Travel Trailer

Travel Trailer

We’re gonna have some fun this summer in our new 16′ travel trailer.  To make sure it is roadworthy and has no leaks, we spent a weekend nearby at Sasquatch park near Harrison.  There are a few tweeks needed but otherwise it is a great trailer.  We also spent 5 days at Buntzen Lake in Port Moody in the rain.  Comfy cozy!  Mom and Andrea spend the day with us – lunch, dinner, walk on the sand beach — very nice despite the rain.

The road trip will begin July 29th and we’ve got all the campsites booked.  We’ll see a few friends along the way too.


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Pembina Museum

Look at the displays in this great old museum in Pembina North Dakota.  The museum collection depicts early life for pioneers, metis, voyageur as well as those who surveyed the borders.



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125 Year Jutras Family Farm

This is the oldest of the three remaining river lots (@ 100 acres) which qualifies for the 125 Year Family Farm designation in Manitoba.

The first Jutras to purchase this land was Moise Jutras and his wife Julie Houle in 1888:

1888 – Moise Jutras and Julie Houle (both from Yamaska QC)
owned for 27 years

1915 Ernest Jutras (Drummondville QC) and Alexia Lemire (Letellier MB)
executor of estate

1915 – Joseph Jutras (Drummondville QC) and Clara Blais (Yamaska QC)
owned for 32 years

1947 – Alexander Jutras and Cora Barnabe (daughter of neighbour lots 114 & 115 Wilfred Barnabe and Rose Delima Saurette who sold both lots to Joseph Jutras in 1922)
owned for 6 years

1953 – Rene Norbert Jutras (Drummondville QC) / Antonin Jutras
owned for 2 years

one brother bought out the other
1955 – Antonin Jutras (Letellier MB) and Yvonne Desaulniers (St Elisabeth MB)
owned for 37 years

Tony and Yvonne have since passed away and now their children and grandchildren have the farm.

The town of St. Pie used to be located here on the Red River and the parish church on the next property. The main road used to lead directly to this spot but was decommissioned and relocated in 1901.

This area was originally a Metis village. The first owner of this lot was a Metis man named Samuel H. Phippen. He received it as script land grant in 1882 and sold it within two months. His sister owned the next lot (script grant) so they likely grew up here and were granted the land they lived on.

Uncle Sylvain told us that the older generations in town remember walking along the shore and finding foundations for the old Metis homes. These must have been destroyed when the land was cleared for farming.

Lorin (land surveyor) paced out the land as it will likely need to be marked out when it receives the 125 Year Family Farm designation.  A plaque will be permanently installed and the government will have a formal ceremony on site.  I hope to have this scheduled to take place during our visit in the summer of 2012.

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Family time

As I mentioned in the last post, we spent the first 5 days mostly working on the trailer and the new “homestead” site. We did take some time to get out and were able to catch the end of the last Jutras family softball team play in the Family Ball Tournament of Letellier.  An annual event that is one of the oldest and largest in Manitoba. Afterwards we attended the dinner and I enjoyed the best coleslaw I ever tasted.  It was not a creamy type but more of a pickled concoction.  Lorin’s Aunt Kim explained how it is made so I’ve been trying to recreate it ever since.

We later attended the annual Letellier block party and were blown away by the amount of work the community does to put on this event.  The rink (sand floor) was setup in a western theme with a jail, wood fences, cowboys, costumes, ponies – a total transformation. It looked like a movie set. The highlight for me was the participation by the Roseau Nation – the native community across the river from Letellier. Their MC asked everyone to stand for the “grand procession” a beautiful stream of young dancers in full traditional clothing. Then he continued to introduce many dances that were varied in style and meaning. A circle of drummers at the front of the hall completed the scene – it was magnificent.

Lorin’s cousin T.J. was MC for the whole event.  He has a great talent for public speaking and seems to be very popular in the community.

So, it was finally time to have a little party on the farm so we had Lorin’s Aunt Kim and her 3 adult kids (Lorin’s cousins) over for dinner.  Unfortunately our timing was bad and one cousin only had time for a quick visit but we’re so glad she even had that time as she hadn’t been on the farm in 5 years. We enjoyed a camping-style meal — nothing is perfect but that is part of what makes it enjoyable. But more than anything we had fun and enjoyed a family gathering on the farm – probably the first in nearly 20 years since the farmhouse was demolished.

Kim and the kids invited us back to their home for dinner and we were joined by other family members who live nearby.  T.J. is also a talented cook and made a wonderful bbq marinated port tenderloin wrapped in bacon – mmmm. We had such fun visiting them I though we may never leave.

We sure look forward to picking up where we left off next year when we return to our travel trailer – the little house on the prairie.

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Trailer time

What a trip! We worked hard and enjoyed time with family and friends.  The weather was terrific and gave us an incredible light show one night.

Lorin and I had searched for weeks on Craigslist and the Buy&Sell for an old affordable travel trailer to place on his family farm in Letellier Manitoba.  Lorin’s Mom and Uncle Sylvain had been talking about  it for years and we finally gave up waiting so we bought one. We found a 28 foot 1974 trailer for cheap (but still a big chunk of change) and bought it without seeing it.  Sylvain went to see it and said it would be good enough — and it sure was.

We had to a ton of work to do to make it livable though – starting on the first night with moving it into place on the concrete pad, cleaning it so we could sleep in it comfortably, hooking up power, water etc.  Lorin and I were up 22 hours that day.  Sylvain had some trades guys on site and the neighbour Phil was helping all evening. The following 5 days were spent mostly on the farm fixing the things in the camper such as plumbing, rebuilding the main bedroom area, painting the interior, more thorough cleaning, rigging up a bbq, setting up a bug tent, and removing the fridge that was leaking a toxic gas. Lorin and Sylvain brought Grandma’s old International Harvester fridge over from the barn, hooked up a hotwater heater, installed a septic tank and built a set of stairs for the entrance. We brought linens from home but shopped for a mattress, pillows, blankets, towels, a stove, bug tent, shower, dishes and paint.

Even though we were on holiday, we worked very hard to get the trailer setup so that we’d be comfortable there on this trip but also for Sylvain and other family members to use for weekends, picnics etc in the future. We figured that if we had a place to stay, we’d likely spend more holidays in Manitoba where Lorin loves to reconnect with the farm that he lived on all summer for 10 years until he finished high school. The whole farm is currently 300+ acres and is made up of 3 pieces each owned by different members of the family but managed collectively. I believe the farm had grown to about 600 acres in its prime but has been whittled down over the years. It is located on the banks of the Red River on some of Canada’s highest-rated agricultural land.

This was a very important project for Lorin and me as the family farm is 125 years old and for most of that time had been full of activity with many generations of the family living there over the years.  Today there is no farm house to visit and the farmland is rented out to local farmers.  The barn and a huge workshop are in good shape but the giant shed collapsed last winter. Sylvain visits weekly in the summer to mow the 5 acre area the dike protects which also holds the 6 grain bins. We both felt strongly that there should be a place to stay on the farm so family and friends can gather, reconnect with each other and the place that is their family legacy.


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Lorin and I are going to Letellier for 2 weeks in July to camp on the family farm. We bought a 1974 26′ trailer to fix up that was towed to the site last weekend.  I’ll work on the interior – recovering seats, installing new blinds, and painting the walls.  Lorin and his uncle will install new flooring, a new fridge and stove and build a deck with screen room.  I bought myself a bug screen to wear over my hat that covers my face, arms and body to my waste.  All openings cinch up nice n’ close and there’s a zipper at the neck so I can sip my beer!

While there, I’m going to get information about the history of the farm so that Lorin’s Mom can apply for the century farm status.  They’ll get a plaque and ceremony to recognize that the farm has been in the same family for more than 100 years and that it is still operating as a farm.

Part of my search, hopefully, will turn up information about the early Metis in the area. I plan to visit some archives to get more family photos and to confirm who is in the ones I have.  I’ll need something to do so I don’t get bored.  I may not get bored on the farm but I’m planning just incase or I’ll be like the brat in the car “are we there yet” bugging Lorin to go into town so we can do something fun!!  He grew up visiting the farm every year so he’ll fill his time very easily.

I’ll report back what I learn if anything interesting turns up.

I just found this Flickr album of the area – nice photos:

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