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The City of Cambridge was incorporated in 1973, when the three municipalities of Galt, Preston and Hespeler and the settlement of Blair were amalgamated into a single legal entity under a new name. (A new name that was not very new as Preston was once known as Cambridge Mills.) Each of the communities possessed a long and proud history and there was considerable resistance among the local population to this "shotgun marriage" arranged by the Provincial government. A healthy sense of rivalry had always governed relations among our three communities. Even today, while our residents will tell the outside world that they call Cambridge home, they will often identify themselves to each other as citizens of Galt or Preston or Hespeler. While the original communities have come together well in the years since amalgamation, they began life apart and as a result Cambridge is blessed with not one but three historic core commercial areas to preserve for future generations. As Cambridge has developed the open spaces between the original municipalities have been filled in a fourth commercial core.

Today, Cambridge is a thriving emerging and modern city with a diverse population of more than 125,000. It is located within the Regional Municipality of Waterloo and is apart of one of Ontario's fastest growing and economically prosperous regions. With its perfect position being located along Highway 401, only 45 minutes from the provincial capital of Toronto, Cambridge is well poised to continue to grow and flourish into a prosperous metropolis and one of the best places to live in the Province of Ontario.


Pins and Needles

By Emily-Jane Hills Orford

“Ouch!” I screeched, the annoying prick of something sharp piercing the sole of my foot. I bent down and picked it up. A pin. Mom had been sewing again. I’d have to be more careful walking the floors at night. Or in the daytime for that matter. There’d be pins and needles everywhere. Mom had her sewing space set up in the corner of her bedroom. Dad was frequently heard saying “ouch” after stepping on a miscreant pin. Mom was convinced, and probably rightly so, that it was less expensive to make our clothes than to purchase them off the racks in the store. She made all of my clothes, my sister’s as well, though she was starting to make her own clothes. Mom did attempt to make clothes for my brothers, but that didn’t work too well. Not wanting to waste money on more fabric, she decided the boys’ clothing would be purchased, while the girls would be homemade. Mom came into the bedroom, having heard my screech. “What happened?” she asked. As if she didn’t already know. She suggested I meet her in the sewing room so I could try on the new dress she was making for me and take some measurements. I was barefoot, anticipating the wardrobe change and wanting to be prepared – to shorten the ordeal of standing and having pins pricking me here and there. “I stepped on a pin,” I answered simply, crouching down where my foot had made contact and gingerly feeling around for the errant pin. Finding it, I held it up in triumph. “Good,” Mom exclaimed, taking the pin from my outstretched hand. “I can always use another pin.” Mom was industrious, tediously clean, and very creative, but she was also messy when it came to being creative. She was forever running out of pins and needles, most likely because she kept dropping them on the floor. Mom had an obsession with sewing and her ability to loose every pin and needle after a single use, often woven into the garment she was making to the painful discovery of the person who wore the garment for the first time. Christmas and birthday gifts always included a new package of pins. It was small wonder the entire floor of the house wasn’t made up of pins and needles.

“Is this the new dress?” I asked, walking over to the sewing table and running my fingers along the length of the fabric. “It’s pretty.” The pattern was woven in bright reds and yellows, two of my favorite colours. The top half of the dress was a deep red background with yellow flowers; the bottom half was the same pattern, only this time with a deep yellow background with red flowers. Emily Jane Hills Orford stories I glanced across the table, eyeing the old Singer sewing machine that Dad had purchased years ago. The black chrome shined as if it were polished relentlessly. Thread strung through the loops and needle, all ready for the next run of fabric. My eyes fell on another dress at the other side of the machine (where the pins and needles should be to keep them off the floor). Mom had unfinished projects strewn on furniture all around the room, but the sewing table only held the two dresses. “Why two dresses?” I asked. I was intrigued, curious. I only needed one good dress for Sunday church and Sunday school – not two and certainly not two exactly the same. “I’m making one for your friend at church,” Mom explained. “Margaret needs a new dress. Her mother noticed the dresses I make for you and she asked me to make one for her. I thought you two might have fun dressing like twins.” I wasn’t so sure of the idea and I certainly couldn’t speak for Margaret. I had bonded with the rector’s daughter instantly, partly because we were the only two girls our age in Sunday school. Margaret and I had frequent play dates. Since we lived in different parts of the city, we only saw each other on weekends, mostly at church. Margaret often sat with us in the congregation as her father was busy with the services and her mother sang in the choir. “I like the fabric,” I admitted, trying to sound positive, when I really wasn’t sure of how either one of us would feel when dressed to look alike. “I thought you might,” Mom agreed. “You look good in red and yellow and I know Margaret will, too. You’re both about the same size, so I thought I’d do the measurements for both dresses with you as my model.” I groaned. That meant trying on two dresses and enduring the constant poking of pins as Mom took in a tuck here and there and then carefully measured the hemline. It would take several fittings before it was just right. “Here,” she said, handing me one of the dresses, mostly complete except for the final touches. “Put this on and I’ll make the adjustments.” I hesitated. Briefly. The look Mom fastened on me allowed no room to argue. I took the dress. There was no one else home, so I didn’t play shy. I removed my school clothes and pulled on the dress. There were pins everywhere. “Ouch!” I complained multiple times. Finally, it was on. The zipper hadn’t been installed, so the back gaped open, and the neckline and waste were basted and pinned into position. Mom ignored my protests and proceeded to make the adjustments. More pins. More pricks.

“Take it off and we’ll do the same with the other dress.” I groaned. I struggled to remove the dress, but the pins were stuck to my underclothes. Mom had to help. We finally had one dress off and the other one on. We repeated the pinning and pricking procedure. Done, Mom helped me remove the second dress. “I’ll finish the dresses tonight and tomorrow we’ll try them on again so I can measure for the hemline.” I groaned. Again. “Margaret and her mother are visiting the day after tomorrow, so you two will be able to try on the finished dresses.” Good to her word, the dresses were ready for my friend’s visit. I was already wearing my new dress when the two arrived. I could feel the prickles of a couple of errant pins and struggled to pull them out as I shuffled my feet, waiting for the doorbell to ring. Mom greeted our guests and then quickly ushered Margaret into the guest room on the main floor to try on her dress. It fit perfectly, but the look on her face when she emerged mirrored mine. We loved the dresses; just not the idea of wearing look-alike costumes. I started to giggle. Margaret caught the contagion and soon we were all chuckling. When the humor died, Mom asked, “What’s so funny?” And we giggled again, before disappearing upstairs to my room to play, still wearing our new dresses. I could hear Margaret’s mother praising mine. “Lovely dresses. And they look so cute in matching outfits.” I wasn’t sure if she was being sincere or polite. Perhaps a bit of both. We wore our dresses the remainder of the afternoon. Margaret and her mother left before supper time. I was instructed to take off my dress and hang it in the closet, to keep it fresh and clean for Sunday church and Sunday school. I didn’t need to be told twice. I wondered if Margaret would be wearing her new dress on Sunday. She wasn’t. I never did see her wearing the dress after that fateful afternoon. I only wore it the one Sunday and tucked it at the back of the closet for eternity. At least, I hoped. Mom continued making me new dresses, but she refrained from her creative thoughts of making a duplicate for any of my friends. Just as well. We were all originals.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford has published several books, creative nonfiction stories mostly about her family. Growing up in Toronto, then Hamilton and finally London, Emily-Jane has lots of family stories to warm the heart. In her most recent novels, “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” and “Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure”, the author returns to her roots and the fond memories and dreams, growing up in a haunted old Victorian mansion in London. For more information about the author, check out her webpage at: