This is a story that my Grandmother wrote which was published in a book. I hope this is ok to publish as I am not sure of copyright issues.
THE EARLY DAY OF THE TWO MCFADZEN FAMILIES IN ALBERTA.
The story was written by Mary Jane McLean (nee McFadzen) (my Grandmother). The Story was taken from the book Cherished Memories Complied by Ardrossan Unifarm
James and William McFadzen better known as Jim and Bill were brothers who always lived together. James became a widower in 1901, with three daughters, the youngest being only three weeks old. Her name was Alice and she was raised by Jim's sister Mrs. Agnes Stewart. Shortly after, brother William got married and his wife took care of my sister, Florence (Flossie) and myself (Mary).
In 1903 the two families arrived in Strathcona, bringing with them a team of horses and three cows. They took on a restaurant business which was situated right where the Army and Navy Store is today on 104 Street and Whyte Avenue. After a year's time they thought there were more possibilities in homesteading. They had a two-storey frame house built on Uncle Bill's quarter. By this time Uncle Bill had two boys; James and Charles and as soon as the house was ready we all went out to our new home.
The base line was the only road in those days that went east of Strathcona and it only went a very few miles; the rest of the way one had to take the line of least resistance. I remember the trip out to the farm. I can't recall what household effects we had, but we children had a feather bed to sit on which helped as shock absorber. Uncle Bill's wife had to hold the baby in her arms to save him from the bad jolts when we drove over logs. The location is known today as the Garden District.
It was impossible to make any sort of livelihood off the land, so the men had to go elsewhere to make money for food and clothing. In the first winters my father would go to the logging camps and cook; in the spring Uncle Bill would go to Strathcona with his team of horses and do any work there was to be found. In 1907 the William McFadzen family had another boy - John. By this time they had some land cleared so we could grow a good garden and a little grain. The stock was increasing and we could have our own meat in the winter. My father cured pork for the summer use and we had many meals of rabbit and other sorts of wild game.
Mr. William Durham was one of the early settlers. He stayed at our place while he built his log home. He is still living today (1972) at the age of 101 years. His place was by one of the Twin Lakes. We were one of the earliest settlers and many new comers found their way to our place; they were always welcome and if they stayed all night we made them as comfortable as we could on the floor. The district was made up of people from all walks of life. Our only entertainments were house parties where we sang, danced or just plain visited. Church services were held once a month. In the summer the young student ministers would come on horseback all the way from Strathcona. After the school was built church services were held there.
Mr. and Mrs. Alex McDonald and family were among the earliest settlers. They had the post office and this was a great place for the neighbors to meet and visit. They were dear friends to all who lived nearby. There was always tea and lunch, or a meal if it was that time of day. James Gatrix, a bachelor who lived near, had a very prize team of horses. He kept them well groomed and drove them around the neighborhood to show them off.
In 1910 my Uncles wife passed away which left Flossie, aged 10 and myself who was 13 to look after the house and children. Father and Uncle Bill taught us how to make bread and butter and a johnny cake which was a real treat. The first school was opened in 1910. This was Douglas, called after the Douglas Brothers who had homesteads on the land where it was built. It was only opened during the summer months and we had to walk two miles. In 1911 they built the Garden school which was really our district. My Uncle and Alex McDonald hauled the lumber from Edmonton for that school. We lived the same distance from each school. By this time the homesteads were all taken up, so the settlers decided they should build a council chamber. A bee was arranged and it was built out of logs. On the completion of the structure, they had a house warming and it was a gala affair. One gentleman said it reminded him of a wedding. This building was at the south end of Half-Moon Lake, where the summer resort is now. This same year Mr. and Mrs. Casper Klarner and family of four or five children, arrived in a covered wagon from Portland, Oregon. They became our closest neighbors.
Coming into the boom days of Strathcona, the High Level Bridge was built. Uncle Bill was able to get pretty steady work with his team. Our Aunts lived in Strathcona so Bill lived there when he was away from home. The Aunties also came out to the homestead every now and then to help us get our household routine better organized. In 1913 Uncle Bill and his son, Jim, who was 11 years old hauled gravel from Clover Bar to Strathcona with two teams. This was to put the first pavement on Whyte Avenue. Uncle Bill also turned the first sod for the first building of the University of Alberta. During that time my father remained on the homestead looking after the two families.
So as time went on, many changes took place. We came into the First World War years, and the return of soldiers in 1918. My father sold his place to Charles Backstrom. In 1919 Uncle Bill sold his place under the Soldiers Settlement Board. Now both farms are occupied by the Busenius Bros. The original house is still there. We moved back to Strathcona. That year of 1919, in the early winter I married a returned soldier, Edwin McLean. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. James McLean lived in Douglas during the war years. Flossie married Charles Backstrom, now both have passed on. Uncle Bill's eldest son, Jim married Beulah Ross whose parents were pioneers of Ardrossan and Garden districts. Charles and John also married and all three boys lived in Edmonton. Father lived to be a hundred years old; he passed away 1949. Uncle Bill lived to the age of 67 and passed away in 1925. My husband and myself and most of our family live in Edmonton.