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Description Memories of Mary Sutherland

Memories of Mary Sutherland

At the beginning and the end of the 18th century, the county of Sutherland was one trackless moorland with small pieces of cultivated ground along the coasts and in the straths.  One the east coast, there was little communication, even by sea.  The dwellings of the people, methods of farming, stock implements were much the same at the end as at the beginning of the century. After 1750, the cultivation of potatoes and flax began to spread, but no turnips were grown.

In the south-east lived Murrays, Sutherlands and Gordons.  The people of Sutherland followed their lord’s religion, so during the 18th century the whole population belonged to the Kirk. The Highland people were open-hearted, loved music, dancing and athletic sports, wedding and burial festivities were convivial, the ceilidh was the immemorial winter custom throughout the straths.  Even on Sundays, before and after services, men engaged in games and contests in the churchyard.

While externally there was little change, between 1700 and 1800 there was a considerable alteration in the beliefs, manner and customs of the people.  The stern religious zeal did not take hold of the Sutherland people till the 18th century was well begun.  After 1740, Parochial schools were encouraged so that people might be able to read the Scriptures and the Catechism.  In time Calvinism eclipsed the earlier gaiety, but a high standard of conduct and morality was attained. Even the various regiments raised in the latter part of the century were noted for the good conduct.

Mr. Kirk, noted for his piety, was minister in Dornoch, by 1758, when he died, the parish had become imbued with rigid Calvinism:  communion services extended over five days, hymns were forbidden, and as Psalms books were scarce, precentors, “put out the line”.

In 1760, a writer said the people lived principally on milk curds, whey and a little oatmeal.  A porridge made of oatmeal kale [cabbage?] and sometimes a piece of salt meat, their best food was oat or barley cakes.  But by 1790, potatoes had become their chief food, at this time also, the consumption of tea was increasing.

At the end of the 18th century, as at the beginning, serious drawbacks still persisted, superstitious beliefs and customs, defective house accommodation and consequent disease, oppressive services of lairds, etc. Prevalent diseases were small-pox, rheumatism, consumption, and fevers. All under the same roof were cows, hens, family (1760).  After 1770 communication of all services for a payment in money or in kind began.  In Sutherland only road labour was exacted.  But the tacksman continued to exploit the services due by crofters.  Thus crofters had to serve the tacksman so many ways threshing or manwing, etc., and in addition pay rents in meal, poultry or eggs.  (hens 2d each, eggs 2d per 3 doz)

Around 1790, hill grazing for sheep began to alter the economy of the country.  Also, various men tried to carry out plans for improvements.  Mr Dempster of Skibo was one.  Mr Hugh Ross, the Sutherland factors, made plans for improving that estate, deprecating the amount of land assigned to deer.  His ideas were followed for a time, but a later Duke introduced the Clearances in the 19th century, which were still deplored by old people still alive.

From this background came William Sutherland with his wife (Henny McIntosh) and two sons, John and William.  On April 20, 1820, William Senior received two grants of land, 100 acres each.  The two sons each got two grants, one of 100 and one of 50 acres.  All were on Dalhousie Mountain.

William Junior married Janet Murray and they had eight children: Andrew, Henny, William, Betsy, Jane, Bella, Annie and John.  On June 17, 1840, William Senior, William Junior and Andrew mortgaged 100 acres of to James Crichton (merchant in Pictou) and David Crichton for £58.  It was paid off June 17, 1844.  William Seniors wife Jannet had to sign the mortgage, but she just made her mark.  Both Williams wrote a “copper-plate” hand, but Andrew’s signature was like a school boy’s.  That may indicate that the two older men learned to write in Scotland, Andrew in NS.  On March 28, 1844, William Senior deeded 10 acres to William Junior for £10.

John [William Juniors youngest son] married Catherine Murray and they had six children:  William, Walter, Jessie, Maggie, Lizzie and Tena.

West of Grandfather’s [John] farm was his brother Andrew’s place.  The latter willed his farm to father [Walter] on condition he be guardian for their daughter Jessie.

William Senior ran an account at the store of Roderick McKenzie, bills being tendered at the end of the year.  The year 1860 began with a debt of £11.18.3½.  Purchases were made only once or twice a month.  Tea was 3/, sugar 7½d.  Two pounds of sugar lasted two to three months, but they used a pound of tea, or more per month.

One pounds of tobacco cost 1/9 and lasted two months.  In June and July 1860, he bought: 110 nails at 3½, 32/1; 14 putty 4/8; 1 box glass 22/6; 1 keg paint 17/6; 1 lock 5/; 2 pr. hinges and screws 1/10. This seems to indicate that a house was under construction.  His wife Jannet, died Dec 29, 1860, at the age of 66.  His bill at the store for that date was for: 8½ yds. velvet @ 1/6; 12/9; 7 yds. White cotton 4/4½; 1 nails /7; 10 screws /4; 2 tea 6/; 1 gal molasses 3/; 3 sugar 1/10½; pins /3; muslin /4; 1 pr. Stockings 1/3; soap /7.  The amount due Jan 1, 1861 was £26.12.10 less credit, April 21 for 234 lb. pork @ /3½, £3.8.3 making a balance due of £23.4.7.  In Jan 1861 his purchases were: 18 yd. black Coburg @ 1/9, 31/6; 6 yd. Coburg @ 2/, 12/; 9 yd. black lining cotton @ /7½, 5/7½; 2 yd. black crape 7/6; thread /6; 3 yd. cotton 1/9; 2 yd. white glazed lining @ 1/, 2/; 2 bonnet straps 1/3; 2½ yd. crape @ 3/9, 9/4½; 2½ yd. ribbon @ 1/3, 3/1½; 5 warp 7/6; ¾ indigo 4/10½; 1 tobacco 1/9; 1 sugar /7; hemp /4.  There was no bill for February, but in March, more cotton, thread, buttons and linen were bought.

At the end of 1861, the bill amounted to £37.2.11½ with a credit in November for 438 lb pork 2 3½; 557 lb beef 83/6 total £10.11.3 leaving a balance due of £26.11.8½.  Evidently their debts slowly, but surely mounted yearly.

In June he got a felt hat for 5/6.  Tobacco had gone up 2/.  On the credit side he sold 223 lb beef for £2.0.1½ and 418 lb pork for £5.4.6 the price of pork having fallen to /3 per lb.  On Dec 31, interest on the amount amounted to £1.11.10.

William Sutherland died August 28, 1868 at the age of 72.  He and his wife are buried in the Auld Kirk cemetery in Scotsburn.

Catherine Murray was from the East River.  Grandfather [John] met her when she visited her relatives nearby.  Probably the Gordons, because her Uncle Robert was cared for by them till he died at 101.  I saw him bedridden and very deaf.  She married John Sutherland in 1861 or 1862.  Uncle Will was born October 13, 1863.  During the summer of 1889, Grandmother was not well.  She and Grandfather were in Westville and arrived home late one night, she was very will and died the next day, or the day after, September 11, 1889 at the age of 56.  Uncle Will was a harness maker and worked in Boston.   He developed TB and was sent to Georgia, but he soon returned home, where he died in 1892 after a long illness.  Grandfather died on the Mt. Dalhousie farm on June 11, 1907, at the age of 76.  Aunt Maggie and her two boys were living with him.  When she left, the house was sold, and she moved to Westville.  Father took down the barn and hauled it home.

Sometime previous to 1830, Angus Graham, unmarried, came from Scotland to Rogers Hill, as a large area was called then. He soon married and began to acquire land, both by Sheriff’s sale and by regular purchase.  Between 1849 and 1855 he sold various lots to his sons, all for money.  Finaly he sold 89 aces to Andrew for £150, but kept half the house and 6 acres for himself during his lifetime.  When he died, he left no land to be probated.




In Elmfield, two miles from Sutherland’s, lived John and Mary Graham and their seven children, the fifth being Christy Bell [Bella].  When she [Bella] was 14, her father died of a heart attack at the breakfast table.  Widow Graham was very highly regarded and respected by her neighbours.

When about 20, Bella went to Pictou to learn dress-making with Mrs Rae (later Mrs Stalker). While she was in Pictou, the Pictou Bank failed.  Mrs Rae told Bella it was going to happen, so Bella walked home, 14 miles, to Elmfield to tell her mother, whose savings were in that bank.  I doubt if it took long for the widow to get started to town! Autographs in her album show that she was in Pictou in 1886.  The same source shows that she was in Boston in 1889. She worked for Mrs Lamb and for Miss Gray.  Mrs Lamb gave her the following recommendation: “Bella Graham has lived with me as second girl for thirteen months.  She is perfectly honest, very neat, bright and intelligent.  She does her work very well, irons nicely, and her silver is particularly well kept”. (Sgd.) Mrs S. T. Lamb, Brookline, Oct. 24.  I am led to believe that she left home about Sept. 1888.

Miss Gray had a friend, Laura E. Richards, whose “In My Nursery” came to me through Miss Gray.  From her also came my doll.  This gives me the impression she left Miss Gray’s to come home to be married.

During her time in Boston, she was engaged to Bill Graham, but she gave him up because he took to drinking.  Shortly after that, she came home with a breakdown.  Recovered, she went to Division one evening and that night Walter Sutherland saw her home.  She returned to Boston, and came home to be married September 20, 1893.  They were married in Hermon Church, Millsville.  They drove to Pictou where they spent the night with friends (probably Stalkers).  It was harvest time, so a longer honeymoon was not expedient.  They returned to Mr. Dalhousie, where they lived with his father and two sisters, Lizzie and Tena, who were teaching nearby.  Quite a family for a bride.  The second child was born June (14) 1896.  By this time, they had decided to move, either to a place with new buildings, or to one with old buildings and build.  So, it same that they moved to Waterside, August 18, 1896 to a run-down farm with old buildings.

During the following winters, Father spent time up the mountain getting out lumber to build.  In his absence, the school-teacher used to stay with Mother at night.  One winter he and Dave Gray built a house for John Logan.  Logan’s old father came and stayed with us.  He used to take John and me on his knee and sing to us!

The upstairs had two parts, one partly finished; it was sued for sleeping only in the summer.  Downstairs had this plan.  Of the parlor was the spare bedroom into which were squeezed a double-bed, bureau and small table.  It and the parlor were heated by a stove with isinglass in the doors.  The parents slept in the bedroom off the kitchen; the children in the little room which in the summer was the pantry.  The porch outside the back door held dry wood, wash tubs, etc.  The porch door opened on to a large railed in platform.  The cat, with a kitten held in its mouth, used to leap from the rail to the porch roof, then enter the upstairs thru the window.

When we came to Waterside, particularly good neighbours were the Stewarts and the Thomas McLeods.  Then, visiting was more of an event, visitors went for supper and the evening.  Relatives from up the country, especially McCaras, D. Campbells, and the Reids, would arrive before dinner and leave after and early supper.  When we went to the old place on the mountain, it took four hours going via Sundridge, Dufferin Siding, Carson’s Corner, Elmfield.

They had to take a mortgage on the farm, but by careful saving, it was paid off.  At least seven years after her marriage, Mother was still wearing for best, her wedding dress or one of two others she had when married.  Finally, one of the latter ended as a skirt for Frances when in her teens.  Mother made all our clothes, except some coats; she got black legging by the yard, and knit feet unto the lengths.   What tortures we suffered from the new itchy stockings.  Father brought home boots, of unlined heavy leather, a size larger than we had “last year”.  When Spring came we longed to cast them off and go barefoot.

Winters were more wintery then!  I had passed seven before I started to school and was kept home during the first two winters.  Later, with more of us going to school, Dad used to take un in the box sled and let the horses plunge thru the banks, while we were on the straw and under buffalo robes.  The first horses I remember were Maud and Charlie.  After their demise we got Peter, a heavy animal.

On February 15, 1907, Father went off to town.  In winter it was often customary to go on the ice, thus cutting mileage.  At the mouth of the river, in fact, where it was open the day before, Peter went down and in under the ice.  Father pulled him back and unhitched him from the sled, all the time calling for help.  Anna Murray heard him and ran for help.  It’s a miracle that he wasn’t drowned, but sled and contents were saved.  For some reason, I wasn’t in school that day, but John was.  I was just coming in the back door when I saw Father come up from the pump.  I asked him why he was home, and he replied, “I lost Peter.”  As I opened the door, I said, “Is he drowned?”  Mother heard me, and thought I meant John.  As we entered the kitchen, she was just staring as she sat.  When she realized it was Peter, the loss to her seemed almost trifling.  Of course, it meant more careful saving.

In early December 1902, Father was getting out logs up the mountain.  Grandfather was staying with us.  A baby sister had been born October 28th, Mother had four children to look after, do most of the outside work, and the weather was very cold.  Grandpa, John and I carried in the wood; Mother kept the door open too much.  Anyway, Baby took sick; her illness became pneumonia.  One morning, December 12, Mrs Morrison came up.  She had Baby on her lap; I was sitting on a chair beside her; I saw the baby shiver, and Mrs M. said, “She’s gone Mrs S.”  Evidently such an eventuality had never occurred to Mother and she was grief stricken.

Meanwhile, up the mountain, Father went out one night, looked at the sky and didn’t like it.  Something seemed to call him home.  I don’t remember exactly when he arrived, before or after Baby’s death.  Anyway, he went to town, got a wee white casket, and arranged for Rev. Carson to come for the funeral.  Father made the “box”.  The day of the funeral came after a wild snowstorm, roads all banks; the day was sunny but windy and the snow still drifting.  Father took horse and box sled with the casket and started for Scotsburn, 14 miles away.  I remember the horse plunging thru the drifts between the house and the road.  Soon after that, Grandpa returned home.

In those years, Christmas was anticipated with excitement.  A fortnight or so before, my doll was sent to Mrs Santa Claus who returned it with new clothes. One year, Dad fashioned a jumping-Jack out of wood for John.  In our stockings, we got an orange, a big apple and some hard candy.  There was always a tree in the parlor, we decorated it with colored paper chains, a tinsel angel at the top, and candy canes or animals.  Father, dressed in a blue Pierrot costume trimmed in pink was Santa; his beard of white cotton wool.  Santa always came while Father was out doing chores.  Once, in a piping voice, he asked John where his Pappy was.  John replied, “Out the barn”, and was all for dashing out to get him but was restrained.  A pair of mitts, a picture book were usually received.  We children had to make our own gifts, and oh, what secret excitement!

Speaking of books, I am reminded of Gordon Robinson.  He was a colporteur, who came once a summer; he travelled by horse and buggy, and always stayed overnight at our place.  Probably for that privilege, we were given a book; anyway after his call, we had good reading.  One, Bible Stories, with many full-page pictures, lasted us a long time.

On Saturday evenings all our usual playthings were put away.  On Sunday we had Bible Stories, and the Black Book.  This was a large book, bound in black oilcloth, and was made up of a year’s subscription to the Canadian Herald.  These were winter Sundays when there was no minister to hold services, Dad had to do the S.S. lesson and learn the Golden Text.  On Sundays we ate apples by the peck!

During winters, the Christian Endeavour Society held meetings in the church.  In February 1907, Mr Britten, an evangelist from Trenton or Westville, held a week or more of meetings.  The weather was frosty and the moon full.  I think Father went every night, usually John and I with him; sometimes we walked (it was cold for a horse to stand outside).   Mother was left at home to get the children to bed and do the evening housework.  These meetings, no doubt, had their place, at least, they jerked some out of their complacency for a time.  The service included the regular parts, but in addition, the deacons and leaders, Tom McLeod, John McKenzie, Kenneth McAulay, Archie Colquhoun and Father would offer or give a Testimony.

In the summers, catechists from Pine Hill preached.   Mr McLeod objected to an organ in a church, so one was not obtained until after his death.  For years, (Old) John McLeod led the singing, though shaking with palsy.  When he gave up, Father took over, first with the tuning fork, then the organ.

For me, Summer Sundays, were something to look forward to.  The young ladies of the countryside came home for their annual visit, most from Boston.  I waited breathlessly to see what they would wear. Tissie Davidson wore a different costume each Sunday; Jennie McDonald was the prettiest and dressed beautifully.  Should one wear anything she had worn the previous summer, she fell in my estimation! The stay-at-homes weren’t entirely out of fashion.  They, too, wore pompadours, acquired kangaroo bends, and top-heavy heats.

It is a mystery to me why the washing and ironing of the Sunday Clothes was left until Saturday.  Dresses (and petticoats) with flounces, at least three yards around, were starched, and ironed with the old iron irons in a broiling hot kitchen.  One summer Ira wore a white pique Russian suit.  I’ll never forget ironing it on both sides, over and over, before it was passable.  Then with all these starched clothes, we crushed into the buggy.  Mother and Father sat in the seat with one sitting forward between them, one standing in the box behind, one or two on a board, backs to the dash-board.  Eventually the express wagon was fitted with two seats.

Communion Sunday was the third in August and a minister came for that.  There was a Preparatory service Friday evening, sometimes a Monday service too.  The collection plate was placed on a chair outside the door, the collection was for Foreign Missions.  John and I used to earn a quarter each for it, by pulling thistles in a grain field.

The year 1904 was a busy one.  Ira was born May 26 – expected a month earlier.  When he was about two weeks old, the masons came to build the cellar wall for the new house.  Being from Pictou, they lived with us.  Imagine a woman with a nursing baby and three other children, doing the housework, all the baking for seven, no small amount of outside work, and the garden too.  No wonder the baby had digestive trouble.  Dr M. McKenzie, just out of college, was delighted to have the “practice” and prescribed a diet of water in which the beaten white of an egg had been cooked.  Mrs R. Bowron came down to see him one day.  When she heard what his food was, she asked, “And how long do you expect to keep him alive on that?”  Mother told Dad they must take the baby to Dr Murray.  Dad thought that it really wasn’t worth while now.  Mother insisted, and Dr Dan put him on various foods until he found the one to suit him.  Allenberry’s with, later a thin oatmeal gruel.  To regain his strength, he had to be kept asleep as much as possible.  Often it was my duty to lie on the bed beside the cradle and rock it gently whenever he showed signs of wakening.  Aunt Nan came one day to see us.  Back she came in a couple days with loaves of bread and other baking of many sorts, and Katie.  Katie walked miles with Ira in her arms, giving him fresh air and sleep.

We moved to the new house December 10th, Dad’s birthday.  Only the kitchen part was finished.  Later in the winter, Mother gave a party; there was singing around the organ upstairs in the bedroom, and games in the kitchen.

In Waterside, there were no regular gatherings, but every year there was a Pie Social in the school house.  Women and girls brought pies (only a few Washington pies), and box lunches.  The boxes probably had two crossed handles, all gaily decorated with tissue paper flowers; others might be in the shape of a boat, or a house. They contained two pieces of many varieties of cake, cookies and sandwiches.  There was always great interest in who got whose box; a “steady” was usually forced to pay top price for his girl’s box.  For years Archie Shea was auctioneer.  Entertainment consisted of choruses, solos, a farce, recitations.  Some of the regular “stars” were more laughed at than they realized.

The school house had two bars joining (or holding together) two sides of the building.  These served as an excellent base of decorations.  The pupils gathered and braided fox-tail and lion’s paw into strands which were wound around the bars, outlined the top of windows, doors, and the black board.  Spruce boughs were used too, and gave a woody fragrance to the heated school.  The decorations were left up until pupils had swept up all the fallen needles.

Although someone was paid for putting on the fire in winter, the pupils had to take turns sweeping and dusting the room.  Remember the smell of the mixture of dust and water in the floor?  Another chore, this one a much-sought delight.  Two went every morning for water.  Boys liked to go to Cove Spring, most girls went to McMaster’s where we visited with Mrs M. who got the last wisp of gossip out of us!  Amazing how few teachers ever checked on the time spent going for the water.  The uncovered pail sat the rest of the day on the bench at the back of the room, the common drinking mug beside it.  Horrors!!!

“Examination Day” was usually the last day of school in June.  The room was decorated with a profusion of flowers.  Parent visitors came in the afternoon.  The pupils all took part in regular lessons in Reading, Spelling, Arithmetic and Geography; there were recitations and singing; and always a Drill, in which each child had a letter on a large piece of cardboard hung around her or his neck, when all were turned, the spelled a word, ex. Vacation.

Then came the prizes, usually a book, given by the teacher for Attendance, Progress, of Good conduct.  We managed to collect our share.

Summer holidays were busy, and there were good times too.  Mother and we children made many trips to pick blueberries in Harris’ chopping.  Sometimes Dad sold them in town.  Once Frances did too; on her way home, carrying a bucketful, a man stopped and gave her ten cents for it! ‘twould be interesting to know his identity.  Not often did Mother go to the shore with us, but just we children as we grew older.  But were told to be away “not more than an hour and a quarter.”  With no way to reckon time, we were often rated for being late, or even met Mother coming to look for us.

Some summers Mayme and Ruth Creighton visited us; I went there once or twice.  In earlier summers, Charlie Greiver spent a lot of time at our place.  He used to infuriate me by pointing a finger at me and drawling out, “Mary, Mary, quite contrary.”


In preparation for winter, vegetables and apples, etc. were stored in the cellar.  On Hallowe’en a farmer often got a good start on the pulling of turnips and cabbages by the revellers, who did more than exchange neighbor’s gates.  How tiring, in the cold wind, it was picking potatoes, topping turnips, or throwing them down into the cellar after they had been dumped out of the cart at the cellar window.  We always got a half barrel of herring, a beef was killed and most of it salted down in the barrel.  Several evenings were spent paring apples.  A little parer and corer was fastened to the table edge, and an apple at a time was peeled, cored and spiralled into parallel slices.  These apples were then strung on strings and hung up to dry, they provided sauce and pies in winter. 

During late winter, on Saturdays, we children would help Dad clean grain on the kitchen table.  We hand-picked out every weed-seed from a cupful at a time, so only perfectly clean seed was sown.  One incident shows Dad’s insistence on the best in seed.  One year he found, in a field of wheat, a half dozen stalks of particularly good looking grain.  He kept the seed separate, sowed it in a little plot next spring, finally he had a crop of it.  He sent samples to the Experimental Farm and was told it was Marquis Wheat.

Back to school for a moment. The room was heated by a pot-bellied stove near the teacher’s desk.  The back of the room was cold and draughty in winter; so a common request was, “Please, may I go to the stove?’, where we sat on the seat nearest the stove or, if it were especially cold, the two chairs from the platform were used also.  During Miss Ballantine’s term, no pupil was allowed to speak without permission, but just raise a hand, and wait for her nod.  One day she was standing, back to the stove, book in hand, teaching a class in their seats. We saw smoke rising and frantically waved our hands, but no nod.  She didn’t wear that skirt again for a fortnight or so, when it appeared with a patch glued on.

Every family has accidents, and ours was no exception.  One evening, John and I went to the barn to put down the hay.  We went up the ladder, over the scaffold, then down into the mow.  It was a favorite ploy to jump down into the springy hay in the mow.  John went first; I threw my fork, then followed in a flying leap.  Alas the fork collided with John’s head, and off to the house we went.  I suppose all the hay fell to my lot, but I really don’t remember.

Another winter day, JW was dragging or pushing a little dried-up spruce tree.  He tripped, and a twig cut his eye-lid.  (He still has the scar.)

One spring day, Mother, JW, Frances (a babe in arms) and I went to Boivron’s for gaspereau.  Edna took John and me to the nets.  We went down the river as far as the copper-mine.  There were no fish, but we dallied, sliding, in a sitting position, down the pile of slag at the river’s edge.  One time, I got up too soon, and my momentum carried me into the water.  The channel comes very near the shore there, and I sat on the ledge.   As I was slowly slipping down, Edna and JW pulled me out, soaked to the waist.  Before we finished wringing out my skirts, we saw Mother, with F in her arms, waving and calling to us.  Although I felt snatched from Death, no sympathy was wasted on me!

One day up the mountain, Dad was hewing a long in the woods; the axe slipped and cut his leg badly below the tree.  He got started for home; arrived at Campbell’s where they realised how serious it was. Since he insisted on going home, Alex came with him.  Well do I remember the daily dressing of the cut.

In July 1908, as Dad was bringing me home from writing the Entrance Exams, at our gate we met Mother and John starting to Elmfield.  That was Friday.  Alice, a year and a half, slept with Frances and me while Mother was to be away.  Saturday night she crawled over one of us and fell to the floor.  Back in bed she kept crying and whimpering; Dad came and took her to bed with him.  In the morning he took her to a doctor who bandaged her broken collar bone.  Next afternoon, Mother returned bringing a three month old baby.  Next morning while all the others were out doing the chores, (I was washing the dishes and minding the babies).  When Mother came in with the milk, she found me with a baby on each hip, all three of us crying!  For some time we called the baby Irene.  But hearing someone call her that, her mother said, “Don’t call her that”.  So she became “Bluie”, (Jessie Isabel Graham) nothing else, till she had to be enrolled at school.  Then Mother took her to Scotsburn (or Elmfield), where with her father she was baptised.

Two years after that, when preparations were being made for Examination Day at school, Fletcher Morrison was there putting in a borrowed organ.  He always played with children, so was chasing Frances.  She tripped, and the second collar bone was broken.

When we acquired a turnip pulper, Dad warned us all to be careful and keep away from it.  After supper, Frances and Ira left the table and went out to the barn.  Soon F came back, and we knew something was wrong. Ira had cut off the tip of a finger.  This proved no asset to a surgeon.

And so we have reached 1910.

In that summer Father spent two months or more in Calgary doing carpenter work with Uncle George.  We all, Mother especially, had to labour early and late to get the summer work done.  The strawberry patch was behind the barn, ran the whole length of the field, and had four or five rows.  It was a good year for berries and we were kept scrambling to get them picked.  Some mornings we were up at 4 am and often picked till late in the afternoon.  Mother must have had quite a time getting enough food cooked for herself and six children with hearty appetites.  One day we finished picking and came into the house after four o’clock.  There was John, with the fire on sitting in front of the range, slowly stirring a pot of porridge.  Of course, with the fire on, it didn’t take Mother long to get bread into the oven.  When Dad returned home, he had gifts for all.

In January 1910, I started to the Academy, boarding at MacDonald’s (Johnny chew’s).  I didn’t go home many weekends that winter.  In September, John and I went, he in X, I in XI.  The day we registered, I walked away from the Academy with Katie Forrester.  We both expressed surprise that we had advanced so far!  To me, it seemed improbable that I could ever pass Grade XI; but Mother said she wanted me to go with JW.

That year we had the two back rooms at Miss Murray’s.  Mother did all our baking which we got once a week when Dad came to town.  Often she cooked meat, and baked beans for us, but I prepared vegetables, etc.  Dad brought wood for our fire.  In fine weather we went home on Friday and returned Monday morning, in time for classes.  If no one was in town Friday, we would walk to Nichol’s Corner.  Near there, someone met us.  With Daisy in the shafts, even a small child could come.  Whenever Daisy saw us, she started to turn in the nearest suitable place!  In the fall, it was often cold, and nearly dark when we reached home.  After about an hour of sitting in the buggy, it was heaven to rush into the warm kitchen redolent of delicious odours.  For supper very often we had baked home-grown beans, potato scallop, baked apples.  They certainly tasted good.

Both John and I passed at the end of the year.  And back we went the next September to Miss Murray’s two front rooms which were brighter.  But we studied at night by kerosene lamps.

At one time or another, all the family put in time at Miss Murray’s.  I don’t remember how much rent we paid, or how we paid it when she was not there.  There may not have been a great outlay of money, but both Father and Mother worked and sacrificed to keep us in school, so that we should get an education.  As has been said, “The gifts we have are ours, because others laboured that we might have them.”




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