Laura Isabel: Uffda! – A New Beginning – Chapter 4 of 5

Written by Harold McNeill on October 19th, 2010. Posted in Biographies


Laura Isabel: Uffda! – A New Beginning – Chapter 4 of 5

Never one to look back with yearning or regret, Laura married a neighboring farmer, Wilfred Skarsen , and the happy couple started a whole new life with Dianne, who was just approaching her teens. Uncle Lennel (Wilfred’s older brother) lived with them while sharing the original family home until, 1982, at the age of 73, Lennel married Emma Adele Shular. Both Mom and Wilfred Wedding Daymen, who, to that point, remained bachelors, were suddenly the step-fathers to 13 children and countless grandchildren.  Both stepped into those big shoes as if they had been groomed for the roles their entire lives.

Laura’s beau, Wilfred, was the sixth of seven sons of Oscar (1880) and Petra (1890) Skarsen (Myhre) whose families began homesteading the Riverhurst area in I939. This enterprising Norwegian-Canadian family – son’s, Lennel, Julian, Melvin, Morgan, Percy, Wilfred, Wilbert and, daughter Stella – quickly expanded their interests into mixed farming, fishing, hunting, logging and milling, trapping, carpentry and commercial painting. They were an industrious family group and added much to life in the Cold Lake area.

Laura and Wilfred continued to live on the original Skarsen homestead in Cold Lake, however when Highway 55 was widened in 1981, they moved the entire farm, lock stock, barrel and grainery, 500 yards to the north-west.  This new location, with freshly painted granaries, a new barn and a backdrop of pine and poplar, quickly became a showcase as Laura and Wilfred expanded the gardens and expansive lawns.

Their efforts lead to an Alberta Government “Farm Beautification Award” in 1985, just three years after moving to the new location. Laura also received personal recognition in 1996 when she was awarded the Provincial “Imogene Duce Award” for her activity with the local TOPS Chapter. A few words from that award express the sentiment of any who have come to know Laura:

“Love, caring and understanding – a person possessing an abundance of any one of
these qualities is truly exceptional. We have just such an exceptional lady in our chapter
and she is perhaps even more exclusive because she excels, not just in one but in all three
of these categories…”   (Diana French, Chapter Leader, TOPS AB4003, Riverhurst)

Skarsen FarmOver the next 35 years Laura, Wilfred and the farm on which they lived, became a central focus in the lives of the families of Harold, Louise, Dianne and their friends. Harold and Lynn were married on the farm in I984 and Greg and Merle in I991.

All the grandchildren and many of the great-grand children have fond memories of grandma’s cooking, “grandpa’s” lawn tractor and of helping to cultivate row upon row of potatoes, peas, carrots, lettuce and onions.  No family member or neighbour was ever left in need if Laura and Wilfred were able to help in any way.

For many years, Laura served as a Director on the Board of the Riverhurst Hall, a hall that hosted hundreds of family and community events.

Photos

Skarsen Farm Collage

1990s Wilfred and Laura Skarsen along with Harold and Sean in the fields and with the farm equipment.

October 2010

Link to part 2 The Early Years

Link to Part 3 The Young Woman

Link to Part 4 A New Beginning

Link to Part 5 The Final Chapter

 

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Comments

  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email: Harold@mcneillifestories.com)

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.