and went back home to Kelliher. He worked at the Bolton Garage with his father and brother, Almont. They also had a Minneapolis Machinery Dealership.
Melvin became a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch # 219 in 1972. He was President in 1985 & 1986 and was acting Padre for Legion member’s funerals and prepared the November 11th, Remembrance Day Services. He was Sergeant at Arms until his passing on January 28, 2001. Being a Legion member for 29 years, he received 4 medals: The Canadian Volunteer medal; France & Germany Stars; Service Medal and Clasp; War medal for 1939 – 1945. He also received the Dutch Medal in Holland in 1995. In 2003, at Yorkton, SK, I received Mel’s “Thank You Canada Medal” from the Dutch Consulate. He received a Normandy Medal, mailed to him, in memory of his regiment which served in Normandy, the Royal Regina Rifles.
Melvin played hockey since the age of 9 years, when he used old catalogues for shin pads. The community of Kelliher had a Senior Hockey team in 1930, or possibly even before. An outdoor ice rink was built with boards, between the curling rink and Bolton’s Garage. The curling rink had 2 sheets of natural ice. There was a long hallway along the east wall with window’s cut out, no glass on the outside wall. Spectators could watch the hockey game from the curling rink. When Melvin was 12 years old, a scout for NHL hockey, Eddie Shore’s brother, asked Howard and Pearl, Melvin’s parents, if they would let Melvin go to Regina to play hockey and get better coaching. His parents refused, saying he was too young. He played most of his hockey in Kelliher. While in the army in Amsterdam, Holland, the army brought in a truckload of new skates, dumping them in the middle of the ice. They told the soldiers to try on the skates without their socks for a tighter fit. They were playing in a closed in arena. Melvin found a pair and when he tried to skate, he fell on his rear. He had always had hand me downs, usually bigger. Once he got used to the proper fitting skates, he could really go fast. Once back home after discharge, he played for the Kelliher Senior team. In 1950/51, Foam Lake asked Mel to come & play for them, they had a closed in arena.
Mel and I were married on November 22, 1950 and for home games we would return to Kelliher each night, but for away games, the team put us in the Foam Lake Hotel with meals at the cafe – that was our honeymoon, “a great winter”. The first enclosed arena in Kelliher was built and opened, in February of 1958. Melvin used his tractor and a large saw blade mounted on the front frame to saw all the rafters. He also helped put up those rafters with volunteer help from the Kelliher District. Mr. Norval Dahl was the contractor. The local board asked Melvin to get a senior hockey team together, and join a league. Melvin was both player, #2 defence, and Coach for the first closed in arena. He also was the first Senior Hockey Coach in the current arena built in 1981. Melvin started teaching & coaching young boys, once his two sons Kevin & Kent were old enough at ( 9 & 8 years old). Every Saturday, all winter, and then at the end of the season they would have a tournament. There were enough boys for four hockey teams in the Kelliher Community alone. They would play against the Muskowekwan School team, like Melvin did when he was a boy. In 1970, Melvin took his Pee Wee (12 & under) hockey team to Weyburn, Saskatchewan, and won the”D” Division in the tournament. Kevin, 12 years old, was chosen the best player on his team. In 1971 Mel took his Pee Wee team again, winning the concilation side “D” Division. He was the only coach to have done that with only local boys two years in a row. Kent was 12 years old that year.
Over the years of involvement with the sport of Hockey, Melvin has left quite a legacy in Kelliher. He has trophies and hockey jackets from the Senior club, Kelliher Komets Champs – 1962-63 season, red Komet jacket, 1967-68, player & coach. Also a yellow “Midget” coach jacket. A multitude of plaques from Minor Hockey; Community Builder from the Recreation Board; A plaque from the Veterinary board for donating 2 acres of land to house the Animal Clinic. A 5 year service award plaque from the Senior Housing Board, and many curling trophies.
Melvin attended St. Paul’s United Church Sunday School in Kelliher, receiving a bible for his perfect attendance. Melvin was baptized just before going overseas in 1944. He married Loma Vestby in that church on Nov. 22, 1950. Melvin was the Church Secretary and Sunday School teacher from 1960 – 1965. He was a church elder and board member for years, also singing in the choir. He did services as a lay minister, until the day he passed. His sermon that day was about salvation after death. He passed away in the church after the service.
After we were married, we lived with Mel’s parents for the winter. They would go to Garnet & Elsie’s, Mel’s oldest brother’s home in Santa Rosa, California, after Christmas and stay there until the spring.
In May, 1951, we got our own place, a small 2 room house behind the Hardware Store, once owned by Mel’s father and Uncle Vern Hartley. Mel worked at Bolton’s Garage with his father and brother Almont from 1946 to 1952 delivering gas; they also had the machinery dealership. Melvin had purchased 2 black angus cows with calves at foot and had them out at Lorna’s fathers farm. Melvin went to the VLA and told them that we wanted to farm.
In 1952 we bought Oscar Abrahamson’s farm from William Rygus, who had moved into Kelliher to be the Federal Grain Agent. Lars Dahlen had been renting the land and was having his own small house built across the old #15 highway, from the Dahlen homestead where he was bom. The Abrahamson’s, V. Dahlen’s, A. Paulson and J. Hilbom’s, were the 4 Swedish families, who in 1904, had taken out homesteads where the Village of Kelliher now stands.
John Hilbom & Anna (Norlin) had the first white child born (Hildur) in the area, in their homestead shack, which is now Kelliher’s Main Street. The Grand Truck Pacific Railway was coming west and those 4 families had to relocate and refile in 1909. Oscar Abrahmson filed on land west of Kelliher, 3 miles away. They now built log houses. The house on our land is still standing – 1909 to 2005. There were no nails, they drilled small holes and put pegs in between, to hold the logs in place. Lime stone was then ground to make a white cement type finish. These pioneer men were all good carpenters. I can see why! I traveled to Norway and Sweden this past summer, July, 2004 and both those countries have so much of their land covered with forest. The lumber is cut and milled and their homes are built with the siding running vertical not horizontal, like in Canada.
I was able to visit my grandmother’s home in Favang, Norway, which is still being used. It was built in the 1700s. As well as many of the old churches, built in 1270 and earlier, all made from lumber.
In the Fall of 1952, Melvin and I moved out to our first farm home on the old Abrahmson homestead. I remember painting the rooms with Kemtone, as the logs were uneven and you could not use wallpaper. In the kitchen, which had been built onto the log house with lumber, we used congo-wall on the bottom half, which looked like tiles. We used paint on the ceiling and the rest of the walls. We loved that old house and 3 of our 5 children were raised out there.
We brought our two cows and calves over from my father’s farm and bought 150 chicks in the spring of 1953. I went down to feed and water them and being a beautiful warm spring day, the chicks now 6 weeks old, I left the door open and put a screen in front on the bottom half, so they could get some sunshine. Our dog decided to go in and catch chickens, he killed 120 of them. The floor was white with dead chickens. I went out on the hill and cried, as we had no money to buy more.
We also milked cows and made butter. We bought 2 young pigs to use up the extra milk. In a few years we had a lovely herd of black angus cattle.
As the years went by I had the chickens penned up so I could ship eggs to Melville, Sk. The man from the Creamery came out to our farm, wanting to know how I could get so many dozen Grade A eggs? I told him I had fenced in the chicken yard and kept their eggs in the cellar, which was dark and cool. I got top dollar for the eggs! We had no well on our first farm and had to haul drinking water. We used rain barrels to catch water off the roof.
We also had a good garden. Some years the wild saskatoons and raspberries where abundant. I would make canned fruit and jam. I also planted strawberrys in the garden, which produced every year, and were wonderful fresh with farm cream. We did not have power, a refrigerator or deep freeze in 1953. Melvin got a D.C. power plant with 16 glass batteries and erected a windmill to charge them. This was great and now we were able to buy a toaster, an iron and electric lights, which replaced the coil oil lamps that needed to be filled regularly and the glass chimneys cleaned before dark.
For years we continued to go into Bolton’s house in Kelliher for the winters and return to our farm in the Spring. My father, Alfred Vestby, would stay at our farm for the winter months to tend to our stock. He used the tractor to drive to town, as the prairie trail to our home, usually blocked with snow, was 1 mile from highway #15, then a gravel road. He would go across the fields to get to the main road.
Melvin always had a job to supplement the farm. Mr. Crawford, Kelliher Creamery owner, asked Mel to drive the ice cream truck for him. Mel would work there during the day and farm after work. He worked for the Creamery for one year, then the Coop asked him to drive their fuel truck. So he started working for them while farming after work.
In 1957, we moved into a duplex, in Kelliher, owned by Mel’s parents, and he continued to work for the Coop. Our last 2 children were born while we lived at the duplex.
In 1959 Mel bought the E Wiley farm just 1 1/2 miles west of town, just over the CNR rail tracks No more problems with roads, as the new #15 highway ran on the north side of the tracks.
In 1965 we bought a Nelson Prefab house and had it built on the new land. Our children would now catch the school bus to town. Our oldest, a daughter, Melanie, her husband Donald Bashutski, and their family now live on that farm. Our cattle breeds changed over the years. We eventually sold all the cattle and only farmed the land. The farm now has bison roaming the pastures. Our son Kevin, living in Alberta, had started raising bison and wanted to expand. Land was too expensive there, so with the grass lands at our farm he purchased 6 bison calves, and with our son in law, Don to do the labour, started raising bison.
As the herd grew from 1995 to 1998, more pasture area needed to be fenced. Don now had a herd of his own and needed to be closer to the operation, so “Triple B Bison Farms” was formed. Melvin providing the land, Kevin the bison stock and Donald the labor and management skills. Kevin purchased the Dahlen 1/2 section, and the Abrahmson 1/2 sec, for bison pasture from his brother Kent, as well as the acreage that Lars Dahlen farmed. Donald bought the home quarter from us and Don and Melanie moved their family Donald also bought the 1/4 section where I lived before marrying Melvin, just west of Lars’ acreage.
We retired from our farm life and moved to Kelliher in 1998. Melvin loved to be out with these large majestic animals. He would go out every day to help Don, he could watch the bison for hours. Mel & Don drove out in the truck, to check the herd during calving. They watched as the herd bull used his large horns to gently lift a newborn calf to its feet, to get it up, nursing and moving with the herd.
Melvin also started a small lumber business on the farm; mostly rough lumber at first. Then he and William Kozoriz, the Pool Elevator Agent at the time, could see a need in the area. So they built a small office and cement storage building on our farm. Location along the highway was good. They built, painted, and delivered 8, 10 & 12 foot round wooden bins to the farmers in our area.
The semi trucks would come into the yard with supplies and our children would go out and help unload, when their help was needed. After a few years, the lumbar yard was moved to town. William Kozoriz ran the business and Melvin would drive his 2 ton grain truck to the city for supplies. They built some houses, and many round bins. William was transferred and that left Melvin with the farm land, cattle and the lumbar yard to look after. They hired Bob Marlow as the business manager and book keeper. Melvin still hauled his own freight and the cement would continue to come by semi trailer. Bob’s two brothers, Freddie and Bill, were hired to help in the lumberyard, with loading purchases and helping build the bins. The Marlow’s left Kelliher to return to Ontario and Melvin decided to sell the business.
Melanie Merle our oldest, a daughter, was born in 1954 at Lestock Hospital. She took all her schooling at Kelliher. While in school she took track & field, drama, curling, was a cheerleader for the touch football team, and sang in the junior choir. She also was in 4-H sewing until she graduated. She graduated in 1972 and went to the University of Regina for 3 semesters, taking science classes for enrollment into the Nursing Program at SIAST. She then got a job with Dr. Glacier, an allergy specialist, where she worked from Jan, 1974 to Oct. 1976.
She married Donald Bashutski on October 18, 1975. They bought a farm 5 miles west of Lestock in the Spring of 1976 and moved onto that farm Oct. 1, 1976. Melanie started work at the Lestock Union Hospital on Oct. 6, 1976. She worked part time as a Nurses Aide, then took a Health Records Coarse in 1991 – 1992. She still works there, it is now St. Joseph’s Integrated Care Center and she is the Director of Health Records and Admitting. She has been there 29 years in October of 2005.
Don and Melanie have 4 children: Lasha Dawn born 1979, Trevor Jonathon born in 1980, Brody Lee born in 1985 and Tyler Scott born in 1987. They have one grandson, Trey Melvin Bashutski, who was born to Trevor and Sonja Bushell in 2004.
Maureen Lori, our second daughter, was born in 1956. She also took all her schooling in Kelliher. While in school she was also involved in track, junior choir, and drama. She also took 4-H sewing. She graduated as Student of the Year in 1973. She followed Melanie to the U of S, Regina, where she took Computer Science classes for 2 years. She then worked for Sask Housing. Maureen purchased a home on Elphinstone street and met Richard. Maureen married Richard Ludlow in 1983.
They have 4 daughters: Sarah Maureen born in 1985, Rachel Lorna born in 1986, Jill Isabelle born in 1988 and Katherine Aliane born in 1990. They purchased land east of Regina in the Zenner district and moved to that farm in 2004. They have quarter horses and paints, which Maureen and her 2 daughters, Sarah and Katherine love. Maureen works in Regina for Home Care. Richard still does carpentry work from his shop in the city.
Kevin Alfred our first son, was born, in 1957. Kevin took his first 10 years of schooling in Kelliher. While there, Kevin set Cupar Unit Records for the most points in Track & Field, he also played football. He played trumpet in the school band. Kevin was also in 4-H Beef, and drama, as well as hockey. At 15 he made the Yorkton Terrier Junior Hockey team and moved to Yorkton, under coach Jerry James for two years. He took his grade 11 and 12 there and graduated from Yorkton Regional High School in 1974. He stayed in Yorkton one more year and played for coach Rolli Willcox. Kevin worked for a carpet and flooring business while in Yorkton. He went on to University of Alberta, Edmonton, in the faculty of Agriculture, receiving his Bachelor of Science Degree and graduated with distinction, in 1980. While there Kevin played for the University Hockey Team The Golden Bears. He played defense with Randy Gregg in 1975. In 1978 their team won the national championship; we watched that game on TV.
Kevin married Shelley Sparrow in July, 1980, whom he had met at University. He started his oil career with Hudson Bay Oil & Gas, stationed out of Lloydminister. In 1981 they moved to Calgary and Kevin worked for Shell Oil for 8 years, then CanWest Explorations for 7 years. They sold to Alberta Energy Company who then merged with PanCanadian & formed ENCANA, who he still works for. He is the land manager and travels a lot.
They have 3 children: Blake James born in 1981; Jessica Eileen born in1983 and Blair Clayton born in 1986. They live on a quarter of land, ” Big Hill Springs Buffalo Ranch”, North of Cochrane Alberta.
Our second son, Kent Garth was born in 1958. He took all but one year of his schooling in Kelliher where he was also involved in Track & Field, Football, 4-H Beef and Hockey. In Grade 11 he played Junior B hockey in Yorkton where he went to the Yorkton Regional High School. He came back to Kelliher for his Grade 12. After graduating in 1976 he went to U of A in Edmonton in Agriculture. In 1979 he transferred to the University of Saskatchewan.
While there he met his wife Marilyn Koch who convocated in May 1980 with a degree in Psychology. They were married in June, 1980. In 1981 Kent and Marilyn moved to Regina. Kent was working for Father Larry at Bosco Homes. Their first son, Luke, was born there. They moved back to the Nels Dahlen farm where they built a new house, and their second son Johan was born in 1983, and third son Anthony in 1985. They then moved back to Regina, where both Kent and Marilyn attended the U of S Regina campus to get their teaching degrees. Kent was also taking flying lessons during this time. He received his pilots license and bought a small plane. His first teaching job was at Kayville.
Then in 1988, Kent moved his family up to Nahani Butte, NWT, to teach for a year. They had to fly in; there were only roads during the winter when the lakes were frozen over. The following year they went to Jamaica where Kent and Marilyn worked with a church organization. Kent developed a severe allergy to the sun and they came home to Saskatchewan. They moved to Kronau and Kent taught school in Regina from 1991 to 1996 at Al Pichard and Dr. Hanna Schools. While there they had their 4th son Dominique, born in l993, and a daughter, Kathleen, born 1995. In 1997 Kent moved his family to Trout Lake NWT for one year, where both he and Marilyn taught. They then moved to Crooked Creek, Alberta, where they now reside and both have been teaching from 1998 to 2005.
Our 5th child, a daughter, Marcia Lynn, was born in 1960. Marcia took all her schooling at Kelliher and was another Track & Field star. She took 1st in Provinicals in the triple jump while in Grade 11 as a junior and again in Grade 12, at only 16, she competed as a senior, and won. She was active in many other sports including: volley ball, soft ball, broom ball, curling and badminton. She also coached the junior girls volley ball team while a senior herself. She entered drama in Grade 12 and won the Best Actress Award in the Cupar School Unit Competition, in the play “Early Frost”. She was also in 4-H beef. Marcia graduated in 1977 and went to Saskatoon at the age of 16 and worked. She started working for an Insurance Company and has been in the insurance industry ever since. She moved to Calgary and met her husband Timothy Grabinsky. Tim taught her another sport – golf. Being the true athlete she is, she has been winning many golf tournaments since. Their dream is taking shape and they are in the process of developing, and building on a property in Water Valley, Alberta, just northeast of Cochrane.