My Heritage

MY HERITAGE
by Kathie E. Nelson

NOTE: Kathie won an award for this poem, submitted for the 1967 Centennial Youth Project. She was presented to Prime Minister Diefenbaker at Elk Point's centennial celebrations.

 

My heritage is lovely

As all we here can see,

I have the greatest treasures:

A home and family.

A family with a future,

A family that will last,

A family with a mother

To tell things of the past.

 

She tells me of a gentleman,

Who was in Sweden born,

In eighteen hundred sixty-six,

What a joyous morn.

Later on in his life,

Andrew B. Nilsson,

Travelled to the U.S.

To seek his fortune.

 

He worked on a railroad

In the state of North Dakota,

So the first cowcatcher

Could travel where it needed to.

The gentleman began a ranch

And changed his name to Nelson,

Since the people of that area

Wanted the English spellin'.

 

In nineteen hundred and three

My Grandfather Nelson

Sold most of his property

In Devil's Lake, Cheyenne.

He moved north to Canada

To find range for his horses.

Range was found at Holden,

So, he stopped his courses.

 

The range proved to be good

So Grandad bought the land,

Six sections, they say, in fact, "

Isn't that so grand?"

I asked my mother, dear.

She said, "It is something

We have behind us, dear,

But listen, bells will ring."

 

From Holden my grandfather

Travelled across the nation,

Selling horses and cattle

After Confederation.

He travelled to Ontario,

And back to Holden station,

Stopping at the Post Office

To send an invitation.

 

For a pretty young lady

Named Anna Gabrialson,

Was soon to be his bride,

And bear his first-born son.

First came little Leonard,

Then my father, Bill,

Then my Aunty Grace,

Then my young Aunt Lil.

 

Little baby Alyse

Was the smallest of all,

Today you wouldn't know it,

She's really very tall.

Settled, the area around

Holden came to be,

Then my Grandfather Nelson

Moved his home and family.

 

North Park, Alberta

Was the chosen location,

Where my grandfather

Changed his old vocation.

There was grass and range

For his horses and cattle,

But my grandfather

Gave up the saddle.

 

He became a farmer

In a Canadian nation,

But still supplied neighbors

With horse transportation.

The first car in the district

Was owned by Grandad,

And a better M Buick

Couldn't be had.

 

He wouldn't drive it,

It was up to his wife,

She was chauffeur

Of the car of her life.

The nearest center for getting supplies

Was twenty-five miles away

From my grandfather's farming land -

That isn't far for us, today.

 

Horses could travel only so far,

Then they'd stop to feed,

But it was the only way

To transport our grain seed.

The picturesque landscape

Of their chosen home,

Took in much beauty

Of the country I roam.

 

The Saskatchewan River

Nestled at its feet,

The warm little breezes

Made summer complete.

The beautiful hills

That surround the old yard,

The lovely landscape

That with trees is barred.

 

The crimson leaves

That fall every autumn,

The cower-like deer

When grandfather shot'em.

But the northern areas

Were not all "peaches and cream",

However many advantages

Of a nearby stream.

 

When Grandpa returned

From being where the cash is,

He found his home

Reduced to ashes.

It was too late to build a house,

So the winter was spent

With the whole family together In one single tent.

The winter was a cold one,

As cold as cold can be,

But grandfather survived

Because he loved this country.

A house was bought

From Olaf Vralston,

Along with some land,

When my Dad was ten.

 

The house is still standing,

The spirit still alive,

The mice found within,

Still live and survive.

The same old house,

Built in 1911,

Was used by my family

Till before '67.

 

The depression years

Sure weren't funny, T

he Holden land

Brought not much money.

Grandpa's health was failing,

There seemed no cure,

For what was ailing

The doctor was sure.

 

In July of '32

My grandpa died,

It was natural

That many people cried.

Dad took over the farm

And on its work he carried.

 

It wasn't till '49

That he was finally married.

The story goes on

To Duane, Ann, and me,

Kevin and Gladstone,

Who praise and love this country.

The many lakes and rivers

That the ocean fill,

The many mountains

And every parliament hill.

 

The many types of people,

The many stories told,

But of them all we love the best,

Those of our grandfather, bold.

This is my heritage,

This land strong and free,

This is my heritage,

The love of my country.

 

This is my heritage,

The stories that are told,

By the many pioneers,

who The country did unfold.

This is my heritage,

Oh, my fair country,

This is my heritage,

Oh, Lord, I thank Thee.

 

I love the many valleys

That the mountains do unfold,

But most of all the stories

That my grandfather told.

Of all the stories

I love this one best,

It is more important

Than all the rest.

 

It is my heritage,

My duty to fulfill,

The love of Canada,

The country of my will.

The secrets of my country,

The freedoms of my will,

The longing to learn

Are never to be still.

 

I've learned this,

Through my heritgage,

Oh, Lord, I thank Thee

For this lovely country.

For this land strong and free,

I thank Thee, especially.

For the love You've given me,

Oh Lord, I thank Thee.

 

For the country

With its many places,

With its people,

With its varying races.

No mountain, valley, River, or ridge,

Can mean more to me

Than my heritage.

 

Thus, I say,

In a word of closing,

My heirtage

Is never reposing.

Believe me,

And you will see,

How valuable

Heritage can be.

 

The inherited learning

Is not what I mean,

The most important

Remains unseen.

Heritage is here -

Heritage is there -

In Canada,

Heritage is everywhere.

 

Just look for it,

And you will see

The value of heritage

To you and me.

Your heritage is of value,

As mine is to me,

Neither is as important

As a free country.

 

Let us fight for our country,

Fight to the last man,

Fight for our country,

As only a true man can.

Fight to improve our country,

Fight' to improve our land,

Fight to keep our people

Strongly hand-in-hand.

 

If we do this,

We can be sure

Of a strong Canada,

With a good future.

We can be sure

Our children inherit a land,

With great power

All things to withstand.

 

Let's build them a heritage

Stronger than ever before,

So they are prepared

For the future in store.