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Poelman family honoured for century on homestead

Bailey Poelman, Travis Poelman, Leroy Poelman and Ralph Poelman accept the Alberta Century Farm and Ranch Award from Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger.

A century of perseverance was recognized Saturday when the province honoured the Poelman family.
Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger presented an Alberta Century Farm and Ranch Award to the Poelman family.
The award is presented to Alberta families who have farmed or ranched for 100 years on the original homestead.
“It takes perseverance,” said Leroy Poelman, who bought the home quarter from his father Ralph, of maintaining the original homestead. “There are lots of ups and downs.”
Berger presented the award during a Poelman family reunion at the Granum Homesteader.
On Aug. 28, 1911 George Poelman, who had immigrated from Gronigen, The Netherlands, bought the land at NW-30-10-25.
“At that time the province of Alberta was six years old,” Berger noted. “Canada was 44 years old.”
Berger said working that original homestead for 100 years is an accomplishment.
Berger said reaching the centennial is a testament to the family’s perseverance to deal with such hardships as drought, floods and grasshoppers.
“Of course there were no doubt banner years along the way that made everything worthwhile,” Berger said.
That the family is still on the original homestead is a testament to the Poelman family’s determination and that George Poelman’s choice in 1911 was the right one.
George Poelman passed the original homestead to his son Ralph, who later sold to Leroy.
“George Poelman’s choice was one of opportunity at the time,” Berger said. “That opportunity created opportunities for other generations.”
Willem Poelman immigrated to Canada in 1910 from Groningen, The Netherlands and was joined the following year by his parents Roelf and Hilje Poelman and the rest of the family.
The Poelman family left their home mainly for health reasons, having lost two children to tuberculosis.
They came to the Granum area in part because they knew George Dykema from nearby Ten Boer, who had homesteaded at Granum in 1904.
George Poelman tried to find work in San Francisco but after being shipwrecked off the coast of Oregon came to Granum and got serious about making a life in Alberta, Ralph Poelman explained.
“Really our parents and grandparents were early pioneers,” Ralph Poelman explained. “Moving to Canada meant the possibility of a better climate, and renewed health.”
The Poelman family were successful farmers in the Netherlands, and sold 91 acres of cultivated and pasture land, along with two barns and a new house, at auction when they decided to come to Canada.
“The old family farm was bought by my father and his brothers,” Ralph Poelman explained in a written recollection read Saturday by his daughter Dena. “The house was nothing but a small wooden grain bin that was moved up the hill on the yard. A porch, kitchen and a second story were added. Eventually, through the many years the house came to have five bedrooms, electricity, running water and heat.”
Ralph Poelman talked about the pleasures of life on the homestead, family life and the important connection with the Granum Christian Reformed Church.
“Through the years the farm has passed from son to son and I am grateful my three sons own the original home places,” Ralph Poelman noted. “Leroy is on the homestead, Albert has the north half that had the church subdivided from and Jerry has the old Tetaur quarter. I have lived on all three quarters and worship on the fourth. Not too many people can say that.”
The Poelman family is likely to continue farming the original homestead for at least another generation as 14-year-old son Travis said Saturday that he aspires to take over the land.
That brought a smile to his father Leroy’s face, who can’t imagine life anywhere else.
“It’s always been home to me,” Leroy Poelman said.

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