A GOOD YEAR
Grain Growing At East Beaver Lake
by J.B. Steele
The white settlers at the Lake this year were the three Steeles, Richard, Godfrey and James; Godfrey having returned to the lake accompanied by his younger brother, J.B. This year they worked in unison, putting in some eight acres of wheat, five of barley and two of oats. The reason more was not put in was on account of the fact that all three took typhoid fever in May and were unable to do what they had planned. I should have mentioned another white settler, who came there before spring - Major Butler. He put no crop in and was really a drawback to the others, who had done a lot of hard work for him during the winter for which they received no pay. The rainfall was ample, and the growth excellent, but a frost on the morning of August 15th injured the potatoes somewhat; the grain was not hurt at all and yielded very well indeed. Wheat went forty bushels per acre, barley thirty-five, and oats eighty. In 1882 and 1883 the grain had been threshed by horses and oxen; this year an old tread-mill of Beaupre's was utilized. It was run by Chamberlayne, McNicol and Brunette of Fort Saskatchewan. They managed by exercising infinite patience and a grand capacity for fixing breaks to keep it going till all the wheat and oats and part of the barley were threshed. The machine then went "smash" so effectually that it was carted to the "bone-yard" finally and forever. The rest of the barley was threshed with oxen. As the mill was at work, off and on, for two weeks, during which time ten men had to be fed, though more than half the time idle, the experiment was not very profitable to the pioneers.
The spring of 1885 ushered in the North West Rebellion; during which the Steeles and the loyal Halfbreeds did their duty as scouts. As a consequence of Riels' fiasco no more grain was grown in the settlement till 1888. This was a wet year and the crops and the yields of the same were heavy.
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Transcript reprinted courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta