Albert was born in Toledo, Ontario on February 15th, 1885. His proud parents were Nelson Tallman (1852-1922) and Frances Ann nee Gorman (1854-1920). He was a member of a large family consisting of eight brothers and sisters.
There is little we know about his youth or the rest of his family, but somewhere between the time he was old enough to leave home and 1915 he moved to Winnipeg and was working as a Tinsmith.
Albert didn’t enlist when war broke out in 1914, but waited until November of the next year. Perhaps he thought that the war would be won quickly and he would not be required. However as 1914 rolled into 1915 Albert decided to enlist on November 16th, 1915. He was 30 years old, stool 5’6” with fair hair, grey eyes and a ruddy complexion.
He joined the 179th Battalion, Cameron Highlander, 16th Battalion Canadian Infantry in Winnipeg.
He spent almost all of his first year training in Canada before he set sail for England. His unit sailed from Halifax aboard the HMS Saxonia on October 4th, 1916.
After his arrival on October 13th, he and his unit went to East Sandling where they trained in the art of “Trench Warfare”.
After training in England he along with his unit were transferred to France where they joined the rest of the 16th Battalion. Little did he know what awaited him in the upcoming months, history would recall it as the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
On that first day of the attack, April 9th, 1917, Albert along with the rest of his unit went over the top of the trenches and into ‘no man’s land’. And that is the last we know of Albert as he was report “Missing in Action” on that first day of the battle. He was later declared to have been “Presumed to have died on or since April 9th, 1917”.
His story and life have been lost to history with the exception of his name that is carved into the “Vimy Memorial” in France, and also appears on the Cenotaph in Toledo.
For those who are interested we have reprinted part of the story of the Battle for Vimy Ridge below.
Vimy Ridge Memorial
Canada’s most impressive tribute overseas to those Canadians who fought and gave their lives in the First World War is the majestic and inspiring Vimy Memorial, which overlooks the Douai Plain from the highest point of Vimy Ridge, about eight kilometres northeast of Arras on the N17 towards Lens. The Memorial is signposted from this road to the left, just before you enter the village of Vimy from the south. The memorial itself is someway inside the memorial park, but again it is well signposted. At the base of the memorial, these words appear in French and in English:
TO THE VALOUR OF THEIR COUNTRYMEN IN THE GREAT WAR AND IN MEMORY OF THEIR SIXTY THOUSAND DEAD THIS MONUMENT IS RAISED BY THE PEOPLE OF CANADA
Inscribed on the ramparts of the Vimy Memorial are the names of over 11,000 Canadian soldiers who were posted as ‘missing, presumed dead’ in France. A plaque at the entrance to the memorial states that the land for the battlefield park, 91.18 hectares in extent, was ‘the free gift in perpetuity of the French nation to the people of Canada’. Construction of the massive work began in 1925, and 11 years later, on July 26, 1936, the monument was unveiled by King Edward VIII. The park surrounding the Vimy Memorial was created by horticultural experts. Canadian trees and shrubs were planted in great masses to resemble the woods and forests of Canada. Wooded parklands surround the grassy slopes of the approaches around the Vimy Memorial. Trenches and tunnels have been restored and preserved and the visitor can picture the magnitude of the task that faced the Canadian Corps on that distant dawn when history was made. On April 3, 2003, the Government of Canada designated April 9th of each year as a national day of remembrance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. (Veterans Affairs Canada)
The Battle of Arras (also known as the Second Battle of Arras) was a British offensive on the Western Front during World War I. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British troops attacked German defences near the French city of Arras on the Western Front.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was part of the Battle of Arras. The main combatants were the four divisions of the Canadian Corps in the First Army, against three divisions of the German 6th Army. The battle took place from 9 to 12 April 1917 at the beginning of the Battle of Arras, the first attack of the Nivelle Offensive, which was intended to attract German reserves from the French, before their attempt at a decisive offensive on the Aisne and the Chemin des Chemin ridge further south.
9 April 1917
The attack was to begin at 5:30 am on Easter Monday, 9 April 1917. The attack was originally planned for the morning of 8 April (Easter Sunday) but it was postponed for 24 hours at the request of the French.During the late hours of 8 April and early morning of 9 April the men of the leading and supporting wave of the attack were moved into their forward assembly positions. The weather was cold and later changed to sleet and snow.Although physically discomforting for everyone, the northwesterly storm provided some advantage to the assaulting troops by blowing snow in the faces of the defending troops.Light Canadian and British artillery bombardments continued throughout the night but stopped in the few minutes before the attack, as the artillery recalibrated their guns in preparation for the synchronized barrage.At 5:30 am, every artillery piece at the disposal of the Canadian Corps began firing. Thirty seconds later, engineers detonated the mine charges laid under no man’s land and the German trench line, destroying a number of German strong points and creating secure communication trenches directly across no man’s land. Light field guns laid down a barrage that mostly advanced at a rate of 100 yards in three minutes while medium and heavy howitzers established a series of standing barrages further ahead against known defensive systems.During the early fighting, the German divisional artillery, despite many losses, were able to maintain their defensive firing.As the Canadian assault advanced, it overran many of the German guns because large numbers of their draught horses had been killed in the initial gas attack.
It was during the early morning hours of this first assault that Albert Ellery Tallman lost his life in the muddy ground of “no man’s land” in the far distant fields of France.
Some men are forgotten to history, just a footnote in time and in this case a casualty of the Great War. If it wasn’t for the fact that his name appears on the Toledo Cenotaph, his name would be lost forever. That name however will live on as long as that small memorial in Toledo remains.
Russell Rice was a casualty of World War I, just 26 years old and single when he was killed. His father had passed away some years before and his mother passed away in Brockville just one month prior to Russell being killed. It is quite possible he never heard the news of his mother’s passing.
Russell’s story is like so many others of his generation, and for us a difficult story to piece together, but we will try.
He was born Russell Ira Rice on May 1, 1892 in Jasper, Ontario, Kitley Township. His proud parents were George (1843-1909) and Alice nee Driver (1866- May 30, 1918). Russell was the oldest son, with an older sister Letha, younger sisters Grace and Saddie and younger brother, Roy. George, Alice and their family led a quiet, rural, farm life in Kitley Township.
At some point Russell left the farm, and the next record we found shows him working as a labourer in a foundry in Beckwith Township, Ontario. After his father died his mother and the rest of his family moved into Brockville and lived at 114 Water Street.
Three years after the outbreak of World War 1, Russell enlisted at Kingston on January 18th, 1917. He signed up with the 73rd Battery, 6th Brigade Canadian Field Artillery. He stood 5’5” tall, 155 pounds with blue eyes and light brown hair.
After a few months training in Canada he sailed from Halifax on April 17, 1917 on the SS Missanabie to Liverpool and then on to the massive military training base at Shorncliff, England.
On September 19th, 1917 Russell Rice was shipped off to be with his unit in France. His movements during his time in France are a mystery until he was ‘killed in action’ near the city of Calonne, west of Lens France on June 3rd, 1918. The location of his death puts him along the Western Front, during the push to take the city of Calonne which went from April to July of 1918.
He is buried in Fosse 10 Communal Cemetery Extension, located at Sains en-Gouele, plot III.c.13. Unfortunately there is no photo of his headstone.
In his Last Will and Testament, he left everything to his sister Grace who was the guardian of his youngest sister Saddie. Grace, along with her brothers had moved to Toronto. (39 Poucher St.)
And so ends the life and story of Gunner Russell Ira Rice, gone but not entirely forgotten as we have been able to rediscover his life here in these few lines.
Frederick William Gray was born in Lyn on September 6th 1895. He was the second child born to his parents John Henry and Smiena (known as Mimmie) her maiden name was Graham. His parents were farmers and after attending high school at Brockville Collegite Institute, Frederick followed in their footsteps and worked on the family farm.
He had a sister Hattie who was one year older than he was and a brother George eight years younger born in 1903.
The war broke out in 1914 and on July 14, 1915 at the age of 19 Frederick decided to enlist and fight for King and Country. At the time of his enlistment he stood 5’4” with blue eyes and light brown hair. He enlisted in Brockville in the 59th Battalion and was later transferred to the 20th Battalion.
After training in Canada the day finally arrived, April 5th, 1916 when he and the rest of his fellow soldiers sailed from Halifax to Liverpool, England. It was upon his arrival on April 11th, that he was transferred to the 20th Battalion.
On June 6th, 1916 he was sent to France to join the rest of the 2nd Canadian division. He would eventually move to the front lines and live in the labyrinths of trenches dug for his safety. He would live like this for the next year and a half, dodging bullets and just trying to stay alive.
In 1918 the war was drawing to a close and the Allies wanted to put on a last big offensive to try and break through the enemy lines and bring the war to a close. Plans were made for what would later be called the Battle of Amiens.
The Battle of Amiens-
“Canadian and Allied troops won a major victory against Germany at the Battle of Amiens between 8 and 11 August 1918. Amiens was the first in a string of offensive successes that led to the end of the of the First World War and culminated in the 11 November 1918 armistice.
The attacking force comprised the Canadian Corps, the British Fourth Army, the French First Army, the Australian Corps and others. In early August, the Allies tricked the Germans by appearing to weaken their front line so that German officers expected no assault. Troops moved to the front lines at night to fool the enemy. False moves were also made in daylight, amid much noise, dust and bogus radio communication.
Secrecy was so important that the soldiers saw the warning “KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT” added to their service and pay book.
The Allies sneaked into position with thousands of heavy and super-heavy field guns, howitzers, more than 600 tanks, and 2,000 aircraft. The Germans were greatly outnumbered and, in the words of German military chief Erich Ludendorff, “depressed down to Hell.” The Germans were protected by three lines of trenches, which were poorly wired for communications and without good dugout shelters.
The Canadian Corps was assigned to hit the German Fourth Army. The attack was scheduled for 8 August at 4:20 a.m. Unlike earlier attacks in the war, the Amiens assault would not be preceded by bombardment. This would keep the assault secret as long as possible.
A Royal Air Force squadron laid smoke screens over the battlefield to hide the attacking Canadians. A heavy mist also concealed no man’s land as the attack grew nearer on that moonless night. At exactly 4:20 a.m., 900 Allied guns opened fire and the infantry headed toward the German lines. Tanks roared across the battlefield and planes droned overhead.
The Germans were entirely unprepared for this scale of attack and many surrendered at the first chance. Allied soldiers fought through woods to clear German machine-gun positions and take prisoners. The tanks lagged behind, struggling across boggy terrain and in thick fog. Canadian forces captured several key targets and pressed forward amid waves of German prisoners being marched back behind Allied lines.”(The Canadian Encyclopedia)
Unfortunately Pte. Frederick Gray was wounded with a gunshot to the head during the first day of the attack on August 8th. He was removed to Base Hospital No. 6 in the nearby city of Rouen.
In the First World War the city was safely behind the lines and became a major logistics centre with numerous base hospitals. Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen. A base supply depot and the 3rd Echelon of General Headquarters were also established in the city.
Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for the duration of the war.
On the champ de courses on the outskirts of Rouen, the British established
Nos.5, 6, 9, 10, and 12 General Hospitals
Nos.1, 3, 8, 11, and 12 Stationary Hospitals
Whether Pte. Gray ever regained consciousnesses or not we will never know. What we do know is that he lay in a hospital bed at No 6 Base Hospital for 32 days until he died on September 9th. Just a few days after his 23rd birthday.
He was laid to rest in St. Sever Cemetery and Extension long with his fellow soldiers who died on that battlefield.
(We have no photo of his grave marker)
St. Server Cemetery
The St. Sever Cemetery and Extension (Rouen) is situated about 3 kilometres south of Rouen Cathedral and a short distance west of the road from Rouen to Elbeuf. If travelling from Elbeuf or Caen on the N.138, follow Avenue Des Canadiens right down to the roundabout. Then take the fourth exit into Rue Stanislas De Jardin, and the cemetery lies 150 metres on the left. The CWGC signpost is located at the entrance of the cemetery. The cemetery covers an area of 49,885 square metres. The War Stone is on the boundary of the original Cemetery and the Extension, facing the City of Rouen War Memorial. The Cross is raised on a terrace on the further side of the Extension. The Chapel, cruciform and surmounted by a dome, is in the middle of the Extension.
During the Second World War, Rouen was a hospital centre and the extension was used for the burial of Commonwealth servicemen, many of whom died as prisoners of war during the German occupation. There are 332 Canadians buried here from the First World War and 38 Canadians from the Second World War. The extension was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.
Stanley Clarence Darling was born on November 26th, 1894 in Lillies just north of the Village of Lyn. His mother was Fanny Darling and his father Wells. He was the oldest in a family of two boys and three girls. His brother Grant was born a year after him in 1895.
We know very little about his early childhood, except that growing up on a farm he would be expected to help out with the daily chores. Living in Lillies he would have attended the Lillies one room school house.
When war broke out in Europe in 1914, Stanley would have been 20 years old and would have read with keen interest the events of that far away war.
On January 6th, 1917 he took a big step and enlisted in the 253rd Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Forces. At the time of his enlistment he stood 5’7 tall, weighted 165 pounds with brown eyes and red hair.
On April 29, 1917 he sailed for England aboard the SS Olympic. He would remain in England for the better part of a year and finally his unite sailed for France and the front lines, arriving on March 8th 1918. When Pte. Darling arrived in France he was attached to the 102nd Battalion as an infantryman.
On September 3rd, 1918, six months after he arrived in France, Pte. Stanley Darling took part in the battle for the Canal du Nord.
The story of that battle is as follows:
On September 3, 1918, the day after the Canadian Corps breached the Drocourt-Quéant Line, a directive was issued for a general Allied offensive on the entire front from the Meuse to the English Channel, with four great hammer-strokes to be delivered at crucial points. The timetable for these blows called for striking the enemy on four successive days. The second of these assaults was to take place on September 27, and was a joint attack by the First and Third British Armies in the general direction of Cambrai to capture the northern part of the Hindenburg Line. Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig ordered the First Army to seize Bourlon Wood and cover the Third Army’s left flank as the latter advanced on Cambrai and subsequently on to Valenciennes. The capture of Bourlon Wood was assigned to the Canadian Corps, which would then push forward to establish a defensive flank northeast of Cambrai. Farther south the British Fourth Army, supported by the French First Army, would join the battle on September 29 in an assault on the main Hindenburg position.
The first obstacle General Sir Arthur Currie’s forces had to overcome was the Canal du Nord. Because the Canal du Nord was impassable on the northern part of his front, General Currie had his boundary with the Third Army shifted 2,377 metres to the south, and proceeded with preparations for the Canadian Corps to make its initial attack through a dry area between Sains-lez-Marquion and Moeuvres. It was an intricate operation introducing the difficult problem of moving the whole Corps through a narrow opening before fanning out with four divisions engaged on a battlefront that would rapidly expand to over 10,000 metres.
In the dusk of the evening of 26 September the Canadians moved forward. By midnight they were assembled opposite the dry section of the canal, huddled together for warmth, and for the most part in the open. The night wore on and there was no evidence of enemy counter-preparation. Suddenly, as dawn was breaking, the opening barrage flashed out, shocking the enemy into action. Before they could retaliate, the initial waves had crossed the canal and were fanning out from the bridgehead. Nevertheless, the follow-up troops suffered casualties as the enemy, alive to the danger, subjected the canal bed to a violent bombardment. The results justified Currie’s generalship. He acquired the canal at relatively light cost, but more than that, Bourlon Wood the essential objective, was also taken.
Unfortunately it was at this point during the start of the battle on September 27th that Pte. Stanley Clarence Darling was killed by enemy fire in his 24th year. He was killed in the vicinity of “Inchy-En-Artois”. Fate took its’ toll and less then two months after his death on November 11th 1918 at 11 o’clock armistice was signed and World War I ended.
Stanley is buried in the Bourlon Wood Cemetery in France.
Today, the Bourlon Wood Canadian Memorial commemorates the attack across the Canal Du Nord on ground donated by the Comte de Franqueville, then Mayor of Bourlon. The great stone block is at the top of a hill. It is approached by climbing steep, stone steps past terraces cut into the hillside, and bears the message:
“THE CANADIAN CORPS ON 27TH SEP. 1918 FORCED THE CANAL DU NORD AND CAPTURED THIS HILL. THEY TOOK CAMBRAI, DENAIN, VALENCIENNES & MONS; THEN MARCHED TO THE RHINE WITH THE VICTORIOUS ALLIES”
Ancient lime trees line both sides of the steps that lead to the Memorial. They are the original trees, and though shattered by shellfire in the battle, they were nursed back to health. The terraces are planted with a rich variety of coniferous shrubs and shade-loving plants. The Memorial is beyond the village of Bourlon, which is just south of the Arras-Cambrai road, three kilometres beyond Marquion.
(note information on the history of the battle and grave site was taken from the Canadian War Museum’s website)
We are redirecting you to the website of the Museum of Healthcare in Kingston,Ontario, for an interesting story about a local farmer named Ernest Hanna. He overcame adversity and went on to live a full life in Lyn.
This story was written by Shaelyn Ryan and helps us to remember some of the people that made up part of the history of our community.
A Granddaughter Remembers Her Grandfather – William Henry MacNish
by Margaret MacNish
“My grandfather William Henry MacNish, was over 6 feet tall and carried a full head of snow-white hair. Heavy shouldered, he walked with a slow and dignified shuffle about the farm and up the oval driveway to the stone house. In spring, summer and fall his main preoccupation was an extensive garden: vegetables set in long straight rows, strawberry beds, raspberries- all kinds of other foods.
He could be seen kneeling between the rows weeding, thinning, harvesting. We children were strictly forbidden to take a shortcut through this garden but often we were engaged in searches for tomato worms and potato bugs. Grandfather too was the only adult who took time to teach us to sow carrot seed, plant beans, corn and later thin and water the plants. ‘Water them to the roots’, he’d exclaim, as I held the watering can.
He also had time in winter to play endless games of domino’s, almost always ending with an ‘apple party’. ‘Let’s go to the cellar!’ he’d exclaim, and down we’d go tot he storage bin to choose an especially fine apple. Later upstairs, he’d use his pocket knife to carefully peel the apple and cut it into beautiful slices which were put on a plate and ceremoniously passed around.
Grandfather was a well known breeder of Ayrshire’s (brown and white dairy cattle). Our education was not complete until he took us one by one to the barn and taught us how to judge cattle.
That he was devoted to us was proven again and again, especially to me, for I was the recipient, on various Christmases, of a doll’s house, a large doll’s cradle and finally my own sled, ponderous and too heavy to lift. The family sneered at is efforts, but I knew and my thank you’s were heartfelt.
Grandfather was well known in the community; elected reeve of the township, and serving on various boards to take care of destitute families and the like. I recall as a child sitting in the balcony of the town theatre, looking down at the stage where Grandfather sat in the front row beside Canada’s Prime Minister Will Lyon McKenzie King.
Part of his political skill lay in his oratory. He read widely and knew how to hold an audience with wit and an extensive vocabulary. Obviously he had read all the classics housed in the glass front bookcase in the corner of the sitting room. And his favourite spot in the family kitches was in a chair near the south window under his Seth Thomas clock, where a large magazine rack held the Globe and Mail, and farm publications.”
Note: The spelling of MacNish was intentional and this is the way it was written, today’s common spelling is McNish.
William Henry McNish – August 31, 1858 to August 22, 1937
The year was 1887 when Andrew Salomnson was born (Andres Salomonsson) in Kall, Kall County, Sweden. If you were to look on a map you would find that Kall is located in the middle of Sweden, a pretty little village on the side of a lake. He was born on Tuesday, February 8, 1887 to his parents Keistokonson Salomonsson and Anne Hyttsten.
Little is know about his early life in Sweden, except that he did have brothers and sisters, so he was not alone in his youth. At the age of 19, in 1906, he left home to go to Newfoundland. There was a saw mill there owned by a Swedish man and he would bring over other Swedes to work in his mill and for logging in the dense forest of Newfoundland. After saying good-bye to his parents and family, he set off to Goteborg. It was there, that on April 27th he boarded a ship to Hull, England, where he then took another ship to St. John’s, Newfoundland, which at that time was not part of the Canada we know today.
On this trip, he was accompanied by a cousin on his mother’s side, Brita A. Jonsson who was four years his senior. We do not know what happened to his cousin Brita, but in 1907 Andrew left Newfoundland and went by ship and arrived at North Sidney, Nova Scotia on August 20th. He eventually found his way to Cochrane, Ontario.
He worked for a few years as a labourer and on his Military Enlistment record, his occupation is shown as a “Concrete Contractor”.
War broke out in 1914, but Andrew probably thought it would end soon and didn’t enlist immediately at the start of the war. Instead, he waited until 1916 when on April 13th, he signed his Attestation Papers.
Andrew enlisted in the 159th Battalion (1st Algonquin CEF), 97th Regiment, based in Haileybury, Ontario. He, along with his regiment, sailed to England in November 1916, where his battalion was absorbed into the 8th Reserve Battalion on January 20, 1917. In England he was stationed at the large training camp at Seaford. It was here that he, because of his background as a Concrete Contractor, was assigned to a labour group.
He went to France on February 10th, 1917 and on November 25th of the same year, he was promoted to the rank of Corporal and assigned to the 2nd Canadian Labour Battalion, in France.(For the record his service number was 648830)
After the Armistice was signed on November 11th 1918, be returned to England and eventually to Canada. He was discharged from the military on March 20, 1919.
Little is known of the next few years of his life; perhaps he went back to Cochrane, Ontario to resume his previous life as a cement contractor. The next time we see Andrew is when he is hospitalized at St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal with tuberculosis in the mid 1920’s.
It was there while in hospital that he fell in love with his nurse, Gertrude May Johnston of Elizabethtown. The love was mutual and on June 21st 1927, they were married in Muskoka, Ontario. On the marriage certificate his occupation is listed as “Prospector”.
Gertrude was the second of four daughters of John and Lilly Belle Johnston being born in 1894 at the family home on the Lyn Road. She was seven years younger than Andrew.
Gertrude and Andrew purchased a small home in Gravenhurst and settled down to start their new life together. Unfortunately it wasn’t too long after their marriage that Andrew’s TB returned, and unfortunately after spending time nursing and working with TB patients, his wife Gertrude developed tuberculosis as well.
They lived close to the Muskoka Tuberculosis Sanatorium and it was there that they sought treatment. Unfortunately Andrew passed away on March 3rd, 1934, at he age of 47 after being married to Gertrude for only seven short years.
After Andrew’s death, Gertrude moved back to live with her parents. It was here, suffering from TB, that she would spend the remainder of her days. Four years after the death of her husband, Gertrude passed away on June 10th, 1938, at the age of 43.
Both Andrew and Gertrude are buried at the Oakland Cemetery just west of Brockville. They had no children.
The Old Shipman Homestead at Elm Ridge located on the Lyn-Yonge Mills Road, just west of the Village of Lyn Ontario
Recollections as a youth, by George A. Neville (7th generation Shipman descendant) (Feb.28th,2018)
The Elm Ridge Farm Site
The old Shipman homestead was (and still is of 2018) located on the north side of the Lyn-Yonge Mills Rd. about mid-way between the village of Lyn and Yonge Mills (a site closer to the St. Lawrence River front of the township of Yonge in Leeds County). The farm property of 100 acres – 50 to the south extending down over a wide east-west knoll to the flats below and the Grand Trunk double railroad track to the southern bush within granite outcroppings, and 50 acres to the north of cultivated fields beyond which was the ‘back woods’ used for maple-sugar making and firewood for homestead heating and cookstove use – was called Elm Ridge. The farm came to be known in the greater Lyn community as Elm Ridge on account of three large, stately American elms growing along the edge of the ridge south of the road (now long gone). Further south on the ridge, more or less in line where it began to gently begin its deep decline, a cluster of mature nut trees existed that had been planted there as sapplings by my gt-gdmother Barbara Shipman (née McDonald) – 3 large butternuts, and at least 4 black walnut trees that each bountifully produced annually (alas, they are long gone now too).
The Homestead, Exterior Aspects of the House, Drive-Sheds and Hired-Hand House
My recollections of the exterior of the Shipman house as a youth during the 1940s are that it consisted of two major portions interconnected by successive previous reconstruction and extension. There was a large, imposing square front portion with a somewhat smaller and slightly lower rear portion that extended out further about 10 feet to the east than the main block, all in white clap-board siding with dark-green painted trim and cedar shingle shakes for roofing. There was a wrap-around open-air porch extending from the north-east junction with the oldest rear section (where there was a door leading north into the kitchen area) to the whole of the front portion and front entrance beset with rocking chairs, a hamock and other occasional chairs. Just to the left of the porch door to the kitchen, there was a wider door opening westward into the dining room of the main building. It was so pleasant to sit out on the porch on a warm summer evening together with gdmother, Walter and his wife, Rita (short for Orita) and their large ‘collie’ dog to watch the ever changing colours of a sunset and later the darting flashes of fire-flies amid the growing darkness of night. At the second level over the front door and cut into the lower wrap-around porch roof, a sizeable balcony flanked with white wooden railing and balusters, was accessed through a doorway from my grandmother Macy’s master bedroom. This elevation provided a majestic view southward over the cultivated fields, of passing CNR & CPR passenger and freight trains, and of the pre-cambrian hilly outcrops and forested areas beyond.
The outward appearance of the house as described above resulted from extensions and modifications made some years after my gdfather, Joel Arthur Shipman, died prematurely on 2nd January 1917 He lived for.three days from a crushed skull resulting from a large dead elm limb falling from an adjacent tree. He had warned others about the hazard; yet it fell striking him in the back woods when he and his son, Walter, and hired man, were felling a tree for next season’s fuel. The renovation and further transformation of the frontal appearance of the house was overseen by my gdmother a couple of years before my parents were married 18 April 1935 at the homestead because I remember my father (a carpenter) scoffing at gdmother’s recollection of the builders’ hammering as being ”music to her ears”, obviously much enjoying the structural modifications and adornments to the homestead of probably three generations.
An older picture of the homestead taken about 1906 before it was remodelled as described above, shows a somewhat smaller and planer front portion lacking both the later wrap-around open porch and 2nd level balcony with altered roof lines. A variation of the picket fence shown in this photo, minus the gate, was retained in place in the more recent image of my many youthful years’ visits there. No outside hand-pump for hard water drawn from a well seems to appear in this older photo in the lower right-hand corner as existed, probably for a drilled well, in my recollected time.
Back of the older smaller (kitchen) section of the house there was a long 1-storey drive shed covered in vertical board and batten painted with red barn paint (ground hematite in linseed oil) and shingled with cedar shakes. The drive-shed abutted onto the rear of the old building with a rear door opening into it from the kitchen to a large wood-shed area for provisioning of both the kitchen cookstove as well as the hot-air furnace in the low ceiling cellar of the house. Almost opposite the kitchen exit door to the wood-shed some 20 or so feet ahead, there was a flight of some 12 steps up to an extend eastward loft above the wood-shed that held a great array of interesting stored things to a young pre-pubescent lad. In the open space of this wood-shed, a three-burner coal-oil stove would be set up and used for cooking and heating laundry water during the summer’s heat instead of suffering use of the cookstove for same. Once I raised the wick too high when lighted under a pot resulting in sooty flames shooting up and around the pot that so alarmed me that I fetched gdmother who quickly reduced the wick to a proper level thus averting what might have been the beginning of a fire in a kindle-dry area! Moving eastward, there were two drive-shed bays, each with double, full height swing doors connected by a passage way running their full length from the wood-shed area. In the first drive shed was Walter’s, always fairly new Pontiac or Chevrolet sedan, and in the the most easterly shed was his older (vintage) dark-green mini Ford truck, less than half the size of today’s F-150 models.
Outside the drive-sheds there was a generous parking area for vehicles connected to the main gravel roadway by an earthen roadway. The main road did not get upgraded and paved with asphalt until the late 1950s. Further to the east of the homestead across a gap of grassland,but almost in line with the drive-sheds, was located a 2-story unpainted, weathered, wooden house for the ‘hired man’ or ‘woman’.
Building of that house was probably begun the summer before gdfather Joel died because Walter and his 17-year old fiancé, Oreta May Morrison were married in September 1917, and the house most likely was their wedding present. The young couple may have lived in the new house for a few years, but for most of their time they lived in gdmother’s house with her, and the other house was used for the hired help. Walter never wanted to be a farmer, aspiring always to be a mechanic and fascinated by internal combustion engines.
At the opposite end of the drive-sheds and wood-shed, there was a door that opened into a recessed area formed by the rear of the main house and the westerly terminus of the drive-shed complex. There against the northern wall of the main building was a double-doored root-cellar entrance way to the low-level earth dug cellar. About 50 feet to the north of that entrance, standing by itself, was a small wooden smoke-house, about half the size of a small outhouse but of about the same height, and in this closed compartment was hung game to be smoked from smoldering hickory chips, corn cobs, etc. ignited by a couple of small glowing coals taken from the cookstove.
An Interior First Floor Tour of the 1940s/50s Homestead House
The Dining Room
Upon arriving at the Shipman home with company, we would mostly enter via the side door off the porch into the dining room. This was a large room about 10′ x 20′ with a large oak dining room table centred in the middle surrounded by 10 matching chairs, one at each end of the table. Over the table hung a beautiful colourful Aladd in coal-oil lamp that one could raise and lower for servicing or for more intense lighting cast on the table. To the right of entry there was an open doorway to the large kitchen. To the left of that doorway on the wall was an old Northern Electric hand-cranked telephone in an oak case about 10” wide and 36” tall with about a 10” long mouth piece extending outwards. The apparatus, as I recall, was powered by four 1½ volt cylindrical dry cells (6” x 2½’ diam.) wired in series for 6 volts. Everyone on the party line had their own assigned ring for incoming calls, e.g., 2 longs and 1 short, but when you wanted to make a call, you had first to check that no one was using the line, then crank the device to generate a charge to alert the telephone dispatcher to connect you to the desired party that would be followed by its characteristic ring. It was not uncommon when having placed a call to hear interim clicks on the line as party liners lifted their receivers to listen in on the news of the day, and with each intervention, the line voltage would weaken to the point that often a conversation could not be heard or continued until one heard restoration of the line signalled by recurring clicks as receivers were hung up along the party line. There was a generally recognized ‘fire’ ring to alert all and sundry to any outbreak of a fire to summon volunteers for its containment and extinguishing. Below the wall mounted telephone casement, there was a beautifully oil-painted (a blue heron standing in water amid bull rushes) 8” diam. x 30” red-clay drainage tile (rim down on the floor) serving as a retainer for encased umbrellas and a walking stick – one of many of gdmother Macy’s artworks. Along the north wall between the box telephone and the full-sized window opposite the stairs, there was a large wooden, floor-to-ceiling cabinet whose lower area had solid wooden doors
with upper portion of two panel doors each of double width of framed glass panes about 10” x 8”.
The Music Room and more of the Dining Room
There is more to this central, pivotal dining room. Moving across the room along the telephone wall and past a full sized window, straight ahead was a doorway covered by a heavy velvety dark-green
curtain that could be gathered at the middle on each side when one did not want to close off the music room to conserve heat in the winter. The music room contained gdmother’s table grand piano, a beautiful instrument that took up nearly half of the 10′ x 10′ room. Near the piano was a mahogany music cabinet that contained much sheet music in the 5 sliding shelves of its bottom compartment, plus a frontal curved drawer above, and above and back of the cabinet top was a quality bevelled mirror encased in curving mahogany framing. I now have that music cabinet in its original varnished condition as a memento. The music room led south through an archway into the parlor about which more will be said later, but the music room had no lamp suspended from its ceiling, and if light were needed there in the evening, one would take in a table coal-oil lamp from the kitchen and place it on the piano.
Returning to the doorway of the music room, on one’s right, i.e., opposite the window previously mentioned was a staircase about 36” wide of ~14 steps up to the second floor level that will be described later. Back in the dining room and to the left of the staircase, there was an alcove (fronted by a solid panel door about 4′ high and 30” wide) built in under the lower reaches of the upstairs staircase used for storage of games, e.g., pick-up sticks, chinese and regular checkers and their boards, a crokinole board and chips, and other assorted items like water colour paints, tubes of oil paint pigments, and various sized brushes for each type. At the extreme left of this same wall, there was a small regular sized wooden door that led to a staircase down to the low-ceiling basement. On the wall space above the alcove hung two large, framed, charcoal sketches (from a picture-hanging rail around the room about 12” from the ceiling) of my gtgd father Luther Moss Shipman (on the left) and of gdfather Joel Arthur Shipman (to the right). Opposite that wall and against the opposite wall was a long dining-room buffet, nearly the length of the room to the east side entrance door, that held a 12-piece French Lemoge china set as well as other china and cutlery. The cabinet top came up nearly as high as the molding of the painted, simulated oak wainscoating panelling that surrounded the dining room, apart from doorways and the extra-wide archway at the southern end that opens into the airy and bright sitting room. On the wall over the long buffet were a couple of large charcoal sketches done by Macy Elizabeth Shipman, one of 3 horses galloping nearly side by side with manes flowing in the air, and the other two of upper torsos of two dogs.
The Sitting Room
The sitting room had a regular sized window just to its left beyond the archway in front of which there was an oval table on which sat Walter’s 20” high, battery powered radio with his favourite rocking chair set out in front of it, usually with a bowl of peanuts set beside the radio. He always tempted me to just try eating only one peanut on any occasion. Under the corner table, there was an array of batteries needed to electrify the old electron-tube radio. The main power source was a 6-volt sulphuric acid car battery that required periodic recharging whose power cords were attached by alligator clips. Then there were two smaller identical sized dry-packs (~ 8” long, 6” deep, 4” wide) hooked up individually with identical electrical male pin sockets that plugged into each dry pack. In addition, there was a small dry pack (~2”x 3” by 4” deep) attached by it own pin connector that was just laid on top of one of the other dry packs. The dry-packs, being non-rechargeable were an expendable, but expensive item. Under the radio table, there was a large chunk of pale green glass with a couple of creamy-white inclusions in it that most likely came from the archaeological digs with Gerald Stevens of the Mallorytown Glass Factory property.
Much of the brightness of the sitting room arose from a regular sized window on the left side of the front entrance to the sitting room, as well as from the large window in the front door and from the coloured glass transom in the south wall above the front door. In front of the window on the left and back of Walter’s rocking chair was a rectangular varnished table on which newspapers, etc., were piled with a chair set at its open end. Just inside the wide archway to the right was an oak upright writing stand with oval mirror mounted amid oak arms and enclosed storage shelves below. I think that piece was one of Rita’s heirlooms like an almost identical narrow but tall, curved glass enclosed nick-nack display cupboard (not more than 14” wide) diagonally opposite against the south wall and another narrower archway leading into the parlor complete with dark-green velvety drapes. There was no hanging coal-oil lamp in the sitting room either, but when used at night for card games, etc., Walter would light his Coleman naphtha gas lantern and hang it from a hook in the ceiling, or sometimes use the coal-oil Aladdin table lamp (with its more luminescent large mantle) kept in the parlor.
The parlor consisted mainly of Rita’s upright piano angled across the south-west corner of the room beside a southerly facing regular window along with a few occasional chairs. A striking feature on the west wall, again suspended from a picture frame moulding, was a 4′ by 5′ oil painting by gdmother of a male deer with a good set of antlers in a natural setting looking outwards toward the viewer from the top of a rocky knoll [the deer was modelled after the Hartford Insurance deer logo, as cousin Robert Williams once reminded me]. The parlor connected to the music room via the archway mentioned previously so that one could walk completely through all the downstair’s rooms of the main building in a circular fashion without interference.
Now for the kitchen on level with the dining room but in the oldest and smallest portion of the extended house. Central to it was a large kitchen table with a large wood-burning cookstove back of it close to the north wall. To the left of the cookstove was the shallow white enamelled, cast-iron kitchen sink (~14” wide by 20” long and barely 5” deep). To the right of the sink was a small hand-operated pump for pumping soft water from the basement cistern (collected via the roof eaves troughs and piping to the cistern) plus a metal wash basin in the sink and a soap dish close at hand.. To the left of the wash counter, there was an open door way to a spacious recessed pantry with lots of cupboards and supplies. The pantry projected northward and on its east wall was a door to the cellar staircase built under the upper staircase to Walter’s quarters as a young lad. Food was stored in crocks covered with large plates or boards topped with large rocks to keep rats out of the food. Crocks were placed to the side of the stairsteps going down to the cellar as well as some on the cool earthen cellar floor.
More or less opposite the washstand, there was a door in the west wall to the exterior, and to the left of it was a window, and beneath it was another smaller table of kitchen height. In the SW corner and along the south wall of the kitchen was a larger work table. Above the west end of the work table, there was a bracketed shelf higher against the wall that held a row of four coal-oil lamps of varying sizes and design. Attached to the left frame of the previously mentioned window was a mounted coal-oil lamp with a circular tin reflector behind it. There was no ceiling coal-oil lamp in the kitchen. To the right of the central kitchen table about mid-way along the eastern wall there was a regular window beside which there was a small box type wooden rocker with a small newspaper stand and table in front of it and a chair set nearby. Behind the cookstove, fitted with a reservoir from which hot water could be dipped for laundry, bathing , etc., was a wood box to save frequent trips to the wood-shed. Just back of the wood box and immediately to the left of the rear door to the wood-shed, was a simple panel door opening to a short flight of steps (the back steps of the house) to the second floor of the older section. The kitchen floor was of knotty pine showing the wear of generations and painted a typical mustard yellow.
The Year-Round Exterior Privy
At the east end of the wood-shed along its north wall and set against the west dividing wall of the first drive-shed was a somewhat commodious compartment with a single latch door and inner sliding wood locking arrangement that served as the ‘outhouse’ for year-round use. This privy , about 4′ wide, 10′ long, and 8′ high, featured a sitting high enclosed bench along its north side built overtop of a 2′-deep latrine. On top of the bench were three, tapered, circular cut, inter-spaced, ‘pottie’ openings of approximately 12”, 10” and 7” in diameter (west to east) for use just like for the three bears – papa bear, mama bear, and little bear- and each had a fitted wooden top for coverage when not in use. In front of the smallest seat was a small stool for little legs. A good supply of strips of old newspaper, pages from an old Eaton’s catalogue, etc., were available for wiping from a shelf on the front wall to the left. Below the shelf there was a metal pail of wood-ashes from the cookstove along with a metal scoop for thowing some ashes over each daily deposit periodically augmented with a dosing of powdered lime. The privy would be dug out early each autumn with contents spread on a field before its plowing. The walls of the privy were attractively covered with different sections of pasted remnants of wallpaper; the rough-board ceiling was simply white-washed. On warmer spring days, deteriorated , peeling and torn papered portions of the walls would be re-pasted and adorned with new pieces of wallpaper, generally unmatching so as to create colourful mosaic murals. During the cold of winter, one did not tarry long in the privy.
A Tour of the Second Floor Area
At the top of the main staircase reached from the dining room, there was an ‘L’ shaped landing with the short base being at the top of the stairs running parallel to the front of the house and the longer portion running north and perpendicular to the base towards the oldest section of the building complex. The north-south hall as so-formed was fitted with a railing and balusters overlooking the staircase. To the left of the landing was the doorway to the master bedroom (gdmother’s) and to the right near the ‘L-angle’ was the doorway to Walter and Rita’s fair-sized bedroom with double bed, two dressers, and two windows – one looking out to the south, and one to the east overlooking the balcony.
The Master Bedroom
The master bedroom was large and fitted with a double bed, feather-tick mattress into which one sank, and a down-filled comforter. The floor of this room was carpeted, supplemented with superimposed carpet runners. Facing the foot of the bed but to the left of the curtained doorway leading outward onto the front balcony, was a large wash-stand dresser over which was attached a large oval mirror. A complete wash-stand china set was arranged on the top middle and raised side portions of the wash-stand consisting of a large wash-bowl, a large water pitcher, both in the lower middle portion, a small matching basin, water pitcher, and small jar with tooth brushes set on the left elevated top. On the elevated right top, there was a small matching china-covered bowl for hair pins, etc., a hair brush and some combs. In a lower compartment of the dresser with separate door was the matching chamber pot together with china lid. The chamber pot was used for voiding before going to bed and, if necessary, for use during the night. As a boy, I always slept with gdmother snuggled up to her in that feather-tick bed, an experience never repeated until one night spent together with Iris, Jeffrey (age 6) and Cathy (age 5) in a similar bed in a Gasthof outside the mediaeval Hansiatic town of Lübeck of Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany on our way to Holland in April 1973.
There was another smaller dresser along the east side of gdmother’s bedroom to the right of which was a regular sized window. The north wall of her bedroom against which her bed was placed, extended to the east wall near where the smaller dresser was located and where a doorless doorway provided entrance to a smaller bedroom back of the master bedroom with a regular window looking eastward. This room also held a double bed, a smaller washstand and matching dresser, the latter two on either side of the window. It was in the drawers of these two dressers that gdmother kept all her old collected cards and correspondence in bundles tied together with colourful ribbons. She had established herself as the recognized family and community historian for which, I’m sure that she had much documentation stuffed here and there in the house. She was instrumental in getting the Lyn Women’s Tweedsmuir History group established following Lady Tweedsmuir’s challenge to the women of Canada to begin collecting and preserving the history of this young developing country.
A Rare Inside Bathroom for the House Period
Returning to the upper landing and proceeding north to the oldest section of the house, one took 2 steps down at the juncture of the two buildings to a small landing of the oldest section. To the right of this lower landing is a door and doorway to a unique bathroom of the times. The room is small, but well occupied with facilities. One entered a passage way about 3′ wide on the left of which was a wall running to the east exterior wall with a wall on the right of passage about 5′ in length that contained a rectangular tank, an upstairs cistern that collected softwater from the roof for bathing. Beyond the eastern end of this cistern wall that rose only to within about a foot of the ceiling was a small recessed area in which sat a ‘chemical’ commode with a 4” diameter ventilation pipe attached to its upper rear portion that extended through the ceiling and roof for ventilation purposes. This commode, with a fitted covered seat, would be of great comfort especially during the winter and periods of sickness or convalescence, however, it had its limitations. Above the toilet against the wall was a small rectangular water tank from which hung a chain to pull to flush the toilet for which there appeared to be no outlet.
Because it would require periodic maintenance and cleaning in addition to its chemical digestion, its use was not encouraged when anyone capable could make their way to the outdoor privy or use the chamber pot located in each bedroom for any necessary nocturnal voiding or defecation. My younger sister, Margaret, being only 5 or 6 at the time, found this flush mechanism, to be a ‘game’ until scolded and told to ”Look, don’t Use… Go outside”. She had never seen anything like this before.
The other rare installation was a tin bathtub with soldered joints built into a wood encasement painted blue like the walls of the room. The tub was just wide enough and long enough for an adult to be able to sit in it with outstretched legs with back to the perpendiclar tub-end and feet towards the 50º upward curved end. During summer stays at the homestead as a boy, I sometimes had a bath in that tub after a day of particularly dirty playing or farm activity. Water from the cistern was admitted to the curved end of the tub from a brass tap connected to piping running back to the base of the cistern raised from the floor to ahout tub height. A half pail of hot water drawn from cookstove reservoir would be taken up to be added to the cistern water to take any chill off it. When bathing was finished, the tub water was drained from the vertical end when the rubber plug was removed that allowed the bath water to drain through a pipe extending through the east wall out to fall into the yard below. As I recall, there was a little window high up on the east wall mid-way between the tub and the commode to admit light. I think also that there was a stove pipe that came up through this bathroom to the roof chimney of the older section located close to the junction of the two buildings that would have kept the cistern from freezing in the winter months. I should also explain that rainwater collected from the roof to the upper cistern, when full would flow down through piping to the cellar cistern that also had an overflow pipe that discharged excess water to the yard.
Walter’s Bedroom above the Back Stairs
Next to the bathroom and north along the narrow hallway flanking the west wall of the older section was Walter’s small room for his use as a young lad/young man. Here was a single bed and somewhat rustic surroundings, a chair, a small dresser, another little storage cupboard for his collections and a window that looked out to the east. What really caught my attention amongst his collected items as a boy was his extensive collection of bird eggs all pierced with a small hole at the narrow end and blown out through a larger opening in the broad end, each nestled in soft, finely dried grass. Usually he had only one specimen of each type, but there were a couple or more of duplicates with the exception of having three turtle eggs the size of ping-pon balls. The lower hallway, outside Walter’s bedroom, terminted at the top of the narrow staircase leading to the kitchen and exiting behind the cookstove.
I think that entrance to the attic was gained from a doorway and enclosed staircase that arose from the westerly edge of the upper landing more or less opposite to Walter & Rita’s bedroom door. The attic floor was completely boarded, and it was a paradise for exploration. Perhaps its greatest use was to spread copious quantities of butternuts and walnuts harvested in the autumn from the nut trees of Elm Ridge to be dried for at least a year (freeze-drying followed by summer’s attic heat) after which they cracked with ease with little loss of their meats, providing one knew how to handle them. This I readily learned as a boy because the inner fruit of these dry nuts, first shucked of their outer softer but hand staining shells, could only be yielded efficiently by striking butternuts on top with a hammer when held vertically against a solid piece of iron. I still have that iron, a 10” section of the early Grand Trunk narrow guage rail track that was saved by earlier generations as a souvenier that I managed to buy when Rita held the estate auction sale out of the old Lyn Seed Cleaning Plant the spring following Walter’s death. Walnuts, on the other hand, are best struck with a hammer blow when turned on their side with ends pointing parallel to the iron rail. During those youthful years, I was too young to realize what treasures might exist in various attic trunks, etc., but I did much fancy the cast iron pots, and other curious tools stored and hanging about in the loft above the woodshed.
There was a cellar under the older part not deep enough to enable an adult to stand up because of a rocky ledge below the earth removed for a field-stone foundation. In one area of this rocky base there was a lttle crevice (~2” wide) through which cool water seemed to run continuously, and it was beside this little cellar stream that gdmother or Rita would place the butter dish in hot weather to keep the butter cool and solid.
The cellar under the main building was similarly dug, but in its southern end under the archway of the dining room and sitting room, it was deep enough to allow a hot-air gravity fed wood-burning furnace to be set up probably at some later time in the early 1900s. Towards the northern end of the cellar along its western side were three large oak barrels set on supports and resting parallel to the earthen floor. These were used for making natural (organic in today’s jargon) maple vinegar which not only had a strong maple flavour, but also a high acetic acid content (a strong vinegar excellent for pickling cucumbers, beets, etc.). The barrels were used in rotation. Vinegar was drawn as needed from the most aged barrel which was then cleaned in late winter for filling with maple sap collected at the end of the syrup season when the sap was not good for syrup production but still good to ferment into vinegar. A portion of the greyish-white occluded bacterial mass, the so-called ‘mother of vinegar’ was taken from the next aged barrel of vinegar and added to the barrel of fresh sap to initiate the bacterial fermentation. The newly charged barrel of sap and starter was left untouched for at least a year. It was much easier to take milk cans of sap into the basement as well as a supply of wood for the furnace via the root cellar entrance on the north side of the house described earlier.
The Barn, Cow & Horse Stables
Across the main road and further west than the end of the house was the barn built on a stone foundation set into the declining frontal hillside. It was a squarish barn with a hay mow above the cow stable area that was reached off the main road by a slightly banked pathway to the north side of the barn where the hay wagon could enter for unloading and mowing of hay. Built into the north-west corner of the barn was a square silo, common in the day, but very few were still standing in the 1970s. My sister toured many back roads to find another for painting references, and only found one back of Napanee. Square silos evolved into wooden eight-sided, to wooden round to concrete, to steel (Harvester) silos by the 1990s.
The house and barn did not get electrical service until 1953 although a hydro-electric line had been cut through the southern flat fields below the barn just after WW II. Walter, however, had set up a mechanical, harmonic oscillating system set in motion by an offset connection to a single piston gasoline powered engine with a big fly wheel. The engine would put-put-put at first as ignition caught from giving the fly wheel a good spin then reve up to speed as the wooden sliding connectors mounted within sleeves along a wooden header above the cattle stanchions rattled throughout the stable. Walter would then attach a pneumatic vacuum pump cylinder to part of the oscillating wooden sliders from which he obtained a vacuum that was conducted down by a thick-walled rubber hose to the head of a milking kettle bearing a single set of four milking vacuum cylinders that were applied to a cows teats once the udder had been cleansed. I don’ t think that at any time he had more than 10 milking cows because his mechanical pumping system was installed on only one side of the cow stable. He kept the bull at the far end on the other side, and a few dry or young cattle on that side too during the winter, but in the summer all the cattle were taken down the laneway on the western edge of the farm across the rail-road tracks to the other side of the tracks (through swing wire gates on each track side) to graze amid the rock outcroppings. When the Grand Trunk railway was first put through the area, Nelson Shipman, from the adjacent 100-acre farm to the west and a couple of generations earlier than Walter, being the shrewd business man that he was, negotiated with the railway authorities to have a sub-passage way put under the tracks so that his cattle could be pastured south of the tracks without the 4-times daily hazard of crossing the busy double tracks. Nelson, like the other Shipmans of that area are all descendants of Samuel Shipman who first gained Crown title to the 200 acres of the combined farms, was the only person along the Lyn-Yonge Mills Rd. to have such a subway for his cattle, and a nice stone-faced one, front and rear, at that!
Besides the cow stable, on the lower side of the barn was a lean-to built horse stable where Walter kept 2 horses and a colt. They were tethered in stalls facing the barn and could be serviced with hay and oats via a passage way in front of the horses’ heads or by a wider passage to the rear of the horses which allowed for greater mobility when taking out manure with a wheel barrow. I dreaded walking in behind the horses as a boy and kept close to the remote wall lest they might kick me since they seemed always to be stamping or lifting their feet with a little flick as their bodies shifted in the stalls. Now, out in the barnyard along the western fence, but just south of the ice-house, was a long concrete built watering trough for use by the cattle and horses. It was about 4′ high, 3 ‘ wide and 30’ long with 4” walls. Walter would turn a valve at the upper head-end of the trough and water would pour forth from a pipe into the trough from a storage tank in the barn . There was a high windmill at the edge of a field below the inclined hill that he would set in motion from time to time connected to a hand-pump that would pump water through a connected pipe to the storage tank. He would lead the horses one by one by hand-held bridle out to the running water of the trough, but sometimes one or more would refuse to drink at that time much to his frustration. They had some chickens too and one or two roosters, but I can’t recall where the hen house was located somewhere near the barn.
The ice-house was a fair size about 20′ x 30′ and 10′ high before the cedar-shake shingled roof height. Blocks of ice were probably cut from the Lyn Pond and drawn to the ice-house where they were arranged in rows and layers surrounded by thick layers of sawdust, especially around the perimeter of the building against the summers’ heat. Ice was used in an ice-bath tank for cooling milkcans full of warm milk before being collected for delivery to a condensed milk factory and also for use with course salt to achieve freezing tempertures around a metal home-ice-cream freezer set within a wooden containeer for hand operation. When few cows were milking, the milk was put through a De Laval cream separator near the single-cylinder gasoline engine in the cow stable (no milk-house at that time) for the cream to be made into butter or sold. The skim milk was fed to the pigs.
The Hop House & Itinerate Indigenous Hop Pickers
There was another small storey-and-a-half building on the eastern end of Elm Ridge above the nut trees but south of the main road. This shed, clad with vertical weathered barn boards and having a wide opening with no doors, was known as the ‘hop’ house. It was used for storage of the long hop poles used in growing hops in cultivated ground on top of the eastern ridge. When it came time for harvesting the hops from the vines growing upon clusters of hop-poles assembled like the inner framing of tee-pees, numbers of itinerant Indigenous men would be hired to pick the hops. These native Indians would sleep in the loft of the hop house. In late summer or autumn, Indian women would come through the district selling their beautiful, multi-coloured baskets woven from fragrant sweet grass and thin strips of slippery elm wood.
Taking the Sow to be Bred
When I was about 10 years of age and spending a few summer days at the farm, Walter’s hired hand at that time was a stocky, strong, round-faced woman, named Leafy, who lived alone in the little house for hired help. One morning, Walter decided that it was time to take his sow up the Lyn-Yonge Mills road to Burnham’s (I think)to have its boar inseminate the sow, and suggested that I come along with him and Leafy in his little truck. First the large pig had to be led and pushed up a ramp into the back of the truck; this took the combined effort of Leafy and Walter. With the sow tightly tethered to the truck just back of its cab, the three of us got into the front with me sitting in the middle of the seat with my feet
straddling the stick shift. Fortunately for the pig, it was not a long ride up the road to the other farm.
When we got to the Burnham farm, the sow was led down to the boar’s pen and put in with it. No sooner had the sow arrived when the boar became excited extending and twirling its long semi-spiral penis already dripping fluid and mounted the sow. In a flash, the boar quickly penetrated the sow then withdrew dripping a stream of creamy-white semen that looked every bit like tapioca pudding to me. I must have been wide-eyed with amazement, but it was over before I knew it. The sow was reloaded onto the truck, and back to the Shipman farm we went. Upon return, Rita was out in the yard and made a rather sharp rebuke to Walter to the effect that he could have spared the boy such a sight. I still enjoy eating tapioca pudding, but it conjures up more than flavour and consistency for me, even now.
Boiling Maple Sap to Syrup in the Back Woods Sugar Shanty
There were a large number of mature hard (sugar) maple trees in the back woods of the Shipman farm, and each late winter, March/April, these would be tapped with spiles from which metal buckets were suspended to catch the dripping sap. The sap ran best on sunny days following cold nights while there was still frost in the ground. The sugar shanty was a small frame building about 10′ wide and 20′ long with vertical barn boards and an elevated small roof and venting outlets rising above the main roof. The heart of the sugaring operation was a long cast-iron, wood-burning hearth on top of which a long segmented tin evaporator, the full width and length of the hearth, was placed. Sap from an elevated storage tank at the rear of the shanty flowed into the rear end of the evaporator through a pipe with a float regulator on it to maintain a desired level of raw sap in the terminal end of the evaporator. As water was boiled off the sap, the more dense syrup in formation slowly moved towards the front of the evaporator under the influence of gravity through three sections of interconnected evaporator pans. When the syrup at the front end reached a certain viscosity, it was partially drained off through a spout through a cheese-cloth strainer into a 4-or 8-gallon milk can of finished syrup. At the finishing end of the evaporator, there was always much foam formation by the boiling action, and it was not uncommon to hang a piece of pork fat from a wire a couple of inches above the level of the boil such that the rising foam would be broken by contact with the fat and collapse back into the evaporator.
The finest tasting syrup and lightest in colour was generally made after a first run had been made to take away any metallic taste from the evaporator. As the sap season progressed, the sap would become more woody in flavour resulting in progressively darker syrup formation. By the time the buds on the trees were about to expand, the syrup was very dark and really only fit for use on pancakes or for making very dark maple sugar. Maple sugar was made on the cookstove by boiling syrup further with near constant stirring to remove water to obtain a near crystalline beige state when it would be ladled into candy moulds or sugar cone moulds. The sugar loafs from the sugar cones stored well and would be scraped when one needed brown sugar for cooking or baking. When we were kids, Walter would bring in a 4-gallon milk can of syrup for our use. Mother would bring it to a boil in batches of pots on the kitchen stove at home and fill oven heated wine and liquor bottles with the hot syrup so that it would not ferment during storage in the basement fruit cellar. Often at the shanty or at home, ‘jack-wax’ (sugar taffy) would be made by heating some syrup to a thicker consistency, then pouring it on a tray of compacted fresh snow where it congealed and could be lifted off on a stick and eaten like taffy. It was very sweet, strong in maple flavour, and tacky to the teeth. We have a picture of Edna, grandfather Joel, Walter, and I think a hired man, taken in the shanty at the front of the hearth during boiling operations.
Demise of Elm Ridge Homestead, Sale of the Property, its Desolation and Partial Restoration
After grandmother Macy Shipman died in early February 1950, Walter and Rita arranged for our family of four to go out to the homestead on Saturday in mid-April to clear out her effects as virtually nothing had been done to her master bedroom since her demise. In the last couple of months or so of her deteriorating condition, Walter and Rita had converted the music room into a downstairs bedroom for gdmother for greater ease for Rita to attend to her by avoiding the stairs. The grand piano must have been pushed into the parlor but returned to the music room when she was laid out in her casket in the parlor prior to the funeral in Lyn United Church and later burial in the Lyn Cemetery. Soon after the funeral, Walter asked my father to help him move the grand piano out of its room and to bring along a good hand saw. The legs of the piano had to be sawed off flush with the cabinet in order to get the piano out of the room through the narrow doorway, and it would have required too much extra work to take it out through the archways with shifting of much furniture. The four ebony legs, however, were saved as souvenirs, and Dad hollowed out the bottom of each leg to support a glass ash tray when inverted. Inverted with the heavy flat portion of the leg on the floor with its rising prominent black provincial furniture curvature, the leg was a striking addition to any living room. We had one at home (Eva Macy née Shipman), the Pettems (Edna, née Shipman) had one in their farm house, and Walter & Rita kept one.
For that Saturday clearance day, Walter had started a bonfire in the yard a fair distance back from the smokehouse and other buildings. Here he brought to the consuming flames the urine spotted carpets from the master bedroom as mother and Rita went through grandmother’s closets for clothes, footwear, etc. Then it came time to empty the dresser drawers of collected papers, bundles of cards and correspondence, and I can remember Walter sputtering to me as he dumped these items intact by the drawer full on the blazing pile how “anyone could save so much stuff”. Just in the last months of first year high school, I was more interested in attending to the fire than realizing the potential genealogical and historical loss that might be occurring before my eyes.
The farm did not sell easily although advertised sometime after it was electrified in 1953. As I recall, it was sold in early spring of 1955 as I was finishing up high school. I didn’t learn until a couple of years later when attending Queen’s University that it had been sold for just $13,000 – mind you, agricultural property had not yet started its later rate of appreciation, but this whole property of houses, drive-sheds, outdated barn, etc. essentially went for land value and very cheaply at that!
The new tenant, a Dutchman by the name of Bill Vandermead soon began to despoil the farm. Elm Ridge was destroyed when the elm trees and all the nut trees were cut down, the hop house removed, and the ridge plowed as a continuum of the fields below. The ridge was plowed year after year down and up the hill instead of cross-wise to counter soil erosion! The old barn was dismantled, and a pig barn was established back of the main house where too a lagoon was dug for the urine run-off from the pigs. This man died after a few years, a brother and his wife took over the enterprise until they had to give it up and sold the farm to another more appreciative party. The new party cleared the back area of the pig buildings, filled in the lagoon, and a couple of years later had the main building and older part behind it clad in white aluminum clapboard siding matching the size of the original white painted wooden clapboarding. They also gained good occupants of the former hired man’s house, and fixed up its exterior with flowers, shrubbery, etc. so it is hardly recognizable now as the same.
Aproximately 10 years ago (2008), my sister Margaret had just started her quest for Family History. Her goal was to take pictures of the Shipman Homestead. When approaching the desired spot, she moved to the side of the road to let a car pass. It turned into the Homestead. She explained who she was and her purpose for the photos. The gentleman was delighted to meet a relative of Walter Shipman. He had heard much about him and was interested in the history of the house. They were offered a tour of the house, but since she was with her young granddaughter, Kate, and friend, Josh, they agreed another time would be better. They did not want to intrude as it was meal time. They never got back to the tour but had a wonderful discussion with the owner.
Acknowledgements – Thanks to Margaret E. Cooke (née Neville) for review of drafts and to my wife, Iris M. Neville (née McLinton) for catching many typographical & spelling errors in the final version.
(Note: While we realize that this home was located in the Township of the Front of Young, the house and family had a strong connection to the Village of Lyn, so we have decided to include on our website)
Dr. Gordon E. Richards – Canada’s Father of the Discipline of Radiation Therapy
One of the most important health care discoveries of the early 20th century was the potential of radiation therapy in treating patients with cancer. Very soon after the discovery of X-rays in 1895 and radium in 1898, practitioners began to hear, and spread, stories about the almost magical effect of “rays” on cancerous tumours. In Canada, the first report of X-rays being used to treat cancer surfaced in 1902. Others quickly followed, and in 1910 a doctor named William H. B. Aikins opened the Radium Institute of Toronto. By 1924, when he died, Aikins claimed to have treated more than 3,000 patients.
This was a time of excitement in health care. Radiotherapy held genuine promise for the treatment of a disease that until then had all too often confounded doctors. The fact was, though, that the health care community understood much more about the potential of radiation than they did about the practice itself, and there was certainly too little understanding of the dangers involved. There was no particular oversight or regulation with respect to radiation therapy. Treatments were given in less-thanstandard fashion by surgeons and general practitioners. Incredibly, some physicians were known to carry radium sources in their pockets.
The dawn of change
It was at this time that a man named Gordon E. Richards arrived on the scene. The son of a Presbyterian Minister, Dr. Richards was born in Lyn, Ontario. His father died when he was four, and he was raised in the home of his grandmother. Originally destined for the ministry, Richards opted instead for a medical career, working his way through the University of Toronto Medical School. He was a driven and highly successful student, who was President of the Undergraduate Medical Executive in his final year, and graduated as the top student with the gold medal in 1908.
It is unclear when or how Dr. Richards developed any interest or expertise in radiology, but shortly after graduating, he joined Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital as a radiologist. In 1917, he moved back to Ontario to lead the new X-ray department at Toronto General Hospital. Until his arrival, diagnostic radiology was performed by non-MD radiographers, with physicians and surgeons interpreting the film. Over strenuous objections from clinicians, Dr. Richards directed that trained radiologists should be the ones making those interpretations, as well as final decisions as to treatment of cancer patients with radiation.
A more organized approach to radiation therapy
Over the following years, Dr. Richards’ department acquired higher voltage radiation machines and radium for the treatment of patients with cancer. These therapies were still being used by private practitioners outside formal institutions, but in Dr. Richards’ time and in large part because of his influence, these began to give way to a more organized and academic approach to radiation therapy. By the mid-1930s, Dr. Richards and his department had gained a national and international reputation for the treatment of patients with cancer.
Although there were no formal training programs in radiotherapy at that time, Dr. Richards trained apprentices, including two notable figures: Dr. Vera Peters, who became Canada’s best known and most honoured radiation oncologist through her work in Hodgkin’s disease and breast cancer, and Dr. Clifford Ash, who followed Dr. Richards as Chief of Radiotherapy and later became Director of Princess Margaret Hospital.
A more effective use of facilities
Dr. Richards’ contributions extended beyond radiation therapy to the broader issues surrounding cancer control, particularly in Ontario. He was one of the first to recognize that the treatment of cancer requires specialists working in specialized institutions. He was a strong proponent of centralizing radiation facilities, and he favoured linking these facilities to large hospitals “to make the most effective use of the facilities for frequent consultation with other specialty departments.”
The union of The Toronto Hospital (later renamed the University Health Network) and Princess Margaret Hospital in 1997, bringing together all cancer treatment modalities, truly realized Dr. Richards’ vision. Similarly, the more recent integration of Cancer Care Ontario’s cancer centres with their host hospitals would surely have met with his enthusiastic approval.
A significant role in all key aspects of cancer control
Dr. Richards’ influence in cancer control was not limited to Ontario. He helped form both the Canadian Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute of Canada, serving as the latter’s president in 1947 and 1948. He was involved and played a key role in almost every significant national and provincial cancer control initiative that occurred in his lifetime.
Dr. Richards was known to have always been cordial with his patients, but it was said of him that he never learned how to play – rather, his life was directed wholly and completely to his work. That commitment probably played a part in ending his life. It is a sad irony that the man who did more than anyone to bring some order and regulation, not to mention safer practices, to radiation therapy in Canada died of a blood condition – almost certainly acute leukemia, and very likely the result of prolonged exposure to radiation. Dr. Richards was an extraordinary man, one who devoted his entire life to combating cancer.
Sometimes we are fortunate to find little know information about someone born in Lyn. Such was the case with William Caswell
Born at Lyn, Ontario on 20 November 1838, son of Stephen and Mary Caswell, he lived at nearby Ogdensburg, New York for several years before moving to Duluth, Minnesota where he worked as a photographer in partnership with William H. Davy. While living at Duluth, he married Charlotte Atkinson with whom he had two sons, one dying in infancy. He also worked at Grand Forks, Dakota Territory [now North Dakota] where his “skills as a photographer has made his name a household word throughout the civilized world.” In December 1877, he came to Winnipeg as a partner of Simon Duffin in the studio of Duffin & Caswell. The partnership had dissolved by 1880 and Caswell returned to Grand Forks where he remained for the rest of his life. He died there on 27 February 1910 and was buried in the Grand Forks Cemetery.
Thanks to the Manitoba Historical Society for this information:
I remember my dad came home for supper one night and announced that he had purchased the Blacksmith Shop. His wife, my mother, commented that “Now I’ll have to stay in Lyn all my life”. This was around 1922.
Charlie Herbison was the son of John Herbison, a pioneer Caintown area farmer, originally from Ireland. He married Rachel White. Charlie grew up in Caintown and wed Mable Van Attan, daughter of Sidney Van Attan and his wife the former Alzina Edgley.
In 1904 at the age of 16, Charlie came to Lyn to apprentice under the village blacksmith, Bob Tennant. Young Herbison learned his trade well, for within a few years he was able to take over the business from Tennant. Tennant went on to become a bailiff. In his early years as a blacksmith Charlie boarded with the Tennants.
Charlie married Mabel Van Attan in 1912 and they had two children, both girls. The first daughter Mildred died in 1916 and a year later Hilda was born. Hilda was about five when Charlie bought the blacksmith shop, and she vividly remembers him pounding out the horseshoes at the forge and anvil.
“My mother used to tell me that when they got married they had nothing new in the house. They used to go around to auction sales to buy what they needed. All the money my dad could earn went back into the business.”
For awhile Charlie was assisted in his business by his brother, Alec, who finally left to go farming. He bought a homestead on Purvis Street and settled down there.
In addition to horseshoeing, Charlie Herbison was a good farm mechanic sharpening plow shares, fashioning wagon wheels and axles, and forging new parts for farm machinery. He drew his raw steel from Hamilton and got other supplies from Kingston.
After 40 years at the forge, Charlie had to slow down because of heart trouble and he died in February 1959, Mable lived for another 12 years dying in 1971.
The blacksmith shop closed after Charlie’s death, and the building, which is believed to date from the 1840’s has had a succession of owners, including Dorothy and Fred Dempsey who operated a grocery store. In recent years it was the local post office, and now a private home.
Charlie’s daughter Hilda was educated in the old Lyn Public School, and then went on to Brockville Collegiate Institute. For her first three years there, Hilda went to BCI on the old Brockville and Westport ‘Jitney’, boarding the train in the morning and coming back late afternoon. Later she went to and from BCI by car, as the railway cut down on their service. The train ran only three times a week in her final year at BCI.
In 1935 Hilda married a Cape Breton Islander, Leo Rehberg. She recalls that as a child Lyn’s mills were still grinding. She remembers the grain wagons arriving at the grist mill beside the canal opposite her fathers smithy, and skating on the mill pond as a girl. The pond has long since gone and the canal is overgrown with trees and no longer carries the rushing water that ran the mills.
Hilda remembers the drowning of a 12 year old boy in the canal. She saw rescuers carry the lad’s body from the water. The boy was visiting Lyn with his family from Hamilton, Ontario.
I remember the old Post Office too it was in Walter Billings’ General Store. On cold nights when we went skating on the mill pond, we used to leave our shoes there. Walter Billings would tell us that we had to have our shoes out by 10 p.m. when he closed, or he would have to leave them outside. That happened one real cold night, and sure enough when we came for our shoes they were sitting out in the cold. I didn’t have far to walk, so I didn’t bother to change my skates. I just walked home down the middle of the road om my skates.
The others weren’t so lucky; they had to put on cold shoes to walk home.
(from the Recorder TV Travel Times, date of publication is unknown)
Last week we had only time to announce that the above named gentleman had been shot dead, but how, the particulars had not reached us. We may now briefly state that he put an end to his existence by his own hand, while labouring under a temporary fit of insanity. He took his rifle from his own residence and carried it to a shed only a very short distance from his house. He applied the muzzle of the rifle to his forehead and pulled the trigger with his foot. The ball entered his brow and passed out at the back of his head. These are the facts and we have no desire to dwell on minor particulars. No man who knew Mr. Coleman but sincerely regrets his death. The writer has known him for nearly twenty years, and knew him only to respect and esteem him. Some time ago it is well known he became, with his brother, peculiarly embarrassed. His whole property went from him and we know how these unfortunate circumstances weighed upon his mind. He had taken special pains to render his house and grounds a most pleasant locality, where he expected to look out, as from a secure loophole, upon the world and its joys and sorrows. But, alas, how deceitful and fleeting are all earth’s treasures – They take unto themselves wings and flee away and the soul-now take-thy-ease-spirit which has been nursed is often rudely shaken and shattered, and hopes, like the sandy-foundation house, falls, and sometimes, as in the case of our respected and departed friend, great is the fall thereof.
Lyn was very much to the deceased Richard Coleman. His energy and enterprise —- the village and it has not the character of a most important manufacturing locality – His whole mind was often engrossed with the progress of Lyn, which, for many years, was known as Coleman’s Corners, his father having settled in the locality, and from whose resident the corners derived their name.
As we have stated, the first financial difficulty of the firm and the loss of property severely affected Mr. Coleman’s mind but it was hoped that the dark cloud had begun to show its silver lining and that ere long all would again be well. It was, however, so ordered that those hopes were to be dashed to pieces, gloom enshrouded him once again on the failure of the Messrs Chaffey, who, we are led to believe, had kindly aided him in his struggles to free himself from his former embarrassments. There was nothing in the failure, however, which should have caused him alarm, but his mind was not what it once had been, and a slight shock, even where the evils anticipated were imaginary, prostrated him. His intellect gave way, and thus, under a dread of coming earthly evils, aberration of mind followed and the recorded sealed the earthly sojourn o f one whom we had ever esteemed as a brother, and as a most consistent Christian. Peace be to his ashes, and may God give his promised consolation to the bereaved family.
We have been requested to state that the Rev. Mr. Burton will preach a funeral sermon in the Wesleyan Methodist Church, Lyn, at three o-clock on Sunday afternoon next. We have no doubt there will be a large turn out.
R. Coleman Shot
taken from the
Brockville Recorder – Thursday, April 30, 1868.
Just as we were preparing for press, the melancholy intelligence reached us that R. Coleman, Esq., of Lyn, was found in a tool house adjoining his residence dead, with a bullet hole through his head. Whether shot accidentally or otherwise he have not learned.
Remembrance of my father by Barbara (Quinn) Dunster
While my story about World War II would pale to some, perhaps even right here at Parkview Place and as Remembrance Day draws near, I would like to share a few of my memories with you.
My father, Leonard S. Quinn, (I always called him “Daddy”), was born in May 1907 and my mom Flora (MacNamara) Quinn, was born in July 1906. They were born and brought up in the Lyn area where they met and married in October 1932 and moved into the Village of Lyn.
They had three daughters, Beverly in 1933, Barbara in 1935 and Joan in 1937.
Daddy was a farmhand for several farmers in the area and worked for Simpson’s Sand and Gravel Shipping, hauling such from Wellesley Island in the St. Lawrence River to the mainland at Johnstown near Prescott, Ontario where the large grey structure still stands. He acquired a government job with the Dept. of Highways and was working on the rock cut at Rockport, Ontario, west of Brockville, Ontario for Highway #2, when the War broke out in September 1939. The construction of Hwy #2 ceased during the war years to allow money for war supplies etc.
When the Second World War was declared in the Fall of 1939, I was four and a half years old. My Dad was helping to build Highway #2 in the Brockville and Mallorytown area at the time, but his job ended immediately when the War broke out. Since work was hard to find and men were needed for service, Dad joined the Army with the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Highlanders. He trained in Kingston, Ontario and Truro, Nova Scotia before going overseas in April 1940. We didn’t see Daddy again for five years, “Snail Mail” was our only means of communication.
My Mother and two sisters spent the next 5 years coping with no Dad and many difficult times. Mom nursed us through all the Communicable Diseases and several surgeries, one which nearly claimed my life. At seven years old, I was stricken with Acute Appendicitis and required surgery immediately. I developed double pneumonia, went into a coma and was not expected to make it. They cabled overseas to tell my Dad, only to find he was in hospital with pneumonia, having just had a Mastoid operation. They never did tell him how ill I was, until he was well.
I remember the doctor coming to the house to witness the Ration Books being burned in the kitchen stove, after my sister and I had Scarlet Fever. Only then could we get new books issued. Of course we were quarantined for all those diseases then.
We lived for the days we’d receive a note or letter from “Overseas” with “Dear Wife and Kiddie” in it! We wrote many, many letters over the next five years and always begging him to come home. Same reply, “I’ll be home as soon as I can get there!”
My two sisters and I learned how to make “War Cake” early on. I still make it today and when you go by our door and smell cinnamon and cloves, I’m more than likely making War Cake*. We kept Daddy supplied with this cake because it keeps well and when he emptied his Kit Bag when he arrived home, there in the bottom was a small piece wrapped tightly in waxed paper along with a bent picture of his “Dear Wife and Kiddies”.
We helped gather the milk weed pods for making parachutes and were involved in the Concerts put on to raise money for War supplies. At these Concerts in the area, and at the Friday afternoon Sing-a-long at school, I would be asked to sing, accompanied by Don (now my husband of 51 years). The Song? “Bless Them All”. I cried! I remembered! We saved all our pennies to buy War Saving Stamps, thinking that would bring Daddy home sooner.
I was too young to understand fully the dangers of war, but I do remember us getting a letter that was covered with mud. They had become mired in it and didn’t think they would get out, so they scribbled notes to be sent home and threw them to the ones behind, until they reached solid ground.
It was difficult for my mother raising three little girls during that five year period. A monthly payment to Blue Cross was the only health plan. Mom received a cheque each month for $93.00 to cover food, home, clothing, medical needs etc. Sometimes those cheques arrived late making a more difficult situation, especially when they didn’t arrive until after Christmas.
Finally in June of ’45, the letter came that he would be home in August. I cannot tell you how excited I was! I literally grabbed the letter from Mom and raced down the hill to show my Aunt and Uncle. He would be sailing home on the “Isle de France”, docking in Montreal, taking the train to Brockville and driving the last four miles home to Lyn, where his “Dear Wife and Kiddies” were awaiting his arrival. He had done his Duty! My sister Beverly and I sang all night waiting for him to come home.
Daddy had fallen in a trench during a blackout in France and injured his shoulder to the extent that he was unable to return to highway construction. After waiting the required month upon receiving his honourable discharge in Kingston on August 31st he started work at the Brockville Ontario Hospital, beginning October 1st, 1945 as an Attendant, where he worked for the next 27 years until he retired at age 65. He received his training there and was known as a well respected, loyal, hard working male attendant.
After retirement they sold their home in Lyn and moved to the Churchill Apartments on Reynolds Drive in Brockville.
Daddy and Mom were totally devoted to we three girls, our husbands and our families. They waited every day for our phone calls, letters and our visits.
Although I never did get to know and understand my Dad well, after being separated from the time I was four and a half to ten years of age, I do know he was a quiet, hard working honest man, with a heart of gold, who loved me very, very much!
Daddy passed away February 21st, 1980 after a massive stroke. If he was here with us today, I would say “Thank You” for going to war, to help Our Country, and Really mean it, even though he left behind his “Dear Wife and Kiddies” for five and a half years.
My mother passed away on March 22, 1991
Daddy gave me his War Medals and I am so very proud of him!
Written by Barbara (Quinn) Dunster, July 2017. Barbara sadly passed away in August 2017.
Barbara donated her father’s Service Metals to the Heritage Place Museum where they are on display. We are grateful to her for this gift.
*War Cake was an egg-less, almost fat-less, milk-less cake, very aptly named, it was easy to make and the ingredients were available during the wartime shortages.
Every once in awhile, a forgotten soldier from the past re-surfaces. Thanks to notes and photos received from the great niece of William James MacNamara, Barbara Dunster (nee Quinn), we can piece together his life and pay tribute to this forgotten soldier who gave his life in World War I.
William James MacNamara was born in Lyn on January 10th 1892. He was the son of John T. MacNamara and Beatrice (Cook). John was a farmer and stone mason living in the Lyn area. The family consisted of thirteen children, with their youngest child dying shortly after birth and one daughter dying of consumption at the age of thirty-three.
Growing up in Lyn, William would have attended the two story, relatively new, Lyn Public School on the west side of the village. He would have enjoyed village life, fishing in the Lyn pond, and in the winter skating on that same pond.
As a young man he joined the “Boys Cadets” and spent two years with them. Later on in his late teens, he was a Lay Minister at the Presbyterian Church in Lyn. He worked in general construction in and around the Lyn area.
When the war in Europe broke out on July 28th, 1914, William, like all the other young men his age, wanted to do their service for King and Country. On September 23rd, 1914 William at the age of 22, joined the army at Valcartier Quebec, the primary training base for the First Canadian Contingent in 1914.
On August 10, 1914, the government established the strength of the First Canadian Contingent for overseas service at 25,000, the figure requested by London. Minister of Militia and Defence Sam Hughes, eager to lead and coordinate personally a speedy call-up, chose to forgo the established mobilization plan and issued a more direct call to arms. Men from all classes and ages rushed to enlist at armouries and militia bases across the country. They all traveled to a single, hastily prepared camp at Valcartier for equipment, training, and preparation for war. Eventually the camp held over 35,000 troops.
We are not sure of William’s training dates or when he left for England, but we do know that he was assigned as a Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. The chances are very good that he met up with the 3rd Battalion as they were training at Camp Bustard in England.
Before leaving for Europe, William became engaged to Ethel MacKenzie of Lyn.
Through the war diaries of the 3rd Battalion, we are given a look into what his life would have been like.
“On Sunday Feb. 7th, 1915 during a heavy rain storm the battalion was preparing to leave England and move to the front. On Feb 17th they reached Armentieries, France (Northern France, near Belgium) and were billeted there and given instructions on the trenches at the front.”
We are going to skip ahead to November 6th when the 3rd Battalion was moved to Dranoutre to relieve the 2nd Battalion. An 8PM entry, notes: “Relief completed. Mud very bad, dugouts fallen in. Parties of 4th C.M.R. attached for training, about 15 O.R. to each of our companies. 2nd Canadian Division on our left, 4th Battalion on our right.”
A November 16th entry finds them still in the trenches at Dranoutre.
“9 a.m. Our guns opened on German line near PETITE DOUVE FME., and continued intermittently until dusk. 3:00 p.m. Heavily shelled by a 5.9” on a train, using A.P shells. Lt. H.C. JONES and 7 O.R. wounded by one. Our heavies retaliated. Two 9.2” shells landed in our own lines, fortunately causing no casualties. 6:00 p.m. 1 O.R. wounded in D4 by rifle grenade. 9-10p.m. Our heavies pounded PETITE DOUVE steadily
2 p.m. 5th and 7th Battalions raided German line near PETITE DOUVE, bayoneting some 20 or 30, bombing others, and returned with 12 prisoners. Germans failed to retaliate. D section profoundly peaceful throughout the night. Weather –unsettled.”
On Sunday, December 5, 1915, we see the first entry noting Lt. MacNamara: “Location: DRANOUTRE 10:30 a.m. Church parade, A & D Corp. REV. CAPT. GORDON took the service.
CAPT. COOPER, LT. MACNAMARA and 21 O.R. went on leave. 2:30 p.m. Band gave concert in the square. CAPT. VALIQUET went to 1st Bn. Weather—rain, later fair Mild.”
We know from other sources that Lt. MacNamara would go to London for leave and stay at the home of Mrs. J. Hueston. At the time, she lived at Isleworth Court, 22 Palace Rd., Streatham Hill, London, SW. It was very common for Londoners to open their homes to servicemen on leave.
An entry from December 19, 1915 gives an idea of what life was like for William MacManara:
“Location: In Trenches 3:00 am Heavy rifle fire from YPRES salient. 5:25 am Heavy gun fire from YPRES salient. (Word received Germans had attempted a gas-attack , but were stopped by our guns.) 5:45 am Gas very noticeable in our trenches. 3-4pm Heavy gunfire from YPRES salient—Gas again very noticeable.”
The next two entries where we see Lt. MacManara’s name, is when he was promoted to Captain on Feb. 23rd, 1916.
“Wednesday, January 19, 1916
Entry: Capt TROY, Lts. BURKE, MacDONALD and MacNAMARA & 4 n.c.o.’s returned from DivisionalTraining School. Played the Highland Light Infantry at football, wining 3-2.
Wednesday, February 23, 1916
Entry: Gas Alert. Working parties. Still cold, snow on the ground.
Dinner by Capt DYMOND and Capt. MacNAMARA to wet their stars.”
Life continued for the men of the 3rd Battalion and the next three entries can help to give to an idea of what the daily life would have been like for the now Capt. MacNamara.
“Thursday, March 2, 1916
Location: BRIGADE RESERVE
Entry: 4:30 am – Field guns, heavies & hows all opened up. MGs opening indirect fire on approaches appalling now. Germans contributed a splendid display of rockets & flares. The strafe lasted violently for 30 minutes, then gradually died down. It was a demonstration to cover attack on International Trench in YPRES salient. Attack was successful. Little reply to our bombardment. Draft of 26 O.R. reported. Bathing & working parties. Gas Alert. Weather – snow.
Monday, March 13, 1916
Entry: Our guns active all day. Meagre reply from enemy. Minenwerfer fairly active, wounding 1 O.R. Relieved by 2nd Bn, and moved to billets at DRAMOUTRE.
Monday, March 27, 1916
Entry: Violent bombardment by our artillery from 4-5 am, trench mortars joining in. Little retaliation. Germans shelled us heavily but without effect about 12 noon and about 5 pm.”
The next mention of Captain MacNamara is on Sunday, April 2nd and Monday April 10th, 1916 when he went on leave, again presumably back to London.
“Location: SCOTTISH LINES
Entry: Church parade. Rev. Capt. GORDON took the service. Capt ALLEY, Capt MacNAMARA and Lt ANGLIN with R.S.M. and 6 n.c.o.s went up to check over Brigade Support positions.
Moved to Brigade Support. Owing to UPPER GORDON TERRACE and KINGSWAY having been badly smashed by shelling this afternoon, whole Battalion quartered in BEDFORD HOUSE. Sgt EVANS wounded near R.10. Weather fine.
Monday, April 10, 1916
Location: BEDFORD HOUSE
Entry: Capt MacNAMARA and Lt. McLEAN and 15 O.R. went on leave. Lt. KIDD wounded in leg in front trench. Moved to relieve 2nd Battalion. 2 O.R. wounded by shell at BEDFORD HOUSE. Relief complete 11.15 pm.
On Saturday, April 22, 1916 we see that he has returned from a 12 day leave. Location: POPERINGHE
Entry: Rainy. Capt MacNAMARA and Lt McLEAN from leave. Lt McDONALD to be Brigade Wiring Officer.
On Monday, May 29, 1916, he was transferred to “D Company” Location: TRENCHES
Entry: German and British aeroplane brought down. Capt McNamara to duty with D Coy.
On June 1, 1916, he was transferred back to “C Company” Place: Dickebusch Huts
Entry: Arrived from trenches about 2 am. Colonel Allan, acting Brigadier General in absence of Brigadier General HUGHES. Capt DYMOND returned from leave. Capt. McNAMARA posted to C Company, Lieut SIMMIE to Grenadiers.”
Little did he know that 12 days later, at the age of 24, he would die in an attack on the German Lines. His wounds and death are recorded in the following entry on June 13th 1916.
Entry: 12.45 am – 1.30 am Intense bombardment by our artillery. 1.30 am, artillery lifted to our original support lines, and front line, and C, A and D Coy’s, with bombers and M.G., rushed German front line from S.P. 11 to MACHINE GUN TRENCH. Right attack met little opposition and bayoneted the Germans in the trench. C and A Coy’s met rifle and M.G. fire, but pushed on, carried trench and bayoneted most of the occupants. Capt. MACNAMARA was hit in both legs in this attack. Capt DYMOND was wounded. 1.40 am B Coy left X TRENCH, and two platoons to consolidate German front line. From 12.45 am on, the German shell fire along X TRENCH, and in front of it was very heavy.
1.50 am our artillery lifted to original German line, and the attack pushed forward to the crest, two platoons of B Coy. supporting the right. The crest was carried with slight loss, many Germans being bayoneted before they could get away. Some 60 or 70 wounded and unwounded prisoners were sent back. The consolidation of the line was at once begun. Capt. COOPERS, Lt. WILLIS, Lt. HUTCHISON, Lt. SLOANE, Lt. HOBDAY, Lt. GRASSETT, Capt. MARANI, Lt. WEDD were all wounded in this stage of the fight. Major MASON, in charge of the forward lines, was hit in the head, and later in the foot, but carried on until noon when he had to come out. The 1st Canadian Battalion, in support, sent a company forward to 1st German line, and later sent two companies, and then the remaining companies forward to our regained front line to help consolidate and hold the position. Two of our Lewis guns became choked with mud, and Lt. CRAWFORD turned three captured German guns on the enemy.
From this time – 2.30 am – on, German artillery fire on our new positions, especially on MOUNTSORRELL and on X TRENCH, was heavy, and continuous throughout the day. The woods and trenches were searched with shrapnel and H.E. and many casualties were caused. The band under Sgt. YOUNG, displayed great devotion in carrying wounded to the rear. Lt. KIPPEN, Intelligence Officer, and his scouts, before and during the attack, gained at great risk much valuable information and got it to Battalion H.Q. The signalers’ efforts to keep communication with MOUNTSORRELL were excellent, but the heavy shelling cut lines as fast as they were laid. A party under Sigr BLACKHALL, which went forward with the attack, got communication for enough time to give Battalion H.Q. in X TRENCH, information as to our new positions, but the lines were soon cut. The lines to Brigade were also cut and pigeons proved most valuable. After Major MASON was forced to leave, Lt. Col. CREIGHTON of the 1st Canadian Battalion took over immediate command on MOUNTSORRELL. Lt. SIMMIE was wounded while endeavouring to get supplies of grenades forward.
During the afternoon the enemy’s artillery fire increased Lt. Grasett who though wounded had carried on, was killed, Lt. GORDON, badly wounded, started for the rear but up to the 16th inst has not been heard of Lt. Weston was killed. Capt. MacNamara was carried out, bleeding to death. He died on the 14th. A direct hit on the H.Q. dugout on MOUNTSORRELL killed Capt. Vandersmissen, and fatally wounded Lt. Col. Creighton, who died on 16th June. A hit at the door of Battalion H.Q. in X TRENCH wounded 2 O.R. inside and slightly wounded Lt. Col. Allan, who carried on.
11 PM, relieved by 8th Canadian Battalion, and moved to F Camp. Total casualties:- 3 officers killed, 1 officer died of wounds, 1 officer missing, 11 officers wounded. 40 O.R. Killed, 92 O.R. Missing, 207 O.R. wounded.”
From family notes we have learned that William, as we read above, was wounded in the field and left to die. A close comrade of William’s begged to stay with him, but William encouraged him to go and be safe. He related this story to William’s mother when he returned to Canada after the war.
William would have been removed to No.3 Causality Clearing Station where according to official notes, he died of his wounds on June 14th, 1916, one day after he was critically injured in an attack on the German lines.
There is a note on Captain MacNamara’s record to indicate that he may have first been buried at Dickebush New Military Cemetery, Belgium, but another notes states that he was buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium Plot 6, Row A, Grave 20.
On December 3rd, 1916, his mother Beatrice received a hand written letter from Mrs. H.F. Hueston.
“He was a dear, dear friend of mine, and has been my guest here at this house every time he was on leave in London. I have your dear Son’s best uniform in my possession, and ask if you would like to have it. Perhaps the sight of it may be altogether too painful for you, and that is the reason for writing to ask you about it before sending it. The uniform I speak of is one that he kept for best wear while in London and that is how it comes to be in my possession. I used to look after it for him while he was away at the front.
Dear mother of his, I am truly sorry to re-open your wound in this manner, He spoke of you so very often to me, and told me how proud you would be of him being a Captain. May God have mercy on the lad, and grant his dear soul eternal rest and peace. Hoping to hear from you and offering my sincere and heartfelt sympathy in your irreparable loss. Yours very Sincerely, J.Hueston”
And so our story of William James MacNamara comes to an end. Remembered by only a few over the past 100 years, now his life has re-surfaced to be with us once more.
We owe our eternal gratitude to all those men like Captain MacNamara who gave their lives so we could live in freedom today.
For his service Captain MacNamara would have received the following two medals:
The Victory Medal (also called the Inter-Allied Victory Medal), is a United Kingdon and British Empire First World War Campaign medal.
The British War Medal is a campaign medal of the United Kingdom, which was awarded to officers and men of British and Imperial forces for service in the First World War.
After the war, William’s family would have received:
The Memorial Plaque, which was issued after the First World War to the next-of-
kin of all British and Empire service personnel who were killed as a result of the war.
Note, for additional reading:
For the complete diary of the 3rd BN, it can be found at the following website:
This is the story of two ordinary people who, in search of a better life, migrated to Canada in the early 1800’s.
They were both born in Antrim, Belfast, Northern Ireland and knew each other in their early days there, but came to Canada separately, only to meet up later and marry.
Louise Knox was born in 1822. We know little of her life in Ireland, except that she came from a large family of two brothers and five sisters, Louise being the third youngest. From what we know, she moved with her older sister, Eleanor, and Eleanor’s husband John Kerr, to the area around Mountain, Ontario. While we are uncertain of the date they left Belfast, Eleanor’s first child, Robert, was born in Canada in November of 1840, so the chances are good that they left prior to this date quite possibly in 1839. Louise would have been around 16 years old when she started out on her big adventure. Settling in Mountain Township with her sister and brother-in-law, she would no doubt have been a great help to her older sister and her young family.
Patrick Johnston was born in Antrim, Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1819. It was said that he was the least educated of his three brothers (John, Samuel and James) and one sister, Eleanor. This may have been the reason he decided to leave the security of his home and immigrate to Canada. Perhaps as a young man in his 20’s, he was just out looking for adventure. We know nothing about his sailing and arrival in Canada. The ship on which he sailed most likely took him to Montreal, where he would have then taken a smaller ship up river and then by road to his final destination of Elizabethtown, or what is now known as Brockville. What brought him to Brockville is unknown.
He must have travelled around the area, because on one of his trips to Bytown (Ottawa), he ran into a friend from Belfast who told him that Louise was living in the Mountain area. Patrick found his childhood friend Louise. They were married around 1845 and settled west of Brockville. Their first house was located in what is now Oakland Cemetery. The stone foundation can still be seen in the westerly portion of the cemetery, backing onto Grant’s Creek. Judging by the size of the foundation the house was small, probably a log house, with a dirt floor and loft for sleeping.
Patrick and Louise started their family with the birth of their first child William James in 1846, who died the next year in 1847. Their family grew as the years went by and eventually they had nine children, six boys and three girls. Two of the boys died in their youth, William at 1 year and David at 3. Both children would have been buried in an unmarked area of the cemetery reserved for children.
Their children would have gone to school at the Rock School House, a stone school built in 1844 and located just west of where they were living.
Patrick was a cabinet and furniture maker as well as a mechanic, perhaps a “Jack of All Trades”. How good he was is unknown, but he must have been able to make enough money to support his wife and seven remaining children. At some point the family moved from their small cabin to a house located on the Halleck’s Road just west of where the Lyn Road used to cross over the Grand Trunk RR Tracks. (The location is now buried by Highway 401.)
In 1887 with their family grown and having moved out, their youngest son John, purchased a house and farm with 75 acres on the Lyn Road just south of the Grand Trunk Railroad. Patrick and Louise moved in with him and the three of them lived together in this small, five-room house. In May of 1891 John married Lilly Bell Patterson, and she moved in with her new husband and his parents. Perhaps the last thing a new bride wanted in those days was to live with her in-laws, but she accepted it and they all managed together.
In August of 1892 Patrick, at the age of 73, met an untimely death. He unfortunately had taken a “fondness to Drink” and would take the ferry from Brockville across to Morristown, N.Y when the taverns were closed in Brockville. On one of his adventures to Morristown, he may have had a bit too much to drink, for on his return when stepping off the ferry onto the dock at Brockville, he slipped into the water between the ferry and dock and drowned. An inquest into his death was held, and the corner ruled it an “Accidental Drowning”.
Louise continued to live with her son John and his wife Lilly Bell, and their family of three small girls, until her death in 1911 at aged 88. She was remembered as a very kind woman, who would sit rocking in her rocking chair smoking a clay pipe.
Their children married and had their own families. The boys grew into tall men, all over 6 feet.
Samuel went into the “Saloon” business and somehow managed to scrape together funds to purchase a Saloon/Hotel in Brockville called the Commercial Hotel. After selling that, he bought the Windsor Hotel located on Perth St. The building still stands today, but not as a hotel. Sam’s two brothers John and Stewart would work for him on weekends acting as ‘bouncers’ for those customers who got too rowdy. Samuel died in 1909.
John learned the trade of a stone mason and worked for a time at the Brockville Cemetery Memorial Works, and later went out on his own as a stone mason. Some of his work can still be seen around the area. He died in 1950.
Stewart moved to Gananoque and met an untimely death by drowning in the St. Lawrence River in 1902.
William, (named after his deceased older brother who passed away at the age of one), worked as a painter at Canada Carriage, a very large carriage factory in Brockville. He died in 1918.
Patrick and Louise along with their son Stewart lie buried in Oakland Cemetery across the road from where they first lived.
The descendants of Patrick and Louisa now number over 600 known relations and have moved throughout Canada and the United States.
This is the story of two ordinary people who moved to Canada in search of a better life. In so doing they gave their descendants a chance to grow and thrive in a free and democratic society.
News Article from the Evening Recorder, Monday, August 29, 1892
Accident or Suicide
Another Body Found in the River
Between six and seven o’clock this morning the body of a man was found floating in the Transit’s slip at the C.P.R. dock by a labourer named Kelly. He immediately gave an alarm and a large crowd was soon gathered. The remains were quickly identified as those of an elderly cabinet maker named Patrick Johnston, who resided west of the town on the Lyn road. After being taken from the water the body was given in charge of Undertaker Clint and removed up town for holding an inquest. Chief Rose enpanelled a jury which viewed the remains and adjourned until tomorrow night at seven o’clock.
The fact of the body being found floating gives the affair an air of mystery though it is generally thought the Transit’s wheel may have brought it to the surface. In so far as known there are no marks of violence on the body and as deceased was seen alive on Saturday he could not have been long in the water.
Deceased who was 67 years of age and a fine mechanic was somewhat given to the use of intoxicants, but would be very unlikely to take his own life. He leaves a wife and large family of grown up children all respectably connected and who are at a loss to know how the unfortunate man met his death. The funeral will take place to-morrow at 2:30 p.m. from his late residence to the cemetery.
The Evening Recorder, Tuesday Feb 14, 1911
Mrs. Patrick Johnston
Another of the elderly residents of this section, Mrs. Patrick Johnston breathed her last evening at the home of her son, Mr. John F. Johnston, Lyn Road, after an illness of several months, the last three of which she had been confined to her bed. A breaking up of a hitherto robust constitution incidental to her advanced years was the cause.
The late Mrs. Johnston was born in Ireland ninety years ago, her maiden name being Louise Knox. Coming to Canada she settled in Elizabethtown sixty five years ago and had since been a resident of the Township. Mr. Johnston died nineteen years ago, and a family of two sons and two daughters are now called upon to mourn the loss of their mother. They are Mrs. Harry Woods, of Vancouver, B.C.; Mrs. E. Tobey, Montreal; Wm. J., Brockville and John F. Elizabethtown. In religion she was a Methodist.
The funeral will take place from her son’s residence to-morrow at 3:30 to Brockville cemetery. Service at the house at 3 o’clock.
Major William Read, United Empire Loyalists and settler in Kitley Township
Major William Read came to America from his native Ireland as a young man and settled on Bison Creek in the Parish of St. George, Queensboro Twp, Province of Georgia. The Reads, Lyles and Russells all had come from Ulster in the northeast part of Ireland (capital city Belfast). Young William Read arrived in Savannah on the ship “Hopewell” in 1769.
There, William, in true pioneer spirit through toil and the sweat of his brow cleared the land and built himself an increasingly prosperous farm. There he also met and married Jennet Russell the daughter of his neighbours David Russell and Jennet Lyle and soon began a family of his own.
When the war broke out in 1777 William, an outspoken young man, identified by the rebels as a danger to their cause, eventually sought refuge in east Florida where his father-in-law David Russell was already in exile. There he joined Colonel Brown’s Florida Rangers and stayed with them until Georgia was taken over by the British army. He served at the siege of Savannah following which he was discharged from the Florida Rangers. He was then commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Georgia Militia and was later granted a captain’s commission by Sir James Wright. He remained in the King’s service until the evacuation of Savannah and then went to St Augustine. During the war he was taken prisoner once and clothing and arms valued at 12 pounds were taken from him. His lands and possessions were confiscated and sold.
In 1784 he took his family to the Gut of Canso in Nova Scotia, arriving on the good ship Argo where he attempted to farm for several years. Finding the land too inhospitable, he abandoned his hopes for success there and set off first for Quebec where he applied for land in Hinchinbrook Twp but didn’t stay there long. William Read in response to Governor Simcoe’s proclamation about new lands available in Upper Canada for settlement then moved his family to Leeds County about 1897, first to Yonge Twp, then Elizabethtown Twp, Augusta Twp, Bastard Twp & Kitley Townships. He and his family finally settling in Kitley Township on Lot 27 Con 8 near the village of Frankville.
There William Read built a home for himself and his family from a clearing in the forest and began to prosper once again. He and his wife Agnes (Nancy) Russell (daughter of David Russell and Janette Lyle) eventually had a total of 13 children. The Rev William Bell, a dour Scottish Presbyterian minister, seems to have been quite friendly with William Read as he is referred to a number of times in Rev Bell’s journal.
The Read home was located about halfway between Brockville and Perth so a likely stopping point for travellers. His father-in-law David Russell, who had fought beside William Read in Brown’s Rangers, died of a fever in St Augustine in 1782. In 1783 his widow Janet Lyle returned to Ireland with her five dependent children.
As early as 1807 William Read began to gather volunteers for a militia anticipating that there might be future troubles. In 1812 William Read once again found himself taking up arms to defend his country when the War of 1812 broke out serving as second in the 2nd regiment of the Leeds County militia commanded by Colonel Joel Stone.
William Read’s daughter Elizabeth married a gentleman by the name of William Magee in 1822. Their two eldest daughters Euretta and Marinda both married Kirks. The Kirk and Magee families lived in Leeds until the 1840’s when they migrated to the Huron Tract and settled northeast of London along with many other Leeds families. The Kirk family lots became the village of Kirkton in Usborne Twp. Huron County, Ontario. The Magees settled nearby and had 13 children of their own.
After his death in February of 1828, at 79 years of age, William Read was buried on his farm near Frankville in Kitley Twp. Line 8. His life a testament to the indomitable will of the Loyalists who survived the losses and hardships of pioneer life to forge the foundation for a nation.
This story was copied from the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, the information is from Donna Magee UE
This story is of interest to us because Major Reid, resided in Kitley Township and is buried in the Montgomery Cemetery. There is no headstone for his grave. His story makes up part of our history and our heritage. Unfortunately no pictures exist of Major Read.
For information on the Montgomery Cemetery go to our post on Cemeteries in Kitley
The old brick house painstakingly constructed by hand in 1823 with every brick handmade on the land surrounding the dwelling was built by Robert McLean. Five generations lived in the house until 1933 when it was sold.
The story of the McLeans goes back to old Paisley in Scotland where Alexander McLean took his bride Ann Lang on August 3, 1763. Eleven years later, they set sail for the New World, following their beloved pastor, Rev. John Witherspoon, to America.
Their ship was the “Commerce”, a famous trans-Atlantic” sailing ship of the day. The McLeans settled in Harpersfield, N.Y., but they were soon rooted out by the American Revolutionary War. The McLeans remained loyal to the British Crown and were so harassed by their rebellious neighbours that they had to move on nine separate occasions in one year. Each time they lost their possessions, plundered by the rebels.
They were cultivating a small farm near Baleston Springs, NY in 1778 but were again driven out. In 1783, with the war over, The McLeans, father, mother and six children, made their way to Canada as U.E.L. refugees. They travelled by way of Lake Champlain to Montreal and thence up the St. Lawrence River by bateau to a point west of Brockville. Their boats were leaking badly and they decided to land on the heavily forested shore of the St. Lawrence near where the community of Fernbank is now located. Once ashore, the family of eight set to work felling trees and soon had a log cabin for a home.
The cabin reassured 18 by 20 feet, providing snug protection from the elements. The house was built by hand, for they had very few tools with which to work. The area at that time was still in the Province of Quebec. Division came in 1791. The log cabin endured nearly 40 years. In 1823, the family, having prospered through great toil and industry, built the present house, beam by beam, brick by brick.
The bricks were made by hand, using small moulds, at two brickyards on the homestead. One brickyard was located where No.2 highway passes Fernbank, in front of the house, while the other was situated in a pasture north of the farm.
Of the early days of the McLeans in Elizabethtown, Lillian Hogaboam, who later occupied the house had this to say: “ Here, alone in the forest without roads, neighbours, schools or doctors, they lived the early months on the new land. Other Loyalists and refugees came and a settlement known as Elizabethtown grew. The trees were cut and the stumps grubbed. Their land was cleared. Cattle and sheep were brought in. The women spun the sheep’s wool into material to keep them warm. Times became better, the family older and they had a better knowledge, as a great deal of time was spent reading books. One of the sons constructed a very good theodolite (a surveying instrument) thought he had never seen one. In the absence of a minister, the consolidations of religion were sought by assembling neighbours and reading a sermon weekly from a book.”
Alexander McLean, who was a silk weaver by trade, and Ann had four sons, Robert, John, Alexander and Archibald. Robert’s son Alexander, wed Catharine McCray. John had three sons, Charlie, William who became a minister and Frederick who married Eliza Wilson. Alexander born in 1770, whose wife’s name was Jane, had a son John born in 1803 and died in 1821, and a daughter Jane who became the wife of John Stephens and died March 14, 1871.
Archibald born in 1769, wed a girl named Ann. Their son James B. born in 1807 also married a girl named Ann and died March 22, 1880 aged 73 years.
Alexander and Catharine McCrady McLean were wed in 1820 and had a daughter Catharine born in 1835 and died unmarried in 1909, and a son John born in 1825 who died in 1850 in his 26th year.
John McLean born at Harpersfield, NY on October 9th 1775, came to Elizabethtown with his family being eight years of age when the McLean boats landed. He grew up on the homestead, and when the War of 1812 broke out, won a commission as a lieutenant in the 1st Regiment of Leeds. He took part in the Battle of Crysler Farm and later in the assault on Ogdensburg and capture of that American post by British troops who crossed the St. Lawrence ice at Prescott to attack the fort.
He subsequently was promoted to Captain and then to major, receiving large tracts of land for his service to the Crown. He died at McLean House July 17, 1861 aged 86.
The homestead of 228 acres was proved up by Alexander McLean on March 23, 1798. In 1810, it was willed to Robert McLean and on May 16th, 1818, it fell to Robert’s eldest son Alexander.
The adjoining farm, 114 acres of Lot 24 of the First Concession of Elizabethtown was owned by Alexander McLean who transferred the land in 1808 to Henry and Jane McLean.
Five generations of McLeans have lived in the brick house, the last of that name being Frederick J. McLean who died in 1931. The Hogagoams took possession on September 1, 1944 and lived there until selling out to Clarence Babcock of Brockville. The Johnstons later took over the home.
The McLeans are buried in the old cemetery at Younge Mills. In all the graves of 56 members of the family dating back to the sons of the original settler of Fernbank, Alexander McLean have been identified.
The Building of the McLean House and early life living there
The building of the McLean house was a Herculean effort by man and beast. Early in its history the McLean homestead was known as Pinehurst Farm. Construction of the brick house started in 1823 and the McLeans moved in two years later.
The house was built at a total cost of about $1,600. The red clay bricks, 65,000 in all, were made on the farm, with oxen stamping the clay and water mixture into a pliable condition. The bricks were then moulded by hand into brick size wooden containers.
The 12 inch thick beams were hewn by hand; the foundation was composed of stone and cemented by hand. The interior walls and partitions were made of solid brick and plaster. The interior woodwork and doors were made of red pine planking and all the flooring consisted of wide pine planking. All the interior doors were made in the “Bible” design, sometimes called “prayer doors”. The design had a white cross in the upper panel.
There are five fireplaces, three on the first floor and two on the second floor. The mantels are of red pine. The kitchen fireplace was equipped with a crane, from which the cooking pots were hung. At one side was the oven. It is believed that in baking, a wood fire was kindled in the oven, and when the fuel was reduced to coals, they were raked out and the freshly kneaded loaves of bread placed inside to bake.
As was the tradition of the times, two of the first floor rooms were reserved as bedrooms for the elders of the family.
The barns were built with high stone walls topped by lumber sawn from the trees felled to clear the land. The farm had stables for horses, barns for cattle and folds for sheep.
McLean house was the locale for husking bees, sugar making, quilting bees and dances, and headquarters for and barn raising bees in the area.
On Sunday, the McLeans walked to church, or in the winter rode sleighs. Buggies and wagons were the mode of travel for families, but the old saddle horse was the standby for the lone traveller having to go any distance.
Was killed in the line of duty on Monday, November 5, 2007 in Kinnirut, Nunavut. Douglas Allen Scott was 20 years of age and the son of Douglas and Maria Scott of Lyn.
He was answering a drunk driving call in Kinnirut a community of about 400 people on Baffin Island. The call that he responded to came in around 10:50 pm He was last heard from at 11:02 pm when he called in to confirm he was following up on the complaint.
Residents said they were devastated by Scott’s murder and held an outdoor vigil Tuesday. The local school where the young mountie dropped in regularly to visit, closed its doors for the day. “You never saw Doug, but always you saw him with a bunch of young kids following him.” said Larry Collins principal of Qaqqalik School.
“Doug was just 20 years old, but already had demonstrated his commitment to the RCMP and to Canada and to the community he willingly served in Nunavut” said Sup. Martin Cheliak, RCMP Commander in the Northern Region.
The 20 year old Mountie grew up west of Lyn with dreams of becoming a police officer like his Uncles and cousins, going on ride alongs and volunteering with the Brockville Police Department. He scored so high on recruiting tests that he was offered an RCMP job one semester short of graduating from the Police Foundations Programme at St. Lawrence College, where his former professor, retired RCMP officer Michael Clarabut, described his former student as a “Shinning star”.
He was born on December 21, 1986 in Brockville to Douglas and Maria Scott. “Dougie” was raised in the Algonquin area before moving to Lyn. He attended Algonquin, Maynard and Lyn public schools, then graduated from Thousand Islands Secondary School before attending St.Lawrence College’s police foundations program at the Brockville Campus.
Recruited by the RCMP, he continued his education at the RCMP Training Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan. On April 23, 2007 Constable Scott proudly attained his lifelong goal to be a police officer, He was assigned to “V” division, where he worked in Iqaluit and finally Kimmirut.
While growing up, he worked for various families in the area, cutting grass and babysitting. Later he worked at Mrs. B’s Variety, Zellers and Shell Canada. During the summer months he spent many evenings umpiring local softball games. He began his career in law enforcement as a summer student with the OPP Marine Unit.
His Primary interest was spending time with family, friends and his puppy Gauge. He kept in touch with regular telephone calls and e-mails. His other interests included lacrosse, fitness, volunteering, attending community events, playing cards and enjoying outdoor activities. Recently he spent time learning about the culture and landscape of Nunavut. He took part in community festivals, snowmobiling and four wheeling. Most importantly he met people of all ages.
A sea of red and blue will descend on Brockville on Tuesday November 13, 2007. It is expected that there will be up to 3,500 police and RCMP officers alone.
“We’re expecting anywhere between 2,500 and 3,500 police officers” said Brockville’s Deputy Police Chief Adrian Geraghty. “It is a huge undertaking. They’re coming from all over North America”.
The service will be held at Wall Street United Church which has a capacity of 1,000 people, will be held only for Scott’s family and friends and police officers. Another nearby church, First Presbyterian Church will take the overflow of police officers mourners where they will be able to watch a live broadcast of the service.
“This is a Canadian tragedy”, said Leeds-Grenville Tory MP Gord Brown. “My heart goes out to the family, this really hits home. He’s only 20 years old. He’s just a kid, it’s such a tragic loss”.
At the funeral Canon Michael Read said that the senseless tragedy has touched lives in the community, RCMP and all Canadians. “We weep with you” he told Scott’s Family “We have lost a very special person , Our tears mix with yours and rightly so.. We are mourning with you Maria, Doug, Chad and Layne for Dougie and our tears flow”.
Doug Scott’s RCMP Stetson sat on his casket draped with a Canadian Flag at the front of the church next to an RCMP portrait of the young constable.
The formal police funeral ended with a song in Scott’s honour called “Hometown Hero” by Brockville band Healy and Orr.
LynSoftballPark Dedicated to RCMP Constable Douglas Scott Jr.
Local residents, dignitaries, members of the RCMP and Canadian Army Veteran’s Motorcycle Club turned out to honour the late RCMP Constable Douglas Scott Jr. Together they dedicated a softball park and monument to him on Main Street, Lyn on Novebmer 5th, 2010.
Know for his charm, personality and boyish good looks, Doug Scott was well loved in the community of Lyn where he had grown up. He both played and coached softball, giving heart and soul to the game. That same dedication and drive was also devoted to his short lived career as an RCMP Constable.
(Sources for this story were the Brockville Recorder and Times and The St. Lawrence EMC)
Louise Crummy McKinney was the first woman to be elected to a parliament seat in the British Empire. She accomplished the feat in 1917 in Alberta.
Louise was the seventh child and second daughter of Richard Crummy and his wife the former Ester Empey. Richard Crummy was an immigrant from County Cavan, Ireland; Ester was a descendant of the pioneer Empey family of Easton’s Corners. She was born on September 22nd, 1868 in an old log cabin on the Crummy homestead along the north shore of Lake Eloida, on the Lake Eloida Road. The family farm on Concession 9, Lot 27 (Kitley Township) remained in the family possession until 1948, when Louise’s brother Albert Edwin and his wife retired and moved to Frankville.
She attended the old Mitchell public school, which is about a half mile from the Crummy Homestead and two miles west of the village of Frankville. She went on to Athens High School graduating in 1884 at age 16. Being too young to attend Normal School Louise stayed at home for a year and began Normal School in the fall of 1885. Louise Crummy graduated from Ottawa Normal School with a teacher’s certificate. She spent the next six years teaching in various Leeds County schools.
Wanderlust struck Louise Crummy in 1892 and she took off for Drayton, Pembina County, ND to join a sister, Edith, who lived there and was married to Joseph Morrison. She resumed her teaching career and also became an active member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
In 1896 Louise wed a North Dakota farmer, James McKinney. James McKinney was born near Stittsville, Ontario, but had moved with his family to North Dakota. After a two year courtship Jimmy and Louise wed at the Crummy homestead on March 10, 1896. After seven years here they moved to a farm near Claresholm, Alberta in 1903. They ran a 200 acre spread there.
Still active in WCTU affairs, Louise turned to politics. She shunned the old parties, Conservatives and Liberals, but instead took out a membership in a women’s political organisation, the Non-Partisan League.
In the 1917 Alberta provincial election, Louise won a smashing victory in Claresholm riding, carrying the banner of the NPL into the Alberta Legislature. She was a popular figure in her home riding and rolled up an impressive vote total. She served her riding for five years 1917 to 1921 inclusive.
Her victory was hailed by the Calgary Nutcracker, an independent newspaper, in these words: “The NPL platform is the only place where high minded women in this province can stand with dignity and clean feet. For this reason, the first woman to occupy a seat in a legislature in the Dominion of Canada bears the NPL standard which in itself is a tribute to the women of Alberta and indicates a new political regime.” The Nutcracker called Louise Crummy McKinney “a credit to any legislative assembly in any country.”
She backed social legislation in the Alberta house, and sponsored a petition to Ottawa to include women in appointees to the senate. Her nominee as the first woman in the senate was Emily Murphy, a long time Edmonton advocate of women’s rights.
The Supreme Court of Canada turned down the petition in 1928, but un-daunted Louise fired off another petition to the Imperial Privy Council in London, England.
This time she hit pay dirt. The Supreme Court of Canada had vetoed the original petition on the grounds that the British North American Act only specified that ‘person’ could be appointed to he senate and did not specifically state that women were eligible.
The Privy Council ruled otherwise, decided that ‘women’ were indeed ‘persons’ and entitled to the same consideration as ‘men.’ The ruling paved the way for the appointment of Emily Murphy to the Canadian Senate in 1931.
In 1925, she was appointed a commissioner in the first general council of the United Church of Canada. She was the only woman to sign the “Basis of Union” declaration which created the United Church.
On July 10th 1931, Louise Crummy McKinney died at the age of 63 at her homestead in Claresholm. Her husband James followed her in death seven months later. Their son, J. Willard McKinney became a physician in Berlin, New Hampshire. Thirty-three years after her death Alberta erected a plaque to her memory as the first woman legislator in the empire.
Born on February 11, 1878 in Iona County, Michigan, raised in the Michigan woods, Wheeler did a lot of travelling before he settled down at the age of 66 on the old Percival farm in Forthton.
He was the son of Rastus and Mary Wheeler, Iona County pioneers. The family moved to Cheboygan County Michigan when he was four years of age. There in the deep woods of northern Michigan he grew up.
The following is from an interview with Harry Painting in his column Focus on the District as it appeared in the Recorder and Times February 9, 1978. The interview was done on the occasion of Almond Wheeler’s 100th Birthday.
“When I got to the age where I had to look out for myself as a teenager, I worked around the country, I lived in Onaway, Michigan for a while then moved on to Petoskey and stayed there for ten years. I followed the carpenter’s trade and I had to go where the work was. Petoskey was a summer resort, with lots of cottages. There was lots of work on cottages that was my job and there were quite a few carpenters around in those days”
“Strangely enough most of my work was for the women. Folks owned these summer cottages and they lived mostly in the south from around Chicago and beyond and in the spring they’d have to get the cottages ready for the summer. Well the men couldn’t get away from the jobs, so their womenfolk would come north and get the cottages ready. That’s when I got my carpentry work in, fixing up their cottages.”
In 1912 at the age of 34, Wheeler moved to California, and lived there for two years. While there he worked on the Los Angeles aqueduct, one of the marvels of American architecture.
“But I came back to Michigan in 1914, staying around Lansing. I built some houses there and worked around. Then I headed back to California and went to work jobbing and contracting. I built a lot of small bungalows, but I never worked on any large buildings or a house. I knew too many contractors who went broke putting up big buildings to get involved in that sort of thing.”
In 1897, at the age of 19 he married Glenda Dunham of Cheboygan. They had a daughter born in 1900, and 23 years later a son, Robert. Glenda died during the 1930’s. From this union there were three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
In 1941, Gertrude Forth, daughter of the well known family which gave Forthton its name, was asked by a friend Paula Kingston to be a bridesmaid at her wedding to Jack Burtt in California. Gertrude made the trip and in California met Almond Wheeler, then a widower of 63. They were married that year and three years later moved to Forthton to take over the David Forth Farm. This farm, 100 acres, was an original Crown Grant to the Percival Family.
Gertrude Wheeler was a daughter of David Forth and his wife Alma Giles, related to the famous Giles Family which built Clone House, across No. 42 Highway from Maple View Lodge. She was born in 1893.
David Forth built the Wheeler home, probably 90 or more years ago. The hamlet was then known as Unionville, site of the famous Unionville Fair, of which David Forth was president for many years. The fairgrounds stood just north of the Wheeler and Forth residences. The Forth residence, home of Mrs. Ethel Forth, stands adjacent to the Wheeler home.
When the Unionville Fair folded in the early 1900’s David Forth rescued one of the buildings, the “Honey House” and moved it to his farm. This structure was octagonal in shape, to resemble a section of honeycomb, and was used as an exhibition building. It is still standing on the Wheeler property.
After Almond Wheeler and his bride settled down on the farm, Wheeler erected a small replica of the “honey house’ on the grounds.
“When Almond was in California he always had a dream of farming, so I brought him back here where he could farm” said his wife Gertrude Wheeler.
“There was a bunch of cows here when I came, I had a little experience farming and I made a go of it. I worked the farm for three of four years and I did something everybody around here told me I couldn’t do, I raised fall wheat” Almond said.
“They told me wheat planted in the fall couldn’t survive the winter. But I fooled them. I planted 68 acres and I harvested 400 bushels. I had pictures taken of my fields. When I stood in the field the wheat came up to my chin. You sure can raise fall wheat in Leeds County.”
Sitting in his pleasant little living room, dressed in a smart dark suit, shirt and tie, Almond admits he was still driving a tractor at the age of 99.
“I haven’t driven a car since I had a heart attack 20 years ago. I didn’t wait for them to tell me I couldn’t drive any more after the heart attack, so I just quit. But I still drive the tractor around the farm.”
Mrs. Wheeler, born in this house 85 years ago still drives. The Wheelers have a 1960 model car in perfect condition.
After her marriage Gertrude Wheeler operated a noted antique shop. The Wagon Wheel, in her home. She has been out of business for several years but her home is still loaded with highly prized antiques.
A number of years ago she organized a crafts club of which her husband was an active member. He was noted for his canning chairs and fine examples of his needle-point adorn the walls of his home.
The Craft Club met in the old station that was used in the days of the Brockville and Westport Railway” said Gertrude Wheeler. “I remember Almond did a lot of crocheting. He once crocheted 15 scarves and gave them all away.”
Almond also wrote poetry and in former days entertained his friends by reading his works. He never tried to have any of his poems published.
Of his days in Michigan Wheeler said he was an active walker and recalls walking home a 20 mile trip by bicycle carrying a 60 pound sack of clover seed for his farm.
Approaching his 100th Birthday Almond said “I feel pretty good in spite of everything. I haven’t seen a doctor in three years. I don’t think he could do anything for me if I did see him.”
Almond summed up his life “A man must have faith in himself to make his own way. I believe we can handle our own problems ourselves. I believe if we have willpower and faith enough in ourselves we will make out. There is also faith in God. That’s right. We’ve got to have faith in God but we also have to have faith in ourselves”
Henry Vyfvinkel born Hendrik Vijfvinkel in Eindhover, Netherlands on December 13, 1934 was the eldest of five children to parents Zwaantje Vijfvinkel-Zweep and Izak Vijfvinkel.
His family was his inspiration in his talent and he credited his own father, who outside of work with Phillips Co was an accomplished artist, as being one of his earliest and most influential art instructors. “The desire to paint – make images that not only depict nature but also reflect the individual was instilled in me at a very early age. My father was the most content and happy person when he was painting a picture and I recall with great joy the times I spent just watching him paint. Some sort of peace, tranquillity and self confidence would come over him when he started painting – and yet there was also a passion and strength that would just emanate from him and fill the air of our tiny home in Holland- and I inhaled every bit of that.”
The call of adventure and travel played a big role in Henry’s life and in 1956, at 21 years old, Henry and close friend Hank, sized an opportunity to immigrate to Canada. Arriving with only a suitcase and a few dollars, he found lodging with a kind family in Eastern Ontario, and soon Henry and Hank formed their own business as house painter and decorators.
It was here in Canada that Henry met the love of his life and future wife, Juney Garlough in 1957 in Cornwall, Ontario. Henry and Juney were married July 18 1958 and settled in Brockville to start a family of their own. In the fall of 1959 they had their first of six children (Susan, Linda, Karin, Wendy and the twins Tim and Tom). Henry’s love for his family, near and far, was evident- sharing his caring touch and often incorporating them in his art.
Henry took what jobs he could get in order to take care of his family, growing his business to include billboards and commercial sign painting. He eventually landed a formal position as staff commercial artist for DuPont in 1965, and in 1972 began teaching part time classes in commercial art at St. Lawrence College. He later became a full time professor of Fine Arts and Teaching Master at the college until his retirement in 1994. Henry is also credited for the creation of the now well known Summer School of the Arts.
Even in retirement, Henry still had a hand in the arts, not just for himself, but for others around him: “Art is something to be enjoyed by everyone. And sharing this enjoyment is special to me.” He continued to enrich numerous art communities through his teaching and professional work. Long stays in St. George Island, Florida and annual “Paint Brush Holiday” travels with Juney to France, Tuscany, Normandy and Provence provided sources of inspiration and an opportunity for him to share his passion of the arts with others.
His love of art was self-evident and his commitment and dedication to his teaching, inside and outside the classroom was overwhelming. Henry always believed he was at his best when teaching: “The best part of teaching is sharing what I like best – Art. There is no difference between my art and my teaching; it gives me the same good feeling.”
As a professional painter, he is renowned for his “Northern Images” series, rich with colour and emotion. He has also become increasingly well known for his highly defined works from his travels abroad. His works are in private and corporate collections worldwide, and he has received a number of awards and accolades for his talents and his work in the art community.
Henry Vyfvinkel- December 13, 1934 to August 16, 2014
Orval Leslie Ladd was born on September 28, 1930 in the village of Lyn. He was the youngest of five children born to Arthur Ladd, who delivered milk from surrounding farms to a nearby processing plant, and his mother Hazel, a homemaker.
Orval pitched in early to help the family business. By 12 he was driving the milk truck. His brother Lawrence, two years older, also helped. Tragedy struck in 1942 when Arthur accidentally backed the milk truck over Lawrence, then 14, killing him. Orval deeply missed his brother. Even many decades later, recalling the accident brought tears to his eyes.
Orval attended Lyn Public School. A joke teller and prankster to his core, one winter night he snuck over to the school. Holding the school bell upside down, he poured water in until the clapper froze solid. The next morning he watched with a smirk as the teacher tried to ring the morning bell.
Orval also had a lead foot. In his teenage years, a local constable often tried to nab him for speeding. But he would hide behind a building or barn and wait for the police officer to go through and then take off in the opposite direction, honking at the constable.
In his teens, Orval started dating Pat Clow. They married on Aug 8, 1953; Orval was 23, Pat 20. Orval built their first house just prior to the wedding. On Dec. 23, 1955, it burned down. Their first son, Michael, was born four days later.
Orval and Pat raised four children in Lyn. After Michael came Ann, Joan and Peter. The couple’s romance never faded. “He always said that he first knew he was going to marry me when he was in public school and saw me riding to school on a little bicycle that I had. He said I was the cutest thing he’d ever seen” recalls Pat. “And he told me he watched that scene in his mind every night”
Orval worked as a salesman for Myers Pumps. Despite only having a Grade 8 education, he became Myers’ Territory Manager for eastern and northern Ontario, and western Quebec. He often racked up to 130,000 km a year travelling for work. While school was not Orval’s thing he was a natural when it came to figuring out how to fix and build things. His house was stocked with copies of Popular Mechanics. He taught himself electrical work, carpentry and stone masonry and he was excellent at all of them. He hated anything to do with paperwork. Most of his projects were in is head.
Orval’s real passion was preserving Lyn District History. He loved the village that he called home his entire life. “He’d say I can’t see chasing a golf ball around a field when I could be doing something more productive” says Pat. In 1999 as he entered his 70’s Orval, still happiest when covered in mud and mortar, initiated the Lyn Heritage Place Museum, which focused on the town’s original flour mill. Orval did three quarters of the stone work to create the museum.
Orval was lauded with awards for his heritage work, including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2002); the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship (2002) and the Ontario Heritage Trust Certificate of Achievement (2006). But he hid his medals away. “He was pleased, but he wasn’t one to flaunt them,” says Pat.
On Feb. 6th, after helping his son Peter with a remodelling project, Orval went to the old firehouse in Lyn to pick up building materials he was storing there. He arrived home that evening and mumbled something to Pat about getting hit on the head, possibly by the overhead door at the fire hall, or the rear hatch on his van. Pat seeing the swelling on his head said she was taking him to the hospital. He argued he was too dirty to go so she quickly cleaned him up first. Doctors, discovering a brain hemorrhage, transferred him to Kingston, but no one could stop the bleeding. He was 83. (excerpts from Macclean’s Magazine March 10,2014)
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