Blink and you just might miss the Mina Rollason farm along a road in Southern Ontario. The farm is quiet these days, the only sound to be heard is the wind as it caresses the leaves of the tress hovering over Mina’s house.
Mina Jean was born on August 5, 1916 to a feisty Scotsman Duncan Campbell and his wife Kate in Windsor,Ontario and she was the oldest sibling of Norma, Annie, Glenn and Lloyd. The family later relocated to London, Ontario where Mina met her future husband Reginald. The couple had a son Ronnie and a daughter Rosalie who had the distinction of being the first baby born to a Canadian soldier after the Second World War began.
While her husband was away fighting in the Second World War, Mina kept the family together and had many hopes and dreams for their future. After the war the family purchased a farm and had a third child, Rolly. The picture perfect family that Mina had envisioned didn’t last though, for less than five years later Reginald had left the family to pursue his own life goals – goals that didn’t include raising three children on a farm.
Mina was determined to raise her family on her own and decided that the farm was going to remain their home. Mina was not raised on a farm but was determined to learn any necessary tasks to provide for her family. Mina butchered her own pigs, made her own bread, grew a garden and canned, pickled and preserved everything that she was able to harvest. She raised chickens for meat and eggs and customers were always ready to buy her surplus. Her food products from her kitchen which were sought after in the community. The proceeds of her food sales was enough to put Rosalie through Nursing School.
Many of the local brides had their showers catered with trays of sandwiches, tarts and squares as well as a wedding cake that were all prepared by Mina. Mina loved to make people happy and would spend more hours preparing the food she sold than she ever charged for.
Mina also served as a 4H homemaking club member. She sewed both her own and her children’s clothing and became skilled in creating crafts These skills led to her obtaining a job at the Thames Secondary School in London for ten years before she retired at age 65. Mina was an avid hockey fan and once had her neighbours over until 3:00 am listening to the hockey game on the radio. She surprised many of the teenaged students whom she taught baking by being able to list team names, numbers and statistics.
Mina was gifted in that she was able to quickly learn new skills while being able to teach others those same skills – something she did while teaching classes at the YMCA. Mina’s daughter in law remembers her teaching the grandchildren macrame, crochet and knitting at the same time she was canning peaches in a steaming hot kitchen.
Mina was stubborn and of the generation that didn’t necessarily believe in doctors. Her father had never taken a pill in his life and Mina didn’t intend to either. This attitude caused problems when Mina turned 90 and required medication.
Mina loved all of the animals that lived in the woods surrounding her farm – chipmnks, squirrels, raccoons, family dogs and many cats. Uncaring pet owners began taking advantage of this by dropping off their unwanted pets by Mina’s mailbox. This is somewhat evident to today’s explorer walking through her house today – litter boxes can be found in many of the rooms and there is an unmistakable scent of cat urine.
Mina enjoyed a long life and passed away on April 2, 2011 at the age of 95.
The farm remains as she has left it approximately four years ago and in some of the rooms the electricity still works
View as you approach the house. A patio door is ajar, inviting you in.
Clothes hang in the closet. World War Two documents were to be found in this bedroom.
The kitchen suffered a broken water pipe in the winter of 2015. When I revisited this location water was pouring out. I was going to turn the water flow off but the water was flowing over top of a power box.
The smell of cat urine was overwhelming. Mina had been a cat lover, we found litter boxes inside.
The house is what I’d call a time crapsule. Still very much left the way it had been, but having been picked over and not quite “untouched” looking.
The doors were removed from this cabinet when I returned in 2015.