Descendants of Pine Ridge board stick together

By Tim Lambrinos

The last Sunday in August marks a traditional get together for descendants of pioneers from Emery and Humber Summit. The day is a Memorial Day and family reunion, honouring individual relatives at the Pine Ridge cemetery. It allows family legacies to survive and provides flashes of some great storytelling too.

In 1848, the land needed for a local church and a cemetery was deeded by Joseph Rowntree. The spot was at the northwest corner of modern day Islington Ave and Rowntree Mills Rd. At the time, Rowntree Mills Rd was merely a laneway to the mill that pressed straight on the north side of the cemetery. A Primitive Methodist Church soon followed on a portion of land immediately to the south. Rowntree's wishes were that a group of trustees would establish a board to oversee and operate the cemetery. The first board had Jacob Parsons, Matthew Parsons, John Watson, Ezra Pierce, Jacob McKay and William McKay.

On Aug. 27, many of the preceding farming community residents, who lived in Humber

Summit prior to 1960, were on hand. Family members visited relative's grave sites where new generations continue to learn.

Jack Devins, 91, (featured in last month's Yesterday and Today article) was decisively recognized, with cane in hand. Devins was proudly able to look at the boarded-up home down the road on Islington that he built in 1950 one final time. The land is currently marked for new condominiums. Devins spoke to the crowd about a unique rental arrangement they had on their nearby Islington Ave farm, when he was young. His father permitted another farmer to operate a honey bee hive setup where their rent was collected in fresh honey. Beryl Rowntree Gaspardy, 93, was also in attendance for the event. She was a registered nurse and dedicated a great deal of research in helping document local history in the book published in 1985, The Rowntree Book. She spoke of charming encounters with Elizabeth Arden.

Bruce McClure's son Glenn and Cyndi Rowntree served as joint masters of ceremony on the day's agenda. But of course, Marion Rowntree Russell was also somehow worked into the program.

Emery's Poet Laureate, Dr. Lawrence Hutchman, recited some poems from his new book, Two Maps of Emery. Hutchman recounted stories of the community's early life prior to the residential boom. Tim Lambrinos, Chair of the Arts and Heritage Committee of the BIA, served as a keynote speaker for the day and provided exclusive details of John Richard Devins and Cora Mae Locke's local farm. All in all, another marvelous day to preserve a family affair. A few regulars were missed due to scheduling conflicts. Lorne and Millie Lauder from Lindsay, Randall Reid from the Weston Historical Society, Bob and Betty McQuillan and Ann Crawford.