Community Life

12/06/2012

Community Life  

           Although, Reynoldston never existed as an incorporated village, its three hundred and fifty residents formed a small close knit community of lumberjacks and mill hands, many drawn from large extended families such as the Bordeauxs, the Campbells, the Bombards, the Trushaws, the Moquins and the Trims. These families and about thirty others were the core of what became a relatively small village. Over time through intermarriage many became a very large extended family.  Most were drawn to Reynoldston to work in the mill and logging camps and while the work was hard, the pay was regular and relatively good.  

            On top of a hill across the river from the sawmill, the Reynolds’s Family and the four brothers ran the company that dominated the lives of their employees.  The Reynolds were Republican and Protestant, while their employees tended to be Catholic and vote Democratic.  Those differences, however, were less important than the economic and power disparities between employer and employees and a few men were perceived to be the favorites of the brothers..  The Reynolds family was its own large extended family, many of whom, were part of the Bigelow clan or had married into the family.  Thus the Reynolds Brothers Mill and Logging operation supported its own and formed their own distinct community within Reynoldston itself.   

            Except in jest, actual differences in ancestry were seldom pointed out among the ordinary residents of the community and it is clear that in such a small place with many of the families related to each differences were rarely vocalized.  However this did not mean that everyone’s weaknesses or indiscretions were the latest round on gossip among the neighbors. 

            Reynoldston was not large enough to support a church and the only public building was the one room school house. Later in the early part of the twentieth century the rather infamous
Bordeaux (Dance) Hall brought new life and attention to the community.  The community experienced its own version of the “Roaring Twenties” just a few years ahead of most of America.

             Neighbors were friendly, but kept their distance for fear of being thought “nosey” and perhaps  because of jealousy.  Even though men and especially women often distorted their neighbors remarks and mocked their behaviour behind their backs, most wanted to give an impression of minding their p’s and q’s and not interfering in anybody else’s business. They helped each other with field clearing bees and other groups task and when there was big enough trouble sickness or death, but when the house and barn of Joe – , whom everyone disliked, burned no one made an effort to put it out; most apparently felt Joe deserved his misfortune.  On the other hand even though most people had very little material goods, there are many stories of the generosity of people in the community at various times and especilly at Chirstmas


Mrs. Lillian Bordeaux Prue

Well it was just about  the same as it is now…it was bad.   They all gossiped.  Everybody gossiped.  And that is why everybody had to stay on their toes and mind their p’s and q’s, because your neighbour knew all about what you’d done and what you had and what you didn’t have and oh gosh  yes.  I can remember we had a neighbour.  It was mother’s sister-in-law across the road.   She had a tongue and nobody and she didn’t pick her names she called you by things you couldn’t believe or mention.   

Mrs. Lillian Bordeaux Prue oral history interviews 1970  tape 1 p.1-2


Tom Campbell

(Medicine Shows)  There used to be that used to come up here.   They used to show in the
planning mill up here.   He was a medicine man.  They used to show in the Bordeaux Hall here…Well sometimes he come once a year and then go away for five years.  Well before the show and after the show sell medicine…

          Tom Campbell oral history interviews tape 3 p.1


Entertainment

Entertainment fulfilled a great need in a community where hard work was constant and spectacle or ceremony almost entirely lacking from everyday life. Adults of the first and even the second generation grew up knowing that entertainment, like food and clothing, often relied on their own efforts.  Many men developed talents that are remembered to this day — Albert Bordeaux’s pleasing, long carrying voice, Philias Moquin’s talent with the fiddle and as a story teller, Jim McGovern’s ability to express the frustrations of the Reynolds employees in song. These men carried entertainment in their heads, and the songs they sang and stories they told were taken for granted with no one bothering to record them.  Once a month, even as late as 1900, parents took their small children to Allen Bordeaux’s or Philias Moquin’s house to hear the old men retell fairy tales in Canadian French


Mrs. Moquin
(laughter)  Well he used to tell stories about the “Golden Slippers”  I remember that. His father had books.  It was called 1001 short stories, a thick book…night telling and reading the stories…..A lot of comfort telling those stories. His father learned them in that book and he learned them.   

No, all those stories from his mind. I couldn’t tell you how many he new…..Oh yes, he was intense, my goodness …  Frechette would lock him in that room and all night tell stories. (laughter)   Oh they loved those stories(in French). Yah because people around home would gather at night to hear stories.  They would sit on the floor right by and look at him.   I would get so tired of it.  I heard them and heard them and heard them again.  (laughter)  

Yes he could sing old French songs I can’t remember.  I was so tired of French, I did not learn much French.

Mrs. Moquin oral history interview 1970 tape 1 p. 19


Mrs. Lillian Bordeaux Prue

I think most people liked and respected the Reynolds.  They were a very nice family.  I mean they didn’t feel above anybody and they did a lot of good .  Of course they had things different.  Now,I
can remember one thing… at Christmas time there were an awful lot of families, all the way up and I mean very poor families and Christmas time didn’t mean much to them because they never had
anything.  And we used to, the better off families, used to make things…mother used to make popcorn balls and  taffy and we would pick up all the toys that we could fix up.    We would fill a big sled with a box onto it and we would take that way up to the top of the hill to the poorer children and they were so pleased with it.  We gave them donuts…I can remember mother used to make
little donuts and things that we would take up…

                                        Mrs. Lillian Bordeaux Prue oral history interviews 1970 tape 1 p.9


 Editors Comments About The Community

 It was surprising to us during the two years we interviewed more than sixteen individuals and produced 60 tapes from the Reynolds family, mill workers, early settlers families as well as outsiders such as school teachers just how little the stories varied and how many can be varified through newspaper clippings and other shows how consitent the stories are and how truly
fair the residents were in the comments and judgements about each other.                               
W.L & R.H.M
 

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