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Former Caledon mayor speaks at historical society meeting

May 17, 2018   ·   0 Comments

Written By JASEN OBERMEYER

Emil Kolb, former mayor of Caledon and chairman of the Region of Peel, recently spoke at the Albion-Bolton Historical Society, discussing his family’s life story.

The meeting took place this past Monday (May 14) at the Bolton United Church, and saw nearly 30 people attend to hear the former longtime politician and farmer speak about his family’s history.

“History is so important to all of us,” he told the audience. “We have to talk about it in order for our children and our grandchildren to realize what some parents had to go through, what some families had to go through.”

A longtime resident of Albion township, he began his presentation with explaining how his parents came to Canada. His father, Emil Frederick Kolb, from Germany, came to Canada in 1910, arriving at the port in Halifax, while his mother, later immigrated from Yugoslavia. He went on to explain how his father took the train all the way to Regina, before settling in Gravelbourg, where Mr. Kolb was born in 1936.

“It was an amazing kind of town. There was all kinds of stores and shops.”

He told everyone that his father came because of the country’s advertising for people in Europe to settle in Western Canada, to increase the areas sparse population. This was done through the promise of getting 160 acres of free land.

Mr. Kolb moved on to discussing the Great Depression, which were “very devastating years” for Western Canada. He said the dust bowls and snow storms along with the depression were factors in his family moving east, eventually settling in Caledon in 1937.

“I recalled my dad saying they had to put a wire from the house to the barn because the snow storms were so severe they had difficulty finding their way.”

The family settled on a farm, raising several animals including chickens, cows, pigs and horses. They eventually got hydro in 1948, and invested in modern farming equipment. “Everything was still done by horses.”

One of the memories that stuck out the most for Mr. Kolb was going to midnight mass in the winter, with his father taking them on a horse and sleigh ride. “It was pretty special, with the stars all shining, the frosty cold nights, and the bells on the horses.”

He also recalled when his father suffered a heart attack in 1951, and his job was to go the mill or to get supplies in town. “I eventually got to know all the store owners on Queen Street and King Street.”

Mr. Kolb added that the wagon was heavy and was nervous going up the North hill towards Castlederg Sideroad, “Especially during the snow and ice.”

When his sister was getting married, he said his father announced that he severed four lots off the original family farm, one for each of the siblings,“which was a big thing to us in those days because we didn’t have any money either.” This allowed the farm to continue, while they could build and have their own house.

         

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