The Boy with the Box of Candles, 1918

By: Charles MacLean Cochand

Volume 13, Issue 12, December 2018

Editor’s Note: Chas M. Cochand discovered our first story about the Fulford family, written in May 2011, Fulford Yacht's Historical Homecoming,  by Kim Lunman.  Soon after he provided the untold story of romance and tragedy of Senator George Taylor Fulford’s daughter, Martha and her marriage to Charlie MacLean, who came from Montreal. Charlie and The Magedoma… Romance and Tragedy on the River and Romance and Tragedy on the River: The Circle Closes were two of his articles.

Then in 2014, he wrote Charley MacLean’s Homecoming Down River, telling the story of how the family was invited to return to Brockville for a tea party.  In 2015, Chas presented a link between the Thousand Islands and the Quebec Laurentians and Chalet Cochand. On November 11th, Remembrance Day, Chas wrote an article, Ian Aldos McLean’s Christmas Feast. allowing us to step back in time. Now, December 2018, he adds to the stories of days gone by.


Christmas 1918

They had come home, well some of them had.

Percy Hambridge
Major CW MacLean

There were marching bands and drums and those terrible whiny pipes  ‘les Écossais' played with their bare kilted legs and funny bonnets.

Jean had stood there with Percy, the Irish orphan, trying to follow the mystery and the logic.

M’sieur le Curé had said they were going to punish ‘les Boches’, a  cowardly sinful nation who had shamelessly attacked the innocent King of  the Belgians and his people.

Jean had heard some of the men saying it wasn’t their fight here in  rural Quebec, up-River from Montreal ‘abord de la grande fleuve’, now  covered mostly in dirty grey ice.

Jean looked at ‘le Colonel’.

He'd been young, with flashing eyes and smile; when he left with his sword and pistol, horses and groom.

Now, sometimes he looked so sad. His eyes seemed older and he laughed less.

He brought home a wife and a small son from the war and there had  been speeches and solemn masses in churches to remember those who had
not come from home. His mother's favourite brother Uncle Jean Marc had gone.

Mull Hall
Doris and Charlie

The bodies had not come home, and there was much sadness and anger  over that. They said Jean Marc slept with the others, at Vimy in France.  Jean thought his ‘oncle' would be happy there.

There were widows in the village who remembered those who had not  come back, and they said the big ‘hôpital' at St. Anne's, down the road  was filled with some of the terribly injured, bodies torn by explosions,  eyes still staring at the horrors, gassed with terrible poisons.

Madame's brother was there. ‘l'Oncle Harry' who sat quietly, coughing  as he drank ‘le whisky blanc'. He had been gassed and still coughed a  lot.

Charles MacLean

M'sieur  Monty, Madame's father was there. The whole village turned out to watch  him fire the cannon last year! But it had been hard with all the young  men all away, so far away and it had been cold, and not much food.

Before the war had started, life had been sweet. Would it be the same again? Ever?

Jean had told Perce about the parties when ‘les Cousins de  Brockville' had come down the River in the great flashing yacht, so fast  sometimes in the night you could hear the drumming of her mighty steam  engines and Jean would wake and would go to the window to see her  piercing white light as she arrived from up-River with all the happy  excited guests.

The dinner in the grand dining room after was wonderful.

Magedoma 2018

He  and Perce had done all the fires that morning, and Madame Young had  gotten all the young girls in from the village to shine the silver. M.  Young was serving wine in sparkling carafes and the little boy, Ian, was  laughing as le gouvernant M'amsel Wildgoose carried him about, and the  Big Dogs were sleeping, one eye open, watching for bones.

Perce coughed and nudged him. Jean looked and Perce nodded.

A candle on the big tree was guttering. That was their job, in their  shiny new Christmas suits. There were fifty candles to watch.

Jean reached with his silver snuffer, candle out, and then wrestled a  fresh candle from the box on his hip, on tip toes, he carefully pushed  it into the softt goo of the old candle and lit it with the taper Perce  passed him.

He smiled.

It was going to be ‘okay'. Le Colonel was back, the cows were in milk  on the farm, the sleighs were ready, and the bells polished.

Bientot, Pere Noel viendra! There would be feasting in the servant’s  hall tonight and singing and dancing again. In the spring. M. Young said  Le Colonel was going to buy a fine new modern motor car and he and  Perce would be trained as drivers!

And then it would be summer, and fishing! and swimming.

By Chas MacLean Cochand, Brook Farm, Blissford Hampshire SP6 2JQ.

Chas Cochand was born in Montreal and raised in the Laurentians at  his family's ski resort, Chalet Cochand. At 14, he went off to school  in Switzerland, but returned to the University of Western Ontario in  London, ON, for a degree in English & History. He attended the Inns  of Court School of Law, London UK,  and was called to the Bar by Middle  Temple, in 1978, and has been practicing criminal law in England ever  since. He lives with his wife Judy and three adult sons, in the New  Forest, Hampshire U.K., but comes home to Canada every summer for a  month at Judy's family cottage on Lake Simcoe.
Chas has written eight other articles for TI Life some are whimsical while others, like this one, link his family to  Brockville through the Fulford family.  This is another of those  fascinating articles.

Note:  The Big House is now known as  Stewart Hall  and was built by the authors grandfather, Charles MacLean.  When it was originally built in the small village of Pointe Claire,  Quebec, it was named Mull Hall. Today it serves as a community centre.


Comments  

Comment by: douglas maclean
Left at: 10:41 AM Sunday, December 16, 2018
Well done cousin Charles....another history nugget in print.
Do wish Dad's name was spelt properly Ian Aldous MacLean....eih we are not Mc's we are Mac's....!
Wish Thousand Islands mag. continued success.
Doug

Comment by: Bob Tweedy
Left at: 1:35 PM Sunday, December 16, 2018
A very gripping story

Comment by: Heidi Cochand
Left at: 10:13 AM Monday, December 17, 2018
Well done Chas. Fun to imagine Percy there as a young boy. Growing up  with all of us and still being there when we were grown up. He was such a  kind and loving hard working soul. I remember his voice. Great  memories.  love and hugs to you Bro. thanks for this.
Heidi  

Posted in: Volume 13, Issue 12, December 2018



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