A Visit to Dalhousie

In this next installment of Memories of a Boy Growing Up in Blackville, set in the summer of 1953, six year old Pat goes on a bus ride to Dalhousie with his mother and siblings.

A Visit to Dalhousie
Written by Pat Fournier

August 1953 – six years old
Mom took Katharine and Marjorie and Johnny and I on a bus ride up to Dalhousie to visit her parents – our grandparents – Granny and Grampa Sturgeon. Granny and Grampa lived in a two story house up on a hill by the main road, where you could look out from their high back porch and see the Bay of Chaleur, and the pulp mill where Grampa works. Grampa had a barn where he kept his horse, and it had a hayloft that we could jump into. There was a little shed attached to the barn, that had a canvas bunk bed, where their teen aged son, our Uncle Tommy, used as a kind of a camp where he could spend time by himself. And they had a garden and a chicken coop where we got eggs for our breakfast each morning, and there was a big smelly pile of manure behind the barn.

dalhousieOne day Grampa hitched his horse to his wagon, and took us all for a ride way down the beach. Uncle Tommy sat up on the front seat with Grampa, while the four of us sat on side benches in the back and bounced around as the wheels rolled over the rough beach rocks. I remember that my hat flew off my head, and Uncle Tommy jumped off the wagon and ran back and got it for me.

Granny and Grampa’s outdoor toilet was out in the barn, so Granny used to put a pail upstairs in the corner of the bedroom so we didn’t have to go downstairs and outdoors in the dark if we had to pee during the night. Well, Uncle Tommy had gone to the beach early in the morning when the tide was low and dug a bunch of clams for Granny to cook, but when he looked around in the kitchen for a pot or pail to put them in, all he could find was the pail that we used for a chamber pot, which Granny had emptied earlier. So of course the clams that were supposed to be cooked and be a treat for us, couldn’t be cooked, and had to be thrown out. Now that I think of it, I guess they must have been ‘piss clams’!

But my good memories of this visit were spoiled by one very bad memory. Uncle Tommy had a pet duck named Gertrude, and the duck used to follow him around everywhere. One day Uncle Tommy got drunk, and he picked up Gertrude and wrung her neck and killed her right there in front of us!

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