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Publication: Lindsay Daily Post add link
Issue: April 6, 2006
Title: A Settler Writes Home

In May 1908, the Daily Post printed a letter from a former resident of Lindsay who had traveled and settled in Saskatchewan. The following are excerpts from that letter which show that pioneer times were not that long ago.

Dear Sir: I have neglected writing to you for so long and hope you will excuse my neglectfulness. I will commence my letter a year back and give you some information as to what I have experienced and learned of this vast country known as the West. When I first came to this district which is called Eagle Lake District, it was vast open prairies with no settlers and on driving along occasionally one would see a sod shack being built. Before the winter of 1907 set in, along the same trail were dozens of buildings. Today in driving anywhere within a radius of 40 or 50 miles around it is impossible to get out of sight of buildings, the country has been settled so rapidly.

Last spring being late, very little breaking was done, and little crop, but if this spring opens early, as it has every indication to, hundreds of acres will be under crop this year.

Last winter it was reported I was frozen but I wasn't aware of the fact until we got our mail at the end of February. Then letter after letter from our friends in the East were opened inquiring as to how badly I was frozen. So widespread was the report that a posse of Mounted Police were sent from Regina to search for me or my body. When I answered the door, they said I was the liveliest looking corpse they had ever met.

The origin of the fable - On Nov. 8, 1907, I drove to Battleford for a load of coal. I was delayed there a few days as no coal was to be had in town. In the meantime the weather turned very cold and about 12 inches of snow fell and a very severe storm raged. On account of no direct communication, I could not send word home to explain the nature of my delay and of course my absence so long caused anxiety at home and among the neighbours. I was told that a man living a few miles from me, went to Saskatoon a few days before I arrived home and told some of the settlers that I had gone out with my team and was overtaken in a storm and together with my team had been frozen. My trip home was not a pleasant one, and we were eight days on the way, but were always successful in getting shelter at night.

This year (1908) we had a very pleasant winter. No snow fell until Christmas and since then not more than 10 or 12 inches. We are settled in one of the most promising parts of Saskatchewan and are just 30 miles from the eastern boundary of Alberta. This soil is heavy clay similar to the soil around Indian Head. We have plenty of pure spring water. Since arriving here a few years ago, I have seen a good deal of the country. Eagle Lake District, in my opinion, is equal if not superior to any of the districts that I have traveled through. We expect the Moose Jaw and Lacombe line of the CPR to be under construction through here this summer, and that our Post Office under the name of Coleville, will be opened in a short time now.

We had a frame house which is very warm and comfortable with a store in one room. Good domestic coal has been discovered 15 miles east of here and the government has undertaken to work the mine.

Well I think I had better draw my letter to a close or I will tire you with such a long lingo. I would be very glad to have a reply from you and give me all the news possible from the good old town of Lindsay. Kindly remember me to all my friends.

Malcolm Cole, Coleville, Saskatchewan

'History in Our Community' is a weekly column provided by the Victoria County Historical Society in co-operation with other groups and individuals. Topics for these columns will include people, events, buildings, and items of historic significance.