Skating on Christie’s Pond
I interviewed my mother Hazel Beer back in 2011 about Christie’s Pond on Bannockburn Road where she and her friends came together back in the 1930s for skating parties. Our Capturing Collective Memories from Seniors initiative discovered two photos. If you have any others, please let me know.
Christie’s Pond, located about a half mile in the Bannockburn Road on the left, was named after Christie MacFadyen who at one time owned the property. The size of the pond depended on how much it had rained prior to the winter freeze. Christie’s Pond was at its best in November and December before there was snow but the ground was still frozen. All the young people, around 12-15, from around the community would gather on Friday or Saturday nights.
Walter Blackett, a local hired hand at Allie McLean’s, would park his car by the pond and turn on the lights to offer enough lighting to skate at night. He even had tires for people to sit on to take a rest and he would burn one of the tires to make heat. Walter never skated; he just helped organize the set up.
My mother and her siblings/friends walked from Meadowbank Road to Christie’s Pond, down through the fields and out by Clyde River bridge and, at the end of the night, walked back home again. At home, they would warm up with some gruel, a porridge where you added milk to make it a drink.
The girls wore suits and skates that they had ordered from Eaton’s catalogue. Their tube skates were black leather. Skating suits, which were a jacket and pants, were made out of blanket cloth, navy trimmed with red or brown trimmed with beige. She said they were very warm.
If you wore a skirt, it was made of wool. Warm woolen socks would go above the knee and fleece-lined bloomers down to the knee. The outfit was finished off with a coat, hat and scarf. The hat would be long enough for you to pull down over your ears or fold up, and it would have a tassel. Their knitted mitts had sheep’s wool tacked inside.
Skating was great fun, but sometimes the boys would play hockey and interfere with those skating.
She said there were always ponds around for skating, but Christie’s Pond was the most popular. When they were older they went skating at the rink in Cornwall. They never went to town, as it was considered too far away.
They only went skating on weekends, as week nights were filled with school homework that included reading, spelling, health, geography, grammar, short stories, poems and history. You had to memorize poems and she recalled one of her favourites, “The Owl and the Pussy Cat.” If you happened to forget a word of a poem, the teacher would underline it for you to hunt up its meaning and, the next day, recount what the word meant. So Friday and Saturday nights were times to take a break and enjoy getting together with friends.
Her young friends who skated on Christie’s Pond were Olive Livingston, Hilda Murray, Mildred Murray, Ethel Livingstone, Hazel Livingstone, Irene MacFadyen, Reggie MacKinnon, Warren MacKinnon, Robbie MacKinnon, John Beer, Arnold Beer and Boyd Dixon.