By Winnifred Olson
I was born in England in 1909. My father was a mechanical engineer
and my mother a midwife. They met at a yachting event on the Solent
as my father was an avid sailor. They married and lived on the
Tole of Wight where my two sisters were born. We immigrated to
Canada in 1910 when I was only six months old.
My first home in Canada was a log house erected by my father,
on a homestead in Greencourt, Alberta. My father used his skills
as a machinist, motor mechanic and lathesman to help neighbors
and provide for his family. One of the few possessions we brought
from England, a tractor, was put to good use. My mother was kept
busy coping with harsh living conditions, a family and delivering
In 1916 my father constructed a new two story home, just in time,
as another sister was born in 1917. This house was known as the
White House complete with parlor and den. It still
stands in much of its original condition on a farm outside Greencourt.
My time as a child was spent walking many miles to our one room
school and feeding all our animals. I grew up a nature lover and
knew the location of every birds nest and the names of all
In 1925 my parents both died within months of each other and
at the age of sixteen I came to Whitecourt to work as a cook at
the downtown Whitecourt Hotel. My younger sister later came to
live with me and I worked at the hotel until I met and married
my husband. Carl William (Bill) Olson was the son of Anna and
Axel Olson, two of Whitecourts original settlers. As a homemaker,
I raised two sons and a daughter. My passion for cooking and baking
continued and my love of nature led me to spend many hours in
my flower and vegetable gardens.
My husband passed away in 1974 and a year later I moved out of
my house and into an apartment where I lived happily for many
years. In 2002 I lost my oldest beloved son, Bill to cancer, but
I am still blessed to have a sister, son, daughter, two daughter-in-laws,
four nieces, two nephews and four wonderful grandchildren. At
the age of ninety five years I am still waiting for my first great-grandchild.
I presently reside at the Woodland Villa and look forward to visits
from family and friends.