Saskatchewan, Canada

More land, bigger crops

Just like their father and his father, the young men, and some of the young women, moved to where there was land for them.

Alonzo the eldest moved North of Lake Huron, Iron Bridge area.

Truman, David and Wilson Acton went west to Saskatchewan.

Wilson first went to Moosamin and later moved to the Moose Jaw area where he met and married Emily Bell.
They farmed  near Avonlea, Section 4, Township12, Range 23, west of the 2nd Meridian starting in 1905

Weyburn District 1924


Dept of the Interior P1

Dept of the Interior p 2

Dept. of the Interior Pg.3

In 1910 they moved with their growing family to Lake Valley, S 21-19-1 W3. Here Bill used his horses and new mechanical methods (Rumley Oil Pull engine and Alton Separator) to farm efficiently and help out his neighbours when necessary.

Moose Jaw District 1924

Barn and horses at lake Valley

In 1925 the whole family moved to Grayburn,


Grayburn spread before 1925

The family moved to Grayburn in 1925, using horses, hay wagons and Dad’s 1924 McLaughlin Buick

This photo was taken in 1929, four years after the Actons moved to Grayburn.

Robert May   Lottie    Gerty    Dad      Bill      Mom Irv     Gord Walter     Russ

BELOW, IRVIN ACTON REMEMBERS (the youngest, and still clear into his late 90’s):

Robert (photo extreme left) died in 1929 from complications after being severely burned in the winter of 1926 when his clothing caught fire while he was chopping grain.

Mom and sister?
1918 McLaughlin Buick

The buildings needed painting. Bert, Walt and Russ painted them using Red Lead mixed with Linseed oil for the walls, and Lamp Black mixed with Linseed for the roofs. They got going and painted a nearby neighbour’s  (Robinsons) too. This is when Dad bought their first radio, which Bert rigged with a wire aerial outside. For Christmas, Russ bought a speaker so everyone could listen to “Ma Perkins”, Mom’s favourite Soap Opera. There were lots of dances on weekends at Keeler, Marquis and Cave’s Barn at Eyebrow. There were stores in all the small towns, and elevators which were about 8 miles apart. Grayburn had only 0ne store run by Tom and Lil Cooper (immigrants from England) for 60 years.

Through the 1930’s the Actons had 10 cows, and also had chickens and hogs. Irv and Gord milked the cows. They sold the pig livers to Tom at the store for his steak pies. Mom made butter and sold it in Moose Jaw. Gasoline was 18 cents a gallon, but wheat only brought 50 to 60 cents a bushel and they were only getting 5-7 bushels to the acre. Bill, Walt and Russ used Dad’s horses to help build the Trans Canada Highway, on the “Relief Ticket”.  There was no actual cash, you could buy food and clothes at the Coopers’ store with the credits you earned.

Farming was different then. Dad had machinery that many of his neighbours didn’t have, and was always willing to help out. The night before seeding was to be done, the seed was soaked in formaldehyde, to kill all the bugs and prevent damage from smut. When the fall came, Dad would hire 10 men from Hagen’s Employment Office. It was usually the same crew, from Ontario, who came out to make money. Dad had a bunk cart and a cook cart that he would move around to where the work was, since he had fields in Lake Valley and all around Grayburn. The thrashing and collecting was all done by hand. Dad did not believe in combines, he felt they created too much waste. Bill Devine would come with two swathers that Dad would hook up to his and Devine’s tractors and they would swath and others would load the product on carts by hand, including the straw, to be stored and/or sold. As the boys could take on more land and the crop yields increased, they bought a repossessed 16 foot International Harvester Combine in Cairn. Walt got a “stack loader” that reduced the number of men that were required to bring the product in from the fields. Irv added a baler and a Hammermill Cutting box that saved a lot of labor and time at harvest time. and the crops got better, one year so much that the straw cracked the beams of the barn. They would often harvest by moonlight till 2am. Irv once swathed 100 acres by moonlight with an International 28.

Walt got the Ford franchise, and all our equipment was Ford.  Great machinery, easy to fix.  Later, Gord was involved too. One time he got Irv’s son Doug to drive a new Ford combine down south of Moose Jaw to demonstrate it; Doug did about 100 acres for them but they still decided not to buy. Irv had one too, a great combine, self propelled. John Deere eventually took over.

Dad always said, “never start anything new on a Friday”. One time, we wanted to get thrashing, had everything ready to start but it was already late in the day on a Thursday. So Russ got the equipment over to the half section across the road, and thrashed a few bushels of grain. So then we could continue on Friday.  Otherwise Dad would have made us wait till Saturday to start.

Russ and Walt bought some land together, but then when Russ married Margaret, he got a year-round job in town fixing machinery for  Sterling   Motors.

Bill like Russ enjoyed fixing things. He wasn’t a farmer. At some point he moved to Regina and worked for General Motors in the truck factory.

Mom passed away in 1937 and Dad was less involved on the farm.

(click on the name)

Lottie married Farrnel Nimmo and moved to Ontari0,

Russ wed Margaret Hall,

Walt wed Mabel Heron,

May married Edgar Heron pre 1933

Gertie wed Allan Virtue February 21 1939

Bill wed LauraBell Foxcroft, August 20 1940

Gordon married Betty Russell July 16 1942

Irv married Gladys Kellington 1942

Back: Dad, Gord, Lottie Nimmo, Margaret Acton, Allan Virtue, May Heron, Farnell, Mable Acton, Walter, Gertie Virtue. Bill, Ed Heron Front: Russ, Eileen Heron, Edith Nimmo, Irv, Elsie Heron, Lois Virtue, Laura Acton, Arlene Acton(Christmas at father Acton’s Moose Jaw 1940?)

When the War came, Bill enlisted and went overseas in 1942 and didn’t come home until 1946. He served with the Saskatoon Light Infantry in Italy and the Canadian Provost Corp in France and The Netherlands