Avid reader, euchre enthusiast
Orian Steele was a Christmas gift to her family. She was born on the morning of December 25, 1931, in Winchester Springs. After six boys, the arrival of a baby girl was a welcome diversion. Dr. McKendry – who also had a son that became a doctor – was on hand to deliver Orian into the world.
“He was a very good doctor,” she notes. “He helped people from all around Winchester.”
Orian says there was never a dull moment growing up in North Dundas.
“I had six brothers and they were all wonderful. My dad was a seasoned cheese and butter maker, so there was always a job for me to do.”
She remembers that her brothers knew how to work, and farmers were always looking to hire them on because of their good reputations. Orian married Eric Steele in 1953. Together, they had six children. She lists the years they were born, starting in 1960.
“I didn’t know what went on in the world in the ‘60s,” she jokes.
Orian explains there were two Eric Steele’s living in the area back then, and in order to keep from confusing the two men, one was called ‘Big Eric’ and the other ‘Little Eric.’ Orian’s husband stood 6’8” and landed the former nickname. She saw ‘Big Eric’ for the first time when she was visiting her grandma in Winchester.
“He used to come around – driving a horse and buggy – to deliver milk,” Orian remembered.
While in high school, Eric worked at the pharmacy in Winchester, which led him to pursue a career in the field. The couple also bought a 100-acre farm on Gypsy Lane, from Don Edgerton, who was known as the ‘Blind Farmer.’
“We had cows. My husband and our boys built the barn on that property. The Steele’s were always working with wood.”
She notes that Joel Steele – the namesake of the local arena – is of no relation, but she did know his mother Madeline. North Dundas is a wonderful place to grow up and start a family of your own.
“Back in those days, we were all neighbours…we helped one another. If someone was sick, we helped them. Whatever you did, you did it with your neighbours.”
She notes that euchre was a popular game that everyone played.
“We used to have euchre parties with our neighbours,” she explains.
In 2007, Orian moved to the Garden Villa in Chesterville. She says it’s a comfortable place, where she indulges in her favourite pastime: reading.
“As long as I have a book, I’m happy,” she smiles.
Orian says North Dundas is her home and always will be.
“The community is like one big family.”