We will ask our readers to take careful notice of the two unique photos in this week’s Reflections feature in your Ponoka News. The Remember When picture at the bottom of the page features George (Bruce) Hunter (1871-1963) on the left and Daniel (James) Hunter (1877-1944), who homesteaded in Dog Pound, Alberta starting in 1894-95. The brothers took this picture of themselves while sitting enjoying a meal in the comfort of their first tiny prairie shack in 1896, and used an early time exposure camera with glass plates which was activated by a long string that was pulled when they were both seated. For those of us who now live in the ‘digital world’ and think that we invented all our flashy new gadgets, this photo that was snapped 119 years ago was probably one of the very first ‘selfies’. The original plate of this picture is now featured in the historical photographical archives of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.
The splendid photo in this week’s Reflections article is of Vernon (Bruce) Erickson (born in 1947), and James William Erickson (1949), the sons of Vern and Doris Erickson, who were born and raised on the family farm in the Calumet district. Their mother, Doris, was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Hunter of Dog Pound, Alberta, and from her marriage to Vern Erickson the brothers Bruce and Jim Erickson would many years later become the grandchildren of George (Bruce) Hunter, whose brother Daniel (James) Hunter would become their great uncle, and after whom the boys were aptly named.
With the kind assistance of the congenial staff at the Fort Ostell Museum in Ponoka, who graciously created a cozy historical kitchen similar to the 1896 original in Dog Pound, and with the talented photographic touch of Dawn Kroening, this marvellous picture of Brothers Bruce and Jim Erickson, who were appropriately dressed for the occasion, was created in honour of their longstanding family heritage for all family generations to enjoy.
The early Erickson family history
Jeano and Mary Erickson with children Philip and Lillian moved into the Calumet district in 1914, purchasing a farm from Jeano’s father Charlie. To this union, seven more children were born, including Ethel in 1914, Paul in 1916, Vernon in 1918, Arthur in 1919, Ralph in 1921, Leslie in 1923, and Adelia (Del) in 1925. All were healthy and energetic youngsters, and with five boys very close to the same age, life became very interesting to say the least.
The family was very active in the community, with Jeano always very busy with the outdoor work; while his wife Mary was always going at a hectic pace doing all the household chores that came from having a very large family of nine. They never missed a Baptist Church service at Water Glen, packing them all up together and driving the seven miles with a team of horses pulling the wagon or sleigh, regardless of the weather. When the youngsters became teenagers they looked forward to Sunday afternoons joining all the other fast-growing district families playing ball, picnics, skating, sledding, or hockey on the nearby sloughs. During WWII, three of the Erickson boys, Vern, Art, and Ralph as well as son-in-laws Jack Sundquest and Fred Perlick served overseas with the Canadian Armed Forces and Mary was kept very busy sending letters and care parcels to all of them.
Vern Erickson was the only one of the family who continued to reside in the area for many years, farming the S ½ 11-43-23-4 in the Asker district, that was originally owned by his grandfather, and like so many young farmers in the district he would later marry the pretty young local school-teacher. As well as farming Vern also hauled milk to the Condenser in Red Deer, while Doris started teaching school at Calumet, then later at Mecca Glen from 1966 until 1978. Vern and Doris were blessed with six children, including Bruce (Margaret), Jim (Susan), Patti, Neil (Shirley), Donna (Jerry), and Elinore, who tragically passed away in 1996. In 1972 Vern and Doris moved to the old Ponoka Trailer Court, which Vern managed as well as driving school bus, delivered fertilizer for Shur Gain, and then built their retirement home in Riverside in 1976.
In their retirement years, Vern and Doris enjoyed square dancing, activities at the Ponoka Seniors’ Drop-in Centre, camping, fishing trips, travelling, and visiting with their family, many of whom still live in and around the Ponoka district, and continue to carry on the proud Erickson family legacy and traditions. As well as being blessed with a steadily growing nest of grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, Vern and Doris proudly celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on January 3, 1997, and this milestone in life was also reached along the way by other family members, including Ethel and Fred, Paul and Evelyn, Art and Pat, Ralph and Florence, and Les and Jean.