While the small family farm seems to be a thing of the past, the Germain Family Farm near Tolstoi continues to be self-staining and operated by family members 125 years since it was established.
A special event took place over the weekend to recognize the Heritage Farm in the Rural Municipality of Franklin.
Ilo Germain and his wife Katherine purchased the property in the late 1800’s and began the difficult life of prairie Pioneers. Being a part of some of the first settlers from Ukraine to tame this flat, rocky land, they had many challenges to overcome.
Cold, unwelcoming winters were harsh and long, but the surrounding neighbors would help each other out, as they still do today. They raised their family of five (two boys and three girls), of which William was the youngest.
In 1948, William inherited the farm from his father, continuing his primary legacy of cattle raising, in addition to growing grains, and caring for a mixture of other types of livestock. William and Jeanne worked hard and there were some tough times, but they set aside farm work occasionally to take some holidays which often included travelling in Canada.
They toured through places such as Dryden, Thunder Bay, Dauphin, Gimli, and Austin. Often attending a John Deere Days festival, they would admire the displays of new equipment, and meet up with friends and neighbors.
They enjoyed their lives together, and as their children and grandchildren grew up, they were measured regularly, with marks still visible on multiple door frames inside the house.
While the farm is smaller now, it remains in the family and is a place where livestock are raised, and crops are harvested.
Don Germain grew up on this farm and says the biggest change is technology and the equipment used to run the farm.
“It basically went from a whole bunch of people needed (to run the farm), to pretty much one guy doing everything now,” he says. “I guess it’s progress.”
Although fewer people are needed to run the farm, it remains a place of gathering for the entire family and people continue to pitch in where they can. There is a lot of visiting that happens at the farm, reliving days gone by while making new memories.
“We had the old house, we were upstairs and we had the rolls from the paper towels, and we started making noises like the bull,” he recalls from his childhood. “And across the mile road we had another pasture there, and we had the cows and the bull there, and the bull came home because he thought we were looking for a fight.”
Germain says he and his siblings learned a lot about farming, and some important lessons for life in general.
“We were taught values, respect, respect your elders and how to behave and so forth. It was educational plus we learned, like I say, family values. I mean, we still had fights and sometimes we wouldn't talk to each other for a while, but that kind of blew over and we got back to where we were.”
The Germain Family Farm received a plaque from the province to recognize the 125-year-old family farm. A private celebration was held over the weekend.
The family is excited to share some photos of the place they have called home for many years, and they look forward to more years of family togetherness at the farm.