By Rev. C.J. Barry Kentner (“Rare Bear”)
A line from John Macfie’s book “Now and Then” footnotes to Parry Sound’s History reads: Before Television, There was The Kitchen Stove. Following this, there is a short take on the Kitchen Stove – the various models, and how they were used not only for cooking but for heating as well.
I can remember many old stoves, for instance, my grandmother’s. It was a classic from the l880’s. It sat in the corner of the kitchen and was a full four feet in length. It had four burners, a warming oven, a firebox, and an oven that was big enough to roast a turkey, four pies, and anything else you can imagine.
The top shelf was fringed with chrome rings, and the oven doors and the firebox doors were all anointed with chromium pull handles attached with rings to the stove. And on the sides of the stove between the cooking surface and the top shelf, there was a chromium border. Truly a beautiful stove. And practical, too!
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Practical not only for cooking and warming but for drying the washing when it was raining. And yes, it was also ideal to sit around at night.
In fact, as I thought about John Macfie’s short treatise on the Pioneer Stove, I can remember several incidents where I too sat around a stove conversing with friends.
There was a camp stove in a cabin on the Boy Scout “Camp of the Crooked Creek” on the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario. Which, as late as l949, had a stove that was almost a hundred years old .and still in magnificent shape.
There were many weekend evenings that my peers and I along with many other scouts, sat around this stove swapping yarns.
There was a time when two boys (and I was NOT one of them) climbed to the roof of the building and laid the lid of a garbage can on top of the chimney. We were cooking supper at the cookhouse at that moment, and it was about an hour and a half before we were to assemble in the building. By then, the smoke was so thick that you couldn’t see inside at all.
I also remember a stove that a friend had in a farmhouse that he bought. In time he’d eventually build a house on that lot, but the old farmhouse, in which his wife grew up remained and the old kitchen stove also remained. There were some nights that were spent in that house where the fire warmed the kitchen as we talked around the kitchen table.
And when we lived in Magnetawan, we were warmed by a Valley Comfort Stove that, while modern, was still a wood stove and kept us warm and cozy not only on chilly nights but on nights when it was even 40 below on the centigrade scale.
Yes, the wood-burning stove is alive and well and many are those who still use them. They also smell nice — -especially on the night air when the fire has just been lit and the air is frosty. You know, it is too bad, in some folk’s language anyway, that the wood stove is not more popular. But to those who have them, a night around the stove is still a beautiful thing.
The lure of restored beauty
In broken things made whole
Compared to what God does
When he restores
Rev. C.J. Barry Kentner