Albert Stein: Visiting Original Jewish Homesteads in Alberta
Date:Monday, February 21, 2011
ID:Digital audio recording #: 20.11-01
AS: Yes. Now I’d like to go back to how I got involved or got some experience with the farming community, this farming colony of Rumsey. There were two colonies, actually, fairly close to each other in Alberta. One was called Rumsey the other Trochu which was the name of their closest village. Although they were close together they were separated by the Red Deer River and there was no way of fording, there was no way of getting across the river except at low water they could ford it, actually ride across it or wade across it if the water was really low. Eventually there was a bit of a cable ferry established which ran sporadic service across the river, I remember that but then you couldn’t rely on that either. In any case, what happened with, in my experience, with, was that because early on there were no Jewish day camps available for Jewish children, at least none that were suitable to my parents. I was sent out to the farm for my summer camp, so to speak, to my aunts and uncles in Rumsey, as if my poor aunts who were so hardworking, as if they didn’t have enough to do out there in these small homes that they ran. This is the home that I remember [showing photograph]. It was a two bedroom home with a kitchen on the side where I spent many summers adding to their burden. [Laughing]. In any case, this was my other aunt.
AS: So this where I first got contact with, and an appreciation of the farm life, the Jewish farm life in Alberta is in Rumsey with my two aunts and uncles and I used to go out there at least two or three weeks every summer along with a few other cousins too who used to get shipped out there so we used to have fun. I used to try to help out when possible but I think I was more trouble than help most of the time. In any case it gave me a lifelong attraction to the land actually, it’s very beautiful land out there. It’s not flat prairie like Saskatchewan. It’s rolling countryside, very, very beautiful, I think and actually as I say in the end of the article, every two years, at least every two years, I go back to walk the land and I literally do go back to walk the land, I still have relatives, fourth generation, cousins, who are still farming out there and I’m proud to say that this, the farm, the Sengow’s farm which is now operated, run, they are now big farms of course, you can’t survive as a small farmer these days so these farms are now huge, they are nine sections of land with lots of machinery, and they’re quite well-to-do now actually but still subject to the vagaries of the weather. You know they can get wiped out by hail, frost, insects, you name it and they depend on rain at the right time. In any case, I go back to walk the land. My cousins are now, as I say, farming. According to the Jewish Historical Society of Canada they are the last of the descendents in all of Canada still farming the original homestead land of Jewish farmers in all of Canada so I’m proud of that.