Tag Archives: Trenton

Our First Year in Canada…Part 2…

So, I left off yesterday with my brother and his friend entertaining the citizens of Trenton with their creative rendition of “Chopsticks” on the church organ…I believe the boys were probably reprimanded by James’ dad after hearing the racket from his study in the parsonage next door.  I seem to recall at least one incident involving small boys with squirt guns and unsuspecting parishioners too.  The church also had a fairly large bat population…it was amusing to look up high in the sanctuary and imagine the rodents hanging upside down from the ceiling detaching themselves and landing on some old lady’s Sunday hat (it certainly would provide a diversion from the sermon)!

The bats were quite easy to see on the light-coloured ceiling...

Some Sundays after church, we would go out for lunch – we liked A&W, which we didn’t have in Ohio.  They had a drive-in, where the server would come to your car and hang your tray full of food right on the car window!  Root beer is still my favourite pop!  My parents also took us to a Chinese restaurant – until we moved to Canada, I’d never had anything as exotic as Chinese food!  They used to make little hats out of the paper napkins when they put them on the table!  I liked eggrolls and chicken balls – my tastes have matured since then!

We used to collect these mugs at our house...

When we arrived in Ontario, we’d never lived in the country before.  There was a wealth of things we could do that we’d never had a chance to try in the suburbs.  One of the first things my dad did was build us a clubhouse out of scrap wood.  It had a ladder in the middle leading to a hole in the roof.  A favourite game was climbing up the ladder and then jumping off the roof (which was probably about 5 feet high).  We played for hours in there with our new friends, Willy and Judy.

Growing up in Ohio, ice skating was a totally foreign concept to us…I was watching the Comedy Channel last night, and heard a comedienne joke about Canadians being born wearing ice skates!  All my friends in Grade 3 could ice skate, except me (they’d all been doing it for years)!  I had a pair of roller skates (the kind with a key that you strap on over your shoes), but the movements of roller skating and ice skating are completely different.   So, I dragged an old wooden kitchen chair down to the pond, and proceeded to teach myself to skate.  Barbara Ann Scott had absolutely nothing to worry about…maneuvering my fork from my plate into my mouth without dropping the food is as coordinated as I get…Needless to say, I fell…a lot!

This is me in my fashionable parka and white figure skates...

Another winter joy was tobogganing…there was rarely enough snow in Ohio for that!  We never had snowpants…we would just put on two or three pairs of pants, and stay outside until we were soaked or frozen!  Dad used to pull us around on the big wooden toboggan too.  Until we moved to Canada, we’d never had to take off our shoes to put on boots before – our old boots just went on over our shoes, like galoshes!  We’d come in the house after being outside for three hours in sub-zero temperatures, and hold our feet over the register trying to thaw our frozen toes…oh, the pain!

We had "real" snowfalls in Ontario...this is Jeff and I standing on the snowpile at the end of our driveway...

Willy and Judy introduced us to “Skidooing.”  Willy was 8 and Judy was 9 – they both were driving their own snowmobiles at that point (snowmobiles were a lot smaller in the late ’60’s than they are now)!  Willy used to fly around the fields at tremendous speed…I can’t remember if he wore a helmet over his red hair or not…Both kids had Skidoo suits (one piece snowsuits) and Skidoo boots, which had removable liners and ties at the top.

These are what "Skidoo boots" looked like when I was a kid...

In the spring, we’d go down to the pond and catch tadpoles in old glass jars…it was fun to watch them develop into little frogs…we’d always let them go after that!

Tadpoles in a jar...our water was muddier than this...

I saw my first garter snakes at that house…there was lots of long grass out back that they delighted in hiding in, and then slithering out when we least expected it!  Snakes aren’t my favourite animal!  There were also rabbits and groundhogs around…some of the groundhogs were huge!  Their big teeth scared me!

Scary little sucker isn't he?

In the summer, we went to North Beach, which was near Brighton on Lake Ontario.  The water was cold, and there were lots of rocks.  We had fun, but I was happy later when my parents discovered the Sandbanks in Prince Edward County, and we started going there instead!  The water was warmer, and the beach was sandy!  We used to stand in the water and jump when the waves came in…

Sign at entrance to North Beach...

In the late summer of 1970, we said goodbye to the stone house…my parents bought a house in Rednersville, a few miles away.  It meant that we would have to change schools, but we finally had our own place (it was our homestead for the next 30+ years!).

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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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