Boyhood in Haliburton
Published Sept. 3, 2019
To the Editor,
As others have expressed, it is good fun to read Ed’s childhood memories of Haliburton boyhood activities.
I too share many of the reminiscences of Ed and those activities as we are of an age and had fun together. Ed was very present on the main street as his father had the restaurant and my parents had the “Highlander” hotel.
There were always kids activities that we did ourselves. There was a mill on the lake and you could run the logs or climb the lumber piles and jump from top to top. There was the railroad bridge swimming hole to go skinny dipping and swing on the rope attached to a large overhanging willow tree. There was nighttime cops and robbers in and out of the main street buildings sideyards. There was stealing cigarettes from the hotel supply and running into the high hills to learn to smoke. There was learning about girls and getting sex education from someone a year older than you.
The train was still running and we could sometimes access the passenger cars of the weekend train. There were always open box cars to hide in or do some secretive operation. Or you could just hang around the train crew and watch them drive the engine on to the turn table to allow the engine to back into the train house and face out for the morning trip back to Lindsay.
There were stock yards at the station and lumber piled to be placed in box cars for “out front” shipment.
At night time we played Nicky Nicky Nine Doors, played tag, last or ally ally over and laid on the grass in front of the post office to watch and listen to the nighthawks swooping on mosquitos and lastly, the sound that made you know it was time to slip home – the call of the whippoorwill. There was a curfew: when the bell on the townhall tower rang it was time to be off the street.
In the winter it was snowball fights, sleigh riding with a Spitfire runner or riding on a pair of rippers. Smooth soled rubber boots for wearing when hitching on to the rear bumper of a logging truck or plow and hanging on until sand or a bare patch ripped your feet out from under you – being dragged along until you had to let go.
All of our fun was unorganized and without parental supervision. Even our hockey or skating was quite unsupervised. You went to the rink and brought wood in to light a fire in the box stove. Put the pail of frozen water on the stove to heat up while out skating. The room was cold-cold-cold. Coming off the ice there was a wood heat warmth but not really warm so you got your self ready to leave quickly (and before someone relieved themselves on the hot stove).
We were mischievous (don’t tell my dad) but not trouble makers. We made our own fun, settled our own fights and knew if we got into bad trouble our parents would come down on us hard. The fact of parental presence all the time was not there (no hovering). You did it on your own and created your own fun BUT be polite, do not steal, do not lie and don’t come home crying. Every parent kept his or her eye out for everyone else’s child. It was real community.
David M. Bishop
just a boy!