Our Ancestors in Song
by Alphonse Gerwing for the 2003 Gerwing Reunion.
The event celebrated 100 years since the Gerwings arrived in
Canada in 1903)
Gerwing had ten strapping sons, a stepson too and a second wife,
this crew kept Grandpa on the run: “My God how will I set them
up for life.”
Refrain: There’s free land in
Saskatchewan boys, with loam a mile deep! The deer bound out of
ev’ry wood and fish in ev’ry creek.
So, Benny, Henry, George and John the striplings Joe
& Tony too, Went roaring off to Saskatchewan, where each of
them a homestead drew. Refrain
“Pa you were right,” they wrote back home, “wild
strawberries mark our ev’ry step. And mallards swim on ev’ry
lake, so sell your land right quick and come.”
So grandpa came and grandma came. Willie, Albert, Christ,
Herman, Gerhard, too. They settled on the shore of Lake Lenore,
and began the wilderness to tame.
It was all a-many years ago, one hundred years to be
exact! Now grandpa’s progeny people the globe: one thousand
nine hundred at last
Wild Strawberries no longer mark our steps, but the loam
is still amile deep. And the Gerwings farm even now the land,
round the holy acre where grandpa sleeps. Refrain
Annie Willie, Annie Jack, Annie Joe, Annie George! This litany
of Annies graced our youth!
Aunt Marie, Tant Sus’, Mary Matt, Agnes Alice, Aunt Emma,
Molly too, the list is long in truth!
Pioneering women of the soil, they wove the fabric of our
lives – creating homes and gardens & hearths, and all
things else we needed to thrive.
They were always fun to visit. “How’s the sauerkraut,
the wurst?” they would say. They’d sent some yesterday from
their larder – it was back then the neighbor way.
Dear Aunties, Mothers, Grandmothers all, so many gracious
gifts you showered on us! You thought them humble but we still
recall, the warmth that they called forth for us. Refrain(Sorry, Aunts Julie and Angeline – but you lived so