Learning Unit: Recreation
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Pastimes, Recreation, Fun at Work and Music


Some Regional and Contextual Background Information


We had a great time last night. Ashley expected Tommy Oxley and Harry Pring to come and give us a concert. Harold and Jenny came over, and Aunt Annie and Frances Stobo were here. I was putting Margaret to bed when we heard the drums beating. We rushed to the window and here were those two silly fellows marching down the Kingston Road each beating a drum. They brought two drums and the bells, and we had some splendid music, with Papa on the fiddle and Tommy and I taking turns at the piano. He is a fine musician. Needless to say, Margaret didnít get to bed early.

Ruth McCowan Letters, May 1 1917


The apple crop is a failure, the majority of our trees havenít an apple on them. The other fruit has been plentiful. Papa is going out to New Liskeard and Cochrane to judge the standing grain. Hasnít he had some dandy trips this summer? Lockie Wilson asked him to make him a sheaf for the Ex, so he told me if I would help him, he would give Mamma and me the money he got for it. We are going to take him up on it and show off some of our artistic ability. He stood third with his oat field this year.

Ruth McCowan Letters, August 11 1918


We got the prize for our sheaf and the grain as well. They are being sent down to Ottawa Fair next week. Aunt Jennie got first prize on socks and there were about twenty pair against her.

Ruth McCowan Letters, September 8 1918


We had a raspberry patch and we kids used to sit on the side of the highway and sell berries at 20 cents a quart. I was quite young at the time -- one customer taught me how to count out change. One year we bought a lawn swing with the profits and another year we bought a croquet set. We had many exciting games of croquet on the front lawn. Sometimes, if there were friends visiting, we would have sides and, if it got too dark before the game was over, we would tie white cloths on the hoops so that we could see them.

My Dad, Harold, loved to lawn bowl, curl and whistle. Once in a while he would break into song. I think his favourite was:

ďOh itís nice to get up in the morniní
When the sun begins to shine
But when the snow is snowiní
And itís murky overhead
Itís nice to get up in the morniní
But itís nicer to lay in your bed.Ē

I clearly recall our first radio. Momís Aunt Cynthia (Annis) and Uncle Alex Thom gave us their set that had earphones. They were going to get a radio with a loud speaker (it looked like a big horn on top of the radio). I must have been about six (1926) because I used to sit and listen to Santa Claus with the earphones on.

Helen McCowan Thomson, 1990


I heard a story about Uncle Ashley once, and I believe it is true. When they finished building the big barn on McCowan Road , Uncle Ashley climbed up to the top of it and hung from the hay-fork track. He went hand-over-hand the full length of the barn. He would have been in his mid-twenties at the time.

Bill McCowan, 1990


Another happy memory of Papa, my grandfather, was the way in which he would keep us busy in the hay mow when we were quite young and just starting to help on the farm. He would have us tramping the hay so that we could get more in the mow. He had a phrase, ďput your foot on that, Mr. BrittonĒ. He would keep us working and he always had some little thing to say that made work seem like fun.

Walter McCowan, 1993, in Fairs and Frolics: Scottish Communities at Work and Play



Individual Exercises: Refer to the Photograph of the McCowan Barn

1) Using the photograph of the barn as a resource, write a 100 word paragraph about how you think the barn was built. What tools were used? What do you think was the critical ingredient to get the job done?

2) How long do you think it took to erect just the frame of the McCowan barn? Perform some calculations.

The Scarboro Heights Record V14 #7