The very first day I met with Catherine; in Bowmanville, at a Seniors event. I knew from the beginning that her life had a fascination of events. I asked if I could write her life story. She said that she would love to have her story written for all of her Grandchildren. I suggested that we meet every Thursday afternoon for an hour. Catherine agreed on this meeting. We met for 15 months every Thursday. We would sit alone in the large room that could accommodate over 100 people. Others tried to join us in this room and Catherine asked that they give us privacy.
On October 17, 1926 my friend; Catherine, was born in a hospital in Sudbury, Ontario. Catherine was the first child born in her Family of eight children. She was the only child. in her Family, born in a hospital. She shared her Grandmother’s name on her Mother’s and her Father’s Mothers’s name.
Being the eldest child, she was given a lot of responsibility. She was 16 months ld when her first brother was born. Within the space of 11 short years; her Mother. had given birth to 8 children. Four brothers and four sisters.
In 1938 her Mother passed from exhaustion. If she had lived in our World in the year 2014, she would have survived. The doctor’s at this time; 1938, did not have the knowledge or equipment to help her.
The second World War was on the horizon. In 1939 her father was unable to go to war, for he was a single parent, with eight children and a farm to run. Before her Mother’s demise, Mom had home schooled her. She taught her to cook and clean. Made sure her siblings were washed and cleaned. Made sure they brushed their teeth and said their prayers before bedtime.
The light of day came very early for the Family. Choices had to be done and the animals fed and taken care of before breakfast. Get the cereal or eggs prepared, then awaken the seven siblings and have them eat a proper breakfast.
Her Mother prepared her for Mother hood. at such a young age. Catherine needed to know the basics of survival and she needed to know her abc’s and math. The Family did not have television, it had not been invented. The only source of communication with the outside World was a small radio. They also did not have the time to listen to the radio. This was a blessing in diquise. When I look back at their simple yet fulfilling lives, I realize having all of the benefits of our World…communicating with people all over the World in mill seconds, only leaves one wanting their life style.
Today the news and events that are unfolding every moment of the day, are heard and seen all over the World. We live in fear of the unknown and hope the atrocities that are happening, do not happen to our part of the World. Yet it seems we cannot escape; history, it has been proven throughout the ages… Man’s destruction and conquering..continue..to what end.
We do not seem to get the message: or do we feel the need to somehow forget the past and pray the future will hold a different outcome. We must change our methods of accomplishing this goal.
Friends lived qyite a distance from they farm. The closest neighbour lived half a mile from their house. The World was really unknown to
Catherine. It is hard to think a thirteen year old girl. with so much responsibility could cope or even have the time to think about her life, would unfold. She had no dreams or friends, only her father and her 7 siblings.
Than the government sent a woman to live with the family; to aid the Family. Time was the number 1 enemy. When you look at her daily schedule; to be able to run this household and maintain harmony. You can clearly see that this project would fail. The first Lady was a blessing, in the beginning. She helped Catherine; however. it was not meant to be. Over a short period of time; one after another. women were sent to the farm to help. One Lady lasted for a period of 3 months. The next Lady made it to the second week. These are grown women who were trained to look after a Family. You would think they could have managed. Yet, Catherine was responsible and had to do the job. After 4 women came and went. her Father said” enough is enough.”
He asked the government not to send any more helpers. No one could cope or understand the fabric that kept this family together. Functioning as a well oiled machine. The Family endeavoured through the Second World War, because they were not exposed the the events. There was no communication even with their neighbours, for they lived so far apart and they needed to tend to their farm. They actually lived inter own world, isolated from all of the events of the World.
Being the eldest child, Catherine was given the gift of a formal education. Her father allowed her to live wither cousins who lived in North bay. Catherine attended public school, yet this ended in grade 5. When summer arrived she would return to the farm and would spend the summers helping her father with the household. To understand what I have learned from Catherine’s life, is to see that her life on the farm was total isolation from the World. As if they lived on a planet to them selves. They had everything they needed, living on a farm. They could grow their own food.
They had mild from the cows, they has chickens to give them eggs. And from what I learned the they shared with their neighbours and helped each other in the good and the bad times.
The two World wars were just the blink of the eye. To this family the war or any other perils, did not exist. there was no fighting or hatred, only love and affection for each other. Can you imagine every morning waking up to a Family that loves one another and thankful for what they have. This seems to be my picture of Heaven. Something I would Love everyone to experience.
Catherine returned home after grade 5. Her favourite subjects were math and literature. She had a few friends; however, her best friends her cousin, who she lived with while attending public school. Her cousin was 5 years younger than her. They listened to the record player playing country and western tunes. They also talked about the days events in school. The teachers she remembered were the two nums who helped her with her education.
Catherine returned to her Dad’s farm when the news of her Mother’s death. Her cousin was visiting her at the time when they were told her Mother passed on. The cousin left for Catherine was very stressed and upset. I am sure there was not a dry eye. Mom was the backbone and the glue that kept the family together. The year was 1943 and Catherine was 17 years old when she left her dad and siblings, to live with another family. She basically looked after this Family as she had done with her Family. The only difference was she is now making money. She does not remember how much she made or even where she lept the money. Living a farm with no way of commuting or going to a city to bank the money.
At the age of 18 she left the farm and went 5 miles further West, to a camp in the bush. This was a thriving business in the wilderness. The business was a saw mill and the owner had three kids. this was going to be a lot easier to manage, considering Catherine looked after 7 siblings.
Catherine’s sister was now 14 years old and she could replace Catherine and look after the 6 siblings. Catherine met one of the workers at the mill. Their relationship was strictly companionship. He was older, in his mid twenty’s and Catherine was only 18. They became very close friends and spent their time discussing things about each others Families. His family lived further north of the camp. He also lived on the site of the mill. It was too far to commute back and forth. Just thinking about what my Grandfather told me, when I was young. He said find a good paying jog that you like and then purchase a home within walking distance. This will allow you to save money. You will not have to purchase a vehicle and secondly you will not have to use public transportation.
Catherien’s Father built a small log cabin on his farm. He used the trees from his property. He had to clear the land to grow crops. Hence this was a benefit, for you cannot grow crops in a forest. They lived in this log cabin for 4 years. They had two rooms in this cabin and they lived modestly for the first three children. Then Dad decided it was time to build a larger home. Her Father, during the 40’s found companionship with friends. He eventually met a special woman and they were friends for quite a long term. They finally got married in the 60’s.
Catherine rarely visited the family. She did not have a vehicle and there were no buses or streetcars servicing this area.l Catherine left the mill and returned to Sudbury. The was had ended and all the young men were returning home. She went for a walk in the park, in Sudbury. She remembers being intros park by herself. The park in Sudbury is spectacular. There is a lake in the middle of the park. Catherine remembers sitting on a picnic table by herself. A few boys were sitting on the oark bench beside Catherine’s bench. One gentleman asked her to join them. They were all groomed in their military uniforms. She remembered Bob asking her to join them. I am sure it was love at first sight…for both of them. The group spent the afternoon talking together. This was the start of their relationship. They became lovers. They married and started a Family right away. They had both come from large families. They had 10 children in 12 years. They had 4 girls and 6 boys.
Bill worked at the GM plant. Then as the family grew they moved to Port Perry. They rented their first house. Bill had friends who lived close by and they car pooled to Oshawa to work at the GM plant. Six months later =they found a large farm house, in Elisksen. The older couple who owned the farm lived on the first level of the home. They loved the family and the children playing and having fun.
The home was now alive and the older couple felt they were an extension of there Family. Catherine; however, was upset because the family always had to enter the house and go through the old folks residence to get to the stairs to take them to the second floor. The old folks loved the interaction with the kids. Their lives were now very content watching them grow and play in the house and on the vast acres of farm land.
After 1 1/2 years they moved from the farm and they rented a house in Maple Grove. Time flys and after the last 10 children were born, Catherine got pregnant 8 years later. They now have a new baby girl making the count of 6 boys and 5 girls. Well you can not have an odd number! Two years later they had another baby girl. Now they have an even dozen…6 girls and 6 boys.
Today February 23, 2011Catherine has learned she has three more great grand children to come. Two in May and one in September. this will make a total of 48 great grand children.
Soon to have 2 great-great grand children this year. The next major Family meeting is setoff 2018. No place has been decided for this fantastic reunion. I hope to be able to meet with the Family and share this story.
As I write the final words of Catherine’s amazing life, I get a cold shiver thinking about how her entire life was devoted to loving her family. There was never a moment that was not committed to just loving everyone and helping and sharing with others. I truly believe this is how God intended us to live on this planet. May you find yourself asking what can I do today and tomorrow to make this a peaceful and loving World.
I wanted to know about her life and her experiences the moment I met her. Catherine is truly a great person and I am glad to have known her this short distance…in time. I believe God was the reason I was to have met Catherine. He wanted me to understand how he intended of us to live on this planet.