Greetings and Happy New Year to all my friends and family in the Sault and area from downtown Toronto.
Welcome to Duncan Fremlin’s fourth annual “800-word-or-less from a former resident now living 200 or more kilometres away” year-end contribution to SooToday.com.
I haven't lived in the Sault/Bar River area for over 40 years but it still is my home town and I usually return once each year. 2010 was the exception. There weren't any family barn dances to attend this year so I stayed home. Maybe 2011 will be different.
My uncle Roger Fremlin is now retired and living in town but he once owned and operated the family heritage farm on Government Road in Bar River. I was lucky enough to spend a summer or two working on the farm with him in the early 1960's. It was with great interest last January that I received and read a copy of his self published book about life on his Bar River farm dating back to his childhood. This turned out to be a treasure trove of memories and photos that will now live on for ever thanks to Uncle Roger. The family owes him a debt of gratitude.
Roger was also kind enough to tell me a bit about my dad, Bill Fremlin Sr. Dad died when I was 18 in 1968 and my memories of him are thin and scattered. Roger took the time to inform me that Bill Sr. was “a likable man. Easy going and kind. He never seemed to find his niche in life. The first I remember he was farming over on the farm that Keith Barkley farmed. He had the Laird store for awhile. Tried his luck in logging back at One Horse Lake. I think they had saw mill there too. He was into trucking, having two trucks and one winter would haul a train of sleighs at I think for Louise Zelonko's bush camp. He had the first contract to snow plough Laird Township in 1947. Before that the only roads ploughed were the Bar River Road and Highway 17, by the Dept. of Highways. He was building inspector for Sault?? Don Collings use to drive truck for your dad and Don parked it at our house on occasions and I would drive the International to Bar River every once in awhile.”
This book would be of interest to any resident with a passion for local history. Order a copy today.
Roger's sister, my aunt Girlie, at 81, continues to rule the family roost from Laird Township. When she speaks, we all listen, regardless of how far away we live. Her family email updates are eagerly anticipated. If the Fremlins weren't so quiet and unassuming, she'd have more newsworthy bits to report. Alas, she makes do with the little news she has. I've been encouraging her to make stuff up. No one would know the difference.
In other news, my brother Jim Fremlin, now living in Toronto, has been returning to the Thessalon bush every hunting season since Noah set sail in his Ark. He reminds me of Barney Fife as he heads north each year with a bullet in his gun in search of a slow dim witted deer. Given his penchant for day dreaming, the deer have flourished and multiplied under his watch. Not sure what was going on in his head this year but I was told he finally bagged an innocent little dear in 2010 and perhaps dined on the meat Christmas Day.
I met a former Soo radio personality, George Jonescu at a barbeque this summer. What great memories we shared about CJIC and CKCY. He's still going strong and hosts a radio show in Toronto called Big Band Sunday Night. He told me his dad was the bartender who first hired Stompin' Tom in Timmins. Great stuff!
Earlier this year, Soo musicians Jay Aymar and John Jackson joined me at Hugh's Room in Toronto for a Stompin' Tom Connors tribute show. I got to sing Algoma Central 69 for the enthusiastic crowd with Jay and John supporting the song with some great guitar work.
Many of us former residents from “down the line”, including B.C. retiree, Dean Carter, followed your local election hoping our largest voice, Mac Headrick would finally get the soap box he's always wanted, a seat on City Council. Sadly, the voters of the Soo failed miserably and chose not to elect him. Don't give up Mac.
Special hello to my old friend with wonky knees, Chris DeLyzer and his lovely lady, Faye. Hello also to my Aunt June. I called her last spring and I'm glad to report she still tells a saucy tale or two when prompted.
796 words. Phew. That was close.