Verna Asbil’s parents weren’t rich, but there was always food to eat and a place at the table for unexpected guests.
In the 1930s and 1940s, eking a living from the poor soil north of Rawdon in Quebec’s Lanaudière region meant having a few cows and enough laying hens to keep neighbouring cottagers in fresh cream and eggs.
In the winter, Verna’s father cut and hauled ice from the lake to sell to cottagers.
After a long career as a teacher, Verna returned to live in Mount Loyal in a cosy house overlooking the lake that was such a big part of the world in which she grew up. None of the old homesteads from her childhood remain, but the close-knit community of Mount Loyal has etched itself indelibly in Verna’s memories.
" It was hard, hard, hard work and my mother was in the fields as much as practically dad was too."
A one-room schoolhouse and a little wooden church were the places people gathered to learn and worship. And Sunday’s were made forever memorable by Verna’s grandmother relating the story of the murderer who lived down the road.