Issue: May 2019
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HOE DOWN AT BARNEY'S RIVER

Written by
Published on January 2018

As we all settled down in the pickup truck, that is, Donald and I, accompanied by his sisters, full of life and eager for the visit to the local community hall, I reflected on my circumstances which had brought me to this happy situation. To think that just about three years ago my sister and I were facing the terrors of the Atlantic Ocean and here we were on our way to the musical get together with our new friends.

As we arrived at the hall it was difficult to park due to the mass of motor cars that arrived before us. They had certainly heard of the impending musical evening!

As I entered the hall I was struck by the large tables in a far corner which were laden with all kinds of foods and sweetmeat delights - forbidden until the interval in the dancing.

Our party moved to one side of the hall and soon broke away to greet old friends. I was soon dragged out to meet some of them and make friends.

So here we go - harmonica, accordion interposed with two violins, guitar, cymbal, and would you believe it a young man blowing into a jug!  It sounded great and soon the first couple was on the floor. The caller soon arranged the dancers to form a square - Ladies facing Gentlemen! and, with a crescendo from the music masters, ladies and gents moved forward and met a partner and proceeded to dance a sort of reel with anyone and as the music changed tempo so did the dancers to a waltz.

Later, the dancers formed a circle similar to our dance party at the Bannerman house, and surged forward and took any partner they fancied or could find.  I had heard of such jollity but never thought that I would be taking part in such festivities!

We danced the reel and after a very short break went into a waltz. From there we went into a “gentleman’s excuse me” and I did not know what to do so one of the Bannerman girls excused it for me and lo I found that I had acquired a new partner!  I soon got warm in the hall and some of us had to go outside to get a breath of fresh air.

After about an hour or so the food table was in operation and most of us crowded around it with our plates and made our selections.  I went for the pumpkin pie and hot dogs, finishing off with a nice slice of chocolate pie and a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I had a chat with various friends of the Bannermans and the Robertsons who ran the Barney’s River store.

After about 45 minutes the band struck up again and off we went again with a Scottish Reel complete with shouts of delight.   If my Mum and Dad could have seen us all enjoying ourselves so far away from home they would have been amazed.

After about three hours or so we, or most of us, slowed down and sat exchanging tales of what we had been doing in our daily lives. I made many friends and repeated over and over again how I came to be here in Barney’s River.   

Eventually it was time to go.  Cash was thrown into a basin as a thank you and as a remuneration for the hire of the hall and the expenses of and the energies of the musicians.   We climbed into our pickup truck and with many goodbyes we set off for home - in my case to the Cameron’s homestead, right to the front door. 

Well now, the next day feeling a little tired from my dancing lessons of the night before, I did my duty and proved to Linus that I was up to it and carried on as usual with my chores.      ie: milking, looking after my favourites - the horses - and asking Katherine if there was anything she wanted. She replied in the negative, BUT she had a secret and it was about to be revealed to me very soon.

I was in the cow byre when she called me.  “A visitor for you Ronald.” I was puzzled, then I thought that probably it was Donald, but no, a car was stationed outside the front door and standing there was my sister Bessie Florence!  We hugged each other, asking how long could she stay. She replied that she had been offered accommodation with me at the Cameron’s.   How wonderful was this news!  Bessie had been living with the MacKays at Thorburn and it was the policy of the Canadian Overseas Reception Board that children should not be parted unless it was deemed necessary.  So here we were together at last since Mount Uniacke.   Fortune had smiled upon us by way of the Camerons.  What a happy day that was!

Uniacke Newsletter
2018-01-13
https://www.uniackenewsletter.ca/stories/hoe-down-at-barneys-river