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George E. Laycock and
Fern R. Laycock

Water Works Wonders
A History of the White, Wilson, McMahon,
River Junction School Districts Pages 369 - 370
by M. Livingstone

George E. Laycock and his wife, Fern, were both from pioneer stock, having come to Canada in 1902 and 1905 respectively, from the U.S. They grew up in Raymond and were married in 1914. In 1915 they purchased a half section of land one mile east of the Pot Hole Coulee, and built their home there.

It was a slow process "breaking" the sod with a small plow and team of horses, so he eventually hired Claude Duncan to finish it with his tractor. George used his teams, with press drills and binders to plant and harvest his wheat, and hired the threshing for a time. There were dry years and crop failures, so in the winter of 1918-19 he spent a few months in Lethbridge playing clarinet in a theatre orchestra. He contracted the flu during the terrible epidemic and was fortunate to survive, but was very thin and weak, so he bought a 'Titan" tractor to help with the farm work. Gradually his health improved, and crops became better. He purchased another half section adjoining his other land.

He was a good farmer, always interested in better ways of doing things, and trying to modify machinery to make it work better and he was always interested in new inventions. He had a Model T Ford about 1917, one of the first radios in 1924, and when he heard of wheat combines, he travelled to Oregon and Washington in 1928 to see them in operation. He liked them, and bought a J.1. Case combine, the first one in the area. He had to let his wheat ripen standing in the fields, and many thought he would lose it all, but it was a success -- his wheat was all harvested long before those who had made the dire prediction that he would lose his crop. People came from far and near to watch the combine at work in the field, and soon everyone had them.

George's cousin John Laycock from Oregon, owned the next farm directly south and east of the Pot Hole Coulee. When he sold out and went to California, George first rented his farm, then bought it. He later bought and farmed land in the Skiff and Warner areas as well.

Fern was a hard worker -- always had a big garden, cooked hot meals to take to the hired workers in the fields, drove to Lethbridge for machinery repairs, and looked after the family. There were four children who attended Community School. Fern had to learn the rules of baseball and listen to the World Series on the radio so she could give an account of the games to the hired hands at suppertime.

In 1929, the oldest son had finished grade 9 at the rural school, we had a good crop, so George bought a home in Lethbridge so we could attend High School. They continued to operate the farm, and things went well until the Depression, then poor crops and poor wheat prices became a real challenge and a big worry. George's health deteriorated - - he got diabetes and later a heart condition. During the war, one son was exempted from service in order to help out on the farm.

George was a great family man, loved to take his boys to Fathers and Sons Camps, play baseball with them, and encourage them at school and with their music, which he dearly loved. They all learned to play an instrument, and played at many concerts around Southern Alberta. Two sons obtained Doctor's Degrees, and became Professors of Music at B.Y.U. in Provo, Utah. One son played his violin for years in the Lethbridge Symphony, and many of the grandchildren are fine musicians as well.

George passed away in 1946 at the age of 53. Fern sold the farm to on of her sons, who ran it until about 1973 when he sold part of it to Dave Maldaner, and part to George Jarokosky. He still owns a half section which he farms, and where he trains people to fly ultra light planes.

Fern lived in Lethbridge near her daughter until her passing in 1991 at the age of 98.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup