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LOCAL HISTORY - Rural Roots # 17

‘Rural Roots’ is drawn largely from my book ‘*Sisu – The Finnish Determination of a Canadian Family’.

Copies are available ($30.00) by calling me at 577-7484, cell 621-6621 or email: leoh@tbaytel.net









Rural Roots
by Leo Hunnakko
Issue #17 (Published in 'GrassRoots'  August 2009)

The Togetherness Fifties – ‘Country School’

The Silver Mountain Public School was more than just a place of learning. In a community lacking a community hall, church or grocery store, the school was the focal point and main gathering place. It served as a meeting place to discuss community issues such as road repairs or snow fence erection, or an electoral polling station. Actually for any gathering that required a place, other than a neighbour’s kitchen, it facilitated communal togetherness.
With large neighbouring families like the Kivis, Hovis, Rantas and us, there were lots of kids. Seven, as in our family, was not unusual. At one time there were over thirty kids from the corner of the sideroad to Piilos, a distance of some three miles. The one room school was full off the North Sideroad alone. After Violet first entered grade one in the late thirties, that school across the field was never again without a Hunnakko.
My sister Eleanor, along with a career in nursing, became an accomplished watercolour artist. I asked her to write down her recollections of growing up at the Hunnakko Homestead. She had a beautiful way of describing our childhood —
“I can never remember being unhappy. We did not have a lot of material things, but we had love and security and we were happy. I treasure the memories of our parents and life on the farm. I treasure my life and all my family and all who enters my life. I thank my parents for giving me the greatest gift of all….which is life.
I treasure the moments I spent with my mom and dad, working in the hay fields and swimming at Whitefish Lake after the haying was done. And spending summer days swimming at the river by Hunnakko Falls with my brothers and sisters and the other kids from the neighborhood. And winter memories including Christmas parties at the old Silver Mountain School which were truly exciting as we joyfully sang familiar carols. Memorable and completely rewarding, even if we received only one gift and a bag of hard Christmas candy.
Our mom was the kindest, most down to earth, easygoing person I knew. She was the central figure, and she kept the home fires burning. She was also a very hard working lady, with seven children and six cows to milk, plus cooking three meals a day as well as all the laundry to do with no automatic washer and dryer. She also had time to bake pies, cakes and bread every week as well as doing handwork – sewing and knitting. She would preserve bottles and bottles of berries. On top of all this, she even worked out in the field during haying season.
Today, when I hear some young mothers complain, I say, “have seven children and six cows to milk…then complain”. Our mother never complained. Maybe she didn’t have the time. Living on the farm was hard work. We all had chores to do, but it was a good life”.
Our father Walter passed away twenty years ago on July 5th, 1989 and it is now ten years since our mother Mamie passed away on August 28, 1999.
(August 2009)