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Calling Keystone Home

The first cabin Dad built was made of logs near the creek running across our quarter section. It measured about 12 by 18 feet. He built part of the cabin into the bank of the ravine, and earth was banked around the outside of it to deflect the wind, snow and cold.

The windows were at ground level. One had to descend three steps from ground level to enter. The roof was covered with the customary tar paper and slabs. Flour sack curtains divided the inside of the cabin into four rooms. The boys occupied one small bedroom and the girls another. Mom and Dad had a bedroom, and the fourth room was the kitchen. As the family increased, Dad added more rooms.

The kitchen contained a wood-burning cook stove with a reservoir and a tall heater. We heated the house with wood - a plentiful and free source of energy. Then, of course, sitting prominently in the centre of the room was Mom's treasured oak table and chairs that she had brought from Oklahoma. Winters were bitterly cold and the snow was deep. The settlers were not used to this type of weather. I can remember my father-in-law, Willis Day saying, "We bought winter clothes before leaving Oklahoma, but they were not warm enough for the Canadian winters. It was December when we reached Winnipeg and it was so cold we had to look down to see if we had any clothes on at all."

From Gwen Hooks' The Keystone Legacy: Recollections of a Black Settler.Reprinted with the kind permission of the author.

See also:

[back] [First People and Settlers] [New Beginnings] [Adventurous Albertans]

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