News ‘n’ views from Baljennie

The spring has been rather chilly with the winds blowing each day, it seems. There have been a lot of tumbleweeds rolling by. On the farm, we call them Russian thistles. With every bounce, seeds get shaken out to start more new plants.

The winds are enough to scatter light garbage and rubbish all over the place on our streets and highways leading into Battleford. A big thank you goes out to a resident of Battlefords Bridge Road Condos who has spent many hours out gathering up all the trash. He walks out through rain or shine. It’s one way to get your daily exercise. You are doing a great job, Paul, just keep it up and many thanks. It does look good out there. Makes you wonder why so many people toss out so much trash.

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Sometimes the winds does blow things out of passing vehicles and you never know what you might find. When I lived on the farm, every day I used to walk up to six miles, and all the things you can find would really surprise you. Lots of garbage as well. When our children were younger they would walk the ditches looking for pop and beer bottles. They would come home and get them all washed up before taking them to the exchange depots for money. They were happy as that was their spending money.

It has been a late, cold dry spring. About all that is green so far is the grass. The trees are in bud ready to leaf out. A few look a little green. There needs to be more sunny warm days.

In spite of this cold spring, pretty well all the farmers are out on the land, starting to seed their crops. The crop report talks of a low percentage of the seeding being done so far. Each week, that report will change.

Now that the weather has got mild enough for the highways department to do their annual highway repair work, some major repairs are being done on the Battle River Bridge on Highway 40 west of Battleford. There is one-lane traffic.

Work is to be done on the North Saskatchewan River bridges. Repect the workers and take care. These areas have all been posted with signed.

Also, watch out the moving of wide farm machinery. Every day something is being moved. Just slow down and take care while passing.

On a recent phone call from a resident of North Battleford, he wanted to know if I knew where Willowfield area was. The answer was, “Yes, I do.” He went on to tell how, about three weeks ago, an out-of-control fire had engulfed what used to be called Pritchard’s Camp in the Willowfieldarea and pretty well all the old vacant houses and buildings were burned. After the fire, the family went back to rummage through the remains of where George Pritchard’s old home was. They found an old tobacco tin, with the lid still intact. Taking off the lid, they found a roll of store receipts written in pencil, tarnished with age and with burned spots from the fire, but there were still legible. They all dated back to the 1960s for George Pritchard, Norman Falcon, Pat Whitford, Morris Falcon and Willard Ouellet. They had all come from K.J. Mitchell store in Baljennie. Willowfield was just on the west edge of the RM of Glenside, where only a school was open from 1939 to 1952. After it closed, all the buildings, school, teacherage and barn were sold and moved away. The Pritchard Camp was not too far from the school.

George Pritchard came from Pake Pelltier in southern Saskatchewan. He moved to Turtle Lake, then to Willowfield where he bought a homestead in the 1920s. He married Mary Percell and they raised a family of 15 children. Some of his children went to Willowfield School until it closed. He then bought a section of land, still in the RM of Glenside, in the Baljennie area only three or four miles from the old Baljennie School. Most of the students all walked to school, but were driven by a team of horses and a sleigh in the winter months. They all made good friends with all the other school children and all had some happy times. George Pritchard hired a lot of men to help him do his business of picking rocks and cutting firewood for the different local people and he kept them well-employed all the time. They also had families that all came to Baljennie School. George also had a small herd of cattle and horses on the farm. He liked to do a lot of horse trading.

In 1973, he sold his land in Baljennie and moved back to the homestead at Willowfield, close to Cando. As he aged, he had some health problems, but did live to celebrate his 106th birthday in March of 2004. When he passed away in August of 2004, he was laid to rest in the Battleford Cemetery.

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