Family stories were part of growing up in our farming neighbourhood. Grannie Watson’s was about survival and courage. Her family settled at the corner of the Back Concession and Seventh Line, now Trafalgar and Burnhamthorpe. Bill, her son, blown up in a tank during WW2, turned the little barn into a family home. Ena, a daughter, built a house at the end of the garden, Dick added a sunroom to the back of her house for his family, and she lived in the front. My father called it Rabbitville.
Grannie was originally from Grangemouth, Scotland, but she and her husbanded emigrated from Ireland with their seven children. Suddenly she was widowed, almost destitute, with no help from any source. The girls: Nan, Ena and Peggy found jobs as maids while Tom and Bill worked as farm hands. At first, she rented an isolated farmhouse with no hydro or heat with the two youngest, Jim and Dick.
When the house on the corner of our farm was for sale, Mr Read of Bank of Montreal kindly gave her a mortgage of $2000. At last, she had a house of her own. She was able to walk to our house to help my mother. She was a very comfortable and entertaining lady who read tea leaves. She worked almost to the end of her life at 99 by looking after the elderly.
With her charm, sense of humour and calmness, she was a pillar, a survivor, of the Great Depression and WW 2. She was loved and appreciated by everyone and left a huge tribe of Watsons. mostly trained in practical skills. She made the best of whatever came her way; courageous and resourceful. She is remembered fondly.
Her little house was dragged into the field next door, but the Watson family is still on the corner where hundreds of happy golfers improve their skills at Mini Putt. It is run by her grandson, Vic Hadfield. Watsons never disappear.
by Sybil Rampen
Reprinted with Permission of Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre