The Way We Were

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the May 09, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Memories of Snake Hill - God's Country

by Ward L. McLinton

My grandparents, Margaret and Harry Hamilton of Alcove, had a 1OO-acre farm and also were blessed with seven children -Thelma (my mom) Joy, Thorald, Winney, Keith, Carlene and Elaine. They were not rich, money-wise, but very rich in family ties.

Margaret and Harry bequeathed to each of their children a lot for which my mother selected a site on Snake Hill (later named Shouldice Rd after a good friend, and work colleague of mine, Doug).

My dad, Harry, uncles and friends, built a cottage half way up on Snake Hill. This, though, was more than a cottage; it was a home away from home.

Every Friday, my mom would have everything packed and ready to go as soon as dad got back from work (at Ottawa Plumbing & Heating and later the Ottawa Public School Board). We would be off from Ottawa up to the country - God's Country - for the weekend.

There were only two stops that we had to make before arriving at the cottage; 1) to fill up our gallon containers of spring water as we drove down the hill into Wakefield, and 2) to stop off at Ormes Bakery for a loaf or two of fresh baked loaves and/or buns.

Upon our arrival, at the cottage, the routine was to scare off the chipmunks and mice who had inhabited our "villa" during the week; sweep up the droppings from same, and open up all the windows to clear the air.

We were in "shouting distance" from my grandparents and made our arrival known by yelling over to them - "we're here and will be over a bit later". No response was necessary, as we knew they heard us.

After a quick check of things and unloading of our things, we'd be off to visit family.

Snake Hill was properly, originally, named. Twists and turns and more turns, just like a snake. In the winter, it was extremely difficult to manage (not plowed or sanded that often) but we were only half way up so we were able to manage.

To the very top, however, was a different story. On our toboggans, though, from the top and down was never a problem.

At the foot of Snake Hill, was a honey farmer (whose bees we avoided) and at the top was our second Garden of Eden.

My dad was a farmer's son and he loved his gardens. He had two. One just beneath our cottage (a really big one) and another at the top of Snake Hill.

We - mom, dad, my younger brother Bryan and me - took great care of our gardens. We planted and harvested everything we could.

Snake Hill was also a place for lots of fun. My uncle Joe, in the winter, would tie a tire tube behind his car and pull me - scary as it was - up and down the hill with shouts and screams to be heard by anyone else in the area.

Mom didn't know about these trips! Carlene didn't often approve.

Snake Hill (Shouldice Rd) is a memory of mine never to be forgotten. The way things were.

Ward L. McLinton now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

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