Tag Archives: L’Estrie

This Old House….. Linda Knight Seccaspina

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This Old House….. Linda Knight Seccaspina


Knight Residence and business–569 South Street Cowansville Quebec-Photo from Linda Knight Seccaspina Collection

This morning I was supposed to get up early, but I fell back to sleep quickly and dreamed of talking to my father at the old house at 569 South Street in Cowansville, Quebec. My Dad and I never carried on many conversations when I was a teen, because he saw one way and I saw the other. But, this morning there he was back in the old electrical shop looking for a screwdriver.

He was happy to see me, as was I, and he explained to me that my grandmother’s house was being sold along with the huge lot they had. After she passed away I never saw the house demolished and was glad I didn’t. Each time an older home comes down my heart breaks for the history that it once had. 

Decades ago in Cowansville they tore down heritage homes on Main Street to make way for street and property improvements. My father was an alderman, or echevin, as they called them in those days. In the hours leading up to the decision at council I was merciless. My father threw his hands up in the air after each argument and called it progress. That night, at age 14, I stood up to the Cowansville Town Council and told them how they were going to regret the decision. These homes were stately mansions of the past and I know a lot of folks regretted it years later. But, it still did not stop them from tearing down the Robinson home near Sweetsburg for a retirement home a few years ago. Some even suggested that the heritage protestors trying to save the building were ‘anti- seniors’.

Desperately wanting to keep the peace in my dream with my father I asked him if they were going to take down the huge trees on the property and he said he didn’t know. Deciding to get to the nitty gritty I asked him the big question. Why? Again, the familiar words of ‘being a man of progress’ was his answer. Not wanting to argue, I told him that older buildings were more than just old bricks and mortar. They have a story, they have a soul, and so many have been lost to developers and decay. But in reality most of them move inanegative position because of lack of interest in their preservation. He looked at me with that Arthur Knight corner smile and said that I had not changed.

I thought of the history in my grandparents home and knew my father would not change his mind. I asked him if he knew that as of August, 2020 the city of Halifax has lost 40% of its historic buildings in 11 years. Out of 104 buildings that were inventoried as heritage assets in 2009; 43 had been demolished.

You also have buildings that are in the “demolished by neglect” category. A common excuse is that the properties are beyond saving and not worth the air in the sky to remain standing. A question I would like to ask these owners is: How long have you owned it and who is responsible for this run down state? Generally the owners have owned it for quite a length of time and they are guilty of its condition. In most cases some owners of older properties are in favour of supporting heritage– except when it comes to them.

In the end the Knight house came down on South Street along with my maternal grandfather’s stately mansion on Albert Street- the Cowan home ( one of the founders of Cowansville) years later. All I have left in the Townships are the memories and the stories I tell. 

My Dad in his councillor career was most proud of getting an artificial lake ( Lake Davignon) put smack in the centre of town. I, on the other hand, remember the family gravestones at the Union Cemetery. I think of the Anglican church vestry named after my Grandmother, memories at Legion Branch #99 that my grandfather helped found, and a street named after my father. I consider myself a progressive town councillor however l live by the mantra: “Progress is not tearing down everything that’s old and building something new”. After all, tearing down is easier than building up. This year let’s think about protecting heritage of any kind so that future generations may enjoy the history and the memories.

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”― Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities ( Citizen Jane)

Linda Knight Seccaspina, 1968 photographed at my Dad’s home on Miltimore Road in Bromont, Quebec. There I was in that Dr. Zhivago Midi coat that was supposed to be the end all to me getting a job. Like the manager of Bill Blass in Montreal said to me that year,
“Kid get yourself another coat if you want a job!”
My how things have changed.

Thanks to Joyce Waite she spotted my Dad in the back row 7 down with the white shirt and I realize that he and I both had the same teacher at Cowansville High School– Miss Phelps..

Everyone was young once I guess.

1935..6 miss marion phelps
Back row l to r …archie boyd , alvin teel , willard barrette , joyce cassidy , lorna stowe , joy lee , arthur knight , eric smith , leonard lickfold , doris craigie ,, donna isaacs , dorothy corey
Front row l to r ..shirley hamilton , barbara seale , mary gordon johnson , phyllis buchanan , reid pickel , bill shanks , joyce lickfold , arlene corey , betty henry , dempsey forster , jack barker , donald boucher

Dreams Behind Closed Doors?

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Dreams Behind Closed Doors?

If you could live your life all over again would you change anything? What would you say to the people you loved and lost?

Last night in what seemed an endless dream; I spent time with an older couple who I just could not seem to place. I remembered the scent of my surroundings and the older couple and I talked about life, families, and how they missed everyone. They knew everything about me, yet I was frustrated that I could not remember who they were.  Were they people I had met at a garage sale and snapped pictures of? I could not remember, yet everything facing me at that point and time should have been clear as day.

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Photo of the F. J. Knight Co on South Street- Cowansville Quebec

The couple sat on a blue couch covered with a a thin plastic cover and the Life magazines on the coffee table stared back at me. They asked me how I was feeling, and I told them that I was fine. Both of them told me that they had shed many tears watching me go through life and felt helpless. I looked into the woman’s eyes and suddenly I remembered. I was talking to my grandmother – but how could that be? She had died almost forty years ago, and how was she able to speak to me now?

My grandparents told me that I had made many wrong turns in life but I was now on the right road. Grammy beckoned me to approach the couch where she hugged me and we broke into tears. She told me to dry my eyes, go upstairs, and rest before supper.

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This is the same door that was on the F. J. Knight building in Cowansville that is now in my home.

I climbed up the familiar orange painted wooden stairs and opened the upper floor door. Cold air slapped me in the face like it used to when I was a child. They never turned the heat on the second floor and only used small space heaters at night. I went into my grandparent’s rooms and sat on one of the twin beds. I could smell her Evening in Paris perfume in the air and the sun shone through the closed pink curtains. Sitting on the worn yellow chenille bedspread, I looked at the ceiling and remembered the day my grandfather died just outside this room.

My grandmother had helped him from the very bed I was laying on to the bathroom one September day and he lost his footing. I heard her scream and I tried to drag one of the oxygen tanks up the stairs, but it was way too heavy. Grammy frantically hovered over his now lifeless body and begged him not to die.

As the antique travel clock clicked loudly on the sideboard I attempted to give my grandfather mouth to mouth resuscitation. After a few minutes I felt his last gasp on my face and knew he was gone. Mental doors shut for me that day he died and it took years for me to understand that once a door closes, another one opens. But, as in my case, I was so stubborn looking what seemed forever at that closed door that I just didn’t see the one that opened for years.

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The mail slot and door bell ringer

There didn’t seem to be any closure to the dream after I awoke, and many hours later I looked at the calendar on the fridge. It was September the 27th, which was thirty five years ago to the day they had torn my grandparents home down to replace it with a more modern building. My father had salvaged the front green door that day that was to become a family reminder of what once was, and years later I brought the door back to my home where it still stands guarding the basement.

Last night in a dream my grandparents shared their love with me once again. Mistakes are meant to be made so you can learn from them, and I would not change a thing about how I handled my life. Love is to be spread far and wide, not contained, and their memories will live through me for the remaining days I have left, along with what went on daily behind closed doors. So each day always remember to always open a door, as it may lead you to somewhere unexpected, and every single day is the perfect day to open a new door.

 

grammy

My Grandmother Mary Louise Deller Knight- Cowansville, Quebec who raised me.  I only had one picture of her and thanks goes out to Denis Ducharme for the pictures.

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Last thing I ever  want to do is glorify my family, but I am putting this here so my Grandchildren will see their ancestry down the line.

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Former alderman and deputy mayor of Cowansville and campaign committee member for former Quebec Member of the Legislative Assembly Jean Jacques Bertrand for the District of Missisquoi from 1948 until his death in 1973 who was also the 21st Quebec Premier.-Ville de Cowansville

 

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The Streets of COWANSVILLE Quebec

KNIGHT Street : Arthur Knight fut échevin de 1958 à 1967. La famille avait un commerce d’électricien.–Ville de Cowansville

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Grandfather Frederick J. Knight (centre)- President of the Cowansville Branch of the Canadian Legion (Branch No. 99)

1945–Organized only last March 14 (1944), the Cowansville Branch of the Canadian Legion (Branch No. 99) has become one of the most active of the Province’s Legion branches. Originally formed with 20 veterans, the organization has grown to 65 in a short period of less than a year, and is now engaged in mapping plans for the re-establishment of veterans of World War II. Legion Colors were dedicated on October 8, 1944 at an impressive ceremony in the front of the Heroes’ Memorial High School. 

Plans for the erection of a Legion Memorial Hall after the war are presently under consideration, and will include a cenotaph built in a section of the hall, for various veteran and community affairs. This structure will be built as a living memorial to the Cowansville boys and girls now serving on Active Service. The Heroes’ Memorial High School was erected as a memorial of those who fell during the last Great War. Legion officers elected for 1945 include: President, F. J. Knight; First Vice-President, A. G. Scott; 2nd Vice-President, R. Brault; Sergeant-at-Arms, H. Pugh.–Ville de Cowansville

 

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July-August 1952

Cowansville Soft Ball League

Barker: row from left to right: Eugène Lacoste, Carl Cotton, Paul Matton, Waldo Cleary, manager, Arthur Knight. Bottom Row, same order: André Gingras, Roch Pépin, Mr. Laliberté, mascot, Edmond Talbot, Charles Veillette and Maurice Chabot.–Ville de Cowansville

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Seven 1953-Soft Ball League

4-Barker: row from top to right: Arthur Knight, Eugène Lacoste, Waldo Cleary, Romeo Matton, Paul Matton, René Lebrun, manager. Bottom Row, same order: Jean Jodoin, Herman Dubuc, Donald King, mascot, Robert Thibodeau and Blair bowling.–Ville de Cowansville

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

relatedreading

90 Day Fiance and Mail Order and War Brides

Sometimes You Need to Just Walk Your Potatoe

Hobos, Apple Pie, and the Depression–Tales from 569 South Street

Ashes to Ashes and Spins of the Washing Machine

The Days of Smocking and Spanish Bar Cake

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Here we go Carleton Place– Mark Your Calendars–

 

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Join us and learn about the history under your feet! This year’s St. James Cemetery Walk will take place Thursday October 19th and october 21– Museum Curator Jennfer Irwin will lead you through the gravestones and introduce you to some of our most memorable lost souls!
Be ready for a few surprises along the way….
This walk takes place in the dark on uneven ground. Please wear proper footwear and bring a small flashlight if you like.
Tickets available at the Museum, 267 Edmund Street. Two dates!!!
https://www.facebook.com/events/1211329495678960/

OCT 28th
Downtown Carleton Place Halloween Trick or Treat Day–https://www.facebook.com/events/489742168060479/

Here we go Carleton Place– Mark Your Calendars–

October 28th The Occomores Valley Grante and Tile Event–730pm-1am Carleton Place arena-Stop by and pick up your tickets for our fundraiser dance for LAWS. They also have tickets for Hometown Hearts event at the Grand Hotel fundraiser

 

Historical “Droppings” about Pigeon Hill

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Historical “Droppings” about Pigeon Hill


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At one point in time there were over 3.5 billion passenger pigeons in North America and flocks of giant numbers would blacken the sky– but, did you know the early settlers and their ancestors managed to wipe out most of the birds by 1914? In clearing the forests over the course of the 19th century the loss of natural wilderness paired with increased hunting may have triggered the passenger pigeon’s rapid extinction.

Was this the case in Pigeon Hill, Quebec? George Titemore, from Colombia County, N.Y. was the first person to set up his residence there in 1788,  just a little less than 3/4 of a mile south where the knoll-top community of Pigeon Hill now exists.

Local gossip speaks of a bank teller in Bedford that has said that Pigeon Hill got its name from a French man named Mr. Pigeon. Actually, it was when the early settlers arrived in the area, they supposedly found a ready food supply in the hoardes of passenger pigeons roosting upon the hill. But, according to the history books, it really wasn’t a Hitchcock moment. The original settlers basically only found pasturage and hay for their animals, and in 1792 a famine for the families living in this section of St. Armand threatened their existence. They had no choice but to go into their wheat fields and shell out the unripe grain and boil it for food.

The Titemore family was so desperate that head of household George went to see a gentleman living just over the border in Berkshire, Vermont and purchased 100 pounds of flour for $9.00. George carried it on his back through the woods to his residence which was about 15 miles and also managed to bag a moose, not pigeons, that was grazing with his horses.  He died in 1832 at the age of 76 and had 13 children, yet only two remained in the area.

George’s sister Sophia Titemore was the first white person buried in the Pigeon Hill Cemetery  (Old Methodist Cemetery) on Rue Des Erable. Her brother John is also buried there, and his final resting place is marked by a small slate stone scribed  JT Died July 31 1809 aged 87. There are four slate stones grouped in a square which would probably indicate family members, unfortunately, only JT’s is legible.


Another Pigeon Hill resident Henry Groat had no descendants when he died in 1811, but the stream east of Pigeon Hill where he resided was named Groat Creek after him. The local pigeons have roosted since 1845 on Guthrie Bridge built over Groat Creek, and this is the shortest public covered bridge among the twenty-one authentic covered bridges remaining in the Eastern Townships.

Adam and Eve Sager came to town in 1791 and once again the pigeons proved to be smarter than their human being counterparts after Mrs. Sager was found killed by lightning at the beginning of 1825. Even after that fateful accident, Pigeon Hill was still called Sagerville in honour of the Sagers, but due to the large amount of pigeons that frequented the area the name was soon changed to Pigeon Hill.


The first general store was opened by Pete Yeager about 1810, but he only traded for a couple of years until Adi Vincent and his son took over. Gath Holt was next with a new store by the Episcopal church, but rumour as the pigeon flies was that it was destroyed by gun powder 3 or 4 years later. Fortunately it happened on a Sunday, so few were out and about, and the cause of the explosion was unknown and never talked about.

One Thursday, in June of 1866, the Fenians left their camp in Franklin, Vermont for the sole purpose of stealing horses and plundering dwellings in Canada. One raid found the area around Pigeon Hill overrun with the ragged dirty and half armed Fenians, led by General Samuel Spear. I’m sure the local pigeons in the trees noticed that plundering and burning were more congenial to the Fenian’s tastes than fighting for military fame or taking over Pigeon Hill for their very own. They broke into old Noah Sager’s Hotel and stole and destroyed what they could.  Even Edward Titemore’s home was destroyed in the 1866 Fenian Raid.

Not content with Thursday’s events they returned again on Friday, and 20 more scallywags joined Thursday’s original 40 and spent the day plundering some more. The poor locals were nothing but clay pigeons to these dastardly Fenians while they watched them march to the hotel of F.B. Carpenter and help themselves to a free dinner and then an additional 50 bucks in cash, which would be about $720 in today’s money.

For two days or three days the inhabitants of Pigeon Hill remained mostly unarmed and gossip was abound that there was a 1000 more wild Irishmen hovering nearby awaiting their chance to finish the place off.  In the Detroit Free Press of June of 1866 it was reported that a fight was imminent with the British regulars prepared to fight the Fenians between the boundary lines at Pigeon Hill. Appearances indicated that the British would surround the Fenians, and it was also noted that numbers of discontented invaders were now returning to the States. On June 7, 1866 the Fenian raiders were finally expelled by members of the Canadian Militia after also causing massive chaos at nearby Frelighsburg and St. Armand.

They say that almost every last bird was wiped out in the community where the farmlands of Quebec look to the north and the hills of Vermont to the south. I could find very little mention of Pigeon Hill again except in the newspapers of January of 1896 and August of 1919. Pigeon Hill resident Thomas Hogan never found his Uncle Dandy Hogan after he placed a personal ad in the January St. Louis Dispatch of 1896. The man had been missing for a year and was last seen working at South Atlantic Mills in St. Louis, Mo. In August 1919, a well known open Pigeon Hill liquor joint was busted up at 2:30 am that morning. It was noted that it was the largest seizure made along the border in some time. There was no record of who the stool pigeon was after Deputy Collector L. D. Seward stopped an automobile containing 4 gallons on the Highgate Springs Road originating from Pigeon Hill.

William Shakespeare once said:  “We know what we are, but know not what we may be”. Pigeon Hill may not have become one the great hubs of the Eastern Townships– but it will be remembered in the history books and forever debated why it was named Pigeon Hill.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)

relatedreading

Fenians OR Ballygiblins? Fighting Irish 101

Angry Mobs, Wolves and Bloodsuckers –Selby Lake

Memories of UFO’s Earthquake Lights and Gale Pond

The Ghost Ship of Brown’s Hill

Hocus Pocus –Necromancy at Fitch Bay

The Execution of Alexander Burns — Capital Punishment in Canada

If You Went Down the Forest Road–Abbott’s Corners

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