Biographies & News Articles
This page last updated on Friday, 30-Mar-2012 12:04:54 MDT
Arrived in Canada from England at the age of 21 to teach at the Shingwauk Home in Garden River. The home subsequently burned and he stayed on to learn Ojibway, teach school and study for the ministry. In 1877 he was sent to Manitoulin as a missionary and teacher. Ordained in 1885 by Bishop Sullivan at St. Luke's in Sault Ste. Marie. He lived in Sheguiandah for 20 years. Canon Frost held services in Sucker Creek, Birch Island, Whitefish, Kagawong, Gore Bay, the North Shore, Ten Mile Point, Sheguianda and Little Current. In 1897 he returned to Garden River with his wife and family, for 10 years, then moved on to Rosseau where he was incumbent for 11 years. He is known for translating over 100 hymns into Ojibway and wrote a book entitled "Sketches of Indian Life" He suffered a stroke at Rosseau in 1917 and died five years later at the age of 71.
"Paraphrased from "The Early Years of Gore Bay".
Born in Gore Bay, December 4, 1887.
Education: Grade school, No. 4 School House, Gordon Township
Fall of 1907 entered Grade 9, Gore Bay
Fall of 1909 taught at Spanish Station until Christmas
1911-1912 taught at Hilly Grove
1913-1914 attended North Bay Normal School
1914-1915 taught school at La Vallee, near Fort Frances
1915-1916 at Richard’s Landing
Signed up as bandman in the 227th Battalion in June 1916
Overseas April 1917. Drafted into the 102nd Battalion that summer.
Arrived Toronto July 4, 1919
1919-1920 taught school at Armstrong Station, north of Lake Nipigon
Lived in Saskatchewan 1920-1923.
Opened a new school in Gogama March 1924 and taught there until 1929 when he moved to Dalton Mills.
Taught Dalton Mills 1929-1931
1931-1941 White River
Organized reception for King George and Queen Elizabeth in 1939 at White River on their Canadian Tour.
January 1942 moved to Toronto where he worked for the Inspection Board of Great Britain and Canada.
Joined the Department of Veteran Affairs when the war ended. Retired at 65 and went to work for Schick Electric Shaver Co. retiring at age of 77 years.
“The Early Years of Gore Bay” published by the Manitoulin Recorder
I forbid any person to purchase a certain note drawn in favor of Mr. Peter L. Mastin of Tehkummah who died on about July last. The note is for $25.00. The note was paid for but not lifted through neglect, which fell in the hands of Mr. A.J. Mastin.
W. H. Mastin, Providence Bay.
The Recorder, January 9, 1919
Through The Years, March 1984, page 31
< The note of alarm in the message received by Miss McCallum regarding the illness of her brother proved to be a true element of the seriousness of his case. Judge Archibald B. McCallum succumbed on Wednesday morning to the attack of pneumonia with which he was seized wile attending court at Manitowaning. It is just nine years ago last week since the announcement of his appointment to the Judgeship of the Judicial District of Manitoulin was published in The Advocate. The universal expression of hearty congratulations from the people at that time are now turned to a general deep and sincere expression of sorrow at his demise, accentuated by a recollection of the pleasant visit made to his old friends in Bruce county last year.
The late Judge McCallum was born in Cantire, Scotland in 1859, and in 1871 came with his parents to Canada, and to Paisley, where they settled. Before leaving Scotland he had entered upon his career as a student, having been attending the University of Glasgow for a year. Becoming equipped for the teaching profession by a course at the famous Tassie Grammar School at Galt, he was engaged as a teacher at Gillies Hill School. Here the young man was thrown in contact with John Gillies, then M.P. for North Bruce, and so made an acquaintance with the political life of this country, and was drawn into the campaigning activities of which he later became a prominent figure. He afterwards continued his education at Toronto University, completing a brilliant course by obtaining his degree of B.A., at the age of 22, also winning gold medals in Mental and Moral Philosophy and Political Science. For six years thereafter A.B. McCallum B.A., filled the position of principal of Listowel high school, leaving there to enter upon the study of law at Hosgoode Hall, Toronto. While pursuing this course, he at the same time did a great deal of most creditable work as a journalist on the staff of the Daily Globe, and as that paper stated on Friday, few men among the newspaper fraternity of twenty years ago in Toronto were so well known or so generally liked as Archie McCallum.
He was called to the bar in 1890, and thereupon began practice in Paisley, following the fortunes of Blackstone until in 1899 he was elevated to the Bench, and removed to the seat ofhis judicial duties at Gore Bay, Manitoulin.
The remains were taken to Gore Bay for interment, and the funeral was held on Saturday afternoon.
The following is taken from the Gore Bay Record:
About three weeks ago deceased left here for Manitowaning to hold Division Court. The drive was a long cold one, and he contracted a cold which a few days later developed into pneumonia. Mrs. McCallum was at once called for and was with him to the last. When first taken ill he was staying at the Hotel McGregor. Being unable to stand the unavoidable noise of a public house, W.J . Tucker had him removed to his residence on November 18th, where Mrs. Tucker assisted Mrs. McCallum in caring for His Honor. It is greatly due to this fact that death did not occur sooner. It was feared from the first that he could not recover, as previous to this he had had a very strenuous season's work, travelling extensively along the North Shore revising the voters' lists. This left his system in a run-down condition and an easy prey to disease.
In Gore Bay, where he is best known, the loss is very keenly felt. Being placed in his position it is a very easy matter to make enemies, but his were indeed few . He was very highly respected by all classes. In all his decisions he was impartial, just and fearless, which has won for him a reputation that will live. During his residence here he has helped to a large extent to advance the moral standing of the citizens of Gore Bay, as well as the general appearance of the town. Shortly after moving to Gore Bay he erected a large brick dwelling which is easily the finest on the Island.
Besides a widow, he leaves to mourn his demise, a family of two small children, the youngest being Harold, a six year old, and Gladys, aged ten. Sympathy is a poor comfort, but we assure the grief-stricken wife and family that could this lessen their suffering the load would be lifted entirely from their hearts and borne by the scores of friends deceased Through the Years, March 1985, Page 18
Sinaagaabick has begun his Spirit Journey. Robert E. Eshkibok-Sinaagaabick (Stoneman). Veterans’ Eagle staff carrier for the revitalized Midewiwin Lodge, Pipe carrier of the Raindance Lodge, was born in the heart of winter, February 19, 1918. He has gone forward to scout the path. The ending of his days, like the rest of his life, was in service to others.
Mr. Eshkibok collapsed after completing a circuit of the Great Hall of Laurentian University, carrying the Veterans Eagle Staff in honour of those who had fallen before him on the battlefields of foreign lands. He was taken to Laurentian Hospital from the Remembrance Ceremonies on November 11, and after pausing for a week in the hospital, he began his journey.
Mr. Eshkibok was a quiet, humble man who believed in following the traditional ways of his people. Farmer and hunter, he raised five children, and an astonishing 22 foster children. He has nine grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and an entire community of an estimated 70 grandchildren by his foster children. All looked to him for inspiration and spiritual support. He and his wife received a Certificate of Appreciation for their compassion and dedication to their community.
“He never said so directly, but I think that he felt the pain of the children he saw orphaned during the war and wanted to do something to help where he could,” explained his niece Kathleen Hornblower-Neimi, of Sault Ste. Marie.
“He used to tell us stories of the young children that he saw in Italy, during the war. How he gave up the fruitcake that his mother had sent him from home to make their Christmas a little brighter,” said daughter Marie Eshkibok-Trudeau, of Wikwemikong.
He was married to his wife Josephine for more than 53 years. His strong traditional beliefs as a pipe carrier, following the traditional laws of his people, given by the creator, made any separation unthinkable. “The eagle mates for life: if we separate from our mate we are calling the pipe a liar,” he said. Mr. Eshkibok believed that alcohol and drugs had no place in a marriage or family, but that hard work and helping each other were the keys to happiness. “They should leave all that booze and drugs alone,” the couple were quoted in the Expositor article announcing their 50th anniversary, “there are too many distractions for couples today,” he added.
Mr. Eshkibok wore his simple silver wedding ring for the entire length of his marriage. The first time it was removed was at the hospital, after he began his journey.
In peace, Mr. Eshkibok was an avid sportsman, being a member of the original Kaboni Tigers fastball team. He was honoured to throw out the first ball of the new Kaboni Tigers inaugural tournament.
Mr. Eshkibok served as an active member of the Royal Canadian Army in Canada, the Mediterranean, Italy, France and Germany. He drove an ambulance, helping to save countless lives from the carnage that was World War II. He was awarded the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, the 39-45 Star, and a France and Germany Star. He was an active participant of Little Current’s Branch 177 of the Royal Canadian Legion and was instrumental in the planning of the Wikwemikong Veterans Cenotaph. He was recognized and respected as Head Veteran in the Pow Wow Circle, but remained humble and down-to-earth with each new honour.
“I remember one time, he was telling us about a basket of apples he had in Germany. He was standing by the side of the road as a column of men went by. He would give each one of them an apple. If he saw someone he knew, he would give them two apples. Many years later he met one of those men. The man had lain wounded on the battlefield for two days. Those two apples that my husband had given him were all he had to keep him together,” said Mrs. Eshkibok.
Like a great many veterans, Mr. Eshkibok would often become emotional when recounting his experiences of war. “He cried when he remembered the evils of the war,” said Mrs. Eshkibok. Mr. Eshkibok’s brother Frank, who has already taken the spirit journey, spent a portion of the war in a POW camp.
When the Midewiwin Lodge reopened in Wikwemikong three years ago, it was Mr. Eshkibok who led the way with his Veterans Eagle Staff, welcoming a faith and way of life practiced over countless millennia back into the daily consciousness of his people. The staff will stand in the Midewiwin Lodge in Wikwemikong, ready for ceremonies four times a year, under the careful stewardship of his daughter Marie Eshkibok-Trudeau. Each of the eagle feathers that adorn the staff represents a veteran, alive or dead. The flag that hangs draped from the head is the Union Jack, the flag that Mr. Eshkibok served under.
Vietnam Veteran Donnie Dowd has accepted the honour of carrying the flagstaff, now that Mr. Eshkibok has begun his journey.
Mr. Eshkibok turned over the care of the Veterans Eagle Staff to his daughter in a ceremony conducted in Grand Traverse, Michigan in 1996. In preparation for his journey, Mr. Eshkibok removed his colours and tobacco ties from the staff.
Upon learning of Mr. Eshkibok’s journey, Angus Pontiac of Wikwemikong began the sacred fire, later transferred to the site of his farewell service. The service included a Water Drum Spirit Journey Ceremony and the Warrior Marking services were performed with the placing of moccasins upon his feet.
In a teepee set beside Pontiac School in Wikwemikong, the Grandfather of the Raindance Lodge was sent off on his journey with drummers and singers, including Big Track Sobriety Drum from Sault Ste. Marie and the Wikwemikong drum group. Stanley Peltier played the last post on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion.
(Written by Michael Erskine, reporter for the Manitoulin Expositor)
Archibald Richard Wilson of Peterborough, passed away suddenly at the
cottage that he loved on Rathburn Lake near Apsley. Mr. Wilson was born
and raised on a farm in Peterborough and upon graduation from Peterborough Collegiate he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served
in Europe as a bomb aimer in 429 Squadron with the rank of pilot officer
stationed in Yorkshire. At the end of the European War he volunteered for the Pacific Front but the war ended when he was on leave in Canada. Charlie Cadieux of Mindemoya remembers talking of the war years with Archie, "at the end his crew flew into Holland, France and Germany totransport prisoners of war back to Canada."
Following the war he continued his education enrolling in the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph. Graduating in 1949 with a Bachelor Degree of Science in Agriculture he found work in Ontario County as an Assistant Agricultural Representative. Among other duties he worked on the conservation project at the Hebert Down Farm which gave him his lifelong interest in conservation.
After a year Mr. Wilson returned to the federal civil service where he had worked for two summers while at college. He became a settlement officer for the Veterans Land Act with the Department of Veterans Affairs and for 10 years settled many of the Peterborough veterans on farms or small holdings.
In 1950 he married Eloween Williamson of Mindemoya and settled in Smith Township, north of Peterborough while working out of the Veteran Land Act office there. He also worked for the Department of Indian Affairs appraising the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence, and the islands in the Kawartha Lakes.
In those years Archie served on the executive of the Federation of Agriculture and the Appraisal Institute of Canada. He was active in Fairview United Church and Bridgenorth Legion. He served on Smith Township School Board and was chairman at the time they built Fairview Public School, eliminating many one room schools.
In 1963 he moved to northern Ontario to teach science at Copper Cliff High, becoming head of the science department. While living in Sudbury he became an elder of St. Marks United Church and joined the Masonic Lodge.
In 1967 he bought a hobby farm in Mindemoya and moved there permanently when he retired in 1981.
On Manitoulin he took an active interest in politics and spent one term as Reeve of Carnarvon Township. He served on Premier Peterson's Northern Development Committee as long as it existed and spent 11 years as a director of LAMBAC (LaCloche Manitoulin Business Assistance Corporation) and FedNor. Mr. Wilson was an active member of the Haweater Unit of the Sudbury Shrine Club. He also worked tirelessly on the building of the Cenotaph for the Royal Canadian Legion. Fellow veteran Alan Tustian states, "Archie was one of the founding members of the Cenotaph committee, he was a good member." Mr. Cadieux added, "he did a real good job as Reeve and was involved in the community in all sorts of ways. I remember when we were building the cenotaph he would come over with his tractor and help."
Mr. Wilson was predeceased by three brothers Donald, Kelly and Barry, and four sisters, Alta Whitfield, Greta Bolton, Rhea McCarrel and Ora Clark. He is survived by four sisters, Olga Harrison of Bridgenorth, Sheila Clark of Owen Sound, Elda Cook of Deep River and Nola Brown of Cavan. He leaves behind a loving wife Eloween, and four children: Richard of Toronto, Alan and wife Joleen of Sidney, B.C.; Sandra and husband Gary Tennenhouse of Calgary Alberta; and John and wife Katherine of Mindemoya.
He is sadly missed by grandchildren Christine, David, Tracey, Aaron,
Dennix, Ori, Bryron, Jessica, Dianna and Findlay.
Story by Ruth Farquhar, Manitoulin Expositor published September 1, 1999
John Debassige has begun his Spirit Journey, the gentle warrior, and a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation, began his life on February 13, 1918 and ended his time here among us on Sunday, April 29, 2001.
Mr. Debassige consented to a detailed interview on his war experience in November of 1999, this article is based on that interview.
A man fond of sports and playing music, Mr. Debassige’s greatest joy was to be found in his grand and great-grandchildren.
Mr. Debassige enlisted in the Canadian Army at age 22, during the very start of World War II in 1941, out of curiosity; the first man from M’Chigeeng to enlist.
“We didn’t have television. so the only reports we had was what we heard on the radio,” he said. “I wanted to see for myself what was really going on over there.”
Mr. Debassige got his wish, becoming a part of such historic events as the raid on Dieppe and the Normandy invasion.
“Toronto was the number one depot for enlisting and I was assigned to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry," he said. “Then we shipped to New Brunswick for basic training. Nothing special, just drills and lots of road marches.”
Mr. Debassige then went to Camp Borden outside of Toronto for specialized training. He was taught to handle firearms, rather redundant training for a Northern Ontario Native, and was trained to fire machine guns; and, of course, “more marching,” he joked.
Mr. Debassige spent his later years slowed down a bit from an old war wound, he was shot during an engagement in Holland, that forced him to use a cane to get around.
Mr. Debassige remembered the egalitarian nature of war, “It didn’t make any difference then if I was Indian,” he said, “Everybody was the same.”
Mr. Debassige shipped out for England in October, 1941, landing in Liverpool after nine days at sea. His early days were spent in training, drills and of course, more marching. “It was fairly quiet,” he said. He recalled the south of England as “a very foggy place.”
“The air seemed to penetrate your clothing and hit your bones,” he said.
Asked if he was frightened, he laughed and said, “There was no reason to be scared when there were no planes around.”
Mr. Debassige learned to play the b-flat baritone in the Royal Hamilton Regimental Band, mostly dance music as he recalled. But omens of what was to come soon presented themselves.
“Our commander made us bury all our instruments and we were sent to the mother ship,” he said. “We called it the mother ship, but it’s the ones that carry the troops.”
On July 3, 1942 Mr. Debassige discovered that their mission, Operation Jubilee, was to be the raid on Dieppe. The raid was cancelled on the first date, with poor visibility grounding the air support.
“We waited for four or five days, then the mission was cancelled,” he said.
When the controversial Operation Jubilee proceeded in August, thousands of Canadian troops were killed and taken prisoner. Mr. Debassige, however, had been sidelined by a fateful car accident, which saw him confined to an English hospital bed during the action.
“It was a slaughter,” he said. “Very few came back. When I got back to my regiment, I hardly knew anybody.”
Mr. Debassige then took part in the invasion of Normandy.
“The Germans were strong in Normandy, it was a tough spot,” he said. “But we knew something big was going to happen because there was a build-up of troops.”
Mr. Debassige’s regiment was assigned to take Valdais, which they did after heavy fighting.
“We were squeezing the Germans and they left Normandy at high speed,” he explained. “Some got away across the Seine River, others went across Europe to Holland, but we went after them.”
Mr. Debassige fought his way from Brussels in Belgium to Holland, where the action was particularly intense.
"I was scared, yes, others were scared,” he said. “Guys would break down from battle fatigue - shell shock the called it. There were big attacks and the small arms fire was steady. We saw lots of planes going over but few came back. Men would parachute into the sea if they thought they would not make it back to home base. Bunkers were badly damaged. But, we did it, we liberated Holland.”
Mr. Debassige received his leg would in the action in Holland. "I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t know I was shot until I saw the blood."
Mr. Debassige saw V E Day in another hospital bed.
"We heard the news on the radio and we could hear the celebration in Trafalgar Square in England,” he said. “But in that hospital ward it was very quiet. We just looked at each other and said nothing.”
He was not fond of the plains of Europe, “too wide open,” he said, "too loose."
His memories of Europe included leaves in Brussels, where they were advised that there was no concern about getting arrested if they drank. "So we drank,” he said.
He fondly remembers picking up two girls with a native friend. When they started speaking to each other in their native tongue the girls giggled and told them to “stop speaking French."
Mr. Debassige mustered out of the army with the rank of corporal. He was awarded the Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp, the War Medal 1939-45, the France Star, the Germany Star, and the Canadian Defense Medal.
He returned to Europe for the 50th anniversary of Holland’s liberation.
While proud of his military service, Mr. Debassige looked upon the recent wars on television with dismay.
“People just don’t understand each other.”
--Manitoulin Expositor, May 9, 2001
Although Mr. Debassige's story states that the war started in 1941, it should be noted the war began in September 1939.
The story also states that Mr. Debassige's regiment was assigned to take Valdais, the correct location was Falaise.
For clarification and precedence the medals mentioned above would have been awarded in the following order and with these identificatons: The 1939-1945 Star, The France and Germany Star (one medal), The Defense (of Britain) Medal; the Canadian Volunteer Medal and Clasp, and the War Medal 1939-1945.
Although the above story was written by the descendants of Mr. Debassige as they remembered it, I thank Charles Goodman (Major (Rtd) for keeping this information historically correct. Major Goodman also suggests, for those interested in World War II medals to visit Veterans Affairs War Medals.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Walter Smyth passed on last month, he left as a legacy to future generations a memoir of his experiences during the war. Although, in the early years following the war Mr. Smyth felt that “nobody was really interested,” in his years of service, his children and the Gore Bay Legion convinced him to revisit those trying years. This story draws on those memoirs.
Walter Smyth was called to service in September of 1942 and inducted at Toronto in October of that same year.
“Well, I thought, this is it, so I got my affairs in order and got to Sudbury to catch the train to Toronto,” he wrote. “It was my first time on a train, so myself and a lot of other people just sat up and watched the night slide by. We arrived at Union Station at about seven o’clock in the morning.”
Mr. Smyth found himself bedded down in horse stalls in the Horse Palace at the Exhibition Grounds, four men to a stall, in double decker beds.
Informing the interviewers that he would like to try his hand at driving a truck, Mr. Smyth was assigned to the Service Corps.
Mr. Smyth had time during his two week stay in Toronto, in between learning how to march, to learn a little bit about the city before being shipped off to Terrace, some 90 miles from Prince Rupert.
It was a wet rainy November when they debarked for what was to be a month long stay in a tent, “roughing it”. After two months of further training, Mr. Smyth and his companions were considered a success as trained soldiers and they proceeded to apply for ‘active service’. They were no longer confined to Canada.
The Service Corps hopefuls cut their drivers teeth on the steep muddy slopes of British Columbia’s bush roads. Mr. Smyth got the opportunity to try his hand at driving a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
His training completed, Mr. Smyth was given a short “embarkation leave,” an opportunity to see his friends and family one last time before his final stint of training in Debert, before the train to Halifax and shipping out. He was not alone, “there were soldiers everywhere you looked.”
While standing around, taking in the sights of a nation at war, Mr. Smyth got a reminder of just how small Canada was, “We had just got in and standing at ease when another troop of soldiers came in and stopped and here, only a few feet away a fellow said, “Hello! Smyth!”, and there was Ken Wright from Gore Bay. This was the first person I knew that I had seen since I left,” he wrote. “I never saw him again after that.”
Mr. Smyth, along with 3,000 other Canadian soldiers on that trip alone, crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth; a famous liner that was converted to a troopship during the war. “We didn’t travel in convoy as the Queen Elizabeth travelled too fast,” he wrote. “There seemed to be standing room only, but I guess everyone found a place to lie down.”
The troops were ferried into the port of Grennock, Scotland by small boat.
Mr. Smyth was able to enjoy side trips to Scotland and England while waiting for his assignment, an assignment foreshadowed by the many needles against typhoid and malaria they were given.
It was on a ship travelling through the Straits of Gibraltar that Mr. Smyth got his first real taste of action.
“Just after we got into the Mediterranean, we were dive-bombed. Some of the ships got hit; we were lucky,” he wrote.
The next day he was in Augusta, Sicily.
During the trip north, Mr. Smyth once again met up with an Island lad, Angus Cada of Sheshegwaning. “I sure never expected to see him there, we had quite a talk, it was good to see him.”
A strange prickly red condition then struck Mr. Smyth, “I looked as though I was sprinkled with red ink,” he wrote. “Only it was showing through the skin.” A couple of months in the hospital and after a concern that Mr. Smyth might be a hemophiliac was proven to be unfounded, Mr. Smyth and his unit went north to Messina and the war.
“That was where we started to see the effects of the war, trains blew up and houses blown apart,” he wrote.
Mr. Smyth delivered artillery shells for the siege at Cassino, ferrying refugees back with him until orders from headquarters prohibited the practice.
Black marketers and desperate civilians often looted the trucks as they drove through the tight roads and alleyways of Italian cities, so often in fact, that the army began stationing a man in the back of the trucks to prevent the practice.
Mr. Smyth then received word that his father was very ill and not expected to live, “It was quite a shock, as I did not even know that he had been very sick,” he wrote. The next word that Mr. Smyth got from home was of his father’s death.
As the war marched on, so did Mr. Smyth and his trusty truck. France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and back again. Mr. Smyth hauled fuel, weapons, men, food and ammunition to units across the breadth of Europe.
As the war drew to a close, Mr. Smyth found himself being sent on missions that were less directly related to the conduct of war. From ferrying doctors to visit with relatives, to picking up collaborators with a police escort. “So my truck driving wasn’t all handling supplies,” he wrote.
Mr. Smyth’s duties kept him in Europe until 1946, and it was in Toronto in March that he finally finished his tour. He had been back in Canada since January and remembered the difficulty associated with travel in those long ago days. “I wasn’t sure just how I was going to get home as only the main highways were plowed,” he said. But, after a number of rides, from Little Current to Mindemoya, and from there to Gore Bay, Mr. Smyth was finally able to hitch a lift to Cooks Dock Road. There the family homestead, one of the first five settled in Robinson and built by his grandparents, Henry and Mary Smyth in 1878, stands to this day. “I had to walk the last half mile in,” he wrote, as the side roads were not yet plowed.
The quietness was the worst thing that Mr. Smyth had to deal with upon his return, the Island of 1946 was a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Europe’s largest cities.
Mr. Smyth received the Germany Star, 1939-1945 Volunteer Service Medal, the France Star, the Italy Star for his defense of his company.
He has left behind his wife of 35 years, Donnabell Smyth and two daughters, Shirley Ann Smyth of Hamilton and Colleen Julseth of Brampton as well as more detailed account of his memories than his space can do justice to.
--Manitoulin Expositor, May 23, 2001
TRAGIC ACCIDENT AT GORE BAY
(Photo) taken from the Main Street in Gore Bay (Highway 540B), this photograph records the tragic fatal wreck of the Joe Wismer automobile.
The story is told that Mr. and Mrs. Wismer were on their way to church on Sunday, May 5, 1940, and they stopped to pick up Roy and Alburtta Cumming who lived below the Judge Hewson Hill (now the George Purvis residence). The proceeded down the road which is down hill to the corner of Main Street. It is not known exactly what happened when they reached the corner, but Mr. Wismer lost control of the car and it went over the steep embankment on the north side of Main Street, rolled over and crashed into the maple trees in front of the George Thorburn hose (now Mrs. Violet Panton residence). Cars of those years had what they called mechanical brakes and while the brakes not likely failed to stop or slow down the car required a great deal of pressure to be applied to the brake pedal. One can only speculate that either the braking system could not stop the car or perhaps in applying the pressure Mr. Wismer’s foot may have slipped off the pedal, making it impossible to negotiate the turn.
The car came to rest deeply imbedded in the maple trees in front of the George Thorburn residence. The accident occurred just as people were on their way to church at both the Anglican and United churches and help was swift but both Mr. and Mrs. Wismer died from their injuries. Mr. and Mrs. Cumming who were in the back seat did not receive any major injuries.
Mr. Wismer was well known for the many photographs that he had taken of people and scenes of Manitoulin Island. A great many of those pictures have appeared in Through the Years.
Through the Years, July 1986, page 6
CAR ACCIDENT FATAL TO MR. AND MRS. J.L. WISMER OF GORE BAY, MAY 1940
New story as appeared in the Manitoulin Recorder
While on their way from their home at the top of New Street to the morning service in the United Church, Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Wismer accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Cumming had been involved in a car accident which resulted in the death of both Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Wismer.
Stopping at the foot of the hill, Mr. Wismer invited Mr. and Mrs. Cumming to ride with them. As he approached the turn on to Main Street, he apparently stepped on the gas instead of the brake and according to those who witnessed the accident, the car gathered speed rapidly, swung sideways and crashed over the steep bank into a large maple tree directly in front of Harry Noble’s residence. The car was practically wrapped around the tree, striking directly in front of the windshield and the whole front structure of steel, wood and glass right back against Mr. and Mrs. Wismer, pinning them so firmly between the dash and the front seat that it was a very difficult matter to extricate them. Mrs. Wismer was most pitifully injured, both her legs were broken and crushed to the bone and her face, arms and body cut in a great many places by glass. Mr. Wismer, received painful injuries from glass, the steel framework and also the steering wheel, but escaped without any broken bones. Medical aid was immediately summoned and Dr. F.A. Strain after rendering first aid, had them both rushed to the Red Cross Hospital at Mindemoya, he accompanied Mrs. Wismer. Everything possible was done, but Mrs. Wismer passed away at about five o’clock and Mr. Wismer at 3 a.m. Monday morning. Mr. and Mrs. Cumming who were in the back seat escaped without serious injury, but both are suffering from shock and bruises, the former also being cut across the forehead and about the face.
The blue body of the 1928 Willys-Knight sedan is practically reduced to splinters and bent steel, the imprint of the tree being plainly visible in the metal work of the entire width of the car.
The accident occurring when folks were on their way to church the news of the shocking accident soon spread, casting a gloom over the entire community. Mr. and Mrs. Wismer have lived practically their entire lives in Gore Bay and were known and respected by all.
Double Funeral Held on Tuesday:
With the United Church filled to capacity with relatives and friends of the deceased, the Rev. E.A. Currey delivered an eloquent and impressive address in which he paid tribute to the sterling character of the late Mr. and Mrs. Wismer. In the course of his remarks, he said, “Throughout their long and useful life, they have been true and faithful members of the church giving freely of their time and talents to ever promote the welfare of the church and its people. Together they passed through life sharing its joys and sorrows and together they have passed on to their just reward.”
The late Mr. and Mrs. Wismer were two of the town’s oldest and most beloved citizens. They were loved by all who knew them and in their passing the town mourns with those nearest and dearest to them. The beautiful banks of flowers around the altar of the church bore silent tribute to the very high esteem in which they were held.
Interment took place in Gordon cemetery where they were laid to rest side by side. Funeral arrangements were carried out by A.J. Turner, assisted by Oscar Bennett of Little Current.
Through the Years, July 1986 Page 7
William Cosby of Birmingham, England and Thomason Jeffery Gilbert also of Birmingham, were married April 13th, 1857 at St. Mark’s Church in Birmingham, England.
Their children were: William John Cosby, born November 2, 1857 in Birmingham; Charles Cosby was born January 1861 also in Birmingham; Sara Jane Cosby was born July 14th in Toronto; and Emily Cosby was born April 4, 1866 also in Toronto.
William came to Canada between the years 1861 and 1864. He settled first in Weston and then moved to the Green Bush on Manitoulin Island. Later he moved his family again to Gore Bay.
Emily Cosby died as a child in Toronto. Sarah married Stuart Clarke of Gore Bay. Charles Cosby married Hannah Jane Moody in Little Current on January 12th, 1887. They lived at Green Bush, Honora and Green Bay.
Together they had a family of 10 children, four girls and six boys. They were: William George, Christina, H.T…, Robert Charles, Jane Emily, Sarah Elisabeth, Ada Florence, John Stuart, Thomas Alexander and Clarence Elmer.
Through the Years, October 1896 Page 24
By Zella Spry
Burn Spry was born at Port Hope, Ont. On May 29, 1870 to Mr. and Mrs. James Spry.
When he was six years old he came to Rockville with his parents, brothers and sisters. He could just barely remember coming across Lake Manitou in a sail-boat and the tent they lived in until they could build a shanty.
He never learned to read or write as there was no school at Rockville then, and he had only gone to school a few months before moving.
He and his brother Lewis cut rails and drew them out of the bush by a rope tied around their waist, to fence the field after they had land cleared.
The family went barefoot in summer and in winter their mother made the moccasins out of bags.
There were no doctors so if one of the children were sick Mrs. Spry stood them on their heads till the gas was brought up.
Trout was very plentiful and Burn caught as many as 180 in one night where Mr. Merle Galbraith’s cottage is now. Burn married Beatrice Thomas of Sandfield in 1893 and lived on Thomas’ Farm fro two or three years. He then moved his wife and George, one year old, across the ice on a load of hay to Rockville.
They lived for a short while in an old Shanty on Morrisons not far from James Sprys until they got a house built.
They bought the farm from James Smith of Owen Sound. There was a hole dug in the ground for a cellar and two rows of logs on it for a house. Mr. Smith also owned the fields across the concession, which Mr. Cannard bought later. Jack Cannard sold that lot to Doc Sheppard.
The bush came up to where the lane is now except a small clearing up by the church, which had been cleared up by a Mr. Kirkwood. As the woods were cleared away the earth was broken. The grain was sown broadcast. It was then covered by dragging the top of a tire over the ground.
Ted Ashley had a threshing machine so Burn went threshing with him every fall to get money to pay for the farm. They made the last payment the year they were married twenty years.
He made ties in the winter or cut logs. The ties had to be taken to Honora Bay. The logs were sold to Mr. Stoddard or Rutson and were drawn to Lake Manitou. They were then boomed across the lake to Vanzant’s Landing.
One winter most of the cattle died from eating cut-throat hay which they had cut in a Beaver Meadow at West Bay when the hay crop failed in 1911. Everything was cheap then. A cow was bought for fourteen dollars and a little pig from an Indian.
When Harvey, a child of six was kicked in the mouth and cut and his lip badly split. Jack Cannard sewed it up with a white silk thread and sewing needle after disinfecting it with carbolic oil. There was no doctor closer than Little Current and it was a three hour drive with horse and buggy. His lip now has only a small scar, which might have been a terrible disfigurement had he been left until they could have taken him to a doctor.
For recreation there were tea meetings and picnics. Everyone went to these outings with horses and buggies or democrats or sleighs in winter.
Once when attending a Bon Spiel at West Bay he bought a squaws box which was divided into two parts. One side was filled with boughten goods and the other with rabbit pie.
Horse racing was another past time, which was held in the winter time. The races were held in the winter time. The races were held on the ice usually at Sandfield or Manitowaning, as there were no race tracks then. One year Burn and Alf drove across the ice to Spanish to see a horse race.
Mr. and Mrs. Burn Spry had eight children, George; Violet, Stuart who died in 1927 and Pearl in 1939; Oscar, Harvey; Eva; and a baby who died in infancy.
Through the Years, April 1984, pages 29-30
WIKY MAN FOUND DEAD NEAR HOME
WIKWEMIKONG—Franklin George, 65, a life-long resident of Wikwemikong was found dead at 1 pm on Wednesday, October 25, half a kilometer from his home near Rabbit Island after an extensive two-day search.
Mr. George, a victim of a coronary, was discovered in a field by an Ontario Provincial Police helicopter called in from Sudbury. Also involved in the search were a canine unit from Orillia as well as the Wiky police and local citizens. Mr. George had no history of heart trouble and lived alone.
Manitoulin Expositor, November 1, 2000
Newspaper report, Newmarket: Mrs. Mildred Cole, 67 of Jackson's Point and William F. Duxbury, 75 of Manitoulin Island were killed last night when the car in which they were riding hit a tree during a rain storm. Mrs. Cole's husband, Charles, 67, who was driving the car is in critical condition in Newmarket General Hospital. Provincial Police said the car overturned after running off Highway 48 near the Vivian sideroad. Passing motorists stopped and pulled Mr. Cole from the car, then righted the vehicle to remove Mrs. Cole and Mr. Duxbury. They erected a temporary shelter to protect the injured while waiting for an ambulance from Newmarket, 15 miles away.
submitted by Penny (Little) Durst
The family of the late William Linley would like to say Thank You to all our many friends and relatives who expressed their love and concern throughout his illness. Words cannot express how much your kindnesses and prayers have both sustained and comforted us throughout this entire time. A special thank to Rev. Chris McKibbon, to our grandsons who were pall bearers. The pallbearers were Terry, Tim, and Randy Orford, Don Linley, John Linley, Bill Hamilton, and Larry Irish.
To John Bryan, Stan Paisley, Vern Pearson, Arden Pearson, Lloyd Noble, Art Bailey, Ted Strain, Ev Proctor, John Long and Joe Wilson who were Honorary pallbearers. Your kind expressions shown by the many cards, flowers, charitable donations and the food that was brought into our homes will always be remembered. Also thank you to our friends and neighbours w ho prepared and served the lunch after the funeral. The kindnesses of the Little Current and Sudbury Memorial Hospitals, Dr. & Mrs. Johns and Mike Brown is appreciated. We thank God for each and every one of you.
With much love and appreciation
Margaret Linley & family
Uncited Thank You saved by Margaret Linley, probably from The Recorder
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
By Neil Zacharjewicz
WIKWEMIKONG--A Wikwemikong man is dead following a single vehicle accident on the reserve over the weekend.
On Saturday, September 7, at approximately 6:30 pm, the Wikwemikong Tribal Police were called to the scene of a single motor vehicle accident which involved a single occupant driver on Thomas Bay Road in Wikwemikong. Killed in the accident was 42 year old Lorne Eshkawkogan of Wikwemikong. A post mortem was conducted on Monday, September 9. The accident is still under joint investigation by the Wikwemikong Tribal Police and the Northeast Regional Ontario Provincial Police.
Manitoulin Expositor, September 11, 2002
By Jane Hubbard
LITTLE CURRENT--John and Flora Ferguson have managed to accomplish an uncommon feat. Right here on Manitoulin Island on this Sunday, September 24, the Fergusons will celebrate 70 years of marriage.
Flora Moore, as Mrs. Ferguson was called before she was married, met John Ferguson of Green Bay at a dance held at the Howland Hall, just before Little Current. It seems that dances were a popular form of entertainment back then and an effective way to meet people.
“In those days, it was always party time,” recalls Mrs. Ferguson.
Flora and John were 21 and 24 years-of-age respectively when they were married in 1930 by Minister Joseph Colter at the United Church in Little Current.
John’s cousin Grant Bayer was John’s best man and Edna McDermid, Flora’s cousin was Flora’s bridesmaid.
“It was a quiet wedding,” said Mrs. Ferguson. “After the ceremony, my parents hosted a big supper. Then John and I got into Grant Bayer’s car and he drove us over to Espanola where we spent our honeymoon. We spent our first night together as husband and wife at my aunt’s house,” she said.
After they were married, they went to reside at the Ferguson Farm on Pike Lake in Green Bay.
“Our first home was a small log cabin,” remembers Mrs. Ferguson. “It was pretty rough. We shared the space with mice and often had to get up in the middle of the night to swat bats,” she said. “It was good farming there and good fishing for pike, bass and perch in the lake,” said Mr. Ferguson. “It was also lots of hard work,” he added.
As the years went by, the Ferguson’s built a new house and a barn. They worked hard and raised geese, ducks, chicken, cattle, sheep and pigs.
To supplement their income they would rent boats on the lake often to American visitors. Both John and Flora worked at jobs off of the farm. John worked as a foreman on the roads and Flora would work at odd jobs for tourists visiting the Island.
“I would walk over to Red Lodge when George Bishop owned it. There was always work to do there. We would bring milk, cream and eggs into Little Current to sell. People would always look forward to fresh eggs from the farm,” said Mrs. Ferguson.
“This was a common practice at the time, for people to work at a variety of jobs. “Times were hard, and everyone did what they could to get by,” she said.
The Fergusons do not have any children. They have plenty of company though with many nieces, nephews, and grand-nieces and nephews to visit with. They moved into Little Current about five years ago when it became to(sic) difficult to manage the farm. In town, they are also closer to family.
The Ferguson’s occasionally miss the farm. “We used to sit on the porch and look out at the lake,” said Mrs. Ferguson.
“We have a little garden in town here, and we get by alright, but we get lonesome for the farm,” she said.
When asked for their secret to such a long and happy marriage, Mrs. Ferguson replied, “We just love each other.”
Mr. Ferguson nodded in agreement and added, “I wouldn’t be here today, if it weren’t for my good wife. She is my main stay. We were made for one another.”
There is a come and go tea planned for September 23rd at the United Church Hall in Little Current. The festivities are planned for 2-4 pm.
Manitoulin Expositor, September 20, 2000, pages 1 & 24
Alex McDermid and family wish to express their thanks to the friends and neighbors who were so kind during the illness and death of a beloved wife and mother.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, December 24, 1925
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
Mr. W.J. Hall and family of Gordon desire to express their gratefulness to all kind friends and neighbors, who rendered assistance to them during the illness and passing of Mrs. Hall. The aid rendered is deeply appreciated.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, December 24, 1925
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
The funeral of Mrs. Robt. Cranston on Friday was largely attended. It is a sad home; two families left without a mother and Mrs. Cranston bedfast and not likely to get well.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, May 1, 1924
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
On Sunday morning between 8 and 9 o’clock the lighthouse kept by Mr. Thomas Boyter at Narrow Island, about two miles west of here, was burned. The fire started from the chimney, which was of single brick construction, and before noticed, the sheeting of the roof was in flames. The fire soon gained such headway that Mr. Boyter and his family had not time to save anything upstairs except a little bedding. They however, got everything from the lower part of the house. They lost about $130 worth of clothing, furniture and bedding which was upstairs and $23 in cash, which was in a bureau drawer. This is a heavy loss to Mr. Boyter and it leaves him without a home. He and his family are now staying with his sons here.
This lighthouse was a very important one and until a new lighthouse is built a light of some kind will need to be kept up. The work of building a new lighthouse will likely start as soon as possible.
Manitoulin Expositor, April 3, 1902
This envelope with letter inside was from Frank Rowe, the eldest son of Mr. And Mrs. Robt. Rowe and brother of Leonard, Harry and Albert, all of Howland Township, where two of the boys still carry on a successful farm operation. As the letter is addressed to Morland Rowe, a cousin who must have been visiting relatives or working in Meaford at that time, Frank mentions in his letter from France that he is writing this letter in a German dugout dated September 9, 1944. A clipping from the Expositor states Mrs. Frank Rowe of Little Current received word of her husband being seriously injured while fighting with the Queen’s Own Rifles in Belgium. Frank mentions in his letter too that his brother Len is also in France, but at the time of writing had not seen him.
Frank Rowe worked for Oscar T. Bennett in the (illegible), where the Bargain Centre is now, prior to enlisting in the army. I believe that I bought the last two sets of steel hames with brass balls on top. Going through my old account book I found where I paid $7.90 for the two sets of hames.
I remember a young chap whose name was Jack Middleton, who had come from Saskatchewan looking for work and ended up at J.J. McFadden logging camp back of Blind River. He and Albert Eadie, better known to us as Abe Eadie came home for Christmas or New Years and did not want to return. Jack came into our place and offered to work for his board and tobacco which he did. In the spring of the same year Jack got a job with Clifford Rowe, and he and Frank got to be great pals. I don’t remember whether Jack signed up with Frank or not. Jack came from Tow Go, Saskatchewan
Manitoulin Expositor, August 13, 1980
MANITOULIN--A century ago, Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier predicted that “the twentieth century belongs to Canada!”
Now that we’ve entered not only a “new millenium” but the twenty-first century as well. The Expositor thought it would be interesting to ask some Island citizens about Mr. Laurier’s prediction, and about their views of the high and low points of the century we’ve just ended. Their observations follows.
By Linda Kelly
Erma Peck remembers well the first time she heard a radio. It was at the home of Mel Stringer in Sheguiandah. She was with a group of young people and they had to listen to the sound through earphones, so everyone had to “take their turn.”
Mrs. Peck said there had been a considerable increase in the number of buildings in Little Current since she moved here in 1931 and recalled some businesses that have come and gone, like the Huron Hotel. She also talked about when people came to Little Current by ferry, recalling Wilkinson’s dock and the docking facilities on Goat Island. The opening of the bridge to vehicular travel changed all that.
When first married, she and her husband Lawrence would often take a drive out to Sheguiandah to visit family. She remembered one day that he rented a horse and cutter from the Livery Stable in Little Current and they traveled to Sheguiandah that way. She felt that the improvements in transportation were certainly monumental in her lifetime.
*Mrs. Pecks’ daughter Evelyn, who was visiting her mother from Ottawa, wondered if they still had Season’s Tickets for skating in the local arena. She said that as a child, she always found one of those in her Christmas stocking.
Clara Orr lives on the same street that she lived on as a child, and in the same house that she lived in most of her life. She remembered washing up the evenings’ dishes quickly so they could take part in the ball game starting outside. Both she and her twin sister Lela were athletic, and liked to play ball. Clara also recalled skating in the old arena, where Tim’s is.
As a child in Little Current, Clara and Lela spent a lot of time with their grandfather Humphrey May and remembers vividly when he died. She was about 14, and his death was the first she had had to deal with. She said she cried and cried. She also remembered Mrs. Paterson, Keith’s grandmother and her Aunt Maggie Boyter as two women who influenced her as a young girl. She also remembers summers spent at her Uncle Harrison Nevills, in Green Bay, where there was building with a polished dance floor, complete with dance wax, and how much fun they had there.
Some of the changes in Little Current’s downtown don’t sit to well with Mrs. Orr, and she misses the time when Saturday night downtown meant a good visit with people you hadn’t seen since the Saturday before. People would sit in their cars, talk out the window and just watch people walk by.
Clara said she wouldn’t want to live anywhere but Little Current “away from all the rowdiness and trouble.” She also thought the world be a better place if people just learned to be satisfied.
Ernie Smith lived all of his life on Manitoulin Island. Born in 1915 in Assiginack, Mr. Smith lived both in the Ten Mile Point area and in Sheguiandah Village where he operated a garage for many years.
Mr. Smith noted that Manitoulin roads had improved greatly in his lifetime. “They used to be just horse and buggy roads,” said Mr. Smith.
He also remembered life before radio, and remembered the first moving picture that he ever saw. “The Women’s Institute showed a silent movie in the community hall in Sheguiandah, with a crank to operate it.” This was about 1930.
Mr. Smith said that he still has a toy top that he received as one of his Christmas presents when he was a child. Christmas then brought a bag of candy, and usually one toy. Mr. Smith said when you did get new clothes; you wore them until you wore them out.
When asked what he thought was better about today’s world, Mr. Smith said he thought that it was the improved way of living, but thought that the lack of discipline, both at home and in schools, was responsible for what was wrong with the world.
Mrs. Vincent who has lived all but 5 years of the past 100, can recall many changes to the town of Little Current. One of the most significant changes was when electricity came to many of the town’s houses from the Red Mill in the West End of Little Current. Wooden sidewalks, barns and chicken coops were all part of early Little Current’s history. Children had to make their own fun, playing games and taking part in dances in both the Orange Hall and the Shaftesbury Hall were some things that came to her mind.
As a small girl, Mrs. Vincent remembers riding with Father Papineau in his motor car. Her husband Elmer’s father, Oliver Vincent, was reputed to have one of the vehicles on the island.
A teenager during WW1, Mrs.Vincent said she was proud as a young woman (during WW2) to be able to be of assistance to Marjorie Young and others who were knitting and packing boxes for soldiers overseas.
When asked what she perceived to be the problem with today’s world, Mrs. Vincent said that she has often pondered this question. She attributes some of the problems to the fact that young people, boys in particular, seem to have lost their manners. In her time, boys would never have entered the house with hats on, now they sit at the table that way.
John Benjamin Ferguson
John Benjamin Ferguson, who lived all of his life in Green Bay before moving to Little Current, can’t believe that he has made it to the year 2000. He and his wife Flora will celebrate 70 years of marriage in September of this year. They met at a dance in the community hall on Highway 540. John said he “loved to dance.”
Some of the biggest changes seen by Mr. Ferguson were from horse and buggy to cars and tractors. The first car he can remember was one owned by his father, Andrew, about 1917. He recalled that they would make shopping trips to Little Current about once a week and that he often was the driver. He noted that the roads are much better today, although he no longer drives.
The youngest of his family, John said he often skipped school to visit his Aunt, Mrs. Lindsay Ferguson, who lived next door to the school in Green Bay. He went there to avoid going to school. He never really cared for farming either, but said there was nothing else to do. His father owned a sawmill, and when he was older, he would fire up the boilers at the mill.
The toys they played with as children were homemade; Mr. Ferguson recalled horses that an older brother cut of wood for them to play with.
When asked what was wrong with today’s world, Mr. Ferguson said he though it was moving too fast, too many strangers had their own ideas on how things should be run. “Some work, some don’t,” he said philosophically.
Lois Morphet, who was born on Draper Street in Little Current, spent the earliest years of her life on Hopper’s Island in McGregor Bay, returning to Little Current at aged 10 to attend school.
She recalls skating on Pott’s field, sleigh riding on the big hill and rushing home at 9 pm when the curfew bell rang at the old fire hall.
Lois worked one summer at Harbour Island. Washing dishes, peeling potatoes and general household duties netted the young girl $100 a month.
Lois said that she sometimes thinks Little Current has gone backwards instead of forward. She used the fact that there were regular train runs and a strong shipping schedule to make her point. Now the track is gone, and the ships have stopped.
While Mrs. Morphet sees crime as being a problem with today’s society, she still thinks Little Current is a fine place to live.
Ed and Irene Perrault
Born in Callander, Ontario, Irene was delivered by the famous Quints doctor, Dr. Dafoe. She moved to Little Current when she was nine years old. One of her first memories was as ‘the new kid in town, and that Georgina Putt befriended her and saved her from being picked on by other children. Vera Petch was her schoolteacher at the time.
Ed Perrault was born in Sudbury but came to the island when he was three. Ed started working at the age of fifteen, building the dam at Long Lake. He lived in a bunkhouse while there and earned $2 per day.
Ed is best remembered however, as the milkman for Farquhar’s Dairy. In the 23 years that he worked for Farquhar’s he remembers driving five different horses and two different milk delivery trucks. The last horse, Molly, was a fixture in town for many years.
For fun, the Perraults played softball, curled, picked berries and fished. Ed remembered with fondness fishing at Rouse Island with Irene’s father, Wes Ryder.
When asked what he thought was wrong with today’s world, Mr. Perrault said that while Little Current has always been ok, that there were “too many Mike Harris’, too many want to be the rulers.”
Irene brought the problem closer to home saying that there was a time that two people ran our little town, now it takes ‘two men and six girls’ to keep the community running. “Why?” she asked?
As he looked out his storefront window, Barney Turner said one of the biggest changes in the downtown area was that there weren’t any big snow piles.
He recalled that in winters of the past, snow banks would line both sides of the main street since the snow was never carted away. Like Mrs. Morphet, he noted the absence of the train service and of freighters calling to the Little Current Port.
Mr. Turner said that it was interesting to see the tour boats coming back in the summer. He said that in his youth many large ships sailed past Little Current, but often didn’t stop. He remembered the day that he swung around a column in his store and placed his foot directly on that of Gene Autry’s. Mr. Autry’s yacht was in port and he had been doing some browsing at Turner’s. Although he never made it to Little Current, Mr. Turner said that the visit to the area by then President Roosevelt in 1943, was also a highlight for the area.
Mr. Turner also recalled the old men of his youth who would gather at the shoemaker’s shop, or at Herb Bryant’s gas station, to tell stories. Looking back, he wonders how these men lived, since they didn’t seem to work.
Mr. Turner said that when he attended school in Toronto in 1939 with about 500 other boys, he was dismayed to learn that only two of them knew where the Manitoulin Island was.
He returned to his hometown with the promise to put it on the map, and feels he has helped to do just that.
Keith Patterson has seen many changes in the Town of Little Current.
Sanitary services, water, and what he referred to as a “fairly reliable electrical system” were high on his list of positive changes.
He too, recalled the days of Great Lakes freighters, log booms in the channel and the activity on Goat Island. He mentioned the improvements to transportation and highways and said his first car ride was with Gilbert May, son of Humphrey May.
Potts field and Brown’s field also played a part in Keith’s youth. He remembered skating there, first on spring skates, then on tube skates. Skating parties, complete with bonfires at night for warmth were a regular winter occurrence.
Mr. Patterson worked at the Manitoulin Expositor as a Printer’s Devil earning about $15 per week until he joined RCAF in May of 1941.
From a generation with a strong work ethic, Mr. Patterson said he sees the “unearned right of the individual” as one of the problems facing today’s generation.
Manitoulin Expositor, January 5, 2000
Toronto, Jan. 26th-(By Canadian Press)-Mrs. Martha Crooks, age 52 a widow, was beaten to death in her home yesterday, it is believed by a maniac who is still at large. Mrs. Crooks was struck on the head with two hammers until her skull was bettered in. Her body was then rolled in a sheet and a blanket thrown over it. The murderer then set in to loot the house, ransacking every room and stealing a purse of money before he fled. The police are working on the theory that Mrs. Crooks was slain by an insane man, believed to be the same criminal who entered another Parkdale home recently and hammered a woman over the head with a wrench.
The news of the death of Mrs. Martha Crooks of Parkdale, which came to hand on Friday was a shock to many people in this vicinity.
Mrs. Crooks, with her late husband Mr. Alexander Crooks, of Dundas, Ontario, was in the habit of spending their summers on Western Manitoulin, the latter being a full cousin of Messrs. John, William, Charles and A. I. Kemp of Silverwater. Mr. Crooks predeceased the late Mrs. Crooks about two years ago.
It seems incredible that in the heart of a civilized city like Toronto, that there should exist an army of brutal criminals and outlaws, who are allowed to roam at large and periodically attack some innocent victim, with murderours (sic) weapons and right under the eyes of neighbors whose houses are adjoining.
Mrs. Crooks, who kept a rooming house on Jamieson Ave., Parkdale, apparently was alone in her home, when in some manner the murderer gained entrance and supposedly while Mrs. Crooks was engaged at the telephone struck her on the head with a hammer, and belaboured her with the weapon until life was extinct.
In short this is one of the most brutal crimes in the history of the city and although the public are less horrified at the news of such crimes which are becoming more and more common each years, yet something will have to be done by way of increasing the police and detective (sic) forces to sufficient numbers to insure the safety of human lives from the murderous attacks of an army of cut throats who bid fair to continue their careers, until steps are taken to remove them to confines from which they will not return to be a menace to society.
Mrs. Crooks was a most congenial and prepossessing woman and her many friends on Manitoulin, will bear a kindly memory of her virtues.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, January 31, 1924
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
Scarcely has this community ever been stirred so deeply as it was this week on hearing of the death of Mr. Thomas Tann and Mr. Geo. Bond within two days of each other.
Thomas Tann, aged 63 years, died on Tuesday, Nov. 23rd. The funeral service was held in the United Church and a large crowd present testified to the popularity of the deceased.
George H. Bond, aged 66 years, died on Thursday, Nov. 23rd and was buried on Nov. 25th. The service was held at the home of Mrs. Bond and the crowd which assembled showed the very high esteem in which Mr. Bond was held in the community.
Rev. W.H. Bradford conducted both services.
The sincere sympathy of the whole community goes out to the bereaved members of each family.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, December 7, 1922
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
Mr. Hugh MacLaren of Port Arthur and his sister Miss Alice of Winnipeg arrived home on Friday night. They were in charge of the body of their sister Miss Ruth MacLaren, who met death in Chicago, Ill., earlier in the week, the result of a railway accident. The unfortunate young woman was a nurse by profession and is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alex. MacLaren of Gordon Tp.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, November 30, 1922
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
A tragedy of the utmost brutality was enacted a few days ago at the standard oil works in Whiting, Indiana when Mr. Donald McLeod, a former Canadian and well known to some of the residents on Manitoulin and Cockburn Island, was murdered by an enraged Hungarian, who had probably gone insane as a result of the war. Mr. McLeod who was a brother-in-law of Rev. W. M. Morrison had been for some years past night Supt. in the Parafin Dept. of the oil works was talking with one of his assistants about 2:30 a.m. when John Peres, a Hungarian approached them under cover of darkness and with huge knife struck both men from behind, Mr. McLeod died instantly his head being severed from his body, his partner died a few hours later.
Before he was finally subdued Peres wounded five policemen, two of whom have since died. After he was finally subdued and locked up enraged mobs of men made four attempts to break the jail for the purpose of lynching him. During his confinement in jail he refused to talk eat or drink and on Sunday evening strangled himself to death The Police are still working on the case and will soon make public their investigations. Meantime a number of arrests have been made.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, December 26, 1918
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
The body of Alderman William H. Munro of Sault Ste. Marie, who has been missing since January 17th, was found floating on the water on Sunday last by Mr. Evans while boating on the Ste. Marie river.
His identity was established by papers found in the pockets of the clothing. The funeral took place on Monday from the City hall and the remains taken to Carleton Place for burial.
Mr. Munro was well known and very popular among the Manitoulin curlers.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, August 22, 1918
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
Mr. Wm. Chisholm and Miss Maud Chisholm beg to thank all who in so many ways ministered toward the help and comfort of their brother, the late John Chisholm, during his trying illness, and also to thank all for the general sympathy that has been manifested.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, June 18, 1914
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
The Tug Victoria, Dan Sullivan, captain, went to Blind River last Friday and a number of Meldrum Bay people took the chance of a trip. She started back about 10:30 p.m. and was a short distance out from Blind River when the Germanic struck her in the bow. The tug swung around on the Germanic and everybody was taken off except Donald McDonald of Meldrum Bay who was not seen again. He had been sitting forward and had his arm in a sling.
A great deal of anxiety was felt at Meldrum when the tug did not return which was scarcely relieved when a telegram came on Saturday saying “Tug Vic, wrecked, all safe except Donald McDonald: but fortunately soon after the telegram came a Blind River Tug brought everybody over except the unfortunate McDonald whose wife and four little children now mourn the loss of a father and husband.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, September 11, 1913
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
Sault Ste. Marie, Sept 8- Crown Attorney F.J.S. Martin left on the noon train for Blind River to attend the inquest on the death of Mr. Donald McDonald, who was drowned when the tug Victoria K was sunk when she collided with the Germanic Friday night off Blind River.
The cause of the accident was quite plain, as the fault it seems all rested with Mr. Sullivan, who was in charge of the tug. He also is owner. Some new phase in the case has come up which evidently makes the inquest necessary.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, September 11, 1913
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
Death Due to Unknown Causes
The following is a copy of the Juror’s verdict as a result of the Coroner’s inquest on the body of the late Mrs. Jas. Morden who died recently at Barrie Island. The inquest was conducted by Dr. McDonald, of Little Current, the coroner for the District.
“We, the coroner’s Jury, called to enquire into the death of the late Mrs. Cornelia Louisa Morden, find that from the evidence adduced, her death was from unknown causes. That the attending physician was lax in leaving his patient so soon after child-birth, and we are of the opinion that had he remained, Mrs. Morden’s life might have been spared.
We would recommend the evidence be brought to the attention of the Ontario College of Physicians & Surgeons and also to the Attorney General’s department.”
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, December 19, 1912
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
Gore Bay’s First Resident. He was always Interested and Active in Public Affairs.
Died at his home in Gore Bay on Tuesday morning, Jan. 30th, 1912, James Munro Fraser, in his sixtieth year.
Two weeks ago the deceased was moving about among us as has been his custom for about forty years, apparently in the best of health. He contracted a cold which developed pneumonia on Friday Jan. 19th, since when he has been confined to his bed. It was evident for some days that his case was a critical one and his physicians held out little hope of his recovery.
When his death was announced on Tuesday morning it was a severe shock to the old residents who have known him for so many years. In his demise a link with the early days has passed away. He was intensely interested in all that pertained to the Manitoulin and especially to Gore Bay and Gordon Township. He fought many hard battles in the interests of these places, although a hard fighter and much in earnest he had a kindly disposition, and was respected even by his strongest opponents.
He was several times Reeve of Gordon Township and always took a keen interest in municipal affairs.
In politics he was an enthusiastic Liberal and contested this constituency against R. R. Gamey when it was first constituted a separate riding, but was defeated. Being an ardent believer in reciprocity he fought hard for J. L. Regan in the Federal elections last September.
He was a leader among those who put up a hard fight for the District Court to be located at Gore Bay, in which he succeeded.
The funeral takes place today at his late residence at 2 o’clock, the ceremony will be conducted by Rev. J. J. Fergusson, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church, of which the deceased was an elder.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, February 1, 1912
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
(Too late for last week.)
We are pleased to learn that Mrs. Wm. Kennedy who has been ailing since the death of her brother, Mr. George McDougall, is now much better.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, February 10, 1910
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
Mr. Wm. Morden went down to Ice Lake last Sunday to preach the funeral sermon of Mr. Robinson’s child, which died last week.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, Thursday, March 25, 1909
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
On July 8, 1950, Verna Squires and George Haggith were united in marriage on the Squire family farm near Glencoe, Ontario. Like every young couple, they shared so many hopes and dreams for their future together. George had just turned 23 and Vera (sic) was 21. Following their honeymoon on Manitoulin Island, they settled in Thamesville where they resided for 32 years. When George retired from the Canadian National Railway in 1982, Vera (sic) left her teaching position with the Kent County Board of Education and they moved to Manitoulin Island. George passed away on November 2nd and Vera (sic) passed away on December 16, 1999. They were interred together at the Oakland Cemetery, Glencoe, on May 12, 2000. They had known each other for 56 years and were only a few months from celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. George and Verna honoured the vows they took so many years ago and remained faithful to each other and their son, Edward. The small town boy and farm girl have been reunited through the grace of God.
Manitoulin Expositor, July 12, 2000 pg. 19
12 Year Old Boy Fatally Shot by Girl
Fatally wounded when a rifle in the hands of a young playmate accidentally discharged, Lyle Van Every, of Meldrum Bay, died here at 7o'clock Sunday night, four hours after the shooting took place. The 12-year-old VanEvery boy was out playing in the nearby bush with 10-year-old Margaret Hester, who was carrying the rifle. It discharged in some unknown manner, the bullet entering the boy's abdomen. Lyle is the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Van Every, Meldrum Bay farmer, while Margaret is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Hester, also of Meldrum Bay. An inquest will be held.
The Manitoulin Expositor, Little Current, Ontario -
Transcribed by Marilyn Irish
On Saturday morning, September 17, a quiet wedding was solemnized at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Tracy, Spring Bay, when their second daughter, Eleanor Amelia, became the bride of Francis John, son of Mr. and Mrs. David Adams of Toronto.
The bride entered the living room on the arm of her father, and took her place under a beautiful arch of evergreens, and autumn flowers. The bride was gowned in ivory canton crepe, made in long fitted lines, wearing long white gloves and white moiré shoes. Her veil of tulle, arranged in cap effect, was caught with a wreath of orange blossoms. She carried a bouquet of talisman roses, lily of the valley and fern.
Miss Elva Tracy, sister of the bride acted as a maid of honour, wearing a gown of pale blue embroidered organdy and white kid shoes, and carried sweetheart roses, forget-me-nots and fern. Master Douglas Tracy, nephew of the bride, made a gallant little ring bearer, wearing a white sailor suit.
Rev. S.J. Proctor, performed the ceremony, assisted by the local pastor, Mr. C.A.K. Cockburn and the wedding music was played by Miss Ada Sinclair.
The groom's gift to the bride was a beautiful walnut spinet desk; to the maid of honour, a white gold pendant; to the ring bearer an engraved pencil; and to the organist, a mounted picture.
After the ceremony a dainty dinner was served to about thirty guests, by Mrs. Andrew Dryden and the Misses Gertrude Caddle and Elsie Morrison, Mae King, Ada Haner and Jean Hartley, immediate friends of the bride.
The happy couple left immediately under a shower of confetti and good wishes for Hiawatha Lodge, Muskoka, where they will spend a two weeks honeymoon before taking up their residence in Toronto. The bride traveled in a navy tailored suit with black hat, black kid shoes and gloves.
Friends from outside attending the wedding were Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Hallman and son Maurice and daughter Laura of Waterloo; Mr. Alex Mitchell and daughter Marion of Port Elgin.
Through The Years, Vol. VI, No. XI, September 1989, page 32
The Recorder, Gore Bay, September 22, 1932
A wicked bolt of lightning at about ten o'clock on Saturday night struck the barn on the farm of Jasper Noble, about two miles west of Silver Water.
The resulting fire was noticed within a few minutes by Ted Addison, who rushed to the scene and was able to save a couple of hundred young turkeys and a tractor that was parked close to the building.
Fortunately the cows were out on pasture, but three calves, a good quantity of hay, a mower, side-delivery rake, hay baler and about three hundred turkeys fell prey to the flames.
Although neighbors hurried to the fire in response to a general ring on the phone, the flames spread so rapidly that it was impossible to do anything to save the contents of the barn. A downpour of rain following the thunder storm eliminated the danger of the fire spreading to the house and other nearby buildings.
Mr. and Mrs. Noble have been absent from home for the summer and their son Jimmy, who had been looking after the farm was in the village when the lightning struck.
There was a small amount of insurance on the barn and contents but not sufficient to nearly compensate for the loss suffered. The storm was described as one of the most severe ever experienced in the area.
Dorothy Hopkins Addison Scrapbook (green ledger), transcribed by Marilyn Irish
(Date handwritten 56)
At a meeting held in the Billings Hall last Friday night, members of the Manitoulin Turkey Co-Op adopted a new constitution. The new constitution was adopted unanimously and without argument.
Under the terms of the agreement. The Co-Op will be an Ontario Corporation, incorporated with share capital. Shares will be offered on the basis of the use a member will make of the Co-Op facilities. The meeting decided that for each 500 birds, a member will be entitled to a $100 share. Thus a member with 10,000 birds will be obliged to make a minimum contribution of $2000, while a member with only a portion of the 500, will be obliged to purchase one share to participate.
The main purpose of the Co-Op is to build and operate an eviscerating plant on the island. Already, $7,000 of the needed $20,000 to build the plant have been subscribed. Under the terms of the new constitution it is expected that the remaining sum will be quickly raised.
The total cost of the new plant will be in the neighbourhood of $60,000, but two-thirds of this can be raised through government grants and loans.
The Friday meeting also elected their directors. Elected for three year terms were: Charles Robertson, Russ Munroe, and Earl McKinley. Elected for two year terms were: Ted Addison and Berkley VanZant. Elected to a one year term were, Russel Harper and Jack Addison.
The new directorate was elected from a field of thirteen proposed candidates.
Dorothy Hopkins Addison Scrapbook (green ledger),
transcribed by Marilyn Irish
We wish to express our sincere thanks to our many friends and neighbours for their kindness, sympathy and floral tributes, during the illness and death of our dear wife and mother.
Jos. Addison and family
Dorothy Hopkins Addison Scrapbook,
transcribed by Marilyn Irish
With the mild weather of the past week timbering operations are practically completed on Western Manitoulin. While all the wood has not been removed form the bush, owing to the lack of snow, there is a large cut on the beach. The above pictures show E.F. Priddle, of Gore Bay (6) who as buyer for the Sawyer-Stoll Timber co., Escanaba, Mich., issued the contracts for the operations. In (1) M. McGillvray and his partner are shown preparing firewood for John Kemp's camps. Alex McDougall (2) with a load of pulpwood on the way to Chas. Wright's timber dump at west Belanger Bay. A view of the large quantity of pulpwood at Burnt Island Bay (3) Ted Addison is shown with his truck with which he hauled considerable timber to the Burnt Island dump.
Dorothy Hopkins Addison Scrapbook, transcribed by Marilyn Irish
Prominent hatchery men and turkey growers of Manitoulin Island along with dealers and officials of the Purina Feed Company and a few invited guests from town, attended a turkey dinner in the Gore Bay Community Hall on Wednesday noon of last week. The company played host to around 170 guests, and beside the dinner, provided entertainment as well as an informative business conference. Left to right are Lloyd Hutton, of Kincardine, Chas. Robertson, of Ice Lake; "Ben Careless" or Ray Baker, of Kemptville; Ted Addison of Silver Water; Harold Burt, of Mindemoya; and Frank J. King, of Toronto.
-Photo by Wilson
Jan 18/56 (Date handwritten on picture)
Dorothy Hopkins Addison Scrapbook,
transcribed by Marilyn Irish
Among the many family reunions at Yuletide, was that at the home of Mr. and Mrs. S. Cull, 261 Mortimer Ave., Toronto. The house party numbered fifteen and included: Mrs. E. Cull, Detroit; Mr. and Mrs. Jos. Addison, Silver Water, Manitoulin Island; Mr. and Mrs. R.A. Woodhouse and family, Parry Sound, and Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Forster, and daughters of Dundas. The party were entertained during the New Year's festivities at the home of Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Forster, Dundas, Ontario.
Dorothy Hopkins Addison Scrapbook,
transcribed by Marilyn Irish
Mr. B. Addison and family moved up from Burpee on Thursday and have gone to live across Silver Lake.
Through the Years, April 1995, page 8
Silverwater News, 1909
We are sorry to hear of the illness of Mr. and Mrs. Barney Addison's baby girl and hope it will soon be out of danger.
Through the Years, December 1992, page 28
Silver Water, February, 1909 - Special to the Recorder
Our old friend Barney Addison has moved home from Silverwater.
Through the Years, October 1992, page 24
Burpee, March 1909 - Special to the Recorder
Mr. Barney Addison has gone up to Joe Addison's to repair the engine and separator, and will have it ready to start threshing soon.
Through the Years, January 1994, page 22
Mr. Barney Addison of Burpee had the misfortune of having two fingers badly lacerated on Thursday. It appears that Mr. Addison was in the act of putting a belt on a revolving pulley on a threshing machine, when his hand was caught. Dr. Strain dressed the injured fingers on Thursday evening.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, October 11, 1928
One of the largest receptions ever held in Tehkummah took place on Wednesday, April 30th, to honor Mr. and Mrs. John Kay. The hall was crowded, many from Providence Bay, The Slash, South Bay and Manitowaning attending. The bride and groom received many lovely and useful gifts from their many friends and relatives, showing the esteem this young couple is held in the community. A very bountiful supper was served at midnight after which dancing continued until the clock struck 2.30 a.m. everyone reports a splendid time. Mr. John Kay is a son of Thos. Kay of Tehkummah and Mrs. Kay was formerly Gladys N. Aelicks, daughter of Mrs. W. Aelicks of Manitowaning.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, May 8, 1930
"Twas Long Ago
My mother, Elizabeth Ainslie, was born in Scotland in the year 1864. Her birth is registered in Edinburgh as on January 18th, the daughter of James Davidson Ainslie and Bridget Smith. Mother came to Canada with her parents when she was seven years old. They lived in Owen Sound for a time, then came to Manitoulin seven years later when the Ainslie family settled in Elizabeth Bay. Mother was nineteen when she and Norman Matheson were married. Norman was a fisherman and they moved many times. Early on they were at Misery Bay where he fished with Mr. Gauthier. Then they moved to Duck Island, then to Morrisville-a small fishing and saw mill village on the shore south a few miles from Sheshegwaning.
When the fishing season closed in the fall Norman and Elizabeth moved to his home in Goderich where they lived for three years with Norman fishing from Goderich and Kincardine. Then they moved back to Manitoulin and settled at Cook's Dock, another fishing station. In 1893 they moved to Cape Roberts where Norman served as lighthouse keeper until he passed away twenty-eight years later in 1922 at the age of eighty-four. Elizabeth had six brothers and three sisters. the sisters: Isabella married Stewart Clarke; Susan married Isaac Bailey; and Marcella married Robert Greenman. Of the six brothers William married Annie Williams; Tom was unmarried; James married Margaret Matheson, and after her death married Lillie Eaton; Lewis married Ida Eaton; Archie married Jean McPherson; and Edward married May Armstrong.
Coming from a big family herself, Elizabeth also had a large family of twelve children. She lived to be eighty-eight years old, passing away at Elizabeth Bay on June 20th, 1952. Her funeral was from the Elizabeth Bay Church with Eddie Matheson, Charlie Matheson, Matthew Matheson, George Matheson, Lawrence Morrison and Neil McDonald as pall-bearers.
Elizabeth's twelve children included Angus born September 18, 1886; Bridget born March 2, 1888; Maggie born March 28,1890; Norman born February 5 ,1892; Muriel born October 19, 1893 ; James born February1,1896; John born July 11, 1898; Marcella born February 7, 1900; Edward born February 20, 1902; Lewis born May 1, 1904; Effie born April 2,1906; and Leonard born October 3, 1909.
All of the family married except for Lewis who took care of his mother. Angus married Dora Keown; Bridget married Frank Morrison; Maggie married Burt Fleming; Norman married Bertha Morden; Muriel was married to Edward Morrison, and James married Fayetta Steele; John married Marjorie Burbil; Marcella married James Blackburn; Edward married Nora James; Effie married John Williams, and Leonard married Velma James.
Grandfather Ainslie and Mrs. William Morden started the first Sunday school at Elizabeth Bay in the Ainslie home.
When Angus and Bridget, my oldest brother and sister, were of school age the grandparents took them to their home where there was a room used for a school room. With my brother and sister there were the Robert Morden children: Jimmy, Nelson, Rachel, and Nellie; William Ainslie's two children: William and Maude; and William Morden's children: Mary, Charlie, John and Maggie. Grandfather Ainslie was the teacher but, with his other work, teaching was too much. A man by the name of Ned Saunders happened to be living over on the sand beach. Old Ned, as he was called, moved in with the Ainslies and taught the children until his health failed. Then he was taken to Sault Ste. Marie where he lived until he passed a way. Then Norman and Elizabeth bought the Ned Saunders property on Elizabeth Bay and built a home where they spent the winters after the close of each navigation season when they left the Cape Roberts lighthouse until Spring.
The first minister I can remember calling at our Elizabeth Bay new home was Rev. Fisk . It was winter time and he was driving a horse and cutter. Rev. John New also used to call at our home, feed his horses and go on his way to the Ainslie settlement. Rev. Munro was another minister of those earlier days who called on our family, as did Rev. Cadotte when he was in charge.
Of the many stories we heard as children these come first to mind: Bill Ainslie, father of Isabel Long, had nets set near the portage (south of the point on the west side of Elizabeth Bay). My father, Norman Matheson was to lift for him next day, but Bill dreamed that if Norman went to lift that day he wouldn't come back. So Bill walked clear over to the Matheson place on the sand beach to tell Norman not to go out.
Grandmother Ainslie (Bridget Smith) was lonesome and homesick in Canada so her sister, Anne Smith, came over from Scotland to keep her company.
Grandfather Ainslie (James D.) and Bob Morden who lived at Fred and Reta Stack's old place ran out of flour one winter. They went to the mill in Gore Bay for a supply but found no flour or meal available there, so they came home and started for Cockburn Island with a hand sleigh, walking there and back on the ice. There was no flour at Cockburn but they were able to get a barrel of oatmeal which they halved when they got home.
It's hard to realize now that Misery Bay once was a station for Gauthier 's fishermen before Duck Island became the company headquarters. My father fished from there and my mother, with the help of Anne McPherson (who lived where Ralph Ainslie lives now) cooked for the fishermen.
Elizabeth Bay Letter Book, 1879-1979, pages 29-31
HOCKEN DESCENDANT GATHER FOR REUNION AT FORMER MILL
By Mary Anne Cowdrey
BIRCH ISLAND – On August 2, the descendants of Norman and Mary Hocken had a family reunion at the old Hocken Lumber Mill site at McGregor Bay/Birch Island. There 69 family members in attendance.
Norman’s brother, Hal’s grandson Brian and his wife Judy Mountjoy were also in attendance. People came from all over Ontario. Everyone had a great day. The older generation reminisced with fond memories of the mill, while the younger ones went on a tour of the site. It was a beautiful sunny day, which allowed for many people and dogs to swim! Ken Hocken, the last surviving grandchild of Norman and Mary’s, attended as well.
Norman and Mary Hocken had eight children: Bernice, Mel, Lloyd, Ralph, Bob, Helen, Ken and Charles (stillborn). They came from the Parry Sound area and built a lumber mill at West River (between Willisville and Whitefish Falls) in the early 1930s. Norman Hocken had several lumber mills in his lifetime including at Otter Lake and Parry Sound. Some were lost to fire. Some of their boys would come up from Parry Sound in the summer and work at the mill.
In about 1935, Norman leased the land from Whitefish River First Nation at Birch Island/McGregor Bay for his last lumber mill. This was a thriving company, employing a lot of the family and many local people. A lot of the lumber came from East Sampson Island. The train made regular stops at the mill to take their product away. As each one of their children married and stayed on to work at the mill, another frame house was built for them. There was a long line of houses at one point. Soon bunkhouses and a cookery were built. This was a booming time.
In the evenings, one could come in to the mill and find the Hocken family and all the employees out playing baseball. They always had a lot of fun when the work was done. Norman Hocken was very interested in politics. He was an avid supporter of Lester B. Pearson. When Norman died, Mr. Pearson sent a large bouquet of flowers to his funeral.
There were many grandchildren of Norman and Mary’s raised at the mill. Only one son was born there, that being Maxine, daughter of Bob and Billie Hocken. The cousins also had a lot of fun as they were very mischievous. On Saturdays, everyone would head into Little Current. Some of the youngsters would stay behind and get into mischief.
Sometimes they would get into Grandpa Norman’s big truck. One would get down on the floor and run the pedals, one would steer and another run the gear shift. The rest would ride! The hardest part was parking in the exact same spot so Grandpa Norman wouldn’t know!
Norman died in 1954. Two of his sons, Bob and Lloyd, took over running the mill. The Hocken Lumber Mill Company disbanded in 1978.
Manitoulin Expositor, August 20, 2008
Now and Then
A Celebration of Life on Manitoulin Mnaachtoong Maadsewin
By Petra Wall
VIOLET MABEL McGREGOR
Violet McGregor passed into the spirit world two months ago, one month after her beloved Archie died. She was blessed with a gentle demeanour that sheltered a quiet strength, which lent both confidence and candour to her interaction with others. She spent much of her life helping others and raising nine successful children. Both she and her husband Archie contributed much to their community. Archie wrote ‘Wiigwaaskingaa,’ a compilation of Anishinaabe stories and traditions that will help preserve these oral artifacts for posterity. William McGregor, Archie’s father, was chief of the Birch Island Reserve for 26 years and he was instrumental in making many changes for the band. Archie worked beside his father for many years and Violet worked alongside her husband, supporting him, raising their family and caring for their home and garden. The couple lived in a contemporary home at the edge of their community, right beside the original log building they began their married life in.
This is Violet’s story as she told it to this writer in November of 2011.
“My ancestors came from the Green Bay, Wisconsin area. They were chased out in the latter part of the 1800s,” Violet shares. “I was born to John and Margaret, (nee Lavallee) Wemigwans in South Bay, on the Wikwemikong Reserve, on May 26, 1929.”
“My father would often trade fish with Natives and non-Natives for food,” she continues. “I recall one time he travelled across the river to the Slash and came back with two burlap bags full of little pigs. My older brother took on the responsibility of caring for them so our family could always enjoy pig meat.”
“Our father was both a medicine man and a fisherman. He picked and dried medicines in our home and people would come to the door for these. I remember he always had little boxes wrapped in brown paper on the shelf. There were no labels. He could identify each dried plant from its smell. I still use some of these today. Violet’s mother came for a visit one time, when all the kids had diarrhoea. She instructed Violet to pick and boil raspberry leaves to make a tea for the children. That stopped the diarrhoea.
She vividly recalled a day when there was no food in the house at all. “Our father had gone fishing. The weather changed and rough waters meant he couldn’t get home. We knew there would be no supper. My brother Leonard asked me to follow him. We went quietly out the door and over to a neighbour that had chickens. He filled his hat with eggs and we returned home. My brother proudly showed these to our mother. “This is what we can eat tomorrow,” he said.”
“Mother reprimanded him sternly, saying that this was not what we do to our neighbours. She made him take the eggs back. By now it was dark, but Leonard made me come too, poking me so I didn’t complain to mother. I ran behind him like a ‘little dog,’ afraid of the dark. There was a rail fence on the way and while climbing it, all the eggs rolled out of the hat and broke. I was told not to say anything. We returned home and waited to hear from our elderly neighbour, but he never spoke up. It turns out he had spent the day travelling to and from Manitowaning. By the time he checked his chickens, they had laid some more eggs.”
“As a little girl, I remember being terrified by huge horses and cows. At haying time, we were often at a neighbour’s farm. Once I was sent to get water from their well. Cows came running towards me. Terrified, I ran and hid in the well house. I didn’t realize that they just wanted water too.”
This fear was compounded when the horses, set free after the haying, came running out of the bush. They wanted to get away from the horseflies and all squeezed into the barn at the same time. Violet ran home, crying and spilling the water. Most children would have refused to repeat this task, but not Violet. She just got the water earlier, well before the cows got thirsty or the horses got sick of the flies.
“One time my mother went to town. She asked me to milk the cow for the family. I forgot until I heard the calf crying for milk. I decided to take a short cut and just put the calf in with the cow. When mother got home she wanted to know where I had put the milk. When I told her what had happened, she wasn’t pleased. The calf had drunk all the milk.”
“Another early memory was scratching ‘1936’ on our door. I don’t remember why I did that, but I must have got the idea from the French catalogue from Montreal or from the Winnipeg Free Press my mother subscribed to. Shortly after that I was sent to the residential school for eight years.” Her mother had prepared her for the school. She had been to residential school herself and she told her young daughter what was safe and what was not.
“At school, I learned a lot of things about gardening and tending to animals. Sometimes you could safely talk Anishnabek when milking a cow in the barn, until a sister came to check.” We would hide under each other’s covers and talk Anishinaabe. If a sister was coming down the hall, one girl would knock on the bed to warn us and we would race back to our beds.”
“The washrooms were a good gathering place too, as was the root cellar where you could also snack on a turnip. We used to bring a spoon and scrape the sweet turnip off in layers to let it melt in our mouths. Chickens got turnips too. A large nail fastened the round turnip to the chicken coup so the birds could peck them. They ate all the seeds too. During the war years, we had no sugar to sweeten our food. It was all sent to the front for the soldiers, so this occasional trip to the cellar was a real treat.”
Violet also learned to play the organ and that was something she would never have learned at home. “I used to get to the music room ahead of time to play something I wanted to try. If the sister heard us practicing music she had not assigned, she would get annoyed. We learned to listen for the click of her orthopaedic shoes on the hard floor. She was very strict, but nice.”
“I thought the school was good. I saw some abuse but I was not the target of it. I just got a few reprimands for talking out of place.” For her Grade 8 graduation, one of the sister’s made Violet a very pretty dress that she wore going home too. Violet returned to Wikwemikong every spring, but some of the girls never went home and they spent up to 12 years at the school. The government felt if you had only one parent at home you should stay at the school. Violet was able to get home for two months each summer. At school, Christmas was mostly a religious celebration. The girls got a few candies as gifts, but not much else happened.
One day Violet had two days off. She had a burning desire to visit Blind River. She knew that necessitated a prior medical issue. She decided to let the needle of the sewing machine go through her finger. “It hurt a lot because it went through the nail bed and through my whole finger. The nuns didn’t go for it though. They sent me upstairs to the infirmary and then made me wash dishes for the next few days, both as a punishment and to avoid an infection.”
At age 16, school ended and they expected you to go home. No arrangements were made for that important event. Violet got back home to find out her mother was sick after having lost a baby. There was no way to get a message at school so life and death issues were not learned until one got home. Violet forgot her aspirations to become a teacher. She stayed home for the next three years to help her mother.
After that, the young lass got work at the Manitowaning Lodge. She peeled vegetables, cleaned cabins and eventually was promoted to serving the guests in the dining room. “I lived at the lodge for three years or so and sent money home each month. After that, I apprenticed as a nursing aid at Niagara Falls. I also seamed pants and put in zippers for a clothing store.” When she had time off, she returned to Wikwemikong.
Violet met Archie when her brother took her to a hockey game in Manitowaning. Archie seemed smitten with the young beauty and he made many attempts to see her in Wikwemikong. “Once I got to know Archie, I quite liked him,” she offered. Soon it was time to back to Niagara Falls for the winter. When Archie found out about the impending departure he offered to quit his own job and go with her. Violet decided instead not to return to Niagara Falls.
The couple married on a hot July 7, 1952 at the church in Birch Island. “Archie had taken some time to tell his family of the impending wedding and he told them that we would be wed in Birch Island,” Violet explains. “Tradition would have seen me marry in my home community of Wikwemikong, but his family was much larger than mine, so we felt that was the best option.”
The newlyweds left the church in a horse-drawn buggy, heading for their reception. “My mother said to me that day, “Go over and help when you can.” By that she meant I should help out in my new community as much as I could.”
“My father died young, at 50 in 1956, with double pneumonia after a car accident had hospitalized him. Then my younger brother often came to stay with me. In the winter, the fire had to be kept going 24 hours a day and my mother couldn’t always be at home” Violet committed to staying home to raise her family. “All our children were born healthy in the Little Current hospital. I was just glad they had five fingers and five toes on each limb. Before they were born I asked for the strength to accept them if they were born with significant challenges.”
“Margaret McGregor, my uncle’s wife, was a true blessing when I had my first born, Marie. For a while, she came in daily, doing laundry, cooking and cleaning. She showed me how to bathe the baby in a washbasin. She stayed until I felt comfortable on my own,” Violet explains. “The summer Marie was two I told her that she could sleep in the living room for a treat. She seemed pleased and in no time I heard an unusual sound. When I checked I saw my two-year-old with a washbasin and a scrub brush. She was diligently scrubbing the old hardwood living room floor, so she could sleep there that night.”
“When our oldest son got a perforated ear drum, the doctors told us to take him to Toronto. Marie, just a toddler, knew this would be a problem so she took him upstairs and dabbled holy water on his ear using a cotton swab. At first I was very upset thinking this could make the infection worse, but his fever went away and the eardrum healed on its own. Marie was very observant. I remember being upset when I saw her at the top of the stairs, holding a glass globe. She had seen me clean it and likely wanted to do the same. I yelled for her to put the precious glass back. She was startled. The glass slipped from her fingers and broke. I was responsible for that mishap.”
Archie and Violet also loved to take the kids on Sunday fishing trips in their boat. “We used to stop to pick berries and swim. After lunch, the kids would fall asleep on the deck of the boat while we fished for pike. In the late afternoon, we would head home to enjoy a fresh fish dinner. The kids would watch Bonanza for an hour and then head for bed about nine.”
True to her mother’s bidding, Violet helped out in the community. She helped clean and paint the church, and she helped take care of the cemetery. “In 1969 I began a 25-year stint to help the priest with the bookkeeping,” she acknowledged. “I also worked to raise funds for minor hockey by getting involved with bingos, bake-offs and other activities.” Violet was a counselor the Education committee and wound up on the North Shore Board for five years, representing local educational interests. Violet was also a member of the United Chiefs and Councils of Manitoulin Police Commission.
She was also part of a homemaker’s group that taught ladies how to make quilts from old wool clothing. They used to unravel old knitted items and use the yarn to sew together patches from old wool jackets and pants. The idea came from Africa where one could borrow money to make quilts and then use some of the profits to pay back the loan. Money from the sale of the quilts was also used to buy more material, which became clothing that the ladies fashioned for themselves. At that time, new clothing was a rarity.
Violet used to make leather crafts and do bead-work when Archie was at work and from five in the morning until the children woke. At one point Archie was so busy with his construction work he was seldom home. One day Violet realized Brian, the baby, wouldn’t go to his father because he didn’t know him. This was a revelation for Archie who soon got another job that allowed him to spend more time with his children.
“Our children are doing well. Marie graduated in sciences from Trent University in Peterborough. She spent five years in Japan teaching English to adults. Now she teaches at Kenjegewin Teg and lives right across the road. Tim got a diploma in Visual Arts from Sir Sanford Fleming College. He makes ceremonial regalia for special events like powwows. Julia went to the University of Alberta and got a degree in education. She works for the band and sits on the Educational Council. Brian is trained in computers and he maintains these for different First Nations.”
“Susan was the founding director of the School of Native Human Services in Sudbury and is currently a professor in the Honours Bachelor of Social Work Program. Inez is married to a man from the Hobbema Reserve and she teaches history there. Bonnie will graduate as a lawyer in June and she is working at Akwesasne. Robert has graduated fro Laurentian University in social work. He is counseling street people in Toronto. Mariette has her own counseling business. She ran Noojmowin Teg Health Centre for two years and low lives here with her family.”
“I have been a diabetic for 30 years. I remember lying in a hospital bed in Sudbury when I overheard the doctor at the nursing station. ‘With proper diet and exercise she will live a long healthy life.’ I knew he was talking about me so I went on the pills. My youngest son is in his 40s and he is diabetic too.”
“Last summer I was weeding beans in my garden, when my son’s puppy got between my legs and knocked me down. I couldn’t get up. I tried calling to Archie who was doing dishes in the house. The window was open, but he couldn’t hear me. Finally after about an hour, Brian arrived and asked where I was. Archie told him I was outside. Brian looked to the garden and just happened to spot my ‘hot pink’ jacket on the ground. Soon the ambulance came for me. They took me right to Sudbury and operated on my hip the next day.” She recovered nicely from the broken hip and the small heart attack she sustained during the operation. Last summer a blood clot in her leg sent her to the hospital. “Surgery wasn’t an option so they gave me blood thinners.”
“I only have two regrets. One is not learning more about medicines from my parents. When you are young, these things are far from your mind but now they would be cherished information,” Violet shares. “The other is not having taught our kids the language. If I could have seen far enough into the future, I would have taught them our language. At the time, we were punished for using the language and I didn’t want them to go through the same trauma that we did.”
“What was most important to me was raising our children, teaching them the ways of our people, including some traditional medicines,” she relates. “I made the right choice to stay home with the kids. My greatest hope is that the children and all the grandchildren will do well. Their education was encouraged not to please us but to give them valuable tools for life.”
“My strengths are not mine; they come from a higher power,” she summed up that November day. “Through that power, I have kept my family strong and together. I like to think I am a patient and loving person and very happy with what I have been allowed to achieve. When it comes to Manitoulin, there really is no other place like it in the world. Our own people lived here first and it has always held an important space in my heart.”
This was one of Violet’s favourite quotes:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Taken from the Serenity Pray by Reinold Niebuhr.
Archie’s story appeared in “Now and Then” on page 5 of The Manitoulin Expositor on January 28, 2009.
Manitoulin Expositor, March 28, 2012
Now and Then
A Celebration of Life on Manitoulin Mnaachtoong Maadsewin
By Petra Wall
William ‘Bill’ Elliott of Mindemoya – the fourth William in his family – is a raconteur of the early life on Manitoulin. A warm smile and a handshake introduce the proud heritage of seven generations of Elliotts that have either lived or visited here at 221 Elliott Road. “That is worthy of celebration,” Mr. Elliott says with pride. “My great-grandson, Colby, Glen’s grandson, was the seventh. So much of my life has played out here, from my first day at school, the birth of my children, their transition to adulthood, and of course, the family maple syrup production.”
Bill’s great-great-grandfather Robert Elliott, originally from Scotland, married Jean Hall, who died in childbirth with their second child. Robert later came to Manitoulin from Oneida Township with his son William in 1873. He died tragically in a blacksmith fire in Providence Bay. Great-grandfather William Elliott, born in 1852, trained as a blacksmith but stopped this work after his father died. He married Janet Caddel and moved to Elliott Road in 1877. He lived to be 55 years old when his gun discharged as he stepped over a log while partridge hunting.
His son, William Elliott, Bill’s grandfather, was born in 1878. He married Mary Ethel Gordon and they in turn had William Lyman Elliott, the third William in the line, born in 1911. William Sr. died at age 43. Mary Ethel had the unfortunate fate of being a widow three times. Bill’s father William (Lyman) married Violet Wagg in 1938. She lived to be 88 and died in 2004. They had nine children: Wilfred, Douglas, William (Bill), Maryanne, Jim, Charlie, Dan, twins Margaret and Michael, and Paul. Lyman was a carpenter and firefighter, and he worked for the local Turner Telephone Company. He had a Native name given to him by Tom Debassige, his friend of 40 years. Bill’s father passed away in 1974 at age 63. Bill was born in the old hospital in Mindemoya on February 23, 1939. “The first thing I remember was the barn burning in 1942 when I was three,” he recalls. “There was a lot of confusion and people running about. Another memory was first bottle of pop bought by my uncle in Cooper’s store, where Ben Wilson is now. I ran over to the cooler to select a ‘red’ pop. Red would be the best flavour. I wanted to bring it home and drink it slowly, but instead I choked it down to avoid the deposit. I haven’t enjoyed red pop since,” Bill adds with a grin.
Then there was the memorable incident of the pig’s head in the oven. Brother Wilfred had decided to make head cheese so he baked it at a high temperature. When another brother, Doug, cam in from working in the barn and opened the oven, he saw two big eyes staring back at him. He was beside himself with shock. Too this day he will not eat head cheese.
Bill had a pet, Rex, a mixed-breed collie with a short nose. “He was my dog and he helped me collect the cattle,” he recounts. “I was the only one who could feed him. At supper, he always sat on my foot, under the table, and at night he slept on my coat. We would play a little game when my father was listening to the Lone Ranger on the radio. Rex would put his foot on my foot, and I, in turn, put mine on his.” It always annoyed his father and he would make a clear gesture indicating that the boy and his dog should depart quickly. “Rex was protective of us, but he also chased horses,” says Mr. Elliott. One day a neighbour came over and accused Rex of killing his sheep. “My father agreed this was not acceptable. ‘No dog of mine will kill sheep,’ he said. The neighbour went home and shot Rex.” The family later found that his sheep were still being killed. Rex had been wrongly accused. “That was a real heartbreaker,” says Mr. Elliott.
Bill attended his mother’s school in Mindemoya. “I hated to go to school because I had to wear shoes,” he explains. “At home, I was barefoot. In the war years of the 1940s, money and extras, like summer shoes, were scarce. In winter we had shoes and my dad drove us to school in a horse-drawn van warmed by a little wood stove.” One day Dunlop Hill on the Rockville Road was very icy. One of the horses managed to stay on the snowy edge of the road while his mate slid down on its rump. Thankfully, the sliding horse did not suffer a serious mishap and was back on its feet at the bottom.
“My first teacher insisted that I use my right hand,” says Bill. “I was naturally left-handed so my left hand was tied behind my back. Thank goodness the next teacher did not mind my southpaw.” Geography was a favourite subject, and for one project, the class had to draw travel routes on the Great Lakes. “I put a lot of effort into it, thinking I might be a sailor one day,” recalls Mr. Elliott. “I got 96 percent and was very pleased. One girl who always had the highest mark got less. She was so upset, she cried.”
Bill learned how to count by playing cribbage with his grandfather. Adding numbers became intuitive. “My teacher really noticed the difference,” he notes. “We had to grow a garden for school too. My aunt stopped by one time when I was in school and picked much of the produce, claiming that her husband loved greens. I failed that project, so I was not too happy.” By the time Bill was finished with Grade 9 he had lost interest in school. “I was bored because I felt that I knew more than the teacher. I began to work for some of the local farmers.”
Once out in the world, a young impressionable Bill absorbed stories about logging, horses and hockey. “Bill Smith on Rockville Road was excellent at sharing stories,” he says. “I remember he told of one fellow who managed to get the horses to pull the lumber over the hill much faster than anyone else. He had a whip in each hand and his technique was persuasive. It all came out even one day. The canopy with the pipe frame was caught by the wind and the top of his thumb was cut clean off. However, the man’s wife did a good job sewing the tip back on. It did not turn black or fall off.”
Polio was more prevalent in the 1950s and the Elliott family had a lot of visits from Toronto and Sudbury cousins. Occasionally they brought Eddie Shack with them. He was an early defenceman and enforcer for the Leafs. Eddie only skated in straight lines at an opponent, or so it seemed. He would turn when he ran out of space. “Eddie became a good friend of my dad and he often talked about his hockey adventures,” says Bill. I went deer hunting with him once. One time Eddie was up here in his dad’s car; he was bored so he decided to shoot 22 hood ornaments off the car.”
As a boy, Bill used to carry water to the men working in the field. “Once, when I was seven, I fell and pushed a small rock inot my knee,” he relates. “Dr. McQuay stopped in and said there was nothing he could do until the selling went down. Tom Debassige came by looking for me. He glanced at my knee, left and came back with a burdock leaf. He wrapped it around the swollen area. When I woke the swelling was down and the stone was lying in the burdock leaf. The doctor came back and mused about the benefits of Native medicine.” Two other things his dad learned from Tom were “how to cup hands to get a good drink of water and how to tie someone up by crossing their ankles around a small tree,” he adds.
At 16 Bill moved to Saskatchewan. “It was a new adventure,” he reflects. “My friend and I got to Sudbury, took a train to Capreol, then headed west on the Canadian National Railroad. Along the way, lots of people wanted to know where I was from. Nobody had ever heard of Manitoulin. After a while it was easier to say ‘I am from Ontario.’” That wasn’t quite enough information in one Saskatchewan store. “Where in Ontario?” the clerk asked. “Manitoulin,” Bill replied. The clerk responded enthusiastically: “I’m from Hilly Grove.” Bill was amazed to find a fellow Haweater in Frenchman’s Butte, Saskatchewan.
The young man from Mindemoya worked on sheep ranches, as well as dairy and cattle operations, in Saskatchewan. In Alberta, Bill became a ‘cat skinner,’ as oil rig bulldozer operators are known. “For one winter, I used to sleep on top of they plywood shed on the engine side of the dozer,” he remembers. “If the engine stopped in the cold for whatever reason, I had to jump down and restart it so it wouldn’t freeze. By then I had decided return to the Island but I needed my passage home.”
Back on Manitoulin, Bill got work with McNamara Construction dredging the harbour in Little Current. He also took a temporary job in Hearst. “They asked me what I did, and I replied ‘I’m a cat skinner,” he recounts. “They looked at me strangely and passed me by. A contractor in the next room overheard my response and said he would hire me. ‘You don’t say that here,’ he explained. ‘They think you are skinning cats.” In time, Bill’s prediction about becoming a sailor on the Great Lakes came true. He made good money in the 1958 shipping season, at $485 a month plus room and board.
By then Norma Woods had come into his life. Bill met Norma when she came to pick up her father who was visiting with Bill’s brother. After some time, the two were married in Mindemoya United Church on a warm July 31 in 1959. “My sister Maryanne and her husband Ron Gilchrist stood up for us,” Mr. Elliott says. “I was nearly late to my own wedding. I had backed the car into the lake to wash it and the back wheels got stuck in mud.” Quick improvisation got the groom to the ceremony in his mother’s car.
The couple’s first home was a trailer in the Serpent River area so Bill could be closer to the Elliott Lake mine where he then worked. In due course, the couple had three sons. In 1969 Norma and the kids moved to the 174-acre Elliott farm on Manitoulin. “I stayed in Elliott Lake for five years until I had paid my father for the property,” Bill says.
The young family man got work with the township, ploughing snow in the winter and grading roads in the summer. “I worked there for 23 years and liked the first nine year with Ken McDermid as my supervisor,” he says. “I looked forward to working each day, although I never told Ken that. The only disagreement we had was one time we didn’t agree on the time. My watch had stopped!” he says with a chuckle. “Ken was easygoing and he trusted me to do the job. I never let him down.”
Mr. Elliott tried to pass on a good work ethic and knowledge to his boys, Bow and arrow shooting was a favourite. They also learned to drive an old army Jeep that had a slow gear on it. “Doug’s three sons and ours were given the job of filling in a sinkhole, two persons at a time,” explains Mr. Elliott. “One person drove the jeep and another threw the rock into the back at one end, and out into the sinkhole at the other, without stopping. The others were passengers. It worked well.”
The boys were ingenious about the use of an old snowmobile too. Bill was tired of starting it up each time they wanted to go out. If there was a bit of snow in the fuel tank it was even harder to start. He told them they could use it on their own when they could start it on their own. In a short time they devised a system where three boys would pull the cord simultaneously to start the reluctant engine.
The boys helped out with the 34 cows, the three horses, the chickens and the sugar shack. “Lloyd helped me build it,” says Mr. Elliott of the syrup building. “We had a smaller version that helped us with the design of this larger version. A new evaporator came in 2005. We have been making maple syrup for 35 years and our production of sap has grown to meet local demand.”
In the early years, “we had to collect all the sap by hand using a horse and wagon,” he points out. “Norma would bring the five-gallon buckets to the trail and we would carry them back to the shack with a yoke that held two buckets at a time.”
One winter Bill fell in the snow and had five gallons of sap running down his leg. Now he has a system of plastic feeder lines. “I was told by an engineer and a school teacher that my idea of using a vacuum cleaner pump would not work,” he says. “It provides only three-and-a- half pounds of pressure but need 14 pounds or more. Surprisingly my vacuum pump was enough and the system works just dandy. We clear about 60 gallons in a good year. Last year it was too warm, over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and we only made 15 gallons. The snow was very deep too.”
People love to drink the raw sap, just plain or as tea, he notes. “The nephew of Dave Newell, referee for the NHL for about 35 years, has been coming over to enjoy maple tea for the last 20 years,” he says. “It can be a problem if you drink too much. You get the runs, as one kid in a snowsuit found out.”
Bill was a volunteer fireman for about five years. He remembers the fire truck that was bought from Niagara Falls. The aged vehicle was not road-worthy for long and was replaced by a truck from Sault St. Marie. Son Lloyd works at the local arena and has three boys of his own. John, a salesman in Sault St. Marie, was a radio announcer in Elliott Lake for a while and he has a daughter. Glen Charles was in the navy for 17 years. “Norma and I visited him once while he was stationed in Halifax,” says his dad. “Norma proudly got the mother’s salute when she came on board. He was happy with his navy job until women sailors were brought on board. That seemed to change the dynamics and he decided to leave. Today he is a shift boss for the Apollo gold mine and lives in Timmins. He has two boys.
One of the people Mr. Elliott looked up to was a Saskatchewan rancher named John Pepper. “He was the last of the real cowboys and he knew more about cows and horses than a vet, and he could rope any animal with one try,” he says. “I would love to visit him again and see the ice go out of the Alberta portion of the North Saskatchewan River. In April, a 12-foot wall of ice with chunks of ice eight-feet deep, 100-feet long and 50-feet wide moves towards you with great speed. Sometimes huge sharp edges rise and slice off nearby trees. It was awe-inspiring to see such power.”
Norma and Bill are gracious hosts. Since our visit had extended into lunch hour, the writer was kindly offered a meal that was reminiscent of her early childhood, specifically of her father’s cooking: chicken soup and canned ham sandwiches with wonderful home-baked cookies for desert. It was a special treat to end our visit.
Mr. Elliott quips that his strength is in “telling lies,” by which he means stories, that he has learned over the years. “It’s given me a way of seeing life with a smile on my face,” he chuckles.
He still enjoys making maple syrup. “When I moved here from Elliott Lake, I was pleasantly surprised to find our home was Central Station for family and friends,” he says. “This is where my roots are,” Bill points to the room in his house. “My dad was born in that bedroom,” he notes.
“People have left the Island to make big money but most have come back,” he muses. “We are lucky to have such a peaceful Island. We don’t have a 12-lane highway here. In Toronto driving with my son in his truck, I was frightened by all the traffic. ‘Get me out of here; let’s never come back,’ I said. “When you compare Manitoulin to other places, I say there really is nowhere else. I am an intimate part of this special land that will never change in my time.”
Manitoulin Expositor, March 30, 2011
Now and Then
A Celebration of Life on Manitoulin Mnaachtoong Maadsewin
By Petra Wall
‘Don Eadie Construction’ has served Manitouliners for over 50 years. Don’s business has graveled all the roads on Manitoulin at some point, the crusher making stops in over 100 communities between Thunder Bay and Parry Sound, putting in roads and sewage systems.
“It’s a family owned and operated business,” Don offers as introduction. “My son Casson and daughter Stacy are adept at running heavy equipment and we are the best! Our motto is ‘never quit.’ If we couldn’t do our best at a job, it wasn’t worth doing and certainly not worth admitting”, his smile grows. “The outcome had to be ‘fantastic’ as Ronnie Campbell of ‘Dad’s Auto’, Ice Lake always insisted.”
Paternal grandfather, John Eadie, arrived to the Greenbush area from Glasgow, Scotland in the late 1800s. “He must have been among the first European settlers here. He was related to the Hedges family that reportedly owned a good chunk of Young Street in Toronto. Grandfather Eadie was over 90 years old when he died, at home, cutting wood for my mother,” Don shares. “It was probably the best way for him to say goodbye”.
Maternal grandfather John Pyette was a fisherman in Michael’s Bay. “He was fishing when he froze his toes off one winter. Times were hard then,” Don continues. “On the other hand, winter and snowmobiling have always been important for me, in fact, I like to say I was born in a snowdrift on January 26, 1931.”
Parents were Florence Grace Pyette and Albert James Eadie. Dr. Caruthers was present for the birth. “It was just a mile or two from here and it wasn’t outside, but there was a lot of snow around the house.”
“Brother Alvin born four years later, worked for INCO for 40 years, retired and died of silicosis. They diagnosed it about a year ago and he never left the hospital,” Don explains, resigned to the vagaries that life can deal out.
There are four sisters and Dorothy has passed on. She was a school teacher in North Bay for 40 years. Viola owned a store in Tillsonberg and she has passed on. Shirley taught and lives in London. Joan still sells real estate in Guelph. “Joan’s husband Bill Stack was a crop duster in Texas when his plane wing was caught by the edge of a corn field. His body was almost totally burnt and he lost all his fingers and toes. He survived somehow, spending many months in the hospital. Eventually, he was supervisor for us.”
“I had wonderful parents. They taught us how to work, work, work,” he insists. “There seems to be less of a work ethic now.” At four years of age, Don was responsible for milking Millie. “She was a nice quiet cow and made my job easy. She seemed to know that I was just a baby.” Don was raised on a big farm with 200 cattle, 100 sheep and lots of turkeys to pluck in the fall. There was an eviscerating plant in Gore Bay then. Albert liked to do ‘butchering’ too and he had fewer regulations to contend with. Their famous ‘black-bronze’ turkeys were exported to England at Christmastime during the war. Apparently, people were ‘tickled pink’ to possess these special Manitoulin turkeys. “Christmas meant fun with lots of good food and turkey to eat. Festivities highlighted the season. My mother made it more special by being the best ‘bread-cooker’ around. My favourites were apple pie, rice pudding and bean soup. When I was nine, I was thrilled to get a wind-up train with its own track,” he boasts.
At six, Don attended school at Number Three Howland. “My parents didn’t like the rough way I was treated at this school so they moved me to Number Seven Greenbush. The teachers were good and my parents were happy,” he adds. “I did, however, get the strap once for leaving the schoolyard when I wasn’t supposed to. I remember pulling my hand out of the way and the teach wound up smacking her own thighs. She wasn’t happy, but I don’t recall further consequences.”
One of his first jobs was lighting the fire in the schoolhouse for $10 a month. “It was a two mile walk in snow up to my knees. I also had to sweep the floors and collect water to flush the toilets.” Later, Don worked for many of his neighbours. He was in high demand because he had a good reputation for doing an honest day’s work: 12 hours for $1. “I was full of ‘piss and vinegar’ in those years. Nothing could stop me.”
“We learned honesty was most important. Not being afraid of work and loving our neighbours counted too,” the retired entrepreneur muses. “I found over the years, that philosophy paid off in so many ways, from business arrangements to long-lasting friendships.” Don left school after he graduated from Grade8, with honours. His 1943 diploma, signed by G.M. MacVicar, stated that he had ‘completed the requirements for admission to a Collegiate Institute, High School, Continuation or Vocational School.’
“My dad liked to call himself a ‘rancher from the Greenbush’ and he worked pretty hard. Albert enjoyed cutting wood and then hauling it to Little Current to sell it. He always felt I would take over one day and he groomed for that role. We used to visit the CO-OP in Little Current a lot. That all changed when I got on Harvey Wilkin’s tractor. I knew my life was changed forever and I would never be a farmer.” The thrill and the sense of power that came with operating a big machine took over his senses. Don was compelled to earn his living this way.
At 16, in 1947, Don got his first truck with money he saved up over 10 years. “When I was six or seven, my dad had killed some lambs and took them to Ritchie’s in Little Current, where the TD bank is today. He gave me five dollars and I started a savings account. I’ve never looked back. All the money I earned from working for the neighbours went into my account.” Don often worked for his dad, cutting wood all day. Later he and a friend would head for Little Current and become ‘rinky dinks.’ They didn’t have time to play hockey, but they were part of the team that cleaned off the ice for games.
One day he and a cousin were coming home from town on the cutter. The snow was deep and the cutter overturned on a steep bank. Both shafts were broken. “We yelled at the horse to stop, but he wouldn’t. When we finally walked the three miles home we found the horse standing at the horse standing at the edge of the barn, his head in the doorway and the two broken shafts dragging behind him. My dad was very angry and the issue was not resolved until we bought a new cutter.”
In 1948, father Albert bought a new car. Don was still 16. “I was ‘ramming’ around a bit at the time so found opportunities to get the car and travel to various destinations between the Island and Sudbury. I would impress a young lady by going to Sudbury for a sandwich. It was all in fun. I would disconnect the speedometer cable so the mileage didn’t show up. My dad wondered why he had bald tires at 20,000 km.”
Ploughing the heavy clay soil was hard on the horses. They would sweat a lot and their shoulder pads would wear away at their skin. At 18, Don came up with a new idea. He connected a three-way hitch to a new Ferguson tractor that he purchased for $1,500 from an English manufacturer. He attached a plough and used the tractor to do what the horses had done before. He cut through the workload in no time and the horses didn’t have to suffer. “All the neighbours wanted me to do their ploughing. I made $2.50 an hour and the job was done quickly. At that time gas cost only 30 cents a gallon.”
The Sheguiandah resident met his wife, June Marie Casson, at a dance in Gore Bay in 1951. “I noticed this beautiful girl right away and knew I had to meet her.” They married later that year, on October 10, 1951, a crisp fall day. For their honeymoon, they visited Don’s sister Viola in Toronto and then planned a trip to Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, Viola insisted on coming along with her husband and three children.
“At 20, I was one to ‘push the pedal to the metal’ and that day on the Queen Elizabeth Highway as no exception,” he explains. “If others were going 50 miles and hour, I was doing 100.” Sure enough a policeman pulled him over. “Why are you in such a hurry,” he wanted to know. Don answered, “We’re heading to Niagara Falls for our honeymoon.” The policeman looked at the full car with four adults and three children, shook his head and said, “Well, go then but don’t go so fast.” No ticket was issued.
Another time, back on Manitoulin at dusk, Don was stopped by an unmarked cruiser and again, no ticket was issued. The policeman asked his name, did a background check and then said he had to be on his way. “You’re an honest man, just slow down,” he said as he left.
After the wedding, the couple moved into a home in Little Current, on Meredith Street, across from the hospital. “The hospital, liquor store and the police were conveniently close,” Don attests, jokingly. June worked at the IDA drugstore while Don continued with his construction projects, which took him away a lot. “June essentially raised the kids while I spent seven winters north of Lake Superior, loading pulp by hand and trucking it from Goulais Bay to the Sault. I worked my butt off trying to make a living.”
Don was also doing road construction for his own company, Don Eadie Construction Ltd. “Once in Blind River, I got my finger caught in the crusher. June’s sister Sheila lived near there and she took a needle and thread and stitched my finger back together.” In subsequent years, Mr. Eadie was in Sault Ste. Marie loading pulpwood onto the train’s gondola cars bound for Marathon Paper in Chicago.
Back home, Don recalls a tragic fire in 1959. Bill Ritchie had been a World War I veteran. He had only one leg. He couldn’t get out that day his home burned and he died in the house. Don showed me a drawing hanging on his wall. A small roofless house with three walls standing and a big maple tree growing in the middle told the story. This was all that was left of this veteran’s life. “I saw the smoke that day from Ten Mile Point. We didn’t have a fire-engine to call. Neighbours had to get the word out and come to each other’s aid. Sadly we didn’t get there in time to save Bill.”
In 1971 Don planned to fix up the Little Current house, but June wanted to build a new home instead. He dismantled the house in town and sold the lot. Then he built a beautiful new home for June near Sheguiandah in the Green Bush. June was happy. She got the horses she always wanted and she decorated the new abode with horse statues and paintings. The couple had six children: Carrie, who is married to Don McCulloch of Breakaway Sports, Jacqueline (Batman), Kim (Mace) of Parry Sound, son Casson, Stacey, and Jennifer, partner Michael Cywink.
In 1975, June and Don flew to Vancouver to see Carrie’s new baby. Flying was an amazing experience for Don. He just loved it. Carrie’s husband Don McCulligh used to play for the ‘World Hockey League’ in Vancouver. “Son-in-law Don took me down to the change room. I held his hockey stick and met some of the other players on the ‘world’ team. That was exciting.” Don and June also visited the Vancouver Aquarium to see the whales and sharks. They dipped their feet in the Pacific Ocean and explore the Bouchard Gardens in Victoria. It was April, but there were lots of flowers. “I bent down beside a bush to take a closer look at something. Suddenly I was eye to eye with a huge three-foot snake. I never moved so fast in my life. I hate snakes,” he confirms. “You asked me what scares me the most. It’s a snake and this one was lying right on top of the bush.”
“Winter has always been my favourite season. We did a lot of ‘ski-dooing’. It’s what I enjoyed most as a parent too. At one time, we had seven snowmobiles. There were lots of opportunities to go to Spanish or across the lake to the Killarney Inn for supper. There were fewer regulations, fewer eyes.” On one trip they were heading home with a larger group. It was foggy and their leader got lost. The group was moving at a good clip when Don noticed a tower south of Bageley Island. It wasn’t supposed to be there. “I caught up with the leader and convinced him to turn around. If we had continued in that direction we would have hit open water at a high speed.”
We used to own a short haired German pointer named Kaiser. “When he was about eight years old he was hit by a car. His leg was badly broken and was subsequently cut off by Dr. Rod Yuppie in Massey. We all thought that would be the end of him, but he learned to walk quite well on three legs and lived to be quite old.”
In 1994, Don lost his beloved June to cancer. “They called on November 22 that year to confirm the diagnosis. She died one month later on December 22, just before Christmas.” June’s mother had suffered a similar fate, as did two of Don’s sisters. A year later, in 1995, Don himself had a bypass operation that involved six arteries. “I remember coming out of the operating room, seeing three of my girls. I asked them ‘when will this operation start?’ They said, ‘you just had it, it’s all done.”
Two years ago Don was diagnosed with diabetes. “I knew something was wrong when my toe turned black. I was sent to a specialist in Sudbury. He looked at it and said it had to come off.
“Ten years ago we all got together for a family reunion at Grand Bend. That was a wonderful trip and resulted in new memories. Looking ahead, I would like to see Hawaii one day, because I heard it was a great place to visit. I also hope to go back to Vancouver again. The 707 we flew on in 1975 was a major highlight of my trip. Before June died she had gifted me with a certificate to get a pilot’s licence, but she died before I could do it. Thinking back, I was too busy to see that happen at that time. Most of all, now, I would love to own a new Cadillac.”
“Now that I have more time. I can think a little more about politics. I think the government’s share of the economy is too large and the regulatory structure too onerous. Some businesses can’t survive. If I could go back in time I would also make native and non-native people equal, with equal rights and obligations, included taxes. Then there would be more equality for all the people on the Island. What happened at the residential schools was wrong. That should never have happened.
“If someone asks me about Manitoulin, I tell them the truth. Manitoulin is one of the very best places in Canada. People are friendly and we have a good ethnic mix of Ango-European and Anishnabe people. Don Eadie Construction is here and we have always been proud to be on Manitoulin. When the Biosphere people wanted to take over my land with their rules and their signage, I asked them to leave. We still have some rights. In most places, high technology is ‘sticking its nose into everything,’ taking over the world. We are a little behind here and I am comfortable with that.”
“Looking back now, I know how important it was to do an honest day’s work and pay your bills on time. It sure pays off. More work came my way than I expected,” Don reflects, reclining in an armchair that lifts to ease the transition to standing. “I intend to live as long as I can, still participating a little in the family business,” he concludes. “You see that flag out there in the middle of my lawn. It is an important Canadian symbol. I am a real proud Canadian and a devoted Manitouliner.”
Manitoulin Expositor, September 28, 2011
Woman survives Honduran pirate raid, returns safe to Island
MANITOULIN—The terrible story of a pirate attack in Honduras that killed a Canadian boater while his daughter heroically fought them off has a particular resonance on Manitoulin, as the survivor spent the summer here before joining her father on his yacht. And it's here that she will likely spend the next few months, or longer, recovering from her ordeal. Myda Egrmajer, a vibrant young woman in her mid-20s, hails originally from Ottawa but arrived on Manitoulin this summer to stay with her mother Willa Wilson, a teacher who resides in Kagawong. She worked at Red Lodge as a waitress, logging long shifts to save money for her trip to the Caribbean. "It's just a big, huge nightmare," said Natalie Parrington, who worked with Ms. Egrmajer and became very fond of her over the course of their time together. "She's such a spirited person, and was so stoked about going on this trip. "Ms. Egrmajer met up with her father, Milan, just a few weeks ago, according to news reports. The sailor, a former engineer who had spent time in the navy, was in the third year of a voyage along the eastern coast of the US and Central America. Last Thursday, the father and daughter encountered rough weather while en route from Guatemala to Belize, and sought shelter in a remote lagoon on the Honduran coast, according to the Globe and Mail. The next day local authorities found Mr. Egrmajer's body inside the vessel, with bullet wounds to his chest and abdomen. Ms. Egrmajer is believed to have been on board when the shooting occurred and for several hours afterwards, but was able to scare off the attackers with a flare gun. She was eventually rescued by a private vessel, operated by Australians, and is reported to be physically unharmed and on her way home now from Belize. Ms. Parrington first learned of her friend's situation while listening vaguely to the radio on Saturday. "It was such a strange progression," she said. "I heard something about a German sailor in the gulf, and thought, it can't be her. Then I stopped what I was doing—and they said her name. "She's been in a state ever since, worrying about her coworker and wrestling with what she must have experienced. "We aren't extremely close but we worked together for two months straight and just jibed," said Ms. Parrington. "The one thing I keep thinking about is her energy and spirit, and how unfair it is. But I'm hoping that it will be those things—her vibrant nature and positivity—that will make her cope. "Ms. Parrington also senses "she is very tight with her family," and expects Myda will be surrounded by support when she gets back to Canada. Others who worked with Ms. Egrmajer at Red Lodge, including Greg Sutherland and Sheila Bowes, were equally rattled by the news of their colleague's misfortune, and praying for her safe return. A graduate of Trent University, Ms. Egrmajer was fairly independent and well-travelled for her young age. She spent two years in Ecuador, noted Ms. Parrington, becoming fluent in Spanish. In her teen years, according to a report, she travelled to Tanzania on a cultural exchange program. Her parents had separated, but her father visited Manitoulin this summer for a family gathering, at which uncles and aunts were also in attendance. By Sunday, CBC News was reporting that Ms. Egrmajer had spent Saturday night at the home of a Canadian diplomat in Belize, and was now bound for "her mother's home in Northern Ontario." Other family members were expected to gather here to welcome her and provide comfort.
Manitoulin West Recorder, December 08, 2010
Mr. J. H. Biehl received a telegram on Monday evening informing him of the sudden death of his brother, Mr. C. F. Biehl, Glendale, Cal., who died in the General Hospital of that city following a car accident.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, July 23, 1931
About forty of the friends of Mrs. Oscar Burns gathered at the home of Mrs. Dr. Strain, on Monday evening and held a shower in her honor. After the gifts had been unwrapped accompanied by many humorous verses, congratulations and best wishes were extended to the bride. The remainder of the evening was spent at bridge and other games, after which lunch was served, bringing to a close a most delightful evening.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, February 2, 1933
Richard Pidgeon of Silver Water Injured
Fuse cap Exploded Inflicting Painful Injuries
Richard Pidgeon, aged 15, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Pidgeon, Silver Water received painful injuries to his left hand and face when a fuse cap exploded. Finding a fuse cap among some other rubbish at the rear of the house the young lad proceeded to open it up and when the explosion occurred he was holding the cap on the back of an old….and endeavoring to open it with a hammer.
His left thumb was taken off at the first joint, his second finger at the second joint, his overalls ripped to pieces and his face and eyes were injured as a result of the explosion which took place. Dr. Strain of Gore Bay was immediately called and dressed the injured members and at the present time he is getting along fine.
The Recorder, Gore Bay, September 3, 1931
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