“Christmas with the Jim Browns” — 1951

by Brent Eades

Andrew Brown contacted me recently about a profile of his family that appeared across Canada in December of 1952, a year after it was written. At the time the Almonte Gazette reported:

“There was a scramble to town for this week’s issue of the Montreal Standard, the first six pages of which are devoted to an illustrated story entitled ‘Christmas with the Jim Browns’. The Jim Browns are the Browns of Strathburn Farm, Almonte, and they were well and truly photographed for several days prior to Christmas and all through Christmas Day 1951. The story and pictures are said to represent Christmas with a typical Canadian family.”

Andrew’s son Tony now lives with his wife Tracy and children Jackson and Sophia in the house on Strathburn Street shown in the story, while Andrew and his wife Glenna live in a home they recently had built adjacent to it.

His dad took over the operation of Strathburn Farm & Dairy in 1944, when Andrew was 2 months old. His dad was attracted to the farm because it had its own dairy, which meant a sure market for the milk. When he was growing up in the 30’s the dairy his dad shipped to went bankrupt, causing great hardship.

His mother liked the fine stone house with its indoor plumbing and electricity.

Andrew recalls that the story, with photographs by the acclaimed Malak Karsh, was somewhat stage-managed, with Karsh and reporter Robert McKeown composing the scenes and shots they wanted. “This was not a typical Christmas on a working dairy farm!” he laughed.

The Montreal Standard at that time had just transformed into the Weekend Picture Magazine, which later became Weekend magazine and was distributed with local papers across Canada until 1979.

Andrew has held on to a copy of the article after all these years and shares it here with readers.

Top-right in white shirt, Stewart Lee of Lee Hardware on Mill Street; bottom-right photo, at left, his dad N.S. Lee.