Franklin, Huldah

(1900 - 1999)

In 1885 Jim (James) Franklin arrived in Wetaskiwin and took up a homestead east of the Battle River, He came from Inverness, Quebec and had come west on doctor's orders for relief of asthma.

After he acquired the land he went back to Quebec to sell their home and brought his father, mother and a nephew, Joe George, whose mother had died when he was five.

They arrived back in October 1893, with enough supplies to last a year. Snow came early - they melted snow for water. They also piled it against the one boarded shack for warmth.

They bought a team of horses and a cow and made a pole barn behind the shack. As soon as possible the men started to cut and haul spruce logs from the river land. By spring of 1894 they had built their log shingled home.

His mother died in December, 1895, from pressures and hardships of pioneer life. Soon after his father had a stroke and died within the year. In the spring of 1895, Johanna Berg came west from Brooklyn to visit a sister, Mrs. Quist. The Quists lived two miles from the Franklin homestead. Johanna stayed two weeks and then went to cook for Dr. Brett at Banff during the summer. Then she went to Los Angeles. She returned in 1898 to marry Jim Franklin.

They were married by a Swedish Baptist minister, Reverend Linde. He spoke very little English, so the service was in Swedish. Neither bride nor groom understood but apparently said yes in the right places.

Huldah Franklin was born December 20, 1900. She had one sister, Mary, and a brother, George.

They had a very happy childhood - walking and riding over buffalo trails amid the wild flowers. Huldah loved to hear the hoofbeats of their horse on the planks of the new bridge over the Battle River. There was sign in black letters at each end of the bridge, "Driving horses faster than a walk over this bridge is strictly forbidden by law."

Huldah finished Grade Twelve in Wetaskiwin She had won the Governor General's Award for highest academic proficiency in Grade Eight. In the early 1920s, she taught on a permit for a time.

When her father died in 1927, she worked with her mother and brother to run the farm. They milked fifteen cows by hand, sold eggs and, during the summer, her brother George worked with a four horse team helping to build roads.

After George married and moved to his own farm, Huldah and her mother carried on the "home" farm.

In 1940, Huldah's mother had a stroke. She partially recovered but died in 1953. For 30 years, Huldah farmed by herself before selling the farm to her nephew in 1967.

After she sold the farm, she moved into Wetaskiwin and was asked to start a Kindergarten at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. She worked there for four years.

She always liked to write and has had articles published in agriculture related newspapers and magazines. At age 94, Huldah received recognition on CBC radio and was interviewed for magazines and newspapers; she was one of Canada's oldest writers. She also dabbled in painting and the walls of her home were always adorned with her paintings.

Huldah Franklin passed away on January 29, 1999.

Category: Wetaskiwin