To The Editor,
Growing up in a small town like Vankleek Hill gave me the greatest blessing of all: a sense of belonging. You can always go back and feel like you never left at all. Of course, some of the folks have long gone either by passing away or moving away for different reasons but one thing never changes, this overwhelming warm feeling that you know you can only find when you drive through the town of Vankleek Hill and remember why you love this town so much.
Driving up the hill on Highway 34, I felt the anticipation of seeing those wonderful homes lit up with Christmas lights and remembering who lived in each one of them. From the great big brick house at the top of the hill on the left side of street where my father’s sister use to live to “Methot’s” little grocery store where you could find Mr. Methot always wearing his white apron arranging fresh produce in his store. Deux Frere Pizzeria, I swear I can still taste that amazing pizza every time I think of it, and the local library that use to be in the town hall building. I can hear the creak in the wood floors as we use to walk in and see the librarian writing on those little cards when we borrowed books.
Pilon’s Bakery was always a special place for me growing up, not only because they had the best baked goods but because I grew up with their daughter/granddaughter and would often pop into the bakery where we would enjoy the best chocolate chip cookies as a treat after school.
Christmas holds the best memories for me in this lovely little town. My sister Carol and I use to get excited when we were able to get an allowance and spend it at Matte’s store on Main Street. Most of the presents we bought for our parents came from that store. I can tell you that when we sold the family home on Bertha street, there were still remnants of the little treasures that my mother held onto purchased from that store.
We still drive by the home on Bertha street and have so many wonderful memories from that beautiful home. The big kitchen that my father built with his own hands for my mother was filled with so much love and laughter. My brother being the town’s country boy (Bruce Golden) meant having crowds of people come through any given weekend and holiday but none more special than at Christmastime!
Our home at Christmas was so festive with its hanging garland on the ceiling in the kitchen to the smallest of details that could be found in every corner of the house. Music always filled the air, food always on the table and never was a person ever turned away from our house. My father worked for the department of highways and would often always stop by the house on Christmas Eve and watch us open our presents, after Santa had dropped them off, of course! Growing up, we always looked forward to Christmas at our house, never knowing who the “extra” guests would be.
My parents always had an open-door policy, come in and stay for a while and sometimes that would mean into the “wee” hours of the next morning as my mother would be getting ready for work the next day. Always a smile and a twinkle in his eye, this was my father’s favourite time of year. We lost him on December 8, 1982 and although this is a difficult time of the year for my brother and sister and I, we always remember what is most important in life, Family! Staying close to one another and never forgetting where we came from and where we need to be this time of the year, my sister Carol and I decided we needed to come home for Christmas!
Although our time was short, we did visit with old friends and family, shared memories and made new ones. One thing is for sure, there really is no other place like HOME for the Holidays!
Love always, Merry Christmas!
Joan (Golden) Lockwood
Editor’s Note: Joan wrote to us to share her Christmas memories. Here is what she wrote in her email: My sister Carol and I came up to Vankleek Hill for Christmas, something we haven’t done in a long time but was much needed. It brought back so many wonderful memories, especially of past Christmases. So I put my fingers to work and drafted this little piece in the hopes that you could publish it in the paper?
A long time ago, I use to work for the Review when it was on High Street (82-83). I was the front reception and work on classified ads as well. I miss that little town but stay connected through Bruce (Golden). He purchased the Anniversary books for us for Christmas, something we will treasure forever.