It’s May 25, 1924, and the evening is drawing nigh. You are a senior student at S.S. No. 6 Ops Township, known to locals as “McArthur’s School,” and you have just had supper at Joseph Parrington’s place, down on what is now called Halter Road. You’ve been helping Mr. Parrington with chores since school began, and he has graciously invited you to eat with his family on this calm Sunday night.
The young lady in the accompanying picture is my great-grandaunt, Euphemia “Effie” McQuarrie (1885-1967), known by her extended family simply as “Aunt Ef.”
Born in Argyle, she was once described as “small in stature, a very attractive girl with a good mind and a delightful personality.” Photographs of Ef, and Edwardian-era postcards she mailed to her siblings, portray her as a vivacious individual who personified what American writer Winnifred Harper Cooley called “The New Woman;” one who was independent, educated, and in control of her own destiny.
The decade spanning 1980 through 1990 was significant on multiple fronts.
The world watched as the Prince of Wales wed Lady Diana Spencer (1981) and as the Berlin Wall came tumbling down (1989). Canadians cheered on Terry Fox as he began his Marathon of Hope (1980); saw their Constitution repatriated (1982); and handled $1 coins for the first time (1987). Ontarians voted out the Progressive Conservative Party after over four decades in office (1985) and watched the SkyDome’s retractable roof open to a torrential downpour (1989). Here in Victoria County, the Town of Lindsay celebrated its 125th anniversary by painting faces on fire hydrants (1982); the indefatigable Bill Scott represented his constituents in Ottawa; and Union Carbide announced that it would cease production of film, film packaging products, and industrial garbage bags at its Lindsay plant (1989).
Many years ago, when my father taught school full-time, a highlight of the academic year for his students occurred on or around the 25th of January – the birthday of Robert Burns (1759-1796), the “Bard of Ayrshire,” who is widely regarded as Scotland’s national poet. For over 30 years, students in Mr. McKechnie’s classroom celebrated the legacy of this literary legend by reciting portions of To A Mouse and Auld Lang Syne, among other works; enjoying a cup of tea; and feasting on the Abernethy biscuits and shortbread made by his grandmother and mother, respectively.
At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month of the year, Canadians from coast to coast will pause for two minutes’ silence to remember those who died during the First and Second World Wars; the Korean conflict; and various peacekeeping operations in which Her Majesty’s armoured, naval, and air forces have been involved over the course of the 20th and 21st Centuries.
The statistics are staggering: nearly 70,000 Canadians died during the First World War (1914-1918); nearly 50,000 gave their lives during the Second World War (1939-1945); 516 died during the Korean War; and over 1,800 have paid the supreme sacrifice in various operations at home and abroad over the course of the last 70 years.
This Remembrance Day marks the 100th anniversary of the Armistice — the end of hostilities in the Great War, or the War to End All Wars, or sadly, what became known as the First World War. There were of course wars that followed what was envisioned to be the last war and all who served in those conflicts — the men and women who sacrificed body and mind (and in too many cases their own lives) — will be honoured at Remembrance Day services throughout the City of Kawartha Lakes this Sunday Nov. 11.
Many weeks ago, I attended a meeting about the promotion of cultural heritage in this municipality. Towards the end of the meeting, one of the participants pointed out that too many call this area “the Kawarthas,” when in fact it is called “Kawartha Lakes.”