Many of the Millers knew my Aunt Margaret Moon, who was a frequent visitor at Thistle Ha’ during her retirement years. She died last November 28th. During her memorial service, we shared our many memories of her life. But afterwards, I realized that the many stories that she told us about her business career during her Thistle Ha’ visits were not well known to her family. I maintain that the health enjoyed by our generation is partly due to the efforts of Aunt Margaret and her colleagues. Some stories from her life and business career are posted below.

As told by: Margaret Moon.
Aunt Margaret and Salk Vaccine: Based on a 2005 email I sent to Christopher.
Additional details from: Margaret Moon article by Nancy Simpson, Communications Director, Sanofi Pasteur Canada, 2004.

Aunt Margaret said that she thought she was more practical than most people, which she felt was partly due to growing up on the Moon family farm, north of Port Hope, Ontario. Although she resided in Toronto her entire adult life, she always liked being on a farm, including Thistle Ha’. She was particularly fond of horses.

She was a renowned high school athlete; she held several of her Port Hope High School track and field records for many years.

Margaret Moon BA 1936

Margaret Moon, BA - University of Toronto, 1936

She graduated with a BA degree in math and science from Victoria College, University of Toronto in 1936. She maintained close life-long friendships with several of her college friends, including her room-mate Eleanor Shearer. She then attended Normal School, and obtained her teaching certificate. Shorthand and typing proficiency were requirements for her teaching certificate at the time. In the midst of the Great Depression, teaching jobs in her field were scarce, so she applied for several other jobs. She remembered being awakened by a telephone call from Connaught Medical Research Laboratories very late on Labour Day 1938, offering her a job, starting immediately. In the excitement, she forgot to ask what she would be doing or what the salary was. She caught the train to Toronto the next morning and started her career at Connaught on Spadina Road in the filling department, where glass vials were manually filled with various medicines and sold to doctors, pharmacies and hospitals. She was told that her job was to become filling department supervisor, but had to start at the lowest job and work her way up so that she understood how her department operated.


Source: Pickering Township Oral History Project Interviews. Audio Reel
RG-17-44-0-10. Copyright 1972, Archives of Ontario. Used with permission.
As told by: Hugh Miller.

Stan Whiston and David Nasby of the Pickering Township Oral History Project interviewed Hugh Miller on June 21, 1972 about the fairs attended by the Millers. The interview was done in the dining room at Thistle Ha’; you can hear the ticking grandfather clock in the background.

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Thistle Ha’ is a farm located in Pickering Township, Ontario, Canada. It was settled by Scottish immigrant John Miller in 1839.

John Miller of Thistle Ha' John Miller (pictured) and his descendants had a tremendous influence on the purebred livestock industry in Canada and the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Millers were renowned innovators, importers, breeders, exhibitors, judges and promoters of Shorthorn cattle, Clydesdale horses, Berkshire and Yorkshire pigs, and Shropshire, Leicester and Cotswold sheep.

In recognition of the contributions of the Millers to Canadian agriculture, Thistle Ha’ farm was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1973 and a Province of Ontario Heritage Property in 1977. The honours awarded to individual family members – including those related to the Millers by marriage – for their contributions to the purebred livestock industry are too numerous to list here.

Thistle Ha’ is currently owned and operated by the fourth generation of Millers in Canada.


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