The Meikles

Sadly, the Meikle name (pronounced Meekle) is no longer found in Metis. The descendants have moved away but the family is still remembered by many local residents for different endeavours and a colourful character. We know that the Meikle family came before 1845 as William Meikle married Margaret Smith in 1845. 

Mary Meikle ran a boarding house at Leggatt’s Point in the late 1800s (now a private home called ‘Sunnyside’).  Another house built in 1910 by Mr. and Mrs. William Meikle, initially used as a summer-rental cottage, became the Green Gables Hotel (named for the famous Anne of Green Gables) when an east wing was added in the early decades of 1900. Later, in 1930, Mrs. Meikle built a west wing with 12 additional bedrooms. 

A son, Sam Meikle, was born in 1872 (died June 25, 1959) married Gertrude Organ in 1898 and they had five children: Leonard, Amy, Walter, Ruby and Stanley. Sam established himself as a boat-builder and carpenter, building furniture, homes and small sailing crafts used for pleasure and as fishing boats. The sailboats were made of cedar harvested from the woods near his home and the planks were laid on a local hardwood steam-bent frame, a plumb stem and plank keel. This traditional type of construction results in a fast and light sailboat suitable for the waters of the St. Lawrence River.

Sam and Gertrude’s son, Leonard, also was a carpenter and built boathouses.  He also built punts, small flat-bottom rowboats seating five people, and small flat-bottom one-child punts, for the children to explore shallow waters in.  

Sam and Gertrude’s son Walter and his wife, Margaret Meikle, ran the St. Lawrence Garage – “Your ESSO Dealer” – which did auto servicing, bodywork, and welding for years at the east entrance to Leggatt’s Road, by Killiecrankie Rock.  The couple were well-known and liked. Walter was a character and quite a few short stories about Walter and his mechanics formed the basis of casual chats around the dinner table in many Metis homes.

Walter Meikle was quite a character.  Ken Porter, a relative of the Mathewson family, wrote about a few episodes: 

“Subject-Walter Meikle. I always enjoyed stopping in at Walter’s garage as I knew there would be pearls of wisdom and some unbelievable demonstrations of how things could be done if books of instruction were unavailable. One memorable occasion was in 1956 when Bette, the kids and I had driven east from Saskatoon, picked up Mother in Montreal and carried on for a week or two at Eagle Point. We had occasion to be on our way to Mont-Joli for something or other and stopped at Walter’s for Gas. Mother was next to me in the front seat; Walter came out to greet us with “Hi Ken. Haven’t seen you for a while. How’s things going? How’s your Mum? Is she dead yet?” 

Same trip but a few days later I had problems with my battery and called in at Killiecrankie [Walter’s Garage] for a new one. My size was on the shelf but required charging so a “loaner” was offered. It turned out to be about 5″ wide and 15″ long and had no inclination to fit in my car’s battery holder. Walter put it in anyway and connected the wires entirely unconcerned that the hood wouldn’t come close to closing. Problem solved with rope around the hood ornament and looped around the bumper to keep it down. No concern for the impaired visibility. One of the Molson clan was behind me in line to have some work done but suddenly remembered a pressing engagement elsewhere and settled for some gas”. 

Another anecdote courtesy of Uncle Fred, great uncle of long-term Metis resident Rod Mathewson, had to do with Walter’s recent acquisition of welding equipment and a certificate qualifying him as a welder. It happened that Uncle Fred’s car had developed a pinhole in the muffler which was quite noisy. Walter said he could fix it in a jiffy with his new equipment so was given the opportunity to demonstrate his abilities. The offending item was removed from the car and Uncle Fred left to do a couple of errands in the neighbourhood. Upon returning he found Walter working at his bench, visor down and chasing the elusive pinhole all over the muffler which now had two or three welding rods melted onto its surface and hole, somewhat larger than the original in a different location to show for his efforts.”

Not to be outshone by husband Walter, Margaret Meikle, often seen at the garage’s gas pumps and small store, also had a côterie of fans, and many remember her Scottie dogs.

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