Index to Family Stories 1940 -1965

Written by Harold McNeill on January 11th, 2011. Posted in Index to Posts

Index to Family Stories 1941 -1965

October, 2014: The Index Sections are currently being updated.
(Double click photos for full size)

Full introduction to the Family Series 1940 – 1965 go to: Introduction
Welcome to McNeill Life Stories Blog: Background on Blog Development
McNeill Life Stories and Joomla Going their Separate Ways

Most recent stories at top of page:


Part VI Return to Cold Lake and the High School Years


31: Chapter 3:  Cars, Girls, Rock and Roll:  (1955 -1960).  I was tempted to name this story “Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll”, but as for the first “what happened in Cold Lake, stayed in Cold Lake” and for the second, our drug was “liquor”.  So I decided to stick with Cars and Girls as that was, and still is, a fairly potent combination.  Link Here to the Cars and Girls Story

30. Chapter 2: The Silent Generation, Our High School Years:   “The Silent Generation”.  Seems someone made a big mistake as this chapter and the next will reveal.   Link here to the “Silent Generation

29. Chapter 1: The Journey Begins, Summer, 1953:  This was one of the most difficult posts to write as it involved aspects of our family life that was beginning to fracture.  We still loved each other, but sometimes love is not enough.  Link to The Journey Begins


Part V  The Gypsy Years

Index 2

28. Chapter 3, Mink Farming in LacLaBiche, July, 1952:   LacLaBiche would be a mixed blessing for Louise and me.  We started out with Mom and Dad, but would soon be pulled apart as they headed south for work. Line to LacLaBiche

27. Chapter 2, Farming in Pibroch, Summer 1950:  Shorty after school was out in Edmonton, we were again on the move.  The small community of Pibroch was not much more than a name on the map, but at least we would be back with Mom and Dad.  Link to Pibroch

26. Chapter 1, Edmonton, Alberta  Fall, 1949:   While the move to Harlan (series below) was our first time away from Mom and Dad, that was more like a summer holiday.  The move to Edmonton was much different.  Link to Edmonton


Part IV Harlan, Saskatchewan

Gypsy 3

25. Chapter 6: Our Dad is Missing,  July 1949:   (October 2010)   The last time we saw our Dad he was standing at the back door of the Beer Parlour in Alix, Alberta.   Link to Our Dad is Missing

24. Chapter 5: Harlan Movie Night, Summer, 1949: Once every week or two we would attend the old Country Hall for a Movie and perhaps an afternoon picnic. An exciting event as these were the first movies we ever attended.  Link to Movie

23. Chapter 4: Hunting Crows’ Nests, Spring, 1949:  (September 2010), As most realize, crows are one of the smartest birds on the earth. They work hard to protect each other and would never hesitate to attack someone who has either hurt one of their own or is damaging their property.  Such was the fate of my cousin Stanley and I as we went about trying to destroy one of their nests.  Link to Hunting Crows

22. Chapter 3: Snakes and Horses, Early Summer, 1949:  (October, 2010):  My cousin Betty was deathly afraid of snakes so my other cousin, her brother, and  I used that to great advantage as Betty was bigger and stronger than us. Link to Snakes

21. Chapter 2:  An Interesting History:  (October 2010).  One man who died at Frog Lake was John Delany, the Grandfather of my Aunt Hazel (wife of my mom’s brother Melvin Wheeler).  Link to Interesting History

20. Chapter 1: The Old School House:  On leaving Cold Lake, Mom and Dad went one direction, Louise and I another.  We ended up in Harlan on a farm with Aunt Liz and Uncle Warren Harwood and two of our cousins, Betty (Elizabeth) and Stanley Dewan.  Link to the Old School House


Part III: Living at Marie Lake, North of Cold Lake (1947 – 1949)

Collage Marie Lake

19. Chapter 11 – A Final Farewell Spring, 1949:  (July, 2010) The end of our time at Marie Lake came suddenly and without explanation. Within a matter of days mom and dad had packed our belongings and we were headed away from a way of life that would never again be repeated. Mom and Dad headed one direction, Louise and I another and, our buddy Shep and good friend Mr. Goodrich, still another. Join the final chapter of our life at Marie Lake: (Link to A Final Farewell)

18. Chapter 10 – A Winter Trip to Cold LakeJanuary 1949:  (August, 2010) Shep and I spent many hours travelling around back country wood and lakeland. Shep was a well trained sled dog with seemingly boundless energy.  Follow Shep and me on a thirty mile solo trip from our home at Marie Lake (in the background) to the Town of Cold Lake at:(Link to Winter Trip to Cold Lake)

17. Chapter 9 – Back to Hauling Logs Fall, 1948:   (September, 2010) Hauling logs using a double bob pulled by horses was still in common use in the first half of the last century. Above, Uncle Denny (Dewan) of Midnight Lake, SK, sits atop a recently cut load.  In the early winter of 1948, when Louise was about five and I, about eight, took our first solo trip into the wilderness to cut and load firewood. Join our adventure at:   (Link to Hauling Logs)

16. Chapter 8 – On Thin Ice (Fall 1948):  (September, 2010) In the north country, particularly in isolated areas, travel during the winter on ice covered lakes saved many hours.  To get an early, Dad and his friends always tested the limits when lakes froze over in the fall. Sometimes they were lucky, sometime not.  Follow Uncle Warren and cousin Emerson Dewan as they travel across Marie Lake ‘On Thin Ice’.   (Link to On Thin Ice)

15. Chapter 7 – Crash on Highway 28 (Summer/Fall, 1948):   (September, 2010) Aunt Marsha (Mom’s sister) and Mr. Goodrich (trapper neighbour), bagged a dozen geese early one morning.  Dad love fresh cooked goose, but would have a hard time savouring these babies.   (Link to Crash on Highway 28)

14. Chapter 6 – My Best Friend 1947 -1949 – (August, 2010) As family stories were told and retold over the years, the story of Shep, the dog Louise and I had for two short years at Marie Lake, played a prominent role. The old saying “a dog is a man’s best friend” is generally true but, in retrospect, I have come to believe Shep took second place to someone else in my young life.  To find out who that might have been join the story at:    (Link to My Best Friend)

13. Chapter 5 – The Trap LineWinters of 1947/48 and 1948/49 – Besides fishing, logging and mink farming in the wilderness, hunting and trapping also provided many opportunities for those who savoured the challenge of living close to nature. life. Encouraged by Dad and mentored Mr. Goodrich, I was to learn much about the way of life during the winters over 1947and 1948.  To follow the story go to:  (Link to The Trap Line)

12. Chapter 4 – Easy Come Easy Go Fall, 1947 – (August, 2010) A pet mink, “Kit’s” brought from the Cold Lake mink farm operation to Marie Lake, provided a great business opportunity. One day, out of the blue, Dad and Mom came to me with a proposition I could not refuse. It excited me beyond belief and lead to an outcome that was to open a whole new world of fun and games for Louise and me. Join our family in this new life adventure at:    (Link to Easy Come, Easy Go)

12. Chapter 3 – Explosion July, 1947 – (August, 2010) Confused by the contrast between this scene and the title? Read on, it has meaning! Being critically injured while living in a remote area brought additional dangers. Getting the patient to a doctor or hospital could take many hours, perhaps days, during which time the patients life could hang in the balance. Depending upon the injuries, the trip could often cause excruciating pain as rough roads and stormy waters took their toll. Read more of this harrowing experience at:   (Link to Explosion)

11. Chapter 2 – Growing Up in the Wilderness 1947 – (August, 2010) Growing up in the wilderness would provide ample opportunity for two kids to get totally involved in learning about life even though there was no school, we had not yet started correspondence and other children visited only occasionally. Despite the limitations, Louise and I managed to find ample challenge to keep ourselves occupied. To read the five short stories in this chapter, go to:  (Link to Growing Up in the Wilderness)

10. Chapter 1 – The Mink Pen Adventure Early Spring, 1947 – (August, 2010) The move from the Smith Place at Cold Lake to our new home at Marie Lake was anything but smooth. In his usual carefree manner dad took chances that few would take. One such instance was moving mink pens across Marie Lake on a small boat, a trip that Aunt Marcia, Louise and I would not soon forget.  Read more at:   (Link to the Mink Pen Adventure)


Part II: The Martineau River and Smith Place, Cold Lake, Alberta

Martinieau River Collage

9. Chapter 5 –  Life or Death on the Dock: (August 2010): After leaving the Martineau River Camp we moved to a beautiful home on the North Shore of Cold Lake. While all was peaceful, it would bring another brush with death for my baby sister. (Link to Near Death on the Dock)

8. Chapter 4 – Wolves in the Wilderness Early Spring, 1945 – August, 2010)Late one night as Laura huddled under a tree with her two children sleeping soundly on her lap, she could hear wolves howling in the distance. The car was hopelessly stuck and her husband was gone to get help. Would a wolf or bear attack? Not certain what they might do, she was ready to climb a tree to try and get her children to safety. Join the story at:  (Link to Wolves in the Wilderness)

7. Chapter 3 – A Winter Dash to the Hospital Deep Winter, 1945 – Dr. E.M. Savage was an exceptional young woman who took up practice at the Cold Lake Hospital in 1943. Prior to her arrival, the nearest Doctor was days away. Over the years Dr. Savage treated members of our family and on more than one occasion saved some of those members from almost certain death. This story traces a desperate dash to the hospital in the dead of winter after Louise, the youngest child of Dave and Laura became critically ill. For the full story go to:    (Link to A Winter Dash to the Hospital)

6. Chapter 2 Hauling Logs and Ice Fall, 1944 – (October, 2010) There were many experiences to be had for a young boy growing up in a wilderness camp – travelling with the truckers while hauling logs or ice was just one of the many. Danger was always close at hand as experienced by cousins Harold and Bob (McNeill). To learn more about those experience go to: (Link to Hauling Logs and Ice)

5. Chapter 1 – The Logging Camp Winter 1944 – (August, 2010) Having made the final break farm life in Saskatchewan, Dave and Laura along with their two children, seized the opportunity to go logging in a remote are of North East Alberta. At the Martineaur River Camp, Dave worked in the bush with his horses while Laura began cooking full time. Join the beginning of Part 2 of the McNeill family adventures at:  (Link to Martineau River Logging Camp)


Part I: The Early Years in Birch Lake, Saskatchewan

Collage Start

4.  Chapter 4 – The Fire Tower  Spring 1944 – (March, 2010) “Boy’s will be boy’s” as the saying goes and the three year old son of Dave and Laura McNeill was a typical little boy. With the family now living at a remote fire watch outpost east of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Harold was given a good deal of freedom to roam about. This freedom, however, occasionally landed him in hot water. Find out more about this particular bit of boyhood mischief in the final story of Part 1: Fire Tower

3. Chapter 3 A Place in the Sun, Summer 1943 – (October, 2010) Rocks, rocks and more rocks! A young man, who jokingly referred to himself as a “prairie rock farmer”, stared at his future in a rock strewn field and tried to discern how, or whether, he might find his Place in the Sun. One sweltering afternoon, Dave reached a decision that would forever change his life and that of his family. To join the continuing story of the McNeill family go to: A Place in the Sun

2. Chapter 2 – A New Beginning, 1940 – 1942 – As with most newly married couples, there is a period of adjustment. For Dave and Laura McNeill, who married on June 24, 1940, it was no different. They both came from hearty pioneer stock but brought to the marriage two very distinct personalities. This, combined with the challenges of carving out an existence in an unforgiving, remote area of north-western Saskatchewan, made for an interesting period of adjustment. For a glimpse into the challenges go to: A New Beginning

1. Chapter 1 – The Blizzard of 41, January 1941 – It was closing in on -25F and the blizzard had been raging for several days across the remote northern Saskatchewan landscape. The winds easily brought the temperature to -35 and snow drifts were getting deeper by the hour. The young woman was in labour with her first baby and had no idea when her husband might return. Their farmhouse was several miles from the nearest neighbor and thirty-five miles from the hospital. To learn more of this harrowing experience go to the first story in this series at: Blizzard of Forty-One

Dave and Laura get Married (1941)

Wedding Day

 Family Photo Files: The story begins with the marriage of David Benjamin McNeill and Laura Isabel Wheeler in Birch Lake, Saskatchewan in July, 1940. The story follows the couple and their children, Harold, Louise and Dianne until the death of their father in 1965 and their mother 2008.


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Comments (5)

  • Julie Wright
    April 23, 2015 at 5:12 pm |

    My family lived in Cold Lake Alberta I believe from 1962-1970. I was born in 1964 in Edmonton and adopted by my parents Wally and Audrey Hounsome who lived in Cold Lake Alberta. My dad was in the RCAF. My mother was a teacher at the elementary school. I also had an older brother, Chris. I caught your website and am interested.

    • Harold McNeill
      April 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm |

      I was working for the US Air Force at that time, but left for Victoria in 1963 and have stayed her since. My brother-in-law ran the Marina for thirty years or so (Frank Yochim). Glad you caught the site. Several stories posted on the history of Cold Lake. Go to the Index Section for a full list. Cheers, Harold

  • rusty ruggles
    November 4, 2015 at 10:26 pm |

    your stories bring back a lot of long ago memories

    but very good from the little i remember thank you…

Leave a comment



  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]

  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    January 5, 2020 |

    […] 28. The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Why I stand with science? - McNeill Life Stories

    November 11, 2019 |

    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]