I can’t even imagine opening my front door to find more than a hundred of my neighbours greeting me and expecting to come into my home. Yet that’s exactly what happened to my grandparents and their five children in 1921. The event was a send-off – a demonstration of goodwill offered by the people of Donegal, a small farming community in Peterborough county, near Norwood.
The details are in a newspaper article that was published in the Norwood Register and preserved in the archives of the Norwood Historical Society. Just ten days before the family moved to a farm near Colborne, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Dayman “welcomed their guests and proceeded to make them feel at home.”
During the evening, one of the neighbours read an address that expressed appreciation and offered best wishes. Mentioned were the family’s assistance in “sorrow, sickness and death,” their attendance at Sunday School, their service in leadership roles in church and school, and their “cheerful presence.” The community gave gifts to everyone – two chairs for my grandparents and Bibles or Testaments for the five children.
Send-offs were traditional in small rural communities. All of life’s transitions – births, marriages, and anniversaries – were honoured. Neighbours assisted each other in times of trouble and death. This caring and sharing is part of our Ontario heritage.