Wilfred & Annie Blight

John Wilfred Blight was born at the farm home in Oakville, Manitoba on December 27, 1901. He lived on the home farm his entire life, marrying Annie Lucille Thompson on October 12, 1935.  Annie had moved to the district around the age of 15 (after her oldest brother Willie died at Passchendaele in WW1 and their mother couldn’t bear to remain in their hometown of Theodore, Saskatchewan) and lived ½ mile due east from the Blight farm home.  She was good friends with Wilfred’s sisters especially those closest to her age but didn’t begin a ‘courtship’ with Wilfred until he won the tender to supply the wood to heat the Mill Creek schoolhouse she taught at approximately 6 miles from their respective homes (1934).  He happened to bring a load of wood around four o'clock one day when Annie was still in the school.  They chatted for a while and then he asked her if she would like to go to a movie with him.  Annie said:  I consented.  That was the beginning of our courtship.  Annie was 32 years old when they married in 1935 and Wilfred was 34.  They raised three children:  Irene Mary, James Wilfred, & Evelyn Jean.  Jim still lives on the home farm with his wife, Jacquie. 

Wilfred was an unassuming man who was modest to an extreme.  What he said, he meant and he preferred no pomp and circumstance.  He wanted no attention on himself and was often perceived as being gruff with a no nonsense attitude.  He was a family man and believed there was no place like home.  He was considered a very strong man – an example being a recounting as told by his sister, Laura:  In May 1928, Geordie (brother) & Wilfred were driving their Model T truck north of the farm when they were hit by a vehicle, the truck overturned in the ditch and Geordie was pinned underneath.  Miraculously, Wilfred acquired the strength to lift the truck and Geordie was freed. Their parents were never told.”  He had a special relationship with some of his nephews and nieces and always kept in touch with all his brothers and sisters and their families.  He lived long enough to get to enjoy his oldest grandchild, Kevin James.  He rarely spent money on personal items, but on one occasion, he purchased ‘railway’ overalls for his 2 year old grandson.  They looked asimilar – Kevin walking across the yard in his overalls and Wilfred dressed in his usual work attire – overalls.  Today, Wilfred and Annie have 9 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, and 4 great-great grandchildren.

He was quick to offer a helping hand to neighbors and friends alike and had an uncanny knack for applying ideas to solve problems or meet challenges whether in farming applications, building applications, or mechanical/blacksmith applications.  Money was not plentiful and Wilfred and his wife Annie were very thrifty so his creations were low cost and utilized items available on the farm, often ‘recycling’ old items by adapting them for a new use. 

If his wife needed a hammer, he constructed her one.  It was made from steel he had on hand and he used his blacksmith forge to
heat the 14” piece of steel and when at the proper temperature, he, with his anvil and ball peen hammer, was able to form and mould the steel to create a hammer fit for a lady.  Annie used this hammer in her home, then Irene used this hammer in her home, and the hammer now lovingly resides with Wilfred’s granddaughter, Vivian Krauchek in Calgary.

If he wanted electricity (before hydro was available), he built a windmill and installed the infrastructure he needed to provide his home with power.  Annie said:  The day came when we heard about “Wind Electric” and Wilfred was very interested and investigated in the possibilities of creating this wind electric.

 If he wanted a new farm shed (1948), he spent the winter months painstakingly designing and cutting the curved rafters in his basement.  He cut lumber and pieced it together to form the large curve.  Come spring, he and his friend Ted Craig along with the help of their sons Jim & Jack erected the structure.  This structure is still used on the farm today as a seed cleaning shed and the unique, handcrafted curved rafters can be viewed.  He also recycled old lumber from the 1898 shed and other old buildings including the original farm house wherever possible in the building of the shed. 

The summer before Jim was born (1937), there was an excellent crop on the ‘Thompson 80’.  It was barley.  They got $1,425.95 for the grain. 

Wilfred had been planning and suggested to Annie:  “Let’s put a full sized basement under the house.”  So they did.  It was a huge job as the old part of the home had to be torn down.  Annie said it took much longer to clean up the mess than it did to tear the house down.  The main house was raised up onto piles. Wilfred used a team of horses and a slusher to painstakingly dig out this huge hole under the house. Imagine using a team of horses pulling an oversized shovel to dig a full sized basement!  Before long, a big heap of clay was in the front lawn.  What a mess!  To make matters worse, it rained and rained.  At last the sun came out and the men were able to put up the forms and pour the cement basement walls.  In due time, a new kitchen, washroom, and pantry were added to the original home. 

Wilfred & Annie enjoyed life and family on their home farm.  Due to health problems, they decided to have a small home built and placed just across the lane from their old farm home.  In July 1962, their new home was delivered and lowered onto its foundation.  Annie enjoyed the new home though Wilfred missed the old home.  Annie said:  He would go across to the old home and sit in his familiar corner of the kitchen and visit with Jacquie (Jim, Jacquie, & Kevin had moved into the old farm home).

Written February 1988 by Annie:  Wilfred lived for only a short time in our new home.  He passed away December 27, 1962, his birthday.  We had a sunny day for the funeral.  When all relatives and friends left for their homes, my house was so empty and desolate……I am 84 years of age now.  I walk with a cane so generally stay at home. I have good friends and relatives near to me.  Life is good and mine has been mainly a happy one. I am looking forward to green grass and to the birds coming back this spring and also to the birth of my first Great Grandchild.  (Keri-Lynn & Robert’s son, Justin Pohl, born March 15, 1988)  

Annie passed away October 1988 at the age of 85.  She was a special lady and sadly missed.