THE HOMESTEAD
More of Our Canada|March 2021
This charming old log structure remains a striking feature on the family farm
Marilyn Smitshoek

It is a small simple structure, made of logs that have been roughly squared off. The cracks are filled in with mud, held in place by a diagonal pattern of dried twigs. There are a few small windows and an open doorway on one side. The door itself is long gone. The home has a peaked roof covered in wooden slats above an attic space which is reached by a wooden ladder, attached to the wall, through a small opening.

The inside space is not much more than about 80-100 square feet, although I have never actually taken the time to measure it. The dirt floor is now covered in layers of cow dung as, over the past 40 years or so, it was often used as a shelter for those animals. Barn swallows have also made use of this structure as a place to build their nests.

However, it was originally a homestead for what I assume were the first people of European descent to occupy this land. I don’t know who lived on this land in the more distant past. The Chipewyan, Chipewyan Prairie Dene, Fort McKay, and Mikisew Cree First Nations were the peoples who occupied this territory near Athabasca for millennia. But I do not know which of them occupied this piece of land. In fact, I know nothing of any of the people who lived there before my parents bought the farm more than 40 years ago.

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