We moved to our new farm when I was 8 years old, near the end of Grade 3. The new farm was only 2½ miles north of Glenboro instead of 10. This made it much easier to run into town for some necessary item. When we got a little older, teenagers, we would ride our bikes or even walk into town if we couldn’t get a ride! I wasn’t of the generation that had to walk to school and back, however. The school bus picked us up at the end of our driveway, 100 steps from our front door.
The reason that we moved to a new place was that the Hutterites in the area were buying up some of the farms in the neighbourhood back north. They bought our old farm along with our neighbours on either side and across the river. It was probably 4 or 5 sections of land in all (4-5 square miles).
The Adventure Begins!
Before we moved, Mom and Dad told us about the new house, that it had a second story with four bedrooms, and a basement that we could play in. We loved the fact that it had an ‘upstairs’, because our current house was so simple. And we had friends and neighbours whose basements were finished and had a playroom with couches and tables, and we thought this was just the best! Our present 3-bedroom house was getting kind of small for a family of 7. Four girls would have had to share one bedroom (not that it couldn’t be done, and at our ages, we didn’t think anything of it anyway). In any case, this was a new adventure!
My older sister, Louise and I got to stay in town with my Mom’s best friend, whom we called Auntie Daisy, for close to two weeks while Mom and Dad moved. We got a taste of town living, walking to school with our friends, going ‘home’ for lunch, being able to see town friends after school. This was quite a novelty. And Auntie Daisy’s house had a bathroom with a real flush toilet and a bathtub!
The new house was big! The roof span was huge. It had wood siding that was old and faded to grey (and actually it looked a lot like our barn!). The house was 2 stories and had lots of rooms, compared to our old house. There was a gable jutting out on both sides upstairs. One gable was a small bedroom, the other a big closet.
There was a ‘front porch’ area which was the full width of the front of the house, that had an entrance to the kitchen. It was enclosed but not well insulated, if at all. So it was pretty cold out there in the winter. And it was pretty shed-y looking, just bare walls and wood floor. The ‘back porch’ area was just a covered lean-to, with stairs out the back door to the ground. The living room windows were also a source of cold in the wintertime. Mom and Dad stapled thick plastic over them for the winter, so we were always looking through a haze from the living room.
The house was fixed up over the years. We put wood siding on the house and painted it white with brown trim. Dad closed in and insulated the front porch area and split it into two sections. Each section was about half the width of the house. One section was the ‘mudroom’, the front entrance to the house where we dropped our boots and hung up our coats. It also housed the big freezer and the washer and dryer. Dad made an entrance into the other section from the living room, and that became Mom’s sewing room. It also had what we called a “Toronto couch” in it for awhile, and could be used as a guest room. The Toronto couch is a metal spring bed, the kind that is a double bed when all opened up, and a single bed when the two sides are folded down (picture below).
Eventually, the living room windows were replaced with better ones so they didn’t have to be covered in plastic for the winter.
Not All As Anticipated
The basement in the new house was somewhat of a disappointment. It wasn’t ‘finished’; it was still concrete; the furnace, water tanks and other basement equipment were right there in the open. However, it was bigger and more open, and had some windows, so it wasn’t so dark and scary.
My parents put a Toronto couch in the basement, and it was used for sleeping when we had guests (usually one or more of us girls giving up our beds and letting the guests sleep upstairs), or for the hired farm hands. It was cool in the summertime, so even though it was not fancy, or indeed, even nice, we did still use it to play and sleep in.
It was a little bit grungy and damp, and once my cousin, who was sleeping down there, was awoken when a frog jumped into his ear. Yikes!!
The new house also didn’t have a bathroom, so we still used an outhouse in the summer and a ‘biffy’ in the basement in the winter. And we still bathed in the galvanized tub in the kitchen. This was one of the first things that Dad worked on. It was maybe a year or two before we got a real indoor bathroom – flush toilet, bathtub and shower!! Heavenly, especially as we were four girls heading towards teenage-dom.
Dad also put in a new septic system. He had a big hole dug near the house for the concrete septic tank and four or five long trenches for the outlets. The outlets were underground into the yard on the side of the house. And the grass really did grow greener in that area.
The Water System
The kitchen did have hot and cold running water when we moved in, so it was already an improvement over the previous house. The water system that we had on the new farm was what is called a sand point well. It’s a perforated pipe that is driven into the ground to below the water table. It is usually a shallow well, no deeper than 25 feet. It worked just fine on the farm. The water pressure was good. We could shower and not worry about a sudden cold spot if somebody turned on the tap in the kitchen. And it tasted good, way better than what we called “Winnipeg water”. I’m sure it was full of lovely minerals… and no chlorine.
Even though the house was not all perfect, it was quite exciting moving into a new place and settling in to new bedrooms. With four bedrooms, there was one for Mom and Dad, one for Afi (Grandfather), and two for four girls to share. So for much of my life on this farm, I shared with one or the other of my sisters, Peggy for a time and Louise for a time. Afi died when I was 14, and after that, I moved into his old bedroom so both Louise and I had a bedroom to ourselves. Then Louise moved to Winnipeg when she was 18 and I was 16. So then the younger girls got rooms to themselves as well.
When I was 18, I moved to Winnipeg at the same time as my parents sold the farm and moved themselves and my two younger sisters to Courtenay, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. That is another story.
Main Floor Layout
The main floor had three big rooms. The kitchen took up the whole east side of the house. Roughly two thirds of the kitchen was counter space and appliances. The last third was the space for the kitchen table, which easily sat our family of 7, and we could squeeze in 10 or 12 if necessary. The outside door came into the kitchen on the north side. There were two inside doors out of the kitchen – one into the living room and one into the stair hallway.
There were two big living areas. The one next to the kitchen we called the living room. It had the TV with the telephone above it and a couple of armchairs facing the TV. Book shelves were put on the back wall under the windows, with the china cabinet beside it in the back corner. The door to the basement was in this room. The other room we called the piano room. It had a couch on the wall under the windows across from the piano, and Dad bought a cabinet stereo that went under the windows on the other wall. There was no door between the two living rooms, just a double-wide opening.
The stairs to the second floor were through a door in the table side of the kitchen, basically in the middle of the house. There was a hallway beside the stairs, which opened into the living room. And there was a door at the bottom of the stairs into the piano room.
Tag, You’re It
The whole layout made for a great chasing and racing strip. We could chase each other around and around from the living room to the piano room to the stair hall and back to the living room. And also through the two kitchen doors if our pursuers were getting close and we had to throw them off the rhythm.
Yes, we did play tag and chase each other inside the house! That’s how Peggy’s front tooth got broken when she was 6 or 7 years old. I was chasing her around and she fell and hit her front tooth on the floor and it broke in half diagonally. Mr. Shewfelt happened to be there at the time, and he had a broken front tooth as well. He picked her up and showed her. I think that may have scared her more than breaking her tooth in the first place. But I don’t think it stopped the horsing around in the house!
Second Floor Layout
The second floor had bedrooms and closets when we moved in. There was a big room on the east side above the kitchen, which was to the right of the top of the stairs. This was Afi’s room. Eventually, a portion on the north side of this room was divided off to make the indoor bathroom.
There was a cute small room at the top of the stairs, in the gable that was jutting out of the roof on the north side. It was just big enough to fit a set of single bunk beds on one wall with room for a desk under the window. This was first Louise and Judy’s room, and then later it became Louise and my room.
To the left were the other two rooms. One was Mom and Dad’s room. The second was Peggy and my room for awhile, and then later it became Peggy and Judy’s room. These two rooms were a little bit bigger than the room at the top of the stairs. They could fit a double bed and a couple of chests of drawers.
Behind the stairs was a large open space that Mom used as a closet. This was in the other gable.
None of the bedrooms had actual doors on them. They just had curtains across the door openings. In the 10 years that we lived there, Mom and Dad and the kids’ rooms never had real doors. The bathroom, of course, got a real door when it was built, and Afi’s room got an accordion door at that time.
The upstairs rooms, except for the gable rooms, had a sloped wall, which followed the profile of the roof. It sloped approximately 2 feet from the floor to the ceiling. So, no hanging pictures on that wall!
When we moved in, Afi had a big old wardrobe that was placed in his room. This became mine when I moved into the room. When we moved out of the house, we found that, because of the bathroom renovation, the wardrobe would not fit out through the door, so we had to leave it there. We have visited the current owners of the house a few times and gotten tours of the house. The old wardrobe is still in that room. And the bedrooms have doors. All of the bedrooms look way smaller than I remember them as a child.
So, that’s the house that we lived in for 10 years, while I did the rest of my growing up. Well, maybe not the rest, but I was 18 and considered an adult in most of the world when we moved from the farm.
‘Til next time…
From Your Mom