vtownhistory.org : LOCAL HISTORY

Reflections on Cheminis

Germaine Larmond

It was near the end of the WWII when my husband got a job at the mines in Virginiatown. When he could afford it, he sent for me and my son. I left Ottawa with my son and he had an apartment waiting for us. It wasn't very long before we wanted something else. We bought this old house or shack in Cheminis, it wasn't much but it was something we called ours. It didn't take long to make it our home, we stayed there for quite a while.

The bus would come to take the kids to school. Drinking water came from a spring and had to be carried by hand. There was no indoor plumbing. Electricity did not come until 1952, and it was a limited cycle which was better than lanterns but not the same as in the homes today. About the same time a town phone party line was installed. There was one phone number for the 30 or so families.

I had two children born in Cheminis in this home with doctor and mid wife assistance, Rickey and Linda. Rickey was born in a snow and ice storm on February 11, 1947. Mrs. Francoeur was the midwife, and later Mrs. Landry was also a midwife.

We had a grocery man come once a week to take our orders, and then he would deliver it. Sometimes we would miss something, so we would go to the Spack store or Johnny . There was no refridgeration so in the summer, we would keep the meats and perishable items in a box in a hole in the ground. There was also a root cellar made from a mound of earth for vegetables.

For the winter, we would need about six cords of wood to heat the house. You would melt the snow in the winter to do your washing, and take the Saturday night bath. I used the scrub boards at the start, and later we got a gas washing machine. In the summer, we would also collect water in rain barrels.

The railway track ran though the town, and in the winter time, the snow plough would not cross to our side. We would shovel from the tracks to our house with about four other neighbours. The other thing I remember is the land tax was only a couple dollars a month.

I ran the post office for a couple years after Mrs. Landry stopped. We made a little room attachment at the front of the house and that was the post office.

With getting electricity, and coal to heat the house, and the shared phone, life greatly improved. Then we bought an oil stove with a tank. We had to buy oil by the gallon to fill the tank. Now, we had everything we needed except the bathroom.

Thinking about it now, it was nice and peaceful, with no running water or electricity or indoor plumbing. We learned how to live with it, we made it work. All I have is good memories of Cheminis.

Many thanks to for sending me his mother's reminiscences.

See also Larmond Family Photos on this website.

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