Vacations

by Bubby/Auntie Bessie



One year, our family picked Chambly* Canton as a new vacation spot. I was 10 years old. We stayed in a small cottage on St. George Street which was a short block from the main Street. Our activities were limited to playing in the yard and walking to the power plant to look at the rapids and the sluice gates, which generated electricity. At the foot of the falls, the city had made a swimming hole, which we only used when my mother was in attendance. We were not allowed to go there alone.

The following year, we went to the same place. Then for the next three years we went to a farm which was owned by the McCutcheons. There were eight children. Three were older and the remaining five were our ages. Only the hired hand spoke English. We spoke very little French, but had a lot of fun playing games, using only our grade four school French. My older brother and myself helped with the chores such as stacking hay and loading the hay wagons, picking the "bad grass" (weeds) as they called it.

While at the farm, the spot for bathing or swimming was the Canal, which connected St. Johns to Chambly basin, then the Richelieu river - 12 miles only - it was used for barges and American yachts. When we saw one at a distance, we ran to the side of the Canal. At times the occupants would throw us some change while waiting at the locks. Unfortunately, the water was polluted and had floating garbage. The picnickers would throw their garbage in the Canal as would the people using it as transportation.

We spent some time at Pine Grove Park which was a picnic area rented out to organizations for weekends, costing only $35 per day. A snack bar was owned by the Howard family. We would crash the area so we could partake in the games.


Editor's Note:
Chambly is a small town on the Richelieu River, about twenty miles east of Montreal. My father (Irving) mentioned it often and once when I was eight or ten years old, took me fishing in the Richelieu River.
I think he had a girlfriend who lived there when he was in his 20s, long before he married my mother.


Painting by Bessie Sager
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