1965 Saskatchewan Farming Family Scrapbook Detailing Rural Western Canadian Prairie Life in the Year of the Province’s Diamond Jubilee

1965 Saskatchewan Farming Family Scrapbook Detailing Rural Western Canadian Prairie Life in the Year of the Province’s Diamond Jubilee

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On offer is a lovely, informative and distinctly Canadian scrapbook about Saskatchewan farming, prepared by a Regina-area farming family. The scrapbook was written and compiled for an American relative as a gift for Christmas 1965. This was the year that Saskatchewan celebrated its diamond jubilee, marking 60 years as a province 

This scrapbook was put together in November, 1965 for Marie Piper Swalm (1896-1989) of Kansas, United States, by her niece, Dorothy Stevenson (1915-2010) of Regina, Saskatchewan, and Dorothy’s husband, James (Jimmy) (1914-1995), her son Rae, and Jimmy’s brother, Dave. Marie’s husband, Leslie Oliver Swalm (1878-1952) was Dorothy’s mother, Gertrude Swalm Conlin’s, brother. Dorothy and Jimmy farmed in the Wascana District, north of Regina. Marie was raised on a farm in Kansas. It stands to reason that this homemade Christmas gift about Saskatchewan farming would have been exceptionally meaningful to Marie Swalm. 

This remarkably thoughtful scrapbook reads as an introduction to Saskatchewan, its farming industry, the prairie provinces, and Canada as a whole. Beginning with the front cover image of a glued-on western red lily, Saskatchewan’s official flower, the scrapbook walks the reader through all four seasons in the province. Each season/section of the scrapbook contains a typed update about the experience of farming in Saskatchewan in that season as well as information about the family’s work and life. These updates are interspersed with drawings, images from the newspaper and other sources glued in, relevant typed quotations, song lyrics and poems, sweet handwritten notations, and more. 

In the Autumn section of the scrapbook, after a long typed essay about the experience of coping with crickets on the farm, Dorothy includes a photograph of a deer with the handwritten note: 

“Deer come in our garden, eat our crabapples and destroy our trees. While they are picturesque, I am happy to report Rae got his again this fall - his ninth with a shotgun slug. Jimmy also got his. Venison a la rotisserie - Yum yum!”

Other topics covered in the scrapbook in words, images or both include: an essay where Dorothy argues that 1965 should be called “The Year of the Tiger” and then ties in the Chinese zodiac with Saskatchewan’s diamond jubilee and the concept of hope, an essay about what it is like to experience a Saskatchewan winter as a farmer (replete with several illustrative anecdotes, discussion of the Seed Catalogue and more),  a short blurb about the importance of Spring to the Saskatchewan farmer given the short time before first frost, imagery and discussion of other flowers common to the area, discussion of summer canning, and a detailed essay about crickets. There is a mention of the 1965 federal election, in which Lester B. Pearson was re-elected, a story about rural Saskatchewan mail delivery, and some religious content, since this book was created as a Christmas gift. 

Aside from providing quite the education about mid-20th century Saskatchewan farming life, this book presents Dorothy as an extremely well-written and witty woman. To illustrate, her essay about winter on the farm begins: 

“It has been said that in a year we have eight months of winter and four months of tough sledding…”.

Taken together, this scrapbook provides deep insight into the life of a farming family in 1965, and also acts as a time capsule for Saskatchewan, Canada in the same year. This is a truly thrilling piece of Canadiana that would be an enhancement to any collection, particularly interesting to a Western Canadian academic institution that offers agricultural education. 

The scrapbook is in a series of pages bound together in a duo-tang cover. Entitled “Thoughts From A Saskatchewan Farm”, it measures 8.5x11.0 inches and contains 45 pages. It is 100% complete. The cover is in good condition as are the pages. Some pages have a bit of age discoloration along some edges and there are a couple of piece of pages intentionally cut out. The flower on the front cover is slightly ripped. The binding is in good condition as well. Mostly typed with legible handwritten comments throughout. Overall G. 

Background on Saskatchewan, Canada

The Province of Saskatchewan lies in the western part of Canada, part of the Great Plains of North America. It takes its name from the Cree word for ‘swiftly flowing river’. At Confederation in 1867, the land that was to become the future province was sparsely settled and primarily inhabited by First Nations peoples and Metis. Following Confederation, a major effort was made by the Government of Canada and the national railroads to bring settlers to the west. The advertising was highly optimistic and downplayed the harshness of early life on the prairies.

In 1905, the Government of Canada created the Province of Saskatchewan. Primarily and agricultural region, Saskatchewan has developed a strong mineral resource industry, especially in oil, potash and uranium. As the 20th century progressed, its economy diversified with strong manufacturing and service sectors.

Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information or to request photos. (Kindly include the SKU, listed on this page above the price, in your e-mail so we can more easily answer your questions.)

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