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Joseph Foggin and
Florence Binns

Heritage of the High Country-
A History of Del Bonita and surrounding Districts
Pages 334-335
by Powell and George Foggin

Joe Foggin was the eight child born to Thomas Foggin and Mary Powell Foggin in Acomb, Yorkshire, England on the 18th day of February 1888.

He was educated in the same place and when old enough went to work on a farm in Leeds, England, where he stayed until 1910 then he came to Canada. While on this farm in Leeds he met and courted Florence Binns.

Florence was the third child of Joseph and Zilla Binns of Stillingfleet, Yorkshire, born on the 14th of June, 1888. When she was sixteen years old she went into training for a nurse. When she completed her training she nursed in different parts of England until 1912.

Joe and Ernest Dalton came to Canada together in 1910. Ernest Dalton had been to Canada before for a short time, and he told Joe Canada is where they ought to be, so they left England.

They worked on farms and at anything they could find that would bring them further west. They finally wound up in Lethbridge about 1911, and worked there until the Lease Country, as it was known then, was thrown open for homestead.

There were many people wanting homesteads, so they had quite a line-up at the land office in Lethbridge. For the first few days they had to stay in line or get someone to stand in for them, or they would lose their place. This was while they were waiting for the day the land was thrown open. They were finally given a number so they didn't have to stay there steady.

Joe and Ernest filed on the same section-Sec.9-1-21. So now these fellows had a homestead they figured it was time they had wives. So their girl friends came over from England. They were Florence Binns and Florence Douthwaite.

They were married June 1st, 1912 in Lethbridge, Alberta. That summer they started their homestead life. The first thing was to get a place to live, so they built a one-room shack of shiplap. This lumber had to be hauled from Raley.

They soon found out the Government hadn't given them something for nothing. It was a two day trip to Magrath and sometimes a lot more, depending on the weather. There were no roads and no bridges over the river. Sometimes the wagon box went floating downstream.

They walked to Taylorville for their mail for the first while.

The grass was as high as the hubs on a wagon wheel and it was awful hard for the homesteaders to find the section stakes. In later years this area was divided into school districts known as Shanks Lake, Twin River, Del Bonita, Lens and Rinard.

In order to prove up on their homestead they had to live on it for six months of the year. So Joe and Florence worked out on ranches part time and she worked at nursing in order to buy horses, cattle, etc. Horses were needed most as they had to break thirty acres of ground the first three years or ten acres a year to prove up (to get their title).

They had to sort of pool their horses in order to get six head; enough to pull a breaking plow. Joe did quite a lot of breaking as he had some farm experience. Some of the neighbors, especially those from overseas, had never been on a farm, so they helped one another. Some were barbers, carpenters, shoemakers, blacksmiths, waiters, and even lawyers. They all helped one another to get started. A homesteader's shack was never locked in case it might storm or someone was lost or hungry.

In 1914 the first World War broke out. Joe joined the army along with some of his neighbors and went overseas in 1915. His outfit was the Princess Patricia Light Infantry. Florence and small son, were left to hold down the homestead. She arranged for neighbors, mostly Bill Tyler and Gene Robinson, to put in the crop and do the harvesting. She had a horse and a single buggy, so she could get around pretty well to go on midwife calls etc. She brought quite a number of babies into the world in those early days.

Joe was gone for about two years and then he was discharged on account of his eye-sight and came back to resume farming. In 1922 they built a new house and barn and moved out of the old homestead shack that had become two rooms about 1918. They were active in community affairs. They both served on the school board at different times. Florence was a member of the first Del Bonita Women's Institute. Joe was a strong supporter of Social Credit. Florence boarded two or three school teachers and one United Church Minister.

They sold the old homestead to Les and Margaret Dalton in 1947 and retired to Lethbridge. They came back to Del Bonita to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the homestead country. They also came back to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in 1962.

They had three sons.

They had fifteen grandchildren and twenty-eight great-grandchildren.

Joe passed away on the 7th of August, 1964, at the age of seventy-six years. Florence passed away December 31st, 1971, at the age of eighty-three years.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup