November 26, 2019
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The days are getting short, the nights cold. These are the days when folks used to gather around the Quebec heater to visit. Stoves like the one in the picture below were found in most Saskatchewan farm homes, and in most stores. Most wood stoves still come from Quebec, for the same reason that most maple syrup comes from Quebec — that’s where the trees are.
On a Saturday night about 70 years ago, Dad placed the big square galvanized tub on the living room floor, Mom filled it with water heated on the stove and we had our baths. It felt chilly in the room when I got out of the tub, so I backed up to the stove to warm up and dry myself. I backed up just a bit too far and felt a searing pain on my backside that made it inconvenient to sit down for a few days.
November 10, 2017
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Seventy years ago, when our family wanted to go somewhere in winter we used a cutter much like the one illustrated. We dressed very warmly, heated a stone or two in the oven, placed them on the floor of the cutter and draped horsehide robes over our laps and feet. Nowadays, I push a button to start the car before we go out to the garage, get in the car, push the buttons to heat the car seats and the steering wheel, and we’re on our way without really feeling how cold it is.
Seventy years ago there was no equipment for keeping driveways and roads open when the snowdrifts got deep. Nowadays, we expect driveways, roads, streets and sidewalks to be as clear in winter as in summer.
Seventy years ago we got up to an icy cold house, got the wood fire going in the kitchen stove and dressed around the warmth of that stove. We shovelled coal into the big old furnace in the basement and the heat would gradually rise up to warm the rest of the house. Nowadays the thermostat automatically turns the heat up when it’s time for us to get out of bed and turns it down again when it is bedtime.
Seventy years ago we wore long underwear and heavy socks in winter. To go outside we put on a parka with a hood to pull up over the toque on our head, put insulated boots on our feet, a scarf around our neck and two layers of mitts on our hands. Nowadays, we put on a coat, and sometimes gloves, and walk out to the car that is warming up already.
Seventy years ago I enjoyed winter. Nowadays, not so much. What happened?