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Borden and District News: Historic tour takes in sites in RM of Great Bend

Cairn erected at St. Mary Ukrainian Greek Orthodox cemetery.

BORDEN — At the site of St. Mary Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church (built in 1910) and cemetery located 14 miles north and east of Borden a cairn has been built with the bell from the church installed on the cairn. On behalf of the Assumption of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Ladies Aid of Borden, Halie Dishko of Hafford and Pat Nykiforuk of Borden acknowledge Affinity Credit Union, Borden Branch, for the funding to purchase park benches for their little country church and they thank everyone for their support.

Aug. 20, the Borden Museum hosted a historic tour of the RM of Great Bend No. 405, at a nominal fee, to visit many historic sites. Close to 40 people travelled in vehicles to visit the many sites that had been staked out and followed a map and tour write-up.

Toured was the Tombowka Doukobor village site (1900-06). Other stops were: Pine Grove Big Ravine; MacPherson farm site (cement house built in 1912); a stone house built in 1905, now owned by the Walker family and still used to house Walker’s labourers; Thistledale School site (1914-65); Quaker meeting house built in 1915, which is still usable today; Halcyonia district’s first post office on Hunchak land; Walker family farm, Pope (McDermid) family land where the two-storey house was moved to Borden and is now owned by Tumbachs; Hoffnungsfeld School where William Diefenbaker (John’s father) was the first teacher in 1906, then in 1963 Clear Spring School closed and was moved beside it, King George school closed and all the students came to the renamed Great Deere Consolidated School, which closed in 1976; Clearspring School site; Great Deere Mennonite Brethern Church, now privately owned, and cemetery (still used); and site of Great Deere store and garage.

The tour visited Halcyonia School where John Diefenbaker was a student and where I (Lorraine) attended school for seven years. This school houses many photos of families, houses, barns and farms in the area going back to the early 1900s. My grandparents, Charles and Jennie Orchard, homesteaded one mile from the school and built a cement block house in 1910. My parents, Gordon and Kathleen Orchard, and family lived in the yard and then into the big house in the 1940s. It was family owned until 2002.

We passed the site of Turtle Lake School built in 1907, closed in 1958 and then was moved to Borden where it became part of the Borden Museum. We passed the Redberry puffed wheat plant, King George School still standing and Murray Dyck farm, which was once the site of a North West Mounted Police jail.

The last stop was at the Diefenbaker Cairn, site of the original home of John Diefenbaker, former prime minister of Canada. As we travelled back into Borden we drove along Lover’s Lane and past the threshing site, then arrived in Borden to enjoy a meal the Borden Friendship Club Room.

Borden Threshing Day is coming up Sept. 24 at the site two miles north of Borden from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the threshermen and museum will host a roast beef supper in the Borden Community Centre from 4:30 to 7 p.m.