Monday, July 25, 2011

Love Trials & Ecstasy

It's a book you probably haven't read. Most likely because there were only 15 copies ever made, and they all belong to members of my family.

It's my favorite book, and it was written by Joyce Templeton, my grandmother.

This book was the product of about five years of work and somewhere around 65 years as a farm wife on the section she, her two sons, and grandchildren call home today.

She wrote this book by the decade, starting with the 20's all the way up to 2010 when the book was published. It documents her life on a farm and ranch in southern Alberta through the dirty thirties, World War 2, secretarial school, and marrying the farmer she had always dreamed of.

In her younger years, Joyce went from secretary to checking seals on gas carriers for work. 
That farmer is George Templeton, who I spent seven short years with but continue to admire for his pioneer spirit and ingenuity as a rancher and farmer.

"As the passing years become more evident, I realized that one of the best memories I could leave behind was some stories of my life and experiences. In my heart I always knew it would be my goal to marry a farmer. I hope as you read my stories you can understand why." Joyce Templeton
She talks about the huge hit to cattle prices in the early fifties with Foot and Mouth disease in Great Britain, the enormous difference power lines made in their lives, and how she juggled three children, a farm, and a growing herd of Hereford cattle. She speaks of my grandpa's time as the Alberta Hereford Association President, hosting over 700 people at our farm during the World Hereford Conference in 1976, and travelling to New Zealand for the same conference in 1983.
(1951) "I remember two things about that fall: peeling potatoes in the grain truck while hauling wheat and caring for my firstborn son." In my eyes, this is the epitome of a farm woman. 

They became XTC Hereford Farms because they decided farming could either be "hell or ecstasy." I think naming it XTC has proved true. Our family was awarded the Master Farm Family award in 1969 after being judged on "right living, clear thinking, and good farming." Doran left to Olds College with every intention of returning to the farm, and Dad took a different path through the University of Lethbridge, but as fate would have it, ended up in the same place.

"These were trying times for us, but in farming we always believed that next year would be better." 
Reading her memoirs makes me extremely proud to be her granddaughter. I think it's a pretty good measure of a life if you can record each thing you've been through and accomplished for generations of your family to look at with pride.

Each grandchild has a page in the book. A few shots of me being little and cute, and
one of the only ones of me and Grandpa George(top right).
This is and will always be one of my most valuable keepsakes. It is an amazing story of the grandfather I never knew well and the grandmother who had a remarkably interesting and admirable life before she was "Grandma." It is a lesson in life, love, and survival in farming. Love, trials, and XTC.


  1. Wow what a neat story and awesome photos! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  2. How awesome that your grandmother documented her life to share with your family. Sounds like a neat read!


  3. What a wonderful story and treasured keepsake she has left you all! Is it available to purchase? Or was it only published for family members?

  4. So neat, Rosie! I love family ranching history, the stories are always great. We have lots of Canadian bloodlines in our Hereford cows, including some XTC back in the day! :) Really enjoyed your post!

  5. Thank you all for your comments! It's an amazing story for anyone to read, but especially as a family member. I love the photos too, Sarah!

    Suzie, unfortunately she only wanted to share it with family members. But I can see us publishing it for the public one day :)

    Rachel, that is so neat! What a small world. Nice to "meet" a fellow Hereford breeder!

  6. Hi there, I just talked to Joyce last night, and she told me about this. My name is Mike Maguire, and I was the designer of the book. It was a fantastic experience to learn about your family through the project, and Joyce is an incredible woman. Thanks for the post, it means a lot to me and I'm going to share this with Chris, the editor, who I know will feel the same. Take care,

  7. Good day everyone. I worked closely with both Mike Maguire (above comment) and Joyce Templeton on this project, turning her personal memoirs she painstakingly created on a typewriter, into a professionally bound story of her life and the subsequent book of memories.
    It was such a unique pleasure to get to know Joyce. She is truly a pure, wholesome spirit - with many fascinating stories to tell. Plus, for myself, it was an enlightening history lesson as well about the region I call home. Who knew that during WWII, young pilots were swooping low overhead, waggling their wings at teenage girls while practicing bombing runs?
    This whole experience also made me realize how grateful we should be for the hard work of our grandparents. When they were living in Alberta, there was no irrigation, no plumbing, no furnaces for heating... just bald, windy prairies. We've come a long way since then.
    In short, being involved was truly a delight, and I'm grateful for the tiny email I received two years ago that started the whole ball rolling.
    I wish all the best to Joyce, and the entire Templeton clan.

    Chris Hibbard
    Freelance Writer/Editor/Researcher
    Lethbridge, AB