The following story is part of a volume of stories collected from the residents of the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. For more information on this project, click here.
Margaret (nee Benoit) was born in 1921, and grew up on the Daggers Wood Road in the Parish of Heatherton, Antigonish County. She married the late Joe DeYoung of Pomquet.
“Born in Heatherton, she was a daughter of the late John and Mary (Landry) Benoit. A devout Catholic and dedicated community volunteer, she [Margaret] served for several decades as a member of the Pomquet Ladies Club. She was one of the fabled team of country cooks who prepared the popular Pomquet Salmon Supper that was served for many years running at the Pomquet Hall. She was also a strong family matriarch, and formidable and competitive card player, specializing in cribbage and 45s.”
(Obituary:The Casket, Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Wednesday, February 15, 2012)
I was born and grew up in Pomquet, Nova Scotia. I don’t remember a lot about my childhood. I was the oldest of nine children, five girls and four boys. I stayed with my family until I was able to take care of myself.
I did not like school. I got to grade eight and it was getting hard. I would go home and do farm work instead of homework; it didn’t hurt me. I had to quit school when I was fourteen because my mother was sick and my father wasn’t feeling good. My father wanted me to stay home to help out on the farm with the horses and cows; I was a farm girl. We had cats on the farm, and when I was milking the cows, I would give the cats a squirt of milk. I liked to work with the soil, planting and harvesting. I also enjoyed hay time.
I remember learning to drive. I had lots of fun in my father’s Model “T” car; I drove it everywhere. Sometimes I would drive it in the field where no one could see me. I also took some of my sisters and brothers with me for a drive in the old car.
Christmas was very holy; the oldest ones in the family had to go to midnight mass as well as Christmas morning. We had a good dinner although it wasn’t every year that we would have a turkey. There was a lot of cooking. I did have some toys but not a lot. My favorite toy was a small doll that I got for Christmas one year, with an orange and some candy, in my stocking. My father was a carpenter, and he would build sleds for my sisters, Linda and Francis, and me. The sleds my father made were strong and they would last forever. As each sister and brother got older, some of them went to the States to work. They would come home for Christmas and bring special gifts.
“I had a good life; my parents were good parents .”
I am French and I talk good French for our area of Canada. It is different than Montreal French. Our cousin lived in Montreal. She didn’t forget her “French” while she was away.
Collected by Joy Janes, Fall of 2011. All photos by Kathryn Collicot.