Part 1: Chapter 1: 1885, Red Deer, Alberta

Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Grant were very happily settled in the small town of Red Deer, which started its life as a crossroads for trading between Edmonton and Calgary. A stopping house was established so that people could do business and the town slowly started to grow. Archibald Grant was one of the first bankers in the town's new bank. He and his small family lived on a small property with room for a horse, one family cow, a few pigs, and a small personal garden. Ophelia Grant used the small garden to grow her own vegetables to feed their children, four-year-old Colleen and two-year-old Nate. The Grants were in their mid-30's. When people looked at the young ages of their children compared to the ages of their parents, people talked about why the Grants were so old when they started having children. Really the Grants had trouble conceiving. Ophelia had several miscarriages before Colleen and Nate were born. When she finally had her darling daughter and her sweet son, she felt they didn't need to try anymore.

The Grants were excited for a new experience in Red Deer. This was supposed to be a clean slate. Archie had had some financial trouble in their hometown which was a good sized place with all the conveniences of a large town. The Grants moved to Red Deer because of how small it was. Besides the stopping house, the new bank, the trading depot, and the mercantile, there was not really anything in Red Deer. You had to travel farther for a restaurant or a saloon. This made it perfect for the Grant family. Archie was good at numbers and so was hired quickly to the bank, and his coworkers loved his charming personality. While Archie was at the bank Mrs. Grant, a taller woman with light brown hair starting to go grey at the temples and bright brown eyes, was taking care of the house and garden. Nate and Colleen were currently helping in their mother's garden.

"Mama! Mama! Nate is digging up worms! Instead of weeding," tattled little Colleen. Ophelia sat up and looked at her two darling children. Colleen, her thick dark brown hair was straight as could be her blue eyes showing her exasperation at her little brother, had a basket full of the weeds that had threatened to overtake the garden. Nate, also with thick brown hair, but with a slight wave to it and also had bright blue eyes, was covered in soil and dirt, with a tin full of wriggling worms. Mrs. Grant couldn't help but smile at her son.

"What an earth do you need so many worms for?" she asked.

"Fishin'," was the short reply, with an impish crooked smile he inherited from his father.

"GROSS!" imputed Colleen. Nate just smiled his toothy smile, blue eyes bright. Mrs. Grant laughed.

"Come children we need to go washed up, especially you Nate!" Mrs. Grant tickled her darling boy. She stood up and picked up her basket. Colleen followed her example. Nate also stood up, but wanted to walk with his sister. He held out his left hand with the tin of worms. She sighed heavily for a four-year-old, but grabbed it and put in her basket, then took his hand and walked slowly so that Nate's two-year-old legs could keep up; their destination was the wash bucket outside the house.

Once their hands and faces were wiped off, Ophelia told Colleen to go inside while she finished cleaning Nate. Nate's clothes were quickly taken off and left in a pile. Nate got a quick, cold wash down outside before his mother brought him back into his room to get him into clean clothes.
Mrs. Grant reappeared with Nate and her hip and smiled at her dancing daughter. Colleen was singing a song to no tune and dancing around the living room. Nate giggled at his sister, and wiggled to be put down.

"Dance with me, Nate!" Colleen giggled and grabbed her brother's little hands and spun him around in circles.

"Dance! Dance! Dance!" Nate shouted, grinning while his sister twirled him around. Colleen was still singing a song and laughing. The two children whirled faster and faster, until one rather violent twirl sent Nate tripping over Colleen's feet and the children ended up in a pile of arms and legs on the ground of their living room. Both were laughing and enjoying their play.

Archie Grant came into the house to the scene of his two children in a heap on the floor and his wife fondly looking on.

"Hello's my loves!" he greeted his family.

"Daddy!" came from both of his children. Excited to see their father, Nate and Colleen untangled themselves and ran happily into his arms. He lifted both of them into the air to give them hugs and kisses.

"What did you do today?" Archie asked both of his children, but it was Colleen with the rapid answer.

"We had breakfast. Then mamma had me read some to her. Then I helped mamma teach Nate some letters. And then we had lunch. And then we had a nap, and then we helped mom in her garden. Nate found worms! Which are completely gross!"

"Sounds like a very full day."

"It was. Nate got covered in dirt!"

"Did you now, my boy?" Archie asked his son.

"Yup," Nate answered simply.

"Well, I am so glad that the both of ya's had such a fun day."

"Oh yeah, we also were dancin," Colleen added.

"Were ya, now?" Archie laughed. Colleen nodded fervently. Archie kissed her cheek and then set her on the floor. He then gave Nate a good tickle, which got a laugh, before setting him next to his sister.

"And how was your day, my heart?" he asked his wife, finally giving her a kiss on the cheek.

"Exhausting. Taking care of two children under the age of five at the same time is a battle. I am glad it is only the two of them. I would be overrun if there were any more," Ophelia Grant replied with affection in her voice despite the slight complaint. "And how was your day, Mr. Grant?"

"'Twas just fine. Splendid. I do have some news from town though, I am not sure if it is good or bad. But news all the same," Archie answered his wife.


"I will tell you after the kids are asleep. Right now, I am going to go do my chores and then freshen up a bit." He smiled at her, before giving her a quick kiss. Archie then changed out of his bank clothes and into his chore clothes to take care of the farm animals. Nate, wanting to be with his father, almost followed him out the back door.

"Oh no, not you! You are not quite old enough to help with those chores my child," Mrs. Grant picked him up and kissed him on the cheek. Nate pouted and waved his hand as his mother made sure the kitchen door was shut completely.

Soon the chores were complete and dinner was ready. Archie was putting out plates, silverware, and napkins for each family member. Colleen asked to help and because Colleen was doing it, Nate had to do it too. Archie showed them how to properly set up the places. The children were given the things to work with one place setting each.

"Look Daddy, I did it!" Colleen's setting was done well, if not perfectly.

"It's beautiful, my angel," Archie kissed her forehead.

"Me too, daddy!" Nate exclaimed. Nate's work was a little off. His napkin was thrown on

the plate and his knife was diagonal. Colleen shook her head at her little brother's work. Archie laughed.

"Just a smidge off, son!" Archie fixed the spot. Then put Nate in his chair with the booster in it and secured him in. Mrs. Grant came in with the pork roast, carrots, and potatoes to set on the table with serving spoons and serving forks.

The rest of the Grants sat at their small square table. Archie led the family in prayer for grace. Then started serving up the dinner on the plates at the table.

"This smells delicious, like always," Archie complimented.

"Thank you."

Dinner with toddlers was always an adventure. Colleen didn't like carrots. Nate loved carrots. When their parents weren't looking, she would attempt to push her carrots onto Nate's plate. But oftentimes, Nate being the polite little boy he was, would loudly state, "Thanks, sissy!" making it very obvious to both adults what their daughter was trying to do.

Evenings in the Grant household always had Mrs. Grant shooing her family into another room so she could clean up the dinner mess in the kitchen and dining room. Tonight, Colleen had resumed her solo song and dance from before with Archie and Nate watching.

"How would you like to dance to some music with your dad?" Archie asked, leaning over the victrola and pulling out a record.

"Oh yes, please!"

Archie put the record on and the music started to play.

"May I have this dance, Miss Grant?" Archie bowed and stuck his hand out formerly.

"Yes, you may," Colleen giggled. Colleen put both feet on top of her father's and held tightly to Archie's hands. Archie began two-stepping around the room. Father and daughter were looking into each other's eyes with love and devotion. Nate was watching with a large smile on his face. Ophelia came in and saw this scene and felt the love in the room.

"Mamma!" Nate exclaimed, crawling to her.

"Would you also like to dance?"

He nodded. Mrs. Grant picked up her son and began swirling around the room in step to the tune and Archie's movements so they didn't run into each other. The family danced until the record stopped.

"I love you, mama!" Nate said cuddling up to her in tiredness. Ophelia felt such a surge of affection for her boy.

"I love you, too sweet boy," she whispered.

"Bedtime, I think," Archie stated. Colleen was rubbing her eyes as he carried her to the children's room. While the Grant house had three bedrooms in it, Mr. and Mrs. Grant quickly realized that Colleen was fiercely protective of her little brother and would sneak out of her bed at night with her quilt and lay down in his room and sleep on the floor next to his crib as a baby. After finding her like this many times early the next morning, they decided that the two children could share a room for now, expecting they would want their own space at some point. So far, it was working that they enjoyed the time in the same room. The way bed time worked was that Archie would get Nate settled Ophelia would get Colleen settled. Then sitting on a giant rug in the middle of the floor the two children would listen to Archie read them a bedtime story. Archie was a good storyteller. He knew when to pause for dramatic effect. He would change his voice for each of the characters. Nate would laugh loudly each time his father raised his pitch for a female in the story.

"Again, Daddy," Nate said sleepily after tonight's story.

"Maybe tomorrow, my boy." Archie picked up his son and tucked him into the toddler bed on the right side of the room. Handing Nate his stuffed horse, Nate clinged onto his favorite toy and was already drifting off to sleep. Ophelia was doing the same thing with Colleen on the left side of the room. Her favorite toy was a stuffed dog. Kissing both children goodnight, both Grants shut their children's door and sat back down on the living room couch. Archie wrapped his arm around his wife.

"What was your news?"

"Well, they are fortifying the stopping house at the Crossing," Archie explained.

"What? Why would they need to?"

"Well from what I hear, McClellan is worried that the rebellion will come here and do something to his stopping house, so he is having it fortified for the protection of the people who use it as a stopping point. The good news is that the Mounties will be protecting it and this area. A whole regiment, under the command of Ltd. Normandeau."

"Archie, are the children safe? We moved here because it was small and out of the way and safe!"

"My darling, it will be with all the Mounties present. There is no way…"

"Don't say no way, Archibald Grant! If they are worried about attacks from the rebellion enough to fortify a hotel then there is a lot of risk!" interrupted his wife.

"We will be safer once the Mounties are here. Do not worry my love. Our children will be just fine." He kissed his wife on the head and held her in his arms. She didn't look completely convinced. But she also knew that they could not afford to move.

*Red Deer is, once again, a real place. I chose it because it was the half-way point between Edmonton and Calgary. The first few times I watched the Episode "Family Matters" on When Calls the Heart when Archie is leaving he mentions going north where a friend was holding a job. I mis-remembered and thought he was going to Edmonton. In re-watching it since the story started, Archie doesn't specify a location, only that it is north, and since his friends would have had to have known him before his last incarceration, they would have had to have lived near the Grants. I decided to keep the location in Red Deer.

I got my information about Red Deer from the Red Deer Wikipedia page and from the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society website which talks about Fort Normandeau. Both are actually quite interesting reads.

I am trying to update weekly. My original plan for each chapter was to show a year in the life of the Grants, but my moments for those years have developed into chapter length moments; I have decided to break them up.

I hope you enjoyed this little piece of early life for the Grants.