George William Drake
Elmira Jane Clarke
George William5 Drake(William Henry4, Samuel3, Samuel2, John1) was born February 22, 1866 in Montague, P.E.I., and died December 14, 1946 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He married Elmira Jane Clarke December 19, 1888 in Pownal, P.E.I., daughter of David Clarke and Maria Gay. She was born July 29, 1866 in Ft. Augustus, P.E.I., and died May 22, 1944 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Children of George Drake and Elmira Clarke are:
2 i. Margaret Lavinia6 Drake, born November 1890 in Pownal, P.E.I.; died January 21, 1891 in Pownal, P.E.I..
+ 3 ii. Henry Milton Drake, born April 17, 1892 in Pownal, P.E.I.; died August 10, 1965 in Kamloops, B.C..
+ 4 iii. Gordon Clarke Drake, born May 12, 1905 in Charlottetown, P.E.I.; died April 12, 1958 in Regina, Saskatchewan.
*Quoted from the Family History Book by Joan (Drake) White*
"Grampa and Gramma Drake were neighbours, so they may have known each other most of their lives. Grampa used to tell us about the long walk and horse ride he had to take to "court" Gramma. Years later when we stood in Gramma's home we were amazed that we could look down at the farm and home that Grampa had lived. We looked out at a beautiful view of Pownal Bay and the pastoral setting of the Drake family homestead. It didn't look like a very long trip to us - but - in summer Grampa would have already put in a long day's work, and in winter there would be snow and often a cold bitter wind coming in off the Atlantic.
Drake Homestead, Pownal P.E.I. Canada
They were married in 1888 and moved to farm on lot 49. A year later they had a baby daughter who only lived 10 weeks. I still have the long pink dress that was hand made for her. A year and a half later they had a baby boy (Uncle Harry). Thirteen years after that they had another baby boy - my dad Gordon. When Gramma was in the hospital an elevator broke and crashed to the ground while she was in it. I think she was a semi invalid from that time on - but - good things do come from everything. When Grampa's nephew William Henry (Billy Drake) came to visit and see the new baby, he fell in love with the nurse who was looking after Gramma and went home and told his family "I've just met the girl I'm going to marry" - and he did!
Grampa certainly inherited the wonderful spirit of adventure that so many of his ancestors had. He was always ready to explore new opportunities. In the early spring of 1906 they left their home at Mt. Mellick, near Pownal P.E.I. He moved his family "out west" to a farm at Strasbourg Sask. They farmed there until 1918. By that time Dad was 13 and Uncle Harry was married. Both families moved into town were they ran a John Deere implement business for a few years. After this they moved to Beatty were they farmed again before moving to North Battleford. In 1925 they moved to Saskatoon. When Grampa was over 60 he bought 8 acres of land just South of Saskatoon. On this property he built a house and a fox farm which he operated for about 16 years! It was always referred to by the family as "The Ranch".
"The Ranch" George Drake building the wheel at The Ranch
It was the most magical place for us to go. We played a lot in the tower. Imagine having a real look out to climb up into! There was an old car which they called Bluebell in the garage under the tower. It had been a gorgeous car in its day but not the first one Grampa had owned. He had one of the very first cars. One that you had to light the lamps on. Grampa loved cars and he also loved to drive cars and used to race the train to the crossing with us in the car! This was quite a thrilling adventure. He probably wasn't taking as big of a risk as we thought, but if he was "faking it" he did a good job. I was convinced!
Everything at The Ranch was very well built and thought out and well kept up. All of the pens and houses for the foxes were very neat and tidy with a lot of room for them to exercise, all connected by a series of runs with sliding wooden panels that let the foxes in or out of other pens, or isolated them in certain areas when necessary.
Grampa retired at the age of 76 and moved to the city of Saskatoon. He sold The Ranch to his grandson Willard. This was great for us. It meant we could still go to The Ranch and we got to visit Willard too.
Grampa was very industrious. It must have been a big job to establish The Ranch and make it a going concern. He built the house and a big garage with a basement under it, the tower with a garage under it, the barn and other farm buildings and all of the pens and fences. He was always trying out new methods of doing things. He invented many things which he used on The Ranch. A lot of these were used quite extensively by other fox farmers too.
One story told about our gentle grandfather is the time he received a tax notice he felt was too high. He went in to the tax office, reached over the counter and grasped the clerk by the lapels of his coat, shook him like a rag doll and asked if he was responsible for the increase! Apparently he was quite stern and domineering with his family. I never saw this side of him, but my parents have both told me this. Dad told us that he was never allowed to be a little boy. He was always supposed to think and act like a young man.
I think that this is very sad because children need to be children. You are young for such a short time and an adult for so long and you miss so much if you never have a chance to be a kid! Grampa seemed to enjoy us so much that is is a shame he missed this with his own children. He also bought foxes in Dad and Uncle Harry's name without consulting them. He just told them how much they owed him for them. They were grown up with families of their own at the time, but he thought it was a good investment for them. It might have been, but they were furious!! I guess maybe he wasn't perfect after all, but I sure thought he was! I remember him as a real "softie". He was a big man, but very soft spoken. Willard &George Drake
Willard, Gordon, Aunt Lois, Grampa, Gramma, Earl, and Joan
We used to follow him around by the hour and watch him doing his chores, mixing food for the foxes and feeding them. We rode around in the cart he made to take food to them and were allowed to go into certain pens and put food down. Although I don't like the thought of fur coats or animal pelts being used now, I really loved helping with the foxes. I think it was mostly that we just loved being with Grampa and I don't think it ever entered my mind that that they were anything but pets!! Another thing I remember about my trips to The Ranch is sitting out on the steps after dark and watching the fire works from the exhibition. Everyone remembers Grampa making ice cream and how much ice cream he could eat!! Uncle Ralph Winram still says "nobody in the world could eat ice cream like Grampa Drake and nobody ever enjoyed it so much".
One of my very special memories is of going with Grampa on the train from Saskatoon to Regina. Just the two of us. One of his favorite expressions was "That was great fun", to me that train trip was "really great fun"!
Gramma Drake was a very tender hearted person and also very soft and warm to cuddle up to. She was very kind, soft spoken and gentle. I don't even remember seeing her wear shoes, although I have a picture of Gramma and I on the steps and she has shoes on! I think she always wore soft felt slippers with little pom poms. She always wore a big apron like a pinafore, but no ruffles. I have wonderful memories of sitting in the kitchen at The Ranch on a stool with one of these big aprons tied around me "helping" Gramma and Auntie Lois bake and being covered with flour and them laughing and saying "We'll have to put you in the oven and bake you too. You've got more flour on you than the cookies have". I remember a lot of happy times spent around the big table.
Gramma was always treated like a semi-invalid and a very fragile person. She had a bad heart and Grampa was always afraid that something was going to happen to her.
Gramma and Grampa both seemed to have all the time in the world to talk to us and listen to us and made us feel that we were very special to them. They talked a lot about their families on Prince Edward Island. We are very lucky to have had such wonderful grandparents and to have been able to spend so much time with them.
Uncle Harry's son Gordon remembers Grampa making rope. He doesn't know what products were used, but it was twisted together probably from binder twine. Grampa jacked up the rear wheel of the old Buick and used a belt. He also cut fire wood using a belt on the rear wheel of the Buick and a big circular saw.
Uncle Harry was thirteen years older than Dad. They were almost like two different generations growing up, but as adults they were good friends and enjoyed each other's company very much. I always enjoyed visiting Uncle Harry and Aunt Margaret. They always had very interesting places to visit. Uncle Harry was very much like Grampa Drake and also enjoyed trying new things like Grampa did. There was always a new and interesting way of making a livelihood to learn about. He was the manager of the Exhibition Grounds in Saskatoon for a while. There was a berry and bulb farm, a trucking company and a sheep breeder's supply company that I remember. All quite different and all fascinating.
Willard was such a wonderful person. He loved music - he played the tuba in a band, played the piano and accordion and loved to sing. He taught me to play the accordion The Ranch when he was living there. I probably was a nuisance to them, but I thought it was great having these BIG cousins!
Willard, Irma, Bryce and Gordon Drake
Irma was also musical and played the trombone in the band. She was in the RCAF for a while before she was married and settled down to enjoy life in rural Saskatchewan as a "good wife" and mother!
Bryce was always fun to be around. I believe he also played an instrument in the band. He worked on the building of the Alaska Highway. I remember him taking me to the exhibition. We had a wonderful time. He was always teasing people and telling tall tales that no one knew whether to believe or not, especially his mother. He had very squinty twinkling eyes. His daughter Valerie has the very same eyes and she speaks Mandarin and is very interested in calligraphy and all things Chinese. We had a great time together when she and Eric visited China. We were there at the same time and Val and I had a wonderful time "doing China" together. Bryce was also interested in calligraphy. Earl and I both have a fascination for China - do you think there could be a Chinese gene lurking in the Drake background somewhere?!
Willard, Irma, Bryce and Gordon in the marching band
Gordon has been a very good big cousin to me. He has a great sense of humor, is also a big tease and also has those squinty, twinkly eyes. Gordon played the baritone in a band and he was in the Navy. He was named after my dad and when dad died Gordon came and he was a wonderful help and comfort to Moe and I."
George and Elmira gravesite - Woodlawn Cemetery - Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Canada