GEORGE SCHICK.
Viewed in retrospect, the life of George Schick, the owner of large farming interests near Avonhurst, Saskatchewan, presents a thrilling tale of adventure, the romance of the pioneer days of the northwest and, like all good stories, a happy ending. But time touches all things with a gentle hand, and viewed through the soft glow of the golden years of life events of a generation ago seem altogether different than they did at the time, to a young man who was facing the world empty-handed. George Schick fled from the oppression of a military system that darkened the lives of thousands of young Germans and Austrians during the past half century or so, only to meet the privations and hardsips of frontier life in a land where Nature tries the temper of her men before she yields to them the riches of her earth. It was only by years of hard and unremit- ting toil, in the face of almost insuperable obstacles, that he and his wife won the battle against poverty and came into the enjoyment of the wealth they so fairly earned. The considerable fortune which George Schick today possesses is the result of his unflinching determination and extraordinary capacity for labor. George Schick was born in Posen, Germany, on February 18, 1862, the only child of Henry and Amelia (Joenz) Schick, who were both natives of that province and lived there most of their lives, the father following the occupation of a joiner. Their religious faith was that of the Lutheran church. Although he lost his parents when he was but twelve years old, George Schick was fortunate in obtaining an education in the excellent Gymnasium schools of Germany, which are nearly equivalent to our eight grades. Following this he was taught the cobbler's trade. Before his parents died they had moved to Galicia, a part of Austria, so that when he became of military age George Schick was drafted into the Austrian army, which, as everyone knows, demanded three years military service of every able-bodied young man during the days of the old empire. As the result of several promotions he was a staff sergeant at the time his three years of compulsory service was ended. After that he remained in the army for four more years for a premium, but before the time had expired he became completely disgusted with the stupid rigidity of the military regime. He tells of an instance, which he regards as typical, in which he was disciplined for a petty offence which, as a matter of fact, he had not committed. Coming into his quarters shortly before midnight one evening, he was censured by the commandant for returning after twelve o'clock. As he left the room the clock began to strike the hour, so he returned to justify himself. Such petty tyranny, whatever may have been its purpose, had not the effect of firing a youth with ambition for a military career. During the time he was in the army Mr. Schick came across a pamph- let setting forth in glowing colors the remarkable opportunities for young men in the far-away country of Canada. It even stated that boys of eight- een could obtain a tract of one hundred and sixty acres of land as a free homestead, upon the payment of the trifling sum of ten dollars. In- spired by this pamphlet Mr. Schick made up his mind to come to the Dominion and succeeded in accomplishing his purpose in the face of great odds. He had little money and, moreover, the Austrian government still laid a claim on him for military duty. This meant that if he went at all it must be by stealth and unknown to the officials. Buying a ticket, he proceeded to Lemberg, the former capital of Austria Galicia, thence to Krakau and on to Bohemia, thence to Karlsbad and from there to Boden- bach, where he and the young lady who was to become his wife paid their eight cents toll and walked over the Elizabeth bridge into Germany. There, safely out of Austria, they exchanged their Austrian money for German coins and bought tickets through Leipzig to Hamburg, the great port where they took passage for America. The two travelers found that their adventures were only beginning when they arrived in Balgonie, Saskatchewan, in 1894. To begin with Mr. Schick had only one dollar and fifty cents left at the end of his long journey, so the problem of providing a living was an urgent one. The first year he was in Canada he and his wife worked for their board. In January of 1895 he went to Moose Jaw to get a job as a section hand on the railway, which paid him a dollar and fifteen cents a day, but from this sum he had to supply his own board, so his savings did not accumu- late very rapidly. At the end of eight months, however, he had sufficient money to buy a set of cobbler's tools, and coming to Regina plied the trade he had learned as a boy in Austria. Not long afterward he secured a position in the Indian Industrial School at Lebret, where he remained until he went on his homestead in the fall of 1896. Accustomed as Mr. Schick and his wife had become to hardships of western life by that time, the prospect that greeted them upon their ar- rival at their homestead site daunted even their courage. The entire tract was covered with heavy timber and wood, which meant that every acre of ground for crops would have to be cleared. Mr. Schick says that if he had had the money to take them back, they would have gone, but as they were nearly penniless they were forced to stay and make the best of their situation. He at once set about building a dugout for their winter home and bought a yoke of oxen on time. A little later he was able to secure a cow and some household furniture. They lived that winter on the pro- ceeds of the wood he cut on his land and sold in the market at Regina. No more vivid picture of the life of these pioneer homesteaders could be found than Mr. Schick's description of that first winter on the farm. He began by going into the woods in the morning and cutting a load of wood from the block. The following day he sawed it into cord wood loaded it for transportation, while on the third day at two o'clock in the morning he set out for Regina, on a fifteen-hour journey by ox team. It was always so late when he 'reached the settlement that he had to stay over night. There he slept at the house of a widow who rented sleeping space on her floor at the rate of ten cents a night. For meals he took his own bread, tea and sugar, to avoid the expense of eating at a restaurant. The day after his arrival he disposed of his wood at the rate of a dollar and twenty-five cents a load, getting his pay in "trade." Usually a couple of neighbors would go with Mr. Schick, so that the three men had com- panionship on the long, tedious journey, and by pooling their slender earnings they could buy provisions on the cooperative plan to better ad- vantage. With the credit they obtained for their wood they would buy a hundred pounds of flour, which they divided between them upon reaching home. Ten cents worth of tea apiece. and twenty-five cents worth of sugar, together with a block of "T. & B." tobacco, which was also divided into three parts, were other staples regularly purchased. When their simple business had been thus transacted the three men would set out for home in the afternoon and arrive about two o'clock in the morning. This round of wood cutting and marketing was repeated week after week all winter, in spite of the bitter cold and severe storms. On one occasion Mr. Schick and his companions narrowly escaped the fate of many unfor- tunate pioneers, who lost their way in the snow and died of exposure almost at their doors. Coming home from Regina late one night, they were overtaken by a heavy storm and when they reached home were un- able to locate the dugout. Fortunately for them they drove over the dug- out twice with their ox team, arousing Mrs. Schick, who then came to the door and called to them, guiding them to the entrance by her cries. The first spring Mr. Schick had enough ground cleared to put in a small crop and each successive spring thereafter found a larger acreage ready for planting, until finally the whole homestead was well improved and under a good state of cultivation. From time to time Mr. Schick had bought more land to add to his homestead until he now owns seven and a quarter sections of excellent im- proved agricultural land. He has all the latest steam driven machinery necessary for large-scale farming and keeps four outfits going most of the time, employing a considerable number of men. As a bonanza farmer he made a notable success, his fortune being estimated at six hundred thousand dollars. At the same time he has been developing his farms along lines that will endure through the future decades, when a more intensive method of farming will inevitably supplant the present system. A number of full-blooded stallions are to be found among his herd of thirty-five horses and many of his forty head of horned cattle are pure bred. While in the States, in the winter of 1919, he attended the stock show in Chicago, where he bought a carload of pure-bred horses, three stallions and five mares, which are doing much to raise the standard of the farm animals on his own farms and are of benefit to stock raisers throughout the neighborhood. His home is still the old homestead near Avonhurst, his post office address, and he devotes most of his time to his agricultural interests. In his neighborhood, however, he represents the John Deere Plow Company and the Great West Saddlery Company and does a little business in real estate. Shortly after arriving in Canada, in Edenwold, Mr. Schick and the young lady who had accompanied him on his flight from Europe, were united in marriage and have since been sharing the fruits of their earlier labors, as well as the hardships of pioneer life. Before her marriage Mrs. Schick was Miss Mary Janz, a native of Austria. She is the mother of eleven children, seven of whom are living: Mrs. Lizzie (Schick) Markee~ now connected with the telephone system of Detroit, Mich.; Maggie, the wife of Mr. Uppenheimer, a farmer; and Henry, Johnnie, Rudolph, Mary and Helen, who still live at home. Mr. Schick has been able to give each of his children a good education as they have grown to maturity, and Mrs. Uppenheimer was a teacher before her marriage. The family at- tend the Lutheran church. A well educated man himself, Mr. Schick has always taken a deep in- terest in educational matters and has given his hearty support to the work of the public schools. He is now chairman of his local school board and served as a delegate to the meetings of the school trustees of the province for three successive years, at Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw. He also served for five years in the municipality of South Qu'Appelle and since 1914 has held a commission for the administration of oaths. Like many of the educated people of Central Europe, Mr. Schick is a linguist of ability, speaking six different languages. He was more than thirty years old before he ever heard a word of English, but he secured a book and studied the language thoroughly from the grammatical side, as well as learning to talk from hearing those about him converse, so that now he is a master of that difficult tongue. In looking back over the past thirty years Mr. Schick finds no reason to regret his step in coming to America. While the difficulties he encoun- tered and the hardships he had to endure were far greater than the most vivid creations of his imagination before he left Austria, he thinks that his gains have more than repaid him for any effort they may have cost. Not only has he become a comparatively rich man, but he has had the joy of working out his own destiny in a country of democratic traditions, unhampered by any distinctions of class or burdens of militarism and au- tocracy. Now he and Mrs. Schick are enjoying some of the fruits of their labors. Not only do they have a well kept, modern home, with all the com- forts and conveniences, but they are free to spend a part of the year in travel, and have enjoyed two winters in the milder climate and amid the new scenes of the United States. Bibliography follows:


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THE STORY
OF
SASKATCHEWAN
AND ITS PEOPLE




By JOHN HAWKES
Legislative Librarian



Volume III
Illustrated



CHICAGO - REGINA
THE S.J. CLARKE PUBLISHING COMPANY
1924



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