An Afternoon to Remember – Tay Valley Township’s 200th Anniversary Launch

200th Anniversary Quilt – crafted by the Lanark County Quilters Guild

The overcast skies and threats of rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the enthusiastic crowds that packed the Eco-Tay Centre on Saturday afternoon to mark the launch of Tay Valley’s 200th anniversary celebrations in the late summer of 2016.

The well- organized event ran like clock-work, beginning with the volunteers warmly greeting visitors at the gate, accompanied by the well-designed, colourful signage proclaiming that this was ‘the place to be’ to celebrate the history of Tay Valley Township.

Eco Tay Barns0001

The event was held in an enormous rustic barn, one of the many lovely buildings on the property known as the Eco-Tay Education Centre. The Eco-Tay Centre, owned by Michael Glover and Annie Dalton is the site of the Ritchie family homestead, the original settlers in 1816.

The barn was a hive of activity, with something for current and former residents and history-lovers of all kinds.   Kay Rogers, Editor of ‘At Home in Tay Valley’ was busy at the book table, signing copies of the popular book, while visitors waited in line, eager to purchase the historical publication.

Over 60 of the contributors – writers, artists, videographers and story-tellers were present at the event, and the room was abuzz with lively conversations and reminiscences of days gone by.

Kay Rogers signing books0001

Kay Rogers, Editor, “At Home in Tay Valley”

A beautiful cake, artfully decorated with the Tay Valley 200th anniversary logo was the centerpiece for a table covered with delightful goodies to please the most discerning palate.

200th anniversary cake upright0001

Tay Valley Township 200th Anniversary Cake

Not far from the book table, positioned near a doorway, and back-lit by the sun, was perhaps one of the loveliest quilts imaginable, displayed with pride, created and stitched by the Lanark County Quilters Guild. This awe-inspiring quilt features 200 quilt squares, and an actual map of the original 1816 settlements. The 200-square quilt was fashioned specifically for the 200th anniversary celebrations, and showcases the fine work done by the members of the Guild.

Quilt # 1 200th anniversary0001Quilt # 2 Detail 200th anniversary0001

Quilt # 4 Detail 200th anniversary0001_1Quilt # 5 Detail 200th anniversary0001

A special announcement was made around 2:00 pm that the guest of honour would be arriving shortly. Entering the building with a military escort, the Honorable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, representing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Canada, was welcomed by all present.

Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell is the 29th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario

The opening ceremonies were led by Lanark County Warden, and Reeve for Tay Valley Township Keith Kerr, officially declaring the launch of the 200th anniversary celebrations.

Her Honour, Elizabeth Dowdeswell graciously thanked Tay Valley Township for inviting her to participate, and she shared some inspirational thoughts on the importance of preserving local history for future generations. Kay Rogers shared her experiences of editing the 200th anniversary publication, comparing it to an old fashioned ‘bee’, where many hands make light work.

Opening Ceremonies 200th Book Launch0001Hon Elizabeth Dowdswell's address0001

distinguished guests0001

It was a pleasure to meet with the distinguished guests, as well as some familiar faces from the neighbourhood – Maxine and Keith Jordan, Verna Perkins, Dianne Tysick Pinder-Moss, Nancy (Miller) Chenier, and Beverly (Miller) Ferlatte.

Arlene & Dianne Eco Tay0001_1Arlene & Bev at Eco Tay0001

Verna & Arlene0001

It was lovely to have the opportunity to meet Eco-Tay owner Michael Glover, and Lanark County Tourism Manager Marie White.

Marie White, Lanark County Tourism Manager

The Lieutenant Governor, along with County Warden Keith Kerr toured the grounds of the Eco Tay property, and exchanged thoughts on the 200th anniversary plans in place for 2016, and the highlights of events taking place in the months to come.

Walking the grounds of the beautifully maintained property, and the lush green landscape stretching in every direction, it was a time to remember and reflect on the original owners, the Ritchie family, who in 1816 cleared the land, built a home, and started their lives in the new world. It was a day to remember all of the original settlers to Tay Valley, and how they laid the foundations for our communities and our futures.

Grounds at Eco Tay0001This special occasion was a time to reflect on those that came before us, and a day to celebrate the achievements of the past 200 years. Many thanks, to the organizers and the volunteers who made the event such a success. Special thanks to Kay Rogers who gathered our stories, our photos, our artwork, and our history, and assembled it all in “At Home in Tay Valley”, so that future generations may remember who we were, and how we lived.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Mother’s Farmhouse Salad Dressing

“I’m making a salad!”, Mother would call from the kitchen.

Audry Stafford at the Stafford house, 1963

Mother’s request for vegetables was my cue to go to the big wooden sideboard in the kitchen, grab one of the deep plastic mixing bowls and head outside to the garden.

Stafford house, 3rd Line, Tay Valley Township

The old rope swing beckoned me as I passed by, but I was on a mission, so the swing would have to wait.

rope swing

The vegetable garden was at the front of the old house, on the other side of the driveway, and so offered a splendid view of the Third Line, while I also glanced around at the long rows of flourishing plants, and decided where to begin my harvest.

I always began with the carrots first; something to snack on while I chose the rest of the vegetables.

I’d find the biggest one, grab it firmly, close to the ground, give it a good yank and wipe it off on the grass.  I’d break off the spindly end, and bite down, and give some thought to the next carrot that I would pull for our salad.  I’d pull about three large ones, and then move onto the lettuce.  Sometimes the lettuce was chewed a bit at the edges, so I’d try to find some perfect leaves that were all intact and pick a bunch of those.


Tomatoes were next, and I’d look for the reddest, ripest and largest to add to my plastic bowl. We usually grew ‘Beefsteak’ tomatoes, and they were juicy, flavourful and delicious on thick, toasted slices of Mother’s homemade bread.


I would continue down the rows, breaking off one green pepper, and one ripe cucumber, then pull about four bunches of green onions from the ground.  Sometimes Mother sliced the cucumbers and onions and soaked them in a glass of vinegar and water for a treat for us to have with supper.

The Dressing!

Our food wasn’t fancy at home, but it was always fresh and Mother’s crowning glory for the salad was of course, her homemade dressing.

It was always a pleasure on those hot summer afternoons to go to our country garden, and marvel at the results of all of our hard work.  The tiny seeds planted in the spring, along with the watering, weeding, and hoeing, had yielded these ripe and tasty vegetables for our table.

Though I’ve tasted many salads since those days so long ago, none could ever compare to the warm, ripe summer vegetables from our own country garden.

garden salad

Mother’s Homemade Salad Dressing

1 c white sugar

2 Tbsp. flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 c vinegar

1 egg

1 heaping tsp dry mustard

1 cup milk

Measure dry ingredients into a saucepan

Mix well

Add egg and mix into a paste

Add milk, and stir

Add vinegar and cook, stirring occasionally until it boils.

Cool, and serve

Use on garden salads, raw veggies as a dip, on toasted tomato sandwiches, and the Stafford family’s favourite – in potato salad!

(Salad Dressing – from Recipes & Recollections: Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen, ISBN 9780987702609, p. 132)

R and R bookmark image

“Recipes and Recollections: Treats and Tales From Our Mother’s Kitchen”

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Granny’s Afternoon Tea

Dorothy Woolsey Rutherford – (1893-1976) at the Stafford house

Afternoon Tea

on the Lawn

It must have been quite a sight for local farmers rumbling by on their tractors, heading back and forth between the Third and Fourth Line of Bathurst with full loads of summer hay. There she was, decked out in one of her fine silk dresses, with a strand of pearls and matching earrings, waiting patiently in a lawn chair for her afternoon tea.

Our Granny came for a visit from Edmonton every few years, and we all tried to make things as nice as possible for her stay. She often worried that she wouldn’t be able to sleep during her time with us, and so, one of my brothers was always tasked to visit the liquor store in Perth and purchase a bottle of her favourite cordial – Cherry Jack liqueur, which she claimed would help her drift off to sleep at night. It was not unusual at the end of her stay for Granny to leave the entire bottle untouched, as she claimed that it was so quiet and peaceful at our house, with the gentle rustling of the maple leaves and the sound of the crickets to lull her to sleep.

Apart from her request for the Cherry Jack, Granny was accustomed to having afternoon tea. Born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1893, Granny grew up in comfortable circumstances. Her family owned two successful butcher shops in Huddersfield, her maternal grandparents, the Fosters, owned butcher shops in Grantham, and her paternal grandfather was the owner of Woolsey’s Silversmiths and Jewellers, also in Grantham. Her family summered in Blackpool, England, a resort town on the northwest coast, and she and her siblings had a proper Victorian upbringing, enjoying certain daily rituals, like afternoon tea.

It’s been said that it was the seventh Duchess of Bedford, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting who started the custom, sometime around 1840. City dwellers who benefited from the new invention of gas-powered street lights, began to stretch their dinner hour later and later into the evenings, sometimes as late as 8 p.m. or 9 p.m.

7th Duchess of Bedford, Anna Russell

The Duchess often described feeling peckish in the late afternoon, and began to request that her maid bring bread, butter, jam, cake, and tea to her room, around 4 p.m. each day, and from this habit a tradition was born. The upper classes seldom needed an excuse to have another slice of cake or another cup of tea, and so the custom spread quickly across Britain.

The ritual of afternoon tea for the wealthy came with a number of accessories. Fine porcelain cups became the standard, with matching saucers, special tea-sized plates, sterling silver tea pots with matching cream and sugar servers. Names like Royal Crown Derby, Wedgwood, and Spode, and in later years Royal Doulton, and Royal Albert were the usual suppliers of these fine china sets, often trimmed with genuine gold. Linens were also important, as were the types and blends of teas available, and the variety of condiments like potted jams and honey.

“Royal Antoinette” pattern, by Royal Crown Derby

There was also an important social aspect of afternoon tea, and the way in which women could entertain at home, and were free to exchange ideas, opinions, and share their views on topics ranging from the domestic, to the religious, and the political. Tea dresses became fashionable and didn’t contain the usual restrictive boning, but were more free-flowing and comfortable, often made of lighter fabrics.

Tea Sandwiches

One of Granny’s favourites at tea-time were dainty cucumber sandwiches, cut on the diagonal, with the crusts removed. Long, thin English cucumbers are peeled and sliced paper-thin. Soft, thin slices of white bread are spread lightly with plain cream cheese and a layer of thin cucumber slices are lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Tiny sprigs of dill or mint leaves may be used as a garnish.

Traditional cucumber tea-sandwiches

Tea sandwiches at the Stafford house were often served on a Lazy Susan, a three-tiered serving tray, sometimes made of silver, or fine china. Mother made several different types of tea sandwiches – Pinwheel, Ribbon – with several alternating layers, Checkerboard – with two different colours of bread, and Open-Faced – a circle of bread (she used a water glass to cut the slice) topped with a filling and a garnish. Fillings were finely chopped egg salad, ham salad, salmon salad, cream cheese with maraschino cherries. Garnishes were tiny springs of parsley, and sometimes radish roses, and carrot-curls were placed on the plate as decoration.

Pastries and Sweets

Granny’s favourites were the small Jam Pastries. Whenever Mother baked pies, (which was often) she saved the scraps of pastry, rolled them flat, cut them in circles or other shapes, placed a dollop of homemade jam in the center, folded it over, then sealed the edges with a fork tine. Mother also made bite-sized jam tarts, and dainty Cherry Balls, for a sweets-tray that was pleasing to the eye as well as the stomach. (recipe below)

Mother’s Cherry Balls

1/2 c softened butter

1 1/2 c icing sugar

1 1/2 c desiccated coconut

1 Tbsp milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

a pinch of salt

graham wafer crumbs

maraschino cherries

Method: Mix well and shape around a drained cherry, then roll into graham crumbs

For variety, may be dipped in melted chocolate.

Chill on a cookie sheet, and serve. May be frozen.

The Tea

While Mother preferred Orange Pekoe tea, and drank Red Rose brand daily, our Granny drank English Breakfast Tea – a full-bodied black tea, and Earl Grey Tea – with the essence of bergamot. At one time the Red Rose company included a small ceramic figurine in each box of their tea, and perhaps that was part of their popularity with Mother. I remember seeing dozens of the little figurines here and there, around our house, in shapes of small animals and nursery rhyme characters.

(Tea Bags were invented in the United States in 1908, but they did not become popular in England until the 1950s.)

Tea bags, or loose tea in an Infuser

Brewing Tea

Fresh Water

It’s important to use fresh water when making tea. We were fortunate at home to have well water, but if you don’t then bottled spring water will do. If there is an ‘off’ taste or chlorine in the water then it will affect the flavour of the cup of tea.

Choose Your Pot

Traditional tea was made in a silver pot, and metal will keep the water hot longer, but a china pot will retain the flavour better.

The First Cup is For the Pot.”

After the water reaches a rolling boil, the first cup of water should be poured into the pot and swirled around and then poured out. Our Dad always said, “The first cup is for the pot.” This helps to maintain the temperature.

The remaining boiling water is poured into the pot over the loose leaves, or the tea infuser, or the bag (bags), and allowed to brew for three to five minutes

Loose brewed tea is poured into the cup, through a tea strainer placed over the top of the cup. Infusers or tea bags should be removed once the tea has reached the desired strength.

Silver tea strainer – 1930s

Tea Cozy

A tea cozy may be placed over the pot to keep the tea warm. Mother made crocheted tea cozies to give as gifts, and would often inquire about the recipient’s china pattern, then she would match the cozy to the main china colour.

Milk or Sugar?

Some drink their tea black, or with a dollop of honey, or a squeeze of lemon.

Our Granny preferred to take her tea with a splash of milk. The milk was always poured in the cup before the tea, so that the delicate bone china cup would not crack or shatter.

The British began adding sugar to their tea between the 17th and the early 18th century. At this time, sugar was being used to enhance the flavour of other foods among the upper classes and was thought of as an ostentatious luxury. At that time both tea and sugar had status implications, so it made sense to drink them together.

Tea TimesWhat to Expect:

A ‘Cream’ Tea — This is a simple tea with biscuits, scones, clotted cream, marmalade sometimes lemon curd and tea.

A ‘Low Tea/Afternoon Tea‘ — This is a light afternoon meal with small crustless ‘finger’ sandwiches, 2-3 sweets and tea. This is the one our Granny enjoyed on the lawns of the Stafford house. It’s known as “low tea” because guests are seated in low chairs with side-tables on which to place their cups and saucers.

High Tea – A ‘High’ tea consists of meat and potatoes as well as other foods and tea. Families with servants often took high tea on Sundays in order to allow the maids and butlers time to go to church and not worry about cooking an evening meal for the family.

Dreaming of England

As a child, I sometimes wondered if Granny missed her life in England, her childhood in Gainsborough, and her youth in Huddersfield. Did she dream of the elaborate silver tea settings crafted in her grandfather’s shop, and did she miss the elegant table settings, dainty afternoon delicacies, and the impeccable service by their family’s domestics?

Dorothy Woolsey Rutherford

I like to think that Granny enjoyed the times spent at the Stafford house, sitting under the tall sprawling maple trees on warm summer days, enjoying her afternoon tea in our yard.

The Stafford House, Tay Valley Township, Lanark County, Ontario, Canada

Whenever Granny stayed with us Mother made delicious tea sandwiches that were as pleasing to the eye as they were to our taste buds. Her sandwich fillings were seasoned to perfection, and the small sweets and pastries were just the right finish to an afternoon tea.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson, Dorothy Woolsey Rutherford, and Audry Rutherford Stafford – 1965 at the Stafford house

Enjoy Your Own

Afternoon Tea

This lovely daily ritual needn’t be expensive, and takes very little time to prepare. Simple fillings of egg, ham, or salmon salad can be prepared ahead of time, and a few small pastries or chocolate coated biscuits will do nicely. The tea of your choice may be one you’ve enjoyed for years, or you might like to experiment and try some new varieties. Perhaps you already have some lovely fine china that’s been passed down in the family to use for your tea service. Many swear that tea tastes better served in a fine bone china tea-cup.

In a busy world, where sometimes the news is less than cheerful, taking a few minutes for ourselves with a small daily ritual might be just the thing to brighten our spirits.

If weather permits, take your afternoon tea outside, and invite a friend or neighbour. Breathe in the fresh air, marvel at the beauty of the colourful flowers in your garden, or the clear blue skies overhead. A colourful bouquet at the table adds a nice touch.

For a meager amount of expense and preparation, the simple pleasures and contentment of enjoying afternoon tea is truly priceless. Make some lasting memories with your children and grandchildren, just as I did, so many years ago, on our front lawn, sharing afternoon tea with Granny.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Rideau Ferry – Old Days

Ferry’s John Oliver One of Rideau’s Colourful Characters

The History of Rideau Ferry was compiled by Mrs. E.W. Joynt of Lombardy, assisted by Mrs. Wm. J. McLean, R.R. 5, Perth, and submitted to “The Perth Courier” by Mrs. Mary Armstrong, R.R. 3, Smiths Falls.  The history was written in about 1965.

Rideau Ferry – 1912 – Coutts House in the background

“In the Township of Beckwith in Lanark County, Upper Canada, Ontario was one of the earliest settlements of which we read.  Settlers arrived here from the Old Lands “to carve out for themselves and their children homes in the dense forests where churches, schools and modern conveniences were unknown.  Log homes arose, tiny settlements took shape, and the need for spiritual guidance was recognized by these God-fearing people.  So it was that following a petition from the people in the year 1821, the Presbytery of Edinburgh sent out the Rev. George Buchanan from Cuper Angus, Scotland.

Rev. Buchanan was a graduate in medicine and a licentiate of the Associated Presbyterian Synod.  He sailed from Greenoch, Scotland in May 1822 with his wife and ten children. An ocean voyage of 36 days brought them to Quebec, thence to Brockville and on to the village of Franktown.

In 1826, his third daughter, Elizabeth, married Archibald Campbell of Rideau (Oliver’s) Ferry.  The Campbell’s were pioneers in Lanark County, influential, progressive and respected.  They lived in a frame house built in 1853 on the north side of the Rideau Lake.  The marriage was blessed with four daughters:  Ann, Margaret, Helen, and Elizabeth.  Previous to this they lived in a log house.

Rev. George Buchanan – the “old Presbyterian burial grounds”, Perth, Ontario

In 1843 Peter Coutts of Bendochy Presbytery of Meiga, Perthshire, in Scotland arrived in Ontario.  Just where they settled is unknown, probably in Lanark County where he would have to make a home for his wife and six children, 3 boys and 3 girls.  John the eldest was 12 years of age when he came to this country.  When the family grew up he and his brother James settled in North Elmsley.  John bought a farm from Duncan Campbell.  When Duncan Campbell lived there he lived in a stone house near Rideau Lake which was burned down.

Rideau Ferry 1908

On Dec. 16, 1856, Helen Buchanan Campbell, 2nd daughter of Archibald Campbell was married to John Coutts a son of Peter Coutts.  They made their home in a log house on Lot 22 Con. 6, North Elmsley.  This land remained in the Coutts name until 1961.  Here the family of 3 sons and 3 daughters were born.  Archie, the 3rd son, married and spent his lifetime there.  In 1896 he built a red brick house, a comfortable farm home which was later owned by his son Ross.  In Jan. 1860 at the age of 96 Archibald Coutts died after a life of industry and Christian endeavour.  In 1870 Archie’s parents Mr. and Mrs. John Coutts moved from their log home to a frame house near the Rideau Ferry; this house had been built by Mrs. Coutts’ father, Archibald Campbell in 1853.  In the years to be, this place became widely known as the ‘Coutts House”.

Coutt’s House, Rideau Ferry

In these early days men walked to Brockville and back again carrying bags of wheat to have it ground into flour.  Since there was not a bridge to connect the road from Brockville to Perth, Mr. A. Campbell decided to build a scow.  This was a large, flat-bottomed boat, propelled by oars and a cable and was used to transport or ‘ferry’ horses, cattle and produce across the waterway.

For a number of years it was termed “Oliver’s Ferry”. The operator of the scow was one, John Oliver.  He resided on the south side of the lake at the point where the scow made its crossings.  He was a notorious character and the story is told that when travellers from Brockville or Perth remained at his home overnight they were robbed. His farm was sold to Joseph Thompson and then to Patrick Wills.  It remains in the Wills family.  Mr. Thompson’s wife was a daughter of Archibald Campbell.

In 1826 the construction of the Rideau Canal connecting Kingston to Ottawa (Bytown) the capital of Upper Canada was begun.  During its construction history tells that in 1830 there were 1, 316 employed on the project between Kingston Mills and Newboro and that 500 of them died of malaria in that year.  The work was completed by the end of 1831 and on May 21, 1832 the side wheeler “Pumper” made the first complete trip from Kingston to Ottawa passing enroute through the Rideau Ferry.  Produce and goods of all kinds were transported over the waterway and this prompted Archibald Campbell to erect a wharf and warehouses at the lake front in 1832.

The “Pumper”, 1834, Archives of Ontario

He put teams and wagons on the roads carrying vast quantities of freight to and from the towns and villages in the surrounding district.  These storehouses were a landmark and served the useful purpose of storing commodities of all kinds until the time came when other modes of transportation became more convenient.  One of these buildings was then removed; sold to a farmer in the district who rebuilt it as a farm building.

Mr. Archibald Campbell died of cholera in 1834.  His wife recovered from the dread disease and was spared to raise her family of four daughters. She carried on the business for many years until the building of the railroad from Brockville to Perth in 1859 diverted a good portion of the traffic.  In 1875 Mrs. Campbell died and was buried beside her husband in the old burying grounds in Perth.

Mrs. A. Campbell’s properties included a brick house; this home was originally a frame dwelling located some distance from the Ferry on the Perth Road.  Mrs. Campbell moved it near to the lake shore at the Ferry, enlarged and brick veneered it.  This house was willed to Helen, Mrs. John Coutts; the frame house in which she lived was willed to Ann, Mrs. Henry Smith.  Helen wished to conduct a boarding house and because the frame one was more suited to this purpose, she and Ann traded houses.  This was the beginning of the “Coutts House”, as mentioned previously.  This business grew into a fine summer hotel for folks, seeking pleasant recreation and leisure time.

In 1893 an addition was built to the back of the house.  This consisted of three floors.  The first floor was a large dining room and the second and third floors were 15 bedrooms and a bathroom, making 30 bedrooms in all.  A well was drilled and a windmill erected so water was forced into the kitchen for cooking and drinking.  Pipes were laid from the lake and the water forced to the top story by a force pump.  Guests coming by train to Perth and Smiths Falls, a distance of 8 miles, were met by the proprietor with horse and buggy.

In 1888 the store and dwelling recently occupied by Mrs. Stewart was built by Mr. Peter Coutts, father of Mrs. Edward Joynt.  During the summer home-made ice cream and ginger beer were made and sold in large quantities; crusty homemade bread from the family kitchen was sold at 6 cents a loaf.  All types of fishing tackle, groceries and provisions found a ready sale.

About 1893, the telephone line was strung from Perth to Rideau Ferry.  The first and only telephone was located in Mr. Coutt’s store.  The ground wire was carried to the old graphite factory near the lake.  Every month Mr. Coutts sent reports of all messages to Desoronto.  The charge was not very high and the telephone booth was a busy place in the summer.

Mr. Peter Coutts moved into the Coutts House in 1898, and operated this busy place for 7 years.  For several years after it was rented to various people until 1947 it was purchased by Mr. Wallace of Osgoode.  He tore down the old wooden structure and replaced it with a modern one of cinder block construction.

On the first floor, bordered by a broad veranda is a huge dining room with large plate glass windows looking out over the lake.  Above it is a dance floor where young folks enjoy modern dancing.  The barns and stables at the back were torn down and a number of cabins were built.  This has been sold and resold since the new building was erected.  It is now operated by Jack Fitzgerald of Smiths Falls.  A swimming pool was built in 1961 on the lawn facing the lake.

Rideau Ferry Inn 1947-1986

The mail for Rideau Ferry District arrived at the railway station at Port Elmsley, there to be picked up by a courier.  Mrs. Wm. McCue, who brought it to his home in which the post office was situated.  The Rideau Ferry Postmistress Mrs. Ann Campbell Smith, would drive her pony to McCue’s, receive her share from the mail bags and return to her office in the red brick house at the Ferry.  The neighbourhood folk and summer tourists eagerly awaited their letters and papers.  It is said that news items often reached the public via the penny post card and the Postmistress.  In later years, a stage plying between Perth and the Rideau Ferry, driven by Samuel Hall, brough the mail bags and the other commodities to the post office and the village stores.  This in turn was replaced by our modern rural mail delivery.  The post office is now located in Mr. Stewart’s store.

Postmark from the Rideau Ferry Post Office, 1938

A recent story about Rideau Ferry has just been found and follows, the composer of this is unknown:

In 1826 Archibald Campbell built a scow, as previously mentioned. This was operated by oars and cable under the management of a hired man named John Oliver; hence the name “Oliver’s Ferry”.

Oliver’s Ferry, 1830 – photo: Library and Archives Canada

Oliver’s Ferry, 1834, Rideau Lake, looking toward Bytown, photo:Ontario Archives

In 1844 Mrs. Anne Smith, living in a brick house near the bridge, owned a tract of land along the road on the east side and on the lake on the south side of this field.  She had the field surveyed into lots and gave Oliver’s Ferry the name of Rideau Centre. To the year 1893 it was called Rideau Centre, but in 1909 it was called Rideau Ferry.  So, between these years Mrs. Smith who was Postmistress had changed the name again. Mrs. Smith died Dec. 25, 1908.  In 1909 her brick house was sold to James Allen of Perth.  Mrs. W.S. Robertson of Perth bought four lots facing the lake; Mrs. Sam Hall bought the four acre field which has since been surveyed and divided among Mr. Hall’s family.  Mrs. Max Hall built on his lot near the lake some years ago and still lives there.

In 1909 Mrs. Smith’s household effects were sold by auction.  Of special interest was an antique chair of Spanish mahogany which she used in the post office.  It may be seen in the museum in Perth Ontario now.

Rideau Ferry Bridge with new spans – 1896

In 1871, by joint auction of the Town of Perth and the Government of Canada, a substantial wooden bridge was built across the Rideau, thus ending the operation of the Ferry.  In 1896, the first bridge was replaced with a 501 ft. iron bridge of two sections – one section which swings open allows the larger craft to go through. 

Rideau Ferry Bridge – 1918

The first Bridgemaster, working 24 hours a day was Duncan Campbell, a brother of Archibald Campbell.  Their wives were the Buchanan sisters.  Duncan lived in a frame house built in 1872 on the south end of the bridge, a house which still stands and is now remodelled as a summer home for the Campbell descendants.

The Bridgemaster is appointed by the Dept. of Transport of the Dominion government and now occupies the Government-owned red brick house at the north end of the bridge.  This bridge stood the ravages of time until the summer of 1961 when a heavily loaded transport tank carrying caustic soda caused the collapse of one span.  It was immediately replaced by another. A petition has been sent to the Dominion and Provincial governments urging them to replace this 67-year old structure with a modern one to accommodate the heavy flow of traffic.  The present Bridgemaster is Mr. MacKenzie.

One of the early landmarks of this district was a flourishing lead mine, operating about one mile north of Rideau Ferry.  A factory was built at the Ferry, and to it, teams drew the ore which was converted into graphite to be used in the manufacture of ammunition.  Many of the employees boarded at the “Coutts House”.  In later years the “Globe Graphite Company” erected a mill at Port Elmsley and the ore was taken there for processing.  For many years the mill was idle, since it was not producing sufficient ore to make it a paying enterprise.  In 1896 the 100’ long graphite factory was torn down.  Robert Miller bought 60 ft. of this and Archie Coutts the remaining 40 ft.  It is said that for many years the fine lead dust could be seen in the huge beams.  A huge stone roller used to grind the ore, stands in front of the Ferry Inn.  It is used as a base for the flag pole.

Rideau Ferry Inn

Rideau Ferry Inn

About the year 1898 Mrs. John Coutts retired from the “Coutts House”.  On the site of the old factory he built a comfortable red brick house.  He and his wife lived there for the rest of their lives cared for by their daughter.  Mr. Coutts died in 1904 and his wife passed on three years later.

Rideau Ferry Bridge – 1935

As the towns grew and prospered, people began seeking more summer homes for pleasure and recreation.  Summer homes were built along the picturesque shores of the lake as early as 1870.  Names to be remembered are: the Bethunes, Senator Peter McLaren, F.W. Hall, C.J. Sewell, Lawrence Gemmill, Dr. A.E. Hanna of Perth, the John Dietrick family, the Charles Frost family of Smiths Falls.  Guests at the “Coutts House” were the Ormes and Lindsays of Ottawa, J.H. Mendels of Smiths Falls, and many visitors from the United States.  July and August were the busy months at the “Coutts House”, always a full house. 

Life was a gay and interesting time.  Pleasure boats from Perth and Smiths Falls transported moonlight and daytime excursions and sightseers; band music and sing-songs could be heard across the waters.  Two boats from Kingston, “The Rideau King”, and the “Rideau Queen”, made regular trips between Ottawa and Kingston carrying passengers to summer homes and providing pleasure outings for organizations and groups of people from the cities.”

Rideau King

Rideau Queen – 1905

Rideau Queen – narrow hallway with cabins on each side

Rideau Queen – cabin and washroom

Rideau Queen lounge and piano parlor

Cabins and Guest House at the Rideau Ferry Inn

Water Skiing at Rideau Ferry

(Article from: May 26, 1982, p. 17 and p. 22, “The Perth Courier”, written by: Mrs. E.W. Joynt of Lombardy, assisted by Mrs. Wm. J. McLean, R.R. 5, Perth, c. 1965)

And so, the early days of Rideau Ferry, or Oliver’s Ferry as it was known were similar to many of the settlements built along waterways. From the days of the early ferry used to transport goods, through the times of establishing a post office, telephone service, building bridges, and eventually prosperity, partly from the influx of tourists and visitors who came for recreation along these peaceful shores.

Rideau Ferry will remain a place to pause along her magnificent waterways, and in the stillness and the beauty that surrounds you, feel the sense of her history, and the stories of those long-forgotten souls, who walked those same paths, so many years ago.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Chaplin’s Dairy – Milk Route

Bottle cap – used to seal the glass milk bottles at Chaplin’s Dairy

“Did the milk taste better

from a bottle?”

Whether it was homogenized, skim, or buttermilk, yes, it all tasted better from a glass bottle than it does from a carton, or a plastic bag. My all-time favourite product from Chaplin’s Dairy was their chocolate milk, which came in a pint-sized glass bottle, sealed with the same cardboard cap. On a hot lazy summer day there was no better sight than seeing Dad walking across the yard with his milk carrier, and a couple of pints of Chaplin’s rich, creamy chocolate milk.

Milk carrier – room for 8 quart bottles

Along with the quarts of whole milk, 2% milk, skim milk, and the pints of chocolate milk, Chaplin’s also produced buttermilk, whipping cream, and through the late 1960s, sold Beep brand grape juice and orange drink.

Stafford House

It was an early start to the work day when Dad left our house in the morning, and drove his car to Glen Tay. Once at Chaplin’s Dairy he made several trips in and out of the building, loading up the truck, preparing for the drive to Perth.

The Stafford house, 3rd Line of Bathurst, 1947, where Tim and Audry Stafford settled after the war. The property was purchased from Tim’s aunt and uncle, Clara (Richards) Carberry and Tom Carberry

One of Dad’s perks of delivering milk door to door in Perth every day was receiving all of the kind and thoughtful gifts from his customers. He was always late getting home on Christmas Eve because along with the cards and gifts he was given, everyone along his route wanted to stop and chat for a minute or two and wish him a Merry Christmas. He arrived home carrying stacks of envelopes with Christmas cards, and in each card was a one or two dollar bill. Some customers gave him boxes of assorted chocolates, chocolate-covered cherries, or peppermint patties. He was also given many packs of cigarettes as a gift, and if they weren’t his brand, MacDonald’s Menthol, and in later years, Kool, and Craven M, he traded them at Murray Dowdall’s Service Station in Glen Tay.

December 19, 1968, p. 4, “The Perth Courier”

Tools of the Trade

Two of the things that Dad was often seen with were his change pouch and his black notebook. The black pouch held small bills and coins, so that he could make correct change for the customers when they paid. The small black notebook had a leather cover, and had slips of paper marked with lines, columns, and the heading, ‘Chaplin’s Dairy’, and a black carbon paper underneath, then a plain paper copy under that. On the top copy, he wrote the customers name, address, order, and amount due, which copied the order through the carbon paper onto the plain sheet below – the dairy’s copy.

Stafford Christmas 1964, left to right: Roger, Arlene on Judy’s knee, Audry, Tobias ‘Tib’, Tim, and Jackie

Tobias ‘Tib’ ‘Tim’ Stafford and Audry (Rutherford) Stafford, 25th wedding anniversary 1968

Chaplin’s Dairy

The dairy was founded by Delbert Chaplin in the early 1900s, and his brother Edgar Chaplin worked with him in the business. The Chaplin family owned a large 300 acre farm at R.R 4 Perth. At first he operated the business from their farm, but later in 1935 he constructed the Chaplin’s Dairy building at Glen Tay corners.

For over 25 years, from 1950 – 1976, our Dad, Tobias ‘Tib’ ‘Tim’ Stafford, delivered milk for Chaplin’s Dairy.

Where did he go on a typical day, who were his regular customers, and what was it like driving around with him in the big pink and white delivery truck?

My brothers, Tim and Roger, at different times over the years, worked as ‘Helpers’, on the milk route. What are their recollections of those days delivering milk for Chaplin’s Dairy?

Tim’s recollections

of the Milk Route:

When he and Dad were loading up the truck early in the morning he recalls that Cameron Chaplin was there as well, loading up his truck at the same time.

There was a big walk-in cooler where they stored the milk, and there was another area where the buttermilk was stored by the big sink.  It was Don Blair’s job to rinse out the buttermilk bottles and they often came back with some buttermilk hardened on the bottom of the bottle so it was all the more difficult to get those bottles clean.

After they loaded up the milk truck, their first stop was at Glen Tay delivering to the houses by the train station. After that, they went back on the 3rd Line, headed to Perth, and made a few residential deliveries along the way.

When they got to Perth they delivered to a couple of locations that took longer than others because the owners or staff at these businesses always invited them in for a chat.  At the Perth Hotel they always invited Dad and Tim in for a coffee, they insisted, and it was non-negotiable.  Another place they were always invited in was Burchell’s.  Scott Burchell was often busy loading up his own delivery truck with windows and doors, and at that time he was also Mayor of Perth. Regardless of how full his day was, he always wanted to chat.

Another stop each morning was at Dad’s Aunt Clara (Richards) Carberry at 85 Sherbrooke Street. Every day she made an oven full of buttered toast and kept it warm for them until they arrived and served it with tea, and peanut butter for Tim. That was around 8:00 or 9:00 each morning, after they finished delivering up and down Gore Street and the side streets. After that, they headed up Gore Street toward Charlie Donaldson’s service station.

They always pulled over at McGlade’s Gas Station for lunch. It was at the corner of Gore Street and Highway 43, and they parked outside and ate the lunch our mother packed, which was two scrambled egg sandwiches on homemade bread, and four homemade chocolate cookies. She also sent a thermos of tea for Dad. Once they’d finished eating what Mother had sent with them Dad headed into McGlade’s and bought two chocolate bars – one for each of them for dessert.

After they finished eating, Dad liked to visit Benny K’s and Hoffman’s stores and poke around the vast assortment of merchandise and see what they had for sale.

In the afternoon they delivered up and down the side streets in Perth, up the Scotch Line, and back into town. The last house on the north side of Church Street was also a place where their customers wanted to chat, so that stop also took longer than most. 

That house on Church Street was the last stop in town, then they headed out Highway 7 toward Glen Tay. They always delivered to Cleroux’s store and garage and they also spent time chatting with them, then the last place they stopped before the dairy was Murray Dowdall’s Service Station at the corner of Glen Tay across from the railroad tracks. They often saw Don Blair and Ted Cordick at Murray’s, stopping by for a chat.  (Hillis Conroy owned the station before Murray) Each night at Murray’s, Dad bought a Toronto Star and a brick of butterscotch ripple ice cream to bring home for Mother and us kids.

Back at the dairy, they unloaded their empty carriers and empty bottles.

Tim also mentioned that one day he was with John Chaplin on his route (he was practising the route for when John was on vacation) and they stopped at Ryder’s on Highway 7.)  Mr. Ryder told John that the buttermilk he’d purchased from him had turned sour, so in response, John took the cap off and proceeded to drink the entire bottle bottle of buttermilk to prove that it was fresh.

Tim also did John’s cottage run which was to Christie Lake, and was only done in the summer. When Tim did John’s route, his helper, Don Lindsay and he, had lunch at the Bright Spot, and their meal was paid by the Dairy.  The Bright Spot was owned by the Turcott family and Muz McLean worked the cash.

In the spring, Chaplin’s Dairy also sold maple syrup from the milk trucks, which was produced on Andrew Korry’s maple bush. Korry’s farm was across the road from us. Andrew’s daughter, Orpha, was married to John Chaplin.

April 14, 1955, p. 6, “The Perth Courier”

(The Bright Spot was a diner located at 84 Gore Street E., in Perth, during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1969, Tony Noonan bought the restaurant, renaming it Noonan’s, then Tony’s son took over, and named it Peter’s Family Fare. Today is it’s known as Peter’s Restaurant and Bakery, owned by Chelsea and Mitch Fowler)

Roger’s memories

of the Milk Route:

“It has been a couple of years, but this is the way I remember the route.

After we left the dairy our first stop was at Nick and Doreen Webbers at Glen Tay, then up to Jack Dowdall’s on the crossroad, then we went down the south side of the train tracks to what they called the station house (it was torn down years ago) I can remember the boys that lived there were Jerry and Clause and that they were a  German family, but I can’t remember their last name. We then backtracked to the crossroad and went East on Hwy 7.

We stopped at O’Gormans, Roger’s Auto Body, the house on the East side of Cleroux’s and then at the house by the pond. We then went into Perth with a stop on Drummond St and then down to Burchell’s. The remainder of the route was basically on the South side of the Tay River. We went out the Rideau Ferry Rd to McClenahan’s  (she taught at the high school and they ran the planing mill) and out the Scotch Line as far as Watts.

We took Hwy 7 back to Cleroux’s, and then our final stop was Hillis Conroy’s / Murray Dowdall’s Service Station.
Our last delivery was at Korry’s across the road from our house. John’s wife Orpha was a Korry.

When we were young, Dad would return home with milk for Korry’s and one of us kids would take it across, and usually get a cookie from Mrs. Ethel Korry.

When I first started with Dad we worked out of a pickup truck and then a step van. Neither had refrigeration and freezing was always a concern in the winter. On Saturday we delivered two days worth of milk, so we had to go back to the dairy at noon, to pick up the second load.  Dad worked 6 1/2 days one week and 6 the second week with either half a Sunday off or a full day.

On every second Sunday he went in to work in the dairy processing milk as milk arrived at the dairy 7 days a week.

Everything was in glass bottles, Whole milk, Skim, Chocolate, Buttermilk, Table Cream and Whipped Cream.  Cartons came out about the time I stopped working with Dad (1967) People bought tickets, indicating what they wanted and they put them out in the empty bottles, so you knew what they wanted. Some people ran a bill, which Dad recorded in a book kept in the truck. He collected on those bills on Saturdays. We each wore a pouch which contained change and tickets. Saturday was a busy day because of the double delivery, the second trip to the dairy and doing collections. That is why all the routes had a helper on Saturdays. John’s son Gordon worked with him and Cameron’s son, Bob worked with his father.

The Summers were very hot and the winters were cold in the trucks as you were in and out all the time and with no air conditioning and poor heaters. It would still have been much quicker and more comfortable that using a horse and wagon.”

Note from Roger:

“Mom told me that after I was born, in February 1951, Dad picked her up in the milk truck to bring us home from the hospital. It had snowed and our side-road wasn’t plowed, so they had to walk in from the 3rd Line.

Dad worked at Wampole’s until he was 66 years old. I think after 10 years he was eligible for a small pension and some health benefits. That would mean that Dad left Chaplin’s Dairy when he was 56.”

(after being bed-ridden with pneumonia at the age of 55, Dad was advised by his family doctor to find a job working indoors, and so, his good friend, Nick Webber, referred him to a position with Wampole, where he worked until retirement)

Don Chaplin, ran the dairy farm that supplied a lot of the milk to the dairy. Don had two sons, Gary, and Grant, who worked on the farm with their father, and I believe they  also worked at the dairy, doing the lake route in the summer. There were number of local farmers who supplied milk to the dairy.

Chaplin’s Dairy sleigh, – Dairy Heritage Museum, Aylmer, Ontario

1969 – Perth Junior Farmers

Tour Chaplin’s Dairy

“The June meeting of the Perth Junior Farmers started with a tour of Chaplin’s Dairy, this being Dairy Month.  John Miller introduced Mr. Chaplin to the group.  Mr. Chaplin explained to the group the procedure taken to put out the homogenized, 2%, and the skim milk.  The machine that fills the bottles and caps them, and also where the chocolate milk is filled up in cartons and sealed was shown to the group.  Mr. Chaplin then showed the bottle washer. The machine washes, sterilizes, and rinses the bottles.  We also visited the cold storage room where the bottled milk is kept.  From the Dairy everyone went to the home of John Miller where we held the business part of the meeting.”

June 19, 1969, p. 14, “The Perth Courier”

1977 – Chaplin’s Dairy Sold

“Chaplin Brothers Bid Farewell to Family Business –

article from “The Perth Courier”, October 27, 1977, p.9

“The familiar pink and white trucks will still be there; – the friendly, courteous service will still be there, but the two men who kept the business going successfully for the last four decades will be gone.

John and Cameron Chaplin, former owners of Chaplin’s Dairy, sold their business this spring, ending a family ownership of close to 70 years.

“We’re going to miss it, alright”, said John, as he and his brother stood reminiscing in the cool atmosphere of the dairy’s grey cement interior.  “Retired now?  Well, more or less.  I’d rather think of us as being on holidays at the moment.”, he laughed.

Although the Chaplins feel they were “at the business long enough”, it won’t be easy breaking that routine they have followed for so many years. John and Cameron made the dairy’s deliveries ever since they started working in the milk firm – John some 42 years ago and Cameron about 30 years ago.  The last run was made by Cameron on September 17, 1977, just over a month ago.

John can remember when the price of the milk he sold was 5 cents a quart, back in 1935.  The going price today for a quart is .65 cents.

And the two brothers recall when they used a horse and wagon for deliveries instead of the modern fleet of trucks the dairy uses  now.  It was a lot slower, but there weren’t many mechanical breakdowns.

In the earliest days of the dairy, started by Delbert Chaplin, John and Cameron’s father, milk was distributed with a pint or quart measure by the milkman, who simply ladled it out of milk cans into whatever container was left out on a front porch or stoop by the customer.

The birth of the dairy evolved from a large, 300-acre farm owned by the  Chaplin family at R.R. # 4, Perth.  Delbert Chaplin, a progressive man, set up a system so the farm could process its own milk produced by its Holstein cattle herd.

He erected a dairy building at Glen Tay in 1935, and the business flourished from there ever since.  It became a complete family enterprise.

John, Cameron, and a third brother, Don, worked with their father to turn out as many as 3,000 quarts of milk a day, during the dairy’s peak production years.  They distributed throughout the Perth and district area.

Although the sons took over the dairy operation in 1945, their father remained active in the firm for many years.  Don took on the responsibility of managing the farm which was producing about 1,200 pounds of milk daily in the early 1960s.

Chaplin’s Dairy also processed the milk supplied by five neighboring farms in order to keep pace with customer demand.

Buttermilk and chocolate milk also left the dairy house for sale.  Butter was produced too, but never enough to be sold.  The Chaplins had a large enough clan that they consumed it all easily.

With the passing of years, the Chaplin family, like everything else, spread out and began to disperse.  Life changed and in 1970, Don decided to sell the farm.

1974 – Processing Milk Ends

When John and Cameron finally gave up processing milk at the dairy in 1974 and turned strictly to distribution for Clark’s Dairies in Ottawa, Chaplin’s had been one of the very last small dairies still in the processing business.

“We had to quit.  We had to go with the changing of the times”, said John.  “There would have been too many changes to make in the dairy to keep up the operation.”

There was the change-over from glass bottles to paper cartons and plastic jugs.  As a processor, the dairy had washed and recylced its own bottles, but glass became more expensive and more scarce.

“When we became a distributor, the bottles went.  We got rid of the ones we had with no trouble by selling them to bigger dairies that still used them.”, recalled Cameron.  “But some people still miss them.  They think milk tastes better if it comes out of a glass bottle.”

The old bottle washer is still in the Chaplin’s Dairy building, but it’s rusty and old with disuse.  Most of the equipment for processing the brothers sold, with some pieces, says John, going as far as Newfoundland.

As a processor, the dairy would have also had to comply with ever increasing government regulations.  The business had never had any problems in the past, but things were not going to get any easier.  The Chaplins wanted to leave the operation with the knowledge they had put out the best milk on the market and at the best price.

One of the biggest factors in their decision to change was the rise in costs in everything from maintenance to distribution.

“Little businesses are fighting a losing battle”, say both John and Cameron.  “An operation has to be big nowadays, or it just won’t make it.  Look at the farmers.  If they are commercial, then they have to have a really large operation.”

Then there was also the problem of eventually converting to metric measurement.  Equipment would be obsolete, the expense of purchasing new machines, astronomical.

It was almost a matter of quit or go under.  The Chaplins decided to call it quits.

And they were happy with that decision.  Since going over to Clark’s the dairy has maintained its reputation for reliable delivery to its 1,000 present customers.  There are 12 runs made with a staff of four salesmen, and milk is brought in daily from Ottawa.

The dairy also offers a complete line of dairy products now, including juices, cottage cheese, and eggs.

The firms’ new owner, Bill McConachie, plans to extend the milk route to Smiths Falls since rising costs mean a bigger market has to be found.

Bill, who has worked for Clark’s for a number of years, used to bring the  milk from Ottawa by transport, but now uses his own truck.

He lives in Perth and has become a familiar face to residents who will no longer see either John or Cameron making the routes.  For the two brothers, the dairy will now hold only good memories.

“We want to thank everyone, all our customers, in Perth and the area, for their support all the years we were in business.”

John and Cameron said later, as they left the grey dairy building, “We hope they will do the same for Bill.”

1982End of Home Delivery

(excerpt from an article by Patricia Rivera, “The Milkman Cometh No More”, “The Perth Courier, March 31, 1982, p.2)

The Milkman Cometh No More

“It used to be a common sight – and sound – of early mornings: bottles clinking and dogs barking, as milkmen delivered milk, butter, and eggs to homeowners.

And even if contemporary milkmen had ceased delivering eggs and butter, and the cartons didn’t exactly jingle, there was a link to old times.

Now, however, home deliveries are ending, not only in Perth, but everywhere.

March 27, 1982

Last Day of Milk Delivery

in Perth

“It’s the end of an era”, says Bill McConachie, owner of Chaplin’s Dairy, which ceased making the delivery rounds here on March 27th, 1982.  “In Ottawa, the major dairies had stopped making house deliveries some time ago.  The writing was on the wall.  We could see a general, steady decline in home deliveries.”

When Mr. McConachie purchased the dairy five years ago, he estimates there may have been between 300-400 home customers.  But this year, that number was down to about 150 residences.

“It’s changing lifestyles.  Years ago, a mother was home all the time.  Home delivery was convenient, and it was a service they could pay for.  With the economic conditions today, mothers of young families have to work out of the home.”

So now they choose to drop by a store rather than have milk delivered to their doorstep – where it freezes in the winter and goes bad in the summer because no one’s on hand to take it in.

As well, chain stores are able to offer customers considerable savings on bagged milk packages.

“They (buyers) can find bargains where they’re saving a dollar on a bag.  In a younger family where they’re drinking a (3-liter) bag a day, they can save $7 or $8 a week.

“That’s pretty significant.

Older people, on the other hand, rarely buy large quantities of milk at a time, and since “you never get a deal on a quart of milk at the store”, they are inclined to “pay four cents more at the door than the store.”

Besides, for older people, home deliveries were always a tradition.

“Their lifestyle hasn’t changed that drastically.  They still expect the milkman at 8:00 a.m.  They set their watches by it.”, he says, commenting that calls from his home customers reflect that “None are terribly surprised – they are disappointed, perhaps – but not surprised.”

Mr. McConachie also admits that his favourite customers have usually been elderly, and he cites the Christmas gifts of home-baked cookies as an instance of how they’ve ingratiated themselves with him.

He says that in his business, you meet a real cross-section of the population, though for the most part he is usually dealing with women.

He’s had his favourites, and he’s had his tiffs, but he’s “never had a totally bad experience.”

Chaplin’s will continue to deliver milk to area stores, but face-to-face customer service has become a thing of the past.

There was no choice but to cease and desist.”

Chaplin’s Dairy For Sale

….And so it was, the end of an era, of home delivery service, of a friendly milkman arriving at your door with a metal carrier full of fresh milk and dairy products. For Dad, his days of delivering milk ended almost a decade earlier, after his bout of pneumonia, and his doctor’s orders to work indoors, not outside in the often bitterly cold winters of Eastern Ontario.

For those of us who knew John and Cameron, Don, Ronnie, and the helpers who worked on those long-ago milk routes, we will have our fond memories of that bustling business, that familiar grey cement building, with the ever-present steam rising up from the bottle cleaners, and some of the most delicious wholesome products ever produced, Chaplin’s Dairy, in Glen Tay.

To read more about Chaplin’s Dairy:

“Chaplin’s Dairy in Glen Tay”, from the book, “Lanark County Kid”

Available in stores and online.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Mother’s Farmhouse Preserves


From Mother’s Country Garden

Hamburger Relish and Strawberry Preserves

During the summer months, Mother was busy with her preserves, and we could never be sure which of the many delightful aromas we’d encounter in the old kitchen.  It might be fresh tomatoes stewing and simmering away, or the sharp scent of the chili sauce.  If the cucumbers were ready in the garden, we’d smell dill, or onions, or sweet mustard boiling on top of the stove.  My favourite scents were the berries – raspberries, strawberries and sometimes strawberry-rhubarb.

Mother in the kitchen 1

Mother, busy in the kitchen, at Stafford House

Preserving the fruits or vegetables from the garden was a necessary task in the summer months with so many hungry kids in our house.  Jars were filled, labelled, and stored in the pantry, in neat rows on shelves, and the extras lined up along the floor.  Pickles, vegetables and jams were a welcome sight mid-winter, when the fresh crops from the garden were a faded memory.

The Spirit of Summer Brought Back to Life

Imagine coming down the stairs on a cold winter morning, walking across the chilly floor, a layer of ice on the inside of the windows and then seeing a mason jar of homemade jam in the middle of the kitchen table.  It was as though the spirit of summer was brought back to life after its long wait in the pantry.  The toast would pop up, and the jam would be spread generously, on the thick slices of homemade bread.  The berries, picked at their peak of perfection, tasted sweet and fresh, and were a temporary escape from the harsh weather that lay waiting, outside the kitchen walls.

The preserves at our house were never complicated, and the ingredients were basic.  There was no extra money for fancy additions to the recipes, so they contained only things at hand.  Because of their simplicity, they retained the true flavour of the vegetable or fruit, and it was as though the essence of the harvest was captured and frozen in time, in those precious little jars.


Recipes passed down through the generations.  Photo: Arlene Stafford-Wilson, Granny Rutherford, Audry Rutherford Stafford in front of Stafford House, 1967

Mother’s Farmhouse Strawberry Jam

The Strawberry Jam recipe that follows contains only three ingredients – strawberries, sugar and lemon juice.  It is simple to make, and will keep for a year if stored in a cool place.  It also doesn’t require any fancy ‘gear’ to make it.  We had no special pots or kitchen ‘machines’ at home, and yet year after year, Mother managed to dozens of prizes at the local fairs, with her simple recipes.

What you’ll need:

2  pounds of fruit – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, etc.

4 cups of white sugar

One quarter of a cup of lemon juice


Before you get started, boil your mason jars for ten minutes, and let them dry upside down on a towel.

Crush the berries with a potato masher in a saucepan, then add the sugar, and lemon juice

Stir over low heat to melt sugar, then, bring to a full, rolling boil for two minutes

Pour into jars, leaving a half inch of space at the top, and screw lids on tightly

Place filled jars in a deep pot until water is one inch over the top, and boil for five minutes

Remove, apply a label if desired, store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Hamburger relish

Hamburger Relish

4 c ground cucumbers

1/2 c ground red sweet peppers

3 c ground celery

4 Tbsp. salt

2 c white vinegar

1 1/2 c ground green sweet peppers

3 c ground onion

1 Tbsp mustard seed

2 1/2 c. white sugar

1 Tbsp. celery seed

(sprinkle vegetables with salt, and let stand for 2 hours)

Drain well

Bring juice to a boil

Stir in Vegetables and bring to a boil

Simmer for 10 minutes

Fill into mason jars

Enjoy the sweet taste of summer, all year round!

Mother and Dad 45th wedding anniversary

Mother and Dad, summer of 1988, with Korry’s farm in the background

stafford-house Perth Ontario

Stafford House, Tay Valley Township, Lanark County, Ontario, Canada

More Recipes

(recipes from “Recipes & Recollections: Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen)
ISBN 978-0-9877026-09
available in local stores, or online


photo: kids on the book cover – Tim Stafford and Judy Stafford Ryan, from 1947

Norvic Lodge, Christie Lake

Norvic Lodge

Victor Lemieux and his wife Noreen (McGlade) Lemieux were owners and operators of Norivc Lodge.  Like the other properties set along the shores of Christie Lake, they had a beautiful shoreline, framing their homey, rustic lodge.

Victor, son of Jeremie Lemieux, and Margaret Hannah James, was born and raised in the tiny village of Fournier, in the township of Prescott-Russell.  The village is situated near the communities of Vankleek Hill, St. Isidore, and Plantagenet, a largely French-Canadian settlement. Victor’s father was a Lumberman, and his mother cared for the large family.

Victor’s wife, Noreen, grew up in the town of Perth, Ontario, the daughter of Arthur McGlade. The McGlade family were early settlers from Perth, originally from County Armagh, Ireland.  Catherine McCarthy McGlade, Noreen’s mother, was also from an Irish pioneer family, from County Cork.   Noreen’s parents were married in Toledo, Ontario, October 16, 1899.

Norvic Lodge Boathouse, 1956

Noreen ‘Neen’ ‘Neena’ McGlade Lemiuex, Co-Owner, Norvic Lodge

Dining Room

at Norvic Lodge

Dining Room, Norvic Lodge, overlooking Christie Lake – c 1960

Working at

Norvic Lodge

Memories of working at Norvic Lodge in 1960, as told by Judy (Stafford) Ryan:

“The Lodge was ‘Norvic” named after the owners – Noreen and Vic.  She was called Neena, ‘Neen’, and they had a daughter Judy,  – about my age at the time.  The Lodge was on Christie Lake.

 I was the only one in our family who had the job there, but because I also had a two week job at the Optometrist in Perth, while his secretary was on vacation, at the beginning of the Summer (Dad got it for me), my sister Jackie (Stafford) Wharton, went up to the Lodge, and held my job for me for that two week period.  I think Dad was also the one who got me the job at the Lodge.  Mother did not want me to go as she figured I would get ‘into trouble’.

We were paid $10.00 a week which was given to us at the end of the Summer.  We made great tips from the Americans, who stayed in the cabins – I could make up to $100.00 a week, depending on whether or not the cabins were full that week.

Our cabin was at the top of a hill away from the vacationers.  Our day started at 7:00 a.m.  We had to be down the hill to the Lodge in uniform, to set up the dining room for breakfast, take breakfast orders, serve it, clear tables and help wash dishes, etc.  We then went back up the hill, changed into shorts and t-shirts and cleaned all the cabins – made beds, dusted, vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, changed towels, etc.  Then, back up the hill, back into uniform, to do the lunch thing. 

We were supposed to have a couple of hours off each afternoon, to do what we wanted.  However, part way through the summer, the lady who did the laundry left, and that was added to our jobs, without extra pay.  So after lunch, we would have to do the laundry – sheets, towels, etc. and hang them out on a line to dry.  Once a week, we would have to strip the beds, but changed the towels often. 

On days when we didn’t have to do the laundry, I would take the canoe, and a good book, and head for a small uninhabited island, and read for a couple of hours.  I knew that no-one could get to me there. 

Between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. we were back down the hill, in our uniforms, to set up for dinner, etc., etc. 

After everything was done, and cleaned up for the evening, we had time to ourselves, if we had any energy left.  I worked with a girl by the name of Claudette, and she was a real party girl, and as there was a party at some cottage every night, we went out most nights, along with the guy who worked at the Lodge store and gas bar, and he was allowed to use one of the motor boats, and that is how we got to the other cottages.

Just before I arrived to work at the Lodge that Summer there had been a bad boating accident, and I think one or two people had died.  The only way I found out about it was I saw a mangled boat with blood on it, stored in behind the lodge, when I was out walking one day, and asked the guy at the gas bar what happened.

That Summer was the first time I saw death!  There was a delightful family from Pennsylvania. there – three generations – Grandfather, parents, and two younger children.  I was serving breakfast this one morning, and the Grandfather, who was always so friendly and animated, told me about the different birds he had heard singing that morning, and during the conversation, he keeled over at the table.  I ran into the kitchen and got Vic (Lemieux) – told him the old man ‘fainted’.  Vic got the son to help him carry the Grandfather into the Lounge, behind the dining room, and they put him on the couch.  I remember going ahead and serving the other guests, and noticed people coming and going to the Lounge.   Nina told me later that the old guy had died, probably instantly, and I was really shocked and upset.  That is one of those memories that is permanently etched in your memory, especially when you are only 15.”

Norvic Lodge ad – 1971

Ad – 1962


at Norvic Lodge

Waterskiing Show 1963

Christie Lake Surfers

What became of Norvic Lodge?

Norvic Lodge closed many years ago, and so we are left with our memories of this special place – the home-cooked meals, Vic, Neena, the peaceful lake, the great fishing, and the excitement of the water-skiing shows will stay with us always.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Bustling With Bats – Summer Nights in the Country


As the fiery red July sun sank low on the horizon, finally disappearing behind Mitchell’s barn, the first bats of the summer evening swooped low, along the maple trees in our yard.  Their small, dark, shadowy figures glided effortlessly, along the lowest branches, and dotted the skies over the clothesline, at the side of the old house.

stafford-house dusk

Stafford House, Bathurst Township, (Tay Valley) Lanark County


The little brown bats returned to our yard every spring, and the mothers produced just one baby each year, around the middle of June.  By the end of July, the babies took their first flights, as they were weaned off of their mother, and began to eat insects.

bats baby

Although some people were afraid that the bats would fly into their hair, they made a high frequency sound that bounced back, and prevented them from colliding with anything – other than the mosquitoes they feasted on nightly.

Because they were nocturnal creatures, we never saw them in the daytime, as they hung upside down, under the eaves of the roof, or sought shelter in the attic, above the kitchen.  Around sunset each summer evening, they begin to soar around the yard, swooping and gliding, along the branches, seeking out the bloated mosquitoes that dined on us, as we sat outside in the evening.

bats tree

Mother and Dad didn’t mind sharing our yard with the bats. Our parents sat on their lawn chairs, enjoying a plate of homemade oatmeal cookies; Dad with a coffee in hand, and Mother with her lemonade.

lawn chairs

The summer days were hot, often humid, and the only form of air conditioning in the old house was to open a window, and hope for the best.  Sitting outside under the big maple trees in the evening was a nice way to cool down, and reflect on the events of the day.  We’d glance down the lane, watch the cars going by on the Third Line, and one at a time, turn on their headlights for the night.

country road night

The crickets and bullfrogs were in full chorus by then, as more and more bats appeared, and the sky became a dark cloak, shrouding their movements in secrecy.  Small flashes of light moved along the front garden, as the fireflies began their nightly parade, competing with the bats for our attention.


As the summer season unfolded, there would be many nights like this.  We’d sit outside to cool down, after a long hot day, and we became the audience for the sunset performance of the small brown bats, and their aerial show.

Mother and Dad would eventually rise from their lawn chairs, and fold them up for the evening; carrying their empty cups, and the scattered crumbs remaining on the cookie plate.

cookie crumbs

The bats would continue their hunt for food long after we’d gone into the old house, gliding and darting in the yard, as we slumbered peacefully through the warm summer night.

sleeping child


(an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line, ISBN 978-0-9877026-30)

LC Calendar

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Innisville Scribe -Elsie Kilfoyle

Some called her ‘Ma’, the kids who bought candy at her general store called her Mrs. Kilfoyle, and everyone in Innisville knew that Elsie was the official village scribe. For many decades she kept careful notes on all of the local activities, the weather events, the fishing conditions, who was visiting, anniversaries, marriages, births, and deaths.

Elsie (McLaren) Kilfoyle was a regular columnist for a total of 4 newspapers, three of them for over 40 years spanning from 1936 until 1976, the year of her death.

On July 26, 1962, one of the newspapers, “The Perth Courier”, published an article on Elsie, transcribed below:

“Twenty-five years have not dulled Mrs. W.P. Kilfoyle’s enthusiasm as the Courier’s Innisville correspondent.

As she says herself, “I enjoy it very much. If I didn’t enjoy it then I would quit.”

Although Mrs. Kilfoyle, now 67 years old, cannot remember the exact date she began to write for the Courier, she estimates that she has been on the job since 1935 or 1936.

At the turn of the century the Kilfoyle’s purchased the Innisville General Store which they have operated for 63 years. Mrs. Kilfoyle, whose husband died two years ago, has four sons, Stan 41, Jerry 39, Wallace 37, and Murray, 35.

Long History

Mrs. Kilfoyle is Innisville’s true hometown girl, having been born there in 1881.  She has resided there all her life except for a span of 15 years when she “went away to Franktown to live after her marriage in 1919.” In 1933, however, she and her husband returned to own and operate the Innisville General Store which she had inherited after the death of her mother.

In the Village

The Kilfoyle’s have a long history in Innisville dating back to that area’s first settler John Morris, Mrs. Kilfoyle’s great great grandfather. He is reported to have lived under the protection of a large overhanging rock for many months until he completed a flimsy shack near the river.

Mrs. Kilfoyle’s parents, (James McLaren and Elizabeth Morris), now deceased, lived on a farm about one mile from Innisville which they homesteaded in the early 1880s.

Strange Stories

Having been a lifetime resident of Innisville she remembers some unusual occurrences in that village.

Over 50 years ago, she reports, when a great many suckers inhabited the Mississippi, every spring a man built a big 4-ft. high stone pond in the river.  In this enclosure he used to trap as many as 1,000 suckers a day.  People came with wagons, bought the fish by the bagfuls and took them away to be salted.

Twelve years ago, Mrs. Kilfoyle was involved in a rather strange event.  “Mr. Wm. Cavanagh from Pakenham, had just parked his truck in front of the store.  He came in and asked to buy something, so I went to the kitchen to get it.  As I looked through the kitchen window I saw a truck rolling toward the river.  I told Mr. Cavanagh and we rushed outside.  It was his truck and the brake had apparently failed.  Fortunately the truck struck a rock pile on the river bank or it would have rolled into the Mississippi which was at that time much higher and swifter than it is today.

The old bridge through the village, when a part of the main highway, brought many visitors to Innisville and many customers to our store, says Mrs. Kilfoyle.  “Although the new bridge is not the traffic hazard of the old one, since it went in too many people don’t know Innisville even exists.”

Digs for News

She estimates the population of the village is about 80 persons, although in the summer many more people live in the immediate area.  It is easy to see the difficult task Mrs. Kilfoyle has in digging up news every week with so few people in the area.

“There are some weeks that I think, ‘Why should I write?’ “, says Mrs. Kilfoyle. “But then I think of the people in other places such as British Columbia, who have interests here. When they receive the Courier the first thing they do is look for the Innisville news.  When I think of this I try to think something up.”

The method by which Mrs. Kilfoyle gathers news for the Courier has remained the same for the past 25 years.  “I just listen to somebody talking and I jot it down so I won’t forget.  A few people also bring in some information each week.”

Although Mrs. Kilfoyle admits that being on a party line should add to her quantity of news, she refrains from listening to conversation because of the embarrassing situation that would arise if a customer walked into the store while she was listening on the telephone.

“Sometimes I wish I didn’t have the store”, she says.

As a sideline to her activities as a store owner and a correspondent for three weekly newspapers, Mrs. Kilfoyle raises flowers in her “spare time”.

She has over 75 house plants decorating her windows, the most beautiful of which is an African Violet given to her ten years ago.  It has bloomed consistently each year and as many visitors to the Kilfoyle home have commented, “grows a bigger leaf and more beautiful flower each year.”

So enthused is Mrs. Kilfoyle about her hobby that she states that she would go into the greenhouse business if she were 40 years younger.

The Courier congratulates Mrs. Kilfoyle on her 25 years as one of their most able correspondents.

(transcribed from “The Perth Courier” article titled, “25 Years as a Courier Correspondent”, published July 26, 1962)

Old Innisville Bridge

Old Bridge, Innisville – photo: Perth Remembered

Old Innisville Bridge, built 1820s – ladies below, doing their laundry, photo: Middleville Museum

W.P. Kilfoyle, Elsie’s husband

Elsie’s husband – Willard Preston Kilfoyle (1888-1958), photo: when he worked as a Cheese Maker

Willard Preston Kilfoyle

Marriage Certificate – Elsie’s marriage to Willard in May 1919, in Carleton Place

Married in Carleton Place, Ontario, May 7, 1919

Elsie and Willard had four sons:

Stanley (1920-2007) (married Ernestine M. Rathwell)

Gerald (1921-1968) (married Mary Catherine ‘Casey’ Stafford)

Wallace (1924-2019) (married Audrey Ida Cooke)

Murray (1926-1987) (married Verna Sutherland)

Innisville Anglican Church

Innisville School –

S.S. # 17, Drummond Township

Innisville School -1888


Elsie Kilfoyle passed away in Carleton Place, on March 16, 1976 at the age of 81.

March 17, 1976, “The Ottawa Journal”

“The welcome mat was always at her door and she was widely known for having kept the store in Innisville for years, and had cottages and boats which attracted many American tourists.”

Elsie and Willard Kilfoyle, Franktown Cemetery

The End of an Era

And so…….Elsie Kilfoyle, social columnist, gathered, assembled, and reported the Innisville news for over 40 years, recording every event, every gathering, every visit, special trips and vacations taken by residents, births, engagements, marriages, deaths, and funerals. She knew that there might be someone out there, someone maybe as far as British Columbia, as she told the reporter in 1962, someone who might be waiting patiently for their weekly copy of one of her papers, like “The Perth Courier”, who would turn first to the news of Innisville. It might be someone who grew up there, a former member of their local Anglican church, or someone who went to the old S.S. # 17 school. For four decades Elsie made sure that her readers would not be disappointed when they looked in their papers for the goings-on in the area. After all, her column might even be the highlight of that reader’s week – a little dash of current events, some snippets from that pretty little village along the mighty Mississippi, some tidbits from across the miles, some precious news connecting the reader back home, to Innisville.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

(In 1946, Ivan Gerald ‘Gerry’ Kilfoyle, Elsie’s son, married my father’s older sister, Mary Catherine ‘Casey’ Stafford)

July Thunders Through Our Yard

thunder storm

“Louder and louder the deep thunder rolled,
as through the myriad halls of some vast temple in the sky;
fiercer and brighter came the lightning;
more and more heavily the rain poured down.”

Charles Dickens

Thunderstorms in the country followed days of still air that was heavy, and thick with humidity. The leaves on the poplar trees outside my bedroom window fluttered, and eventually turned their backs toward us, as though they were bracing for what was to come. The birds scurried back to their nests to take shelter, and the squirrels and chipmunks sped quickly toward their homes without looking back.

The sky changed from a playful, summer blue as the heavy, dark, grey clouds rolled in over the old house. The largest, darkest clouds appeared menacing and powerful as they hung low over the yard, turning midday into night.

I could see the first streak of lightning as it lit up the sky around Mitchell’s barn. Seconds later, the thunder crash was so loud that I instinctively ran downstairs, hoping to find some comfort in the grownups who had gathered in the living room.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of.”, Mother would say, matter-of-factly, as Great Aunt Clara sprinkled holy water over the lamps and the around the doorways. “Let’s play a game and count the seconds after the lightning flashes to see how close the thunder follows.” Mother said. I wasn’t in much of a state to play a game and wondered if this was her way to take my mind off of the dangers of the storm.

The rain was coming down in sheets, and the wind was pounding it against the kitchen windows so hard that I thought that any minute the glass would break. Another bolt of lightning lit up the house, followed by an ominous crash, and I wondered if it had hit one of the big maple trees outside. Great Aunt Clara scurried into the living room without glancing my way, as though she knew that I’d see the sheer terror in her eyes.

This went on for several minutes, that seemed like hours, until the flashes became less frequent and the thunder moved off into the distance, and the whole house and all of its occupants seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

I went back upstairs and watched from the window until the dark clouds moved along in the sky, back toward the railroad tracks. It was as though someone had turned the lights back on and patches of blue dotted the sky again and the sun burst out from behind the big grey mass overhead.

There would be many storms in the heat of July, and they all began and ended the same. It would commence with menacing skies, deafening thunderclaps and a shared fear of the unknown. It would end with calm skies, nervous laughter and gratitude for the abundance of rain that had quenched the thirsty farmlands around us.


Excerpt from “Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line”

LC Calendar

Arlene Stafford-Wilson