Neepawa: Land of Plenty 1883-1893
THE EGOS OF NEEPAWA by Raymond M. Beaumont
(Grand-nephew of Charles D. Ego)
Charles Donald Ego was born in 1873 the sixth and youngest child of Andrew and Mary Jane Langman Ego of Virginia, Ontario. His father was a Scot from the Parish of Crathie in Aberdeenshire, while his mother came from a large Anglo-Irish family near Orillia. Charlie grew up on the farm and later took an apprenticeship in blacksmith at Udora. He arrived in Neepawa in 1896 at the age of twenty-three and was soon engaged in his chosen profession. A year later, he established himself in a blacksmith shop at Franklin, a bustling village a few miles west of Neepawa, where his talkative, outgong nature, keen sense of humour, and storytelling ability soon earned him many friends among the people there. His interest in sports such as baseball and lacrosse too him to tournaments and picnics where he may have met his future wife, Elleanor Jane Scott, a daughter of John Y. and Annie Melvin Scott a pioneer family originally from Brampton, Ontario, who had settled in the community in 1897. They were married in 1902 and their only daughter, Mary Jane Eulalia, was born in November 1903. She recalls that her name was a matter of considerable controversy between her parents. Ella preferred Isabel Eulalia, the latter name from a book she was reading, while Charlie detested them both, preferring instead Mary Jane in memory of his mother who had recently died. Finally, a compromise was affected, and she has been known as Minnie every since!
Charlie was a quick-tempered man but it never lasted long and he never held a grudge. Ella, on the their hand, was mild mannered. While she usually deferred to her husband, she put her foot down when he went out with his brother Jack and came home quite drunk one night. She gave him an ultimatum that if that ever happened again, she would leave. After that, he kept drinking in strict moderation!
Jack Ego had arrived n Manitoba with his wife Lucy and three small children sometime after 1901 and farmed south of Franklin in the Gordon District. Lucy died in 1906 about year after the birth of her youngest son, Roy, and Jack's sister Charlotte come to keep house and look after the children. After her marriage to Willliam Shirrritt in 1907, Jack left the farm and eventually settled in Alberta. Another brother, William Ego, lived for a time in Neepawa with his wife Maggie and nephew Roy, but he returned to Ontario to the old home farm at Virgina and remained there. Charlie was the only one of the Ego brothers left in the area.
In 1910 he moved to a farm in the Gordon District not far from the Shirritts. His family stayed there until 1914 when his poor health and economic considerations led them to Neepawa. He worked for a year in the livery barn of Tom and Sam Holmes before going into business with Charlie Pedlar selling automobiles and Massey-Harris farm implements. Later he became the agent for International Harvester and operated a livery barn next to the Hamilton Hotel until his retirement in 1938.
The livery barn gained Charlie many friends among the high school students from the country who kept their horses and buggies there, rural farmers in for a day's shopping, and the men form Mountain Road and Polonia who brought cordwood during the winter for sale in the town. They would put their horses in the stable and go up town to see if a sale could be mad,e returning to have their lunches and tea, which Charlie always upon the stove. When the Mountain Road Church was dedicated, Charlie and Ella were invited to attend the service and he felt it a great honor to be there among friends of many years' standing.
Minnie recalls that her father continued an active interest in in sports while in Neepawa and he and his wife sometimes accompanied the hockey players when they went to other towns to compete. His daughter inherited her father's enthusiasm, playing on the girls' baseball, basketball, and hockey teams while in high school and continuing this interest after she a started working in Neepawa stores. Besides sports, Minnie was involved in the Rebekah Lodge and Hospital Aid, the latter of which prompted her to enter nurses' training at Misericordia Hospital in 1931. Three year latesr she graduate as a registered nurse, receiving the gold medal for practical nursing. There followed a successful career in Winnipeg, her last eight years to her retirement in 1968 being spent in the Oral Surgery section of the Dental College.
After Charlies death in January 1946, Ella moved to be with her daughter Minnie in Winnipeg where she spent many enjoyable years in retirement until her death in December 1957. She and Minnie travelled considerably, and vacations often included Beth Gillingham, whom Minnie had known since first moving to Winnipeg. One trip back east to Ontario enabled Ella to see school chums she had not seen for over fifty years. Minnie believe in working hard and playing hard, a trait very much in keeping with her father's sentiments. The family is gone from Neepawa now but it wzs one which left its mark on the community and will be remembered for that contribution.