Members of our family had the opportunity to go to Magrath Alberta Canada to bury my dad’s ashes. Pothole creek seperates the town from the cemetary with a quaint small park in between. The family had a brief graveside service and dedicated the grave. We then went on a trip back in time…what a trip!
We drove out to Del Bonita where my grandfather homesteaded. We went to the old homestead site, now a wheat field with a creek running thru it. While stopped on the road, a local farmer drove up in his truck and asked if everything was ok. We explained our grandfather had homesteaded there and he said "Oh yeah – Free Clifton’s place". He knew all about the original homesteaders in the area – eventhough it took place in the early 1900′s.
We drove back to Magrath and stopped at the Hutterite’s (a religious order that lives in a colony – but take advantage of modern inventions) where grandpa used to bring his wheat to have ground. The men in their homemade shirts and pants all sporting short brimmed straw hats and beards were working on a new huge building to be used to made rolled steel siding. Anyway we wanted to buy some pancake mix that they make there.
A man in his 80s helped us. When we told him why we were in the area and who we were he told us he knew my grandpa and his two brothers…when he was a little boy….but he remembered them. He gave an extensive tour of the mill (which they normally don’t do for stangers), we had a nice visit.
Saturday was the pioneer day parade in Magrath. What a fun time. Old tractors, old cars, old wagons, old people, horses, two marching bands and lots of candy. A real parade, with a huge turnout lining the streets – both of them – not one of those commercial deals we see on TV.
Then it was off to my uncle’s farm for a family reunion. Cousins, uncles, aunts, and shirt-tail relations I hadn’t seen in years – some I’d never seen. The farm was originally my other grandfather’s. My mom grew up there, she watered the trees that formed the wind break, tree that are now 80 years old. The old barn is still there, the irrigation ditch too, but the outhouse is gone.
All of this gave me a deeper appreciation for my heritage but more than that it gave me a perspective of life and community that my grandparents and parents lived through. I realized that the sense of community I felt there is missing in my life, where I live. I don’t think there is anything I can do to get that here. It would be great to have it, but have felt it while visiting was special.
I understand better why small towns like Magrath continue and how and why my ancestors survived and thrived. What a wonderful heritage, what a wonderful trip.
Thanks for letting me ramble. Hopefully someday you’ll all have a similar experience.