Memories from Chester Cleghorn

Two stories told to Dale Cleghorn by his father, Chester Cleghorn (1908-1985) 

Story One

My father, Chester Cleghorn, was born in the year 1908 in South Tweedside. He was the sixth son in a family of seven boys and one girl. His father, Robert Cleghorn, passed away when Chester was eight years old. My father’s oldest brother, Herb, became the father figure for his siblings.

Times were much different when my father was growing up than they are today. Farming, lumbering, hunting, trapping, and fishing provided sustenance for the family. Transportation was by horse and wagon, horse and sled, snowshoeing, and walking. Over the years, the Cleghorn boys did a lot of walking and snowshoeing, especially when they were tending their trap lines.

My father grew up in a strong Presbyterian family. On Sundays, his mother would only allow the necessary work to be carried out – she firmly enforced “The Day Of Rest” which was no easy job with seven lively boys. The family attended church services which were held in the South Tweedside school house.

During the week, my father attended the South Tweedside school and completed Grade eight. In the rural schools, at that time, Grade eight was as far as you could go. If you wanted to further your education, it was necessary to move to a town or city.

Story Two

At the age of fourteen, my father’s first job was as a road monkey for a logging contractor at the south end of Oromocto Lake. A road monkey helped to build the logging roads. In the winter, snow was shovelled into hollow spots on the road and then watered so they would freeze. This made a hard level road. When he wasn’t working as a road monkey, he helped the cook by splitting wood, carrying water, setting the table and clearing up after the meals.

Usually the logging camps were built near a spring. There was a bunk house on one end, a cook house and eating area on the other end. The two were joined by a “dingle” or a woodshed and storage area. The camps were built out of logs, usually in the fall before the logging crews moved in.

Men in the logging crew worked for six days. On the seventh day, if weather permitted, they would go home. The logging crews were given bed and board and fifty cents a day.

One Sunday in January, on a return trip, my father and his brother, Stuart, fell through the ice at Birch Island. Stuart, who had a hatchet with him, was able to break more ice in front of them until they reached shore. By the time they reached a camp on Birch Island their pants had frozen and split. Fortunately the camp was stocked with matches and dry firewood.

One winter, my father and his brother, Glen, decided that they could make more money trapping. They snowshoed and skated from home “On the Hill” to the outlet of the Big Kedron, approximately twelve miles where they had a bag camp. A bag camp consisted of a framework erected between two rocks. The sides were covered with burlap bags; boughs were used for the roof and the floor. Since it was late when they arrived, they proceeded to get their evening meal ready by candlelight. While my father put on the fire, Glen went to the brook to get water for tea. They proceeded with their meal and drank their tea. During the night both men became violently ill. They were forced to stay there for two days until they recovered. To their dismay, they discovered that they had accidently boiled a spotted lizard in their water. Could this have possibly been the cause of their illness?

By the time they had retraced their tracks and checked their traps, they had made $30 between them in four days. It would have taken a month working in the woods to make that much money.

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