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Family Histories, Part 7

Ed Dahlby - Excerpts from his Memories

Ed Dahlby - Excerpts from his Memories.
Sarah Alberta Dahlby

In October of 1928, our mother, Sarah Alberta Dahlby, a widow with two sons; Harold age 12 and Edwin, age 10, was offered employment to work as a housekeeper on a mixed farm owned by Milo and Agnes Allanson at Bodmin, Saskatchewan. Leaving Harold with an aunt and uncle to continue schooling at Outlook, Saskatchewan, Mother and I travelled by train to Bodmin. Mother accepted the position and I was to do chores such as feeding the livestock, carry in fire-wood and water and give help wherever it was needed to earn my keep, also to attend school.

Harold joined us in 1931 when Mother applied for (filed on) a quarter section of raw bushland to be known as "The Homestead". We moved into a temporary dwelling (shack) in 1932. By 1936, the required improvements had been made and a title of ownership granted. Our mother, Sarah Dahlby, became the only Woman Pioneer in the district.

The Bodmin schoolhouse, as well as being a place of learning became the community hall and was used for box socials, dance parties, and concerts. It would be 'full house" when Mrs Godin and band were playing and always a good turnout when local musicians were playing. To name a few - Ashton Archibald, Harold Dahlby, Johnny Bock, Martha Egeland, Hans Jorgensen, Alex South and the Isbisters.

The schoolhouse became a church on Sundays with the Parson travelling from Big River. It became a movie theatre when a travelling projectionist showed old B & W silent movies. Of course, it was used for school meetings as well as a political, credit union and even a technocrat meeting. It was the polling place at election time.

At the end of the First World War, several veterans settled in the district under the Soldiers Settlement Plan. Tommy Brown is remembered for his rich tenor voice when he would sing at parties. Harry South farmed and also became a storekeeper. Morris Petersen was a dairy and poultry farmer. Joe Lamothe was another war veteran and Big River Legion, member. He farmed and was also a carpenter. He built the first store at Bodmin and also the schoolhouse.

Fred Percenko was from Romania. Fred lived alone and was a hard worker. Like many other homesteaders in the district, his farm could only produce enough to feed his animals through a long winter. Survival depended on the sale of forest products, mainly fire-wood, which was shipped to Prince Albert and Saskatoon in railway boxcars. His well had gone dry during the summer, so Fred dug a new well close to the river that ran through his property. It was a shallow well and it froze over in the winter. He went into the well apparently to chop a hole in the ice and broke through the ice. Sometime later a neighbour heard his animals calling and went to investigate. As no one else knew about the well, a search began led by Constable Sixsmith. His body was found in the well and his chopping axe was found at the bottom.

The earliest settlers in the area were French-speaking pioneers who arrived at the beginning of the construction of the first lumber mill. Names familiar to this writer are Fidele Doucette and Fred Doucette, (two families with many descendants) Joe Lamothe, John Legouffe and son Paul, Henry Lavoie, Joe Lauren, Ned Caissie, Alphonse Tardif, Ted Harvey, Romeo Poirier and George Levesque.

When discharged from the Navy, Ed Dahlby (writing this) married his hometown girlfriend, Audrey Egeland and they are looking forward to their sixtieth wedding anniversary on October 2005.

Daley, Mike and Aileen

Debbie, Mike, Aileen, Dan.
Debbie, Mike, Aileen, Dan Daley.

Mike Daley was born at Allan, Saskatchewan. He came to Big River, Saskatchewan as a young boy to the homestead north of Big River, (NW 2-57-8-W3rd), with his mother and two brothers, Lorne and Tom in 1929. Mike started to work at an early age. He sold papers and worked at Belgian Dry Cleaners in Saskatoon. He also helped to clear the land at the homestead. He enjoyed helping on the farm and loved to work with horses. He enjoyed fishing in the winter with his brother Lorne at Listen Lake and worked at logging camps throughout the area. One of his favourite jobs was operating caterpillars and building roads for the L.I.D. In 1951, he went to work for Saskatchewan Forest and worked there for thirty-three years. Mike retired in 1984.

Aileen Herdman Daley was born on the farm at Debden, Saskatchewan. She came to Big River with her family in 1937. After she finished school, she worked at Young's Telephone Exchange. Aileen always said she wouldn't marry a man with red hair, reddish complexion, and a farmer. Then Mike came along and they were married August 4, 1954. The week before the wedding, Mike was injured in a fire at the Big River Mill. Mike was cleaning the tracks of the caterpillar with gasoline when someone started the welder causing the fire. His hands and legs were burnt, but they were still able to get married the following week.

In May of 1955, they spent two months at the Landing on Cowan Lake. Mike worked on the tugboat taking booms down Cowan Lake. They then went to Smoothstone where Mike was watchman till October for the Smoothstone logging camp. Mike continued to work for the Saskatchewan Forest till he retired from the Planer Mill in 1984.

In 1957, Debbie was born, followed by Daniel, in 1958, both redheads. Aileen, besides being a wife and a mother, was also a store clerk in the store in town.

Mike and Aileen started in the funeral home business when a gentleman's wife had passed away. He asked Mike to take her to her final resting place in the station wagon that we owned instead of the hack of a truck. Mike continued to do funeral work until the business was sold in 1995.

Aileen and Mike Daley.
Aileen and Mike Daley.

Mike and Aileen were both active in the Royal Canadian Legion and Auxiliary. Aileen spent many hours volunteering, convening lunches and teas and cleaning. Both have been president of the Legion and the Auxiliary. They were on the rink committee when the children were involved in sports.

Aileen has been treasurer of the Anglican Church women for 29 years and secretary for 9 years and remains active in the church today.

As busy as Aileen was, she and her friends, Barbara Bradley and Grace Colby, started a catering business called B.C.D Catering. They catered to weddings, dine and dances, and Christmas parties. Their largest catering job was preparing a full course meal for 1000 people for Weyerhaeuser.

Mike's health started to deteriorate with a heart attack at the age of 52 years. He had by-pass surgery in 1981, which gave him another 15 years of life. He passed away on June 25, 1995. Aileen continues to live in Big River.

Daley, Pat and Hannah
Excerpts from Timber Trails (1979)

Pat and Hannah Daley, former residents of Aberdeen, Saskatchewan, first visited the Big River area in 1929. Their initial stay was a short one; in the fall of that same year, they returned to Aberdeen.

Pat and his daughter Mary returned to the homestead in the Black Duck area in 1930. Living conditions at that time were at best less-than-satisfactory. Forced to live in a tent while taking out logs for their new home, they suffered the many inconveniences common to such a temporary abode.

In 1931, the rest of the Daley clan returned to Big River and together they built their new home. That fall the family moved to Saskatoon with plans of returning to the homestead in the spring; however, in the interim, Mr Daley passed away.

Determined to return to Big River, Lorne and Tom Daley, assisted by Les Mitchelmore, moved the rest of the family's belongings and machinery from Aberdeen in 1934. With the assistance of Earl Reed, they cleared and broke sufficient land to prove up the homestead.

In July of 1935, a very violent storm hit the area of the homestead and resulted in the loss of the roof of the house. Naturally, the family was upset about this turn of events - especially as Mary was arriving with her new husband the following day. Being very resourceful people, a solution was soon found. A visit to J.K. Johnson's for a wagon full of slabs and the addition of six inches of soil to the roof solved the problem.

In 1938, Mrs Daley married John Pilney. With the conclusion of the Depression and more affluent times at hand, the old home was abandoned in favour of a more comfortable lumber home. Mr and Mrs Pilney lived on the farm until 1955 and then retired to the town of Big River. Their retirement was an active one. Mr Pilney, an avid sportsman, enjoyed regular participation in curling until his seventy-fifth year. Mrs Pilney remained active also, particularly in the realm of church work and community affairs.

Hannah Pilney passed away in December of 1961, and Jack in July of 1972. Edna now resides in Kelowna, Ethel in Penticton, Tom in Saskatoon, and Mary in Kindersley. Lorne passed away in Stewart, British Columbia in May of 1977. Mike still resides in Big River and farms the family homestead.

Dalton, John and Delina
Submitted by Bertha Smith
(grand - daughter)

John Dalton came, as a young man, from Maniwaki, Quebec, to the Big River area. He worked in the logging industry. He also drove teams of horses on freight swings.

He married Delina Ethier, born March 27, 1898, daughter of Alfred and Lucinda (Morinville) Ethier of Big River on August 11, 1919. Some of their nine children were born in Big River.

About 1930, the family moved to the Debden area. They farmed the land just north of the Wanakena School. He also was the janitor of the school.

The rest of the children were born there. The children received their education in Big River and Wanakena.

John and Delina moved to Debden in about 1955. John passed away on November 1957 and is buried in Debden. When their daughter Gloria and Joe Marchand and family moved to Duck Lake, Saskatchewan, Delina went with them. She passed away in 1974 and is buried in Duck Lake. Their children were:

Marie - 1920 (Prince Albert). Married Eric Mayoh (Deceased). Children: Bertha, James, Louise, Gordon, Phyllis, and John

Herman - passed away as an infant.

(Patrick) Joseph - 1924-1983 - Married Clara (Deceased) Married Gladys (Deceased)

Helen - 1925-1998 - Married Paul Silljer (Deceased) Children: John and Ken

Bertha - 1929-1997 - Married Ken Crashley (Deceased)

(Yolanda) Anna - 1934 (Big River) - married Glen Crashley (Deceased)

Alfred - 1938 - lives in Duck Lake

Gloria - 1939 (Duck Lake) - Married Joe Marchand Children: Jeanette, Lionel, Cheryl, Marlene, George and Tammy

Arthur - 1941-1995.

Danberg, Ronald and Louella and family

Danberg, Ronald and Louella and family.
Back Row: Clay R., Ron and Lou. Middle Row: Rhonda, Ina. Cec, Clay V.
Front Row: Darryl and Lisa, Kathy.

Ronald Danberg was born in Canwood, Saskatchewan on February 12, 1940. His parents were Chester and Ina Danberg. He had one brother, Gordon, born on July 8, 1943. Ron attended school in Canwood for grades one to ten. In 1962 he decided to join the Armed Forces. He served on active duty in the armed core division as a tank driver and then was sent overseas to Germany in 1965. He returned to Saskatchewan in 1965 and worked at various jobs including a truck driver for Ted McKenzie Trucking in Big River.

Louella Morin was born on the "old farm" on January 17, 1946. Her parents were Louis and Edith Morin. She attended school in Big River and enjoyed her friendships with Cecile O'Neil and Kathy Klyne, just to name a few.

It was on one of Ronald's stops in Big River that he met Louella. Their friendship developed into a sound romance that would last a lifetime. On August 13, 1966, they were married in Prince Albert. Ron continued to work in the Big River area as a truck driver. At that time the work was seasonal so Ron and Lou decided to move to Canal Flats, British Columbia in 1969. Ron worked at the sawmill for three years. Lou worked at the Fairmont Hot Springs Hotel.

In 1972, Ron and Lou moved to Elkford, British Columbia where Ron was employed as an equipment operator by Fording Coal. Lou also became employed by Fording Coal on September 17, 1979, as a blaster. Ron retired in 2004 after working for Fording Coal for 32 years. Lou was injured at work in 2002 and is still dealing with the injury in 2004.

Kathy was born in Prince Albert Hospital on August 2, 1964. She lived in the Big River area until 1969. She married Jim Zimmerman in Elkford and they have two children: Valerie (July 14, 1985) and Linda (April 18, 1988). She is presently employed at Janco Enterprises in Elk Valley, British Columbia.

Rhonda was born in Big River on January 24, 1967. She went to University and became a teacher. She taught in Airdrie and Springbank, Alberta. She married Clay Roark at the Virgin Islands in 1995. Rhonda and Clay reside in Denver, Colorado where Clay is a geologist employed by KOK Industries involved in oil exploration. Rhonda is an accomplished vocalist and sells real estate. When Rhonda was eleven months old she was seriously burned when boiling water accidentally fell on her. She was rushed to Saskatoon and was hospitalized there from November 1968 to March 1969.

Lisa was born on October 7, 1969, in Big River Hospital. She moved with her family to Canal Flats when she was a small baby. Lisa has two children: Kyle Sillers, born on December 18, 1986, and Madasyn Danberg, born on September 6, 1992.

Presently, in 2004, Lisa resides in Cranbrook where she is attending college learning about computer technology.

An exciting event in Lou and Ron's life occurred in 1995! When Lou was only sixteen, she had a baby while living in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. To give her daughter a decent chance in life, the baby was adopted out. As time went on, Lou was always searching for this baby. Finally, in 1995, the child, now an adult, was located. The reconciliation of the family took place in Regina. Cecile Gagne, the long lost daughter, was born on August 25, 1962, in Pine Falls, Manitoba. Ronald was Cecile's father but Lou had decided not to share the information with him until Cecile was located. The event was special in the lives of everyone! Cecile has three sons: Patrick (who resembles Ronald), Julian and Jean-Phillipe.

Darbyshire, Amy and Howard

Excerpts from Timber Trails, 1979

Amy and Howard Darbyshire.
Amy and Howard Darbyshire.

Amy and Howard Darbyshire arrived in Big River in the summer of 1933. Amy recalls, "I thought I was going to the end of civilization as a number of the roads were built of logs and I had never been on roads of that kind. However, when we reached the Big River, I found out the people were friendly and very civilized".

After they settled, Howard set up a barbershop and later opened a jewellery and repair shop. In 1940, their daughter was born. That fall they moved to Toronto, as Howard had joined the R.C.A.F. Amy now lives in Kelvington, Saskatchewan.

Darbyshire, Fred and Nora

Howard, Fred, Nora, Leonard.
Howard, Fred, Nora, Leonard Darbyshire.

Fred moved to Big River from Sturgis in 1924 en route to the North to trap. He used Big River as his base through the years.

In 1941, Fred met and married Nora Lueken. Nora had moved to Big River with her parents, Emma and Henry in 1935 along with three sisters and four brothers from Carmel, Saskatchewan, to homestead in West Cowan area.

After moving, Fred and Nora trapped up North from 1941-1956 at which time they had the twins, Leonard and Howard. Nora stayed in Big River for one and a half years before they moved to Isle-a-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan, and started mink ranching.

Until 1980, they continued to go north to trap, the love of Fred and Nora's life.

They moved back to Big River in 1986. After building a new house in 1985, Fred passed away in 1989. Nora continues to live here and is an active member of the senior citizens' group and the Roman Catholic Church. She enjoys gardening, knitting, visitors, and her grandchildren.

Fred trapping in the 1930s.
Fred trapping in the 1930s.
Fred and Nora's trapping days

Fred arrived in Big River from Sturgis, Saskatchewan, as a young man. His goal was to be a trapper. The first year Fred and Tom Beeds trapped together, their destination was Russell Lake. The next year he went in partnership with his cousin, Ed Theriau. This partnership dissolved when both parties got married.

When they got ready to trap, the first thing they did was make a list of everything they needed. This was all bought, packed, and checked off the list. Everything had to be packed so nothing could get wet on the long trail to Russell Lake, where many portages had to be made. The food had to be all dried items such as flour, sugar, tea (NO COFFEE), beans, peas, macaroni, pilot biscuit, baking powder, salt, yeast, bacon, and matches. The matches were put in a tin and sealed. This was called a matchbox.

When they arrived at Russell Lake the work began. First thing, Fred went hunting for a moose. This was their meat for the winter, which was dried and smoked. Then a bear was killed for bear fat, which was rendered for oil. Nora remembers having one feed of liver for the year. The rest was given to the dogs. Nora's first job was getting the wood ready. It was brought to camp by toboggan and the dog team. Then she had to cut it for the winter.

Next, they began the work of repairing the cabin, dog harness, toboggan, traps, and bait bag. This was Fred and Nora's job together. Fred made bait from the innards of the animals he trapped, which was kept in the bait bag. This was then used on the trap line.

On the trap line, Fred cut spruce boughs and with Nora's help, they put up the tent and stove. Fred got water and made a cup of tea to warm up and rest. Nora looked after the dogs. She took the harness off them and the dogs went for a run. Nora cut branches for the dog bed. Then she tied the dogs to the trees and fed them dried fish that was dried in the fall. Later they killed caribou for the dogs' food.

Early the next day, the camp was dismantled and both Fred and Nora walked all day. This process was repeated every day, even on the coldest day of the year. A few years later, they took the easy way out by having a plane bring things into camp.

In between their trapping, they owned a mink ranch at Isle-a-la-Crosse from 1957 - 1972. Fred and Nora retired. Fred passed away in August 1989. Nora says, "No regrets, everything is just in fond memories."

Webmaster's Note
For the full story of Fred Darbyshire and Ed Theriau's
trapping career's, click on the link below:
Face the North Wind

You can also read about Ed Theriau's trapping days,
click on the link below:
Lost Land of the Caribou

Davidson, Darren and Joyce

Davidson Family.
Nathan, Karlene, Joyce, Matthew, Darren (holding Danae).

Darren was born on January 29, 1967. He is the oldest son of Lloyd and Nancy Davidson. He also has one brother and two sisters. Darren grew up on the farm and remembers helping with the chores: feeding pigs and cattle, driving machinery, and also horseback riding any chance he had. He also grew up loving to hunt, trap, and fish. He spent many hours with his dad after school or Saturday mornings checking the trap line or hunting squirrels. Wintertime was especially memorable. When the chores were done and there was time to spare, Darren could be found out back playing hockey with the family or any of the neighbouring children. No matter what the temperature, the skates were tied, the sticks were out, and a good ol' hockey game was in play.

Darren came to know the Lord Jesus at a young age and has continued in His service and work since that time. Darren graduated from High School in 1985 and started work in construction soon after. His knack for carpentry started in his teen years when he completed different woodworking projects including a beautiful pine bedroom suite which he built.

In 1987, Darren's sister, Roxanne, invited a young friend, Joyce Swanson, from school over. The "master plan" was in place.

Joyce (Swanson) was born and raised in Big River. She was born October 6, 1970, to Eric and Olga Swanson. Eric and Olga had seven children, three girls and four boys - Joyce being the youngest. They lost one daughter, Darlene, tragically in 1965.

Joyce's mom and dad moved the family to town when she was about five years old. Joyce didn't mind the move but often wished to be back on the farm.

Joyce thoroughly enjoyed her childhood whether it was swimming at South Stoney or Nesslin Lake, skating at the old rink, or taking long bike rides. One of Joyce's fondest memories was of her dad coming to swim with her in South Stoney, even though he was probably sixty at the time.

A turning point in Joyce's life was when she spent a week at Big River Bible Camp. There she acknowledged Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and it has been a blessing serving Him ever since. In 1987, Darren and Joyce started dating and were married in Big River on August 5, 1989.

Darren and Joyce moved to the Holmberg quarter in the Rapid bend area. There, Darren and Joyce spent many hours together clearing out bush to start their new home. Everything was new and exciting. Darren and Joyce lived in a mobile home for three years. During that time they welcomed their daughter, Karlene Sara. Karlene was born on January 21, 1992. She was also the first fifth-generation grandchild on Darren's side of the family.

During that same year, 1992, Darren and Joyce decided to build a new home. Before they could start though, they had to dig a new well. The old well was running dry and corroded with iron. Darren often went for walks in the "back 40" and this particular time Joyce thought nothing of it. When Darren did come back he said he needed a shovel because he had found water at the bottom of the hill. He had been poking a crowbar in the ground and had found wet sand. Joyce thought he must have been imagining it. To everyone's amazement, there was good drinking water in the hole and lots of it. After a few different attempts at digging with a backhoe and a well drilling rig, they were finally able to put in the cribbing, use the well, and begin work on the house. The well itself is 12 feet deep with 8 feet of good drinking water.

Darren was laid off from his job for a few months and then started the long days of working on the house. In August of 1992, they were able to move in. They sold their trailer to a couple from Alberta. When the couple phoned, they asked about the trailer's condition and soon said they would be there in a week with a semi-truck to buy and move it.

In 1993, Darren and Joyce had their second baby. Nathan Darren was born on the 7th of May. Nathan spent a week in NICU in Saskatoon with a Group B Strep infection and later again in ICU with RSV. The Lord brought him back to good health and now he's probably the healthiest of them all.

January 1997 brought another baby, Matthew Eric Lloyd. Matthew is well known for his big smile and permanent dimples. The new millennium brought one more. Danae Rachel was born on December 6, 2000. The family is now complete, two girls, two boys.

Presently Darren is a lumber grader at the sawmill. Joyce is a stay-at-home mom and has been homeschooling her children for the last three years.

Darren and Joyce are also members of the Evangelical Free Church in Big River. They place enormous value on their family life. They know and love the Lord and their greatest desire is to pass their faith onto their children.

They have both taught Sunday school together and have also served in the church in other ways. Darren also was able to use his carpentry abilities to renovate and expand the sanctuary in the church.

As a family, the Davidsons enjoy a lot of outdoor activities. They have a sliding hill in the back and the kids spend many hours with their friends cruising that hill. They also skate a lot together, go fishing-winter and summer, camping, swimming, and springtime is always exciting when the kids start to play ball. They also love to spend time in their yard and garden. Lately, they have started to grow their little orchard. They have enjoyed their own Saskatoon berries, pin cherries, chokecherries, a small crop of apples, and some melons, too. The kids have also taken a genuine interest in seeding and growing their produce as well.

Darren and Joyce enjoy their quiet life and hope and dream that they can make a lot more history together.

Davidson, Edwin and Rhonda

Edwin Lloyd Davidson was born July 17, 1968, in Big River Union Hospital, too proud parents Lloyd and Nancy. Being their second child, he was no little brother to Darren! Weighing ten pounds seven and one-half ounces, and measuring twenty-one and a half inches long, he certainly was a big bundle of joy, as every baby should be. Lloyd and Nancy had four children, Darren, Edwin, Roxanne and Amelia.

Edwin grew up in the Rapid Bend District and was raised on the family farm. There he learned that an honest day's work never hurt anyone, doing chores and helping around the farm. In his spare time, you would have found Edwin hunting for squirrels, trapping gophers, riding horses, and in the winter, skating on Long Lake. Then his Mom started making their famous skating rink; famous because of the "ice hill" you skated down to the rink! (If you were brave enough...) Everyone looked forward to the fun and good times at the Davidson's! Countless hours were and still are spent on that rink, in the making of, to the hockey games or "tag" played on the ice! It has been a wonderful tradition for all of us, and we are grateful to Mom for making it faithfully every winter.

Edwin has been blessed to have grown up near his grandparents from both sides of his family! Grandparents, Abe and Mary Thiessen lived two miles away, and grandparents Alex and Blanche Davidson lived within one mile too!

After graduation at Big River High School, Edwin was hired at Ritchie Construction, where he has worked in construction since 1986. Callused hands and a good knowledge of construction and cement are Edwin's trademarks as a Journeyman Carpenter. We are grateful to George and Arlene Ritchie for his job and their kindness to us throughout the years.

Somewhere along the way, Edwin noticed a particular girl, on his way to work...Rhonda Lee Joanne Arcand in fact!

Rhonda was born in Merritt, British Columbia, on February 27, 1970, to proud parents Joyce Hilma (Reimer) and (Joseph) Edward Arcand. Although she grew up in British Columbia, her roots were in good old Saskatchewan. Her great grandparents, Charles and Hilma Newman, homesteaded in the Park Valley District, along with her grandparents John and Doris (Newman) Reimer. On her Dad's side of the family, Rhonda has relatives in and near Debden area too. Rhonda's other grandparents, Demas and Bella Arcand, homesteaded in the Jackson Lake District. Rhonda remembers visiting several friends and relatives when on summer holidays and going to Nesslin Lake. Thus, the area was not unfamiliar to her.

One winter day, after Edwin had come home from working up north for a week, he asked his future wife to be, on a date, and the rest is history!

Edwin Lloyd Davidson married Rhonda Lee Joanne Arcand on August 11, 1990, after a two-year engagement. We were married in Canwood Pentecostal Church, and the reception was at the Canwood Elks Hall. The marriage ceremony was performed by Jack McNeil, and the wedding party consisted of the new bride and groom, best men Darren Davidson and Leslie Arcand (brother of the bride), bridesmaids Roxanne Davidson and Michelle Arcand (cousin of the bride), flower girls Reani and Renee Sharp (twin cousins of the bride) and the ring bearer Jordan Sharp (cousin of the bride). We were blessed with a large crowd to share this special day with us!

Along came our beautiful daughter Brittany, our first child, on March 12, 1992. She weighed 8 pounds 13 ounces, not nearly the size of her Daddy at birth. (Thank goodness!) We were so proud of her, and flowers and family flooded us with love. Brittany Lee Davidson, our lovely daughter!

Dustin John Edwin came along, just about two years later, on March 2, 1994. Rhonda remembers trying to have him on her birthday, by going on a bumpy ride to induce labour, but alas, Dustin came when he was supposed to! A bouncing baby boy, weighing nine pounds nine ounces, our beautiful son! Brittany held her baby brother and she was almost two years old! God has thus far blessed us with two children, and we are so thankful!

We lived in the Town of Big River from 1990 to 2001, at 114 - 5th Avenue South (which used to belong to Tilley Smith). It was a small trailer with an addition. We had a nice garden there, and friendly neighbours. But Edwin's heart was in the country, so we started planning our move... and now we live in the Ladder Valley area, close to where Edwin grew up (NE 23-55-6-W3"). Edwin and Rhonda sawed the lumber to build their own house and moved on September 15, 2001, after a couple of years of building (mostly after work and on weekends). We remember counting the rings in one tree we were sawing, and there were 99 rings! Rhonda said, "Hmmm...we are building a new house out of an old tree!" We had building bees and afterwards we fellowshipped with coffee by the campfire, with goodies to munch on. Many hands helped us, and we are so grateful to God for the help of family and friends.

Davidson, Lloyd and Nancy

Nancy and Lloyd.
Nancy and Lloyd Davidson.

In March 1941, Blanche Davidson took a train to Shellbrook Hospital. Mrs Goldie Hyllestad was a passenger on the train. She had commented, "I see you're going to a birthday party." Oh yes, Lloyd Alexander Davidson was born on March 19, 1941. Lloyd's parents were Alex Miller and Blanche Irene (nee Pollard) Davidson. Alex's parents were David and Rachel (Miller) Davidson, originally from Scotland. (See own history)

Blanche's parents were Thomas and Zora (nee Church) Pollard. Thomas Pollard was born in 1872, in Seven Oaks, England. As a babe in arms, he came to Canada with his parents that same year. For thirty years they lived in Ontario before coming to Blaine Lake in 1902. Thomas Pollard did the lathe and plasterwork on the Big River Lakeview Hotel.

Zora Church was born on March 10, 1888, in North Carolina, United States. Zora met Thomas in Blaine Lake, and they were married (year unknown). Blanche was the second eldest of eleven children. Edna (Pollard) Scorgie, formerly of Big River, is one of her sisters.

Lloyd's parents, Alex and Blanche, came to Big River with his grandparents, David and Rachel. They came from Blaine Lake to homestead on the Jackpine Ridge, in Rapid Bend District in 1934. While the rest of the clan stayed with Mr Ernie Freer, Lloyd's Dad built a log and mud house. This is where Lloyd, his brother, Albert, and sister, Margaret, grew up. In 1953, an addition of two bedrooms was added on to the house. (Consequently, Lloyd and Nancy moved this addition to their present residence to live in once they were married for a few years. It then became the "chicken coop", as the grandchildren now know it. Thus, their statement, "Grandpa and Grandma used to live in the chicken coop!")

In 1961, Alex and Blanche built a new home, on the former Crashley homestead, which Alex had purchased. Lloyd lived with his parents until we got married. Albert presently resides in the home.

As a young boy, Lloyd remembers it was very lonely living on the "Ridge". One of Lloyd's happiest childhood memories was hearing Uncle Archie Webb's truck coming down the winding jackpine trail. Most people travelled by horse & buggy or horse-drawn caboose, cutter or sleigh. Lloyd loved springtime, and he spent every possible moment at the creek or the Sturgeon River. Hunting and trapping were in Lloyd's blood at a very early age. At fifteen years of age, Lloyd ordered his first .22 Rifle from the catalogue ($36.00). He still prefers his "old" gun. This was also the year, 1956, that Lloyd rented his farming land from Ernie Freer and we purchased 1/4 section in 1965, just before getting married.

Lloyd went to school in the one-room Rapid Bend country schoolhouse where grades one to eight were taught. Lloyd went to grade seven, walking or driving a horse and buggy or cutter. The school barn had to be cleaned daily, and this job was available to the older boys. Lloyd had the $2.75/per month job for some time. I, Nancy, also attended this school but only for grade one. That was 1954, the last year the school was used. Mrs Russeau was the first teacher there. From then on, the school bus hauled the country students to the Big River School. Our first school bus was the back of a one-ton grain truck! Our first bus driver was Mr Jim Panter, and the best one he was too! Everyone said you could set your watch by him!

The country school had many purposes: learning from Monday to Friday; dancing some Saturday nights; and Church on Sundays. After the school closed, bridal showers and wedding receptions were held there.

I, Nancy, was born to Abe and Mary (Veer) Thiessen. Dad's parents were Henry H. and Marguretha (Reimer) Thiessen, from Great Deer, Saskatchewan (Henry 1881-1965, Marguretha 1884-1954). Mom's parents were Abe and Marie (Unrau) Veer. (Abe Veer 1898-1967, originally from North Dakota, United States). Our history on Grandpa's side can be traced back to Holland. The name Veer came from a longer version, Van de Veer. It was shortened because in those days to get on a ship headed for America, you had to pay according to the number of letters in your last name. Our ancestors wanted to save money and did so, by becoming Veer. Marie Veer (1905-2000) was born Marie Unrau at "Lowe Farms" Manitoba.

I, Nancy, was born at 4:00 am on my parents homestead; SE 15-55-6-W3rd. Mom was to take a train to Prince Albert to await my arrival in the hospital. Having a stubborn personality, then as now, I arrived two weeks early. No doctor for me! When my Grandma Veer could do the job of a midwife for all the other neighbours, why not me? September 4, 1947, is my birthday.

Both Lloyd's and my parents made their living by farming. Milking cows and shipping cream in five-gallon cans were one source of income. The cream was priced according to butterfat count and freshness. Freshness, without refrigeration! Sometimes cream cans were hung down the wells to keep cool and mostly hauled to the train station by horses. The nearest creamery was in Shellbrook. My dad had a Model-T Ford which was sometimes used for travelling in good weather. One time when I was about four years old, Dad, Mom and I were taking two cans of cream to Debden through the old Park Valley Trail. Now, that old Model - T found three passengers and two full cans of cream just too heavy to make it up the Dolstrum hills. So Mom got out to push the Model - T up the hill. To my parents' great horror I also insisted on helping push. Sometimes when the Model - T couldn't climb a hill Dad would turn around and go up backwards because it had more power going backwards!

Our parents also made a living on sheep, lambs, and wool. Mom had her spinning wheel and she would spin wool to knit socks and mitts for all of us. They sold pigs and pail - fed calves for the market, and raised and butchered turkeys to sell for Christmas spending. Tons of berries were picked; some for sale, some for survival. Tasty survival at that!

Both our families farmed with horses. My Dad's first tractor was steel-wheeled, with steel lugs... a 15/30. I rode on that tractor when I was about two years old in a wooden orange box. Lloyd did a little horse-powered farming to help his Dad. He drove the horses on the horse-mower and the horse-hayrake.

Lloyd and I both grew up without electricity, telephone or running water. Running water, oh yes, by the pails full carried by hand! It could be fast too if Mother needed fresh cold water to rinse the butter.

Some of my childhood memories are, having no electricity until 1961, were of the dimly lit coal oil lamp- light in the home and no outside lighting. The outside "biffy" was a child's nightmare! Before bed, you had to take a stroll out there in the dark. On my way out I peeped left...and then right...over and over again with very small slow steps until I was in the outhouse. The trip back to the house and safety took no time at all!

Bath time, a weekly tradition, was appreciated by all on Saturday night. First, we had to carry the water from the well, heat it on the wood cookstove in a metal boiler, then put it into a large round dual-purpose washtub, (laundry tub on Monday). Bath time started with the youngest member of the family and then proceeded through to the eldest with Mom and Dad last. In the wintertime, bath time took place right beside the wood tin heater!

My parents' home was located along an "old Indian trail", travelled seasonally by the local natives. When they came in the dark of the evening, they would never come to the door but would peer into the windows, their dark faces pressed into the panes. I remember well one evening, sitting playing beside the warm tin heater... Daddy was reading the "free press"; Mom was knitting up a storm when through the dim lamplight I drew my Mother's attention to the faces in the window. Mom motioned to Dad, "We have company . . . " Dad asked them in to see what they wanted and always offered a cup of hot tea or coffee. When they accepted they would usually sit cross-legged on the floor to drink it. They would not sit at the table. I do not know the reason. Their cause for stopping was usually for sugar, tea, coffee, or tobacco.

Lloyd and I were married on April 23, 1965, in the Big River United Church. This church later became Forbes Funeral Home. Our reception was held in the Rapid Bend School and the dance held in the Legion Hall in Big River. Our band consisted of Pete Reimer, his son Jack, Abe Bergen and Abe Thiessen (son of Henry and Anne). Their charge was fifteen dollars. When the bride's shoe was passed along, it had an astounding $17.35! Wow! $2.35 to spare! My headpiece didn't come in on time so I borrowed Bernice Swanson's.

We started our married life in Mr Ernie Freer's homestead house. We lived there for only a few months when a terrible lightning storm brewed and lightning hit the house. A mother cat snuck in and hid herself and her two kittens under our bed. The lightning struck and followed the metal bed frame. The lightning killed the mother cat and deafened the kittens for life. I was struck and knocked out for a few minutes. The house was filled with smoke but did not burn. This was in 1965 when the present grid road was being built past my parents' home. Two members of the road crew, Joe Ahearn and Louis Short, took shelter in their bunkhouse. They heard the thunder just before the lightning hit and instinctively knew that a severe strike hit close by.

Our way of life has always been mixed farming, trapping, hunting, fishing, and gardening, berry picking, and relying on God. Lloyd broke most of our land with a mould-board brush breaking plough, (a single bottom plough that would break 20 inches at a time). Our first tractor was a W6 International. Our first car was a 1959 Chev, with tail fins. We even rented 140 acres of farmland and used the W6.

We have been very blessed over the years. We have the privilege of farming some of Lloyd's parents' land, my parents' land and our own.

We have four children. Darren was born on January 29, 1967, in Big River. He married Joyce Swanson from Big River. They have four children: Karlene, Nathan, Matthew and Danae.

Edwin was born on July 17, 1968, in Big River. He married Rhonda Arcand from Big River. They have two children: Brittany and Dustin.

Roxanne was born on January 21, 1970, in Big River. She married Trevor Mitchell of Prince Albert on August 2, 1997. Trevor is the son of Don and Marie Mitchell, originally from Birch Hills. Roxanne and Trevor have three children: Taylor, born on July 28, 1998; Jordan, born on December 19, 1999; and Nicole, born on July 30, 2003. Roxanne went to school in Big River from kindergarten to grade twelve. She attended Lakeland College in Vermillion, Alberta where she received her office administration degree. She has been employed at Heartland Livestock Sales Ring (P.A.), CKBI CTV Television Station, and her most current job is at Carlton Comprehensive High School.

Amelia Irene Davidson was born on June 14, 1983, at the University Hospital, Saskatoon. Amelia went to school in Big River from kindergarten to grade twelve, enjoying sports immensely! She started classes at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon in 2001, planning on becoming an elementary school teacher. During her first year, she got involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, an awesome group, and through them, she decided to go as a missionary to Africa. The plans were to go to Madagascar, but there was a political uprising within the country and a priest was murdered. Therefore the destination was changed to Tanzania. Her experience there was eye-opening and heartfelt for the people. Amelia enjoys serving the Lord. She is now involved with Youth in the church she attends in Saskatoon.

Delisle, Agnes (Frehlich/Cadrin)

My entrance into this world came early one morning on a very cold, stormy, winter day at the end of March 1935. I was delivered by "Doctor Dad" in a little old red cutter on the way to the Edam Hospital in the small district known as Langemade, Saskatchewan. I imagine this was not a pleasant chore for Dad! When I was four years old we loaded up the truck like the "Clampets" of the "Beverly Hillbillies" and moved to Meota, Saskatchewan.

On October 24, 1953, at the ripe old age of eighteen, I married Frank Cadrin in North Battleford in a double wedding with his brother. We had two sons, David and Guy. This union lasted a little over seven years.

On September 18, 1964, I married Ray Delisle and had one more son, Henry (Hank). In May of 1969, we moved to Big River as there was work at the sawmill, but disaster struck. The mill was destroyed by fire six days after our arrival. We went through some pretty hard times for a while. Thankfully, the portable mills were brought in and work began soon after, but with the arrival of winter, they ceased to operate. Privately operated mills began a little further north, so Ray worked for the John Dunn outfit. To make matters worse the temperature dropped to sixty below! We could hear the tires crunching on the street outside.

David, Guy and Hank.
David, Guy and Hank.

Our very first home was the Huxted house attached to the old store. There wasn't a place to be rented anywhere in town, so as the Riddle family moved out to the place they called the "Eight Ball", we moved in. The boys finished school here and went on to bigger and better things. David married Barbara Jean Lamothe, a teacher, and had two children, Mathew and Rachel. They live in Lloydminster, Alberta. David also became a teacher, which was not for him, so he became a chemical technician and oil well consultant. He and his wife Laura live in Red Deer, Alberta.

Guy married Kelly Steed, then remarried. There were no children. He has his journeyman's ticket in carpentry and has also become a certified scaffolder. He works in the north but makes his home in Prince Albert with his special lady friend, Barbara Ann, and her children, Franklin and Chelsea.

Hank and Diane's wedding, Raymond driving.
Hank and Diane's wedding, Raymond driving.

Hank (Henry) is married to Diane McGrath. She is a Special Care Aide and is working at Lakewood Lodge and the hospital. They have three children: Wesley, Wayne and Kimberly. The boys are very much into hockey. Hank works for Ritchie Construction. He held many jobs during his school years. He has worked for Carmen Weir, for Mery Weiss at the lumberyard and on the oilrigs. He had his own little business for a time repairing small motors and doing carpentry work. All three of my boys and my grandsons, Wesley and Wayne, have worked for George and Arlene Ritchie at one time or another.

Hank has organized a hockey team with the help of a lot of great people from Big River. It is known as the "Timber Kings". He feels that his children had all the opportunity as well. One member of the group he sadly misses is Al Osinchuk. He was so enthused with this new hockey team and a great supporter. Hank also belongs to some of the organizations around town and both he and his wife Diane get out and help support as much as they can.

In 1970, two horses came into our lives and from then on we became a racing family. There never was a rodeo and race that we missed. It all began with two horses and a cart known as a "Chariot'. We quickly convinced our friends, Lois and Mervin Cooper, who lived just down the road from us, how wonderful all this was. They joined us going down the road with their cart and two beautiful little black horses. Soon Philip Delisle and Joe Delisle also joined us. Next, they all graduated to four horses and the chuck wagon, all except Mervin. When Hank was old enough he took over the chariot racing and became a holder for his Dad's wagon outfit as well. After many, many trophies, many rodeos and hundreds of miles this part of our lives has come to an end.

We bought our first place of residence from the Kurt Wilk family, just across the road from the Les McMahon family, by Ladder Lake. It was still a lake then. Now sadly it is merely a small puddle out there in the middle. I held down many a job in my time: as a telephone operator, a waitress, a house cleaner, a housekeeper and a baby-sitter. I lifted and cut trees at the Forest Nursery and I also worked for Home Care. In 1990, I graduated from the Kelsey Program known as the Home Care/Special Care Aide program. I did my practicum in the Shellbrook Nursing Home and at Lakewood Lodge in Big River. When I got my certificate I decided to remain working for Home Care. I liked working one-on-one, rather than with a group of people. I had this job for seventeen years until I had to have a very large non-malignant tumor removed from my arm, crippling my hands. This prevented me from continuing with my job and looking after the clients who were so wonderful and co-operative. I had to stop doing the work I enjoyed so much. I was then forced to retire. So here I am in Big River by Ladder Lake, right next to my wonderful son and his wonderful wife and family.

Delisle, Hank and Diane
Submitted by Linda Anderson

Diane is the daughter of Florence McGrath and Doug Anderson of Big River. Hank is the son of Agnes and Raymond Delisle of Big River. Diane married Hank on August 11, 1984. They have three children. Wesley Raymond was born on June I. 1983. Wesley graduated from grade twelve in Big River in 2002. He worked for Ritchie Construction during grades eleven and twelve and one year after. He is living and working in Lloydminster, Alberta. Wayne James was born on February 18, 1986. He is attending high school completing his grade twelve. Kimberly Dee was born on September 18, 1989. She is in grade nine at Big River Community High School. Both boys are avid hockey players and Kimberly plays broomball and volleyball. Diane works at the Health Center where she has been employed for sixteen years. Hank is working in building construction for Ritchie Construction.

Delorme, Darrelle

Darrelle Delorme.
Darrelle Delorme.

My name is Darrelle Delorme. I was born in Saskatoon University Hospital. My grandparents Sam Joseph and Matilda Keenatch raised me. I was nine months old when my mom adopted me out to my grandparents. I lived with my uncles and auntie too. I was raised on the Big River First Nations Reserve, 12 miles out of Debden and 30 miles out of Big River. I lived by Jim Morin's Lake, by a hill. I went to pow-wows, sundances and round dances, I enjoyed them.

I attended Se-Se-Wa-Hum School, on the reserve, from 1989-1999. I didn't like the school in Whitefish because all my cousins picked on me in school and on the bus. I don't know why. I went there from kindergarten to grade seven. My auntie and uncles also went there.

From 1999-2000, I went to live with my dad in Edmonton. I went to St. Francis Jr. High School for grade eight to grade nine. I was there from October to June.

I moved back to my Aunt Lydia's for the summer. Then I moved to Prince Albert. My brother and my baby sister and I lived with my mom, Janet Keenatch and my stepdad, Wayne Vandal. For grade ten, I went to St. Mary's High School in Prince Albert.

During this time, I began volunteer work and work experience programs. I worked at the Victoria Hospital, the pow-wow at the Communiplex and cooking for my Native Studies teacher.

In grade eleven I moved to Whitefish for the summer. When school started I moved to Big River living with Doug McKenzie and my aunt Lydia Keenatch.

I was very shy when I first came to Big River High School. I began working with Mrs Kennedy and Luwanna Gunvaldsen employment consultant ISACL) and Wayne Duchenerer, Social Worker. They helped me find a place to live and employment in Big River. I started working for McKenzie Trucking on June 21, 2002. I started living with Helen and Eddie Sawatsky and puppies on July 21, 2002.

During grade twelve, I worked with Mrs Mary-Lou Hamoline and Mrs Meada Wilson to complete my courses. I graduated on June 13, 2003. My escorts were Debra and Amy Bickert. I decided to stay in school as a part-time student to improve my Reading and Math. I also am employed at McKenzie Trucking and the T.D. Michel School.

Denton, Daniel and Jodie

I, Jodie Lee Cowan, was born in the Big River Hospital (delivered by Doctor Shukla) on July 20, 1976. I am a granddaughter of Art and Ruth Buckingham and Herb Cowan (May 1910 - July 1993) and Olive Poche. I am the daughter of Wayne and Sherry Cowan. I have two brothers: Clay (January 2, 1974) and Jay (November 14, 1977).

My kindergarten class was the first to attend T.D. Michel Elementary School and I graduated from Big River High School in 1994. I went on to the University of Saskatchewan from 1994 to 1995, enrolled in the Arts and Sciences Program.

I moved to Meadow Lake in the summer of 1995 to work for my father. He had a contract with the Millar Western Pulp Mill for the heavy equipment operations. I operated the loader, bobcat and more heavy equipment from 1995 to 1999. I then moved to Edson, Alberta to live with my cousin Cheryl Swanson. In May of 2000, I started working at Sundance Sunplus Lumber Mill as a lumber stacker, then moving on to packaging for most of my time there.

I met Daniel Gordon Denton on February 26, 2000. We bought a house together the following February and were married on June 9, 2001. I then became stepmom to Jackson Daniel Denton. On July 30, 2002, I was blessed to have a beautiful baby girl, Emma Lee. Dr Button in Hinton, Alberta delivered her.

We moved to Cold Lake, Alberta on March 15, 2003. Dan and I purchased the Hoof and Anchor Restaurant located in Cold Lake North on Lakeshore Drive on April 1, 2003. Between being parents and restaurant owners we are pretty busy, but we still manage to make time to visit Big River now and again.

Desmeules, Sylvio

Sylvio was a twenty-one-year-old man who came from Montmagny, Quebec to try to obtain a homestead in the Winter Lake area. He wanted to settle on NE 1-55-7 W3rd on June 18, 1912. He moved on, as the homestead was never patented in his name.

The Devonshire Family

Phil and Pat.
Phil and Pat Devonshire,

Phillip Devonshire was born and raised in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. After completing his high school at Riverside Collegiate in Prince Albert, he attended the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. He obtained his Bachelor of Education degree majoring in History. In the fall of 1971, he began teaching at Big River High School. For the next 30 years, he taught History at the Big River High School as well as coaching various sports. He took an active role in the community through the Big River Elks Club, Minor Sports, the Royal Canadian Legion, as well as coaching various sports. Phil retired from teaching in June 2001. He is presently working as a substitute teacher and has set up a Peer Mentoring Program at the Big River Community High School. Phil is an avid Boston Bruins fan. He enjoys all sports, sports select and collecting coins.

Patricia Devonshire (Laroque) was born and raised in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. She attended the University of Saskatchewan and obtained her Bachelor of Education degree. Pat taught in Kinistino, Prince Albert, and Big River. She took time off from active teaching to raise their family. She taught core French for ten years and is presently teaching grade three at the T.D. Michel Community School. Pat is an active member of the Big River Roman Catholic Church and the Royal Purple.

Phil and Pat met while attending the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. They were married on July 17, 1971. They have four children: Todd (1974), Kari (1978), Lisa (1980), and Kimberly (1984).

Todd Gordon Devonshire was born and raised in Big River. He graduated from Big River High School in 1991. He attended Broadcasting School and worked at CJVR radio station in Melfort. He then attended the U of S in Saskatoon and convocated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Kinesiology and a Bachelor of Education degree. He taught in England and Japan. On August 21, 2004, Todd married Dawn Hupaelo, daughter of Edward and Trudy Hupaelo, of Hafford. Dawn is an English teacher. Todd and Dawn live in Lucky Lake, Saskatchewan, where Todd has a teaching position.

Kari Marie Therese Devonshire graduated from Big River High School in June 1996. She took a Teacher Assistant Course. On July 22, 2000, Kari married Jaysan Marsh, son of Lorne and Sue Marsh, of Christopher Lake. Jaysan is employed by Rob Buckingham Enterprises in Big River. Kari is presently employed by Weyerhaeuser. Kari and Jaysan have recently purchased a farm at Christopher Lake. They are the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl, Jaylyn Mariam Therese, born on January 17, 2004.

Lisa Diane Devonshire graduated from Big River High School. She worked at Clarke Lake Lodge for three years. Lisa is an avid broomball player. She has been on provincial, western and national broomball teams earning various awards. She enjoys travelling. At present, Lisa is studying in Saskatoon to become a Massage Therapist.

Kimberly Dawn Devonshire graduated from Big River Community High School. She was the president of the SRC as well as the Valedictorian of the graduating class of 2002. Following in the footsteps of her brother and sisters, Kim received the grade twelve Physical Education award. Kim is also an avid broomball player. She has played for provincial, western and national broomball teams. She has received provincial as well as national awards. Kim completed one year of Arts and Sciences at the U of S in Saskatoon. She is presently working in Big River and taking classes by correspondence from the U of S. Kim is leaning towards a career in the RCMP after completion of a degree from the U of S.

Devonshire Family.
Back Row: Todd, Dawn Hupaelo, Lisa, Kari, Jayson.
Front Row: Pat, Kim, Phil.

Dittrick, Frank

Frank Dittrick
Frank Dittrick.

Frank was born in 1936 near Killaly, Saskatchewan, close to the Qu' Appelle Valley near Melville. As a teenager, the promise of employment took him to Ontario, where he married and raised a family, two daughters and a son. One of his daughters is Fran Oudshoorn, who preceded his move to Big River by several years. He always had a love for hunting and fishing and has been a trapper since childhood. During his time living in Ontario, he made yearly deer hunting trips to Saskatchewan to hunt with his brothers. He wanted his family to be able to grow up on Saskatchewan venison.

While visiting his family in Big River, he decided it was time to move back. He did so in January 1997 after purchasing the stone house in Bodmin from Art Hunt. Since then, in between all of the gardening he does, he has done a lot of trapping, fishing, and hunting. He enjoys spending time in his skinning shack carefully preparing the pelts for auction. He has a desire to teach his knowledge to anyone young and old, who will watch and listen, or even come along on the trapline with him. He has been the Vice President of the Parkview Wildlife Federation for several years. He is also an active member of the Saskatchewan Trappers Association.

e-mail me.

Author: Webmaster -
"Date Modified: March 26, 2024."

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