In 1833 William and Mary (Pycock) Gunby emigrated to Canada from Lincolnshire, landing at Brown’s Landing where La Salle Park is now. While William proceeded to Muddy York on foot to seek work Mary was left with 3 children. The ship had Scarlet Fever aboard and while William was away both Harriet and Elizabeth caught it. Harriet was left deaf and Elizabeth died and is buried in Hamilton. Another Elizabeth had already died in England. It seems son Anthony survived the voyage and the disease. Six weeks after landing Enoch was born at Hannahsville (Nelson).
Eventually the family settled on the west town line Nelson township, Halton County. This home became known as The Old Homestead. Six more children were born and married within the community and farther afield. My branch of the family is descended from son Burdge. Both William and Mary died on the home farm and are buried in Carlisle cemetery. Their children are buried locally in Bethel, Lowville and Carlisle except for Martha who was buried in the USA.
Kilbride area was the nearest source of commerce and would remain so it seems until my generation. Bills from the early 1900’s indicate purchases of groceries, dry goods and medical care. Matches (15c), “shoes for man” ($1.75), bread (20c), broom (40c), thread (10c) and other household needs at Van Fleet’s store. John Small seems to have dealt in small farm equipment and products for horses. Harrows sharpening cost $1.00, wheel repair 10c, shoe on colt 50c.
Several paid bills to Dr. Jones indicates reliable medical care while bills from Dr. Wickson in Milton perhaps meant more specialized care was needed. The Nelson Telephone Company bills were paid in Lowville. Bills show 10c a call. Tax bills for the “Township of Nelson” were collected in Kilbride by R.E. Rasberry and George Erwin. Bills of 1916-18 have added War Tax and Patriotic Fund. When I look over these bills and read about the powder mill and apple factory I imagine Kilbride as a bustling ‘small town’ where businesses provided work for the community and surrounding farm folks as well as a market for their products.
When I grew up the 1940’s and 50’s Kilbride meant the general store run by the Johnsons, trips to Dr. MacDonald for medical care and Billy Mitchell’s where I got an ice cream cone (5c) if I did not cry while being treated at the former. My dad spent many a rainy morning at ‘the garage’ which meant (I think) gathering gossip in the ‘Booth’. I believe I remember a pool table taking up most of the room there. It remained a mystery to me as I was not allowed along on these visits. I do remember shorter visits to Bill’s garage that always smelled of exotic things that I knew nothing about.
Kilbride also meant a big part of my social life as I made friends with Jo’Anne Henry. I think we may have met when Kilbride and Cedar Springs grade 7 and 8 were bussed to Lawrie Smiith School in Burlington for Industrial Arts and Home Economics. It has proved to be a lifelong and valuable friendship.
After marriage to Alan Burbidge who had emigrated from Birmingham, England at a young age we settled on part of my family farm, a plot of an acre on Cedar Springs Road. Kilbride was still the nearest village with the store, the garage and school for my kids who both made friends there and so Kilbride became part of their social life as well. It was close enough for them bike back and forth. My children are 6th generation Canadian and come from a long line of industrious people who are well settled in the Kilbride area as well as branching out to the States and other parts of Canada. Neither of them live in this area now but remember their ties here and often reminisce about growing up on Cedar springs Road. Kilbride and Lowville were centres for the farms around with baseball teams, churches and friends. I always thought I had the best of both worlds country living with the amenities of the nearby villages.
Thanks to my Uncle Orley Gunby, brother Merle and his wife Sheila for the historical research, to Eleanor Coulter for recording ‘Gunby History 1833-1975’ and to my mother who collected the records and left them to me.
Contributing Author: Jean Burbidge