By Mary Moffat
Edwin Freitag of Alameda and his brother Hubert of Carlyle, were both inducted into the Canadian Western Agribition Hall of Fame on April 10. 2019.
Edwin, born in Outram SK, started showing horses at Western fairs in 1944, and made his first trip to the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto in 1950. That year, Harold Clark of Meadow Brook Farms, Rochester, Michigan, asked his father if he could spare a boy and so he helped Harold at the Royal and in 1951, following his Confirmation into the Lutheran Church, he left for Michigan, by bus, to work at Meadow Brook. For the next 10 years he would show horses for his Dad at Western summer fairs from Manitoba to BC and then travel to Michigan to take in the State Fairs in the Midwest US.
In 1961 he became a permanent resident of the US and in 1962 married Roberta Bowman, from a Belgian family in Indiana. They left Meadow Brook later that year and Eddie began a five-year stint driving ponies for Victor Comptomoter. Six hackneys were hitched to a miniature hook and ladder fire wagon and driven into an arena as fast as possible.
Following the time with Victor, Eddie was once again showing Belgians, this time for Albert Stankewitz of Armada, MI. From 1971-1972 he went to St. Louis, MO, where he was in charge of the breeding stallions for Budweiser, and made shoes and shod the eight-horse hitch of Clydesdales that pulled the famous Budweiser Wagon.
During this time, Roberta recalls living upstairs in the barn, in a small two-bedroom apartment, where they often had company and with small children, the living room area housed many a guest. One of her favourite stories began with the tours offered for free at the Barnhof, where folks could ride in wagons through the 200 acres of the Busch estate, which featured deer, mouflon sheep, elk and buffalo roaming through the trees and ravines. One day, she tells Mr. Busch asked Eddie to hitch up a team of six mules to a cart and accompany him, his son and a friend on a tour through the estate. The reins were turned over to Eddie and shortly after, they came upon a herd of buffalo blocking the path.
While Eddie was content to wait patiently for the buffalo to move on, his passengers were not, and he was instructed to drive around the buffalo. Unfortunately, the buffalo were all bulls, encircling a female and her calf, who became distressed by the cart passing by and the next thing Eddie knew the buffalo were stampeding towards the wagon. The mules wasted no time getting out of the way, careening about in a wild manner, with Eddie trying to get them back under control. After a close call on the edge of the ravine, and a near miss with some trees, calm was restored and they made their way back to the Barnhof. Eddie then went to work with Belgians for J.M. McKeehan of Greencastle, IN.
When his father passed in 1975, Eddie returned to the family farm and continued successfully showing Belgians there. He made many trips to Calgary, Weyburn, Arcola, Alameda, Regina Buffalo Days, Yorkton, Toronto and Agribition. He served on the horse show committee for Buffalo Days and was instrumental in the forming of the South East Saskatchewan Draft Horse Association. This group held a colt sale each fall for many years and benefited the PMU producers in the area.
Also formed under his guidance was the North American Belgian Championship show, which is held every four years, alternating between venues in Canada and the US. He served as President of the Canadian Belgian Association from 1982-1989, as well as other organizations. He received the Saskatchewan Livestock Association Scroll in 2002.
Over the years Eddie judged many prominent shows in the US and Canada and only retired from judging when his sons began showing for other people.
While he enjoyed showing at Agribition, it was always difficult to keep the horses at top condition, as they often had started to grow their winter hair. The fellowship with other breeders made it worth the effort and a great way to end the season.
While Eddie was unable to attend the ceremony due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease, he is proud of his medal and humbled by the honour bestowed upon him.
Hubert Freitag, grew up in Alameda and attended the School of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan. His father started in purebred horses in 1944 and in 1948 he showed for the first time at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario. Hubert spent some time working in Ontario, and you can imagine both his and my surprise, while chatting in the waiting room at a local dealership, to discover that despite the age gap, we shared memories of the same people. I grew up in Stayner, Ontario and as we chatted, he told me that he had worked in that area with draft horses. I replied that the only draft horse owners I knew were the Beattie brothers and Hubert grinned widely as he told me that he had worked for them. I then learned that working with the Beattie brothers had given Hubert some experience and interest in the PMU business, something I had never heard of until I moved to Carlyle in 1999.
After Hubert returned home, there was an information meeting on PMU farming in Brandon, and he was first in line to sign up! Hubert started his PMU in fall of 1966 and was in the business for 28 years. Over that time there were a great many changes in the collection and storage of pregnant mare urine. In the early days a tin can was attached to a long stick and you leapt into action, catching the stream in the can and pouring it into an Irish pickle barrel. Later there were web harnesses and then rubber elastic sling to collect and refrigerated stainless steel tanks for storage. The PMU was then shipped to Brandon where 1000 gallons made one ounce of estrogen powder.
In 1971 Glen Osborne, Chris Sutter, Hubert Frietag and the editor of the Redvers paper, approached Agribition board with a schedule for a draft horse competition, and in 1972 they held their first show. It wasn’t until 5 years later when there was more barn space that they had the next competition. The first year they held a halter class and later went to a full slate of classes right up to the 6-horse hitch.
Hubert was happy to share memorabilia, including “Science Activities 8”, a text book that has a photo of one of the offspring from his Dad, Ontario, Hubert was thrilled to find a copy of Science Activities 7 which held a Saskatchewan Government photo of his favourite foal Lyle Lou, which he happily paid double the asking price – fifty cents. In 1951, four of the Frietag horses were kept in Toronto after the Royal Winter Fair, to pull a float during the Grey Cup Parade and the following year the movie was shown at the Alameda School during Massey Harris Day. Hubert says it was quite a surprise to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, although during 30 years of volunteering he had spent a lot of time travelling to meetings and shows. One of his biggest moments was being the Ring Master When Grant MacEwen was a judge. MacEwen wrote 45 books, was Dean of the U of S, ended up in Edmonton in government, was mayor of Calgary and Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. MacEwen asked Hubert if his Dad had a horse that he could write a story about and Peggy is now memorialized in the book Memory Meadow on page 213.