Bard of Edam Chronicles Pioneer Life,

by Tommy Terpstra:

The hopes and joys, the trials and tribulations, the heart tearing cries from a tortured soul – these are the thoughts scrawled on scraps of soiled paper, under the flickering light of a smoking candle by an Edam district pioneer. He was not by far one of your average pioneers, but one from the lower side of this continual struggle we call life.
Walter Farewell, a lonely straggler from the East, was not a man who would first catch your eye. He was small in stature, and was denied many of the attributes one would consider comely.He was more or less a recluse, weaving himself in and out of the community without too much ado. Sometimes he was drunk, other times selling his own brew in order to make a living. The image he presented was that of a dirty, scruffy old bachelor. Who could have ever imagined that beneath that rough exterior lay the heart and soul of a poet? But for seven decades, with the aid of a stump of a wooden pencil, he scribbled down his thoughts and feelings. He first wrote bent over a home made wooden table in a dugout he called home, and later in several hovels he managed to find around the village.
No one guessed that in a crumpled shoe box lay a treasure trove of pioneer history. It was 30 years after his death when it was found on a corner of a dusty shelf in a backyard garage. In the shoe box were three scribblers filled with Walter’s poetry, and under the tireless efforts of Michael Taft, a well-known folklorist, they were molded into an incredible history of our past. These thoughts came from down deep in the soul of a man who deserves the title The Bard of Edam.

 

About the Author . . . Michael Taft, a folklorist and historian,
who has been teaching folklore at the
University of Saskatchewan,
has been exploring the traditions of Western Canada for the past fifteen years.
When he heard about Walter's poetry, he was determined to uncover the story of the Bard of Edam.
To this end, he interviewed the old-timers of Edam and searched through archives
and libraries in an attempt to discover the man behind this hidden trove of verse.
He reprints the Bard's poetry here, along with what he has learned of the life and times
of Walter Farewell, and the result is a story of the Canadian West.
Taft has written extensively on the traditions of the West. His books include
Discovering Saskatchewan Folklore,
Inside These Greystone Walls: An anecdotal History of the
University of Saskatchewan,
and Tall Tales of British Columbia

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