CHRONICLES OF A VILLAGE - DELORO 1920-1940
As written by Jean Elliott Cunningham for a 1986 writing competition (Abridged by the Marmora Historical Foundation)
Accompany me to the Village of Deloro - as it was from the 1920's to the 1940's.
Let us follow Deloro Avenue beyond the store. On the right we see two red clay tennis courts. The bowling green is beside the tennis court, with DELORO spelled out in cement along a slight incline at the end of the green. The benches along the road are provided for the spectators.
Opposite the tennis court is a large frame home, known as the Company House. The Company House is presided over by a hostess, Mrs. Milligan. Businessmen from out-of-town stay here and the school teachers have rooms on the third floor. There is an apartment at the back of the Company House.
Then we pass the boarding house where university students have rooms during their summer employment, in the plant. Next is the apartment house with three apartments, one on each floor. There is a dining room and kitchen attached to the back of the apartment house. Meals are served to guests in the Company House as well as to students and single employees living in the boarding house. Across from the apartments is the home of the General Manager of the Company. It is a large frame home with a screened in porch to the west, a white picket fence, well groomed lawns and flowers & beautiful flowers
O'Brien Street goes north, through the village, beginning opposite the store. The homes along either side of the maple-lined street are either concrete double homes, single wooden clapboard homes or double clapboard homes. Can you visualize the beauty and tranquility of this scene?
Mr. Haacke manages the general store. He and his wife and three children live in the apartment above the store. Mrs. Haacke is involved with Girl Guides and teaches Sunday School. Mr. Haacke sells fresh bread from Sweet's Bake Shop in Marmora. He has a well stocked store which includes dry goods, work boots and toys. He calls on his customers in the village once a week. He tells of his specials, and takes the order. The groceries are delivered later in the day. Ice is delivered twice a week for the old fashioned iceboxes. Miss Scott, the post mistress, is in the post office at the back of the store. We all have our own mailboxes. Miss Scott lives in the Company House.
Mr. and Mrs. Bapty live in the first home next to the school. It is always painted dark green with white trim. To the west of the house are three beautiful, tall evergreens. Under the trees is a fish pond. Each year, the trees are decorated with coloured lights for the Christmas season. Mr. Bapty is the Secretary-Treasurer of the company. His only son is away at school. Mrs. Bapty likes to rest in the afternoon and the village children have learned not to roller skate past her house when she is resting.
My parents moved into the second house in the village following their marriage in 1919. My father, R.A. Elliott, is Superintendent of the plant. He graduated from Queen's University as a mining engineer. He came to Deloro in 1915. My mother, a secretary from London, Ontario, came to the village in 1917, to work in the office. This is to be their home for the next 24 years. My brother, my sister and I were born in this house. My father died there in 1944.
Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Wright and their three daughters occupy the home on the other side of the bowling green. Mr. Wright, from England, Mrs.Wright, from Australia, contribute greatly to the social and cultural life in the Village. During the 1920's, there was a Choral Club as well as a string trio. Mr. Wright played the violin, Lt. Col. "Tiny" Yates played the viola and Mr. Riggs, the cello. Mr. Riggs was the head chemist. The accompanist was Mrs. Ross Hunter and Mr. Ross Hunter was the musical director .
During the depression, Mrs. Wright sponsored two children from downtown Toronto through the Star Fresh Air Fund. This was a marvelous experience for the children but an even greater experience for the Wright family. During the war, Ivor and Allan Pearson, from England, made their home with Mr. and Mrs. Wright and attended high school in Belleville.
There was a gardener to care for the lawns of these three homes, the Company House and the bowling green. As long as I can remember, that was Mr. Eggett. He took great pride in his work, carefully removing any dandelion 'that dared to appear 'in his lawn. ' I know that my father had great respect for this man who enjoyed the beauty of nature. In our garden, we had a large asparagus patch and raspberry canes. Each summer we enjoyed celery, green peas, corn, tomatoes and other vegetables. My father took great pride in his garden, the rosebushes and fruit trees. Every family in the village had a garden and a number of families had a cow, chickens and pigs at the back of their lot.
Walking up O'Brien Street, the first house on the right was used for many years as a hospital. A nurse was employed by the Company. The hospital was used mainly for care of men who met with an accident in the plant. The hospital has now reverted back to a single home where the Buskards live. As we continue walking along O'Brien Street, I can remember the families who lived in every house. Once you had a house in the village, a family rarely moved. Halfway up O'Brien Street is the well. Water was not piped into the homes on 0' Brien Street until 1947.
During the winter you could walk to the top of O'Brien Street and up to Crusher Hill, pulling a bobsled. With the proper road and weather conditions, you could bobsled through the village as far as the General Office, below the Wright's home. Each winter, a skating rink. is made below the village on the sands. Many happy evenings, and bright sunny, cold afternoons on the weekend, are spent at the rink. Hours are set aside for hockey practice.
Behind the houses on the east side of O'Brien Street is a hill. During the winter we go sleigh riding and tobogganing on the hill. During the summer, many people sit on the hill to watch the baseball games. In the 1920's, Deloro had the Champion baseball team in the Central Ontario Loop. Intermediate A. Soccer and football are also popular sports, played on the sands.
There are a few automobiles. The bus comes only with the changing of the shifts, bringing workmen from Marmora. The whistle blows at 8:.30 a.m.. 12 noon and 5 p.m. and I always hear my mother say - "Come home when the whistle blows!. The Deloro Smelting and Refining Co. is built on the flat band between the Moira River and the sands. The sands is an area almost the length of the village at the foot of Deloro Avenue. The sands are red clay, baked hard in the summer and wet and muddy in the spring.
There is a built up gravel path that you walk across in order to reach the plant. Deloro was a mining village. The history of Deloro, "Valley of Gold" has been well documented. Deloro was owned and operated by the O'Brien Gold Mines. In 1907, the plant became known as the Deloro Smelting and Refining Company. The company owned the. land, the homes, the schools and the Village Hall. The general store was owned by the company and village share holders. The company owned its own locomotive engine and tracks which connected to the main line at Marmora Station. Mr. O'Neil operated the engine.
In 1919, due to the importance of the Village, a special act of the Ontario Legislature proclaimed Deloro as the smallest incorporated village in the Province of Ontario. The population was 200. In 1930, a four day work week was initiated to avoid lay-offs. No one in the village was unemployed. There were no pensioners living in the village and there has never been a cemetery in the Village of Deloro.
The company deducted money monthly from each pay cheque - some of the money was allotted for repair and painting of the homes. Some of the money went to the Social Society. From that fund, at Christmas, a turkey and a box of chocolates went to every family and every child under the age of 12 years received a gift from under the Christmas Tree. The Christmas Tree was the biggest and most beautiful in the world!
Each year we practised for the Christmas concert and each Christmas Eve, we all went down to the basement in the hall. Excitement ran high - always there was a telegram from Santa ... "in Eldorado, will be there shortly" ... then another one from the Hamlet of Malone, approximately two miles north of the Village. By the time the last person had given his/her recitation, we would hear the magical ho-ho-ho . As we rushed up the stairs, there was not only Santa but the tree, decorated and surrounded by gifts. A few runs around the tree with everyone singing Jingle Bells and then the gifts were handed out. What delightful memories!
During the 1920s and the early 30s, the midnight shift workers arrived on horse drawn sleighs with bells jingling merrily - especially on Christmas Eve. A church service was held in the hall each Sunday morning, with Sunday School in the afternoon. The Ministers from the Anglican and United Churches in Marmora alternated Sundays. In the Village hall, movies were shown one night a week and there was a lending library in the basement. Dances were held in the hall. The New Year's Eve Dance was, of course, the highlight of the year.
The hall was the scene of many money raising events during the war years. The women of the Village contributed to the war effort as they had done during the first world war. They knit socks, mittens, helmets and scarves and made pyjamas. The teenagers formed a V for Victory Club and learned to knit squares for afghans. The entire village was involved with the war effort.
In the early summer, we picked wild strawberries and in the fall we walked through the pasture to pick mushrooms. Arbour Day, in May was a day away from school work. Each child contributed to cleaning up the school grounds and planting flowers. These activities were followed by a "hike to Little Lake (probably a big pond) where we would enjoy a picnic lunch and look for wild flowers.
Summer days seemed endless - great for reading under a tree, playing jacks or just watching the clouds. In the cool of the evening, children gathered for a game of hide-and-go-seek. July 1st was a big day in the village. In the morning, there were races for the children - the three legged race, the egg and spoon race, the potato sack and wheelbarrow race. In the afternoon there was· a ball game.
A Sunday School picnic was always held at Crowe Lake at the Tipperary Lodge. In the winter, there was always a sleigh ride followed' by refreshments in the hall. A music teacher came from Belleville once a week. My first music teacher was George Maybee, who later was the choir master at St. George's Cathedral" Kingston, Ontario
Dr. Curtis, a dentist in Marmora, came to the Village once a week. . Space was allotted in the General Office for the dentist. I used to help him "set up" for his appointments. Dr. Crawford used the same space for his office three times a week. Dr. Hamilton Crawford was the family physician for Marmora, Deloro and the surrounding area. Twice a year Dr. Chant visited the village. Dr. Crawford assisted him in removing tonsils. How well I remember my operation on the kitchen table! During my last summer in the village, I drove Dr. Crawford to his house calls and I weighed the new born babies. In his office, I read his medical text books and dusted the many bottles in his well equipped pharmacy.
The ladies of the village hang up their washing in the morning and visit over the back fence. After lunch, they don their hats and white gloves for afternoon tea. Bridge parties and formal dinner parties are popular. The ladies work hard to prepare and serve a new recipe. I think now of the ladies and realize that not one of them was known or called by her first name. They were truly an extension of their husbands and were referred to as Mrs. I especially remember Mrs. Crawford, Mrs. Yates, Mrs. Drew, Mrs. Corrigan, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Leal, Mrs. Cousins, Mrs. Reagan, Mrs. Blake, Mrs. Mumby, Mrs. Gaffney and her houseful of daughters and Mrs. Shannon, caring for her invalid son.
,',' My many thanks to my mother and my dear friend, Eva Barlow, who told me of the activities In the Village in the 1920's.