The Irish were not numerous here

We always looked forward to the Irish songs but I missed them last week on St. Patrick’s Day and it seemed to me the Irishmen and their merry ways are not so prominent as we once knew!
In fact, “Irish Eyes” and “Galway Bay” and other songs from the Emerald Isle are becoming as scarce as the sons of Erin we once knew so well here.
I’m remembering the Kerrs, for instance, and the first three brothers and a sister who helped populate this community. If you go back to the families of both Barney, the eldest, and Charlie, you probably could come up with at least a dozen names of their children.
(Although one brother, handsome and dignified Pat, who was a government official, either stayed a bachelor or had no children).
Barney’s good-natured gang was very popular and his second-eldest son, Adam, was with me while stationed at Toronto with the RCAF in wartime. He took me to meet his older brother, Charlie, and wife, where we spent one cheerful Christmas in Toronto.
Barney and one daughter, Bessie Turgeon, occupied upstairs apartments on Church Street. His large family became scattered, with Adam and his wife being my close neighbours.
Younger sons included Fran, Hugh, and Jack, and another daughter was a local nurse, Eva, who also was in Toronto with us.
I’m no longer certain about the senior Charlie’s several children but his youngest son, Don, stayed here right along, and older brothers were all busy fellows while a a sister, Violo, married Henry Dittaro here.
There may have been other Irishmen among us at one time but the Kerrs probably predominated. And it was in their popular nature to become well-known if not always the singers you might have expected, considering their background.
But the Irish songs we knew were being overwhelmed by music of so many other countries better represented here.
• • •
I forgot to mention that a storekeeper named Switzer operated the first local bicycle store that I can remember. It was next to the Dominion Bank many years before the bank added Toronto to its name.
Now we have Skates and Blades, Wal-Mart, and Canadian Tire among our leading shops for two-wheelers.
• • •
No Holland trip this spring for Bert Oliver, our aging war veteran. Friends from over there have returned one of his previous four visits. But now Bert reports a chum who was to accompany him this year has died in Kenora.
And despite the federal government offering $1,000 assistance on a trip, Bert, now 86, is through travelling.
• • •
My oldest daughter, Sara Ann of Sioux City, Iowa, was enroute here with her husband, Ted, to congratulate me on another birthday when they decided to not finish their trip last Thursday because of a very strong wind that was taking too much fuel as well as causing a rough ride.
We’ll see them here later.
• • •
Sister-in-law Gail Madill, of Winnipeg, sent me a huge basket of fruit and added her congratulations to many others I received from friends and readers, to whom I am grateful if somewhat embarrassed.
• • •
Bill Morrision is a neighbour of my youth on Portage Avenue North, where the other neighbours were predominately Ukrainians, including the Druzyks, Zamalynskis, and Chernaskes.
This was close to the CN subway, which arrived after we moved in and now will be followed by a newer version.
Anyway, Bill’s father, Benny, who raised two other sons and a daughter, Joy, passed away at only 52 after serving as a CNR policeman. He had transferred into Manitoba.
• • •
Kidney and diabetes patients are grateful for several dialysis machines at the hospital, but more may be installed soon to accommodate the growing numbers of patients, according to one who undergoes the three-hour treatment two or three times a week.
• • •
My birthday a week ago Tuesday is still being mentioned, and now I learn another March 8 birthday was observed by Mike Bell, son of Ivan, and related to the Mudges.
• • •
In a community concerned about future job losses, the “For Sale” signs have been disapparing regularly here. In one block alone, we noticed three of those signs now bearing “Sold” announcements.
• • •
I don’t know which one I’m flattering here, but every time I meet Dave Allison, who doubles as the Thunder head coach and my son-in-law, I am reminded quite strongly of his resemblence to John Wayne, although the old cowboy star didn’t have red hair.
• • •
You will recognize Leon Wells from his handsome and curly beard like we never see around here. He could be setting a style and deserves credit.
• • •
There’s another Ward family in town headed by Sean, one of our Safeway assistant managers. His wife, who said she has yet to meet the other Wards in this community, reports coming from Saskatchewan, accompanied by three very young hockey players with appetites they were demonstrating in McDonald’s!
• • •
Fort Frances will remain my own hometown, much more than most I’ve known as I proved when a daughter put my birthday picture in the Daily Bulletin last week and brought for me a flood of congratulations, whether for having lived so long or maybe for staying out of jail all the way (all my law-breaking seems to have occurred somewhere else!)
Now, like it or not, I’m probably here to stay (though I’m still hoping my cows don’t all come home to me to be milked again)!
• • •
Ivan Colgan is a Bearskin pilot who renewed my acquaintance last week and, unlike me, continues to make Mine Centre his home. He believes my old one-room school is now the village’s community hall.
Ivan says a shortage of pilots looks likely here with the WestJet fleet out of Calgary also coming along. A flight school for new pilots is planned—something not needed when our wartime pilots all came home.
• • •
Any reference to Scott Street history should include the name of the last-known family member by that name.
Willard Scott was connected to Well’s Hardware store until well after the war. He also was a friend of our police chief back then, Lous Camirand, who said Scott was a fishing enthusiast like Louis.
• • •
We assumed so many old difficulties and scandals concerning Rainycrest management were all in the past. But problems persist there today, and the old folks home is again “throwing fits” as the saying goes!

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