(Given at The Men’s Breakfast, November 7, 2015)
My Story – Charles Bronson Hunter
We are all immigrants, some later than others. My ancestors started in Normandy, in the northern part of France controlled at one time by England. They moved from Normandy to South West Scotland to become hunters for the Monarch of Scotland in 1013. The Hunters have a large estate on the west coast of Scotland, of approximately 2000 acres. The original castle is still there and a large Estate House. The original cut stone castle was one large room at the ground level with a large oak door to let cattle and horses in, in times of raids. A trap door inside led to the second floor with a removable ladder. All living quarters were on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The gable roof had a stone parapet all around it, accessible from the 2nd floor. Additions were made to this first castle. The Estate House is much larger and also had additions to it over the years. On the inside walls are pictures of the Hunter descendants. When I was there Neil Hunter was the head of the clan. Heidi stayed on the 3rd floor of the Estate house overnight two years ago. Pauline Hunter is the present head of the clan and is a descendent of an original Hunter daughter. The family go to the south of France for the winter and a caretaker lives there year round. The castle is used as a tourist attraction, selling Hunter plaids and giftware.
My family ancestors for some reason moved from Scotland to Carrickfergus, North Ireland, just across the Irish Sea, to strengthen the Protestant population. Several generations later, Grandfather Samuel Hunter moved to Glasgow because of the shipyard strike. He boarded with a vegetable market gardener for a year or two. He worked as a carpenter on the repairs of the Glasgow Cathedral. Then in 1867 at age 25, he sailed to Canada to Riceville to his Uncle Samuel’s farm and bush lot southeast of Ottawa, Ontario. Grandfather worked for his Uncle for two years and married one of his daughters, Sarah, for his first wife. Grandfather and Sarah moved to Scotland, Ontario in 1869. They had two boys and Arthur survived. Sarah died during a flu epidemic in 1875. Grandfather then married Emily Dean Backus from Hartford, Ontario. At that time, there were five widowed sisters in the Dean home. Grandfather lived on the northeast corner of Simcoe Street and Brant Street in Scotland. My father, Charles Dean, and his sister Lena grew up there. Grandfather Samuel grew fruit trees and flowers. During the winter, he took orders house to house on foot with sample pictures. He delivered the product in the spring by horse and democrat. Grandfather also grew several acres of onions. In 1885 Samuel, Emily, Arthur (15), Lena (6) and Charles Dean (1) moved to Delaware to see if peach trees would grow in that area. They were there for seven years and returned to Scotland leaving Arthur in Philadelphia where he had work.
My Father decided he did not want to cultivate onions all his life so when he married Kate Halliday in 1910, they went to Brantford to live. He worked as a carpenter on the floor of the Lorne Bridge and also worked on building scaffolding for the plasterers and painters in the Capitol Theatre – today The Sanderson Center. He also worked for a time in the Keeton car motor factory. He later had a Keeton car.
Charles D. and Kate had three children – Enid, Mary and Charles Bronson (me). Grandfather (Samuel) Halliday, who lived in the white house on the southwest corner of Talbot and Church Streets, bought the parcel of land at the northeast corner of Oakland and Marcus Streets for Father to start a carpentry and lumber business. Charles Dean, Kate, Enid, Mary and I, Charles B., moved back to Scotland in 1922. Father started by building small buildings at the yard for farmers and delivered them by flatbed truck. Father built an office on Marcus Street, on the north end of the present building. Every year or two an addition was added to store lumber. The original shop was in the basement of the family home on Oakland Street. A shop was later built and then expanded at the lumber yard. Kate, my mother, kept the books for 25 years and then Mary took them over. I worked in the yard as soon as I was big enough and until 2005 when I was 84 years old. At the beginning lumber came in by boxcar, and was unloaded piece by piece, by hand onto a flatbed truck. The first truck was a chain drive, hard tire truck. As time went on more modern trucks did the work and lumber was delivered by transport trucks to the yard. Six generations of Hunters have and are still living in Scotland!
Samuel Hunter born 1841
Charles Dean Hunter 1884
Charles Bronson Hunter 1921
Robert Charles Hunter 1952
Aaron Charles Hunter 1984
Lillian Margaret Hunter 2012
Abigail Anne Hunter 2014
See you in the next one for Margaret’s Epilogue.