Descendants of Robert and Kate Holtby gather near their homestead at the 100-year family reunion. Dick Bowen

Cousin Mildred Beamish stands on her father's homestead near Lloydminster. Lynne Bowen

The country between Saskatoon and Battleford through which the Barr Colonists trekked.
Lynne Bowen

Crocuses peek through prairie wool, on land belonging to Lynne's cousin, near Lloydminster. The land has never been broken.
Lynne Bowen

Three Barr Colony descendants stand beside the church where Lynne's grandparents were
married in 1908.
Dick Bowen


Muddling Cover


Muddling Through

The Remarkable Story of the Barr Colonists (1992)


When two thousand British bank clerks, butchers, housewives, saleswomen, remittance men and ex-Boer War soldiers followed the charismatic but inept Anglican minister, Isaac Barr, to the Canadian prairies in 1903 their rallying cry was “Canada for the British”.

Despite the Canadian government’s expectations and Barr’s assurances, however, very few of the colonists knew anything about farming. As the granddaughter of Barr colonists, Lynne grew up on stories of what it was like to be young and green in the huge, raw Canadian west.


Two bachelors survey the buffalo bones they have collected to sell. Their sod house is unusual because it has a glass window. Prov. Archives of Alberta

A log and mud house is better than one made from sods, but not by much. Prov.
Archives of Alberta

Ivan Crossley (front row left) shorlty after he married Bessie Holtby (front row, 3rd adult from left) and various family and friends.
Author's Collection

Ivan and Bessie Crossley and their children, Muriel and Desmond c.1912 Author's Collection

Kate and Robert Holtby before they left England. Robert holds Bessie, Lynne's grandmother. Author's Collection

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