Monday, March 9, 2009



In 1950, my parents decided to build a new house on the lot they had acquired in the new neighbourhood of Willowvale. My father decided that he would build the house with help from Mom, Suzanne and me. Every weekend for the duration, we drove to Willowvale to work on the house. Except for the excavation of the basement, my father built it entirely himself. By 1952, when my parents decided to move to Edmonton after school finished, we had been living in the house for several months. Almost everything except the finishing carpentry had been completed.

I can remember spending a lot of time in the relative gloom of the basement helping my father with the plumbing. Mostly this involved just being there in case he needed me for something. He had a machine which put threads on pipes. I was amazed at how much pipe there was in a house, and how tedious and boring plumbing was.

Other things I remember clearly are my father's lists. All his life he made lists. He didn't particularly like doing chores, but neither did he approve of procrastinating. In this respect, he expected at least as much of himself as of others. His solution was to construct long lists with a reward - this was always reading - to be enjoyed upon completion of each job:

10:00 am - Put in bedroom storm window
10:15 am - Read
10:30 am - Put in dining room storm window
10:45 am - Read
11:00 am - Put in kitchen storm window, etc., etc.

It was a bit eccentric, but it was a way of getting the job done.

In the summer of 1951, when I was eleven, my Dad decided I was old enough to know the facts of life. One day when we were working in the yard at the new house, he took it upon himself to fulfill this responsibility. It seemed to take a very long time. While it went on, we were both terribly embarrassed. When he finished, I found I hadn't understood much if any of it. I remember a lot of big, unfamiliar words, and finding it hard to focus on what he was saying, because his embarrassment made me feel equally embarrassed. Still, I knew more or less what the topic was and appreciated his effort.

The decision to move to Edmonton in the summer of 1952 was made because my father feared Flin Flon could become a ghost town if known ore deposits were depleted without any new discoveries. Having invested in a new house, he was not going to put it at risk.

Before we moved, my father took me aside and told me I must not expect to be at the top of the class in Edmonton, as it was a big city compared to Flin Flon. I would likely encounter much more competition for marks following the move. Although he spoke in a very kind manner, I did feel anxious about what such a huge city would be like.

In the photos are:

1) The house my father built in Willowvale as it was in 2003 when my sister, Suzanne, visited Flin Flon.

2) Happy workers in Willowvale
3), 5) and 6) Various shots of Flin Flon.
4) 30 MPH speed limit with no snow clearance
7) My great-grandfather, Docithee Lamoureux and my grandmother's dog, Buster with me on one of our visits to Edmonton.

1 comment:

Col Murray said...

I love the lists. Thanks for that story.