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Canadian Life as I Found It
Chapter X December, 1904


THIS homestead business is a very expensive one, and no one should try it unless they have from 500 to 600 to start with, and even then they would find it very uphill work.

Of course there are a lot of opportunities out here that one has not got at home; but then it is like everything else, you need capital to be able to take advantage of these opportunities.

As for the climate, so far we have found it agreeable, the summer was very hot, but the fall was lovely; now the day before yesterday the thermometer stood at 40 below zero, but really I did not feel it much colder than on a cold day at home.

One has to take great care not to get frost-bitten. I was down at the river with some horses the other day, when a perfect stranger passing me took off his glove, and suddenly seizing my nose rubbed it vigorously: it had begun to freeze without my having felt it at all. Another time I had a very nasty experience, the Boss (my employer) had sent me alone with a wagon and a couple of bronchos (half-broken-in horses) to the bush 25 miles off, to get wood. When I had got my load and was hauling out, the wagon broke down, and I was dragged some distance before I could stop the horses. I left one horse at a ranch about 20 miles out, but I had to ride the other one into Saskatoon, where I arrived nearly frozen, and much exhausted, at past midnight, with a temperature at nearly 40 below zero. After this I was ill, and the doctor insisted on my not running any more such risks; as my employer would not allow me to take a man out with me, but required me to go twice a week to the bush alone, I let another man take my place. I was sorry to give up my work, but I had my wife and child to consider, and so when I was well again I tried to find something else to do, but only got one job to help store ice, and as the man I did this for is an agent for the sale of implements, I shall take my money out in something useful.

Down West there is very little ready money and trade is mostly done on the exchange system, or on the time system with heavy interest attached. One half the stores even pay their men in kind. We none of us refuse any kind of work offered, and I often think that many people's relations would open their eyes very wide, if they could see what some have to do at times.


 


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