What made Keith’s father R. S. (Ronald) decide to leave International Falls is sort of a mystery? He left International Falls for Grand Prairie, Alberta, Canada and opened a store.
Life was never the same after Grace’s death 1911, so maybe R.S. just felt there was nothing in International Falls to keep him there. In addition the loss of both his parents may have been another factor. Archie passed in 1912 and then Mary in 1913. Maybe he felt it was just too much for him. His two brother’s John (Jack) and Alex still lived in International Falls and continued to do so until their deaths decades later.
Nellie (Elizabeth Ellen), his sister, also lived in International Falls with the parents and her brother Alex. Nellie was to play and important part in the lives of R.S.’s (Ronald’s) children. It is unclear if she went with him to Grande Prairie or stayed behind in International Falls. At some point she does join her older brother to help him raise the children.
The house on Riverside drive and land had been purchased in 1907 and the family and lived there since. Here is the description of that purchase:
Purchased by deed lots eleven (11) and twelve (12) in block forty-six (46) in Koochiching County from the Koochiching Company, based out of Iowa) on 1 st of April 1907 (except taxes of 1905 and 1906 if any) for $1500.00. Witnesses present were Washington Gray and F.B. Parsons. Representatives of the Koochiching Company were Wm. F. Brooks and C. J. Rockwood. It was filed for record on the 22nd of April 1908, at 10 o’clock a.m. and signed by Frank. [S] Lang Register of Deeds by J.A. Crouse Deputy. Page 24, Deed Record (E crossed out and replaced) G, Instrument #2431. Frank E. Lang was the Registrar of Deeds and J.A. Crouse was the Deputy at the recording of the deed on 22nd of April, 1908.
On December 31st of 1915 the same lots eleven (11) and twelve (12) of block forty-six (46) of International Falls, Minnesota were sold to a M.E. Withrow for Six thousand ($6000.00). The witnesses were W. V. Kane and M. Frank. It was signed by W. V. Kane as Notary. Deed Record 28, Koochiching Co., Minnesota, Instrument #23431, pg. 6. Frank E. Lang was again the Registrar of Deeds at the recording of the deed on 1 Jan, 1916.
So from 1916 to approximately 1919 Ronald and family were probably living in Grande Prairie, Alberta until his partner gambled away the store and all was lost according to family lore.
Below is a picture of the store: McDonald Land and Trading Company, The Store of Quality – Hardware, Furniture, Groceries, Shoes, Clothing, Dry Goods and more…
R.S. (Ronald) apparently had partners: E.E. Petersen, Papa and Henry Otto are written on the photograph below. In very light writing is the words: Smokey Point.
Keith and his siblings didn’t talk much about their experiences in Grand Prairie, Alberta. The only piece of information comes from sister Miriam who comments briefly in her notes about her brother Gordon:
Gordon was bright. Good in math. Learned his geometry in grade 8 in Grande Prairie, Alta.
Memorabilia in the form of a postcard appears in sister Eddie’s “Pile of Junk” book:
More research needs to be done on this period of time from 1916 to 1920 in deeds, mortgages, school records and newspapers in the Grand Prairie area to see if more information comes to light on this vague time in Keith’s siblings and father’s life.
The next time we find R.S. (Ronald) he is in living in Cheney, Spokane Co., Washington in 1920. The children are with him and his sister Nellie is there as well.
Before we study that part of Keith’s family history let us go back further in time to learn about the origins of the McDonald’s and where they came from in Canada.