Overview

There were many differed tasks involved in living on a homestead. In order to get everything done, these tasks were shared by all members of the family, regardless of age. When all the chores were done for the day, and if there was any time left, the family might gather around the fire and listen to stories. There was not much leisure time after a long day of hard work. Bedtime came early because all of the family members had work to do the next day.

Two men are traveling on a wood wagon that is being pulled across the Prairies by two oxen. These men have a full wagon full of all of their belongings.

Settlers have their carts loaded full with all of their belongings as they travel a long journey to find their homestead.

The settlers who came to Saskatchewan faced hardships just like the settlers who arrived in the United States.

Dad

The main responsibility for the men was taking care of the farm. They worked long hours in the field, planting crops and then harvesting them. They spent the winters keeping the animals safe and feeding them. The men chopped wood for the fire. Fathers were also in charge of protecting the home, the family, and animals from any dangers, such as wildlife or prairie fires. Fathers did not generally do any of the work inside the home and did not usually take care of the children during the day.

A group of three men and their sons are working together to harvest a field using a combine. They are dumping grain into the back of a truck in order to haul it back to a granary or barn for storage.

Neighbouring men and their sons are working together to harvest this crop.

A man is chopping wood with an axe.

This man is chopping wood to heat his home for his family.

A man is standing on a homestead with ropes in each of his hands that are attached to a line of oxen and cows.

Men mainly took care of the farm, the farm animals, and their families.

A Dad is busy cooking at a stove in the kitchen.

How have Dad’s roles in the household changed over the years? Do Dad’s help with the house chores now?

Mom

Mothers started their days very early and the day did not end until everyone was in bed. Mothers’ tasks were almost all things related to food, home, and children. The amount of work they had to do depended on the time of year. At harvest time, there was a large amount of food preparation. The threshing crews were big (as many as 30 men) and it was the responsibility of the woman in the home to prepare the meals for them.

An illustration of a woman shows her digging potatoes out of the garden with a pitchfork.

Women spend a lot of their time preparing food, including gardening.

Early women settlers had a major impact on agriculture in Saskatchewan

Harvest was also the time for preserving fruits and vegetables from the garden so that the food would last all winter. Mothers had to keep the house clean, the laundry done, and everyone fed. It was also the mother’s job to take care of the children until they were old enough to take care of each other.

A woman is standing next to a shed on their homestead, feeding the chickens that have gathered around her.

This farm wife is feeding chickens in 1946.

A farm wife smiling as she drives a tractor.

A farm wife driving a tractor.

Children

The children helped with many different jobs on the farm and started helping from a very young age. The children would help their parents with any job they would be working on. They would help make soap, care for the garden, and feed the animals.

A child is in a field that has been harvested and is covered with stooks of grain. The child is sitting on a stook, as his parents use a horse and wagon in the background.

During harvest time, children spend a lot of time helping their parents in the field.

 Children were often responsible for tasks, such as keeping the wood supply for the fireplace and stove stocked and filling their water tank in the house that stored water for the family. Children would go to school and have to do these jobs before or after school.

A boy and a girl are feeding chickens.

Children growing up on farms started doing chores and helping out at a very young age. Feeding the chickens was often a child’s first job.

Girls were taught to sew and knit while the boys learned how to work the fields and take care of the land. Once the children were older, they would also help look after their younger siblings.

A mother and her six young children are standing in front of a sod house for a photo.

A mother and her six children stand in front of their sod home.

Grandparents

Many of the grandparents would live with their children and grandchildren when they became too old to take care of themselves. The grandpa would help with the farm work that the father was doing, and the grandma would help with the work of the mother. Because the conditions were so harsh in both the summer and the winter, grandparents had to rely on their family in order to survive.

An older looking man with a hat on is using a hand saw to cut a log into firewood.

This grandpa helps out his family by sawing wood.

A an older couple are standing together. The grandpa is wearing overalls and a hat,while the grandma is wearing a skirt and an overcoat.

Grandparents often lived on their own farm until they could not do the work on their own anymore.