article following is provided by that wonderful publication, the “Puslinch
Pioneer”, which for over thirty years has been dedicated to coverage of
The Fixter Family of Killean
(Part I, from the Puslinch Pioneer, December 1984/January 1985, volume 9, issue 5)
The century farm home of Scott and Evelyn Fixter, like many of the old stone houses built in the last century, has a dignity, beauty and charm that is somehow missing from the homes built today. The Fixter home also has a most unusual architectural feature in that it boasts of not one but two beautiful bow windows. The house was built in 1877; the date is inscribed on a basement wall by Scott’s grandfather, John Scott.
The beauty of many old stone houses is expressed here. Note the two lovely bow windows and the clean ornamentation of the front porch, all combining with the single dormer to give an artistically balanced effect.
The mortar for the house was made on the property. Limestone rocks were gathered from the fields and placed in a masonry kiln. A fire made with hardwood was kept blazing until the rocks became red-hot. When they cooled down they were broken up into coarse powder called lime. Limestone rocks are made up mostly of calcium carbonate. When the lime reacts with water it forms calcium hydroxide or slaked lime. Lime is also called quick-lime because of its strong chemical action. The lime swells when mixed with water and the water becomes so hot it actually boils. Lime has to be handled with great respect because it is very caustic and can cause nasty burns. The mortar made in this manner has certainly stood the test of time.
The picturesque stone silo on the Fixter farm was built before the house and was the first silo in the section. It is still in use and is packed with corn so that the livestock can have juicy, tasty feed all winter.
The old and the new, the pioneer silo, still quite functional, stands beside a modern design silo. Basically, there is not much change in the essential design.
The first silos were just pits covered with boards. Interestingly, the Americans learned how to make silos from the Europeans in the 1870’s. Chopped plant material (silage) is put in the top of the silo and removed from the bottom as required. If the silage is packed properly all the air is forced out of the silo. Moulds that cause the feed to spoil cannot survive without air. Fermentation also helps prevent spoilage. It was found that round silos can best withstand the pressure of tightly packed food, plus it is almost impossible to pack the food into square corners tightly enough to force out the air.
The Crown deed issued to John Scott for the farm is dated Sept. 25, 1857. John married Margaret McPhatter. In 1898, their daughter Margaret married Englishman Henry Fixter. The Fixter family was blessed with four children, Scott, Pansy (Mrs. Major), Grace (Mrs. Lindsay), and Olive (Mrs. Clarence Awde). Scott’s mother Margaret inherited the farm from her brother Matthew and in 1948 she left the farm to Scott.
Scott attended School Section # 7. Stones from the farm, donated by Grandfather Scott, were used to build the Killean school. There were only two other children in Scott’s class, Tina McMillan and Rosie Burmaster. Their first teacher was Minnie McLeod. Other teachers were Norm Boal, Christina McLarty, Miss Nesbitt, and Margaret Major. Their drinking water came from a spring behind the school. Scott recalls that they would fill up a bucket and put it on the windowsill and there it would sit ready to quench the thirst of the teacher and pupils. The box stove used to heat the school was huge and could take wood in 2 ft. lengths. Behind the school, the two outhouses, boys and girls, were separated by a tall board fence.
The Christmas Concert was the big event and Scott remembers that they had a lot of fun rehearsing for it. Mr. Robert Burmaster would come and play his accordion. He was a very big man and he always disappeared when Santa showed up. Before Santa left, he would always play a couple of tunes on Mr. Burmaster’s accordion. The children, caught up in all the excitement, never did connect Mr. Burmaster with the accordion playing Santa.
The Fixter Family of Killean
(Part II, from the Puslinch Pioneer, February 1985, volume 9, issue 6.)
Section # 7,
Back Row: Teena McMillan, Grace McMillan, Miss Nesbitt, Maggie Ball, Rosie Burmaster. 2nd Row: Pansy Fixter, Grace Fixter, Margaret Milroy, Isobel Burmaster, Scott Fixter, Robert Burmaster. Seated: Angus McMillan, William Ball, Sylvester Burmaster.
Many of the early settlers who took up land in
the south west corner of Puslinch, S.S. # 7, came from Killean, a parish and
General Store and Post Office, Killean, 1883. Known as “The Scotch House”, it was built by Donald Ferguson (seated, holding dog) circa 1869.
The Killean Train Station was built in the 1880’s. Scott Fixter recalls that when he was a boy the C. P. R. train, steam, never stopped at the station to pick up or deliver the mail, it only slowed down. The incoming mail bag was kicked off the train and the outgoing mail bag was snatched off the tower by a mechanical arm on the train. The tower was made of angle iron and looked like a small windmill tower.
Home delivery of mail didn’t start until 1913 and Scott recalls that the children would walk to the General Store after school to pick up their mail. The store sold, among many other items, cod fish that had been salted, smoked and dried. It was kept just inside the door and Scott remembers that everyone managed to pinch off a piece. He doesn’t know how much was sold but figured that the little nips people helped themselves to must have amounted to quite a few pounds in a year. “It tasted alright” Scott recalls, “I had my share.” (Perhaps the snack food people should look into the possibility of a fish-flavoured chip.)
Donald Ferguson’s son, Marshall, was the Post Master when Scott went to school. Marshall’s nephew, Harold Ball, met the train at the station, then carried the mail bag over a mile to the Post Office before walking to school. He was always late for school but Scott recalls that he was a bright boy and had no trouble catching up on his school work.
When School Inspector J. J. Craig arrived at
S.S. 7, the older boys would have to take his horse and buggy to the stable at
Scott wrote his entrance exams in 1914. He recalls that at that time there was no hydro, telephone, car or tractor. In June 1914, when his dad took him and Teena McMillan in the buggy to Aberfoyle to write their exams it was quite the big outing. The exams took 2 or 3 days to write and Scott and Teena stayed with the John Blake family.
Scott served on the local and area School
Boards. He was a Councillor, Deputy-Reeve and Reeve of Puslinch for a total of 12
years. He was also a member of the
Hespeler and Puslinch Planning Boards and a member of the
This writer looked forward to many more interesting visits with Scott and his wife Evelyn to record some of Scott’s many fascinating stories of bygone days. Scott passed away suddenly at his century farm home on January 15th, and the staff of the Puslinch Pioneer wish to extend their sincere sympathy to his wife Evelyn and to their children John, Clarence and Doreen, and all other family members.
Contributed by Cleo Melzer.