Through the ages, we have always marked births, marriages, the change of a season, harvest time, and turning the page to a new year. This month, in the town of Perth, we mark another special event – the 10th anniversary of a popular bookstore on the main street – The Book Nook.
As part of the celebrations for this important milestone, owner Leslie Wallack invited special guests to her store, for each of the four Saturdays in May. It was my pleasure to take part on Saturday, May 20th, to mark this happy occasion, in the pretty town of Perth.
When we arrived on Saturday morning, The Book Nook was decorated with cheery signs inside and out, and as visitors came through the store they were reminded of the special draws being held for prizes, throughout the day. On this particular Saturday, the three separate draws featured prizes of distinctive, natural wood, hand-crafted containers – a lovely addition to anyone’s home.
Looking around the store, I paused a moment to recall the history of this building, and that 60 Gore Street East was not always home to The Book Nook. In my teenage years in Perth, this was the location of Haggis’ Candy Store. My friends and I were frequent visitors, and often scrounged our pennies together to buy some peanut clusters, or horehound candy, made with care by Mrs. Sophia Nee. I looked around, remarking to Leslie that in my youth Mrs. Nee’s large glass and wooden display case was near the front window, and minutes later Leslie reappeared with an old photo of Mrs. Nee in front of the store.
photo: courtesy of Leslie Wallack
Leslie remembered when she first took over the store, there was a cot in the rear where former owner Mrs. Nee would often sleep, after a long night of tending to her candy-making. Clearly, this store has a proud history of women operating a business.
photo: Sophia (Haggis) Nee
Sophia with her Easter candy
The Book Nook enjoyed steady traffic all day, in and out, with the large section of children’s books being a popular spot for browsing, and picking up special gifts.
We were lucky to have such beautiful weather, and the warmth and sunshine streamed through the windows of the store, and reminded us that spring was finally here.
Kevin paused to take a rare moment on the other side of the camera.
While the entire day was filled with happy moments, and good conversation, one of the highlights for me was three special ladies who dropped by to say ‘Hello’, and chat for a while.
I had a great visit with Rosetta Van Alstine, sister of former classmate Anne. With the annual maple harvest just passed, we discussed some of the history of the early maple producers – her Uncle Ken Van Alstine among them. I learned that Rosetta’s grandfather was also a maple producer, going back yet another generation. Her Uncle Ken was one of the first in the 1960s to use plastic tubing to transport the sap for part of his maple harvest, as well as using the traditional methods of horse and sleigh.
To read more about some of the legacy maple producers like Rosetta’s uncle – Ken Van Alstine – Lanark County’s Maple Legacy
photo: Arlene and Rosetta Van Alstine
It was a real delight to have a visit with Shirley (Kerr) Scott. Shirley is the sister of my former classmate Marie Kerr. The Kerr family goes back for generations in the DeWitt’s Corners, former Bathurst Township community. Shirley was my sister Jackie’s classmate, and they sat together on the school bus each day, and were the best of friends. Shirley shared a story of visiting Jackie out west, and how much she enjoyed the time they spent together; a reminder that special friendships continue through the decades, growing richer as the years pass by. I had my own memory for Shirley, a reminder of the time as young girls Jackie had invited her to stay overnight when our parents were out of town, and when Shirley’s parents learned that the girls were alone, they came to the house and brought her back home. Young girls today would be surprised to learn how much stricter our parents were back in those days!
photo: Arlene and Shirley (Kerr) Scott
Another special visitor was Carol-Ann McDougall. Carol-Ann, originally from Kirkland Lake, now makes her home in a delightful water-front property, built on the shores of the mighty Big Rideau Lake. Carol-Ann and her husband Ken purchased a piece of land along the shores fifteen years ago, and came up to visit each summer, dreaming that someday they would build a home there. Last year, their dream came true, and an account of their heart-warming tale is titled “Lake Life: A Rideau Ferry Love Story”.
photo: Arlene and Carol-Ann McDougall
Another highlight of the day was the draw for prizes! I was honoured to be asked to pull three names from a basket. The three winners each received a beautiful, hand-crafted wooden case – a lovely container for special keepsakes and treasures. These were generously donated by Simply Shaker , makers of one of a kind, hand-made furniture, on the main street of Perth.
photo: Arlene, Leslie’s Mom, and Leslie
It was a special day to mark a milestone for The Book Nook. It was also a time to reflect on the history of the store, and to recall another woman entrepreneur Sophia Haggis Nee. Like Sophia Haggis Nee, Leslie Wallack will take her place in the history of the town of Perth, another woman entrepreneur making her mark, adding to the charm and character of this delightful and historic main street. Congratulations Leslie!
An event is always more memorable when it’s shared with some special people. Many thanks to all of those who stopped by, and congratulations to the lucky winners of the draw! Happy 10th Anniversary to The Book Nook, and wishing you much success in the years to come!