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.
Mary (nee Dggan) was born in Springfield, Antigonish County, in 1910. In her younger years, she lived in the town of Antigonish and worked as a housekeeper and seamstress. In 1936, she married John MacGregor, and they settled on a farm in Upper South River. They had four children, two of whom have passed away; a daughter, Helen, at the age of 16, and a son, Jack. Family, faith and music have always been, and will continue to be, the mainstays of Mary’s life.
Mary MacGregor was born on November 16, 1910. She just had her 101st birthday few weeks ago, but she looks so young that people will never know her age. She often said, “I bet you do not know how old I am.” Even after we spoke a few times, I couldn’t guess her age.
Mary grew up on a farm. When she was young, she liked to name all of the new born sheep on her farm. Her childhood life was just like other kids who grew up on a farm. She had to put on jeans and work on the farm. Her main chore was to wash the family’s clothes and iron them. She still remembers that they had a few irons at home. Mary had to put all of the irons on the stove to heat them up and then take turns using the hot irons. It was not easy to use the iron in the beginning because she had to watch the temperature because it would burn the clothes or not be hot enough to iron. She went to school until grade 8, and then she took a sewing class at night time once a week. She became a dressmaker later, and she loved to make dresses for several doctor’s wives because they were kind and rich. They liked new dresses and special styles, so they paid Mary well.
She is a very kind person. She loved to dance when she was young. At that time, girls must wait to be asked to dance in order to go on the dance floor. All of the girls sat around the dance floor, and if no boy asked them to dance, then they sat on the bench all night long. Mary felt sad for the few girls who sat on the bench all night. So, when her great-granddaughter told her now girls don’t have to wait to be asked to dance and girls dance with other girls, Mary felt very pleased about the changes.
Story collected by Yiling Lin, 2011. Kathryn Collicot.