Friday, December 11, 2009


Norman and his sisters. 1870.

June 1908 came to an end, and Edith, Marion and Flo all breathed a sigh of relief. For it is a little known fact that teachers look as much forward to the end of school as do students.

Edith left behind 2 lonely colleagues, one an English teacher, the other a French teacher, who both secretly hoped she would return in the fall. Marion left behind 25 graduating first graders and some Old Maid teachers who saw something of themselves in the young and dynamic beginner. And Flo left behind her examinations, mostly passed, including composition with a 62 percent and a note from Mr. Newell saying he expected her to improve greatly in the coming year. Her teacher did choose to see the glass half full rather than half empty while grading her paper.

On Dominion Day, July 1, the girls and Margaret attended the church picnic,with its three legged races and bobbing for apples style entertainment. Mr. Sutherland gave a short speech about Canada's place as showpiece to the world, two peoples living harmoniously within its borders and gave out prizes to children who had won the Dominion Day quiz. Questions asked: How many provinces are there in Canada? How many Prime Ministers have their been? Population? (to the half million). E. W. Tobin, the M.P.for Richmond-Wolfe dropped by briefly on 'his rounds' but made a point of having words with Margaret, which pleased her immensely. He did not speak publicly.

The Mayor as well as the Presidents of the St. Andrew's Society and the Saint Patrick's Society did give short addresses.

In the evening, there was the Dominion Day concert at the Town Hall, or ''at home" as it was referred to by citizens of the town. Only Edith attended, for she loved any excuse to dress up, with Ed. G., one of Marion's former suitors. Marion chose to go for a long walk with a group of old friends, as it was very very hot. Flo and Mae attended an ice cream social at a teacher's home. To their disappointment, only a few boys were there.

Old John Ross gave the girls a lift home in his buggy and he reminisced about another local celebration a long time ago: St. Andrew's Day 1867.

"I remember St. Andrew's Day November 1867, the year of our Confederation," he began. "Over 40 years ago.

The day Charley Rose and I and Gilbert Stalker,your father's uncle, George Smith and Marcus Crombie went across the woods from Kingsbury quarry to the Melbourne quarry to Melbourne and Richmond and fooled away the day till night.

Then Charley and George and I started back to the Melbourne quarry and we found out we could not go through and undertook to go back and stopped all night in the woods there, there was about 2 or 3 inches of snow fell that day, but I had a piece of candle from Alex McKay and he was at the corner with Uncle Robert and we succeeded in starting a fire with the candle.

Then Charley and I rustled the old wind falls and got stuff to burn to keep George warm and we started at gray day break and got to the Boarding House at about ten and Aunt Margaret wouldn't speak to us. She thought we was on a drunk. But I had drunk very little that day and was perfectly sober all day,"

Flora was used to these kinds of stories, although she felt uneasy at the talk of drinking. The Nicholson men had all signed temperance pledges. No one had drank a drop of liquor in Tighsolas for over 7 years. And whenever some local man died from the effects of liquor, as father Norman put it, the family was forced to hear all about it. The evil liquor makes victims of all who follow it, " he would say.

But Old John Ross, who had clearly been drinking, seemed to be in a happy mood, as he dropped them off at College Street and sent his kindest regards back to Margaret. And happiness is contagious. The girls thanked the old greybeard for the ride home and vigorously waved him goodbye from the side of the road before they set off for home and bed.