The Writings of Isabel McAlpine: December 5th 1895 - July 22nd 1984
- Isabel McAlpine, Author
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and do not reflect the policies of Hastings Highlands Public Library, or any affiliated organization, committee or other group or individual. This collection represents the time in which the original author wrote about growing up, and is used for educational purposes on local history.
- Grandma Remembers
Throughout their long life together, my mother, Isabel Edna (McLean) McAlpine (Dec. 5, 1895-July 22, 1984), and my father, John Patrick McAlpine (May 26, 1896 – June 22, 1980) were always together, each very dependent upon the other. Of course, they had their disagreements and spats, but these were soon forgotten and they carried on as an inseparable team through good times and bad.
The togetherness intensified in their declining years, and after my father died “Grandma” as her grandchildren called her, was lost for someone to talk to, someone to get around with, and for something meaningful to do.
She had always enjoyed writing long, newsy and witty letters to family, friends and acquaintances. One day during a conversation wither I suggested that she start writing short articles for the local newspaper, the Bancroft Times, describing what life was like during her life-time. She took up the challenge with the same gusto and determination she applied to everything else she did.
Her first article, “Christmas in Maynooth- fifty yeas ago” appeared in the time on Dec. 17, 1980. It was followed by some 86 contributions over the next four and one-half years. The last one “Some unusual things” appeared on May 16, 1984, just two months before she died.
All her articles are brought together here as a lasting legacy for her descendant and those who knew her. Some of the anecdotes are priceless gems to be cherished not only by family and friends, but also by anyone interested in countries life in the 1900s. I defy anyone to read them without being moved to laughter and tears.
To Gwen Christmas 1990
- Her son,
Frances McAlpine Jan 15, 1990
[Black and White copy of an image of Isabel and Jack]
Writings of Isabel McAlpine, from the Bancroft Times Dec 1980 – May 1984
1 Christmas in Maynooth -fifty years ago Dec. 17, 1980
2 A Short history of Monteagle Township Jan. 14, 1981
3 Introduction to Monteagle Township Apr. 29, 1981
4 The McAlpine Boarding House on Maynooth Station Apr. 29, 1981
5 The Old Maynooth-Trenton Train July 1, 1981
6 Reflections on the Poor Theatres Aug. 5, 1981
7 Sunday Mornings Aug. 19, 1981
8 The Little Red Schoolhouse Sept. 16, 1981
9 As the World Turns Oct. ?, 1981
10 The Icons Party Nov. ?, 1981
11 By Gone Days Nov. ?, 1981
12 “If we would only try” Nov. ?, 1981
13 The Shadow Social S.S. #3 Monteagle, Christmas 1917 Dec. ?, 1981
14 Christmas 1900 Dec 16, 1981
15 The Municipal Clerk 1932 Jan. ?, 1982
16 The Tramp Feb. 17, 1982
17 In Days of Yore Mar. 3, 1982
18 Living off the Earth Mar. 10, 1982
19 St. Patrick’s Day in Maynooth Mar. 24, 1982
20 One Day in a Rural School Mar. ?, 1982
21 Community Life Apr. 21, 1982
22 Mary the Cat Apr. ?, 1982
23 A Trip to Ireland May ?, 1982
24 England and Scotland June 2, 1982
25 The Depression July 21, 1982
26 The Event of a Lifetime Aug. 4, 1982
27 The Old Dream Book Aug. 18, 1982
28 Sunday Afternoon Aug, 25, 1982
29 Now and Then Sept. 15, 1982
30 Beauty in Hastings Oct. ?, 1982
31 The Way I see it Anyway! Oct. ?, 1982
32 The Election of Yesteryear Nov. 3, 1982
33 Going to School by train Nov. 10, 1982
34 My Birthday Dec. ?, 1982
35 Among my Souvenirs Unknown, 1982
36 Old Friends Jan. ?, 1983
37 Life in the Twenties Feb. 9, 1983
38 Ding Dong Bell, the Bull is in the Well Feb. 16, 1983
39 Peculiar Things Happen on the Farm Mar. 2, 1983
40 A 58,000 Mile Honeymoon Pt. 1 Mar. 9, 1983
41 A 58,000 Mile Honeymoon Pt. 2 Mar. 16, 1983
42 The Naughty Rabbit Apr. 6, 1983
43 The County Fair Apr. 13, 1983
44 Grandma Remembers Apr. 20, 1983
45 Life at York River Heights Apr. 27, 1983
46 How I spent one day May 11, 1983
47 Spring -brings fishing fever May 25, 1983
48 Receiving Acquaintance June 1, 1983
49 The Storms of Long Ago June 1, 1983
50 More Storms June 15, 1983
51 The Irish June 22, 1983
52 The Mouse Motel July 6, 1983
53 The Old and the New July 13, 1983
54 The Second Time Around July 27, 1983
55 How Times Change Aug. 3, 1983
56 I Married my own Grandpa Aug. 10, 1983
57 The Old Mystery Aug. 17, 1983
58 Lest We Forget Aug. 24, 1983
59 How Could I Forget Aug. 31, 1983
60 A Hobby with Pay Sept. 7, 1983
61 In My Young Days Sept. 14, 1983
62 A Trip to Amber Bay Sept. 21, 1983
63 Autumn Sept. 28, 1983
64 Time Changes Everything Oct. 5, 1983
65 A Diary 1871 Oct. 12,1983
66 Let’s talk Turkey Oct. 19, 1983
67 Early Days in Canada Oct. 26, 1983
68 The Home of the Rainbow Nov. 2, 1983
69 Memories Nov. 9, 1983
70 No More Sock-Yarn or We’re all Nuts Nov. 16, 1983
71 York River Heights Unknown, 1983
72 The Old and the New Jan. ?, 1984
73 Hospital Life Jan. 18, 1984
74 Valentine’s Day at York River Heights Jan. 25, 1984
75 That’s Life Feb. 22, 1984
76 A Tribute Feb. 29, 1984
77 Pictures Bring Memories Mar. 7, 1984
78 York River Heights News Mar. 14, 1984
79 A Trip to Japan (part 1) Mar. 21, 1984
80 A Trip to Japan, part two Mar. 21, 1984
81 A Trip to Japan and China, part 3 Mar. 28, 1984
82 A trip to Japan and Southeast Asia, part 4 Apr. 4, 1984
83 A Trip to Japan and Southeast Asia, part 5 Apr. 11, 1984
84 A Trip to Japan and Southeast Asia, part 6 Apr. 18, 1984
85 A trip to Japan and Southeast Asia, part 7 May 2, 1984
86 Life in the 1980s May 9, 1984
87 Some unusual things May 16, 1984
The Depression By: Isabel McAlpine
The Bancroft Times Wednesday, July 21 1982
You hear the word used occasionally, and wonder what it is all about. You cannot see it around you, really, and wonder what it this thing! The younger people have no idea what it means -it is just something to avoid. Anyone who lived through the years 1929-1934 and was old enough to realize, remembers well what it is like. The men were working for 88 cents a day if they were lucky enough o have a job. We lived on the farm, a beautiful spot, but run down, it was hardly able to support a thing crop of hay or grain, and if you had to buy hay, you were in trouble. The farm life was rather a vicious cycle -you grew the crops, fed it to the animals and spread the results on the ground again.
The poor animals chewed away, all winter, on a mixture of hay and weeds and straw and had to go to the creek for a drink after someone had chopped a hole in the ice, by the time they waded the snow they were half frozen themselves, and after they filled up with icy water they would seem to shrivel up and run for the shelter of the straw stock and the buildings.
I remember one instance, when a traveler came through these parts, advertising and trying to sell stock food. It would make your cows milk better, make their hair sleek and in fact it was a wonder product, so everybody wanted to try it. We were on gullible family that thought if a little bit was good a whole lot should be better, so we fed it to the cows and horses too. The first year it did what it was supposed to do -so we could fill an eight gallon can of cream once in a while and ship it to Swifts in Toronto, by train, and after a while you’d get a cheque in the mail for four or five dollars, and have the empty can to pick up at the station. In the meantime, delivering pint jars was nice, thick, separated cream to the town folks for fifteen cents a pint, and everybody concerned thought they were lucky. The next winter the animals began spitting out half chewed cuds and it seemed to be more of them all the time. So on examining them we found their teeth were turning black and in some cases they were just little, black stubs and we had to get rid of some -one big Durham cow we shipped first and got a cheque for four dollars. The same time Lynchock’s shipped one and got a bill for two dollars expense and they, the cows, were by no means poor -it was depression time!
So we turned to the hens for more eggs. We coddled them up by taking their breakfast of oats and wheat, or maybe buckwheat, to the house at night and warming it in the oven, with the first fire, in the morning and they would strut and sing happily. For dinner we had the same grains, only ground into hash and mixed with hot water. So they had a warm dinner in the trough with milk to drink. They couldn’t imagine how they world had changed so drastically. Anyway, they did their bests to fill a create of large, brown eggs a week, and look at you in wonder. Why all the attention? – But eggs were worthy twenty-five cents a dozen.
Sugar was rationed and so was gas. We had to use maple syrup in cakes etc. as we did not get much sugar. If you all were healthy you were lucky. One of our boys fell victim to paralysis and was a bed patient for thirteen years. This was a terrible blow to us. He had to go to the Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto and came home with a bill of nearly one thousand dollars debt to pay and a complete cripple. Jack’s brother Frank and Jack Green Sr. took out enough pulp wood that year to pay it. This was all drawn to the station with horses and sleigh, had to be piled by the tracks and later drawn to the boxcar, and loaded. We had to have help in the house, but you could get older women for a dollar a day and any amount of young girls, capable and willing for fifteen dollars a month. Where are they today?
Just think if that were today, there would at least be a child bonus, but in those days you were fleeced for yourself with absolutely no hand outs.
We lived well enough and could set a good table because we had, cow, pigs, hens, turkeys, and sheep as well. So you could have meat of your choice. Wild fruit was plentiful and no end to variety. Now you cannot clean up a piece of ground. That’s pollution and a terrible menace to the world so the wild fruits are getting scarce. Now we eat tomatoes, cantaloupes and all sorts of dainties all year round. I remember one year we picked an eight gallon can of blueberries and had to do them all u p with no sugar. There was no electricity to freeze them.
The effect of a depression improves very slowly and it was several years before things showed much sign of picking up. Jack took the team to the camp for three winters and left two boys between eleven and thirteen years old and myself at home to hold the fort. One year he was at Dry Card’s and could come home every weekend. At Hubbels he only got home twice during the winter, it was so far. After his board and the horses’ board were paid he would maybe have a hundred dollars left and that would pat the Insurance and the taxes, which I remember were fifty dollars that year. The other year he was at Martin’s camp and came home with a new team. He called them May and June. We had the teacher boarding with us for twenty dollars a month.
One year we ran out of wood before Jack got home and I asked my neighbour, Joe Leveque, if he could bring me some to tide us over. Well yes, sure he could, so when he came he had a sleigh load of snow-covered, green wood and I said in amazement, “Is that green beech?” He answered, “It is and it’s better than icicles!” Well it was a great life, we had lots of family fun and it didn’t cost a thing. We lived through it all, maybe even better than they do today, trying to dodge work.
The McAlpine Boarding House in Maynooth Station
The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, April 29, 1981
There would not be too many people on the first train that arrived at Maynooth Station in 1907, but it must have been exciting for the few that lived there and also for any passengers. There was the station and three or four houses and darkness facing them and also a dark mile between them and Maynooth with its Hotel.
John McAlpine Sr. and his family, had a brilliant idea. Why not build a boarding house on the site! He had a farm with at least 100 acres of pine and spruce and a family of sixteen children to feed- enough of them grown up to cut the timber, draw it to the near by mill and draw themselves to the station. They went to work and the finished product was ready for use late in 1908.
It was built like all buildings of the time. Large, plain and compact. The master carpenter was Jack McGinnus of Maynooth – he built many of the houses and barns throughout this district.
The front door and the back door faced each other in the long wide hall and on the east side of the hall was a cosy waiting room with the family’s box stove, a few chairs and a bench and a generally a few idle old timers discussing the deer or the bear hunt or maybe discussing how the country was picking up. Behind this was a large room with shelves and counter where the travellers displayed their wares and the merchants for miles around came there to order what they required. Behind that was a good sized pantry and washroom.
As you come in to the front door there was a small narrow counter alon the wall where a small high lamp sat alone for years – it just gave enough light to see the wide stairs steps sat a hife, big box stove and a bench with a pail of water and a wash dish on it. Water was as precious as gold nuggets – at the station because everyone one had to get it either from the railway tank or from the Ceder Crock [Creek]. It was some years before they found the machinery to drill to such a depth as we needed.
West of the hall was a nice sized dining room with nice store furniture and a pretty hanging lamp over the table. Through the large archway, the kitchen came into view with the popular Findlay range with the wide hearth and the nickle foot rests on each side of the oven – two home-made cupboards, a table and two chairs and, yes, the old rocking chair was there, too. I don’t think in those days there was a kitchen without a rocking chair and the big wood box.
The upstairs had the same wide hall from the end to end and the ten or so bedrooms along each side exactly the same, they put you in mind of a nice fat open pea pod with the peas lying there so evenly. Each room the very same, a bed, chair, and washstand with its basin and pitcher – of course there were a few extras such as pictures and a floor mat to step out on.
Well, it was wonderful to have such a place handy to the trainmen. Any Perry and Roy Peever were constant boarders there for years and worked in the station, and when every farmer for miles and miles around started drawing logs and pulp wood to the train it was certainly a busy beehive – the men eating at the boarding house and feeding the horses as well –because everything that came in or went out had to go by train.
The evenings were just as interesting because the train had to turn around on the Y ready to go in the morning – so the bell rang almost constantly, the whistle tooted –and the steam hissed from the engine to warn traffic not to cross the track at this particular time.
It might be of interest to say that a local boy, Ernie Carr that had both legs amputated in the First World War was the refreshment and paper man on the train with his two artificial limbs, later on in war time.
It was truly the McAlpine Boarding House because two of the girls ran the place and the home farm produced the fuel, vegetables and much of what they ate.
Finally like everything else it grew old, the train stopped, the store closed and the mail delivered and only one of that family survives. Now it stands there as a reminder of other days and looks very much the same outside but they tell it is all changed on the inside –given the red carpet treatment from the attic to the ground and at last has a family of young children that certainly must give it a new atmosphere.
The Old Maynooth-Trenton Train
The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, July 1, 1981
When the old train roared into Maynooth Station years ago it looked like a big, black monster arriving – even the station seemed small and inferior beside it – and we did have a nice, big, white station with freight shed and living quarters as well – but the train was a wonder with in itself because when you realize that everything came in and went out by train – mail, express, groceries, travelling public, grain and feed – even baby chicks, car loads of cattle, and poultry in crates, logs and pulpwood and calves, pugs and sheep.
There were two distinct trains to Maynooth Station, “The Fast Train” on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and “The Slow Train” on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this was a freight train with one passenger coach on the trail end, it stopped at every flag station and unload freight, so passengers avoided it but it did mean that students could go to Bancroft High School and be at home nights.
In warmer weather, it was the custom of people to go to the station Mon., Wed. and Fri. and gather around just to watch the train come in. Long Before the warning whistle blew to tell you of its approach a little crowd was lined up waiting to witness the big, black giant that would soon be rounding the corner and stopping right before their eyes. Also lined up with horses and democrat or sleigh, according to the time of year, was Wm. Carswell, waiting to take the mail and express and besides him was Dan Smith with his horse drawn surrey with the fringe on top, waiting for any passengers to go to his hotel for the night – anyone could ride up town for ten cents, if the bus wasn’t loaded.
There was much hustling and bustling about with people shouting above the noise of the train and the lookers-on stood there spell bound. The mail went to Maynooth post office to be sorted between Maynooth, Porterville (Now Lake St. Peter), and Prince’s Lake, next day mail delivery took it to Porterville and was met there by John Craftchick who took it by the railway hand car to Prince’s Lake.
It was like a big, family gathering when the train came in because some of the train men were local, but they all stayed here over night and everybody knew them. Harry Shannon from Trenton was brake man for years on the passenger train and Ernie Carr was refreshment carrier for several years with two artificial limbs after his experience at Vimy Ridge.
After every one was of the train and the passengers and mail were on their way – there would be a big burst of steam, the bell would ring and the train would proceed to turn around on the Y, ready to leave in the morning at seven o’clock – so, for an hour or so the train shunted back and forth from one track on to the other until finally ended up for the night standing down by the big water tank and suddenly the night was quiet and peaceful again.
In those years from 1907 on, we had four, good general stores in Maynooth – Weaver’s where the restaurant is now, - M. E. Fitzgerald in his residence facing Younge. St., Netterville’s on the four corners and Wooten’s where Littler’s General Store is now. They would go together and order car loads of flour, sugar and feed – and Willie Carswell was a busy man delivering with his team wagon or sleigh – up and down, trip after trip until delivered. Also for these stores were big wooden boxes of prunes, figs, raisins, and dates – packed and pressed so evenly – they were moist and juicy to eat, also the old cracker barrel made of wood, filled with the old big crackers about 16” square filled with cakes and cookies. These tin boxes had a little glass window in front so you could see the kind you wanted from the line up of boxes on the shelf. Generally, there was not much money passed over the counter – farmers sold their eggs and butter and bought what it would pay for. The eggs that were not sold locally were shipped to Swift’s in Toronto in thirty dozen crates.
The train was so reliable – nothing broken or frost damaged. I remember one time Dan Goodwin called us on the one line telephone, they called the “People’s Telephone” and said there was a perishable parcel at the station and we better come and get it. So with the horse and cutter we went to see what it could be. It was a large, high, multicoloured, woven basket, with lid to match filled with great, big oranges and grape fruits, from my father visiting in Florida. You couldn’t imagine it travelling so far with out a mark on it and the fruit was as lovely as when it left Florida.
The stores never used to handle fresh fruit from Niagara district and since I had a friend with a fruit farm there, I used to send to them for baskets of peaches, plums, pears and grapes – every body wished they had some too – so my little order suddenly grew to 100 baskets. They were wooden, eleven quart baskets with the lid fastened on and travelled well – we would take them home I the Democrat and any one that wanted fruit could have it at 80 or 90 cents. Did we ever like that trip to the station, the fruit starved country.
Of course, there had to be a section boss so he lived there beside the station. He and his helpers patrolled their allotted track with the old hand car or pede, as we called it, and kept things in first class repair. Maynooth Station was a tiny little place with a post office, Fitzgerald’s General Store, the boarding house, Jack Perry’s Blacksmith shop and a large cattle yard with the big, covered, weigh scales owned and operated by the UFO along with several residences. On a night they brought cattle and calves to ship, there was very little sleep in store for the residence as they would bawl all night long.
In the mornings the noise started all over again as the train steamed up and backed up to the station. Anthony McAlpine was night watchman and he always kept the coaches so clean and the water can, with the top, was always filled with ice cold water. It was a pleasure to sit in the coaches, hearted with steam, on the nice, red, plush seats and relax and enjoy a trip whether just to Bancroft or to Trenton.
A Short History of Monteagle Township
The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, January 4, 1981
Monteagle and Herschel were incorporated into a Municipality in 1874 and remained that way until 1959 when Herschel decided to from their own municipality. The first Council consisted of John Fitzgerald, Reeve; Councillors James Thompson, Simon Rouse, Tom Henry, John Moran with Hames Tone as Clerk with an annual salary of $40.00. He was also assessor at $13.00 a year. At this time people were mostly settled along the newly surveyed Hastings Road and Peterson Road boundaries for the west and north of the Township.
The first By-Laws were to get the roads open, there were 60 path masters appointed, each with about two miles of road to attend to. Each was allowed $10.00 to build his portion and each ratepayer did two days statute labour a year on the road. If for any reason he failed to do so it was charged to him on the tax roll. Around this time there was an influx of settlers moving in with names of McLean, Rutledge, Cassidy, Fitzgerald, Hine, Price, Best, Glenn, Welsh, Twa, Robinson, Lewbow, etc. and several families of Musclows Settlement. There were also McCormicks, Dillions, and Leveques and Barlett.
The first farm in Monteagle to be patented was lot 19 con. 15 owned by George McAlpine. It was the only farm in Monteagle to receive the Centennial Plaque in 1967, having been owned and operated one hundred years by the same family.
In 1862 the much talked about murder in Monteagle Township took place. The victim a Munroe, lived with his wife and son on Lot 30 Con. 16 and Aylward and wife lived across the road in Wicklow. The men became involved in a fight over hens in the grain. During the quarrel Mrs. Aylward came out with the blade from a scythe and cut Munroe’s head so badly that he died a few days later and was buried here on Lot 30 Con. 16. The Aylwards were hanged in Belleville that fall for murder.
The first school in Monteagle was built on Lot 75 H.R.E., where Neil Sheilds now resides, early in the 60’s –followed by S.S. No 2 Hybla, No 3, No 4, No 5, No 6, and No 9. These schools were all closed in 1952 and pupils bused the new area school starting Jan. 1953 and from then on Monteagle cannot boats of a single school.
The first church was built on the N.W. 10 acres of Lot 18 Con 16. It was called the Protestant Church because the Anglicans, Methodists and Lutherans all used it. Later it was called Emmanuel but generally known as The White Church. It was built in 1882, Zion Church built in 1886, United Church in Maynooth in 1886, first Lutheran built on Lot 18 Con 16 in 1901, Musclow United and Maynooth Anglican were built in 1913.
In the early days farming was the main industry and lumbering a close second. There were three cheese factories in Monteagle –the first in Greenview on the N ½ Lot 11 Con 13, 2nd on Salmon Trout Lake and 3rd on S ½ Lot 16 Con 15. Each farmer took turns drawing milk and also to draw the cheese to Ormsby to the Railroad.
The first passenger train arrived in Maynooth in the fall of 1907 and around that time people began using the cream separator and shipping their cream and the factories closed.
At the present time there is very little farming with only about six families shipping cream or milk. Some of the old original family names appear again –Best, Davis, Douglas, and McAlpine.
The first telephone in Monteagle was installed in 1905. Jas. McAlpine was Reeve and the single line telephone called “The People’s Telephone” started in Maynooth through Greenview, Carlow, Burgess Mines, Jewelville, Palmer Rapids to Ft. Stewart –in 1921, a new line was installed by the Municipality, this later was replaced by the Bell Telephone with a mechanical central in Maynooth.
Maynooth is a very pretty little hamlet situated on the four corners of Monteagle, Herschel, McClure and Wicklow, we are proud of our new fire hall and engines and the men that give us such wonderful service with them.
For forty-two years (1932-1974) J.P. McAlpine served as Clerk of the municipality and his forty years’ plaque from the Dept. of Transportation & Communications reminds one of a lot of figures.
Now if you would like some old time hospitality go to the Musclow Turkey Supper every fall –first it is held in the old school –where hot turkey and hearty hand shakes from as many elders as can manage to get there, really gives one happy remembrances of the old times.
Christmas In Maynooth -Fifty Years Ago
Page 4A The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, December 17, 1980
Christmas is a happy occasion -no matter how far back you go. Merry, Merry Christmas always that something special you can feel in the very air around you.
The family unit was very much in evidence fifty years ago – 1930. Making your own fun, repeating the family prayers together and in this region Midnight Mass was a must. The music with Grace Dquette at the organ, her beautiful, well trained voice leading a large choir of [letters missing]red voices was so lovely [letters missing]t everyone wanted to hear it.
The sleigh bells ringing out joy and music sounded every where -there were no snow plowed roads and no hydro at that time and the tiny glow from the coal oil lamp and lanterns makes one wonder how we were so happy in those days.
About ninety per cent of the population lived off their farms, and lived very well too. All you had to do was go to your cellar -there it was -all on the shelves in jars and crocks -meat, vegetables, maple syrup, pickles and fruits -sugar was about here pounds for a quarter and raisins the same so a small crate of fresh egg and one trip to the store and your Christmas groceries were complete. Even the [letters missing]ns sand while they performed their duty for Christmas.
I well remember this Christmas (1930) because the youngest of our gamily was born that year. The older boys got their first mechanical toy as well. It was Amos and Andy int heir famous old car that jogged along and balking at times -but we were lucky because our Santa Claus just happened to be a very generous grandfather with a hardware store and about two weeks before Christmas several big boxes would arrive on the daily train to Maynooth Station and then the job was to get them home and out of sight before some sharp little eyes espied something was going on.
The next thing was to find a perfect spruce tree, worth of the honour, cut it and bring it home, and placed to Santa would have no difficulty finding it. Santa was so real to our boys that they always left a bow of fruit and cookies on the kitchen table for a treat for him. Next morning they would always look to see exactly what he had taken.
When the night before Christmas came it was a terrible night of wind, rain and snow driving in from the east -so when the man of the house went to the barn to do the evening chorse I got orders to have the boys to bed and out of sigh and he would bring up a beautiful express wagon that had come on the train and put it under the tree -but somehow he got up to soon and when the door burst open and the snow swirled in it blurred your vision a bit. I banged that door shut with a furious shove but the eldest had seen a vision there -he says “Mother I was sure I saw daddy standing there with a wagon on his shoulders”. I said “Oh you can imagine anything around this time of year”, so he stood for a minute and decided something was wrong somewhere and went off to bed.
In the morning when the usual Christmas procession started at the peep of day before anyone else was up -we craned our ears to hear the first remarks and behold it was “There’s the very wagon I saw on daddy’s shoulders”.
This particular year we did not go to Midnight Mass because the storm was so bad, but the usual procedure was to drive out in the frame sleigh which was a home made, two-seated affair. To make it warmer a large forkful of hay was spread over the floor of it and carefully covered with a horse blanket. Then the last minute some warm bricks or sticks of wood were put at your feet, covered up with the robes and we were ready -driving miles and miles with no protection was a cold experience and relying on the horses to follow the road.
At our church we had a large shed which would accommodate about ten teams of horses and when that was full they went up to the Green’s Hotel and they always seemed to accommodate anyone that drove along. It turned very mild that night and when the two Masses were over it was pouring rain and the snow practically gone -so how could you go home on a gravel road in a sleigh?
Most of the vehicles in Maynooth that had wheels on were soon available so people left their sleighs and away they went on wheels -and believe it or not somehow Santa made his trip as well.
Introduction to Monteagle Township
Page 16 The Bancroft Ties, Wednesday, April 29, 1980
After Jack McAlpine retired from municipal work he prepared this list of Municipals Officials from 1875-1975, as a historical project to commemorate the Centennial of the municipality. It has been decided to publish it in the hope that it might be of interest to the residents.
Jack did not have many hobbies but one was reading and re-reading the old Municipal books and since he spent exactly half his life, 42 years, as clerk of the Municipality, he had a wealth of knowledge stored up in his mind -along with all the old shanty songs and poetry he had ever learned. During his long illness he used to give pleasure to the nurses and orderlies by either singing part of an old song or repeating poetry for every appropriate circumstances that presented itself.
He thought he had won the distinction of longevity in Municipal work, but after compelling this project he found that his father, James McAlpine, has spent forty-three years either as Reeve or Councillor. Jack was presented with a forty-two year plaque from the Council and one for forty years from the Dept. of Transportation and Communications for forty years service with the road books.
His other hobby was being a Lion -he was the only Charter Member to celebrate his Twenty-Fifth Anniversary as a Lion and the Club presented him with the 25th Anniversary plaque, ring and pin. I want to thank the boys again for all their visits to see him while in Barry’s Bay Hopsital, he appreciated it very much.
Reflections on the Poor Thirties
It is rather irritating not to be able to visit with your friends by mail in this day and age, but since that seems a certainty for some time to come, I’ll visit with friends close at hand and tell you about the hard times we had back in the thirties and no strikes either.
If you lived on land that was naturally damp and wet it wasn’t quite as bad as for the ones that lived on dry, sandy soil and that was our lot. The scenery was most beautiful and usually things turned out fairly well. So we lived and worked and played at life, making things as happy as we could with picnics, garden parties and strawberry socials in the summer and tobogganing and skating parties down on Neiman’s rink in the winter, occasionally ending the evening with a gallon freezer of ice cream, and we thought our life was pretty good.
Then the thirties began to be different, the stock market crashed suddenly and anyone involved in that lost anything they had involved in it -then there were dry years, grasshopper years, worm years, when the worms dropped off the trees like large rain drops and one or two very cool summers didn’t help the matter any.
One year in particular, comes to my mind – we did not have the usual April showers, in fact it didn’t rain at all, but everyone went ahead with their cropping and hoping for rain and good weather. This of course was before the tractor age and everyone had one or two teams of horses, which required feed as well as the cows and young cattle.
We watched our grain come up and linger there just about the round, finally a few spears began to turn yellow around the stones and each day the yellow spots looked longer and the hay and pasture less promising.
Then the grass hoppers hopped in and the old hard-shelled potato bugs came to see what they could find -all at once the potato plants were covered with them and it began to look as if we were doomed.
In those days we took a pail and a little stick and went up and down the potato rows tapping the bugs off in the pail and lastly applied some boiling water to finish their career.
The grasshoppers also had a keen eye for potato blossoms so there sat the patch without a blossom and a poor crop of leaves -but when we dug them we were presently surprised to find a fair crop.
Well, one day it rained, a nice gentle rain, just when our hearts were at a low ebb, and it rained for several days, it was remarkable how quickly things started to pick up, looking greener and the yellow disappearing.
Before the rain the creeks had practically dried up. I remember, especially, the little sparkling, spring creek that ran across our farm from side to side -at least it quit running and a few damp looking spots remain – the men dug down in them and enough water would drain in for one cow to get a bit of water at a time. The young cattle were in the back field with three sides, surrounded by bush, maple, birch and beech. They had eaten them all as high as they could reach and at last it came to the stage where the men had to fall a tree or two each day for them to eat. They would all come running to meet the one that was going to feed them and stand around watching for the tree to fall. I imagine the ones that don’t remember that far back will find it hard to believe -but it is an actual.
The Department of Agriculture then began helping farmers to help themselves -by introducing fertilizer and showing them how and what to use -for a year or two they loaned spreaders to farmers to sow it. They explained the value of rotating the crops and so improved your land. The old Farmer’s Magazine had a picture of three hens -two walking along picking up this and that when they show another hen holding one foot up and spinning around on the other with great rapidity, one hen said “What on earth is she doing?’, the other ones replied “Oh I guess she’s heard that its good to rotate ones crop”.
Now the old potato bug seems to have disappeared and the grass hoppers that arrived a few years ago hoping for luscious feed were met with a poison especially made for them -now you can poison your grain, hay and pasture for grasshoppers with no harm to your animals seens incredible.
In the thirties help was plentiful to get but usually you had to pay them with produce such as potatoes, wood, maybe a few bags of grain for chicken feed or a few gallons of syrup. Most farmers spent at least part of the winter in the lumber camps with their teams and the ones at home tried to keep things going there.
Well such was life with out [cutting cuts off, the rest of the articles has been lost].
As I found myself along this Sunday evening I thought I would enjoy reading the week’s news, but each page, as I read, seemed more like the pot of jam just ready to spill over the top! One group must have more pay every few months, another group must have less to do and more pay for doing less and each group as they emerge must work to rule -all bosses and no workers -when on earth is this big bubble going to burst? It seems to me our politicians are just like a big collection of bad boys trying to see which can do the meanest little trick on the poor bewildered public.
We have always had garbage -but years back we burned our own in the back yard with a few puffs of smoke and it was gone, but now those little puffs of smoke are what we call pollution and we are not allowed to do it any more. But the mountains of garbage you see scattered and rescattered all over the countryside -what is the name for that?
If this kind of procedure had started -say, back in 1916, when I started teaching in North Hastings, where would the salaries and garbage piles be by now?
I got $550.00 per annum -that was the average wage in country schools at that time -so I was quite pleased with life in general – I paid $12.00 a month for board and room and when you think back to those days of homemade bread, cookies and cakes, pure milk and cream and vegetables grown in your own garden -I can never forget those delicious ordors emerging from a farm kitchen.
The teacher in the country school soon found out that they were janitors as well as teachers, so instead of striking we automatically did it. The girls swept the floor and the boys piled the wood box full of nice dry wood for the next day and took turns at fixing the fire when needed. We walked to school and did not need to build a little mansion for exercise -we got it all free. I always thought school days were happy days.
Now when I meet an occasional one that had been my pupil we have a chat and it generally begins with “Do you remember?” -how you taught us all to knit, to crochet, etc., at recess -and the games as well. The older ones must have liked the procedures because they frequently brought a younger brother or sister to spend the day with us -an extra pupil! Gracious we should have stopped the clock right there and demanded more pay.
Listening to the grammar used on our radio and T.V. you have to wonder what they do at school -the H has entirely disappeared from such words as “wy” “were”, and the “wite” paint we hear so much about, and it amazes me, good sized children, big enough to play cards, but cannot add their own tally card. It seems as if education is following science so “give generously” and help in the fight.
The Bancroft Times, Aug. 19, 1981
Why are children’s eyes to bright?
Tell me why!
‘Tis because the infinite
Which they’ve left, is still in sight
And they know no earthy blight
Therefore ‘tis their eyes are bright.
Why do children laugh so gay?
Tell me why!
‘Tis because their hearts have play
In their bosoms, every day,
Free from sin and sorrow’s sway
Therefore ‘tis, they laugh to gay.
Why do children speak so free?
Tell me why!
‘Tis because from fallacy
Can’t and seeming they are free;
Hearts, no lips, their organs be,-
Therefore ‘tis, they speak so free.
Why do children love so true?
Tell me why!
‘Tis because they cleave unto
A Familiar, favourite few
Without art or self in view, -
Therefore children love so true.
-Poem from an old School Reader,
The Little Red Schoolhouse
Not particularly a thing of beauty but a friendly place where lifelong friendships and sometimes love developed. As the population grew do did the schools -at one time Monteagle had fourteen schools and four union schools -that meant there were fourteen teachers all bringing different ideas and customs int our midst.
Usually it was quite an honour to have the teacher board at your place because events seemed to revolve around the teacher and the school.
It seems impossible that at one time S.S. 3 Monteagle boasted of having 88 pupils and one teacher in command, that being Mr. Jordinson. He spent over twenty years in that one school -so a great many youngsters never knew any other teacher.
The beginners had quite a struggle walking to school -some as far as three miles, through fair and stormy weather -as a rule the little ones did not try to come in mid-winter -but it did not cost much to get started -a slate and slate pencil, a little reader, and a lunch pail and you were all set. They took great pride in their slate cloths, one wet and one dry to produce a nice clean, black slate and with a shar slate pencil you were ready for work. Each had their own artistic ideas and for the girls I think it was like playing house to keep things all in order.
The one thing you noticed in those days was cleanliness, the boys came in with nice shirts and ties and their hair neatly brushed and the girls with braided hair tied with a ribbon and a clean little frilly apron every day over their dresses.
We had subjects to be mastered such as reading, writing, spelling, memory work had a real meaning and must be practiced constantly. Arithmetic, literature, composition, history, grammar and geography each ahd its own space. At intervals when everyone looked a bit weary it was nice to have exercises which we called calisthenics and then you felt like work again.
On Fridays afternoons we sometimes had spelling matches or oral arithmetics, this made for quick thinking and answering.
The schools were equipped with double seats so the pupils sat two by two and very little mischief seemed to develop. Two of my young offenders were natural little artists and instead of writing their assignment at times they would have a whole slate full of the cutest little rabbits, squirrels, mice, etc. -and how could you be cross with them and their happy little faces looking up at you.
There was always a surprise hanging over the teacher and that was the Inspector dropping in and spending a day now and again -but usually he was helpful and considerate.
We also had our celebrating days too, such as going to the local fairs and picnics. Then Arbor Day was a happy, busy day too -planting trees and shrubs to be remembered in future days and years. I cannot understand how education has come to the stage is has and spending such enormous sums of money. It is not the house that makes the home so to speak –
This poetry from the old fourth reader seems appropriate.
Oft in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me
Fond memory brings the light
Of other days around me.
The smiles, the tears, of boyhood’s years
The words of love then spoken
The eyes that shone
Now dimmed and gone
The cheerful hearts now broken!
Thus in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me.
Sad memory brings the light
Of other days around me,
When I remember all
The friends, so linked together
I’ve seen around me fall
Like leaves in wintry weather.
I feel like one, who treads alone
Some banquet hall deserted
Who lights are fled, who garlands dead
And all but he departed
Thus in the stilly night
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me
Sad memory brings the light
Of other days around me.
As the World Turns
By Isabel McAlpine
Thanks for the greetings from Purdy, Jean, it brings back pleasant memories. Our families have long been working on genealogies too and I have my mother’s side of the family from 1612-1897 in fact I was the last one to be registered in those big books. Since that my cousin and I have finished them 1987-1980 and I just thought a few stories from those years might help us to realize how fortunate we are today.
In 1612, John Moore moved from Galgow [Correction: Glasgow], Scotland to Country Antrim, Ireland and just about that time, King James 6th of Scotland also became King James I of England and he firmly laid down the law that there would be no religion but Anglican allowed in England and Scotland. King James then gathered up a large number of Irish and shipped them off to Denmark to help the king, who was his bother-in-law, to fight in a war with Sweden. He then sold their homes and farms, pocketed the money and went on his way rejoicing -than these people had no place to return to so they gradually landed in United States and again religion became a thorn in their side -The Quakers and the Society of Friends.
The war of 1812 began an the Quakers refused to fight so then it was two sides against one and they burned the Quakers buildings drove away or killed their animals and they were forced to get out. Jeremiah Moore was one of those Quakers. He was married, had 8 children and one horse left -so the mother and the youngest children rode the horse and the rest walked from Pennsylvania to Welland County. It took them a month to make the trip and then they had no place to live when they got there. Some how they managed to get up a log hut and live there, they had three pounds of flour left so they had to eat any weeds they could find, boiled the bark of beech and spruce trees to drink and made jelly out of the bark of slippery elm and basswood bark.
On in the winter one morning they saw a pigeon in a tree so they captured that and had a feast. It says in the geneology that for fourteen days a pigeon appeared in the same tree and then the creeks were opening up and they caught fish and made maple syrup and made out to live. They say there were carrier pigeons flying back and forth at the time and there was a piece put in the New York paper entitled “God’s care of his children”.
The war lasted about two years and in 1816 was the “hungry summer”, there was four inches of snow fell in July and ruined the wheat and the whole summer remained cold. They had to eat weeds, wild game, gathered what remained of the wheat, scorched it over the fire to remove the chaff and then boiled the soft grain to eat.
In 1819 the forest fire raged through the county and burned nearly every thing ahead of it. Individual merchands – began to issue tokens or due bills and in 1857 the first silver coins were issued. In 1880, the Government of Canada issued notes below $5, and the chartered banks notes of $5 and over. About 1830 regular mail service was established with rates depending on distance. Under 60 miles it was 4 1/2 . 60 to 200 mi. 7 d, 100 to 200 mi. it was 9 d., every additional 100 miles it cost an extra 2 d. I have a letter sent from my great grandfather, to his son, A. B. in Otterville in 1841 wit the old Beaver stamp with an X put on the stamp with a pen.
It is a long letter, good writing and spelling. You just cannot image how or when they earned it. Solomon was eight years old when he started to school and he had no shoes so he ran in his stocking feet until he came to a certain big rock and here he would get up on the stone and jump up and down to get warm and then runt he rest of the way to school. He married Martha Brown the daughter of Alexander Brown from County Down, Ireland. He was a son of Colonel Brown who served with Wolfe in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham -in fact caught him in his arms when he fell on the battle field. Salmon [Correction: Solomon] and wife are buried in the Friend’s Burying Ground Pelham, Ont., their names still visible.
In 1837 war broke out between the U.S.A. and Canada near Buffalo. There was quite a bit of activity around Navy Island and Buffalo -but lack of equipment and men they finally settled down. In 1838 there were ’38 log huts used for school in Welland County and the teachers were paid by voluntary subscription. In 1838 only about one person in thirty could read or write and a large portion of the early parliament members were not able to sign their own name.
Do you think it is time to strike folks?
The Lion’s Party
Maynooth Lions gave a party
And people by the dozens came
It was Truman and Betty
Who thought up this nice idea.
So they sold hot coffee every night
For people at the bingo to enjoy
The proceeds were rewarding
And every thing was grand.
Some came with beards
And some came without
Just so nobody would know
Exactly who was about.
Verna and Bruce led the dancing
And gaily fluttered by.
Until the floor was nicely covered
With gay, young Merry Makers.
The older folks settled for a game of cards
And the ladies really trounced the men!
So then we ate the beautiful lunch
Prepared for us by the experts.
The party closed at midnight
With every body happy and content.
It proved to be a grand reuinion
But then all good things must end!
By Gone Days
By Isabel McAlpine
There was one time of the year, that older people will never forget and that is threshing. The first one I remember was in 1921 when the Hickey Brothers came to our place with their stationary steam engine, horse drawn, and the separator, as they called it following also horse drawn.
A lot of work in preparation had to be done before that day came though. Each farmer had from twenty to thirty acres of grain to cut mostly oats, but as a rule farmers had a small acreage of wheat or buckwheat. So it had to be cut, stoked in the field to dry, drawn into the mow. Also wood was necessary so for years they went to the pinery and grubbed out dry pine stumps in pieces and this made an excellent hot fire in the engine, because the stumps were full of pitch. There was always a fire hazard with these engines because of the sparks but the little chimney on top had a fire wire screen on it to help prevent flying sparks and always a few large cans of water standing by just in case.
Cutting the grain with the cumbersome horse drawn binder and one or two men following behind stoking the grain, was a slow job. Then if fine weather prevailed for about a week the sheaves were dry and ready to be stored in the mows of the barn and wait for the day the big machine would arrive.
This part of the country seemed to be in little distinct settlements and when the mil came all the men did too. There would be at least sixteen or eighteen men to feed, most places they would all be there for at least two meals -close neighbour women were always helped each other.
Before threshing people usually butchered a pig so they would have lots of meat to eat and that had to be canned or friend in big quantities, packed in five gallon crocks and its own grease poured over it. This would keep for a long time in the cellar -hams and shoulders were put in brine in the meat barrel -lots of pies and cakes, homemade bread and butter you would never think of buying any of these things.
For a few years Mick Burke and sons did the threshing in the settlement with a steam engine and were followed by Wm. Hinze Sr. and sons. One fall had been particularly wet and the sheaves were soggy and damp -he was there at our place for three days and nights. He had a little melting pot that he heated babbit in to repair breaks in the machine and there seemed to be of them that year. When you would accost him for being so long he would reply with a smile. “Oh de grub is good here!”.
In 1928 we moved down to lot 19 Con. 15 on the top of the “Big Hill” as it was called and it took an extra team to pull the engine up there. However Hinze’s got a big tractor next year and that was the start of better times in the threshing business, by this time help was beginning to get scarce because the young men were looking for greener fields for a job.
Threshing was a dirty job, both sets of doors in the barn were propped open and the dust came pouring out, the men looked like negroes and their lungs must have been thoroughly saturated with the same black dust.
Our buildings were visible from the highway just west of Davis’s garage and the year they were building the highway. Jack was working at that particular spot with the team, he happened to look up home and saw the dust pouring out of the barn, and thought it was smoke. I guess he got the scare of this life. The threshing was going ahead and he didn’t know.
Everything changes and so did the threshing gangs. Wesley Bierworth and son came into our corner for a few years, only to be followed by Wm. Watson and son for a couple years, then Henry Neiman and Clifford Hinze did the job for us all for the years, with the same Machine Ron Wasmund threshed for a couple of years. The last man to have that honour in the settlement was Clifford Hinze and George McAlpine as his helper. By this time help was very scarce, the older men were too old for the that job and the younger ones were gone. We farmers that stayed with the ship so to speak had to get their own combines then they could go to the field and both cut and thresh the grain at one time that is weather permitting. Sounds wonderful but there had to be a tremendous out put of money involved by the time you had everything to work with.
One thing I’m sure is sadly missed and that is the old straw stack, the big pig made her warm bed in there under it, the cows put in the days eating away at the sides of it and it made a nice warm bed for the faithful dog in cold and stormy weather.
However the women got the break this time, no more big meals to get, with all the cooking and washing to do.
Now the farmers hire high school girls from the city to work for the holidays, supplemented by the government. It amazes me how they fall in line with the work and make good helpers.
Here is a little poem from my scrapbook that fits in so nicely here and offer it as a tribute to Jessie Hinze my own good neighbour.
Mr Neighbour from across the road
Does the nicest things for me,
She helps me cook for threshing gangs,
She invites me out for tea.
She calls me up on the telephone
To see if the sick are well,
If there’s a ride to town for me.
She rings me up to tell,
If I have cut on my very last loaf
And can’t get into town,
She quickly offers to lend me bread
I can have either white or brown.
And so it goes, week in and week out
She helps to lighten my load
I don’t know how I could have done with out
My neighbour across the road.
If We Would Only Try
To the editor:
I would like to join in the discussion, if there is one, on the present education system, through the “Bancroft Times”. I am an ex-teacher, ratepayer and parents, an older one, I might added, but I have watched the present system with my grandchildren and some times helping them, and I would like to discuss my views for what they are worth.
I certainly think education should teach children to think and to be enriched in the mind. We were always taught that you had to exercise your brain in order to enlarge it, but now you don’t even need a mind, there’s a little trinket you can carry in your shirt pocket and it will immediately tell you what two and two make.
I think it is absolutely ridiculous that some graduates from high school can not even add up their score cards at the euchre part with any sort of efficiency. How can they be a success in society when they cannot read well, add, or use good grammar.
There seems to be a trend now do delve into the old ways again, old song and old methods, so why not take a look at the old ways in education? If you want good reading, with a moral, you have to go back to the old poetry and readers.
The youth sit soaking up anything and everything on the T.V. screen and right there you get a lot of poor examples. I don’t think they should allow such things as “Me and the Boys” and all this “wy, were, wen, wile, wite, etc.”. It is just like a grass fire, whipped u with a strong wind, the way it is spreading from one to the other. One satisfaction, they can’t extract the “H” from who or whom very easily, and I don’t suppose its life or death either if you say “I have saw”, “I have went” or “I don’t” but you hear lots of it.
I do not think subjects should be grouped, given a new name, and actually know very little about any of them when you are through and surely writing should be considered a subject.
I still have my old green grammar and arithmetic and some times read them to get things straight, again, in my mind. When you finished grade eight, back in the teens, you had a good foundation laid and ready for high school. There you found one course to pursue, we took it, like it or not, and we passed our exams before we went on to high school. If you cannot pass the exam at the end of each term, how are you going to go ahead into the next grade, trailing subjects behind you, like a kite. By having one course through high school and taking all the subjects produces a person ready for further education of their choice.
There are so many in high school that would be there if it were not for the child bonus and they really don’t care as long as the money comes along. There is a place in this world, for the one that finds school irksome and hard to face. We need help in so many ways, different ways of homemaking and working out. There must be a niche, for every one, if we would only try to find it.
“The Way I see It Anyways”.
Christmas of 1900
By Isabel McAlpine
I did not intend to write any more stories but I must share this one with you. I would be five years old in 1900 and I am sure this is the year I remember so well. Christmas then was not much like it is now with such elaborate, beautiful trees, coloured lights and simply loaded with large and small gifts galore. People did not even have a Christmas tree in those days, we just hung up our stockings in a conspicuous place, hoping Santa would find them. When I was a kid we had a very large kitchen and sitting room combined, half of it was carpeted with the old, hand woven, rag carpet -in fact the very carpet that graced that floor is now down on the hired men’s bedroom floor in the Bancroft Museum.
As I was an only child my Christmas was quite uneventful and one stocking pinned to the front of the couch in front of the range was a lonesome looking aspect. There never was much said about Santa coming down the chimney at our house -because how could he get out of a Pandora range -but I always went to bed hoping something strange would happen, and this year it did! When I came down in the morning, to my amazement, the stocking was full and beside it was a child’s rocking chair with a doll, about the size of a real baby, sitting in it. Oh, what a beautiful sight that was! My mother had made a pretty rag doll with black eyes and a natural looking red mouth, dressed in a smart red and black plaid dress. I could sit in the rocking chair and rock her by the hour.
When I finally thought about the stocking I found two peculiar looking things which happened to be skates, with the double runner and a strap on each side to fasten them on. Most of the skates at that time had the one blade, as now, but they fastened on the sole of your boot with a little lever, and had straps at the ankle. The heel was built up so the heel of your boot fit right in. They were not built for speed because if your shoe sole was worn a bit they would come off now and again -but speed or not we had a marvellous time on the ice.
We lived in a little village called Otterville in Oxford County and named after the Otter River which ran through it. There were two large tributaries, say a hundred feet wide each, coming together there and ran on as one big, deep river down to the dam and the flour mill. Before any of us were allowed to venture on the ice, some of our fathers would test the whole surface for air holes, some of which would be two feet wide and only a skin of ice over it. We scarcely ever had any snow for Christmas so skating was the order of the day. The Grand Trunk R.R. had a big bride at one end of the river so when we heard the whistle everyone would skate up and watch the train pass over us.
The ice here was different from any ice I have ever seen anyplace else –it was always crystal clear, you could see the bottom of the river bed with the weeds waving in the water and the fish darting here and there. Occasionally there was a patch of what we called rubber ice and if you skated on that it would wave up and down like an earthquake does with the ground and if by chance you hit a patch your heart was in your mouth until you scrambled on to the good ice again. I don’t know how our parents had a minutes peace –knowing most of the town’s children were down there.
They usually marked out a square which was known to be good ice and we were supposed to stay inside it.
And now back to my little doll which came to life again after eighty-one years.
Of course the time came when Dolly and I were through with each other and when I was fourteen years old I had a young first cousin arrive and my mother gave him the doll –and when he out grew the doll stage she was laid away in the attic.
Now he has two grandchildren and this fall while hunting in the attic for something he found the aging doll, so he sat her up in a chair, took her picture and sent it to me –saying “Aunt Nellie gave me this doll!”
My Dolly, after eighty-one years –with a little soiled ring around her mouth from the many kisses she got through the ages –her little black eyes shining just the same as ever and so now the third generation is enjoying a doll that no one else can duplicate I’ll bet.
Page 8A The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, December 16, 1981
The Municipal Clerk 1932
Well it is just over fifty years ago this month of January that Jack came home one night with his arms full of books and loose paper and announced he was clerk of Monteagle and Herschel for 1932, with an annual salary of $125.00 for the whole year mind you! So you can imagine that money was in very short supply every where when anyone would want that job for that price.
However it caused a bit of a sensation in our household –what were we going to do with all these books and papers? So away to the attic we went to look for something for the purpose and sure enough there was a leather suitcase my father and mother had bought to go on their wedding trip in 1892. It was a peculiar shape for a portfolio –but never the less, good leather, and well preserved and just what was needed. Anyway it proved to out last the man that carried it back and forth for forty-two years.
We did not want to invest much in the project because nearly every year, up to this time, a different man sat in the clerk’s chair at the head of the table. Jack Anderson was the Reeve at that time.
Jack had been used to books everywhere –His father had been secretary for S.S. 3, and a secretary for the cheese factory near there, as well as Councillor and Reeve for forty-three years and I suppose to listened to them talk on these subjects all his life.
Council meetings in 1932, were from ten o’clock in the morning until anytime in the night they saw fit to quit. And driving back and forth with horses, it required an early start that morning. The clerk was like the school teachers, he was janitor as well. The meetings were held in the old C.M.B.A Hall which was situated between Buckely’s house and Maschke’s house.
The morning session generally consisted of accepting the last meetings minutes and then they would adjourn and go u to Smith’s Hotel for dinner, nice, tidy looking men with their suitcoats and ties on. On a few occasions, I had to substitute for clerk and you should have seen the dejected look on all their faces -for a woman just spoiled the whole day -they couldn’t enjoy their jokes and merry little stories quite as freely.
At that time the road work was all done by the statute labour -each person that owned property has their assessment There were some sixty path masters and a road superintendent and any days that were not worked out had to be added to the Collector’s Roll in with your taxes.
I remember, well, when they changed over the system -an officer for the Dept. of Highways came in from Belleville, stayed at out place, and in three hot, humid days in August out on the verandah, he went over the huge pile of papers to see that everything was in order and Jack was sent to Belleville to go to school for a week to learn the new system and then we were launched on the new method with the Dept. of Highways as head of it all.
Ninety percent of the people lived solely off the farm and in winter it was hard going but some were very poor people and they would come to the Council meetings looking for help -a mere pittance to the way it is now. If they could only get a bag of flour, some tea and sugar -well – some thing just had to be done. The pension was just being started and papers were sent to the clerk to make out. I well remember the first one for a man and wife and four children -twenty dollars a month and that seemed almost like a fortune with no strings attached. It was an all day job too, they would come to our place about noon have dinner with us, and a nice little visit and make their way home again.
We were making money fast -but in those days hat did a meal amount too? Nothing -but they would get a different reception in this day and age I imagine at any office.
It is hard for people now to understand what old time living was like -it was poor and I mean poor -and yet farmers generally were able to put up pretty good meals because they had everything themselves to turn to. The taxes on our farm then, were not quite $50 and I suppose now they are 8 or 9 hundred, so by working at the clerkship all year with out money we had the pleasure of knowing we could pay our taxes and have some money for Xmas.
Jack had a wonderful knowledge stored u in his little head -he knew laws and by-laws to the word -but it was a good thing he had a wife who rather enjoyed writing and working on books. But women you know they are different some way aren’t they?
By Isabel McAlpine
In the first part of the nineteenth century there was one class of people quite plentiful through out our society, called “the Tramps”. They would be encountered trudging along the roads and they also called at every one’s door. Some were begging and other had a little pack sack on their back, with small articles for sale, of course, they were always hoping for a free meal. They were harmless poor creatures that seldom made any trouble. Slept in straw stacks and empty sheds, etc.
There was one Tramp I particularly remember and that was Jimmie the Tinker. Annually he travelled all through North Hastings. Before he came to the door he would start his little song “Needles and Oiuns and Things and Your old Pots and Pans Mended!” He was a small, peculiar little man and carried a soldering kit with his pins and needles and made an excellent job of repairing any thing solder would stick to. He would pay for his meal by soldering some one thing and hoping a lot of things needed attention after the meal. Jimmie was always sure of one nights’ jeep at McAlpines. They had a very small bed room upstairs, with a little home made bed with a nice flat straw tick in it. Of course the family was all at home and Jimmie’s visit was always an occasion for fun and laughter. Most tramps were of European origins and I suppose were only carrying on an old tradition. One night he had gone to bed and the lads locked the stairway door, because they knew he would be down again. So after the family prayers were over and they were getting ready to retire Jimmie pounded on the door and calling in his squeaky little voice “Let me out. I always go out before going to bed!”
You know over in Ireland the roads are full of people they call tinkers. They live in a canvas covered wagon with their family and just keep moving on when on places get too littered to say any longer. When Jack and I were over there in 1970, we went own to town in Castlebar, to shop on Saturday morning. The tinkers were out in full force, we had just gone a short distance when a woman gave me coat sleeve a good plunck and said “Change for the baby, please lady”. I looked in sight -but being Scottish and slow to understand, I was half way back to Canada before I figured that one out. She waned money to go to a “pub” -but she didn’t get any from me.
I want to include in this article and old poem that Jack’s father used to repeat to the family.
I’m a broken down man without any money
My clothes are all tattered and torn
Not a friend in this wide world have I
It’s a pity I ever was born.
In vain do I seek for employment
Sleeping out on the ground, cold and damp,
I’m stared in the face by starvation
God pity me, I’m only a tramp.
It was only last night on the railroad
When a man both tired and foot sore,
Spied an old empty box car standing still on the track
So he got in and closed up the door.
But he hadn’t gone far in that empty box car,
When the brakeman came along with his lamp
He was thrown from his resting place, kicked in the face
Because he was only a tramp.
They tell me “go work for a living”
And not through this country to scamp
But then when I ask for employment
They tell me “I’m only a tramp”
The rich man at home by his bright, cheery fire
All snug and content with his store
Has often refused me, with scorn and contempt,
When I asked for the crumbs from his floor.
But the day will soon come when the rich man and I
Will be laid in the same Mother Earth
All joys and all sorrows will then have a end
And I hope better times come to us both.
Kind friends you must always remember
That every poor man’s not a scamp
For there’s many a true heart found beating
Beneath the old coat of a tramp.
I want to thank all my friends who have taken the trouble to tell me they enjoy these stories – Old times were good times too, all home made fun -just like every thing else was then.
The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, February 17, 1982
The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, March 3, 1982
In Days of Yore
By: Isabel McAlpine
AS I listen to the F.M. radio about the things we should eat and how to cook them, my thoughts often go back to the turn of the century and what we ate then. I often think some morning I’ll make some con meal porridge, just for old time’s sake. AS a child, we had corn meal porridge and the portion we did not eat was put in a mould to cool and set. For supper we would slice the corn meal and fry it in butter and eat it with maple syrup on fresh fried pork and gravy.
Well this morning as I was knitting socks, and listening to the radio, I was astounded to hear a young lady saying “The very newest thing to eat for breakfast is corn meal porridge and what is not used then is put in a mould to cool, slice and fry in butter for supper. You take four cups boiling salted water and add two cups con meal, boil twenty minutes and it is ready. Put what is left in a mould to cool, slice and fry in butter, for your supper, serve with maple syrup, tomato sauce or a cheese sauce. The newest thing to serve! So is it?
Another dish we had for evening meal, back then was toasted bread, buttered and cut in cubes, fill in a wide topped bowl with the right amount for your needs. Have a white sauce made of milk thickened with flour in water, add a lump of butter, salt and pepper, pour hot, over your bowl of toast and it will drip all the way down through it and it is delicious, even yet I often make it. You have to wonder what people did, back then, where there was no supermarket to go to for everything your heart desires. Everyone had a certain amount from their own garden in the cellar, of course.
The first thing in the fall my father always had three barrels of apples, delivered and put in the cellar, and there were only three of us, one barrel of spies for applesauce and pies, one barrel of Talman Sweets for baked apples and the barrel of Snow apples to eat. Every evening after supper I was sent down cellar with a little pail of snows to eat. I was scared stiff in that dark cellar -a bear was lurking about, in my imagination so to get back up those stairs unmolested, was my only thought.
Our town had a small acetylene gas house, down by the river, where the gas was made and then piped into the houses and stores along main street. It was an open flame, had to be turned on and lit with a match. It was an improvement on coal oil lamps for reading but extremely dangerous now as I think of it, and believe it or not but as far back as the turn of the century there was vandalism going on. There was to be a local option vote taken around that time to have all liquor outlets closed, and anyone promoting the closing was severely dealt with, one night, by a band of hoodlums. They slashed down all the pretty shrubbery in people’s yards and even trees. All my father’s fence wire, he had for sale, standing along side the store was found years after in the bottom of the river, when the dam gave way to the spring flood and the water went down. The gas house was also blown up and destroyed and that finished the lights.
Another recipe I remember, and I don’t think it sounds very appetizing now, because the butter milk isn’t even very appetizing now adays. Everyone nearly had a cow and made their own butter milk in a little dash churn and it was delicious.
The Recipe Buttermilk Pop
Put one pint of buttermilk on the stove to boil and let boil for ten minutes (not too hot) stirring constantly. Add three tablespoons of flour and a pinch of salt. Just shake over the top of hot buttermilk and it will form in little balls which burst or pop. As you stir when thickened, let stand for a few minutes, sprinkle with brown sugar and it is ready to eat.
One place, in my old cookbook, is a recipe for hamburg it says, ‘take ¼ lb. or 5 cents worth of hamburg’ and wouldn’t you have a feast on 5 cents worth of hamburg now? Here is the recipe because it is different.
Put a little bacon fat or butter in a pan, cut up 2 small onions, put in butter and let simmer slowly, then add a fresh tomato, chopped in bits, cook a few minutes and add ¼ lb or 5 cents worth of hamburg, cover and let simmer, when nearly cooked add hamburg with pepper and salt, cover and simmer. When cooked add 1 tsp of flour mixed in a bit of water, let thicken and serve on slices of toast.
A popular cake from those old days was called Black Jimmie
1 yolk of an egg
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp. butter
1 c. of molasses
½ tsp. cloves
1 c. of flour and 1 c. of boiling water with 1 tsp soda
Mix well and bake.
Sounds pretty heavy for this day and age eh? In the same book there is a recipe for:
Salt Rising Bread
It is made with soda instead of yeast. I always wanted to go to Grandma Moore’s because she always had fresh, salt-rising bread, and was it good! The slice of dried bee, make for happy memories too. When they killed a beef it was cut up and dried like they dried apples. It must have been dipped in something or smoked, maybe, because it hung from the summer kitchen roof and nothing touched it. There was always a supply of fresh honey in the comb, as Grandpa had two hundred hives of honey bees, and well do I remember them!
Page 4 The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, March 10, 1982
Living off the Land
By Isabel McAlpine
As the days grow lighter and brighter, my thoughts go back to the farm when we waited anxiously for the first fun of sap. Our bush faced the south and we had a nice set-up with two pans and a building to work in. Sometimes the snow would be so deep the bucket would be away up high on the trees when it melted. Gordon always carved his name on a beech tree, standing on the snow, and one year it was so high up in the tree you could hardly see it from the ground. The syrup made in pans was thick, honey coloured and delicious -what I have seen, made in evaporators cannot compare with it in any way.
Bob Lentz used to live on the north side of our bush and he made syrup there, in an iron cooler, just like the first settlers used to do, and it too, had a beautiful colour and taste. This was in the years of depression which is only a memory to a few. They talk about depression now, but this is a far cry from the first one. There were no pensions, no child bonus – the government – didn’t know any one existed then, as far as help and money were concerned.
We would quit syrup making and right into the task of getting the land ready to sow. The turkeys were looking for a place to hide their nests and then there were baby turkeys, baby chickens, calves and little pigs to look after.
The longer the world goes on, the less we see growing wild -It used to be wild strawberry season next and they grew all over the fields, nice, big, plump berries but now you can’t find a strawberry large enough to bother picking, maybe I just can’t see as well as I could fifty years ago. Do you suppose that is the trouble? One time when Francis was teaching at Bell’s Rapids, he said the strawberries were as big as pigeons eggs down there -so I went with him one day -there they were every where you stepped, in that field, you were stepping on some berries. I picked an eight quart pail while he was at school. At one time it was almost the same down in the pinery and around the white church, but now even the grass doesn’t seem to have the energy to grow.
The first wild cherries and apples would then be ready and into the jelly-making and canning of apples. The first vegetables would be coming along and since they went from the garden to the kettle, it is such a short distance, that none of the good flavour is lost. There’s no time lost in delivering, and the early potatoes were such a treat.
You wonder now, ow you had any time for pleasure but we were in the prime of life, and living was a pleasure. Even work was a pleasure and when youthink of how we had to do it, no tractors, no electricity! – But everyone had their own job and children grew up working. They didn’t have time for unhealthy mischief. There were chores to be done both at the house and the barn and families were closer to each other because everyone joined in the way of life together.
You welcome hydro and modern machinery, etc. but its funny you just get tired it seems. Even in town there were jobs to be done by the children after school, money was a forgotten thing, almost, in the depression of yester year for we saw very little of it.
Blueberries grew all over too, we would go picking them by the cream-can full. And how is it, they are almost extinct around here now. The blackberry patches welcomed you with their claws, but they were large and juicy, and they made another variety of fruit on your shelves.
All summer the trout fishing was another treat. Johnny Kelusky from Bancroft used to come u to the Factory Creek – Of course that was his boyhood haunts anyways, and he knew every inch of the creek. He and Francis spent many a day at the creek together -he would be reminiscing about his boyhood days and telling about life at that time.
I remember one day in haying, it was looking much like a storm and Jack was in a rush to get the field of hay up in coils, Francis, quietly stuck his fork in the biggest hay coil and made for the Factory Creek. In those days all he needed was a little, tin pill box, with line, sinkers and a knife in other, the fish piles were just waiting to be cut down at the creek.
A real, old, black cloud came up and the storm was rather vicious. Of course the hay got wet and so did they, but when he came home, the string of fish he had, was a sight for sore eyes. We always said he could smell the right day to go fishing and he’s still the same, even in a strange setting. He, still quite often, brings me a feed of speckles when he comes home.
The joy of having such nice things to eat, was an incentive to cook, really. Everything was at your finger tips.
If you wanted to make it that way. When the boys were big enough to help the neighbours in the hay, they were rich at a dollar a day, and it was easy to find someone to help in the house – But now! Where have they all gone?
Wed Mar. 24/82 The Bancroft Times
St. Patrick’s Day in Maynooth 60-65 Years Ago
I have tried to recall what things were like here in Maynooth in the teen years of this century and that is a long time ago. At that time, as soon as the confusion of Christmas was over, the theatrical group in Maynooth began planning their program for St. Patrick’s Day. It was almost as important as Christmas.
The plays took place in the old C.M.B.A. Hall which stood about where Mrs. Buckley’s house is now and two or three nights a week the group would be there to practice.
The reason it meant so much, I guess, was because in Lent, at that time, you did not play cards, dance or make merry, so that was their only respite.
Grace Duquette engineered most of the music and songs when both Fr. Warnock and Fr. Brady were here. Fr. Brady came here in 1918, and War #1 was still going on, so a lot of the young people were gone.
Imagine living five miles from town and driving out with horses and sleigh, deep snow, roads not plowed and sometimes desperately cold. So the McAlpine’s loaded the bottom of the sleigh with hay and hot bricks and with capes and coats over their winter clothes, would faithfully turn up for practice. The first stop was at Green’s Hotel, where you left the horses with the robes over them in the shed, and made for the warmth of their waiting room. There was always a welcome at Green’s Hotel for everyone, the fire burning brightly in the waiting room and kitchen. And indeed you had more than one welcome because the sheep rounded up and in the yard for the night, would make for the sleigh and before you could get out of it, they were hopping into it, for the extra feed of hay. Mrs. Jas Green Sr would be poking away at the big kitchen range, trying to get water boiling for a cup of tea and then they would go to the hall to join the group. There would be Grace and Estell Duquette, Agnes McDermott, Annie Buckley, Corn Rouse, Harry Smith, Annie and Willie Carswell, Irvin Carswell, Flynns, Greens and McAlpines to name some of them.
I remember the names of three full sized plays they had. Shawn O’Roon, My Wild Irish People, and the Isle of Dreams, but I cannot remember the plays themselves. With so many gone away they had to quit the plays and just have the concerts with songs, skits and music.
Some of the things of note were: 1. ‘Put on your Old Grey Bonnet,” performed by Annie and Willie Carswell. They were dressed in their ancestor’s clothes, their hair powdered white, sitting in a make shift sleigh, with an imaginary horse, complete with lines and whip, going for a drive on their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Silas wanted to make love to Meranda on that trip she would have none of it.
Another time they had the “Gypsy’s Festival”. Helen (Green) White was the “Gypsy Queen”, Tess McAlpine was Jack’s mother. They had a corner of the stage partitioned off as a pigpen and partially filed with straw and incidentally had some liquor hid in there.
Lawrence Carswell was the law officer and he ot wind of it, so when Tess saw him coming, she knew it was to search. Jack jumped into the straw and began making peculiar noises and making the straw fly. Some how Tess was able to convince the officer that it was the pigpen, without a search.
“Heaven and Hell” was another skit. Grace was the wife of a rich man who had a beautiful team of horses. He thought so much of them that Grace got very jealous and made their lives miserable.
Another skit was the “Cremation of Sam M’Ghee” and Joe Lynch took the part of Sam, Grace remembers.
After each concert they had a box social and one year they changed it and had a pie social. The girls brought pies, and these were auctioned off, some of the lads would bid more than they could pay for, so there was borrowing going on too.
Jim Cameron, a stranger in town, happened to buy Celia Gannon’s pie, it was so good it tickled his fancy so much, he was like the mouse and the cheese, he thought he must get better acquainted with the one that made the pie. He took her home that night and that was the beginning of a romance that ended with a wedding.
Greens had a big family so it was back there and up stairs to the big sitting room with the organ. Up came the rugs and a few waltzers ended the night of fun. Then the trip home in the dark and cold, sometimes slushy and slippery. If the horses couldn’t follow the built-up tracks, they would simply take to the field, but they’d get there.
Thanks to Amy, Audrey, Grace and Luella Reeves for their help.
Page 2 The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, April 21, 1982
By: Isabel McAlpine
The good times of the early years keep coming to my mind. I suppose the younger ones wonder how we ever managed without T.V., radio, hydro or much money to play around with. They say you are getting old if you dwell in the past -but I don’t believe that! There were lots of good times in the past without the new gadgets.
There were four ball teams in and around here, Bancroft Carlow, Maynooth and in between were the Shamrocks. They consisted mostly of McAlpines because there were three large families, John McAlpine Sr., James Sr., and James Jr.. There were Jack and Mike , Anthony and Joe, Jack and Jimmie, Jack Fitzgerald (Bill’s son) Pat Cassidy and a Sabourin on the Shamrock team. Some of the teams played at every event.
The main outing of the summer was the White Church picnic. Permanent tables were built amongst the pines behind the White Church, with benches to match. On picnic day they came from far and wide. There were horses tied to trees all through the bush and delicious meals was in order. James McLean Sr. was much in demand to cook the beans, because he cooked them in the san and they were delicious -everything was delicious and lots of it.
There was great excitement at the ball game. Now the White Church stands like a monument to old times. It was the first church built in 1882 and accommodated all the religions except the Catholic.
The priest at one time came on horseback to Maynooth from Brudenelle and said mass in the different homes.
The Catholic congregation had a large picnic every summer too, there was a nice ball diamond down beside the cemetery and a large pavilion with tables and benches, so they had their meals under a roof. The sides of the walls had doors that would hook up and leave both sides open, so the breeze came through. James McLean cooked the beans here too. They played ball all the time down there whether there was a picnic or not.
Then we had the annual fair as well with judges from the Department. It was quite an affair. They brought their wares from as far as Bancroft. .Everything you could think of in the line of cooking, pies, tarts, cakes and cookies, bread, butter and vegetables galore. Horses, cows, calves and pigs. Everyone took their lunch and it was a picnic of sorts -a two day affair. Everything in the pavilion was in and placed the first day and ready to be judged. Someone was hired as watchman for the night, then the livestock arrived in the morning. I don’t know when the fair first started but it was before 1900 -because I had some receipts as early as 1893.
Then there was the dance at night in the old I.O.O.F Hall on Church St. Sam Cannon was the musician for al the dances with is big accordion and there were some happy nights spent in that old hall. We tried to have the exhibitors leave their cooking to have some lunch that night. Some did and some did not. It was a sad day when the power that be announced there was no more money -so no more fairs – that was in the 1930’s.
Surprisingly how you milked the cows by hand, got your chores done, and with the team went visiting for the evening of cards. Even in winter we went quite frequently for an evening of fun, sometimes for cards and sometimes skating down on Neiman’s rink. One night it rained while we were in their hospital home, eating ice cream, and our horses couldn’t stand up on the ice. So we took their horses hoe and Albert put shoes on our horses. Then we had to go back an exchange teams again.
Every school had a concert at Christmas. It was fun because you knew everyone in it. The box social afforded and bountiful lunch for those who brought a box and lunches were also served for those that were not so lucky as to have a box. It spoiled life in the country when they made the big school and bused the children out every day. Monteagle had thirteen permanent schools and three unions -and when the teacher was gone out of the community, it left a void that was never filled.
A Trip to Ireland
Ireland! The very name is music to an Irishman -you think of pretty colleens, songs, music and a lush green country side and indeed it is fascinating.
We decided in September 1970 that we would go and see for ourselves. So we planned the trip, through an agency, that we would send our forty-ninth wedding anniversary over there.
We boarded an Air Lingas plane in Montreal one evening just before dark and were then on our way. The clouds below were simply magnificent, just like huge, fluffy, snow drifts with the sun shining through here and there. Jack’s seat was next to the window and I was glad because I couldn’t see below the window frames, but in the early morning he induced me to trade seats and look at the beauty below. What I saw wasn’t beauty, it was the wing of a very old looking plane with mail heads sticking up out of the wood and an odd nail lying there loose. “Goodness” I thought “Will this thing ever hang together until we land?” but it did, even though the first touch down was a severe bum. We finally settled down at Shannon Airport. Our destination was Dublin at the Jury Hotel, so we thought, but when we arrived at Dublin things were all changed and we were taken to the Intercontinental which was new, modern and comfortable. It was our home for several days while we made short trips in and around Dublin. Maynooth, Ireland was only fifteen miles so we must see it first. We took several pictures in front of the post office so we could prove we had gone from Maynooth to Maynooth.
There was only one restaurant in town an naturally it was named “Mrs Mullin’s Restaurant”. It was painted a violent green colour and really was not very inviting. But we went in for lunch and it was good -nice, fresh homemade bread, the heaping dish of butter cubes, sliced ham and tomatoes with a cup of tea. No choice, that was the menu, and if we wanted to wait an hour she would boil potatoes.
The beauty of the little town centred around its beautiful church and surroundings. The floor was made of tiny pieces of hardwood patterned exactly like a log cabin quilt and it was beautiful indeed. On one side of the church was a large boy’s school and on the other side was a seminary. All three buildings were red bricks with English ivy creeping on them and at this time of year turning a bright red. The well kept law and flower beds made a lovely setting. The country surrounding it was rolling by nature with dwarfed trees here and there.
That night we went to the Jury Hotel to see on of their famed cabaret shows. That night they played “Finnigan the Puppet”. And their shows were a “must” to see if you are ever in Dublin.
One thing that strikes you quickly is to watch traffic, all going the wrong way, according to our standards, and I mean going, the small old fashioned cars just dart around and you get out of their way the best way you can.
Next day we started on a three day tour and it rained. When it rains over there, they just pull out a plug and down it comes. Each drop seems weighted, it is so big and heavy, and wet, I might add. The one thing I wanted to see was ‘The Sun Set on Galway Bay” but there was no sun to be found. The country side is just breath taking in its beauty, the green rolling hills, all in little picturesque fields, not two the same size or shape and all the stone fences covered with black berry bushes. The flocks of sheep, here and there, are so white you’d think they were washed in Javex. At Killarney we all had a drive in a horsedrawn cart, four to a cart sitting back to back. There are two Killarney lakes, one large and one quite small, but so beautiful. We nearly froze to death on that jaunt. We bought blankets to cover as much as we could -put on all the sweaters we could muster up and our rain hats to ward off that old win coming in off the north Atlantic Ocean. Finally back to the bus, which felt warm even though it didn’t have any doors on. We stayed at the Killarney Hotel and they put on a show for guests. It rained so hard no outsiders came to it so they raffled a large bottle of sherry to help pay the players. The raffle tickets were three for a dollar and I said to Jack “I guess I’ll get three eh?” He says, “What ever you like, you’ll likely to win it anyway, because you’d be the only one here that wouldn’t drink it”. He was dead right – I did win it.
Next day we went on, listened to The Bells of Shandon and Jack had to kiss the Blarney Stone, standing over his head. I preferred to watch that performance. Back to Dublin for the night and next day we toured the city spending the afternoon in “St. Stephen’s Green”, their beautiful park. The artificial lakes and water falls, the flowers and shade trees were magnificent and best of all they had nice lawn chairs to sit on. But you were scarcely sitting down when a collection plate appeared before you with a salute of 6 cents please. Anyway they were nice to sit in.
So then in the morning we took the train to Castlebar, Mayo County. The trains are small in size with no doors. They do not have any heat until October 15th come what may, and it was cold! We were amused at the hotel to find a hot water bottle I each bed to be occupied that night. So you have a warm bed, but if one happens to leak then you have something else.
The first morning we went downtown to shop and look around and the end of main street was the market place. It was just packed with donkey carts loaded with little pigs and calves. One cute looking outfit had a nice, sleek looking calf with its head over the box top and Jack wanted his picture taken with it. Next morning, when we located the first McAlpine home, we found out it was his donkey cart. We had been talking to him.
All the houses around Castlebar are stucco, covered and like the sheep, they are so white, with nice lean yards. Every place we visited we were just nicely sitting down when you were handed a large glass of very, red wine. I guess it is simply and Irish custom, we were asked so stay for tea too. The first big room you enter is living room and kitchen combined, and the huge fireplace is at one end, all the other rooms open off the big room for heat.
A TRIP TO IRELAND CONT’D
The tiny dining room was made ready with nice china and silver, each plate had a bright red tomato, about the size of an egg, and a slice of ham on it, a large plate of homemade bread and the heaping dish of butter patties so with a cup of tea the meal was ready.
Of course word got around that relatives from Canada were in town, so next day we were invited out for dinner. While we visited they made a loaf of Irish bread, in the iron frying pan in the fireplace. We enjoyed warm bread, blackberry jam and a good cup of tea. At this particular place there was a board missing under the door, and as she was a widow, Jack offered to fix it. She said “Oh that, it’s been that way for twenty years now – no use bothering with it”. Maybe she’ll think differently this year.
We changed Hotels that night and went out to the Breaffy House, which had been a castle at one time. That was our anniversary day and I suppose we mentioned is so that night on the table they had a huge layered cake with forty-nine candles on it. We had to cut it, help ourselves and then place a piece of it on everybody’s plate. That was the only cake we saw in Ireland. While walking around we saw a little grocery store, so we went in intending to buy a bag of cakes or cookie or whatever they had. When I asked for cookies she says “Cookies what’s that?”
Well it rained and it rained, and between showers they drew in hay with a donkey and cart and piled it under the roof held up by four posts.
The time came when we had to come home and I packed my bottle of sherry very carefully in the middle of my suitcase. I wanted to show them at home before it was opened. So when we landed on Montreal and the suitcases were thrown on a revolving platform waiting for their owners to rescue them, mine was down near the last. A wary eyed officer had been standing there watching, so when I grabbed mine he turned tome and said, “Have you any liquor in that?” I said, “Does sherry count?” He replied, “Yes, Ma’am, open that suitcase.”
Oh dear! And it was so full, but out of all those suitcases, mine was the chosen one.
There’s never a dull moment in Ireland, they laugh and dance, tell stories and make merry and how you wish you could remember half of it to bring home. You are in another world over there, but don’t go without lots of warm clothing. While we thought we would freeze to death at times in that sharp ocean wind the natives were frolicking around in their shirt sleeves quite contented.
Page 4 The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, June 2, 1982
England & Scotland
Since you say you enjoyed the trip to Ireland with me, maybe you would also like to see England and Scotland with my eyes. Jack’s sister, Tess, and I went. We were to take the train in Belleville for Montreal, get off there and join the group, which we had never seen. When we got off the train in the Montreal station it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Some thing directed us in the right direction and before we panicked we found our group. We were soon settled for a five-day jaunt across the ocean. After four fairly good days and nights, we began to see the shores of England and Landed at Southampton. We boarded a bus and our first stop was Plymouth. It is a very beautiful city right on the ocean. Even the ruins of churches and other bombed buildings, from World Wars, were pretty in their ruins, covered with English Ivy with flowers everywhere.
Our tour then went from the east side over to the west side to Lynton. Here there was a hotel perched up on a rocky cliff, five hundred feet above sea level. From the bedroom windows it was frightening to look down at the ocean. The road coming up was so narrow that the bus tore off the hand signs as we turned a corner.
The hotels in England are so massive and solid looking, made of stone or brick. Each had a beautiful dining room; real linen and silver, with hanging crystal lights. Their roast beef and gravy in England is something to remember. They do not have corn and peas as vegetables. Their favourite apparently is Brussel sprouts. As you walk along the streets the houses are like peas in a pod; a tiny sidewalk into the door and a yard about four by four on each side of it with Brussel sprouts instead of flowers.
There is only one toilet for every so many rooms. The bath rooms are separate with an over-grown bath tub in each, and a little step ladder hooked onto the tub which you climb to get in. the bedrooms are, as a rule, fairly small with twin beds and instead of quilts or blankets, you have the sheet and what seemed like small feather tick over you. In one wall there was a small electric heater, recessed into the wall, for warmth.
When we came to the border, between England and Scotland, we had a surprise wedding planned fro Gretna Green. Two elderly people, in the group had become enthused with each other, so as soon as they were sort of rushed into the little church there and married before they really knew what was going on. When an iron ring was slipped on the bride’s finger she was horrified to find she was married (only in fun)!
We continued on to Oban; stayed all night there. It was here the first telephone cables were anchored. It was also only a stone’s throw from the Island of Mull, where my grandfather was born. I did not know then that we were so close. The rocks and cliffs were just terrific, so bleak and cold looking. They never bury anyone on the Island of Mull. The corpse is taken by boat to a nearby island which is not so rocky. It was here at Oban where one of our group developed a serious case of chicken pox and had to be left behind.
The Scotch cattle are all about the country here. They have shaggy hair and terrible-looking horns and are fenced in. If you go close they are vicious and look at you with a snort and blood in their eyes. The sheep are all over the place. Away up on a rock you’ll see one eating away and wonder how they cling to such precarious little spots. My grandfather McLean was just like the people living here; short legs and long back – always wearing a coat that looked as if he had out-grown it –but there they were –everybody looked the same.
We cross the country along the huge canal from west to the east oats –in Scotland –came down to Edinborough and stayed several days at the Caledonia Hotel. It was a magnificent. About six streets converged in front of it and looking out the big castle on one side –Prince’s Street with all the big stores and several other streets. One day a man and a sheep-collie dog brought a flock of sheep to this corner of the hotel and all traffic stopped and he and that extremely wise dog guided them from one street to another – through the city and out of sight, before traffic went ahead.
Well, finally we had to go on to London, where we had extensive tours of Buckingham Palace, through the big churches, Wesminister Abbey and the big stores. One Lyon’s restaurant, we were in, was so huge that one floor that one floor was the sandwich floor. Next one was for dinners and two more floors for different kinds of meals. The last day we had lunch at Canada House with Col. Drew and then left for Southampton and the Homeric which would be our home for the next four days’ voyage home. So with our Gravol and a quest ocean we proceeded back home safely – our minds filled with pleasant memories for some time.
The Event of A Lifetime
When my cousins called me from Otterville, in Oxford County, to tell me he was coming ot take me to the 175th anniversary of Otterville, the first police village in Ontario. I was so thrilled I just saw there on the little step ladder under the phone and thought about all the old time and placed I had known.
I was born and lived there until I was seventeen years old – I had been present at the celebration in 1907 when Otterville was one hundred years old and also in 1957 Jack and I had gone up to join the Merry Makers celebrate 150 years and now it was 175 years.
Well, I was excited to say the least. He came on Tuesday, and we left on Wednesday. It was 326 miles to drive, but we had a lot of reminiscing to do and the miles slipped by in no time.
Next day was the beginning of the four day celebration; the huge parade was first. It was the largest I have ever seen. There were 107 participants. The floats were beautifully made. One had a huge birthday cake with 175 candles on and a party of people all dressed in clothes of older days. Another rhad the dam with water actually flowing over it, and re-cycled so it kept flowing. Also twenty-five men riding horses, they had all been in the parade twenty-fives years before, as cubs. A St. Bernard dog trotted along and pulling small wagon. The town doctor drove the tiniest pony, drawing a cart. He was sitting in the cart, dressed in a swallow-tailed black suit and Christie Stiff hat and also a beard. The first fire truck and the new modern one came along, side by side, and made quite a comparison, and on and on. The street was line with people for the mile long parade and they enjoyed every minute of it.
That afternoon another first cousin, from Sudbury arrived. It was the first time the three of us had been together under the same roof since World War II, so we had a lot to talk about.
The old park for the concert. It was much the same as it was when I was a youngster. The big swings were gone, but it seemed to have the same big tall, trees with the rough roots sticking up to trip you. The entrance to the park is different. There is a beautiful stone entrance built by my uncle, Alfred Moore, and a war memorial, with the soldier’s name on, stand just inside. The two tributaries of the Otter River join here and flow down to the wide dam.
After we were seated in the grand stand, I noticed the elderly man seated beside me so I said to him: “Do you remember when George McLean had the hardware here?” he replied, “I certainly do.” “Well” I said “I am his daughter.” He turned quickly and stared at me and then said, “Well, you are no chicken, then.” I had the honour of being the oldest native to come to the celebration and had a nice corsage pinned on my jacket and also a complimentary ticket to the barbecue.
The second day was for the young folks, with races and swimming events, so we went to Tillsonburg to see old school mates. One was in the Chateau and when I saw her I asked: “Do you remember Isabel McLean?” She Said: “Oh yes, I remember her but I don’t know you.” She insisted, so we went on to see another. We three had tried our Entrance together in 1909 in a class of seven girls –four of whom had the Edna. We went on to Norwich then and spent the rest of the day with a life long friend.
Well, Saturday, was a big day. We were to all go to the Central School, and try to find someone, we knew. Being the oldest, I had quite a job on my hands. There was one woman from Burgessville that remembered a lot of people I had known and we had a good visit. A man came along, I noticed his name was Scott, so I asked him if he were any relation to little Jimmy Scott. He said, “Yes, he was my grandfather.” Well little Jimmy, he was a very small… [cut off]
…[cut off] in my father’s hardware store for years and had his dinner with us each day. In those days people worked six days a week, year in and year out. Another man, George Smith. I had a good visit with. He was the grandson of the butcher where I used to go daily with a copper to get some juicy scraps for the cat. The odd time I’d have five cents for a slice of liver. He was in a beard contest and sported a big, well-trimmed, fancy beard, so it was hard to tell really what he did look like - but he was a lot smaller man than his grandfather was.
One lady was walking around saying “Does anyone remember the Madisons?” I said: “Yes, I do” Well, she was anxious to talk about them as her husband was a grandchild and had been given the name of Madison. The one she was interested in was Lena Madison who worked in the hotel almost across the road from where we lived. The walls of the schoolroom were covered with pictures as far back as when my grandfather was a trustee.
At one time Otterville had a lot of resident, darky folks and on a Sunday morning they has a dedication for them. A large monument had been erected in the old churchyard which was right next to Grandpa Moore’s property – and lo! And behold! I was the only one that remember the old church.
I well remember quickening my steps as I passed there going to Grandpas. It was just an empty building at that time. The lady that looked after that part of the program was glad she had sketched the building from what she had heard and nobody knew if there were windows in the front or not. She had gone to a lot of trouble trying to find descendants. There were quite a few there; Descendants of the Wayners, Williams, and Grays. One lady sang “Blest be the tie that binds.” She had a beautiful voice and it sounded so nice in the open air. After the dedication was over… [cut off]
House for lunch. This is a house built in 1881 out in Milldale which had eight sides. It was moved to the west end of Otterville and made into a Senior Citizen House and there we had a chance to talk to the families and take pictures.
Later, we all went to the school again to finish our visiting and I did see several I missed the day before. One, especially, was Leane McIntosh. She was working at my farm for her Entrance and I was spending my holidays there. During the First World War student with a certain percentage of marks could get their Entrance by working on a farm from Easter til summer holidays.
She had not changed that much. I could not get enough of looking at her. I just could not find words to talk. We had told each other many a secret in those days.
Fred Fisher and his sister, Marion, represented that family. His father, had been the town printer. He was still doing it when he was ninety years old.
Well, from there we went to the barbecue for the last event, a delicious half chicken for each one and of course salads galore. There were exactly six hundred tickets turned in so the six hundred were there. It was held in the flats below the old mill. It was a lovely place in the last hours of sunlight with the river on one side. As we walked out to the sidewalk and waited for our car to come, we were standing over the old race, which was still there. It is a small canal dug from the deep part of the river, running to the mill to operate the big waterwheel. It runs under the sidewalk and highway and I never will forget how frightened I used to walking over it and seeing my shadow I the deep, dark water on my to and from public school.
Well, its over. It’s kind of sad for me because one thing is sure I’ll never celebrate another twenty-fifth anniversary. But the present one has a lot of happy memories to think.. [cut off].
The Old Dream Book
This poor, little book is yellow with age, in fact it is brown, not yellow. It is sponsored by Burdock Bloot Bitters, Millburn’s Heart and Nerve Tablets and Fowler’s Extract of Wild Strawberries and it is close to one hundred years old. If it interprets your dreams as accurately as the medicine performs why then maybe we could believe in dreams or are they just a coincidence?
I can remember my mother and her sisters, when they would be visiting us, looking up dreams in this very book and laughing and I am wondering how this little worn and torn book has followed me through the years because I have lived in seven different places since my mother died in 1911.
One time in 1940, I had a peculiar dream. There is one place along the highway, looking north, where you can see the old Livingstone place, so plainly, it seems to be on the brow of the hill. In my dream I was standing, alone, in this particular spot, looking at it and thinking what a pretty picture it made and all at once the wind started to blow along the ridge, the trees were all bent over with the fury of it, the house seemed to shiver and then settle down in a little pile, the apple trees were next and then the barns came into its wake and shivered a bit and down they went leaving the whole ridge empty, I was still standing gazing at it when I was awakened.
In the morning I kept thinking of the dream and at last remembered the old dream book, so I looked to see what it had to say “Wind – unexpected news and a hurried journey” – and that did not seem very important. A few days later the phone rang and a voice said “This is Tuscaloosa, Alabama calling.” I immediately thought of my father’s people that lived there when they told me my father was on his way home from Florida, had come there not feeling very well and had died –could I get to my home and be there when the body came? “Well” I thought “how peculiar, it only seemed such a short time that uncle John’s two daughters had visited my father and I, and one was not feeling very well when she got there. In four days time she died with typhoid fever and my father had done the same thing”.
We had just buried Harry on March 15th and this was April 8th. It had been a bad winter for snow but on March 15th it had snowed all day, a heavy wet, March snow –Joe Davis and Frank Cassidy had tried to come up the Big Hill to the funeral with the horse and cutter. The horse got got down and they had to unhitch and draw the cutter themselves for a way with the horse plunging through the snow.
Now this deep snow was melting and we had to get to the highway on the sleighs through the fields. Gordon took us to the highway, Billie McAlpine met us there and took us to Bancroft and there we rented a car from Herman Maxwell and eventually got to Mitchell.
When we got home again there was a happy pair of boys met us at the highway with the team and sleigh –I never saw so much water I don’t think so. The sleighs would just float along at times it was so deep. Well now the first thing was to get the tree tapped for syrup making, which we all loved. We had two pans, one for boiling sap and the smaller one for boiling down to syrup. Incidentally, Wilfred Musclow’s family made some beautiful syrup this spring I those very same pans.
That was the year of the deep snow and Gordon had always kept his tapping records carved in a beech tree in front of the syrup house. It was so high up in the tree, that year, that you could not see to read it, once the snow was gone. Syrup was selling at $3.00 a gallon in those days and as always we kept about twenty gallons for our own use.
Page 4 The Bancroft time, Wednesday, August 18, 1982
Aug. 25 ?, 1982
Sunday Afternoon Isabel McAlpine
Well, Mary and I went to the bird show this rainy Sunday afternoon. We had two first class seats, behind the glass doors. There must have been a hundred starlings, a few less robins, and maybe a dozen grosbreaks had complete control of the tree, with the purple berries on it. You’d think you were dizzy watching the leaves shivering with their movements and once in a while you’d see a yellow thing slip from limb to limb. The robins wondered what was going on. They either didn’t like the taste of the berries or else they were scared to mingle with the crew in charge.
We found out, too, what the noise is in the night when you hear a wham and a bang, now and again. Well, it’s huge pot hole in the road, because today the birds used it for a bathtub. The starlings by the dozen fluttered and bathed in it, with the robins standing around watching higher ground. When they could stand it no longer, they marched down with a very important expression –strutted around and then put the starlings to flight. They wanted to be in on this too. The starlings flew up on the top of the dead tree and looked on for awhile and then just like a black cloud they all swooping down. The robins got out in a hurry and went to the lawn looking for fishworm and strutted about. But it wasn’t long till the blackbirds left the pool, it was no fun alone and they waddled about in the grass too.
So Mary got tired watching, she put her paw over her eyes and went to sleep. I thought I would be a good time to read ‘The Times” and there was just one little positive note saying “we’re not that hard up?” I thought it was good news. From my vantage point I watch the procession go up and down the road. There are little bicycles, big bicycles, three wheeled ones with cumbersome looking tires, little ones with great big tires, motor bikes and cars of every size and make, an almost constant stream going up an down, all looking so auspicious with perfect outfits to match the machines and I wonder how many are paid for?
The boys used to say they couldn’t afford to get their straggly hair cut and the overalls were cut off at the knees or there abouts. How do they ever afford their beautiful helmets and suits, as well as the machine. Somebody must carry those precious little cards in their pockets, “and don’t leave home without it.” When you can walk in a store and walk out with what you want as a free as a bird.
It's well I remember the kitchen, back in the forgotten days. Every Saturday was bake day. There would be a pile of homemade bread, two or three pies. It didn’t cost much, and was made with fresh dripping and either berries picked along the fence or apples off your own trees. A cake (not a cake mix) and cookies. What a feast we always had on the weekend. No bread will ever the same baked in an electric oven. The old wood stove would turn out a crackling popping crust, that made your mouth water and oh the beautiful smell!
Not anymore, just a little walk to the bake shop and four a sum you can pick up everything you want, and on your way pick up a few Pampers, because they are always dry. Of course they are, because water funs off a duck and you are the one that’s wet, not the Pampers. The price they claim, you never noticed it if you get $25 or so an hour, but then why are you in debt?
There was a piece on the T.V. not long ago. A whole half hour was given to talk to tell the horrible story of eviction. They where thrown out on the street, nowhere to go, not a roof over their heads, nothing to eat. After a whole, half-hour program some of the on lookers said, “Well what did you do?” “Oh, we just moved in with grandma, she had a nice big house,” poor grandma!
Instead of always finding fault, let’s try to be sensible. Buy what you need, when you need it and quit squealing about hard times. You have no idea of what old timers called hard times.
Page 4 the Bancroft Times, Wednesday, September 15, 1982
The Bancroft Times
Now and Then
By Isabel McAlpine
We all know when “now” is but “then” is sixty-one years ago when Jack and I were married on the 28th of September.
Getting married in 1921 was not like it is today, when you have everything your heart desires. Whether it’s paid for or not, it doesn’t seem to matter, you must have it anyway.
We had it all cut-and-dried where we were going to live. It was a big farm house, so we made two apartments of it and the Jack’s father would not be disturbed in his old age. He was the same age as I am now, so I have and idea how he felt about it. Margaret and Tess would live wit him and we would have the other end of the house. I rather liked the arrangement because we wouldn’t be entirely alone. That word was always distasteful to me because I had spent the greater part of my life that way.
Well, anyway, our first gift was from Jack’s sister, Bridget, she gave us one dozen plump, bright eyed “Plymouth Rock pullets. Oh yes, I knew what a hen was when I saw it, but how to make them lay eggs in the winter time was a different matter. So we made them a nice, cozy apartment inside one of the old log barns and put a wire fence around outside for them to run in. I didn’t like the idea of them eating worms and bugs and such things for fear one would slip through the digestive system and appear inside the egg sometime.
Jack’s father also gave us a cow. She was the prettiest, dark, red colour, a natural Muley and we called her “Lady” because she was so well mannered.
In those days they brought the cows into the barnyard, night and morning, to milk and just wherever they stopped in the yard –that’s where you milked them. Of course, I must learn to milk and Lady had such a large udder and very large hand holds. I couldn’t even get my hands all the way around them. I soon learned that she did not care for long, polished fingernails. She looked back at me a few times as much as to say: “What on earth are you trying to do anyway?” And then she marched off to stand in another spot. Margaret thought I should learn to milk on a cow that had a smaller apparatus fo the purpose and so that was how I started.
One Sunday morning I did not go with them, to church. So I thought I’d go out and see if there were any eggs. Whether I needed one, or where it was curiosity, I don’t know. There was a hen on the nest alright and I went to reach under her. She pecked my hand so hard she took the flesh right out so I grabbed her by the neck. It was the surest handle and gave it a twist , never dreaming it would break so easily. She fell out, plunk, at my feet and I had a dead hen on my hands. So I took her to the woodshed and with the axe I chopped of her head and proceeded to get he ready for dinner. When Jack come home he could smell chicken cooking so he lifted the lid to make sure, and, still surprised, he said, “How did you ever get a chick for dinner?” So, I had to relate my story.
Well, the winter wasn’t long coming upon us. Jack was taking out logs and cutting wood and also taking apart in the concert uptown. So there were four of us left at home to play cards –Jack was always practising on his part of the play and he never forgot anything he ever learned. At the right time he would start up with his poetry and we thought life was made for fun. The first thing we knew, it was spring.
Just before our anniversary there was an addition to the family to help us celebrate. Jack’s sister, Bridget, came to my assistance. You did not go to the hospital in those days for minor things like that. There was not even a doctor in Maynooth at that particular time, so we had to get Dr Haight from Bancroft to come up and I was put to bed for ten days, neither more nor less. I wondered how I was ever going to handle such a tiny, little mite –but I had ten days to think it over.
I never had a brother or a sister of my own and had never even held a baby in my arms in my life. The tenth day arrived, finally and Bridget bathed him and fixed him up nice. Then she laid him in my lap and said “Well here’s your baby –I’m going home”.
I tell you I was glad there was somebody in the other half of the house, because when I went to bath him the next morning he cried and cried so hard that I thought his little face would burst and the perspiration dropped off mine like teardrops. Somehow thought [though], we managed and he’s alive to this day to prove it.
P.S. Does anyone know where I can get the old piece, “The Dance at Oddfellows’ Hall”. It starts like this:
I met Mr. Patrick McKinnon
One night on Washington
Says he to me: ‘Hi! Timmy,
Here’s a ticket twill give you
I’d like very much to have it because it was a specialty of Jack’s. Thanks.
Beauty In Hastings
By Isabel McAlpine
The one thing that stands out ahead of other counties is the beautiful colour on the hills of Hastings that show them off to perfection to the bus loads of people every fall passing through for no other reason than to see the beauty. Even the poor little yellow poplars look bright in the dull and dismal weather –trying to hang on to life as long as they can.
This fall some cousins of mine came to see what they had heard so much about –the colouring – and they had also heard of the Eagle’s Nest but what was it? The day was not the nicest day but I thought of the many times Hack and I had enjoyed a drive through Herschel –so we took the Trout Lake Road thinking we could get a good view of the Eagle’s Nest from there, too.
On the start there were a few little bright red maples and a few oh’s and ah’s on the start and suddenly the road was muddy. The foliage broken down and I couldn’t for the life of me even tell where we were.
We followed that muddy trail thinking it would come to an end –but it didn’t. the big side hil [hill] on towards Diamond Lake, that I remembered so well, that had the mammoth big maple trees was almost bare of foliage, it was just lying there in a twisted mass, crushed into the ground. Two grosbeaks flew across in front of the car looking frightened as if they’d never seen a human before and we drove on because we couldn’t turn around and what used to take your breath away with beauty took it away any ways.
I certainly couldn’t imagine what was going on. I thought maybe it was the end of the metric system being put together –but I guess it wasn’t even that either. Not a building to tell where you were. Finally we did come to a house which I recognized as the Bob Clarke home. “Well” I said “I must get out and see if anyone live here.” Jack and I were usually treated to an apple and a warm hand shake years ago, and there was the same apple trees, just loaded with apples, the same as in years past.
I stood and looked around wondering, when a man appeared in the wood shed door with a surprised look at seeing someone standing there I asked, “Isn’t this where Bob Clarke once lived.” He said “Yes, mam, but what are you looking for?” and I said “The beautiful Diamond Lake county, named Diamond. Sure because of the clear blue water and usually, calm with the reflection of the trees circling it.
He said, “Just follow the road you are on for fourteen miles and I’m sure you’ll know where you are.” Well of course I did know the four corners of Baptiste, when I came to them, but such an unsightly mess as we went through to get there. There were piles of garage [garbage] and litter of all kinds along the road –it was unsightly. What on earth are t hey doing to this beautiful scenery?
Of course, we had a stretch of road, fairly good road to Bird’s Creek but the whole thing remains a nightmare in my mind and especially after taking strangers for the trip. They must think we have a queer idea of beauty.
The Way I see it Anyway!
By Isabel McAlpine
The world keeps turning as usual and we keep pace until all at once we find ourselves old and almost out of the running –but we must keep jogging along with whatever part of our body that will jog, and thinking over the years, our thoughts turn to the things that might have been. We could make life so different if we just took a minute now and then to say “Hi” to the shut-ins and the lonely and do a hood deed for the day.
I think North Hastings deserves the credit of being one of the friendliest places, even back in the hose and buggy days we always had time for visiting, card games, skating parties and what have you, and now when most of our work is done by simply pressing a button and watching the process proceed –we do little visiting our neighbour or the little social visits we used to have. Years ago neighbours traded work with each other, canning meat, threshing, quilting, and cutting wood bees and now tht [that] is all a thing of the past.
Now there seems to be a sort of thoughtless attitude to things –not caring how the other fellow makes out – but I must say my many friends have been very wonderful to me, taking me to the different events going on, sharing their gardens and one even came in with a complete lunch for me. Thanks very much.
Back here we mostly have our own homes and all the precious little things we have gathered along the way and no one knows, until it happens to you, just how it feels to say goodbye to it all and walk away to a strange place and known in your heart –it won’t be for too long. It is like, throwing the stone in the puddle, a few wrinkles and the world goes on just the same.
Now there is so much talk about the oxygen we breathe, to keep us going –we must preserve every bush and tree and just over the way the bulldozers and skidders are slashing down the bush and everything in its way to leave the most unsightly mess anyone can see.
We do not it seem to have the same love and honour for our country that used to exist –all we need to do is get out the old school readers and read the beautiful old poems we used to memorize, all with a moral to mull over in our minds and be proud of this beautiful land of the maple leaf –
All hail to the broad leafed maple
With her fair and changeful dress
A type of our youthful country
In its pride and loveliness.
Now instead we have constant wrangling to listen to and I think we should shout “For Shame” to this constant bickering –we can’t all be boss –just let gravity go and blow around at will. If grownup men can not agree on anything, how do you expect the younger generation to have any respect or be any different when that’s mostly what you hear on T.V. There is business to attend to and it’s not going to be done by blocking every project that comes up for discussion.
Remember what the old fourth reader told us? “Love your country, believe in her, honour her, work for her, live for her, die for her.” Never has any people been so endowed with a nobler birthright or blessed with prospects of a fairer future.
So let’s use them.
Bancroft Times Oct. 1982
The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, November 3, 1982
The Election of Yesteryear
By Isabel McAlpine
I just love election time when everybody takes an interest in it. I have been used to it all my life. My father was trustee, councillor or Mayor wherever we lived and when I joined the McAlpine clan the very air was full of electricity there, come election time. The attitude this last while has been pitiful; people hardly bother to ask who is was running because it is was mostly strangers we did not know, and they certainly don’t understand the needs of the roads in Monteagle.
Some of the popular ones that made elections exciting were Denny Ryan, John Thornton, Jesse Carr, both Sr. and Jr., Bain Wasmund, Geo Wilcox, Archie Wilcox, John Anderson and the different Robinsons, Joe Davis, Frank Cassidy and Ewart Douglas. The clerk was never sure of his job, it just depended on who got in, Harry Smith and Phil Leveque were neck-and-neck for several years. Then Phil got married and moved into Wicklow, and that eliminated him. But then Jack was a thorn in Harry’s side for a few years and he gave it up. Jack remained clerk for forty-two years. Some times assessor. Any job no one else wanted, he filled in, for that too. When the elections came every fall it was a yearly hot subject on everybody’s mind.
It was “root hog or die” and there were some pretty heated discussions. Years ago, the hall would be full of men just sitting around looking for a loophole in the procedure.
Mary Flynn and Mae had the central telephone switchboard in their own home and it was a busy night for them. Constant ringing to see how things were going. I think they enjoyed the excitement as well as everybody. I know they were certainly obliging.
Everybody was anxious to know who got in and when it was an every year affair, it helped to make it more exciting. Now, when they only have it every three years you may as well forget it.
Bill Woods with his horse and cart patrolled the roads and, I mean patrolled, too. He was constantly, on the move, looking for bad placed to fix. Local people go maybe $200 allotted to them to straighten roads or put in culverts and everybody knew who was doing it and how.
Our old road was always a problem, because it was full of springs and sometimes needed attention it did not readily get. Joe Leveque made the remark that they soon wouldn’t be able to whip a rabbit up there if it wasn’t fixed.
Well, may the best man win, because three years are a long time to wait for another election.
Going to School by Train
By Isabel McAlpine
It seems interesting to me to think of the way we got our education, and the way it is now. When I passed my Entrance in 1909 and had to go to Woodstock collegiate by train everyday. You didn’t need money to go in those days. We walked to the train, took our lunch and that was it. The train ran every day from Pt. Dover to Stratford and return. It was available to everybody whether you lived in town or in the country. It even stopped and picked up pupils at some railway crossings where there were no buildings.
Every month we bought a book of tickets from ten cents to twenty-five cents each according to where you got on. It started picking up pupils just North of Simcoe at a little place called LaSalette, then Hawtry, Otterville, Norwich Junction. There we met another train going to Brantford and took on pupils and passengers going to Woodstock and then, close in line, where Norwich, Burgesville, Curry’s Crossing, Holbrook and then Woodstock.
At Otterville we had to be at the station at 7:30 every morning and got home about 6 p.m. A good deal of it was in the dark, rain or shine and five days a week. I had about a mile to walk each way and some had a good mile and a half. Then, when you got to Woodstock we had about a mile to the Collegiate. We did not seem to mind it. That’s the way it was in early days. What you had to do, you simply did it, without question, because that’s the way it was. It was comfortable on the train and we were usually working at homework or lessons of some kind and there was very little noise. You could always get help on your work from the older pupils, too.
It seems funny now they can’t run anything with a profit. In those days it took so little to be so efficient. Of course, they were steam engines and they hissed and shot out puff so steam. The bells rang constantly while the train was stopped, and the whistle blew at every crossing coming up. It was a noisy place at the Junction when the two trains were there puffing away.
It was seldom anyone had any money to spend but sometimes someone of us would be lucky enough to be given five cents at home. So at noon, we would walk downtown to Woolworth’s and get a good-sized bag of gumdrops or globe chocolate and have quite a feed. Now, you could stick five cents worth in your eye and never feel it.
It is queer how we get mixed up in this old world. Every now and then I meet some one born and raised up there. One time when Irene Davis and I were sponsoring the 4-H Club and a lady came back to lecture at a meeting, I had gone on the train with her to high school. One subject I liked especially was Domestic Science. The school had a beautiful kitchen and one afternoon a week we actually cooked and than sat down and ate it. I will give some recipes in a future paper.
Now-a-days, money seems to slither through your fingers as if there were lots of it. Indeed, there are few without pop, potato chips, cigarettes; eating constantly, things we could very well do without and at the same time finding fault because the government doesn’t hand them out anymore. How would you like to live without any pensions? You lived on what you earned and that was it in 1909.
In my last story a misprint said “It took your breath anways” should be “anyway”.
By Isabel McAlpine
Well, since so many are asking me for a story, I’m going to tell you about a birthday I had recently. At this age in your life, you know, a birthday is really just another day, but this year something seemed different. Francis calls me every week from Ottawa just to make sure I am alright, and this time he called he wanted to come up for the big day and bring all the little great grandchildren that I have never seen. Just over two years old and they have never seen their great grandmother. He said, “We’ll go to a restaurant for dinner and it won’t cause ant real commotion” -but I was bound that somehow we would have a good, old fashioned dinner at home. I knew I could not do it alone, but I was sure Bessie would help me out. The Christmas spirit was in the air. It was so close to Xmas, so, it was decided on.
I have had so much trouble with infections in my eyes and ears. I made a hurried trip to the doctor for something, to try to get rid of that before the party, but when I got up Sunday morning and looked in the mirror my one eye was swollen shut and my nose had grown a but to match the eye “Goodness”, I thought, “Who am I anyway?” Then I thought this is the day of the party!
Well, they all landed about noon and Bessie and I had dinner ready, I saw them blink when they first looked and probably wondered what I had collided with, but anyway, there were four great-grandchildren, 2 grandchildren, Francis and Naomi and George and Gwen and I tell you the table was full. I thought to myself; “the next house I build will have more room in it!” We were about half through when four more came along. Bill Glenn and Erma and Mr. and Mrs. Hathorn. Bill an Erma came to school to me over sixty years ago and we always have fun talking about the old days. They had a beautiful bouquet and what looked like an armful of gifts for my special day. So half of us went into the livingroom and the other half stayed in the kitchen and cut the birthday cake that Isabel brought from Ottawa. It had a big “87” on it and a candle in each figure -so it was easy to blow out. Then Brenda and family came along and we had a real visit together.
Then I was to open the parcels. I didn’t want them to bring anything but it always seems like the proper thing to do. Naomi and Cathy went shopping and to their surprise they had get got a carton of different jams. George’s had a Provincial ticket, which had an extra bonus ticket in it and there were flowers and books and I felt very flattered. Then comes the lonely time when they all go home and you are left along to think. “Why don’t we have more get togethers?”
Well, Christmas will soon be here now and I hope you all have a Happy time. Thank you for all the kind things you say about my little stories, and the nice cards and greetings I received.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to all.
By Isabel McAlpine
With the passing of Jack Donaldson I think of the many, many times he helped us out when we were in trouble and that seems often. Amy and Jack came back from Trenton, when the first depression flattened everyone and moved into the little cottage owned by her father and where Dr. Lumb first set up shop as a bachelor doctor after the first world war. It was a tiny little cottage right where their home is now. When Amy had a baby about four days old, Jack got up, started the fire, and walked out side. In a few minutes the whole place was in flames and Amy had to flee with her baby. Friends and neighbours were there to help where they could and soon a new place was up for them. He must have saved his violin because I don’t ever remember him without it. In the evenings the big, back kitchen at our place was the dance hall and the music rang out from the top of the hill and Jack had to be pretty sick when he couldn’t give is a few steps anyways.
One of the boys said to me yesterday as I shook hands with the family, “I wonder if they’ve found each other yet? I’m sure they have.”
My Jack had never had any baby diseases while he was a youngster, so every time the boys got measles, chicken pox, whooping cough or what have you, my Jack would always take it too. Then we would always send for Jack Donaldson. They all got the measles, all but me, I was born and raised in town and I had everything that came along then. Which was lucky. My Jack was very sick, every morning his bed and the rug on the floor would be white with scales off his body. In payment Jack D. got an eight gallon milk can of nice thick syrup, but a lot of it was burned with everything else.
The next episode was the whooping cough, so Jack immediately succumbed to that too, along with Francis and Gordon. They were trying to draw out manure, not with a tractor and nice sleek loader, but with horses, wagon and forks. Every time I’d look out the window at least one was leaning against the fence whooping it up and just so sick. I didn’t like to be left out so I managed to stick a big needle in my right hand and by next day I had real case of blood poisoning making its way up my arm. So Jack Donaldson had to come to our rescue. Dr. Anderson was here then and he thought my arm would have to come off, but with the aid of Mattie Hardling’s powders, Margarte and Jack Donaldson managed to save it.
That was the time that Roland Miller had fluid on his lungs and Dr. Anderson had to go and take the fluid off. We had a nice team of driving horses and Jack drove him every morning for twenty-two days. First he came here and lanced my hand and then on to Millers. I got my treatment free for driving the Doctor around. I don’t know how Millers made out but there always seemed ot be some way to pay without money.
This was in February and I could not use that hand until September. George was two years old and Jack’s sister took him for all that time. People were so different then. Now you can get along the best way you can and very few will come to see you.
Since my Jack died nearly three years ago, Jack Donaldson would bring my mail down, especially when the pay cheques came, take me to cash it, see that I got to the Senior Citizens, so many things that mean so much when you can’t do it yourself. Sunday evening drives out in the country, even brought my supper down all complete and pretty when I was sick. How we will all miss him.
Then I went over to George Twa’s, he was the blacksmith for years in Maynooth, and right away Dale said to me “Do you remember me?” I’m pretty sure your George’s twin and then I remember Mrs. Jack Perry hurrying from our place to their’s to help bring him into the world.
Make new friends, but keep the old,
Those are silver, these are gold,
New made friendships, like new made wine,
Age will mellow and refine,
Friendship that have stood the test,
Time and change are surely best,
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow grey,
Friendship never knows decay,
For mid old friends tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew
But old friends, alas may die,
New friends must their place supply,
Cherish friendship in your brest,
New is good, but old is best,
Make new friends but keep the old
Those are silver, these are gold.
Feb 9, 83
Life in the Twenties
By Isabel McAlpine
In 1927 Billie and Bridget McAlpine decided they would leave Canada and the land purchased from the Crown, by their grandfather at fifty cents an acre. In the spring of 1928 Jack took them and as many of their belongings as they could pack into the old democrat to the train one morning. Billie and Jack had traded work ever since the first World War. They were first cousins and life companions so we felt bereft.
To us, their 300 acre farm seemed so beautiful, with a variety of hills and valleys that, while ploughing in the field just east of the house, one could count as many as twenty-two teams all working in the fields. We decided we would buy it. You can imagine how many farmers were living around there that we could see so many teams at once.
We moved down to the farm on the 28th of December and let me tell you that’s a poor time of the year to move with horses and sleigh.
Each room downstairs had a little box stove and the kitchen had a Pandora Range. We had always has [had] a Pandora Range at home, so my father gave us one when we were married.
The hills started right at the back door -you could get on the skiis there and just go like the wind right to the Robinson Road. We couldn’t get settled with out Amy and that was how she and Jack spent their noon hours. Amy would have a death grip on Jack’s coat and they would just sail down there. After living there for twenty-nine years I never had a pair of skiis on.
Gordan and Francis thought it was too bad that mother missed all the fun, so, one mild day they took down part of a rail fence and smooth the snow all nice, they thought, and I was to go tobogganing. But the snow had all frozen hard between times and when the taboggan hit it, the front flew up and I went about ten feet up in the air. When I came down I found the toboggan had gone on and I was left to plow through the snow with my nose as a rudder and right there ended my fun in the snow.
When Billie got to Rochester he got a job as conductor on a street-car and kept that job for many years.
Once night, after work, he thought he’s clip the hedge and as long as they heard the clipper running they thought in the house that everything was alright. Finally someone happened to look out and Billie had died of a heart attack and the clippers lay running away beside him.
Now, Bea and I are all that are left of the two families. There were sixteen in their family, and nine in Jack’s. Bea calls me about ever two weeks and we have a visit. Just at this point she called me and after the usual rundown, she asked to wish all that remembered her a very Happy New Year.
Ding Dong Bell, the Bull is in the Well
By Isabel McAlpine
We moved down to Lot 19, Con. 15, Monteagle in the winter of 1928. Finally the winter was spent, spring came and we were full of plans for changes we intended to make. So one day we were down talking it over, the sun was bright and warm, so we let the cattle all out in the barnyard and went to the house for dinner. After dinner the herd sire was no place to be seen, so it looked rather suspicious when the alleyway door was standing open. He must have opened it with his horns. Yes, there he was looking up from the bottom of the sixteen-foot well. The sides were stoned from the top to bottom, but how to get him out was the question.
Well, Gordon and Francis were sent over to Clifford -you know little boys can run errands like the wind and deliver the message quicker than the old Township telephone and then get back so they won’t miss anything.
In the mean time Jack climbed to the peak of the barn to get the hay fork rope. He never seemed to have any fear, be it high or low, he’s go. Then he went on down with the bull in the well. Clifford had the faithful horse, June, hitched up and ready to pull him out like King Bruce and the Spider, up, up he came, inch by inch, until he got to the top. There was a bit of trouble getting him of solid footing, but finally made it, shook himself, and was glad to see the sun again.
Well, since he could pick locks we thought he was a poor investment, so we took him back to Mic Fitzgerald and traded him for an older, more dependable one, so we thought. But, we were worse off than ever, for he was ugly.
Once night when Jack went back for the cows he was pawing and tearing up the ground with his horns. When he saw Jack he began in earnest, so Jack thought the best thing he could do was make for the barn. So he made for home on one side of the lane fence and the bull made for the same destination on the other side of the lane. Between the dog and the pitchfork, he ran in the door and the door banged behind him. The neighbours came to help -but he was simply mad and they shot him right in the barn.
We were intending to try and get a purebred Jersey herd through time, so we decided now was that time. We already had a few heifers back in the pasture field and before we knew it Fred Maschke’s little red mongrel had heard the fuss and had jumped in with them. I phoned Fred to get him out of there, but he though it was a great joke and he said, “When they get to be two years old they get wise.” I said, “Well you get him out of there anyway.”
He brought him up to our band and Jack put a hitch of rope on him, tied it around both lower front legs and then around his body, so when you jerked the rope he would fall on his knees. Gordon was standing just outside the barn door and when Fred drove him out Gordon let a whoop out of him. The bill jerked Fred down and away they went, first one up and then the other and that ended that. Fred remarked “You’ve got some great hitches there, Jack.”
Feb 16 1983
Pg 4 The Bancroft Times, Wednesday, March 2, 1983
Peculiar Things Happen On the Farm
Well, things finally settled down on the farm in the spring of 1929. The snow was gone and the warm, sunny days of soring were here. We opened the lane gate and after fixing up all the road fences, let the cows go. They had three hundred acres to explore and that’s just what they intended to do. There was a lot of rough land at the back of the gfarm and they made for it on the gallop.
At night, when the boys went for them, they were all lying down chewing their cuds happy and they were all there, thank goodness. But then we put them in the barn to milk we discovered one heifer had had her calf and we had to milk her. Strange, Hack thought, the calf must be dead when she wasn’t making any fuss. Any way we all went looking for it with no results. The mother never made any sign at all. Mostly a cow will run back to it when she gets out but she never made any sign that she owned a baby some place on the three hundred acres. She was like the lady in Toronto, I guess, just walked off and left it.
Int hose day, they only had church in Maynooth every other Sunday, so when the Sunday came it was a nice sunny morning and Jack and I and the dog went for a walk. Incidentally, looking for the calf. Before long the old dog suddenly raised his head and sniffed the air and then trotted off in that same direction. Shortly after there was a terrified bra-a-a-a and out of the bush came tearing a nice, big, red calf -and could it run. The dog had to catch it by the heel and hang on. It was pretty thin, but it was not weak. When we got it home and showed it a pail of milk under its nose it told us it was longing for a drink. You can hardly believe that can you? One week old and not a thing to eat.
There are strong things, forever, happening on a farm. I guess I could write a book just on our own. Another time when the cows came home, one cow had lost the skin off her tail -there was just the little bare bone left, and it withered up and dropped off. Some time later the boys found the complete tail hanging in a tree. She had switched I supposed, and it had wound around an elm bough. She naturally pulled and pulled till the skin broke and six inches from the body and pulled off completely and stayed behind.
Then, too, strange things were happening up the road- the telephone was ringing frantically calling everybody to Henry Stewart’s. One of his horses had fallen in a dug well. There h was standing up on his hind feet and pawing at the water with the front ones. There was a special call for Jack, he was the one to get because he would go always to up to heights an down as well. So down to the rescue he went. With lots of help they got the ropes on him some how and up he had to come.
I don’t know if Agnes will appreciate me telling on her raking hay one day and the horses ran away with her. She fell of the rake and went round and round inside the teeth of the rake. There was no one to rescue her. So after biff-banging around the field several times, the one wheel hit a stone, a big stone, and that side raised up enough to let her out. There she lay for a few minutes pretty well shaken up She stumbled her way to the house and phoned for Jack to come and take her to the doctor. How she ever lived to tell the tale we’d never know. I don’t think she even broke any bones. I guess that’s what you call “Saved by Grace.”
In the city they think the farmer has a great life, no rent or fuel bills, free milk, eggs and vegetables or what ever he wants to grow, put the money in his pockets, It’s pure velvet, just get a farm and enjoy the sunsets and fresh air, so I have told you some of the other side of it.
A 58,000 Mile Honeymoon
You may remember my writing about my cousin coming to take me to the 175th anniversary of the town where I was born. Well, some forty years ago he was engaged to a high school teacher and through some peculiar reason of their own, they parted. Now strangely enough they meet again -the attraction was still there -so they were married last summer. They went on a short honeymoon to Texas and Mexico. They thought that trip was too short for such a unique wedding, so they planned a trip to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and other islands down there. It took from Nov. 4th to Dec. 9th to make the trip and I am going to take you, now, with me, to that part of the world.
He says, “We roared into Toronto airport the only passengers on a large bus and took the plane. First stop was Chicago, next Los Angeles and at seven o’clock in the morning, by our time, we were landed in Tahiti. It was two a.m. by their time. The people here, are all Polynesian and speak little English. Oen dollar U.S. money is worth 123 francs on their money.”
The hotel is built like a star and you enter the lobby from the behind. The top floor, our room was on the 10th floor, which was the lowest floor. It was strange to ride on an elevator up to the entrance. The land is eroded, very mountainous and a very hot, humid atmosphere. The children are all taught French, that is the compulsory language, the island is populated around the perimeter and land is priced at from $1.00 U.S. money to over $100 per square meter. We had supper that night at the hotel consisting of poor food, tough beef, highly spiced gravy and very sweet carrots. Breakfast was free. Then we took the ferry to Morea. The mountain peaks were terrific and the hotel consisted of little thatched roofed cottages. There is an agricultural college here and they grow plantations of eucalyptus pine, also bananas, vanilla beans, grapefruit, coconuts, bread fruit mangola and papaya and pineapples. The soil is red and so the streams running down the hillside are red. The peaks are even higher here. They have Holstein and Jersey cattle. There is also a military base for testing nuclear bombs and for amusement they have Polynesian dancing and music by beating drums and logs with great gusto, loud and fast. The water is shallow and the waves come in over a coral reed. Breakfast was free -but a salad plate for dinner was $10.00 or 1000 francs.
In the night about 1 p.m. [a.m.] we were awakened to fly to Auckland N.Z. and Victoria. It was very green and lovely and there was quite a fuss over Customs. We had to declare everything. Had an excellent breakfast of half a dozen kinds of fruit, cereal and bacon and eggs. It is a very, busy city and traffic is heavy. You have to press a button to get a light at an intersection. This is Blue Mountain Country. It gets so hot the trees sometimes explode, temperatures are registered as high as 3000° have been recorded.
The eucalyptus trees usually come to life and survive after a fire and so do a lot of littler flowering bushes. Instead of lawns the place is covered in flowering bushes, some red, and some indigo blue and the silk oak has yellow flowers. A room at the hotel is $85.00 a night for two and for breakfast they offer you cereal, bacon, eggs, sausage, three or four kinds of juice, two kinds of melon, raw pineapple, cooked pears, peaches, apricots, and prunes, three kinds of buns and coffee. Their peaches are pears are hugh [huge] and magnificent. The barren land, fire seared, emerges from where with bare pastures and great number of horses.
Over at Cambden, we came to the grapevines and a winery. It had been set up by refugees who escapes from French soldiers, old homes with a fire place in each room and a forked post sat in front of each house. This is where they slaughtered beef and hung it to bleed. Posts were also used to truss up convicts for whipping. The meal here consisted of beautiful homemade bread, still hot, a salad and a slab of poorly cooked beef. This was set up on a richly set up ranch and all sorts of amusements.
West of this is a serious droughts, cattle and sheep are dying all around. Sydney still further west has more rainfall. One home there sold for six million dollars. The opera house was large, seated 5000 people, expensively run and financed by lotteries. They have a flag of their own.
Persimmons is a beautiful fruit, grown here and one of these and two oranges cost $1.40.
Their newspapers are a good deal like ours, full of murders and sex crimes, and news from the United States. It is pretty here, residential area with shrubs covered with flowers. You can swim twelve months of the year and it is very hot. The animal sanctuary us full of emus, wombats, koalas and kangaroos.
On the way back to Sydney the wheat crops were excellent and good pasture for horses. At the hotel there was a newspaper stuffed in under your bedroom door and a tea service in your room with what they labelled “long life milk”. Our breakfast was fantastic, imagine having orange juice, mango, pineapple, honeydew melon, pears, peach, apricots, tomatoes, Danish pastry, ham, cereal, Australian spread and coffee served to you at one meal.
Going on South to Canberra we stopped at a six hundred acre sheep farm and were served some excellent steak, wonderful crusty bread, still hot, made without yeast an a cup of tea made in a “Billy”. Which is a simply a tin can. Land sells for as ahigh as $2000 to $2500 an acre. It is very barren and dry. They sow millet and oats for pasture, sheep are poor, sell for $1.00 per hundred and those they cannot sell they take the bones out and can the meat for pet food. There is a great deal of utterly useless land around Sydney.
Bancroft Times, Mar 9/83
A 58,000 Mile Honeymoon Mar 16/83
They have no barns for storage feed, yet they have a chute made strong enough to withstand a rogue elephant, for loading animals onto Canberra itself.
It is a very green and lush city and immediate surroundings. The air is hazy with red dust coming from the west. They say Canberra was one a sheep ranch owned by Joshua John Moore. Had dinner here in a revolving restaurant built in a television tower on the top of Black Mountain.
Eucalyptus trees give off tiny globules of oil from their leaves which float through the air and produce a blue haze -hence Blue Mountain. The Canadian High Commissioner to Canada here, is a young man from Toronto -coming to Cantebury Plains. It is beautiful farm country with deer farms. Black currants are grown in big fields and fruit is made into a product called Rybana Concentrated Juices -then Geraldine where they are experimenting on milking goats for cheesed called “Fetta”. On thru Burke’s Pass 2200 feet above sea level. There are no snakes, foxes, or wolves or dingos in New Zealand. Kea is a mountain parrot which attacks sheep occasionally and picks out only their liver and kidneys to eat.
New Zealand is beautiful -they farm every inch of ground -sheep are every where you look, with some beef and dairy cows. Their power is made by three manmade lakes links by canal and water falls and through two big pipes into a power house. The rivers we saw in New Zealand are very wide and shallow with no definite channel, but little winding streams that unite and separate and look like the end of a frayed ribbon. The mountains are snow capped with streams running down the sides. Where ever there is a blade of grass there is a sheep. Drove over to Queenston. It is beautiful oranges, cookies and courtesy tea in every room, waiting for you.
Next day we drove to a sheep ranch with 30,000 sheep and 800 cattle, Herefords mostly. They get occasional snow around here, but it does not stay. We continued on to Lake Annu, thelakes [the lakes] are very deep, even below sea level. The huge National Park here is “Fiorland”, it is the largest park in the British Common Wealth. Invercargill was out next stop. It is the farthest city South in the world and the hotel is beside this lake. Beautiful flower gardens around it, the people are English and Scotch. This is avalanche country, they say the wind preceding the avalanche does more damage, sometimes, they are 1200 miles an hour. A concrete wall was blown away last winter by one. Along the road the cliffs are straight down, going down the other side, it had snowed and it was frightening to be sliding around up here. Our lunch consisted of figs, apples, cheese wafers and tea.
We retraced our steps back to Queenstown where a small plane was waiting to go to Rotorura. In this part they grow Alfalfa and have a lot of sheep. If an inspector finds a louse on a sheep the owner is fined or if noxious weeds are found he is fined. They are very particular about shearing too, the shears are fixed so they cut the wool a certain distance from the [changes topics] Going to the hotel we found it was in a thermal area, steam issues from the ground all of the time and smells of sulphur. They specialize in sulphur baths. They grow fields of turnips for sheep pasture, fence off a little piece at a time, cut the lamb’s teeth so he can’t bite into a turn and turn them in the patch. They eat all the other leaves off, go to another patch until they have all the leaves off and then dig the turnips for winter feed. An easier way then we had for …[cuts off]
At Maorie there is a beautiful Anglican Church. Hand woven mats cover the walls, all wood surfaces were carved, all but the seat bottoms. Elaborate stained windows and a great white statue of Queen Victoria under the roof support by carved posts.
Before we got to Auckland we came to Cook’s Vineyard, stopped here and were tuned loose to pasture on a table of rich edible and cookies which our rapidly fattening group pounced on and ate with great gusto with wine to drink.
Driving on through market gardens we came to Auckland, the growers were Indians and Chinese who grow mostly onions, strawberries and cauliflower, and waiting for us at the hotel as usual in the room we found coffee, tea bags, small bottle of milk, 2 kiwi fruit and a knife. With a few more things of our own we made our supper. Next day for dinner they threw a piece of lamb at a hot griddle and served it with salad.
Fiji is very hot and humid with a damp atmosphere and the hotel was huge. It spread over fifteen acres, surrounded by flowers. The Fiji natives are fine, large, black, frizzy haired people. After breakfast we went on a tour. The first village complete with Methodist Church on posts about three feet off the ground. Native houses, are shacks, untidy, crowded and each with an adjacent, iron out house and beside it, of all things, is an orchid farm.
There are about one hundred little islands around Fiji, many uninhabited. Where it is inhabited they live in villages and grow sugar cane. One crop can be cut three times then re-seeded, it is all cut by hand, and sugar is exported.
Came home by way of Hawaii and pineapple country, Pearl Harbour, Los Angeles and home, sunburned and happy with food for thought for years to come.
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