Veteran’s Land

win badgeAfter 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.

12 thoughts on “Veteran’s Land

  1. Dear Lynne,

    I love your short stories about Pointe-Claire. I have lived on Bras d’or Ave. just east of Broadview Ave since 1984. In the comment section, there is a mention of Bill and Bernie who were most probably my neighbours and now reside at the Wellseley.
    With so many changes to the Veterans area over the last few years, many of us are concerned that the memory and character of this section of town will be lost.
    I have been trying to collect information about the Veteran’s Land but there is not much out there even at our library.

    Thank you for sharing your memories. I will quote you if I am using any thing written by you.

    Susan Weaver

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is the Veteran’s Land Act still in effect? I know they have lost benefits like this over the years.


    1. Now, I didn’t know about that so I looked it up here and it said in part – Under the Veterans’ Land Administration, a branch of the Department of VETERANS AFFAIRS, over 140 000 ex-servicemen had sought assistance before new loans were terminated in 1977.


      1. Thanks for checking. It’s a shame they cancelled this benefit as so many veterans were helped toward purchasing their own homes.
        Our neighborhood of the 50s was much the same with the land cleared of every bush and tree. They formed an association just to deal with the faulty construction.


        1. Although I remember my father muttering about the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and the Veterans’ Land Act I don’t recall major problems. But we became aware of the acronyms of DVA and VLA long before the current penchant for acronym-riddled English!


  3. This is really interesting, Lynne! We were raised in inner city Detroit, but only two blocks from a road called Outer Drive. At some point in the city’s history, our house was in the suburbs. Hard to believe, and fascinating to note. Great story, great post.


    1. Thank you Naomi – With all the growth it’s difficult to imagine what some of these places looked like a generation or two ago – old photos can be very fascinating.


  4. What bothers me is I bought my house in a town with no big box stores not much traffic and now 12 years later there is an industrial park big box everywhere section 8 housing which I dont mind because people need help but they are not helping people of the community but bringing people in from the city no the crime rate is up and so is traffic I guess it might be time to move


  5. Hey Lynne,
    It is hard seeing change; the town I grew up in had 2200 people in it when I lived there, lots of farms and all mom and pop businesses lining main street, there were no chain stores, now there are 8800 people or so in town most of the farms have been bought up by developers and more houses are being built everyday. There are only one or two family owned business’s left in town, the rest chain stores, it is really quite sad


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