Dryer, Arnold John

Regiment: S.A.R. (Southern Alberta Regiment)
Regimental No: M 45568
Rank: Corporal

Arnold, born on August 24, 1914 at Hanna, Alberta, was the oldest in John (1890) and Margaret (nee Frakes) (1892) Dryer’s family of nine children. He had four brothers; Robert, William, David, Jack and four sisters; Mabel, Fay, Iris, Daisy. John and Margaret were both born in the USA; John had immigrated in 1909 and Margaret, in 1902. The “dirty thirties” actually began in 1929 in Hanna. By 1931, as once again there was not a crop to harvest, the Government passed a bill whereby a boxcar would be provided as well as transportation costs paid for any farmers who were willing to move to Northern Alberta. The Dryer’s took advantage of the program and arrived in Grande Prairie in August 1931. John, Bob and Bill travelled with the household effects and machinery in one box car along with a car load of horses. The rest of the family, Mabel, Fay, Dave, Iris and Jack and Margaret, arrived by passenger train. They settled on the Eldred farm which is now where the Eldoe’s Trailer Court is located. John and Arnold found employment with Herman Wendt’s threshing outfit for $3 per man and team for a 13 hour day. Once the threshing was completed, the Dryer’s rented the Morrison farm (NW 25-71-4-W6) at Glen Leslie and lived there for 10 years. The first winter, a horse was traded for a wagon load of potatoes and the family lived on those along with rabbits that were very plentiful. All the children attended the Somme School. In the spring of 1932, Arnold used four of his father’s horses and worked for Pete Moon for $2 per day. Entertainment consisted of local dances at Bezanson and Crystal Creek where admission was 25 cents. House parties were mainly held at Bredeson’s and Dorscheid’s. The following two springs, Arnold worked for Ross Wales followed by three summers where he followed the rodeo circuit – DeBolt, Wembley, Beaverlodge, Dawson Creek, Rycroft, Peace River and Grande Prairie. Arnold thoroughly enjoyed the rodeos; however, he fell and broke his arm at the DeBolt Stampede in 1934. In the fall of 1937, Arnold worked for Pete Donahue. In the summer of 1938, Arnold hayed 160 acres on Kleskun Lake with Steve Garrett and Tom Osborne. A bunk-house was provided for living accommodation. Arnold worked for Pete Donahue until June 1940. On June 24, 1940 Arnold enlisted in the Army, Southern Alberta Regiment (29th Canadian Armoured Regiment) in Grande Prairie. He listed his trade as carpenter’s helper and farmer. From Edmonton, Arnold was transferred to Dundurn, Saskatchewan the following August. In December, to further his training, Arnold was transferred to Nanaimo, BC followed by Niagara, Ontario in May 1941.

In October 1941, Arnold was promoted to A/L/Corporal and was later transferred to Debert, Nova Scotia in December 1941 where he trained and became a Qualified Gunner Class I, Qualified Driver Class III, and Qualified Driver Operator Group C. Arnold sailed from Halifax on August 21, 1942 and disembarked at Glasgow, Scotland on September 1, 1942. Once Arnold arrived in England, his squadron was billeted at Rowledge which was not far from the Canadian Army Base located in Aldershot. Local dances were a common form of entertainment and it was at one of these dances at the Village Hall that Arnold met Violet Remnant who was a shop-assistant in Wrecclesham, Surrey. Their relationship continued by means of letters when Arnold was transferred to different locations. He arrived in France on July 22, 1944 and received a promotion to Corporal on Feb 2, 1945. When the war ended, as Violet was worried that Arnold would be sent home on demobilization, they planned a wedding in four days and were married on August 23, 1945 in Rowledge, England. Corporal Arnold Dryer served in Canada, United Kingdom and Continental Europe. He received the 1939-45 Star, France & Germany Star, Defence Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp.

Arnold sailed for Canada and arrived home on January 3, 1946 to find that his family had moved from Glen Leslie and were now living 2 ½ miles south of Grande Prairie. He received his official discharge on demobilization on February 7, 1946 in Calgary. Arnold found employment as a farm hand for Les Christie at Glen Leslie and also worked for Arnold Christie at Bezanson for about a month. Shortly thereafter, Arnold found steady work for a farmer at Dimsdale. While working there, Arnold found what he thought would be the perfect farm. It was a ½ section (SE 32-71-7-W6 & SW 33-71-7-W6) located nine miles west of Grande Prairie and had a big red barn, ice house, chicken house, garage and house. Arnold worked for the fellow who had rented the land and applied to the VLA for a loan to purchase the property. However, the VLA required Violet’s signature before they would approve the loan. Arnold’s new bride finally received permission from the Canadian Wives Bureau to join him the following June, 1946. She sailed on the Aquitania and was one of the war brides who was processed through immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax. From there, they took a train across Canada and Violet arrived in Grande Prairie on July 4th where she was met by Arnold and his entire family.

Once Violet arrived, the young couple quickly settled in and Violet easily adapted to the farm lifestyle. The Dryer’s had three children, Dale, Anne and Mark. They operated a mixed farming operation; grain, pigs, chickens and dairy cattle from which they shipped cream to the Grande Prairie Creamery. Arnold farmed with horses for years. They cut ice and packed it in the ice-house for summer use. He also liked to make homemade wine for which he became quite well-known for. Another one of his specialties was homemade ice cream. Arnold was very interested in the well-being of farm animals and often assisted the local veterinarian, Dr. Somerville, with care of animals in the area. Violet assisted with the farm work from stooking bundles to operating the tractor. She loved to garden and took great pride in growing vegetables and flowers. In 1970, Violet decided to supplement the farm income and found employment at the Co-Op cafeteria; a position she kept for ten years.

Arnold ended up selling the home quarter (SE-32-71-7-W6) after being pressured to do so by a Real Estate Agent. His daughter, Anne Schmard, purchased the remaining quarter (SW-33-71-7-W6). Shortly after the sale, Arnold suffered a heart attack and began to lose his eye sight in 1973. They moved to Grande Prairie which made it easier for Violet to get to work. Arnold still got around even though he was blind, by memorizing the route. He would meet a group of friends known as the “Senators” at the Co-op coffee shop. He would visit and reminisce and then walk home. Arnold passed away on November 27, 1977 and was buried in the Grande Prairie Cemetery. Their oldest son, Dale, is looking after his mother’s house – the same house that Arnold and Violet purchased when they moved to Grande Prairie. Violet is currently residing in McKenzie Place in Grande Prairie.

Contributed by Wanda Zenner

Source: Smoky River to Grande Prairie p. 426-427
1926 Census records
Herald Tribune July 11, 1946 p. 1 c. 5 (bride arrives)
(Bezanson Legion Hut – Legion Album)
Interview with Dale Dryer – son
Interview with Anne Schmard – daughter