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



  • 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) […]

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

    For those who followed the earlier post about the cost of ICBC Auto insurance coverage in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (linked in comments) here is another follow-up article.

    This article again confirms earlier assertions that public-private insurers such as that which ICBC provides, is among the best in Canada in terms of rates and coverage. A link is provided in the original story.

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold