| Mar 08, 2007


Feature Article - March 8, 2007

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Feature Article - March 8, 2007

Hartsel White, Plevna WWIIVeteran and Nature LoverInterview by Katie Ohlke

“I was born on the White homestead, where my sister-in-law Alma still lives - soon to be 90 years ago. I went to the Plevna school up on the hill by the church. It was a two-room school house; it went up to the tenth grade and there was a wood stove in the school. As a young man I helped when we won the contract bid for cutting wood for the school stove. It was for $1.25 a cord delivered and split in two foot lengths. We had to unload half of the load at the bottom of the hill so the horses could get up the hill. Then we would come back down and get the rest of the load and finish the delivery.

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In 1942 I joined the Canadian Army with the Reinforcements Head of Mechanics Force based in Hamilton. I went over to France in 1943, two weeks behind the invasion. I was transferred to the Field Hygiene Reinforcements, an outfit based out of Winnipeg. I was their driver for dispatch; it was a small outfit of 29 men. The corporal left shortly after I arrived and then I was made the corporal in charge of transport. We would pick up a lot of shrapnel in the tires, so when they found out I had gone to trade school in Canada,

I became their mechanic. I stayed for the duration of the war, and was stationed for six months after the end of the war in Holland for peace keeping duty.

I decided to come back to Plevna because this is where I was born and where my family was. I wrote to Esther while I was overseas, and we were married in 1949 after I returned home. She had been working for Gilbert Osler in the Plevna General Store. After we were married, we set up the Tea Room in the home I built for us. We sold coffee, sandwiches

and groceries. We also sold hunting and fishing licenses.

When I first got home in 1946, I started driving the snow plough and the grader for the township. The trucks were old army trucks rented from Amp James. They were pretty good outfits but the steering was on the opposite side of the truck cab. That took some getting used to, although in France we did the same thing. I once sat in the plough for 20 hours straight to get the roads clear on Christmas Eve.

I also worked for the Ministry of Natural Resources; we planted trees and worked in the bush in the winter time. We used horses to skid out the logs; skidders make an awful mess of the bush. Later on I also worked for the Department of Highways.

There have been many changes in the area. A lot of people my age are gone now and new houses are going up. Hydro wasn’t in here when I built the house--it came in 1949 or ’50. It looks okay for Plevna, with the big store and the skidoo trails, though there are not as many fish as there used to be. When I was young, the fish were not wasted. We took what we needed. Now everything is commercialized and we have nuisance fish in our waters. The trout lakes are also going down. Deer licenses used to be $2, and now they are $35. Times are different now.

Some of my favorite memories of Plevna: I went to a lot of dances. I used to call the square dances and Neil Perry used to play the violin!”

Hartzel has two living children and four grandchildren. He also has two very musical nephews. He takes an active interest in his community and the local wild animal

population. He turns 90 years young on March 16.

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