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 houses built at Thistle Ha’. This recording is several copies removed from the original reel-to-reel tape, so the sound quality is poor.

It is said that John Miller remembered snow on the bed blankets on a few winter mornings when living in the log house.

Hugh Miller dug a 14-foot hole for the current cistern beside the east wall of the house. Curious about the depth of the stone foundation, he also dug an anchor-post hole beside the wall at the bottom of the excavation. He failed to reach the footings. So the stone wall extends at least 18 feet below ground.

Photo: Thistle Ha’ collection.
Saddle and Sirloin Club history:
100th Anniversary of the Saddle and Sirloin Club, Kentucky State Fair Board, Louisville, 2003.
Revised on March 19, 2011 by Jim: Added George Harding’s name to photo caption.

A gallery of oil portraits, paying homage to livestock industry leaders throughout Europe and the Americas, was established in 1903 in the Saddle and Sirloin Club, near the Union Stock Yards in Chicago. Selected by a committee of their peers, new members had their portraits added to the Club gallery each year.

The photo shows portraits of four Canadian members of the Saddle and Sirloin Club. Handwritten on the back of this photo: “Photograph of portraits in oil of departed friends as they appear on the walls of the Saddle and Sirloin Club. Accept with the compliments of Frank W. Harding, May 8, 1917.” Harding was the brother-in-law of Robert Miller/Burn Brae; both were members of the Club.


The portraits in the photo are of: John Miller/Thistle Ha’ (top left), William Miller/Atha & Storm Lake (top right), Richard Gibson/Belvoir farm in Mount Brydges, Ontario (bottom left), George Harding [Frank W. Harding’s father]/Anoka farm in Waukesha, Wisconsin (bottom centre), and James I. Davidson/Sittyton Grove farm in Balsam (Pickering), Ontario (bottom right).

Of the nearly 350 members in the Saddle and Sirloin Club, eleven are Canadians. Remarkably, the farm homes of seven Canadian members were clustered in Pickering (three Millers, Davidson) and its two adjacent townships, Whitby (Hon. John Dryden and his son Will/Maple Shade farm) and Markham (T.A. Russell/Brae Lodge farm).

The portraits in the photo no longer exist. Frank Harding Jr, also a member of the club, witnessed the 1934 Chicago Stock Yards fire, which destoyed the original Saddle and Sirloin club, including its gallery of portraits. Club artist Robert Grafton was immediately commissioned to repaint the portraits. He worked at a prodigious pace, replacing 104 portraits, including those in the photo, in 18 months.

The only families with three members are the Millers and Hardings, who became related when Robert Miller/Burn Brae married Frank W. Harding’s sister, Josephine. The Millers also became related to the Drydens when Robert’s niece Margaret (Maggie) married Will Dryden.

By the mid 1970’s, the Chicago Stock Yard facilities were closed, and the building containing the Saddle and Sirloin Club in Chicago faced demolition. Frank Harding Jr found a new home for the portrait collection, which was moved in 1977 to the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville.

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