Julie Druker | Jan 20, 2016
In order to encourage local residents to share their unique experiences of local history, members of the Cloyne & District Historical Society have begun inviting area residents and society members to speak at the group’s regular meetings, which take place every third Monday of the month at the Barrie hall in Cloyne.
The talks take the form of an interview, with society president Red Emond leading the questions before opening up the floor to queries and additional personal offerings from guests.
On January 18, Evelyn Petzold was the group’s special guest and she spoke about her unique childhood growing up in Denbigh and the Mazinaw Lake area, where her parents Gene (Pettifer) Brown and Irven Brown owned Brown's General Store at the head of Mazinaw Lake. Petzold spoke of many fond childhood memories when she helped out with chores around the store: pumping gas, hauling ice, packing groceries and other tasks. She recalled the busy Fridays that were always special and memorable since that was the day that the weekly delivery of Foster's Ice Cream arrived by truck, packed and smoking with the dry ice used to keep it from melting. “It was the best ice cream you could imagine and I remember that kids would be waiting around the store on those days to buy a cone, which at that time cost about five cents.”
The store was especially busy in the summer months because of tourists and locals arriving to cash cheques and buy their groceries, which Evelyn's mother Gene would order in.
Evelyn's father Irven also worked at a local saw mill, guided hunters in the fall and ran trap lines in the winter months. When the store required moving years later, Evelyn's father and Cole Cummings built a second store in 1947 and ran it until 1971 before selling it to Ron Pethick.
Petzold recalled spending much of her summers at the beach and in the water and that back in 1949 Denbigh was a much busier place than it is now.
She and her husband William lived in Denbigh where William worked in construction and logging, and she recalled what a huge undertaking it was when they needed a bigger home and property because of their growing family of nine children. “William came up with the bright idea of moving our entire house.”
So William, with the help of a mover who had experience moving homes on the St. Lawrence River, together moved the entire home with all its contents from a corner lot in the village of Denbigh to a property three miles out of town. “They brought in a truck with three large timbers on it and jacked the house up off its foundation. .loaded it onto the truck and drove the entire house, intact, three miles down the road. I remember there was a guy standing on top of the house as it was being moved, whose job it was to raise the hydro lines with a long stick as the house passed underneath them.”
She recalled that a glass of water sitting on a table inside the house remained undisturbed for the entire trip and that the event attracted more onlookers than the local Denbigh fair.
Petzold spoke of long walks to school and later of an army truck that took her to high school. “The truck was wired closed at the back where you could see the snow coming in.”
Following her talk, Shirley Pettifer Miller, a cousin of Evelyn's, presented her with a collection of stories, yarns, songs and poems put together by Evelyn's mother Gene titled “Old Logs Leave Good Memories Sometimes”, which tells of the history of Denbigh and the many local events that took place there. “To me this is very valuable and for that reason I copied it all and will include it in a book that I am making of our family's history and memories”, Miller said when she presented the collection to Petzold.
Tales of local history tend to attract outsiders looking for information about their own family histories and that was the case for one Belleville resident who made a special trip to Cloyne for the talk. Dwight Malcolm heard about the event through his daughter-in-law and came out to find out more about his grandparents, John and Alice Malcolm, who he thinks settled in the Denbigh area in the 1870s. Following the talk Malcolm joined the society and said that he plans to come back to learn more about the history of the area.
Coming up at the society’s next regular meeting will be an interview with Glenn Davison, who will be speaking about early life in Flinton on Monday, February 15 at 1pm. Anyone interested in joining or learning more about the society can visit pioneer.mazinaw.on.ca or call Red Emond at 613-336-8011.