Through the Eyes of Maud
  Ontario - Then and Now
The Land
Teacher Resources

 Through the Eyes of Maud ~ The People

Maud's everyday life was quite different from yours. There was much work to be done on the ranch each day. Eggs had to be collected from the chickens and cows needed to be milked.

Home playmates were "few and far between."The ranch pets became very important to Maud and her brothers and sister. "I am sure we did not miss playmates for we had dogs, cats, colts, and calves."

The horses all had unusual names such as Rock, Ruby, Riley, Roy, Prince Orloff, and Benjamin Harrison ( the newly elected president.)

The dogs were named Juno, Jupiter, and Pluto.

Student Activity:

  • What subjects were the Van Wig children studying at school?
  • President Harrison served during which years? For how many terms?
  • What types of chores do you do for your family?
  • Write a journal entry of your day on the ranch back in 1885. Include your rising time, meals, school activities, chores, and playtime.
  • Complete the chart comparing 1880 to year 2000

Clothes were all made at home except for suits and coats. Even sunbonnets like you see here were made by Maud's mother.

"Our underwear was made from flour sacks and sometimes the printing was still left on. Mama took such good care of Stella's and my skin. She insisted that we always wear our sunbonnets, and when we had been out in too much sun, she washed our faces in buttermilk."

There was much food to prepare for a family of seven. "It took a 50 pound sack of flour each week to feed us ," said Maud. "How we rushed in when we came home from school if we smelled fresh smelled fresh baked bread."

Student Activity:

  • How many pounds of flour would it take to feed Maud's family for a month? For a year?
  • Create an imaginary shopping list for the General Store. You need supplies for one month!

 Although mandatory (required) school attendance laws hadn't been enacted yet, most ranch families wanted their children to go to school. Maud's father helped start a school near their home. It was a typical one room schoolhouse like this one.

All eight grades were taught in one room. "We drove a buggy to school 2 1/2 miles. Our lunches were carried in a tin lard pail.We had to take a sack of hay to feed Pedro, the horse, at noon," recalls Maud.

A typical one room schoolhouse

Maud tells about her first day at school:


First day at school
"I had never been away from the family in my life and was very shy. In fact all of my brothers and my sister were shy. I was sent out with the younger children to play before the older ones were excused. I was so frightened and stood alone. At last, Martin (her older brother) came out. I rushed to him, grabbed his hand. He pushed me away and told me to play with the girls, that he had to go with the boys. I cried and the teacher came to my side and was so comforting that I was soon able to join the girls."

Student Activity:  

  • Write about a first day of school experience of your own.
  • How could a student learn anything in a one room schoolhouse with all eight grades? Would it be easier or harder than it is today?

    Student Activity:

  • What type of reptiles do you have in your area?
  • How many types of toads are there in the world?

    Desert horned toad


    Maud tells how they earned a saddle:


    A saddle
    "We wanted a saddle so badly. I must tell you how we earned one. At the time of the World's Fair in Chicago, Illinios (about 1891) a company in Ontario was making plaques to advertise the area. They glued dead horned toads to a piece of wood with the word Ontario painted on it. They needed thousands of these horned toads so we all went to work for they were to pay us 5 cents a piece for each one turned in. We carried a bag, and wherever we went we kept a sharp lookout; there were so many in the brush and plowed fields. If Papa had so box or bag with him, he would just put them in his shirt pocket until he reached home. One day when he came home, he found Mama ill. He went right in to see her and as he lifted her head to his chest, she let out a scream and fainted. He had forgotten what he had in his pocket. She was deathly afraid of mice too.We saved every cent of this money until we had $16.50, enough to buy a saddle."

    Student Activity:

    • How much would a saddle cost today?
    • What is the difference in cost?
    • How many horned toads did they have to collect, at 5 cents a piece, in order to buy a saddle for $16.50?

    One night something unusual happened to Maud's brother:


    "Fred was the milker in the family. He always did the milking from the time he was very little. He helped Pop by taking cattle out into the field. He would stay with them all day. I must tell you about a meteor hitting him in the face. He was out in the field, and when he came home that night he said something fell out of the sky and hit him. Pop wouldn't believe him at first, but it had singed his hair on the side and seared his skin right in front of his ear. So the folks, all of us, went out the next day and tried to find it or see if there was something on the ground where Fred thought it happened, but we never found anything. It's too bad they didn't look into that a little more because there must have been something or he wouldn't have been burned."

    Student Activity:

    • You can read about another true meteor experience that happened right in a backyard in Missouri! Read Meteor by Patricia Polacco
    • What is the difference between a meteor and a meteorite?
    • How is an asteroid different from a meteorite?

    Maud, her sister and three brothers

    Maud Beatrice Van Wig Roe wrote her memoirs ( story of the memories of her life) in 1968. She said,

    "In this story I have mentioned many trivial events, but I have written this mostly for our children and the children to come, else how will they know how we lived in the olden days."

    Maud at 86 with her granddaughter, Jennie. Maud died when she was 96. She lived a rich, full life and saw many changes in the world during her lifetime.

     Student Activity:

    • Interview a grandparent or senior citizen in your town. What are the changes they have seen in the town, the country, or the world during their lifetime? What was school like for them? What was their favorite subject in school? What was their best subject? What types of games did they play or what hobbies did they have?
    • Imagine that you are 96 and have lived a long, full life. What are you most proud of? What are your accomplishments?
    • Write you own memoirs or autobiography