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My Prairie Roots

My Prairie Roots - Christies Bakery

I recently had a lovely road trip to the country with my mom and dad. We went to visit my Aunt Sarah on her farm near Leipzig, Saskatchewan. Sarah’s farm is not too far from the Bauml farm where my mom and her seven siblings grew up. My great grandparents were homesteaders from Russia and moved to the Leipzig area in 1905. One of their daughters married my Grandfather. He was a blacksmith by trade and emigrated to Canada from Germany in 1926. He eventually bought his own farm land and my mom and her siblings grew up there. This land was bought by my Uncle Tony and now is owned by my cousin James. To this day, I have quite a few cousins that still farm in the Leipzig area.

As we sat in Aunt Sarah's farmhouse kitchen eating a lovely lunch - including delicious buns that my grandfather taught her to bake - my dad and I listened carefully and watched their faces as they told many stories about the challenges of growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan. There were some tragic stories but my mom and aunt always found a way to laugh about it. My mom declared that “‘you would never see a Bauml cry.” I found myself admiring them more for the resilience they possess and the strength that they continue to exude.

They shared stories about my grandfather who was an excellent baker. My Uncle Tony told us “Dad could also make good bread. He punched out a batch and set it in the oven to rise. He would go out to the shop to do some work or sometimes a neighbor would stop by with some welding to do. He forgot about his bread and when he returned to the house, it was risen out of the pan, all over the oven. He simply kneaded it down and it turned out to be the best bread one could eat.” My grandfather taught my mom and her three sisters to bake bread for the family but my mom did not enjoy baking and would have rather been driving the combine around the farm. She jokes that it was some kind of strange karma that she met my dad and they bought a bakery. 

My dad expressed to me how welcomed he felt by my mom’s family and the people of the Leipzig area. He left behind Italy and his entire family when he was only 16 years old and was completely alone on his long voyage across the ocean. I can just imagine how frightened and lonely he must have been. My grandfather, who left Germany when he was a young man, could relate to my dad and that created a special bond between them that lasted a lifetime.

It fascinates me that my dad married a farmer's daughter and, in essence, made bread with the flour that her family produced. It is a very strong connection. My cousins have followed in their parents’ footsteps and are farming the very same land. Now I am following in my father’s footsteps and baking the bread. Understanding more about my ancestors fills me with pride and gives me more strength. The people who took big risks, left comforts, traveled great distances, farmed, and broke this tough Saskatchewan land are amazing and important people. It must have been so hard to survive! I often think to myself “If they could do all of that, I could surely do this little old thing. Whatever it is!” 

I’m deeply grateful for their sacrifices and I know they are with me in everything I do.


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