Home Town or Home Community:
Swanson, Ardath, Outlook, Delisle, Saskatoon
Walter and Ruth Sunderland came to Winnipeg, Manitoba from England in 1904. A year later, brother Abram arrived, and in April, 1906, they moved to homestead north of Swanson, Saskatchewan on Section 12-32-9-W3.
In December, 1906, A daughter, Ethel, (MacKenzie) was born: the first girl of the settlement. Four more daughters followed: Vera (Griffith) in 1908, Mary (Fairweather) in 1911, Annie (Wooltorton) in 1915, and Dorothy (Wood) in 1922.
In 1925, the family moved to Saskatoon where Walter worked on the CNR until his passing, September 14, 1927.
Ruth married Joseph MacIntosh in 1929. He passed away four years later. They had one son, Bruce.
We have many happy memories of our childhood days in Swanson: like Ethel’s first day of school. The teacher closed the classroom door, and it locked. So, Ruth drove the horse and buggy near the school window where Ethel and Mack Gilmour crawled in through the window. There were many times when the boys of the school hung Vera out the school window, and then waited until they saw the teacher coming back from lunch before they would haul her in again.
In the winter of 1912, Ruth took Ethel and Vera in to Swanson to see a traveling picture show, held in Anderson’s Hall above the hardware store. During the evening, the film caught fire. The audience all escaped, but the camera operator was badly burned trying to put out the fire.
Our first recollection of radio was listening, with ear phones on, at Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Wooltorton’s. Each of us had a turn for five minutes. Mrs. Wooltorton always had icing sugar sandwiches for lunch.
Then there was the time that Ethel took a shovel full of hot coals from the school furnace at noon hour. She carefully heated curling tongs, and curled all the girls’ hair. This was reported to her parents, with dire results. Despite that, Ethel became a hair dresser, and worked in ‘The Bay’ salon in Vancouver for 25 years.
All the children, except Annie, eventually moved to the West Coast. For many years, Ruth spent summers in Saskatchewan with Annie, and winters at the coast with Ethel. Finally, Ruth moved permanently to Vancouver where she lived until she passed away in 1978.
Abram Sunderland, known as ‘Uncle Abram’, was born in Halifax, England in 1872. He emigrated to Pearson, Manitoba in 1905, where he worked on a farm near his brother and sister-in-law, Walter and Ruth, who had arrived the previous year. Abram’s memories of the ocean voyage were not pleasant: “My, but I were very sick.”
In 1906, Walter, Ruth, and Abram left Manitoba for Saskatoon. The men travelled by freight train with the homestead supplies, and Ruth travelled by passenger train, via Regina. When they met in Saskatoon, they had four oxen hitched to two wagons loaded with supplies, including 12 chickens. A cow was tied behind one wagon and rake behind the other. One of the men drove each wagon, and Ruth followed behind driving a buggy.
Nightfall found them in the Delisle area. Their initiation to Saskatchewan hospitality was not impressive: they were refused lodging in a house (“You might be lousy”). They were not even allowed to bunk down in the barn (“You might burn it down”), even though they were all non-smokers!
So, they spent the night in the wagons, with the tent pulled over for shelter. During the night, a snow storm came up. The pony pulled Ruth’s much prized fur coat from the wagon and slept on it! At least one of the group was warm!!
They reached the homestead, (N.E. 12-32-9-W3) on April 19. Their first crop was broadcast by hand, cut with a mower, and bound by hand. The grain was hauled and threshed at Tradewell’s, about two miles south. Lumber for the house had to be hauled from Saskatoon: two days in, and two days back.
In 1907, Mr. And Mrs. Sunderland Sr. (John Edward and Elizabeth) and their youngest daughter, Florence, came from England for a visit. Any notions that they may have had about Abram returning home to England with them were outweighed by his horrible memories of the ship journey over to Canada, and by his determination to farm. Their ‘visit’ lasted a lifetime. John Edward was granted a ‘pre-emption’ on a quarter of land across the road from Abram’s land.
In 1909, Florence married William Beaton (see Beaton history) and moved seven miles away. Abram’s parents lived with him in a very small home, where warm hospitality was extended to all.
Horseback riding came a close second to ocean travel on Abram’s list of dislikes. He enjoyed walking, and sometimes hiked the 14 miles to Delisle for mail and groceries. If asked, “Weren’t they heavy?”, Abram would reply, “No, not bad. But if you happened to have a fifty of flour and didn’t get a lift, the trail got a bit long.” (Abram was five foot two, one hundred thirty pounds!)
John Edward, Abram’s father passed away in 1924. ‘Grandma’ Sunderland (Elizabeth) kept house for Abram until her death in 1936 at nearly ninety years of age.
Because of poor health, Abram quit active farming in the early thirties. The Beaton family worked the land for him. Abram spent his last years with William and Lawrence Beaton. He passed away in 1952.
Sunderland and Beaton family plots are located in St. Ambrose Cemetery, southwest of Swanson.
William Beaton, the youngest member of a family of eleven, was born in Milan, Quebec, in 1877. His parents and grandparents had come with other Scottish settlers in 1840 from Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. They settled south of Montreal in an area known as the Eastern Townships. Gaelic was spoken at home. William learned English at school and became an avid reader, especially of the Hansards and Parliamentary reports.
Though extremely strong in body and spirit, he suffered a lifetime of pain as a result of a broken ankle which was improperly set when he was fourteen.
In 1902, he went to North Dakota, where he farmed. In 1905 he took a homestead south of Wiseton, Saskatchewan. He left when a rerouting of the proposed CNR left his land far from the proposed town site. He bored many wells in the Wiseton, Hanley and Dundurn areas, and also broke many broncos. In 1907 he bought land in the Ardath-Swanson district, and in 1909 married Florence Sunderland, whose family lived north of Swanson. William and Florence resided on S. E. 21-31-9-W3 until 1935 when they moved to S. E. 28-31-0.
Florence had come to Swanson in 1906 with her parents Edward and Elizabeth, to visit her brothers Abram and Walter (Ruth). (See Sunderland family history.) William and Florence had one son, Lawrence (Larry), and one daughter, Elizabeth.
Life was not easy. A 100 foot long barn, built in 1919 burned in 1922, along with feed and some stock. By 1933, the number of horses had been reduced to one very good eight horse team. One evening, the most valuable horse kicked and killed the pet police dog. The same night, while the men were at a political meeting, with future premier T. C. Douglas, the horses broke out and ate grasshopper poison. The next day six of them died and the grasshoppers ate a hundred acres of crop.
William, like many pioneers, was determined that future generations would have better educational opportunities. He was a member of the Violet Hill School Board and a founding member of the Ardath Consolidated School Board. In those days, nothing took precedence over the annual meeting: attendance was large, and discussions were lively.
For many years, William drove horse drawn Van #5. (Today this would be called a school bus.) The horses averaged 6 mph. On William’s route, no one was ever left behind, and he was never late!
There were two phones in the Beaton home: one connected to the Ardath exchange to keep up with community and school news, and one to Swanson to contact neighbours and relatives (and to confuse a few with the Gaelic language!)
William was an active promoter and supporter of the Wheat Pool and served for several years on the Pool and Co-op committees. He was also on the Montrose R. M. Council for some years and “Road Bossed” the construction of many roads in the days of horse-drawn scrapers, freznos and graders between 1908 and 1930. There was no extra soil brought in to build up the grade: only the local, light soil. After a good wind storm, the ditches were often smoother to drive on than the road!!
He was an ardent sports fan : skating, ball, hockey, and later the Indoor Winter Games. He truly appreciated friends, nature, pets, and farming and enjoyed all of these until his death in July , 1966.
Florence Beaton, never robust in health, was respected and admired for her integrity and kindness. Her motto was “If you cannot say something good, don’t say anything at all.” She loved music, hand work, and most of all, people. Friends where high on the list of priorities. Family visits were made to the Plenty, Druid, and Wiseton areas as often as possible, at least once a year. She was born in 1889 and passed away in 1943.
Lawrence (Larry) was born at home, on the farm, in 1911. He took his first years of schooling at Violet Hill, and finished Grade 12 at Ardath. He attended school only in the winter months, and stayed home to tackle light land farming problems: pretty hopeless during the 1930’s. During these tough times, there was no money, but good recreation: picnics, ball games, hockey, skiing, and hunting.
In 1945, William and Lawrence moved to S. W. 22-31-9. They spent several winters in Saskatoon, and enjoyed trips both East and West.
Larry was very active in community work in both Ardath and Swanson. He was involved in 4-H as leader, and on both District and Provincial Council. He took Provincial winners to Chicago to the American 4-H National Convention in 1959. He was Wheat Pool Delegate for District 10 for seven years, and on the R. M. of Montrose Council for eight years. He also coached Ardath junior hockey and ladies’ softball teams.
He sold the farm in 1976 and moved to Outlook in 1978. He was very involved in the Outlook and District Wildlife Federation, twice as Branch President and First Habitat Chairman of Region 5. He was a lifetime member, and was awarded the Gordon Lund trophy in 1990. He also received the Hall of Fame plaque for 20 years of Firearm Safety Instructing.
In July 2000, Larry, a founding member of the Outlook branch of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, was recognized for his outstanding contribution to the organization, and to the preservation of wildlife and its habitat. He worked endlessly to ensure that wildlife would always have a place of its own. In 1989 a park was established at the Broderick Reservoir. Larry was the single most determining factor in its development. An Appreciation Day was held in his honor and the Broderick Reservoir site was dedicated, and re-named Larry Beaton Park.
Larry was a friend to all, and particularly to those who really needed a friend: everything from driving friends/neighbours to appointments, helping with field work whenever necessary without being asked, and digging and filling graves when needed.
In 2001, he moved to a Care home in Milden, where he resided until his death in March, 2003 at age 91. William, Florence, and Larry are buried in St. Ambrose Cemetery, south west of Swanson.
Elizabeth was also born on the farm, in 1918. She received her education in the Ardath School. Beth went to Saskatoon Normal School (Teacher‘s College) in 1938-39. She taught at Spion Kopp rural school, west of Delisle from 1939-1942.
In 1944, she married Albert (Ab) Chizek, eldest son of Anton (Tony) and Anna Chizek of Delisle. (Tony had homesteaded 6 miles west of Delisle in 1905.) Ab and Beth lived on the farm at S. W. 15-34-10 (6 miles west, one mile south, 2.5 miles west of Delisle). Beth taught at Creekfield School from 1948-1951.
They first moved to Delisle for the winter in 1951. They enjoyed curling , square dancing, and later, bowling. Ab served on the Credit Union Board soon after its formation, and on the Delisle Coop Board of Directors. He was also involved with the Wheat Pool and the community rink. Beth worked with church groups, Sunday School, Home and School, Library board (later Wheatland Library) and Homemakers. After moving to Delisle, Beth taught part time at the Delisle Elementary school, and substitute taught both there and at the High School.
After Ab retired, they enjoyed travelling: to Alaska, the Maritimes, Disney World, Las Vegas.. . with many of their friends.
They moved to Hector Trout Manor in Saskatoon in 1991, because Ab had been diagnosed with macular degeneration, and no longer felt comfortable doing so much highway driving. They enjoyed playing cards, socializing, and bowling. Ab was killed in a car pedestrian accident in April, 1998.
Ab and Beth had one daughter, Joan (b. 1954). She grew up hauling grain on the farm each fall. She completed her Grade 10 piano, and also played clarinet, guitar, and banjo. She was involved in high school sports, and was on the Delisle High School basketball team that won the Provincial Championship in 1972.
Joan attended the College of Education in Saskatoon, and after completing a 2 year Standard A program, went to teach in Hague, Saskatchewan. In 1974, she and Ted Hanson were married, and bought a house in Saskatoon. Joan continued to teach in Hague for the next 24 years. During that time, she completed the requirements for her B. Ed.. And B. A. degrees. In 1998, she transferred to teach at Valley Manor School in Martensville until superannuating in June, 2004. In all her teaching years, playing piano for, and directing school choirs were definitely highlights. She was especially proud of the choirs which auditioned for, and then performed on Telemiracle 5 different times.
Ted spent his career in sales: real-estate, retail, and car. He retired in June, 2004. In their retirement, they plan to travel and to continue to support the Saskatoon Blades.
Joan and Ted have two children: Christopher (b. 1977) and Pamela (b. 1982). Chris is currently living and working in Regina. Pam has completed an Accounting course at Saskatoon Business College. She lives in Saskatoon.