Profile of Leeds; Mr. & Mrs. Clair Stanton, Seeley’s Bay

This article was written circa 1972 by Jacqueline Carpenter. It was reprinted in Stanton Stats of December 30, 1996.

Clair and Pearl Stanton in front of their home, Bracken House at Seeleys Bay, Ontario
Clair and Pearl Stanton in front of their home, Bracken House at Seeleys Bay, Ontario

Seldom do we meet someone who is really outstanding in such a way we just ‘sense’ it. They make a lasting impression on us even if our relationship with them is brief. For some reason they are unforgettable.

Clair Stanton of Seeley’s Bay is such a person, as is his wife Pearl. When some of us first discussed possible subjects for the first “Profile” in this series, the Stantons seemed to come naturally to everyone’s mind.

Now in case you have only recently arrived in these parts, or you’e been in a coma, Mr. Stanton has lived in Seeley’s Bay almost all of his life, which now covers 82 years.

To look at him, he is an enviable figure for a man half his age. He is tall and lean with a finely chiseled face. He gives one the impression that if you were to strike his chest, your fist would be met by a wall of granite. He sits straight and steady and radiates good health. His clear eyes have never needed the help of glasses.

Mrs. Stanton is that rare person indeed who exudes gentleness and serenity. A truly beautiful woman with smiling blue eyes, she is full of charm and wit. As we spent a lovely Sunday afternoon poring over the family album, and remembering that theirs spans the best part of a century, it is clear that the Stanton’s have changed very little over the years. Let me tell you about them.

Clair Stanton was born in 1890, the son of Joseph Stanton and his wife Ella Imerson. Joseph Stanton, Clair’s father, born at Newboro, came to Seeley’s Bay in 1906. He bought the MacCutcheon farm on Highway 15 near Seeley’s Bay. He had three children, Clair another son Hayden who was to become a member of Parliament and a daughter, Mrs. Ernest Moore of Seeley’s Bay. Hayden died in 1960, and his wife two years later.

In 1918, Clair married Pearl MacMillan and took over the operation of the dairy farm. To hear them talk about it, these were very happy days indeed. Looking at the album, the figures in the photographs seem to come to live, like a Currier and Ives print or a Grandma Moses painting. There are the snowy scenes when they were sleigh riding or doing things like making maple syrup. Working in the sugar bush was a busy but delightful time requiring extra help for gathering and boiling the syrup. One man with a good team could collect and haul 1,000 gallons of sap a day to the sugar shack. The Stanton’s sugar bush gave better than 10,000 gallons of sap and produced a good 300 gallons of choice maple syrup.

Then there was the Stanton’s prize-winning team of horses which pulled in all the prizes at the County Fairs. How tenderly the Stantons look at the photographs of that proud pair of horses, who are squinting in the sun, all brushed and nicely turned out to have their picture taken.

Yes, there were many happy times, lots of family picnics and community occasions and little gatherings sitting on the verandah on a summer Sunday afternoon. There was also a lot of hard work. Mr. Stanton had 32 cows to milk – Mrs. Stanton herself milked 8 cows every morning and night. Clair Stanton usually had only one hired man, but these were not the days of fly-by-night help. One of the Stanton’s hired men stayed 21 years!

They also talk of the fun and close relationship with other people in those days when people helped each other. Threshing time, harvest time, and yes barn raising too, meant that the neighbours all came to help and then stayed on for a great evening.

The Stantons left their farm for the last time in 1964. Mrs. Stanton said that once the animals were gone, she didn’t mind so much leaving her home of 46 years. For her husband it meant leaving the farm he had worked for 58 years, where he had come as a lad of 16.

Since then, the Stantons have lived right in Seeley’s Bay amidst friends they have known all their lives. Their strength an goodness of character is shown in the very way the years have used them. They take life as they find it and whatever the secret of happiness in this life on earth, the Stantons have found it.

They bring to my mind the words of Robert Louis Stevenson,

“Gentleness and Cheerfulness, these come fefore all morality, for they are the prefect duties.

And the kingdom of heaven is of the childlike, of those who are easy to please, who love and who give pleasure.”

You both, Mr. and Mrs. Stanton, have given many people like myself, much pleasure indeed. May you continue to do so for a long, long time to come.