Now and Then: Pauline and Wayne Martin

SS#7 Assiginack School circa 1954. Teacher Bill Dinsmore, centre, with Pauline second from right, back row.

By Petra Wall

Wayne, a Haweater, has spent most of his life on the east end of Manitoulin. As a teen, he earned good money building scaffolding for the carpenters who worked at the acid plant in Cutler on the North Shore. He sought adventure on the Great Lakes boats next, despite the accompanying nausea which ensured this career would be short-lived. His next vocation would be bus driver for Toronto Transit. Back on the Island years later, he worked on the docks at South Baymouth. Both Pauline and Wayne also worked as caretakers for the school system.

Pauline Alvira started her life in Duncan, British Columbia, arriving to Manitoulin as a small child. Her family rented a house in South Baymouth before buying a small farm near Tehkummah. Pauline loved living among the cows, pigs, horses, chickens and turkeys but she loved horses the most. She hoped to have her own one day. Pauline spent hours riding bareback on farm horses. At the tender age of 13, she began working at Merritt’s hotel in South Baymouth. Wayne came into her life after they met at a local dance. Her subsequent work years were with the Toronto Workmen’s Compensation Board. Later, back on Manitoulin, Pauline worked at the Wigwam giftshop before taking on the caretaker job with Wayne.

“My grandparents are Mathew and Jane (Hillson) McCauley,” Pauline begins. “Jane was born in the town of Michael’s Bay where a fire later forced them from their home. They moved to a log house in Tehkummah. Their son Pete, my father, had gone west to work in the logging industry. He met and married Jean Livingstone of Ladysmith, British Columbia.” Pauline was born to Jean and Pete McCauley on April 26, 1940, in Duncan. She was the third child with siblings: Pat, Peg, Nancy, Molly and Peter.

“In the mid-1940s, planes flying overhead spooked our mother into turning off all lights and closing the curtains. The war was over, but it could have been a last stand for the German Luftwaffe. My dad worked hard in the lumber business until a pile of logs rolled on him, severely injuring his back. His spinal fusion was one of the first in Canada. He wore a cast for six months. That injury inspired father to return to Manitoulin.” The children weren’t feeling well when the family got on a bus to the ferry on Vancouver Island. The last leg of that train trip across Canada in 1948 is a strong memory. Dad, Pat and I got off the train at the McKerrow station to get some milk for the baby. The train left while we were in the store. We panicked and called the authorities. Luckily, the train always backed up to McKerrow from Espanola.”

The family arrived to a snowy, cold Manitoulin. “All the kids were still sick, and father’s serious back operation confined him for a week in the Mindemoya Hospital. At this point, mother would have easily jumped right back on a train bound for Vancouver. We lived with an uncle for a few months, then rented a house in South Baymouth before buying a small farm near Tehkummah in the spring of 1949. There was no running water and no hydro. Our last sister, Susan, the only Haweater, was born on the Island. I loved the farm and the animals. It was a good life. Mother was a great cook too.”

“An early memory on Manitoulin was our grandmother arriving at our door in Tehkummah, with her apron on, carrying a cream pail. ‘Come and pick strawberries with me,’ she had asked.” Sadly, Grandmother died in 1949 when I was just seven. At school, Mr. Nelson Little was a kind teacher but I was afraid of teachers. The instructor in Duncan, British Columbia had asked me to share my answer to a math question on the board. The answer was wrong. The teacher hit me, and all the children laughed. I vowed never to answer a question again. But this was Manitoulin and I had to trust the same would not happen. Games were fun. They included ‘red light, green light’ and ‘Anti-I-Over’ which had us throwing a ball over the outhouse or the school and someone on the other side, had to catch it.”

“At the No. 7 Slash School, Mrs. Ruby Coultis was our teacher. I liked spelling but still hated math. I tried my best, but I was never going to excel because I preferred to be riding my horse. We walked two miles to and from school each day. In the winter, some days were stormy. My siblings and I bundled up and walked quickly to keep warm. Once Wilfred Coultis, our teacher’s husband, gave us a ride on his sleigh. Dad finally got a car, but it wasn’t big enough to get all of us in. For short trips, we used a sleigh built by Bill Bowerman. We harnessed the dog and he could pull us short distances.”

“We helped where we could, leading the cattle to a field or doing housework but inside work was less appealing because we were inside. I was 13 when I cleaned rooms for Merritt’s Motel in South Baymouth. They had a very strict cleanliness policy. There was a constant porridge pot on the stove for staff and each day more cereal was added. Sometimes the whole pot would be sour, but the owner had no sense of smell, so couldn’t tell. Suppers were equally sparse. We got the outer leaves of the cabbage or other left-over vegetables and meat.” After two years, I got work with the Ferry Lunch Restaurant, on the terminal dock. We served lunches and simple meals.

“I spent the summer of 1956 at the Black Rock Resort on South Bay, cleaning cabins and also in Kagawong doing housekeeping for Austin Hunt. I had met Wayne a year earlier at a Tehkummah dance. He had another girlfriend at the time, but when they drifted apart, we got together. He had his own car and he sailed.” Wayne’s parents are Clarence and Margaret (Haner) Martin. He was born in the Mindemoya Hospital on a stormy March 10, 1939. Roads were not cleared at the time, so he was brought home in a horse and cutter, for the two-hour trip. Wayne came from a long line of Martins who had come to the Island in the mid 1800s.

Wayne continues: “I had four siblings, two sisters, Girda and Maxine and two brothers, Lloyd, and Floyd. Lloyd died at 16. Mother was 49 when she passed away in 1949. She had asthma and had been treated with a ‘medical smoke’ to clear her lungs. I was 10. There was a wake in the house before the coffin was taken to the church for the service. That was a tough time for us all. After mother died, two older sisters would bake for us in their own homes. Dad would bring them ingredients like flour and raisins. Our grandfather, Tom Martin, had suffered through a fire and had been severely burnt. His face was raw and blistered and his countenance gave one a start. He was always very friendly, keeping peppermints in his pocket for us but you had to blow the chaff off first,” Wayne offers, smiling. “He died the same year as our mother.”

“After dad remarried in 1954, we had seven living in the house, Raymond, Lyle, Donna, Irene, Floyd, Wayne and Dad. I liked school but hated that I lived right across the street from it. I had no excuse to miss even a stormy day. The teacher was always there. Floyd and Donna rode the school bus to the High School in Mindemoya and in 1956, I joined them. It was quite a change after the one-room schoolhouse. There were two Grade 9s. I luckily got into the main class because the other class was held in the basement of the community center. Math, science, and history were my favourites.”

“I finished half of Grade 10, realized I wasn’t heavy enough for INCO underground work, but I could make good money working at the acid plant in Cutler. They needed carpenters to construct scaffolding. By the spring of the following year, at 18, I was working on the big lakers. Nausea was making this work less palatable, and our money could only be spent when the ‘Bun’ boats tied up next to us. They offered smokes, shirts, guns and stamps for letters.”

“We experienced serious difficulty only once, when the big dock cable, used to tie up the 600-foot boat, owned by Upper Lakes Transportation, got washed overboard. It got tangled in the propeller and the motor. It took many hours to fix that. One summer we had a load of train wheels to deliver to Chicago. We tried to stay clear of these heavy wheels. A shifting load during a heavy wind, could have injured us and sunk the boat.” Another time, Wayne was wheelsman. “The boat was light, and we were working against the wind.” Wayne saw a light on shore and expertly held the course until the wind died down.

“Many of our boats were Canallers, about 350 feet long, used to haul grain from Thunder Bay and Toronto to Quebec and Montreal. Only these smaller boats got through the lifts until the seaway opened in April of 1959. That opening required the temporary closing of all shipping and the flooding of the seaway. We had to wait for three days.”

Pauline and Wayne wrote many letters to each other, and Wayne visited when he could. When Wayne’s dad died in 1959, Wayne came home and worked on the farm until it was sold in the spring. Then Wayne headed back to Toronto and worked in a gas station and made deliveries for Eaton’s. “My cousin Russell Moody, a police officer who regulated downtown Toronto traffic between Eaton’s and Simpson’s, recognized me one day and slapped my elbow when I drove past him. It was nice to have family nearby.”

Pauline explains: “My father had sent me to Toronto to broaden my horizons before marriage. My sister Peg lived there and worked at a local Toronto Credit Union. She had been so brave to come alone to the big city. I was 17, fresh off the Island. One morning Peg said, ‘Let’s go downtown and get a job.’ She dropped me off on Bay Street, directing me to go right to the Unemployment Office. I was completely on my own. I was so scared. I sat down at the UIC (Unemployment Insurance Commission) office and after a little while, started to cry. ‘What’s wrong?’ a nice lady staffer asked me. I told her my story and she bid me follow her. She called someone then turned to me and said, ‘I have a job for you. Please wait on this corner for the streetcar and stay on it until it goes for a loop, then get off at this street.’ Surprisingly, I found that destination and got the job. I had borrowed Peg’s glasses so I could read the signs and get off at the right stops. I was making $32.50 a week at the Workmen’s Compensation Board after making $11 every two weeks on UIC. I was rich.”

Wayne and Pauline continued to date, and they were married on Tuesday, July 14, 1960. “I bought her a nice ring, and she couldn’t refuse,” Wayne shares, smiling. The ceremony was held in St. Andrew’s by the Sea United Church in South Baymouth. Wayne Smith was the minister. Uncle Wilmer gave Pauline away as Dad was away for work. A lively reception was held at the parental home. Then it was back to Toronto to the upper floor of a rented house. Pauline was back at WCB, and Wayne was now driving buses for Toronto Transit.

The couple had three children, Christine, Steve and Anita. “When I was expecting Christine, I was surprised that the Toronto pharmacy allowed me to charge some baby items that would be paid when Wayne got paid. That worked well for us. “In 1969, my father died of a heart attack. He was working for Ontario Hydro. Our mother then started to work for some of the tourist camps: the Buckhorn Hotel, Northern Aire Lodge and Timberlane Rustic Lodges where she cooked for the Hans family of Indiana. She had the misfortune to be struck by lightning that had come through the gas line, through the frying pan and then out of the fork in her left hand.”

“In 1978, mother, Wayne and I went west to visit her mother, Marjory Livingstone in Vancouver. They hadn’t seen each other for 20 years. Grandmother Marjory lived in a small apartment. When the two saw each other, they began to dance in a circle and sing, ‘Little Green Valley,’ a song they had shared decades ago. Mother also saw her two sisters, Vi and Gladys. Vi knew the game warden and was able to purchase some wild salmon and king crab. We had a feast, with enough for breakfast the next day.”

“One day I was sitting in the sun at my mother’s place on Manitoulin when Wayne and I decided to look at a few houses, one of which was this empty house. We made an offer, bought our house in 1981, then moved to Manitoulin. My brother-in-law came down to drive the car back and I drove the moving van. Two of our children were on their own by then. Christine was married and Steve stayed in his Toronto apartment. Anita was seven and came with us. Both Wayne and I got work at the South Baymouth dock. I was in the restaurant and Wayne worked on the docks. Our last years before retirement in 2000 were spent as custodians for the school system here.”

“Today, Christine is retired from working for the WCB. She is married to Dave Merrick who was employed with the post office both in Toronto and, later, in Sudbury. They have two children, Wayne, and Cassandra. Wayne also has two children, Skylar, and Callie. Cassandra has four children, Tatyanna, Ava, Chloe and Aurora.”

“Steve and wife Gail owned a Foodland in Burke’s Falls and later in Creemore. Today, Steve is a carpenter, and they have two children, William and Sarah and a grandchild Noah. Lastly, Anita manages a Wendy’s on the Kingsway in Sudbury. She has two daughters and is also on her own. Anita’s daughter Alicia is a nurse working for Sudbury Mental Health. Samantha works in early childhood education.

Were you named after anyone? “Yes, my maternal aunt Vi,” Wayne: “I’m ‘Wayne, Willard, Elmer, Rex. I was not aware of the last two names until I saw my birth certificate.”

Most important event in your life? “The births of our children and grandchildren and watching them grow up so quickly. They are all thoughtful, respectful, and doing well.”

Favourite pets? “Little Kitty, a feral cat was four when we got her and Spitty who spit at Wayne when Wayne climbed up to her perch in the shed. We found a budgie in a tree the day before we left Toronto. Our son, Steve, caught it using seeds. Tweet was put into a cage and brought home. Tweet would talk to us and repeat phrases like ‘Good morning’ when you took off the cover, or ‘Tweet you’re such a cute bird.’ ‘Grandma, how’s the rum?’ Tweet would also exchange cards between any two opponents.” Favourite season? Both claim “spring. All is fresh, growing, coming to life.”

Awards or trophies? “We ran out of space for the ribbons and awards won over 17 years from the Light Horse Club. I was 50 when I got my own horse, Brandy, and I rode him everywhere,” Pauline adds proudly. “Strengths? Growing vast areas of lupins from seed, making cards, and playing crib with Wayne during our morning coffee.”

“She’s very lucky” Wayne claims, “Sudoku, another word game, is enjoyable too. I built our garage and I used to make houses for bluebirds.”

Something you still want to do? “No. We have stopped travelling and sold our camper and motor home. I tire more easily now. I’m ok in the morning but fade in the afternoon,” Wayne adds.

What did you enjoy most as a parent? “Christmases and camping north of Thunder Bay and Richie Falls, with the family. Best holidays are those celebrated with our family.”

“Associations we participated in? United Church Women, but our church, Tehkummah Fairview, which hosted events, has shut down due to low membership.”

Most proud of? “Our children.” Wayne: “I am the last of my family and proud that I still bear the name Martin.”

Recipe for happiness? “The dishwasher broke so we do dishes together and share other duties. We converse more. Lastly, let the wife win at crib.”

Most afraid of? Spiders, skunks and bats for Pauline, and bees for Wayne.

If you could keep only three items you own, what would they be? Pauline: “Our two cats and the photos.”

If you could go back in time, would you change anything? “No, we have had a good life and we’d do it all again. The one thing we might have done,” Pauline adds, “was not sell the farm. I would have come here instantly.”

“Manitoulin is the only place. I was born and raised here,” Wayne offers. “I’m a proud Haweater in this beautiful peaceful and quiet place, far away from the traffic of Toronto where buses and subways are filled with hectic passengers. You can breathe here, come back to traditional values, and know this is a safe place to raise kids. That is something I wish for the future of our society. You can have a wonderful life here. We are lucky, have good health and small problems. People here know each other and are kind to one another. Our riches are not in money, but in living here and enjoying Manitoulin with our families when we can.”