MARY'S GENEALOGY TREASURES

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Frederick Breen and
Lillian "Lily" Holmes Breen

Heritage of the High Country A History of Del Bonita and
Surrounding Districts, Pages 280 - 281
by Hazel Madison

Frederick Breen, known to many in the early days as Freddie, was born in London, England, March 27th, 1890 to parents Thomas Breen and Jessie Breen, formerly Jessie Callard.

Having had his parents pass away when he was very young, he continued his education at a school for boys in London, England, which he finished at the age of fourteen. He spent the four years to follow as a night watchman in a factory, which was situated in his home city of London. By this time he had reached the age of eighteen and he decided to make the trip to Canada. He arrived here. in the year 1908.

During his journey west, he worked on a farm in Ontario, and in logging camps. He eventually arrived in the Magrath area, where he spent some time working on several farms . While working there he heard of a Mister Ross who had a large number of cattle on lease land. He managed to hire on with him, working in the capacity of a cowboy.

So it was, that while he was working for Mister Ross, he met a family by the name of Taylor. They lived very close to the Milk River, north of what eventually became his land. The law enforcement officers, namely the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, used Taylors as their headquarters. War was declared in 1914, between France and Germany. This became known as World War 1. Britain went to France's defense. A number of the young men enlisted. In 1916 he joined the 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles, then later transferred to the 16th Canadian Light Horse Division, Company C.

While he was enroute overseas, he met Lillian Holmes in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She had been born in Halifax County, England, January 20, 1898. They carried on a correspondence during the time he was far away overseas.

It was during this period of time that Taylors sent in his application to the Land Office, to homestead the land adjoining them on the south. When he returned from the war, he was able to get the quarter section to the south of his homestead as a soldier's grant.

He made improvements to his land, but also continued to work at places such as Mclntyre's, Meeks Ranch at Raymond, and Mendenhall's Ranch.

In the fall of 1920, Lillian, Lily as she was called by her friends later on, decided to travel to Alberta so they could be married. She arrived in Lethbridge on November 10, 1920, where Fred met her and they went directly to St. Augustine's Anglican Church and were married. The church was located on the corner of eighth street and third avenue. It was later used as a furniture store by Sterns. The newlyweds travelled out to his homestead where he had a small two roomed house ready for her.

Over the years they had a family of five children 3 daughters and 2 sons. There was very little land farmed in the area at the time. The grain had to be hauled to Magrath, by a wagon pulled with a team of four horses. This trip required two days, one to get to the elevator and a second one to get home. Many a time on his second day away, we stood at the window in the early evening and watched him drive down the winding road to the Milk River, cross the bridge then pass out of view only to reappear for a short distance, then later drive into the yard. The only road to Magrath at that time bordered the west side of his land and cut across the northwest comer of it, which by the way it still does.

He worked very hard on his land, and helped to build roads in the district when Mister Einar Byttet was foreman. He also worked when they put the highway to Magrath through the McIntyre ranch and farm.

In the late twenties, he decided to enlarge his house, so proceeded to add two rooms to the north side of it. About this same time a couple of men came to see him, to discuss the drilling of a test hole for oil in the hill south of his buildings. This they proceeded to do. A couple of years later they drilled a second test hole north of the buildings.

December of 1931 was very cold, with a large amount of snow. Lily became very ill. When Fred was able to get her to the Cardston Hospital, it was diagnosed as a ruptured appendix. She passed away December 10, 1931, eleven years and one month to the day after they had been married.

He did his best for his children, by hiring a housekeeper, Patricia Lewis, "Pat" as we called her. She stayed for about three years. Then he managed to get other help for short periods of time until he was able to get by without help.

Freddie became very ill in July of 1943 and entered the Colonel Belcher Hospital in Calgary. This was a military hospital for the returned soldiers. While a patient there, he contracted pneumonia and passed away on Thanksgiving Day, October 11, 1943. This ends the final chapter of the story of Freddie.

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Mary Tollestrup