The Calaway Trek

Pipestone Flyer

After the First World War, times were hard, and money scarce, so Mom decided we should move away.  Some of the neighbours moved to California, but Dad’s brother’s family had moved from their homestead in Montana onto some CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway—who received every alternate section of land–640 acres—as a gift from the Canadian Government for building the railway).  Dad and Mom left Helen and I to run the ranch after the harvest, and drove up to see them in the fall of 1922.  Mom thought it looked heavenly with much green grass and trees.  (After years of carrying water in buckets to sustain life in trees and plants, Maud was completely captivated by the greenness of the environment—endless grass, trees and shrubs.  To her thinking, she had reached heaven.  P.B. however, was less impressed, having a home with indoor plumbing, a farm, and a family, he would prefer to stay in Washington.  Maud was not one to give up her dream, so during the winter P.B. converted a farm wagon into a prairie schooner by fastening iron rods across the top to support the canvas cover.  A bed was built across the back with a single bunk above it.  A cream separator was mounted in the front corner and there was a stove for cooking and heat.  The wagon box was built out over the wheels and every spare inch was used for storage.  There was a chair with a seat woven of leather thongs that had travelled to the California gold rush).the next spring, 1923, as soon as school was finished, we started out.  (Two canary birds rode with her.  Helen, fourteen years old, and Edith, thirteen, each had a saddle horse to drive the 25 head of cattle.  The youngest daughter was three-year-old toddler Gwendolyn.  For protection, Mom carried a pearl-handled revolver that her mother had taken to Washington from Pennsylvania.)  Dad stayed home to harvest the crop. Mom had spent her life with cattle, and wasn’t abandoning them then.  Dad wasn’t too impressed with the whole situation; and would have preferred to stay in Washington.

    There weren’t too many super highways in those days and we kept to the rual areas as much as possible.  However we did drive through the city of Spokane, starting at 4 a.m. on a Sunday morning under police escort.  Lantz Robinson, Mom’s brother, lived in Spokane and he and a young telegraph messenger boy helped Helen and me move the cattle through the city…the cows ate along the way and we hobbled the horses  at night so they could feed.  Some mornings we woke to find the horses missing and one day, it was noon before we located them. In those days there was a long narrow bridge over Lake Pend Oreille at Sandpoint Idaho.  At first, cars approaching our cattle excited them and we feared they’d jump over into the lake.  So Mom drove the wagon onto the middle of the bridge and we followed with the cattle.  Any motorist on the other end had to back of f and let us pass.  The further we got into Idaho, the larger and thicker the mosquitoes seemed to get.  The cattle would rush into any near creek or lake and be very difficult to herd out.  The horses lay down in their harness.  Finally, we reached the mountains and the going got slower and slower.  One day we covered only nine miles.  So by the time we reached the International Boundary Line at Eastport, Idaho/Kingsgate, British Columbia, Mom had a pair of tired, disgruntled cowpokes.

    Along the way, the wooden rims and spokes would regularly dry and shrink, causing the steel bands on the wheels to loosen and work off the wheels.  The remedy was to jack up the wagon axle and unbolt the wheel with the large wheel wrench.  The offending wheel was then rolled down into a ditch to soak and swell over night and be reset the following morning.  The practice still goes on today when a loose axe head can be secured on the handle after a few hours of soaking.)

    We usually found some friendly farmer who would let us put our animals in his corral at night.  Morning and night, we milked the cows, separated the cream, poured it into the cream cans we’d brought with us, then shipped them to the creamery in Spokane; who shipped the empty cans back to Dad.

    After a tiring and difficult trip, we finally reached the International Boundary Line at Eastport, Idaho/Kingsgate, B.C..  The horses had to be tested for disease, and one kept reacting to the test serum, so we were kept there for some time.  Finally, we were admitted to Canada!

    While we were at the border, we gave the milk to some friendly townspeople.  The veterinarians was very helpful, and wisely suggested that we rent a boxcar, load the animals and wagon into it, and finish the journey by train.  Helen and I were fed up, so Mom agreed and it was done.  Helen took the train back to spend the rest of the summer with Dad.

    The law required that livestock could only be entrained for a period of 24 hours, then must be unloaded, fed, watered, and rested, before going further.  The railroad people refused to let Mom ride in the caboose, so a young man from Kingsgate agreed to accompany the stock to Leduc; for a free train ride back.  Mom, Gwendolyn, and I took the train to Leduc, Alberta.  Upon arrival, a neighbour lady of Uncle Jim Callaway’s gave Gwen and I a ride out to his farm.


The next day, he and I went with a team and wagon, back to Leduc to Meet Mom, who had stayed in town to wait for the boxcar.

    Upon arrival, the village blacksmith took us under his care, introduced us to his family and to Mrs. Maurice Canfield who was about to drive back to her home near the James Callaway farm.  She kindly let Gwen, the birds and me ride with her in her democrat.  Once there, her son, Edward Hanson, and daughter Johanna Marie Hanson furnished us with a saddle horse and accompanied us to the Callaway home.  The next day Uncle Jim took me back to Leduc so we could help Mom get the equipment under way again and drive out to his place.

    Finally, all was in place, and we made our way to Uncle Jim’s.  After harvest, Dad shipped the household goods, machinery, and the rest of the animals to Leduc and he and Helen came up to join us.  Then he rented an empty farmhouse, and we became residents of Canada.  We had many and varied experiences after that but they are a different story.

    Story told by Edith Clouston daughter of Maud Callaway, 13 years old at the time of the trek,.