Jefferys History by Barbara Allen (circa 1985)


Home Help




York Mills

Our House

Mother and Father


Jefferys Relatives

Jefferys Jinny

Jefferys Unkie's Cottage

Jefferys Pluto



Our home revolved around Father. Our Mother put his needs first and we were expected to do so also. We were seldom told directly if he was displeased. It was relayed to us by Mother. We would furiously say “Why doesn't he tell us". Only once did he discipline me when I had made a smart-alec but telling remark about a guest. I was taken out into the hall - a smart slap on the cheek and "don't ever let me hear you talk like that again". Nothing more was said or needed. We were expected to act like adults and to enjoy the conversation - often one sided - his side - and to understand. Sometimes very boring - other times intensely interesting. Because I knew he was fond of me I made an effort to listen and understand. It was a heady thing for a child to be treated like an adult and I made an effort not to exasperate him as I had seen my sisters do so often. One of the advantages of being the youngest is that one sees what type of  behaviour annoys the parents and tries to avoid them though there were many of my habits and mannerisms that exasperated both Father and Mother.


Our house was always open for friends both of the parents and us. Father insisted that there was always extra food cooked in case there should be a guest. This was fine except he didn't like leftovers- so we had to finish these up when he wasn't around. This problem was solved when I met Orval when I was 14. He was always at our house and my Mother's constant remark was "Orval will finish it up". He was a bottomless pit when it came to food. Sometimes when Pa was really wound up and talked for a couple of hours - during which we were expected to sit quietly - no sewing or knitting or- other distractions allowed friends would sit watching in fascination as he lit one cigarette from another - left it between his lips. The ash gathered and grew - everyone would be watching for it to fall or as it lengthened that his moustache would catch on fire. There was always a release of tension in the air when the ash either fell or he removed the cigarette before he went up in flames. We were always secretly amused as we knew many times it was not entirely his brilliant conversation but the interest in the cigarettes that held the audience enthralled.


Father hated any discussion about money. The times when she was desperate (The butcher - the grocer - the tax-man all clamouring for payments ) Mother would broach the subject and Father took to his bed. He would have an attack of asthma and bronchitis and everyone would tip-toe around - special food was prepared and Mother would go into town to see if it was possible to get an advance on royalties or to sell a picture. When she returned triumphant Dad would recover and work twice as hard to make up for lost time. He often worked for 18 hours at a time and someone had to be around to prepare him something to eat when he was ready. I was often up til 3:00 or 4:00 A.M. waiting for him. When he had finished his work he was prepared to talk for an hour or so. The next day he might sleep til afternoon but someone had to be around to be ready to get a meal for him. He later slept in the studio so as we all grew older and the girls had jobs we didn't have to worry about disturbing him in the mornings.


He often took us out to dinner on Christmas Eve. We all liked that because he never stinted on the cost - after all he didn't have to worry about money. After a fine meal in a fancy restaurant we would stroll along the street window shopping. When we were with Mother she and we were always conscious of the cost of things so there was often a great deal of disappointment when we were told there was no money for treats. With Father - largesse was dispensed - with her we might get a small bag of sugared almonds or acid drops. But then trips with him were confined to once or twice a year whereas we were often out with Mother. We would go downtown to a matinee movie which was a treat in itself and if it included something extra we felt very lucky.


One of the happiest memories I have is being picked up early at school by Mother to go down to Massy Hall to hear the Twilight Symphonies conducted by Von Kunits. They were especially for children and V.K. would often explain the pieces being played and point out the various instruments. We were familiar with many of the pieces as we had a player piano and often went to sleep to the sound of Beethoven, MacDowell, Tchaikovsky pumped out with great feeling by Father. But to hear these familiar tunes played by a full orchestra was a real treat.


Father read a great deal to us - whenever I read anything by Dickens or Stevenson now I hear his voice and sees us all around the fire sitting quietly. Father was born in Rochester and his family had known Dickens. He often told us he had sat on Dickens' knee as a very young boy. Mother read aloud to us things like Peacock Pie by DeLaMare, Stevenson's Poems for Children and she sang songs to us always. She could hear a song once and come back and sing it right through. So there was a lot of singing in the house as we learned from her. We could get very sentimental about "Comrades", "Two Little Girls in Blue" and loved to hear "Drink to me Only with Thine Eyes" and I especially loved "Barbara Allen" which was a favorite of hers. I didn't ever remember Father singing a song through. When Peggy learned to play the piano so beautifully we spent a great deal of time singing. It had its drawbacks though. We loved to do it but we (Peggy specially) were always sick with fear when Mother and their friends wanted us to perform for them. Peg always said everyone was just being polite when they said they'd like  to hear us and no doubt she was often right, but we enjoyed doing it and Peg usually got over her reticence,




When I was very small, about 2, Mother was ill and we had a Miss Ryle to look after us. She stood for no nonsense and undertook to cure Betsy and me from sucking our fingers. Mustard we wiped off on each other’s clothes and endured a short period of a smarting mouth. Then she decided to paint our fingers with bitter aloes. This couldn't be wiped off but by spitting on the offending members rubbing on the grass and dirt we managed to remove the worst of the taste and in a relatively short time were enjoying the familiar comfort. Father probably had retreated to the loft of the barn where he had his studio and only appeared for meals.


When Mother was home from the hospital she had to rest a lot. One morning Peggy, who was a year older than I, and I were inspired to play “horse” by seeing a team going by the house. When we couldn't find any rope for reins we remembered the long blue rope like belt on Mothers red dressing gown. We crept upstairs into her room and carefully removed the belt without disturbing her. We were having a noisy time being horse and driver running and shrieking around and around the house when suddenly coming around a corner we saw Mother at the door in the red gown which hung straight from her shoulders. Her black hair was still in a long pigtail - her dark brown eyes sparked and we came to an abrupt halt at sight of her. No words were spoken the belt was taken and put around her waist and each of us in turn was thoroughly spanked. Then she disappeared into the house. I don't remember any other corporal punishment but I'm sure there must have been some through the years but nothing that made such an impression on me.

For the most part our parents were very lenient. Mother tended to talk things over with us and as we all adored her it was usually sufficient punishment to know she wasn't pleased with us.




We were not dressed in the conventional clothes that children in the 20's and 30's wore which were usually a small version of adult styles. We had straight cotton shifts - very simple. As soon as the weather was warm enough off came shoes and stockings and I went barefoot til the Fall except when going to school. For some years I wore boots - soft leather which were comfortable but a trial to lace and tie. I can remember sitting on the two steps leading down to the kitchen which were worn down in the middle from nearly a century of traffic trying to learn to lace and then tie. What a feeling of accomplishment when once in a while the tie held though it was some time till I learned why. My boots always had round patches on the ankles as I tended to kick them as I walked probably because the soles always were wider than the uppers. It was a great day for me when I graduated to oxfords and slippers when I was 7.


Being the youngest I wore cast offs of the girls. Peg was in the same position as I was. We were only a year apart in age and were much the same size. We always commiserated with each other having to wear Betsy's and Kit's old clothes. One winter when we were about 9 and 10 we got new winter coats. Either there was a bit more money that year or Bet and Kits rejects were not the right size. We spent a lot of time choosing the colours we wanted and then did a lot of walking on the chance someone we knew would see us and admire our finery.




Our Aunt Sadie in Montreal was a fairy godmother to us. The arrival of her Christmas box was always a much treasured event. Out would come fascinating parcels beautifully wrapped and tied - always a turkey and special cigarettes for Mother and Father which we always managed to get at least a stub to try. Melocrinos - State Express once violet scented wrapped in lavender coloured paper with gold tips.


Often there was a length of fabric for us all - and once a ready made dress for me which was the delight of my life. It was deep blue with beige trimming and the day I wore it to school was lost as far as getting any work done. I was so conscious of how gorgeous it was and convinced that I did it full justice that I did not hear a word the teacher said and had to stay in after school to finish the work neglected all day. The one flaw in the presents was that I always got blue fabric and Peggy pink and though we begged to trade it was not allowed as we were told Aunt Sadie had chosen those colours specially for us and we would have to be content with her choice. Besides the fabric there was always something else for us sometimes a copy of Chums - Girls Own or Boys Own Annual or perhaps a doll. We spent hours poking and prodding the parcels and trying to guess what they contained. Once we managed to peak in the end but it spoiled the fun of speculating so we didn't do it again.




Miss Calder lived down at the end of Crazy Lane with her sister and brother-in-law, the Petermans. 

She came in each morning to do the housework. She was a thin woman with thin hair pulled back tightly into a little bun. When she wasn't making acid remarks under her breath, she opened and closed her lips with a soft smacking sound which seemed as disapproving as her mutterings. Peggy and I were called Margrit and Barbrie and were we thought the bane of her life. Standing in the kitchen - her scrawny arms in the dish pan she would dart baleful glances at us over her shoulder (The worst sin one could commit was to be idle).


One autumn the older girls and Mother went to a football game between Montreal and Toronto. Our cousin handsome Charles Robertson was playing for Montreal. Rather than her staying with us, Peggy and I were sent to Miss Calders home as she had work to do there. We were put in her little bedroom with a narrow bed and a dresser and told to be good.

She returned some time later and found us sitting on her bed. In her eyes this was an unforgiveable sin. It was slothful and showed how decadent our family were that we were allowed to sit on beds in our home. It was the longest afternoon we ever put in. Over the fence from Petermans was Mr. Carsons pasture where we often played but that afternoon since we were in her care we stayed in the house.


Then there was Mrs. McBain, a tiny little Metis French Canadian woman who arrived each morning from Willowdale on the 9:00 a.m. streetcar. She was kind with a delightful accent and funny pronounciation. We loved to get her to talk just to hear her soft voice. It was a sad day when we heard she had been hit by a street-car on her way to work. She died as a result some weeks later.


Mrs. McBain's sister Georgina came when her sister was injured - she was a blonde, big and brassy. We learned a lot about "life" from her. We decided she was very fast when she stayed with us for a few days when Mother and Father were away and we found she didn't wear a nightgown! It was very shocking but exciting.


Mrs. MacCullough came when Georgina failed to come back one time.  Mrs. MacCullough lived in a cottage across the street and seemed to be very genteel. It was during the depression and her husband was out of work. She stopped Mother one day and asked if we needed anyone. Mac was in and out of our life for several years. She was a quick nervous woman with dyed hair and buck teeth and beautiful grey eyes. When she arrived in the morning it was if a whirlwind came in. She ran everywhere whisking into the dining room, gathering up an armful of dishes and out to the kitchen shattering the quiet with the rapid patter of her feet and constant strident chatter. Except when Father was in the house, her headlong rush to get the table cleared was stopped in midstream and she became the perfect servant, speaking only if spoken to and then in a lady-like voice until she was out of his sight. Then there would be the usual clatter as she dumped the dishes down. She adored Mother and could never do enough for her. We loved to hear the tales of the troubles of her friends. They were always misunderstood and getting into trouble with the police. One of her best friends was Red Ryan - for some time the most wanted man in Canada. But to hear Mac speak of him he was just a grand fellow who was unjustly blamed. We seldom saw her husband and eventually he faded out of the picture.


Mac had a fund of swear-words and expressions which amazed and shocked us. She was careful never to use any of them when the parents were around, but when we were alone with her and got her talking about her friends, she forgot to be a lady. We never understood what half the words meant but it was always fun to speculate.


After she had been with us for some years she left and got another job and recommended her friend Ida Brennan who lived next door to her. Ida we had known to say Hello to all our lives. She and her family had a bad reputation in the village and we had gathered from the disapproving glances of the villagers that their morals were questionable. Besides they were Catholics! Ida came - a pretty brittle looking little blonde - was lively and pleasant one day and morose the next. She was often away - usually on Mondays and it was sometime before we realized that her moodiness was usually caused by a hang-over. Father ignored her - and when he was around she was very subdued. When Ida would disappear for longer periods, Mac would turn up even though she lived in the city then. She must have known when Ida was on a bender and didn't want to see Mother stranded. We often wondered what her other jobs were and how she could leave and come back to us at a moments notice.


When Mother died, Mac saw the notice in the morning paper and was at the house by 10:00. Tears streaming down her face she declared she was back to look after us. Up the stairs she rushed and before we had a chance to stop her was into my room whisking off the bed clothes. As we ran after her we heard a frightened squeak from her and saw Father curled up in my bed fumbling for the covers. Mac was appalled, we were horified and bursting with laughter at the same time. The covers were flung back on Father and we all retreated downstairs and explained that Father had decided to sleep in the house as Peg and I were alone. After a cup of coffee we got Mac calmed down enough to get on with the sad day. She stayed with us then for several months.


We also had Edna during one of the times when Mac took off to live her own life. We had gone to school with Edna - a nice girl but not too fond of work with which I could sympathise. We got on well enough together. The summer after Mothers' death I went to New York for a month to be with Betsy. She was pregnant. Alec was ill in hospital and she was lonely. So I left Father in the tender care of Peg and Edna. In spite of our worry over Alec, Bet and I managed to see a lot in New York but letters from home were rather disturbing. Father complained about Peg being out all the time and she begged me to come home. She enclosed a partly finished letter in which she said that Edna wasn't much of a cook and certainly couldn't make gravy - here the letter broke off and at the bottom of the page in Edna's handwriting was a scribble to the effect that ''she was a good cook and made just as good gravy as Barbara". She might well have added "so there! ".


The following summer Peg and I were driving Father to Nova Scotia so he could supervise the  reconstruction of Champlain's Habitation at Port Royal. He had been down 2 or 3 times and we were anxious to see the work and to spend 2 months in the Maritimes. Betsy and Alec decided to take a holiday with Barbara who was 6 months old so we asked Mac if she'd like to come and give us a hand. She agreed for she didn't have much faith in our ability to look after house let alone an infant. I couldn't really blame her as she knew my knowledge of child care was minimal and she didn't think much of Bets' since she came up to Toronto with wee Barbie in the spring and after a few days left the baby with me. Bet evidently thought I was more capable than I was for Mac came up to visit me the first day and found a furious baby and frustrated Aunt. I had followed the directions for boiling the bottles and nipples - heating the milk - adding the water – but the child seemed to refuse to drink it. Mac took one look at the bottle I frantically waved in her face, then ran upstairs to the sewing box - ran back - struck a match - and heated the end of a needle and thrust it into the tip of the nipple. Then with a disgusted "Here" she pushed it into my hand, Both Barbie and I were very grateful and Mac came back to make sure the child was properly cared for.


Mac came to Nova Scotia by train a couple of weeks after we arrived. Friends of Father had found us a cottage at Clements Port. Bet and Alex arrived with Barbie from New York the same time as Mac. The cottage was small, in bad repair and we were all bad tempered with the inconvenience. After a couple of rainy days trying to find enough receptacles to catch the water which came in everywhere, we finally found another place which though not much larger was in better repair and at least dry. However Mac found the stove was a real trial and we found that she was too. In her frustration with it she banged the lids on, shook the ashes out with a clatter and kept up a running commentary on all the things she didn't like about it and us and Nova Scotia in general. There was no sleeping in for anyone on that holiday.


Alex had a wonderful time fishing and we were glad to have the odd fresh fish. One day he caught an eel. None of us had ever eaten eel much less prepared it. Our neighbours told us to skin it cut it in 1 inch slices and fry it. Mac, Alex, Betsy and I spent some time individually and collectively trying to do this. First on the kitchen table and after it had slithered off on to the floor several times retreated to the garden where we attacked it again. With 3 people holding it the 4th tried to slit its skin we wrestled all over the lawn and finally gave up. Alex put it in the garbage and we had hamburger for supper. This experience did nothing to endear the country to Mac and she was glad to go home to civilization.


When I was getting married Mac decided to have a shower for me at her rooming house in the city. We thought she would just have a little party with a few of my friends and my sisters. We were completely amazed to find the place full of 20 or so of her friends none of whom we had ever met - though we had heard a lot about them from Mac. I found it a very embarrassing thing when I would open a parcel from Mary or Jane and didn't know which person to thank. The introductions had been very casual and several times I guessed the wrong person. It was a lovely idea Mac had and in spite of my shyness I was very touched.


The night of the wedding, Mac took over the kitchen and bossed everyone around as she dashed from stove to table to fridge to dining room and talked to herself and anyone else in her way about how she didn't know what we'd do without her.



York Mills was a hamlet situated on both sides of Yonge Street about 4 miles from the city. Later the city limits were extended to within a mile. There was a long hill going north through the Don Valley. At the base of the hill was the Hotel run by the Birrells. Another one quarter mile the road took 2 rises. The bulkof the houses, about 20 gradually increased to 38 were on the first rise. Our house was in the East side facing the Albert Carsons. Mr. Carson. was a silent, rather morose man who kept a dog chained in the yard and didn't encourage visitors. Mrs. Lily, his wife was a pretty pink cheeked woman who made up in cheerfulness for his coldness. Their house was just below a hill crowned with pine trees that we loved. The hill in spring was covered with myrtle. We went across the street and south down a path to the other side of the hill where was a big red brick house. The Crows lived here and kept the P.O. Mrs. C. was very interested in all the mail and always let us know what was written on Post Cards before she handed them to us. There were also comments on letters that had return names and addresses on them specially if they looked like official correspondence. The lane to their house led on down to Carson's barn and farm through which ran the Don River. South of us beyond the hill on our side were a couple of houses - one which had a series of tenants through the years and beyond it Whittens Farm and Abbatoir run by the 2 brothers and their sister. Their farm ran east and up the hill beyond our place. In all the years we lived there I only once went in the property. When they first moved there Father was painting on their property when one of the brothers saw him and to hasten his departure threw a rusty tin can at him which cut his head badly. We were forbidden to ever go on the property after that. When they were slaughtering animals the little stream which ran from their place down to the Don 1/2 mile away was bright red with blood. Miss W. was a typhoid carrier a fact only found out after several people who bought milk from her caught the disease. Altogether I felt they were a sinister crowd and always wanted to run past their place though I would never admit any fear of them. Beyond Whittons on the other side of the street was a blacksmith shop. We would often stop and watch the horses being shod. To the north of us on our side of the street was Mr. Dawsons house and shop where he did car painting. He was the man everyone went to for help in any kind of crisis. The had a son Roy a little younger than me and he and I sometimes played together. In the interest of learning the facts of life, he and I were caught under their cedar hedge by Mrs. Dawn. She was very upset but Mother was very calm about it and tried to persuade her not to make such a fuss. Though Mrs. D. was always very kind to us I always knew she was watching me to see that I wasn't corrupting her boy.


There was quite a space before the next house which was another one rented out. There were several different families there through the years - one of them had a beautiful collie dog which I loved. One day I came up behind him and patted his back and he turned and bit my arm. It was a painful experience and I was insulted that my friend had turned on me.


Beyond this place was Mrs. Fultons house and next to him Mr. Kightly who was simple. He was quite harmless but the sight of this old man with his big grey beard and long grey hair shambling around the village was always a little frightening. Mr. Fulton was old and kindly with snow white hair and beard. He did odd jobs in our garden and I followed him around listening to his stories of the old days. He let me help saw wood with a buck-saw. I willingly did most of the pulling. He introduced me into the joys of chewing tobacco which I felt was vastly overrated but was flattered to be initiated into an adult pleasure.


Across from their place was William Carsons big red brick house. He ran with his brother Albert the lovely farm behind their place. we got our milk from Carsons. Mrs. Emily Carson, his wife would leave it in a covered tin pail on a shelf at the back door. Occasionally, she would invite us in for a cookie and we were made to feel it was a real honour. I loved to drink the milk when it was partly frozen. Carsons had a small house on their property which was rented. Some of the tenants, particularly the Faulkners became great friends with us. We always hoped Mrs. F. would see us and have a treat for us. Kit and I often went to visit them in the evenings. South of Carsons was a tiny unpainted cottage where in the spring a dogwood tree was a cloud of white blossoms. Then in the corner was the old school house where Mr. _ lived. He was an odd man, sometimes very friendly and at other times he ignored us. Then there was Crazy Lane which ran West. In the old unpainted house next to Mr. _ surrounded by a weathered picket fence lived the 3 Van Ostrand women. When we wanted to scare our city friends, we would take them past this house and if we were lucky there would be two of the ladies leaning over the fence with their lank grey hair hanging past their shoulders, gibbering at us to come and play with them. Next to them lived Mr. Currie and his mother. We were never sure if he was right in his mind as he seldom spoke to us but he probably was self-conscious because of his infirmity. He worked for Mr. Carson and we would see him hobbling down the street to work. His legs were crossed and I was fascinated to see how quickly he could get around. I used to practice walking that way and found it very difficult. It was always a matter of speculation how he managed to get his pants on.


Next to them was Petersons house where our prim Miss Calder lived. Their land bordered on Carsons pasture and to get to our playground we had to go down the lane to the gate. Mr. C. gave us the run of the farm on our promise never to pick apples and pears off the tree - we could have all the windfalls we wanted - and always to shut the gates. Coming back from the farm we passed Miss _ who lived in a tiny cottage with her senile sister. We would sometimes see the sister sitting playing with a toy in the doorway.


There were 2 other cottages which were rented out to several people through the years. Miss Cook who was a seamstress and was a sad person had a tale of woe to regale us when she came to sew. Then the Allards came to the house next to her. He was the school caretaker when the new school was built. Mrs. A., a voluble English woman always had long discussions about the state of her health. They had a boy Jackie who I sometime played with at Dawns. Mr. A. took over looking after our furnace in later years - a great help.


On the corner was an old store used as a house where they 1ived. We seldom saw them. Next to them on Yonge Street was a narrow house where the Brennans lived and Mac's cottage was next to theirs.


Between Mac's and the Carsons was a ramshackle once yellow house, where the Bakers and their 8 or 9 kids lived. We never p1ayed with them but watched their antics from the safety of our own fenced yard.


Behind our house which stood quite close to the road was the barn where Father had a studio in the loft and behind that was the vegetable garden and the hill. Between our property and Whittons was the Church road which led up the side and behind our property and Dawns to the church on the hill. Part way up was a gate and a stile. Our hill, was covered with lilacs – sumac – elms – young oaks and old apple trees. Whittens was pasture and orchard. There was a path up the north side of our place to the Church road and that was the way I used to get to the church yard. One always went over the stile even if the gate was open. From the stile was a narrow steep path that came out directly in front of the church. There were two old pine trees a little distance from the church and ivy growing up the yellow brick. Cedar trees hugged the south side. Sitting on the Church steps one could see across the valley past the cluster of houses - over Carsons farm to the tree covered hill in the other side about a mile away with a glimpse here and there of the river and the road. To the North the tall chimney of Sweeny's Mill could be seen. The Church yard stretched behind the church to old Young street. The gravestones were smothered with grass and weeds except for a few which were kept cleared by family members. There were tall elms and pines and one larch tree and Hawthorne trees. Some family plots were fenced with wooden pickets - others with wrought iron. Wild roses – lilacs rampant - daisies - asters and golden rod rioted. In the early summer the wild strawberries were the sweetest and in the Autumn the haws from the Hawthorne trees picked on a frosty evening had an unforgetable flavour. I spent a lot of time in the church yard, reading the epitaphs of those buried there from about 1803? and made up stories of their lives. ~ Only at night did I become afraid and as dusk was falling would run home to Mother and safety.


Old Yonge street had been built up over the height of land to avoid the low land which in spring became impassible. There were several houses and farms along this road which started at Birrells Inn and went east past _’s Mill on the Don and north up the hill past Van Ostrands large brick house and the rectory - a large red brick building a few yards south of the church yard and then on past farms to join Yonge street where it topped the hill beyond York Mills.



Our house had been built originally of adobe brick as a cottage. It was later faced with red brick and a top story added. It was once the manse for the Presbyterian Church which stood on the hill across from Berrills Inn. It was of plain red brick with dark green shutters. There were Norway Maples in front and in the corner a huge spruce tree. We loved to pick the resin that oozed out and chew it. There was a picket fence around the place with a gate facing the front door a short cement walk and steps leading up to the front door. We played hop scotch, skipped ropes and bounced our balls to the ditties of the day on that walk.


Inside was a small hall with curtained doorways on both sides. - to the right was the parlour where the player piano was and beyond it a small bedroom. To the left was the living room and dining room. The stairs went up on the left of the hall. At the back under the stairs was the door to the cellar which at one time was the kitchen. There was still the fireplace and spit there. Two steps down at the end of the hall was the kitchen. Upstairs on the left was a huge bedroom with a small one on the right along the hall towards the front was a south bedroom and across from it the dark room – a narrow storage room where trunks and discards were kept. In the hall between these two rooms was a window seat where boots etc were kept and the hat rack stood against the stairs rail. The floor boards were 16 inch pine boards worn from countless feet. I learned to find where to walk on them to avoid a tell tale squeak. The woodwork and floors for years was painted dark brown and the walls covered in oatmeal paper.


There was a cistern outside the north kitchen door and a pump beyond the shed on the East side door. Our water was full of iron and always cold. We all were warned about always covering the handle of the pump with a cloth in winter and never never put our tongues on the cold metal. Of course we all did it at least once and had very sore tongues as a result.


We had an outhouse at the back of the barn. One had to go out the back door - through the shed - across the lawn and through the barn. This was no great problem in summer but in winter it became a major project. As we had no electricity it was not a trip I cared to make alone at night through the dark. I always managed to persuade someone else to go with me - though never admitted to being afraid - slinging a coat over our shoulders we would pick up a candle and, sheilding it with a pot, make the hazardous trip out to the back. As I always had to wait for a companion with apparent unconcern, it was no wonder that constipation was a problem until my teens.


We lit the house with candles and an oil lamp in the kitchen and one on the desk in the living room. Going to bed we took our candles and made our way up stairs through the dancing shadows and along the creeking floors with the furtive sounds of mice in the walls and bats and squirrels in the attic. I early declared I didn't need sleep as being the youngest, there was always someone to suggest it was long past my bedtime. The idea of going out through the curtained doorway from the bright living room to the dark hall and up those stairs alone was too terrifying for me so I made one excuse after another til someone else was going and then I willingly went with them. As a result by the time I got to bed I was so tired I couldn't sleep and lay awake long after Bet and Peg were asleep. P. and B. shared a bed and I had a cot. Kit had the small bedroom. Often Bet would tell us stories - sometimes she would sleep before she had finished them and I would lie there listening to the player piano and then after to the sounds of activity in the walls.




Beyond Carsons in the cottage with the dogwood lived the Squires. Mr. S. was the Sexton of the church and I often had long conversations with him while he dug a grave or puttered around the building. His daughter Blanche lived with him and was also like Mr. Kightly simple.


The big black streetcar which ran from Farnham Avenue to Sutton and Brad Lake came past our place. The stop was outside the old store at the corner of Crazy Lane. It rattled down the hill and then up the long hill and to go downtown one transferred to the city cars which had red plush seats and cane backs. It was always an adventure to ride in such an elegant car after our plain black one. It was always fun to see what joke or riddle was on the sign outside the White Rose Station near Roxborough Avenue. We always hoped the street car would go slowly enough past it so Mother could read it to us and very often explain it. Usually we were on our way to Eatons or Simpsons for some special thing. Sometimes Mother would go to McKongkies where she would sit at a desk and give her order for some of the food specialties they sold, while we would wander around inspecting the exotic cheeses, bottles of preserves, imported cookies and teas. Everything was in glass cases or on shelves behind the counters.


When the city was extended to the top of the hill, the black trolly started from there on its long run to Sutton. It cost 5 cents to go to our stop #2. #1 was at the corner of York Mills road near the black smith shop. It was an exciting ride hurtling down the hill and if no one wanted stop one the conductor used to try to get up to our rise on the momentum from the rush down the big hill. As we went to the city school, Bedford Park on Ranliegh Avenue which was about 11/4 miles, we often rode to the top of the hill on the trolley and I got to know the Motor men and the ticket collectors very well. One day when I was the only passenger, one of the greatest thrills I ever had was being allowed to hold the big knob attached to an 8'' arm that was turned to the right to increase the speed. That day we fairly flew down the hill. With the wind from the open window making my eyes run and excitement bubbling up as the speed increased. Needless to say I didn't tell the family as I knew Father and Mother would have reported my friendly motor man to the authorities and he would probably have been fired. I only managed to get the car partly up our hill before it started to slow down and I had to turn the knob to increase the power.


Later when I was 11 and we went to High School in Richmond Hill we had a 9 mile ride each way. I was always in a rush in the mornings and the girls would be at the stop in time while I was still trying to finish dressing. Many times the motor man would wait for me while my sisters fumed as I ran out of the house with my coat undone and a hat jammed any way on my head (Those were the days when even young girls were expected to appear with hats and gloves or mitts). I often think the older people who used the street-car must have found the youngsters who piled on the car at every stop were a nuisance and in some cases a menace. Cecile Dudley got on at our stop and her special friend was Nellie Collins who came on a few miles further. They were in the 4th form while I was in the first. They encouraged me to be a brat and we formed a group. Nell as big devil - Cecille was a medium devil and me as little devil. My specialty was to have a big safety pin straightened to form a 6-inch needle and when the car was very full with lots of people standing or trying to move to the exit, to poke it into an unsuspecting victim. I thought it was very funny as no one ever suspected who was doing it. The older girls very soon got fed up with Little Devil and me unmercifully and I was ignored. I think my sisters pretended they didn't know me just as my older children pretended they didn't know their youngest brother when they were all in Junior High. I suspect my sister Betsy who became a close friend of Nellie's persuaded her and Cecile not to encourage me. My sisters never seemed to get into trouble like I did. Betsy was naturally good. Peg and Kit were too shy to resort to the exhibitionism that I affected.


I had started kindergarten at 5 instead of 6. When Peggy went to school I was so unhappy that Mother persuaded the Principal to let me go too. It made the usually traumatic experience of the first few days of school very easy for me as Peggy had already learned the ropes after a couple of weeks. I stayed in the class for a year and Peg was put in Grade 1 at Christmas. When we changed from the city school to the new York Mills (Baron Renfrew in honour of the Prince of Wales) we both skipped a class after 3 months so I arrived in High School at 11. Most of the other kids were 12 and 13 and 14. It made the youngest of 11 and the oldest of 14 the outcasts and I continued to be a brat to get attention.




Our Mother was very affectionate and in many ways Father was too but he found it hard to show it. We were kissed affectionately by Mother and reservedly by Dad, every morning and night and whenever they or any of us left the house. When Mother was out we would watch for every street-car that came by and would rush up the sidewalk when one finally let her off and engulf her with bear hugs We sometimes would go to meet Father's but we felt it was a perfunctory greeting he gave us, and I suppose through the years as we gradually gave up watching for him, that it must have been painful for him to see our response to her arrival in comparison to his. When he would walk in whether it was from the studio or after a trip to downtown we would all stop our loud talking or quarrelling and be quiet. This may have been because Mother was so concerned that he should never by upset or bothered by family matters and that we all exaggerated the need for quiet and serenity. I suppose I was less inhibited in this way as I knew he was fond of me and I often disobeyed the order for peace and quiet. Dad would be full of the days events and we were all expected to listen to his account of who he had met and what they discussed.


I have said Father never told us directly when he was displeased with us, but we knew. When we were in bed or at school Mother got chapters and verse. He would be irritable - finding fault with unimportant things which were exagerated to become major events. When he would arrive at the table - catching each of us in some undesirable habit it would be "what what what" and "why why why" and every one would automatically intensify the offensive habit or phrase in spite of our best efforts to minimize them. Someone would break into tears and then the rest who had resisted the impulse to rush upstairs would be treated to a long discourse on self-control etc. After we had left then Mother got the real reason for his upset and would then relay it to us at a later date. As I said our reply was I wonder now how we would have been able to cope with it if he had. We were lucky we had Mother as our buffer. But we resented the fact that she had to take the brunt of it. We would often tell her she shouldn't let him be so hard on her but her constant reply was "He is doing wonderful work and I am here to make it as easy for him as possible". Which she did until the day she died in spite of years of ill health without complaint.


Actually after Mother died, I was treated to his long discussions and relayed his wishes to Peggy. It really wasn't as terrible as we had thought. He opened his mind to me much as he had done to her and though sometimes his objections were petty, very often they were valid. Somehow he didn't see my short comings as he should have and was really easier on me than he was on Mother. As I guess he realized I couldn't control anyone else. So his talks with me became more sharing ideas than criticisms and we spent many hours in complete harmony.




When I was completely frustrated with listening and not being able to tell Father what was bothering me, I would pour out the accumulated problems to my Uncle Walter - Father's youngest brother and the black sheep of the family. Unkie was a bachelor whose arrival every Sunday when we were small was greeted with shouts of glee and a search in his pockets for the candy bars we would find there. Unk had a fine disregard for the niceties of appearance. It was evident that he made an effort to tidy himself but his standards were noticeably lower than most people. He was tall and lanky, with blue twinkly eyes and if he had missed the stubble on his chin when he shaved for the first time that week we didn't care. He let us swarm over him - played our silly games with us and loved us all without prejudice. As we grew older the others found him a problem but I loved him always and early learned to accept him warts and all. He came nearly every Sunday and those odd times when he didn't appear were bleak days to me. I told him all my troubles and though he never directly advised me he could obliquely make me see the problem inanother way and I would be comforted. He was always in trouble so he could understand when I was in a fix and we would laugh about it and somehow it never seemed as bad when I had talked to Unkie about it. We always had a "ramble" in the woods and fields when Unk came. In winter he would help us put on our skates and take us to the ponds and sloughs and sometimes even skated with us. Father had never been athletic but Unk had been a skater and skuller and runner and was able to help us with actual experiences where Father's advice had been too academic. Mother was a mushroom expert and our "rambles" always included looking for fungus. We collected many kinds of fungi and many times I worried from Sunday to Sunday because Unc believed in trial and error as far as mushrooms were concerned, whereas Mother relied on tests and knowledge and no mushroom was ever eaten in our house til it had been thoroughly researched. Unc would stash some specimens in his pocket and say "I'll let you know next week how they taste" and until he arrived the next Sunday afternoon I would worry and Mother would say “I do wish Walter would be more careful.” When he turned up cheerful as ever we would all sigh a breath of relief and add another variety to our list of edible mushrooms. Often we would collect a bag full of fairy rings and carefully pull off the tips. These fried in butter made tasty addition to our evening meal - an ugly grey mess but wonderful flavour.


Father's attitude to Unkie was one of almost indifference. Unc was trained as a stained-glass man and knew his craft but was lazy. Father was a compulsive worker and had little patience with Unk's casual attitude towards work. Unk and his pals would go on long benders which was a great worry. I remember finding Mother in the furnace room with Unkie telling him if he continued coming up the worse for drink he wouldn't be welcome. Father didn't approve of Unk's drinking but didn't tell him so it was left to Mother to give him the ultimatum. I was too young to realize why Unc was different sometimes but Bet and Kit was noticed it and were alienated from him. Unc straightened out and never again came when he had been drinking. Years later at a stag party that Harold Stacey had, Orval told me how objectionable Unc was but I never saw it.


One Sunday after Mother died I was telling Unk about a date I had with my cousin (his nephew) and how disgusted I was that Jimmy got me to drive to a look-out- point in the East End where cars were parked 3 deep full of smooching couples and expected me to co-operate. In the midst of regaling him with my tale of persuading reluctant Jimmy to go with me and shine the flashlight through the windows, we suddenly realized Pa was standing in the doorway. I was speechless, Unc looked guilty. Pa ignored him and asked me for his late night snack of shredded wheat and olive oil. Unc slunk out and the next week we giggled over being caught talking about such things. One didn't discuss certain things with Father but anything was alright with Unkie.




When I was small Unk lived with Grandmother and Grandfather. They still retained their Kentish accents, were tiny little people and Grandmother who was 94 when she died when I was about 7, seemed to me to be too remote too relate to. We would be taken to visit her and taking a slab of Stilton cheese which had to be very old and full of “skippers”. Though we were told Grandmother was getting blind, she could catch a “ skipper" with the end or her knife and pop it into her mouth with great skill. We were always concerned that because of her blindness she might tread on one of the kittens that always seemed to be under her feet. Grandfather was a retired builder - contractor. They lived on Welleslye Street in what was known as “ Cabbage·town”. Aunt Lily lived in the attached house. In the backyard was a large barn. Unkie had his glass shop on the main floor and his friend Hamel had a candy factory above it. When we had dutifully said hello to the Grandparents we would make a rush out to the shop to see Unk. The shop was a fascinating place. There were great slabs of clear and coloured glass against the walls and a long table in front of the window covered with trays of coloured glass - squares - circles pieces in various shapes - cut like gems in clear blues, purples, reds, yellows, greens -· a wonderful collection of colours and shades. We were always taken up to see Hamel and given a candy. My recollections of Hamels place is of a dusty messy place which would be condemned today but we never noticed it. Years later after both Unk and Hamel were retired, Unk got Hamel to make a mammoth candy cane for Bet’s daughter, Barbara Anne which was more grey and red than white and red.


We always were thrilled to find cats at Grandmothers and Grandfathers place. Father disliked cats  intensely so though we had dogs, cats were not welcome. Their cats seemed always to have kittens around and we would beg to have one and pestered Mother all the way home when we were refused.


When Grandmother died at 96, we were taken to the house and ushered into the parlour to pay our respects. I can still feel the horror that death filled me when I saw a fly crawling over her large nose (*For years I was haunted with that sight). Mother hadn't noticed the fly and when she suggested we might want to kiss her I was terrified and rushed out of the room.*


Grandfather and Unk stayed on in the house til Grandfather died and then Unk moved out. Aunt Lily who was next to Dad in age had 1ived next door with her two daughters Evelyn and Maizie and a lodger Will McGowan. Aunt Lily's husband was a race driver and was away a lot and finally disappeared. Eventually Aunt Lily had him legally declared dead and married Mac. They were a dear couple - kind and homely (in the real sense of the word). Aunt Lily got the urge to move every 6 months or so and we would hear from Unk that “the McG’s were on the move again."


Every few years, Mother would have a Jefferys party and invite all the relatives. Aunt Lily and Mac, Evelyn and Claude Feidler, Maizy or Babe and Billy, Uncle Albert and Aunt Mabel, their children, Myrtle and Percy Dawson, Lillian and Murray, Aunt Rosie and her 2nd husband, McFarlane and her son Jimmy Race and daughter Winnie and Walter. Unkie and my half sister Jeanette and Charles Thompson, Harry. I enjoyed the relatives but except for Aunt Lily and her daughter Evelyn and Jimmy Race never really got to know the others. Father was fonder of Aunt Rosie than he was of the others. We were occasionally invited to their place but I never remember being at Uncle Albert's home or at Aunt Lily's til many years later.




Jinny was the oldest grandchild - I, 20 years younger, was the youngest. When I was very small Jinny sometimes stayed for week-ends with us but she had her own flat. She had spent her school years at Bishop Strachan School and spent most of her holidays mostly with her Grandmother Adams and her Aunt Caro who was her own age. We were occasionally taken to see the old lady but all I can remember about her was her regal air and atmosphere of disaproval which we all felt. Caro was different kind mousy and loving. She always wore old fashioned clothes and little-girl buttoned slippers. I never thought of her as being the same age as Jinny - she seemed many years older.


Jinny was beautiful with dark hair and eyes. Her nose was straight and finely molded. She looked much like the pictures of her mother who died along with a very young son and a new-born one when Jinny was about 5 or so. At that time Father was living in New Jersey and when his wife and sons died brought Jinny back to Canada and her Grandmother. Life must have been rather sad for her. She was sent to boarding school at an early age and learned to control her emotions there and in G. Adams house. She and Mother had I believe some problems at the beginning but by the time I became aware of them they were the best of friends. Jinny married Charles Thompson who we called "Red" until he insisted that an important 1awyer should be called "Char1es”. He never liked any of us and I had many run-ins with him as he was a firm believer in children being seen and not heard. We used to watch in disgusted fascination how he attacked his food and no doubt his particular dislike of me was because I made comments about his fatness and eating habits. Neither Mother or Father ever overtly showed that he was not what they would have chosen for Jinny.


Jinny was always controlled I felt was remote as though she existed not lived. It wasn't til I was married and spent some time with her after I had a miscarriage, that I ever felt really close to her. She was always considerate and kind and we all spent times with her at the various summer cottages they rented in Muskoka. Charles would drive us up on a week-end - go back to Toronto during the week and then we would return with him after a week or two. Jinny was very easy going with us but when Charles was there we had to toe the line. One time when Peg and I were staying with them at Wilcox Lake I was having a lot of fun with the kids next door. There was only one boy our age and there was a certain amount of rivalry between us as to which one he liked the most. Peggy went home after a week and I stayed on canoing, swimming, playing ball with Bill and his sisters. One night he and I went out in the canoe and watched the moon come up. We were out for hours never thinking of time but when we finally docked the boat there was a ranting Charles, Bill's irate parent and a furious Jinny to greet us. They had been very worried about us and no excuse that the moon and stars had been so beautiful that we had lost all count of time was accepted. I was taken home in disgrace after that week-end and poor Mother had a lecture about her delinquent daughter. I finally got into Charles' good books the next summer when we four were at a cottage at Crow Lake while Mother and Father were off in the East. Charles and Jinny came up one weekend to visit us and to see that we were behaving no doubt. Charles was into physical fitness and was trying to shed his fat. He had me row the boat while he swam. It was a bit boring as I was to row evenly and keep pace with him. Suddenly out of nowhere a motor boat was bearing down on him. I threw him a line and rowed for all I was worth and just managed to pull him clear of the boat by inches. The driver hadn’t even seen him and roared off down the lake, while Charles climbed trembling into the boat and we headed for home. After that episode, Charles was less critical of me which was a relief for I did love Jinny and wanted to be with her but had always felt he was the 'fly in the ointment'.


The day Jinny and Charles were married was always remembered by us all with some glee as the minister had been working in the garden spreading manure before the service and as the solemn Anglican service went on Charles’ nephew, Gordon McKenzie and I got the giggles at the pungent smell that permeated the church. It was the first wedding I ever attended and all since then have seemed a little tame. Except Mona Fiedlers' high Catholic ceremony which went on for it seemed hours while priests and acolytes conferred around the Altar and Mac McGowan whispered to me "Do you suppose they are having a hand of poker up there".


In the 30's Jinny was often up talking to Mother and one day we learned she was going to New York to study dress design. She had worked with Father at the quot;Star" and together they had started the rotogravure section of the Saturday edition which was a feature of the Star for many years. She gave it all up when she married and I suppose she found the humdrum life of a housewife very boring. Anyway off she went to New York for a year or so and then came back to being Charles' wife again. Years later Mother told us she had decided to leave Charles but why she came back and if she was happy I never found out.


They moved several times and when they lived on Kawartin Avenue in North Toronto I used their address when I went to Northern Vocational Art classes. I often had lunch with Jinny and occasionally stayed the night. She was always welcoming and ready to listen to my troubles but looking back it seems to me that she was encased in ice and seldom revealed her feelings in any way. The time I stayed with her after the miscarriage was the only time I felt I really knew her and am grateful for that time. She died of cancer of the stomach when she was 59. Typical of her self control and bravery she said goodbye to the people who loved her and refused to have any but the private nurse with her for the last few painful weeks. I sent her daily cards and notes and only learned of her death when a note came from Charles a couple of weeks later. It has always seemed such a wasted life - she was talented, intelligent and loving but somewhere she lost or never had the initiative to use those talents except for her short revolt to New York.




Unkie had a cottage up on Peninsula Lake in Muskoka. I think I was 5 the first time I went there. It was an exciting time. All our clothes bedding and some kitchen utensils and groceries were laid out on the floor - folded and made into a roll and fitted with much shoving and effort into several dumage bags (these were canvas bags about 3 feet long and 1 1/2 feet in radius) - where they came from I don't know but as far as I remember they were only used for Peninsula Lake trips). Then there was the night trip down to Union Station and getting on the train at Midnight. The thrill of sleeping in bunks with the porter helping us up the ladder to the top one feeling the first jerks as the train started and then the steady klik klik of the wheels over the rails and peering out at the passing sights of warehouses - homes and then country was very exciting. We were wakened early in the morning and got off the train at Huntsville and then on to a boat - through the lakes to the Canal stop which was on the river between Fairy Lake and Peninsula Lake. There we and all the dummage bags were left on the dock and the boat went on. There were groceries to buy at the store - postoffice and a ride in a wagon along dusty country roads to a maple wood where our goods were left and we ran through the woods to the cottage which stood on the top of the hill. In front was a rough pasture and below the hill shone the lake with across the gorgeous blue water, far hills of green blue and purple shadows. The cottage was built in the hill on a high stone foundation - a square building with a verandah around two sides. Standing there one felt one was on a ship. Behind us the maple woods were green and cool and in front the pasture dotted with masses of wild thyme purple with blossoms and humming with bees. Sheep wandered over the area cropping the grass down even as a mowed lawn. Here and there were outcroppings of rocks with a few trees and bushes growing around them. The smell of thyme and sheep with the crisp northern air was intoxicating. There were 3 tiny bedrooms and a large living room with a bay window in one corner lined with window seats. The windows were leaded with small panes and looking through them the view was distorted and eerie. Unk had a lot of brass candlesticks and pewter pots and an old piano which was the home of many mice. At night when we lit the candles we burned pyrethrum to keep the mosquito and black flies at bay. Behind the house a lean-to kitchen was attached. Under the house in the cellar was our larder 1- 2 long planks suspended from the ceiling. It was cool and dark and spooky. Unk kept the canoe and other odds and ends there. Out in the wood a path went to the well - spring fed where a big frog lived and beyond that the out-house deep in the woods. In front the hill sloped down to the lake and a sandy cove where we swam. Mother couldn't swim so she had 4 long lengths of rope which she tied around our waists and held the end in her hands. I can still feel the indignance when I keeping pace with Betsy and Katharine was rudely pulled back when the water was over my head. The water was brown but clear and one could see the minows swimming around ones feet and feel the occasional nip as they investigated. To the left of the cove was the boat house where the canoe was kept in summer. We used to sit inside on the edge of the cat walk and by tipping the hips see who could pee the farthest. Those were the times when I fervently wished I was a boy and equipped with a handy appendage to shoot farther than the others. After a swim there was a rush up the hill for food - my favourite was shredded wheat slathered with orange marmalade and washed down with the milk we got from Wares farm a mile away. At night we played cards while the moths drawn by the candles, committed self immolation and then to bed to listen to unfamiliar night sounds.


One night we lay out on the grass looking at shooting stars and learning the names of the different constellations when there was a lonely - earie - howl and we saw the yellow eyes of a wolf shining in the dark beyond the fence. We were told not to be frightened but I was terrified though I wouldn't admit to such weakness.


One night to show how brave I was (the girls were always trying to prove I was a coward and I tried just as hard to prove I was braver than any of them) I insisted on sleeping out on the verandah by myself. Unfortunately the camp cot was under a birds nest and by morning I was covered with bird lice and black fly bites. I can remember having trouble opening my swollen up lids and then the pain of being washed with coal oil to get rid of the lice. The black fly bites stung with the oil and I cried with pain and mortification while everyone tried not to laugh but I knew they all thought it was funny and was not amused.


Unkie was often with us at the cottage and Father came for a week or so. Jinny came sometimes and also Dan McArthur who was the son of Dad's friend Peter McA. the writer. Dan was handsome with curly dark hair and sparkly blue eyes and I was in love with him for several years even after he married and became the father of innumerable (it seemed) fat complacent babies. He was about Jinny's age, but played games with us like a kid. He could wiggle his ears which I thought was the ultimate accomplishment. He was also most obliging as was Unkie, about carrying a tired kid with very little coaxing. Jinny was sometimes with us and the time she was called back to Toronto as her Grandmother had died. When she returned I learned the first time about cremation. There was a hitch in this as the coffin was too big to go into the furnace and Jinny's description, told as we sat around the table in the candlelight, of the conveyor belt banging the coffin against the door of the furnace while she and Caro stood by in horror was vivid and terrifying. Jinny’s comment that "poor Gram would have so disliked such an indignity" made it more poingnant.


We walked all over the area - sometimes across the meadow over the little stream up over another meadow and so to Dilworths who had a well appointed cottage about 2 miles away. They didn't really rough it as we did as they had their maid there and a modern house with a lawn and garden around it. Once when we were invited to supper, I disgraced myself when I attempted to cut a pickle with my fork and popped up in the air and landed on another guests' head. The mortification I felt can still make me squirm. They had a gasoline launch and once took us down through the canal to Mary Lake to visit some friends of theirs. I was 11. When we got to another mansion and the others were being given tea on the lawn I went exploring. I had seen a skinny handsome boy and decided to find him. He eluded me but I got glimpses of him and years later when Orval and I were comparing summer holidays learned it was he I pursued so unsuccessfully.


Other jaunts we took entailed a lot of walking. That first year I always remembered that at 5 years of age I walked 5 miles to the portage - It was either Dan or Unkie both with us and I cadged a lot of rides so it was stretching a point to say I walked 5 miles but in my boasting I never admitted the rides. The portage had a steam engine to take one up over the hill to Lake of Bays. I was disappointed not to go on it but we had the walk back to the cottage and it was too late by the time we got there to go any further. The Muskoka country was so lovely with wonderful sights and smells to enjoy. Wild raspberries and mushrooms abounded. We ate the former as we walked and took the latter home to cook. The best mushrooms were the oyster shells and the puff balls that grew to 1' - 1 1/2' in diameter. A fresh one sliced an inch or so thick and fried in butter or bacon fat was a real treat. We also liked to find ones that were too old and have a battle throwing the dried powdery balls at each other.


Unk's canoe was huge with air compartments along both sides so it was almost impossible to capsize and we often piled in and went around Pim's point which reached out into the lake to the right of the beach. It was an imposing height of land covered with burnt out stumps and new growth. The water all around the point was very deep and in spite of the clarity of the water it was impossible to see the bottom of the lake. We would fish for bass and sometimes caught a catfish instead which was a horrible sight but tasted almost as good as the bass.


Other times we paddled up to Dilworths or explored the lake shore. Across the lake was a summer resort hotel - Deerhurst – and sometimes on a Sunday we would get dressed up and paddle over for noon dinner. It was a treat to be in such palatial surroundings and see all the vacationers. We could see our cottage across the lake, sitting on the hill with the tall maples behind it and I seldom felt any envy of those people at Deerhurst.


Over the brow of the hill we could see the roof of another cottage. It belonged to Unkies eccentric friend Joe Ingleby. This place was a great contrast to our shabby weather beaten house. There was a mowed lawn - flower and vegetable gardens neatly enclosed with a well kept fence. His house was painted and kept in very good condition. Mr. Ingleby lived in Hamilton but spent several months each year at Peninsula Lake. He was fussy and nervous and old-maidish. He was very hospitable but his jerky movements and the blinking of his eyes behind thick glasses and constant clicking of his teeth made a visit to his place rather an ordeal. I think he was a remittance man as he seemed to have private means and I never heard of him having any job or profession. He and Unk were an unlikely pair - he always so properly dressed and particular about his surroundings and Unk so casual to say the least about his personal appearance and so easy-going about everything. But they were fast friends and during the winter kept in touch and always seemed glad to see each other. Unk often stayed with him when his own cottage was rented. In 1948 when Orval, Claudia and Josie and I were in the East we drove Unk up to the lake and we all stayed with Ingleby. He was in a state having a 5 year old and an infant at the crawling stage upsetting his orderly house and Orval and I were just as anxious as he was. Unk calmly accepted old Jo’s constant fussing and helped to ease the tension. We enjoyed only one night and left the 2 old cronies to spend a couple of weeks together while we went on our way to Edmonton.


The next time we saw the area was in the '70's when we drove to some the places in Ontario where we had spent holidays. The cottage was gone and the land split into lots with several houses. The lake looked the same - Deerhurst still across - greatly increased in size. We could not get down to the lake as it was all fenced off. We drove down to the bridge across the canal and went to Deerhurst and looked across trying to see just where the cottage had been. Even Ingleby's place was gone. But the cove and Pimm's point were the same.


Orval had trouble recognizing the farms he had worked on near Peterborough. They all seemed too small. When he was there there was so much work to do that the farms seemed huge and the work never-ending. We found the house he was born in in Chatham and that seemed to be just as he remembered. He went to spend an hour with his first teacher who was retired and was delighted to see him though he suspected she confused him with his brothers. Our search for the past was painful but it was pleasant to see rural Ontario again and to relive parts of our youth.


Unkie and I had 2 weeks in 1939 at the cottage. We were there when war was declared. It seemed an unlikely happening in that peaceful place. My friend George Mulloch drove us up our car one weekend and came back for us 2 weeks later. Unc and I lived mostly on porridge - bacon and puff balls and beer and wine. I had not been well and Unk insisted on giving me breakfast in bed. One day I called out to him that the porridge tasted funny. I thought it might be the canned milk but Unk appeared at my door to say ''no the milk is fresh - the porridge is just getting to a nice ripe stage''. With that I investigated the kitchen - there was the porridge pot with an inch of old porridge crusted on the bottom and sides. Unk insisted that leaving any left overs in the pot for a few days was what gave a usually bland porridge a full bodied taste. I didn't dispute this but decided I preferred bland flavour to strong, and much to his disgust made fresh cereal in a clean pot.


We rambled around our old haunts each day then back to the cottage to play pinockle or poker and enjoy a drink and cigarettes for me and Unc's smelly old chum pipe tobacco for him. We had a couple of jaunts into Huntsville - cadging rides with neighbours. We would buy a few groceries and then go to the beer parlour in the Hotel where we met all Unk's old drinking pals and heard their stories of the old days while we waited for our ride back.


We had a problem with food disappearing that time. We suspected someone was stealing it but one morning when we found the paper from our veal steaks and an overturned bottle of cream on the floor of the cellar we decided it had to be an animal. I was horrified to find a skunk - stomach distended - sleeping in a dark corner. Then Unc remembered there had been a family of skunks there in the spring which he never tried to evict. Our rations were rather short that week. Our food supplies were taken to the kitchen and we had no trouble from our thieving friend though he had to forage elsewhere for his food after that.




And then there was Pluto. The summer we spent at Currelly's farm at Port Hope I had said I wanted a dog of my own. One day in the next year 1931 Currelly's arrived at our place with a handfull of black pup. He was part beagle and possibly terrier of some sort. I loved him at sight - my first really own creature. Katharine chose the name as being fitting for such a black shiny atom and he ruled my life and heart for 7 years. "Love me - love my dog" became not just saying but a truth. Unfortunalely, though lovable Pluto was dumb and so was I. I had no idea of training a dog so he would be acceptable to others and I realize now how very good other people were about my obsession for him and his many transgressions on their kindness. We led a charmed life - between us we committed countless transgressions and both of us expected that others would accept the inconveniences we caused because we deserved their goodwill. I went through agonies when he was ill and so did all the family and our friends but we always survived and took their goodness to us as our due. I had been told he would eat bread and milk so bread and milk he had for the first two weeks. He was loving and dirty and destructive but my delight in him could find no fault and I willingly cleaned up after him. The first crisis came when I found him clinging to the outside tap catching the drip while his whole little body and distended stomach shook with fever. Somehow he had stolen a pound of wieners and wolfed them down this when he'd never had any real solid food. He was violently ill and so was I in sympathty but we both survived. He slept in my room often on the bed and I was aware of every movement he made and checked on him several times each night. He grew into a handsome 40 - 50 pound long-legged sleek animal who regularly roamed the country side after accomodating females to the frustration of their owners. He would come home after 24 or 36 hours during which I suffered imagining him in terrible situations, completely exhausted but with a knowing gleam in his eye, to be cossetted and nursed back to health by his doting mistress. He would follow me when I went to school and I was often late trying to convince him to go home. As a matter of fact I was never on time getting everywhere as it would take an hour or so to finally deter him from coming with me. All in the family except Peggy took this as a matter of fact. She alone despised him and would have nothing to do with him and as I look at it now she was the only one who was sensible about him. He took a delight in bothering her and I often thought he was very frustrated that his charm which seemed to work on the others - even Father never broke her down. I was always unhappy that she of whom I was so fond didn't share my affection. 


Pluto when he was bigger liked to rub his back on the springs under my bed. I would be awakened in the night with the bed heaving as he walked back and forth under it with sighs of satisfaction. It was always a problem when we had someone staying over night as the other bed in my room was used for guests and we would have to warn them of Pluto's habits. One time some second cousins of my Mother came uninvited so no one warned them what to expect. The next morning a very weary unwanted guest cut short her visit and we all thanked Pluto.


There was always a problem keeping Pluto in when I went to church as he always expected to go with me everywhere. One lovely summer evening just as the service was closing and we in the choir were ready to follow the minister down the aisle, Pluto came prancing in the open door, down the aisle to greet me. This would not have been so bad except that on the way he had had an encounter with a skunk. Mr. Mac stopped his singing the closing hymn long enough to say out of the corner of his mouth “Get that long pause dog out of here'' and with considerable aplomb carried on. I stepped out of line, grabbed Pluto under the outraged looks of the rest of the choir and got my happy animal out the vestry door. We both thought it was hilariously funny but no one in the congegration was amused. Nor were those at home for though I bathed him he still smelt very high and I wouldn't hear of him spending the night outside.


When he was about 5 Pluto developed Epilepsy. He had fits where he ran screaming around and around the house and finallycollapsed frothing at the mouth. I of course was distraught and several times almost had a bad bite as I tried to keep him from choking on his tongue. One time it happened in the house and when I heard him howling rushed downstairs to pandemonium. There was Peggy standing on the dining room table screaming for help at the top of her lungs while Pluto tore around on the floor emiting just as loudhowls. It was demoralizing to say the least and I was torn between concern for both of them and bubbling with laughter at the sight. At that time the vet said he could do nothing for Pluto and advised keeping him quiet and giving him a good diet. This was easier said than done as he was completely undisciplined and continued his rounds of the area in search for willing females and probably terrorized any number of people.


In the winter because his coat was short he felt the cold so I made him a cover of red Hudsons Bay blanket which was really very handsome. Pluto was ashamed of it and would not go out the front door when I insisted he had to have it on but slunk out the back door looking over his shoulder in case any one or another dog should see it and came back in very short order and demanded to get in and rid of his sissy coat.


In 1938 his fits increased and in the fall he developed a great abcess on his side after an altercation with another dog while It was a Saturday night when he returned with a grapefruit-sized swelling on his flank. I phoned the Vet hoping to take him down as a friend was visiting who could help me. However the Vet was away and his Scots wife instructed me what to do. "Just take a sharp needle and poke it and he’ll be fine". My friend who was a very proper young man imaculately dressed (his father ran a smart haberdashery) held the dog while I tried to stab a long darning needle into the abscess. Either I was too gentle or the needle was blunt only a very small amount of fluid came out and my friend was becoming exhausted holding a very frightened animal so we left him and I again called the Vet's wife. This time she told me to have lots of newspapers on the floor and to forget the needle and use a good sharp paring knife. In desparation I gave a good jab with the paring knife and a great cascade of pus and blood came spurting out - not on the newspaper but all over my friend's beautiful suit. Pluto relieved from the pain and pressure licked us both indiscriminantely, curled up and went to sleep and we proceeded to clean up the mess. It is a measure of Pluto's charm that the friend called up the next day to see how he was.


Finally in December he had several attacks and I reluctantly agreed with the Vet that it would be best to have him put away.