With mixed emotions about the clearing of farmlands and homesteads, I am reminded that history repeats itself. Upon reading Fern Bradley’s poem on Heritage, her point of view foreshadows today’s reality upon her retirement as her family farmland at 5470 Fernbank Road has been cleared for a probable future subdivision for a new generation of settlers of families from near and far.
ghosts of native land
cleared by stalwart pioneers
foreshadows farm lands
Garnet & Fern Bradley – Fernbank Road – John Wycliffe Bradley and his wife Eliza Wilson acquired 100 acres on the Fernbank Road east of Stittsville in 1860. One of their sons took over the farm in 1909 and then a grandson, Garnet ‘Red’ Bradley, took over the farm in 1948. He and Fern farmed the land until about the late 1990s. Garnet served on Goulbourn township council from 1967-1972 and played on Stittsville’s 1956 championship provincial men’s ball team. Fern was very involved with activities in Stittsville and the Church.
Fern wrote for the Stittsville poetry contest for our Centennial Year and was later published (1973) in a local book on history called Country Tales.
My feet have walked where others walked before,
How sweet to muse on changes down the years;
The highway winding by my open door,
Was once a rutted pathway, nothing more.
My little boys played out in back,
How strange to think that in those far-off days,
Native boys walked the same familiar track,
And maybe women, babies on their back.
The gift of all this cleared and fertile land
Is here because of stalwart pioneers,
Who carved it out with sweat and axe in hand,
And as their weary bodies worked, they planned.
Snug homes of logs with chimneys stout and strong,
Forests transformed to fields of rippling grain;
Full mows and bins until the winter’s gone,
Then meadows sweet with cattle’s lowing song.
The ghost of pioneer women fills my home,
They marvel at the water from a tap,
Enameled stoves and furniture of chrome,
Seem very cold to them; they made their own.
No soap to make, no butter in a churn,
No homemade bread upon the shelf to rise,
No lamps to clean that they might better burn,
There’s something sad about a ghost’s return.
The sweet familiar things of long gone years,
Are vanished and will never be recalled;
We reap the harvest that was sown with tears,
With sweat and muscles through a hundred years.