Millbridge a ghosttown? It’s a matter of perspective
Letter written by Frank Petrie in response to a newspaper article in the early 1980’s
Home: Mention of the word sets our minds a whirl with fond memories, recollections of a time when happiness was just a way of like and reality was nothing more than dreams come true. For many of us this magical place remains among the most vivid of our memories for it holds the key to our childhood and therefore sets the mold for the way we are, the way we think for the rest of our lives. In this way, home becomes the most special place we will ever know. It comes to signify warmth, security, and happiness, a paradise that for one reason or another can never quite be replaced.
Home for me, is a tiny settlement known as Millbridge some twenty odd miles north of Madoc. To me, it is that paradise, that place of total happiness where dreams become realities and the sun just never stops shining.
It distressed me, then to find an article in this paper just two weeks ago, entitle “Sentimental Journey” which described my home as a mere memory from the past. Thus, I decided to write this letter.
Millbridge had its heyday in and around the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. At this time it had all the beginnings of a prospering town. What with small businesses such as Hogan’s Hotel and Norman’s Trading Post popping up like nobody’s business, everyone was sure it would grow to be a major centre in the county. But during the depression of the 1930’s, the settlement began to stagnate and it hasn’t grown an awful lot since. Fortunately, however, the mold has been set.
Many of the present inhabitants of the area, like myself, are descendants of the original settlers who created the settlement, and to us it is just as much an adventure today as it surely was to them.
I can still recall, as a child, building a homemade raft from old logs and sticks and then sailing down the Jordan River with a willow branch for a fishing pole, just as my great grandfather must have done as a boy, and many of us attended the one room school house in Millbridge, a pleasure few adults had the opportunity to partake of.
The schoolhouse was closed by the Board of Education in 1967, but it still stands today as a symbol of the waly of like we have attempted to keep alive in our little town.
Hunting and trapping are still very much a tradition in Millbridge with fathers teaching their sons at an early age, the basics of supporting a family at a time when work in this industrialized province is getting harder and harder to find, and the young ladies are taught just as early how to cook and sew with bazaars and quilting bees a regular occurrence.
Now and then there are house raising parties and shivarees for the newly married couples in Millbridge, occurences which seem to have faded into oblivion in other communities, and the ladies club is constantly busy finding ways to support our little church, located on the Old Hastings Road, which was once the through way until Highway 62 bypassed the settlement in the late 1950’s.
So you see, it is not the memories of long ago and what Millbridge once was that holds us to the land we so proudly consider to be our home. Rather it is the way of life which we share today that sets the precedent.
We have had the opportunity to work together to keep Millbridge alive while partaking of those rare experiences which people only read about anymore in adventure books like Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. It is for this reason that we do not look upon our home as a memory from the past, and we can only hope that the youth in our community today will take to heart the things that they were taught for in this way the settlement of Millbridge will prosper as we approach tomorrow.