THE BOND FAMILY OF TONGUE CREEK
Father-William M. born 20 Oct. 1857 in Nova Scotia
Mother-Mary L. born 18 Feb. 1854 in Nova Scotia
Arthur R.-born 6 Sept. 1876 in Nova Scotia
James-born 1 Sept. 1877 in Nova Scotia
John W. H.-born 4 Oct 1878 in Nova Scotia
Francis-daughter born 25 May 1881 in Nova Scotia
George B. R.-born 11 Feb. 1885 in Nova Scotia
Catherine-born 31 March 1891 in Nova Scotia
Mary-born 2 March 1894 in Nova Scotia
On the 17th March 1896, a cold rainy day, Arthur. Bond, 20 and Jim Bond, 18 left Nova Scotia by C.P.R. for Calgary. Both got jobs right away. Arthur with Dick Brodrick Sr. on his Little Bow Ranch and Jim with A. E. Cross, on a place just out of Calgary, where he batched and looked after stock. Both boys wrote glowing letters home about this new land.
The next year Father, John and George came to Calgary where they found the whole wide prairie waiting to be homesteaded. Right away Father bought a team of horses, wagon and harness, a tent and grub stake and he and the boys drove over the prairie south of Okotoks to Tongue Creek and up and down the Creek looking for a suitable location, with good land, water and shelter. After much driving, Father decided on a quarter section at the bend of Tongue Creek where the Cameron Coulee drains in from the north, NE 1/4 Sec. 24 Rg. 1 Twp. 19 W 5 Mer.
Father and the boys set to work and built a house - one large room with two tiny bedrooms divided off at one side. There was a peak roof where a flag staff was soon erected and the Union Jack was proudly flown on Holy days and holidays. That house still stands and is in use as an extra house when needed by the Noble family, present owners.
On May 20th 1899, Mother, Frances, Mary and Catharine arrived in Calgary and next day went down to Okotoks on the C.P.R. We were met there by George with a heavy Bain wagon, a heavy team and in a heavy all day rain, cold and miserable! George soon had our luggage loaded and Mother got in the front spring seat with him, while we three girls found ourselves perched high on the back seat and we started off for the Ranch. There was no protection from the rain and we were soon drenched and cold. As we neared the little creek in Cameron Coulee we were horrified to see it was in flood. The banks were steep, the horses plunged in with a jerk on the wagon and scrambled up the other side nearly throwing us out of the wagon. Mother said, "Oh George!", in a terrified voice, to which George answered nonchalantly, "This is nothing, wait 'till we get to Tongue Crick" which answer further increased Mother's agitation, so that when we did get to the Tongue Creek crossing and saw the creek running bank-high we thought the end had come! The team minced around but with a brisk clip with the end of the lines George had them in the water and slowly getting in deeper and deeper, 'till they were almost swimming. The water came in around our luggage and it was scary. We had never had such an experience as that but, it was soon over and there was the little ranch house just ahead in the shelter of the high banks. Father greeted us happily and we found he was quite a good cook for there were prune pies and bread on the food shelf. There hadn't been a tree all the way from Okotoks, nor a fence, but here along the Creek there were willows, cotton-woods and poplars with rose bushes, saskatoons, strawberries and raspberries growing wild on the side hill.
A few days after our arrival we saw Eckford's - High River Horse Ranch – four horse team with a full load of provisions coming south from Calgary to the Ranch on the High Wood River. They were travelling the deep and many-rutted trail, the main trail, at that time, south from Calgary. It climbed the hills of Tongue Creek and struck off across the prairie in a south easterly direction to Eckford's Ranch buildings.
Soon Arthur's brand was on a small herd of cattle and some horses, too. As was the custom in the early days the same brand, but smaller, was used on horses and larger on cattle. Most of us soon acquired our own brands and our stock was turned loose on the range.
There was always a horse kept on picket - used to "jingle" in the horses off the range as needed. If Jim or Arthur come home from some Ranch riding a bronk, it was "necked" up with one of our gentle horses and the two had to get along together or starve. Heads went down together to eat and up together, but the bronk couldn't run away!
All those early years Jim and Arthur became well known as bronk riders and were in great demand on the ranches where fine horses were raised. When the Boer war broke out they were kept busy breaking horses for the British artillery and remounts, and the finest specimens of horses were sent from the prairies to South Africa.
Mother bought a 114 section of land, joining Father's homestead, John took up a homestead across the 5th Meridian on Tongue Creek. Jim bought a half section and also homesteaded over on the Coal Trail near Eckford's Ranch, and Arthur took up a homestead in the Buffalo Hills, where he made his home.
Arthur met an early and tragic death when a young horse he was riding became unmanageable and jumped a wire gate. His feet caught in the top wire and threw Arthur to the ground where he was fatally injured, in full view of his wife and six children. He died at the Ranch several days later without regaining consciousness.
There were no schools nearby, so Mary, 11 and 1, 8, had about three years of freedom from any kind of school. Course that was no hardship, for Tongue Creek was alive with fish and there were gravel banks and deep clear, cool pools where we could play. There were horses to ride, chores to do, cattle to herd - ah, the days were too short! The whole prairie was a wealth of flowers and bunch grass, pea vine and lupin. Berries were profuse, and we had to gather our winter supply to vary the diet of dried fruits. There were strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, saskatoons, chokecherries, and then there were the bright red kini-ki-nik berries with their ever-green leaves which we used abundantly for garnishing our home for the Xmas season.
However, about 1902, Tongue Creek school re-opened in April and we went to school all summer until November, when it got cold and snowy. This manner of schooling continued until 1905, when Father bought a house in High River and we attended school there.
We soon began to build fences - Mother's quarter made a fine horse pasture, with the creek flowing through it. Oats and other grains were planted. Our first threshing was done with a horse-powered machine. All day long the horses went round and round in a circle, a tiresome circle! In the creek bottom we planted brome-grass, which grew to fantastic heights. Then there was the prairie grass to be cut, stacked and fireguarded, and fenced. When haying time came around one of the boys would ride out on a saddle horse to see where there was a good growth of bunch grass, preferably near a spring or creek, then the mowers would move out and cut a huge circle. That was a mark of possession for that season. Bronks were used for that job and they moved along at a lively clip.
One of the very worthwhile things that Mother did when we were all new to the West was to collect specimens of wild flowers - flower, leaf, seed, and root. These she would send to the Experimental Farm to be classified and the correct name would be sent to her. In that way we children were given an awareness of the plant life around us and the correct names of so many of our Alberta flowers.
Marysland Ranch, as we named the place was part of our family for about forty-five years, and was a popular stopping place for the cowboys that used to ride, in those far off days and for the early settlers who came into the Tongue Creek district. Jim and Dolly Bond were the last members of the family to live on the Ranch, but they moved on to Dawson Creek and later to East Pine, B.C.
The trees still grow
That Father planted here
The house still stands,
'Twas built with hands so dear!
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