Everyone hung their washing across the back yard and no one played out there on washdays, either. No one locked their doors, visitors walked straight in with a ‘hello’ and my mum and neighbour would put the kettle was on for a warm morning cup. I felt secure and loved, with absolutely marvellous places to explore within walking distance. This is the house which was home. Where I greased the walls with grubby hands, scratched the wood with sharp pens, left mud footprints on the hall carpet. I can still hear “Wear your shoes!” “Wash your hands!” and “Time for bath!” Now that was home.
Leslie Hanson of the village of White Lake just south of Arnprior is 98. When he was 19, he built his first and only home on the foundation of a former hotel, purchased for $20 in back taxes. In July, 1928, he brought his bride Orpha back from Coxville at Gull Lake to join him and his mother here. Hanson “never was a hand to travel” confides his wife. In fact, he travelled so much cutting lumber and working as a millwright while Orpha worked as a camp cook that staying at home with their two daughters became a treat.
Orpha came willingly to her new husband’s house, which reminded her of her childhood home. “From the beginning, it was just like Coxville where I grew up. It’s a beautiful spot in the summer and winter,” she says. Her husband adds: “I’ve never seen another place I’d rather have lived, so why would I want to give up my house? I was satisfied to go away to saw but it didn’t make sense to have to give up my home to work.” Orpha shows off her combination electric wood stove, and the kitchen cupboards built by her husband. “I can’t see anything in all this moving,” she says. “We added to the back part of the house (a new kitchen and family room) when the kids were pretty much grown up. And I used to keep tourist cottages here. There is a lot of hard work, a lot of memories in this house. You know, it’s your home.”
Harold Lisk is 69. He keeps a tiny herd of nine head of cattle, and lives in a farmhouse with his younger brother Murray. The house was built by his grandfather a stone’s throw from the village of Killaloe. “Born here, lived here all my life, and hope to die here if I’m able,” Lisk says laconically.
Harold Lisk of Kilaloo and the Hansons of White Lake and Carol Doran of Pembroke
“I’m happy here as long as I can keep things going. There is work to do, things to keep busy.” He won $100,000 in a lottery in 1987, but he didn’t get around to picking it up in Toronto for five months. The windfall, his second in five years (Lisk won $10,000 in the same lottery in 1982), hasn’t changed his life much. He’s smartened up the plact a bit, with a vinyl cushion floor and running water in the kitchen, and he’s thinking of springing for an indoor toilet soon, too. But move? “What would I want to move into the village for?” It isn’t only oldtimers who stay put The Citizen’s Pembroke bureau chief Carol Doran, 37, grew up in the comfortable, meticulously-maintained brick bungalow she shares with long-time companion John Freeman. Doran, an only child, inherited her family home in 1980 following the death of her mother and relocation of her father, who has also since died. At the time, she had recently ended a five-year hiatus away from home in Ottawa, to return to Pembroke and the quality of small-town life. “This house was always home, but it was my parents’ home. When your parents are alive, you are always a kid always proving yourself one way or another.” “When I was younger, I had to spread my wings, to pull away. But I don’t have to prove anything anymore. You reach a stage in your life when you don’t And particularly since my parents have died, there are a lot of fine, important memories here for me.” Doran and Freeman have retained some of the original furniture for sentimental reasons. A kelly green sofa in the living room, for example, was once spirited away by an Irish ancestor in Eganville “who tippled a bit” and was “one step ahead of the bailiff,” Doran recalled with a laugh.
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
09 Apr 1988, Sat • Page 58