Saturday, December 13, 2008

Visit Erin's Oldest Cemetery

Come take a stroll through Erin's oldest cemetery, located just north of David's Restaurant (Sideroad 17), on the 9th line. To see closeups of these images, just click on the show - it will take you to the album.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Peek Into Her World!

Dr. Frances Armstrong, now deceased, created fantastic, miniaturized worlds in the home she shared with her husband Richard, in their old farmhouse in Erin. Dr. Armstrong was fascinated by the subject of miniaturization and created many dioramas depicting scenes from literature. Read the story in Sideroads Magazine.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Crewson Ridge, Town of Erin

Crewson Ridge is a new 17-home development at Crewsons Corners in Erin Township.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Barbers in Erin

Many years ago, Steen's Dairy on Main St. was the site of Joe Steen's barber shop. This barber pole used to be taken by Mr. Steen to the CNE to advertise his haircutting services. It was reportedly never used at his permanent location here in Erin. It has since been sawn in half and it now graces the facade on the garage of a Main St. home.

Crewson Reunion 2007

It was such an enjoyable experience meeting all the members of the Crewson clan at the reunion August 15. (Click for Full Size Show!) After researching the project and photographing the farm over a period of two years, it has been a highlight to finally meet the people who are related to such a resilient and incredible family.

Here, you will see photos of the barn, house, and the tombstone of Morgan Crewson, located at Everton Cemetery. Historical photos are courtesy of Carole and Wilma Tyrer - one of their nicest treasures is the old Crewson bible, which includes Morgan Crewson’s signature taken from a marriage certificate supplied by Carole.

There are also photos of pottery shards that I collected several months after a visit I had with Carole at the farm. The ground had just been graded and I walked around collecting what I could find. It is indeed fascinating looking at the pottery, all fragments of tea sets and dishes your ancesters ate from, including some gorgeous flow blue china.

About a month ago, I went inside the house and walked around looking for more items of interest. I discovered some wallpaper fragments still adhered to the inside of the window frames on the northeast corner and these I carefully removed. One was a very striking dark red paper and the other was a very faded pine tree motif. I imagine that the very resourceful Crewsons probably made up their own paint!

I have also included a file of three stories I wrote for various publications, including Sideroads Magazine. Although I prize accuracy very highly, my main aim always when writing these historically based stories is to excite people about their own heritage and to preserve as much as they can for future generations.

Your friend,
Sandra Traversy

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Morgan Crewson Homestead, Erin Township, Ontario

This farm has been recorded as the oldest stone barn and house in Erin Township and both have been stabilized by a developer, Thomasfield Homes during their conversion of the 200-acre property into a housing development. The buildings were both gutted and the barn was renovated into a $3 million home. The house was gutted, fitted with new windows and doors and the stonework on both was restored and repointed. Step back in time and see the Crewson Photo Album. Thank you to Carole Tyrer and her mom Wilma for providing the Crewson family bible and some of the historical photos seen here.

Doris Fines & The Kitchen Table Reporters

Doris Fines was yet to become a newspaper columnist when this photo was taken of her. The typewriter belonged to Kathleen Kirkwood, also an Advocate reporter.

I used to think that history operated in a linear, mechanical fashion – like keys on an old typewriter, tapping out a story in a steady lettered line - one fact, one date at a time. That idea has revealed itself to be partially true, but the rich histories of Hillsburgh and Erin have evolved more like sticky spiderwebs - their radial threads running out in all directions, attaching to each other and to all within reach.

Those feelings of connection, so readily experienced in a small community, were realized one sunny afternoon as I approached a garage sale on a driveway on Daniel St. at the home of Harry and Linda Johnson. Linda had numerous items for sale that day and as we talked I told her that I like to write about local history. Soon she was pointing to a box at my feet, telling me it had belonged to her mother, Kathleen Kirkwood, once an Advocate reporter. Linda recalled how at 15, coming home from school she could hear the tap-tapping of her mother typing as she turned the corner onto Spring St. “She had her orange cat sitting in the case at the top of the typewriter.”

These rural women writers worked for the local country newspapers from their homes, usually off their kitchen tables. The contents of these early columns were mostly devoid of personal or political comments and consisted entirely of social “news” – a listing of who was visiting whom, and who was in the hospital. Unless you personally knew these people, it was pretty dry stuff – their references to those in their communities who’d recently died generally offered the most informative content! Through the 60’s and 70’s newspaper journalism started to flourish and these writers sometimes spoke out and expressed their views on what was happening around them.

In 1937, the Advocate printed social news from Mimosa, Everton, Orton, Belfountain, Conningsby and Rockside. Eight years later, in 1945, the Advocate called on its readers to make these columns their own, by contributing social and personal items of interest. Notices pertaining to births, deaths and marriages were inserted at no charge and added, “If you have friends visiting you, there is no nicer compiment you can pay your guests than to take the trouble to see that their names are mentioned in your local paper.”

Other writers who’s columns graced the Advocate pages over the years included: Mary Ballentine, Mrs. Leo Jamieson & Mrs. R. Shortill (Ballinafad}, Mrs. Reg McCreary (Cedar Valley), Mrs. D.G. Robertson (Ospringe), Miss Dorothy McKinnon (Hillsburgh), Mrs. H. Thompson (Marsville), Mrs. Fred MacArthur (Churchill), Judi Petherick (Alton), Mrs. K.M. Raeburn (Caledon) and long-time and published writer Berniece Trimble in Belfountain. Today, the tradition is carried on by Joyce Graham in Hillsburgh.

Berniece Trimble published under the “Belfountain News” column, reporting also for the Orangeville Banner and the Brampton Times. In a November phone interview two years ago, before she passed away, she said there were regular contacts who would inform her of news in her area and she’d phone around as well. Berniece started writing in the early 1950’s, publishing alongside Alma Corbett, whose family had owned the Belfountain General Store. When they died, Alma took it over. Berniece said, “Everyone used to say that if you said anything in Alma’s store, it would get in the newspaper!”

Another well known writer of the times was Doris Fines, who today, at 93 lives at The Ellington on Metcalf St. in Guelph. She reported for the Advocate with “Dateline Ospringe,” as well as contributing to the Guelph Mercury and the Acton newspapers. She says she was paid, but not very much and the social news filled a need at the time. “Now there’s more to do, more places to go. People didn’t go out to things like they do now and so they were more interested in what others around them were doing – they especially enjoyed reading about people visiting from a distance - that was news!
“When we moved to the farm at Ospringe, Dave and Phyllis Robertson had the store at Ospringe, and she was the reporter for the Advocate and the Acton Free Press. They moved to Acton so I guess she must have told the Advocate and they asked me to do the “Ospringe News” column. I had to think about it because I didn’t know if I could do it or not, but I thought I could always quit if it didn’t work out – eventually, I became hooked. I think I started writing in 1971 and for sixteen years I stayed at it.

“The Dudniks bought the store from the Robertsons, they were a good source of information because people would be talking when they came to the store, and Mrs. Dudnik would tell me about such and such a person visiting someplace, and I’d phone them and find out all about it. I felt nosy and I’m really not a nosy person. At first I didn’t like it, asking people all these questions, but you have to if you’re going to be a reporter. Then people got to know I was doing it and they’d phone me with anything interesting. I heard from the Womens’ Institute meetings, Girl Guides, and the Ladies Aid from the church – they’d give me their information.” Attending the United Church in Erin also became another way to obtain news items.

”It seemed kind of boring to me though, writing about people visiting. Once I wrote about a turtle going across the road. I saw a car stop just out between my place and the neighbour’s and I was looking out the window, watching. It got to the centre of the road, then it put his head up and looked both ways to make sure there was no car coming, then it put its head down and crossed the road. The woman put her head out the car window and said, ‘He made it!’

“I’d always keep my ears open wherever I was and anytime I heard something, I’d write it down, or I’d get them to write it down, so I had this list of things – we even reported whenever anyone got a new car. I’d put the column together Thursday night or Friday morning and Jeff Barry, the Advocate photographer would pick up my column,” she added. Gradually, Bill Doole, the editor got Doris doing more assignments - Jeff would take the pictures and pick up her copy. If she had to leave the house, she’d place her story between the front door and the screen door.

She recounted how one day Bell Canada called her and wanted her to get the more expensive business line because they heard she was writing for the newspaper. “Editor Doole called up Bell and gave them a talking to and told them how little his reporters made for their work and to leave them alone,” said Doris with a laugh. Pay in those days was meagre and the standard was five cents an inch. Some columns were only about 10 inches in length, so you could see why these women published in more than one paper.

Doris too, wrote for three local newspapers - typing the information three times – the content the same in each. Many reporters of the day used carbon paper, but Doris felt it was messy and she liked things done right. The Acton and Erin editors liked her copy because it was readable – she prided herself in being able to type without too many mistakes on her Smith-Corona portable.

Accidents were also newsworthy items which garnered reader interest. In the very early days, photography in the Advocate was sparse, if non-existent and people’s imaginations were put to work. Doris wrote in October, 1945 about a personal mishap that helped fill the inches allotted to her. “I fell off a step ladder when I was painting a bathroom - I reached too far, tipped and grabbed hold of the ladder. I fell on my back on the toilet and broke a couple of ribs. That hurt! I took it as a funny thing, and I wrote about it in my column.”

As I packed up Kathleen Kirkwood’s typewriter, I levered across the carriage return, listening for its distinctive sound, the arthritic keys jammed up. It’s a lot slower now, with its ribbon long gone, but the good old Smith-Corona went a long way to making writers out of a lot of people – its pamphlet promising, “Never before – such speed, such ease, such beauty!” The loonie I paid for it was a great deal and it has once again helped to preserve a little more of our local history. These women chronicled the joys and sorrows of people we knew, and those now long gone – newspaper minutiae that contributed to the larger picture, which becomes richer and more relevant with time.

Note: The typewriter was happily returned home to the Johnsons the day after the story was published, with the $5.00 sticker still attached.