Segment Synopsis: They never had a tractor. His neighbours had tractors, but they had horses. They didn't really need it. Their neighbours and his brother in law were in the tractor stage. Threshing machines and crews were becoming very popular. A farmer would buy a threshing machine and a tractor and in the fall they would put together a threshing crew. You would be hired on as a single or with a team of horses. You would work with the threshing organization and you would thresh your farm first as a priority. They would be paid. In the early days, there were only a few crews so they would start in September/October and go until after the first freeze up if they didn't do all of the farms in the area. Nick remembers working on a threshing crew when he was young. It was hard work. Getting up early, sleeping in a neighbour's hayloft. There was always fun, good humour, and good relationships. He remembers maybe 1934-35 the first threshing machines. He worked in probably 1939-40 with the threshing crew, in his later teen years. Things got more competitive as more crews were formed. Then combines came in middle of the 1940s, but weren't popular until the 1960s.
Subjects: farming; threshing; threshing machines
Map Coordinates: 53.534444, -113.490278
Segment Synopsis: The big crisis of the 1930s was the stock market crash, and it was reflected in the economy. Pioneers lived on mix farms and had it rough anyways. Cash was not come across easily. If his dad gave him a nickel, he thought he was a king. They produced their own products, so a good percentage of the table was homemade. They were self sufficient, so no one knew any different. Nick talks about the differences between the 1930s and the time of the interview. He discusses the change from having food grown and raised at home, doing your own butchering, etc. to going to the grocery store to buy fresh meat or frozen meals. He thinks in the 1930s people were more educated because they butchered their own animals so they had to know what the different cuts of meat were, whereas now you just walk into a grocery store and that's the end of it.
Subjects: butchering; food procurement; social change
Segment Synopsis: The church was built and opened in 1935. There was no permanent priest, he came from Edmonton, once or twice a year. They would request one when they had money and work around his schedule. The priest would come by train on Friday afternoon for a Sunday service and stay with the Ochotta or other families in the area until Monday when the train would go back to Edmonton. So it cost the priest four days to come out for a single service. They would go to Boyle to deliver produce or grain or needed to buy something like coal oil for coal oil lamps. It was 4 1/2 miles to go to Boyle. It was a whole day trip to go to town. Growing up on the farm everything in town was exciting. There was action all over and things were happening. The first people to get cars were the merchants. Their first car was in 1938. The car wasn't very good though, so they sold it. Their honey cans were taken to town by car so he learned to drive for that. When he got into the army he had to learn how to drive a tank. They did weeks of training of shifting gears. He calls this "learning to drive formally".
Subjects: military vehicles; motor vehicles; rail travel
Segment Synopsis: In town, there was a community hall, a public school, a high school, a hotel, a restaurant and a beer parlour. Every once in a while a fellow would come down with a show. It was a 16 mm projector and he carried his own generator which was run by a gasoline engine, because there was no power. He would set up the screen and charge admission of about 25 cents. The whole town would show up. There was just one showing. It didn't matter what was playing everyone came because that was all that was playing. His name was George Honchak and he came from Smoky Lake, AB. There was an assortment of films he would bring. Nick talks about British comedian George Formby. Nick didn't go to all of them because of the money. He saw a film probably a few times a year. Dominion Day was a big day in town. There was always a picnic, with huge crowds and races and ball games. There was a big dance in the evening. They had Christmas Concerts. They always had a Christmas Concert at their school, north of the Ochotta farm. The teacher always prepared it and the stage was set up in the school, the curtains were drawn and the kids would perform. "As [Peter] Shostak says 'you can always judge the quality of the teacher by the kind Christmas concert you had'".
Subjects: 16mm film; Christmas plays; community life; picnics
Map Coordinates: 54.587417, -112.803361
Segment Synopsis: Nick is drawing the floor plan of his house. Houses came in stages because of necessity. The first house, facing south, was maybe 16 x 20, and it had a stairwell into a cellar. It was one story, with a stove in one corner, a table, and a bed. Later his dad and brother added on the larger portion of the house. The main entrance was to the west, with a back door to the east. There were several windows. They had a connector door between the two buildings. Then they built a porch. There was a chimney with a stove. He built the new house around 1931-32.
Subjects: houses; pioneers
Map Coordinates: 54.587417, -112.803361