Life and Times of George & Shirley Robertson
6575 Cedar Springs Road, Kilbride
George and Shirley Robertson were long time residents of Kilbride. They were well known by the villagers. George and Shirley met on a blind date at a dance in Georgetown. Shirley said she knew right away that this was the one for her.
George Robertson was an independent trucker. He worked for himself and the Halton County Roads Department. In the summer months he would haul asphalt from Paris to Halton roads. In the winter he sanded them. When Nelson Crush Stone opened an asphalt plant in the late 1950s that stopped the trips to Paris.
In 1956, his father-in-law, William Buck of Campbellville gave him and Shirley 200 acres of land north of Campbellville on the corner of #10 Side Road and the 4th Line East. In 1966 George sold the land to the Halton Conservation Authority and it is now called the Robertson Track.
George used the land as a wood, hunting and recreation lot. He hunted rabbits, ducks and deer. Also, on the property were 2 beaver dams. On some Sundays, George and Shirley would pack a lunch and have a picnic there with the children running wild. They had a Coleman stove to heat the food. On the property was an old orchard that had Pepin and Crab apples. These were made into pies and jam.
George cut fire wood and logs off of the bush. After about 2 years of having trouble in the winter getting the wood out, he bought a John Deere Crawler. Now he could expand his business to doing work around houses and driveways. Also, he helped the family and friends with any hauling or digging that was needed.
For a great number of hears, George sanded the roads. He started in the 1940s. At that time you had a shovel the sand onto the truck from piles around the County. Then, you would stand in the back and throw the sand onto the road. They called this ‘banjoing’. Later, the County bought Swanson sanders which hung off of the tailgate with a chain drive off of the wheel.
After supper, one of us would go with Dad sanding. He would put the box up so we could watch the sand fall by looking out the back window. He would take the red brake lens off so we could watch the sand fall. When the sand started to stop falling, we would tell him and he would put the box up higher. He would drive along with his window open so he could listen to the chain drive to tell when the chain fell off.
Back at the farm Dad bought a small flat bottom boat about 8 feet long. We used it to ride around the beaver dam. Later in the summer we would go up after supper and pole out and watch the ducks come in by the hundreds. Dad had a movie camera which he used to take a lot of pictures of them.
We moved to Kilbride in 1941 and lived at 6515 Cedar Springs Road, renting the house. In 1952, George bought 6547 Cedar Springs Road from Lloyd Raspberry take possession in May. But, the owner of the rental house wanted to move in by the end of March. So, Dad loaded up his 5 ton dump truck with his possessions and moved some things to Campbellville and some things to Lloyd Raspberry’s. Frances and Harold stayed at the Raspberry’s and Roy and Art stayed at Uncle Orlo and Aunt Margaret’s on Ann Street so we could go to school. Mom and Dad, along with Lois, Doris and Grace went to Campbellville for the month.
Growing up in the rental place we had an ice box. Russell Dent would bring a block of ice for it every night. Around 1950, coming home from school, sitting on the front step of Johnson General Store, from Eaton’s Department Store, was our new refrigerator. In 1954, we got a TV. Some of the kids from the village would come over to watch the Saturday night hockey game.
The school house was a 2 storey building. Grades 1 to 4 were down stairs and grades 5 to 8 were upstairs. When Fairview School opened there were only enough children for 1 room until the new Kilbride School opened. One of the teachers at that time was Mrs. Music. She said that if the Robertson’s and Brown’s came to Kilbride School they would have to keep it open. There were about 30 to 40 students from grades 1 to 8 and one teacher.
In the early years, the late 40s and 50s, at Christmas we would travel from Kilbride to Campbellville for Christmas lunch. The night before Dad would put 3 or 4 blocks of wood behind the stove to warm up. Then in the morning he would put them in the back seat of the car on the floor for our feet. We would wrap up in blankets for the ride because the old Ford had very little heat. Later in the afternoon he would take them out of Grandpa Buck’s where they were heating up and put them in the car again for the ride to Grandpa Robertson’s for supper in Lowville.
In later years at Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, Mom would have dinner and sometimes friends of one of us or their friends would eat with us. Mom would always say, “yes, they can stay just put another potato in the pot”.
Dad was a hunter and for several years he hunted fox, raccoons and muskrat for pelts and bounty, rabbits and deer for food. In 1956, Dad, his brother Russ and friends Jim Mountain of Milton and Howard Coulson of Lowville went moose hunting at Horwood Lake. For the next dozen years or so, he and his brother along with friends Bruce Nicholson and his 2 sons, Roy and Art went with him. In 1966 Dad and Mom went west into the Rocky Mountains. Mom stayed with friends near Red Deer Alberta and learned how to make home baked bread. Dad went on into the mountains to do his hunting. Over the next few trips that Dad took, Mom went with him along with younger son Stanley. On one trip, his nephew John Miller went with him. Over his many trips to the Rockies, he shot grizzly bears, mountain goats and sheep. Later in the 70s and 80s he went hunting deer around Weaverly, Ontario with a number of men from Lowville and surrounding area.
Mom was always knitting, crossing, tatting and quilting. In the early years she made all of our clothes. She would knit mittens and sweaters for winter, make clothes for school and quilts for our beds. It was in the early 50s before we got store bought clothes. I remember one of us sitting on the floor pushing on the peddle for the sewing machine so Mom could sew. We also sat under the quilt frame receiving a needle and pushing it back up through the material to make another quilt. Mom, over the years, volunteered for a variety of things in the community like hot dog day at the school, making scarves for the Scouts and Guides and fundraising in the village and at the Church.
As Mom got older she had more time and became a good cook. She would bake bread and buns. One time I remember Mom made biscuits and she forgot an ingredient and as a result, they turned very hard. At supper that night, Dad took one and tried to bite it. He said, “Shirley, these biscuits are so hard you could use them for hockey pucks”. With so many of us sitting around the table, there were very few leftovers. Making sandwiches for lunches was an assembly line. First we laid out a loaf of bread, the next in line started buttering, the next person applied peanut butter, then jam or honey. For Dad’s lunch he would get leftover meat. It was the same with the dishes. I was washing and 2 or 3 of the others would dry and put away.
Most of our food was purchased from Johnson’s General Store. In the late 50s and 60s, Mom and Dad along with Russ and Jean Coulson would go to the Aldershot Dominion store for Saturday night shopping. When they came back to our house we would have snacks and a get together.
The Community Hall across the street from the store, in the early years, was used for Saturday night dances, wedding receptions and showers and well as community meetings. The school used it to hold Christmas concerts as did the Church. In the 60s, the teens used to hold dances there. They stopped when the new school auditorium opened.
Watson’s Esso Service Station was initially owned by Billy Mitchell. It became a gathering place to play pool and cards after supper. When Bill Watson built the new building, he sold the old service station ‘booth’ which was moved to Jane Street. Now, card playing went back to afternoon and nights. When Bill retired and sold, the card playing stopped.
Over the years we had several pets, mostly dogs, fox hounds and a cat I brought home from school. It lived for 18 years. Other pets we had were rabbits, crows, squirrel and pigeons.
Dr. Hugh McDonald lived across Kilbride Street at the end of Cedar Springs Road. He helped to bring into this world most of the children in the area. In the early years he kept a horse and buggy at Gordon Small’s and would get Mrs. Agnes Weatheralt, a nurse, to help him. In later years he bought a car. Dad sometimes would ride with him to Hamilton. Dad said, “thank God for Automatic Transmission”, because he could not shift gears very well. Dr. McDonald would make house calls. If you had trouble paying, he would take less or take some goods in return. It was said that he would go into the bank in Carlise and put a handful of money on the counter, ask the teller to put it in his account and walk out. As the Doctor got older, he would call to our place at night to see if one of us could drive him to a patient’s house.
At 6547 Cedar Springs Road, the property that Dad bought, on the south east corner is a barn. Mom said they were building it as she was in bed giving birth to Roy (October, 22, 1941). At that time they were renting at 6515 Cedar Springs road. They got the wood for the barn from the old slaughter house on George Street.
In the winter we would go sledding to several places around Kilbride. While we lived at 6516 Cedar Springs road, we would go sledding behind the house using Dad’s square mouth shovels, a big cardboard box and later a toboggan. As we got older, we would travel across the fields to the Cedar Springs Golf Course at night to toboggan. Sometimes there could be as many as 12 to 15 children and 5 or 6 toboggans. By the time we got home we would be happy, half frozen and wet from the snow.
Dad always had a garden and grew all kinds of vegetables. Always on the first Sunday of July we would have potatoes and peas for lunch. There were 3 rows of raspberries that we picked. The summer that we had 2 pet crows, they always came to the patch to ear. They would fly up onto your shoulder and caw into your ear wanting a berry. If you were slow, they would peck you on the ear.
Mom did all kinds of canning. One year she did over 200 jars of fruit and some vegetables. They used to buy sugar and flour by the 100 pound bag, honey by the 5 gallon pail and pitted cherries in pails too.
In 2002 Mom and Dad put their home up for sale and moved to Brantwood Retirement Home in Burlington in November. Dad passed away on February 27, 2003, 3 days after celebrating his 66th wedding anniversary. Mother moved to Brant Centre in September 2003 and passed away on July 2, 2008.
Children of George M. Robertson & Shirley E. Buck:
William George McLellan (Mac) passed away on December 25, 1947
Frances lives in Burlington
Roy lives in Buckhorn and Waterloo
Harold lives in Selkirk
Art lives in Kilbride
Lois lives in Milton
Doris passed away on October 23, 2016
Grace lives in Staynor
Ann lives in Hamilton
Stanley lives in Carlisle
Contributing Author: Harold Robertson