My Recollections

by Preston MacDonald

I was born on February 25,1925. The first thing I remember was on July 2nd, 1928, that was the day my brother Gordon was born. I don’t remember very much about it. A local woman who used to go around helping mothers give birth was there. She would be called a “midwife”. Her name was Marjorie MacPhee, everyone called her “Aunt Marjorie”. She was a very nice lady.

My grandparents, Martin and Lizzy, holding my mother Margaret
My mother Margaret, holding me, around 1926

I started school in 1931, but I don’t remember too much about it. My first teacher was the Rev. Donald Campbell, who lived down the road from us. That was before he became a Minister. After that, I had Glen MacPherson from Kilmuir, then my brother Hugh. Then Anna MacDonald from across the road, Jean MacPhee (Willie & Rachel’s Daughter), then Ena Bruce, who lived across from the School (Ena died, 2014). Next was Alan Martin from Valleyfield, and last was Charlie Campbell, Donald’s Brother.

After that, Charlie joined the Air Force as a Pilot. He made several missions over Germany during WW2, flying Lancaster Bombers. One night, he and his crew never came back. No one ever heard from him since. Donald was also in the Air Force. He served time in Africa. I think Glen was in the Navy. Jean MacPhee became a Nurse, and served time in Africa. She got married over there, and spent the rest of her life there.

Re: my brother Hugh: when he taught, he went out of his way not to favor his five sisters and brothers. One day I forgot to take a pencil to school. I could have borrowed one, but NO! He sent me home to get one. I never forgot a pencil after that two mile walk!

I remember the first time I ever heard a radio. Billy Angus MacPhee, the School Inspector for the area, had a radio. One night he set it up in the hall above the School, right up on the stage. People came from the district one Saturday night to hear it. One program was called “The Cotters Saturday night”. I think I was age nine at the time.

One year there were six of us going to School from our house. And Heatherdale, like most Country Schools, was a one room School, with one Teacher, and between twenty five and thirty Students, and ten grades. We had one mile to walk to School, uphill both ways, or so it seemed. School went in at nine-thirty A.M. and out at three-thirty P.M. with two fifteen minute recesses and an hour off at noon. Most of us would take our lunch.

MacDonald sisters and brothers, with mother Margaret

In the summer we would play ball, or football, or other games at noon. In the winter time we would coast on the hill, or go skating on the river if the ice was good. Summer vacation started late in June, and ended the middle of August, with two more weeks later at Potato digging time. If we finished our Potatoes before the two weeks were up, we would be hired at a neighbors to pick Potatoes. We would get one dollar a day, plus dinner & supper. If we got five or six dollars for the week, we thought we were rich.

They built an outdoor rink at Kilmuir, when I was around ten years old. It was pretty cold skating and playing hockey there some nights. When we would get a snowstorm, the rink would fill with snow. When the storm was over, we would have to shovel that snow out, using horses and sleighs. That was a slow job. There were no machines to do the job them days. We used to buy a season ticket to go to the rink – it cost two dollars for an adult and one dollar for school age – and guess what? That was for the whole season, as many times as you wanted to go. After 1939, when the war broke out, they closed the rink and it was never opened again. 

When I was eight – ten years old, Bruce and I would sometimes walk to Camerons in Caledonia for the weekend. It must have been a six or seven mile walk. A couple of times we took a shortcut through the woods at Glen Martin. Once we came out near Walkers in Caledonia. The next time we came out behind MacLeod’s in Glen William. I guess we were lost, but we didn’t know it at the time. Once when I was at Camerons, they were having trouble with their well. The well was hand dug for a hundred feet. I guess it went dry over the years and they drilled it deeper – something let go at the bottom – and since I would be easier to lower down the well to hook it back on – I was around eleven years old at the time – I was selected for the task. It was kind of scary. A hundred feet is a long way down a well. 

Another time at Camerons – I was about eight years old at the time – I decided to go up to Chester Martins Store, which was about a mile and a half away. So Allan got the old White horse ready, saddle and all. The horse’s name was Noble. Well, I got down as far as the road, and Noble decided he didn’t want to go any farther, and I couldn’t persuade him. So that was the end of that trip. 

When I was growing up, one of the pastimes was ‘going up to the corner’ – that was to McGowan’s store at the crossroads in Kilmuir, which was less than a mile away. We would ‘hang around’ talking and listening to stories till about nine o’clock when the store closed. 

I loved to skate when I was growing up. The favorite place, (before the open air rink) was “Adam’s pond”. It was a few hundred yards from home, no trees for shelter. It was about a hundred yards each way Once we got our skates laced on we would soon get warm by skating. Some times we would play pond hockey. We would use our boots to mark where the net was supposed to be. We didn’t always have a puck, so we would saw off an inch off a piece of firewood, or sometimes use a piece of frozen horse manure. Sometimes there would be twenty five or more people skating there. Occasionally someone would bring wood and start a fire by the pond. 

One winter, when I was about twelve, six or seven of us from the district would gather at Peter MacDonald’s once a week for a carpenter course. It would last two or three hours. Peter Dover, as we called him, was a carpenter- farmer. I’m not sure who paid him, the district or the government, but we did learn a little there. 

In the summer we went trout fishing quite often, the brook ran through Heatherdale and Valleyfield, sometimes we would get thirty or forty trout, (there was no limit then or no game warden). Our mother would have the frying pan ready when we got home. We sure enjoyed that meal. 

I guess we were poor then, not much money. But we ate well. Our father would butcher a cow and a pig in the late fall. It would hang in an out building in the winter time where it would stay frozen. When we butchered, my mother would take the cow’s guts, cut them into pieces, maybe ten inches, turn them inside-out, and really clean them well, turn them out-side in again. Then she had a recipe to fill those things with – I have no idea what – bread, meat, suet, I suppose. Anyway, they were sooo good, we called them “maracons”. It would be a Gaelic name, they were like a sausage.

In the spring he would butcher another cow, that would be put in cans. Us kids would help cut the meat into small pieces and put it into the cans. A neighbor was good at soldering the lids of the cans, (before sealers). Then our parents would boil the cans in a large pot on the stove, maybe twenty cans at a time for about an hour, then we had canned meat all summer. We also did the same with pork, except it was put in glass jars – I don’t know why – but they were both good.

We also had sheep and hens, so we would have eggs and lamb. In the spring we would shear the sheep and take the wool to Condon’s Woolen Mill in Charlottetown and we would get yarn in exchange. Our mother would knit socks, mitts, and sweaters for us. We would take eggs and cream to McGowan’s store and get groceries in exchange. We usually got flour in ninety eight pound bags and sugar in one hundred pound bags for the winter. We would take a can to the store for kerosene, also a gallon jug for molasses. McGowan’s would have a ninety gallon molasses puncheon in the cellar of the store with a pump up to the store. When I drove truck for McGowan’s, more than once I was involved in lowering that puncheon into the cellar. 

In some School districts, and Heatherdale was one of them, they would have a school fair once a year. They would have Public speaking contests, singing, different kinds of sports competitions. Girls would have baking, sewing, etc, while boys would have carpenter work, like, milking stools, nail boxes etc. They would have prizes for the best vegetables and grain samples, prizes for the best live poultry or calf. Later, there would be a central fair in Charlottetown, where all the students who won first prize could enter them there. Usually we could come in on the back of McGowan’s truck, and spend the day at the fair. It was probably the only time we came to Charlottetown all year. 

Heatherdale, 1935

Back in the 40’s you could buy a book with all the PEI car number plates and names of the owners for fifty cents. It was kind of handy to check to see who owned the car. It would take a big book to do that today. 

In the horse and wagon days they would have ‘sheds’ to put the horses in when you shopped or went to Church. The shed at McGowan’s store would hold six or seven horses. It was open on one side so you could drive right in, wagon and all. The shed, or tent, as they called it, at Valleyfield Church, was quite large; it was more than sixty feet each way. It would probably hold thirty or forty horses and wagons. I remember the one at the Catholic Church in Montague, at the top of the Wood Island hill. It was as big as a good sized rink. You opened the big door at the end and drove in – those places were never locked.

We used to go to Montague in the winter time – maybe to the movies, or a hockey game – and leave the horse in that shed. When we went anywhere in the sleigh in the winter, we would sometimes heat up a couple of bricks and put them in a sock. It helped to keep our feet warmer. Quite often we would get out and walk, or run behind the sleigh until we got warm. I often think of this now when driving in the nice warm car.

When I was ten or eleven, when Sacrament Sunday came, at both Caledonia and Valleyfield Churches, {we didn’t have a car then} Marty would go up to McGowan’s where they sold Dodge and Ford cars, and rent one for the day, and off we’d go to Church. What a thrill that was, to get a car drive. 

I was around thirteen years old when I got a job as janitor of the little Church at Kilmuir. This contract was for one year. I had to supply the ‘kindling’ to start the fire in the stove. I did this every Sunday and Wednesday evening when they would have ‘Christian Endeavor’. For this I got twenty eight dollars for the year. When I got paid I went and bought a bike. I think the bike was twenty dollars. 

Preston, Gordon, Sybil and Johnny Mack MacPhee

They had an open air rink at Kilmuir for 5 or 6 years. After the war broke out in 1939 they never ran it again. I remember they had a hockey league, 4 teams, Heatherdale, Kilmuir, Brooklyn and Whim road, the teams would travel by horse and sleigh. I think there were only 6 players to a team. I was 14-15 and played on one of the teams with the adults that last year.

When I was a teenager, and before I was married, we used to go to a lot of dances in the country. Some weeks we would go to a dance every night except Sunday night. Those were usually old time square dances. Some local guy would play the fiddle, someone else on the guitar, maybe they would get a couple of dollars for that. On Saturday night we would go to Yeo’s theatre to see a movie. After that we would go to the local Dance in Montague. It was in the local curling club building. 

When People went to Church, not so long ago, The Women would never go without wearing a hat, and the Men would never go without wearing a suit and tie, regardless of how hot it was. In the little Church in Kilmuir, the Women sat on one side and the Men on the other. Maybe it was because they would have bible study after, and they would be in 4 groups – men and boys on one side and Women and Girls on the other side. 

In our house we had “family Worship” every morning after breakfast. We each took turns reading a verse from the Bible – probably a chapter every morning. Then we would all get on our knees at our chair, and our father would say a Prayer. 

In the 1940’s they introduced “daylight saving time”. Well, some places – maybe Charlottetown would have it and Summerside wouldn’t. Even the districts would be different. Like, Heatherdale might have it and, say, Caledonia would stay on standard time. The boats and trains would stay on standard {or Gods} time. That went on for three or four summers. What a confusion! Finally they adopted daylight time for all of Prince Edward Island. In the early 1930’s there were very few paved roads on PEI. The street of Montague was paved with cement. The road to Charlottetown was only paved from Tea Hill to the city. Around 1938 they paved the road to Montague. Also, around the same time they paved the road from Charlottetown to Souris. In the earlier 30’s they did some paving west of ChTown. My brother Hughie worked on that road one summer. 

While I (should) have a diploma in forking manure, hoeing turnips and milking cows etc., I wasn’t a very good student in school, so at Christmas 1940, I decided to quit School. I applied to go to a six week course in Carpentry in Charlottetown, so, early in January 1941 I was accepted. You were supposed to be sixteen to enter, and I was still only fifteen, but they took me anyway. The carpentry course was in a building where the 1st Polyclinic was on Fitzroy Street.

The Government of the day paid my room and board. I went to town on the train, When I got off the train, a woman who was looking for boarders came up to me and asked me if I would be looking for a place to stay. I said yes, and she took me to her boarding house on Kings Square, where she had three or four more boarders. It sure was a relief for me, because I didn’t know where I was going when I got to town. Her name was Doris Thompson, and her husband’s name was Max, and they couldn’t have made me feel more at home. A few years after that, they moved to Victoria P.E.I. He died in the 80’s. In 1997, Jean and I were driving around Victoria and we looked her up. She remembered me, and was glad to see us. She has a son Ralph Thompson, who is a retired Magistrate in Summerside.

That winter, in 1941, there was a murder in Charlottetown when I was there. It was a man by the name of Peter Trainor who got murdered. He owned a little corner store, and one night two young men, Lund and Phillips, broke in to rob him, and he ended up dead. He probably tried fighting back. They were caught and tried, and sentenced to be hanged. They were found guilty, and were hanged behind the jail later that year. That was the last hanging on PEI. As a curious teenager, I went to Trainor’s wake. It was in his home.

In the summer of 1941, I worked on my father’s farm. Things were different back then. Most people used horses. When we would plough, or cultivate, or cut grain with the binder, we would use three horses. We planted and picked the potatoes by hand. At haying time we would first cut the hay with the mower, then someone would rake it into windrows. From there we would put it into coils about five feet high by four feet at the base and pointed at the top – in case it rained, the rain would run off.

Me, John K., and my father Allan, working hard

After a couple of days drying, we would hitch the team of horses to the large wagon and gather the hay. One person would pitch the hay on to the wagon. Someone else would be on the wagon ‘making the load’. Then we would drive home and right into the barn to unload it. Most farmers had a fork that they stuck into the load of hay. The fork was connected by a rope, or cable which went to the inside top of the barn roof and it would go on a track to the other end of the barn. That rope continued down to the yard where a horse would pull it. Sometimes I would use my thirty five ford to do this job. Usually four or five fork loads would unload the wagon.

At harvest time we would cut the grain with a Binder. It was usually pulled by three horses. The binder would cut the grain, and wrap it in small ‘sheaves’. There was a carrier on the side that would hold about eight sheaves. The operator could trip that, so they would be in rows, that made it easier for the other person to “stook’ the grain. You would pick up a sheaf under each arm and place them on the ground with the heads up. The binder had the grain, or seed at one end, you would put about twelve or fourteen sheaves in one stook.

Like the hay, you gathered it up and took it to the barn, or Barrack, which consisted of four poles in the ground, about twenty feet high by twenty feet square, with a movable roof which you could raise from bottom to top. The poles had holes every twenty inches where pins would go through to hold the roof at a desirable height. Later, after the plowing was done we would thresh the grain. That required seven men, an engine and a thresher. This was a one day affair where the Neighbors came to help, and then you went to their farm to help them another day.. 

Going back a few years, our neighbor, Tom Bears, had a small farm. They had a horse called “Dinty’ and Tommy’s son Forhan used to take the horse up to our farm, and we used to ride on his back. Forhan was two years older than me, he was around Bruce’s age. Also, Bruce and I used to Gallop around the fields on our horse. His name was ‘Harry. There was a difference between trotting and galloping. When the horse trotted, it was quite bouncy when you rode bareback, but when he galloped, it was very smooth. But, when our Father and Mother went for a drive with the horse and wagon, Harry would start to gallop, which was a no-no when the horse was pulling a wagon.  Most farmers had sheep, and sometimes stray dogs would go around at night, killing the sheep, two times that I know of, Harry chased the dogs out of the field, 

My brother Gordon riding a horse named Jack

I liked the farming part of my life ‘sort of’. We didn’t have a tractor. Instead we had 3 horses. I walked many miles, behind the harrows etc: I enjoyed the wheel harrows. It had a seat. Once I was going to harrow a field, my Father gave me his ‘waltham’ pocket watch, so I’d know what time to come home. Well, I guess I bounced over one rock too many and lost the watch. We searched, but never found it. One thing I remember, my Father never scolded me for losing it!

Back then, we didn’t have electric power in the country, so we had to use lamps for light, kerosene and naptha gas, and a kerosene lantern if we went to the barn after dark. I guess we were lucky we never had any fires, caused by a lamp tipping over. 

We used to cut our own wood to heat the house. We would cut the wood in the winter time, and take it home in eight foot length by horse and sleigh. Then in the spring we would cut it into stove length, split and store it for the next winter. We would use between ten and fifteen cords a year, 

We would also cut some spruce trees for lumber or shingles. There was a saw mill in Heatherdale that cut logs into lumber or shingles. Also, Dan MacRae had a grist mill, where we would take our oats, barley and wheat to grind it into cattle feed. They also ground our grain to make flour and oatmeal for our own use. Both the saw mill and grist mill were run by a waterwheel. When we were school kids we would go to MacRae’s mill and look around.

Dan was a very kind man, he never complained about us kids going through the mill. We used to swim and fish in the dam in the summer. In the winter we would get ice in the dam. We would cut the ice into blocks about eighteen inches square, take it home by horse and sleigh, and store it in our ‘ice house’. We would cover the ice with sawdust, and use it in the summer to keep our milk fresh. Sometimes we would make our own ice-cream. We had our own well for water, we kids would have to pump enough water for all the cattle and horses to drink. 

The summer of 1941 I was a 16 year old adult (?), working on my father’s farm. After we got the manure spread, the turnips hoed, I decided to go to Pictou. I heard there was work there. I got a drive with Harry VanBuskirk, who used to load up his half ton truck with produce Etc: and sell it in the Pictou area. Well, I
soon got a job, one where ‘people told me I’d likely have to start at the bottom’. I didn’t realize it meant 4 feet below bottom. Yes, I got a job digging trenches, for water and sewer, (no back hoe’s back then ). I was assigned with a crew of 4 boys from Quebec. They didn’t speak English, and I didn’t understand French,. I
felt uncomfortable there, so after a week, I headed back to the farm in
Heatherdale.

MacDonald brothers and George Compton

During the summer of 1942, I spent most of my working time on my Father’s farm. One day we were out repairing a fence, when a single engine plane flew by overhead, it was a novelty to see a plane back then. After a short time the plane came back. It came down, quite low to where we were, did a few wing flaps / waves, and put on a bit of a show for us. We knew it was Cyril Johnston, formerly from Fortune, married to Phemie McGowan. At the time she lived in the home in Kilmuir. Flight Lieut. Cyril was flight Instructor (teacher) at Charlottetown airport. Well, that performance sure made our day.

That fall, I checked in at the employment office, where they sent me to Upper Stewiack N.S. where they needed men. I think they paid my way over, and would pay my way back if I stayed for two months or more. Our jobs must have been pre-arranged. We headed for Havelock where the man met us, and escorted us to the camp in the woods. They paid me Two dollars a day, six days a week. There were fifteen Men, who slept in one large room above the Cookhouse It was cold there in the mornings, sleeping in the bunks with a mattress filled with straw, but we got lots to eat there – home made bread, Potatoes, beef, Beans and Prunes.

Well, we stayed there for over a month. We were all teenagers, and we got restless, so– we headed back to the Island. It was quite stormy between Moncton and the ferry, but we made it to the boat. In Borden they told us the roads were blocked to Charlottetown, so, we left the car in Borden and got on the train. Next day in Charlottetown the other boys went home.

Johnny Mack and I got a job at Island Fertilizer. They were where Peakes Quay is today. We boarded on Kent Street. A few years later that house was torn down and Eatons was built there. We worked there till well into spring. I went on the train to Borden a couple of days after we arrived and took the car back to Charlottetown. To and from Borden we had to go by Kensington, as I don’t believe the Bonshaw road was kept open in the winter then.

It was 1942 when some of us went to Pictou N.S., to work in the shipyard. Johnny Mack MacPhee and Roddie MacPherson and I went across on the Prince Nova ferry from Wood Islands. There were quite a few Islanders working at the shipyard there, including my sister Margie. We had no trouble getting work. I believe we worked 2 weeks days, then 2 weeks night shift.

At Christmas, some of us decided to go home, as we had a few days off. When we were home, my sister Florrie, who was married to Bruce Stewart, was home, waiting to have her first Baby. Bruce was in the Air Force – I think he was stationed in Newfoundland at the time. Anyway, on December 28th she had to go, no car roads then, too much snow, so I was elected to take her to Montague in the horse and sleigh. I was seventeen at the time, without a worry. Later in life I wondered what we would have done if she started to give Birth on the way down. But everything went OK. Joan was born shortly after I landed Florrie at the Hospital. 

After new years day, Roddy MacPherson, Johnny Mack MacPhee and I went back to Pictou, we stayed there until May. By then the ferry was running at Wood Islands.

About the shipyard: we stayed in a “motel like” building, called the “staff house. I believe there were four to a room, and close by there was a big dining room where we got our three meals a day. I think the room and board cost $7.50 a week. Some evenings we would want lunch, so one of us would go to the corner store and buy a pie which cost twenty-five cents, come home, and split it four ways. I think we got about twenty five dollars a week, which was pretty good pay back then. 

The shipyard was building freighter ships which would take goods to England. I think they built four at a time. Johnny Mack and I each got a job as “bolter uppers”. A large plate of steel would be lowered into place by a crane, maybe 20 feet by 6 feet, with all the holes already there along the edges, holes about 3 inches apart. We were a team, one on the inside and one on the outside. Our job was to place a bolt & nut on every second hole. When that task was finished, the riveting gang would come and put a rivet in the remaining holes, on the inside of the ship being built.

Mostly it was women who had the job of heating the rivets in a little ‘forge’ when the rivets got white hot. When they were ready, another woman had tongues to grasp the hot rivets. She would throw them one by one to a waiting woman who had a sort of a dish to catch them. She would grab the rivet with her tongues and place them in a hole where a riveter, usually a man, would use his air hammer and another man on the outside would finish the task of riveting. Those girls got good at their job. They hardly ever missed.

After that, Johnny Mack and I would remove all the bolts, and the riveting crew would come again to finish that plate. This system took a lot of man /woman time, from making the holes at the mill to riveting.

Not many years after that they did away with rivets – all the plates were welded together. Most of the employees worked two weeks on days and two weeks on the night shift. 

Ship being launched at Pictou, 1944. This one was christened ” SS Ashby Park”. The shipyard built 24 similar ships during the war. They all had ‘park’ after their name. I witnessed one ship being launched when I was there. After the launch, it was tied up at the wharf, with a lot of inside work was still to be done.

In 1943 in Pictou I bought my first car, a ’35 Ford. I paid $250.00 for it, and drove it to the Island. I enjoyed my car, went to a lot of dances, etc: in it. After Christmas, 1943, 6 of us went to New Brunswick to work in the woods,. First, let me tell you about my ‘winterized’ car. It didn’t have a heater of any kind, no antifreeze, a lot of things were rationed, including anti-freeze, so, if we stopped for more than an hour I had to drain the water and get water to fill it when we were ready to roll. Well, 6 of us went to N.B. – Gordon and I, he was age 15,, Johnny Mack, Donnie Lamont, Francis MacKenna and Roy MacKinnon. No trunk in that car, so the 6 of us , plus luggage, a guitar, were crowded into that car. Before too long, our body heat steamed up the windows, causing frost to form. It was a job to keep a small hole clear in front of me, so I could see where I was going. Tried scraping, also a rag soaked in rubbing alcohol. That was truly ‘roughing it’.

Florrie, Sybil and Marjorie in front of my 35 Ford, in 1943

I worked on the farm again that summer. In July I went to Charlottetown, hoping to join the Air Force. Everything was going great, I passed my tests, and was going to be a wireless air gunner. Then I had my medical, and they found a hernia, which I knew I had yet hoped they would take me anyway, but they turned me down. I was hoping if I got in they would Operate and it wouldn’t cost me anything. Later I tried joining the Army, but it was the same deal. I was really disappointed. At that time People had to pay their own Medical bills and money was hard to come by. 

Heatherdale School Picnic, 1943

During the War years, Bessie’s husband Allan Cameron was in the Army. He played the Bagpipes in the Band. He was stationed in Newfoundland. Hugh wanted to join the Army. He was Supervisor at an Ammunitions Factory in Ontario, and they said they needed him there, so they wouldn’t take him. Marty was in the Air Force, also Florrie’s husband, Bruce Stewart, was in the Air Force. Finley (Lee) Smith, who later married Margie, was in the Army. He saw Action in Italy. Bruce was in the Army.

I’ll never forget the day a Telegram came to the house, it said;

We regret to inform you that your Son, Bruce MacDonald, was Critically Injured in the line of Duty on the Rhine River in Germany.

Telegram

That was all we knew for a few weeks. Then we heard he was shot by a sniper, his backpack was riddled with bullets, he got one through the neck and out the shoulder, and he was going to be OK. What a relief that was! Sybil was also in the Army, and Gordon was too young to join up. 

Later I got a job at McGowan’s, driving their truck. In the winter the roads would be closed due to snow. I used to take two horses and two sleighs from McGowan’s to Montague, (three miles each way) taking eggs, Cream etc. to the train, and take Groceries that came out on the train, back to the store.

McGowan’s had two Clydesdale horses. One Horse, they called him ‘Happy’, would follow behind without a rope tied to him. He was quite a showoff. I would be standing at the back of the sleigh, driving the lead horse. When we would get to Montague, People would be walking on the sidewalk. I looked back and ‘Happy’ would be right behind, with his ears back, snapping at me, like he was going to bite my arm off. The horse never bit anyone in his life, and when there was no one around, he would never do that.

Sister Margie, me, Inez Shaw, and brother Gordon on the road in Heatherdale

In the summer, at McGowan’s, I would haul wood, Potatoes, Fertilizer and feed from railway boxcars from Montague, etc. Two days a week, Tuesdays & Fridays, I would start at six am, going around the Country, gathering up Pigs to take to Davis & Fraser’s, which later became Canada Packers. After delivering them, I would go around to the wholesalers to pick up a load for the store, and head back to Kilmuir. McGowan’s also had a farm, and I used to help with the milking, morning and evening, so it made a long day. I got fifteen dollars a week, for a six day week. I don’t know how many hours I worked per week, nobody kept track of that. 

McGowan’s Store, late 1940s

On one trip to Town, I went to see Keith MacKinnon (transport). He had trucks going between Charlottetown and Halifax. He offered me twenty a week. He must have phoned Murdock McGowan, maybe for character reference? When I got back to Kilmuir Murdock offered me eighteen a week. So I decided that was better than twenty where I would have to supply all my meals and lodging. At that time a full course meal at a restaurant was thirty five cents, that included beverage and pie. 

For many years we had a bull on our farm. He was what they called an Institute Bull. I think the Dept. of Agriculture supplied him. He was a registered purebred and we would keep him for three years, then we would get another one. Farmers would take their cows from the surrounding area when the cows got romantic. Some of the bulls we had were quite cross. Luckily, no one was ever hurt by them. We used to have one tethered in the front field so he could eat grass. One Sunday morning my brother Marty put him out. Later he got dressed and went to Church. When he got home, before he changed his clothes, he went out to put the bull back in the barn. I guess the bull didn’t recognize him. Marty couldn’t get near him. He went in the house, changed to his work clothes, went back out and had no problem. 

Preston in 1945

In the winter of 1945 I went into the Hospital in Montague to have my hernia repaired. Dr. Preston MacIntyre, who delivered me at birth, and who I was called after, Operated on me. They kept me in the Hospital for two weeks. They wouldn’t even let me out of bed. That’s the way they did things back then. I was pretty weak by then, and it took a while to get back on my feet. I remember, the operation cost me one hundred dollars, and it was three dollars a day in the hospital. It was about two months before I was back to normal. Then in May, that year, the War ended. It was a happy time for everyone, but mixed feelings for some who lost a family member, and would never see them again. 

In nineteen forty six I bought a truck. I hauled gravel, lumber, Pit props, and farm products. I trucked for the next three years. You couldn’t do much trucking in the winter time, because of the snow.

I remember in 1947 they had the Caledonia Club Scotch gathering in New Perth. I was in good shape then from lifting logs, bags of feed and potatoes, so I took part in some of the sports events. I took first prize in ‘tossing the caber’, second in broad jump and third in the high jump. 

In the late 40’s, ‘margarine’ was introduced, but PEI would not allow it. They thought it would hurt the dairy farmers. People would buy it in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick and “smuggle” it home. A few years later PEI allowed it to be sold in stores, but only in white – a coloring packet came with each pound and you could mix it to make it yellow. 

One time, around 1947, I was coming back from a delivery to Nova Scotia with my truck. I was at the Caribou ferry compound waiting for the next ferry. People knew then exactly how many vehicles could get on each ferry. I would be the last one on. Two car drivers from Summerside offered me $20 to trade places. I was in no rush, so I took the offer. Twenty dollars was a lot of money back then.

I had a good life growing up in Heatherdale. I guess money was scarce them days, but everyone seemed to be equal, and we always had plenty to eat. We were a large family, and everyone pitched in to help with the farm work, and the girls with the housework. I never saw our Parents give any of us a spanking, or yell at us. And I never heard our Parents arguing or fighting between themselves. If they did, it was when we were not around. 

My Grand Parents all died long before I was born. One grand Father died at age 46, the other at age 49. My last grandmother, Mary, died eight years before I was born. 

On March 17″ 1948 Jean and I were married.

Preston & Jean (Hume) get married, March 1948

We got married in the church Manse in Montague. My brother Gordon and Jean’s sister Thelma stood with us.

Gordon, Thelma (Jean’s sister), Jean and Preston at McGowan’s, before the wedding reception

We went to Jeans Aunt Marjorie’s and Will Dan MacKinnon’s in Brooklyn for the reception. We went from Montague by car, to Kilmuir, then from there by horse and sleigh to Brooklyn, because these roads were still closed with snow. We moved into a house on the Lower Montague road owned by Danny MacIntyre. There were five apartments in that house. We had the one on the third floor. There was no plumbing in that house, just an outhouse out near the barn and a pump near the house for water. And we burned wood for heat. (Jean was the daughter of Earl Hume, from Brooklyn) 

The winter of 1949, I rented the Rink in Montague. I think I paid six hundred dollars for the season, and I ended up with enough over to give myself some wages. It was natural ice back then, but I had no trouble making ice. The winters were colder then. On January 17th that year, Earl was born. He was very blond when he was young. 

The year I had the rink we formed a hockey team. We called the team the ‘Bison Bombers’. I guess Mrs Clay, at the Bison Restaurant next door sponsored us. Her son Harry was in the air crew on a Bison Bomber Plane on a mission over Germany during WWII, and he never came back. We used to play hockey in Georgetown and Murray Harbor, and of course Montagu. I guess you could say we were the ‘farm team’ for the Montague Meteors, the senior team at the time. 

The Montague Bison Bombers, 1949

In May, 1949, I got a job at Island Motor Transport driving Busses. I liked that Job, except that I never knew where I was going to be at night. Jean and Earl and I moved to Charlottetown for the summer. In the fall I quit and we moved to Montague where I got a Job at McGowan Motors. I stayed there for a year.

My father Allan Neil and mother Margaret MacDonald, 1950

My brothers Hugh and Bruce were living in Chatham Ontario then , so Ken Dewar and I decided to go up there to look for a Job. We left in November by Car. On October seventh, nineteen-fifty, David was born. We left Jean and Thelma with five small children.They lived in the same house while we were away. It must have been very hard for them, and they would be short of money sometimes.

Ken got a Job at a filter Company in Chatham. I got a Job in a Garage in Wallaceburg, about twenty miles from Chatham. When spring came, we had to decide if we would stay, and send for our families, or go back to the Island. So in late April, 1951 we came back home. I got back on the Busses again. It looked like a good chance I would get a permanent run, which I did in July.

Me, in front of a 29 passenger Clipper bus, 1952

We moved to Georgetown, where I left with the Bus every morning and back every evening. I had that run for the next ten years. We enjoyed living in Georgetown. People were very friendly. First we lived in part of Mrs MacLaren’s house. We lived there for four years. We paid twenty-five dollars per month for rent, and that included the heat, which was a coal burning furnace. We had to learn how to “stoke” that. We lived there until 1955.

On January 5th 1954, Johnny was born. Then in the summer of 1955, we bought a little house up town. We bought it from Mrs MacRae for two thousand dollars, and she left a lot of the furniture in it too, A couple of years later I bought an old building out in Burnt Point. My brother Marty was on the road machine at that time, and he came down one day and hauled it to our house and we made a garage out of it. 

Our house in Georgetown, 1955-1962

On April second, 1958 Kenny was born. We used to joke that he needed a haircut when he was born. He had lots of dark hair. Once, when Earl and David were going to school, I think they were in grades one and two, Genevieve Soloman was their Teacher, someone told her there was a fire at her place. She told Earl to take charge until she got back. Well, the first one she saw at the fire was Earl. She laughed about it later. Luckily, the fire wasn’t serious.

The family, living in Georgetown, 1950s

Once, when my brother Bruce was home visiting, we decided to go for a drive. We stopped at the Cardigan Fish hatchery. David, who was around five at the time, fell in to one of the fish tanks. The water was about three feet deep. Bruce reached down, caught him by the collar, and pulled him out. David got quite a scare, maybe he thought the fish were going to eat him.

David and Earl at the fish hatchery

Another time we were driving out of Georgetown with the car, Earl was in the back, and he fell out, right on the road. The car we had, the back door opened from the front, hinged at the back, so it opened pretty quickly. Luckily Earl wasn’t hurt. 

The MacDonald siblings, 1964 – Gordon, Martie, Bruce, Preston, Hughie
Florrie, Margie, Sybil, Bessie

Some nights in the winter, I used to take the hockey teams on charters to other places. Sometimes the roads would be quite slippery and snow covered, but we usually got back home ok. One Saturday night we were coming back from our regular Saturday night trip to Montague. It was so slippery we couldn’t get up a grade going into Cardigan, so I left the Bus on the side of the road and we started walking to Georgetown. Jean and I and about twenty passengers. We all held hands so we would be less apt to fall on the slippery pavement. About half way home we came across another IMT bus in the ditch, they were coming back from Georgetown from a hockey game, heading back to Charlottetown. So they joined us walking to Georgetown. They stayed at various places. There must have been about fifteen stayed at our place, sleeping on chairs and the floor. The next morning the ice was all gone, I got someone to drive me to the Cardigan road to pick up my Bus, and I drove the Hockey team and passengers back to Charlottetown. They didn’t get the other Bus out of the ditch until the following day. 

They didn’t have very many snow ploughs back then. One Sunday evening we were going to Charlottetown with a bus load of people, and it was storming. When we got to the bottom of Tea Hill, cars were stuck on the hill, and we couldn’t get any farther. I went to a house and phoned my boss, Ernie Lord. This was about eight o’clock in the evening. Well, it was about two o’clock the next morning before a plough came out and got us over the hill. My sister Sybil was on the bus that night, she was expecting Bobby. Another girl from Georgetown was going in to have a baby, this was in 1954. 

Our family in Parkdale, early 1970s – Preston, Jean, David, Earl, Robert, Kenny and Johnny

In May, 1961, I had a chance to work at Imperial Oil in Charlottetown. The pay was better, and I didn’t know how long they would be running a bus to Georgetown, so I took the job. I drove back and forth until January, 1962 when we moved to 14 Spring Lane in Parkdale. We bought this house for eight thousand dollars. I worked for Esso until 1984. On September 19th 1965, Robert was born.

The Imperial Oil crew, early 1970s

After a year of retirement I decided to get a part time Job, I started driving for Abegweit Tours in the summer. I did this for the next 15 years. 

Me, with a Japanese tourist, in front of Abegweit Tours double decker bus, 1991

Some of the trips we took over the years. In 1957 we went to Attleboro Mass. We took Johnny with us. We also visited in Boston that time. We were down that way different times since then, we also made different trips to Ontario. In 1985 we went to England, Scotland and Europe, with Margie and Lee. We were away for five weeks that time. In 1986 we went to Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Thelma and Ken were with us that time It was a three week trip.

We made different trips with Sybil and George. Once to Nashville, Once to Massachusetts, Once to Myrtle Beach. Florrie was with us that time. A couple of times to Ontario, and once to Newfoundland. Also a week in Cuba. In 1990 we took a bus trip to Florida, (Abegweit). And once we took a bus trip to New York with Anna McGoldrick, In 1995. We Flew to Edmonton, took Noreen’s Car, and Noreen, (Hugh) and drove to Calgary, and from there to Victoria & Vancouver and back to Edmonton. In November that year, we flew to San Francisco, rented a car, drove down the coast to Los Angeles, and flew back home. Both trips were about ten days each. 

The MacDonald siblings, 1987. Hughie, Gordon, Preston, Martie, Bruce,
Margie, Florrie, Sybil, Bessie

I really feel that I have been Blessed over the years. I have had jobs that I enjoyed doing. Especially the driving jobs where I would be able to enjoy the beautiful countryside, and, meeting lots of People. I have been Blessed with having a healthy Family.

Back in the early 60s I had back trouble, they called it a herniated disk, I got over that pretty well. I used to have Migraine headaches. Haven’t had one for a few years. Had Arthritis in some of my joints, twenty years ago, hardly a sign of it now. In 1981, I had a back operation where I was having Sciatic trouble. No trouble now. Had a slight Heart attack in February, 2000, bypass in Saint John in August. Everything great so far. I am well past my allotted three score and ten years. I often wonder, like Kris Kristofferson says in his song, 

Why My Lord? What have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve known?

Kris Kristofferson

Update 2018: I wrote this at least 15 years ago. Some changes since then. In 2011 they were building the apt. I’m in now, at 20 Spring Lane just up the street from 14, where Son Rob and Karyn live. They bought that property from us. We moved here in August that year. Early in 2013 Jean was showing signs of dementia. She fell a few times that winter. In April she went to hospital and in June to ‘Garden home’ where she died in October 2013.

I lived here alone until last year. An old acquaintance of more than 10 years, Mary Alice Gallant and I started dating. She lived alone in another part of Town. Well, we got married May 10th 2018. That was the best thing that happened to me in a long time. I couldn’t ask for a better partner, wife, friend.

 

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