~ St. Catharines' Wartime Neighbourhoods

The Hilliers – 1Doncaster St.

We moved into 1 Doncaster when I , Joyce was 6 years old, with my dad, Maurice, mom Edith, sister Beverley 4 and Sharon an infant. It was wonderful to be able to go out and play. We didn’t have sidewalks only wooden boardwalks. The roads weren’t in yet and it was quite muddy. I started grade one at Victoria School along with most of the neighborhood children. No one drove us to school we walked there, home for lunch and back again.

The Ridge’s lived across the road on Rolls Ave. They were our Uncle Doug, Aunt Vera and cousins Doug and Don.

We had a wood stove in the kitchen for cooking on and a coal heater in the living room. The wood stove would heat the water for washing clothes etc. We had a very deep sink in the kitchen and that’s where the dishes were done and the ringer washer that was kept in the corner of the kitchen would be pulled over to the sink on wash days. Since it was wartime we had rations so my mom used to trade the stamps with another neighbour from the ration book. I can remember the hottest days of the summer, my mom had the wood stove on to do her canning.

The ice-man came by in the summer and Toni would bring the vegetable truck, the bread man and the milk man would stop in front of our house so we could feed the horse a carrott and some sugar cubes!  The Post man came twice a day. There was no time for neighbours to get lonely as there were so many people coming and going all day.

I remember we had wonderful neighbours. Everyone was friendly and they had a bond of friendship that carried on even when people moved. They stayed in touch.

The first people on the street to have TV had all the neighbours in. Thursday’s was “Uncle Milty night” (Milton Berle) at the Wards.  It was the ladies night out.

If anyone passed away or had troubles the neighbours were there to take a collection or bake etc. I think those women did more funeral receptions etc. in their homes. I remember going to cast our votes in the Fricks home.

We had a big Willow Tree on the front lawn of our home. Every kid that walked by climbed that tree.  There are many photos taken of it.

We finally had a basement put in and our home was up on stilts until it was done.

The children played outside. We had a crick (run of from the Welland Canal) behind our house and a big huge chestnut tree hung its branches over that crick. We played there by the hours. Sometimes we would see tadpoles, snakes, frogs etc. There were chestnut trees in the little park and we would collect them in the fall.

In winter we sled down the hill by the highway. Fortunately no one was ever injured.

I remember every Good Friday my dad would dig up the garden to prepare for planting. He had lovely fresh vegetables and a beautiful flower garden.

My mom kept our home very clean and every Friday she shined all the hardwood floors. Every Monday and Thursday she did the washing and ironing.

We all lived at home until we got married and after my dad died my mom lived their until she went in a retirement home in her 80’s.

To this day I can still picture our playmates on our front lawn playing “Red Light, Green Light” and Mother May I.

The streetlights came on and it was time to go in for another night

I babysat quite a few of the neighbours children, but the one I have always stayed close to is Ann Ward (Hutchison).

Submitted by Joyce (Hillier) Marks