Interview with Miss Kate Carswell conducted on 15 June 1978.
Miss Carswell now resides at the John Noble Home in Brantford. Previous to her move there she lived in Glen Morris She came from a large family and was involved in many community activities including the Women's Institute.
Interviewer: Were you born in Glen Morris?
Miss Carswell: Yes, I was born in Glen Morris in 1890. My sister and brother and I were born there. The others were born elsewhere. I was from a big family, my brothers worked for farmers and my sisters and I worked doing housework. I went to Gait in 1909, so Glen Morris was my early life.
Interviewer: Could you describe what the village was like in your early days?
Miss Carswell: it was a busy little place at one time. There was a cheese factory, a woollen mill, a saw mill, two blacksmith's shops, a wagon shop and of course a store. There was a frame store that got burned in my day. They had a tailor's shop in there with several people making mens’ clothes. There was a hotel where the library is now. That's where they have the good reading books and very old books too.
Interviewer: I’ve heard some controversy over the spelling of the name “Glen Morris”. Could you tell me something about that?
Miss Carswell: Before Glen Morris was Glen Morris it was known as Middleton and then as Dawson’s Bridge. And this Glen Morris business being spelled in two words is the funny part of it. There was a gentleman who lived in Gait who wrote a book. His name was the Honorable James Young. It says in the book that he wrote that it was supposed to be spelled as one word. There was quite an argument about that. When we went to school it was always spelled as two words and you would think that if it was supposed to be spelled as one word the teachers would have made us do it that way. In later years my sister wrote to our nephew who was then in parliament to see what it was in Ottawa, so he had his secretary look it up and she found it as two words. As you know Glen Morris was named after a Mr. Morris who was a postmaster at one time and you would think that anybody's name would not be spelled with a small letter. I do have one record that supports the idea of spelling it as one word and that is in a family Bible. My grandmother had this family Bible and the date in it is 18?9. In it she had “Mrs. Carswil, Glenmorris”, one word. So at one time it may have been spelled as one word, but we knew nothing about it. Mrs Hester Walker, as curator of the Tweedsmuir History asked about it and they said that it did not matter as to how it was spelled but it mattered to us.
Interviewer: So you moved to Gait and worked there?
Miss Carswell: No, I lived in Gait but my home was always in Glen Morris. I worked at a doctor’s house there and I stayed there for 27 ½ years. I did a lot of things there and then I went to work at the silt mills. I rode back and forth, still living at home.
Interviewer: Could you tell me a little bit about the schools that you attended?
Miss Carswell: I know we had an inspector who came around and gave us a half day holiday once in a while. This was at the old school where the Scouts and Guides have there camp now. I don’t think that, it went too higher grades than grade eight. When I passed entrance I wasn't going to go on so then I took one more year called Public School Leaving. If anyone wanted to go to High School they would have to go to Gait.
Interviewer: I understand that you were involved in the United Church in Glen Morris?
Miss Carswell: Yes, I always went there. My sister played the organ there for fifty years, believe it or not. She played in 1902 and 1903 and then she went to Gait to work. Then she came home to stay with mother and they kept asking her year after year to play the church organ. She just loved it. I was in the choir at the church. My father came to Glen Morris as “precenter”. We still have the tuning fork that he used.
Interviewer: Were you involved in Women's Institute, Miss Carswell?
Miss Carswell: No, not a great deal. I was away a good bit of the time working. I was involved more with it later on though. My sister Mary and I did quite a bit of work on the Tweedsmuir Books.
Interviewer: Did you belong to any other organizations?
Miss Carswell: I was secretary of the United Church Women's Association for twelve years. I belonged to the afternoon group. Let me tell you a little story. We were up at Harknesses one afternoon for a meeting and Mrs. Moore was the guest speaker. Well she was doing her talk and all of a sudden “Katie” fell asleep. So I put in the records "that due to the lulling voice of the guest speaker the secretary went to sleep. She admits that she missed out on some of the important things for which she is truly sorry. That’s right in the book. I don't think that anyone else would have put it in.
Interviewer: What was transportation like from Glen Morris to the larger centres?
Miss Carswell: There was a trolley that went from Glen Morris to Gait. In the first place it was the Grand Valley Railroad and it came up through from Paris and cut through some good farmland. Later they put the Lake Erie and Northern Railroad through the bush. The trolley consisted of one car and most people used this in the time of the Grand Valley when few people had cars.
Interviewer: What kind of entertainment was available to you when you were younger?
Miss Carswell: Well, there were strawberry socials that were held on the Manse lawn. A young gentleman would come up and take the young ladies to the table where they would eat their ice cream and strawberries or whatever and then the band from Paris would play and the couples would stroll around the lawn.
Interviewer: What about dances?
Miss Carswell: Oh yes there were dances too, but that is something I was not very good: at so I’m not a good one to talk about it with. My sister Mary was a lovely dancer. They did love to dance and there were a lot of them around. They really looked nice. They were so smooth and they would just slide over the floor.
We also had concerts. There was one time we had the church annual supper in the hall. We had to wait on each others tables. There were so many people that we had to have three sittings. They would come from all over the surrounding area. After supper they would have the program including recitations, plays and singing.
We had Christmas Concerts at school too. All the children would take part. I had a good memory and I was a fairly good poet. My mother was related to the Stevenson’s and some said that we were related to Robert Louis Stevenson, so maybe I inherited his talent.
We were quite a musical family. There were four bass and the rest of us fit in and we made quite a sound. We had a good time on our own.