My grandfather Andrew Whiffin and his wife Elizabeth Slaney were two of the first settlers in what was once called Midland.My grandfather arrived on July 17, 1936, according to the Midland Diary. They were one of the group of twenty-five families to resettle on land given to them by the government in their agricultural resettlement plan of the Commission Government. Five of the first twenty-five families did not stay long, so five more were accepted for the resettlement.
Mr. Pat Whelan told me that the land was very rocky, on the piece of land assigned to him, so he moved way down to where the new high school is now located.
I don’t know much about my grandfather Whiffin, except that he was the one who looked after all the money in his family, as my grandmother had no idea how to pay bills or do her banking, after his death. He had been in the war and my grandmother said that he did not come back unscathed from it. He had some kind of injury, but I don’t recall what it was.
What I do remember about him was that he was very serious, and when my face seems more serious than I intend it to be, I think about how often people are misinterpreted because of a serious demeanour. He worked hard and I think he was a kind grandfather. He was very quiet and if he had been unkind, I would have been afraid of him, or I would recall some incidents. But there are none in my memory.
My one memory is of him falling on the lawn, and I found him. I remember calling to my grandmother that grandfather was lying on the ground. After that he went to the hospital and I think he had a heart attack. Other people might be able to add to this story.
There was a large oval framed photo of him in their living room. It was of him in his uniform in the war and he was very handsome back then. I often wish that I could have been old enough to ask him about that time, how difficult he found it and how it affected his life.
When my grandfather died, I was really young. I remember going into a bedroom in their house, where he was waking. Their dog Tippy was outside the door, and he loved my grandfather so much. He would not leave that spot right outside the door the whole time his body was there.
It makes me happy to think that a street in our town is named after my grandparents. There are many other first families who should have that honor as well, and eventually I’m sure it will happen. As the town grows larger, there will be many more streets to be named.
I am pleased that the high school is built on Whiffin land, land that had been in our family since the 1930s. Educating our young people about the importance of roots and appreciation for what we have accomplished in such a short time, ensures that our history won’t be lost.