Honoured by Sadie Youmans
My Uncle Tom was the one who stands out in my family as the one most loved and admired. He gave me away at my wedding and carried off the reception party.
He and his brother Jim operated Ellsmere Brothers Lumber Co. from 1941-1961 at Tilden Lake. Uncle Jim was killed in 1946. They employed between 20 to 30 people and a little school was built for about 15 children. There were three tourist camps on the lake, mostly Americans. His old farm at Craighurst was sold to E.P. Taylor of Toronto and is today Horseshoe Valley. One of 11 children, he was the leader; he was there for his brothers and sisters throughout their lives. They worked for him in the business, built modest homes, set them up any way he could help, free equipment and lumber in many cases. He belonged to the Lumbermen’s Association and was well known in the industry. He was a big supporter of St. John the Divine Anglican Church and built the Minister, Rev. Jarvis, a retreat on the Tomiko River. My mother and father were divorced in 1948. We lived in a rented house next to the old homestead at Craighurst. Times were very tough for my mother. Uncle Tom offered her a job in the cookery at the mill for about 25 men. Mom had never worked outside the home, but was always helping on the farm, killing chickens, picking potatoes, feeding the threshers, etc. My sister Jean was 16 and very good at high school, but she was taken out to help mom (the cookee). She always wanted to go back to school. I could go to school at the mill. My Aunt Enola was the teacher. There were always lots of cousins from the families in Craighurst or at the Mill. Uncle Tom took a carload to church or whenever he went to North Bay for appointments or whatever. He took me to and from high school in North Bay where I had to room and board. He was a terrible tease. He arranged a bicycle for me from Cochrane Dunlop Hardware and a cocker spaniel, Taffy. He never gave me money, just love. The whole family played musical instruments and he played the fiddle for the dances in the school house. He loved to travel and see progress. He bought three farms at Crown Hill where his daughter, Gladys, and her family, ran them. He spent five months in Florida every year in the 1950s and there he died at 68. My husband Dave (we met at the mill) and I were to have our honeymoon in Florida. Today, if you turn in Ellsmere Road at Tilden Lake, a small village remains and the old cement burner still stands. A Community Centre and volunteer Fire House is on the Sawmill site. As I grew older, I realized the impact he had on my life and I never got to tell him. I regret that.