A Look At Community Life In Castor

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CraigBaird


When we want to get a look at what the community of Castor was like in the early 20th century, one of the best sources of information is Morest L. Skaret, who wrote a book called Morey’s Bench: Stories from the Life and Times of Morest L. Skaret.
In that book, he delves into how people in the community passed the time.
There were many places of contact for early homesteaders of the area and one of the most important was the post office. It was there that homesteaders would come to pick up the mail and talk about the events of the day. There was no mail carrier at the time, so often it was a day’s event to go out to the post office and meet friends.
Information from the outside world came from several sources, including newspaper and radio, but it also came from people on the road. It was not uncommon for a farmer to be taking a load of grain to the elevator and meet someone coming from a different direction. The farmers would sit and talk and learn more about the other areas of the province.
The schoolhouse was also an important gathering point. Not only were students educated there, but often community events and social gatherings were put on. Raffles were often held to raise money for the school and the women of the area would make fancy cakes and cookies to raffle off. Morest’s father once made a model of the schoolhouse out of wood and raffled it off.
Rodeos were also popular with small steers being ridden by the young boys, and broncos being rode by the men.
Homesteaders of the area were also required to have a portion of their property set aside for the road allowance, which was 60 feet wide. While the road allowance was set aside, often no road was built and people would cut through fields to get to places like Castor and the post office.
Since the schoolhouse was a large distance from other services, the local Justice of the Peace, Mr. Foreman, convinced the school board to build a community hall. That hall was built, and it was where the Queen’s birthday was held, along with church services.
One of the biggest events of the year for the early settlers, when they would happen, was when barnstorming airplane tours would come through. This would provide locals their first, and often only, time ever up in an airplane.
One of the most important things for the early settlers was to be social. Morest speaks of one man who was an alcoholic and mean to his wife. He said that one time, she fled to a local house and he watched the man come to the house with a bull whip and proceed to follow her back home, whipping her as they went. In those days, Morest says, people minded their business and did not get involved.
Nonetheless, times were often good for everyone and people enjoyed the lives they had in the early Castor area.
Suggestions for columns or questions? E-mail Craig at crwbaird@gmail.com. Listen to his podcast by searching for “Canadian History Ehx” on your podcast form. Find his show on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/c/CanadianHistoryEhx
Information for this column comes from Morey’s Bench: Stories from the Life and Times of Morest L. Skaret
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