It has been my intention for some time now to write a story on how my wife's uncle, Jim Dugan, taught me how to make a rope with very primitive tools. We were sitting on the veranda at his home up in Lochlin, Ont. when he mentioned the cost of buying a rope now.
How else could you get one without buying it? I asked.
Make it yourself the way we used to was his reply.
Make my own rope? I replied.
Sure he said, and with that remark he had piqued my curiosity.
We went out to his tool shed and brought out a very primitive looking gadget that consisted of two boards loosely clinging to each other with three small cranks attached to them. One on the left, one on the right, and the third in the centre of the boards.
Next he showed me a little gadget that was about a foot long with semi-circle slits on the top and both sides and, it too was made of wood. He went back into the tool shed and came out with a roll of binder twine and tied the loose end to the left hook then proceeded towards me (which was about 30 feet away) and ran the twine through the semi-circle on the left, then back to the left hook on the board and back to me again. This he did five times and then made the same number of runs back and forth to the centre and right side semi-circles.
At this point, he had me turn the centre crank on the boards while he commenced to twist the binder twine from the stick I had been holding, in the opposite direction. He continued doing this until we met each other at which point he removed the remaining twine from the hooks and there was our rope!
Jim slowly and methodically ran the sole of his boot over the rope for its entire length and then brought out an old bucket, placed a newspaper in it and set it on fire singeing the fibers from what one would take to be a rope purchased at a hardware store!
I asked him what all he made ropes for and he said that he had made them for plough lines, halter shanks and anything one would need a rope for including swings for children. "We could make ropes any size we chose by just adding the number of runs we made" he concluded.
I was so amazed at what I had learned that when my son took his wife and two sons up to Lochlin for a visit they had him show them how to make a rope and feel they have become acquainted with what could almost be considered a lost art.
By the way, that was last summer just after he and his wife Gladys had celebrated their 91st birthdays!