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Official Obituary of

William "Britton" McCRIE

June 16, 1918 ~ February 13, 2024 (age 105) 105 Years Old

William "Britton" McCRIE Obituary

On Tuesday February 13, 2024, Kyle’s oldest resident and pioneer passed away at 105 years of age at the Kyle Health Care Center.

William Britton McCrie was born to William and Irene McCrie on June 16, 1918 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. He was the second of four children - Doris the oldest and Evelyn and Eileen the youngest. He grew up on the north side of the South Saskatchewan at the top of river hills. It was a view that he and later his family cherished over the years as the original homestead grew to include farmland and pasture around the area called North Landing which is still marked by a one room school where Britton attended until the age of 16. As the only boy Britton had started working on the farm at an early age but was now anxious to help full time along with the several hired men his dad employed. Much of his work involved driving horses or dealing with cattle on horseback. He became a skilled driver and loved his riding horses, especially the spirited ones. These were often on the tall side but Britton mastered a spinning mount he had seen being used at the Matador on the occasions when he and his cousin Jack McCrie helped with crossing cattle at the river. Needless to say, that as children growing up in later years his children were awed by dad’s stories about his cowboy days and the endless stories about his big blue roan horse, Pilot.

In 1939 Lillian (Babe) Surber came to teach at North Landing School and in the summer of 1940, they were married. Their first home was two granaries joined together over a dirt cellar with a lean-to across one side. Farming and raising cattle were becoming a bit better due to more mechanized equipment but wartime and the depression still made it difficult to get parts and some household staples.

Britton and Babe had two children Jeanette in 1943 and Neil in 1945. As children they felt lucky to be living in the same yard with their grandma and grandpa and dad’s two younger sisters but after a few years, they moved to a farm on the highway closer to town. It was also time for the kids to go to school so Britton bought a pony and a cart from a family who had outgrown them. He remodeled the cart to suit a seven-year-old and a five-year-old and taught them how to handle and harness a very cagey white Shetland Pony. There were three miles to go and then return every day and a lot of things to remember - tie him up with a chain, feed him his oats and hay at noon, get help to hook him up after school and don’t cut around the gate post too quickly. As you can imagine Britton made lots of rescues as the kids were pretty green and the pony was very kid wise. Britton stuck to the training, kept preparing the cart wheels and they finally became more proficient.

Britton passed on so many skills to his children via horses as he took them to horse shows and sports days. They learn to be persistent and solve their own problems.

In 1955, a new house was built on the farm and with it came a second son, Keith. Crops had improved, machinery was better so there was time to add a hobby to Britton’s busy life. Pony chuckwagon racing had begun as an entertainment at the Saskatoon Pionera and there was a lot of interest in sports day shows and local rodeos. Kyle was one of the places where a group formed - Ticky Miller, Ivan Smith, Red Smith, Ray Clark, Tobe Trytten and Britton took up the sport. Along with others from Beechy, Kindersley, Gull Lake and White Bear, shows started appearing most weekends. The money was limited but the points toward the Saskatchewan Championship were hotly contested. Britton won that championship at least once. Is also the President of the Association for a number of years. He helped establish larger shows in Medicine Hat and Morris, Manitoba.

One of the highlights of Britton’s chuckwagon driving career was going with a small group of other drivers, mostly from Kyle to drive pony chuckwagons in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas.

After he gave up driving the pony teams, he bought a number of miniature horses and trained them so he could hook up six and drive them on a small wagon. Arthritis finally caused him to sell his outfit as he could no longer cut their hooves or hook up on his own.

Britton’s life was very rich and full. He enjoyed his many years of racing, square dancing and traveling on bus tours in the late 80’s with Babe when they moved in to Kyle and Keith and his family took over the farm. After Babe’s passing in 1994, he and Hazel McKechney became partners until her passing on June 7, 2023.

Britton never lost interest in what was happening on the farm - it was his whole world. Just a few days before he passed, he was wanting to know how an early calf was doing.

Britton is survived by his sister Evelyn and brother-in-law Melvin Christensen, sister Eileen Ferguson, daughter Jeanette, sons Neil (Barbara) and Keith (Tammy), grandchildren Byron (Michelle), Grant (Amanda), Calvin (Michelle), Ty (Megan), Becky Walker and Kasie Walker and great-grandchildren Isla and Danica McCrie, Graycin, Jett and Halle Schwaier. Britton was predeceased by his parents William and Irene McCrie, sister Doris Hogg (Ernie), wife Lillian McCrie, brother and sister-in-law Floyd and Irene Surber, brother-in-law David Ferguson, nephew Wayne Christensen, niece Helen Christensen and his partner Hazel McKechney.

A Funeral Service was held on Thursday, February 22, 2024 at 2:00 p.m. at the Kyle Elks & Community Hall with Reverend Margaret McKechney officiating. Interment followed at the Clearwater Cemetery. 

Donations in memory of Britton may be directed to the Kyle District Healthcare Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 153, Kyle, SK, S0L 1T0 or the Kyle United Church, P.O. Box 443, Kyle, SK, S0L 1T0.

Funeral Service

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Funeral Service
February 22, 2024

2:00 PM
Kyle Elks & Community Hall
207 3rd Street West
Kyle, Saskatchewan S0L 1T0


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