When I was born December of 1956, life was pretty tough back then. We did not have hydro or running water. All we had was oil lanterns, out houses and wood stoves. When we needed water, my brother and sisters would go down to the lake and bring water home for bathing, cooking and cleaning. Sometimes we would spill it, and then we’d have to go all the way back down to the lake to get more. It got to be a bit easier as time went on; we eventually got a hand pump outside our house.
Dad heated our house with a cook stove. We did not have all the luxuries that everyone has today. (Cars, skidoos, riding lawn mowers, four wheelers, etc.) In the winter time when our parents went to town, my dad would take the sleigh and skate back home with all the groceries. Everyone was happy and friendly towards each other. We would borrow sugar, butter, and milk off our neighbours.
“In the winter time when our parents went to town, my dad would take the sleigh and skate back home with all the groceries.”
We always played in the bush. My father made us a vine from trees, which we could swing from. It was lots of fun. All our friends would come and play with us. We would make forts in the bush. We were poor, but we were happy. I remember mom making a big plate of bologna sandwiches for supper. There was lots of fish suppers too! Families used to visit one another. There was a time when us kids used to go to every household and wish everyone Merry Christmas and the community would give us candies. We would start from one end of the Island to the other. We sure would have a lot when we were finished. The same at New Year’s, all of us would wish everyone a Happy New Year, too.
When I was little, we went to Uncle Ross Peter’s house to wish him a Merry Christmas. I was so scared of him that I said my words wrong; I said Merry New Year and Happy Christmas. All the kids went running out of the house laughing. He was always grouchy. So I guess he scared me. He used to cut my brother’s hair. He would make them sit still. They wouldn’t even flinch; I guess they were scared of him just as much as I was.
In the winter the snow used to be so deep that it would be just as high as the hydro lines. The snow was so deep, our father had to take us to school. We would follow his footprints to get to school. There was a woman her name was Edna Porte. She used to make rag mittens for all the children. We used to stop at her house to get warm. She would always give us something to eat and have hot chocolate for us kids. Christmas time was always a happy time. My dad and some of us kids would go into the bush and get our own Christmas tree. I remember getting a dolly and clothes for Christmas. I was happy with just that. Now this day and age the children want so much – computers, stereos, name brand clothes, video games, etc. I find that we don’t have a chance to go out and visit our neighbours anymore. Life is such a rush, you rush to catch the ferry, grocery shop, go to the doctors, dentist, etc. There is no time in the day for fun. Everyone works and then we go home to cook supper, watch television or movies. There is no quality time. The Island has come a long way. We now have a big school with three classrooms, where as we only had one classroom. We have a nice Community Centre, Medical Building, Fire Hall, Daycare Centre, Public Works Building, etc.
Long ago our ancestors used to dump all their garbage at the back of their houses. Now we are recycling everything and have a dump that is all in order. We Anishinabe people were told to look after Mother Earth. So in closing, these are a few things that I have seen and learned on Georgina Island. So be kind to one another, love your neighbour and lets all be a happy reservation again.