The story of Katie Anderson in Watino

Roland McCammon (centre) ran a general store in Watino for many years. The other family members in this photo, left-right, are Louise McCammon (Katie Anderson’s sister), Melvin McCammon (Katie Anderson’s brother), Sharon Anderson (Katie’s daughter), Duane Anderson (Katie’s son) and Katie Anderson. This photo was taken in the mid-1950s.


The following personal story of Katie Anderson originated in: ‘Smoky Peace Triangle: A History of the Eaglesham, Tangent, Watino and Codesa Areas’, published in 1991.

The text is verbatim, but with some additional details from Katie Anderson about her life since her personal story was published. Look for the entire story, including photos, to be published on


Anderson, Arvad and Katie (McCammon)

By Katie Anderson


I was born at home in Watino (on April 24, 1929). I’m told that I was through to weigh just a little over three pounds. There was no such thing as an incubator available then, but since my dad wore a size 12 shoe, his shoe box served as one. I was placed in the box and kept warm on the oven door, and apparently it served the purposed.

My first eight years of school were taken at Watino with Joe Slattedahl being my first teacher. On the last of school, we were all down to the train to see him off as he was going into the armed forces. He was a real pal to all the kids and we sure hated to see him go.

One of the big thrills in grade four or give was taking part in the Spirit River Music Festival. Our transportation was the back of Wayne Bolster’s grain truck, and we stayed over night in a big building, which I think was a dormitory. Now at that time, that was considered to be a big trip.

Maurice Mahood was station agent here, and his wife took an interest in the younger girls and formed a girls’ club. A few of the dances were the Irish Jig, Sailors’ Hornpipe and Alice Blue Gown, which we performed at concerts, etc. One of those dancers was our entry in the festival.

Katie Anderson with her daughter, Sheila, circa 1962.


In those years, we made our own entertainment. In the winter it was skating, skiing and tobogganing. Since there was very little traffic, we would pull our toboggans all the way up to Aylings, and then slide all the way down to the highway. At that time, the hills were very much steeper, and the road came around by the gravel pit, so you had to be a darned good driver to make it around there. Needless to say, you only made about two trips as you had to pull that toboggan up again.

Our summer entertainment was baseball, and ‘Sports Day’ was the big day. In the fall there were always a few corn roasts, sometimes at the ‘Peak’, but usually down by the river.

During the war years, especially 1942 and 1943, there were a lot of trains going through to Alaska, carrying big equipment. Besides these, there were many American troop trains. Since the trains were always pulled by steam engines, there was always a long stop here to take on water and coal. Sometimes the troops were taken off the train and marched up and down the street. That was a real thrill for us kids.

Katie Anderson, front, celebrated her 88th birthday at the Watino Community Centre in 2017. Standing behind are her children – Sharon, Duane and Sheila.


My next three years of school were taken in McLennan. I lived with my aunt Laverne Gilpin, used to travel back and forth by passenger train, coming home about twice a month. At that time there was a daily passenger train, going east early in the morning, and west in the evening. This was also how the mail was transported. The trains were always crowded, so I often had to stand all the way to McLennan or vice-versa. Of course, a lot of those passengers were military men.

During that time, rationing was in effect for supplies such as meat, sugar, coffee, tea and butter. Everyone had a ration book. It was even hard to get clothes, and what you did get had to last.

I still remember the day the war ended. Our home-room teacher’s husband was overseas, and she usually had the radio on in the classroom, and we had to listen to at lease one news broadcast a day. On that particular day, she seemed to be glued to that radio. Suddenly the news came. The war was over! One of the other teachers came bursting into the room, and the two of them were jumping, laughing and crying all at once. I don’t think it hit us kids for a few minutes. Then, it was complete Pandemonium! I still have a copy of the service that was handed out to each of us to be used at the ‘end of hostilities’.

Arvad Anderson and Katie (McCammon) Anderson were married on October 20, 1948.


(On October 28, 1948), I married Arvad Anderson.

Arvad was born in Mazenod, Saskatchewan, (about sixty miles north of the U.S. border) in 1924. He came to Watino in the spring of 1948 in answer to an ad placed in the Winnipeg Free Press. By Jack Thorne. He arrived in time to do the seeding and stayed until after harvest.

Later that fall, he and I were married.

The next two years he worked or Wayne Bolster on the farm. He then spent two years running the ferry with Jack Coney, Joe Cotton and Ove Hanson. There were houses for the ferry men and we lived in one of those.

When the river broke up in the spring, it was a real ‘happening’. The noise was terrific, and the chunks of ice were huge. The ice would pile up so high, they’d have to get a ‘cat’ in to clear the way, so they could get the ferry down to the water. One spring it took that cat sixteen hours to do the job. At tat time there was a pool run for years to guess the time the ice would go out. Back then, you definitely knew when it was ready to, as there was so much noise. Now there’s so little ice, we seldom here it.

In the fall of 1952, Arvad went to work for Park Brothers, where he remained until they closed the mill and left Watino in 1959.

Arvad Anderson inspects the rail line across the Smoky River, near Watino, on July 16, 1982. The Smoky River flooded extensively that year.

He then worked for N.A.R. At that time there were two section crews here, Karl Olson’s and Mike Micuik’s. Starting wage at the time was $1.00 per hour and Arvad worked for both crews at various times. He later took over as foreman when Karl Olson retired in 1967. By that time, there was only one section crew there. Arvad remained with the N.A.R. till his retirement in 1985, with twenty six years of service, but at that time, N.A.R. had become C.N.

Arvad and I raised three children, all educated in Eaglesham. They are: Duane of Grande Prairie, Sharon (Ernie Larson) of Swan Hills, and Sheila of St. Isidore.

Arvad is enjoying retirement, and has time to indulge hobbies like woodworking, gardening and travelling.

I keep busy with various hobbies, gardening, quilting, etc. and of course I enjoy spending time with our eight granddaughters.

Katie Anderson and Arvad Anderson celebrated their 60th anniversary on October 20, 2008.



Arvad and Katie Anderson sold their businesses by 1992 and continued to live in Watino until 2003.

They moved to the Manoir St. Anne in Falher in 2004. On October 28, 2008, they celebrated their 60th anniversary.

Arvad Anderson passed away in 2012 and Katie moved to the Villa Beausejour in 2014, and she continues to live life to the fullest.

“It’s been a very good move for me,” she says.

Cribbage tournaments and other games are part of her activities. She also loves to read and had learned how to use an Apple iPad.

She also travels to Nova Scotia to see her sister, Louise Crocker.

Her eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren keep her busy, too.

Pictured above is the Anderson family – circa 1954 – parents Arvad and Katie Anderson, son Duane and daughter Sharon.


I stopped for a short visit with Mom today at the Villa in Falher. She recently made the decision to move therefrom the place She and Dad had occupied for close to ten years. In June of 2012 Dad passed away, and we weren’t sure if Mom would move then or not. She decided she would stay where she felt it was the right time to move. Fortunately, she is in good health, and as a result, she could make that decision, and did, when she was good and ready.

But we wondered, how did she really feel about the move? She doesn’t always share a lot of information but today was different. She asked me to look at her scribbler at what she had written. I read it and asked her if I could share it on my blog. She reluctantly agreed. So here it is, in her own words.


A change is a coming

I feel it in my bones

I know it’s going to happen

Despite my moans and groans


I’m moving to a new place

Not so far from here

Will be very different

From all the talk I hear


They say you’ll like it

Guess I’ll wait and see

I knew I’d be welcome

But much will depend on me


No more washing dishes

No more sweeping floors

Will I just be sleeping

While others do the chores?


Will I get fat and lazy

As some say they do?

Will I gobble everything

Or just have a little chew?


My 85 years has taught me

To take things as they come

Enjoy what this life offers

No sense in being glum


Now I’m in my new home

A very pleasant place

Everyone so friendly

Smiles on every face!

So come for a visit

I’m sure you will agree

That this new home

Is the perfect place for me!


Poem by Katherine M. Anderson … Our Mom (Sheila, Sharon, Duane).

The bridge across the Smoky River washed out in the summer of 1982.

Arvad Anderson at CN Rail on his last day of work on April 10, 1985.

Arvad Anderson on his farm in February 1962.