CPR Section House

CPR Section House

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Street

New Street is between Hurdman Street and Park Street in Mattawa Ontario . It turns off beside the Royal Canadian Legion on Hurdman and runs up the hill where it joins Park . It is a short street of perhaps 2 or 3 hundred yards and has a few houses on each side . But it wasn't always such a specific street in form...

When , our family moved onto New Street, it was divided into two parts : the top of the hill and the bottom of the hill. It was not joined . You walked past the legion and three little houses at the bottom of the street (where we lived) then used a worn footpath to climb up through the shrub growth on the side of the hill to reach the upper half . There you found four more houses before reaching Park Street .

The street had been pushed in sometime during or after WWII . It was not named in anyone's honor and had no lineage that way . It was simply a new street . There but not there at the same time . In the grand structure of Mattawa society , no one of much importance lived there and little attention was given to the street . It's occupants were poor and went about their lives in the best way they could .

To me, it was fascinating . We lived in the small , dark house for a least a year - freezing in the winter and melting in the summer in a house with clapboard siding (of sorts) and not much else . It had no foundation but sat on the ground . Winter cold rose through the rotting floor boards to battle the heat from the little cookstove . The heat disipated quickly as it flowed out through the roof . The icicles from the eaves grew to reach the ground where they welded the house to the the snow . That was the only 'pretty' thing that I remember about the house . It looked magical and sparkly in the deep winter . Dad said it was a good thing the icicles were there because they held down the roof in the wind .

Mrs.Smith and Arnie lived in the last house on the bottom of New Street . They were Algonquin/Ojibwe people ( although I didn't know that at the time )whose home was friendly and warm ...though much of that warmth was from their smiling faces and welcoming manner . Running the hundred feet to their house for daily 'hellos' was important to Sis and I. The family willing and cheerfully accomodated us .

The first house at the top of New Street belonged to an Estonian couple and their son . They owned the small house beside it ,too . That was the their first house upon immigrating to Canada . They built it and immediately began a larger second house for their family .

The first small house came to be rented out to another Estonian family- the Reiers- who occupied the two rooms on the ground floor- two boys and three girls . Their father worked in the mines at Garson near Sudbury and came home on weekends . Their mother worked hard to maintain the home under difficult circumstances . The family never occupied the top two rooms since they could not afford the extra rent . However , during the summer months , the boys slept in the sauna house in the back yard , giving them a little stretching room in the house . Their house backed onto the McOrmonds property with a small bush area between them and my favourite place there .

They were "DP's" as I had heard at school on the whispered voices from children who shunned contact . This didn't seem strange to me as I had little contact with those children , too .

 Both families had come to Canada to escape war and the occupation of their homeland ...although I didn't know that at the time . In later years , the eldest girl became my first actual friend in Mattawa . We spent many good times playing at the CPR section house .

Later , after most New Street occupants left , and the houses removed , the street was pushed through for other people and a few new homes . Only the name remains and the memories of those who lived there at that time .

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