David Trumble – “When I was a Boy”

(Photo from When I was a Boy)

In his book “When I was a Boy” David Trumble gives us some insights into life in this township.  He was born on December 15th, 1867.

Below are a few of his memories:

“Gunter was just a small country place, just a small country place.  It got so there was a store there and they got a school there and they got a church there.  They got all that stuff there.  When I got to be a young man it was quite a little town.  I was there about 50 years. ”

He went on to describe the building of houses:

“We used to build all our houses out of logs.  Go to make a house, we’d cut the logs, draw them in.  Then we’d notch them, hew them down to square them off, put one on top of the other., fit them at the corners, make sure there were no cracks showing through.  Then we’d mortar, and plaster that house between the logs.  We’d have about eight inches of log on our walls.  No cold got through; no wet got through; it was dandy.”

“For mortar we’d go to where there was a good clay, blue clay, take that, put a little water onto it, mix it up.  It’d get so sticky and gluey we could plaster any house.  Let it dry.  When it got dry it was just as hard as a bone.  We’d take the clay out of the land.  Blue clay is what they used to take and plaster houses with.”

A trip to Millbridge:

“We’d go clear from Gilmour to a place called Millbridge – about forty miles – to get groceries.  And on our way there we’d wear out a pair of runners.  Then we’d stop along the road and make a new pair to put onto the sleigh again.  Same thing coming back.  Today you can go by car to Toronto in three or four hours.  Every year, everything…..changes.”

Hunting & Fishing:

“Extra meat – we used to take that and put it in salt and cure it, make a fire and smoke it, then we’d have that meat to eat in wintertime.  We’d have a big box full of roasted meat.  It was good – you could take a piece of that meat, chew on it all day and never get hungry.  It was meat, it was all meat; you’d work away and you’d never get hungry.”

How to save the meat: refrigeration?

“In the winter time we used to take a saw, take a saw and saw a hole in the ice, and then we’d take the blocks out.  Get right in to go fishing.  We’d take the blocks, put them into a building……put sawdust in there, then put our ice in there and put the sawdust onto it.  And it’d stay all summer.  We used that for a fridge.  Nothing ever spoiled.”

“If you couldn’t dry the meat…..why just take your meat and take it to the lake about ten to fifteen feet and put a rope on it and a stone on it.  Put it right down in the lake where the air couldn’t get at it.  It’d stay there for ever so long.  We’d wrap that in a leather bag so the fish wouldn’t bother it.”


“We didn’t have lights.  We used to take the oil out of a bear and oil out of a deer and make what we used to call bitches.  We’d cut bone, hollow out the pith, stop it at the end to make a bottle.  Then we’d take that bottle put a wick into it, pour bear grease into it and make a grease candle.  We had that for light.”

For entertainment:

” We used to have  a big time.  When I was a boy (I don’t do it now), I was dancing about three or four nights every week, every other house.  Sometimes we’d go to a corn-husking bee, husk corn for about two or three hours, then get the fiddle out and start dancing, danced till daylight.”

In the lumber camps:

” I loved the life in the camps.  It was a dirty life, a dirty life.  You see, in olden times they had no mercy on a man, no mercy.  We’d work day or night, rain or shine.  Go out when the stars was shining, come in when the stars was shining. You never seen the camp in daylight.”

” We had good food in the camps.  We generally had lots of beef, lots of pies, lots of cake, lots of soups, lots of cookies of all kinds, everything you could imagine, no matter what it was.  It was just like a wedding all the time.  Wonderful, wonderful eating.  They boarded well, that’s one thing I can say.  Now, I’ve worked for eight or nine companies, and I’ve never seen only one or two that was a little slack.  We always had the best of cooks and we had the best of food.  But, I’m telling you, we had to work; but all we got was a dollar a day. The best wages we could get was a dollar a day.  I worked until I was around about thirty-five before I got a change in the wages.  Then I went in being a boss.  Well, then I got a boss’s wages.” …….”I was a champion lumberman….an axeman.  I must have put seventy-five years of my life into lumbering.”

The Baverstock Library located in the Community Centre in Gilmour has a copy of “When I was a Boy” it is a great read.  I found myself, chuckling, and picturing life in our township through the eyes of a very talented man.