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Louie Tonneson

Louie Tonneson outside his homestead shack in the Lost Lake area of Alberta,two miles east of Enchant, Alberta. L-R: Martin Hobert, Harry Hobert, and Louie Tonneson, the owner. I came from Norway in 1903 to Minnesota, U.S.A., from there to North Dakota, then to Montana. In 1908 I filed on a homestead in Lost Lake area two miles east of Enchant. Rasmus Foss and I moved out to our homesteads in the spring of 1909. The river ice was breaking up, so lumber and supplies had to be carried over planks laid across the Belly River north of Taber. About the same time there were three Swedish brothers, the Malms, and their families heading for the same area, only theirs became Retlaw. There is still talk about that eventful day when the Swedes crossed the "Belly." Some friends, Carl Larson and Harry Bailey met us on the north side of the river with Larson's team of oxen and Harry's team of horses. After we unloaded the lumber, along came a neighbor Ralph Hoover, and told us we could get water from him, as he was half a mile away. Ralph lent us a tent until we had our shacks built. I lift some gloves on the lumber overnight and kid foxes had chewed the fingers almost off. I tried to tame one for a pet, but it died; now they say they are extinct.

Post office, Lost Lake, Alberta. Autumn 1909. L-R: John Martin, senior; John Johnson; Carl Smith; Harry Hobert; Martin Hobert; Bill Baskin; Louie Tonneson; John Maddinson; Alf Jaycock, postmaster; James Park, senior; Mrs. Alfred Jaycock. Mr. Christenson, in buggy. William Martin broke ten acres for Ralph Hoover, Rasmus Foss and myself, so this made a fire guard one mile long and one the west side. This saved others east of us when a prairie fire in 1910 burned clean to the "Big Bow River." To make grub stake in between, I worked for Harry Sugget in Coaldale. It was quite an experience for me to cook, as I'd never even boiled water. But with motherly advice from Mrs. Hoover, it didn't take long to learn how to make sourdough pancakes and backing powder biscuits and bread, when I found out not to let the sponge freeze overnight. For entertainment we had stag parties, boxing, dancing and penny ante. Many a story could be told of happenings, some heartbreaking with draught and little return. Those days were lonely but carefree for me.

In the spring of 1916 Anna Malm, daughter of P.N. Malm became my bride. I never realized that one of those Swedes that crossed the river that eventful day would be my father-in-law. We have taken part in all community affairs. I served on the school board a number of years and promoted planting caragana trees around the school yard in 1920. I was a member of the United Farmers of Alberta (U.F.A. and U.F.W.A.) since it started in 1913 being chairman for a few years.

We have four boys, all had their early schooling in Enchant. Harold served overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force (R.C.A.F.) in the second world war; he married a Scottish girl in 1945. They reside in Enchant and he works for the P.F.R.A. in Vauxhall, they have a family of five (three girls and two boys), Norman and Leonard live at home and are farming. Roy joined the R.C.A.F. after the war for five years and served three years on the "Dew Line" as radar technician, he is married and has a family of five children.

I think we have the last water windmill still pumping water from the original well frilled by R. Lickiss in 1917; we have callers just to see it work. Highlight in our sunset years was our golden Wedding in May, 1966 when the community sponsored a party in the Community Hall with the true community spirit with gifts, flowers, cake and a lovely program. We love this community and wouldn't live any other place. We have 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. I am 81 years old. We are retired and live on the farm. My hobby is trees, gardening and bird watching from a lawn chair.

From Drybelt Pioneers of Sundial, Enchant and Retlaw, 1967

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