Once Upon a Time: Memories of Home – Part 2

In January of 1980, Margaret MacDougall shared with Jessie MacKinnon her fascinating story of growing up in Kincardine Township around the beginning of the twentieth century. Mrs. MacKinnon continues her recounting of that story which she wrote for the Bruce County Historical Society’s 1985 Yearbook.  (Part 1)

Winter brought its own excitement when the ponds would freeze over. With seven boys and seven girls in the family, there were never enough skates to go around. Initially, the children had only one skate each to use. These early years were not without drama.

One Fall morning, when Mr. MacDougall was ploughing near his bush lot, two of his sons, Arthur and D. A., four and five years old, walked out to meet him. Father suggested the boys gather nuts from the beech tree while they waited for him. A fog soon descended. Unable to see clearly, the tots thought their father had gone home without them, so they set off … in the wrong direction.

At noon, after finishing ploughing, Mr. MacDougall went to the beech trees, only to find the boys gone. On returning home and discovering the boys missing, he raised an alarm. The other children were dispatched to alert neighbours and a search party was organized. There were no telephones, no cars, nothing but word of mouth to spread the alarm. Afternoon stretched into evening with no sign of the wanderers.

Finally, as dusk was beginning to close in, brother Frazer, on horseback, discovered the lads at the shores of Lake Huron, six miles away. They were nonchalantly tossing stones into the water.


Charlie MacDougall was the Township health officer and was obliged, always reluctantly, to place a placard with a quarantine sign on the homes of those suffering from communicable diseases such as measles, scarlet fever or whooping cough. One day, an ominous killer stalked the neighbourhood. Archie, a hired man, was stricken with the dreaded smallpox and placed in isolation in a small cabin. Few people were courageous enough to minister to him. Charles attended to his needs daily with soup and gruel.

Margaret recalled the warmth of those years with a measure of nostalgia, remembering the strong family ties which bound members together. Over passing decades, the homestead continued to be affectionally known as “Sweet Acre Farm.”


Original article was abridged and adapted by Bob Johnston