After my two-week stay at the hospital where I had been safely delivered, my parents bundled me up against the December chill and brought me home in time for Christmas. Home was to be in Pointe Claire in an area called Lakeside Heights. Much of the West Island was still undeveloped farmland, and except for summer homes and cottages along the lakeshore, it was pretty much out in the boonies.
The Veterans’ Land Act designated this property as veterans’ land, available for purchase only to those who had served in the war. My father’s qualification was service as an infantry soldier. About 1947 they purchased a half-acre lot and contracted to have the house built at a cost of $6,000 – a lot of money to my father whose salary was $90 per month. They were to have moved in time for my sister’s birth in 1947 but that was not to be. Mum and Dad trekked out from the city to check on the progress of the construction, which was frustratingly slow, only to find at one point that the contractor had taken up residence in the basement of the uncompleted house they were so anxious to move in to. Mum and Dad had lived with my mother’s parents at my mother’s childhood home since their marriage in 1945 – I expect they were none too pleased with this added delay.
The slow progress delayed their move until 1948. Pictures show my parents as young twenty-something’s outside the house, the property absolutely void of any landscaping, not a tree in sight, some construction materials still about, and as far as you can see, just open farmland punctuated by three or four other newly constructed dwellings of returning soldiers – these were to be my neighbours. My parents did not have a car and Dad walked the couple of kilometres to the rail line in Valois to commute to work. Not always a pleasant prospect in some of the howling winter winds that would blow across the open landscape.
Pointe Claire now is a busy, bustling city with miles of subdivisions, crisscrossed with main thoroughfares and the Trans Canada Highway, dotted with malls and with a thriving industrial park area … all of which is in what I remember as the farm fields beyond the barbed wire at the back of our ½ acre lot – complete with cows and the farmer who chased us off his land while we tried to picnic as kids.