Tag Archives: rail trail

Our Town Circa 1928

In my mother’s scribbler is an eleven year old’s version of her home town.  She starts off with some enthusiasm and then peters out by the end.  No doubt it was an assignment (No.9) by a teacher attempting to instill some civic pride in her students.

Port Elgin Ontario is situated on the beautiful shores of one of our Great Lakes called Lake Huron.  This small town has a very small population.  On the west of it is Lake Huron and on the south is a large hill which we call “The Mountain.”  From here, in the evenings, we can see a pretty sight of our town.  On the east is a large mill creek running into the Saugeen River which runs one of our mills.  On the north is a nice road leading to Southampton, five miles away.  A little farther on is the Electric Light Plant which supplies our town with lights.

Electric Light Plant, 1905
Electric Light Plant, 1905 (Photo credit: OSU Special Collections & Archives)

Port Elgin has a very large factory which employs men and women.  They make many brooms and brushes and they export them to other places.  It belongs to the Stevens, Hepner & Comapny.  There is a railway station on the east which is visited each day by many trains.  Many cattle, horses, pigs, sheep and other animals are exported from here to Toronto and other places.  Beside it is an elevator where farmers bring their grain to be stored.Our town has many streets.  Some are Emma, Gustavus and Goderich.  There is a public library, theatre and town hall.  In front of the library are two monuments in memory of our heroes.

There are nine churches.  There are two schools, public and high.  There is also a large park where there are benches and other things.  There are many sports in Port Elgin.  There is skating on the ice and playing ball and other games.

There is a row of maple trees leading to the park and many on the side of the road and flower beds have been planted here and there.

And what else is there to say about your town, which is just your boring old town.  This site goes into considerably more detail than could be contained in a child’s notebook.  Yay for real historians who write these things down making records for the curious. 

My parents never lived far from this town, and for awhile lived in it, not far from the Stevens Hepner factory and right beside what used to be the railroad tracks and is now the Rail Trail.  I think those were very happy years for them, freed from the hard work of living on the farm, and still in good health and independent. 

The library is still there, looking remarkably unchanged.  The main street is a little busier, fewer horses, more cars. 

Like my mother, I’ve started off with some enthusiasm and petered out at the end.

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My Hometown

I grew up on a farm near what is now called Saugeen Shores, (Port Elgin, Southampton and Saugeen Township amalgamated.) My highschool was in Port Elgin, so I suppose I can claim that town as my own, even though it doesn’t exist exactly as that anymore – the town or the building. It’s weird to see the shopping centre where I used to go to school.

The sunsets are still incredible, and the beaches along the shores of Lake Huron are still gorgeous, no matter how built up and touristy they try to make them. There are maple trees and cottages everywhere and the population more or less doubles every summer. It’s sort of famous now for its Pumpkin-Fest weekend in October as well.

I’ve still got lots of family there, and that’s why I go back. It’s hard to get all nostalgic about things when they’re forever changing and I don’t recognize them anymore. When I was quite small one of my aunts took me inside the car of a passenger train because I was dying of curiosity to know what it looked like in there. Now the train station is gone, the trains and the tracks are gone, and I’ve walked along the ‘rail trail’ like a tourist trying to remember how it used to be.

When mom and dad left the farm they lived in a little white house right beside the rail trail and the changes just kept happening. A little grocery store where they liked to shop closed down, forced to do so by the opening of a giant chain. They lived on Victoria street, but when the two towns joined the street name was changed to Arlington because there was already a Victoria street in the adjoining town. Mom was quite put out. To her ” the Arlington” was the name of a not so classy hotel on main street known for carousing and drunken revelry. Plus she had to send out change of address notices when she hadn’t even moved anywhere.

Every visit there’s something new, the old things disappear, people change, things get better, or things get turned upside down – its hard to keep up. Nothing ever stays the same, but then why would you want it to? It’s a great way to annoy the next generation, remeniscing about how things used to be.

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