Monday, December 20, 2010


            I had just come back from watching my 8 year old grandson play a game of hockey.We had been well entertained.The teams were evenly matched and the crowd cheered their players along.The areana was bright and cheery and after every game the ice cleaning machine came on the ice,scraped up the snow,spread a light layer of water on the surface which froze smoothly and quickly,the job all completed in about 5 minutes .Then the next game could begin.Above the long bench seats on the one side of the areana was a type of a long tube of a gas heater and people sat in warm comfort behind thick glass panes with netting up above to stop any puck from flying into the crowd.  
            The boys and girls playing the game,my how well they were protected.They wore hockey gloves,shin pads,shoulder pads,helmets with face protectors even mouth guards.I got to thinking of the changes in our national sport since the 1940’s when I was an 8 year old and playing the game.I never played on an organized team.It was just a make up game with a few friends.I learned to skate on a patch of ice on a farm field.We put our skates on out there sitting on the ground beside the ice.We had no safety equipment not even hockey gloves.Sometimes we would tie a pair of old socks on our shins as shin pads.At school sometimes we would play with a piece of frozen horse manure as our puck.Other times we used an old tin can.Then when someone  would have a real puck we would use it.There were accidents in those days.The tin can flew up and hit you in the face.The puck would take a few teeth out and the boy would have a mark for life.It is good to see all the safety improvements.
            Often we would have to clean the snow off the ice in the field before we could start our game.At school we would carry pails and pails of water pumped by hand from the well in the school yard to make an ice rink .I took piano lessons from my aunt in Atwood every Saturday in the winter.I could hardly wait to finish these lessons and get over to the church shed where they used to tie up the horses.Now with cars driven all winter the town built an indoor hockey rink for the children to play on.You could always find a pick up game of hockey going on there.Usually there were no adults just kids having fun and playing.There was no official referee.Everone who came was given a chance to play.You would appoint two captains,choose up teams and the captains ran the game.
            Two miles from our farm was an area in the bush where marl had been dug up  years earlier.Marl is a lime-rich mud sometimes called mudstone.,when fired it could be made into bricks or tile.Years earlier this marl was being loaded on rail cars  and taken to Henfryn about 10 miles away to a brick yard.Some of the old brick yard was still there when I was a boy but the tracks had all been torn up along this old rail line.There was only a slight rise or mound through the fields to let you know that a rail line had been there.The marl beds would be 20 or 30 feet across and 40 rods long.The mud had been dug out to a depth of 3 feet.Water lay in this trench all summer and froze in the winter.After a thaw or mild spell it would freeze again sometimes leaving a glassy smooth ice surface which was perfect for our ice rink.We played many a game of hockey out in the fresh air on this great natural piece of ice. Such are my hockey memories of the 1940’s.

December 20, 2010

Ava Maria

Making Kites


                When I was a boy growing up on the farm making kites was a yearly spring hobby. When those March winds came there were plenty of stiff winds blowing and you could get any weight of kite flying in the air. I would use my jackknife and whittle a piece of cedar off a long cedar rail until it was round and smooth enough and small enough to be used for the size of kite I wanted to build.
            I made kites out of old newspapers. I made kites with tissue paper and I made kites out of cloth, some worn out flannel shirts or cotton shirts or bed sheets. One year after the war our neighbors got a silk parachute. They cut this up and used it to make clothing. They gave me a piece. I smoothed off a piece of cedar rail to make the wooden frame for the kite that was six feet high .Then I covered it with the parachute silk. I made a long tail for it tying cloth bows on a long string of binder twine. Then on a very windy day we got the kite flying. It went up and up and up. We had lots of binder twine and the kite began to look very small way up in the sky.
            The wind was so steady and strong that we tied kite to a fence post and watched the it  fly all afternoon. When it was time to bring the kite down we wondered how we were going to wind up all that string. Then we got a bright idea. We hooked a wooden spindle onto the power takeoff of our Farmall A tractor, put the power takeoff in gear and let the tractor do all the work of winding  all that binder twine string attached to our kite.
            These are fond memories of kite flying and still when March rolls around I think of the excitement of flying a kite.

December 18 2010

Bobbing For Apples

Bobbing For Apples

Do you remember the fun and excitement of bobbing for apples? I always looked forward to playing this game. We usually played it at birthday parties and Halloween. My sister’s birthday was August the 5th.This was usually a nice hot day in the summer and we could set the round galvanized tub up on the lawn. Often we would just wear our bathing suits and not worry at all about getting wet or making a mess in the house. The tub was the same one we used to get our regular Saturday night bath in by the warm kitchen stove.
            All the boys and girls along our farm line were invited to the birthday party. Many games of tag and chase were played. We would have a 3 legged race and a sack hop, play a game of ball or anti-anti over the milk house but my favourite game was bobbing for apples. You would fill the tub full to the top with water, then throw in 10 apples of different sizes and kinds. Then two children would kneel on the grass one on each side of the tub, put their hands behind their backs and see who would be the first to get an apple out of the water just using his teeth. You would make a quick dart at the apple but it would dart away from you. Your head might hit the head of the other person as you moved around the tub with your hands behind your back trying to catch an apple. Sometimes you would get this apple by the stem but the stem would break and the apple would fall back into the tub. Sometimes you would put your head completely under the water and pin the apple on the bottom of the tub and bite into it and bring it out of the water.
            The winner was always given a big cheer and of course he would get to eat the apple. This was one of our favourite games at our Halloween parties at our school. Someone would bring the tub from home. It would be filled with water on the school room floor and we would have to be careful not to spill water all over the floor. We would get our shirts pretty wet though.
            Often at school we would tie a string across the classroom, tie a string onto the stem of the apple and the other end of the string tied onto the string across the classroom. You would tie a row of these apples onto the string. The children would stand in a row with their hands behind their backs. The teacher would say go. Then the fun began.
            Memories, such simple and fun games.

December 18 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Habitat For Humanity

The Paul Harris Award to

Jim Furler

Thursday October 28 2010

Well it is over! I have seen it ! I have been part of it.The annual Ed Schreyer Work Project  2000.Ten houses were built in Windsor Ontario in one week, July 16 to 21,2000.  
            Mind you they weren’t quite all finished,but on Monday when we started ,fourty people plus,gathered around each house site and started to erect prefabricated walls,put up the rafters,put on the sheating and start roofing, It was a hot day.We drank lots of water,enjoyed a large box lunch at noon,ate a hearty meal at night and were ready for a good sleep because the next day started at 6.00am.We were bussed to the site at 7 ,had announcements and devotion and were ready to start building again by 8:00.
            That was the hectic work schedule.As the schedule fell behind volunteers were asked if they could come back after supper and work till dark.
            Friday at 3:30 the ten houses were dedicated.The new owners and their families stood on the porches and ribbons were cut.It was a happy moment.The families had worked alongside their house volunteers all week.New friendships had been made.Here now was a real home—brand new—completely finished on the outside with siding and roofing,windows and doors in place.The green grass was there with new young trees planted and shrubbery and flowers.
            What a miracle ! What an accomplishment ! Hundreds of people working together over a week sharing their skills,cooperating--,seeing a job that needed to be done and doing it.Besides all the Windsor people, volunteers had come from all over Canada and the United States.Many grade nine students helped with the lunches.There were college students,retirees—people from all walks of life present.I met a man from Sault Saint Marie.He was there with his granddaughter. A man and his wife from Albany were there with their grandson from South Carolina. They had helped on many builds.
            At noon while we ate our lunches, which were donated by a different organization every day,announcements were given,sponsors recognized,and entertainment provided—from an opera singer ( who was helping on the build)to skilled Irish dancers.
            What a lot of organizing and planning must have gone into this great project! What a lot of volunteering!
            One of the highlights of the whole experience for me was hearing Millard Fuller and his wife Linda, the founders of Habitat for Humanity, speak at the orientation meeting Sunday July 16.
            Ed Schreyer also spoke and shared his enthusiasm for the work of Habitat for Humanity.Last year the Ed Schreyer Work Project was in Halifax,the year before in Newfoundland. People helping people get a simple decent place to live.
By the end of summer over 100 000 houses had been built by Habitat for Humanity International .A new house is being built somewhere in the world every 30 minutes.
            I wrote this   ten years ago when I returned from Windsor and pasted the account in my souvenir book called Grandpa’s Hammer.There is a picture here too of the Cobbler Family and the fourty volunteers who helped build them a house.On the back cover of the book is written ….
            Shelter is one of life’s most basic needs.When families experience the protection,warmth and safety that adequate housing supplies,life changes and the cycle of poverty ,despair,and hopelessness breaks.
            Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit,ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing and homelessness from the earth.Habitat works in partnership with people everywhere to develop communities with God’s people in need by building and renovating houses,so that  there are decent houses in decent communities where people can live and grow into all that God intended.
            Jim Furler was on this build with me .He was working on another house.
Each year there is a week’s build somewhere in Canada called The Ed Schreyer Work Project. Jim has been on a number of them—in Regina—Halifax—Winnipeg—and Ottawa.
            Jim and I have been on the Board for Habitat For Humanity Niagara.We have been on the Building Committee,The Site Selection Committee and The property Committee. We were building one house a year.We have helped build 4 houses in St.Catharines,--3 in Wellend and 1 in Simcoe where the local Rotary Club was the main sponsor and builders.  Jim has continued working with Habitat.
            Habitat For Humanity Canada was founded in 1985 and built its first house in  Winkler, Winnipeg.It has grown to where it has over 35000 volunteers.The Head Office is in Waterloo Ontario.There are 73 affiliates like Habitat For Humanity Niagara covering all areas of Canada. This year the 1800th home was built.
            The first ReStore was opened in Canada in 1991. Now there are 61 in the country and over 84000 tons of waste has been diverted from landfill sites and been recycled and used by the general public.The money earned from the ReStores has helped to build many Habitat homes.
            The Global Village Programme was started in Canada in 2005.This is where a team of people from Canada volunteer to go to other countries and work with other volunteers coming from other countries to help build Habitat Houses.
To date more than 4300 participants from Canada have travelled to more than 30 countries to help build over 1000 homes. Habitat For Humanity Canada now sends the most volunteers per capita in the world on Global Village Trips. Jim Furler has now been on 6 of these trips The last was in 2009 to Vietnam.
            I mentioned that Habitat For Humanity International had built 100 000 houses-- by the year 2000 --,a new house being built somewhere in the world every 30 minutes.Now HFHI is working in 93 countries and has built 225 000 homes.There is now a new home built somewhere in the world every 21 minutes.
            How does Habitat do this ? It must take a lot of volunteers and money. Many individuals contribute and many large corporations. I will mention just a few.
            Home Depot--- This corporation has become a strong partnership with HFHCanada.It has donated much product from its stores. The Home Depot’s volunteer force of associates has put in numerous volunteer hours from coast to coast in Canada over the years, rolling up their sleeves to swing a hammer and help build homes and hope.
            Microsoft---It is their belief that when technology meets passionate people the potential to make a difference in the world is unlimited. The headline from the article I read was—Building Futures through Technology—Microsoft software donation—helps Habitat reach full potential--   As the world’s largest software company, Microsoft has the capacity to help improve the lives of people everywhere.Through an Unlimited Potential Software Grant HFHCanada has received in excess of 1.3 million dollars worth of software and licenses for its 73 affiliates across Canada.
            This generous donation of software will allow Habitat affiliates to improve their productivity,increase their ability to collaborate and be more effective,and extend their impact.—Whether  fundraising,securing permits,managing sites--,selecting partner families--,administering mortages or keeping tract of volunteers, this donation allows affiliates to maximaze their time and reach their full potential to serve even more families in need.
Genworth Financial Canada-- this-corporation—created a contest that empowers children to build a house with words.   The contest invites children in grades  4.5 and 6 to use their own words to describe what home means to them. Kyle Dingle of St. John’s Newfoundland was the winner of the third annual  Meaning of Home national writing contest in 2009. Kyle was able to chose which community would receive a $ 60 000 donation from Genworth towards the building of a new Habitat for Humanity home. ----Here is his  essay:  It is heartwarming..
            What is a house?What is a Home? There is a big difference let me tell you.
A house is just a wooden structure put together by nails and wood.Who really cares about nails and wood.Not me,but if I did not have a house-- like a lot of families-- I probably would--,especially when that house becomes a home! A home is a place where you feel warm and cozy.You have things around you that are special and have meaning,but most of all you are surrounded by people you love and who love you.A family makes a house a home by living in it and making it special.
            There are many,too many families in the world without a home,they don’t even have a house to live in.Many years ago a programme called Habitat For Humanity was started to help these families.They build houses all over the world for deserving needy families.The family along with dozens of volunteers get together for a few days and build a house.When the family moves in they make it a home.It is even happening here—literally-- right in our back yards.On my street a habitat house is being built right now.In Mount Pearl this past summer a lucky family got to build their new home.It is hard to believe --until one day you see an empty lot and just a few days later-- a house soon to be a home is in its place.It is mindboggling-- I can’t wait to see the family that moves in up the street-- and I hope they are happy now they have a home…….a house is just a house until a family makes it a home.
            John Bell   written up in an article in the Habitat Spirit newsletter—says-- he got a case of “ habititus” which has changed his life. He now has been building for many years. I expect it is the same with Jim Furler. John says the building techniques and temperatures vary greatly between the builds here in Canada and other countries but the experience—is similar…”Ultimately we’re helping to improve the community,helping a family have a house.Its an amazing feeling”
            In closing we simply want to thank people like Jim who become dedicated to the--Habitat For Humanity cause --and who volunteer and give of their time,their talent and skills-- at considerable cost to themselves --to help others in need….to give a hand up…and a lasting change to a family and their lives.
            I am happy to be here tonight-- to enjoy this dinner-- and to see Jim receive recognition and thanks-- in his home community-- for the work he does..This Paul Harris Award --given by Rotary at Noon-- is indeed an honour to receive.
            Jim has certainly travelled far and wide in support of Habitat . This year he went to Anchorage Alaska in June for 3 and ½ months -- and he hasn’t been long back from Birmingham- Alabama-- where he helped on this year’s Jimmy Carter Work Project--.While doing all  this--he has enjoyed experiences and adventures--,been introduced to new foods and culture-- and I am sure --has many memories from locations throughout the world. I hope he will be able to share some of these experiences with others-- who may too-- become excited and bitten with the “Habititus “ bug. Habitat For Humanity can always use more volunteers.

My 1952 Ford

               I remember the  second car that I owned was a 1952 Ford V8 sedan, green in colour.I bought it in 1958.I was told it was a one owner car the previous owner being a nurse.It was in perfect condition and very powerful.I remember the bench seats,the dashboard with the many round knobs.The speedometer needle had a little circle at the end of  it  which would circle the numbers on the speedometer as you increased speed.It would sit steady at 50 miles per hour at the straight upright position. You could darken all the lights on the dashboard or turn them up full. I put the radio from my first car a 1948 Studebaker Commander-in –Chief in it. Radios did not come automatically in cars in those days, it was an added luxury to have one.
                I drove on a lot of gravel farm roads in those days and one had to use a light foot on the gas pedal or you were jumping forward,gravel flying out from under the rear wheels in all directions. The gear shift was on the steering column. It was a thin chrome stick with a round knob on the end and it was so easy to switch gears.The car would just leap forward. This car had a boxy design,plenty of chrome with solid big bumpers.The windshield was divided down the centre and the wipers were small compared to today’s design.
                These were the days when everyone put snow tires on in the winter.I bought retreads then drove them all summer until the tread was completely worn away.The car had a manual choke and it was a pleasure to start up on a very cold winter morning. Everything was stiff and solid but all you had to do was pull out that choke,turn the key and the car roared right into life first try.That engine had a solid sound to it.The car was fairly light and as I said peppy. I remember telling my friends I didn’t think cars manufacturers  could ever make a better car. Well surprise, surprise ! I even had to roll the windows up by hand on this one.I had to buy my own side view mirror and there still weren’t any turn signal indicators on the cars.Still it was a very good car.The engine never wore out the body did.
                But my next car a 1955 Meteor with the long fins and pointed fenders had many more places for dirt to collect and rust to show up. Still if I could drive my boxy 1952 Ford V8 to-day I would be a happy man.

My 1955 Meteor


                It is 54 years since my 1955 Meteor was manufactured.I bought it in 1958.It was a big heavy car with lots of chrome on the large shiny bumpers.It was two tone with a sun visor,a reddish brown colour at the bottom and a cream on the top.It had a factory built radio with shiny push buttons.The aerial  was on the right front fender.I put new tires on it, black because whitewalls cost another five dollars.In winter time I used retread snowtires. I don’t remember doing any work on the V8 engine other than the yearly fall tune up,new spark plugs and points,then the car would start well all winter long.Over the years though I did a lot of body work myself.I used fibre glass kits and spray bombs from Canadian Tire.It didn’t look like a professional job but it was solid and I got some satisfaction in keeping my car looking pretty good with a small outlay of cash.The front fenders rusted out badly with large holes appearing. When I was finished with the fibre glass that was the strongest metal on the car.I used to wax the car to bring out the shine.The water would bead off the finish.
                Looking back over the the cars of this era now they  seemed to be so big powerful and heavy. The bench seats  were wide and you could curl up and sleep comfortably on them.I put seat covers on them.This Meteor was a fast car and I enjoyed its performance. My next car  a 1962 Ford Galaxie V8 was slightly smaller,seemed lower to the ground but was every bit as powerful. Such are the memories of my old cars.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Manure Spreader

I went for a bicycle ride the other day and watched a farmer spreading a large pile of manure that had been dumped in his field.There were  three John Deere tractors in the field.They all had enclosed cabs I suspect with air conditioning.There was an industrial sized big bucket loader that was scooping up the manure and dumping it into very large manure spreaders.And the size of the field !It looked to be a country block. As soon as the manure was spread there was another large tractor there with a cultivator to work the field up and bury the manure.In three days everything was completed.
            Back in the 1940’s  when we were doing the job on Dad’s farm it took three weeks !The manure pile was out behind the barn and a team of horses pulled the manure spreader.A man used a five tyne fork, maybe two men were working at the job and it was their muscles that supplied the power. Our fields were mostly ten acre fields.
            I can remember a strange and scary incident that happened away back then.There was a line fence between our two farms. We had a gate in it which we used all the time.Year after year we went through this gate with our loads of hay.The cows walked through this gate all the time.This year we were spreading manure in this field going through the gate with every load.One time we came back through with an empty manure spreader and there was a big chuck and the back two wheels had fallen down to the axle in a hole.The horses gave an extra pull and the manure spreader came out.We went back to look to see what had happened.There was a six foot hole in diameter in the middle of the gateway.We looked down it for about twenty feet and saw water at the bottom.We learned later that many years ago before dad got the farm there was a steam powered saw mill on the spot used to saw the trees into lumber.This must have been the dug well to get water to operate the steam engine.The top of the well had been planked over and soil put over the top of that.The planks had finally rotted through and the large hole was left.It took many loads of earth to fill up the hole and make this gateway a safe spot to drive our wagons through.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


What can three teenage farm boys do for entertainment?That’s before they started dating.Well they could borrow their dad’s cars and go to town for the Saturday night picture show.They could go bike riding or horseback riding.They could go fishing in the spring of the year.They could go shooting groundhogs with their 22 rifles,or just do target practice hitting tin cans set up in a row.In the fall of the year when the goldenrod was in bright colour,they could spend a couple of hours having sword fights.
            Here is how it worked.Across the road from our farm was a hundred acre pasture field.I had never seen the field ploughed up.Maybe fifty cattle pastured on it all summer.A ditch ran through it  and there was lots of water for the cattle to drink.Near the back of the farm a long way from the road were mounds of earth where a cabin had once been.A dug well was in the midst of a poplar grove that had grown up around it,wild lilac bushes flourished too.There was an old abandoned orchard here also.There was an old tree of Tomman Sweets,an Astrican and a shiny red apple but the tree I remember best was the old spy apple tree.Its trunk had been hit by lighting and split.The winds and storms had knocked the tree over years ago and half the tree was dead but one large branch which rested on the ground had shot up new growth getting its sap from the old twisted split trunk.Every year this branch grew the best and most delicious red northern spy apples.We would always wait for a good frost then make sure we walked back to this tree to stuff our pockets with the best eating apple you could ever imagine.We would take enough home to get an apple pie made too.
            Anyway this field was just covered with clumps of beautiful yellow goldenrod.They would grow three to four feet high on stiff woody stems.We boys would pick 8 to 10 stalks and make a bouquet of flowers,then start using them as swords to slash and poke ,and whack each other over the wrists,body and face if you didn’t duck or get out of the way.By the time the game was finished we had some red marks and welts on our arms and wrists and sides.
            Such was the entertainment for some farm boys on a lazy sunny fall afternoon. Goldenrod season brings back these memories.


Monday, September 6, 2010


I had a cousin who lived on a farm four miles from us across the highway and by the river.Sometimes she would ride her horse to our farm and we would go horseback riding. Her horse was a beautiful Palomino.It had white legs,white mane and tail and was a very high stepper.She called it Eldorado.Doris was a good rider and taught her horse tricks.She would ask him how old he was and he would paw the ground.Eldorado would also shake his head,turn around in a circle and stop on a dime.Doris would stand up on his back on bare feet while the horse cantered around in a circle.She fell off once and broke her collar bone.

Eldorado would often lead the parade on the First of July.Doris would spend time washing and brushing and combing his mane and tail till the horse shone.The western saddle was finely carved and the silver on the stirrups and bridle sparkled.Doris made a striking figure sitting tall and slim in the saddle dressed in her cow-girl outfit her curly black hair sticking out from under her stetson and her riding boots gleaming.Eldorado knew he was on show and high stepped and pranced in the front of the parade.

Eldorado lived a life of ease on the farm for many years.He was always out if the front field grazing in the tall grass or standing contentedly in the shade under the tree.He lived for 31 years.That seems to be a long time ago now but I always think of him when I go to Fall Fairs and see pretty Palomino horses.


We had a number of horses on the farm when I was a boy.Most were work horses but we had one thoroughbred,a road horse and a great riding horse.We called him Prince.He had a shiny brown coat and there was a white star on his forehead.I was riding horses when I was five but it was years before I was allowed to ride Prince.Then I had to be able to stay on his back riding bareback before dad would let me ride him with a saddle.This was our favourite horse to ride for getting the cows each night and bringing them to the barn for milking.Prince could even sidle up to a gate so that we could open it off his back,then he would side step with the gate until it was fully open.Then after the cows had gone through we could close the gate again off horseback.Prince liked to run and gallop,you would be going so fast it even made your eyes water.He had one bad habit.He always seemed to think when you turned him around that it was time to go back to the barn.He would take off at top speed and you had to duck your head as you went quickly through the stable door.

We had five horse stalls in our barn and one box stall.The horse stable was the first part of the barn you entered,then you went through to the cow stable.I will try to tell you the names of the horses we had and a little about them.

Barny and Dobbin were two work horses dad brought back from Saskatchewan when they came back to Ontario in 1930.At age 24 he had married mom and they had gone west to start farming on a quarter section of land.They stayed for six years.All the work out there was done by horses and it sounded exciting to me to hear them tell of driving four and six horse teams.The stories of the dirty 30’s and the hardships trying to make a living on a farm in Saskatchewan showed that mom and dad were always glad they had made the decision to return to Ontario.Of course farming in the depression years no one was making any money.They told stories of selling hogs after raising them from little piglets and feeding them until they were market weight for only five dollars a piece.Dad loaded his horses and farm machinery onto the train and had them shipped to Ontario.In 1932 he bought his father’s farm.

Dobbin was a black Percheron and a very gentle horse.He was good with children.It was hard to get up on his back.I remember climbing into his manger,walking across the top of it,getting a good hold of his mane,then pulling myself up on his back.Some times we had rope reins and sometimes we had leather reins.We stood on the manger too to put the bridle on the horse.Often we would lead the horse by the reins out the stable door and close up to a rail fence and jump from the top rail onto the horse’s back.

Barny was a brown Percheron but he was bigger than Dobbin.He was always used on the stone boat to clean the manure out from behind the cows and pull it to the manure pile.Dobbin and Barny made a good team and they worked well together a lot.They pulled the hay wagon and they pulled the mower to cut the hay.They lived to a good old age.Dobbin was over 30 when he died.He always reminded me of the horse in Black Beauty.

Floss was another Belgian mare we had. She was a big black horse with a very broad back and your legs stuck away out to the sides when you rode her.She was gentle and walked with a limp.I used to ride on her back when she was hooked to the scuffler and mother and I would scuffle the garden. Floss had a colt we called Pixie.She was a pretty black mare and full of life.She wanted her own way too.When she was a two year old and we were breaking her and training her to drive on the bob sleigh in the winter time,the milk truck came up behind us on the road and scared her.The team took off running and one of the reins broke.The horses got away on us and ran for half a mile down the road.Ever after that Pixie would try to run on us when a car or truck came up behind us.Pixie made a good saddle horse and we had lots of great rides on her.As I said she wanted her own way, sometimes she refused to do what she was told.One time we were pulling a load of hay through the ditch,she stopped in the middle and wouldn’t move.We had to unhitch the team and hook another team onto the wagon to pull the load out of the water. Dad got tired of Pixie’s balkyness and decided he was going to sell her.He traded her on a new one-way disc or plough.She was put in a field by a train track.One day when the train came by and blew its whistle Pixie jumped the fence and ran three miles down the track in front of the train.That was the last we heard about Pixie.

Molly was another work horse we had, a Clydesdale I think ,but not a very big one.She was brown and white a sort of roan colour.Molly was the horse we used most in the winter to take us to school.I would usually ride on the horse’s back and my sister and the neighbour’s daughter rode on a large handsleigh which was hooked onto the thirty foot rope tugs attached to Molly’s harness.We filled a sack full of hay and placed it on the sleigh and the girls sat on top of the sack.When we got to our rural one room school two miles away we put the horse in the neighbour’s barn and put the hay in the manger.The other children always wanted a ride on our sleigh.

Molly raised a colt for us.We called her Bonnie she was a big brown gentle mare.Molly and Bonnie made a good team on the hay wagon,the side rake,and the harvest wagons.

The last horse we had in the 1960’s we called Ruth.She was a big heavy Clydesdale,brown in colour with a lovely long mane.She was the biggest and tallest horse we ever had and the only horse we had at that time.We didn’t have much work for her to do either.She would clean out the stables with the stone boat. At Christmas time I would put bells on her,fill the stone boat up with clean fresh straw and give all the children on our rural line living near us a ride behind the horse with the sleigh bells ringing.

Such are the memories of the horses on our farm when I was growing up.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The 1948 Commander-in–Chief Studebaker

It was 1955.I was nineteen and had just graduated from Teacher’s College.I had been hired to teach at a one room country school at Brodhagen Ontario 15 miles from the farm.I would be needing a car.

I looked around on my own and found this lovely sleek black shiny 1948 Commander-in-Chief Studebaker with wire wheels and a radio! It had lots of chrome,the steering wheel looked fancy and special and the dash board was better than any I had seen.This car’s style was ahead of its time!The lines were smooth not boxy like other cars of its day.I wanted it.It cost $500.00.I thought I could manage it.I bought it.

Well the car had been over the roads and had more miles on it than I knew.The body sure looked good though and I was proud of that fancy car.I did a motor job on it then decided to drive it up to Copper Cliff Ontario just past Sudbury to visit my sister who was teaching there.It was a long drive in those days about 300 miles. I probably shouldn’t have driven the car so hard just after a motor job because when I got to Copper Cliff I was nearly out of oil! Ever after that the car used oil.It ran well and ticked along like a sewing machine.A couple years later I was still driving it but in the hot summer weather I was pouring axel grease in for oil.The oil gage would spring right over to top pressure when you started the car then after a lot of driving it would fall lower and lower. The car had bench seats which were very comfortable.It steered and held the road nicely.It was a pleasure to drive.This Studebaker had one feature which I never found on any other car.It was a hill hugger.When you pressed in the clutch when the car was on a hill a brake came on and the car would not roll backwards. I loved that car.

Now the next car I got about 1958 was a 1952 Ford V8 sedan. Boy did that car have power!


Dear Bill Sherk

While reading the article about Art Fishenden’s 1933 Dodge Brothers Model DP Deluxe sedan in today’s March 5 2009 Hamilton Spectator it got me dreaming about some of the old cars in our family.

The year was 1944 and as farmers could buy new rubber tires for their cars dad decided to buy a 1935 Cheverolet sedan from a man in Listowel Ontario. This car was going to replace dad’s old 1928 Cheverolet sedan with wooden spoked wheels which he had driven all the way back from Saskatchewan with his wife and 2 year old son in 1930 when he quit farming there and bought his father’s farm near Atwood Ontario.

I rode to Listowel with dad in 1944 to pick up his new car .I was all excited.We had 4 flat tires driving the car home to the farm that day and I was pretty tired and weary when we finally got there.Dad took the car to our mechanic in Atwood to do a motor job and general overhaul.He had a push button starter installed on the dashboard as the starter switch which was below the gas pedal was giving a lot of trouble.I remember the brakes would freeze up in the winter time and the heater didn’t give much heat. He had a suction cup glass with electrical wires in it put on the windshield for the winter and when that was plugged in the frost was quickly cleared off the windshield. The car had a canvas roof whick leaked.He had a new one put on. He installed a trailer hitch and we always pulled a trailer filled with bags of grain which we took to Atwood chopping mill to be made into chop for the cows.That car was a regular work horse ! I learned to drive in it when I could barely see out the window. I got my driver’s license when I was 15 as farm boys were able to do that as they were needed to work on the farm.Of course this car had no turning signals you just used your arm.I don’t remember having any more trouble with the car for all the years dad kept it. He got a brand new Pontiac in 1950.

In 1963 I was teaching in Kincardine Ontario.Everyday I would walk by this old 1936 Cheverolet sedan parked behind the woodshed of this home.I would often stand and stare at it.One day a man came out of the house and said. “Are you interested in the old car?.All it needs is a battery and it runs fine”

I said,” I don’t know.How much do you want for it?”

He said,” 25 dollars”

I said .” What !” I bought it and took it home to the farm.For 4 or 5 years whenever I dropped a battery into it, it started right up and I would take it for a ride down memory lane.

Now I remember the first car I bought with my own money in 1955. It was a shiny black Commander in Chief 1948 Studebaker with wire wheels and a radio! But this is another story another dream and another memory.

Jim Love

Grimsby Ontario

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sackets Harbor Trip

Our Trip July 21,22,23, 2010

We left Grimsby about 10:15am.It took us 45 minutes to cross into the states at the Queenston Lewiston bridge.It was easy to find highway 104 which we followed most of the way until we got on highway 3 near Fulton and followed it right to our cabin at The Willows by the Lake near Sackets Harbor arriving at 6:00pm.Leaving Lewiston we headed north to the 104 passing north of Lockport.The 104 was also called Ridge Road.It seemed to be slightly elevated to the surrounding area.There were lots of trees on both sides of the road so we didn’t see any big large fields on our drive. There is a Seaway Trail on the southern shore of Lake Erie,Niagara River,Lake Ontario and The St.Lawrence River going on for 454 miles.Our 104 highway going east through New York State was south of it but when we drove along the St. Lawrence River we covered parts of the Trail.

It rained pretty heavily on the way and the windshield wipers were on full.We found a Tim Hortons for lunch but thought it wasn’t going to stop raining.Then we made a dash for it.Here are some of the small places we went through on the 104 highway. Wrights Corners Ridgewood Johnson Creek Waterport Murray Clarkson Webster (north of Rochester) Ontario Sadies N Rose Red Creek Westbury Hannibal .Then we came to Fulton on highway 3. This seemed quite large it has a population of 11447.There were all the regular eating places and shopping centres like we find at home.

Highway 3 took us right to our pretty little cabin at The Willows on the Lake ,a 12.5 acre site at the eastern end of Lake Ontario,3 miles from Sackets Harbor, near Henderson Bay. We settled in, then left for supper at The Boat House in Sackets Harbor.When we got back to our cabin we found a thunder storm had gone through with high winds knocking down tree branches and one tree by the bay.The hydro was out also.The owners gave us a flashlight.We had left the window on the porch up and my bed blankets were wet so I just used my sleeping bag.It was a hot night.

The next morning I got a picture of about 50 Canada Geese on the lawn by the water.The owner came and ran after them shooing them off the property .We went for a lovely breakfast at Tin Pan Galley in Sackets Harbor.We were able to sit outside under the large trees on the bricked patio.There were lots of flowers and hostas and sunlight streaking through the leaves. Then we walked to Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site,a lovely large park now with a stone wall around the cliff’s edge.We walked through taking pictures and when we got back to the entrance it was time to get a tour through the Commandant’s House in The Navy Yard. This house was not built until the 1840’s. We started the tour with a movie in the ice house by the water.Then we walked through the Carriage House where there was a hands on display.Pamela lay down in a hammock similar to those used by sailors in the 1812 era.We next went to The Commandant’s House as it was in the 1850’s when Commandant Tattnall and family from southern Georgia lived there. The house had 3 stories with a balcony both front and back.There was a piano even though no one in the family could play one.The family liked to eat oysters since he was from the south but it took 4 days to get the oysters from the south to Sackets Harbor,thus they weren’t fresh,they spiced them up but the family was always feeling sickly.They had a pump in the kitchen in the basement, the water coming from the harbor,the pipe was low enough that they could even pump water in the winter.There was an outhouse which collected rainwater and flushed the toilets,the waste water going by underground pipe over the cliff into the harbor.Sometimes the drifting current brought this water back into the bay where the water was being pumped into the house.

When the Civil War began Commandant Tattnall went back to the south.The north called him a traitor and sold off all the household belongings. We got to lift the heavy dress his wife wore summer and winter.

Next it was time for lunch at Karens .Then we went to Sacket’s Mansion built in 1801 which is now a museum.Here we saw a film and picked up information and a map of how to get to Bolt’s Castle at Alexander Bay.We took the scenic route through this part of Jefferson County,passing through Dexter on Black River Bay,going through Chaumont on highway 12E.Chaumont is on Chaumont Bay.We went through Three Mile Bay to Cape Vincent which was a significant area during the war of 1812.It is on the St. Lawrence River across from Kingston Ontario.We drove along the river to Clayton.There is a boat museum here but we didn’t see it. In the 1890’s there were 16 express trains going to and from the village of Clayton a day.We drove through Clayton to Alexandria Bay arriving around 2:00pm . Here is where the Thousand Island House was built in 1871-72 and where Charles Boldt his wife Louise,and their son and daughter stayed in the summer of 1893 and 1894.Then we took the ferry to Boldt’s Castle.It is on Heart Island a five acre island where George Boldt built the castle for his wife Louise .It has 127 rooms .George Boldt was a millionaire proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The castle was begun in 1900.300 workers ,stonemasons,carpenters and artists were employed.In 1904 tragedy struck.Boldt telegrammed the island and commanded the workers “to stop all construction immediately “ Louise had died suddenly.A broken hearted Boldt could not imagine his dream castle without his beloved.Boldt never returned to the island.For 73 years the castle remained vacant,left to the mercy of the wind ,rain,ice,snow and vandals.The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority assumed authority in 1977 determined to preserve Boldt’s legacy for the public .Millions of dollars have been spent in bringing the buildings back to life. Some 220000 tourists view the buildings each year.We just walked through The Castle but there are 5 other structures on the island.They are:-The Power House,The Alster Tower,The Hennery,The Arch and a stone gazebo.

After leaving the castle we came back on highway 12 till it met 81,then took the two laned 81 highway south skirting Waterdown on the Black River,then taking Arsenal Street west back into Sackets Harbor.We picked up a pizza at a little hut ate our supper there and took the rest back to our cabin for breakfast (there proved to be enough for lunch too).

It was another lovely night with a good sunset.We met and chatted with a couple in the gazebo before going to bed.They were from Pennsylvania,he had been a computer programmer.Next morning it was raining when we went back to the Tin Pan Galley for breakfast after which we went to The Seaway Trail Discovery Centre.This is an old limestone building built as a hotel on the Sackets Harbor waterfront after the war of 1812. A lifelike animated Ulysses S. Grant greets you in the former tavern room.Grant played checkers here as a young Army Officer stationed at nearby Madison Barracks.The mission of the Discovery Centre is to inspire you to travel parts of the 454 mile costal region of Lake Erie,Niagara Falls,Lake Intario and the St.Lawrence River.

It was about 12:30 when we left Sackets Harbor and headed for home.Just out of Sackets Harbor was a sign pointing to Smithville.We had to go and see this place since we live in Smithville.It was a small place in the country ,not many streets and not many houses,but there was a historic Baptist Chuch there.We headed east till we hit highway 81,then followed the road south to Syracuse,caught the Interstate 90 to Buffalo.It only took 15 minutes to get across the bridge.We stopped at Wendys for supper then were home in half an hour.I got two books as my souvenirs of this trip,one called Boldt Castle Heart Island—Alexendria Bay,New York and The Thousand Islands, and the other—The Erie Canal—The Ditch That Opened a Nation..

This canal is fascinating to me.It runs roughly parallel to Interstate 90.It took seven years of labour by a predominantly immigrant workforce.It was a 4 foot deep 40 foot wide ditch connecting Lake Erie on the west with the Hudson River in Albany.It was a 363 mile trek across the wilderness of New York State.In its day it was far and away the longest canal in the world.It was completed in 1825.There were 83 locks to raise and lower the boats and barges 682 feet from one end to the other.TheErie Canal did more than simply serve as the nations first super highway. Canal towns with names like Rome,Lockport,Tonawanda and Buffalo were doors leading to the American West.The Erie Canal made New York City the premier port in United States.It opened the regions that are now Ohio,Indiana,Illinois and Michigan for trade.It opened the Great Lakes and it cleared land across New York State for the railroads.The canal gave merchants a way to cross the Appalachian Mountains and transport goods without braving the muddy inefficient roads across the state in 1825. It took 7 weeks to travel across New York State by horse and buggy.On the Erie Canal that same trip took just 7 days and the mules did virtually all the work.

Today 73.5 per cent of New York State residents live within two miles of The New York State Canal Ssytem---which in addition to the expanded Erie Barge Canal includes—Cayaga-Seneca Canal—The Oswego Canal—and the Champlain Canal.The Erie Barge Canal remains fully navigable today and has become a world-class tourism and recreation destination.The old song about the mule named Sal and the low bridge –everybody down is still sung .

THE ERIE CANAL                                                                                  

I’ve got a mule,her name is Sal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

She’s a good ol’ worker an’ a good ol’ pal

Fifteen mile on the Erie Canal

We’ve haul’d some barges in our day

Filled with lumber coal and hay

And we know every inch of the way

From Albany to Buffalo

Low bridge everybody down!

Low Bridge,for we’re comin to town!

And you’ll always know your neighbor

You’ll always know your pal

If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal

We better get along on our way ol’ gal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

‘Cause you bet your life I’d never part with Sal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

Git up there mule, here come a lock

We’ll make Rome ‘bout six oclock

One more trip an’back we’ll go

Right back home to Buffalo

Chorus—Low bridge,everybody down---

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's a Holiday


The car needed fixing .I attached my bicycle to the car rack and drove to the garage I was then going to spend a few hours while they fixed the car at the park.Balharbour Park is a small park on  the lake with only two park benches in it on the side of the hill.I sat there to read my book. It was one of those lovely sunny days,blue skies up above,white clouds floating by and a warm breeze blowing off the lake.A lady came walking down the path with two black labrador dogs .They headed straight for the water.She found some sticks and threw them in and the dogs had great fun retrieving them.The dogs looked identical.I asked if they were from the same litter she said no one was hers and she was looking after the other for a friend who was on a weeks holidays.They left the park, then the next thing to watch was a flock of geese bobbing along in the water.Two bicyclers came down to the lake to view the scene.It was very clear but you could not see across to the city on the other side of the lake.I tried to reach the garage to check on the car.The phone could not connect.Next the park crew came to cut the grass.With three large mowers and two weed eaters running it was time for me to leave the park.I rode leisurely along the bike trail to the next little town and had lunch.It was toonie Tuesday so Kentucky Chicken seemed good.It seemed like I had had a nice little holiday while waiting for the car but when I got to the garage the attendent said," I have been trying to reach you. Your car needs a part and it will take 3 hours to do the job but I could not get you on the telephone.Let me check your number." He had made a mistake copying down my number. He said,"let our car service take you home and we will repair the car then go and pick you up" . It happened .Such was the day...It still seemed like a holiday.
Ended the day by going to our grandson's soccor game. He scored a goal.....It still seemed like a holiday

Monday, August 16, 2010


We had an airplane picture taken of our farm buildings in the 1950’s. You can see the white picket fence stretching from the woodshed to the driving shed clearly.Grandma gave me the money one year to build it.It was my summer project.I had no electric tools just a hand saw.I measured the distance,how many post I needed,how many two by fours,and how many cedar boards I would need to cut into pickets.There was an old broken down page wire fence there with a style I had built over it so we could get into our garden .This had to be removed and cleaned up first.I went to dad’s post pile to get the six to eight new posts I would need to hang the fence on.I had to peel the bark off the posts with the draw knife to make them shiny and clean.We had a one man post hole digger that was just like a shovel with a lever on the one side so when you pushed the handle down ,it would close a scoop on the shovel and when you pulled the shovel out of the hole all the earth would come out with it.I had to measure the boards cut them the right length,then measure a vee for the picket and saw it off by hand.This was quite a bit of work and took quite a bit of time.I made a gate in the fence with hinges so we could walk out into the garden.Then I had to paint the fence white with a paint brush.I was pretty proud of that fence.I probably painted it a few times over the years. The white picket fence was still there when dad sold the farm.


July 17 2010.

Change Ahead

I am just practising to see if I am learning how to edit and write blogs. That will be the change ahead.

By way of introduction

The Sports Field

The Sports Field

It was Sunday afternoon.I was sitting on the front porch reading.I could hear laughter,shouting and horns blowing coming from the Leisure Park.I decided to get on my bicycle ride over and see what was happening today.There is a pathway leading from our subdivision through the soya bean fields to the Leisure Park.That’s what they call it.I call it The Sports Field.

There was a rugby tournament taking place.These Sports Fields are huge.There were two large well groomed baseball diamonds,lighted for evening games.There is an oval exercise track, and six soccor or rugby fields.There is a building with modern washrooms and lots of parking spaces.Everything looked lovely and green and well kept.

There must have been 100 cars in the parking lot.Crowds were sitting in their portable chairs watching the various games.There was a loud speaker system and a portable platform for the officials to sit on and make announcements and give the calls of the game.There were light portable tents for some to sit under and keep out of the hot sun. When the tournament was over the players were fed hot dogs and hamburgers.The food tents gave protection from the hot sun.There were four portable generators which provided the electricity to run the large portable coolers that contained the food.Everything seemed to be running smoothly and it looked as though all were enjoying a good time.

I got to thinking what it was like when I was growing up.I was a country boy and there were only about 400 people living in the nearest town.There was no soccor or rugby teams,just a baseball team but I never had any time to play on it in the summer.Most farm boys were needed to help with the haying and harvesting.It was a busy time.

There was no organized teams for most of us,we few kids would make up our own games.Usually we played baseball and called it scrub.There were no adults around or ball diamonds to play on.We just put down a piece of wood or a sack for our bases and played in a field near the farm buildings.We did have lots of fun but my how things have changed.

Written August 15 2010

The Hammock

A hammock to me always seems the ideal image of a restful relaxing summer under the tall maple trees. You lie there and swing gently in the warm breeze looking up into the leaves watching the clouds moving slowly across the sky,your mind dreaming of far away places or the next horse back ride you are going to have racing back the lane and through the bush.That was my summers while growing up on the farm.We always had a hammock and the trees were placed just the right distance apart to hang it.We had canvas hammocks and rope hammocks but the one I remember the best and the one that lasted the longest was made out of old wooden barrel staves.

We got some brace wire,laid three strands of it about eight inches apart,drew the ends together in a v shape and wrapped the wire around a solid iron ring.We used little staples and hammered the brace wire to the back of each barrel stave,the other side of the wooden stave was smooth and when a rope was tide to the rings at each end of the hammock and fastened to the trees our hammock was in place.It was strong and sturdy two people could lie side by side on it.Or they could sit up put their legs over the sides sitting back to back and swing themselves with their feet.One person could stand on the ground and push the other on the hammock.You could make it go very high and turn it over knocking the rider out. You could pull up and down on the rope and give the rider a bumpy ride.On this wooden hammock you could even stand up while the other person was giving you a swing.It was fun getting some blankets lying in the hammock and reading your book.I even remember sleeping over night on the hammock.

I remember too liking to go to the garden picking peas,filling my pockets and taking them back to eat while swinging on the hammock.The hammock was only twenty feet from the door to the house and after eating our dinner or supper we would often have a race to see who would claim the hammock for a good swing.Still today when I meet a distant relative he always reminds me of how much fun they had when he and his sister came to visit playing on our hammock.

In the 1960’s after having back surgery for a slipped disc and not being able to lie on a regular hammock I remember making a flat one.I went to the bush and cut poles to make two tripods.I found some old chain that I had saved after taking apart an old hayloader.I got a scrap piece of ¾ inch plywood 4 by 6 feet. I hung a pole between the two tripods. I put the chains on the pole and slipped the flat board through the chains.Now I had my portable hammock.I put a pillow and mattress on the board with a couple of blankets, got a book to read and spent many an enjoyable hour swinging gently in the warm summer breeze.I even had a portable radio.What a life!

July 15 2010



Twilight will be coming soon.I get on my Supercycle with balloon tires.I painted the fenders black when they began to rust.The rest of the bicycle is green. I pedal out of the little town into the country.I am in no hurry, my bike is a cruiser and that’s what I do. No bending my back or head looking down at the road for me.I like to see the country.

It has been a hot day,hot and humid but now ,it is cooler.Summer is moving on, the fields are very green and the corn is taller than I am and coming out in tassel.I ride by a farm and see two Four Wheelers coming up the field past the corn . I can hear the laughter of the riders above the engine.These little four wheelers are fast and peppy.The riders come past the farm buildings and house and ride out onto the paved road.They are coming towards me.One vehicle has a man and his son on it,the other has an eleven year old girl, her friend and an adult behind them.She has the four wheeler under control and speeds past me,turns around at the corner and comes back.I wave they wave back at me.

In the field by the road is a brown mare and a pony.They are eating grass.The field has been cut recently and there is nothing nicer than the smell of freshly cut new mown hay which is carried to me by the warm breezes.

All this makes me remember my days growing up on the farm and the fun we had.We had horses not motorcycles or four wheelers.We rode horseback either bareback or with a saddle.There is no greater thrill.The horse responds to your touch and jumps forward.You nearly fall off.You pull the reins to the left or to the right and there is immediate response.If you have two horses one is racing the other.You can feel the excitement and the nervous energy of your horse under you,he wants to run.

We had a high two wheeled cart too.That was fun riding back the lane,through the ditch and over the bumpy fields by the woods.We also had a buggy,this did not go as fast as the four wheelers but your ride was a lot quieter and still you could feel the wind in your hair and on your face as you moved along. Ah memories…

I got back on my bike and turned the corner onto a gravel road.The swallows were swooping and flying gracefully in front of me.I wonder how many insects they were getting.I got off the bike and watched them,then walked up the slight hill.I could hear the frogs calling in the reeds.It was a lovely ride before darkness descended and I returned home.

Written August 14 2010