Ray Strachan's Crooked River
Grimshaw, Alberta - Monday, October 29, 2007, by: Ray Strachan

Editor's note: I received both the message from Ray Strachan and this one from Mary Weston a couple of days after the picture essay of Crooked River was posted on October 4, 2007. I took a while to get the images from Ray and then a little longer to scan them for this story.

I look at your Web site every day and love the various Articles, but most of all the Pictures and today's pictures of Crooked River took me back to when we first came to Canada in June of 1948 emigrating form Plymouth, Devon, UK and came to Orly to the wonderful Tatarynovich family now living in Crooked River for many many Years - relatives of my late husband Miki .

Ted Tatarynovich sponsored us to come here - and out of the goodness of their heart they gave us everything they could and for that as a family we are eternally grateful to them and for their ongoing care, love and friendship.

We loved visiting the family Farm in Crooked River and had so many happy times with them and the pictures today made me feel so nostalgic and longing for a quieter life. I relocated here (West Coast) in November 2002 to be close to my son Mark and his wife Barbara but I miss the wide open spaces of the Prairies
and yes - even the cold and snow! But having to make this transition without my husband Miki (we had been married for 55 years) was the hardest part of all, but with the help of my children I was able to do it. We had both planned to come here but unfortunately my husband died before we could make this journey together. My husband was the Chief Electrical Inspector for half of Saskatchewan for many years and we changed our name fromTatarynowicz to Weston which was my Mum's maiden name, for practical purposes because of his work.

My son Jerry has written to you as well Tim and he does the Digital Photography in Edmonton.

Say Hello to dear MikeTatarynovich next time you have coffee with him - and hug him from me OK?

I also enjoy the Greenwater Report so much too.

Yours sincerely and keep posting those lovely Pictures;

Mary Weston

Darlene Mcculough sent me the email of your pics of Crooked River. Never expected to see anything on the computer from there.

I was born in the Tisdale Hospital June 22 1932 but always lived in Crooked River. My Mother
died in the Tisdale Hospital in Nov 1933 so I was raised by my Fathers parents. My Grandfather ,Archie Strachan was the yard foreman at the mill and My Dad Joe and uncle Orval piled lumber at the same mill. They had work all through the depression so we never went short of anything.

My Dad remarried in 1938 and moved to The Pas Man. but I was raised by my Grandparents in Crooked River. It really was a booming town and I wouldnt change my hometown memories for anything. I left there in 1950, just 2 weeks before my 18th birthday. I apprenticed as a Telegraph Operator and was hired by the CNR June 6 1950. I loved Telegraphy and still have a telegraph set in my home. I retired from CN as a Train Dispatcher. Thanks for the pictures. Very nostalgic. If you see Darlene ask her what my cousin Gerry Green of Wpg are planning on building in Crooked River. (ha ha)

When my Grandfather passed away I was given two old, very old suitcases full of pictures. Many of them were of people back in Ontario where my Great Grandparents came from and I have never known who they are or where they fit in to the Strachan Picture. We held a Strachan family reunion in Tisdale in 1988. I took both suitcases of pictures and spread them out like a smorg and told the relatives to take what they wanted. I still had hundreds left which I brought home. I took out the ones that I felt pertained especially to myself and kept the rest in those old suitcases in the house. Finally I outgrew the space in my house so I took them out to a building at the back of my yard where they survived very well until this past winter. The Town piled snow 15 feet high all along the back alley and mother nature piled it eight feet high all along the front of the building. So my building got flooded and earlier this evening I went out to get the suitcases and found a terrible mess. Pics mostly ruined and I also found that nobody seemed too interested to take pictures of the town buildings. So there was nothing like a picture of the main St in its heyday or really any buildings. But is it ever stored in my memory.

My youngest aunt who I was raised with was 12 years older than me. She was married I think at age 18-19 to a Harvey Hayes. I have two photo envelopes returned to her from Hellofs Studio,Tisdale. This would have been sometime in the 40s. Ill have to take those negatives in and see if they can still be developed. I have no idea what is on them. They are full picture sized negatives which I can't remember when, or if ever I have seen the full sized negatives. I have a picture of a young lady (unknown) who sent a picture to my mother which was taken in 1929, this was before she and my dad married (1931 when she was 18) What interested me was that this young lady wrote a note on the back and there is also a stamped logo which reads "Jerretts Photo Art Studio, Tisdale Sk. Everything else I have ever seen is Jerritts,Melfort. Wonder if they moved to Melfort sometime after 1929?.

I have a booklet of pictures

  1. showing a train snowplow running past Crooked River.
  2. a train of logs loaded on flat cars.
  3. A picture of my Grandfather Archie Strachan out at the winter camp where they cut down the trees. This was located close to a train siding, place called Bannock. That would be between
    Peesane and Mistatim. He is walking beside a very large sleigh piled with logs, tons of them being pulled by a catterpillar tractor which is headed to the train siding and they would load them onto flat cars. When they had a train full, it would be pulled into the mill at Crooked River and unloaded onto or near the Mill Pond which would be filled with logs before winter was over.
  4. shows them loading the flatcars with a big crane.
  5. same, different angle.(omitted from sequence)
  6. just a pile of logs.
  7. A full train of logs and luckily whoever took the pic took it fairly close up but at an angle that got the old steam engine in. Oh I loved hearing the log train coming down the East hill in the middle of the night with its whistle blowing ever so softly all the way down the hill. Just moaning. It was beautiful sound. I was probably around eight at the time.

    A lot of work was done by horses around the mill but they also used caterpillar tractors.

I have a pic of who I would imagine is my Dad and my Uncle on top of a partially built lumber pile. Apparently they are showing off for a couple of young ladies. They would build a pile as high as they could by just carrying the lumber and placing it correctly on the pile. By correctly, I mean it had to be placed so that there was a space between each board as the lumber was green and had to have airflo through the pile to dry it.

When the pile got to high to just carry the lumber and place it on, they would stick a steel bar between the openings in the pile and it was my Uncles job to jack it up to my Dad who would drop it into place. Because of the jacking motion for ten hours a day six days a week my Uncle had a muscle on his stomach as big and hard as a British army helmet, honestly. My Dad had lots of muscle too but spread over his body more. On top of the pile when he would grab the lumber and drag it onto the pile he had to wear a heavy leather apron. If he wouldn't have had that, his jeans would have been worn through before lunchtime. He had to drop the boards in the exact spot. When the pile was finished it was exactly square, no tilting piles. Worse yet for the two of them,their Dad, my Grandad was the yard foreman,therefore their boss. He was a very proud man, so had to have the two best lumber pilers in Canada ,if not the world. I believe in my heart that that is just what he had. I have a couple of pictures of parts of the mill, but not the best parts.I wish I had pictures of,the burner,the jackladder, the greenchain etc. They were very interesting parts.

I have four pics of general interest. One with a team of horses pulling a dray with a huge steel wheel on it.The wheel would have came from up in the mill and ran with a huge leather belt to run the heavy duty machinery that needed Mary to be run. Another, the lumber yard with mill in distance.Another, a classic. I made up a little story for you on this one.

I was home for the weekend at Crooked River,from my job as Telegrapher in the Chief Dispatchers Office in Prince Albert. We had a little party in Rose and Lawrence McCraes suite, above their General Store. These travelling,professional entertainers in the picture,on Right Alex Fairbairn,conductor of the trio, Charlie Twyver, who married my aunt after she divorced Harvey Hayes, Charlie was an internationally reknowned pianist, but perferred to work for The Saskatchewan Department of Highways, and Joe Kozakavich who made millions of recordings with his wonderful voice, but preferred to work as the Municipal Secretary,Crooked River Sk. Alex was my highschool principal in Cr River after he came home from his job as Flying Instructor during WWII.

Last picture, three gentlemen standing near a bulldozer. Man in centre, Lawrence McCrae, who owned the machine, on the right Herb Canada, one of Crooked River's characters. Leaning on his shotgun. He loved hunting ducks and he and Lawrence were always badgering each other. On the left, machine operator Frank White.Lawrence of course now living in Tisdale, Herb passed, don't know status of Frank.

The Business area of Crooked River,main St etc. From South to North, West side...Lee and Charlies Cafe..Red and White Store, Harpolds..Modern Hotel and Beer Parlour,Harpolds. Barber Shop and Pool Room, John Welgan..Garage and Service Station, Geo Peddy...Cafe, Mrs Head
and Daughters...Community Hall, dance every weekend...Room and Boarding House,Lucci Shultz... Little Schoolo,Gr. 1-2....Accross the Street North to S...Anglican Church...Prokops Shoe repair and Dry goodsstore...Mr and Mrs Chris Green House, Mrs Green Telephone Switchboard, Mr Green ,Reeve and JP....Mr.Garnett, Confectionery Store...Meat Market, Lawrence Mccrea,later
expanded to General Store,...General Store Mr and Mrs Hockey...Post Office,Mr and Mrs Stoker Sr.... Cafe,The McConnells...Middle and High School two rooms.....turning East at that corner of Main, Livery Barn, Sam Green.......Boarding and Rooming House,The St Amands....General Store, Bill and Sadie Lyons.......Municipal Office, Secretary Martin Sawchuk. CNR Station,trains came into CR from N.S.E.W....And of course The Sawmill and Planer.

We young boys always got hired during summer holidays to pile Blockwood, Slabs etc.,for us kids 12 years or more, first wage I remember .15 cents per hour, then jumping to .25 cents, 10 hrs per day, 6 days perweek. That was darn good spending money in those days. Oh yes, there was also A United Church, and Later a RC Church.....Mr and Mrs Bill Peoples sold Milk and Cream

I have tried to go back as far as I possibly could and state who owned the businesses way back when, On The General Store where I showed Bill and Sadie Lyons. That should have been Mr and Mrs Fairbairn SR. And The Mill was,The B F Harris Lumber Co.

Ray Strachan

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Monday, October 29, 2007
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