Memories of My World as a Child
I have been looking at many of the videos in the CBC Archives. They are a great source of information on Canada, Canadians and events that have affected us.
I enjoyed this on on White Picket Fences from a TV documentary in 1954. http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-69-1464-9945/life_society/suburbs/
This is about the changes in Canada after the war. It was a time of growing prosperity and the fulfullment of dreams delayed by the war. Families were growing and to meet these needs and expectations, suburbia and city mass housing was created. I was 11 in 1954 so I was aware of some of these changes. Our family had moved to Toronto township six years earlier. Our "Suburban" home was not a typical development house. It was privately built by a small builder and my father did a lot of the work on the house himself. It cost him $8,000, 4% interest. He took 20 years to pay it off.
It was a modest house of a story and a half on a nice treed street in Toronto Township outside of the little community of Port Credit on Lake Ontario. In those early years , it was really a rural location. The expectation fulfilled was modest: to own a home of our own with mother home to raise three children and father working hard to provide, the pay: $50 a week. Our home had a coal furnace and an ice box. In those days, a woman. home with children. was never lonely. There were a regular stream of service men coming to the house: insurance agent, who was paid monthy, the eggman, the breadman, the iceman, the coal man, the meter reader, the knife sharpening man, and even the ice cream cart. Doctors came to the house in those days which was fortunate as we had no car.
My mother was a great reader and a user of the library which is how she amused herself in her "free" time. I remember walking the mile to Port Credit and catching a bus and then street car to get to the nearest Toronto library branch. Later Port Credit developed a small libray.
My father, rode the train into Toronto carrying his tool box to work on construction. It was around 1954 that he learned to drive and bought an 10 year old car.
Life seemed simpler and we amused ourselves, playing with the many neighbourhood kids, playing in the woodlands which surrounded us and doing family things: listening to the radio and playing table games and doing jigsaws.
We never seemed to do without. Perhaps, I just never knew what to demand. Going to a restaurant was a rare event. There were no fast food places or vast supermarkets to dangle goodies in your face.
The video above is about the expansion of housing. There are a few things that it brought to mind. The first was the number of elegant elm trees in the scenes. The elms along farmers fence lines were a hallmark of Southern Ontario. All during my growing up they were dying off from Dutch Elm desease. They were virtually wiped out. The log cabin on our farm is in a grove of elm trees, which pleases me very much.( There is now some effort to bring the elegant elms back by developing seedlings from trees that naturally resisted the Dutch Elm desease.)
I am also struck by the prices of things. Perhaps this is what they mean by the "good old days".
One thing the video does not include is the number of people who used to build their homes as they had the money. They would build the basement first and tar paper over the first floor and live in the basement for a few years until they could affort to frame up the house. You used to see a lot of this in the country. The building industry has done away with this. You cannot get a mortgage for a house partially built. In fact, it is hard to get a new house these days that doesn't include all the appliances. My aunt had a terrible time at her row house to not have them lay a lawn. She didn't want a lawn to mow. Her yard was to be all garden and groundcovering plants. Finally, they did sign off on the house without a lawn It is the easiest way to locate her house on the street.
Watch the video and see what memories it brings back for you, if you are a baby boomer or older.