|Mom often talked of
those days when the soldiers came home from the Great War of 1914-1918
expecting to find a better world than they had left, but finding instead
that inflation had made their salaries inadequate to care for their
families while the profiteers had control of the Canadian economy and
the government. A general strike began on May 15th of that year. The
Government had memories of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1918 in Russia,
and fearing that they had a Communist revolution on their hands, took
tough measures to crush the uprising. For six weeks, all workers,
including the police force and all government employees, stayed home
from work. For the most part it was a passive strike, but tempers
occasionally flared and there was bloodshed and more than one death. The
strike ended June 29th without the workers achieving their goal of
collective bargaining, but they had set the stage for stronger unions in
the future. My dad, as a member of the Mounted Police, took an active
part in putting down the strike. Canada was an unsettled country in 1919
when I was born.
Shortly after the strike ended we moved to Prince Albert where Dad brought home their mascot, a small bear cub. Mom tells of what a little scamp he was, always climbing on the table to raid the sugar bowl and make a mess. One day while I was lying in my crib he climbed in too, and as a gesture of affection (I think) he patted my head and left a trail of clawmarks. He was immediately dispatched to the RNWMP barracks.
It was about this
time that my dad was chosen as an escort for the Prince of Wales who was
visiting his ranch in Alberta. The Prince gave my dad one of his
monogrammed cigarettes which my Dad kept until it disintegrated. Our
only intimate brush with royalty!
We lived in Rosetown Sask. for a time when my Dad was stationed there, and my only memory of the place is of two other youngsters, Harold and myself going into the local butchers shop and asking for something which we knew was kept in an adjoining room. As soon as the butcher went out to get it, we each grabbed a wiener and ran out of the shop. It was my one and only brush with the law and I probably felt as guilty then as I do now.
Leslie was born on Feb. 24, 1924 but I simply do not remember him as a baby. We had moved back to Regina by then and Dad left the Mounties hoping for a more stable job. We moved to Brandon and lived for a while on 16th Street. Harold must have been living with Grandma until our Dad found work. Mom said that my father was a charming man but he had an alcohol problem, which together with poor health made it difficult to find employment. Eventually Harold came home to start school at the same time as I did, Grandma took Leslie to raise, and Mom became a housekeeper for Mr. Kirkby, his bedridden mother and his daughter Lucy. Mr. Kirkby operated a bakeshop and one more of Mom's duties was to keep the wooden floor of the bakeshop scrubbed. I was much older before I realized how hard she had worked to keep the family together. Harold and I started off to Fleming School, together with my best friend Barbara Gaudin. That was in September 1925 and Barb and I still keep in touch.