It scarcely seems possible that December is here, but I looked at the calendar the other day, and there it was, December 1913. The wife is already working on her Christmas presents. She claims she doesn't have much time after her chores are done, but I have told her that we could go to the shops at the Corner or in Liverpool, so long as she doesn't spend overly much.
Editor's note: Each year for Christmas our columnist Tom Sheppard writes his columns in the style of someone living a century ago
It has been quite the year here in our part of the world. Where we used to think of ourselves just as residents of the Northern District, now our scope includes Liverpool and even other parts of the South Shore. Modern transportation has made it so. Our parents would not have believed that one could catch a train in Caledonia and end up in Yarmouth, Halifax or Middleton.
Our world is larger, as well, with the worries in Europe, though we know that our Prime Minister, with his good Nova Scotia common sense, will see us through. Robert Borden has his troubles with Laurier, but if the arms race in Europe leads to trouble for Canada, I would rather have Borden at the helm. It seems to me that Laurier has had his day.
For myself, the wife, the two girls and the boy, it has been a reasonably good year. I did the accounts the other day and there seems to be enough money left over to have a good Christmas. I have had some difficulties with disciplining the children, especially the older girl, but the wife has been temperate and has even done an admirable job at keeping the house in order.
I overheard a friend of hers complaining that her husband was taking control of her life, and then my wife had the temerity to say that she knew exactly what her friend meant. The day after that, when she came in from milking the cow and clearing out the barn, I sat her down and explained to her how life works. A word to the wise, I said to her, giving her my sternest look. She developed a coughing fit and had to be excused, but I am certain that she received my meaning.
We have exported a fair amount of timber from the farm this year, and I must say that I am in agreement with the argument that while we are selling a lot of lumber, it is very difficult to buy building supplies produced here in Queens County. If we are to properly prosper here, we must turn some of our forests into products that can be used, rather than just selling wood as lumber.
The newspapers have taken up this call. George Banks, the editor of our Gold Hunter, said earlier this year that it was next to impossible to buy sheathing for houses in either spruce, pine, oak, hemlock or birch. "If there is one line of industry that should and would flourish in the district it would be a woodworking factory," he said. Banks said that people should get over their jealousies and work together to form a company to build such a plant.
I could not agree more. I would be the first to take part. There may be some families who should not be allowed to join the enterprise, as they are people who have more land and money than any mortal would need, but I am hopeful that they may be kept out.
A writer to the newspaper said that surely a locality so favored by nature could, by uniting efforts, do much more to accelerate the growth of our villages and communities. The writer, who called himself "Sleepy Citizen," wrote that he felt that we spend too much time worrying lest our neighbor receive a greater return from any given proposition than we ourselves.
He also said that we need to be awakened to our opportunities. At present, there is an exodus from the East to Western Canada, he wrote. That exodus carried with it nearly all of the enterprising and ambitious, and that "we fossils who are left behind are no good anywhere." Despite the fact that I thought he should just speak for himself, I found the sentiment to be largely accurate.
Basically, they are giving away land in the west and north of this country, which is too much for many of our young men to resist. As long as a man is at least eighteen years old, he can be given a quarter section of land in Alberta, Manitoba or Saskatchewan. The only requirements are that he live on the land, and cultivate it, for six months of the year. A quarter section is a fair amount of land, equaling 160 acres, and can be doubled with very little trouble.
Some of our young people have succumbed to that siren's call and have gone west, promising to return one day. In the meantime, there is much to be done in Nova Scotia, yet we are deprived of the young people who could do that work. The only answer is to develop enterprises here that will attract them. The west is wild and unsettled, and, mark my words, will never be a place where people actually want to live.
Next I will tell you more about the Christmas preparations, and what the shops here and in Liverpool are offering this season. Until then, I remain your humble servant.