Few businesses in Saskatchewan have the distinction of being in operation for a century, but there’s an exception to the rule.
In the province, 4,300 farmers have received Century Farm awards including the Wildeman family.
Maurice and Amy Wildeman farm near Lanigan. The original land title was signed to Maurice’s grandfather Tobias Wildeman in 1909.
“This is the quarter that they homesteaded,” Maurice said proudly.
“When grandpa was on the farm, his guidance system was a set of reigns attached to the horses and today with GPS, my guidance system is a satellite that’s 36,000 miles above me,” he said.
Maurice’s great grandparent’s made the trek to Canada from Europe in 1901. Both great grandfather Carl Wildeman and his son Tobias received their official land title in the same year – making Maurice a fourth-generation farmer.
As a multi-generational farm, many families have been raised on the home quarter including Maurice and Amy’s two daughters.
“They learned a lot on the farm. They learned how to drive a stick with three on the floor. They still drive water trucks with three on the floor. They can both drive skid steers, and they can do fingernails and hair too,” Amy said.
Despite that experience, neither daughter will be taking over the operation.
“It was something that interested me, but never as a career,” Dixie Kiefer, the youngest of the two children, admitted.
According to Statistics Canada, 3.2 million Canadians farmed in the early 1900s. Over the next century 91 per cent left the industry, with just 300,000 people still working the land today.
Although fewer people are tending more land, 97 per cent of Canadian farms are still family owned and operated.
“My daughter who is seven says she wants to live here when she grows up so I can only … if that’s right for her that would make me so joyful,” Kiefer said.
While the abandoned farm across the road may have seen its better days, the Wildeman farm may continue receiving fresh coats of red paint for years to come.