One of several small mills, which were owned and operated by farmers in the

northern part of our district.

"Reprinted from the Winnipeg Free Press—July 16, 1966 edition."


interviewed by Phyllis Thomson

There have been incredible changes in the life of the farm woman in Manitoba in the span of one lifetime.

A wonderful grandmother, living at Strathclair, tells about the old days —Mrs. Blashill. She's a small, spare woman with bright, alert eyes, proud to be able to still do things for herself and with a fund of stories about the early days which she delights in telling.

Mrs. Blashill has lived through a cyclone which ripped the shingles off the house, blew the chicken house over and killed all the chickens; she's raised a baby lamb by feeding it milk from the spout of an old teapot. All she had to do was get out the teapot and the lamb would come running to her.

Some of Grandma Blashill's activities in those early days, besides cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, and general housework, were milking the cows, looking after the chickens, baking bread (they had their own wheat ground for flour), and tending the garden.

She picked berries in the summer, collected mushrooms and wild sage for cooking, made soap, and fed the threshing gangs in the fall. All this was accomplished by getting up at 6:00 am. in the winter, and 5:00 am. in the summer. But inspite of the hard work involved, she seems to have thoroughly enjoyed her life.

Let's look back to 1910—through Mrs. Mary Blash-ill's eyes. Take a cold, dark winter morning—no matter how cold or blustery the day was, the washing must be done. Mrs. Blashill says she got up a little earlier on washday, and after preparing the family breakfast and seeing that the woodbox was full, she donned a heavy sweater and rubbers and carried the water in from the well to fill the boiler she had placed on the stove.

The stove had to be kept well stoked with wood—even then, the water

heated slowly. The washing was done with washboard and tub in the kitchen— in the summer it was done outside. She used her own homemade soap.

”That reminds me," said Mrs. Blashill. “One summer when l was busy making the soap, outside of course, and setting it out to harden, it seemed to