William Prest - Writer and Poet

 


Born a mile from Bellview,  Hastings County around 1920,  William Prest wrote a poetic description of the birth and death of the community he loved.  "The Death of Bellview and the Diamond" is a sentimental historical account of  the coming of the railway to "Big Springs",  later referred to as Bellview,  and eventually renamed Bonarlaw,  after Andrew Bonar Law ,  the first Canadian to become a British Prime Minister.  A wonderful read of community life that came and went,  and  another example of disappearing Ontario. 

95 pages with photos.





Thanks for the Memories of Bellview And the Old Country Store by William Prest

Often times I get to dreaming
Of the scenes my boyhood knew
 And I brush away the teardrops
Just to get a better view
Of the old hotel and schoolhouse
Which I picture o'er and o'er
But I cherish most the memory
Of the Old Country Store.
We gathered here in the evening
For the news we wanted to know.
We listened to the wisdom club
And the battery radio

We sat around the old woodstove
And kept our eyes on the door
To see who would be the next one in
The Old Country Store.
When the light would dim
From the old coal oil light
Someone would stand up and say
It's time to say goodnight

It was here true friendship mingled
Whether rich or poor
There was no discrimination
In the Old Country Store.
Dan Bell had blessed the building
With his presence so to speak
We used to post a letter
And get an answer in a week
When the train whistle blew
We headed out the door
Straightway to the station
From the Old Country Store.
Jack Baker was the station man
One of high esteem
When he sold you a ticket
His eyes were all agleam
Dan Bell had a vision
When first here he came
Hoping to be remembered
He gave the place his name
But little did he know
His dreams would never be
For the Bellview that he hoped for
There is nothing more to see.
These two men had their dreams
That someday there would be
A booming country village
For all of us to see
Now these men are long gone
The buildings are no more
 Now there is just a memory of them
The station and the Old Country Store.
Bellview is the first place
Where I went to school
Where we celebrated Halloween
 And likewise April Fool
When I took to roaming
 Many times and more
My thoughts were always homing
To that Old Country Store.
In my battle with the bottle
Where I teetered on the brink
I remembered it was Bellview
I had my first hotel drink
 In my dreams I see my school chums
 I hear the whistle of the train
And quietly I am walking
Into the Old Store again.
 If I am blessed with health and wealth
There is one thing I hope to do
Erect a simple monument there
And call it Bellview
On this plaque there would be
 Familiar names we all once knew
Dan Bell, Jack Baker and Bellview
And now memory takes me back
Seventy years and more
The words that I treasure most
Are Bellview and the Old Country Store
 I would give my earthly earnings
Just to live one day once more
And meet my old school chums
In that Old Country Store.
In my memoirs I have written
About a place lance knew
The saddest part of the story was
The Death of Bellview