At the age of 90, Florence Beatrice Lee Steenburgh told her story to Nancy Derrer of the Marmora Herald - a story of migration in search of work, the struggle to make ends meet and the final settling in the Marmora area.
Her father was Fred Lee, known in Marmora for his harness business and shoe repair.It has been reported he was originally located in the Pearce Arcade on Main Street. The Arcade burnt down in May of 1905, when it appears Mr. Lee relocated to the Bleecker Building (later known as Embers Restaurant, and now replaced with the new Bleeckers Residence). Then, in 1907 the Marmora Herald wrote that F.N. Marett and Josiah Pearce bought the Bleecker Building, which may have been the reason the Lees moved out west at that time.
"Dad was a bit of a rambler," mused Beatrice Lee Steenburgh, from her comfortable private room at Caressant Care. She was born in Northern Alberta in 1910, where the family had been homesteading.
"The British government was encouraging people to "Go West", so my parents headed to northern Alberta. They had a little son who took sick and died on the train. They stopped the train; the baby was buried and my parents had to go on and leave him there."
In 1910, shortly after Beatrice was born, the family moved on to Oregon to farm. Beatrice recalled Oregon fondly but never had the opportunity to return for a visit. When she was nine, the family returned to Canada by train, to the Madoc Township farm of Beatrice's fraternal grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. George Lee .
"After two years in Madoc, Fred and his wife, Frances Shaw (from Eldorado) and, by then three daughters, moved to Marmora, where Fred returned to his harness business, ". The Marmora Herald reported that, from 1921 to 1937, he ran his shop out of the south half of the Green Block, now the site of the Nickle's Drug Store parking lot, and then in 1946, he is again reported to be running his business back in the Bleecker Building.
Beatrice, the middle daughter, attended elementary and high school in Marmora, graduating at age 16. There were no thoughts of further schooling, so Beatrice went to work in Gladney's General Store in 1926. In 1930, she moved to Peterborough and took a factory job with General Electric.
"I had to go in hospital for an appendectomy," she reports, "and when I came out and was able to go back to work, we were deep in the Depression, and GE was not hiring."
She moved back to Marmora for a while and then, in 1937, while working in Toronto doing housework, she met and married Floyd Steenburgh, a construction worker originally from Havelock.
"When you are in construction, you go where the jobs are," she commented. The family moved first to Buffalo, other locations in New York State, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In 1949, they were again in Madoc and Floyd purchased his parents' farm. He was farming when, in 1951, he was hired by the Marmora mine, employed as a general foreman. He was the first person on the payroll. Floyd died in 1990.
Beatrice had five children: Carol Davies (Marmora), Floyd (a teacher in Oshawa), Sharon (Newcastle), Donna (Cloyne) and Marjorie. In 2001 Beatrice had 54 grand and great grandchildren.