The Way We Were

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the February 01, 2006 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Lee Grant and the innocence of yesteryear

by Catherine Joyce

Lee Grant remembers coming at the age of thirteen to Burnett for the first time. It was the summer of 1931.

"My parents were looking for a spot for a summer cottage. They came up the old highway (now the 105) - it was still a gravel road back then. At Burnett my father took one look at the steep, narrow, rutted road leading downhill to the river and said, 'I'm not driving down there!' But my mother was adamant. She hopped out of the car and walked down to find this paradise. They hought the land from the Gatincau Boom Company. And we've been here ever since."

Soon a Halliday cabin arrived in sections by train and the family assembled it overlooking the river on what is now the Maxwell Road. One bedroom, a kitchen and a verandah - the cabin became home to five growing children, expanding as the years went by. (In 1944 it became Lee and Ronnie Grant's beloved family cottage, and in 1973, their retirement home.)

The Way We Were
Lee Grant fondly remembers her childhood at the family cabin in Burnett.

As Dominion Botanist of Canada, Dr. Gussow, Lee's father, worked at the Experimental farm in Ottawa. Soon friends and colleagues gathered to enjoy his hospitality and the beauty of his developing gardens. Within a few seasons the Draytons, Lougheeds and Bartons bought land along the road and became close neighbours.

Summers were magic. "As kids we'd be out swimming all day. Or we'd run the booms as they drifted by, or make rafts from the huge logs that got loose. If someone rowed the boat, we'd swim across the river. Or when the tugboats were dragging the long booms back up to Cascades, we'd row like mad and tie up at the end, so we could float home on the current. The logging men knew we weren't supposed to, but they never got mad at us.

"I remember once when we were older Dad brought home a huge airplane tire. We put a base in it. When we'd hitch a ride north on the booms, we'd stash a case of beer in the middle. Drifting home, we'd enjoy a beer, flipping back into the water whenever we got too hot."

Those were the days when a case of beer (cost, $3.25) had to be wrapped up in brown paper in public. "The funny thing was that whenever you drove into the Dow Brewery in Hull (remember their catchy slogan - 'Wouldn't a Dow go good now?'), you'd be invited up to have a beer while they loaded new cases in your trunk!"

"But there was a purity in those days - no drugs, no real alcohol, no hanky panky. No one was ever abusive with one another. We just had fun together. Life was an adventure. At parties we'd sing around the piano - all the wonderful old songs everyone knew. Or we'd dance at the Tip Top in Cascades and a guy would walk you home along the tracks by moonlight. Everything was so innocent."

"I remember lying out sunbathing with my sisters. We'd hear the tugboat engines coming closer and we'd know the logging guys would have their binoculars out - so we'd yank our bathingsuit tops up before they caught us. I mean how risque can you get!"

Return to list.