Do you remember – 18


Side by Side with Old Wood Stove – and New Electric or Gas 

(This picture reminds me of a visit to my Aunt Alice (Fraser) Sampson in Dartmouth when I was in the Navy many years ago. She was showing me her new electric kitchen stove but had kept her wood stove alongside it for her baking. She was not about to give up her old reliable wood stove. – CAPER)

Hey, do you remember the old kitchen wood or coal stove? It had the warm water tank, it dried your socks, kept your tea and food warm and was a great place to warm your tootsies when you came inside from cold winter activities. Here is a story from some lady who really enjoys or enjoyed her kitchen stove.

Smitten with My Stove

Old Friendly warms my heart, as well as my home.

Old friendly keeps me warm, feeds me, comforts me when I’m lonely and welcomes my friends when they visit. Old Friendly is my wood cook stove, and sort-of like one of my dogs, Kedgie and Tigouche-I prepare its food, feed it and clean up after it, but it’s well worth the effort.

The many cords of maple and birch in my shed are its food. The wood is deposited in my driveway early in summer, then wheel barrowed to the shed, where it’s piled. This way I am warmed twice: once by piling, once by burning.

There’s a fair amount of work involved in using a wood stove. First you have to find someone to provide the kind of wood you want, cut to the right size. Once the wood is delivered it must be piled and protected from the elements. Wood piling is a skill; I’ve mastered doing it so that the air circulates but the pile doesn’t collapse. That was after a few disasters!

Sometimes larger pieces need to be split. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by good friends and neighbours who pitch in when I need help. Or they just stop by for coffee, but on their way into the house they bring an armload or two of firewood. One special friend has assumed the job of “head woodsman”-he splits wood and fills my wood box; in return I do his laundry. I’m glad I live in a community where we barter our skills and services, and enjoy the company of friends.

You can feel the heat from here – Cant you? That is a Pot of Home Made Beans for Sure

Other wood stove tasks include getting kindling to start the daily fire. And the ashes need to be emptied. There’s making sure the flue is cleaned to avoid chimney fires-not to mention the frequent cleaning of just about everything in the house.

I grew up in Northern New Brunswick, where we had coal fireplaces, a wood and coal furnace, and a wood cook stove. As a kidlette my jobs were to pile the wood, split kindling, bring in the wood and carry coal up from the cellar. I much preferred these jobs to doing the dishes!

Having reached the age of ripeness, I’ve experienced a few changes in domestic heating and cooking technology. I recall my grandmother bellyaching about having difficulty regulating the heat of her cookstove-too hot for the bread, not hot enough for the roast. My mother dreamed of a white electric stove, but her technological jump was to enable her wood cook stove to burn oil, with the addition of a Keymac burner.

From their stoves came delectable meals, and such is the case with Old Friendly. Soups don’t get any better than when they are simmered on the back of the stove. The oven turns out the tastiest of roasts.

Oh, I haven’t always had a wood cook stove. I’ve lived with gas and electric stoves of various incarnations. Then came microwave ovens. Using these appliances was a functional experience rather than a pleasurable one, and I dreamed of the day I would get a wood stove again.

It happened when my husband and I built our camp… the stove was the first thing to be installed, even before the outside walls were completed. Old Friendly has continued to work its magic, and since my husband’s death I have lived with it full time! My home is a blend of new technology and old: I sit at my computer, connected to the Internet via satellite, and cook on my wood stove.

I can tease Old Friendly into producing either a hot fire or one that just keeps the kettle pumping vapour into the air. I select the wood with care. Burning pieces of ironwood from my own property can force me to open windows on the coldest of days. Maple and birch are my everyday choices; poplar is used when a “cool” fire is needed. Working the stove drafts lets me have a hot cooking surface, or keep a low fire going if I plan to be away from home for several hours.

When preparing a meal I like the ease of moving from high to medium to low simply by moving the pan from left to right. The dinner plates in the warming oven are always the right temperature.

With the increasing cost of oil and gas there’s a renewed interest in wood as a fuel source. Those of us who burn wood pat ourselves on the back-we use fuel that is renewable, and also locally grown, cut by someone who works in his or her own woodlot.

Although I can extol the virtues of a wood cook stove, it isn’t for everyone. Nor is a wood furnace or fireplace insert. I live in the country, a distance from my neighbours. If I still lived in the city, emissions from my stove might be bothersome to others. Even out here I operate my stove so smoke is minimized-I don’t want to contribute to air pollution or emit particulate that may hurt friends and fowl.

But it’s a trade-off. After a storm, city roads are quickly plowed and power returned to normal. In a rural area unplowed roads and extended power outages are relatively common. I hardly notice. I have heat, hot water and cook food. Life carries on as normal.

More Molasses laced homemade Beans on top of the stove

Like most of us as we age, Old Friendly needs a tuck here and a patch there; occasionally a replacement part. It will be a sad day when one of my dogs or my cook stove has to be put down. But I have a replacement in mind for Old Friendly. I recently visited the Enterprise Fawcett foundry in Sackville, NB, and fell in love once again-the Monarch model has me tingling like a teenager.

Sadly, Enterprise Fawcett is the last remaining cast iron foundry in the region. (At one time almost every community was served by a foundry, but things change.) Owner Michael Wheaton bought the foundry in 1995 after having worked there since he was a teenager. He has 48 employees and, in addition to building stoves from scratch, specializes in castings for lumber mills and other local businesses.

The firm has been in business for more than 150 years…that’s good enough for me!

In my younger days, when considering choices for husbands (I’ve had two so far), it was important they be from the Atlantic region. So it is for my next cook stove. Old Friendly is from Elmira, Ont, and has been most loyal; I’m sure the Enterprise potentate will provide the same service.

I’m a cool weather gal…my favourite time of year is when I can get my backside against the wood stove and watch the cold river run past my house, then enjoy what Old Friendly puts on the table. Visitors are welcome!

Written by Katharine Mott. Photography: Katharine Mott. This article was published in the January/February 2009 issue of Seascapes


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Bette (Ryan) Turnbull on January 21, 2011 at 18:31

    George, I remember your Mother’s kitchen so well. (The pink archways over the appliances). I think she was the first woman in Point Aconi to have a new electric range. For the life of me, I can’t remember seeing her using it.(?) She did a lot of cooking but always on the wood/coal stove. I remember her telling me that her kids wanted her to have this new “contraption”. I spent a lot of time in that kitchen, then the few steps down to the living room, with the parlor off that. I loved that house. Of course, I loved my best friend who lived there. I’m just sorry I never got to meet and know her oldest brother.


    • Nice of you to say that Bette. By the time you finish reading all of these posts on my Blog you will know me quite well. Mar and Jim will soon be on their way – they are getting the rain and we the real winter here. Enjoy FL


  2. Posted by marilyn broderick on January 22, 2011 at 15:35

    Nice memories of the coal stove the stoves today can;t bake the bread with the dark & crispy crust ,nothing better with butter & molasses Sorry george did not mean to make your mouth water !!!
    Mr. broderick had the same kind of stove when we lived there & Judy would come home from school sick (so she said) & would sit for hours with her feet in the oven (with Jim;s wool pit socks on ) ha nice memories


    • I can just see the Jude sitting there with the pit socks on. There was probably chores for her at home that she was avoiding. lol
      Sorry Jude didnt mean that shot.


  3. Posted by glenn pearo on January 22, 2011 at 18:26

    the old stove still sits in my Grandmother’s/Aunt Nellies house in Alder Point, beautiful shiny chrome, think it was called a Northern Alaska. To this day, the new electric sits beside her, what warm and wonderful memories


    • Posted by Serita MacLellan on January 25, 2011 at 00:17

      I remember that stove quite well, I believe it was nickel not chrome, Aunt Belle used t keep that shining, on sunny day it could blind you with the sun reflecting off the stove. It was beautiful.


  4. Posted by Elva MacNeil on January 22, 2011 at 20:53

    Thinking about coal stoves – I remember every Friday night sitting around the coal stove and roasting caplin. That was our treat. How I loved to eat them. My grandmother Sophia (Pero) Tobin would get the stove hot and we would have our feast. My grand uncle Maurice Pero called them – Nfld. Chocolate Bars. Those were the days. Good memories.


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