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Tubman Funeral Home

1005 Boyle Street, Indian Head, SK

OBITUARY

Gerald William Dixon

July 25, 1935June 7, 2020
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Gerald William Dixon (Jerry) died on Sunday, June 7, 2020 at the age of 84 years, after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Due to Covid-19 restrictions a Graveside Service was held on Friday, June 12 in the Sintaluta Cemetery with some family, church members and friends attending. The service was led by Reverend Tom Needham, St Jude Apostolic Anglican Church, Anglican Mission in Canada. Kevin Dixon said a few words and read the poem ‘High Flight’ by John Gillespie Magee Jr. Kevin and Ben Dixon carried in the urn and at Jerry’s request the service was concluded with the playing of Amazing Grace.

Jerry was born in Indian Head Hospital on July 25, 1935 and grew up on the family farm south west of Sintaluta. He graduated from Grade 9 at the Red Fox School and helped his dad with the farm for a few years. In 1957 he studied and wrote the amateur radio exam and morse code test and gained his ham radio licence with the call sign VE5DC. In 1960 he got his commercial radio operators licence and worked during the winters for the Department of Transport in the arctic stations at Churchill, Resolute Bay and Coral Harbour. In 1967 Jerry obtained his private pilot’s licence and his glider pilot’s licence, and met his future wife Kay who was also taking flying and gliding lessons. They were married in 1968 and retired from farming in 2003.

Jerry was predeceased by his parents Harold and Elizabeth.

He is survived by his wife Kay, sons Ben in Edmonton, and Kevin (Pamela) in Kanata, four grandchildren, Jana, Anika, Grace and Jake; two sister’s Jackie in Biggar and Pat (Craig) in Cranbrook; and many nephews and nieces.

Jerry was a Christian believer and helped many people in trouble his whole life. He loved farming, his family, flying and ham radio and continued with his hobbies as long as his health permitted. He will be sorely missed.

If friends so desire contributions may be made to the Parkinson Canada, 610 Duchess Street, Saskatoon, SK S7K 0R1.

THINGS I REMEMBER Jerry Dixon

I was born on July 25th 1935 at Indian Head Hospital. The very first things I recall is living in a two room home on the farm with my mom and dad and that would be when I was 3 or so. There was the kitchen dining area and this was also the main living area. My bed was a steel frame cot in this kitchen area. My parents had a bedroom just off the kitchen. Oh yes, there was a very small porch as well and this was used for storage and keeping meat frozen in the wintertime.

This was not a warm house as there was no insulation and I recall the windows being completely frosted over most of the time in the winter and the very nice frost patterns formed. There was a water barrel beside the kitchen stove for melting ice and snow for water. In the winter we would cut blocks of ice from the dam to be used for house water by melting in the barrel. In the summer we would catch water in a cement cistern off the roof when it rained. I don’t know what we did for water in the drought years of the thirties. Drinking water was pumped by hand from the well and carried to the house in an open pail.

There was no electric power so for light we used coal oil lamps and later gas lamps that had mantels and had to be pumped up with a small hand pump. This forced the gas up from the tank to the mantels where the gas burned and produced a nice light which was much better than the coal oil lamps. We only had the one lamp and if you went into the bedroom a flashlight was used. For cooking we had the wood stove and in the hot weather there was a little gas stove much like a camping stove. The toilet was just a pail that had to be emptied.

During this time period the grain harvesting was all done with binders and threshing machines and a lot of manual labour. My dad had a threshing outfit and would go around the local area and do threshing for a some of the neighbours. There were a lot of men involved in threshing and the rule was that when the crew was at a particular farm, the farm lady would supply the meals and lunches. There was a lunch mid morning, the mid day meal, then an afternoon lunch and I believe a supper meal as well but I am not sure of this.

Long before the grain was put through the threshing machine, it had to be cut with the binder and made into sheaves. Then these sheaves were put together into stooks which would have 5 or 6 sheaves and would be left for a time to ripen up. This was all done by hand and was very hard work. The sheaves were then put on racks by hand and taken to the threshing machine and forked into the machine by hand. The threshed grain would come out of the thresher and go into a wagon box or a grain bin. When the grain was to be loaded and taken to the grain elevator in town it was done by hand with scoop shovels and this was very hard work. In later years a few grain augers came along and they were a big help.

Another thing I recall in that small house was washing clothes. We had a gas powered washing machine with the flexible exhaust pipe going out a hole in window frame. The noise was terrible and there were a lot of fumes too. There was no such thing as a clothes dryer as we know it today. In the summer there was no problem as the things were hung outside to dry in the sun and wind. In the winter it was a different matter, if you took the washing outside it froze solid and had to be brought inside to thaw and dry. We did have a clothes lines strung up in the kitchen to hang things on and in later years when we had a larger house we used a clothes horse which was a folding wooden frame unit to dry clothes on.

When I was about 4 my sister Jackie came along and by then the house was being upgraded to a 3 bedroom, with a nice sized living room. This addition was quite a change and made life a lot easier although there still was no insulating and it was not that warm in the winter. Along with this addition was a basement under it with a cistern for catching rainwater so we now had a fairly good supply of water. If there was a lack of rain we would haul water from a slough or the dam and fill it that way.

When I was 5 or 6 years old, I started going to the Red Fox School which was about 1½ miles away by road or just under a mile by walking direct across country. I think my parents drove me sometimes and other times I walked. For a while there was a neighbour girl who drove a horse and buggy and would pick me up and we went to school that way. In later years when I was older and by then had two sisters, Jackie and Pat, we drove ourselves with a horse and buggy. The horse was put in the barn at school and fed a sheaf of Oats at noontime. Most of the kids went to school by horse and buggy. If there was only one child from a home, he or she would often ride horse back.

My grandmother Dixon lived just ¾ of a mile away in a big old stone house and this was on the way to school so we would often stop and see her on the way home. She would give us milk and cookies like most grandmothers do. This house was the original homestead for the Dixon family and was a complete farmyard with a barn and sheds etc. We had a herd of cattle then and they were cared for here by a hired man. This was a bit of a job because there was no well in the yard and all the water had to be hauled by tank and sled in the winter from the dam. In the summer the cattle were in the pasture and had the dam for water.

I can just recall the building of our dam. This was done one summer about 1939 or 1940 and the work was done with scrapers pulled by teams of horses. To make the dam the dirt was hollowed out of the area for the water and put across the end to dam up the water. There were several men running 2 or 3 scrapers and this was quite a job because these scrapers only held a few cubic feet of dirt so many trips had to be made to build up the earth dam. This dam of water became quite popular for cooling off on hot summer days. Of course it was full of bugs and leaches and the bottom was stirred up with a lot of mud.

Going to school was different then. There was only the one classroom and two cloakrooms, one for the boys and one for the girls. The classes went from grade one to grade 8 and if you took grade nine like I did, it was by correspondence. By the time we got to grade 8 we would have heard a lot of the work already from the other classes. There was recess in the morning and afternoon when we all had to go out and play baseball in the summer and football in the winter unless it was very cold. If you wanted to go to high school you had to go into the school in Sintaluta. I only got my grade 9 and then stayed home to help with the farm work.

When I was just 16 I wanted a car just like most teenagers do so my dad bought me a 1925 Chevrolet 4 door car for $25.00. This car was a lot of fun and had to be tinkered with a lot of the time. I drove it around the district and to Indian Head, Sintaluta and Wolseley. As far as I can recall it never left me on the road any place. It’s too bad that I don’t even have a picture of it now. A few years later my next vehicle was a 1937 Ford 2 door with a radio. Boy that was quite a car although it had very poor mechanical brakes, but it did have the famous Ford V8 motor. When I was in my early 20’s I had a nice little red Ford ½ ton truck and drove that for several years. That model of truck is a classic today.

In the early days we did not have good roads built up or gravelled. In the spring and summer the roads were a mess of mud and ruts and it was very difficult to go anywhere when it rained. If we had a lot of snow in the winter we would leave the car in the garage and go to town with the team and sleigh. In the winter we usually went to Sintaluta with the team on Saturdays. The road to town went straight across country as much as possible to make the trip shorter. All the people would go the same road if possible so that the trail became quite good and packed down so that the sleighs would slide along very easily. Once we got to town the horses had to be unhooked and put in the livery barn along with all the other teams. We did not have a closed in cutter like some had. We had a three deck sleigh box and a team of two horses. There was no sitting down in this rig, you just stood up or ran behind if you got cold.

The other problem in the winter was getting the cars started. There was no electric power so there was no simple way of heating up the motors and getting them going. Some people would take hot ashes in a pan and put them under the motor but this was very hazardous as it was very easy to set the car on fire!

The first family car that I can remember was a Model A Ford car that my dad had. We did not have it too long before we got a 1939 Chevrolet 2 door with a trunk. This was a terrible car. The steering was loose and hard to handle and the motor seemed to need overhauling every couple of years. Then in 1950 we bought a brand new Plymouth 4 door sedan. Boy that was a real change after the other cars we had. It was Gunmetal grey in colour and I remember it like it was yesterday. Talking about winter I recall the winter of 1947 when we had so much snow. There were banks in front of the house which were 10 feet high and very difficult to climb over to get out to do chores. The main CPR train tracks were blocked with snow and there were trains stuck on the tracks and almost buried. One train near Sintaluta had to be dug out by men using hand shovels. In other areas I heard of people being able to step over the telephone wires.

During the early 1940’s I can recall some of the war news. It was a worrisome time for people in this country as well as in England and Europe. For some reason I was afraid that we would be involved in fighting an army of men coming on to our farm. The war in Europe was ended on May 8th, 1945 and everyone was so happy and relieved. We went to Sintaluta to celebrate and there were people out on the main street throwing rolls of toilet paper up over trees and cars. I guess there was nothing else they could use. Oh yes, an effigy of Hitler was burned on the main street. I don’t recall much else though. I would have been just about 10 years old at that time. During the war years we had things that were rationed like sugar, gas and other items which I can’t remember. For some items we had ration books with tear out tickets that you handed in when you bought a particular item.

I believe it would have been 1941 when I was 6 years old that dad went down east to work at an aircraft factory in what is now Thunder Bay but was called Fort William/Port Arthur then. He left in the fall of that year and came back in late winter or early spring. So my mother and sister moved up to grandma’s house just west of here. The hired man, Dave was there as well. I did not go to school that winter so I had to catch up that summer.

Our hired man, Dave Chacken, came to work for us when I was quite young and he was only in his late teens himself. He was French Canadian and came from somewhere in Manitoba. He was illiterate when he came but after working for us for some 14 or so years he somehow managed to learn to read. He lived most of the time at my grandmother’s house but in later years he stayed here at our house. I think he learned to read by listening to us read the comics in the paper.

We had another man whose name was Neil Prain and he had been hired years before by my grandfather. He did not actually work for us when I knew him he just stayed in town in a big old shed like building which was located on some land owned by my aunt Nellie and uncle Pete. His work was looking after race horses that Dr. Isman owned and kept in a barn on this same land. Neil was from Scotland and had been in both the world wars.

When I was young I liked to visit with my cousin Don Fraser. During the war years they lived in Sintaluta so I would go in and stay for a few days from time to time. Later on when Don’s father Jim, came home from his time in the Air Force and started farming north east of Wolseley I would go and stay with them out there on the farm.

One of the activities we would do while staying in town would be to go to the train station and watch the train come in about 7:00 PM. The train would stop and put out the mail in bags and any other freight. The mail was then taken to the post office and sorted so we could get our mail later in the evening. I still recall the mailboxes which had combination locks on them and our combination was 1-6. No need for keys in those days! While we waited for the train we sometimes would put pennies on the track and they would be flattened by the big wheels. One time one of the wheels stopped right on my penny and when it started up the wheel spun for a half turn or so and melted my penny. Another favourite activity was going into the station and watch and listen to the landline telegraph clicking away. It seems like magic that the stationmaster could actually read and send messages with the key and the sounder. One time the train was going through Sintaluta at night one of the cars jumped the tracks right at the station house. The car hit the freight shed and tore half of it away and the station agent did not even wake up. I had ordered a pair of skies through the catalogue and they were in the station when all this happened but my skies were ok and not damaged.

One of the winter activities was tobogganing on the “big hill” just east of our yard in a neighbours field. This was great fun and was enjoyed most winters when the snow conditions were right. Even the farm dogs would join in and race us down the hill. This sport was continued right up in latter years after I married Kay and we had two sons who enjoyed it as much as I did in earlier years.

Fast forward for a few years to 1950 when I was 15 and had gone to grade 9 via correspondence course at Red Fox rural school. For some reason I did not go to town school for higher grades so that was the end of my schooling. For the next several years I stayed on the farm and worked with my dad driving tractors and trucks etc.

In 1955 the rural power came through and we wired our house and the sheds with lights and plug-in receptacles. This was quite a job but my dad and I managed to get the job done and everything worked and it was wonderful to have the convenience of electric lights and all the other things that we now take for granted.

In about 1957 I became interesting in amateur radio and after a year or so of hard studying I wrote the exams and passed the Morse code test and had my amateur licence, VE5DC which I still hold. Little did I realize that I had started my ham career right in the middle of the best sun spot cycle in the past several decades which meant that radio propagation conditions were fantastic for world wide contacts. I was talking to stations worldwide on voice and Morse with no trouble. I still am active in this hobby today (2011). In October 1957 the Russians launched the very first satellite in outer space. I was able to pick the beeping signal it was sending out on my short wave receiver. This was quite a thrill to be receiving signals from outer space.

In 1960 I decided to try and get my commercial radio operator’s licence and work for the Dept. of Transport at their various stations throughout Canada and the high arctic. I went to radio school at Moose Jaw Technical High School from the fall of 1960 until the spring of 1961. I wrote the radio exams in Regina which took the best part of three days and managed to pass them all. These exams included radio theory, operating procedures and Morse code tests at 20 WPM. The radio course included radio and propagation theory, knowledge of marine radio gear, sending and receiving commercial messages on Morse and also many hours of Morse training.

I was soon contacted and hired by the DOT and was sent to Air Services Training School in Ottawa for further training in operating and Met procedures. There was a class of 20 students from all over Canada in my class and some of them did not make it. This course was very intensive with many details as I recall. The course was from about July to early December. During the time in Ottawa I stayed in a big old house which did board and room. There were several others from the course there as well. One of the highlights of that summer was a trip to Niagara Falls with some of the other guys.

Upon finishing the Ottawa course I was posted to my first station, the radio range station at the airport in North Battleford. This was a small air services station which had several VHF radio frequencies and of the course the radio range navigation transmitter. The work here was mainly to contact the aircraft that were flying into the airport and also we did the weather observations and recording. Another part of the job was to broadcast the weather for various stations twice an hour on the radio range frequency for use by aircraft. One of the other operators at the station was Ron Bennett who was in the Ottawa class with me and we roomed together in a private house in North Battleford.

My stay at North Battleford lasted until about March of 1962 at which time I was posted to the airport at The Pas, Manitoba. The Pas is located a fair way north on the west side of Manitoba and the road goes through lots of bush and muskeg. This was another small airport station with mostly VHF radio work but no Met. work as there was staff for that work. I was only there for a few months until mid summer when I was sent to Fort Churchill on Hudson Bay. In order to get to Churchill I had to drive home first and leave my car and have my parents drive me back to The Pas to catch the CNR train which terminated at the port of Churchill. This trip was quite interesting with lots of unusual passengers and the train went though lots of bush and muskeg at a slow speed. It took almost a full day to get to Churchill. I did not realize that the radio station was located out at the military base of Fort Churchill which was about 5 miles from the town site. I spent 2 years at Churchill Marine Aeradio from 1962 to 1964. I then decided to come back to the family farm, as dad was wanting to retire. I operated the farm for 40 years before retiring.

The radio work at Churchill was quite intense and included contacting international passenger aircraft flying from Europe to North America and also to the Orient. We would take down their position reports and other information and pass it along to various air traffic controllers located in Winnipeg, Edmonton, and several other cities, some of which were in the U.S. Other work included picking up hourly weather reports from several small outlying stations. These reports were sent by Morse code and we would copy these on a typewriter and forward it on via teletype to Winnipeg. In the summer we had a Marine radio operator who would contact the various grain ships which came into port from all parts of Europe. One thing I recall is the noise coming from the HF radios which were not squelched.

During the winter of 1964/65 I was in Calgary working at a health spa. The winter of 1965/66 I was again in Calgary and worked for electronic supply company called Canadian Electronics Limited. For the winter of 1966/67 I was again hired by the DOT as a part time radio operator at their station in Resolute Bay, NWT, located in the high arctic at latitude of about 75 degrees north. This was a busy radio station handling traffic and weather messages from all over the arctic. Resolute was also a contact point for all the aircraft coming from Europe to North America. A very interesting job indeed. We had total darkness from mid November to early February.

The winter of 1967/68 I was again hired by the DOT to work at a northern station, Coral Harbour, NWT located on Southhampton Island at the top of Hudson Bay about 64 degrees north. This was as small Aeradio station and the camp only had 13 men in total including cooks etc. My good friend Percy Halliwell was stationed there as well so we had a good time. Percy and I are still good friends today.

During my stay at North Battleford I bought my first new car, a 1962 Mercury Comet. This was very nice car and worked very well. After a few years while I was in Calgary I bought a nearly new 1964 Ford Galaxy 500 convertible. This was beautiful car and it was turquoise in colour.

During the summer of 1967 I decided to take up flying sailplanes at the Regina airport. During that summer I met Kay Manicom, an English girl who was also taking flying lessons. We soon became interested in each other and in October of 1968 we were married and started a new life on our farm at Sintaluta. Ben, our first son was born in August of 1969 and Kevin was born in 1972. Marrying Kay and the birth of our two sons are two of the happiest times of my whole life.

My flying career was from May 1967 to June 2004. My first glider ride was with Herald Ely in the club’s 2-22 trainer and this was a soaring flight of 40 minutes. Through the years I was partners in two sailplanes. One was a homemade wood design called the Duster. Unfortunately this machine was damaged on takeoff by my partner and we sold it to someone who was going to rebuild it. My second partner sailplane was a fibreglass high performance German built craft which had a wingspan of 17 metres. It was called an Open Cirrus. This aircraft was a real beauty to fly and had a performance glide ratio of 44 to 1. During this time I also flew the club tow plane and did about 1100 tows. One of my best soaring flights was from Indian Head airport to Langham located about 25 km NW of Saskatoon for a total of 320 Km. This flight took about 6 ½ hours and I had a few low points where it looked like I might have to land short of my goal. Another interesting time was towing at the Canadian National Soaring meet at Virden, MB in 1984 using the club Super Cub.

Things were not easy on the farm in those early years as grain prices were low and there was a lot of work to do. However about 1973 things started to pick up and we had a good crop of Flax that we sold for a very good price. We made enough money from the Flax to purchase a new house package from Nelson Homes. We erected the house in 1974 and 1975 and we still enjoy the house today. (2011).

Fast forward again to January, 2008. Kay and I retired from grain farming in 2003 and sold a half section of land and kept a half section of land where the house and yard are located. The boys are both married and have a family. Kevin and Pam and Grace and Jake live in Kanata near Ottawa and Ben, Cathy and girls, Jana and Anika live in St. Albert. During the winter of 2007 I was not feeling well and had a side effect reaction to a heart drug called Lipitor. Later in the spring I was diagnosed with Parkinson disease. This news was devastating to me but I am now coping with it and am getting along with the help of some good medications.

I am putting these thoughts down for the benefit of our two boys, Ben & Kevin and their families so they have some idea of what things were like in the early days. I am very proud of the boys and their families and the line of work they do.

Sending Morse Code at Churchill Marine Aeradio station, Fort Churchill, Manitoba, 1963.

Services

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Memories

Gerald William Dixon

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Michael Bailey

June 18, 2020

When I was small my uncle Jerry seemed very large to me. Once he came to visit us and that morning I had told my friends that my uncle Gerry was coming and that he was a giant. They did not believe me and I had them wait to see. I think that uncle was puzzled when my friends were annoyed with me because he was not a giant.

Uncle Gerry once made me a wonderful wooden toy plane which I really treasured. I believe that we still have the toy plane at my parents house.

Uncle Jerry gave my first experience driving when I was a teenager. We went out on the farm to pull fence poles out. I drove the tractor while uncle pulled out the poles by hooking a chain to the pole, and I used the hydraulics to pull it out. Needless to say I must have tested his patience that day, jerking the tractor back and forth, and hitting the poles with the tractor. Uncle was always very patient and generous but that must have been one of his longest days on the farm.

Christine madeley

June 15, 2020

My deepest sympathy to Kay, Ben, kevin & family. Also to Jackie and Pat. Our prayers are with you all. Christine and Reinhold Fehler

Alan and Shannon Dureault

June 15, 2020

Kay, Ben, Kevin and family

Our Deepest Sympathy on the loss of your husband, Dad and Grandpa.

Alan and Shannon(Madeley) Dureault

LaJoan & Jim Willoughby

June 11, 2020

Sorry to hear of the loss of Gerry.
Our thoughts are with you.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Jerry in yard Feb 2011

FROM THE FAMILY

Jerry & Bandit on a snowy day Feb. 2013

FROM THE FAMILY

Snow blowing Jan. 2013

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Jerry in yard Feb 2011

FROM THE FAMILY

Jerry & Bandit on a snowy day Feb. 2013

FROM THE FAMILY

Snow blowing Jan. 2013

FROM THE FAMILY

Jerry snow plowing east circle Jan. 2014

FROM THE FAMILY

Jerry clearing snow after 1st storm Jan. 2014

FROM THE FAMILY

Plowing out the driveway 15th Nov. 2012

FROM THE FAMILY

blowing snow Marconi catching snow Dec. 2006

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