My father was born in 1929, so this photo must have been taken in the late 30s. My father is the third from the left. His mother, Gladys, is at the front of the boat, on the extreme left, and my grandfather, Nelson Gowan, is at the oars. Dad’s youngest sister Carmel is to the left of him, waving to us, his sister Shirley to his immediate right, and his older sister Juanita at the back of the boat. It’s one of the only times I’ve ever seen his older brother Howard wearing a tie.
When my father was born on Christmas Eve 1929, my grandparents were not only facing the loss of their house, built just a couple of year’s before; the world had also just endured the stock market crash. I have no idea whether my grandfather had any investments aside from his land and cattle. He may have believed that people trading pieces of paper in New York and Chicago and London and Toronto and Winnipeg had little to do with his life, but he would discover that they did when the market for his grain and his cattle dried up completely in the coming years.
Meanwhile his world dried up completely (though perhaps that could not be blamed on the people trading paper). The sky refused to rain, the fields all around turned to dust, and ninety percent of his many neighbours packed their things and went away.