Get this: Your smartphone is 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat, according to microbiologists at the University of Arizona. Sure, many of these germs are harmless. But the researchers make a good case for learning how to clean your phone. After all, smartphone screens can also carry illness-causing bacteria like streptococcus and E. coli, as well as viruses like the flu. And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the risk of getting COVID-19 from surfaces low, researchers have found the virus can live on surfaces for up to nine days.
“Phones are known points of contact where we’re constantly touching other things and then touching our phones,” says Melissa Maker, host of the YouTube channel Clean My Space. Like a good grasp of hand hygiene, an understanding of how to clean your phone will help you avoid various illnesses. That’s why Maker says the task should be a regular part of your cleaning routine.
Below, cleaning and tech experts share the scoop on how to properly disinfect your smartphone, which products you should use, and how often you should clean your device.
How to clean your phone screen at home
The average smartphone screen carries more than 17,000 types of bacteria, so experts recommend cleaning it every time you return home. Here’s how to clean your phone of bacteria and other germs:
- Power down your smartphone and remove the case. Germs can get caught in the corners of the case, so it’s important to take it off when cleaning, says Sarah McConomy, a smartphone expert and chief operating officer of cell phone trade-in site Sell Cell.
- If you have a screen protector that is pulling up on the sides or at the corners, bacteria can build up there, too, McConomy says. Remove the screen protector and throw it away.
- Gently wipe your screen with a microfibre cloth. For a deep clean, use an approved disinfectant wipe (more on those below).
- Don’t forget to clean the camera’s lenses and edges with a microfibre cloth. A sign yours needs cleaning? Your pictures will start to come out blurry.
How to disinfect your phone
If your phone needs more than a quick clean, you can disinfect it with the method below:
- Make sure your phone is turned off and the case is removed.
- With a cotton swab or similar product, scrub the grooves in your phone where grime might build up, such as the speaker grills, charging port, lock button, and earpiece.
- Gently wipe down your entire phone using a disinfectant wipe. Keep scrolling for options that are safe to use on smartphones.
- If there are any streaks left on your phone, use a microfibre cloth to buff and polish.
- Clean your phone case by running it under warm water or wiping it down with a disinfecting wipe. Leave the case and your phone in a clean area with plenty of airflow to dry.
- When your phone is dry, place a new screen protector over the screen. Then put the case back on your phone.
Can you use disinfectant wipes on your phone?
Apple has recently updated its guidelines for cleaning iPhones, saying that disinfectants like Clorox wipes are safe to use. If you don’t have an iPhone, Lysol wipes and other Lysol products are recommended for sanitizing electronics like smartphones.
Wondering how to clean a phone with Clorox or Lysol wipes—without damaging it? Gently wipe down the exterior surfaces. Avoid getting liquid in any openings, which could seep into your device and damage it.
Can you use alcohol wipes on your phone?
Alcohol wipes are approved by Apple’s experts for cleaning iPhones. For the best germ-busting results, the company recommends using 70 per cent isopropyl or 75 per cent ethyl alcohol wipes. Like Clorox wipes, alcohol wipes should only be used on outside surfaces to avoid damaging your phone. Don’t have an iPhone? McConomy says alcohol-based wipes can be used on any type of smartphone.
Can you use hand sanitizer on your phone?
Hand sanitizer contains ingredients like fragrances and rubbing alcohol that could harm your smartphone, so it’s best to avoid using it as a phone disinfectant. Another thing you’re doing that Apple experts wouldn’t: using heavy-duty household cleaners to clean your device. That’s a big no-no. “These solutions are so strong that they’ll damage your phone’s LCD screen as well as other intricate components of your phone,” says Kenny Trinh, CEO and editor of NetbookNews.
How often should you clean your phone?
Trinh recommends wiping down your smartphone with a microfibre cloth every day. “It might sound tedious, but it will only take a minute or two to do, just like handwashing,” Trinh says. He also suggests using microfibre cloths rather than tissues or paper towels to protect the screen from scratches. At the very least, you should give your phone a good cleaning twice a month, he says.
Now that you know how to clean your phone, find out why you need to stop charging your phone overnight.
Nonstick pans are a popular tool to have in your cooking arsenal because they’re so convenient. They don’t require the same maintenance as stainless steel or cast iron and are efficient for frying up just about any kind of meal. But what happens when a nonstick pan gets scratched and loses its nonstick powers? If yours isn’t too beaten up, you might want to try this TikTok hack that shows you how to restore a nonstick pan with salt.
What’s the Salt Hack for Fixing Nonstick Pans?
TikTok creator Sophie Louise (@s_lou92), who posts helpful cleaning hacks, shared a little-known salt hack for fixing nonstick pans on the popular video platform. As of publication, the video has garnered over five million views and over 600,000 likes. Louise begins the clip by explaining a quick trick to solve a nonstick pan’s sticking habit. “All you need to do is get some Fairy liquid and a soft sponge—never use a scourer—give it a wash and dry it up,” Louise said. “Fairy liquid” refers to a dish soap brand, so your go-to dish soap will do.
@s_lou92 Frying pan hack if it sticks. #LiftLockPop #moneysavingtips #cleaninghacks #deepclean #cleaningaccount #fryingpan #fyp #foryou #tablesalt ♬ original sound – Sophie Louise
After you’ve cleaned your pan, rinse and dry it off. Once it’s dry, place the pan on the stove and let it sit for a minute or so on high heat to get it hot (Louise says it should get “very, very hot” before you put the salt in). Once it’s ready, pour enough table salt to cover the bottom of the frying pan and shake it, so the salt is evenly distributed. Let the salt cook in the pan for a couple of minutes until it gets golden brown. Louise describes the colour as “a bit like brown sugar.” Once the colour looks right, you can dump the salt into the sink—Louise notes it can be a helpful cleaning method for some sinks—or the trash. Next, take a damp paper towel and wipe the pan out. (Obviously you’ll want to let the pan cool down first.)
Now that you’ve completed the hack, you’re ready to cook something. In the TikTok video, Louise cooks an egg with some oil in the pan to demonstrate that the pan, which “used to stick,” doesn’t any longer.
I Tried It—Here’s What I Thought
I had a nonstick pan with scratches that no longer worked well. Before trying this hack, I avoided using the pan for frying eggs or food that was more likely to stick, such as fish or burger patties. To begin, I washed and dried my pan as the clip instructed. I was pretty skeptical that some hot table salt would do anything, but I went in with an open mind and heated my skillet. I turned my burner on high and waited a few minutes for the pan to heat. I knew it would be hot to the touch by sprinkling a few water droplets into the pan and watching them quickly sizzle.
I poured a very generous amount of salt into the bottom of my pan and shook the pan until the salt looked even. As Louise mentioned in the video, it takes a few minutes of cooking for the salt to turn a golden brown. Once it was unmistakably the colour of light brown sugar, I removed the pan from the heat and disposed of the salt.
Eggs used to be the stickiest food to cook in this pan, so I put a small amount of butter (about a teaspoon or two) into the pan and cracked an egg to test it out. My initial expectation was that the egg would still stick to the pan. It didn’t slide around while cooking and looked stationary. However, I could easily lift it out of the pan once it was done cooking.
The same day, to test it out again, I cooked three burger patties (one Beyond Meat and two turkey patties) in the pan. There was no doubt about it—the table salt hack worked! My pan was a pain to cook with; now it does its job. While I’m not going to say that the pan works perfectly every time, it is better than before and appears to have improved.
I don’t believe that the salt hack for fixing nonstick pans will work for every stubborn nonstick pan out there, but if yours has mild to moderate scratches, give it a try and see if it helps!
Next, find out the best way to clean cast iron pans (if you want them to last forever).
In a climate like Canada’s, there’s really no such thing as an “all-season tire.” Because temperatures can swing wildly from frigid winters to scorching summers, your vehicle needs two sets of tires made from two different rubber compounds: one designed for freezing temperatures, and another better suited to hot asphalt. Using the wrong tires for the season can compromise your safety, and cost you in the long run.
When to Remove Winter Tires
The vast majority of Canadian drivers own a set of winter tires, and aside from being mandatory in some provinces, it’s a smart decision. Because they don’t stiffen in the cold the way regular rubber does, they’re able to maintain their grip on the road, while their deep tread design channels snow and slush so that it shoots out behind the wheel instead of building up on the tire’s surface. Some winter tires are also covered with a sponge-like compound that removes the thin layer of water over ice that can cause slippage.
Knowing exactly when to remove winter tires is a bit more specific than “spring.” It’s once daily highs stay consistently over 7° Celsius that it’s time to put your winter tires into storage, says Gabe Scavone, owner of OK Tire Weston, an auto service centre in North York, Ontario. That temperature is the threshold at which the soft rubber that gives winter tires their traction in cold starts to have the opposite effect in heat—it wears out faster, and becomes squishier and more slippery.
“In the summer, winter tires have a braking distance 26 per cent longer than all-season tires,” says Scavone. “Because all-season tires are made of stiffer rubber, that aids in handling—your ability to corner, accelerate and brake—and your vehicle’s responsiveness in cases where you need to perform an avoidance manoeuvre.”
In heavy rain, the tread design that helps winter tires grip snow can become a liability. “Because winter tires don’t evacuate water as effectively as they do snow, there is actually an increased risk of hydroplaning in summer,” says Scavone. This happens when tires can’t disperse water quickly enough to maintain contact with the road, causing the car to slide across the wet surface.
It Can Save You Money, Too
Although buying two full sets of tires may seem like a big expense, it can actually save you money in the long run. Since winter tires wear down faster when used in summer, they’ll need to be replaced more frequently, and the worn treads won’t maintain traction as well by the time next winter rolls around. Switched at the appropriate intervals, a set of winter tires should last six seasons, according to most manufacturers, while a set of all-season tires should last up to 100,000 kilometres.
With gas costs on the rise again, switching to all-season tires in warmer months can save you at the pump, says Scavone, owing to their shallower treads and closer contact with the road. “In addition to being quieter, all-season tires have a decreased rolling resistance, which means it takes less force to move the tire,” he says. “This translates to greater fuel efficiency and lower gas costs.”
Did you goof and forget to switch out your winter tires last year? (No judgment here.) Your tires may not be ruined—at your next service appointment, ask to have them inspected and measured with a professional tread depth gauge, says Scavone. Depending on the model and date of manufacture, they’ll be able to tell you how much life your tires have left. According to Transport Canada, if your treads are worn to 4mm or less, the tires will need to be replaced next winter.
Now that you know when to remove winter tires, check out nine strange car noises—and what they could mean.
1. Wipe Down the Outside of Your Range Hood
The first step in how to clean grease from a range hood and return it to shiny-as-new respectability is to wipe down the outside, where the grease has landed and dust settled in. Use thick paper towels or your best rags to really clean this section up. To make sure you break up the amalgam of grease and dust, use an anti-grease dish soap. Mix a little of it with warm water (you can fill your sink with this mixture if you are planning a big cleaning project) and thoroughly wipe down the hood. Finish up with a basic multi-purpose cleaner spray and some paper towels to clear away leftover residue.
Note: If you buy a special cleaner that’s designed to cut grease or use another household chemical that’s claimed to remove greasy stains (some people suggest acetone, for example), always find a small corner of your range hood and test it first. These very powerful grease destroyers can also harm finishes or the surface appearance, so make sure they are safe to use. (For a similar reason, here are eight surfaces you should never clean with vinegar.)
2. Clean Away Any Stains on the Underside of the Hood
Now it’s time for the underside of the hood, around where the vent is installed. If it’s been a while since the hood was cleaned, this spot may be a blackened mess. It’s a good idea to switch to a scrubbing brush to tackle any large grease or ash deposits here. Gas ranges tend to get especially dirty in this area.
Some people like to use OxiClean for these stains, and if you have any around it’s a great product to start with. Otherwise, try a grease-cutting dish soap and a pan filled with a mixture of warm water and baking soda. For bad build-up, turn the baking soda into a paste and apply it to the underside of the hood, then wait for half an hour or so: Baking soda is famous for neutralizing acidic compounds and can break apart some of the bonds holding grease in place. (Find out more brilliant uses for baking soda all around the house.)
Remember to wipe regularly with clean rags or paper towels to remove the layers of grease, and finish up with a gentle cleaning spray. This strategy also works well for the inside of your oven, although avoid toxic cleaners that can cause fumes. (Here’s a little-known trick to cleaning your oven without scrubbing.)
3. Take Out the Filter and Clean It
The filter gets the brunt of the grease in your range hood, and it needs to cleaned carefully. Remove the filter first—most have a metal loop that allow you to pull it out. If you don’t want to get greasy, wear gloves for this part!
Fill your sink with hot water (the hotter, the better, although you don’t want to burn yourself while you work). Add around a teaspoon of anti-grease dish soap and about ¼ cup of baking soda to the water, and then fully submerge the filter.
Let the filter soak for 15 to 20 minutes, then get your scrubbing brush and tackle the filter with firm brushing strokes: Don’t use too much pressure, which could damage the filter, but don’t be afraid to be vigorous. Drain and refill the sink with new soapy water as needed. When the filter is clean again, rinse it off and dry it thoroughly with a cloth.
Now that you know how to clean grease from a range hood, check out 13 cleaning hacks that take the hassle out of housekeeping.
Thor came to us with the name Sterling, but it didn’t suit him. While Thor is of course the Norse god of thunder, we named him after the Chris Hemsworth character in the Marvel movies. With his long blond mane and playful attitude, it just seemed to fit. He’s got the wiggliest upper lip I’ve ever seen on a horse, and he uses it to nuzzle and dig through pockets.
This 20-year-old Haflinger horse is my pandemic pony, the fulfillment of my childhood dream of having my own horse. He is also the best thing that has ever happened to me. I apologize to my dear husband, Dave, when I say that.
We board Thor at a barn roughly 25 minutes’ away by car from our home outside Elmira, Ontario, where he shares a grass-free paddock with two other horses. The Haflinger horse breed originated in the mountains of Austria and northern Italy, where they lived on scrubby mountain grasses. To help keep him at a healthy weight despite the richer grass he grazes on here, we feed Thor mostly hay—though he does get the occasional apple or peppermint.
Thor is very different now from when I first got him. Back then, he was so sour and nearly unrideable. I read that Haflingers are notorious for needing time to warm up to new owners, so I continued doing groundwork with him, such as walking by hand. Over time we developed a mutual trust.
Initially, I had no intention of doing much more than plodding around the neighbouring fields with him. I’m a middle-aged rider, coming back to horses after a 26-year break due to back pain. But once I was regularly riding again, I built up some core strength, which helped with my back.
I soon realized that Thor had the potential to be much more than just a trail horse for me. For example, he absolutely loves jumping (so do I), and I’ve entered him in a couple of shows. I’m so proud of him and how far he’s come.
I’m grateful to have found my way back to riding.
Next, check out 30 majestic horse pictures from across Canada.
Winnipeg’s Murray Dufton could muddle his way around a computer. The 75-year-old often used one as a project manager in northern Manitoba. But since he retired, he couldn’t quite keep up with rapidly changing technology. In early 2021, he spotted an e-newsletter in his inbox from a local community centre. Connected Canadians, an Ottawa-based organization that went national during the pandemic, provided senior citizens with tech help from volunteer mentors. To Dufton, it sounded like a great opportunity.
Emily Jones Joanisse and Tasneem Damen decided to start Connected Canadians in 2018. The pair of friends found it rewarding to help the seniors in their lives overcome tech challenges. Jones Joanisse, who is director of experiential learning at Carleton University’s Innovation Hub, and Damen, an independent software architect, wondered, what if they could scale that support? “Our goal is to teach seniors how to search for information and to learn,” says Jones Joanisse, “and then to become confident in their ability to pick up new technology skills on their own.”
Canadian seniors are increasingly using newer technologies, with the majority now owning a smartphone and using the Internet daily. Since much of our lives are lived online—from shopping to social catch-ups to doctors’ appointments—a person without the savvy to navigate it can quickly feel isolated. Tech use has only increased since the pandemic. A 2020 survey by Environics Research showed 23 per cent of seniors now make video calls on their smartphones, twice as many as in 2019. Seniors’ use of social media is also on the rise. About 72 per cent of those over 65 also said they felt comfortable using current technology.
Jones Joanisse and Damen would like to see that number go even higher, and among older seniors, too. Many who ask them for help are in their 80s; the oldest person the group has assisted is now 102. There’s no limit on the number of sessions a senior can access. Common questions include help figuring out a new phone, solving printer problems, connecting on Zoom and setting up email. The organization’s coaches have grown from Jones Joanisse and Damen, who still volunteer today, to nearly 100 active mentors.
“Most people would roll their eyes and glaze over and say, ‘Oh no, not another old person!’” says Dufton. But in 10 video-call sessions, he learned how to synchronize his iPad, computer and smartphone, plus how to better save and organize his files. One big reason why Connected Canadians has been so successful, adds Jones Joanisse, is that they encourage their mentors to respect and care for the senior, and not treat them like a five-year-old. Mentors are trained to imagine they are helping the elderly mother or father of their boss—and to remember that each senior has plenty of life experience.
Kate Oakley, 70, of Ottawa says she started having tech trouble when she “tried to come into the 21st century.” A retired researcher who now dedicates much of her time to creating artwork, Oakley owned an Amazon Echo. She wanted to use it to play music and keep track of her grocery list. She compares Connected Canadians to going to the library. “You have a knowledgeable librarian, and they guide you to the right path,” says Oakley. “They don’t do it for you, but they help you fix it yourself, so you aren’t always dependent on them.”
Today, she confidently gives a command to her Amazon Echo, and jazz fills the room. That’s how she now starts most days, with what feels like an endless stream of music, tailored to her very own taste.
Next, find out if Canada’s 3G network shutdown will affect you.
Christmas reliably falls on December 25 each year. Even if you don’t celebrate it, you probably know this fact because pretty much everything is closed on that day. But what about Easter? Sometimes it’s in March and it’s freezing. Sometimes it’s in late April and everyone can get decked out in their Sunday best without bundling up under a bulky winter coat. This year it happens to be on April 9. So, why isn’t it the same date every year—or at least the same Sunday of a particular month? Who decides these things, anyway? Well, we got to the bottom of it.
What is Easter?
Before we launch into an explanation of why Easter is on a different date every year, it’s probably a good idea to give you a little Sunday-school lesson first. Easter is arguably the holiest day in the Christian faith. It celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus, the son of God, who was born mortal and died for humanity’s sins. While Jesus died on what we now call Good Friday, he rose from the dead a few days later on that Sunday before ascending into heaven, according to Christian dogma. In a nutshell, this is why we celebrate Easter and even more why we celebrate it on a Sunday.
But… which Sunday? All of these events happened 2,000 years ago, and we don’t have an exact date. We do, however, have a general time frame. “The Gospels depict Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection as having occurred during the Jewish feast of Passover, which happens in the springtime,” says Natalia Imperatori-Lee, PhD, professor of religious studies at Manhattan College. Jesus’ passion, by the way, refers to the events that took place in the week before his death, starting with his arrival in Jerusalem and culminating in his crucifixion; the word passion is derived from Latin and means suffering or enduring.
So, what’s the deal with the moving date?
The date of Passover changes every year, due to the lunar cycle on which the Jewish calendar is based, and Easter is linked to that holiday to some degree. But it’s more complicated than that. The Christian calendar is actually tied to the solar calendar, and the timing of the major holidays has to do with the seasons and with light. In fact, says Imperatori-Lee, this is why Christmas occurs “right around the winter solstice, after the longest night, when ‘the Light of the World’ arrives—get it?” Yep, you read that right: It’s not because Jesus’ birthday was truly on December 25.
Now, back to our spring holiday. Easter’s exact date may seem arbitrary, but it’s actually always on the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, and that can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25. “Why the full moon? Maximum light! The resurrection is about maximum light—symbolically, of course,” explains Imperatori-Lee. “So, that Sunday shortly after the equinox (which has 12 hours of light and 12 of darkness) plus the fullness of the moon (lots of light) means maximum light—the perfect day for the holiest feast in the Christian year.”
For history buffs, the decision as to when to celebrate Easter—and whether or not it should coincide with Passover—was a topic hashed out between bishops at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. A more standardized calendar, the Gregorian one, was established in the 16th century under Pope Gregory XIII, and that is actually the internationally accepted civic calendar that most of the world follows today. However, Orthodox Christians still follow the Julian calendar, the previous one created by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, meaning that Easter falls between April 4 and May 8.
Other days that shift with Easter
While Easter itself is one day, it’s part of a larger holy celebration for Christians. Once Easter is set, the other “moveable feasts” shift around it. For example, Holy Thursday (when the Last Supper was celebrated) and Good Friday (the day that Jesus died) is always the Thursday and Friday before Easter. Palm Sunday (the day that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem) is the Sunday before Easter, which is also the last Sunday of Lent. Then, of course, there’s Lent itself, kicked off by Ash Wednesday for the 40 days (not including Sundays) preceding Easter.
Does the timing of Easter have anything to do with the pagan springtime holidays?
No. However, like many other Christian celebrations, this one has likely co-opted some pagan springtime traditions over the years. Eggs may have represented fertility and birth and it “may have become part of the Easter celebration in a nod to the religious significance of Easter, i.e., Jesus’ resurrection or rebirth,” History.com notes. While bunnies may also have been associated with procreation, historians believe this tradition likely came from German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the 1700s and “transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called ‘Osterhase’ or ‘Oschter Haws.’ Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its coloured eggs.” Eventually, the egg-laying bunny morphed into one that simply brought treats to children on Easter.
Next, check out 10 fascinating Easter traditions around the world.
A Trip to High River, Alberta
Ever since my youth, I have had a passion for horses and photography. The top-ranking item on my bucket list was photographing wild horses. So, when the opportunity to take a trip from my hometown of Muskoka, Ontario, to High River, Alberta, came along I inquired as to where I might see some horses. My queries led me to the Wild Horses of Alberta Society (WHOAS). I visited the sanctuary, which is located near Sundre and was soon introduced to a local band of horses led by a beautiful wild stallion. That is when my quest to photograph the wild horses of Alberta began.
Eventually, I participated in my first exciting photography retreat at a guiding and outfitting facility tucked away in Alberta’s foothills near the picturesque Red Deer River. I arrived for my adventure on a Friday afternoon and was greeted by the friendly hosts and guided to my own cozy lodging, the “Mustang,” a charmingly rustic cabin. When I met up with the other photographers, we were complete strangers. But we had one thing in common—we were there to photograph wild horses. The head photographer of the retreat presented a slideshow with commentary; shared wild horse history, and recounted personal experiences he had with the horses. I was eager as I anticipated what the following day would bring.
Check out the wild horses of Sable Island, Nova Scotia.
A Thrilling Encounter
By morning, there was a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. It was exactly what I was hoping for as it would make a beautiful backdrop for the photos. Our group of ten climbed into two pickup trucks with our camera gear and we were off! We passed meadows and gullies covered with snow, surrounded by the beautiful foothills. We eventually stopped along a road that was off the beaten path. Beyond the alders fringed with pine trees, we heard horses snorting and squealing. What a thrill! We followed one another closely and quietly. As we crept through the underbrush we soon had a sighting. Be still, my heart! There, in a wintry wonderland, stood a dark-grey stallion with three black mares. They were stunning! I was trembling with excitement. We continued on and soon came upon a small band with a magnificent-looking bay stallion. He stood near a thicket, a light snow in the air, and kept a watchful eye on his bay mares close by. His dark-red coat was riddled with battle scars. These sightings were the first of several that weekend. I witnessed the magnificence of these amazing horses and saw the effects of their resilience and vulnerability.
Don’t miss this gallery of breathtaking horse pictures from across Canada.
Wild and Free
Some of my encounters brought different kinds of emotions. I saw many horses bearing scars from having survived a predator’s attack and was heartbroken when I heard of other tragedies that had befallen them. These emotions still arise when I think back to my visit and wonder how each of the horses is doing. I am grateful that WHOAS is an advocate for them, as I believe they are treasures to be protected.
I have continued to participate in photography retreats to Alberta whenever possible. Excitement builds as I plan each trip. I feel wonder as I watch new foals frolic in the dandelions in the lush spring birthing meadow. I sense hope as I watch yearlings role play, mimicking the adult horses. I watch in awe as powerful stallions spar for dominance. I consider the tenderness of a stallion as he gently nuzzles his mare. I witness friendships form among young exiled stallions. Most impactful of all, I see hope for these horses to continue thriving in the foothills, wild and free.
For more equine adventures near High River, Alberta, check out the wild horses of Sundre.
This is a story about my grandmother Veda Ramsay née Storey’s childhood when she and her family moved to North Bay, Ontario, for her mother’s health. She related it to my mother, Donna, who typed it out before it was lost forever. Here are my grandmother’s memories in her own words.
My Northern Home
On September 1, 1922, when I was 11, my parents, older brother, four younger brothers and sisters and I moved to the North Bay area (eventually we would be nine children in all). My mother was in poor health and needed to go to a drier climate for her lungs. My father had heard of government land, north of North Bay, which could be bought cheap for the clearing of partly burned forest. He talked my two uncles into going along, so they agreed to take up three sections.
My father rented a boxcar on a freight train for our furniture, cow and team of horses, as well as my two aunts’ furniture—just the things we really needed such as beds, tables, chairs and stoves. My older brother had to go in the boxcar to look after the horses and cow on the trip. On the passenger train was my father, mother, me and my brothers and sisters, two aunts and their children. My two uncles had gone on a few days ahead to be there to meet us. We got off the train in Feronia, seven miles from where our land was located. My uncles were there with the wagon. We put the younger children, trunks and bedding on the wagon, while the older people walked behind. We were 19 in all.
We put up three tents in a small clearing near an old, falling-down log shack. Each family slept on mattresses on the ground inside the tents. The men built a long, narrow shelter, which was really only a roof, and placed wooden tables down the middle beneath it, where we all ate. There was a stove without legs on the ground to cook on. This was home until the three men cut roads, cleared land and built houses. One of my cousins and I had to stay at the tents and look after the younger children, while the women went along with the men into the forest to cut logs. We were frightened at first as the wind howling through the burned out stumps sounded like wild cats.
Our house was the first one built because of my mother’s illness. It was one storey high, with a flat roof and chinked log walls. As it was only one big room, we had blankets strung on wires between the beds at one end of the room. It was built on the fork of the river where moose would come down to drink.
We had to cross one fork of the river to visit our two aunts. The bridge was made of two trees, one fallen from each side of the river. You walked down one tree and up the other one. At first we used a raft and a cable but it was too dangerous, especially in spring when the water was high.
By now, winter had set in and one aunt’s tent was banked in snow. It kept the women busy knitting socks, mittens and toques to keep warm. My mother started to gain weight and strength, and in time was completely well again. We had a good time at Christmas that first year, even though we had few gifts.
The men cut wood and each day my father went to North Bay, 15 miles away, with a load of split wood to sell. He’d bring back a load of supplies for the three families. We ate venison as there were lots of deer around and no game wardens. The road the men built was logs laid down in some places, with dirt shoveled over them. They brought the furniture that had been stored in Feronia over these log roads as each family’s house was built.
It was tiring work to clear the land, burn the logs and then pick up the partly burned pieces to re-pile and burn again. My mother made us aprons out of jute bags to try and keep our clothes clean.
We had no school for two years. My mother finally wrote to the minister of education telling him about us not having a school for the 13 children. They came to see us and my father and uncle built our first schoolhouse. We older children handed the lumber up to the men for the roof.
We got a teacher from Cobourg, Ontario. My brother and I went to Feronia to meet her train. We took the lumber wagon with straw in the back to put her trunks on; where the roads were log underneath we had to stand up it was so bumpy. We thought she was the prettiest person we had ever seen and her clothes were so nice.
Our family had built our second house by the time the teacher came—we always boarded the teacher for the time we lived there. Our second house was made of pulled logs on the outside and framed inside. It had four bedrooms and we thought it was a mansion when we first moved in.
My father acted as a land guide for the people coming in to take up land the same way we did. A man would arrive in Feronia by train and stay at our place overnight. My father would take him to see his land the next morning and he would catch the train back again that day.
About two years later, my father built a general store, which supplied the families in the mill camps. My mother baked all our bread and some for other people as well. When we started getting bread in the store, it came in clean, new jute bags. Things like raisins and prunes came in wooden boxes. I had to dig them out and put them in paper bags, five pounds for 25 cents. The school kids came in for a cent worth of candy at noon hour.
My brother John and I often walked to Feronia with a haversack on our back to carry in groceries and get the mail. My older brother Floyd had to work with my father and uncles. The older boy in the other family went away to school and became a teacher.
We started having Sunday school in the schoolhouse and then a student minister began coming a couple of times a month. The school was near our house so we always had the minister for dinner and most times had to go to meet him and take him back as we had a car by this time.
In winter, we never saw North Bay or any town from Christmastime until spring and then only in the latter part of the eight years we spent there. We had to put the car away in winter on account of the deep snow. My older brother and I thought nothing of walking or snowshoeing two or three miles at night to visit friends. Sometimes, I’d step on the back of his snowshoes, when the wolves sounded close with their howling.
I remember the first time I went to North Bay, I rode on a load of wood with my dad. It was -40°F when we left at 4 a.m. At first I walked behind to keep warm. In town, he let me off on the main street and told me to stay on the block between the restaurant and Woolworth’s so I wouldn’t get lost. He had to go to market and sell the wood. He was to meet me at the restaurant for dinner when he finished. I was so pleased with all the stuff in Woolworth’s that I stayed there most of the time as it was too cold to stay outside. We ate at the restaurant; it was the first time I was ever in one. We got home after dark that cold night. I never asked to go again.
My father continued to work hard. He cleared 35 acres of land, raised cattle, built roads and a bridge, bought another woodlot and logged. We boarded surveyors and river drivers, who drove logs down the river to lumber mills. Mom and I fried bacon and eggs in dripping pans on top of the stove at 4 a.m. for their breakfast. I also remember entire families staying at our place for a few days while their homes were being finished.
There were times we had terrible forest fires. I remember firefighters and even the army camping in tents around our house. They had water haversacks to carry the water. You could see to write a letter by the light from the fires at night. One of my aunts heard the fire was coming, so she took her fur coat and just walked out of her house. The fire burned her home. Her hens were still alive in the clearing afterwards, but she had to kill them as their feet were so badly burned. Thankfully, as more people bought, settled and cleared more land, we had fewer forest fires.
Legacy of Love
I have such amazing memories of my grandmother, a kind, loving woman who treated you like royalty when you visited her home. Her experiences in North Bay, and as the eldest daughter in a family of nine children, made her someone who loved deeply, putting her family’s needs ahead of her own. Both she and my grandfather are missed to this day, but their legacy of love and sacrifice lives on.
Next, find out what Prairie life was like during the Great Depression.
Gas has always been a sizable household expense, particularly for commuters, but it’s making an even bigger dent in our wallets now. And, with inflation significantly impacting the cost of groceries and other consumer goods, Canadians are more eager than ever to find cheap (or at least less expensive) fuel at the pumps.
Here are four ways to save money by finding the cheapest gas station near you.
Use an app to find the cheapest gas station near you
If you have a smartphone, you’ve got a money-saving tool right in your pocket. Try downloading an app like Waze, which not only helps drivers navigate traffic using real-time information but also shows you how much fuel costs at nearby gas stations. Similarly, CAA members can use their app to view a list of local gas prices and decide where to fill up, or simply check out local gas price trends by using their website. There’s also Gas Guru, which lists nearby gas prices and lets you flag your favourite local gas stations to keep an eye on them, and GasBuddy, which displays pricing and allows users to collect “GasBack” points that can be redeemed for free fuel. Insurance provider Geico also has an app that includes a gas price comparison tool that’s quick and easy to use (and no, you don’t have to be a customer to access it).
Ask your neighbours
That retired guy down the street may have the scoop on the cheapest gas station near you. And if you don’t have a friendly neighbour who’s in-the-know, try joining local Facebook groups. An online community is often the best place to get tips from local deal-hunters who are more than happy to share their successes. Look for a group that’s active, engaged and aims to be a helpful community hub. All you need to do is search for a thread about current gas prices or start one yourself, and watch the tips roll in! If you’re not on Facebook, consider joining alternatives like NextDoor.
Take advantage of retail memberships
The next time your gas light comes on, consider filling up at a local Costco. Members get a significant discount on fuel when they fill up at a Costco gas station. Plus, if you pay with a Costco Mastercard, you’ll earn cash back. The downside of this option is that Costco gas stations tend to have shorter hours—and longer lineups—than their competitors. That said, if you tend to buy gas early in the morning or during normal retail hours (as opposed to late at night), this shouldn’t be a problem.
In addition to retail memberships, it’s worth looking at gas stations that offer rewards points, cash back or other benefits. Brands like Esso, Petro-Canada and Canadian Tire all have customer rewards programs, and there’s no harm in signing up for all of them (particularly if getting a points card is free). You can also speak to your financial institution about credit cards that come with a permanent discount on gas (for example, this RBC credit card that offers 3 cents off every litre of gas purchased at Petro-Canada, or this Scotiabank credit card that offers 2% cash back on every dollar spent at eligible gas stations). In addition to saving money through apps and word of mouth, you can count on some perks when you shop this way.
Time it right
According to research by GasBuddy, it’s not just where you buy your gas that matters—it’s when. There are more expensive days of the week to buy fuel—Monday and Friday, for example—and days when gas is cheaper. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, try to fill up on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings. Sunday and Wednesday evenings aren’t bad, either, but avoid Fridays if you can—fuel prices tend to spike as we drive into the weekend. Safe travels—and happy savings!
Now that you know how to find the cheapest gas station near you, check out the best apps to save money on groceries.