“I Mind One Time…”
The year 1912 was a significant date for the historical Dakota Mill in Nelson Township. A family from East Flamborough purchased the old water powered grist and saw mill, and it was to operate as a thriving business and remain in that family’s name for generations. That family was William and Lottie Pegg (Eaton), my maternal grandparents, and their eight children; Mary, Ruth, Edith, Eva, Winnie, George, Oscar and Clarke.
Grandma Lottie died in 1915. Grandpa Bill and family continued to operate the business until just before 1980, when the mill burned down and the land was sold to the Cedar Springs Community Centre. With the exception of Mary and Winnie, all family members are buried in Bethel Cemetery on Britannia Road, my mother Eva being the last of the family to die in 1995. There is only one family in-law member still remaining and that is my Aunt Edith (McNiven), Clark’s widow, who now resides in Dundas. I interviewed Aunt Edith recently and here’s what she had to say:
I was born in Hamilton in 1909 and my mother died before I was one year old. I moved from Hamilton in March 1910 to my grandfather James McNiven’s farm (at the corner of Steel’s Ave. and McNiven Rd.) and lived there with my sister Cora who was four and my brother Byron who was five. Eleven years later my father John joined us on the farm until he retired 26 years later.Aunt Edith (McNiven)
I remember playing in the creek across McNiven Road and making mud cakes. My sister Cora caught a large fish with her hands in the shallow water. We had a play house in a grove of cedar trees on the farm – we kids called it “Kallamazoo”. It was remnants of an old shingle mill owned by the White family *who operated Kilbride Store). We all walked four and one-half miles to Kilbride School – it was a long way! We used to pass the lime kilns on Whiskey Hill and climb Freeman’s Hill and meet the Greenlees family at Derry and McNiven Road and cut through John Small’s farm to the school. We were not allowed going into the Kilbride Store – we had no money anyway! One of my teachers was W.B. Horkins who later became a famous criminal lawyer in Toronto.
Many area women worked at the old Kilbride Evaporator (where the service station now stands). They dried apples for preserves. I was short, so Cam Watson would hold me up so I could get a few dried apples to eat on the way home from school. Generally the boys played together and the girls played together.
I pitched ball on the Kilbride Softball Team, coached by store owner Mr. Sproule. We played Strabane, Millgrove, Zimmerman and Tansley. Some of the players included Eva Pegg, Oliver Simpson, Rita Simpson and Winnie Pegg. We had a favourite meeting place at the front of the farm, near Elvin Coulson’s lot line, which we called “Jabber’s Fence”. Here we would meet and chat. Some Indian children lived in a shack across the road and they would come to our Jabber’s Fence. The children wove baskets and gave me one. I asked my grandfather why these Indian children didn’t go to school like we did. He said “It will probably take your lifetime before they are fully integrated into our society”.
My father, John McNiven, was Reeve of Nelson Township and on council for about 20 years. He was paid about $600 a year as Reeve and the township offices were located at Nelson Village. There was little or no money allocated for road maintenance and my father opened a gravel pit on Steele’s Avenue (Upper Base Line then). All farmers had to haul the gravel and put it on the road. I recall having to get a team of horses to haul a car, stuck in the mud, on McNiven Road. McNiven Road was named in my father’s honour shortly after his death.
We had an ice house on our farm. The ice was cut from McClure Lake, which is located at the rear of Hugh Murray’s property. I was not allowed to go near the lake because it was too marshy around the fringes. We kept meat all summer wrapped in feed bags and covered with sawdust over the ice.
Grandmother used to make soap. If you wanted light soap, you had to sift the ashes so they were very fine and boil the ashes in water with lye and fat. The soap was put into big boxes and cut into squares. We used the soap for washing clothes only.
In 1921 Harmon MacArthur, my father John McNiven and Mrs. Harbottle organized an “Old Boy’s Reunion” at the Kilbride School grounds. Many baseball games, a garden party and an evening concert was enjoyed by all.
It was a long walk to Kilbride School for our family, so my dad bought a two acre parcel of land at the bend on 1st Line Nassagawaya called “The Royal Oak”. It was covered with apple trees and we harvested the apples for winter use. Since we now owned land in Nassagawaya, we were allowed to attend S.S. #1 School, which was much closer for us. I passed my high school entrance at S.S. #1 and went on to Milton District High School by train from Guelph Junction station.
Our family all walked to Kilbride Methodist Church and it was at a Sunday School picnic at La Stalle Park in Burlington where I met my husband Clarke. Al and Billy McGuire took us by truck to the picnic. We went for a boat ride in Hamilton Harbour – it rained all day!”
Contributing Author: Jim Watson
Source: Kilbride Chronicles, Issue 10, page 70
Transcribed by: Lyndsey Innes