Melba Bergren (Larson)
Melba Ellen Clarisse Larson was born on August 11, 1929 to John and Olga Larson (nee Aasen) on a farm in the Bagley district. Soon to follow was her brother Owen, and then her sisters Ruth, Marilyn and Sandra. Melba went to Bagley school until grade 9 when she had to quit to help out with her younger siblings as times were tough in the late 1930’s. She would tell stories about working on the farm and walking to the Carrot River to pick berries to help out.
Melba married Peter Bergren from Gronlid in 1952 and they were soon off to Co-op Point (now called Kinoosao) on Reindeer Lake. This village was set up with a small store and a fish plant by the government, in an attempt to give the local first nations people a place to settle and sell the fish they caught in the lake. The only way in was by float plane. Melba worked in the local co-op store and soon her first son Aron was born, followed a few years later by her second son Lars.
Peter's job as a Northern Patrolman with the Department of Natural Resources would take him on trips exploring the lake and areas to the north. In some cases he could be away for weeks at a time. Melba quickly learned to be a very independent woman as she had to take care of small kids and work in the store by herself. It was also common for a whole crew of men to show up unexpectedly and she would have to cook for everyone. This independence stuck with her the rest of her life.
From there after a short stay in Laronge they moved to Hudson Bay where Aron started first grade in school. The family like fishing the trout streams in the area and one story she loved to tell was when a mink on the road in front of them was trying to drag a dead skunk into the ditch. The smell was so bad the mink would have to stop and shake his head before trying again. They then moved to short stays in Regina Beach and then Regina where Lars started grade 1. Melba tried bowling there and really enjoyed the pastime although she did twist her knee that would cause pain in later life.
The family then moved to the beautiful Cypress Hills Park. Touring the Fort Walsh area, trout fishing, ice fishing perch and watching the sharp-tailed grouse dance in the spring were some of the stories she remembered fondly. She was quite proud of her garden and it was common to hear her banging on the kitchen window when the red squirrels were in her strawberry patch.
In 1966 they moved to Yorkton where Peter was the local Conservation Officer. Melba had a large garden that she loved to work in in her spare time and enjoyed using her garden produce in all her excellent recipes as she loved to cook. In the summer the family always went up to the Fort a la Corne north of Gronlid and picked blueberries and fished for trout. Melba and Peter were in the government bowling league in Yorkton and spent many a night bowling and with the friends they met there. In 1973 Melba and Peter took a trip to Sweden and met many relatives and took many pictures of the countryside. In 1974 Peter took a job in Regina and as both boys were finished school they lived in an apartment. Melba enjoyed teaching Swedish cooking classes and bowling. They would love to go up and stay in the cabin in the Fort a la Corne and hunt grouse and pick blueberries. In 1978 Peter passed suddenly so Melba packed up and moved to Melfort to be near her mom and family. She bought a house with a nice garden and began taking basic nursing classes which allowed her to get a job in the local Pioneer Lodge until retirement in 1994. After retirement she took a cruise up to Alaska with Lilas Bergren, her sister in law, which she thoroughly enjoyed.
Melba always enjoyed nature and animals, and would love quite walks in the bush just to relax and enjoy what was around her. Throughout all her travels she met a few very close friends that she wrote many letters to over the years. After retirement Melba would have a bird feeder in her back yard and loved to see the chickadees and nuthatches that would visit. Later in life she was always there with her cat Toby, to welcome all her nieces, nephews and grandchildren. She loved to tell stories of all her travels and the interesting things she encountered over the years. Unfortunately her son Aron passed in 2011 and her sister Ruth (Fidyk) in 2014 which took a toll on her, but she lived in her own house, still growing a garden every year, and maintaining her independence until the last. She will be greatly missed by all her friends and family all over Saskatchewan.
She is survived by her son Lars (Barbra Wilson): brother Owen Larson (Louise Kozak); sisters: Marilyn (Henry) Friesen and Sandra (Clarence) Hendrickson; grandchildren: Rebeccah (Tim) Jacobs and Jessicah Bergren of Moose Jaw and Amanda (Brandon) Nagy of Saltcoats and Yoland Bergren of Langham.