Interview with Mrs. Gladys Beaizley & Miss Ada Howell, June 8, 1978.
These two ladies live on the Howell Road, north of St. George. Most of their lives have been spent in this area. They were important sources of information because they have in their possession their parents' diaries dating back to the 1830s.
INTERVIEWER: How long have you lived here on the Howell Rd.?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: We have lived here all our lives. We were born in this house. My father's name was Fred Howell and he built the red brick house up the road where Jim Howell lives now. He built the house in 1902 or at least that is when we moved in and we lived there for a while. We have always lived on the Howell Rd.
INTERVIEWER: Could you tell us a bit of your father’s background?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: Well originally his ancestors came from Wales. They were of Welsh descent. Our family is very old in this area. My father would have been 112 if he were living so that means that he was born in!866. He died in 1936. He was born where the Waters live now. That was the homestead. There was a big family of them and he was a farmer all his life.
INTERVIEWER: Could you give us a brief idea of who lives or lived on this road?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: Well it used to and still sometimes is called the Howell Rd. There are some other Howells on the road. There is Jim and Mary Howell, and Bill and Betty Howell. There is also the Rodger Howell house that is still lived in by Howell’s. Years and years ago George Howell lived on the farm where McConkey’s are now.
INTERVIEWER: Where did you go to school?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: Well, we went to the old school in St. George. We had to" walk down there winter and summer unless we happened to get a ride.
INTERVIEWER: Do you remember any of your teachers?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: Well, A.E. Green was there. I (Mrs.B.) had one named Miss Forrester and Miss Wilcox and a Miss Bond.
INTERVIEWER: We understand that you have a diary of your father's. What year does that date from?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: Well my father's diary dates from 1889 and my mother had one too, but it was not dated. We figured it out and it must have bee n from 1886. My Dad's is mostly about what they did on the farm and the weather and so on.
INTERVIEWER: Would you tell us some of the things that were in the diaries?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: Well I'll read you some excerpts from the diary.
1885 – In May of this year they sold their cattle for 5 ½ cents a pound.
On June the 22nd it was cold enough for January and people were going around with overcoats and mittens on.
1886 – Now thereiis something I don't know anything about but every now and again they would go to the Farmer's Institute. I don't have any idea of what that might have been but it might have been an early form of the United Farmer's of Ontario.
On February 13th, Beemers Hotel burnt in St. George. I'm not sure where that might have been but there used to be one on the corner where the parking lot is now. It says here that the flames from that got over onto William Howell's drugstore and burnt that too. In this hotel fire there were two men burnt, one was burnt to a crisp and the other one was partly consumed by flames.
Reading from my mother’s diary, it says that, "there has been a terrible fire in St. George today, Beemer's Hotel. Willie Howell's store and another store were all burned. The fire started in Beemer's Hotel at three o'clock this morning. There were two men killed, Mr. Armstrong from Brant ford and Mr. Miller. It must have been dreadful. Mr. Armstrong had not been out of his bed, the bed springs were still under him when they found him. Will Rosebrugh helped to carry the corpse out after the inquest was held. He said the body was burnt black. There were others that were badly hurt. Some jumped onto the telephone poles are slid down them. Other jumped from the building. Jimmy Kitchen saved a man and his wife and very nearly killed himself. He climbed up a ladder and held another ladder on his shoulders to get the man and his wife put. It must have been terrible for those that are left behind, for Mr. Armstrong's family, what must be their feelings? May God bless them and watch over them and help them with their mourning hearts.
On February l6th it was 30 below zero, and that's cold. Years ago they spread an awful lot of salt on the land. They would have barrels and barrels of salt and they would sow it on the land. You never hear of that anymore. I don't know why they did that for though.
On June 3rd there was a fellow who came along from the "home". They had a home for boys that would come out from the old country. He came and wanted to work for four dollars a month.
On June 4th they took their cattle to Brantford. He started at one o'clock in the morning and they went part way with the light of the lantern. They got to Brantford at six o'clock in the morning. We had to wait along time for the weigh master and the sidewalks were covered with a white frost.
On October 15th they took chestnuts to Berlin (Kitchener). There was a chestnut orchard on their farms and sometimes there would be a whole lot of them out picking chestnuts. Arthur Howell, my father's brother, took the chestnuts to market and got four to five dollars a bushel for them. There aren’t even any chestnut orchards left around here anymore.
On November 3rd they sold apples for ten shillings a barrel. They were sold to Mr. Elliott and to Professor Rae. I don’t know what he was Professor of.
On November 24th he was working with the horse power. Then they did a lot of their chopping and threshing by tread power. Sometimes they would put two or three horses on the tread.
On December 23rd they went to Brantford to the market and beef was selling at 3¢ to 5¢, 5½ ¢ and 6¢, pork at 5¢ or 5½ ¢, turkeys at 8¢ to 12¢, apples at 60¢ a bag and potatoes at 80¢ a bag. The people didn’t seem to be buying much. They were still standing there after dark.
1887 – On January 3rd it was election day and they went to the poles.
On January 7th they went to George Kitchen’s and a 100lb. bag of buckwheat flour was selling for $2.00 a hundred weight. I guess they must have eaten a lot o f pancakes.
On January 25th, my Grandfather started to Blenheim. He only got as far as Glen Morris and then he had to turn around and come back. The ice went out the day before and took the bridge with it.
On March 13th, four hands working in the woods, cutting hubs cut 132 this afternoon. They cut eight hubs in eight minutes. They were hubs for wagon wheels. They took them down to Snowball Wagon Factory and they cut spokes too. After they took them down there they were turned and boled.
On May 3rd one hand went for the coffin for Mrs. Osborne Howell and then they delivered funeral cards in the afternoon. They don’t do that anymore.
1888 – On February 29th we moved into our own house.
On September 9th sold apples to Mr. E. Rosebrugh for one dollar a barrel and he finds the barrels.
1889 – On February 28th, the six o’clock Express went through the bridge in St. George last night. Thirteen persons killed and things smashed up in general.
On May 29th, in the morning the potato and garden vegetable were frozen to the ground.
INTERVIEWER: How much land did they have around here?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: Well they had the farm where the Waters are, the homestead farm and this one divided between the two brothers. And down where Alex Howell is, they used to call Germany. Why I don't know. Their farm came right back to this road.
INTERVIEWER: While the men were doing all this, what did the women do?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: Well they hardly ever speak of the women. We worked out in the fields with the team and everything else. We wore long sleeved blouses and dark skirts right to the ground. It was really hot in the summer. We picked fruit, worked in the fields, pitched hay as well as helping with the house work.
INTERVIEWER: What did you do with the fruit?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: Most of the fruit went to Ayr, to Ramsay’s store. They sold some produce to Richardson’s store in St. George. It used to be where the library is now.
INTERVIEWER: How many were in your family?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: There were just the two of us.
INTERVIEWER: What church did you belong to?
Mrs. Beaizley and Miss Howell: We belong to the Baptist Church. We have always gone there even since the old church burnt. We both belonged to the orchestra for the new church.