Name: Colin Traub
Family: Married to Val Traub, with four grown children and spouses, and eight grandchildren
Profession: Retired from TransCanada Pipelines
Years in Grenfell: 46
When you hear the word CANADA, what does it make you think?
Canada - just how big it is. And how tenuous things really are. When we were in the Maritimes there was a museum which was dedicated to the formation of Canada. It's closed now, because of lack of interest. But it was a full story, right up to 2000. It was kind of amazing, how tentative a thread it was. John A. McDonald wanted to buy Rupert's Land, which was all this area, and there were so many politicians that were.... - had he not been as strong as he was - Canada could have been all east of the Great Lakes. So it's a miracle that we are where we are. And I'm glad. Oh my goodness. I wouldn't want to be any place else. It's so big, and we've been to almost every province.
I've been in the Northwest Territories. I worked there for a winter. I was in a mining camp north of Yellowknife. It was a fly in camp. A goldmine actually. That was right out of high school. I had lots of jobs as a farm laborer. I came off the farm. I went to Calgary and got on as a sweeper of all things, at a trailer factory. I had gone to man power and put out all these applications for northern employees. The only one that said yes was a place in Discovery Mines, north of Yellowknife. They said "Would you still like the job?" I said yep! So I was on the plane to Edmonton, hired on there, and flew into Yellowknife. Got off one plane, and onto a float plane. There was no bush, just rocks, and I spent the winter there at the camp. They had run out of high grade oar, so they were closing down, so I worked from September til the end of May, then came home. They only people making money up there were the tradespeople and the managers. When I came out, I took instrumentation. It was kind of a little bit of using you head, using your hands, indoor, outdoors. I thought that would be the perfect thing for me. I got in at a place in Moose Jaw, STI at that time. They had this course for about five years, and all the graduates had been snapped up by the potash mines, by IPSCO. And they didn't need anymore instrument men anywhere, except Alberta. And I didn't want to leave. Eventually that's what got me the job here, with TransCanada. So I came here November 16th, 1972, and I worked there until November 28th, 2000. Anyway, when I think about Canada, all the trips we've taken to B.C., Alberta, and one time we were down east for a couple months and saw all the Maritimes, it's such a big country, and such a great place to live.
What is the one regret you have?
Oh my goodness.... one regret. There's hundreds, but I guess maybe that I didn't work harder in school. You needed 50% to pass, so if I got 53%, that was all I needed. I wasn't interested in going to university. It was only after I was out in the work world that I realized I needed to have more than grade 12. That was where tech school came in. That was the first time I really worked at schooling. I went to STI. I drove in monday morning, and I had a bed and breakfast that was only a block from school. For three months I never saw anything of Moose Jaw, except the bypass in and out. Once I got a little more comfortable, I got to know some of the guys and went out to eat and whatnot. In the beginning the cafeteria wasn't open though. I think my bed and breakfast was $35/month, and the lady had two siamese cats. They were her babies. The first week I was there, I told her just toast and coffee would be great. She gave me butter to butter my own toast, and there were cat prints in it. So after the cat print incident, I said, "That's alright. I'll just have coffee". I was really lucky though. One of the guys I knew, he basically rented a furnace room. He had a bed and a little desk and that was it. One little light. But yes, that was one of my biggest regrets though, was not being more serious about studying. Probably another one would be music. I don't have any musical talents at all. Even in church, when I'm singing, I keep it on the low side.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Where would I go? I've always wanted to circle the northern hemisphere. So take a train to Montreal, then go down the Eastern seaboard to Miami, down through the Panama Canal, and back up to Los Angeles. Then back up that way. You'd need to have a lifetime of 800 years, to see everything you really want. Like Europe, England. I wouldn't mind seeing Rome. The Vatican would be one place. So many places. South America. My brother, he is the traveller. He's been to Africa. Also on a boat trip to Russia. St. Petersburgh to Russia. He's retired to Mexico. Ya, I think circling around North America, through the Panama Canal would be interesting. When I retired, they asked me if I was going on any trips, and that was the one I wanted to do.
What sports team do you follow?
I have no sports that I follow. Well, except I follow the Spits! Yay!! Go spits go. That's amazing, especially having Dale (Hardy), Nathan (Bender), Dean (Amy)... to have a team of that caliber in our town. Rural Saskatchewan is thinning out and thinning out, and you look at neighboring towns, and they've lost their sports teams. They go to bigger centers. So it's the Spits. Without those kinds of people, it wouldn't have existed.
What is something you did in the last 24 hours that made somebody's day better?
Oh dear.... 24 hours. I've got to think. There hasn't been an awful lot. 24 hours. That's too tight a timeline! On the weekend though, I remade the treehouse. I had one I had made for Taylor (his oldest granddaughter), and she used it one year, and she kind of outgrew it. Last year one of the other grandchildren went through the floor, so they had fun tearing it down, and I thought that was the end of it. But Eli and Gemma talked me into making another one.
Money is no object. Do you quit your job?
I was downsized in 2000, at 52 years old. I kind of cherry picked jobs all the way through to 2016. It was really fun, because I could pick and choose which jobs I wanted. Most of them were with the pipelines. I often thought that if I ever won the lottery, that I would quit my job. The energy industry, that was a good place to be all those years. There's not many people that can say they've had a job for 30 years. I would quit my job in a flash, but it was a good job. I enjoyed it.
Describe your relationship with your siblings.
O.k. I have two brothers and a sister. My oldest brother had asthma, so he left the farm as soon as he could after grade 12 and went to the city. Being away from animals and grain dust, that improved his life. So he was a whitecollar man all his life. He was an accountant, first in the city and then in Swift Current, then Calgary. So it was letters, the odd phone call and as far as visiting, it was a haphazard thing. Once a year, once every 2-3 years sometimes. But I got into a business. He bought a bar in Calgary and I put some money into it. He was having trouble getting enough investors, and I gave him a little bit to tip the scale, and he went ahead with it. He has gone on from there. They lived in Mexico for a number of years, and now they're retired there. That's my oldest brother. My second brother, he and I were the ones who did farm work. He was a little bit older, so he got to run the tractor, and I had to stay back and help mom milk the cows. He was out at Whistler for half of his life and he retired back here. It's young now, lots of young people. When you get to be over 50, there's a limited group of being to be with. So he retired back to McLean. I talk to him once a week, sometimes three times a week. He's by himself. He's kind of like my grandfather, whom I never met. The three of us other siblings are tall and lanky and he's more stocky. I also have a sister who is right now retired.
Tell a funny story from your childhood.
Holy cow.... o.k. My parents, they were kind of unique, in that they liked to travel. They had a dairy farm, so getting away was difficult. They had done some travelling, and we're talking in the 30s. Dad had been to Winnipeg, different places, which when you think of the roads back then, would have been hard. I grew up in McLean. Anyway, we travelled with mom and dad, when we got old enough. We went in a '48 mercury. That was the family car. Somewhere down in the states, we pulled in to eat lunch at a restaurant. We were finished and of course the big question from Mom - "Does anyone have to go to the bathroom?" That was always the question. So ya. Me.. So out I went, around the side of the restaurant, through the garage and to the washrooms. I went into the washroom, and the garage, the doors slid, and it crossed in front of the washroom doors. So when they opened it, it blocked them off. I went to get out, there was another door there, but it wasn't a door. The door pulled inwards, and there was no way to get out. I was blocked in. The rest of the family got in the car, and I guess they were about three blocks from the restaurant, and my mom says "Wait a minute. Where's Colin?" I was pretty indignant, but they did find me. They banged on the door, and found me. I wasn't happy.
Have you ever relocated for love?
Actually, I can answer this one, because I did. I was dating Val. She was a telephone operator in Regina. Her girlfriend was dating one of the guys that I booted around with in McLean. This girl was having a party and my friend says "Hey! You have to come to this party. There will be some really nice girls there". As it turned out, it was a saturday, and I was booting around with this other guy and we were going to head off to the city. We were fooling around saturday afternoon and his talepipe fell - the hanger fell off. So we wired it. We got a piece of rope and tied it up and continued toodling around. Guess what happened? Bang! Well, that didn't work. Got a phone call. "Hey! Are you coming to the party?" Well, we've got problems. So he came out and picked me up and took me into the city. We got there and that was where I met Val and she was from Grayson. Where the heck is Grayson? Oh, it's a long ways, way east of here, and across the valley. And then all of a sudden I had a job here, so yes. I located here and we got married, and we were equadistant between her family and mine. Christmases were terrible. We would go Christmas Eve to Grayson. We would have Christmas supper, and service at midnight - midnight mass at Grayson church. We would come home, and tumble into bed. The kids would be up at 4:00, 5:00 am. We would have breakfast eventually. Then my mother was in McLean - my father had passed away. She had Christmas dinner. There was probably 48 hours where there wasn't much sleep, but the kids got lots of gifts.
So when I first came to town, Warner Zerbin had his house. He had a basement suite and I lived there. He was the first man I met in Grenfell. Val and I were married and that was the place we spent our first winter. Then one of my fellow workers, he lived where Don Patron lives now on the other side of town - it was originally built by Don McKay. Anyway, he was going out on the line, and we was needing someone to look after his house. He said we could live there rent free. So we moved out of the basement, and we could see light all of the time, not just out of a basement suite with little windows. They were wonderful people, Lillian and Warner, but it was nice to be in a house with windows. Not just seeing the feet of old people walking by.
What is your spouse's best quality?
Well, I can make big points here. Oh my goodness. Volunteering and community work. That's something that she's always been a part of, back to when she was in Grayson. Where it's a smaller community, and everyone is involved in everything. I was on shiftwork the first five years we were married, so there was a time where she knew lots of people in the community, and I only knew the shopkeepers, and that was it. And fellow workers. I thought at one time, when we die, there's going to be two tombstones out there. One is going to say "Val Traub", and the other one is going to say "her husband". She was into Brownies, everything with the children, then figure skating, and I was not so much. I came late to volunteering. It was after the children were almost grown. But she does everything. She's a very giving lady. I couldn't ask for a better person in the world to spend my life with. Yep. She has it all!
After chatting with Colin, he sent me this write up.....
Conversations with Werner Zerbin about Gestingthorp
by Colin Traub
The people who first settled on what is known as the Werner Zerbin farm, built the house in 1881. This was the same year the Canadian Pacific Railway reached Summerberry. A temporary Y was built to turn the trains around. In the 1880s, this area was wide open with no trees. These all grew later in the 20th century.
Sergeant was their last name and it was knonw that he was a remittance man. These were Englishmen who for one reason or another received an allowance from home. This money let them live in the style they were accustomed to. It was said that he was a second cousin to Queen Victoria.
In those times there were other remittance men in the area. Wrights - who lived on the George Duryba farm, and Skilliters - who lived on the Ken Neuls farm. There were others as well. One legend of the Wrights goes like this. The Wrights had a son who sold out after the folks died and went to live with relatives in New York. The legend is that he helped his cousins Orville and Wilber build an airplane at Kitty Hawk.
The Sergeant farm is five and one quarter miles south of Summerberry Cemetery and three quarters of a mile west. Their homestead was named Gestingthorpe. This area is the head waters of the Pipestone Creek. There were several sloughs - one called Home Lake had eighteen feet of water in it during the 1950s. Another called West Lake had an area called Summerberry Beach. Apparently it had black sand. The Sergeants had a swimming pool made. We would call it a dugout, but they had sand hauled in to cover the bottom. The farm site is about four hundred feet higher than Grenfell in elevation. The stones for the house were hauled by oxen and the mortar was made by heating limestone rocks.
Werner describes them as blue blooded aristocrats. He tells a story to illustrate this. The stable man would bring the horses, hitch them up to the buggy, steady the team as the Master and family got aboard and pass the reins up. Then he would walk behind them as they went to church in Ceylon or on business or socializing in Wolseley. Ceylon was a country church more than twelve miles east of their homestead and Wolseley was a town an equal distance west. When they arrived at their destination, the stableman would receive the reins and hold the horses until the Master returned. He would pass up the reins and walk home behind them and once they had stepped off the buggy, put the horses away. It must have been brutal in the winter.
On the house was a wooden lean-to porch. This was where the house keeper slept. It was uninsulated and unheated in the winter. The kitchen door was left open to allow some heat in the cold weather.
There was a stone tower on the house; originally with another eight feet of wooden structure on top. From this vantage point the family could watch the Polo matches. Remittance men (bachelors) from Cannington Manor would visit the Sergeants. Cannington Manor, site of the agriculture college established by Captain Pierce, and home of many English sons, was over a hundred miles cross country. A visit might be two days or it might be a week. It was from this tower that the men would spot game and decide what they would spend the day hunting. With a spy glass they were able to see eight to ten miles.
The Sergeants had made a Victorian lifestyle and spent their entire life raising polo ponies. The couple owned the farm until 1945 when they passed away. A couple of bachelor brothers bought it and resold the same year. Werner Zerbin's dad took over the farm in the fall of 1945 and in five quarters (800 acres), there was only 63 acres broken.
On a trip to the farm site, Val and I met Nathan Krausher, who was farming the land at the time and is the present owner. Nathan said the Sask Historical Society had been out taking pictures.
The Sergeants were buried at the Ceylon Church. I did a tour of that cemetery and compiled a list. I can't explain the difference in the spelling of their name.
John Owen Montagu Serjeant Ada C-----------te Anne Bernard Gilpin Serjeant
4th Son of the late Rev. James S. Serjeant The ------------- of 2nd Son of the late Rev. James S Serjeant
Vicar of Acton in Suffolk Ber-----------ant Born at Southsea Hampshire
Born at Seend in Wiltshire Died at Gestingthorpe Nov. 5th, 1861
July 22nd, 1865 Feb. 19th, 1914 Died at Gestingthorpe, Grenfell
Died at Gestingthorpe, near Grenfell Sept. 4th, 1921
March 23rd, 1912
--- Wycliffe-- Serjeant
5th Son of the late Rev. James S Serjeant
Born Jan 13th, 1867 at Seend Wiltshire, England
Died Agusut 3rd, 1947
I googled Mr Sergeant, second cousin to Queen Victoria. Ship arrives in Canada, 1857 pt 2. The Montreal Ocean Steam Ship Company's screw steamer, 'Anglo-Saxon.' had Mr. Sergeant as a passenger.