Desperately Seeking the Site of My Mom’s Childhood Home

I have difficulty seeing what’s in front of my face. This seems to be a typical human condition but still, it’s pretty frustrating.

I needed to find the Edrans site where my mom’s family had lived prior to moving to Winnipeg when she was 7 years old.

And when I say “needed” I mean “wanted”.

Not only were several of her older siblings buried in the Edrans cemetery, but my mom tells other stories of her early childhood years on the Edrans farm. Such distant memories. Memories of her father trying very hard to make a go of farming. Memories of living next to her grandparents. Memories of the church her grandfather pastored just across the road. Memories of the little schoolhouse she attended nearby.

After hearing a bit more about her time in this locale, I began studying maps, to see what exactly was out there, anyway. What remains of that community northwest of Austin, on a dirt road nestled between the hamlet of Edrans and the now non-existent Mayfeld?

First I examined google maps… which were entirely meaningless without the guidance of those who remember. Those who were there.

I was going to have to go directly to the site with my mom and aunt.

My mom was unsure about this, because she remembered the roads being quite impassable, thick with muck. I kind of doubted it’d still be that bad all these years later but figured I should believe her, so we selected a day we figured the roads would be good. My mom, my aunt, and I piled into my mom’s SUV and off we went in search of their first childhood home.

Very tricky work, trying to recall the location of a home they only knew until they were 7 and 8 years old, respectively.

I drove up and down every single road between Edrans and Mayfeld and those two sweeties never lost patience or curiosity about the endeavour and I’m super grateful for that.

But you know the stupidest thing about this? I kept thinking, “That Big Wheel Quilt Shop is just totally in the way.”

Actually, I literally shouted this out loud: “Ugh, the signs for Big Wheel Quilt Shop are everywhere and they’re only confusing me more!”

I don’t know why I’d complain about that. A Quilt Shop sounds like such a lovely place. I guess I felt it was distracting me from finding my mom’s girlhood home.

Finally we abandoned our efforts to find their former yard site, and instead focused on trying to find the site of Gillespie School… which we finally stumbled upon by way of what felt like a miracle.

From here, my mom and aunt were able to trace their steps back through the years, back through their memories.

I found myself gingerly navigating the SUV over what I suppose some might call a roadway of sorts (feature photo), which is likely mowed rather than graded.

And we found ourselves sitting at the entrance to the Big Wheel Quilt Shop.

“This must be it.”

I suffered an attack of shyness, so we did not venture onto the yardsite under the guise of seeking quilting supplies.

But I stopped the vehicle right there, in the middle of the road in front of the shop. The farm site of their girlhood.

We got out of the vehicle, and stood looking around.

So very much has changed, they said.

Including themselves.

I looked west, and saw the landscape rising on the horizon.

“Wow!” I declared. “You grew up within view of the — what are those? The Brandon Hills? The Tiger Hills? That’s so cool!”

“I don’t think we ever noticed that,” said my mom.

I mean you guys, it was a subtle rise, but to me, a total flatlander, I’m pretty sensitive to the slow gentle rise of the Manitoba hills, which I absolutely have never lived near. It’s a strange to me in that it looks like it’s just a feature of the sunset, but you sense that it isn’t…  it’s darker, and expands as you draw closer.

We stood there looking west, trying not to look at the Big Wheel Quilt Shop which we were now directly in front of.

I took a gulp of air and said, “Well, we found it. Guess that’s it.”

Then we began the two and a half hour drive home.

Once home, I realized I was going to have to go back and check out the Big Wheel Quilt Shop.

Related posts:

Return to Edrans

This Post Isn’t Really About Austin, Manitoba

Mysterious Mayfeld & a ‘Search for Renewal’

He Didn’t Even Want to Be in this Conference