A Valentine’s Story: Shirley and George Robertson

60 Years Together

My story takes us back to the year 1917 when two babies were born, one in Campbellville and the other in Lowville. Shirley Margaret Buck was born on April 9th to William and Elizabeth Ann (nee Mills). They lived on the north-east corner of the 401 in Campbellville. George McLellan Robertson was born August 27th to William and Frances (nee Bell). George’s parents lived on Walker’s Line south of Britannia Road, Lowville. Shirley’s father was both a farmer and the local butcher. Her mother was a housewife. Shirley had a twin sister, Sadie, who was married to Henry Kelly. Sadie passed away on April 13th, 1971. George‘s father both farmed and served as the Sheriff for Halton County for 14 years. His mother was also a housewife. George has 4 sisters and 1 brother living. Marguerite Coulson (mother of Donnie Coulson) is the first born followed by brother Russell. George falls next in line followed by Ruth (Morris), Charlene (who passed away when she was only 10 months old), Jean (Hanneson), and Wilda (Cupido).

In 1935 George and Shirley met while on a blind date, arranged by Gertie Currie and Bill Readhead. Together with them and another couple, May Ellington and Arn Powell, the three couples went to the movie show in Milton. Time progressed as did the romance. They were married on February 24, 1937 at the Lowville Manse, by Rev. W.A. Archer. Attendants were Sadie and Russell. Arn Powell and May Ellington were also married on this day. George’s 1933 Buick transported the happy couple on their honeymoon to Toronto were they stayed in a hotel which cost them $1.00 a day. George had left with $20.00 in his pocket. Shirley’s father had given her a “shin plaster” on the day of her wedding. Shirley showed me this “shin plaster” which turned out to be a Dominion of Canada 25 cent bill, which shows it was made on January 2nd 1900. He also gave her a $1.00 Canadian bill. Believe it or not, they did return with some change in their pockets!

Upon their return from their honeymoon they took up residence with George’s parents on the family farm. There they stayed while George was working on the construction of the Q.E.W. He worked until the fall of 1937 on this project. In January of 1938 they moved to Milton where they rented a home for the next couple years, while George was working at the local Co-Op. George’s next job took him to work for Roy Coulter. Here he drove a gravel truck for the next 3 years. At this time they were back living at George’s parents. I would now like to tell you a story of an incident that happened in the farmhouse one fine day. George was sleeping on the couch, when Shirley came out to get him to come for lunch. George really wasn’t sleeping and before Shirley knew it he had grabbed her hand and wouldn’t let go. Shirley then happened to grab a croquet mallet which was close by and after being persuaded by George’s mother, she pretended she was going to hit George. Unfortunately, the mallet was not well attached and it flew off and hit George on the forehead. He still has a scar there to this day to prove it!

On June 9th, 1939 George and Shirley’s first of many children was born. William George McLellan (known as Mac) was brought into this world by Dr. Stevenson. George and Shirley were living at Shirley’s parents in Campbellville at the time. Their next child was born on May 30, 1940, being their daughter Frances Elizabeth (Falletta), delivered by Dr. McDonald of Kilbride Street, Kilbride.

In May of 1941 George, Shirley, Mac and Frances moved to the home owned by the Lillycrops, which was located at 6515 Cedar Springs Road, Kilbride. Here they rented for the next 11 years. On October 22, 1941 Roy Kenneth Robertson was born, followed by Harold Russell on August 6, 1943, Arthur John on August 21, 1945, and then Shirley Lois (LaSalle) on March 29, 1947. Dr. McDonald would walk down in the evening to check on Shirley and also for a social visit. Unfortunately, they lost their son Mac on Christmas Day 1947. On August 7, 1949 Doris Ethel (Lucas) was born at Dr. Stevenson’s Hospital on Martin Street, Milton. Doris also was delivered by Dr. McDonald as were all the children with the exception of Mac. Doris was born on the anniversary of George’s Grandma and Grandpa Robertson. Grace Margaret (Beals) was born on July 16, 1951.

In the Spring of 1952 George and Shirly bought their present home at 6547 Cedar Springs Road, Kilbride, which is only 2 houses up from where they were living. As a footnote, I would like to mention that we live in the house between these two residences.

Their next child, Ann Irene, arrived on November 17, 1954. She was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton. Last but not least came Stanley Douglas, born at the then newly constructed Milton District Hospital on Derry Road on December 20, 1961.

George and Shirley have 14 grandchildren: Ron, Douglas and Christopher (children of Lois and Ron LaSalle), Todd and Scott (children of Harold and Linda), Jamie and Kyle (children of Roy and Dora) Glen (son of Doris), Robert, Joseph and Michael (sons of Grace and Joe), and John, Bradley and Tammy (children of Art and Barb), giving them 13 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. Harold and Linda’s son, Todd, is father to their great grandson, Zavier Nathaniel, who was born on June 28th 1996.

Shirly recalls the days when the kids were going to school and it would take 1.5 loaves of bread to make all the sandwiches. She would bake every day for school snacks (no convenience food in those days). The bread would be delivered from Jackson’s Bakery in Hamilton. George remembers that the bread was still warm when it arrived and one loaf would never make it to the kitchen! Their milk was delivered from Waterdown. The Good Humour ice cream truck would come to the door at least once a month during the summer months. Mr. Pettitt would come in his station wagon with his Raleigh and Watkins products. Their beef, pork, and chicken came from the local butcher, Earl Kennedy of Lowville, delivered twice a week.

Shirley is known for her many contributions at Kilbride United Church from helping embroider the names and assembling the “Kilbride Picnic” quilt in 1988 to shaping and forming all those chocolate Easter eggs each year. She is always there to lend a helping hand at any of the functions that the Church decides to hold. Her interests also extend to helping the Boy Scouts of Canada, Burlington District, when she sewed 75 scarves for the Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and their leaders. Shirley would also help at the school when they had their “Hot Dog Days” for the children. She did this for almost 20 years. She has also made over 40 Mary Maxim sweaters for various members of the family. She sewed all the kids’ clothes when they were little, and then made all the bridesmaid dresses for two of her daughters’ weddings (Frances and Lois) and also for the bridesmaids when her sons, Art and Roy, were married.

George bought his first gravel truck in February of 1947. He began hauling for the County in June of that year, being paid $1.75 per hour for both man and truck. In 1950 George bought a John Deere front-end loader, which ran on army tracks, which he used when he was contracted to put in private driveways in order to level out the gravel. George was also contracted to do the shoring for the Toronto Subway. Shoring can be described (as best as I can describe it) as building the tunnels with wood and then covering with the gravel. George brought the Elm logs to Waterdown where they were cut into planks 3 inches thick. George continued working as well for the County and then the Region of Halton, until his “retirement” in 1972. At that time he had been working for the Town of Milton sanding out winter roads. After his “retirement” he continued to haul gravel during the summer months.

George’s hobbies include both hunting and gardening. The front room in their house is a showcase for the many “trophies” that have been acquired over the years. From George’s first hunting trip in 1950 to Norland, Ontario (which is north-west of Peterborough) he brought home a big black bear pelt, which they no longer have because the kids played with it so much! In 1967 George, Shirley and Stanley (only 6 years old at the time) went to Fort Steele, Alberta into the bush for 17 days. George brought home the head of a mountain goat. In 1969 George, with his nephew John Miller, went hunting in Hinton Alberta; this trip rewarded George with a big horn sheep. A trip to Stone Creek, Alberta in 1972 was quite the adventure for the three Robertsons. From Waton Lake, N.W.T. they flew in on a three seater bush plane to the small town which was 90 miles south of the boarder. They brought home a stone sheep as well as a grizzly bear (Dead of course!). As for his gardening, there isn’t a day goes by after the garden has been put in you won’t find George out there either working up the ground or pulling out those nasty weeds. We certainly appreciate all of the extras that George has brought over to our door.

Most people are aware that the water trough behind Kilbride Store was put in by the Robertsons. The original trough was made of wood. The second trough was the cattle trough which today we use at the Hoe-Down for all the pop. George had the present trough built by Gil Jayne (of Jayne’s Corner). George or one of the family members has been carrying water home for drinking from the trough for the past 56 years.

For the past 20 some years on the Sunday evening of the May 24th weekend George and Shirley have hosted a fireworks extravaganza for their family which has been a way to celebrate all the birthdays in May. Many of their neighbours also appreciated this show!

In closing we would like to congratulate George and Shirley who are celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary on February 24th. All those children must have kept you young in order to be able to celebrate such a wonderful event. All our best for many years more to come!

Contributing Author: Debbie Cragg

Source: Kilbride Chronicles, Issue 7, page 18
Transcribed by: Lyndsey Innes