John William (Jack) Abbott
Regiment: 1st Canadian Pioneers, 79th DD, 10th Canadian Military Regiment
Decorations: 4 Blue Chevrons, War Service Badge
Jack was born in 1886 in Lewton Lane, Wells, Lancastershire, England, March 19, 1887, educated in Ireland and migrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba, with his family in 1903. He initially considered studying Law but was more enthusiastic about growing things.
Jack enlisted in Indian Head, Saskatchewan, on December 25, 1914. At the time of enlistment he was recorded as a member of the Church of England and a farmer. He was shipped overseas and on to France on March 8, 1916, where he served for 33.5 months. He was discharged on March 7,1919, in Regina. He earned 4 Blue Chevrons for the wounds he received while in service.
Jack moved to Baldonnel in 1920. He acquired his farmland as a Soldier’s Grant in April 1921. He cleared this land and began experimenting with Grimm Alfalfa, Banner Oats, and Garnet Wheat. He produced cattle, horses, and swine. He excelled in the production of potatoes, turnips, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, asparagus, and other vegetable crops, and flowers including maltase cross (red), single flowering lavatera (pink), and sweet rocket (purple). He established a relationship with the Beaverlodge Experimental Station and hosted the Baldonnel Illustration Station in co-operation with Mr. W.B. Albright. His annual demonstration days were a community highlight. He was congenial, very emphatic with his opinions and active in the North Peace Country. Jack was Peace River North’s first agriculturist.
Jack was the presiding magistrate and was a key player in having the Baldonnel Women’s Institute (WI) formed in 1932. He was the secretary/treasurer of the fourth Fort St. John Fall Fair on Sept. 16, 1927. He was instrumental in having a post office in Baldonnel which gave him the privilege of naming Baldonnel after an Irish community.
In 1938, Jack acquired more Crown Land on the south side of the Peace River. During his pioneer years, he developed three separate farm operations on Crown Land. This meant clearing and cultivating forest land with an axe, grub hoe and horse drawn machinery. It was all slow gruelling work.
In 1944, Jack passed his interests in the Baldonnel Illustration Station unto Mr. H.G. Hadland. He had been commissioned by Agriculture Canada in Ottawa to address crop viability of agriculture further north. He loaded up his farm machinery and proceeded to Haines Junction at Mile 1019 of the Alaska Highway clearing Crown land and growing crops 1,000 miles north of his farm at Baldonnel. This proved to be much more of a challenge than he originally thought. After three years of hard work he was able to successfully produce potatoes and oats. The Mile 1019 Experimental Station was his principal endeavour until his retirement 1956.
Jack moved to Duncan on Vancouver Island, married, and passed away in 1959.
The following was compiled by North Peace historian Lana-Gay Elliott, who has been working over the last 30 years to preserve the history of World War veterans from the Peace, as well as soldiers who later came to pioneer this country. She has compiled hundreds of stories with the help of families, obituaries, the Fort St. John North Peace Museum, and pioneer history books. We republish this story with great honour and respect so that We Always Remember and so that We Never Forget.
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