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Spuds

After a while, after you savour the oilcloth-covered table and the clay pipe and the nest of boots and the wooden, wired slops bucket, your eyes go to the hand on the far right. A woman's hand, perhaps? If so, why is the man peeling the potatoes?

A century ago, men and women played fairly traditional roles when it came to the division of labour (though as homesteading bachelors, some men learned to sympathize with women's work). Perhaps, though, the hand belongs to a man. Would a wife suffer such spare surroundings? This may be less home sweet home than workers' quarters at a lumber camp.

Ron Cason, among whose late father's belongings he found this photo, thought it might be such a camp at Grandview, Manitoba, near Riding Mountain National Park, in the early 1900s. But is that a stone wall at the back? Stone walls at a lumber camp? At any rate, there's only one naked spud in that enamelled pan, and many more waiting to be peeled.

Ron Cason, who submitted this photograph, is a retired master mechanic living in Calgary. He was born in Gilbert Plains, Manitoba, and recalls travelling with his father into the nearby Duck Mountains in the '30s and '40s to harvest lumber for the family farm.

 

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