Harold and Edna Ledsham

Harold and Edna Ledsham – Lowville 1981-2013

In 1981, my late husband Harold and I chose Lowville by putting a circle on the map around Milton and searching the area for a house. Harold was an electrical engineer who specialized in subway and light rail transit (LRT) design. He had worked many years for the TTC and we lived in Scarborough. Having accepted a position working on the LRT concept project in Hamilton, we wanted to be close to his work, while not being too far from friends and family in Scarborough. After driving around the Milton area, we discovered Lowville and the Langton house. We knew the house and the village were for us!

The house had been the miller’s house, situated next to the Lowville Grist Mill. Mr Langton was the last miller at the mill. The current house was built on the foundation of the of the old frame home, which the Langtons tore down in 1932 and replaced with the current brick structure.

Katherine Langton was an artist, who delighted in painting red and white stripes on the garage door, awnings and steps in the garden! She also taught oil painting in the upstairs room, where the floor was spattered with paint.

In 1986, when we learned that Guelph Line was to be “modernized”, Harold and a neighbour sprang into action, knowing that the heritage of Lowville could be in jeopardy. They formed the Lowville Area Residents Association (LARA). As President, Harold worked closely with the Halton and Burlington planners (too closely, they might have said!). Part of our property was to be expropriated, to straighten the curve and they offered to move our house! (we politely refused the offer and resisted the expropriation). That crisis over, LARA pressed the planners for esthetic improvements, such as decorative wrought-iron style street lamps, hanging flower baskets and more attractive (and appropriate) sidewalks and retaining walls, as well as stone entry markers at each end of the village. Harold and I took the responsibility for the installation and care of the flower baskets, but the daily watering became too much of a burden, so we eventually had laser-cut aluminum banners installed in 2006 (just after his passing) and which still look quite good today.

In 2004, Harold received official recognition from the Mayor of the City of Burlington at an awards gala, for his efforts in preserving the heritage and beauty of Lowville.

The garage/shed on our property was initially the old Temperance Lodge, which we believe had been moved from the top of the hill, above the schoolhouse. We used half of the structure as a garage and storage, with the other half converted into a model train room. I helped him with the painting, decorations and building installations, while he did the electrical and mechanical work (of course!).

Growing up in England, I had always wanted to attend art college, but my father insisted there was no future in that! I had earned a “Full School Certificate” from the Royal Drawing Society, for attaining honours in all six divisions of the examination, while attending St Philomena’s High School in Orpington, Kent. I became a portrait photographer in a local studio, but never gave up on my passion for art.

In 1954, I met my future husband on a blind date, arranged by mutual friends. This was obviously well before the age of internet dating sites! He was living in Canada, after being released from the British Army at the end of WWII, but had gone back to the UK to visit his old Army buddy Keith Haylock, who he had met in Malaysia. Keith’s wife Frances was an old friend of mine from kindergarten days. I took a giant leap of faith and travelled to Canada in June, to stay with friends of Harold and get to know him (as well as Canada). By October, we were married (not a shotgun wedding, by the way!). We drove up to Havelock and got caught in Hurricane Hazel. It was a tempestuous start to our 52 year marriage!

We bought a house in Scarborough, started a family and I joined the Art Guild of Scarborough, as well as the Scarborough Needle Arts Guild. I had re-discovered my beloved arts, and went on to gain commissions and sell numerous oils, pastels, pen and ink drawings, water colours and finally dry-brush paintings. Subjects ranged from florals, houses, farms, landscapes, seascapes, dogs, etc. In Lowville years later, my pen and ink drawings were accepted by the Bruce Trail Association for five years of calendar art, along with Robert Bateman.

In 2004, Harold and I were invited to join the Lowville United Church Group, to help launch the Lowville Calendar, which we both found fascinating and rewarding. More of my paintings were accepted for the calendar, along with Brigitte Schreyer. and Harold assisted with the organization, distribution and sales.

Sadly, Harold became ill with cancer during the production of the second calendar and passed away in June 2006. We had become very passionate about Lowville and his ashes are buried at the Lowville United Church cemetery. Local stone artist Walt Rickli carved and installed a wonderful memorial to Harold, which sits in front of the old schoolhouse in the park.

I stayed in Lowville until 2013, but the care and maintenance of the house and property became too much of a burden, so I moved to Cobourg, to be closer to my daughter. My son moved to Burlington in 2000, after a 20 year career with the RCAF and still visits Lowville to keep me apprised of the latest developments (and gossip…). Lowville holds a special place in my heart.

Contributing Author: Edna Ledsham