No corn patch beside the river?

There will be no big corn patch to admire by the river this summer at the west end of town.
Blair Lowey—a third-generation farmer there—blames government regulations. The big border stores no longer accept this product on account of marketing regulations.
However, his parents, Jim and Chris, still were seeding cucumbers next to their greenhouses this week. They’ll continue dealing with all their old customers who have been going to these gardens since 1933.
That’s the year the friendly Dutch grower, Joe Vanderhorst, arrived to find the riverside rich in the right kind of sand to interest him. Mr. and Mrs. Vanderhorst proceeded to raise six children, including five daughters preceding their youngest child, a stalwart son, Joe Jr., who built his own home just back of the corn patch.
More girls arrived there.
Everyone pitched in for many years, including motherly Mrs. Van, who presided over the cooking and log cabin behind her own home. Hired help, including me, came along for summers and enjoyed her skills.
The whole place always rang with Vanderhorst laughter and these were the happiest people I ever worked for!
People remember their downtown store which operated through the ’40s and could sell you just about every kind of fruit, as well as vegetables and bedding plants. This was halfway down the 300 block and usually attended by the oldest girls, Mary and Audrey, who also did deliveries.
Then there also was Chris (now Lowey), who had to stay with the farm after she married Jim Lowey, whose affections were divided between her and the gardening. But there also were Elizabeth and Pearl, and other girls Mother Van took in from time to time.
During my summer with them, two little girls whose mother was Mrs. Jamieson, the “hot stove murder” victim, arrived from Banning, near Flanders, to stay for a while.
Young Joe provided the only machinery power on the place. While only about seven, he showed his Dad he could handle a small farm tractor.
About the same time, Joe Sr. brought home a team of horses which we would drive down the riverbank for water before stabling them there overnight in a log barn—and enjoying their company after a hard day’s work.
In that same summer, we helped Van install an irrigation system. It seemed there was no end to the miles of aluminum pipe we strung out all over the main fields.
Fred Beck, later to become the taxi operator, hooked up the system for us and we brought in loads of river water. Changing the pipes from field to field became part of our day’s duties.
Although I was invited to make use of the bunkhouse where my friend, Harry Cavell, the regular hired man, spent his nights, I found it no trouble to bicycle back and forth from home.
This was okay as long as I could get up at 6 a.m. for the first time in my life, so as to be on hand for breakfast by 7 o’clock and planting with everyone else by 8.
The planting came easier than expected after a Vanderhorst breakfast and all that laughter which never seemed to stop. And when I go back there yet today, the same jolly atmosphere still prevails.
I don’t know how the Loweys and Vans will make out despite diminished sales, although I understand their import market has been going well. They usually have brought in produce from below the border and they all are born salespeople.
So I don’t believe we have to worry about them too much. Such friendly and considerate people could never run out of friends. Still, it would be wonderful to find that big corn patch again waving in the wind when we drive past!
• • •
Eunice Pierce is back in Fort Frances to stay, probably, since being driven from her Stratton area home last June by the rampaging rivers there during the historic 12-inch rainfall.
Several other homes in her area also were evacuated, reported Eunice, whose maiden name here was Wardman. They got an 18-inch depth of water in their basement before they left their farm.
This grim story was never included in accounts on that flooding because it occurred while the phone wires were knocked out around Pattullo and elsewhere.
• • •
Bill Watt wonders whether anyone else has ever tasted skunk meat. We got on this savoury subject after I mentioned having tasted bear steaks and porcupine as a boy, and there are those who would not prefer venison.
But skunk? Well, Bill insists it tastes like chicken.
Incidentally, he still lives at his gravel pit and farm in Chapple, where he lost his right arm years ago but continues to work and drive. Bill’s folks were noted loggers in that area.
• • •
Lorraince Bannan of Thunder Bay is the government’s angel of mercy for our war veterans. She reports there are 700 of us on assistance of all kinds in this district, including 100 in Fort Frances.
Between here and Sault Ste. Marie, the number, while being rapidly reduced, stands at around 2,400 vets receiving care today.
Through the local Legion, you can contact Lorraine, Department of Veterans Affairs, and she’ll do her best to help in any way possible!
• • •
When well-known Jack Pierce and his wife come in from Atikokan and I’m sitting with Donny Christian over coffee, get ready to listen to the construction stories involving Steep Rock Iron Mines and the local Causeway.
There were two great memories at work here without counting my own contribution on these subjects (not too great, although I vividly remember the draining of Marmion Lake down Seine River into Rainy Lake). That was the start of the Atikokan iron industry.
And the first blast of rock for the Causeway start also is memorable for many of us who went quite close to see it.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Posted in Uncategorized