Smallbones Ms Scarecrow

Simplicity My Way


Stumbling Toward Simplicity: Sustainable, Natural and Simple Living

I wonder what life was like for the family that built my house in 1855. We often think of life in the 1800s as simplicity personified, but when we really ponder it, we realize that it was very hard work to be so ‘simple.’

Matilda & William McBride
Matilda & William McBride

Were they happy? Did they grow most of their own food? Did Matilda McBride make all of the family’s clothing and linens?

William McBride was a boat builder and coffin maker and his shop was next door where the general/beer store is now. What would they think about how I live in their house and about a beer store in their woodworking shop? (It was a simple general store when I moved here.)

Simplicity is empowering. It’s thumbing your nose at mass consumption & manipulative corporate power, things that didn’t exist to any large extent in the 1800s in Canada. It’s learning what’s important in your world.

My simple story

Growing food, I’ve learned, can be both very gratifying and very frustrating. I’m learning more every year. It’s a challenge as I’m surrounded by beautiful, towering Black Walnut trees that exude juglone, a substance that is toxic to many vegetables.

I was very fortunate to move from downtown Toronto to this tiny hamlet on a lake in 1998. This simple, old house has retained many vestiges of the McBride’s simple aesthetics. Things that have withstood the ravages of time attract me, especially if they were originally made by hand with love and care.

Smallbones StudioMy shop and office used to be in the front part of the house – they’re back to being the ‘front parlour’ and the guest room now. In 2007, I moved everything to the internet, something not heard of until modern times. Part of simplifying my life was making my home life more simple as well.

This blog is my way of sharing the ups and downs on my road to simplicity…a trip that reaches its destination only when I reach my ending.

Anyway, please have a stroll through the posts. I hope some will resonate with you!

UPDATE OCTOBER 12,2018: Today I retired my shop! I’ll be 70 next month and it was time. Thank-you to all the people who bought and enjoyed the things I made. Jane.

About me







21 Replies to “Simplicity My Way”

  1. Hello Jane from Tasmania, Australia

    I found your blog a few months ago while researching my Johns family from Cornwall. About 10 years ago I put together a book on my Johns family who came to Tasmania in 1854. Currently working on an update and adding extended family. This has led me to Gore’s Landing and your article in 2017 which mentions the Harris family. Alfred and Edwin’s Mother was Prudence Johns James and her mother Prudence John was a sister to George, my 5x Grt grandfather.
    I would like permission to include the photos and a little of the text from your article in my book.
    Old Photo of Gore’s Landing and the White House and the text that surrounds this photo. I’m quite happy to send a copy of the Harris story for yours and the towns records.
    Kind Regards
    Ray Hyland

    1. Hello, Ray. Permission granted! Yes, I’d love a copy of your Harris story, and I’ll share it with the descendant who now owns the White House. I’ll put a copy in our wee library, too. Thanks!

  2. I love your blog, though I know much action has slowed in recent times. I concur. I wanted to reach out and say hi, there wasn’t an email address listed for you, but I’m intrigued about the environmentalism, we need many older** advocates to whom show the movement has supersedes recent pushes towards a greener culture.
    I’m a neighbor, live just south of you. I wish you well and to keep going, at whatever pace, whatever context suits you. : )

    1. Hi Julie: Nice to hear from someone nearby. I’m sending you an email. Jane

  3. Hello Jane,
    We still think of you and miss your wonderful soaps. Thanks for posting the recipe. Best wishes always.
    Marc and Shannon

    1. Hi Marc; it’s been a long time! Best to you and to all the others that I used to know in the ‘old days.’

  4. Stephenie Lawton says: Reply

    Hi Jane, It’s awakenedsoul. Wow! You are a fantastic writer. Your home sounds so charming and special. I keep meaning to try your recipe for castille soap. I have it written down with my soap notes.

    1. Thanks so much, Stephenie! I just made another big batch of castile soap today. I’m also experimenting with some others that my friends seem to quite like so far. This evening I’m beginning my first ever Tunisian crochet pot holder. Making things is so much more fun than cleaning! (Anybody else reading this: awakenedsoul and I are members of “The Home Maker’s Forum.”)

  5. “mass consumption & manipulative corporate power” – yep. That says it all. Tread your own path instead.

    1. I know that we share the same path, Mr. Home Maker (more or less)!

  6. Susan (fleurami) says: Reply

    I’ve clicked subscribe and received a confirmation but when I clicked on the link it came up with a page not found message.

    I live in anold house. It’s approximately 600 years old and build from part of an old chateau. The whole square where I live is made from the chateau. I love my house. It’s not ‘grand’ but it is very much home.

    1. “Old” is certainly different depending on where you live. Your chateau sounds absolutely wonderful, Susan! I had no idea that you were in Europe.

      I have no idea what the subscription problem is, but I’ll try to find out. Thanks for letting me know. I’m no expert at these things.

      See you on DTE!

  7. Hi Jane, I was givin your name after posting and asking for help on facebook…
    I need a chair cained, do you do this, I have pictures if you can.
    Thank You

    1. I’m copying the same reply I gave someone else, Kelly. I’m not doing caning any more – my back said ‘no more!’ I can refer you to Don Robins of in Newcastle or Gina Peers of in Peterborough. I know them both and they do good work.

  8. Sounds like a lovely place you’ve landed. We’re hoping to eventually find somewhere similar.

  9. Meg Lloyd-Jones says: Reply

    Hi Jane: I have a chair that needs a new cane seat, and wonder if you’d be interested in this small project. I will be near Gore’s Landing tomorrow and again from August 14-17. Thanks!

    1. I’m not doing caning any more– my back said ‘no more!’ I can refer you to Don Robins of in Newcastle or Gina Peers of in Peterborough. I know them both and they do good work.

  10. Cate McBride says: Reply

    Hi — I was doing some digging into McBride history and found your posts on Pinterest. William McBride was my great-great grandfather. I’ve seen Lilac Lodge on trips to Gores Landing (my grandfather, Wm. Charleton McBride, liked to take us there when we visited in the summers) but didn’t know William had built houses too. I’d love to have a look at your house if you don’t mind, as an homage to my family history.

    1. I’ve sent you an e-mail, Cate. I have lots of documents you can see.

    2. I have written about the McBride family in the Gore’s Landing / Cold Springs area, relating to William’s sister Elizabeth. Although William and Matilda Harris are also mentioned. If anyone is interested. tonycrosgrey at yahoo dot ca

Leave a Reply