Once Upon a Time: Bud and His Buddies


Christmas Eve in Bruce County has always remained a time of excited anticipation. Marion McGillivray reminiscences about one very special, long-ago December 24th

Dusk came early that Christmas Eve of 1930. With it came a flurry of snowflakes, whirling into the houseyard and almost obliterating the laneway and barn beyond. Five o’clock chores were finished and the children were gathered in the kitchen as they eagerly awaited the arrival of their father and the sleigh from town with its possible bags of mystery gifts for the big day tomorrow.

Finally, the sound of sleigh bells echoed in the distance and there was a rush to the nearest window. First the big team, Dick and Pat, hove into sight through the gloom, followed closely by the driver in his coonskin coat. On the sleigh were the usual bags of grist, fresh from Bell’s mill in Port Elgin. Above the mounds of grist there was a curious shape, something resembling a farm vehicle. And what was the other shape trotting along behind the sleigh? A calf? A big dog? One of Santa’s deer? The two boys could not contain their excitement, and donning their jackets and boots, rushed out the back door, leaving it wide open behind them.

                                                                circa 1905

When they returned an hour later, they refused to explain the mystery, but their shining eyes indicated that something extraordinary had taken place. It was the next morning when the rest of the family learned that the Christmas present glimpsed at the sleigh was a black Shetland pony, and a buggy with complete set of harness. His name was Bud and he was to be the means of daily travel to the local school house as soon as the roads permitted. He was about six years old at the time, having been owned by Dr. Powers, a Port Elgin dentist, who had bought him some time before for his young daughter, Mary Elizabeth. Bud proved to be too frisky for the little girl and Dr. Powers, fearing an accident, had decided to sell him.

Co-incidentally, one member of a neighbouring family, who lived six miles from town, had developed a severe case of anaemia and had been forbidden by the family doctor, to walk to school. The perfect solution seemed to be pony express. And Bud performed his duties as long as the children were in elementary school. More adventures of Bud next month.


This article was originally written for the 1994 Bruce County Historical Society yearbook and adapted by Bob Johnston