North Lanark Regional Museum – Speaker Series

leaves outside NLRM

A colourful carpet of leaves, stretching as far as the eye can see, reminds us that we are in Lanark County’s maple-country.  The sweet, delicate, liquid, flows from the maple trees each spring, one drop at a time, and after boiling, becomes the legendary Lanark County Syrup, drawing tourists to the area, year after year.

Today, we are visiting the North Lanark Regional Museum, a former one-room school-house.  At one time, many decades ago, this long-established building served the children from the local community of Appleton.

NLRM building

This well-kept building holds an abundance of historical treasures from the past within its walls; silent echoes of the pioneers settlers who cleared the land, built their homes, and laid the foundations for future generations.

Our visit began with a delightful private tour of the collection, given by Ed Wilson, President of the North Lanark Historical Society.  Our first stop on the tour was a vintage telephone switchboard, complete with chair and headset. This relic from the past highlights just how far our technology has advanced, since the early days of switchboards, and multi-family party lines.

NLRM switchboard

Our next stop was the Post Office, where Ed pointed out a couple of highlights, like the list of former Post-Masters, and an old set of scales that showed the prices to mail an item, according to its weight.

NLRM Post Office

Appleton Postmasters from 1857 – 1970

NLRM list of Postmasters

 

A beautiful Communion Table, crafted in wood, is preserved at the museum; donated by the Appleton United Church.

NLRM Communion Table

 

A country museum would not be complete without an exhibit showing a typical General Store.

NLRM General Store

This General Store features a large collection of vintage glass bottles.   Ed mentioned that he was an avid bottle collector, a hobby that is becoming popular around the world.  It was particularly interesting for us to see bottles from the former Wampole factory in Perth.

NLRM bottle collection

 

Some people say they can never own enough shoes! It was interesting to see the types of shoes that were available in days gone by, and how styles have changed over the years.

 

NLRM Shoe display

 

The variety of vintage tools and farm implements on display, is a fine example of  the types of materials that were used in the crafting of these every-day items.  Rather than being mass-produced, many were hand-made using a hammer and forge.

NLRM tool display

 

To keep the tools, axes, and knives sharp, a grinding wheel was used –

NLRM Grinding wheel

 

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When our tour of the museum was over, it was time for my presentation on using Genograms in your family tree.

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Genograms outline

 

NLRM Arlene talking about Genograms

 

Personality traits such as leadership, negotiation skills, or even creativity, are sometimes influenced by our birth order in a family.

Genograms slide 2

 

In my presentation I showed examples of how musical ability, athletic ability, medical conditions, and even I.Q may be passed from one generation to the next.

Below, is one example of a family tree genogram, showing I.Q as a genetic trait, being passed on from generation to generation, in the family of Marie Curie, double Nobel-Prize winner.

Genogram slide 3

 

After the presentation, the museum provided some tasty refreshments, and many returned to the sweets table more than once to sample the variety of tasty offerings.  Many stopped by my book table, and picked up a signed copy for themselves, or for gifts.  It was a pleasure to chat with so many, and learn a bit about their family histories.

NLRM Arlene at book table

 

Before we headed home, Brian Tackaberry, of the North Lanark Historical Society, kindly presented me with a special gift, and thanked me for my visit to the museum.

NLRM with Brian

 

What a lovely visit to the museum!  Their collection is truly impressive. They are preserving precious artifacts from the past for future generations, and have displayed them generously, for all to enjoy.

Many thanks to Brian Tackaberry, Ed Wilson, and to all of the members of the North Lanark Historical Society for your kind hospitality.  It was a pleasure meeting you, and also to meet Melissa Alexander who has assisted me in the past with research. A special thanks to former neighbour Grant Chaplin for stopping by!

Thanks also to those of you who came to hear my presentation, and to stop by my book table.  It was a packed house, and so nice to see the extra chairs being brought in, and fill the space to capacity.  Thank-you!

Until next time…..

 

maple leaves for NLRM

 

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http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

Crystal Palace Along the Tay

Arlene Crystal Palace 2017

Many come to Perth for the pretty shops and tempting boutiques that line busy Gore Street.  Some visit to gaze in awe at the old limestone buildings, and to travel back in time, to walk among these historic architectural treasures, dating back to the earliest settlers.

There are people who drive for miles from distant cities, to pick up a bottle or two of maple syrup, the liquid gold that helped to make the town a popular tourist destination.  Along with all of these visitors, are those who come, some from nearby, and many from out of town, who seek the unique, the one-of-a-kind, something hand-crafted, and made with old-fashioned care, and these folks come to the Crystal Palace.

A quick photo-tour follows, showcasing some of the highlights of our day, and the incredible variety of the items available at this unique venue.

Vendors inside at Crystal Palace

Tie-Dye is back!  It was a colourful trend in the 1960s and 1970s, and has made a come-back.  This vendor had a steady stream of customers, admiring these unique creations.

Tie Dye at Crystal Palace

If you enjoy adding farm-fresh vegetables to your table, then the Farmer’s Market at the Crystal Palace is the place to be on a Saturday morning in Perth.

outdoor vendor 1

Mustard, fresh Garlic, Honey, and the ever-popular home-grown Maple products are fresh from the local farms.

outdoor vendor 3

outdoor vendor 2

With so many tasty selections, inside and out, and so many lovely hand-crafted pieces it’s difficult to decide!

Once you’ve chosen your treasures and treats, before you head home, spend a few moments strolling along the tranquil Tay River, and take in the peaceful beauty of this pretty spot.

Along the Tay at the Crystal Palace

Many thanks to the good folks at the Farmer’s Market at the Crystal Palace for hosting us today, and for those who stopped by to say ‘Hello’, and chat about some of the local history.

Until next time!

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http://www.staffordwilson.com

Perth Fair – Flashbacks of Fun!

Perth Fair midway 1

It wasn’t just our Mother who loved the Perth Fair.  Yes, she spent months preparing for those brief few hours each Labour Day weekend, at the fairgrounds, along Rogers Road, but the rest of the family also felt a sense of excitement, rivalled only by Christmas morning!

Perth Fair logo on blue

The day had arrived!  The day that we would drive into Perth, park at our Aunt Pat and Uncle Peter Stafford’s house on Halton Street, walk up the road, and enter the gates.  By the time we got to the entrance, and Mother showed her Exhibitor’s Pass, we were bursting with anticipation. I knew that Mother would be heading straight for the Homecraft Building to check on her entries, but instead, I chose to slow down, look around, and take it all in.

Perth Fair poster 1966

She glanced back, waved, and then rushed down the well worn path, through the midway, and up to the buildings. I stood with my back against the side of the Lion’s Hall, and glanced around. There was so much to see that I didn’t know where to look first.  Being a kid, my eyes naturally gravitated toward the rides.

Perth Fair ride 1   tilt a whirl

They were all spinning and whirring, and the bright sun was bouncing off of all of the shiny metal.  There was a Ferris wheel, a Scrambler, a Tilt-a-Whirl, and the Bullet.  The Swings took up a lot of room, and so they were set up to the right of the buildings.  I could see four kiddy rides: a Merry-Go-Round, Baby Airplanes going round in a circle, Ladybugs, and a Little Red Caboose making its way along a tiny round track.

Once my eyes had taken in the rides, my senses turned to all of the sweet aromas of the Fair. Right across from where I was standing was the Lion’s Club ladies’ booth, and I could smell their fresh, homemade hamburgers, and the savory scent of fried sweet onions.  Straight ahead of me, just past the entrance was a vendor swirling a paper funnel around and around, in a circle, pink cotton candy swelling out from the stick, as he twirled it inside the machine.

concession 1  cottonn candy

Next to the cotton candy stand, was a man selling corn on the cob, and several people were waiting in line.  Folks were holding their cobs by a short wooden stick that had been plunged right into the big end of the cob, and there were two or three separate unwrapped pounds of butter set on the edge of the counter of the vending cart. The butter had already taken on a curved shape as people spun their cobs, and then salted them.

corn on a stick  corn dog

Next to the corn vendor was the hot dog cart. A tall, lanky man was grilling hot dogs on one side, and the finished dogs were spinning slowly around glistening on the grill. On the other side of the wagon, a younger lad was piercing hot dogs with long slender sticks, dipping them in batter, and placing them into a big deep fryer.  The cart had a low shelf with mustard, ketchup and relish and some diced onions for people to dress their hot dogs.

candy apples   caramel apples

 

There were two more food carts, so I strolled a bit farther down the midway toward the buildings. The first cart held a popcorn machine, even bigger than the one that I’d seen at the Soper Theatre in Smiths Falls.  It was a large, metal machine, painted red, and the popcorn was spilling out of the top into a big glass case.  The vendor was lifting it out with a bright, silver scoop, and placing it into small white paper bags that were decorated with red stripes and a clown’s face.

popcorn

The last food vendor in front of the Commerce building, was making snow cones.  There was a square, metal and glass machine and an old man in a dirty apron was pouring ice cubes into a big funnel on the top.  There were white cone-shaped paper cups stacked in a tall dispenser attached to the side of the machine and when he cranked the handle on the opposite side snow came out of an opening at the front.  There were clear plastic squeeze bottles lined up on a shelf, at the front of the machine, and each was labeled with a different flavour: cherry, orange, lemon-lime, grape and blueberry.

snow cone

I’m not sure if I was really hungry or if it was just from seeing and smelling all of the different kinds of food, and I thought that I might buy either a small bag of popcorn, or a blueberry snow cone. I dug deep into my pocket, and pulled out my money.  I had exactly twelve dollars, and my money had to last for the whole weekend, and this was just the first day.  I needed to save some, because my friends Susan and Jane Munro, Patti Jordan, and Debbie Majaury, would be coming into town later, and I’d want to go on the rides with them. Because the rides were $1.25 each I had to be careful not to spend money on food, so I stuffed the bills and change back in my pocket, and kept walking, taking in all the sights along the way.

midway 2

Photo: 1967 Old Home week,  David Bromley (clown on the left) Fred Mather (clown on the right)

I heard a man’s voice yelling at me, and it startled me so much that I jumped.  I looked toward the man timidly, and he was in a game booth, right behind a food cart, and he had a table set up with some wooden milk bottles, stacked in a pyramid.  He had a baseball in his hand, and called to me to come and knock over the milk bottles. It scared me so much that I just walked away.  I wasn’t used to strangers.  We knew everyone out on the Third Line, and lots of the folks in Perth as well.  None of the people we knew ever yelled at us like that, right out of the blue, and certainly not a stranger.  I walked quickly away, not looking back.

ring toss

The people that operated the games made me nervous.  They had a lot of tattoos, which was something we never saw in those days.  Many of them were a bit too aggressive. I’d played some of those games before, and although I won, I didn’t get the big stuffed bears and dogs that were hanging along the top and sides of their booth.

carnie

I’ll never forget the first time I played a game.  The back wall of the booth had four or five rows of balloons blown up, and they were stuck to the wall.  I thought I’d have no problem hitting one of the balloons, so when the man yelled at me to come and play, I thought it would be a sure thing.

prize every time

He said it was $1.00 for three darts so I handed him my money, and he handed me three darts.  Sure enough, the balloons weren’t that far away, and I hit and burst all three of them.

3 darts for a dollar

 

He reached down under the table, into a big cardboard box, and handed me a mangy looking stuffed snake.  It was about six inches long, and had an orange felt tongue, badly stitched onto its mouth, and two black felt eyes, that weren’t even lined up.

I looked up at the big stuffed bears and asked him why I hadn’t won one of those.  He said that my prize was a ‘small’ and if I wanted a ‘large’ prize I’d have to play and win, trading up to a ‘medium’ then win a certain number of ‘mediums’ and then I’d finally get one of the big bears. Holy cow!  Talk about disappointed!  What kind of scam was that?  Folks from Bathurst Township were used to other people dealing with them fairly. This game seemed like out and out trickery, and I wasn’t very impressed.  Still, I didn’t want to tell Mother that I’d just wasted my money, so I kept it to myself.  I didn’t even want to tell my friends that I’d been fooled like that.  I just felt stupid.

I walked by all of the other game booths, and watched people play.  Some folks walking around the fairgrounds were actually carrying one of the great big stuffed animals.  I wondered to myself how many of those mangy stuffed snakes they’d had to trade up in order to finally claim the big prize.

Perth Fair 1956

Photo: Perth Fair 1956 – L to R –  Wanda Mahon, Bette Duncan, Mary Douglas, Marsha Ann Nichols, Heather Murphy, Bill Redman (Bill operated the concession stands for the March Midway)

I walked past the last game in the midway, and there was a rough-looking older woman, holding a bunch of short, wooden fishing rods, with small black metal squares on the ends.  There was a round aluminum tub of water on the ground, and floating along the surface of the water were dozens of little yellow plastic ducks, and they each had ‘S’, ‘M’ or ‘L’, marked on their heads in black marker – small, medium and large I guessed.  I must have been staring too long at the tub of ducks because she called out at me to come and play.  She said everyone is a winner.  Not to be tricked again, I asked her what the prizes were, and she showed me.  She didn’t have huge stuffed animals, but it was only fifty cents to play, and you could fish in the tub until you caught a duck.

fishing game

I dug into my pocket, and pulled out two quarters, gave them to her, and she handed me a fishing rod.  By this time, after watching other folks play for a few minutes, I had figured out that the heavy black square on the end of the rod was a magnet, and that each of the yellow plastic ducks must have a magnet inside so they would stick to the line.  I looked down into the tub, and I could see that there were about forty or fifty ducks marked with an ‘S’, maybe ten marked with a ‘M’ and there were only three that I could see marked with an ‘L’.   I took my time, and positioned my rod right over one of the ‘L’ ducks and plunged it into the water.  Wouldn’t you know it, just my luck, the magnet had stuck to a duck with an ‘S’, the lady pulled it out of the tub, and handed me a prize.  It was a 45 rpm record in a paper sleeve.  I thanked her, and looked at the label.  It was the Shirelles’ song “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”  Hmmm.  Well, the record was a few years old, but we had a record player at home, and some plastic adapters to play 45s, so this didn’t seem like such a bad prize after all.  Not bad for fifty cents!

The late August sun was working its way up into the sky, and I thought it must be close to noon.  I was starting to feel hot, and decided to head up to the buildings, and cool off inside.  The exhibit halls at the Perth Fair were grey metal arched buildings, with straight walls, and rounded roofs.  One of the buildings was known as the Commerce building, and it had lots of different vendors selling their products and services.  The other building was the Homemaking building, and this is where you could find exhibits of sewing and fancy work, vegetables, flowers, canned goods, maple products, and of course home baking.  It’s also where you could find our Mother!

Home Baking

As I walked closer to the building, there were two tables set up, right outside of the entrance.  One person was raffling off a quilt made by Mrs. Bert Frizzell, and the other was selling tickets for the annual draw to win a baby beef. Sure enough, as I approached the main door, I spotted Mother, standing along one of the baking counters, talking to Evelyn Bothwell, and Margaret Campbell.  Mrs. Willard Shaw and Mrs. Archie Ferguson were working at the next counter, arranging some of the craft displays.  The ladies all nodded and smiled at me, knowing that I was one of Mother’s ‘helpers’, responsible for carrying her baking in to the building each year, the evening before the judging took place.  I usually had a meringue pie on my lap, in the car, on the way into Perth, and there were countless trays of muffins, loaves, cakes, pies, cookies, bread, rolls and biscuits to carry, carefully, into the building each year.  Along with all of those tasty treats, she would also enter photography, flowers, vegetables and sewing, but it was the home baking competition where her talents shone.

maple syrup and honey display

Mother spotted me, smiled excitedly, and waved me over to the counter.  “Your Mother won the most points in the baking category again!” Mrs. Bothwell exclaimed, and the ladies pointed out all of the red ribbons and tags, behind the glass counter.  Mother beamed, and said that Mrs. Bell from Balderson had come very close to beating her, and that she’d have to stay sharp for next year!

prize ribbons     most points in baking 1965

There were also many other folks who won prizes at the Fair that year as well.  There was a gate prize each year, and the ticket number would be drawn, called out, and the winner received ten pounds of Balderson Cheese.  Now who wouldn’t want that!  They estimated that the crowd that year was around 15,000 and I’m not sure who won the gate prize, but someone went home that night with a big slab of the best cheese in the county.

mammoth cheese

One of the most popular events was the harness racing, and the winner was Eddie Norris of Perth. There was also a Tractor Rodeo – contestants had to drive tractors through an obstacle course pulling wagons and manure spreaders.  In the 14-18 yrs. division some of our local lads had a good showing.  Bill Poole came 1st, Allan Lowry was 2nd, and Brian Miller of Drummond Centre came 3rd.  In the 19 yrs. and over division Mervin Conboy of Maberly took first place, with Jack James from Middleville taking 2nd, and our neighbour from the Third Line, Wayne Conboy taking 3rd.

Donald Hossie, another neighbour, was the top winner in the seed and grain competition, and Mrs. Robert Moodie won the Sewing and Fancy work class with no less than 23 firsts! Mrs. John Auchterlonie, also from the Third Line, took top honours for her vegetables and fruits, and Mrs. Isobel Kent came first in the Flower competition.

flowers Perth Fair

giant pumpkin

Ray Poole was the winner of the best bale of first cut hay, and our neighbour, John Miller of Glen Tay, won for the best dairy cattle.  John’s sister Ruth Miller, won for the best senior calf.  Other winners from the Third Line included Paul, Dale and Jane Brady, winners for their 4H dairy cattle entries. In some of the other 4H competitions local lads Alfred Bowes and Brian Miller, John Miller, and Linda Bell of Balderson were winners.

showing calf      4H logo

Everyone enjoyed the light and heavy Horse Shows and the livestock competitions.  That was the first year that Charolais cattle were introduced into the mix, and so it was quite special to see them in the arena.

Horse and Charlolais at the Fair

showing calf # 2

showing at the Fair # 3

My good friends came to the fairgrounds that Saturday afternoon, and we had a wonderful time, riding the Scrambler, and the Tilt-a-Whirl, screaming, laughing, and then feeling dizzy on our walk back down the ramp, at the end of the ride.  We were all a little nervous about riding The Bullet, because while one of the two cars was right side-up, the opposite car was up-side-down.  We stood there quite a while watching other people riding, and screaming, and laughing, before we got up enough nerve to try it out ourselves.  I didn’t really like being upside-down, and some of my change fell out of my pocket, onto the ground below.  Luckily, one of our neighbours Linda Brady saw it fall, and she stood there and waited, until the ride was finished, and hung onto my change for me.

bullet ride

As always, the Grandstand shows at the Perth Fair were great entertainment for people of all ages!  Beautiful late summer evenings, clear skies, all the rides lit up, the scents of delicious food in the air, and wonderful live music, made those nights magical!

grandstand 2

grandstand

bandstand 3 edit

Everyone always came out to see the famous Trans Canada Hell Drivers!

Hell Drivers 1969Hell Driver clown

Hell Drivers at the Fair

Along with the Grandstand entertainment, one of the highlights of the Fair that year, was the Old Time Fiddlers competition on Sunday, and the musically-gifted Dawson Girdwood walked away with the top prize. Barb Closs from Lanark came second in the step-dancing competition, although we thought she should have come first, she was such a talented performer.  Watching the fiddling and step-dancing was a memorable finish to the Labour Day weekend.

Dawson Girdwood

Dawson Girdwood

The last night of the Fair, as always, was bittersweet.  We knew that it was almost over for another year.  I walked through the midway one more time, all the way to the Lion’s Hall.  The ladies in the Lioness Booth were packing up their big jars of mustard and relish, and some of the nearby vendors were starting to clean their food carts, and take them apart.

midway 4

Some diehard fans of the Fair were still playing games; taking a last spin at the Crown and Anchor wheel, or throwing one last pitch at Skeet ball, not wanting the fun to end.  Although it was getting late, there were still a handful of people on the rides laughing and screaming. The good-natured folks running the rides didn’t seem to mind and they gave these last few stragglers extra long rides.

As I walked back up through the midway, I took one last look behind me, as if I wanted to freeze the moment in my memory, then I reluctantly climbed into the car.  Dad started up the engine, and drove through the side entrance, onto Cockburn Street.

It was a wonderful fair!  I sat in the back seat of the car, tired from the busy weekend, as Mother chatted excitedly to Dad, already planning her exhibits for next year’s fair.

kids driving away

School would be starting soon, and the days would grow cooler, and the sun wouldn’t feel quite as strong as it did for the Fair.  In the weeks to come we’d bring our jackets down from the attic, and spend our evenings doing homework, instead of riding our bikes up and down the Third Line. As the daylight hours dwindled down we’d begin to see the onset of nature’s paintbrush, and its random strokes of yellow and orange, dotted across the maple trees in our yard. This would be our last taste of summer for a long while, and what could possibly be a more fitting way to finish off the season, than a glorious sunny weekend spent at the Perth Fair!

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Perth Fair 1963

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This story is an excerpt from:

Memories of Home Drummond North Elmsley

The story ‘A Day at the Fair’, first published in
“Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line”   ISBN 978-0-9877026-30
some photos from: ‘Perth Remembered’, and from ‘Perth Fair’
L C Calendar book cover

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

St. Vincent de Paul Church – DeWitt’s Corners

St Vincent de Paul church

Summer in the country was a time for swimming in the Tay River, hanging out with friends at the millstone at Cavanagh’s general store, and regular bike rides up and down the Third Line.  There were farm tractors, hay-wagons, mothers outside hanging their washing on clotheslines, and daisies and black-eyed-Susans waving in the ditches, as I flew by on my old red bike.

old bike

I always passed by the familiar farms and houses along the way – Mitchell’s, Conboy’s, pedaled like lightning past Heney’s, so their dogs couldn’t catch me.  I continued past Radford’s, Siebel’s, Mitchell’s, Kerr’s, Closs’, heading up the Third Line toward Kyle’s, Perkins’ and Doyle’s when one day, something unusual caught my eye.

A stylish wedding party was entering St. Vincent de Paul Church; a bride in a flowing white gown, three bridesmaids dressed in pastel pink, carrying matching nosegays.  Several cars were parked outside, decorated with pink and white tissue flowers.  I pulled over to the side of the road to watch the procession. The old Catholic church had been around for as long as I could remember, and appeared as proud and majestic as ever on that hot summer day so long ago.

wedding couple   bridesmaids

The early settlers in Bathurst Township were keen to have their own church, instead of driving to St. John’s Church in Perth, or St. Bridget’s Church in Stanleyville.  Roads were treacherous at times in the winter, with deep snow, sometimes freezing rain, or both.

Long before St. Vincent de Paul Church was built, Roman Catholic services were held for 69 years, in the home of Mrs. Ed. Lee on the Third Line.

Mrs. Ed Lee

The people of Bathurst petitioned Bishop James Vincent Cleary for a church of their own. They needed a suitable, conveniently located place to erect a new church building.

John DeWitt, son of a pioneer settler, and his wife Mary Neil knew there was a need for a Roman Catholic Church to serve the growing community. Hoping to improve the situation, they made a promise to donate the land to build a church.

The paperwork was completed, and the land on lot 11, between the 2nd and 3rd concessions of Bathurst Township was donated by John and Mary DeWitt on July 26, 1889. To ensure that the transaction was legal, the land was sold for the token sum of one dollar to the Kingston Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.

DeWitt deed

 

DeWitt deed part 2

The construction progressed quickly, and the first mass was held on November 23, 1889.  The church was packed that day, and this stately building has served generations of families around DeWitt’s Corners and the area for over 125 years and counting.

Pastors who have served St. Vincent de Paul:
Rev. T.P. O’Connor  1889-1899

Rev. John O’Brien – 1899-1901

Rev. J.H. McDonough – 1901-1912

Rev. P.J. Keaney – 1912-1917

Rev. J.J. Keeley – 1917-1926

Rev. J.V. Meagher – 1926-1928

Rev. L.B. Garvin – 1928-1934

Rev. Walter Whalen – 1934-1940

Rev. J.W. Callahan – 1940-1947

Rev. W.L. Terrion – 1947-1952

Rev. J.C. LeSage – 1952-1976

Father Karl Clemens – 1976 – 1983

Father Richard Whalen – 1983-1985

Father Liam Tallon  –  1985 – 1993

Father Karl Clemens (back) – 1993 – 1998

Father  Lindo Molon – 1998 – 2006

Father  Mark Ruckpaul   – 2006 – 2012

Father Aidan Dasaah – 2012 – 2014

Father Jan Kusyk – 2014 –

 

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One of the weddings in the early days of St. Vincent de Paul Church – Henry Edmund Hagan, son of Hugh Hagan and Agnes Bennett, Westport, married Anna Victoria Jackman Hagan, daughter of John Jackman and Matilda Nagle, Wemyss, on 25 September 1918. Henry was 25 and Anna was 17.  (according to Richard Frizzell, their grandson on his mother’s side – ” Family history has it that she married so young in order to escape having to rear her 4 brothers and sisters after her mother passed away in 1916.”)

Hagan Jackman wedding jpg

St. Vincent de Paul wedding Richard Frizzell's maternal grandparents

According to their grandson, Richard Frizell, “Henry and Anna farmed up on the mountain in Westport until 1956 or 57. They sold the farm and moved to Glen Tay. They had 5 children; my mom, Vera, was the oldest girl.”

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Father James Keeley St. Vincent de Paul

Father James Keeley – served St. Vicent de Paul from 1917-1926

ArchbishopannouncementPerthCourierOCt171930p6

Oct. 17, 1930 – visit from the Archbishop

June 26 1931

June 26, 1931 – Dance at DeWitt’s Corners

 

I recall that Father J.C. Le Sage was the Priest of the parish from 1952 through to 1976.  Fr. Le Sage was well-liked, and a good friend to many of the local parishioners.   He was known to be extremely intelligent, and it was widely believed that he had come from a very capable family.  He had a reputation for being an excellent business manager, and ensured that the Church was in good repair.

Father LeSage McNamee weddiing 1955

wedding of Peter and Mary McNamee – September 24th,  1955, with Father J.C. LeSage

During his time serving at DeWitt’s Corners he hired an exceptionally talented Dutch painter who cleaned and restored the wood ceiling of St. Vincent’s, and painted the interior of the building.  He was also instrumental in building a parish hall in Stanleyville (the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish Hall) to serve both parishes (St. Vincent de Paul in Dewitt’s Corners and St. Bridget’s in Stanleyville).  Because of his excellent fiscal management, the total costs for the new hall were paid off quickly. Along with Fr. Le Sage’s sound business sense, an active Catholic Women’s League helped to raise money for the church, and assist with local charities.

At the age of 67, Rev. Father LeSage suffered a heart attack at his home, near Stanleyville, and passed away on September 13, 1976.

Nov 4 1976 p 14 Fr. LeSage part 1Nov 4 1976 p 14 Fr. LeSage part 2Nov 4 1976 p 14 Fr. LeSage part 3

 

St. Bridget's sign

 

Dec 22 1977 p 8 Christmas St. V de P

December 22 1977 – ad for Christmas Eve Services

March 22 978 p 14 display ad Holy Week

March 22, 1978 – ad for Holy Week

In 1979 the parishoners from DeWitt’s Corners and Stanleyville, sponsored a family of seven ‘Boat People’, who had fled their homeland for Canada.

Aug 22 1979 The Boat People

August 22 1979 – sponsoring the ‘Boat People’

Sept 12 1979 picnic

September 12, 1979 – A picnic in Stanleyville

Nov 21 1979 St V de P complete

November 21, 1979 – St. Vincent de Paul Anniversary

Nov 21st 1979 special mass

November 21 1979 – special mass planned

Nov 28 1979 St V de P anniversary photo

November 28 1979 photos of St. Vincent de Paul anniversary celebrations

Dec 19 1979 Nativity Scene

December 19 1979 – Nativity Scene

Dec 19 1979 Junior Choir

December 19 1979 – Junior Choir

October 1 1980 Annual 40 Hours of Devotion

October 1, 1980 – Annual Forty Hours Devotion

March 11 1981 Shirley Scott

March 11, 1981 – Shirley Scott is new president of St. Vincent de Paul CWL

Dec 2 1981 CWL anniversary

December 2, 1981 – CWL Anniversary

October 20 1982 Guest Speaker

October 20 1982 Guest Speaker display ad
October 20, 1982 – Guest Speaker

August 17 1983 Farewell Mass

August 17, 1983 – Farewell Mass for Fr. Karl Clemens

 

St. Vincent de Paul, the pretty red brick church at DeWitt’s Corners, has served the community for well over a century.  Both residents and seasonal visitors from nearby cottages have found comfort and a sense of belonging, inside these stately walls.

June 8, 1983 - Summer Schedule

June 8, 1983 – Summer Schedule

Many weddings, christenings, and funerals have taken place over the past hundred years, and to those of us who grew up in this neighbourhood, St. Vincent de Paul will always remain a memorable place, in our hearts.

 

hands bible

 

…………

photo of St. Vincent de Paul church c. 1970s, courtesy of JoAnne Cavanagh Butler
photo of wedding -Peter and Mary McNamee 1955 with Father LeSage – courtesy of Mary McNamee
photo of wedding – Henry Hagan, to Anna Jackman Hagan, and photo of Father Keeley- courtesy of Richard Frizell
(story is an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Classics: A Treasury of Tales from Another Time”)

…………

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

A Lanark County Kid at Expo ’67

Expo 67

Throughout the entire year, in 1967, there were special events planned all across Lanark County, to help get everyone into the spirit of the 100th anniversary.  There was even a special flag created that year.

Expo flag

It was a stylized maple leaf made up of 11 triangles, representing the provinces and territories. I remember that the Lions Club was selling these flags in Perth, and one of the first places to hang one was at ‘The Perth Courier’ offices.   The grade eight students at Queen Elizabeth School went one step further, and constructed a three dimensional version of the flag.  They had a special ceremony at their school, with some local dignitaries – Rev. J. Gillanders did a devotional service. The Principal Miss Jean Blair was there, John Scott, Mayor Burchell, and Jack Wilson.

expo maple leaf

The Royal Canadian Mint issued new coins for the centennial year.  Each coin depicted a different Canadian animal – the back of the dollar coin had a Canada goose, the fifty cent piece was a wolf, and the back of the quarter was a lynx.  The Bluenose schooner on the back of the dime was replaced with a mackerel, the nickel featured a rabbit, and the one cent coin had a dove. It was also the last year that pure silver was used in our coins.

centennial coins

 

Mother and Dad decided that they would like to go to Montreal that year for the centennial celebration called ‘Expo ‘67’.  This was a kind of ‘world’s fair’, and was to be held in Montreal, Quebec, from April to October that year.  There were 62 nations in total that participated, and they each had displays and ‘pavilions’ set up to showcase their countries.  It was held on Ile Sainte-Helene, and Ile Notre-Dame, on an already existing island, and some ‘created’ islands as well.  There were likely many discussions back and forth between Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and the mayor of Montreal Jean Drapeau, to get everything just right. Canada would be hosting many nations of the world, as well as its own citizens celebrating their centennial.

Man and his world

Dad was delivering milk, door to door in Perth, working for Chaplin’s Dairy in Glen Tay at that time, and he would have his usual two weeks of vacation in July.

Chaplin's Dairy

 

It was decided that one of Dad’s vacation weeks would be spent at ‘Expo ‘67’, and Mother, who was the usual arranger-of-travels, began to look for accommodations. Mother read in the newspaper that there were families that lived close to the exhibition grounds in Montreal, who were renting rooms in their homes, and so she began making some phone calls, and writing some letters.  She found an English-speaking family who lived within walking distance to the Expo; they even had a little girl that was a couple of years younger than me, so that I would have someone to play with.  This seemed like an ideal choice.

Now came the tricky part……..  Dad did not like driving in heavy traffic.  He did not like driving in Quebec. He did not like driving on freeways.  Hmmm……Mother was going to be asking him to drive on busy highways, in Montreal, to probably what would be the most congested area for traffic in the entire country that summer.  This was going to be ‘interesting’.

The months passed by quickly, like they always do.  There were lots of celebrations going on all over Lanark County, and so, because it was such a busy year, I think that the time passed even faster than usual. The big week finally came.  It was time for Dad’s vacation.  The weather was hot and sunny, and we packed up the old Buick with our well-worn suitcases, and we drove down the lane, turned left onto the Third Line, and headed for Montreal.

Buick     suitcase open  suitcases closed

 

We crossed over at Glen Tay, and turned right onto Hwy 7, and headed east.  It wasn’t long before we saw the signs telling us how many miles it was to get to Ottawa.  Mother said we’d be passing by Ottawa on the Trans Canada Highway, and then continuing on to Montreal.

Dad didn’t like driving on the Queensway; not at all.  By the time we passed Bayshore I could see that he was getting a little ‘hot under the collar’.  By the time we got into Quebec, and were getting close to Montreal, I discovered for the first time in my life, that my father was bilingual. No, he couldn’t speak French.  He had grown up on the 11th Concession of Drummond Township after all, on a farm, in the 1920’s and 30’s. No, there wasn’t really any French being spoken up there.  No, the language that he started speaking, just outside of Montreal that day so long ago, was a completely new one – one that he likely wouldn’t want to be speaking when he dropped Mother off at Calvin Church on Sunday mornings.

swearing

 

Mother was giving him ‘the look’, and for once, it didn’t seem to be having any effect.  Apparently, from what I could gather, Dad was not too impressed by the skill level of the drivers in our neighbouring province of Quebec.

heavy traffic

Once we got into the downtown core of Montreal, we were trying to find the house where we’d be staying.  Dad got lost a couple of times before we finally arrived, and once again he demonstrated his fluency in a second language.  He would not, under any circumstances, stop and ask for directions, and Mother was frantically unfolding and re-folding the city map of Montreal. I sat quietly in the back seat, and hoped that we’d be there soon.

montreal map

We finally found the house, and pulled into their driveway.  They were very friendly people, and came right out to our car to greet us.  Their names were Jimmy and Vicki Irvine, and their little daughter Sharon was there beside them.  Jimmy helped Dad carry the luggage inside, and they showed us the room where we’d be staying, and I had a nice little cot on the floor, on one side of their room.

Mrs. Irvine was very kind, and she already had our supper on the stove.  She and Mother chatted in the kitchen, and Dad and Jimmy went back outside so Dad could have a smoke.  Sharon took me downstairs to their basement, and wow, their basement was really something!  She had more toys than I’d ever seen in my life, and right smack in the center of all of the toys was a spring horse!!  It was a plastic horse, set on a metal frame, and suspended by big heavy springs, and you could climb on its back, and either go up and down, or backwards and forward.  I loved it!  I was going to ask if I could have one of these for Christmas.  I thought to myself that there really wasn’t much chance of that happening, so I’d better enjoy riding it while we were staying here.

spring horse

We stayed with the Irvine family for the entire week.  We’d take the short drive to Expo ’67 each morning after breakfast, walk around, and see all of the different pavilions that were set up to showcase each country.  We even got a little paper ‘passport’ booklet, and a new stamp was added each time we visited another country’s pavilion. That was a pretty cool souvenir!

Expo passport

expo passport inside

 

 

Another souvenir from that trip was a little notepad with a red plastic cover, with the centennial maple leaf design on the front, and even better still, I was given three four-leaf clovers.  Mr. Irvine had a patch on his lawn where there were four-leaf clovers growing, and he picked three of them for me to press in my little notepad, before we left at the end of the week.

Expo notepad

4 leaf clovers

 

Mother and Dad kept in touch with the Irvine family for many years.  We never returned to Montreal, but they sent Christmas cards back and forth each year, for many years, until one year when Mother didn’t receive a card.  It had been many decades since our trip, and Mother wondered at the time if one of them had passed away.  The Christmas before that was the last time we would hear from them. It was sad to have lost our connection with the Irvine family.  Whenever we’d receive their Christmas card each year it always brought back the memories of Expo ’67, and of all of the centennial celebrations.

1960s christmas card

 

I fondly recall all of the special events in Perth that year, and in different parts of Lanark County.  When I think of the 100th anniversary of confederation, and of Expo ’67, I will always remember the Irvine family, and how they graciously opened their home to us, strangers from another province, that they welcomed us as if we were old friends, and made us feel a part of the big celebration going on in our country that year.

It serves to remind me, even today, that there are good folks everywhere, not just in our own back yards, but all across this great nation of ours.

canada 150

 

 

“Patriotism is not short, frenzied, outbursts of emotion,

but the tranquil, steady dedication of a lifetime.”  

                                                                       Adelai Stevenson

 

…………….

 

(story is an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Kid: My Travels Up and Down the Third Line”  ISBN 978-0-9877026-16)

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

 


Antler Lodge – Dancing the Night Away in Cottage Country

Antler Lodge interior

 

Antler Lodge opened its doors for the first time on Friday evening, May 14th 1954.  Admission was seventy-five cents, and they featured round and square dancing to live bands.

Antler Lodge opening night

One of the opening acts at the Lodge was Lee Miller’s Orchestra, and they delighted the crowds weekend after weekend, for much of that first summer.  Naturally, being a new venue, young people, and even some not-so-young people flocked to see the new Antler Lodge.  There were curious tourists as well, who came to check out the newest dance hall in the region, and it became ‘the place to go’ in the summer of ’54. When the perennially popular Rideau Ferry Regatta wound down on the August long weekend, the Lodge became the hot-spot for the in-crowds, a place to mingle and mix, with some new faces, and the old familiar faces as well.  Antler Lodge was a hit.

Antler Lodge exterior

Dick and Margaret McLean, the owners of Antler Lodge, must have been pleased that first summer. Their new business was booming, a crowd-pleasing attraction, where people could gather together, dance, socialize, and enjoy some live country music.

Antler Lodge poster

It’s anyone’s guess whether Antler Lodge would have ever existed, if Margaret and Dick hadn’t got together back in 1939.  They were both local kids from Rideau Ferry.  Margaret, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Jackson, and Richard, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James McLean

Margaret McLean Antler Lodge

Margaret  ‘Marnie’  (Jackson) McLean, owner, Antler Lodge

The McLean’s new business Antler Lodge would become an endearing and memorable place for so many, in the decades that followed.

As those first long, hot, summer weekends at Antler Lodge unfolded, the familiar strains of down-home country fiddling escaped the confines of the rustic wooden structure, and echoed over the fields, and across the Rideau lakes. Melodies from Hank Snow, Ray Price and Webb Pierce, played by local bands, filled the wooden rafters of the homespun Lodge, with hit after hit of trendy country and western tunes.  The dancing went on until the wee hours; romances blossomed, and hearts were broken, to the tunes of Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold.  The parking lot was crammed with vehicles from Perth, Smiths Falls, Brockville, and even as far away as Kingston.  Pretty girls posed demurely beside their date’s cars, decked out in pedal pushers or full skirts, flirting with their beaus, who sported narrow jeans, or pleated trousers.  Shiny glass bottles of beer and liquor appeared from their hiding spots, tucked away, hidden carefully in glove boxes and trunks, and kisses were stolen in this parking lot, known to the neighbourhood teens as the passion pit.

Some kids hung out at the Rideau Ferry Inn, just up the road, but there was something about Antler Lodge; it was cozy, more intimate, more like a house party.  The inside was spartan, unrefined, with exposed wooden beams, and a huge set of antlers mounted on the wall, above a homey, unpretentious, stone fireplace.  In this casual, laid-back atmosphere, the lighting above the dance floor glowed soft, muted; perfect for swaying close, in dimly lit corners, and for long, steady, gazes into the eyes of a dance partner.

One of the first wedding receptions held at Antler Lodge was on October 19, 1955 as they played host to the delightful newlyweds Helen Kehoe and Tom Kerr.  Helen was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Kehoe of Perth, and Thomas was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Kerr of Stanleyville.  The colourful autumn leaves set the stage for the joyful wedding, at St. John’s Church in Perth, officiated by Father Farrell.  Shirley Anne Kehoe, the bride’s pretty sister, was the maid of honour, and the lovely Monica Kerr was her bridesmaid.  At the groom’s side, stood his best man and brother, Walter Kerr, and his charming ushers escorting guests to their seats at St. John’s Church that day, were Pat Kehoe and Pat Kerr.  Following the wedding, an elegant dinner was served in the Blue Room, at the Perth Hotel; and one of the highlights of this special day, was a memorable reception, at none other than Antler Lodge.

On June 12th 1956, Antler Lodge played host to a very special retirement party, for one of the area’s longest serving, and most respected municipal clerks – Roy Darou.  An enthusiastic crowd of over 200 well-wishers and supporters, mostly citizens of North Elmsley Township, gathered to pay tribute to this local legend.  Roy, a dedicated worker, had served the township faithfully, holding the same office for over forty years.  There were glowing speeches that evening by Reeve James Coutts, appreciative tributes by Councillor Ferguson McVeety, many gifts, and warm wishes, from all who had gathered there.  This was one of the earliest of such notable celebrations, to be held at the Lodge, in the coming decades.

Competition remained steady in the dance hall business throughout the summer of ’58, and ABC Hall in Bolingbroke began featuring bands every Friday night, advertising a variety of tempting refreshments, along with music by Lockwood’s Orchestra.  At the Agricultural Hall in McDonald’s Corners, dances were usually held on Saturdays, and often their music was supplied by popular local group – Bill Hannah and the Nightingales.  The admission price was considerably lower than the other halls, at the bargain-basement price of fifty cents for the evening.  To remain competitive, Antler Lodge held a special Midnight Frolic, on Sunday August 3rd from 12:00 a.m. until 3:00 a.m., drawing huge crowds of racers and boating enthusiasts, following the annual Rideau Ferry Regatta.

Boat Show Rideau Ferry

Rideau Ferry Regatta

 

In the spring of 1959, Antler Lodge raised the bar for their opening dance of the season by featuring music by the famed Country Hoppers, stars of CKWS radio, Channel 11 TV, and RCA Victor records.  They also increased the price of admission, and began to enforce a strict ‘no leather jackets or boots admitted’ policy, to discourage unsavory types from attending their dances, and causing trouble.

The Country Hoppers had a steady gig at the Lodge for the entire summer of ’59, and all through the cottage season in 1960 as well.  People for miles around flocked to hear the sounds of country and western music, mingle, drink, and dance the night away.

Country Hoppers

1961 would see an even greater increase in the popularity of area dance halls, and there were no less than eight local venues featuring live bands.   The Stanley Lodge in Lanark constructed a new wooden dance platform, and hosted the Haylofters of CJOH TV, as well as the much sought after Ottawa Valley Melodiers.

Mac Beattie

John ‘Mac’ Beattie, Arnprior native, led the Melodiers, a legendary Ottawa Valley band on drums and vocals, with Reg Hill on fiddle, Garnet Scheel on guitar, Gaetan Fairfield on rhythm guitar, and Bob Whitney on saxophone.  The band performed for decades, and released a total of seven albums, mostly in the 1960s.

Mac Beattie and the Melodiers

Mac Beattie and others

Left – front – Maurice Charon and Horace Blanchette; centre row, Garnet Scheel, Barbara Ann Scott -drums, Karen Shaw, Mac Beattie, Maisy Billings,Gaetan Fairfield

Mac Beattie Max Keeping

Max Keeping, CJOH TV –  introducing Mac Beattie

At McDonald’s Corners, music lovers could enjoy the sounds of the Country Rockets, playing weekends at the Agricultural Hall, and the Maberly Agricultural Hall featured Kenny Jackson’s Valley Cruisers.   The Valley Cruisers had a distinctive country sound, highlighted by masterful fiddler Kenny Jackson, and polished performer Harry Adrain on guitar and vocals.  The gifted Raymond ‘Raymie’ Donaldson played lead guitar, with the powerful strumming of Gary Barr on rhythm guitar, rounding out this dynamic group.

At Scott’s Ballroom in Westport, they featured round and square dancing, to the sounds of Fred Paquin’s Orchestra.  Kingston native Don Cochrane got his start in the Fred Paquin Orchestra, as a teenager.  Don would go on to collaborate on songs recorded by the Mercey Brothers, and would record two albums of his own music as well.

During that summer, Barker’s on Hwy 15, Otter Lake had music by Ron McMunn and his Country Cousins.  Ron McMunn, or The Silver Fox, as he was known, hailed from Clayton, and in 1954, Ron formed the Country Cousins. His band performed live on CJET radio in Smiths Falls every Saturday night for over a decade and this set the stage for their tremendous popularity in local venues in the years that followed.

 

Ron McMunn

 

Reserve me a table

Ron McMunn awards ceremony  Ron McMunn ‘The Silver Fox’

 

At the Fallbrook Orange Hall, the Mississippi River Boys provided the weekend entertainment, and at Antler Lodge, the Country Hoppers enjoyed their third steady year of regular engagements.

Early in that summer of 1961, the owners of Antler Lodge – Mr. and Mrs. Richard ‘Dick’ McLean announced the forthcoming marriage of their daughter Helen Isobel, to Mr. William Donald Robert ‘Don’ Halpenny.  He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. R. Anson Halpenny, and hailed from Easton’s Corners.  The marriage took place on July 7, at St. James Anglican Church in Perth.

Later, that same summer, Antler Lodge hosted former Perth High School classmates as they celebrated their Class of’44 reunion.

Class of 1944

Following a tasty turkey supper at the Rideau Ferry Inn, everyone drove up the road to the Lodge for some live music and square dancing.  It was a night to remember, and Gordon Mather was an entertaining Master of Ceremonies.  There was a good turnout with Mr. and Mrs. Frank Frizell (Dorothy Ferguson), Bill Thomas, Mr. and Mrs. Willard Shaw (Vivian Greenley) , Dr. and Mrs. C. Campbell (Mary Ewart), Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Elliot (Kaye Ferguson), Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Mather, George Findlay, Mr. and Mrs. Ken Buchanan (Evelyn Radford), Mr. and Mrs. Don Goodfellow (Doreen Marcellin) Mr. and Mrs. Fred Guarino (Mid Stewart), Mr. and Mrs. Ron Thompson (Bette Oakes), Mrs. F. Cohis  (Maxine Ramsbottom), Mr. and Mrs. George Leonard, Mr. and Mrs. Don Campbell (Marg Quartermain), Mr. and Mrs. T. Rockburn (Clara McInnis)

Several prizes were awarded during the evening:  Man with the baldest head – Willard Shaw, runner-up Gordon Mather, Couple married the longest – Mr. and Mrs. Ken Buchanan, Couple married the shortest time – Bernard and Kaye Elliot, Couple travelling the longest distance – Mr. and Mrs. C. Cameron, Couple with an anniversary – Mr. and Mrs. Fred Guarino, and last, but not least – a prize for a bachelor – George Finlay.

The Country Hoppers, formerly known as the Riders of the Southern Trail, were a tremendously popular band, drawing large crowds from Carleton Place, Smiths Falls and Perth; and they became the regular weekend entertainment at Antler Lodge from 1962 through to 1966.  Their first album ‘The Country Kid’ was released in 1962 and included performances by Davey Gibbs, Garry ‘Gizz’ Watt, Fred ‘Pappy’ Ryan, Paul ‘Hiker’ Gurry, and Larry ‘Dooley’ Protheroe.  The Country Hoppers were known for their versatility and could play country fiddle tunes, honky-tonk, ballads, and square dance music as well.

Davey Gibbs Country Hoppers

 

Dick McLean Antler Lodge 1964

Dick McLean, owner, at Antler Lodge, 1964

…………

In the fall of ‘64, the Appleton Junior Farmers held a dance at the Lodge, featuring the Happy Wanderers.  The Happy Wanderers, an Ottawa group, were immensely popular with teens, and had a regular show, every Saturday night, at the Carleton Place Town Hall.  Ken Reynolds, Ward Allen, Bob King, Vince Lebeau, Joe Brown, and Lynn Strauff, formed the original CFRA Happy Wanderers, and they became one of the most popular acts in the Ottawa Valley.  

happy wanderers 3

Happy Wanderers

Happy Wanderers

 

They were also featured on a weekly half-hour show, on CFRA radio, broadcast across the Valley.  When they played Antler Lodge, they brought special guests Marie King, Barry and Lawanda Brown.  Bob Livingston kept the evening’s dancers moving around the floor like clockwork, as the caller for the square dancing.  

A few years later, Barry and Lawanda, along with their father Joe, and their sister Tracey, would form The Family Brown, which included masterful lead guitarist Dave Dennison, and accomplished drummer, and capable band manager Ron Sparling. 

The family brown

The Family Brown

 

Another talented group drawing crowds to the Lodge that year was the Country Harmony Boys. During the later part of ’64, Antler Lodge also featured the Top Hats and the Travelons.

By 1968 Antler Lodge had an established house band that entertained the crowds every Saturday night, during the entire cottage season.  The Country Harmony Boys were a polished group of talented local musicians, and they drew the masses, young and old, to the Lodge, for their weekly fill of square dancing tunes.

Meanwhile, some of the other area dance halls were booming as well, and the popular Balderson Hall often featured Bill Munro and his Country Rockets, or Don Gilchrist and his Dancers, and they kept these cozy venues hopping until the wee hours.  Donnie Gilchrist, a talented showman, was born in Campbell’s Bay. At one point in his career, he teamed up with the very capable Joan Ann Jamieson, and went on to become one of the legendary step-dancers of his time.  He later caught the attention of Frank Ryan, founder of CFRA radio station, who helped to promote him on the local airwaves.  Don rose from his humble beginnings in local dance halls, and went on to perform in 24 countries around the world, and even appeared on numerous TV specials.

Don Gilchrist

Don Gilchrist, legendary step-dancer

 

Frank Ryan of CFRA was key in promoting many of the local Ottawa Valley bands and helping them to succeed in a very competitive industry.

Frank Ryan  CFRA’s Frank Ryan

 

Because of their location, ABC Hall in Bolingbroke often had acts come in from the city of Kingston. One of the more sought-after bands in the summer of ’68 was Mallen’s Melodiers, playing both modern pop, and square dancing tunes.  Not to be outdone, the hall at McDonald’s Corners regularly featured crowd-pleasing music by Symington’s Orchestra, for the very competitive admission price of seventy-five cents.

Dick McLean Antler Lodge

Dick McLean, owner, Antler Lodge

 

Antler Lodge hosted yet another high-profile wedding reception, when Beryl Kehoe married Robert Orok.  On July 31st at St. John’s Church in Perth, Beryl, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lambert Kehoe of Rideau Ferry, became Mrs. Robert Orok.  Robert’s parents Fred and Mona Orok were the founders and owners of the flourishing Orok’s Hardware Store in Lanark, and were well known and respected in the area.  Rev. B.F. O’Neil made the journey all the way from Brockville to officiate the wedding.  Highlights of the ceremony included memorable music, played by talented organist Mrs. Robert McTavish, and a heartfelt solo sung by the gifted David St. Onge.

Beryl Orok's wedding # 1

Left to Right:  Judith Orok, Darlene Beveridge, Kathryn Campbell, Alison Kerr flower girl, Conrad Potvin ring bearer, Bill Neilson, Rick Keller , Bernard Kehoe

Standing up with Beryl was dear friend Kathryn Campbell, Maid of Honour, and two lovely Bridesmaids – Darlene Beveridge and Judith Orok.  William Neilson was the dashing best man, accompanied by two charming ushers, Richard Kellar and Bernard Kehoe.  Two delightful youngsters taking part in the ceremony were Alison Kerr, the bride’s cousin as flower girl, and small, but capable Conrad Potvin had the all-important task of ring-bearer.

Beryl at Antler Lodge

While Antler Lodge was growing in popularity during the ‘50s and ‘60s, there was an undeniable musical revolution taking place in England; and the distinctive beat of rock and roll music was spreading across the ocean, to North America.  It was called the British Invasion,  and groups like  The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits and The Who, began to get air-time on Canadian radio stations.   By the mid 1960s rock and roll was dominating the local airwaves, and by the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, many young people followed the trendy new music, and wanted to hear rock music played live in local venues.

British invasion

Antler Lodge had always been a country music venue.  The rustic, intimate, hall, attracted large, enthusiastic crowds, with their talented live bands, and memorable evenings of western-style square dancing.  As more and more young people gravitated toward rock and roll music, the crowds at the nearby Rideau Ferry Inn began to grow in leaps and bounds. The Rideau Ferry Inn featured live rock and roll bands, or disc jockeys, and by the late 1960s and early 1970s enjoyed the lion’s share of the weekend business.  Country and western music, during those years, lost its appeal with the majority of the young crowds; although it remained as well-loved as ever, with the older generation.

rideau-ferry-inn-1982 Rideau Ferry Inn

 

The once hugely popular country dance hall was simply not able to compete with the cutting-edge music at the Rideau Ferry Inn, or the latest rock groups playing at the Perth arena or Farrell Hall, like Max Webster, April Wine and Lighthouse.  The declining business continued to operate on a smaller scale through the summer of 1975, but by August of 1976 Antler Lodge had given up, locked its doors, and was up for sale.   A small ad in the real estate section of the “Perth Courier” was published on Thursday, August 5th:  “Antler Lodge, Rideau Ferry, approx 6 miles from Perth.  Stone fireplace, maple floor, stage and lunch counter.”   Two years later, in 1978, the Lodge was still for sale – “This once thriving lodge is situated on a one acre lot. Inquire today. $35,000.”

………

It was shortly after midnight on Friday, October 9, 1981, when the Bathurst, Burgess, Drummond and North Elmsley (BBDE) Fire Department received the call.  According to Fire Chief Harold Jordan, flames were shooting through the roof of Antler Restaurant, within six minutes of the call.  Eighteen local fire fighters responded to the call, bravely battling thick smoke and hot, scorching flames; but according to Harold, “We couldn’t save anything.”

 

Antler Lodge up in smoke newsclipping Perth Courier, October 9, 1981

………

“The local fire department was unable to establish the cause of the blaze, and it remains a mystery why the Ontario Fire Marshals were never called in to investigate the source of the fire that completely leveled Antler Lodge.”

……….

mystery fire

investigation

why

…………………

**  The fact that there was never an investigation into the cause of the fire that destroyed this beloved dance hall, remains a mystery even today!

 

………………..

photos of Antler Lodge, used with permission – Graeme Hoatson Beattie
photos of Dick and Margaret ‘Marnie’ McLean, owners of Antler Lodge, used with permission of Carol Ann Moore McDonald (Carol is the niece of Dick and Marnie McLean, on her mother’s side)
photos of Orok-Kehoe wedding, used with permission – Beryl Orok
photo: Antler Lodge poster – printed by Thompson Printing, Perth,  used with permission – Jim Winton

………………

 

(this story is an excerpt from the book ‘Lanark County Connections: Memories Among the Maples’ – available online or in local stores.  ISBN-9780987702647)

Lanark County Connections small book cover

……………..

For more information on dance halls and musicians in Lanark County:

more on Lanark County Dance Halls

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

 

 

Rideau Ferry Inn – Those Hot Summer Nights!

Rideau Ferry Inn blog post image

Oh, those hot summer nights at the Rideau Ferry Inn!  The dancing, the laughter, stolen kisses, sneaking drinks in the parking lot, and the best live rock and roll around!

Its official name back then, was the Poonamalie Pavilion, but nobody called it that.  To my friends and me, it was simply the Rideau Ferry Inn; and you could find us there most weekend nights in the summer, socializing, laughing, and dancing the night away.

Situated along the clear, blue waters of the Rideau, the Rideau Ferry Inn has hosted many generations of tourists and boaters, providing sumptuous meals, comfortable accommodation, and lively entertainment.  Arguably, the highlight of the small settlement of Rideau Ferry, our former teenage haunt, wasn’t the original structure at this location.  The original building was actually a home.

The original structure was a house built in 1853 by Archibald Campbell.  Archibald married Elizabeth Buchanan, a preacher’s daughter.  Her father was the Reverend George Buchanan, and was one of the early Presbyterian ministers of Beckwith Township, serving the congregation at Franktown.

Their daughter, Helen Buchanan Campbell, married John Coutts.  As her parents were aging, and needed assistance, the couple moved in with them in 1870.  During that time, John made some additions to the home, and when he was finished, they not only had ample room for themselves, but had more than enough room to accommodate guests.  They began to rent rooms in the house to summer tourists, who were traveling by boat ,along the mighty Rideau waterways.

Coutts_House

As the years went by, their home became known as ‘Coutts House’, and eventually, had the reputation of being a very fine hotel.  In 1893 a three-storey addition was built at the back of the house.  A large dining room was added to the first floor. The second and third floors had fifteen hotel rooms each, and an indoor bathroom.

Rideau Ferry Coutts House 1889

After 1905, the building was rented to a series of business men. During the 1920s and 30s, regattas became popular, and Coutts House held canoe races, and rowboats races. The Coutts family also sponsored competitions for sailboats, and it was the site of many grand daytime celebrations, and intimate evening affairs, for the wealthy travelers, visiting in the summer.

In 1947, Doug Wallace, native of Osgoode bought Coutts House, tore it down, and built a new structure with wood framing, and grey granite blocks.  It was a two-storey building, and the second floor featured a large dance area, with seating on three sides.

By the 1960s, the building had become known as the Rideau Ferry Inn, and during this time, became licensed for liquor sales.  Up until that time people would smuggle in their own booze, particularly in the roaring twenties when rum-running along the Rideau had its hey-day.

Rideau Ferry Bridge

It was in the 1970s, that I first heard the tales about the popular night spot, and all the good times that were had at the Rideau Ferry Inn.  There were stories told up and down the halls of the Perth High School – stories of summer romances with cottagers staying at seasonal properties nearby, or the ultra-cool teens that traveled by boat along the Rideau, with their parents.  There was also talk of the teenage kids from the States, and their hip clothing and accessories; styles that would take years to reach our little communities near Perth.  There were lots of accounts at our high school of the talented rock bands that performed, and of the nights spent dancing to the top hits played by edgy disc jockeys.  I couldn’t wait to go and see it for myself.

Paul Tarle Band

photo: L.  Steve Francis, Mike McPherson, Brian Jones, and seated – Paul Tarle.

The main house-band at ‘The Inn’ in the early 1970s was the Paul Tarle Band – and we showed off our cool dance moves, as we listened to their popular rock classics.

Dance 1970s

One of the best parties of our steamy Lanark County  summers was the annual Rideau Ferry Regatta. Beautiful, sleek, boats from all over, competing for the sought-after prizes, and the prestige of being ‘Number 1’ on the big lakes.

Boat Show Rideau Ferry

Regattas were all about hot sun, cold beers, the cool, clear waters of the Rideau Lakes, and beautiful boats all around us.

Rideau Ferry Inn 1982

We’ll never forget the annual regattas, or the great music at the Rideau Ferry Inn. Bands like ‘Sammy Seaman’ and his group kept us up until the wee hours.  Some nights it was ‘Woody Herman and the Young Thundering Herd’, and other evenings we were entertained by the ‘Paul Chabot Band’.   Occasionally, instead of live bands at the ‘Inn’, there was a ‘Disco’ dance provided by a local disc jockey, by the name of  ‘Sounds Great’.

Many years after our frequent teenage visits to the Rideau Ferry Inn, the building was purchased by Elmer and Eva Purdon.  It was still ‘the’ place at that time to host fancy wedding receptions, or 50th wedding anniversary celebrations.

Because we’d had so many good times at the Rideau Ferry Inn, it was a terrible shock for my friends and I when we heard about the fire in February of 1986, that destroyed our former dance hall.  The fire started on the top floor, where the dances had been held for so many years.  The ground floor was also destroyed in the fire, and that is where the kitchen, the large dining room, and bar were located.

My friends and I drove down to Rideau Ferry a few days after the fire.  I don’t think it was so much out of curiosity, but more out of disbelief.  Could it be true, that the place where we’d passed so many of our happy youthful hours was really gone? There were so many memories of friendships, dancing, and all of the special evenings we spent at the Rideau Ferry Inn.

We drove up to where the Inn had stood, and looked around. No one said a word.  I think that as we stared at the charred foundation of the building, each of us was recalling our own versions of the times spent there, in our youth.  They were such innocent, awkward, magical, teenage times. We sat there for a few more moments, still silent, and then drove away, back up the Ferry Road toward Perth.

The building may be gone, but our fond memories of the Rideau Ferry Inn will remain with us forever.  We will always remember the music, the friends, and the good times. Those long summer nights, when the stars seemed to shine a little brighter, the sunsets glowed a little softer.  The peaceful, pristine, waters of the Rideau Lakes made a perfect backdrop for those innocent days of our youth, when life stretched out ahead of us…..so full of promise, and our dreams for the future.

Lake Life sunset

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An excerpt from – ‘Revelry and Rogues on the Rideau’  – ‘Lanark County Chronicle’ available in local book stores, or online. ISBN 978-0-9877026-23

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Local Names:

Although there were lots of tourists and visitors in the summer, they were only there for a few short weeks at most. We became acquainted with many of the folks who lived year-round at Rideau Ferry, and some of the local names at that time were: McLean, Donaldson, Buchanan, Gemmill, Frost, Sewell, Coutts, Gallagher, Beveridge, McKay, Wills, McVeety, Millar, Tully, Oliver, Dettrick, Bethune, Purdon, Hitchcock, Fitzgerald, Hall, Gould, Irving, Joynt, King, McCue, Wallace, McKay and Campbell.

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photos:  Perth Historical Society, Carol-Ann McDougall, Perth Remembered, Vintage Smiths Falls and Perth, The Perth Courier, Georgia McNally, Vintage Race Boat Shop, and from private collections.

For more information on the history of Rideau Ferry  Rideau Lakes Township

For boating on the big lakes  – Rideau Ferry Marina

To travel the Rideau Heritage Route – Rideau by Canoe

Rideau Ferry Regatta

For genealogy and family history of Rideau Ferry Lanark County Genealogical Society

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http://www.staffordwilson.com