Mary Smith, Historic St. Marys
On a summer day a century ago, Milton Reesor took this photograph of two little girls relaxing on the south bank of Trout Creek east of town. They are sitting somewhere between the 13th and 14th hole of today’s St. Marys Golf and Country Club. The trees and the creek bed have changed over the years, making it challenging to pinpoint exactly where they are.
There are some helpful landmarks such as the dormered house and the bank barn in the left background. They belonged to William Pearn, a farmer. Today the house, now with a large front veranda, is the home of David and Laurie Ainslie. The big barn burned in the 1930s but the drive shed, visible in this photograph, survives. The second barn far in the distance at the centre of the picture belonged to the farm known as Gowan Brae, home of the Donald family, early settlers to this area. Today this farm is half of the 18-hole golf course, the Gowan Brae Nine.
Other Reesor photographs that have been used recently in this column space were taken about 1900. This one was later — ca. 1910 or 1911. The proof is the hydro tower, just visible behind a tree on the left side of the photograph. The power house, built in 1910, would have been just over Reesor’s shoulder. St. Marys began receiving hydro-electrical power in 1911.
There are cattle grazing in the field on the opposite bank of the creek just as there are today. Then there was no electric fence to restrict their access to the water.
The creek flats — fairways today — may have been planted with flax. This was a profitable cash crop in 1910, supplying the local flax industry. William Pearn was one of a number of area farmers who sometimes rented out acreage for this purpose. It is pleasant to imagine a field of bright blue flowers beside the creek as the flax matured. The work to harvest (or pull) the crop was very labour-intensive but it did provide a chance for local people who could handle this hard work to earn extra money during the summer.
For information about the Reesor collection or other historic photographs, contact the Museum 519-284-3556 or visit www.stmarysmuseum.ca.