When Florence Galdue was young, she thought her dad, William Julian Gladue, and her older brother were mad at each other, because they never spoke. Her brother would say something to their mother, and their mother would relay the message to their father. Later in life, she asked her brother about this.
“He couldn’t hear me,” her brother told her.
Julian, as people called him, served in the Canadian Army during World War II, says Florence. During the war, he was in a trench, or maybe a fox hole. A bomb went off nearby. It damaged his hearing. From that day on, he was “not quite deaf.” He also injured his back in the war.
“My dad was a real dashing young man,” she says. He was a light skinned blue eyed Métis.
“My dad spoke fluent Ukrainian,” Florence says, because he grew up around Ukrainian farmers in the Snipe Lake area. “He was quite the character, this little man.” At about five foot eight, her dad was “not real tall,” but not short either. He also spoke Cree and English.
Florence has her dad’s military pay book from 1943, and his medals, but has no photos of him.
There are “so many things missing from my story of my life,” she says. “And there’s hardly anybody left to tell us the stories.”
Julian died on June 23, 1985 at the age of 70. Florence’s youngest son was one of the honour guard cadets at his funeral at the High Prairie Legion.
In general Florence’s dad didn’t talk about the war, she says, but “he sometimes talked about Germany, teasing my mom about the German girls.”
Florence was born after her father came back from the war. Her older brother was born in 1939 just before the war. Florence remembers going to the High Prairie Legion for every event from Halloween to Remembrance Day.
After the war, Julian worked in logging and drove truck, says Florence. “They did hard labour work in those days.”
When Julian drove truck, Florence sometimes got to ride in the truck with him.
“It was very stinky,” she says, of the liquid he was hauling, she figures it was probably crude oil. “I was so proud riding in his big truck with my ‘daddeo’.”
Julian and Florence’s mom cleared their homestead in Triangle, about 15 minutes west of High Prairie. There was no power or running water. Their transportation was by horse, or horse and wagon.
“When we were richer we got gas lamps,” says Florence. Before that they used coal oil lamps. Instead of a refrigerator, they kept food in a creek or in a hole in the ground.
“My dad loved me so much,” she says. “He would do things for me. He’d shovel the snow to the highway, and he’d stand and wait for the school bus, and wave at me,” when it came, so Florence didn’t have to wait in the cold and wind.