The Town of Indian Head


Peter Christopher Bradley

I became conscious of my existence when I was 2 years old. I was born in Sault Ste.
Marie, Ontario and moved to Indian Head, Saskatchewan when I was one year old. My
sister Verla was a year and a half older, my brother John was 5 years older.
We lived in a one and a half storey red insulbrick house on Houghton Street, right
across from the forestry lab where my dad did his research. He was an entomologist.
My dad George Arthur Bradley, Brad as he was known, was employed with the federal
government Department of Forestry. He also did some of his work at the Forest
Research Station just on the outskirts of town. An Experimental Farm specializing in
agricultural research was also located in Indian Head.

Dad stood 6’6” tall and towered above most other men. Furry eyebrows, horizontal lines
on his forehead and a moustache on a distinctive kind face set my father apart. He was
well educated. He was strict with us probably the same as his parents had been strict
with him. He was more conservative and reserved than my friends’ fathers.
Mom had a strong stubborn streak in her. Once she formed an opinion, it was hard to
convince her otherwise. She was very spiritual, kind and compassionate.

Indian Head was a thriving farm town 50 miles east of Regina on the No. 1 Hwy. .
Population about 1200.
I lived in Indian Head from 1949 to the summer of 1956. It was a quaint and
beautiful….still is. Many of the heritage homes are brick with verandas and lots of
character. Our house wasn’t one of the classic Indian Head homes. It was a one and a
half storey home covered with red insulbrick. The house was heated with fuel oil. The
furnace was in the dirt dug out basement with the large square heating vent in the living
room floor. There were wooden vents in the downstairs ceilings to carry the heat to the

On cold winter mornings my mother and we three kids would stand on the large square
heating vent in the living room to warm up. It was right above the oil furnace in the
basement. Sometimes when something fell down the vent, my dad would remove the
vent cover and lower me down by hanging onto my feet and I would pick the item up.
It was so cold in the winter time, my dad would pile snow up against the house around
the entire perimeter. He would also pile snow over the outside oil tank. That would
prevent the oil from thickening so much it would make the furnace stop.
My brother’s job was to bring in the coal from the garage. He would carry a metal 5
gallon bucket out to the garage, shovel in the coal and bring it back in the house for the
kitchen stove.

The town’s movie theatre was 10 cents. A haircut was a quarter. The barber shop in
Indian Head had a pool hall in the back as did most prairie barber shops. This barber
had a couple of ferrets to get rid of rats in the dirt basements. He had tight collars on
them so they couldn’t eat the rats. He’d let them go and in a few minutes the squealing
had stopped and all rats were dead.

The steam engines would empty their clinkers. They were left in large still smoking piles
in the rail yard. The clinkers didn’t go to waste. The town used them to cover the mud in
the lanes and provide traction. They really hurt if you fell on them. They were quite
sharp. They looked a bit like glass….blue and white and curled into thin pieces.
My friend Keith Davies and I would go down to the train station. Sometimes the station
master would ask us to grab the hoop from the train due in soon. We were more than
happy to do that. The train would slow down, the engineer would hold out a bamboo
hoop with a long tail on it for the handle. The engineer would reach out and pass the
hoop to us as we ran along side the train. Messages for the station master were
attached to the hoop with elastic bands. We felt quite proud and important when we
helped out the station master.

Steam engines stopped for coal, emptied their clinkers and filled up with water. The
water tower had a long spout on it which the engineer would swing over to the steam
engine. We would ask the engineer if we could go for a ride in the yard. They would let
us up… smelled like an overheating car radiator. very hot, humid and noisy. You could
see the fire burning in the fire box through the dark mica window. The air had the acrid
scent of burning coal. They would give us a ride around the yard, the huge steam
engine chugging away. I was resting my arm on the dark green leather armrest that was
cracked and worn thin with so much use. The engineers wore blue coveralls smudged
with coal dust. It was so exciting to be up in those engines!
One day the circus train stopped in Indian Head. Lots of townsfolk walked down to the
station and we were allowed to walk through some of the cars seeing lions in cages, the
monkeys, and a variety of animals. I was scared and impressed at the same time.

Diesel locomotives were beginning to take over from the steam engines. For a while,
both were being used. One of the first trains pulled by a diesel locomotive stopped in
Indian Head and again townsfolk toured the loud humming beast. Narrow passage ways
between loud humming engines….all the different dials and gauges in the
passageways…so much different than the steam engines.

Mostly everyone from town went down to the train station to see Queen Elizabeth and
Prince Phillip on a whistle stop. They spoke a few words to the crowd. What impressed
me the most was everyone yelling “Hip Hip Hooray” three times. Anyone with a hat on
took it off and threw it in the air. Quite the celebration albeit short.

Verla and I loved riding ponies. We’d walk down to Mrs. Sweet’s place and rent shetland
ponies to ride around the corral with. I think it was 10 cents an hour. Eventually we
began riding horses. Sometimes our family would go out for a ride together on
horseback. Verla and I loved riding. Little did I know that Verla’s whole life would revolve
around the love of horses to this very day. She had her own horse by the time she was
13 years old. She and her husband Mike Olito live on a small farm just on the southern
outskirts of Winnipeg in Howden, Manitoba. Mike is an artist and Verla trains and races
thoroughbreds at Assiniboia Downs Race Track in Winnipeg. They have always lived a
very idyllic life. They may not have much money. Their love for each other and the
freedom they have enjoyed all these years provided them with a very rich life.

I was by myself when I decided to go into the little Anglican church one day. We went
there regularly for Sunday service. I found some crayons with nothing to draw on except
the walls. I think I told my parents that I went to the church. They saw my handiwork and
cleaned it up.

Speaking of church, it was one of the days, Easter or Christmas. My mother put the
turkey in the oven and we went to church. The coal fired stove oven overheated and the
turkey began burning. Smoke billowed out of the house. The volunteer fire fighters were
called in by the neighbours. They thought the house was on fire. They decided that the
best way to tackle it was to first chop a hole in the roof which they did promptly. They
must have been embarrassed when they realized only the turkey was burning.

Our old house had a knot hole in one of the floor boards in the dining room….right
where my mother liked to do the ironing. She shrieked loudly when a mouse came out
through the knot hole and ran around her feet.

The school was a large stone building. It had cone shaped paper cups in the
washrooms where you could have a drink of water from the tap. I guess they didn’t have
water fountains then. I don’t remember anything about Grade 1 except I got the strap in
front of the class. I don’t remember doing anything wrong but it may have had
something to do with my eraser. It wasn’t a great way to begin school life. I certainly was
afraid of my old spinster teacher. She had a wart on the end of her tongue and ruled
with fear. Another traumatic incident happened after school one day. A boy in my class
lived right across from the school. I went over to his place to play, then we crossed the
street and played in the school yard. Our teacher came out and scolded us for not going
home. As punishment she brought us back into the school, put us in a classroom and
told us we were going to stay in the school overnight. We were really upset, the lights
were off and we didn’t know what to do except cry. Finally she came back and let us out.

The Nichols family owned a car dealership in town. Their daughter and I were friends.
She invited me over for a visit. Her mom made us jam tarts from the left over dough she
had. Hot out of the oven, the tarts were so yummy. I thought they were the best thing I
had ever tasted. The Nichols were getting ready to do some landscaping as they had a
big pile of black soil in their back yard. Her father told us not to touch it because we
would wake up the bear sleeping inside the pile. We avoided the pile. I imagined a
huge, ferocious black bear sleeping in the pile. We certainly didn’t want to wake him up.

My parents had a shiny black 1949 Studebaker in our old garage. I don’t remember
riding in it. They sold the Studebaker to save money when my grandparents gave them
their old faded green ’37 Ford. It had a tall stick shift on the floor with an ivory shift knob
on the top of it. That old car smell appealed to me. Beige velvet was the finishing in the
interior. Running boards on the sides were covered in grooved black rubber. My brother
John used to stand on the running boards so he could spot bottles in the ditches as my
dad drove slowly along the dirt roads just outside of town. My mom would have Ginger
the cocker spaniel on her lap whenever we went in the car. Mom would also taught us
what to do if we were going to crash. If she yelled “DUCK”, we would duck our heads
down towards the floor of the car. That was a long before seat belts were thought of.!
The Tuttles bought any empty bottles people brought to them. They owned a trucking
company. It was a great way to make a few cents when you were young.

Benny Holden lived behind us. He was a bit younger. Once Benny had a dime and I had
a nickel. Not knowing the value, Benny wanted the nickel because it was bigger so we
traded. When his mother found out, she asked me to trade back. It was easy to tell that
she was a bit irritated. Benny was disappointed and I was confused. I’m sure she
thought I had tricked Benny but that was not the case. We just didn’t know the values.

One evening as we drove in the old Ford out to our cottage at Katepwe, my dad spotted
a swarm of honey bees on a telephone pole. Being an entomologist, he knew just what
to do. He opened up the trunk of the car and with his bare hands scooped up the queen,
put her in the trunk and all the other bees followed. He closed the trunk with the bees in
it and we headed back home. That was the start of his bee keeping days. He kept the
hives out at the Forestry Farm and one in our back yard. Getting ready to work on the
hives, he would put on his white coveralls complete with hat and netting around his
face. He would put elastics around his pant legs and sleeves. One time a bee got under
the netting and stung him on the eyelid which swelled up to enormous proportions which
I thought was interesting. We had an extractor in the front veranda of our house. The
story goes that one time I threw one of my dirty socks into the extractor….of course I
don’t remember.

Another time John who was 5 years older than me, decided that we should smoke the
bees in the back yard hive. He lit the smoker as he had seen dad do, and he started
squeezing the billows making the smoke come out. I can’t recall what happened….we
didn’t get stung but we sure were in trouble when dad got home. “ You just wait until
your father gets home” my mom would say if we were bad.

I liked the tall caragana trees in the back yard along the lane. You could hear the seed
pods popping in the hot weather. I also liked the gladiolas my parents had in front of the
veranda….very beautiful and lots of them. I touched a wasp that had been trapped in
the veranda. It was buzzing against one of the many window panes. That was my first
bee sting. I cried and hollered loudly.

Swimming at the main beach at Lake Katepwa, I almost drowned. I was standing on my tip toes with water covering my lips but not my nose. I couldn’t move for fear of
drowning. Luckily someone saw me and came to my rescue. There was a tall steel slide
at the beach that you could slide down and into the water. My mother standing by it and
trying to get me to go down. I finally did go and accelerated much faster than I
expected. Swoosh I went into the water full blast with bubbles everywhere. I went deep
since I was built like a skinny arrow. One thing I didn’t like was going into the women’s
change room with my mom. All the ladies in white bathing caps would be commenting
on me.

Duck hunting was a favourite pastime on the Canadian Prairies. I was around 6 years
old and we would all go with dad to Dry Lake to hunt. Sometimes we would go out for
the evening shoot. Other times we would get up in the morning when it was still dark
and get ready to go. The ducks were so delicious…all grain fed and plump. It was
exciting to go hunting with the family.

We still had our milk delivered by a horse drawn milk wagon. By habit, the old horse
knew which house to stop at. The milk bottles were the ones with the large bulge on the
top for the cream to separate into.

There was an orphanage in Indian Head called The Orange Home. A boy from the
orphanage came home with me after school one day. When we walked in my mother
greeted us and gave each of us a fresh orange. He was quite surprised and said that
they only receive half an orange for breakfast. I was shocked that they’d only give them
half an orange each. I thought “what a tough life it must be living at the Orange Home.” !
Another friend from school asked me to have lunch at his place. His parents owned the
Indian Head Hotel. It was a big deal for me sitting at the lunch counter in the hotel
restaurant having lunch for free!

The Rainbow Cafe was the Chinese restaurant in town. It had a colourful neon rainbow
for a sign.I used to buy candy there. One time I bought candy and it turned out to be
these horrible cough drops. I can’t remember the name, they were a tan colour in a
square shape that had the corners of the square clipped off. I had to throw them away.

The town’s wading pool was always popular during summer as there was no swimming
pool. The wading pool was quite old, only a few feet deep but filled with kids on the hot
days of summer.

My dad decided it was time for me to have my own bank account and learn about
money. One day we went to the Royal Bank on the corner. It was a tall impressive stone
building with high ceilings inside. Dad helped me open my first account. I received a
bank book showing the one dollar that my dad had just put into my account. I think it
was about 2 weeks later when I went to the bank by myself, withdrew the dollar and
spent it on candy.

Candy was my weakness. I could never get enough candy. I loved candy! One day
while poking around in dad’s dresser, I discovered some very large silver coins. Some
were silver dollars and some were 50 cent pieces. I took a 50 cent coin down to the
corner store on the way to school….I think it was called McBrides. I gave the
storekeeper the coin and proceeded to ask him to fill a paper bag with a variety of candy
until the bag was almost full and the 50 cents was used up. I brought the bag home
being careful no one saw me with it. I went to my room, had a few candies and stuffed
the bag of candies into the springs of my brother’s bunk bed above me. I thought I was
pretty smart, hiding the candies. Everything was fine until that night when my brother
John started jumping on his bed and shaking the whole bunk bed until the bag of
candies came loose. The whole bag headed for the floor and past my grasping hands
and hit the floor scattering the candies everywhere. My brother was shocked and yelled
out asking me where I got all the candies from. My dad heard the ruckus and soon I was
confessing my sins with tears flowing freely. He went to the storekeeper and gave him 2
quarters in exchange for the 50 cent piece I spent there.

Verla and I had lots of fun playing with the homeless alley cats in the alley behind Main
Street. Bobby Hall lived above his dad’s pharmacy and he’d meet us in the lane. We
spent hours with those cats…so many of them.

Evan Flude’s dad owned the Indian Head News newspaper. He was in Verla’s class at
school. Verla came home one day with her name typeset in metal. It was a gift from
Evan who had taken a liking to her.

In the winter, my brother and his friends used to go down to the creek to skate. My
brother still has scars in his eyebrows from hitting the ice with his head. Somehow he
seemed to land on an eyebrow and split it open. I was too young to skate there but I
would go too. I remember the strange feeling of looking through the crystal clear ice and
feeling that the ice could break and I could fall in.

In winter we sometimes had a skating party on Lake Katepwa. The adults shovelled the
snow off the ice. After skating we had a barbecue. I was freezing the whole time!
Someone told me to keep banging my hands together to keep them warm in my mitts.
That was futile.

Someone had what we called a “Bombideer” …that’s how we pronounced Bombardier
on the Prairies. I had never seen one until the time we had at good snowfall. I was
playing in the snow across the street from our house. Suddenly this noisy machine
came flying through the snow, rounded the corner on the lab lawn and went straight for
me. I had never been so scared. I did think some kind of monster. It was the old style
machine made of wood with port hole windows on the sides.

The Munn’s were our next door neighbours on Houghton Street. Mr. Munn sold my dad
the old 5 hp Johnson SeaHorse for $10 that had been sitting under snow for a few
winters in his back yard. Dad bought a small 12 foot welded aluminum boat from
Eaton’s in Regina. The boat had varnished oak gunnels and transom. Dad bought a
nice pair of wood oars which I carried down to the shoemaker in Indian Head to have
him install leather sleeves and a leather rim. The leather sleeves were to stop the wood
oars from wearing on the oar locks and the rim of leather to stop the oars from slipping
down through the locks. I loved rowing that boat before I was allowed to use the engine.

Baseball was a great sport on the Prairies. Fierce competition existed between towns. I
do remember some African Americans living in Indian Head. It was baseball that
brought them to the town and I believe some of them settled permanently in Indian
Head. They seemed to live in one area, close to the fair grounds and baseball field.

Some Indian Head houses had a creative look to them with a menagerie of small pieces
of broken glass. These were applied to the surface of wet stucco. I liked one house just
down the street from us on Houghton with this interesting glass finish. Just about as
many colours as you could think of were imbedded all over the exterior. You didn’t want
to brush against them as some of them had sharp edges. Indian Head has some of the
most gorgeous old homes on the Canadian Prairies.

I can remember playing shinny on the street in front of our house using frozen road
apples left behind by the dairy horse’s behind. I’m sure that probably happened in other
Saskatchewan towns as well. Sometimes my dad would build an ice rink in back yard.
Unfortunately one day I whacked him in the nose with my hockey stick as I was winding
up for a face-off against my brother John. My dad was supposed to drop the puck but
that was interrupted as fresh ruby red blood came gushing from his nose onto the white

My first skating lessons were on an old pair of double bladed kid’s skates. I was pushing
a chair around on the ice trying to stay upright. I never did learn to skate well…weak
ankles maybe.

After World War II, the federal government distributed the army surplus vehicles to
government departments who could use them. The forestry lab had an army vehicle
called The Hub. It was army green and huge wheels on it. It had a large cab with a
round roof hatch you could open, stand up and have a great view. One day my dad took
us out in it to where a huge number of owls were nesting. The owls were so mad at us
being there, swooping down and screeching at us. It was frightening and exciting.

The Santa Claus Parade was always a delightful sight in Indian Head. I was so excited
especially when Santa appeared in his sleigh pulled by real reindeer or so I thought. I
learned later that the reindeer were actually Mrs. Sweet’s horses outfitted with deer

Sometimes after a good snow, some of the farmers would drive their kids to school in a
horse drawn cutter. If we were fast enough, we would jump on the sleigh’s runners and
get a ride to school.

Going to the butcher shop with my mom was always an adventure. Jup the butcher was
missing half of one arm. No matter, he was still the butcher, quite a jovial man too. Jup’s
shop floor was covered in large wood shavings. There was an open knot hole in the
floor that everyone knew about. A cat living under the butcher shop would put his paw
through the knothole and start feeling around until someone put a small piece of meat
by the knothole and the paw would feel it and pull it down through. Ginger would be
waiting outside for his treat. Jup would wrap a dog bone in butcher paper. Ginger would
carry it in his mouth, drooling all the way. He would unwrap it as soon as we arrived

Townsfolk didn’t have home deep freezers then. Jup had a locker plant in his butcher
shop. You could buy your meat in quantity when it was on sale and store it in your meat
lock. When the huge door of the walk in freezer opened, we walked right into into clouds
of steam from the warm air rushing in. The freezer air made you catch your breath it
was so cold. The lockers were made of wood which were numbered. You provided your
own lock.

Televisions were becoming popular in the mid fifties. Our neighbours, the Munns,
bought one and invited our family over to watch it. The first program I ever watched was
Walt Disney. What a fabulous show! It was magic even if it was only black and white!
We didn’t have our own tv until a few years later.

I loved living in Indian Head and learning all the things you need to know in life. Like
driving an old truck around by pushing on the starter button. A friend and I climbed into a dusty old truck that was sitting in an empty lot. We pushed the starter button and to our surprise, the truck lurched forward again and again as the motor turned over. It made a wonderful “rrrruh…rrrruh sound as we kept our finger on the button. We took turns steering. We were having lots of fun driving it until a lady came out of a house nearby and yelled at us.

One day Keith Davies and I were walking about and saw a long ladder leading up to the
roof of the Odd Fellows Hall. We went up the ladder and onto the roof. It was easy to
walk around on it since it was a gently sloping roof. I’m not sure how long we were on
the roof. We noticed that a few people had come over and were now around the ladder
asking us to come down which we did. If we had fallen off we could have easily died.
We were probably 5 or 6 years old at the time. I guess we didn’t realize the gravitational
danger of the situation.

Mr. Price owned the gas station by the highway. He heard that my dad was going to
Michigan…something to do with the university. He asked my dad if he could drive back
a brand new Edsel from Detroit that he had ordered. My dad enjoyed driving back to
Indian Head in the luxurious brand new car. There were still lots of cars in town that
required cranking to start them. I heard of people breaking their arms in the process of
cranking. It seemed there were lots of dogs in town that liked chasing cars and biting at
their wheels. Everyone let their dogs run free.

My friend and his dad were driving out to a farm for a visit with friends. They asked me if
I wanted to come so I hopped in and off we went. We were half way there when my
friend’s dad asked me if I had asked my mom if I could go. I said no. Oops…we turned
around and headed back home. Not sure if I ever did make that trip or stayed at home.

My friend Keith was given his first bicycle. It was a large used bike with dark red paint. I
didn’t know how to ride a bike until one day I went to visit Keith. He and his family were
out and the bike was in the yard. I got on the bike, fell a few times, and actually learned
how to ride that day…I just rode and rode..what an exhilarating experience that was! I
returned the bike and told Keith later that I had used it. Keith’s dad was a traveling
salesman and would call on grocery stores in the towns close by. He would take their
orders for Robin Hood flour.

Before bikes there were trikes which we all rode. My sister Verla was the self appointed
leader of the pack. We felt strength in our numbers. No other kids were going to mess
with us.

There were a few tragedies in town that I recall. One was a terrible house fire that
claimed the lives of some children. It was raining heavily that night. The volunteer fire
fighters were called out. Unfortunately the fire truck became mired in prairie gumbo and
couldn’t get to the house which fairly close by the fire hall. Some of the kids were in our

Another young boy died when he choked on a pill his parents had given him. The
Heimlich manoeuvre had not yet been developed.

The Greatest Show on Earth came to the theatre in Indian Head. We went to see it one
afternoon. It was probably the first movie I had seen on the big screen. It was scary and
exciting at the same time. I was thrilled to see it..still one of my favourite memories.

I decided to run away from home one day. I told my mom and she said it was okay so I
left. I walked to the edge of town then started walking down the railway tracks. I noticed
a bar of soap in the middle of the tracks. I had walked far enough. I thought my mom
would be happy that I found a bar of soap. I picked it up and walked back home. When I
showed her the soap I found on the tracks she asked me to throw it in the garbage. She
explained to me that the train dumps their sewage on the tracks so everything is very
dirty. “Yuck” I thought to myself…very gross indeed!

Dad decided to save some money on the food bill. He bought a crate of fresh,
squawking chickens. He slaughtered, gutted and de-feathered them in the garage with
mom helping out. I don't remember them ever doing that again.

Since we had no television, we loved the radio. They had story time for kids to listen to.
We gathered around the radio in the early evening to listen. They had radio serials
westerns like Wild Bill Hickok. Great sound effects of horses galloping, cattle mooing,
etc. The radio was a dark brown bakelite material. There was a large round speaker in
the front covered with gold cloth material. The speaker had a round plastic gold circle
around it with what looked like a Mercedes Benz emblem. We had a separate small
turntable that would play 45’s. It would plug into a wall outlet for power and had a cable
that would plug into the back of the radio for the sound. You could turn a knob on the
side of the radio to switch it from radio mode to records. One of my favourites was The
Little Engine That Could. Mom enjoyed listening to The Happy Gang in the mornings. I
liked that lively show. My parents had square dance records as well as songs by Burl
Ives, the theme from Carmen, bagpipe music which I liked, some folk tunes and some
easy listening tunes. I liked the song “Jimmy Crack Corn”

The house took a while to warm up in the mornings. Dad would get the kitchen stove
started. It was an old stove with the flat top made of iron. He would use the top lifter, a
short steel shaft coiled with steel on the grip. It had a notch on the end which fit into the
burner top to lift it off. He would put bunched up newspaper, then kindling with coal on
the top of that. Then he would light it.

The vestibule on the back of the house was where the clothes washer was. It was a
wringer washer which had to be filled by hand with a hose. Mom would drain it into the
floor drain and refill it to rinse then drain it again. The next step was running the clothes
through the wringer to get most of the water out. The wringer would spring open if your
fingers got caught or the laundry was too thick. The laundry was then hung outside on
the clothes line in summer or in winter at -40 outside. The laundry would be freeze dried
in the winter. Mom would bring in the stiff sheets like a sheets of plywood. Once thawed
they would be dry.

John played the tuba in the community band. I went with him to a few practices. I was
so impressed by the large shiny instrument with the deep bass sound that I later played
one in the Sea Cadet band.

We would climb up to the top of the hills above Katepwa Lake. You had to be careful of
the spear grass. It speared through your skin, usually your ankles, and it hurt. The
Qu’Appelle Valley is absolutely stunning with it’s gently rolling green hills and lakes.

The big grey cat gave birth to a bunch of kittens in the beach bag…the bag mom would
put all our beach stuff when we were going to the lake. It was striped, like the coat of
many colours and looked quite beach like. It was exciting having the kittens. We gave
our cat and kittens away to a farm. I wasn’t impressed when my brother told me a few
months later that a cow had stepped on the cat and accidentally killed it.

The Jardines lived on the north end of town. They lived in a large house that used to be
a barn. It was very interesting with its high ceilings and mezzanine floors. Mr. Jardine
was a carpenter. Dad hired him to finish off the construction on our cottage. Mrs.
Jardine was a seamstress. Sometimes she would make custom dresses for mom. I
would go with her to their house. Mrs. Jardine had a few dress mannequins to fit the
dresses on. I liked the lights on their Christmas tree. It had lights shaped like candles
with liquid inside that bubbled. Each light had different colours of liquid.

I visited a friend from school for the first time. He lived on the edge of town. I was
literally overwhelmed by their ‘bathroom’. It consisted of a 5 gallon pail in a closet. Very
odoriferous to say the least. It was winter. Going outside to the outhouse in -30 weather
wasn’t a pleasant experience.

A friend and I were aghast when we saw a dead robin hung on a clothesline over a
strawberry patch. We were shocked that little old lady who lived there would do such a
cruel thing. The robin was caught eating her berries. Did the dead robin really stop other
robins from landing in the patch? Someone told me the way to catch a bird is to sprinkle
salt on its tail. It seemed plausible to me at the time.

On very cold prairie winter nights, every window in the house would display a beautiful
frosty masterpiece created by Jack Frost. On those nights, as I was snug in my warm
bed, I would hear the lonely sound of the steam engine whistle as it approached then
passed by Indian Head. I would see how long I could hear it after it went by. The sound
traveled for miles in the still winter air.

I loved the Sunday school picnic. It was held out at the Forestry Farm. There were the
usual games like the wheelbarrow and three legged races. Most of all I loved the ice
cream dixie cups. They would hand them out to everyone along with a wooden dixie cup
spoon. I thought they were the best tasting invention ever.

Indian Head had the annual summer fair. Dad worked in the Legion’s pop stand. I’d go
over there and he’d buy me a 7UP. I read the back of the 7UP bottle, “You like it, it likes
you”. That certainly made sense to me. I’d also ask for more ride money.

I blew a fuse in the house one day. Dad was away on a trip. It was dark out. I found an
pair of small pruning sheers, old orange ones with the peeling paint. I picked them up
and cut the lamp cord in half. I didn’t get a shock because a fuse blew immediately. We
were all in the dark until mom managed to find a flashlight get a new fuse in.
I did get a shock when I stuck my finger in the lamp socket above my bed one day. My
whole body seemed to vibrate with the shock. The bulb had burned out but not

When we wore out the knees in our jeans, mom would take the back pockets off then
sew them on the knees. I hated my brother’s hand-me-downs. He was 5 years older so
they were really out of style and old by the time I got them. Mom used her Singer
Sewing Machine fairly often. No electricity required…just pump the iron treadle and the
machine would run. I liked playing with the treadle.

Indian Head will always be dear to my heart. Being Canada’s 150th birthday this year, I
thought I would share my early experiences as a young boy living in this truly Canadian
prairie town.

I am now almost 69 years old and living in Courtenay, BC. My career was focused in the
hospitality industry. First as a journeyman chef. I was Sous Chef at the Sheraton Hotel
in Ottawa when the hotel was chosen to cater a 350 guest banquet with Queen
Elizabeth at the head table in the Charlotte Whitton Room at Ottawa City Hall. Pierre
Elliot’s household waiters served the head table. I still have the menu.
Working in hotels across Canada, first as a chef, then a general manager, I experienced
the cultures of many countries through my dear co-workers. Italian, Swiss, French,
French Canadian, Portuguese, Lebanese, Jamaicans, German are to name a few.
These were hard working people who saw the fabulous opportunities for themselves
and their families in Canada. I liked learning about their countries, customs and food.
I’m your typical Anglo Saxon. My family emigrated from England, Scotland and Ireland
around 1820. I consider myself to be an immigrant equal to an immigrant or refugee
who just arrived yesterday. I appreciate Canada’s kindness in welcoming refugees and
immigrants to our country. That makes me very proud to be a Canadian! Our welcoming
nature is Canada’s strength. Newcomers are welcomed with open arms and receive
help in establishing themselves. They are forever grateful to their new country and work
hard to contribute to their new society.

My great grandfathers fought for the Province of Canada in 1860 in the Militia of
Canada even before Canada’s Confederation. They were fighting against the Fenians
who were conducting raids Ontario. They were coming over from the United States. My
grandfather George Richard Bradley was a Major in WWI.

The long history of my family in Canada doesn’t make me better than any refugees or
immigrants who have just arrived here. To me, we are all immigrants. Canada enjoys
peace and tranquility among its people. We are very lucky in that respect. It’s actually
not so much luck. Immigrants and refugees are welcomed here and treated well. When
you treat people well after you’ve invited them in, they respect that. That’s the reason
we don’t have a lot of trouble here. I hope we bring many more people into the country. I
have noticed that immigrants who are fairly new here…within the last 25 years, are
resentful of more refugees coming to Canada. I kindly remind them that this is what
Canada is about, helping people when they need help to come to a safe country.
Canada is truly the greatest country in the world. Let’s stay on course.