This post is the third in a series of childhood memories of life on a farm from the 1950’s to the end of the 1970’s, the end of the family farm. The earlier posts are here : A Child’s Memories of The Farm in The 1950’s, and Life on The Farm in The 1960’s”.
By now I had finished my public school education and had entered the high school days in nearby Cobourg Ontario. This was a traumatic change from a one room school with normally from twenty to thirty pupils and one teacher of eight grades in one room! High school had grades nine to thirteen in a sprawling building with hundreds of students taught by multiple instructors. I was painfully shy back then and had only one friend in all the years I was there, the one and only fond memory I recall from high school was on lunch break we would walk several blocks across the town to Andrew’s Bakery for arguably the best ‘honey dipped’ donuts in the world.
About this time in my life, I was volunteered by my parents to work weekends and summers for a great elderly couple who lived about fifteen miles away. After walking this route for a few days, it was suggested by the couple I should stay in their spare bedroom during the week. Well that sounded okay but on the first night staying there, after the evening meal (all farmer’s wives are great cooks) what was there to do in the evening hours? Problem solved, at about eight pm we gathered for the evening prayer session and lights out! Back to walking again until my brother ‘buckboard’ Bill sold me his antique bicycle which was falling apart after he had experimented and failed with mounting a lawn mower motor over the rear tire! One evening on the way home coming down Glourourim School Hill with no brakes (there never was), I had to slow down for an approaching vehicle. With the sole of by boot shoved into the bike’s front fork, guess what happened…I ended up kissing the gravel road!
I recall some early memories of the Emond General Store in Camborne where we picked up our mail, a few groceries and gasoline. Albert would allow the family to charge items at the store with no interest ever charged. On the day I received my first Visa card and was very anxious to test drive it, I pulled up to the gas pumps, filled the tank and proudly presented the card. He wisely suggested that I put it away and put it on my ‘tab’ as it cost us both unnecessary interest and paper work. For my first year working I would often fill the tank on the weekend, charge it and pay for it on the next payday without fail.
In my early teen age years I remember my first true love, a cute young lady I will call ‘Louie’ who lived on a farm some fifteen miles away. Every weekend through at least one summer, I would pedal my old bicycle for many miles over the side roads to visit her. We would walk hand in hand down a long lane-way and talk. Occasionally we would accompany her parents on a Sunday drive and enjoy sitting side by side in the backseat of the Pontiac. Her big brother Bob and his girlfriend Linda would some times invite us to double date with them to places such as Pratt’s pond for ice skating or maybe to the Norwood Fair for a day of fun. One time we had a double date with a couple in an old Chevy, while touring around town we pulled into a motel parking lot for a ‘U’ turn and the car quit. What were we to do? We couldn’t phone her parents for help because her mother had taken me aside before the date, and I quote “if you ever get my daughter in ‘trouble’ I will kill you!” Thank goodness the car finally started.
We occasionally held a ‘field party’ down in the ‘flat’s’ or meadow on the farm, this was a quiet area away from any neighbours. We would have a bonfire for roasting marshmallows and hot dogs, many drinks (Pepsi’s only, no alcohol) and someone always had a ‘boom box’ for musical entertainment. This was one of the most beautiful areas of the farm and my father always had a dream to retire from farming and open a private campground near the stream.
It was during the 1960’ that the family farm began to decrease in size from its original one hundred and ten acres. As my father aged he would sell an acre of land to a few of his children. A choice thirty four acre parcel of land we now refer to as the Taylor property, on the north-east corner of the farm was sold to a great couple where they erected a beautiful log home on the highest hill between Lake Ontario and Rice Lake. As high school teachers they would spend a lot of the summer holidays vacationing on the east coast. I was happy when they asked me me to check on the house frequently while they gone. At my young age I felt like the “King of the Hill” while I was there.
Soon after this sale, the local school board approached my father to purchase a couple of acres of land for a new multiple room public school with a large gymnasium and a playground to replace the aging one room school house. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to attend school here. It was completed the year I entered high school. I often wonder if a year here would have better prepared me for my first year in high school. With the building of the new school came the need to replace the rickety Waldon’s bridge on what was called the Branch Road and opening an unopened road allowance running through our farm, reducing the size of our largest field. This road allowance was always listed on the farm’s Deed of Land. The Branch Road’s name was changed to Kennedy Road and the unopened road allowance became the east end of Jibb Road. All these changes became necessary for the safe movement of school buses in the area.
A beautiful eleven acre parcel of land on the south-end of the farm was purchased for a beautiful chalet style home as part of the former Camborne Ski Club and what we now call the Doyle property. My late sister Sharon, Barbara and I always enjoyed visiting Pat and Carol here. My sister Barbara and I still spend hours here enjoying their hospitality and reminiscing about the history of the village.
When my father passed away after a lengthy illness (leukemia) in 1973, my mother sold what was left of the sixty acre farm land to a land developer. Shortly after the farm was sold, well drilling in preparation for a new subdivision nearby hit a powerful “artesian well” on the spot of our past field parties! This well was capped, but the high water pressure blew it off and the water shot many feet into the air for many years until it was finally harnessed for all of the water requirements needed for the large sub-division nearby. The William Hore-James Ford bridge and the attractive family home, both on Albert’s Alley are all that are left of the farm my fond memories of it.