There are few things I like better these days than coming across old photos of my beloved Manse, whether taken indoors (those ones are scarce, let me tell you) or out. Every one of them tells me something about the history of this house, which was built in 1888 – about the changes that have happened to it over the years, and sometimes about the people who have lived here before us. A while back reader (and Queensborough native) Ruthanne shared one such photo, and it’s here; another time, reader Christina (also a Queensborough native) shared a photo of a memorable wedding at the Manse, and that photo (and what it told me about the piece of land it sits on) is here.
Today I was thrilled when another historic picture arrived in the email, courtesy of our friend Grant of the Hazzard’s Corners area. It’s the photo at the top of this post, and it shows The Rev. W.W. Patterson, his wife (whose name is not recorded anywhere that I can find it; can someone please help me out?), and their children, Barbara and John. According to the book Pilgrimage of Faith, the definitive history of the churches of Madoc Township and area (published during my childhood here at the Manse, and with an introduction by my father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick), The Rev. Patterson was the minister at St. Andrew’s United Church here in Queensborough from 1941 to 1945. (The war years: a challenging time to be a minister. There would have been some very hard funerals to conduct in those days.)
There are two things that I think about as I study the photograph. The first: where exactly was it taken? I am almost certain that it is on the south side of the house (which is always nice and sunny on a fine day, so a natural place to pose for a family photo); and that the window you can see in the background is the window of our pantry. What makes this curious (to me, anyway), is that the scene is missing one key present-day element that in 2014 would be right behind the family: the oil tank. Which in turn tells me that in the days when The Rev. Patterson and his young family lived here, there was no oil-fired furnace heating the Manse. I suppose that the Findlay wood-burning stove that I remember so well from my childhood, together with the system of stovepipes that ran throughout the house, was the Pattersons’ sole way of heating the place. (And you know, given how toasty our Manse was when I lived here as a kid, when we too relied on the Findlay and the stovepipes most of the time, I suspect the Pattersons had fewer drafty moments than Raymond and I are experiencing this winter.)
The other thing I see when I look at that photo is something very simple and very familiar: a young and healthy and happy family. It reminds me of my own family when we were living in the very same house, a couple of decades later. The dad is a young(ish), serious, enthusiastic and hopeful United Church minister; the mum is his hard-working and ever-supportive wife; and then there are the two small children who were fortunate enough, as my three siblings and I were, to be growing up in a beautiful and friendly and interesting little place: Queensborough.
How I would love to hear some stories of the Pattersons’ life as they lived it in this same house where I’m writing right now. How I wish the Manse could somehow tell me its stories and its memories.
But in a way – thanks in large part to friends near and far who find interesting Manse-related things to share, like Grant with this photograph – it does.