In a one-horse open sleigh

A one-horse open sleigh, carrying my aunt Shirley and my mother, June. Here’s what I imagine are the circumstances:

It’s 1953, and the three sisters are just arriving home to the farm in Wheatley River, PEI, for Christmas. Shirley (who kept horses most of her adult life) holds the reins. They may have been “dashing through the snow”, but now they’re going uphill and have slowed down. Shirley’s twin, Helen Rose, has taken advantage of the opportunity to jump off and take the photo, perhaps using a new camera, with her artistic eye. The stool she had been perched on sits empty in the sleigh.

June is 20, and the twins are 18. Having left home when they were 16 to work, they are now independent young women, though the twins still enjoy dressing alike, and share an apartment.

Their father is mounted on the lead horse just ahead. He had taken the two horses, one pulling the sleigh, to the train station in Hunter River to pick them up.

I see suitcases in front of Shirley, and my mother is holding a big teddy bear. Who is it for? Is their older brother Cecil going to be there with his first child, who was born in 1953 and named Brent after his grandfather? That would be cause for the excitement in their faces. A big family reunion, and a new baby. They are in high spirits.

Judging from what I remember of the homestead, and from the roads on the map, and assuming that’s their barn with their house behind, they may be taking a shortcut across country. It would be an hour’s trip at a horse’s walking pace from Hunter River to the farm.

I think I recognize June’s sheered mouton coat that I wore years later – fur for the working woman. It was very warm and very heavy, and she would have been proud to show it off to her mother.

All three sisters lived and worked in Saint John, New Brunswick for a while before they met their respective husbands. They would have taken the train and maybe a bus from Saint John to Cape Tormentine, NB, then the ferry to Borden, PEI, to catch the narrow gauge train to Hunter River. It would be quite the trip, probably not one they did every year.

I scanned the photo from Shirley’s collection years ago, long after Helen Rose had died. Shirley was the last to leave us in 2021, so I only have my educated guesses to fill in the story.

Photo Montage

I made this photo montage with old Eikhoud family photos in 1999. If you click to enlarge, you’ll get a high-resolution image suitable for printing.

Top row, left to right: June’s father Brent; mother Rita; June (left) and sister Helen Rose (with dog) with their parents in front of the farmhouse in Wheatley River, PEI; June as a teenager.

Second row: Haying on the farm. Probably her father about to toss the hay with a ptichfork. Right; Shirley and June in a sleigh.

Third row: Helen Rose with a calf (she loved animals so much); the twins, Shirley and Helen Rose; Shirley.

Eikhoud photo montage

Visits home to the farm on PEI

Some of these photos were taken later, but show the farm where June grew up, and her family.