My Grandpa Tom and Grandma Joy’s original Ranch is “kitty corner” to the quarter that the front 9 of Dorchester Ranch Golf Course was built on. The original ranch is still in the family.
Grandpa Tom was born on May 11, 1911. He grew up in the Angus Ridge district south of Wetaskiwin. Grandma Joy Schantz was born March 22, 1916. she grew up in the Rosebrier area south west of Wetaskiwin. When they got married they lived in the outskirts of Wetaskiwin briefly before moving to Canmore where Grandpa secured a job Coal mining. Eventually Grandma and Grandpa moved to the Pigeon Lake area, where they would live for the bulk of their lives. They bought the original house and quarter, that is pictured, from Carl Fiveland. Tom started racing chuck wagons professionally in 1944. For many years he drove the Jack Sheckter wagon and later the Stewart Ranches wagon. There were times through out the years that when they traveled long distances to race, the kids would stay home at the Ranch for sometimes a week at a time. There was a large age gap in the siblings, so some of the older sisters would be in charge and they would be looked in on by helpful neighbors like Ruby Gist. It seemed like kids grew up a lot quicker back in those days. You can just imagine some of the trouble these farm kids got into over the years. You know what? They all turned out to be good people with good morals and a great deal of character. It is remarkable how times have changed. It makes you wonder at times, if we have went too far the other way when raising our kids.
The Dorchester side of our family is very close and connected. While growing up, all of my Aunts or Uncle’s have lived in the Pigeon Lake area. Currently there are 2 brothers and 2 sisters living within a 15 minute drive of each other. We still get together as a group fairly regularly, and with cousins and second cousins our family gatherings can get quite large. It is wonderful to think, that if my Grandma and Grandpa were alive, there would be 5 generations of family in attendance. Something I love about my family is they are story tellers. I have heard many of my Dad’s stories and some of them have really stuck with me and I marvel at they life he and my aunts and uncles had growing up. Here is one of those stories.
The summer of 1955 was a cool and dreary season. During this time the brothers ranged from 9 to 14. It was on one of these days that my dad Gordie and his brothers Gary, Dallas, and Dennis set out on an adventure of sorts. You see, their Dad Tommy had bought some dynamite at an auction recently and the boys knew where he had hid it. Tom was chuck wagon racing, and the boys had spotted a beaver dam down on the battle river approximately 5 km away. They set out in the morning excited, nervous at what the day would bring. When they got to the beaver dam they took a pry bar and made a hole in the dam and dropped 2 sticks down the hole. Somehow Gary had found out how to wire up the caps and so they got everything ready strung out a fuse and hid behind a willow bush. They lit the fuse and, nothing. Assuming that they wired it wrong a few of the boys decided to go and look at their wiring job. They got about 1/2 way back to the damn and BOOOM it exploded. Gordie said the ground of the beaver damn raised a good two feet with the explosion and debris was scattered throughout the area. The boys agreed that Tom could not find out about this, and they kept the secret. At least until they were grown when inevitably this story came out, too late for Tom to be mad. He just smiled and shook his head.