Forever Home: Good Old Days on the Farm
W.J.C. Cherwinski is a professor of history and Canadian Studies Program
supervisor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is the co-author
of Lectures in Canadian Labour and Working-Class History.
As evidence that time heals all wounds, we have here yet another account
of growing up poor on the bucolic prairies, this time during the
Depression and World War II near Rosthern, Saskatchewan. Friesen, a
long-time teacher and writer, has only the fondest memories of daily,
weekly, and seasonal activities associated with a pre-industrial family
farm, and he relates the high points as he remembers them with a
charming combination of empathy and humour.
The author’s childhood and his early adult years as a teacher may
have been idyllic, but one suspects that the rough and often painful
edges of life on the farm have been eroded over half a century. The
advent of farm centralization and capital-intensive mechanization during
the second half of the 20th century, which resulted in rural
depopulation and the virtual collapse of community-based structures and
practices, have forced Friesen to look back on the highlights
of his youth with nostalgia. Seldom mentioned is the sunup-to-sundown
labour; for the young everywhere in rural Canada, the dirt, isolation,
and boredom led them to flee by the thousands to seek an urban life
portrayed by mass culture as more desirable. Nevertheless, Forever Home
helps readers to recall, or be introduced to, the practices and
processes of prairie farming before they are completely forgotten.