Music Class

The item in the image above, if you don’t remember, was used to draw music staves on the chalkboard (though it was also co-opted to use for cursive writing and maybe, just maybe, to make writing “I will not chew gum in class”100 times easier).

I posted it a couple days ago on twitter, and it seemed to blow up, my most interacted tweet ever, so I guess there’s a lot of nostalgia for it!

Balbo Elementary (shared on facebook, if this is yours, let me know and will credit)

As I write this, I’m sitting in the old shoal harbour school, Balbo Elementary, upstairs (oh what fun Hughie Reid and I used to have playing on those stairs), grade 2, and Dorothy Guillam (I probably am totally botching that spelling) is using a device like it to draw staves on the board.

Brings back memories of terms I’d forgotten, treble clef, bass clef, etc. To be honest, I had totally forgotten that until a user on twitter mentioned the old mnemonic to remember notes “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge”. I’m sure she drilled that into us too, or similar, though to be totally honest all I really remember was, that to a 7 year old brat like me, she seemed ancient, and totally “prim” especially as she was from the UK and had an accent, which made her seem upper crust and “proper” to me.

I am not sure the truth of this, but I’ve heard that she was somehow involved with the community of Weybridge on Random Island changing to this name, from its former name of Foster’s Point.  If you have any details, please leave a comment and let me know, would love to learn more.

Music class kept on going to about grade 6 I think, with lots trying to learn an instrument.  I even had a guitar back in the day, but if I’m not tone deaf, I’m at least tone dumb, and, as dad used to say, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Laura Rogers was the last music teacher I had, and one thing I do remember from my time with her, and I’m sure every parent does too, with a sense of dread, was this hideous screeching thing.  They call it a recorder, and say it’s a music instrument, but I personally think it was some sort of practical joke, or mild form of torture from music teachers everywhere to parents.

I can remember Dad now yelling out at me “Peter, for the love of God, stop!” when I was trying to play/practice it.

Anyway, Happy New Year! And I hope this took you down a nostalgic rest stop!

Three on the Tree

While out yesterday to drop off some tools to my sister, Annette, I saw a pickup go by that somehow reminded me so much of ones that Ross Smith used to drive.

While he had big lane with a long road gong right down to his house, the truck was a staple diagonally across the road from our house, parked near the church step.

Nothing special in and of itself, but Ross always, always got a truck with a standard shift, but unusually, at least to me, the shift was on the steering column like an automatic.

He probably had to special order these, but I can’t really say, because its not like I ever checked Hickman Motors inventory to see if they stocked them!

I actually drove it a few times, mostly when I was working at the Clarenville CO-OP. Sometimes when I’d get a ride home from work, I’d start walking home from Elliott’s Cove, and at that point in time the old Cormack Lounge was still on the go.

When I’d be on my way home, I’d often stop in to see if there was anyone to give me a ride home, or perhaps call Dad to come get me. And Ross didn’t mind stopping and having a beer or two in there sometimes.

Depending on how many he had had, occasionally he’d ask me to drive the truck home for him. I remember him describing the shifting as moving the gears around the outside of a box.

I honestly can’t say I ever had it in reverse, so no idea how that worked, nor really much recollection about any of the other gears. But I do remember it being a unique experience.

Have you ever driven or even seen one?

Storm Windows

As Hurricane Dorian makes its way to hammer us here in Halifax, I got to thinking about broken windows and shutters and the like.

And that led me to remembering our fall and winter preparation years ago. I can’t say I’ve really thought about storm windows and storm doors in years, but every fall without fail, we’d take the big old home made wooden casements, with glass likely cut at Duffett’s, and screw them on over all, or most of the windows in the house. Especially the original ones. Any vinyl ones I think we left as is.

I can still remember lifting them up on Mom and Dad’s bedroom, and screwing in the eye bolts with a screwdriver stuck through it. And cursing under my breath when I’d jam it in my hand, or drop it on the ground.

That was especially infuriating when I was doing the higher windows on the ladder. Tho I have to say, I liked that old heavy wooden ladder much more than these new fangled aluminum jobbies that sway every move you make. I liked the solid feeling.

We also sometimes added a wooden storm door, but in later years we had the aluminum screen and storm door that did the same job.

Do you or any of your family still use them? Send me a picture, love to add it to the post!

Father’s Day – Uncle Hay

I visited home this past summer, and while our old house has changed with new occupants over the years, many things remained the same.

One being Uncle Hay’s property. It was like stepping back in time for me, and on this Father’s day, I am maudlin thinking about those old times and how close him and dad were.

Both of them spent much of their time in their respective workshops, and while dad’s is gone, visiting Uncle Hay’s, I could almost see him there, wearing his old denim coveralls, and I could imagine I was there on one of my multitude of “Run down and see if Hay has a <insert tool here>” missions.

I’ve gotten countless chisels, replaced broken drill bits, borrowed sharpening stones, and often had to make a return trip as Uncle Hay would ask me to bring down a tool of dad’s.

I can smell the old smells, and did when I visited there in September. The smell of sawdust, mixed with three in one oil, melded with the smell of rough lumber and planks, baked for years through the big multi-paned window that the sun seemed to beam through constantly.

I know I’ve been there on cloudy days, and in rain and snow, but somehow, in my memory its always sunny, motes of dust drifting in the beams, and I can’t tell you how much I miss it, and them.

Rest in peace. Greater, more loving men I have never known.

The Sawmill

If you’re familiar with Apsey Brook, you know that Roy Smith operated a sawmill business for many years. What you may not know is that Uncle Luther, Dad and Uncle Hay used to operate one too.

It was mostly for personal use, but I do remember trucks coming occasionally and buying some lumber.

You’d be hard pressed to believe it now, but if you drive down the wharf road, behind Roy’s old place, where the road kinda curves towards the wharf, it also used to go straight, and there was a bridge across the brook, similar to the old wooden one on the main road.

Apsey Brook

When I was a kid, it was our wading pool too, underneath the bridge in the cool, a decently deep pool formed. And just up the brook, this little point, where you could catch a pasty white trout, that while edible, weren’t very good, but we caught and ate them anyway. Plus we’d usually get one in the same spot for the well. Do people still put trout in their wells?

But you could and we did drive a truck across it. And if you went further, Ross had a big wide gate there that you could also drive a truck, or horse and slide through, and could loop right around by the old house and the new and come out on the road by the old school.

The mill itself though was very much alike a lot of the old mills. Roy also had one down by the beach, on the left hand side of whats now the breakwater road. And they were all similar.

A push mill, with rollers, and a table. I big heavy material of some sort of thing hanging over the blade, to stop the sawdust. Big belt drive to an old diesel engine. (I assume it was diesel anyway).

Off to one side a planer to dress the lumber, would have to change the belt from the motor to power it when needed. A wide door/opening on one side to roll the logs in, I think we had a sliding door on it. All in all, it was pretty much just a slap dash of planks, with big chinks in the “walls”

The picture above will be familiar, though not mine.

Was only used in summer mostly, wasn’t made for comfort, nor were any of them, and many had them. Every community had one or two, maybe more.

Before my time, but the Smith family originally had a watermill. I remember stories told of the young boys having to hike in the brook to dam pond to open the dam to get water to run to drive it.

Vincent Smith on the old bridge by the water mill. I can’t remember the name of the lady.

I wish I had pictures of it now, many a summer day was spent down there, playing with turpentine boats made from mill strips. And of course lugging up slabs as part of the winters wood and for splits.

Incoming Duck Missile!

In our ever lasting search for a water supply that would last the summer, dad tried many things.

In the summer of 1983, the year Keith had his accident, he and I dug a pipeline 660 feet through the woods, in the heat of summer, to a small brook that we somehow managed to get a huge concrete culvert pipe into. I remember the distance based on the amount of plastic pipe dad bought to lay down. When I was home this summer, I saw someone has a smaller culvert pipe in the same location.

Another thing he had done, tho I really don’t remember when, was he had a bulldozer dig out a big reservoir up behind the house on the hill. The water wasn’t very good, but sometimes in summer we’d lay a pipe across the ground and use gravity flow for water to flush the toilet at least.

To me it was always called the reservoir, but to many others it became known as the duck pond, cause sometime thereafter, dad also got 3 ducks, 1 male and a female, with the intent I guess of raising them for sale? give away? hobby? Not really sure anymore. But let me tell you, the eggs were amazing. So much better than chicken eggs!

We eventually got rid of them, mostly I think cause when we’d let them out, they’d often go down across Alice’s yard to the beach, and she complained about them and the duck crap.

But before we did, I remember they had at least one brood of young ducks. I can still remember them waddling across the yard following their mother.

One of the young ones was a little … slow. He had trouble keeping up, was unbalanced and un-coordinated. Hmmm….. No I am talking about the duck, not me!

I never realized how protective the mother ducks could be, and for some reason this one never seemed to like me much. The others would let me pet them, but she’d just hiss at me.

Well, if you know our old house, there was a rock wall dad made holding the hill back surrounding it. One day this slower duck, who’s name was not Peter, fell over the wall, and his mother was in a tizzy.

I went outside to pick him up and put him back up, but his mother didn’t like that either.

It was like a missile launched from a battle ship. All I remember was feathers and hissing as I was bombarded!


Face of Many Colours

When we were young, we could make a ball field, or hockey arena, pretty much anywhere.

Across the road from Eric’s house there was a field, with some large rocks arranged in a rough diamond. Though pretty small, we’d often play ball there, especially when we only had a few people as the small size worked better.

On one particular day, and while I don’t remember the date, I know it was likely in the 80s as it was an election day, and mom was working as returning officer in the old school in Apsey Brook. So it was before it was torn down. I remember this because as events unfolded, I ended up driving in to show her the results of my encounter…

We often used to play ball with those old red and blue and white sponge balls, but this particular day, we were using a hockey ball. And not one of the softer ones, it had absolutely no give whatsoever. And it “encountered” me.

For anyone that remembers, the field was approximately between where Barry’s house and Eric’s houses are now I think, and we used to pitch from about 20 feet (if that) away.

I had just gotten new glasses from Dr. O’Halleran in Clarenville, not sure if same day, but not too long before. Eric and I, and I think maybe Bernard and Craig and Jim might have been there on the field. I was pitching to Eric, and he smacked the ball hard, right back at me, and right square in the glasses.

I remember looking down and the twisted mess and thinking, “Oh No, my new glasses” until I saw the blood start dripping on my sneaker.

The frame of the glasses had dug into my face making a circular cut all round my eye, and a nice bruise and swelling already starting.

A week or so later, Eric said he could count 7 colours there! So there lies the face of many colours story!


This post is probably for me more than anyone, but feel free to read, or skip….


I don’t remember the exact date anymore, but sometime around the 26th of this month, it will be 22 years since I got in the old Corsica with Keith and came to Halifax for a 9 month course.  Mom and Dad followed to spend the winter up here too, and my sister, Annette, was already here; the main reason Mom and Dad came up.

Well Dad lasted 2 winters, passing in March 1998, but maybe his happiest years in a way too, spending them with the little girl he doted on.  I’m moving into my 23rd winter now I guess.  Funny how things work out, had no expectation I’d ever be here beyond my course.

I finished the course in July 97, and had a job starting the Monday (or Tuesday, I forget) after I finished, in Gander.  Packed up the old Corsica again and moved there from July to January 98.  At that time the school I had gone to offered me a job and the option of being close to Mom and Dad, and really having enjoyed my experience there, I moved back to Halifax.  Again, never really thinking about staying.

Apsey Brook from across the sound.

Well 22 years has come and nearly gone, a house mortgaged, brown hair (what hair? Hayley will ask) changed to gray, red beard changed to white.  And I guess somewhere along the line Halifax (technically Bedford) became home, even if I will always call Random Island home. When you look at it, I’ve only been here nine less years than there.

Not even gotten back much lately, but, and I guess this is where this comes from, I did go “home” in September for a week. It was kind of a good bye trip I think, and while I may very well go back again, maybe sooner, since Eric is so generous with a place to stay, it was still kind of a farewell tour.

Friggin’s Cove Pond

I got to visit old haunts, re-live memories, visit Dad both at his gravesite and in my memories at places like Friggin’s Cove Pond.

When you move, in your mind the people and things you’ve left behind don’t change. I had such thoughts – Walking from the old mill site across “the land” to McGrath’s Cove, walking down and seeing the old root cellars, other little things that no one but me would get, like 2 huge ant hills on the path from Uncle Hay’s to Colin’s.  It was all gardens in my memory.  The “paths” were often used by trucks back then, the gates big enough for horse and slide and vehicles.  Well without a machete, or perhaps a chain saw, that’s not happening anymore.  What were roads and paths are forest.

Gull (Sapphire) Rock

I went to the rattle (Friggins Cove Rattle that is) though it was dry, walked on “The Level” and Granny Walters hill. The sea arch at Phillip’s Point, Gull (or Sapphire to the older generation, though not sure what generation I am! Aside: Why did we kids call it Gull Rock I wonder?) Rock, saw the “black rocks” fishing mark. Saw an Apsey Brook sunset.  Visited all the communities; went across the neck, out to southwest arm, the brickyard, I can’t even remember it all already.

I loved it, always will.  And I miss the good friends I have there, pretty much all one family really, Bernard, Eric, Barry mostly, brothers from another mother.  But while its “Home”, I don’t know that I could live there anymore.  There are facets I love of course, but being there for a week and doing something every day isn’t the reality of anyone’s life.  And mainly I guess, for me, at least till she’s out on her own too, Home is where Hayley is.


Troutin’ and Smokin’ (“We’d have to kill him!”)

By Eric Cooper

For many years I’ve had an interest in smoking (foods that is,lol). My first smoker was a Luhr Jensen Little Chief. Peter Smith and I bought it between us. That little smoker got lots of use, as we experimented with different kinds of meat and fish. Smoked herring was, and still is my favourite. We also made lots of jerky, which was a big hit with everyone. Smoked trout was also very good and Junior Patey liked it more than anyone.

Junior loved to go trouting, just like me. We went together numerous times, always enjoying it. One time for an upcoming weekend he suggested that we bring the smoker to his place to smoke some trout. But of course first we needed to catch some. We decided to go to figure eight pond to try our luck. The trout weren’t overly big there but at least we would have a good chance to catch our quota. Rod Smith loved smoked trout too and we knew that he and Peter would most likely be there for the feast, and maybe a few other friends. So off we went, myself and Junior to the pond.


It was a long walk to the pond but that didn’t bother us at all. The trout were biting really good that day and we felt very confident about catching enough for our get together. We had a great day trouting and proceeded to make our way home. Back in those days there was an old cabin near round pond. We stopped there to take a break and have a coke, and I decided to count our trout. I laughed and told Junior that I think we “slightly” exceeded our limit. A friend of mine Bax Quinton was a fisheries officer at the time. I said to Junior, “what would we do now if Bax happened to come along?” His quick response was “we’d have to kill him!” I laughed and when I looked at him he grinned and chuckled and said “oh yeah we’d have to do it there would be no other way around it!” It was so funny the way he said it, I’ll never forget it.

I fried some of the trout and the rest were smoked and eaten at Junior’s house on the weekend. It was a great weekend with friends, lots of laughs, smoked trout and a few India beers. Such good memories.