Vick family celebrates 100 years in St. Walburg

Josie Vick (left) and son Bruce (middle) represent the second and third generations of the Vick family in St. Walburg

By Rhonda Cooper

They came from as far east as Kitchener, Ont., west from Port Alberni, and as far south as Alameda, California and as close as communities from  Saskatchewan and Alberta to the home of Bruce and Shirley Vick near St. Walburg.

Family members, some meeting for the very first time, gathered July 1 and 2 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the family farm.

“It is a bittersweet time,” said Shirley Vick, who along with husband Bruce currently reside on the homestead. “Grandpa (Jack) passed away in early May. It was he who wanted to have this celebration.”

According to Shirley, when the family began talking about a celebration about a year ago, Bruce’s initial request was for it to be something small and one that wouldn’t create a lot of extra work for him.

“Grandpa and I just looked at each other and said ‘yeah, right,’” smiled Shirley.

Prior to a month-long holiday for Bruce and Shirley over the winter, Jack requested more invitations. Not until after Jack’s passing in early May did Bruce and Shirley get an inkling of how many invitations Jack sent.

“There were only three left in his desk. We think he sent about 150 invitations, so we don’t really know how many people are coming,” said Shirley.

The first guests to make camp in the Vick yard arrived Wednesday morning. As a gesture of welcome, Shirley made freshly-baked cinnamon buns for her Ontario guests. As more family arrived Thursday, Friday and even Saturday morning, the number of morning cinnamon buns rose.

“The way I look at it we are making memories,” she said.

In celebration of 100 years on the farm, the Vick family unveiled a plaque commemorating the three generations of Vicks who lived and were born there

The Vick homestead located just east of St. Wallburg holds the memories of four generations. Henry (Harry) Vick, left England at the young age of 22 for central Saskatchewan where he filed for his homestead in the summer of 1911. He built a log home and returned over the next few years to prove up the land. In 1914 he married Lydian Groff and in November of that year the couple took up permanent residence on their land. The Vick homestead was part of the Aboriginal peoples’ major trading route, the Onion Lake Trail. This trail extended from the Onion Lake reserve on the Alberta/Saskatchewan border to the Duck Lake/Batoche area of central Saskatchewan. The trail crossed the homestead approximately 40 feet north of the original cabin’s location. Mrs. Lydian Vick was often alone on the homestead and traded milk and eggs with the native people travelling along the trail.

Harry and Lydian raised a family of seven, four boys and three girls. Jack, the third son and fourth eldest, received his discharge from the army in 1946 and married Josephine (Josie) in October 1947. Jack and Josie rented the farm from Jack’s parents in May of 1948 and purchased the land in 1953.

Jack and Josie’s family of four boys and two girls, were the third generation of Vicks to cultivate life long memories of farm life. In 1972, Bruce, the second eldest married Shirley and they purchased the farm in 1976. The fourth generation of Vicks, sons Josh and Hugh were raised on the homestead.

To commemorate the milestone, family members, close neighbours and friends gathered Saturday afternoon for a brief program and unveiling of the century plaque. Current owner Bruce hosted the program. His mother Josie extended her appreciation for all the hard work undertaken by the family to prepare for the day and how her husband Jack would have loved to have been a part of it, ready with his share of stories. Frank Vick, Jack’s youngest brother, gave a brief family history and with the unveiling of the plaque by Bruce and Shirley’s son Hugh explained that the symbols surrounding the generations of Vick names depict the farm’s background as mixed farm, something that is of a rarity now and may be non-existent in the future. In a final tribute to those who came before them and to all present family members, a champagne toast was enjoyed.

The celebration was topped off with an evening of music, dancing and a time to share even more memories and create new ones.

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