Here's a column I wrote for the September 15th issue of the Northern Pioneer. I thought you may enjoy giving it a read.
It was written in refernce to Pioneer Days in La Crete this past summer.
With Ashley Foley
Learning to Appreciate Home
This is the first time in eighteen years that I am not returning to school in September. However, with being a reporter, I am constantly learning, growing, and experiencing new things. Luckily, I will be a student forever.
My favourite part is experiencing the events I attend. Many reports attend and report on events, but I want to experience them. So don’t be surprised if I show up to your event and ask to participate, such riding passenger in the recent La Crete Mud Bog, golfing for my first time at the MCC charity golf tournament in La Crete, and getting my first ride in a combine at the Food Grains Harvest in La Crete.
However, one of the most touching experiences and emotional interviews I have ever done, was at last weeks’ Pioneer Days in La Crete, when I met Sarah, daughter of Henry Harvey Peters.
Henry Harvey Peters pioneered and established the farm located on the heritage ground -- or rather, the farm that was there. Today, we see it as a beautiful piece of history, frozen in time, for us to enjoy and learn from. However, Peters’ children see it differently.
I found Sarah sitting at a picnic table in the morning, just before the antique parade began. She saw me looking for a place to sit and offered me the seat beside her. At the time, I had no idea the adventure I was soon to discover with her. She had unknowingly asked a reporter to join her, and I had found the perfect interview subject.
She brought me in and painted a picture of the way things used to be on the farm for me. I know everyone else was enjoying the delicious waffles at the Wolfe House, the Loonie Toss, and other exciting events; but money can’t buy the joy I felt discovering the land and farm in its original use, with Sarah.
She showed me where she was born, where she played, and what it was like growing up on the farm. I mentioned that it was impressive to see all the antique machinery. She just smiled, rolled her eyes, and said, “You should have seen it when it was all up and running.”
She completely lit up when she talked about her father’s farm. It was like she was a kid again, playing in the flour mill with her brother, Cornie (who also toured with us for part of the day).
Even standing in the exact same place she had stood so many times before, she said the only things that felt a little like home any more were the flour mill, garage, barn and blacksmith.
As we stood between these buildings, she pointed in every direction sharing different stories. It was like her lips couldn’t move fast enough to get all the words out at once.
We went into the house they grew up in together, stopping in each room to share more memories. She pointed out things that myself or any other passer-by probably would over look, such as the shelves in the closet in the basement painted in multiple colours, or the fact that the room in the upper left hand corner was later used as a laundry room.
Cornie joined us, pointing out another small building between the barn and blacksmith. “That’s where we were born,” he told me. All seven of the first children were born and lived there, until the house was build, when Sarah was eleven.
They had wanted to go inside the building, but the doors were locked. Another realization that this place is no longer home.
When Sarah spoke of the way things were as a child and how things have changed, it brought her tears. She explained this was not what he father wanted, and he would have never let this happen to his land.
It really got me thinking. We are so naive and selfish in our own pleasures, that many do not stop to think of the original pioneers and what their wants were. Did anyone even ask the Peters’ children how they felt about their home becoming a tourist attraction? And in doing so, destroying what they remember as home?
She taught me so much about the pioneering days, and allowed me to understand a lot of the history in La Crete and how its grown over the past few decades. But most of all, she taught me to appreciate my home and my family; putting importance to the phrase “home is where the heart is.”
She taught me to cherish all my deepest and most sincere memories and not to take for granted each visit I take back to my quaint and charming hometown, Tamworth, in southern Ontario and not to read too deeply into the changed curtains, redecorated garage or strange car in the driveway. Because home isn’t found here.
Home is in people you love, and in the memories you share.