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Rhythm In the Settlement

January 29, 2024

View past Red Rock towards Sturgeon Lake

A Rhyme About Red Rock Families, North Verulam, 1944

In the mid twentieth century, families often made their own entertainment, visiting each other’s houses and dancing to fiddle music, telling stories about people they knew, and sometimes even sharing their rhymes. The rhymes from this period were often humourous or witty, and typically contained many allusions that only the folks from the neighbourhood would get. Today, they can be an interesting way of looking back at how people in these communities saw themselves—if you can decipher them.

I’ve read poetry from your press

That’s written for a lark

By Julius in the Settlement

And Tommy, tall and dark. [Tommy Hunter, lived south of Bobcaygeon]

So now I will take up my pen

And write for you a little ditty

For I with wisdom am well blessed

And am also rather witty.

I ain’t so young as I used to be

And my eyes are somewhat hazy,

I like to rhyme and putter ‘round

For I was always sort of lazy.

Our boys are working overtime

You’ll find them on the spot,

Cutting ice to keep their women cool,

And wood to make them hot.

Don Stinson takes odd trips to town

We think it is a pity

With all our robust country girls

That he must choose from the city. [His wife Marian grew up in the city, then taught at Red Rock School, hence they met]

The teachers seem to like our land,

They keep our boys in a twirl, [One room school teachers were practically the only single women who did not grow up in the neighbourhood, and hence were not related to anyone]

There’s Harlan and his pretty wife, [Harlan Kelly lived on Kelly’s Bay Road, married Cathy Nelson from the Nelson Family that operated the service station at Aunt Molly’s]

And Charlie’s little girl. [Charlie McNeil married Freda Bulmer (later Kelly)]

The Johnsons may have got some fox, [It is not clear which Johnson family this refers to, but it may be the Norm and Harold Johnson who lived on Fairbairn Road]

But it doesn’t get our goats

Our Claire and George have shot enough [Claire Junkin lived on the farm immediately west of the Red Rock and George Martin (m. Gertie Nicholls) lived east of where Cable Cable is today]

To line a hundred coats.

Fred Johnson is in our midst again [Verulam councillor, he lived on Providence Road, now his daughter Gail Johnson and Mike Chell]

He’s taking to the farming

And moved upon the Sutton place

With his wife and daughter charming. [He married Alice, and Muriel (Burnett) was his first daughter]

Fred used to live with us before

And so we welcome him

He is full of joy and mirth

Of git and pep and vim

Dave Alldred has renewed his youth [Remembered as a very strong man, even when he was older. He lived on the west side of Providence Road and did cut a lot of wood]

He was always very gritty

This winter he’s been chopping wood

With a muscle like a smithy

In writing down about us all

And what makes our wheel all go,

We must not for a minute

Forget to mention Joe. [Wilson]

All day Joe works at this and that

All night at that and this,

He likes to dance with pretty girls,

They fill his heart with bliss.

Our Ross who lives on yonder hill [Ross Junkin, lived on the hill at the north end of Providence Road, he married Meryl Goodhand]

Is feeling very fit

The snow has never got so deep

That he can’t wade through it.

Across the fields he has a path

Straight as the crow could fly

Most every night he crosses o’er

In the twinkling of an eye. [This is a reference to him hiking over to visit Meryl who lived just north of Fairbairn School]

All winter Jack’s been feeding hogs,

But now he has the ‘sessing [Jack Staples was the assessor, he had to visit every house]

He soon will be out chasing dogs

If he’s bit ‘twill be a blessing [He had to assess the dog tax, which was controversial]

Our W.A. is going strong [Women’s Association]

With Mrs. Mac presiding

The women sure are trying hard

To make us law abiding.

The Thomases are boarding out, [Willie Thomas, father of Dr. Doug and Jim, often hosted guests in summer]

And growing wide and deep,

That Willie is a terror,

He’d rather work than sleep.

Another farm they now have bought,

Beside the water hidden

It ought to make a safe retreat

Where guests can’t come unbidden

The Wrays are all as busy [Tom Wray, children Carl, Grattan, Aletha married Claire Junkin above, Drucilla]

As a swarm of honey bees

Out in various wood lots

Sawing down the trees

As for the Martins at the school

They’re full of snap and vigour

If they don’t cut down on the cats

They’ll spoil the teacher’s figure.

There’s other news that I could tell

But I will come again

And say when the goose begins to lay

And when we sell the hen

I did not want the folks to think

That we are off the map,

We’re all alive and kicking

Like the spring on a groundhog trap.

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