Our First Year in Canada…Part 1…

As previously discussed in this post: https://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/the-kilbourne-vine-caper/, my family moved from Ohio to southern Ontario in the summer of 1969.  I had just turned 8.

My brother and I stayed at our grandparents while our parents drove ahead with the U-Haul van with what was left of our belongings after the big moving sale.  That trip was a little too eventful – they ran out of gas on the “401,” a major highway – Dad used Mom’s lipstick to write “Gas” on his handkerchief, and tied it on the aerial of the truck.  They sat there for six hours in the August heat before somebody pulled over to help them!   Once they got back on the road, Mom and Dad were flabbergasted to see people walking around at midnight in downtown Toronto…in Oregon where we lived (a suburb of Toledo), we locked our doors at 9 p.m., and didn’t stick our noses out until morning!

This postcard of Yonge Street in the 1960's would be similar to what my parents saw when they arrived in Toronto...

After putting the furniture and household effects in storage, our parents returned to pick us up.  The trip north was very long…about twelve to fourteen hours (my dad has always driven like a turtle).  It took a while to find a place to live, so we improvised by renting summer cottages.  The first one was near Peterborough on the Skootamatta River.  It had huge spiders, and we spent the nights listening to rodents run around the rafters over our heads…my “townie” mom was not a happy camper!  Outside, my dad showed me a fallen tree trunk which had been clawed by a very large bear…

This photo shows the damage a bear can inflict on a tree...

We spent the second week at a cottage on Lake Ontario near Brighton.  It was vermin-free as far as I remember.  It had bunkbeds, and I claimed the top, as my five-year-old brother was a “fraidy-cat.”   One night, Mom brought us in a special treat before bedtime.  It was dark, and I’d already taken off my glasses (did I mention that I only see shapes and colours without correction?).  There was a little white paper cup with peanuts in it, and something sticking out the top, which I assumed was candy…wrong!  I bit into a perfectly delicious…white birthday candle!  I spit it out right away…

Peanuts...

Mom and Dad found a house to rent on Highway #33 near Carrying Place.  It was stone, and more than 100  years old.  The walls were a couple of feet thick.  The house sat on a hill at the end of a long driveway.  There were several acres of land around it, a pond, and a few outbuildings.  We arrived after dark on Labour Day, the day before school traditionally starts in Canada.  Our parents took us to school the first day, and got us registered.  That afternoon, we were to come home on the bus.  I remember my mom giving me a note for the bus driver – it said our house was “a mile west of Carrying Place on Hwy 33.”

Jeff and I heading down our driveway to the bus stop (after we found out where it was!)...

We were on the bus for at least an hour…every other kid had gotten off, and our poor bus driver was driving around with two little kids who didn’t know where they lived or what their house looked like!  My frantic parents were driving around back roads trying to find the bus – they finally did!  We were quite happy to see them!  After that, we found out that the kids across the road also went to our school, and we got on and off the bus together – Willy and Judy became our friends and playmates.

Our bus looked like this one...

Our house was neat because it was big and old.  The water was no good though…it smelled of sulphur, and we didn’t drink it!  Instead of a kitchen table, we sat in a wooden booth to eat.  There were two sets of stairs: one at the front and one at the back (those were curvy and dangerous!).  We liked to play with an old pump organ in the dining room.  I remember catching a tiny toad once and losing him in the house…I’m guessing he ended up falling down one of the registers.

This toad was the size of the one I lost in the house...

Since my father had recently “retired” as a Methodist minister (he worked as a social worker when we first moved to Canada), my parents felt it necessary to attend church.  The closest denomination we found to ours in Ontario was the United Church.  We started going to church in Trenton – the minister’s son, James, is still one of my brother’s best friends, forty years later.  We’d often go to the minister’s house for lunch after church – his wife was an excellent cook!  There were three boys and a girl in the family, and we always had a good time playing with them.  My brother and James used to get in trouble playing in the church – one time they were fooling around with the organ, and didn’t realize that the “tunes” they were playing were being heard all over downtown Trenton!

King Street United Church, Trenton, where Jeff and his friend played...

To be continued…

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1 Comment

Filed under family, memories

One response to “Our First Year in Canada…Part 1…

  1. planejaner

    nice trip down memory lane! (I am finally finding time this morning to read it! :))
    jane

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