A short family history of my great-grandfather, William A. Howlett

After my grandfather died in 2012, My mom, going through his old stuff, found this document he wrote in which he paints his family history in some pretty broad strokes. In it, he manages to sum up the lives of a number of people over 100 years into a 2 page word doc. It seems like the kind of information that someone searching for genealogy stuff might want to find, so I figure it might be useful to have on the internet. If that describes you, dear reader, well, I am pleased to be related, or at least that you are interested. thanks for taking the initiative.

Going through it, it’s really fairly dry, but if you try to unpack some of it, there’s some pretty good narrative in there.

For example:

In the spring of 1906, my parents came to Tisdale via rail and settled on the homestead.

They first lived in a tent, and later in a shack located on the adjoining quarter section. The first year they cultivated ten acres with the aid of three horses and a Verity walking plow. The horses died of swamp fever, and they turned to the use of four oxen. In 1913, they purchased an I.H.C. model tractor and threshing machine. Their first car was a Model T Touring, purchased in 1916.

Grandpa wrote this about my great grandfather. It’s a few matter-of-fact sentences, but I can only imagine that was quite the 11 years, going from living in a tent on a farm, using livestock and elbow grease to work the land, and ending up owning farming machinery and automobiles. I bet there were a lot of intense emotions felt by William and Isabella Howlett. Intensely cold, in a tent, on the prairie, in the winter, how could one not question the decisions that led them there? And barely a decade later, driving home from a auto dealer in your new-to-you Model T; home to your well equipped farm with all this new-fangled machinery; to the land you’d been working and home that wasn’t there when you started. There must have been a great sense of accomplishment, right?

Anyway, here it is, internet, use it as you will.

William A. Howlett Family

(excerpted  from Ridgedale Memories – Everything Changes but the Memories) 1992

Submitted by William D. Howlett

My father, William Alexander Howlett was born July 1, 1884 in Waterloo County, Ontario; his parents emigrated from England.  In 1890, the family moved to the Portage la Prairie area of Manitoba.  Initially, my father worked on the railway at Crooked River and Moose Jaw.  In 1905 he filed for title of his homestead on the SE 36-46-16-W2 which is approximately five miles southwest of Ridgedale.

That winter, he returned to Manitoba and married Isabella Marion Woodcock of Keyes, Manitoba.  She was born in Petrolia, Ontario in 1883 and moved with her family to Keyes in 1890.  In the spring of 1906, my parents came to Tisdale via rail and settled on the homestead.

They first lived in a tent, and later in a shack located on the adjoining quarter section.  The first year they cultivated ten acres with the aid of three horses and a Verity walking plow.  The horses died of swamp fever, and they turned to the use of four oxen. In 1913, they purchased an I.H.C. model tractor and threshing machine. Their first car was a Model T Touring, purchased in 1916.

Food in the early years consisted mainly of wild fruit, rabbits and deer meat.  They grew their own vegetables, and obtained the rest of their groceries from Star City which was the closest town at that time.  Food costs were $2.50 for 100 lbs. flour, $5.00 for 100 lbs. sugar, and $1.00 for seven tins of salmon.

In 1923, their home burned to the ground while they were away.  They purchased a house in Ridgedale and moved it to the farm.  They added to it in later years.

My father died Aug. 3, 1961 and mother died in June 1965.  They are both buried in St. Peters Anglican Church Cemetery adjacent to their farm.  My grandfather, John Howlett is also buried there as he came to live with us in his later years.

My parents had five children, Elwood Leslie, born Oct. 1 1906; John Laurence, born Aug 7, 1908; Olive Marion (Wilson) born May 24, 1917; myself, William Delmer born July  2, 1920; and Everett, born Feb 8, 1924.

Elwood spent his entire life farming in the Ridgedale area.  He married Mildred McCorriston (nee Blakely).  Mildred had five children from her previous marriage.  Elwood and Mildred had twins, Ann and James William Elwood, born in December 1941.  Ann married Charles Hancock and lives in Humboldt, Sask.  They have three boys.  Jim is a school principal in Saskatoon and is married to Greta.  They have one son, Jeffery.  Elwood died December, 1979, Mildred has since remarried and lives in Quebec.

Laurence married Edith Elizabeth Newton of Carrot River, Sask. in 1932.  They first farmed in the Ridgedale area, and lived near the Carrot River on the quarter section adjacent to the Meiers’s farm.  In 1940, they moved to Goldfields, finally settling in Trail, BC in 1942.  They had two children, Lorne (born 1934) and Caroll (born 1942).  Caroll married Don Barr and lives in Kimberley BC.  They have three children; Lorne lives in the family home at Trail, BC.  Laurence died in October 1958, and Edith died in January, 1986.

Olive married Charles H. Wilson in 1938, and moved to Goldfields.  In the mid-forties, they returned to Ridgedale and lived on the family farm until 1948 when they moved to Vancouver, BC.  They had three children; Sharon, (born November, 1942); Marlene, (born May, 1950); and Gary (born August, 1953).  Sharon is married to Andy Pappas and lives in Denver, Colorado.  They have one daughter.  Marlene married Ray Robinson and lives in Vancouver.  Gary is married to Joan and lives in Delta, BC with their three children.  Olive died in March, 1986; Charles is now living in Delta.

I, (William Delmer) attended Old Ridgedale Rural School from 1927-1936.  The teachers I remember are Miss Campbell, Miss Gordon and Miss H. Frieda Chapman.  I attended Ridgedale High School from 1936-1940, and remember Mr. Molberg, the principal and Mr. Rempel who taught History and French.  Our farm was approximately five miles from Ridgedale.  I was fortunate to be able to walk or ski, one mile cross country to the Parbst farm where I would ride in to school with Bill Parbst.

I left the Ridgedale area in 1940, and in 1941 joined the R.C.A.F.  I served overseas as an air navigator from March, 1943 to August, 1945.  After the war, I attended the University of Saskatchewan, College of Commerce.  I married Bertha Marie Derdall of Outlook, Sask.  We lived in Saskatoon, Regina and have been in Calgary for the past 31 years, where I was employed as an accountant with Gulf Oil Canada.  We have one daughter, Linda Marie, who is married to David M. Lathrop.  They also live in Calgary.  We have two grandsons, Michael and Paul.

Everett also took his schooling in the Ridgedale area.  In his early years, he worked at several jobs across Canada.  In the late fifties, he returned to the home farm to be with my aging parents.  After their deaths, he farmed for several years until he moved to Prince Albert, and finally to Melfort where he died in 1986.

2 thoughts on “A short family history of my great-grandfather, William A. Howlett

  1. My dad, Morris McIntyre farmed the 1/2 section SE of Bill Howletts. He used to work for Bill in his younger years. In the mid 50’s I remember Everett (Bub) coming to visit at our farm. I remember in 1955 at the Golden Jubilee parade in Tisdale Bill driving an old wooden spoked wheel Studebaker car. Everett was following it in a new 1955 Studebaker car. Dad and mom left the farm the fall of 1966 and moved to Melfort where they retired. Dad passed away Dec 31st, 2000. Mom passed away Dec 25, 2003.

    • Hi Wayne, Thanks for the comment – nice to hear the memories and know the connection. My grandpa loved Studebakers and owned several, he had a 1964 (or thereabouts) Lark parked behind his house for years and years in Calgary. Sounds like that may have run in the family!

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