If you’ve never heard of Port Granby, you’re not alone. Once a thriving village and busy port, Port Granby is now a quiet hamlet on the shores of Lake Ontario. It’s home to several families.
Three of those homes, built during Port Granby’s heyday (between the late 1850’s and early 1880’s) are on the Doors Open Clarington tour this year: Hilltop Farm, the March Hotel and March Cottage.
David March owned the latter two.
The records from that time usually showed only men as owners and proprietors of homes and businesses. So while there were certainly women in Port Granby, and David March probably had a wife, I haven’t found her name.
March, like many others of his time, was clearly a multi-tasker: between the late 1850’s to the early 1880’s, he was the local innkeeper, carpenter, builder, postmaster, grain dealer, elevator operator and “general merchant” (shopkeeper).
I’m told he bought March Cottage for his mother.
Today, both the old March Hotel and March Cottage are residences — owned by families who cherish their history.
Paul Sahota’s parents bought March Cottage in 1993:
“They saw it in the dead of winter and brought me to come see it on their second viewing. My mother sat looking out at the lake over the snow as my father and I tromped down over the bridge to the shore. As we drove away I asked my parents when they were putting an offer in, being so sure that it was the right place for them.”
Paul and his wife Susan took over the cottage nine years ago. It was a daunting task at first, but the family has enjoyed many happy times there.
“We love that it is spacious enough to host gatherings with family and friends in all seasons.
“We love the soft shaded lawn for playing croquet, frisbee, baseball and cartwheeling.”
March Cottage includes original features ( e.g. the family-room’s fireplace), and modern additions.
The family also loves the lake.
“We all spend hours watching the lake. We watch the waves (small and huge), the storms roll in, the many, many different shades of blue that the lake turns, the birds, ducks, loons, swans and heron come and go, the giant lakers, speed boats and sailboats move through the water and we watch for the calm when we can grab our kayaks and canoe and go for a paddle along the shore.
“The shore is a place to relax and get wet in the summer and, at times, an arctic adventure in the winter.”
The family will offer a warm welcome to visitors this Saturday:
“We have previously enjoyed other Doors Open experiences and are happy to share our little piece of Port Granby with the community. We hope people get a sense of the history and the beauty of our community.”
I know some wonderful women whose names you’ve likely never heard.
They aren’t famous. But each has done something special to help others in her community.
Raphaelita Walker was the wonderful Mrs. Claus, a role she performed at the Jamaican Canadian Association in Toronto every Christmas for more than 40 years. (Her husband Gifford was Santa Claus.)
The children loved her. Adults loved her. Being Mrs. Claus was just one of Raph’s contributions to her community.
Raph celebrated her 90th birthday in December. She died on Valentine’s Day.
Thank you, dear Raph, for all you’ve done, for so many.
The other women are members of my church community.
Jane Carson, a retired teacher, musician and painter, has attended St. Thomas’ church for decades. She’s done much to help families here and abroad – particularly families with small children. But Jane’s most quiet ongoing ‘ministry’ is sending cards and letters to people who she thinks need to be cheered up. Thank you, Jane.
Olive Ormiston makes prayer shawls. She’s one of the main knitters at St. Thomas’ Anglican. They create the shawls for those going through a tough time: personal or family illness, bereavement, and other times that test one’s soul.
Every shawl is blessed by St. Thomas’ Anglican’s priest, Canon Claire Wade. Claire herself is a woman of wisdom and great strength.
Joanne Schuetzl helps to distribute the shawls. Having survived some scary health challenges herself, Joanne keeps an eye out for others in the community who may need a prayer shawl, and gently approaches them.
Hooray for these women and other stars in our communities!