Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Third House, and a sad story...

Find all of my posts on Swords in one place - The Swords Project

In a previous Swords post, I wondered what had become of the third company house build by the railroad.  I think I have my answer.

I have a picture of the general store in which a roof is clearly visible, but seems too close to be that of the house that is beside the store now.  I just finished reading this:

"In 1944, Frank Helmkay and his children, Isabel, Bernadette, Donna and Edward were living in the "company" house adjacent to the store when it burned at Christmas time."
This story becomes doubly sad when you consider that poor Frank's wife had just died that summer after the birth of a baby.  She had also finished her Christmas shopping before she died, and the family lost everything when the house burned. 

So, maybe that solves the mystery of the third house.  It seemed strange to me that the other two and the store have survived, but nothing remained of the third house.  I had always assumed that it was located farther south, rather than directly beside the store.

If my assumption is correct, the house would have stood on the far right of this photo.

When I think about where I live, it's rather isolated. Quiet, little traffic. I can't imagine the bustling centre it used to be, not all that long ago.  Again, I'm reminded of the hopes and dreams, sadness and joy that has gone before me.  Lives beginning and ending in Swords, and increasingly fewer people left to tell the story. 

Source of information -
Christie Historical Committee, Meanderings and Memories, 1894 - 1995, Christie Township


  1. I remember that name, Frank Helmkay. He still lived around there when we moved to the farm.

  2. Kristine, one of the many Lawson's here. My Mom and uncle own the Swords store.

    You are correct that the house that burnt down was between the the Store and the building in your picture. After the fire the Helmkay family stayed with the Lawson's, until they could settle into a place of their own again.

    Early on, the center of the Swords community was the Maple Lake Hotel, which was still standing when I was a child. It was across the street from the store. The Graves family lived there. I have fond memories of going down the tracks in the evening, with Tom Graves, to fetch the cows from a field. The other house was occupied by the Stoneman family at one time. They eventually built the house next to the Maple Lake Club.

    I also remember the trains running through Swords, which was called Maple Lake Station. As kids we played in the railway passenger waiting room, and loved the solid wood benches that lined the walls.

    You are right about the wonderful energy in Swords. Wilson and Harriet Lawson, my grandparents, were wonderful people. The break ins, theft, and vandalism at the store are very sad.

    I wish you had contact information on your site!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing! You can contact me at