So God Made a Farmer

Since Dodge Ram’s use of Paul Harvey’s speech in their Super Bowl ad has caused such a flurry, I thought I’d investigate the speech. Originally read to a gathering of the Future Farmers of America in 1978, Harvey’s speech was edited to fit into the two-minute commercial. Here is his entire tribute to farmers including the two sections omitted in the ad.

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.

“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain’n from ‘tractor back,’ put in another seventy-two hours.” So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.

“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.’” So God made a farmer.

If you’d like to hear Paul Harvey read the entire work, click pic for an audio track only.


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Bell Family Information Requested

The SL History blog received the following contact from Sue Visser at

Hello. I’m trying to find information about Donald and Mary (McCannel) Bell and children Flora and Katie who emigrated to Shoal Lake from the Isle of Islay, Argyll, Scotland in 1884. They joined their sons, Alexander and John, who’d already settled there .

Donald Bell c1818 – 26 Jan 1897
Mary McCannell Bell c1830?
Alexander b 1852
John b 1857
Flora b 1859
Katie b 1862
I believe some, if not all, are buried in Argyle Cemetery. If there obituaries for the parents, that would be very helpful.

Thank you for any help you can share.
Sue Visser

None of her relatives appear to be written up in either volume of Ripples on the Lake but I checked the Argyle Cemetery listing and four Bells are listed:

Donald Bell died Jan. 7, 1887, 83 years

John Bell 1857-1929

John Alexander Bell, son of J & B, died July 8, 1905, 5 weeks old

Mary McDannell Bell Sept 12 1908, 89 years

Can anyone one shed some light on the Bell family for Sue?

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Happy New Year!

Thank you everyone who contributed to and visited the SL History blog in 2012. I wish you a safe and warm New Year’s Eve and nothing but blue skies, green lights and fresh coffee in 2013. Reid Dickie

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New Feature: World Map Visitor Source

Reid Dickie

The flat map of the world on the top right of Home page shows the countries where people have come from to check out the SL History blog. It updates automatically. Supplied by Revolver Maps.

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Bill Lewycky Memorial

Bill Lewycky was an astute businessman who, along with his family, contributed to the town for over forty years. He was Shoal Lake’s mayor from 1981 to 1989. Recently Bill passed away and his sons, Dennis and Terry, and grandson, Kutwa, assembled a touching tribute to him. The 4:41 video traces his life in pictures. Click on Bill’s picture to watch the video.

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Who in the World Is Interested in Shoal Lake?

Reid Dickie

Turns out, lots of people from most every continent!

One of the statistics that WordPress supplies to bloggers breaks down visits to the SL History blog by country. With the blog now approaching 8000 hits, I thought it would be interesting to list the Top 20 Countries that have visited this blog since last February. The first four, being English-speaking, aren’t a surprise. The rest of the list will intrigue you. The number after name is total visits.

  • Canada 2396
  • United States 579
  • United Kingdom 113
  • Australia 65
  • India 26
  • France 24
  • Indonesia 18
  • New Zealand 17
  • Brazil 14
  • Russian Federation 10
  • Germany 10
  • Norway 8
  • Netherlands 8
  • South Africa 7
  • Ireland 7
  • Turkey 7
  • Columbia 7
  • Thailand 6
  • Philippines 6
  • Republic of Korea 6
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Regarding Cemeteries Page

At the request of the Shoal Lake History Book Committee, I have removed the cemeteries listing from the blog. My apologies to the committee for not contacting them first. The information about all the cemeteries in Shoal Lake can be found in Ripples on the Lake Volume 2. This history book can still be obtained from the Town of Shoal Lake office, Shoal Lake Library and from its editor Barbara Pettinger at

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Request for Information on Krawczuk, Kilimnik, Weselak Relatives

UPDATE: This blog is working! Seven hours after the post below went up, Susan sent this response:

Thank you, I believe this Anthony to be my Anthony’s uncle, and the brother John mentioned would be his father. Thank you again and very much enjoying your site.

Anyone else who remembers the Weselaks in SL can share their memories and information with Susan. Her email address is below.

First post

Susan Chaplin at sent this request for information.

Hello, I am looking for information on my mother-in-laws ancestors. She was born in Shoal Lake to Carolyn Krawczuk and Thomas Kilimnik. Thomas worked for the creamery in the 1930’s/1940’s until his death. Carolyn remarried to Anthony Weselak who lived in Shoal Lake until his death at 103 years old. Thank you for any information you have on them. Fantastic information on your site.

Thanks for the comment on the blog, Susan. Below is the Anthony Weselak entry from the first volume of Ripples on the Lake, the SL history book. The picture is from the same entry. Going by the age of this Anthony at his death, I don’t think this is the family you are seeking.  

More pertinent: the list of people buried in St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Cemetery on the east side of Shoal Lake includes an Anthony Weselak who lived from 1902 to 2006, the age you mentioned in your comment. Also buried there is Caroline Weselak, 1908 to 1987. There is no entry in either SL history book on this Weselak family. That’s all I can find for you but hopefully there is someone in SL who can fill in some blanks for you. 


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Menzies Family Information

I received this email with information on Douglas Menzies from Ian Menzies at Thanks Ian.

I was able to dig up a bit in on of my father’s family trees:
Douglas William (1919 – 1977) was the first child of Duncan Thomas Menzies (1888 – 1966) and Jessie Brody (? – 1932)
Duncan Thomas Menzies was the 4th child of John Menzies (Junior) (1852–1930) and Catherine McGue (1852-1927) – John was born in Scotland and moved to Canada in 1862 and to Manitoba in 1877. (He was my great grandfather)
John Jr was the 3rd child of John Sr (1814 – 1898) and Grace (1823 – 1890). John Sr was born in Perthshire Scotland, and is one of the oldest europeans buried in Argyle Cemetery.

There is a note in the family tree that Douglas William married Betty, but no dates are provided.
He is also mentioned in Ripples On the Lake, a book of SL history in the paragraph on Duncan Thomas Menzies family:
“Little Dunc married Jessy Brody of Vista in 1918. They farmed near Vista for several years. In 1932 Jessie died, leaving a family of four: Douglas, Leonard Duncan, Gordon Alfred, and Margaret Catherine. The three sons served in the army in WW2 and on their return from overseas worked and lived in other areas of Canada. Leonard died in 1966 and Douglas in 1977…”

Unfortunately that is the all I’ve been able to find on Douglas.

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Art Moderne Texaco Station Update

Reid Dickie

Nothing says turn up the tunes, point her toward the vanishing point and step on it like an old Texaco filling station!

Previously I have posted about the Art Moderne Texaco filling station in my hometown in western Manitoba and its designer, Walter Teague. I have few old pictures of the place as it appeared back in its heyday as the Texaco gas station in Shoal Lake. Today it still serves relatively the same purpose. The garage and tire repair are gone, replaced with a convenience store called Central S. You can get gas, wash your car and buy a Pepsi, too. Plunked down in the middle of town, it is still the best location in Shoal Lake.

I recently took pictures of how the structure looks these days. Even though it is completely covered in grey vertical cladding, almost every detail from its original design can still be seen on the building. The rounded corners on the building, the roof and entrance, the prominent stepped signage, the symmetrical windows where the garage doors were, the darker trim at the cornice and around the projecting sign, all still visible, all smooth and optimistic, all telling you that the future is bright! Despite the matching grey Manitoba sky beyond, the colour has a warmth, an inviting neutrality. I had forgotten that the building isn’t square on the lot. “It’s squee gee,” as Mom would say. The building doesn’t parallel the facing street, The Drive, but tilts slightly toward the intersecting Station Road, Shoal Lake’s main drag.

The 21st century mists of Art Moderne still lurk about the old place, passing along pleasing reminders of gentler, less-preoccupied times to anyone who can slow down and notice them. Take a deep Art Moderne breath, old friend. You’ve earned it.

I will add this update to the original post on Texaco Art Moderne filling stations and Walter Teague.

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