Anne Langton on Neighbours and Community
St. James the Apostle Anglican Church, Fenelon Falls
[Image of 19th log cabin with red window]
In her diaries, her journals and her letters talks a lot about trying to establish a little school, because there are children starting to come into the community and they have no understanding of reading or writing. So she frequently had people come to her house, and she would teach them for two or three, maybe two days a week and then, then, I guess when the church was established, the minister also took on bit of the schooling of the children but most of it was through her. She would write home to her older brother who was still in England, to send more books or to maybe get up a little bazaar or some sort of fundraising thing to help build the schoolhouse or add things to the church.
She really put her heart and soul into developing the community and trying to educate and create a settlement, which had some sort of life to it, not just existing in the backwoods, but doing things that were familiar, but also unique.
One of the things that she has mixed feelings about, are the regattas, which were the boat races that happened. She says at one point [laughter] “It is like regatta fever on the lakes right now. Everybody is talking and building boats for the regatta.” And, of course, anything like that, that happened, always meant that there was a tremendous amount of work for the women involved because they were to provide all the food. While she always embraces the responsibilities that are given to her, she also has a little bit of… She had a wonderful sense of humour and she would say things like “Well I am glad to say that there was not one drunken man amongst them.” [Laughter]
[Sketch of outbuildings at Blythe Farm in 19thcentury]
It is interesting to note that John, younger brother John, whom she was tremendously fond of, like totally devoted, he eventually married one of the Dunsford girls. Anne’s feelings about the Dunsfords, she writes quite a lot about a lot of the settlers, but she is very cautious about what she says about the Dunsfords.
And one gets the feeling that she was just either a little bit suspicious that they had an attitude about them. For example she says, “Well, we’ve heard that the Dunsfords are coming out and they’re bringing,” – what did she say – “a carriage with them.” And then her next line is “I hope they don’t forget to bring a good road too!” [Laughter] Which just struck me as being, she’s got an image of them where she talks about going down to pay a call, a hospitality call, when they’ve arrived in the country. She lets slip “Well it’s entirely, the sleigh ride that I look forward to, and not the call.”[Laughter]
She is very witty, but very gracious about everything. And when it’s clear that John is interested in one of the Dunsford girls she says “I’m sure he will find an excuse to pay a visit to the Dunsfords, with giving them some flower seeds from the garden” whatever. [Laughter] So I have no idea who she got on with Lydia Dunsford how is the one who eventually marries John. But she is very gracious and generous always with her. There is always that little sense of humour.
[Victorian floor tile made of hearts]