Brown Farmhouse

Life on the farm

Brown house/MacLaurin at 279 Christieville Road
Source: MHHA archives


This farmhouse was built in 1895 and features Dutch-style architecture. The Brown family purchased it in 1913.

Barbara Brown Traill grew up on the farm in the 1930s and 1940s. She was president of the Morin-Heights Historical Association. She is passionate about history and heritage, and here she paints a picture of rural life that smells of bread and fruit pies, a world of hard work and well-deserved pleasure.

"I am a grandmother and great grandmother now, but my memories of my girlhood remain very special to me. I was brought up on a farm during the mid 1930s and 40s, and life on the farm in Christieville seems as real to me as it was then.

In those days, there was no electricity or phone service, and water came from a hand-dug well. We had no fridge, only an ice box which kept the dairy food and perishables cool summer and winter. Blocks of ice were cut by chain saw from the nearest lake in the winter and stored in sawdust by the barn lean-to area. We learned to read by candlelight or later with a Coleman lamp.”

An experimental farm

Joe Brown, father of Barbara
Source: MHHA archives

"Summer months were always busy on the farm. Our dad, Joe Brown, was a curious man who created an experimental farm and researched useful methods of rotating crops, raising chickens for poultry and eggs and helping the land produce in a fruitful way. His knowledge was through farming manuals purchased from McGill University.

Summer was always a very busy time. Our father, Joe Brown, was a curious man who set up a real experimental farm to find the best practices for crop rotation, the most efficient ways to raise poultry and produce eggs, or any new way to help the land produce better. His interest was rooted in the agricultural textbooks he bought at McGill University and their experimental farm.

The Brown farm consisted of more than 90 acres, almost 70% in forest and the rest in segregated fields where hay and corn was grown and harvested. It included vegetable gardens, mostly for market locally or shipped to Montreal. The land in those hills was mostly rock and poor earth and had to be shifted from one area to another to grow crops. The supply of manure from the cattle was used to fertilize the crop areas.”

The polyculture

Hay cart, near Morin-Heights
Source: BAnQ


"Mixed farming took a lot of work. There were cattle, horses, chickens, pigs and dear knows what else to feed and clean. Then crops to seed and hay to cut and load into the barn. It required 16 to 18 hours some days, especially if the weather turned to thunderstorms.

Then there was great haste to muster the hay into the barn before the rain hit and the hay could be ruined. This was exciting to my sister and I, as we loved to ride the hay wagon and jump on the hay during loading in order to pack it down."

Winter

Barbara Brown

"Winters were sometimes long and severe. There were times when the amount of snow prevented farmers from opening the roads with horse and sleigh. That’s when snowshoes and skis were options for getting extra food supplies at the store in either Christieville or Morin-Heights.”

"The great sport of skiing was a major activity during weekends. Our Morin-Heights Ski Club coach, George (Bunny) Basler organized most events. Each weekend there was a meet either at home or various ski centres in the lAurentians. We were also invited to race against a couple of Montreal schools as well. Really exciting! With constant practice, we often brought home trophies that were kept at the club and eventually at the local school."

"In April, the land thawed and soon after, the crops would be sown and soon we could see the seedlings growing out of the earth. When they were big enough, the plants needed a lot of weeding and watering. The productive earth that the good spirit left for us to use was gain giving back the food of life. This is what every child should experience.

"Source: Excerpt from a text published in the Porcupine magazine no.10, 2015.

Extract of
Morin-Heights | In Harmony with Nature

Morin-Heights | In Harmony with Nature image circuit

Presented by : Municipalité de Morin-Heights

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