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Mary Jane Andrewartha


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I have often thought I’d try to paint a word picture of my old home town Bruce Mines for my children and grandchildren and perhaps great grandchildren to read. My parents, John Andrews and Louisa Hotten, came to this village direct from England - mother having come with her mother and rest of family across the ocean in a sailing ship and took about four months to arrive. They set sail from Plymouth but their home town was called Camborne. Father’s home town was Redruth and I am not sure when he arrived in Bruce Mines, but a number of Cornish miners were brought out to work in the newly opened copper mines and I fancy father was among this number.

Mother (Louisa Hotten) was about 12 years old and her twin sister Jane Hotten, also a brother John who was the oldest of the Hotten family. Grandfather Hotten was killed (in a mine I think) and later Grandmother Hotten, whose maiden name was Jane Trevillion married an Irishman called Michael Sullivan.

John Trevillion, a brother of Grandmother, and Michael Sullivan and others came to Bruce Mines in advance of their families.

This little village is situated in an almost land locked harbor on the Saint Mary’s river which connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron. From Bruce Mines the river widens out into the Lake Huron and in close proximity is a large island called St. Joseph’s. Then, lower down, is the much larger island called Manitoulin. Sault. Ste. Marie at the junction of Lake Superior and the river of the same name was about 50 miles N.W. of Bruce Mines.

In this country we were practically frozen in for five months of the year and no mail could come through until the river froze over and then it is brought by dog team from the “Soo” where the mail often got through much earlier on the American side. There are large rapids at this point and to overcome which, canals have been built. It is an interesting experience to go through the canal on a large boat called a cigar boat, which I did, and to watch the water boil up until the canal was on the level of the upper lake, when the large gates would open and the ship sail out and on into Lake Superior.

At Bruce Mines there was a very long dock to go over to get to the boat and in this harbor there was a gap, some islands, and then open space and then another island to be rounded before the boat turned into the harbor. The first boat was joyfully received by the natives. Sometimes she would plough through considerable honeycomb ice before she could dock and sometimes she could not get through. As a child I remember the coming of the first boat best as she brought oranges and so the first boat meant every child got an orange.

Those were the days when householders provided food for winter: half a carcass of beef, a hog or two, a kig (sic) or two of Lake Superior whitefish salted down. Several barrels of apples would be in the cellar and of course potatoes and vegetables. Every household had a cow and some chickens. My earliest remembrance was when I had licked (with finger and thumb I suppose) the clotted cream off a pan of milk in the cupboard - my father having tried to shame me for doing so.

I have not many remembrances of my father, being only ten years old when he died. He was ill for three years - was able to walk - took good long walks with his big cane to support him and a big Hudson Bay overcoat to keep him warm. He died of miner’s consumption.

There were four children younger than myself. I can remember when Joe was born and old Granny Harris was the midwife as I think she was with most of us. Later the Harris family moved to the Soo where she died, but I think the rest of the family are still living there.

I can well remember sitting up with my father when he was ill in bed. I would sit up until 10 o’clock and then mother until morning. Father was a local preacher and I have been told he was a fine speaker. He taught me to read and write and I don’t think I went to school much before I was ten years old. I can actually see my father’s hands and finger nails now - many ridges on the nails. There was a fairly large round faced clock hanging on the wall at the foot of his bed and one night he said, “Minnie, that is to be your clock, you have been a good girl to sit up with me.” I am sure I must have dozed off to sleep very often.

Father had many good friends who regularly visited him in his illness. Mr. J. B. Dobie, Uncle Tommy Collins, Editor Biggings of “The Pioneer” (Soo paper) etc. Also the Ableson family were old friends. It was from Tom Ableson I heard considerably about my father. Mr. Ableson’s son Vern was a pharmacist in Victoria, B.C. later on.

I well remember the day my father passed away It was in the month of May (perhaps 1878). I was lying on the couch and he said to a friend who was visiting him: “Mark the perfect man and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace”. He said this a few minutes before he passed away. He did not want mother to spend any money to get a headstone for his grave as he thought she would need all the money to raise the family. She was left with seven children, the youngest (Joe) not two years old and the oldest not yet 20. John, the oldest soon went over to the “States” to get work, after some years Tom also followed. There was no work for the boys in the village so they went to the U.S.

A few words about Mother. She was not very strict with the family and I fear they often caused her much worry. She worked hard, went out to wash for a few families - knit mitts for the shanty men - loggers we call them now. She used to have an income from her invested money which Uncle Collins managed for her. She had a cow, chickens and a pig so as children we were well fed. I used to knit mitts too. These were made of two color yarns such as red and black, or, red and gray and they were very warm. They were sold in the general store run by George Marks and taken in trade for groceries.

When I was about 12 I used to go to work at my grandmother’s for 25¢ for two Saturdays - all of the things I had to do - scrub the floors, sweep and dust and clean (polish) grandfather’s shoes for Sunday. The men kept their shoes for Sunday wear and so as every man walked up the aisle in church his shoes made a pleasant squeaking sound.

I am beginning to grow up now and thought my work at grandmother’s was worth 25¢ for one Saturday and of course she had to pay me that. They both were very niggardly, or should I say careful.

About 15 years of age I decided I wanted to be a school teacher, so I was able to apply myself diligently and my class went up for examination for to get a teacher’s certificate. There were only four of us, Martha McDowell, Albert Hodgson, Will Hodgson and myself, Minnie Andrews. The Hodgson boys came out to B.C. as also Martha after teaching a couple of years at her old home in Ottertail - then she came West and eventually married and settled in Vernon, B. C.

I taught one year at Hilton on St. Joseph’s Island, two years at Ansoina, one year at McEwans Corner and three years at Bruce Mines. My certificate was only issued for three years. at the end of that time I went up for exam again and got another one for three years. Then I wanted a change and went to Toronto to a business college. Ethlene Row went with me, she studied music.

We moved from the Bruce to Sault Ste. Marie when I was about 23. Forgot to say I began to teach when I was only 17. After coming back from Toronto I got a job in a store as a bookkeeper. In the meantime I had been pursued by a dear man I married in June 1892. We rented for a time but soon bought a nice large lot in the heart of Sault Ste. Marie on Brock Street and there we built a nice home. As we got nicely settled - new carpet, new furniture, etc. it seemed everyone had the bug “Go west young man” so accordingly, Frank went out to Manitoba but he came home in six months. Later he went to Alberta and started a blacksmith shop in Vegreville and I followed. The little town was to move to the railroad as soon as it got thru (the C.N.R.) so we were thankful to have a log house, sod roof and until the town moved to the new town. I think it was two years.

We surely had a good time in this little town called Vegreville and made many good friends, the Clement family in particular. Frank had a blacksmith shop there and worked very hard. Lots of horse shoeing, plough shares to sharpen, wagon tires to be put on. He worked early and late and eventually his health broke, heart overworked. On advice from our doctor we moved to the coast for a lower altitude, settled in Victoria, B.C., but I must go back in my history to say the two oldest children, Myrtle Theodora and Edgar Andrewartha were born in the 800 in 1893 and 1899, and Olive Evelyn and Frances Eileen were born in Vegreville in 1907 and 1910. We lived in Victoria on Avesbury Avenue until February 1927 when we followed our eldest daughter and moved to Portland, Oregon.

Victoria is a beautiful city but not much that Frank could find to do in his line so twice he went back to Alberta and finally we came to Portland to make our home. Here Frank passed away on 3rd February 1941. He had been struck down by an auto and six ribs broken. The shock of this affected his nervous system and he never really got over the effect of it.

When Frances was six months old we moved to Victoria B.C. and times were good. Frank got work but after a few years there was a big change - World War I was responsible. My son Edgar was a bugler and joined up with the Ammunitions Column (at 16 years). In the meantime Frank went overseas with the Mechanical Contingent, was taken sick in England and returned home the next year; but Edgar was over until the end of the war. He came home and bought a motorcycle by which he later met a terrible accident and had his leg broken (compound fracture) and later he broke the other leg by a backfire of the cycle.

Frank could not find work in Victoria in his line so he went back to the prairie - Tuthbridge - and so it kept up that he had to be away from home to get work.

Myrtle, our oldest, married W.H. Pollard 18th December 1920 and moved to Portland and we decided to leave Canada and live in the U.S. Edgar took up radio and got a job on a coastguard ship. Olive at the age of 16 went to St. Joseph’s Hospital to train for a nurse where she remained for four years, we having moved to Portland.

Frances went to business college and then got work with Western Union as an operator. She was married 15th September 1930 to Donald Bradley Evans when only 20 years old.

Olive came over after she graduated and got employment in North Pacific College where she remained for several years. Wanting a change she went to San Diego, California and got work in a doctor’s office. Later (11th December 1935) she married Gilbert Burns Doster. At the time of writing she has a wee daughter called Alenna (Mia).

I want to add a few lines about Grandmother Sullivan and her relatives. John Trevillion, a brother, a big burly man with a voice like thunder, her sister Elizabeth came from England to live with them and married a man called Jackson. She had two girls, Fanny and Minnie. Her husband was a drunkard and led her a hard life. A brother of hers, Stephen Trevillion was a captain in a mine in Cornwall. A sister called Vosper went to Australia and en-route was shipwrecked and had to live for some time on breadfruit (am not able to follow the case - I was only a child at the time but able to write letters to my grandmother). Her first husband was killed in the mine. Later she married Michael Sullivan by whom she had three children. She had an uncle called Wm. Carvossa who was a very great worker for the Lord.

Written by Mary Jane Andrews Morrison - 1945