I REMEMBER


"I Remember" part 1, by R. W. Anglin (1244), circa 1955


This is my story of Hedgewood and my tribute to the parents who conceived and realized it as the home for their three daughters and four sons, five of whom grew to maturity in it.

Hedgewood Home still stands on the north-west corner of Union and Albert streets in Kingston, though greatly altered since we left it nearly sixty years ago. Our parents had lived in two previous homes. Alfred and Nettie were born in the first on Bagot St., rented I believe, and Geroge, Bert (Robert) and Penrose, (Tick, Tack and Toe, I being Tack), were born in the end house of a tenement of 1 1/2 story homes built off Bay St., on the property of the W.B. and S. Anglin Lumber, Wood and Coal Co., at the foot of Wellington St. Across Bay Street was a large Brewery (Bajus) and the proximity of this may have been a factor in determining the next move. Be that as it may the year 1878 saw the beginning of Hedgewood.

It was a property of nearly 4/5ths of an acre, four lots, each about 66 x 132 ft, two facing on Union and two at the rear facing on Albert. The land was purchased from the Ordnance Dept of the Federal Government and was very much on the outskirts of Kingston at that time, with few neighbours. Capt. Paterson and family, Faulkner, Belle, George and Stanleylived in a brick veneer house on the north-east corner, house and land about the same size as ours. North of the Patersons lived the Wrenshalls, later the Kings, and north of Hedgewood there lived, later, the Gaskins, the Mills, and the Campbells. Immediately opposite Hedgewood was a large fenced-in pasture, Breden's Field, where we pastured our cow, and east of it a large open commons which is now Queen's Stadium and track, with a diagonal drainage ditch running south-west to the two "quarries", large and small, where the new Men's Residences are being built. This commons was our sports ground, summer and winter, many years before it was acquired by the University.

As I recall the Hedgewood property now, I can vision something of the thoughtful planning that Father and Mother must have given it during the years preceding the move. It was well named, though that came later, for Father planted hedges along most of the boundary lines. Across the front was a cedar hedge and a twig of cedar between the teeth gives the most nostalgic taste I know. Along the Albert front and at the rear was one type of deciduous hedge, while along the west boundary was another running back half-way where the hen yard intervened.

                                          HEDGEWOOD, 169 Union St, Kingston      (photo August, 1963)
                                       

The house was built in the centre of the Union St. lots. It was solid brick, 2 1/2 stories, with a two story kitchen wing at the rear of the west half. The house was a centre hall plan with a generous vestibule and a wide hall and stairway and one large room on either side of the hall, each with a front bay window, fireplace, and side door, the door on the east leading to a large covered verandah. The front hall led, on the left of the stairway, through a green baize door, to a cross back hall joining the two large rooms at the rear under the stair landing. The rear of the west room was walled off for a large pantry, later converted into a breakfast room where thereafter we ate most of our meals. This room was so narrow that Father had built for it a narrow ash extension table which we, (Bert's family) now use on the six foot verandah at our summer cottage. The large east room however, was furnished as a dining room with a rather massive walnut dining set taken over from a cousin who had to give up housekeeping. Other items of ornate and antique furnishings in the two living rooms included a two armed crystal glass chandelier hung in the centre of each room and holding two oil lamps, a small mahogany melodian, a gilt mantle clock, surmounted by the figure of a ploughman and protected by a curved glass cover, and a pair of silver (?) double armed candlesticks, sometimes loaned for civic functions. The clock still keeps good time with its glass cover intact and is a valued article of furnishing in the new home of a granddaughter, who also prizes the melodian converted into a writing desk and the side-board modernized with the high ornate back removed.

Off the back cross hall was the cellar door and steps under the front hall stairs. Opposite this cellar door was another leading outside to a walk along the east side of the kitchen to the woodshed. The kitchen too was of generous proportions, with a door at the back into the woodshed. A back stairs ran up from next this door along the east wall and led to the maid's room and the bathroom and on to the upstairs hall of the house. There was no city water for nearly two decades, but there was an excellent well to the west of the kitchen and a large cistern enclosed by solid masonry immediately under the kitchen and fed with rainwater from the house and kitchen eaves troughs. In both the kitchen and the bathroom were two hand pumps, one drawing hard water from the well and the other soft water from the cistern. Heating and cooking were by coal and wood stoves. A large self-feeding base-burner coal stove, erected each fall in the large front hall, was the main source of heat for the house, but three grate fires, two down and one up supplemented this when necessary. The smoke pipe provided much heat as it went up through a drum in the upper hall and thence east through a bedroom into the chimney. The kitchen range used wood and served for heating as well as cooking, and its smoke pipe gave heat to the bathroom and maid's room above. There were four large bedrooms on the first floor and a smaller room over the vestibule. The two west rooms had a connecting door and could be used en suite, the front one having a fireplace. The wide front stairs led to a landing with a window immediately over the rear entrance, and at one time a large oleander tree in a tub stood on this landing. The landing extended west with steps. Two on the north led to the bathroom hall and five on the south to the upper hall, and a banister went up the side of the stairs curved around on up to the upper hall, and then east to the wall of the stairway. What fun that banister provided Tick, Tack and Toe as an exercise bar! Beneath the curve at the landing was a half-cylindrical column down inside which it was fun to slide while one was still small enough to just fill it with knees doubled up against the chest. What opportunities also, for tag or follow the leader or hide and seek with the two stairs and many rooms, most with clothes closets. In one such game I carried a hat pin in my trouseer pocket for use in unlatching the button if one of the others should lock me in a closet. But alas, the hat pin pierced the groin as I stooped, causing much concern to all and putting me to bed for a time, but nothing serious resulted. Above the first floor was an attic which we boys used as a bedroom when necessary. It had four dormer windows, two front and two back and four dark closets under the eaves used for storage. The furnishings included two double beds and study desks. A flat square roof over the centre of the attic could be opened with the aid of a step ladder and from its eminence was a wide view. South over the commons and quarries and Breden's field, was the lake, west was the stretch of Union St and Mr. Breck's home and garden and the Queen's University Rugby field of that day, and east was the city with the University in easy sight (and Mother kept our sights directed on it), and at twelve noon could be heard the gun at Fort Henry and its smoke seen. We learned to measure its distance from us by counting the seconds between the smoke and the sound.

The basement, built before the days of cement, nevertheless had a floor of hard plaster, which in my time, some 20 years, did not develop a break. Diagonally along this hard plaster floor from the centre south wall of the cistern to an outlet in the south-east corner was an open drain used to empty the cistern when it was cleaned out, usually just before the fall rains. It was our job as boys to climb into the cistern over its east wall, about 5 ft high and scrub it out with old brooms and brushes - fun as well as work. A large coal bin occupied the north-east corner immediately at the foot of the stairs, and was filled from a large well and door from the outside. Under the west bay window was an enclosed fruit cupboard with shelves, and in the west centre was a hanging wire-covered cupboard for milk, butter and meat. Near it was a large chopping block where chickens were beheaded and meat cut up. I well remember Mother giving me a lesson in cutting up a quarter of beef, also two of her injunctions for trips to the cellar - "Never go with only one match", and "a lazy man's load" when I carried too much. Among the pleasantest recollections of that basement were the barrels of apples stored there in the fall. What a treat to dive into one for a St. Lawrence, another for a russet and a third for a talman sweet.

Another source of work and fun was the large shed with a hayloft above, (a favourite play spot for the boys of the neighbourhood), and work room, wood pile, privy, and cow and horse stable under. To the west of this was the hen house and hen yard, reached by an outdoor walk. The work consisted of shoe-shining, wood chopping and piling, filling the kitchen wood box, feeding the hens and cow, milking the cow and driving her to and from the pasture, cleaning hen house and stable, and carting the barrels from the privy to the back of the garden and burying the contents. In doors we boys helped by tending the stoves and fireplaces, cleaning oil lamps, making beds, sewing on buttons and helping with cooking and cleaning.

The large grounds were equally well planned. A driveway yard to the east, bounded by house, kitchen, shed and fences running north and south to Albert Street, was covered with tanbark from Grandfather Baker's tannery at Portsmouth and had a wide gate through which Father would drive "Polka" and carriage as he came from work, often shouting out a greeting such as "Jerusha put the kettle on" or "cold enough to freeze the nose off a brass monkey". This tanbark covered yard was a grand playground for many games such as "Shinny on your own side", "tip cat", "tag", "Tom, Tom, Pull away", etc. Cricket, football and baseball were usually played across the street in the large commons. On the west side of the kitchen Father had set up three poles as high as telegraph poles. Between two of them was a swing and beteen the other two were horizontal bars on which we did the muscle grinder and various vaults, mounts and dismounts. The four growing boys and their neighbouring chums lacked nothing for fun and exercise. There was also a long ladder close to the kitchen wall and reaching to the house roof. This gave adventurous boys easy access to the bathroom and to one of the attic dormer windows.

The front half of the grounds was mainly grass with bordering flowerbeds. A circular mound of grass topped by a stone fountain had a border bed of flowers and a crushed stone circular walk leading from street to front steps. The fountain had an underground feed pipe leading from the bath and could only work as a fountain by pumping the bath full. Around the bay windows were other flower beds and on both sides of the front steps were rose vines on tall trellises that in the Fall were always turned down flat on the gound and covered to protect them from the winter's frost. Trellises with vines also covered the end of the verandah with more flower beds along the end and side to the steps. Some fruit trees were planted, a crabapple tree in each of the two front corners, harvest apple tree in the centre of each of the two lawns, east and west, and pear trees and a sixteen-ounce apple tree to the west of the house. Father did some grafting on the east apple tree which bore the juiciest apples of all. Two weeping ash trees stood one at each side of the gate walk. Father also made a hobby of bees and had a row of hives along the west hedge and would let the clover-planted west lawn remain uncut so that his bees would have a ready source of honey. The hives were moved into the basement for the winter. One of the few memories I have of Father is the picture of him tending those hives protected by gloves and a net over his hat brim and at times using a smoke bellows to quiet the busy bees.

The main garden was in the back lots to the north of the wood-shed. It was well stocked with most varieties of fruits and vegetables. To the west along the henyard fence were plum trees, one each of blue prune, green gage and Waverly -- the latter a most delicious red variety. North across the side path were the grape vines, again in three varieties -- blue, green and red. North again, rasperries, red, white and black -- paralleled the west fence to the north corner. Next a north and south row of asparagus, then a path and rows of currants, red, white and black and gooseberries, large egg size and small. There was a patch of horse-radish and several clumps of rhubarb and a bed of strawberries. The east half was reserved mainly for planting the vegetable annuals. Usually one of the men from the lumber yard would come to do the digging. That was back-breaking work in the hard clay soil, as I discovered later when it fell to my lot to tend the garden. Over to the east along Albert Street were a few cherry trees.

Two memories of Father are associated with the jobs of work entailed. One is of a lesson in weeding the asparagus bed when he had to reprimand me for stepping on the young shoots and the other of finding him sitting on the back step suffering from a severe attack of lumbago, brought on by a stooping job in the hen house. I recall two indoor pictures of him, one sitting in his big padded armchair by the grate fire, while Mother played and sang at the little melodian, and at times cousin Bertha was on his knee. Again I see him in the big walnut bed during his last illness, with a rope tied from one headpost to the other which he would use to ease the pain when he wished to turn.

I think I understand Father better now, in retrospect, and can appraise more justly his real worth as revealed in the planning and work that he devoted to the new home for his family. There was a love of the beauty of nature, flowers, trees in blossom and in fruit, of wide open spaces and expansive view, in the joy of working with nature in the garden, at the bees, with the livestock, horse, cow, chickens, a dog and even a pair of peacocks, obtained from his brother Robert at Brewer's Mills. Above all was the ample provision made for the healthy natural development of his sons and daughters through both work and play.

Both joy and sorrow were found in this our Eden. Baby Florence was born in February 1879, but she had scarcely learned to stand alone when she left us. I remember Alfred coming to meet George and me as we came across the commons from Gordon Street School, to tell us that baby Florence had gone to Heaven. In my childish imaginings I looked upwards expecting to see her there. Our parents could scarcely have recovered from this sorrow, the first death in the family, when faced with the illness and death of their first born, Alfred. He was 16, a real big brother to us younger boys, a handsome lad with dark brown curly hair, like Father's, and brown eyes. He was studying for admission to an engineering course at the R.M.C., and had arranged to go out surveying with a local land surveyor, Mr. Nash. He died in early April 1882 of what was then called conjestion of the lungs. His loss was a great blow to Father and Mother which Nettie and George were old enough to share with them. A ray of sunshine broke through the gloom with the birth of the youngest, Edna, in Jan 1883, but she was just over three years when the tragedy of Father's death from Bright's disease cast its gloom over us all. I was 12 and old enough to feel the loss keenly. The day of his death I was whittling out in the stable and cut a gash in the middle finger of my left hand, which bears a scar to this day. My mind and heart and hopes refused to accept the fact of his death as final, and for months I would daydream of meeting him at the turn of some corner. Two pictures of the funeral stand out sharply in my memory. One is of Uncles Robert and Sam passing judgment on the fit and length of my first longers, bought for the funeral. The other is of Mother taking us children into the west rooms and having us each in turn kiss Father's forehead. Eighteen years later, sisters and brother held me back from offering the same farewell to our Mother's dear form.

This family tragedy was not only in Father's death, but also in the fact that he enjoyed only 8 short years of the fruit of his work and planning for this ideal home for his growing family. Hedgewood remained his monument and his legacy, an ever-present symbol of all his loving thought towards us. It continued to speak to us of him as long as we remained therein, and still speaks, even more forcefully, through the pages of memory.

And what of the Mother who was a full partner in all these plans and labours, and had now to carry the double load without him? I would like to be able to pass on to the grandchildren and their children some adequate picture of her love, her courage, her resourcefulness, her sympathetic understanding, her seemingly inexhaustable energy, her common sense and business ability, and her never-failing patience and good nature. She had on her hands the big house with its many rooms; the large grounds with grass to cut, hedges to trim, garden to be planted and cared for; cow, hens and peacocks to tend, and, above all, the care of five children ranging in ages from Nettie at 17 to Edna at three.

I do not remember what happened to the bees, but they were soon gone. The peacocks were disposed of to Prof. David Marshall and his wife Annie, who had a large house and grounds on the north side of King West, southwest of Hedgewood. I well remember when we carried the birds out to their place and put them down in their backyard. The male bird immediately began to strut about with his beautiful tail raised in a full circle. "There", said Annie, "do you see him David? It's the male bird that loves to show off his fine feathers." The cow was disposed of a little later, but all the rest of the chores remained the care of the widow and the fatherless.

For a year Nettie's schooling was interrupted by a term in the office to represent the W.B. interests in the lumber firm. Then she returned to school to complete matriculation and entered Queen's in the fall of '88. George, then 16 left fifth book of public school and took Nettie's place in the office, remaining for 5 or 6 years before going to Omaha to try his luck. In his last year he was working for Uncle Sam who had bought out Father's share of the business. Thus it happened that I, a lad of 13, became Mother's first assistant with all the chores. Penrose and I continued at school of course, so only had after school hours and Saturday and holidays to help out.



                             

                              Go to 'I Remember' part 2 for the next section of Bert's recollections.



                             

                              Return to THE ANGLIN FAMILY STORY, PART 3.2 .