Memories of Main Street
Tracing the history of the recently restored cabinet that now houses displays in the Millbrook branch of the Cavan Monaghan Library, led us to Reg Fowler. Reg’s uncle Dave owned Fowler’s Men’s Wear, which he took over from his father George who ran it as Fowler & Pendrie, and before that, Fowler & Kells, at 17 King Street East in Millbrook.
Reg lives in Peterborough and came to our February 2017 Fireside Chat ‘Memories of Main Street’.
Reg shared with us some of his memories:
“Here is my recollection of some of the things my Dad told me about his father and mother as well as how Grandfather’s brother George decided to come to Canada. My grandfather, James or Jim, came to Canada from Church Hill in County Fermanagh in 1868. He married Mary Jane Jordan, who came with her family from Drum in County Monaghan, and they had three children; Robert (Bob), Sara and my father William (sometimes called Will but usually Bill).
“James Fowler’s route to this area was not a direct one. He landed in New York after a six week trans-Atlantic voyage, and stayed there with a relative before joining his older brother John in Goderich, Ontario. Then, for reasons unknown, he moved to Peterborough and worked with a farm family, the Liveicks. When winter came he found work further north in lumber camps and in spring, like many others, came back to Peterborough on the log drives down through various small lakes and rivers to the Otonabee. He must have had an agreement with the Liveicks (2 sisters and a brother – none married) to return there to work for the summer, something he apparently did for several years. The Liveicks might have been elderly because grandfather eventually bought their farm.
“According to my father William, Grandfather some time later attended the Millbrook Horse Show. I asked him if that was what is now known as the Millbrook Fair and he said yes, he thought it was. Anyway, he decided to visit the downtown and found himself in Petherick’s, a clothing store there. He saw a notice posted stating they wanted to hire a person with experience in the clothing business. Grandfather then spoke to someone about the notice and said his brother George in Ireland had such experience and was interested in coming to Canada.
“They must have told Grandfather to let his brother know about the position so he wrote to his brother George. Eventually George arrived and was hired to work in Millbrook. He later bought the business and his son Dave continued on in the business when Uncle George decided to retire.
“I was always amazed that Grandfather could write to his brother in Ireland; his brother would consider the offer and then send a reply; the shop owner would then respond confirming the job was George’s, and then George would have to make his way to Canada. All this and the job was still waiting for him when he arrived! I guess the world moved at a much slower pace then and people were prepared to wait. Certainly much different than today’s hectic pace.
“I remember visiting the Fowlers in Millbrook when I was about 5 or 6 (1939 or 40) and I saw a Jersey cow tied in the back yard! I guess they had a small shed or barn for the cow there too. I remember telling my Dad “there’s a cow in the backyard” and he said, “yes, they keep her for her milk.” It seemed unusual to me for a single cow to be there and right in town. Later I learned that, in those days, many people kept a cow for milk and a horse too, for transportation; by buggy in the summer and cutter in the winter.”