THRIVING: 1920–1939 Sneak Peak


If the cycle of life parallels the distinct seasons of the Canadian prairie, Lydia reflected that they must surely be approaching the winter of their years. Not that William Thompson would ever admit it. As soon as the snow began to melt, heralding the coming of spring each year, her aging husband would perk up as though the reawakening of the earth imparted its bountiful energy to him.

The spring of 1920 was no exception. For awhile he did have more buoyancy in his step and sparkle in his soft blue eyes; sometimes he would even reach for her as they settled into bed at night. Lydia knew William loved toiling in his expansive fields and working alongside his faithful Percheron mares. She could well imagine the peace and serenity of striding along in the crisp stimulating air under the clear sky while looking to the distant horizon, which went on and on into perpetuity. But she was becoming increasingly worried by how fatigued he was some evenings. In the depths of her heart, Lydia Thompson understood that the man to whom she had been married for thirty-eight years wistfully wanted to carry on, evermore and morbidly fearing his eventual uselessness, old age, and death.

Perhaps William and Lydia could have lived out their natural lives on the homestead had Andrew not been farming the land with his father. As a boy, Andrew had been convinced that his father knew everything. Wanting to be just like him, he had followed him everywhere. During his youth Andrew tried so hard to learn all that his father could teach him about seeding, haying, harvesting, and summer fallowing, until by the time he turned eighteen, he was a proficient farmer. Working together, the two men broke and planted the vast majority of their 640 acres until each autumn their increased production of wheat attested to the thriving father and son partnership.

But when had the rot set in that was gradually but irrevocably leading to the demise of their relationship? Lydia always marvelled at how Andrew had aspired to be just like William; but now that he was a man, he could hardly wait to take over the reins. Suddenly it seemed as though he thought his father was ready to be put out to pasture along with his precious horses. No doubt Andrew still enjoyed riding his trusty steed around the countryside, and he would hardly question the necessity of hitching Sally to the carriage when he wanted to take his family to Duff or to go visiting in the township. But, as far as he was concerned, it was high time for them to invest in a tractor, which he expected would very quickly replace horses as the source of power for all agriculture in the Canadian West. They had enough grain to sell to cover the cost of the purchase, but William was always adamant about waiting for the best market price for their wheat, so they often ended up building more and more granaries. If only his father would give him complete control of the farming, in short order Andrew would make it a much more profitable operation.