Saturday, 7 June 2008

the Hill place

"There's the Hill place," John Aitken said, as we drove north out of Eyebrow. "You can see it from all around." I'd met John a year ago, after I'd identified myself as a "son of an Eyebrow man" in introducing his daugher Hilary, "daughter of an Eyebrow man," at Luther convocation.

Let's get the obvious out of the way: it's a dry, stoney place my family left in '30 when E.G.Hill died and his eldest daughter took the younger kids and her sick mother down to Mazenod, where she (Maude, the daughter) taught school. My dad, also a schoolteacher, had left by that time. Alex Foulston bought the Hill farm, as it's still known, from the land company in 1949; his son owns it now. The yard, abandoned, serves as winter shelter for Foulston's cattle. The house E.G. built in 1917 still stands, although no one has lived there since the elder Foulston died in '92. Everything is falling down; the yard and outbuildings, even the house itself, are filled with junk.

But what a gorgeous location, the crest of a hill giving views for miles north, east and south. Dad rarely spoke of this place. I think life was too hard, and/or his own father too hard, to merit remembering. During a few good years they did well enough to buy a new threshing unit--long ago scrapped, with dozens of other pieces of machinery, out back of the barn--and a crawler tractor which Dad, age 15, drove to the farm from Moose Jaw (a 15-hour trip by tractor). But by 1930 it was done.

E.G., his wife Alice, and their son Leonard who died in the flu epidemic are all buried in the Eyebrow cemetery. Their farm is visible for miles, as I said. This morning back in the city I can still see it.

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