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Wight to Whitecourt


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 babies.

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 bird’s nest and the names of all the wildflowers.

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 Whitecourt’s 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.