Local Memories Offered in New Book
By Gena Gibson
When Arlene Stafford-Wilson wrote her first book of reminiscences, including her mother’s recipes, the positive reaction made her realize that people were looking for local history. As she explains in her latest book, Lanark County Kid, she realized as she searched out local-history books for her brother’s annual birthday present that it was difficult to find local stories.“Why weren’t there any books about the places and people we knew best?” she asks in the preface. “Where were the stories about our little corner of the world – Perth, Balderson, Lanark, Carleton Place and Almonte?”
So Stafford-Wilson started to write. The table of contents in Lanark County Kid gives an idea of her focus: Millstone Manoeuvres at Cavanagh’s Store; Lanark Sweaters – Soft as a Kitten; Balderson Cheese – Craving the Curds; Chaplin’s – A Dairy in Glen Tay; A Bonny Lass on the Scotch Line; Hockey Night in Perth – Angels with Blue Wings; Stomping in Ompah; Walter Cameron – Forging in Fallbrook; and many more.
Stafford-Wilson now has a website at http://www.staffordwilson.com. Still, she feels that electronic communication devices that will define our era are partly responsible for the loss of the arts of storytelling and letter writing.
“I was fortunate to have had two parents who enjoyed telling stories about ‘the good old days’ and how things used to be and I was keen to listen and record what they shared,” she explains in the book’s acknowledgements.
She said Jim Quinn of Ferguson’s Falls is another great storyteller to whom she owes thanks. Quinn, she said, helped her as she researched local history and was “a walking, breathing archive of local genealogy.”
“I’d like to thank these three storytellers posthumously and hope that in the future we all take some time from our busy lives to share some of our own tales with the next generation,”
Stafford-Wilson stressed. Lanark County Kid, she said, is for people who want to reminisce and learn about the area where they grew up.
“It’s for people like my brother who will know that the Balderson factory is about halfway between Perth and Lanark and that it wasn’t always owned by a big corporation, but was once a plain wooden building where they just made cheese. It’s for the people who know that Gore Street is the main drag in Perth and used to be ‘the place’ to show off your muscle car as you toured around on a Saturday night. It’s for all the folks that couldn’t find a book about our small communities about an hour’s drive west of Ottawa, and especially for anyone who’s ever been a kid growing up in Lanark County. This is for you.”
Lanark County Kid is available through http://www.staffordwilson.com for $19.99. Her first book, Recipes and Recollections, is also available through the website.