Jack Leslie & Amy (Nuttall) Leslie

Source: Amy Leslie in Merryflat and District history book, 1968

We were married on December 24, 1918, at my home 21 miles from Maple Creek. I was a local product, born and raised, but Jack came from Scotland in 1908 and worked on different ranches such as George Hassett’s, Billie Small’s and Bobby Kearns’. He was working for Bobbie Kearns when we got married so we spent the winter there at the place now owned by Ross Haigh. 1

We bought the Ben Cheeseman place on the 20th of April, 1919. The Coulee Post Office was just a half mile over the hill from our place and was run by Mr. Molineux and his granddaughter, Grace Delves. In July, Grace married John Parsonage and the post office was moved to Kays.

As World War l had just ended in November everything was high-priced, but going down fast and by fall we didn’t get much of a price for our beef. During the spring and summer we were able to sell 25 mares and colts for $125 a head which was a break as we had too many horses and not enough cattle and the range was pretty well eaten down with so many horses.

In October 1919 we had a baby girl, Jessie. Annie and Art Nuttall, my youngest sister and brother, and Ray Becker stayed with us that winter. I don’t think we went anywhere to visit all winter as we had some bad storms. In the spring the hay was all gone.

We didn’t have much farm land, but in 1920 we had a fair crop of oats; we stacked all the bundles and threshed in the winter. My brother, Frank Nuttall, worked for us and Jack and Frank broke horses all summer. Some we got paid for and others we never did.

In the fall of 1920 beef prices were so poor that Jack and Walter Boyd decided to take their beef to Chicago, but they didn’t do very well down there either. Things didn’t look too bright [for us] with the high interest we had to pay on the place, but we always expected next year to be better so we kept on.

On April 2, 1921, Helen was born and two and a half years later on October 25, 1923, Marjory (Midge) arrived. The female population of the Four Mile Coulee was increasing, but not the social activities. Our outings during the winters were an occasional trip down to Walter Boyd’s, two and a half miles, to get our mail.

Ole Grandahl was the first mailman who brought the mail by team from Maple Creek. He left it in a mailbox on the road by Boyd’s. When the weather was bad and the snow was deep this trip took days. Later John Himmelwright took over as mailcarrier; he drove a nice team and he helped to keep them that way by never passing a haystack.

There was lots to do and we were busy. Time passed quickly so before we knew it the problem of school cropped up and the nearest school was 12 miles away at Merryflat. A Mr. Parker, who lived over at the Forest Reserve, told me about the correspondence course he was getting for his little girl, so I sent for that for Helen and Jessie.

In the spring of 1924, April 6th, our first son, Bob, was born. We got our first car that year, too, so the horses were beginning to take a back seat, for visiting and trips to town anyway. But our problem was still school. When I had three girls ready for school we lived in a little shack in John Parsonage’s yard on school days, going home on weekends for clean clothes, a fresh supply of food and to pick berries. We did this for two summers then the teacher, Dorothy Blythman (Mrs. George Anderson), kept the three girls for me the next summer. During the winter and spring they took their lessons by correspondence. I helped them as much as I could, then I got a girl to help. The girls we had over the years were Kay (Jarvie) Cole, Agnes (Kelly) Parr and Mildred (Guenther) Pridmore.

Our fourth daughter, Jean, was born December 4, 1927, and she took all of her elementary schooling by correspondence. Our son, Jim, born in November 1931, did manage to get a couple of summers at school, one at the Sunshine Valley School and then stayed with Reddy Parsonage and went to Merryflat the rest of the year.

The girls went to Maple Creek to take their high school. Jessie took a business course in Regina, later joined the RCAF (WD) and was overseas for 22 months. On her return she worked in Maple Creek, married Ross Foster, moved to Pouce Coupe, BC, for 10 years then moved back to Maple Creek. They had three boys and two girls.

Helen came home after high school and in 1944 married Keith Reesor who was then in the Army. All six boys and one girl are now helping raise crossbred cattle.

Marjory (Midge) went to Normal School and took a school at Orley, a northern Mennonite Community. It was pretty difficult for her because most of the pupils could not speak English. At the end of June she came back and went down south to teach the Sunshine Valley School and stayed with Grace and John Parsonage. Later she came home and helped Jim and Earl Naismith with their Grade Eight correspondence. In December 1945 she married Hugh Halladay and they worked for the PFRA at Govenlock then got a place at Carlos, Alberta. Hugh worked for Texaco for 11 years while they built up their place. Then in 1966 Hugh quit Texaco and they built a new house. They had three boys and three girls. Midge’s sudden passing on December 20, 1966 was a terrible shock to us all.

When Jean finished high school she worked in the Bank of Montreal for a while then married Jack Gilchrist and they lived in Maple Creek with their four children, Linda, Jim and Judy (the twins), and Ted.

Bob joined the Army and was just going overseas when the war ended so after discharge he worked for Walter Boyd. In 1948 Bob married Bernice Peterson. When Walter sold out Bob and Bernice came home and stayed here until they got a place of their own; this was the Hector Russell place near Bettis’. They had three children, John, Monty, and Lona.

When Jim finished his Grade 8 he stayed home and helped run our place. He married Winnie Metcalf. They built a new house on the home place and had three boys, Rick, Rob and Harvey.

On June 13, 1941, our third son, David, was born. When he was ready for school he went to Maple Creek. At first he stayed with his sisters, then we bought a house and David and I stayed in town for the school week, anxious to get back home on the weekends where we were happiest. Dave quit school in Grade X so after that we were not in town much. Dave married Dona Horton in 1961 and they had 2 girls, Shelley and Gail.

Our original old log house was getting on its last legs so in 1945 we built a new house and a new barn and were able to fix things up pretty nice because the price of beef came up and we had our boys to help us.

The power came in and the people in the area built their own phone line so that the isolation of those first years was no more. The old house still stands; the boys use it for a shop.

In 1963 we turned the place over to Bob and Jim and moved to Maple Creek.2

Jack died in 1968, and Amy Nuttall Leslie died in 1975.

1. In 2016 the Ross Haigh place is owned by Dave Guenther.

2. In 2016 Danny and Heather Udal and family own and operate this ranch.

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