We arrived in Salem on May 13, 1953, at our home on number 2 Highway, half way between Colborne and Brighton. We operated an Esso Station, a motel and cabins, also a little country store.
The property next to ours was known as a Half-way House, where the teamsters would tie their horses up for the night. This was half way between Toronto and Kingston. This is the Dalrymple property now. After a few weeks we decided to go to church, the Salem United. It was a friendly little country church. I noticed it was heated by a little box stove with stove pipes going the full length of the church and out into the kitchen. What a fire hazard. When I came home after the service I asked my husband Alf, what could be done? Could we put in a furnace? He said if the congregation was willing and we had the money, he would put it in for them. Everyone co-operated and we raised the money, Alf and a few helpers, including Walter Hill, the caretaker, went to work. When it was installed the congregation was very happy. So was the caretaker, no more stoves to attend to! At this time the caretaker was paid the sum of $8.00 per month.
The next project was the painting of the inside and outside of the church. The paint was donated. When they painted the outside a funny little incident happened. When Bob Armstrong started painting he noticed a hole in the boards. He immediately got a piece of tin and nailed it on. When Anne Hutchings started to paint she heard little noises around the tin. On further investigation she said there were little birds and wouldn’t paint over it. Finally Bob went back up the ladder, took the tin off and out flew 4 or 5 little birds. Much to the surprise of Bob and Alf. Bob went back up the ladder and nailed it on again and Anne proceeded with her painting.
The next big event was the Centennial Anniversary held on Oct 29, 1961. We were very fortunate in having Rev. Doug Pilkey from Montreal, a most dynamic speaker, which really had everyone in awe. On the Saturday night we had dinner with The Hon. Ben Thompson, our Member of Parliament and Edna Jacques, a noted writer whose forefathers are all buried in Salem Cemetery.
In conclusion, the Salem Church, with its convenient kitchen, where a lot of suppers are prepared, is looking quite prosperous now.
By Lena Smith
Extra note submitted by a friend - Lena and her husband have both passed and are buried in Salem Cemetery. Lena was 100 the day she was buried. In 1953 they moved into a very closely knit farming community that everyone had known each other’s families for at least a couple generations. Alf and Lena immediately made friends and became part of Salem.