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Remembering 19 Forsyth St in 1947

My name is Anne-Mae Archer; my family moved from Toronto to Marmora in July of 1947. I was 1 ½ years old.   The story  began during WWII.  My dad,  Charles Archer,  was stationed in Holland in 1945 where he met and married my mother Annette van den Berg. I was born in Holland on February 9th, 1946 and came to Canada on the Queen Mary in August 1946.

Charles Archer was looking for a career and a home for his growing family. They had been renting in different rooming houses in Toronto. I don’t know how Charlie found out about an auction in Marmora, but he purchased the taxi and trucking business from the estate of the late William Sanderson and started running the business June 9th 1947.  Mrs Annette Archer and their two daughters,   Anne-Mae and Mari-Lou,  joined Charlie in Marmora in July of 1947.

As the house was large,  Charles and Annette rented part of it to Mr and Mrs Lorne Gawley and their two daughters. Mrs Gawley was also a Dutch War bride. My parents thought that the house was haunted; there was a set of stairs at the back of the house going to the second floor which was closed and locked at night. It was a hook and eye type lock and  every morning when Annette checked,  the door was unlocked.

Charles and Annette met and became good friends of Tom and Bessie McCann well known residents of Marmora. They became my god parents.   I recall,  when I was a little older,  I picked up the phone and a female voice said hello and I said Bessie? The operator at the other end knew who Bessie was and put me through. My mother came into the room and found me talking to Bessie, but she had not heard the phone ring. Bessie said “you called me”. I do remember their store in Malone, part of which was a post office and under no circumstances could we go behind that counter.

My sister, Mari-Lou was baptised on November 2nd, 1947 by Rev. E.M. Cadigan at St. Andrews United Church, at the same time Mr and Mrs Lorne Gawley also had their daughter,  Shirley Marie,  baptised.   In 1948 I needed my tonsils removed; the closest hospital was in Belleville. There was a young new doctor in town, Dr. Donovan. My mother told me that Dr. Donovan removed my tonsils in his office and my mother was assisting with the anaesthetic.  

Living on the main street at 19 Forsyth St we were next door to the Texaco Gas Station. My sister and I used to sneak over there when no one was looking; the men at the gas station would give us a nickel. When I think about it now it was a very dangerous thing to do, two little girls wandering around where cars pulled in to get gas.

In August of 1949 both my sister and I  contracted polio and were sent to Toronto to the Thistletown hospital, and then later to Sick Children’s hospital. It was a hard time for Charlie and Annette being separated from their small children. Because of the distance they could only visit once in a while. I  was in the hospital for six months and Mari-Lou was in the hospital a year and three months.

Charlie had trouble making a go of the taxi business and had to sell the property and move to Madoc. The house was eventually torn down and the Plaza Theatre was erected on the site.

After Madoc we moved to Deseronto. Then in 1952 Charlie built a small house outside of Marmora on the rocks, west of Crowe River and on the highway. We had no running water because of the rocks. By then I was in grade one and took the bus to school everyday. I do remember that to catch the bus I needed to cross the highway.   If I saw a vehicle coming in either direction I would not cross the road. The highway wasn’t as busy then as it would be today.

Finally in May of 1953 our family moved to Orillia, where Charlie’s mother and older sister lived. At that point my mother put her foot down and said we are not moving again. We needed a family doctor and lucky for us Dr. Donovan had already moved to Orillia and became our family doctor.

In the early 1980’s my husband and I were travelling in eastern Ontario and on the spur of the moment we decided to stop at Marmora and visit Bessie. We stopped at a phone booth in town, I was going to look up Bessie’s number and call her to get directions to her house. The phone book had been ripped out of the booth. I noticed the local post office just down the street and thought I would take a chance and ask in there for directions. The postal employee was very helpful, knew who Bessie was and gave us directions to her house.

Just a note of thanks to the Marmora Historical Society, I did not know the name of the street we lived on until I found your site. All correspondence only said Mrs. C Archer, Marmora, Ontario Canada.

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