Stratford Saunders Walks Into Canada

Stratford Saunders found the joys of traveling in October 1917 as he went on a family visit (and then some). From the Thursday, October 18, 1917 edition of the Skidmore News, page 1:

From Montana

Havre, Mont., Oct. 9, 1917
Skidmore News,

Dear Sir — While sitting around thinking of home and old friends I thought I would write another letter to the Skidmore News as it would be impossible to write to all of them personally.

I am now at my youngest sons, Arthur’s; came down here Saturday, but before telling you what I have seen and heard here I want to tell you a few things that I saw and heard while at son Jims. In the first place the boys have been very good to us, taking us around in their cars any and everywhere we wanted to go. I may have imposed on kindness and good nature in asking to go so many places, but nevertheless I can’t help it as I wanted to go and see what I could while I was there. I did not know that I would ever have another chance.

Well one day I asked Jim how far it was up to Canada, and he told me, and I said I would like to go up there and see the country; and he says, “All right we will go up to Canada today.” So my wife and daughter, Susie and Cecil Claypool, another one of my daughters from over the range at Kalispell, and her little girl, and Jim and myself got in his car and away we went.

We struck the line in one of the roughest places I ever saw. We had to get out of the car and take it afoot and we went down some of the steepest hills or mountains’ sides that we have passed over before or since, and on down and down we went until we came to the line between the two countries, and the way we knew we had come to the line was an iron post there set in cement and on one side was engraved the words United States and on the other was engraved Canada.

So we went over the line into Canada and there we seen a man with a team going around the fence, picking up old posts, and we asked him if we could get down to the river to get a drink. He said not there, but turn to the left and go until we came to a ford, or a place where we could walk up to the river.

This was Milk river that runs along the line between the two countries; sometimes it is on the Canadian side and sometimes on te United States, and on we went until we came to the place and there was a little guard house there and a swinging basket or box that was hung on a large wire cable and a stout frame work on both sides that it was fastened to and a person or two could climb up and pull the basket to them and get in and pull themselves to the other side. Jim and Susie got in and went to the other side and back and about the time they got back here came a man on horseback across the river and he inquired who we were and where our team or car was, and we told him and so he turned and went back across the river.

Well now I will try and tell you something else. The country where Jim lives is simply fine. It is so level I can stand in his yard and count 35 or 40 farm houses. Jim sent a man and team to town one day while I was there after a load of posts and he came back with two hundred and fifty posts on that one wagon and it is 19 miles to the town.

They have a great many tractor engines and the men will hitch on seven or eight wagons and haul 1000 bushels of wheat to mill at one time. There is a man here whose wheat check last year was $25,000. There is another man who lives near Arthur’s who has a large farm, 750 acres of land, and he has one or two hundred head of cattle. He wants $70 per acre for his land.

Well on last Sunday there was about 150 boys who had to start from Havre to go to war and we all went up to see them start; and such a great crowd there was, over 3000 people there, to see them start and all tried to laugh and be cheerful, but it was a failure with some. So many mothers, sisters and sweethearts whose eyes were wet and red from weeping, it made me feel bad to see them for I knew how they felt, for I have had the same experience some years ago.

Well there is a wonderful outlook for this country, the land is so level and so productive. They raise wheat, oats, flax and alfalfa. All of them are good and paying crops and they raise so many cattle and horses and they all bring a good price.

These men just a few years ago preemted these claims and they now have good homes and ones that pay them.

Carpenters here are getting 75 cents per hour or $7.50 for ten hours work.

Well Mr. Editor, I will now stop as I am coming home the last of this month and then I can tell the rest.

I wish you would tell that man for me that said, in your paper, that I must be careful where I went or I would lose the password, you tell him I found the permanent word in Canada and I am not afraid of losing it anymore.

Give my regards to all my old friends.

S. Saunders.

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