Steve MacIntyre’s hometown of Brock, Saskatchewan, could be confused with any small country town in America. It’s a place surrounded by farms with a Main Street where all the locals gather for morning coffee. It’s seen plenty of businesses come and go while the farms continue to be passed on from one generation to the next.
MacIntyre grew up on the family farm where he and his father raised grain and beef cattle. His childhood consisted of long days working the farm and lessons that last a lifetime. They are lessons that MacIntyre is making sure to pass on to his kids.
But life in Brock wasn’t always defined by hard work. There was plenty of opportunities for fun. Hockey and baseball were big when MacIntyre was growing up, and during his father’s generation the town was known for the Brock Mud Fling, which is basically a mud bog and hillclimb. But in Brock there was a twist - the hillclimb apparently wasn’t limited to four-wheel-drive trucks. Somebody once tried to climb the hill with a motor home before the event got out of hand and closed down.
What was life like growing up in a small rural town in western Canada?
“Actually I think it might be a thriving metropolis now with maybe 150 people. It’s kind of like a bedroom community for Kindersly, which is good and bad. It has changed. We had a grain elevator that has since been torn down, the Brock Burger at the Brock Hotel was a big deal, but unfortunately they had to close that down.
“But Brock is known for the Brock Mud Fling and Hillclimb, which took place in a big mudpit south of town. It was before my time but it’s funny to hear the stories about the craziness that went on back in the day. One guy supposedly tried to climb the hill with his motor home, and I think someone got run over and they had to shut it down. You can still see the remains of the announcer’s booth and the pit. It was a big deal back then.”
With so many farms around town, why did they close the grain elevator?
“There were three grain elevators, and once Cargill took over the area, they had the trains stop at the big grain terminals instead of going to all the little towns. It’s harder now for smaller farmers to bring grain because they’re driving twice as far.
“I remember riding in the grain truck with my dad - the truck was brown, white and rust. We’d haul our grain to the elevator and I’d have a pop and watch everything going on while we were there. It was a pretty fun time when I was little.”
Do you miss life on the farm?
“I’m trying to buy a bigger place so I can raise the kids on the farm and get my own cows. Farming is very time-consuming and very costly. Sometimes the outcome isn’t what you want it to be, but it’s a lifestyle that was passed down from my grandpa, to my dad and to me. Hopefully I can pass it down to my kids.”
What can kids learn from growing up on a farm?
“Responsibility and respect. Some kids nowadays grew up playing video games and into technology, which is fine in a sense. But as Phil from Duck Dynasty would say, ‘They’re all a bunch of yuppie kids.’ They need to know the basics of life - how things are built, how food is grown and where it comes from. They see it come from a grocery store and that’s what they understand, not the process of raising a cow for meat.
“There’s responsibility in having to go out and feed and take care of livestock every day. To me, you can tell a farm kid from a city kid when you talk to them. A farm kid will look you right in the eye, shake your hand and is polite. I’m not taking anything away from other kids, but there’s a difference.”
You mentioned Brock is turning into a bedroom community for larger towns. Are there challenges that come with that change?
“It’s good in the sense that it’s bringing more people to the area, but at the same time you have your problems like drugs and other stuff that a small community is oblivious to but now it’s there. It’s unfortunate. But Brock is still a nice community and the foundation is still there. You go down Main Street on Monday morning and all the regulars are having their coffee together before they start the day.”