The History of the Hanna Farm, Part 3

Abe Adds Bits and Pieces

Legal Subdivision 4, SW-25:

One of the mysteries in Grandma Hanna’s treasure chest was a letter and a series of receipts from the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) for $600.00 (plus interest). Why is Abe paying the CPR? I wondered. I thought it was the CPR that purchased land from Abe. I looked at the date on one of the receipts: 1928. A notation on the receipt held the answer – Abe was purchasing land from the CPR.

In 1913, the CPR purchased Legal Subdivision 4 from Abe – a total of 40 acres on the southwest corner of Section 25 – to become part of the future townsite of Meyronne. The village didn’t grow as much as the CPR anticipated, so about three-quarters of the land was left undeveloped.

HannaFarm_LSD4In 1928, Abe bought back the undeveloped portion of LSD 4 for the sum of $600.00. In July, Abe sent an application and a deposit of $200.00. The receipt he received from the CPR states “that neither the acceptance of the said deposit nor the issue of this receipt shall oblige the Railway Company to carry out the purpose for which the deposit is made.” I’m sure Abe was not happy about that weasel clause. One can only imagine what he said upon reading that.

The CPR did “carry out the purpose” and, in August, sent Abe a letter stating “We are in receipt of your application to purchase unsubdivided land, Meyronne.” The purchase was successfully concluded,; a receipt dated December 12, 1928 documents the final payment of $600.00 – plus interest of $12.00 – for the land. What had once been part of Abe’s farm was, once again, under Abe’s name.

Lafontaine’s Lot

The following diary entry left me scratching my head:

Tuesday, November 20, 1928: Had papers drawn for purchase of Fred Lafontain’s [sic] house and acre of land at Jas. Findlay in pm.

Where was this lot? I wondered. I knew of no one-acre lot in Meyronne, except perhaps for the school yard, and that definitely was not Mr. Lafontaine’s. I thought little more of until I read the following entry:

Thursday, 4 June, 1936: F. Hetherington . . . [planted] potatoes in garden on our lot next to school

Aha! Now I knew where Mr. Lafontaine’s lot was.

LafontainesLot_smAs a child, I often wondered about the trees just north of the public school yard – they seemed like a windbreak but there were no buildings there. Many times, I played there with kids from town, and many was the time I cut through our pasture and field, and through those trees, on my way to school. Then, amongst Grandma Hanna’s old photographs, I found a grainy black-and-white photograph that showed a tiny white house surrounded by trees immediately north of the school yard, exactly where I used to play with my friends.

My conclusion: those trees marked Fred Lafontaine’s acre lot. Abe rented it out the house to bring a little extra money. In 1936, he fixed up the house, repaired the stable and hen house, cleaned out the well and built a new approach off the road to it, then rented it out to Mrs. Sangster.

I don’t know when Mrs. Sangster moved out or when the house was torn down. It was long gone by the time I came on the scene. The trees are still there.

Expansion Ceases

Abe now owned 1080 acres at a time when the average farm in the area was 419 acres. He was assisted in the farming by his son Bert, and later his younger son Garnet, and several hired men. He had transitioned in part to mechanized farming, although he still used horses extensively. He purchased his first tractor, a Fordson, sometime in the early 1920s. He replaced it in 1927, I suspect with a John Deere tractor because over the next couple of years he makes several entries about attending a John Deere tractor school. In August, 1929 he purchased his last new piece of equipment – a Rumley combine – “$800.00 cash and bal to be paid in 20 days” (Thursday, August 15). On Saturday, September 7, he “paid off Blair in a.m.” Alas, he doesn’t say how much the balance was.

Would Abe have continued to buy land? Possibly. But 1929 happened. It was the beginning of the depression and the Dirty Thirties. The crop that year was poor, merely 9 bushels per acre, and grain prices had fallen drastically, from $1.03/bushel in 1928 to $0.34/bushel. Abe attended a meeting “of councilors & reeves of 7 municipalities at Meyronne hall where relief measures were considered for drought areas” (Friday, September 20, 1929).

It got only worse. With the exception of 1935, the crop yields were barely able to replace the seed he’d planted. What little crop did grow was worth next to nothing at the elevator. In 1937, there was no crop at all. Whatever dreams Abe might have had of expanding the farm were blown away with the soil and the seed.

Abe managed to hang on in spite of the drought, the depression and failing health. The land was fully paid for, so the bank could not repossess. Paying bills – taxes, school tuition for Garnet and coal, for example – was always a struggle. Nor did he sell out as did many other farmers. But the Thirties did him in.

Starting in the mid-Thirties, he had a series of heart attacks that left him unable to do any work for long periods. Sometimes he was so weak, he allowed himself to be pulled around the farmyard on a little wagon or, in winter, a sled. He often wrote in his diaries that he “supervised work.” In January, 1940, he traveled to the Mayo Clinic in the hopes they could help, but the trip was in vain. He returned to Saskatchewan and passed away in Moose Jaw General Hospital in February, 1940. He was buried in Meyronne alongside his son, Bert, who had passed away in 1932.

Next: The farm passes on to new hands.

#HannaFamilyHistory #MeyronneHistory #SaskatchewanHistory #MargaretGHanna #OurBullsLooseInTown #NonFiction #LoveHistory #WriteHistory

2 thoughts on “The History of the Hanna Farm, Part 3

  1. paulandada

    Hi, Margaret, thanks for this….I always look forward to your “Posts”. Interesting, as usual. Hope all is well with you and Roger. 😊Ada

    Sent from my iPad



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