Book Review -“Lanark County Comfort”

Lanark County author Arlene Stafford-Wilson, now in Ottawa, has penned her ninth book commemorating local history. Lanark County Comfort: Tales to Warm Your Heart, is a collection of short stories portraying some of the area’s most colourful people, places, and notable lore.

Stafford-Wilson will be at The Book Nook, 60 Gore St. E. in Perth, on Saturday, Sept. 11 from 1-3 p.m. for the launch.

The delivery of this book has the same familiarity as with others by this author. The reader learns, or remembers, six legendary stories with flare, and lots of mentions of family names making it a quick reference book for the historian.

A genealogist herself, Stafford-Wilson has an easy way of turning a history lesson into a memorable story, these latest run the gamut: from doughnuts to millionaires, a church anniversary to bell bottom jeans, and a summer lodge made famous, to the memorable folks of Flower Station.



Oakes Bakery — Tasty Treats in the Town of Perth — a place filled with triumph and tragedies, including family members who died from tuberculous.

It’s hard not to make the COVID connection in the first story.

Stafford-Wilson writes: “During Bill’s stay at the sanatorium (in 1954) he was among the first to receive a new drug in the treatment of tuberculosis, called streptomycin. It was the very early stages of using this drug and Bill was given an unusually high dosage, which according to his grandson, Kurt, was ‘enough to kill a horse.’ Despite the unusual quantity administered, Bill’s health began to improve and within a short time after that, he was able to return home to Perth.”

This was Bill and Stella Oakes, who opened the bakery in Perth at 60 Foster St. on May 1, 1926.

A memorable part in this vignette spoke of the police officer who saved the bakery from a fire in 1946.


The Legendary Pant Barn Dances will take you back to the bell-bottom era of the 1960s and ‘70s when jeans were cool, and the Stampeders, Kim Mitchell, and April Wine were among the Juno Award winners on stage in Perth. Perry Weagle, owner of the Pant Barn, knew how to put on a party for the teens, who came in busloads from Brockville to Carleton Place.


Famous Folks of Flower Station intrigued Stafford-Wilson in her writings of several prominent residents of that area, to where her family travelled from Tay Valley on Sunday drives.

One such legend was Jennie Crawford “Granny” Marjaury who “walked everywhere, smoked a pipe and lived to be 104 had nine children, 59 grandchildren, 150 great-grandchildren and 26 great-great-grandchildren.


Perth’s Millionaire Bachelor — Who Inherited His Fortune? This was an intriguing tale of a bachelor who earned some $3 million by today’s standards, in the whiskey business. Upon his death, was there a will … or was there not? The author takes you on a ride through the court system, as you will read testimony of several people. What is intriguing is where his money went, and how it is still enjoyed in Perth today.


Calvin United Church — 125th Anniversary (1896-2021): Located in Tay Valley, this church is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Stafford-Wilson shares history of strawberry socials, and the secrets behind what keeps this church so active, even now.


Arliedale Lodge: Playground of the Rich and Famous: The Marks Brothers of Perth were “The Canadian Kings of Repertoir,” one of the most successful Canadian theatre companies. They spent their summers at Christie Lake and eventually built Arliedale Inn (renamed later to the Lodge), named after Arlie — the only child of Tom Marks and Helen (Ella) Brockenshire. After several ownerships, the lodge was razed by a mysterious fire in 1979. You can read all about the reasons behind the suspicion in this new collection of Lanark County shorts.

To Order:

Link to article “Inside Ottawa Valley”

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