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.

Compositions Circa 1928 (Part One)

I have a scribbler that belonged to my mother in 1928 in which she wrote stories for English Composition.  She would have been eleven years old.  They are done with a fountain pen, or with a pencil, or sometimes with a combination of both.  The pencil lead broke, the inkwell went dry – who knows.  The penmanship is sometimes exquisite, and sometimes a hurriedly scrawled mess with a careless spelling mistake or two.  I think these must have been assigned subjects, because some of them are less enthusiastically done than others.  No matter.   I’m just thrilled to be able to get a small glimpse of the child my mother used to be.

A Tramp In The Woods

“This is a very good year for nuts, isn’t it Marguerite?”  I asked one fine October morning.  “Let’s go to the bush after Saturday’s work is done.”  This was agreed to at once.

The Saturday’s work was done in a few hours.  And away we went after making up a small lunch.

The leaves were very pretty.  “If we would stand still or even sit here for awhile we would be covered in leaves,” I happened to say.  “Indeed we would”, said Marguerite.

We saw very many small animals and at last caught a small white rabiit that was lame.  It was a very nice pet.  After lunch we visited the Maple Syrup Camp, an old cave, and an owl’s home.

At last we were on our way home with the rabbit.  We were all as hungry as bears.  But as happy as larks.

*****

A Tramp Coming To Our Home

One fine summer afternoon mother asked me to stay at home while she went to town.  I said I would.  As my favourite pastime was reading, I sat behind the table and read a very interesting book called “Edna’s Escape”.  In a little while I heard a rap at the door.  It made me shiver for I had been reading about the awful time Edna had been having.  All I could do was to go to the door and this I dreaded.  But at last I gained courage and went.

There in front of me was an ugly tramp.  Mother often said that tramps are dangerous.  I made up my mind to take no chances.  “Well my girl, you are a regular housekeeper.  What are you going to do when you are big?” the tramp began.

“Well I don’t think that’s for me to tell”  I said.  The tramp frowned at me.  “But what do you want?” I said.

“A match, a piece of bread, and any other things you have”, said the tramp.  “What do you want with all these things?”  said I.  “I want the match to light my pipe, and the bread to eat, of course”  “But where is your pipe?” I said.  The tramp turned and walked to the other side of the door and then he said “Get me the bread.  Then I will tell.”  I went and got a loaf of bread.  He smacked his lips and said “Give it to me.”  I gave it to him.  He turned around very quickly and said as he went away “I’ve got the bread now.  I’ll come back for the matches another day.”  He then disappeared down the lane.

I thought he had played a good trick on me.  I never saw him again, nor he never came back for his matches.

Margaret Elaine Scott, 1928.