By the end of World War 1, Abe was flush with money, or at least as flush as any farmer can be. Grain prices had risen dramatically during the war, and crops had been good – he had averaged 24 bushels to the acre. It was time to go land-hunting again.
And time for another surprise for me.
South Half, Section 26: “The Flat”
West, across the road from our farmhouse, the land slops down sharply to what we called “The Flat” because it was, well, FLAT. It was in fact an old glacial lake bed, Glacial Lake Kincaid, that existed briefly some 14,000 years ago when the glaciers receded. Lazy little Pinto Creek that wound through The Flat was a mere shadow of the raging river that must have drained all that glacial meltwater eastward, eventually ending up in what is today called Old Wives Lake.
The Flat was different from the rest of our farm in a couple of ways. First, the soil was heavy gumbo, thanks to all the clay deposited by Glacial Lake Kincaid. Second, it was the only land for which we owned the mineral rights. We always hoped oil would be found there but that was not to be. We were sitting over the wrong geological formation.
Imagine my astonishment when I found the sale agreement in Grandma Hanna’s trunk and learned there was yet a third unique feature of The Flat – it had once been Hudson’s Bay Company land.
In 1869, Canada purchased what was known as Rupert’s Land (all territory draining into Hudson Bay) from what was officially known as The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson’s Bay, or, for short, the Hudson’s Bay Company. Canada paid $1.5 million dollars to the HBC and designated Section 8 and three-quarters of Section 26 in every township, and all of Section 26 in every fifth township, as HBC land for their use. Eventually, the HBC decided there was no purpose in retaining this land and started selling it to homesteaders.
The south half of Section 26 was originally purchased from the HBC in December 1909 by Mr. John Henry Evans who, some time later, sold it to Mr. John Kergan of Kincaid. In 1913, the CPR carved out 40 acres in the SE corner for what became the NW portion of the Village of Meyronne, leaving only 280 acres as farmland.
From Grandpa Hanna’s diary: Thursday, April 5, 1918: Went with Addie & children to look over south 1/2-8-7 in a.m. . . . Purchased 280 acres land in Sec. 26 from John Kergan at $7075.00. Had writings drawn in p.m. at Mr. Findlay’s.
Abe paid $1000.00 upon signing the deal. The rest of the Agreement is confusing, to me at least.
On the one hand, it seems that Abe was also to assume “payment of the balance [$2540.00] owing to the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay under an Agreement for sale between the said Company and one John Henry Evans, which Agreement is dated the 30th day of December 1909.” But a subsequent clause states Abe owes the balance of $3535.00 on May 1, “provided that if the Purchaser is required to pay the full amount owing to the Hudson’s Bay Company at the present time, the Vendor will wait until 1st December 1918 for the payment of Two thousand Dollars and the Vendor shall pay interest of 8% per annum from the date hereof . . .”
I’m not the only one confused about who owes how much to whom. Abe met twice with John Kergan, apparently to discuss payment: Friday, April 19, 1918: Went to Kincaid to see John Kergan re south ½ 26-8-7, and the following day: Went to town in p.m. with John Kergan to see Lawyer Findlay re land.
The visit to Mr. Findlay must have clarified the situation: Thursday, May 9, 1918: Went to town at N. to pay John Kergan $2540 on 26-8-7. Abe made the final payment on Monday, September 23: Received transfer for S. ½ 26-8-7 from John Kergan & paid him balance owing of $1027.00.
By then, Abe had dug a well on 26, put up a fence, and started pasturing his horses and cattle there. Part of it was still pasture when I was growing up although Dad ran only cattle; the last horse had died when I was about two.
Abe Goes “North”: NE Quarter, Section 36
Abe’s last major land purchase was the NE 36-8-7-W3, 160 acres a half-mile north of the home section. It was fairly good land, slightly more hilly than the home section and with a large slough in the middle. In wet years, that slough filled with water and became home to reeds, bulrushes, and a host of birds and frogs. In dry years, it produced heavy oat crops that we cut for green feed for the cattle. We always referred to it as “36,” as in “Where are you working today?” “Up on 36.”
At least three people had owned this quarter section before Abe bought it. Wm. Donnelly obtained it as his homestead in 1908, the same year that Abe acquired his homestead. The two were neighbours and Abe occasionally mentions him in his diaries. Sometime thereafter, William Lionel Hodgins purchased the quarter-section. He died sometime before or during 1925, at which time his siblings (?) Austin, Arthur and Etta, executors of his estate, sold the land to Mabel Lillian Bannister, wife of Wallace Bannister, for $4160.00. This, in itself, is interesting – rarely did a woman own land back then.
However, it seems Mrs. Bannister had purchased the land by taking out a mortgage from the Trust and Loan Company of Canada, and she was a bit delinquent in making her payments. According to an Agreement for Sale dated December 8, 1925, she still owed $1492.46; as a consequence, and by the same Agreement for Sale, the executors of William Hodgins estate assigned the land and moneys owing to a “Mr. John R. Lamb of the City of Toronto in the Province of Ontario” (who Mr. Lamb was, and how he came to be named the “assignee” is a mystery).
From Grandpa Hanna’s diary: Thursday, March 31, 1927: Met W. Bannister in town who wished to sell his farm.
Friday, April 1, 1927: Purchased NE 36-8-7-3 from Wallace Bannister for the sum of $5700.
Note, Abe says “Wallace Bannister,” not Mabel Lillian Bannister, although her name, not her husband’s, is on the Agreement for Sale. Mr. John R. Lamb is still involved as party of the third part. The total purchase price was $5700.00, but of that Abe paid $3489.00 to Mrs. Bannister and the balance to Mr. Lamb which probably was the amount that she still owed plus interest calculated at 8% per annum.
It seems that Abe rented out that quarter-section to others, one of whom was Lew Hodgkins. Abe probably receiving a share of the crop, rather than a flat fee, as payment. The arrangement with Mr. Hodgkins lasted until 1936, a year of little crop and less money, when he asked to be released from the lease.
Next: The History of the Hanna Farm, Part 3: Abe reclaims a bit of lost land
#HannaFamilyHistory #HannaFarm #MeyronneHistory #SaskatchewanHistory #PrairieHistory #HudsonsBayCompanyLand #NonFiction
4 thoughts on “The History of the Hanna Farm, Part 2”
You have brought to all of us a snippet of Canadian history through your Grandpa Hanna’s diaries. To have found sales agreements of the time to corroborate his entries is a wonderful addition.
I now wonder what documents that we think are not important might turn out to be very important for some future researcher.
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Keeping the documents is the easy part. Convincing the generations coming behind us of their importance will be the challenge.
I finally got around to reading this, I find it very interesting. I worked for Addie and Garnet in the 1940’s, some of the names I heard in various conversations. I remmbert wondering why they called it “36”