Carp Memories of Juanita Snelgrove

In December 2017, FCH board member Judy Makin interviewed Juanita Snelgrove, then 101 years old, to listen to her stories about Carp and the Carp Hills.  Those who live in Carp will recognize the roads named after Juanita and her family:  Snelgrove Drive, Juanita Avenue, and Charlie’s Lane. Written by Judy Makin with help from Karen Pritchard, the article below was approved by Juanita’s daughter Meg Colbourn
 
 
Juanita’s great great grandfather was Hamnett Pinhey, from England, one of two founding families of March Township, along with the Sparks.  Juanita’s mother was a Pinhey.  Juanita is the fifth generation; she now has great grandchildren.  (See book “Looking Back”, written by Naomi Hayden-Slater – a cousin – for the history of the early families.)
 
born May 20, 1916 in Brighton, England, Juanita is now aged 103 years old. Her mother had been a nurse in Canada; travelled to England to make an art tour of the “continent” (Europe), but World War IMem started and interrupted her plans.  Nevertheless, she married and had Juanita. Her parents divorced when she was aged 2 years.
 
Juanita grew up with her grandparents in Hudson, Quebec, near Montreal. She and Charlie Snelgrove were third cousins, introduced by Charlie’s sister Eleanor who travelled to Montreal for university.  Eleanor looked up her relatives, including Juanita’s grandmother, and invited Juanita back for a visit to Carp. Juanita married Charlie Snelgrove in May 1950. She felt that there was initially a somewhat negative reaction to her in the village, as locals saw her as an “imported” bride from Montreal.
 
Juanita and Charlie lived on the Snelgrove farm in Carp from 1950 to 1956 with Charlie’s family. The Snelgrove farm was owned by Charlie’s father from around 1920. The farm was about one mile from the village at that time, and the property ran from the “Rock Road” (now Carp Road) back over the Carp Ridge beside what is now the Hidden Lake neighbourhood. The family was one of the first to install electricity and also had running water in the house. Eventually they enjoyed the luxury of a “Frigidaire”.  Charlie and his brother Mac farmed together. They raised sheep, turkeys, and dairy cows.  The turkeys were sold at the Byward Market in Ottawa.
 
Juanita was initially unfamiliar with the countryside around Carp; it was very different from her home in Hudson. At first she found the land flat like a tabletop and missed her familiar hills. She used to be sent on errands to deliver things to places that she couldn’t find, down side roads that were dead ends, sometimes ending up in the bush. But she was determined, and eventually successful in finding her way. 
 
The land backing onto the ridge was used for grazing animals.  Firewood was also taken from the woods, but it was never heavily logged.  She recalls seeing mica on the ground back on the ridge, but there was no mine.
 
Juanita’s happy memories of Carp include attending the Carp Fair every year. There were two flour mills in the village and two general stores.  Farm families did not own televisions at that time, and TV programs were shown in the Town (Memorial) Hall such as Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. 
 
There was a terrible fire on the ridge that started on the 12th of July 1955. It was discovered by a young boy in an old tree that had been struck by lightning. This was on the day of the Orange Parade and Picnic. Everyone was just getting ready to dance at the Storey farm. Lights were strung up in trees, the fiddle and piano were playing when the boy rushed over and told them of the fire. The farmers used their tractors to bulldoze a road back to fight the fire. Older men in the community continued to work to put out the fire, so the younger men could work on the farms. They carried canisters of water on their backs to put out the fire when it kept emerging from the roots. The fire burned until the following January, when it was finally put out by the snow. There was no help from the government.
 
During this summer of fighting the fire, it had been very dry.  Juanita’s family were exhausted and one day planned to go for a suppertime picnic at the Pinhey property on the river.  A local girl came along to help look after the children.  When they returned, they found the wind had changed and the fire was moving quickly towards their farm.  This caused “heavy excitement” for the Snelgroves, especially given that Juanita was expecting her third child in September.
 
The telephone network was an essential communication system. The operator at “Central” would know everything going on, and she would send out “alert” calls  for help. Neighbours would call neighbours left at home with updates so they wouldn’t panic.
 
Juanita recalled her mother-in-law saying it was a “known fact” that “Indians” were trading in the Carp area at the end of the 1800’s and into the early 1900’s.  This reminded her of her childhood in Hudson, when she would hear them in boats going down the river.  They would sell baskets to local residents, and these were popularly used as laundry baskets, bassinettes and picnic hampers.
 
Her mother-in-law also told her that in the early 1900’s the milk was taken twice a day by train from the station in Carp.  Occasionally, it was a real treat for a farm wife to catch the train in Carp and ride down to Ottawa for the day to do some shopping or visiting, returning late in the day.
 
Charlie and Juanita, along with his brother Mac, moved to their own farm with a new house at Pinhey’s Point on the Ottawa River in 1956. Charlie died at Easter 1958, and Juanita was left to raise three young children, aged 2 ½, 4, 5 ½. Mac continued farming at Pinhey’s, and later started Snelgrove Bus Lines. The Snelgrove farm in Carp was sold to the Zeitz family in 1955. The original farmhouse still stands at 117 Charlie’s Lane.  The family names were recognized in the naming of local roads – Charlie’s Lane, Snelgrove Drive, and Juanita Avenue.