AN AFTERNOON WITH ART & DOREEN BURKHOLDER

Editor: Andrew Fuyarchuk | Photography: Kenny Wang

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When we moved here

Doreen, “I moved to Markham when I was two and a half. So I’ve seen a lot of changes, some good and some bad. I lived with my grandparents on Main Street. After my father died, my mom and I moved here (we lived on Main Street) from my grandparents farm. We had two little chicken coups and my grandfather raised chickens and eggs to market. We had a large garden. I went to Franklin School and Markham District High School.”

“The good experience is that Markham was more like a community and we enjoyed, I enjoyed what was involved in community. You knew a lot of people, you interacted a lot. With urbanization that doesn’t always take place and it’s worse now than it ever has been. I really noticed the urbanization just before we moved here (Church Street). When we were married (’62) we lived on the farm, Art’s farm and he can tell you about that. That was country living and we moved here in ’72.

Art, “When we moved here we were the second last open lot on this side of the street. That whole area behind us was open and across the street was open” Doreen, “And Church Street was gravel road past the high school, the old high school that they tore down and built the new one, but the pavement ended at the high school, and it was gravel road all the way to the 9th.” Art, “Within ten years they started filing that in and that was probably the beginning of growth and everything picked up in the ‘90’s and past 2000. When we moved here we didn’t even have a sewer. We had to put in a weeping bed for example.”

Art, “I was born east of 9th line on #7, south side. And the house has been renovated and updated (shows us the picture). That house is still standing.” Doreen, “Amidst, with immense urban development all around it.” Art, “It’s part of the Cornell development.” Doreen, “The man who restored it did a beautiful job on the inside and the outside.”

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Art, “One of the biggest changes is not just the physical landscape, but the cultural and social landscape. The sense of community is gone in Markham. I’m sure everyone you’ve have talked to has told you that. This field is just like a big urban area, you know, grid-lock. We know our immediate neighbors but three houses down you don’t get to know them anymore.”

 

Family and connections

Doreen, “Turner was my mother’s maiden name. Not as large a connection as the Burkholder’s. We were connected to the Pugh’s. My immediate relatives, grandparents, were living on the Markham-Pickering town line and so our connections were Whitevale, that’s where I went to Church as a youth.”

Art, “My mother was a Hoover and her mother was a Wideman. Both common names. My dad of course was Burkholder, but we’re tied into the Reesor clan. And so there’s Reesor’s all over. Esther Reesor was on a farm immediately to the east of us. So we interacted with that farm. Her brother would come in and to the silo filing for dad. The Gould’s lived across the road. They were my third cousin. I’m connected to Grove’s through marriage.” Doreen, “And I am too.” Art, “Armstrong lived just down the road from here, and two over here, and in Locust Hill and Armstrong down 10th line.

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In terms of community we were tied into Cedar Grove because my family went to a Church in Cedar Grove. My dad went to a blacksmith sometimes in Cedar Grove. We were tied into Box Grove because I went to Box Grove School. My dad was a trustee. He farmed and so he went to a machinist down there. We were tied into Markham because this is where the grocery stores and banks were. Dad came to a grist mill in Markham. Our neighbors went to Locust Hill School and there was a general store in Locust Hill. So we were tied into Locust Hill. But all those were our communities. And we knew everybody and they all knew us. And so, it was, I cherish my growing-up years. It was wonderful. And then we were tied a little bit to Stouffville because my mom’s brothers and sisters were largely in the Stouffville area. So we got to know people in Stouffville. Doreen, “And you were connected to Wideman’s Church on Hwy 48.” Art, “We would go to Cedar Grove Church in the morning and Wideman’s Church Sunday night.”

Doreen, “And right across from the Church there was a famous skating rink.” Art, “ice down in the valley at Cedar Arena, with a pot belly stove and dressing rooms for putting on your skates.” Doreen, “And doughnuts in between.” Art, “hot chocolate.” Doreen, “That was a busy Saturday night. Tuesday night was public skating as well. A lot of the community were there.”

Art, “At the time, Markham would have had 3,000 residents, Locust Hill would have had a couple of hundred and Cedar Grove 100, Box Grove a couple of 100.” Doreen, “Whitevale and each of the communities had a church. So there would be church connections as well.”    

On the Farm

Art, “My growing up years were, I am talking about growing up as a child and into my teens, I helped my dad on the farm even when I was going to school. That’s just the way it was. Sons and daughters helped their parent’s farm. My dad went to St. Lawrence Market, the farmer’s market, every Saturday and so I would help him prepare produce, merchandise to take down to farmer’s market and occasionally I would go alone. And my uncle went to farmer’s market, well actually two uncles and my great uncle went and that was a big, big thing. Dad took apples and produce from the farm; vegetables, fruits. He had a big apple orchard. I helped pick apples and put them into storage in one of his sheds and he would take them down all winter. He took turnips down to Albert Street’s Eaton’s store, and I would help him prepare the turnips. And then Saturday morning when dad was not around to help with the milking, mom did the milking and I helped with the milking. So I guess what I’m saying is that, my childhood didn’t have a lot of time for frivolities on a device or in town sports or whatever because I was helping dad.”

Doreen, “And I remember Art’s mom saying at one time when she was talking about the Depression that there wasn’t much cash flow at that time, but they had their garden, and they had animals and so they were OK for eating and so didn’t need maybe as much cash flow as some other people did living in some other areas.”

Art, “Dad shipped milk. He got a monthly milk cheque. That probably was more income than market, but both of them were significant. I took three years off before I went to university and I can remember going to different neighbors to help them with different fall activities. I went up the 10th line to help them there fill silo, I went up to another neighbors to help haul hay in the summer. One thing I remember I did, dad didn’t have enough land to maintain his herd, so he would put his young cattle who weren’t yet milkers on different farms in the area during the summer to graze. And sometimes one of those young Heifer’s would give birth to a calf. And in one case (dad was busy at another farm down 9th line they were filing silo and dad went down to help him), I hitch-hiked up to the 2nd Concession of Uxbridge to look for this calf and I hitch-hiked back home. I would have been 16 years old when I did that.” Doreen, “Those were the days when it was very safe to hitch-hike.”