From the North­side

Chil­dren played games at In­gra­ham Field and skated on the har­bour

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - Gor­don Samp­son Gor­don Samp­son is a re­tired teacher who lives in his home­town of North Syd­ney. His col­umn will ap­pear weekly in the Cape Bre­ton Post. He writes a sep­a­rate col­umn in the Cape Bre­ton Com­mu­nity Post. Any­one with com­mu­nity news can con­tact him

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.

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