I'm sure we have a photo somewhere!
Cora (Granum) Gochee
Life and Work
Mrs. Cora Gochee made the observation that she and her husband were fortunate that they always enjoyed good health. This was a blessing and almost a necessity. To raise a family of ten and to knit, crochet and quilt in "spare" time must certainly have taxed the strength of any wife and mother!
Born in 1902 in Minnesota, Cora was the child of Caroline and Isaac Granum of Crookston. After finishing Grade 9, Cora came with her parents to visit her sister Minnie, Mrs. Lois Mjolsness. A quarter section adjoining the Mjolsness farm was offered for sale by its American owner, and since there was not much carpentry work available at the time in Minnesota, Mr. Granum returned to the States to pack all their belongings. There were four other children in the family besides Cora, but they chose to remain in the United States.
At the time of the move to Canada, in 1918, Cora was sixteen, and since her parents were getting older she remained at home to help them. Sometimes she worked for neighbours, particularly for families with young babies. She was working for Mrs. Steen at the time of Charlie's birth.
Cora was well used to driving a team, and riding saddle horses. Mr. Granum always used horses, but one day he got caught between a loader and the team, and Mrs. Granum found him dead. After this, Mrs. Granum went to live with her daughter Minnie.
Cora's brother-in-law Louis, was visited one day by his brother Endred, and it happened that Endred brought a friend over with him, Hale Gochee, who was working at the time at Nitchi Valley. Cora and Hale became acquainted, and in 1922 they were married on the farm, surrounded by wild roses and the boughs of the spruce trees.
The couple went to live on property owned by Hale's father, east of Didsbury, and tried farming for a while. They didn't prosper too well, for everything seemed to go wrong and so it was decided to rent Mrs. Granum's place. Cora's brother, Victor, had taken over the post office at Sundre at the time that Mr. Eisenstot was renting the Hagen store, and stayed on to help his parents, later his mother. However, after his marriage, he had moved to a place of his own, and the Granum place became available for Cora and Hale.
The years passed, and Hale built a sawmill. By this time there were four children born to the Gochees. Cora cooked for the men working the mill. Once more ill luck dogged them, when fire broke out at the mill, they lost all their lumber and were broke.
When the first oil well was drilled out west, Hale got work, first as a carpenter, then, when a man was hurt, he worked at the rig. When work finished at that well, he moved on to Black Diamond, where he worked for quite some time. He was hurt a couple of times while on this job. He then returned to carpentry, working for Colonel Snyder, southwest of Sundre, then Hale and Wendell Gochee opened a garage at Didsbury.
Back once more at Sundre, Cora and Hale bought a lot in town from N.T. Hagen, and with fire killed lumber, built a house. The family had now grown to ten children, five boys and five girls, and the house in Sundre was their home for fifteen years, during which time Hale worked at Sundre Motors, Ltd.
Cora, who was well used to cooking for a large family, boarded teachers for a time. One year there were seven to provide with meals and she thoroughly enjoyed having them. When Hale retired in the mid-60s, the Gochees bought their home in the Bergen area.
When the Granum family first moved to this area, Cora was completely unfamiliar with farm life. One time she was sent to check the chickens and found a dead hen. Seeing the number of eggs, she thought the hen had laid them all and died because it was too much for her! Another episode that remained clearly in her mind was when her father put her on a horse her friend Endred had been training. The horse got away and Cora had no lines to hold. Finally, as the horse passed a post, she got caught and was pulled off. Once, she and her sister took a team over to visit the Murrays, but no one was home. Cora was handling the team when suddenly they both took off, heading for home. Her sister was scared and really shaken up but the team stopped when they reached the home gate, and Cora saw that one bridle was unfastened, which had been the problem.
Cora Gochee had a host of memories of earlier days. One of the earliest was when her brother-in-law was driving west in his Ford car and met a dark skinned lady dressed in a burlap skirt and wearing a Stetson hat. They learned later that she was a Mrs. Moore, a Mexican lady whose home was in the Sunberry Valley, but she certainly gave a strange impression at that time!
Cora recalled the early Stampedes, the first held at the Corless place, when she helped Mrs. Alf Dean in the booth. Later, the stampedes were put on at the north end of town, with Indians flocking in wearing ceremonial robes. They were fed and encouraged to return each year. The Stampedes were big events each summer until war broke out in 1939.
Following the end of the war, a great many newcomers came to Sundre. That year, Cora remembered singing at the Christmas concert at McDougal Flats. Some of the newcomers started a Literary Club, and put on concerts and plays for the enjoyment of the residents.
Cora also joined the first United Church Ladies Aid and sang in the choir. When the younger children were in school, the older ones were finished. Cora talked of the time Ruth and Janet rode home from school in a storm. Janet was wearing a red tam and by the time she arrived home from the three and a half mile (5.6 kilometre) ride, her blonde hair was all streaked with red. Lois, Cora said, was the most musical of the family and had a nice singing voice.
Cora enjoyed travelling and had the opportunity to visit New York twice, and spent time in Singapore when daughter Donna lived there, thoroughly enjoying the trip, returning home by way of Hawaii and Hong Kong.
Cora's hobbies included quilting, knitting and crocheting. All of the children have received crocheted tablecloths and works in fine thread from their mother.
From the farm, Hale and Cora moved into Hagen Manor in Sundre. In her lifetime Cora lost 5 of her children. Later they were among the first residents in the Foothill's Lodge. Cora was predeceased by her husband and she lived to be 86 years of age.
- Contributors: Lesley Munns, Deanna Scott, Jean Gochee