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August 7, 2017

Beautiful Photos Document Farm Life of Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada in the Early 1900s

Robert McKay Brebner was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on October 18, 1855 to Alan Ramsey Brebner and Francis Ann (McKay) Brebner. He moved to Alberta in 1882 and secured a homestead in Spruce Grove. In 1890, he visited Scotland and returned to Spruce Grove with a camera with which he would document his life.

In 1894 or 1895, he was joined by Emily Wynn Wrench, a friend of his family, and the two were married in Edmonton. They lived in Robert's original log cabin on the Spruce Grove homestead. After the birth of their first son, Alan Ainslie, in 1896 a new two-story house was built on the farm. A second son, Alexander Blaikie, was born in 1897 but died after 11 days. Robert and Emily had two more children, Mary Elizabeth Bruce in 1899 and Robert Wynn in 1900.

The Brebner family returned to Scotland in 1908. Robert eventually returned to the Spruce Grove homestead alone where he died suddenly on November 9, 1909 before his family returned. Robert was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Spruce Grove. Emily remained on the homestead, running it with hired help until Alan took over operation of the farm at the age of 17. Emily eventually moved to White Rock, British Columbia, with her daughter, Mary, and died in 1937.

These amazing photos from Provincial Archives of Alberta that Brebner captured his life with family in Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada in the early 1900s.

Robert Brebner on a horse-drawn carriage with family members

Robert Brebner plowing his field on the Brebner homestead

Robert Brebner with son with plow team

Robert Brebner, Jr. holding a cat

Royal Northwest Mounted Police trooper

Steam engine near Spruce Grove, Alberta

Steer carcass being dressed on the Brebner homestead

The first Brebner house, a log cabin, with icicles

Threshing crew

Town celebration, possibly Dominion Day

Turkeys on the Brebner homestead

Two boys in a rowboat

Two men with a horse-drawn sleigh

Unidentified Brebner child dressed warmly for winter

Unidentified girl (possibly member of the Brebner family) holding a hawk

Unidentified homesteaders and farm animals

Unidentified man (possibly Robert Brebner) clearing trees from the Brebner homestead

Unidentified man (possibly Robert Brebner) riding a horse

Unidentified woman with a horse

Wild turkey visits the Brebners

Work crew on a rail line near Spruce Grove, Alberta

Alan and Mary Brebner on a sleigh

Alan Brebner with a cat

Alan, Mary, and Robert Brebner

Alan, Mary, and Robert on a train

Brebner baby

Brebner boy on the homestead (Alan or Robert, Jr.)

Brebner child (probably Robert) in a very large coat

Brebner children and dog

Brebner children in garden

Brebner children in snow

Brebner children in the woods

Brebner children

Brebner children

Brebner children

Brebner family and their photogenic dog

Brebner family members and friends on the Brebner homestead with bear skin and sleigh

Brebner family on a horse-drawn wagon

Brebner family

Brebner family

Brebner house with Emily Brebner in the doorway

Emily and Mary Brebner in a horse-drawn sleigh

Emily and Mary Brebner in front of animal fur

Farm buildings on the Brebner homestead

Farmhands on the Brebner homestead

Geese on the Brebner homestead

Group portrait of unidentified Spruce Grove homesteaders and residents

Horse-drawn buggy

Man (probably Robert Brebner) plowing field and smoking a pipe

Man and horses

Mary and Alan Brebner

Mary, two unknown men, and Alan Brebner with a dog in a tent

Men in a rowboat

Mill in unknown location

Portrait of Emily Brebner

Portrait of John McPerson and Alex McNabb, including riding gear

Mary Brebner

Robert Brebner, Jr.

Portrait of Robert Brebner

Possibly Cree gathering and circle dance

River valley, possibly North Saskatchewan River

Robert and Emily Brebner with children

Robert and Emily Brebner



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