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John Edwin (Ed) Dumville (1887-1966)
Visiting the Littles in Winter

Written by Clifford Dumville of Ottawa, Ontario

photograph: Ed and Emily Dumville
Ed and Emily Dumville
as newly-weds in 1922

In the early 1930s rural transportation in winter was entirely by horses and sleigh. Roads were not plowed; cars did not drive on roads because it would ruin the sleighing. Main highways were plowed, but infrequently.

Nevertheless each winter, at about Christmas time, Ed Dumville would develop the urge to visit his sister, Annie Little, who lived beyond Welwyn, some fifteen miles away. This urge usually manifested itself about Friday when Ed would telephone Annie to determine if they would be home on Sunday, and to determine the passability of the route. Early telephone connections being what they were, after a great deal of shouting the message would get through, if you took this detour or that across the fields, and the trip was on.

The car was a 1929 Chevrolet sedan, with no heater and no antifreeze, and it would not have been driven since the snow came. But no problem; Saturday, a roaring fire would be built and maintained in the stove in the garage, the battery checked and charged if necessary, and chains installed on the rear wheels. On Sunday morning, buckets of water would be heated to near boiling to fill the radiator. This usually did the trick; the car would start.

Right after lunch we would bundle up in our warmest clothes, load some blankets and fur robes into the car and start.

As mentioned before, you could not drive on the roads because of the sleighing, so off we would go across the fields toward the main highway two miles away; avoiding drifts as much as possible, shovelling and pushing where we could not.

Once on the highway, the chains had to be removed. Even if you could have tolerated the noise of the chains thumping in the wheel wells, the fenders could not have withstood the abuse. So the chains had to come off.

Driving was fine along the highway and main roads until reaching the turnoff some two miles from the Little's farm. The first decision would be to try it without the chains; re-installing them in the snow along the road was just too difficult to face. So off we would go, starting, stopping, backing up, charging the drifts, shovelling, pushing, and eventually arriving.

About eight o'clock after a satisfying visit we would all bundle up again under our blankets and head off in the dark for a repeat performance, singing our heads off. The return trip was usually less eventful what with the broken trail to follow, arriving home reasonably warm and sleepy at about ten p.m.