Grade 5 Compositions
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This is a selection of Bruce McCowan's Grade 5 "Compositions" (age 10-11). All are stories of growing up at the Kingston Road McCowan farmhouse in the early '60s. Supporting information in [square brackets] has been added occasionally where necessary.


Public Schools

Name: Bruce McCowan

Grade: 5           Subject: Composition

School: H.A. Halbert


Sept 22 1964

My Autobiography

My life began in East General Hospital at 8 pm on Feb. 1 1954. The earliest thing I can remember was when I walked up to the third floor where the Hunters lived, knocked on the door and asked for some candy. I was only 2 so I didn’t bother to say thankyou because I hadn’t learned my maners yet. In a picture, I saw myself rolling down the steps when I was only 1.

Since I’m the oldest in the family, I’ve always had the advantage over my two tough sisters. The oldest is 8 and when I fight with her it’s always pretty serious. The youngest (who is 3) is somewhat the same, in cases only a lot worse. But usually we just have a little play fight but even then she’s using her regular rough style.

Since our house is quite large with 3 storeys, we rent 2 of them to kill off the taxes. The family that lived here the longest (6 years) were the Fords. David Ford and myself played together if no one else was available. The shop (at that time) had no door [at the top of the stairs] so we were free to go up and explore whenever we wanted. About 4 years ago, Lyn and David Ford, my sister and I went up and took a long look around. Then we discovered some lime at the side of the top of the stairs. And before we knew what we were doing, we dumped it all over the floor and steps. After that, my father put a door on with a lock and we could only go up with him.

When I was 3, I was back in East General getting my tonsils out and glad of it.

It didn’t take me long to learn how to skate on our rink outside. I was 5 when I could skate perfectly. About a year later I learned to ride a bicycle in a little more time. Just after I learned to ride a bike, I was out watching my dad pump the water out of the well. To have some fun, I thought I’d give the belt a little shove. I thought I’d make it go faster so I went right on with my idea. I don’t know how it happened but my hand started to bleed and bleed until it was red. Then my dad came and rushed me to the doctors where I got 4 stitches.

Three years passed and many things happened to me which I can’t remember. It was after those 3 years when I was 9 that I got my finger stuck in a hole in a chair. I sat there for half an hour in the most awkward position. My dad came in and asked why I was sitting like that. I didn’t tell him anything but he finally found out. When he did he called my mother and they both laughed for 10 minutes. My dad thought he could cut the hole bigger so I could slip my finger out but in that way he’d ruin the chair. Then they decide to put grease around it to make it slippery. After my finger had been stuck for an hour it finally slipped out and was free.

Over the summer holidays, my dad made a go-cart that goes pretty fast and ever since we’ve been riding on it.

I think I will stop now because 5 pages is enough and anyway I’m already up to date.


 Nov. 3, 1964

Eric The Purple Raids Again

Eric the Purple (as I named myself) was going to make his first raid on Hallowe’en since he was only ten. I was a viking with a garbage lid with foil on it as a shield, a sack over my shoulders as a robe, black tape wound around my legs, and my army helmet with foil on it and a feather. After I got my plastic sword I almost looked like Eric the Purple himself (who I already was.) When I was ready I started out for John McCormick’s house where he was waiting for me. John was dressed as a tramp, a better looking one than last year as he recalls.

Our first trip started at the Styrleys house, working our way up to Cree then coming back on the other side [of McCowan Road]. We did a few of the corner houses on Horfield and both sides of Cree and Phyllis but we also left out some places on our main route. When we got back we ate some stuff then went on our shortest trip of the night. On it we only did about half the houses of McCowan to the south side of Johns. When we got back to the house I dumped all my small loose stuff into two medium sized bags.

As we went out on our third and final trip I said that for a rookie viking the raiding’s been pretty good. This was our longest trip which included what houses we could do on Anson, about half of Dorset, the houses on Horfield from Dorset to Allister where we did about of the houses. After I had sorted out my candy I went home to watch the hockey game.


Nov. 26, 1964

A Sore Seat and Tired Legs

My cousin (John McCowan) and I had decided to go down the cliff [Scarborough Bluffs] for a while. He lives on the North side of Lake Hill Crescent, a small road just above the lake and my grandfather lives on the south side. We took a few little things with us to make it sound as if we were really scouting. I had John’s gun and his helmet and he had a rifle. We walked over to my grandfather’s where we went down a steep path to a pile of brush. When we got over this we came to a ledge which sloped steeply on the other side. Then we found a place where it was perfect for sliding down about 20 feet and did that a few times. On we walked through the trees and up hills, stopping once in a while to look at things. By then I was tired of wearing the helmet so I threw it to John, and he threw it right back but the next time I threw it, it landed in a hole with weeds.

"Pick it up" he said angrily. "Ah, we can find it when we come back. I know where it is."

"Okay, but you’d better". It wasn’t long before we got to the lake and had walked along the shore for a while when John said "Go back and get the helmet and I’ll wait here for you."

Off I went looking for it which seemed like hours before I walked up a path where the lake could be seen, to see if John was in sight. There he was, on a huge hill of sand, almost opposite me. As soon as I saw him, I walked down the path again to reach him. After a while I decided to go back to see if he was still there. When I looked over at the hill John’s rifle was there – but he wasn’t. At this point I decided to take the short cut, down through the valley. About six feet below me was a ledge and fifteen more below that was the ground. I threw my gun over near the rifle then jumped and landed on a hard piece of clay. Where I landed it hurt for a week but I didn’t care much. For the first time, I noticed that the ground was mud so I changed my mind and climbed back up.

Now my only thought was to rest my tired legs so I ran. I called John’ name once or twice but he never answered. Then I saw him on a hill in front of me and said "Hey, wait for me".

"I can’t. I fell in some mud and have to get changed." Then he started walking again and so did I on the long journey up the huge hill. About half an hour later I stood on the flat ground of my grandfather’s back yard and in 300 ft. was a comfortable chair in John’s room.


Jan. 5, 1965

The Night Before Christmas

T’was the night before Christmas
and all through the house
All the creatures were stirring
Even a mouse.

Jeffry, Timmy Brown, and my two sisters (Barbara and Ruthy) and I were putting on a play for the parents. That’s why even a mouse was stirring. I opened the program by reading the story of the shepherds from St. Luke ch. 2 v. 1-22. Then Barbara read a bit from the story of the Littlest Angel. Next the choir (Ruthy, Jeffry, and Timmy as the director) sang followed by Timmy singing Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer. While the actors for the play got ready I put The Story of the Nativity on the record player. The play was The Night Before Christmas. The stars were as follows:

"Santa Claus" Timmy
"The two children" Jeffry and Ruthy
"The father" Barbara (no mother)
"Narrator" me

After the play Ruthy and Jeffry ran by with a long piece of paper which was made by my father with a machine at I.B.M. On it, it said "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" and below Santa Claus and his reindeer were on the ground. Last of all we served refreshments and cookies and my mother took pictures of us with the sign.


Jan. 18, 1965

Bantaun Sales

Last summer Bantaun Sales moved into our garage to set up the office. It all started about a year and a half ago when I overheard a conversation between my father, my mother and my Uncle Jim about moving the company into the first storey of our house while my family went to the remaining storeys. At that time the office was at Stop 14, then moved to Eglington Ave but my uncle was still not satisfied so he came to talk with my father. The reason the sales is not in our house now is because my mother didn’t like the idea of looking after three storeys of dirt, toys and junk. Now the office has anything a house would have; oil heating; telephone; sink; radio; desk and shelves. Not half a year ago it was just a little room of metal objects, wood, wire, tanks, and various other things just collecting dust. Previously I had to walk across Kingston Rd. to a store but now not 50 feet away is an office, garage, and store combined together to make my own private store.


Feb. 18, 1965

The Mystery of My Lost Glasses

One day during the summer John McCormick and I were up in our shop looking around. We came up by way of my secret entrance. When I go up I have to take off my glasses or they would get caught. When I get up John handed me my glasses. But when I came down this particular time I forgot to get them which were sitting on a shelf near by. For about two weeks all my father could say was,

"When was the last time you had them on?"

"Where did you put them?"

"How did you lose them?"

All I could do was say I can’t remember. Later on I searched the whole school area but didn’t find a trace of them. The next day my father and I searched every blade of grass, every pile of dirt, every ditch, every puddle, every tree which in otherwords is every inch of ground from my house on Kingston Rd. to Doug’s house on McCowan Rd. Finally almost a month after I lost them John came tearing in while my mother was dressing and told me where they were. Ever since I’ve had my glasses I’ve never had them for six straight months without losing or breaking them.


March 11 1965

Canada’s New Flag

On February 15, 1965 the shool had the official flag raising ceremony. Dr. Stackhouse gave his comments on the new flag. Today our class put the Union Jack and new flag up. Afterward we sang "God Save the Queen" and "O Canada".


March 30, 1965

How to Make a Hockey Rink

Level off the snow within an area of about 25 by 30 feet until the snow is 2 inches deep. Water this area two or three times. Throw extra snow over the holes and rough spots. Keep doing this until the ice is hard enough to skate on. Go out and skate off the bumps, then water and throw more snow on. After a couple of weeks the ice should be hard enough to keep skating on. For the final touch get about 15 boards two inches thick and two feet high. Put the boards up around the rink using spikes or freezing them into the ground. This will stop the snow from falling onto the ice or the puck from wandering to far away. If the ice becomes slushy don’t skate on it until it has hardened. If the winter is a cool one there should be a good two months of skating for you.


April 27 1965

My Glasses, Lost Again

On Friday April 23, 1965 Stephen Smith, his brother and I went down to the pit to explore. When we got down to the creek, we saw Lui Fortunato running along the other side. After a while he came running back followed by Stephen Falkner and Doug McCowan. We snuck along behind them unseen until Stephen F. spotted us. We crossed where the water was shallow at the reeds and walked with them for several hundred feet when we saw Ron Hurst and Doug Streeter. They had been on a raft farther down but it was on the other shore. Lui Fortunato and I were racing to it but I was ahead of him after a while. After five minutes of running I saw the raft on the other side but it was too deep to cross. Not far away was a huge outlet which I had to go around and delayed me about two minutes. Then the creek widened out into a pond 125 by 100 feet. This I went around and on up to the raft. I had run that mile and a quarter between 10 and 15 minutes. Lui, who had given up the race, got on with me and we shoved into the outlet. When everyone else came they bombed us with a ball fifty times. After a while Lui got off and Stephen F. got on. We just got moving when Lui threw a piece of wood and I got drenched (Stephen escaped much damage.) After that everyone went home except Stephen S, David and I. When we were all on the north side of the creek we went to a small pond where there was nothing but junk – for instance two car tires; Eno and Vel bottles; dust pans; sacks; Cambels Soup cans; paper; broken glass; half a ladder; shoes; gloves; a dolls leg; and a sock – just to mention a few. I naturally had to go and get soaked all over again. While I wrung out my sock, Stephen and David rolled tires into the water and broke bottles. Later we went to the fort (which was just a few boards) and lay down. After a while we went home. Soon I noticed that my glasses were missing from my head. I searched almost everywhere for them at home because I wasn’t quite sure whether I wore them at the pit or not. Tonight I am going to look for them down there in the two places that they might have fallen from my pocket – where I sat down to empty my boot or the fort. Of the hundreds of times I’ve lost my glassses they’ve always turned up but now I think they’re gone for good.


June 15 1965

Bantun Sales New Office

Last October my uncle Jim came and started cleaning out the horse stable (which was similar to a junk yard at the time). I was probably in bed. I didn’t notice the change until the morning when I saw a pile of snow-fence, sticks, barrels, tanks, gasoline engines, pumps, firewood, tires, metal things, horseshoes and dust up against the garage. My mom later told me the whole story. My uncle had decided to make his office there. It was a long time before they got settled, almost eight weeks. First they had to get rid of all the junk, then take out the partitions, clean it, block my secret entrance to the shop, make a window and repair the other. After they had done these things they set about blocking the door and unblocking the one that had been blocked before, Then they blocked the outside door. Finally they just had to get the plywood with which to nail over the old planks of the floor, walls and ceiling. Before they were totally finished the pipes and heating had to be put in. I can clearly remember the first time Hygrade Fuels came to fill the oil tanks. In spite of the composition I had to finish, I went out to watch. During the next two weeks they had set up all their shelves, put in electrical power for the use of a telephone and radio as well as built a partition in front for the drink machines and fuel tanks. In late fall they started building a lean-to so my dad could keep a few of the things from the garage. He later finished it just before Christmas. After that, the company could tend to the office chores and still have right to now, but soon they will have to put in water pipes and a bathroom. Gradually I have watched the company of Bantun Sales make its office and still am. Once or twice a week I go out with my dad when he talks over the business with my Uncle Jack.

From The Scarboro Heights Record V9  #1