Living with Hope and Dignity

An Alberta family displays hope and resilience amid the hard times of the dirty thirties.

Submitted by Mark Sikstrom

Posted July 15, 2021

This photograph shows my father, Fred Sikstrom, with his family in front of their self-built house in Hay Lakes, Alberta, southeast of Edmonton, in the midst of the dirty thirties. Left to right are his brother Harold (holding a chicken), Alice Sikstrom (their mother), sister Evelyn, brother Cliff, and finally Fred, with the dog Jigs. The photo was taken by their father — my grandfather Ingve Sikstrom, who came to Canada with his family in 1903 as one of nine children and settled in the area.

The family supplemented their diet with local game and fowl, and my grandfather worked as a section foreman for the Canadian National Railway for more than forty years. Harold and Cliff both served in the Second World War — Harold with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment in Italy and Cliff with the Royal Canadian Air Force in anti-submarine patrols on the East Coast.

Harold and Fred became plasterers in Calgary after the war, while Cliff worked as a heavy-duty mechanic. Evelyn moved to British Columbia, married, and had two children. The last of her generation, she lived in Powell River, B.C., until 2020, when she died at the age of ninety.

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Mark Sikstrom of Calgary, Alberta, is the son of Fred Sikstrom.

This article originally appeared in the June-July 2021 issue of Canada’s History with incorrect information. This version has been revised.

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