Memories of her mother
Gertrude's mother taught school in Bienfait. Her mother had "two
daughters besides me, who both died as infants. I believe that they
died of something like cholera." Gertrude remembers that her
Mother was a contralto, and belonged to the United Church Choir.
She said, "We would sing together songs that were popular
then like 'Long, Long Trail A-Winding.'"
|Alex Fraser on
the left, Gertrude's brother James Watt in uniform, and Gertrude
is on the right
Her mother loved to ice skate. One day, she went out with Gertrude's
brother to skate on a lake. She had what must have been a heart
attack, and was sick for about a year after that. She died in June
1929, when she was 46. Gertrude was only 17 at the time. Her mother
had had diphtheria as a child, and perhaps her heart was not very
Memories of her father
A.E. Watt seems to have been a typical father of his time. Gertrude
remembers, "Dads were always busy working. I can remember
sitting on my Dad's knee and being read to. Kids were looked after
by their mothers then. Fathers take a great interest in their kids
now. When I was a girl, my Dad had a car, and the whole family
go five miles away to camp at the river. We never took a long trip
in that car! During the Depression, my dad didn't make much money,
I think. The community we lived in may have been more depressed
|Top row, L to
R: Gertrude, cousin Darwin Oliver, and Aunt Edith Oliver. Bottom:
A female cousin
She continued, "Dad was an accountant
in the mine office's store in Bienfait. At one time, he also
had a general store. I think
he might have been in opposition to my grandfather. I have a calendar
from my Dad's store, but other than that, I don't really remember
much about it. I wish I had talked to my Dad about his family.
met his mother once, but I was very young. I never met my father's
Memories of her maternal grandparents and being at their store and
house "Grandpa also had a general store," Gertrude
said. "There were dry goods on one side and a grocery on the
other. I used to wait on the customers. I used to like to bake,
and Grandma would let me bake at her house. I could do anything
I wanted, I guess, with Grandma. I was the only girl. I would make
Grandpa his meals if Grandma was out of town. I would make him a
pie, or something I liked to make, whatever I wanted. Grandma depended
on me visiting her frequently because I could help her. I used to
take piano lessons, and would go to my grandma's house to practice.
I was very close to my grandparents. I think I spent as much time
there as at home. My grandmother was such a lovely person
I just loved her so much," she continued.
"I used to play Bridge with my
aunt when I was younger. I started again as an adult, and used
to play often as part of a foursome
with Phyllis Miller, Eileen Hirschfield, and Ruth Cushman. My Grandma
didn't play cards because of her religion. I think she may have
been a Methodist, but I don't clearly recall."
During a conversation about raising
teenagers, Gertrude remarked, "One day, when I was about
14, I went out with two boys and two other girls, and I wasn't
home when I was supposed to be, and
I guess I told my parents I was at Grandma's, and I wasn't. I don't
remember if there was a penalty, but my parents were furious.
feel like they didn't do anything like that when they were young."
Gertrude attended elementary and high school in Bienfait. Asked
about her favorite subjects, she replied, "I didn't like math,
who does? I liked hygiene, health, history, those sorts of things." Gertrude
believes that there were six classrooms in her grade school.
Recently, Gertrude discovered that she is a descendant of James
Watt, who is often credited with inventing the steam engine. However,
he made improvements to a steam engine first invented by English
engineers Thomas Savery and Thomas Newcomen. The watt, a unit of
electrical power, was named for him.