Battle River Power Coop thanks the Nelson family of the Angus Ridge District for sharing their family’s story about bringing electricity to the family farm. The following is written by Neil Nelson, whose family still farms the land where these events took place:
“In 1951 the Shorty & Agnes Nelson family got electric (Power) on their farm.
I, Neil Nelson, was 10 yrs. old at that time.
It was an exciting time for our family.
We lived in the Angus Ridge District, one mile from the main line.
My Dad, Shorty Nelson, thought it was very expensive for the power. In order to cut down the cost of the one mile of power line he did as much of the physical labor that he could.
Dad hauled all the poles 5 miles on a Bobsled from Wetaskiwin with his black team of Percheron horses in the winter. It was one large load of 18 poles. He used a Bobsled and extended it so that he could haul the long poles.
In the summer he dug all the holes by hand using a long handle “spoon” & bar which he borrowed from the REA. The holes were 6 ft. deep.
Dad put all the hardware on the poles drilling the holes with a brace & bit by hand. There were no cordless drills in those days.
Dad hired the neighbor, Ernest Pearson who had a farm hand loader that could raise the poles to put them in the holes he had dug. He then had to straighten & tamp the poles in the ground.
Dad was able to buy 3 extra poles for the yard lights & wiring costing $21.50.
Our son, Dean Nelson has taken over the farm and those 3 poles plus 1 of the line poles are still standing. One of the poles still has the 300-watt yard light working on it.
In the 80’s I took the wires off the poles and went underground.
In July before the power was turned on Dad paid H. Callum who was an electrician, $921.10 for wiring the house, garage, shop and two barns.
I can remember the fall day in Sept. at 12:00 o’clock noon when the power was turned on. So much light in the house, yard and barns.
They now could enjoy electricity. They brought a 1/3 hp motor for $44.70 for the Maytag washing machine, toaster $37.95, GE iron $16.50, bed lamp $4.95, GE waffle maker and GE mix master $110.00.
In 1952 an Electrolux vacuum $126.50, a push button G.E. electric range $515.00 and G.E. refrigerator $450.00 were purchased from “Jimmy Schmee’s Shop” in Wetaskiwin. That ended my job getting fire wood for the kitchen stove.
In 1953 they brought an electric kettle $7.95, GE polisher $54.50 and coffee pot $29.95.
In 1953 Dad saw a Lincoln Welder advertisement. There was no dealer in Wetaskiwin that sold the welder so Dad talked to Pocock & Brown telling them that if they became a dealer he would buy the first one. Dad kept his promise and bought the first Lincoln Welder in Wetaskiwin for $311.25.
68 years later Shorty Nelson’s grandson Dean Nelson and his wife Sonia and family are enjoying the use of power on the farm.”