From the Northside
Children played games at Ingraham Field and skated on the harbour
Gordon Sampson wites about when children played games at Ingraham Field and skated on the harbour.
Gordon Carmichael was born on Aug. 7, 1925, at home on the second floor of the Jackson Market on Queen Street and next month he’ll be 90.
His parents were John George Carmichael and Grace Jackson Carmichael. Three brothers, Vernon, James and George, were also born in the North Sydney home.
While I grew up near the harbour in North Sydney’s Ward Four, Gordon grew up near the harbour in Ward Two.
Behind Gordon’s home was the Jackson Wharf. The Jackson Market had a contract with the Newfoundland-Reid Railway to provide them with meat and groceries during the war years, and from 1922 to 1949 when Newfoundland joined Confenderation.
Gordon was part of this business from the time he was old enough to work.
They drove the pony and wagon to deliver the goods. One summer, they travelled an area from Hartigan’s in Centreville to the Ball family in Balls Creek, including Horne’s near Pottle Lake, and the entire area around Queen Street, Crescent, View, Beech, Regent, Peppett. Gordon delivered groceries on his bicycle when he was about 13.
Up until 1936, George Annesty delivered goods by horse and wagon. He would pick up the family’s order at the house and save it to memory; Gordon said George could remember up to 23 items at a time. When he delivered them, he would check them all.
The area from Jackson’s Wharf to Amnesty’s Wharf to the Ballast Grounds made up the parameters where Gordon and his brothers were allowed to row their boat and sail their boat.
Gordon said they scoured the shoreline at the Ballast Grounds for bottles and it was a treat to take them to Mancini’s (where Bonnar’s Meat & Fish Market is today).
He said they were allowed to drink a bottle of pop there, but they weren’t allowed to keep the bottles.
Jack Falle bought wine bottles at a penny a bottle as he used them for making Javel water. He had a little store on the corner of the Ingraham Block (where Galpin Electric Ltd. is today).
Bill Ingraham Sr. had a field near Hackett Street which he made available as a playground where the children could play horseshoes, ball and rugby. They used the Smelt Brook as their winter rink.
Gordon told me the story of a miner who was laid off work here in Cape Breton and hadn’t paid his bill at the Jackson Market. He went to work in a mine in Pictou. Later, to pay off his debt at the Jackson Market, he sent a pony.
Gordon’s father built a cart with Model T Ford wheels for the pony to pull. He also built a wagon and used Ford wheels he had purchased in Upper Leitches Creek.
Gordon’s best friend was John Gunn, his next door neighbour. They went everywhere together and they played tiddly, ball games at the Ingraham Field and skated on the harbour behind John’s place (the former Sailers Institute, now an apartment building on Queen Street).
They even flooded a rink on the harbour with fresh water to give it a good surface. They burned tires at night for the skaters.
Gordon’s brother Jim made an amplifier so they could skate to the music from the record player. They called the amplifier a “boom box” then.
In the summer, they would dive off the boats at the Ballast Grounds.
Later, in Grade 12, Gordon built a 20-foot speed boat with a Ford V8 engine. It burned too much gas. So, they built a smaller boat with an outboard motor, a 19-foot Flying Fisherman from plans in a Mechanics Illustrated.
Gordon was also good at building clocks and his wife Doris showed me an album with pictures of these beautiful clocks.