by Margaret Clipperton
All four of us girls asked that at once as we described what we had seen. A line of Ringling Bros. Circus trucks drove past our place with pictures of all kinds of animals painted on the sides. One truck had a real elephant with its trunk waving out a window. Ads had appeared in the Sault Daily Star for the circus so we were not surprised to see the circus pass through Walford (before the highway by-passed the village).
Our mother, Mrs. Grace Walford, got an idea and shared it with the local Post Mistress, Mrs Emma Thornton. They each wrote a letter to the circus and asked if they would stop in Walford on their way back. Mrs Thornton received a telegram from Ringling to say they would be passing through our area about 11am Sunday morning and would stop at the post office to show off the animals. Word was transmitted via our ‘party line’ telephone system and at the postoffice/ store. A good sized crowd showed up.
The drivers and performers opened doors on the sides of some of the trailers to show us the jungle cats. There were tigers, lions and several other fierce animals. The elephants were set free in the yard at Whalen’s blacksmith shop. They romped like children enjoying freedom for a few minutes then one discovered the pump on the well and wrapping its trunk around the pump handle it pumped water. The other one sucked water up its trunk, had a drink, then blew water out its trunk to our amusement. When the drivers decided they had to leave they told us to wait for Ferdinand, who would be along soon.
Later a car drove up pulling a small horse trailer with "Ferdinand the Performing Bull" painted on the side. Ferdinand was a big beast. He could do tricks like a dog or a horse, shake hands, stand on his back legs, beg, roll over and count by stomping. The handlers took out a washtub and he sat on it then raised his front legs to wave. My Dad, Herbert Walford commented quietly, that he was no longer a ‘bull’! But we kids did not know what Daddy meant. He seemed to enjoy performing and the handlers of all the animals were kind and gentle.
The circus people handed out flyers for their shows at Stanley Stadium in Copper Cliff. Our parents took us and two friends to see the show. We had four people to each seat in the car, with no seat belts at that time and a bench seat in the front was accommodating. Our biggest regret was that they arrived just as the Catholic Church service started, and of course everyone in Walford went to church, no matter what the local distraction. They did get out on time to see Ferdinand but not the elephants and cats. I think the year was about 1945 or 46.
Submitted by Ellen Mooney
Robert John and Ella Mooney were not the first in the family to move to and settle in the Massey area. RJ’s sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Frank McIntyre came first. and they convinced RJ and Ella that Temperance Valley was the place to farm.
In March 1899, Robert John and Ella and their two year old son Manson, came from Guyon, Pontiac County in Quebec. They packed up their belongings and livestock and loaded it all on a boxcar in Arnprior, Ontario and headed for their new home in Massey. RJ rode in the caboose so he could tend to the livestock.
Shortly after settling in, Dora May was born on May 7th and they went on to have ten children in total: Manson, Dora (McLaren), Keith, Arnold, Grace (Walford), Marjorie (Clarke), Bernice (Thornton), Allen, Wallace and Edith (Wolgemuth).
At first they rented a small log cabin but, by summer, a house had been built and about three acres cleared and seeded with grain and potato’s. By years end, a barn had been built for the livestock.
Robert John had a comprehensive interest in the community, church, school and municipal government and served as reeve of the municipality for many years, as secretary of the local school board and as an elder of the Massey United Church.
My grandparents were true pioneers. They hacked a hole in the bush to build a home and farm.
A farm that, 3 generations later is still in existence today.
Jonella Farms, a successful dairy operation is a proud tribute to what my grandparents started 117 years ago.
This summer (2016), Mooney’s will have a reunion to celebrate and remember our family heritage.
This ongoing blog is a collection of articles and photos written by volunteers, staff and you, about the history of our region!