Reflections: Sharing favourite memories and harsh challenges and changes over the years

Looking back at the hardy days where challenges were many in Ponoka

By Mike Rainone for the News

For well over a century the long and colourful story of the proud history and steady growth of our Town and County districts have been full of countless challenges, hardships, joys, and sadness, but along the way there have also been so many amazing successes and exciting changes. This classic and ongoing ‘saga of Ponoka’ has thankfully been preserved and vividly told in our precious history books, libraries, and museums full of so many wonderful tales, photos, poetry, and song. These facts and unique artifacts are all dedicated to the thousands of families, individuals, and genuine characters of all nationalities and all walks of life, as well as a long list of exciting events and amenities that have come together over twelve exciting decades to make this community a friendly and great place to settle, to work, to play, and to share together all year round. Our weekly Reflections and Remember When features in your Ponoka News are showcases of this long and colourful history, and we certainly appreciate the contributions and support of our readers over the years.

The colourful early tale of ‘The Welshman’

Idris Wilkins was born in Wales in 1911, but in seeking a new adventure he ventured to Canada as a youth, first to Ontario, then to Alberta, and finally settling in the Wolfville district in 1938 where he purchased the S.E. 1/4-33-42-27 from Art Albrecht. This congenial gentleman, who became fondly known as ‘The Welshman’ remained a bachelor all of his life was possessed with a quick wit and keen sense a humour, and instantly became very popular with the children as a great teller of amazing stories.

Mr. Wilkins, who loved to express his opinions on any subjects, especially concerning to many changes passed away in January 1969 at the age of 58 but over the years he would write and had published countless colourful poems and stories about his life in and around the Ponoka countryside, and we will share this one, entitled My Farm, which was written in 1948.

Gone are the trees that grew upon my land

The Tamarac and the mighty spruce, Balmagalia, the silvery popular, the diamond willow and the alder, the Hemlocks and the silver birch, on which the Oriole’s loved to perch.

And now, the North Wind’s mighty force sweeps down upon my place, the waters cut and wash a course with no trees to cut their pace, as the elements now they sign no truce to the wanton destruction by man’s own foolish hand.

Oh for some windbreaks scattered o’er my land to check the North Wind’s angry rush, and the snows from piling high in drifts that reach towards the sky, and to keep the freshets from running wild in springtime when the weather’s mild.

Those mighty trees were wantonly destroyed, those sentinels that kept the wind in place, and now the land is getting bleak and void and had lost the wondrous beauty of her face.

No more the Robin, Meadow Lark, or Thrush…they’re gone and destroyed by man’s own foolish hand.

A country child’s wish

Written by Jeannette Prediger for the 1958 Yearbook

I wish that every city kid could see the morning dawn; with pasture grass a’ sparkle till the morning dew is gone.

And then behold the brilliant blooms of flowers growing wild, a gift the Lord has sent to show his love for every child.

Chorus: O let us have a merry, merry time and go out every day, enjoying the bright sunshine while it is here to stay.

I wish the kids from the city streets could play in stacks of hay, and feed the cows and chickens, and that they could also find their way to brooks and streams that trickle through small parts of the woods, and know that Mother Nature owns far more than worldly goods.

I wish the kids who play in the streets could see the wondrous sites of sunsets as they slowly fade from gold to grey of night; and hear the soothing melody that sighs through friendly trees to bring to man and bird and beast a blessing on the breezes.

I have had the pleasure of writing over 500 Reflections, Remember When, and Hammer’s Columns over the past 10 years and am always looking for story ideas and photos from our colourful history as well as special features from then and now. Please give me a call at 403-341-5750 or email: jrainone@telus.net, and thanks for all your great help and support in the past.

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