This section was compiled from the Vermilion Memories II, and of her own memories, by Jennie Diane McCafferty
William (Bill) and Annie McCafferty
After WW 1 Canada was anxious to bring in settlers to fill the empty expanses of the western prairies that were being opened up as the railway advanced. The CPR sent promotions in the form of posters or advertisements in newspapers to Great Britain promising rich farming land, independence and adventure to those who would come to Canada, This appeal for immigrants seemed to be the answer to the severe economic and unemployment problems Britain was having at that time.
Several agencies were involved — the CPR, the Hudson Bay Land Company, the Scottish Aid Society and the Soldiers Settlement — each offering land in various parts of Alberta. Public relations men, or agents: were appointed by each group to convince families from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to immigrate to Canada. Speakers at every meeting gave remarkable examples of what an easy, wonderful life they would have. Everything they would need would be waiting for them_ Annie said she was told she would be able to pick apples right from her window. It wasn't difficult to persuade people who were living in poverty, desperate to improve their lives and provide a future for their children, to agree to move. And the CPR guarantees made it sound so simple.
1. Farms, including a house, would be ready for occupation in a settled district near railways, markets and schools.
2. Passage money would be advanced to suitable applicants,
3. Free passage for children.
4. Loans up to 1,000 pounds for the purchase of the farm, livestock, etc. repayable over 25 years at 5% interest per annum.
The agent for the Scottish Aid Society was a Benedictine priest named Father Andrew MacDonnell and over several years he persuaded over 100 families to come to CPR lands north of Vermilion, where they founded a farming community known as Clandonald Settlement.
Bill and Annie McCafferty, along with their eight-month-old son, Patrick, left Ireland in May of 1926 to sail to Canada, arriving in Montreal about 2 weeks later. From Montreal they traveled for 5 days in a "Colonist" train across Canada to Vermilion. There were no separate dinning or sleeping cars in this train. Several families were allotted to each railway car, depending on the size of family: Each car had a kitchen and lavatory. Cane-bottom seats stretched along each side of the car with extra boards that were pulled up into bunks at night. During the day the boards of the bunks were put in place as tables. Heat was provided by a pot-bellied stove in each car and the male passengers had to gather firewood themselves at train stops. Food had to be found at these stops also and each family took turns in the car kitchen cooking their own meals. Imagine the bad feelings and grumbling there would be if one cook took too long preparing the family meal and everyone else was waiting their turn.
Bill and Annie came from Donegal County in Ireland where farms were very small compared to the open spaces of Canada. Bill worked for a landowner there — Annie Monahan was just 16 when they were married. Arriving in Alberta they were given 320 acres, a half section of land, fourteen miles north of Vermilion in what is now the St. Andrews district. They were amazed at having so much land of their own. Besides the land, the CPR. was to provide a house, 4 horses with harness, a cow, a pig, a few chickens, a walking plow and a wagon. The new settlers agreed to break 10 to 20 acres per year and were responsible for a yearly payment to the CPR and to pay the taxes.
Arriving at their farm, they found the house to be a small 18'x22' stave lock building, These CPR houses were called `stave lock houses' as they were built using interlocking planks or staves. The house had 3 rooms, bare walls, no insulation, one door and a few windows. There were no cupboards, only a small kitchen stove, a round tin heater, a bed, a table and 2 chairs. There were also no outbuildings or fences to keep the animals from wandering. The McCaffertys had to adjust to a whole new way of life in a new country, but although times were tough, with determination and help from the neighbours they made it through.
Farm produce was brought to town and sold or exchanged for groceries and household needs. In winter wood was cut out in the bush and loaded onto sleighs, hauled to the yard where it was unloaded and sawn up into stove lengths by hand with a buck saw. It was then split, reloaded and hauled the fourteen miles to town for sale. Fourteen miles is a long ride by team and sleigh. Often Bill would have to tie the lines to the sleigh box and walk behind to try to keep warm. Even then there were times that he arrived home with frostbite on his face, hands and feet. It was impossible to get groceries home in winter without them being frozen solid.
On May 7, 1929 a second son, Peter James was born, and a third son, William Jr. or Willie as he was known, on November 26, 1931.
These were the depression years and they were desperate times. Weather conditions made growing a crop unpredictable. Hailstorms or frost could ruin the hopes of a good harvest in an instant; drought would wilt the grain and scorch the land. Produce that could be raised was hard to sell as no one had money to buy, so it was often exchanged for other needed goods.
Mary, the only daughter was born March 20, 1936, followed by two more boys, Henry on June 18, 1938 and Dan on March 13, 1941.
St. Andrews area settlers were mostly Irish and Scots. They were all Catholic but had no church, so each family would donate a calf or a pig and when they were sold at market the proceeds went towards a church fund. Finally, with logs hauled from nearby Raft Lake and donated labour, they were able to build a log building on the property of John MacMillan. It was called St. Andrew's Hall a priest came from Clandonald for Sunday masses but it was also used for community events; card parties, chicken suppers, concerts and dances. The parishioners wanted a separate place for worship so under the leadership of Father Pat Rooney a church was built in 1936-37, again with many hours of volunteer labour in its construction.
The new church — St. Andrew's Church — was built on the corner of the highway junction, right across from the McCafferty home so Bill was elected to do the janitorial work. He made many trips to the church to see that the fires were lit and stoked over night so it would be warm enough for Sunday morning mass.
The area also had its own 'funeral parlor', as Angus Wilson and Pat built coffins in the church basement so they would be available when required. Everyone turned out for grave digging duty, especially in the wintertime, as it was a big job digging the frozen earth by hand with a pick and shovel. One time the grave was all ready and just before mass they went to put the rough box down. Oh no! The grave had been dug six inches too short so they had to work all through mass to make it longer. The priest probably said the prayers a little slower that day to give them time to finish the task.
Every summer for many years the McCafferty pasture was turned into a picnic grounds for the community picnic. Men and women of the St. Andrews parish worked together to put on this popular gather and people came from miles around to take in the ball games and sporting events held there.
The McCafferty children all went to school at Queenie Creek, walking the three miles to and from school every day. Queenie Creek was a one-teacher school that combined grades one to nine in one room. When Pat finished school, he went to work for a well-known auctioneer. Pat did the farming on 10 quarters of land, all with horses at first, and later with tractors. When Peter was old enough he took over the farm work and his father went to work on maintenance at the Wainwright army camp.
Gradually the original stave lock house became unsafe to live in so in 1962 a small house was moved to the farm from Vermilion, a cellar was dug and electricity brought in: Bill and Annie spent several retired years in this new home until health problems made it necessary for them to move to Lloydminster to be near their daughter Mary.
After Bill passed away (1889-1974) Annie moved into a nursing home and was later transferred to the Dr. Cool Nursing Home where she spent her last years (1908?-1986).
Pat (1925-2007) married Izola Goad ( -1997) and had 6 children, Doug, Eugene, Teresa, Mark, Sharon and Colleen.
Peter married Jennie Underdown and lives in Victoria BC. Their son Larry as a Daughter Rhianna Lorraine Więcławek.
Willie (1931-1996) spent several years in Ontario but moved back to Alberta, to Lloydminster where he was employed at Nelson Lumber. Married to Myrtle they had daughter Patti.
Mary (1936-1997) married Charlie Chalman and had sons Martin, Albert, Robert and Alvin and daughters Rosemary and Verna. Mary got to see her dream of a new house on an acreage north of Lloydminster become a reality only a few years before her passing.
Henry (1938-2009 also lived in Lloydminster and worked at Nelson Lumber.
Dan (1941- ) worked for several years in Vermilion but also moved to Lloydminster, employed by Nelson Lumber. Married to Joan they have two boys and a girl.
William McCafferty April 1974
Annie McCafferty October 1986
Bill McCafferty November 1996
Izola McCafferty February 1997
Mary McCafferty November 1997
Pat McCafferty December 2007
Henry McCafferty October 2009
Peter McCafferty February 2016
Ellen Gould April 1997
Joyce Underdown January 1990
Claude Underdown March 2001