With Lomond celebrating its centennial this year, I thought it would be an appropriate time to brag. Nudge, nudge. The Steeves have been here since the beginning. We are still here, still farming and still living in the same home my Great Grandpa Jack built. We haven’t budged. Maybe this is a tell tale sign to how much we love the community, the land, and the location. I believe this has more to do with our personality. The stubborn Steeves. It is what we are known for and can be the only realistic explanation to why we have farmed through all these dry years.
Having first immigrated to New Brunswick from Pennsylvania in 1766, our German rooted name, Stieff, evolved into Steeves and populated the Hillsborough and Albert County. If you thumb through the Moncton yellow pages, you will find a long, long list of Steeves, but none of our own names. That's because one man left, on his own (with family) to the other side of the country. Pioneer, yes. Adventurer, sure. More so, a family man. He wanted what was best for his family at the time, not knowing the challenges and hardships of farming in the dry prairies of Southern Alberta.
Robert Miles Steeves was born in Elgin, Albert, New Brunswick in 1866, one year before Confederation. (If you would like to know the Steeves’ role in Confederation, give William Henry Steeves a Google search) He married Katherine Steeves and together, they had eight children. After their daughter, Evelyn, died at the young age of two, Robert and Katherine packed up their lives and moved to Alberta in 1910.
Robert (Bob) and Katherine lived in a homestead northeast of the current home we live in today. Both a farmer and carpenter, Bob farmed five quarters of land and built coffins for the Travers area. To help supplement the family income, Katherine taught at the Yetwood School. She and Bob also bought the Yetwood post office and Yetwood store. These extra opportunities for income kept them here and helped strengthen the roots for the first Steeves family to settle in the prairies. Their inspiring first step has helped future generations to come. Eventually, Katherine and Robert separated. She moved to Calgary, unable to adjust to the country life. Not only did his wife leave, but most of his neighbours as well. Stubborn Steeves. He continued farming and died in 1945.
Ralph in wheelbarrow and Jack
Robert Steeves (third from left) and Sons
The Yetwood Aces. Second from left, Ralph. Third from left, Jack
Left to right: Hired man, Jack in baseball uniform, Robert Steeves
Three of his sons followed suit and farmed as well. Carl, John Gifford (Jack) and Ralph bought land and farmed near the Yetwood school. Jack saw opportunity south of his father’s homestead, noticing there was enough runoff for a dugout to supply water for his own farm. The three brothers worked together throughout the years. When Carl fought in World War II, Ralph worked for Jack and then worked for Carl again when he returned. Both Carl and Ralph remained bachelors and eventually moved on from farming. Jack, however, married Laurine Ruggles, fathered eight children and continued farming. Stubborn Steeves.
Jack on Skipper
Jack and Laurine in their courting days
With his entrepreneurial mindset, Jack expanded the farm and owned around sixteen quarters of land. He moved a barn out to his location and bought five World War II trainer planes, which he used for parts to maintain his own plane. Both the barn and planes remain on the farm today. Sharing his passion for farming, his two sons, Donald and Larry carried on with this career choice.
Don married Vivien Deal in 1954 and built a home next to his father’s. When Jack left the farm and moved to Champion with Laurine, Don and Vivien moved into Jack’s house and raised a family of five (Tim, Jerry, Brian, Sheri and Michele). Smokey Jones bought their starter home and moved it five miles north. Like his father, Don also had an interest in flying. Owning a plane of his own, alongside farming, Don was a hobby pilot. After farming for thirty years, while his brother Larry left for better land up north, Don and Vivien retired and moved to Lethbridge. Two of his sons, Jerry and Brian continued.
Don and Vivien on their wedding day
While Brian moved into his parent’s house after marrying Rachelle Wiest in 1984, Jerry settled on a farm north of Enchant with his wife, Melissa (also married in 1984). Where Jerry raised cattle, Brian had pigs and then emus and then no livestock at all. He even had miniature goats for a while to teach his children responsibility and they all failed miserably. When Jerry and Melissa moved to Lethbridge, Brian and Rachelle remained. Another stubborn Steeves.
Brian and Rachelle on wedding day
Brian standing in front of the original house Jack built, which is now renovated and looks different today.
Together, Brian and Rachelle had four children (Taryn, Kyla, Eric and Chelsey). Brian still farms to this day and though he persuaded his son to find another career path, knowing the hardships of farming, Eric did not listen. After marrying Holly Lengyel in 2014, they bought an acreage east of Champion. Alongside farming with his father, Eric established the market garden, Yetwood Farms in 2015 as another way to add value to the farm.
Holly and Eric during harvest
Holly and Eric in the original barn that was moved to Jack's farm. This is where Eric proposed to Holly.
The name Yetwood Farms was incorporated in 2012 by Brian. Eric currently uses the name for the market garden as tribute to our long family history that remained strong because of the influence of the neighbouring Yetwood School. The building no longer remains, but five generations of Steeves have farmed in the area and hopefully, more to come.
Brian and Eric cleaning out the barn to prepare for the proposal.
Brian, Don and Eric. Three generations.
The first year of starting Yetwood Farm's market garden