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Reuben Tiffin and
Margaret Taylor Tiffin

Water Works Wonders
A History of the White, Wilson, McMahon,
River Junction School Districts
Page 437 - 439
by Beryl Tiffin

Grandpa Tiffin, a pioneer of the Lethbridge District known as Reuben, was born in l843 and died May 3O,l930. He was the youngest member of the family of five boys and three girls, and was the only one that was born in Canada. The father's first name is not known, but his mother's maiden surname was Dryden. They came to Canada by sailing boat that took six weeks to cross the Atlantic Ocean. There were two brothers that traveled from England to Canada. After landing they reported to have used the only means of travel at that time was by oxen and wagon, cutting their way through the forest to the final destination near Toronto.

Before Grandpa Tiffin was of school age, the family moved to Godrich, travelling through forest to their destination. Grandpa Tiffin grew up in this district and later was married to Margaret Taylor of Godrich. They lived on the home farm for a short while, then sold out and moved to Lucknow.

Previously three other brothers moved to Langside, then one of them, Jackson, moved to Manitoba about 1890. Grandpa Tiffin and his family lived there until they pulled up stakes and moved west.

Their family consisted of five boys and one girl, of which more information will be given as they are the sons and daughter of one of the pioneers of Lethbridge District.

Grandpa Tiffin was born in 1843 near Toronto and died in Lethbridge May 30, 1930. Grandma Tiffin, whose maiden name was Margaret Taylor was born in 1844 in Canada, place of birth is unknown and died at Lethbridge in 1907. The family consist of:

Allie, born in 1876 and died in 1940 at Elmworth near Beaver Lodge in the Peace River Country. William Albert, known as Bert born in 1879 and died in Victoria B.C. in 1955. Reuben Taylor, born in 1883 and died in Cranbrook May 20, 1951. Joseph John, known as Jack was born in 1886 and lived on the same farm they came to in 1901 until he passed away in 1966. One boy born about 1890 deceased during infancy. Melvin Earl, born in 1893 and died in Vancouver in 1958.

On March 18, 1901 Reuben Tiffin with his wife Margaret and the family boarded the train to Lucknow under blizzard conditions and travelled west for eight days and nights arriving in Lethbridge on a balmy warm spring day. Land being scarce in Bruce County in Ontario and jobs not available, Grandpa decided to look for other places for his growing family so decided to come west. In 1900 Grandpa Tiffin came to Manitoba on the harvest excursion and worked at Pilot Mound Manitoba for the threshing season. After harvest he inquired and looked around for a new place to locate. During his travels he came across a gentleman who told him of the irrigation development in Lethbndge in the North West Territories. That fall he came out to investigate. After looking over the situation, he decided this would be a good place to settle. When he returned home, he talked it over with the family and all agreed to sell the farm and move west.

Seven head of horses and one cow, a buggy, a wagon and some household effects were loaded in two box cars. In transporting animals to their destination, two members of the family rode free of charge to look after the stock. This was Bert and Jack's job. On the way out they met a cousin, Dick McBurney, at Winnipeg who wanted to go west too, and so he hopped on the box car and rode with Bert and Jack.

After arriving in Lethbridge the family rented a house on Third Avenue that used to be the O.K. restaurant, where the A.M.A. office is now located. Just across the street Dr. Frank H. Mewburn had his residence. Dr. Galbraith was his assistant and used to ride horseback making his visits to the homes. His horse was blue-grey with a white face and patch on one side. He just loped along slowly at a snails pace, to make his calls. The Lethbridge Herald 60th Anniversary Edition shows a picture of Dr. Galbraith sitting on this particular horse.

In the spring of 1901, the irrigation ditch was completed. The water commenced to flow in a small stream down Third Avenue. The children in the area thought it was great joy to play in the water. One day they discovered a good sized fish in the stream. Being the eldest and biggest boy, Jack came up with the fish for supper.

Grandpa Tiffin by this time had completed negotiations for the purchase of 3/4 of section 11, township 8, range 21, west of the 4th meridian. The land was purchased at the rate of $8.00 an acre below the ditch, and $3.00 an acre above the ditch, to be paid in ten years.

A carpenter was hired and the house and farm buildings were built that summer. The contractor's name was Rex, a brother of Mr. Gladstone Virtue. The family moved to the farm in the fall. During the summer, land was broken using a walking plow. They broke 50 acres that season. A crop was planted and feed was obtained the first year.

In 1902 the year of the flood there was lots of moisture and a good crop reaped. There were few markets to sell the produce. The Mining Company bought some of the grain, the settlers who were moving into the district bought some, and some was sacked and shipped to the mountains. It wasn't until 1912 after the farming congress that markets were established. Settlers were gradually pouring into the district. Among them were the Whites, Dr. Fairfield and the Gwatkins. Over the next few years more and more settlers were arriving. In 1902, Grandpa Tiffin and Mr. White, the Baptist Minister, who just lived west of Gwatkins, made arrangements with the Government to build a school. The Seat of Government for the North-West Territories was situated in Regina. Once approved the school was built. Melvin Tiffin was one of the first pupils to attend this school. During the first winter in Lethbridge, Bert Tiffin went to work in Fernie, on the Great Northern Railway Construction. The next winter he went to Michel and worked there for the Saw Mill Company. He found that the mill needed extra help and also extra horses. He went back home, picked up the team of horses and rode with Jack to Macleod to pick up the third horse. Together with the horses they returned to the Saw Mill Company. Their return trip was treacherous for they were caught in heavy snow fall, and blizzard conditions which made them decide to travel along the railroad track, which was more difficult because of encountering bridges on the track. They travelled along without mishap around the bridges for a while, until the horse Bert was leading lost his footing and started to slide down the mountain side ending up at the bottom of the ravine. A track led them to the camp which was made during the construction of the railroad. Jack followed Bert with his team. They finally arrived at the camp in the wee small hours of the morning. At the Saw Mill the work they were involved in was cutting down the trees, then collecting the logs into a sloup. One end was loaded on a bob sled and the other end was left to trail behind to act as a break. The horses were hitched to the sled and would guide the load down the hills, travelling at break neck speed to keep out of the way of the load. In the spring Jack returned home, and Bert stayed on working. This was the spring of the Frank Slide, and Bert was not far away and was soon at the scene of the disaster when the news arrived. Later that year the Michel fire swept through and burned the whole mountain side, thus lumbering was discontinued in the area. Later Bert obtained work on the bridge construction over the Old Man River on the edge of Lethbridge.

Dick McBurney, the cousin who boarded the train at Winnipeg along with Rube, went to Cranbrook and found work there. Rube was soon employed on the railroad and continued the service on the Canadian Pacific Railway until his retirement in 1940. Dick also was employed by the Canadian Pacific Railway and also continued until his retirement. They both completed their service in Cranbrook, although they have worked in other centres in Western Canada.

During the summer of 1904, an American by the name of Jim Duncan came from Idaho with about seventy head of horses. His idea was to locate a ranch to raise horses for sale on the market. He rented the Archie Plail homestead in the Porcupine Hills near the Walrond Ranch for the winter. Arrangements were made for Jack to spend the winter there to look after Jim Duncan's horses and also their own stock. That winter temperatures went down to 50 below zero, however, the cold snap was short and the loss of stock was few. Jack returned home in the spring. Two years later a cheque of $45.00 from the Burns Company was received for the missing steer that turned up at Gleichen in their round up about 100 miles away from the Plail Homestead. The brand 4T on the right rib was the identification of the owner of the animal, registered through the Brand Office.

In 1905, Alberta became a province. Jack being in the foothills doesn't recall any celebrations being planned for that occasion.

In 1906 and 1907, one of the worst winters on record, many of the cattle were lost. The Circle Ranch, located on the Old Man and Little Bow Rivers, and others were hard hit. The snow storm came from the north then the snow thawed and froze solid for the rest of the winter. The cattle kept travelling during the day in search of food and stayed wherever they were for the night. Many of the cattle were dead in the morning, the others travelled on. The prairies were covered with a sheet of ice so that the cattle were unable to break through for food. Many came to the six mile coulee viaduct west of the farm. The folks had some hay to winter their own stock but not enough for those passing by. In the spring of the year they used to ride the range in search of their horses. This time in June Jack was riding the Chin Coulee when he came upon Joe Gerricks homestead and found that he had just received a shipment of cattle from Manitoba which he thought would be of fair stock to start a dairy. He rode home with the news.

They were in favor of it, and arrangements were made to purchase seven head of cattle at forty five dollars a head. This was the start of the Tiffin's Dairy Business.

The milk was produced on the farm. Billy Reed who lived on the White Farm was the driver for the rig which picked up the milk. Billy Reed's brother, Job Reed, usually known as Bud, owned the horses and rig that delivered the milk to the people in town. Billy didn't last long, and a brother-in-law of Billy by the name of Watson was the next driver.

In a recent write up in the Lethbridge Herald Mrs. Dora E. Trew, tells of a section of Lethbridge that was related to the dairying in 1888 and I quote from her article of; "Old City Street Names remain in Part of History."

"But continue along to Thirteenth street, once called Westminster Road. Look to the left, and the first house across the track, now almost hidden by commercial buildings is the old Wallwork home, once a dairy on a considerable tract of land. At the back of it still grows a very ancient cottonwood tree, transplanted from the river bottom in 1888. Many a big can of milk cooled beneath its shade up to 1903.

Now we walk south till we come to Sixth and Seventh Avenue formerly the area of the market garden managed by the enterprising Job Reed who played his energetic part there around 1885. Though trained as a teacher and doctor, he was busy growing and selling vegetables and developing his dairy herd.

Job Reed, referred to in this write up, is the father of Bill and Bud Reed, who were connected with the delivery of the milk in Lethbridge. The milk was picked up in bulk cans, then a quart measure was made at the tin smiths to measure the milk for the householder. The householders came out with their own container and the milk was measured out into it.

The quantity of milk available in the winter usually fell down because in the summer there was more feed available and the pattern of reproduction came during the summer months. Then the quota system came into being so as to have more milk available in winter. Remedies to this situation will come later and will be discussed.

We shall now find out what each member of the family did during their life time. In June 1907, the family was saddened by the loss of their mother, Grandma Tiffin. Then in the fall happy events took place for Bert married Florence Robinson and Allie married Franklin Brewer.

Allie was the eldest in the family and was quite a musician. She taught music lessons in Lucknow and played the organ for church services. She continued giving musical enjoyment in their communities for many years.

Franklin originally came from Nova Scotia. For a while they lived with Grandpa Tiffin, Allie, continued to look after the family. Later on they bought a quarter section land in Bow City. They farmed there for a few years then sold out and moved to Elmworth, near Beaver Lodge. In the meantime three girls were born including a set of twins One of the twins died and was buried in Lethbridge in the Tiffin family plot. In Elmworth they filed on a homestead and obtained the land after three years and continued farming until their death. When Grandpa Tiffin was eighty years of age he went up to Elmworth, filed on a homestead and stayed six months of the year with Allie and Franklin for three years. Franklin made the improvements each year until Grandpa Tiffin obtained the Title and then turned it over to Allie and Franklin.

After Allie had passed away, Franklin remarried Myrle Cambell in July 8, 1945 and died on October 31, 1961.

Bert Tiffin was one of the first settlers under the A.R. & I. ditch, and broke his land with a walking plow. He farmed for 52 years until he retired to Victoria in 1953. He died in 1955 at age 74.

Bert and Florence started their married life on the farm at Lethbridge. In 1908, their only child, a daughter, was born. After several years Bert purchased a half section of land at Iron Springs and moved there, renting out the home place. Later he filed on a homestead in the same district. Several years later he sold the land returning to their farm in Lethbridge. He then bought a half section west of Henderson's farm on the Magrath Road. In 1940, this land was sold to the Hutterite Colony. He bought two sections of land east of Warner. He also was in partnership with Mr. D.P. Carlyle on a half section of land just north of Lethbridge, where Golden Acres Lodge is now situated. On retiring he sold his farm at Milk River, rented the home place to his brother Jack, and moved to Victoria.

Rube was married to Anna Marie Beninger on December 2, 1909, who died March 8, 1925. Rube remarried in October 3, 1934 to Marie Walsh. Two sons were born to them. The family lived in the following centres; Nelsen, Medicine Hat, and Cranbrook.

Melvin Earl Tiffin, graduated from elementary White School and the Lethbridge High School. He entered Normal School to obtain his teaching certificate. He taught school in the Coalhurst District for approximately two years, before he enrolled at the University of Alberta, where he studied Medical Arts for two years. At that time Canada was involved in the Great War 1914, and Melvin joined the forces. He was grouped with the Ambulance Corp and was in action at the great battle of Vimy Ridge in France. Later he was released to complete his medical education and graduated from the University of Toronto in 1920. He married Majorie Forester, a graduate nurse of Toronto Hospital.

They returned to Alberta and B.C. and practiced the Medical Arts at the following centres; Kimberly, Nanton, Rocky Ford and Edson. In later years they moved to Vancouver and there he continued his medical practice until his death in 1958. Three children were born, two sons and a daughter.

Jack Tiffin: usually known by his friends and neighbors as Jack. In 1913 on February 5th, he married Alberta Mary Wight, known as Allie whom he met at the home place while she was teaching. Allie graduated as a teacher from Bowmanville, Ontario and applied for a position with the White School district in Alberta. She often made the remark, and I quote; "My name was Alberta Wight and I chose to teach in the White School in Alberta". The school teachers usually boarded at the Tiffin's Farm. At the time there were a number of young men living at the household, so on her arrival they drew lots to see who would meet the new school teacher at the station, and the lot fell on Jack. Jack's sister Allie Tiffin sent along her fur coat to wear during their trip back home, so she felt well taken care of (on) her arrival here.

She often spoke of having a small class to begin with but with the teaching of sewing her class increased to nearly thirty pupils. She taught school from January 1911, till June 1912, then returned home to make arrangements for their wedding on February 5, 1913 There were five children, three daughters and two sons. Margaret Grace, born April 26, 1920, died in infancy March 11, 1921.

They continued farming on the home place for four years. Then in 1918, Jack with his family along with Grandpa Tiffin rented out their farm and moved to Vancouver for a year. After their return from Vancouver, Jack has continued farming on the home place to this day.

In 1919, a dairy herd was purchased and gradually over the years. A foundation for a diary barn was constructed in 1916 by Tom Stubbs. Building Contractor and completed in 1921.

Silage was important in the cows diet, so, in 1926, a silo was erected. Each summer an extra crew was hired to put up the silage, to mow and stack alfalfa, and harvest the grain.

The area just south and west of the house was open prairie, and the cattle were turned out to graze on the prairie grass in the summer. Eventually this half section was purchased in 1924 and fenced. The South West quarter of it continued to be used as pasture until 1936, when it was broken up and put into production. A Massey Harris tractor with a two bottom plow was purchased, and the North West quarter was broken and later planted. The original horse barn was torn down and replaced by a new building with a hay mow. Also a calf and hog barn was built and was used for a number of years.

Eventually the machine age gradually took over the horse's place on the farm. With the growth, and the increase in the dairy herd the old horse barn was gradually reconstructed into the present calf barn with a section reserved for the maternity cases. One wing was added for grain storage.

The old roothouse served its purpose for many years, storing a supply of potatoes and vegetables to feed the family and the farm crew. Eventually the root house was torn down and reconstructed into a garage and machine shop.

Around 1924, a Hinman milking Machine was installed. With this machine they ran into considerable difficulty and later returned to hand-milking. With the advent of World War II farm labor became very short and in order to continue dairying, it was necessary to make changes. The De Laval Machine was purchased and installed and proved satisfactory. The milk was transferred to eight gallon cans and stored in a tank of water over night. Eventually a cooling device was installed in the watertank to help to keep the milk cool.

They wanted to increase their dairy herd, but the present facilities were inadequate, as it was geared for fifty milking cows. They changed over to the Loose Housing System. This system included; a loafing parlor, a waiting room, the milking parlor, then the dining room. With this change over they were able to increase their herd to around 100-110 cows. Next came the installation of the Bulk Refrigerated Tank with the milk picked up by truck every other morning.

Growing peas for the Magrath Canning Company for several years and growing sugar beets for the Sugar Factory, helped to develop the dairy industry. The pattern of unmarried hired men with the bunkhouse and boarding facilities soon changed. Houses were needed for married couples on the farm. At present there is accommodation for six families.

There is a saying; "that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". Recreation and divergence from routine duties had a place in the midst of their daily duties. Visiting neighbors, attending church and evening house parties were the main channels of entertainments. Plays, poetry, games and musical evenings had their place. We have a few pictures of the cast of the play that was presented a short time after the families arrivals. Jack was one of the main characters. With the building of the school more public gatherings were held thus the settlers in the district became more acquainted. When the first Marconi Radio came into Lethbridge, some one brought a set to the school the evening of a card party. During the evening they would take turns putting on the ear phones to listen to a program being broadcast. There were only a few that had a chance to listen. Eventually the White School became too small for the number of pupils attending, so they moved the building a half mile east and added a second room. Here dances were held in the new additional room and card parties in the old part of the school. Children too young to enjoy the dances were bedded down on the desks while the others danced into the wee small hours of the morning. I recall our family were always on their way home immediately after midnight lunch. Morning work started early on the farm.

In order to keep abreast with the developments in the farming field and also assist in the development of the district, Jack filled a number of executive positions. As his father had done before him, Jack served on the local board for many years. (Grandpa Tiffin served on the first board of White School along with A.E. Keffer & Rev. White.) He became Chairman of the Divisional Board in 1937 when the Lethbridge School Division #7 was established. Mr. Owen Williams was Superintendent of the division, Mr. G.C. Patterson was Secretary-Treasurer. A trustee on the board stood for three years. In order to arrange that all member's term of office did not expire at one time, they drew their number out of the hat. Jack drew his for one year duration. He was voted Chairman of the Board for that first year. He allowed his name to stand for the second term, and continued as Chairman of the Board. After completing his term of office, he did not let his name stand again due to the increase in farm responsibilities.

Jack held a position of Chairman of the Lethbridge Milk Producers Board at periodic intervals. He was always interested in the association, as they tried to interpret their position with the creameries and to keep abreast of the developing industry. During his period, Bill Darby and Jack worked on a "Quota System", the pattern of which was later taken over by the Board of Public Utilities under the Provincial Government. This system is still in existence today.

The Lethbridge Producer Association appointed Jack to be on the Milk Foundation supplying literature pamphlets on milk and its products, making them available to the school districts from which their supply of milk comes. In 1965, Jack along with Lance Snowden was presented with a leather plaque for the distinguished service with the Organization of the Milk Producers. At a Milk Foundation meeting in the same year, Jack was presented with a plate, an Emblem of Alberta for his service as Director on the Board.

During January 1966, The Union Milk Company held a banquet to which their Milk Producers were invited. Dinner was served, and a film shown. Then in honor of being the longest milk shipper to the dairy, Jack Tiffin was presented with Herald McCraken's book "The Charles M. Russell Book". This recognized his faithful service of over fifty years.

The Southern Alberta Co-op. Association was first known as "Farm Products Assoc.", which was managed by W. A. Hamilton and Leonard McKenzie. They were interested in the marketing of farm products, such as hay, grain, and potatoes. Wilbur McKenzie expanded the products to hogs and cattle. He was one of the men who worked with the group to instigate Red Label Beef. After it became the Southern Alberta Co-operative Association, Jack was a member of the board for a number of years.

Jack recalls an amusing incident following one of their meetings. One of the members gathered the eggs before coming to the meeting and had put a few in his pocket and forgot them. Engaged in conversation after the meeting he leaned against the counter which produced a crunching sound.

A look of horror came over his face, then a stream of profound exclamations came forth.

Around Farmers Day each year in June, a picnic was held presenting displays, speeches, races and refreshments. Each visitor was presented with several free tickets to obtain what ever they desired at the refreshment booth. This picnic was always a high light of each year.

Jack became a member of the Lethbridge Rotary Club in 1929, and was an active member until 1964. Then he took out his inactive membership. He was always very keen on any of the programs they sponsored. He also served on the Urban Committee of the executive.

Some of the activities were as follows:

1.Rotary Minstrel Show
2.Rotary Hobby Fair
3.Rotary Baseball Tournaments
4.Manning the gate at the Lethbridge Exhibition.
5.The Mardi Grass.

Other committees and organizations he took part in were:

1. Chairman of the South Lethbridge Mutual Telephone
2. Active member of the U.F.A. from the beginning.
3. He collected for each Victory loan drive during World War II
4. Chairman of the Southern Alberta Irrigation Co.

In 1935, Knox and Wesley churches united to establish Southminster United Church. Jack continued as a session member. At the 1966 Annual Meeting he became an honourary member of session for the service he had rendered.

Allie Tiffin also took an active interest in the community services. She was a member of the Women's Association for the church and member of the Women's Institute and U.F.W.A. when they existed.

Allie assisted with quilting bees, school concerts and group teas that were held. She did a lot of sewing for families in need as well as her own. She tried to assist the members of our family to become independent which proved successful, in fact we were able to carry on after her death, on Feb. 1, 1933.

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Mary Tollestrup