In the spring of 1900 our grandfather, Allen Vance, together with Uncle Moses Smith, arrived in Spy Hill, Saskatchewan. The two men had brought a boxcar of settler’s effects. Allen, being 21, had taken out a homestead and Moses bought land soon after. Allen’s widowed mother and 16-year-old brother William, followed shortly after.
Allen had worked as a stone mason in Ontario, as had his father Sam (who had been killed in a hunting accident the previous fall, just after they’d both filed for homesteads in the Spy Hill area.) So during the next few years Allen picked up some masonry work in between trying to prove up both his own homestead and his mother’s.
What a dollar would buy in 1900. This bill for various household goods comes from the Will’s collection of receipts saved from that time.
Lamp burner .12
Knives & forks 1.50
2 pails .34
Dipper & masher .15
2 milk .16
I found this information Will’s grandson Ross’s thesis, “Pioneer Farming” — March 1976. According to Great-uncle Will, a working man at that time would be earning 50¢ to $1 a day. Thus this receipt could represent almost a week’s wages!.