It has often been said that we all have a story to tell. You don't have to be powerful, famous, or extraordinary. We all have stories to tell, whether it is done badly or done well. And amazingly, most people want to hear it!
These stories have been written by Regency Westwood residents, some stories may be fiction, some non-fiction, there might be humor, there might be poetry, there may be some sad events as well.
All stories will be in a separately addressable webpage link, and there is an Index with links directly below this first Post.
If you have any questions or comments, please complete and Submit the Contact form below.
Stories are numbered below with Titles and a link to click on, or, a reader can just scroll through all the stories one at a time.
1. A memorable Christmas (Before we were teenagers)! Click on Christmas Memories
2. The German Settlement Log Church - Click on Log Church
3. An In-law Tale - Click on In-law Tale
4. Xmas 1945, England - Click on Xmas 1945
5. The German Settlement - Click on The German Settlement
Author: Keith Millard
As a child, I loved to sit and talk to my grandfather about his life and experiences, and it was easy to do as my grandparents lived right next door on the same farm.
My grandfather was Mitchel Kleinsteuber, born 1899 in the German Settlement located in the backwoods of Hastings County, eastern Ontario, and about 50 miles north of Lake Ontario.
My grandfather's stories included his grandfather (and his 4 brothers, 2 sisters, and their widowed mother) all coming to Canada together in a wooden sailing ship, all the family working together to grow enough to eat, and trying to go to the wooden one room schoolhouse (except every spring when the river flooded, in the fall when harvesting and winter preparations had to take place, and when the snow was too deep in winter).
The German Settlement:
Around 10,000 years ago (give or take a thousand!) huge sheets of ice moved south toward the Great Lakes, scouring the land down to bedrock as it went, and pushing enormous quantities of soil ahead of it. In parts of eastern Ontario the ice almost reached Lake Ontario before gradually retreating and leaving an austere landscape of rocky ridges and outcroppings, rushing rivers of melt water, and the remnants of crushed vegetation and shattered trees.
By 1770 almost all of the 60,000 population of Canada lived east of Lake Ontario and was called Quebec, England had defeated the French, and a few hardy fur trappers and farmers had settled along the north shores of the lake where the land was abundantly fertile and the land teemed with fur bearing animals (beaver and foxes and wolves).
Between 1776 and 1784 almost 60,000 United Empire Loyalists immigrated to Quebec, doubling the population of this British Colony almost overnight. Vast areas of the fertile land adjacent to Lake Ontario was surveyed and parceled out in grants to UEL immigrants. Almost all of these land grants in eastern Ontario were within 10 miles of the north shores of Lake Ontario.
But then in the 1840s and the Irish Potato Famine, more than 100,000 immigrated to Canada, with 60,000 arriving in 1846 alone. Those that survived the journey in the so-called "coffin ships" were given access to land that was less fertile than that granted to the UEL. In eastern Ontario that was the swampy mosquito infested lands 10 to 25 miles north of Lake Ontario.
Enter Henry Kleinsteuber in 1852, eldest son of Theodor Kleinsteuber, a master shoemaker in Gotha, Germany. The next eldest was John Henry Lorenz Kleinsteuber, and he arrived in 1859. In 1861 the brothers were living together in the northern reaches of Hastings County and about 60 miles north of Lake Ontario. In 1866 their father Theodor died of Cholera, and soon two other brothers were dispatched to convey Theodor's inheritance to Henry, and the four brothers decided to purchase two 160 acre plots of "farmland" near Bridgewater, Ontario (a bustling sawmill and logging village) about 50 miles north of Lake Ontario. This property consisted of swamp, rocky ridges and outcroppings, incredibly thin topsoil, small lakes, and the Skootamatta River which ran through the property. This became the German Settlement, and was located about 4 km (3 miles) from the village of Bridgewater, later to be named Actinolite.
In June 1867 the rest of the family (except for one daughter who was engaged to be married) including their widowed mother, arrived from Germany, and their arrival coincided with Canada becoming a self governing country on July 1st of that year.
For the next 20+ years, the entire family existed as a commune, barely growing enough food to survive. Fortunately at least three of the brothers had apprenticed as shoemakers to their father and were able to make enough to survive. At peak the German Settlement housed 50 to 60 people, many of them children, and gradually family members moved away to better farmland or to work in towns and cities.
By 1925 about half of the 2nd generation and most of the 3rd had moved away from the German Settlement, and for the last 40 - 50 years it has returned to its natural habitat except for vacation properties. The actual settlement site is now a gay campground, those good old Lutherans would be spinning in their graves!
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Author: Matthew Woodhouse
Xmas 1945 was a memorable Xmas for me. Xmas in England, about six months after war had ended, was memorable for more than one reason, and a somewhat different memory normally associated with a childhood Xmas.
For one thing food was not plentiful , and of course rationing was still in effect. Xmas fare was rather meagre and for most of the population, a turkey dinner was unheard of. However, a break from the popular “rack of Spam” could be had with a nice plump chicken. That is, if it was ordered from the local butcher in October, to be picked up at Xmas time.
A normal Xmas day at our house would be with my Mother and Father (Barbara & Matt), myself (little Matthew aged 10 1/4) and my five year old sister Norma. This year was to be different (and how!). My mother decided that we should extend invitations to some other relatives to join us for Xmas dinner.
So we invited Uncle Jack and Aunt Dorothy along with their four month old daughter (Marion). Also joining us was Uncle Oswald(Ossie) and his new girl friend Vera. (In fact I believe the only girl friend he ever had). And, to mother’s delight, Ossie offered to bring the chicken already prepared and ready for mom to pop into the oven. Xmas Day, mid morning, our visitors arrived, welcomed one after the other by my rather proud mother.
Then it started! And I (being a good observer like all 10 1/4 year old boys) sensed a rather fun time in the air. Now, “Ossie” enquired my mother, “where is the chicken”? Oh boy, Ossie had left the chicken on his kitchen table, and left the house without it. He quickly stated that he would return right now and get it. It was only 15 minutes or so to his place by bus and, although they were still running on Xmas Day (as they are of course the main means of transportation, along with bicycles) they were on a reduced schedule. In any event, Ossie raced out of the door, leaving his rather shy new girl friend Vera.
Whilst waiting for Ossie (and the chicken) to arrive, Aunt Dorothy thought that it would be a good time to change baby Marion’s nappy (English for diapers at that time). She removed the very soiled diaper and called to Uncle Jack to pass her one of the diapers they had brought. ! “Where did you put them” asked Jack. “Well”, said Dorothy “you brought them”, “I didn’t bring them” said Jack, “You did”. “No I didn’t, you were supposed to do that”.
At this point the observant little Matthew (10 1/4) sensed that things were about to get more lively. Now, in steps Mother, the usual rescuer. “I have a couple of towels we can cut up to size that should last until you get home”. Aunt Dorothy said she would help and handed the baby (sans diaper!) to Vera to hold. (Ah, thought little Matthew, I wonder...).
Now was the time for the famous Murphy of Murphies Law to step in. Now everyone knows that babies, when they need to pee do not notice or even care that they have no diaper, until.... “Oh noooooo” from Vera, and that told everyone the bad news. Now little Matthew (10 1/4) had anticipated this event and could contain himself no longer and was rolling on the floor laughing, until, out of the corner of his eye, spotted his mother advancing from the kitchen waving an ominous looking rolling pin. I only just made it to the bathroom in time and locked myself in until things quieted down. When I did return my mother of course had everything under control.
Mother the hero again, “You can borrow one of my skirts Vera, while your skirt is drying in front of the fire”. Now, I should mention at this time that Vera was quite tall. Taller than Ossie, so about five foot ten I would say. Mother of course was a couple of inches short of five feet. So although mothers skirt was about five sizes too large for Vera it did lack quite a bit in length. This of course was duly noted by little Matthew (did I mention aged 10 1/4) who promptly placed himself directly, but not too close, in front of Vera’s chair. My eagle eyed Father of course was quick to notice (I think he had that spot picked out for himself) and with a cuff around my ear banished me to the furthest corner of the room. Then, the return of Uncle Ossie!
He was standing there looking rather sheepish, head bowed. “Ossie” said my mother. “Ossie” again, “where is the chicken”? “Well” said Ossie, “I did get it from my place and after I got off the bus, just at the top of your street, I was attacked by two dogs. Rather big and angry dogs”. Mother - “So where pray is the chicken?” Well, said Ossie “While I was fighting one dog off, the other one stole the bag with the chicken and ran off in the bushes. Then the other dog ran after him”. My mother was more than a little, shall we say, miffed. “Are you telling me that you were mugged by two mad dogs”?
Well, now reality set in and we realized that we had no meat in the house of any kind for our Xmas dinner. All of the shops were closed and no chance for any meat at all, and we were getting a bit hungry. Never fear, Mother to the rescue again. We did have lots of potatoes and enough eggs. So – Xmas Dinner 1945, was eggs and chips! And of course the traditional brussel sprouts (although not very palatable with eggs and chips). I do think that most of our guests rather “went off” brussel sprouts.
It was some weeks after that, for the record, that Ossie admitted that he had got off the bus and as it sped away, realized that he had left the chicken on the bus. So he thought that the story he concocted about the dogs was probably more forgivable.
Now, after the dinner, and it was time for our visitors to leave, it was my Father who noticed that Vera was missing. She apparently had slipped away unnoticed, never to be seen again. As far as I can remember, Uncle Ossie never had another girl friend ever. Nor, of course, was he ever invited by my Mother for dinner again.
Father did attempt to pacify Mother by promising that the next week, New Years Day dinner will be very different. All prepared and cooked by Father then Mother would need only to relax & do nothing, and that he would even do the dishes and washing up.
Well, good luck with that thought little Matthew (10 1/4 years old), but of course that is another story for another time.
Author: Diane Dempsey
In the 1960s my in laws inherited property with an older summer home on it at Carlyle Lake MB/SK (a border thing).
My Father in law was so proud of his acquisition and being a crafty guy, woodworking that is, he began planning a summer cottage get away from Winnipeg. My mother in law didn’t share the same enthusiasm but was happy to have her children plus help out.
So my hubby packed our Comet, our 3 young ones, myself and our dog and off we went on an adventure. Are we there yet? Yep, finally, got lost but not going there.
Behold there it was, a small home and oh yes, an outdoor biffy. Inside was cosy, no kitchen cupboards, just shelves which Mrs D and I lined with oilcloth, table too. There was a very small wood stove & bunk beds everywhere. The kids loved it, picking berries & helping grandma bake and clean house. The men cleaned the yard and made a spot for saw and tools, outdoors.
Then time for dinner, kinda picnic style sitting on floor, slept on it to. Tea before bed, chit chat and the story I shall never forget, picture this, father to son “when I first came to view this place, met the neighbours, we gathered for drinks, watched the sun go down, more drinks, sun came up, went to bed. Awoke to feeling sick, ran to biffy to throw up but forgot to remove false teeth. There they went, down in the hole but I saw em. Able to dig em up, boiled and boiled em to clean em, I was sure lucky”.
From the corner of the room, in a quiet voice, Mrs D said “and I haven’t kissed him since”.
In closing, the cottage was sold that year, in laws moved to Regina, we lived happily in Winnipeg dreaming of our own summer cottage someday.
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A White Speedskate Christmas
I don’t remember exactly how old I was, probably 13, but this took place during WWll as my oldest brother was a pilot in the RCAF and no longer lived at home. My family was dirt-poor. We lived in a very old ramshackle farm house about four miles from the nearest town. We had no running water, electricity or natural gas. We were never hungry as most of our food was home-grown.
We always celebrated Christmas with a real tree, no lights, but plenty of tinsel. Everyone got a present and we had a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, even Christmas crackers (a real treat). My gift that special year was my first pair of skates, WHITE SPEED SKATES. Wow! I thought I must be the luckiest kid on earth.
The following summer the war was over and a former RCAF pilot came to our small town with a little airplane, I think it was a Piper Cub, and was offering rides for two dollars. I didn’t have the $2.00 but my little sister did, so I sold my treasured skates to her and took my very first plane ride.
Christmas has always been the best day ever! As a child, I couldn’t wait. As an adult, I’m doing better!
I must have been 6 or 7 and Wetums’ dolls were on every little girls Christmas list. My parents were always very tolerant of my early morning risings on Christmas Day. Dad always went down ahead of Mom and I to light the tree and there she was lying in a cradle on the hearth covered in a blue flowered quilt. She was dressed in a pink knitted bonnet, sweater, soakers and booties. I learned in later years that Mom had never knit a stitch in her life until that Christmas. She fessed up many years later and this alone made this Christmas one of my most memorable ones.
Mumps for Christmas!
My childhood Christmases were very happy times. My mom was a very good cook, so there was always turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. The biggest Christmas treats were the mandarin oranges and “hard tack” candies. Being one of six kids we soon learned that the faster you ate the more you got! We always had a tree in the house and Mom would not let us throw the tinsel on it, each silvery shiny string had to be placed strategically to have the longest and most elegant effect.
One Christmas we were gathered in the front room and when we were finished opening gifts – I don’t remember anything in particular – probably pyjamas – new socks, etc.. But Dad said one present had not yet been opened and we got pretty excited – which one of us would be the lucky kid? Anyway, when he said it was me I was delighted to be singled out. He then said “Go in the bathroom and look in the mirror”. I had the Mumps!
I’m sure I wasn’t very sick because I probably ate my share of turkey too!
Our Christmas Tree... and Two Sparkling Eyes
My name is Yvonne Gregory Horrey, I was born and raised in Nakusp, BC, a picturesque village situated on the Upper Arrow Lake. I’m the eldest of six children. We lived in a two story house on ten acre parcel of land of which my father’s parents purchased following their immigration from England. Their first Canadian home was in Winnipeg, two years later they moved to their newly acquired property in Nakusp. One of my fondest Christmas memories is the day our family trudged through the snow to find and cut our Christmas tree. We left the tree decorating to Santa on his Christmas Eve visit, he never disappointed. Our Christmas stockings were hung at the foot of our beds, ready for Santa to fill. Another Christmas memory is the Christmas morning my parents escorted my brother and I to the barn, upon entry all I recall seeing were two sparkling eyes which I soon discovered belonged to a white and brown spotted puppy. We named him Spot, a springer spaniel. Spot became our faithful companion and friend, he accompanied us everywhere even to Saturday matinees. I remember my Mother telling us that Bill, the theater owner jokingly said that he should charge Spot admission.
Yvonne Gregory Horrey
MEMORIES OF A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EVE MORNING
I had just turned 10 years old that year, and it was the last Christmas I spent in my wonderful childhood home and in the country where I was born. It was a special Christmas because my sea-captain father, who often spent months away at sea, was home to celebrate with us. It was very early Christmas Eve morning and my four siblings and I were excited to check out our shoe which we had placed in the window the night before. Old Swedish folklore tells about the little Tomte Nisse who lived somewhere the attic/basement and watched over us and the barnyard animals all year. He always left a little gift in the shoe for good kids. (he never missed thanks to my mom!). Then the magic, when my father invited us to come downstairs into our formal dining room and we saw the beautiful tree lit up with real burning candles and the homemade decorations we had spent hours making before Christmas! Together my parents had baked the Christmas buns, breads and decorated our home while we were all dreaming of the Jul Tomte who would be knocking on our door on Christmas Eve!
* Our Santa (Jul Tomte) walked and knocked on the door.
An Appendix Christmas Story
A memorable Christmas for me was the year I was 10, I was really looking forward to Christmas but had severe abdominal pains when we would normally cut and decorate a Christmas tree. I ended up in a small town hospital on December 19 and was operated on the next day to remove my appendix. They still used ether in those days, and apparently I woke up and tried to climb off the table when the doctor began his incision (the resultant scars remain today!). The doctor told my mother they had to give me twice the amount of a grown adult to keep me under. I was allowed to go home on Christmas Eve but only allowed a little food at Christmas dinner, which really upset me. And that is a Christmas I will never forget!
Author: Keith Millard
A book titled "Times to Remember in Elzevir" was published in 1964, and draws on the stories and memories of life in remote Elzevir Township in the mid to late 1800s.
It is recalled that in the 1880s three of the Kleinsteuber German immigrant brothers built a log church in the German Settlement and that it was visited frequently by a Methodist Circuit Rider minister. These brothers included my 2nd great grandfather John Henry Lorenz Kleinsteuber who immigrated to Canada in 1859 and 2 of his 4 brothers.
The book also said that on a frosty winter night the singing of traditional German Christmas carols could be heard more than a mile away.
Photos include my 2nd great grandfather, the three Kleinsteuber brothers, the log church (with added Christmas decor), taken about 1930. It was dismantled and in 1933 became part of the Price's Log Cabin restaurant in Actinolite, at the junction of Highway 7 and Highway 37. The excerpt page of Times to Remember in Elzevir and a hand drawn map of the German Settlement circa 1930s are also included.
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