A MOMENT IN A LIFETIME
19 Years On Heron Island

For George and Stella

Foreword

Heron Island's Last Human Birth

The Legend Of The Phantom Ship Of The Baie Des Chaleurs

Some LaPointe Ancestry

The Mercier Connection

Beginning A New Life

The Island

The Children

Some Strange Occurances

The Day To Day Realities

Unforgettable Christmases

The Five Dresses

The Family Grows Larger

More Sons

The LeBlanc Fortune

The Last Son

The War Ends It All

Heron Island Today - a footnote

Last Word - The Legacy

Another Update On The Island and Some Photos

The Day To Day Realities

 

Over the years, although life on Heron Island may seem idyllic to anyone with a romantic bent, George and Stella worked very hard. Stella had most of the responsibilities, really. In all the time that they were on the island, it must be remembered that she gave birth twelve times. She made most of the clothing and washed it all by hand, and she was very fussy about how things were done. The wash had to sparkle. She scrubbed it on a washboard with lye soap. There were always diapers to make and keep clean, with no indoor plumbing and certainly none of today's disposables. The flannelette was ordered from the catalogue, cut and hemmed into the proper size.

The little dresses for all the girls were handmade, unless you consider using a treadle machine as being totally mechanized. As well, she made the boy's shirts and some of the pants. The socks were hand knit. She would make up a whole crop of mittens in one day so that their hands would be warm when they went out to play. There were scarves and little hats to make.

She had jobs assigned to the children around the house, but the heavy work was hers alone. Just turning out a couple of dozens loaves of bread a week on a woodstove, which she had to keep going, makes you wonder how she could do so much. "Putting up" all of the preserves, which were quickly gobbled up by the large family must have kept her busy. She and the children would spend a lot of time gathering the berries to fill the bottles for the winter months.

The water had to be heated for the baths, for the dishes and everything else that required hot water. And the water did not flow from a tap, but had to be hauled from the well. Just planning, cooking and serving three nourishing meals and some snacks every day would be enough for most people. Most of the meat and fish had to be salted or smoked so that it would last through the winter. Everything had to be planned. There was not a day that didn't have a special job so that things would never get behind.

And, as though that was not enough, she was supposed to educate the children, mend their hurts and nurse them when they were sick. When George was away, she was in charge of seeing that the lighthouse was taken care of.

At one time, I am told, the entire group came down with " Whooping Cough". Stella managed to get the doctor to come over to see the children. I was just an infant, not yet walking. She had not had much sleep in the past few nights. If you ever have children with whooping cough, you will know that when they start to cough, they often cough so hard that they turn blue and finally end the episode by spitting up whatever they've eaten in the last while.
So with a houseful of sick children, it's little wonder Stella was exhausted. The doctor gave her some Belladonna, with a different amount to be given to each child according to his or her weight and age. For me he prescribed a very small amount. She tried to pay close attention to what the doctor had told her about giving the medicine. Soon after she gave it, she noticed that I was rocking so hard in the little rocking chair that I was tied up in, that it was gliding across the floor. I was screaming and laughing so hard, that she became alarmed. When she checked the doctor's instructions, she realized that she had given me, at the age of under one year old, the dosage prescribed for the oldest child. She became very frightened and began to cry, "My God, George, I've killed her", she screamed up the stairs to George who was in bed. He came running down to see what the problem was. Stella had me tightly in her arms and kept crying and saying that she had killed me. Soon I had calmed down and fell asleep. She says that when I woke up, I didn't have any further signs of the "Whooping Cough".

I never heard of her going down to the beach just to sit in the sun and read a book. She must have been grateful just to fall, exhausted, into bed every night.

  

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