Reflections of rural life – triggered by the hole that swallowed Bedford Road in Sydenham

Written by  Lorraine Lobb Wednesday, 13 June 2018 12:43
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Road crews working on a fix for the sinkhole tht swallowed part Sydenham this spring Road crews working on a fix for the sinkhole tht swallowed part Sydenham this spring

Rural Life is good. It is not static, or stuck in the mud. When I was six I walked to school and had been taught my address- in case of emergency. At that time I lived on county road 9.

In later years I lived on my uncle's farm. He earned a living through mixed farming, a mixture of Holstein milkers, chickens for eggs, and a few pigs. Times changed for him when his barn was struck by lightening. Gone were the hay loft and middle storage area for equipment. A small holding adjacent to his farm was for sale. Uncle Wally bought it because it had an implement barn- a place to store his equipment for winter.

Another change happened to him. The adjacent city decided to incorporate his property. There was potential for future housing lots, but no future for the farm. It seemed that the Ferguson family had to move. By now, Wally was not as young, or energetic, as he had been when he first started to farm. His family had increased over the years with the arrival of my 4 cousins.

Now that was definitely change. I remember watching my younger cousins playing in the sandbox. There were toy cars - vroom- there were trucks for racing across the sand. The most exciting toys were the "Big Diggers". Big construction equipment making big holes and requiring lots of noise.

Wally decided to buy a small farm further away from the city. He would cut back the work load by developing a herd of beef cattle. No milking at 4:00 A.M. The Hereford herd was developing nicely. There was also a small cash crop of asparagus on the property. Perfect.

Life is change. The Conservation Authority Officials approached Wally. It seemed that they had plans for a new park in the area. Wally's farm had the necessary stream running through it. They were now expropriating the property. Wally retired.

My husband and I wanted a home in the country, near Kingston. After searching in the area we found a great place in the village of Sydenham in 1984. The house was a bit of a landmark for locals. It was built in 1900 by John Wood. He was the great Grandfather of present day Wilma Kenny.

More recently this Victorian home had been owned by Earl Martin. In the 1960s high school students knew where to find Earl Martin. Earl had been in charge of maintenance at the High School. He lived,"just past the BEER Store." Local directions for travel included passing his little red barn.

Well, the barn had seen better days by 1984. Local people reported to we newcomers that before the property was put up for sale, the barn had been propped up on the far side by an old telephone pole. Over time we reinforced the lakeside wall, replaced areas of cement in the foundation, and added pine cladding to the outside. It was no longer "that Red Barn." We acquired a snow blower. We also travelled back and forth to Kingston for employment--- but the garden was growing!!

There were changes in Municipal structure. Mayors and councillors changed. Structure of the County changed when Townships were amalgamated. We now lived in South Frontenac. We had a terrific water supply from our old well. Council decided the Village needed a central water supply. Well, after losing the fight, we faced another change. Our share of installation costs was based on frontage-we had some.

I privately named the new water tower, "Phil's Pholly."

People change. They age. More cottage homes were winterized and became year round homes. People living in the Greater Toronto Area began to see the advantages of living in Frontenac County- and the advantages were more than being able to avoid the 401. Our population is growing. Traffic has increased. Bedford Road, which starts near Trousdale's Foodland, is now steadily in use. Count 'em-40 pickups, 35 Caravans, and 18 sedans per 30 minutes on Saturday afternoon. This is the era of computers and Magic road maps. Some change is NOT for the better. If you believe your GPS map, then the beginning of Bedford Road is somewhere near the old Ski Hills.

We have been watching the work crews as they improve the Bedford road up to the, now not so new, "new Subdivision" at the meeting of Alton and Bedford Roads. In this case GPS is used to great advantage. The road is being straightened, drainage is being installed due to runoff from the ridge side of the road. At last, we oldsters will have sidewalks to stroll upon. The lake is still blue, the sky is still full of curly clouds. We are safely ensconced on the "Canadian Shield" of Granite. Our little world is improving, and change is good.

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