Norman Tivy (1883-1973) M. Astellia Harrison (1894-1988)

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Stella and Norman - 1949

 Stella and Norman Tivy.  Taken in the summer of 1968, in their backyard in Rivers Manitoba.

Norman Tivy (1883-1973)

Born at Bushey Park a suburb of Galway, Ireland, he was educated at Galway Grammar School and worked in the office of Persses Distillery before emigrating to Manitoba in 1905. For the first few years he worked as hired man on farms in the Ninga and Boissevain areas before taking up railroading in 1910 as a rodman with the C.P.R.. In 1914 he come to Rivers to join his brother Bob and secured work as assistant timekeeper with the Grand Trunk Pacific (later Canadian National).  In 1916 he enlisted with the 101st battalion, but upon completion of training in England went to France as Part of reinforcements to the 85th battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders). He was with them during the Battle of Vimy Ridge and was wounded. He stayed in France as part of the post-war cleanup and was discharged with the rank of Staff Sergeant, returning to Rivers and the G.T.P. Railway in 1919.

In 1920 he married Astellia Harrison of Holmfield Manitoba who had been teaching school in Rivers. They raised three children there, namely Bob,(named after his brother Bob who died of the flu epidemic in 1919), Mary (named after her aunt Mary Harrison) and Bill (named after his grandfather William Harrison).  Norman spent the remainder of his working life with Canadian National retiring as Senior Yard Clerk in 1948. He handled many civic duties during all of his life in Rivers such as Anglican church warden, town councillor, a founding member of the Canadian Legion, (Rivers branch), and secretary-treasurer of the curling and golf clubs. These good works wer recognized in 1971 when he was made an Honorary Citizen of Rivers by then mayor Frank Taylor.  He died in February, 1973 and is buried in the family plot in Rivers cemetary.

War Years

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1917?,France. Sergant Norman Tivy (left front).

That the war touched him (and perhaps most survivors) deeply is evidenced by something he wrote from Whitley ? Camp in Surrey, England, June 28, 1919 and only came into my hands in 1993 when I received it from cousin Patrick. The letter was addressed to Aunt Eunice and Pat had discovered it in her effects many, many years later. The piece is so touching, almost poetic in its thought that in spite of its length I will repeat it here in full:

I wrote you yesterday which I thought was my last one to you from this side, but I made this an exception and call this my peace letter to you. When I think of those of our comrades who have fallen in this great war, The world Peace which was signed to-day at 3:15 p.m. British Time means most now to the men who fought and still remain alive. It will make them think back to those days of War when the thought of Peace was a kind of weakness tempting them to despair because there was no sign of it: those early days of trench warfare when the greatest advance was 200 yards or 500; those years of intolerable boredom punctuated by hours of dreadfulness not good to remember, followed by other years when each big battle began with hopes of a quick finish and only led to new ridges, new slaughter and new abominations! When we think of those boys that were there at the start, now that Peace has made all that past history, the splendid optimism of the "Old Contemptibles" who came first into France, with kisses blown to them by village girls all along the roads and fruit and flowers thrust into their hands as they wearily marched forward to the unknown Front which to most it meant the Valley of Death itself. For a little while, even after a spell in the trenches and personal encounters with the strength of the enemy, we had queer hopes, almost a definite belief, that the war would soon be over and that we would be soon home to those nearest and dearest to us. To my thoughts all along I thought it would come as suddenly as it started, other times that idea disappeared swiftly in my mind. In its place came the awful conviction that it would go on for ever, and that Peace was but a mirage luring men of feeble minds. It was the doom of men to sit always in dirty trenches, to live in holes in the ground, to go on fighting and killing, until it was our turn to be wounded, or blinded, or shell shocked, or gassed or killed. Civilization to us the was but a fleeting memory, revived at times in some French villages when we would go out behind the lines for a bath and a clean-up and the decent ways of life had disappeared and "Home" was another word that made weakness and was not spoken of except a little while before 7 days's leave (once in l8 months came along) & a little while after. Well to come to my own personal experience in the great struggle, not ['till] after Mar 21.18 when all the ground they (the enemy) had fought and won slipped from under them did I realize that I was on the side of Victory. It instilled to me (sic) innermost self a sense as of one being relieved of a huge burden of mind, body and soul. I think it was on the day last year in Sept. when we rode through the Drocourt-Queant line that victory and peace came in sight at last. So on and on we entered great cities and were rewarded by the joy of their population liberated after all those years from the rule of a merciless enemy, and then on Nov. 11, when on the way to Mons, I heard the news for which all the world had been waiting; to those of us who were in the fight it seemed weary, weary years. And that morning, for the first time during the ghastly struggle, and that night there were no evil flashes in the sky, but only the sweet light of the stars above us. That to us was the real day of peace, when the river of blood which had flowed through many fields was stopped at last, and the last of us who were spared then were as it were reprieved from death. We were not excited outwardly, our thoughts were swallowed up in the memory of those of our comrades who had fallen and those who still lay at our feet cold in death, sleeping their last sleep there, which to my mind then I thought I could sleep there also comfortably beside them. Oh those thoughts did come to me many a time as I saw my dearest pals there. The soul of England will be silent for awhile at this news of Peace,  or should be so, in remembrance of those who fell to gain it - that million dead boys of ours who belong to the great ghost army which will forever haunt the fields of battle, and all that other youth of nations - how many millions more - who joined those ranks in multitudes. I think of them on the Somme, and around Arras where I saw them lying - so many of them. So now Peace -but to my mind and to most of us who saw that war stripped of all illusions in its naked and terrible realities - this: Peace will be a mocking thing luring us on to another epoch of damnable strife, unless the ideals for which the first men fought, for which all of us fought, whether conscious or not of their mission, are fulfilled in the hearts of peoples and nations leaderships. The fighting men of all Nations who went through that dark struggle, those ways of hell, must be the leaders of Peace as they were the heroes of War. For the world needs peace and the remembrance of life's beauty. I expect to sail for Home Wednesday, 2.7.19 on the Empress of Britain unless some unforeseen events stand in the way,however l shall always keep you posted as to my movements and will wire you as stated in my former letter, on my immediate arrival at a Canadian port. This letter may only reach you shortly before or after the writer. So stand fast, the time will not be long. With heaps of love to self and the darlings, and so to bed I remain your most affectionate Norm.
Peace Perfect Peace, Until He Come.

For the original letter click: NormanWW1Let.htm


Astellia Maria (Harrison) Tivy (1884-1988)

She was born in 1884 in Killarney, Manitoba, her parents (William and Maria Harrison) having moved there from Ontario as pioneers. She received her schooling in Holmfield, MB, where her parents had moved in 1898 to start the Harrison Milling and Grain Co. in 1898. The mill is still operated by her nephews Bill and Eric Harrison. Following training at the normal school in Manitou, Manitoba, she taught in various rural schools throughout Manitoba.

In 1916 she came to teach grades 5 and 6 in Rivers Consolidated School. There she married Norman Tivy in l920. Norman worked for the railway. They raised three children, Bob, Mary and Bill. She spent most of her married life as devoted housewife and mother but when a shortage of teachers occurred in the 1950's she went back to that work again, teaching in several rural schools close to Rivers for 6 or 7 years.

In addition to her teaching and homemaking she carried on a number of other community activities such as serving in the Women's Association and singing in the choir of the Anglican church, teaching in the Sunday School and taking part in the Rivers Dramatic Society. In recognition of her lifelong commitment to the community she was in later life awarded a Manitoba Pioneer's Certificate.

After her husband died in 1973 she stayed in Rivers until 1976 when she moved to Langley, BC. She lived there for a time with her daughter Mary Clark; but then, as her health declined moved to Simpson's Hospital in Fort Langley where she died in 1988. Her remains are buried in the family plot in Rivers, alongside those of her husband Norman.

The Homfield Flour Mill

What follows is an essay done by Kateylyn Harrison of Killarney Man. 1998

This essay is about a historical mill within the Rural municipality of Turtle Mountain. Historical is defined in The New Webster Encyclopedia Dictionary of the English Language as "pertaining to or connected with history".  The same source defines history as being "a narraitive or account of event or series of events in the life of a nation or that have marked the progress or existence of any community or institution".

I believe that Harrison Milling and Grain co. Ltd. in Holmfield, Manitoba fits this definition. The mill played an important role in our area by allowing people to have a source of flour.

"Harrison's Flour Mill has been part of the history of Southwestern Manitoba for over a century.  It was the first flour mill built in this part of Manitoba and has probably been in 0peration longer than any other mill in Western Canada". In 1878, William Salt Harrsion, joined his two brothers George and Matthew at Wakapa, Manitoba.   William was a machinist who had just sold his interest in a foundry in Stratford, Ontario.  George and Matthew had been in Manitoba for some period of time working on mill construction for the Hudson Bay Co.  Wakapa was chosen by the Harrsion brothers because of its chance of growth and its closeness to timber in the Turtle Mountains.   The first mill built used a steam engine to saw lumber and at the same time turn mill stones. The saw mill is on display at Killarney Fair Grounds.  Wakapa was also chosen because a Hudson's Bay Post had been established there and the Northwest Munted Police had used the location and built barracks.

Two things determined the Harrison's move to Killarney and eventually Holmfield.   The first event was the destruction of the mill by fire.  The second event was the building of the Canadian National Railway some 32 kilometers away in Killarney. Killarney became as obvious choice for contruction and the Harrison brothers built the first grain elevator in the location now occupied by United Grain Growerss.  They could not get money to build a mill in Killarney and so in 1896 consturciton started in Holmfield , a thriving agricultural center.  The plant was running in 1898.

During this time George Harrsion becoame a starting member of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange.  In 1912, William Harrsion purchased Geroges's share in the company, Matthew having left earlier to build a flour mill in Rolla North Dakota.  Cash was short and William Harrison's son, Abe started working at the age of sixteen.  later Abe's sister Ruth and brother Lawrence joined the businesss.  In the 1960's Abe's sons Bill and Errick took over the business.

In the 1920's and 1930's farmers traded their wheat for flour.  This process was used because no cash was needed.  The business also shipped grain from elevators built at Holmfield.  The company was very busy during the Depression because of this barter system (gristing).  When the Seond World War started the mills in Europe were Damaged by bombs and shells.  The mills in Canada and the United States operated at full capacity to supply the needs of people in Europe.  After the war Abe Harrison redesigned much of the mill and switched it back to peace time production. Gristing continued to play an important part in the mill's business until farily recently.   According to Mr. Errick Harrision, "The grist practice appealed to the type of farmer who had a small farm and good size family"

Wheat journeys through a profusion of rollers on the way to becoming flour.  The mill is powered by a 75 horsepower electric motor.  It creates an orchestra of sounds and motions when in use.  The rhythmic flap of drive belts complements the low rumble of wheat being crushed and sifted in the bolter.  As the wheat passes through the mill, it is cleaned, crushed, and sifted into fouir, bran, and shorts, a mixture of wheat germ, fine bran and low grade flour.  The flour is then packed into 22.5 Kg cotton bags with the name "Turtle Mountain Maid" printed across the front.

According to Errick Harrison, the plant was initially powered by a steam engine obtained from a gold mine in California.  The Browning engine was powered by two large boilers, one which still lays as scrap behind the mill.  In 1932, the first diesel engine in the municipality was purchased from a German company called MAN.   The three cylinder engine still remains on site and was started each morning of production by way of compressed air diverted from one piston each night and stored in tank.  This German engine was used throughout the war until 1947, when electricity was used for power.  This electric engine was installed by Bob Tivy, nephew of Abe and Lawerence.

The women played an important part in the business as well.  Grandma Harrison, William's wife, raised a family of four girls and two sons. Abe and Lawerence.  Ruth Harrison was a full partner in the business from William's death in 1927 until she sold her partnership interest in the business to nephew Bill in the 1960's.  Amy Harrison, Abe's wife, aside from test baking the flour on a daily basis when the mill was running, also packed flour during the war when there was a manposer shortage.  her daughters Heather and Thomasina Harrison redesinged the flour bag in the 1969's and played an important role in keeping the mill running.

Harrison Milling and Grain Company provided employment for many people in the area.   This generation remembers most notably, Alec Sillers and Bill Huddlestone and most recently Lee Knight.  Flour was supplied to regular customers in the immeidate area and within a 50 mile radius.  Visitors to the mill often took flour home as a souvenir to B.C.,Ontario, and Alberta.  When people hear Holmfield, Manitoba "the mill" comes to mind.

Bill and Errick Harrison, the two partners of Harrison Milling and Grain Company are proud of the fact that this mill will operate in three centuries.  They share their stories of the mill with their families in hopes that their children and grandchildren will remain interested in this very important party of this area's history.  Doing this project, I learned the importance of the grain and milling business to the economy of this area and to our family.

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