Book Launch “Lanark County Calling”

Lanark County Calling:  All Roads Lead Home

Travel back in time, through Lanark County, and beyond, in this collection of stories. The adventure begins in Perth, Ontario, where you’ll meet trailblazer, Sophia Haggis, a local confectioner, also known as ‘the Candy Lady’. Next, sample some popcorn at the Soper Theatre in Smiths Falls, while you meet the folks who made sure your night at the movies went off without a hitch. Your next stop is Ferguson Falls, where you may encounter a ghostly apparition, searching for their lost love, along the shores of the Mississippi River.  Join the unforgettable party at one of the most popular country music festivals of our time – the legendary Ompah Stomp.  Meet the Witch of Plum Hollow, an Irish fortune-teller, who helped local police solve crimes. Come along on this captivating journey, through some of the most intriguing places in Eastern Ontario.

Saturday, September 29th,  12 noon – 3 p.m.

at The Book Nook and Other Treasures,

60 Gore St. E., Perth, Ontario

Book launch for blog

 

7th book in the series of Lanark County stories

 

Lanark County Calling - book cover Aug

 

Acknowledgement:

Thanks to those who ‘pulled back the curtain’ for an insider’s glimpse behind the scenes at the Soper Theatre in Smiths Falls, Ontario:  Jan Stepniak, Gordon Evoy, Violet Gariepy, Scott Irvine Jr., and Tammy DeSalvo.

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Special thanks to award-winning country music artist Neville Wells, and also to Marilyn Taylor Dunham for sharing their memories, stories, and special recollections of the legendary Ompah Stomp.

 

for poster

 

The Legendary Ompah Stomp

Visit this unforgettable party through it’s beginnings in 1978, through it’s glory days, up to the year 2000, its final year.

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A Night at the Movies:  The Soper Theatre in Smiths Falls

Discover the history of this popular destination, and meet the fascinating folks who played key roles in this beloved movie theatre!

soper theatre for blog

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Sophia Haggis – Perth’s Candy Lady

Meet trail-blazer Sophia Haggis  –   take a trip down memory lane and visit Sophia in the pretty town of Perth, and sample some of her mouth-watering confections.

 

haggis candy for blog

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The Ghost of Ferguson Falls

Go back to the early days in Drummond township when the loggers came to town, sang their songs, spent their pay on liquor, and danced ’til they wore out the floorboards at Charlie Hollinger’s Hotel.  Meet local lad Jimmy, whose life ended all too soon.

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The Witch of Plum Hollow

Visit this pretty hamlet, and meet an interesting Irish lady with some special abilities.  Discover the people she helped, and the crimes she solved.

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Join us at the book launch on Saturday September 29th from noon to 3 p.m.

All are welcome.

See you there!

 

(lots of local names and familiar places in this collection of stories!)

Lanark Museum – Our Visit to the Past

Lanark sign

Just a short drive from the pretty town of Perth, along the Lanark Road, lush, green, farmers fields welcome us into the Township of Lanark Highlands.  We follow the blue skies, and warm, summer winds, into the village of Lanark, and pull up near our destination –  the Lanark and District Museum.

Ann and Arlene in front of museum

Greeted warmly by Anne Graham, we make our way up the well-worn steps, into a very special place, where the caretakers and guardians of our history, preserve our memories, our stories, and our heritage.

 

Events board Lanark Museum

 

If you walk along George Street in Lanark, you will see a sign out front, greeting visitors,  listing upcoming events, and welcoming all, with no charge for admission, and donations accepted.  Anyone seeking knowledge, or in search of their history, is assured that they’ve come to the right place.

Not far from the front entrance, a plaque displays the names of those who went above and beyond, volunteering their time and expertise, throughout the decades, to keep the museum running smoothly.

 

volunteers Lanark Museum

 

A photo on the wall reminds us of those who played key roles in the earliest days of the museum.  Their foresight and dedication to preserving our local history leaves a lasting legacy, that will be enjoyed for many generations to come.

 

Key players Lanark Museum

 

Many of us have ancestors from the area who served in the military, and the Lanark Museum has many displays highlighting our local heroes.  Perhaps your ancestor is one of these soldiers who has been featured in the museum’s display cases.

War memorials Lanark Museum

 

The museum also features a number of Rolls of Honour, listing the names of soldiers from the area who fought bravely for our country.

 

Roll of Honour case

 

There are a tremendous number of local photographs.   It’s great fun to see the old cars, some of the buildings no longer with us, and even recognize some of the smiling faces in these photos.

 

Local photos

 

The museum is fortunate to have the help of two students for the summer.  Meagan was kind enough to document our visit using her photography skills.

 

Meghan Lanark County

 

There is a wonderful display of original telegrams, some sent, and some received, by the Lavant Station, many years ago.  These are real treasures, and give us some insight into the past and how different life was in those days!  There are lots of familiar surnames on these telegrams, and some even provide a window into our family histories!

 

Telegrams

 

Along with the countless documents displayed there are also some lovely artifacts.  The old wash bowl reminds us of the times before indoor plumbing was standard in our homes.  We can imagine how different our ancestor’s lives might have been, and how carrying water from an outside well into the home was a daily event for these pioneers.

 

wash bowl

 

If your ancestors lived in McDonald’s Corners there is a wonderful remembrance displayed, honoring those who served their country, so well, and so faithfully.

 

McDonald's Corners war memorial

 

There are also a number of displays listing those soldiers who attended specific area schools and the names of those who served.

 

SS8 War memorial

 

Another of the many area schools and their lists of those in service.

 

SS 12

 

The Lanark Museum has many, many of these displays, and this is only a small sampling of what is available to view.

 

SS13 Drummond

 

Being a history buff, it wasn’t easy to tear myself away from all of the exhibits in the museum, and get down to business, and read a couple of stories from my books.  I chose two stories from “Lanark County Kid – My Travels Up and Down the Third Line”.  I read one about a childhood visit to Lanark, and shopping for back-to-school clothing at the Kitten Mill.

My second story was “Balderson Cheese – Craving the Curd”.  Our family often went on Sunday drives, and a visit to Balderson for a bag of soft squeaky curd, was something not to be missed!  In the story, we go behind the counter, and watch the Master Cheesemaker, Omar Matte, and the others, while they stir the vats of heated milk, and then press the curds into big wooden circular presses.  Considering that the factory is no longer there, it is a precious memory to have witnessed this process.

 

book table Lanark Museum

 

There are some really wonderful displays highlighting the Kitten Mill, and those who worked there over the years.

 

Kitten Mill 1

 

The Museum has done a wonderful job of preserving the artifacts and documents from the days of the Glenayr Kitten mills, and reminding us of the impact to employment and the economic influence to the village.

Kitten Mill 2

I think that many of us remember visiting the factory outlets, and all of the wonderful knitted clothing produced locally.

 

Kitten 3

 

One of the special highlights for me was a visit with the Shamrock Quilt.  While we can’t be sure of the date of its origin, I recall seeing it displayed at the museum many, many years ago, and was delighted to see it once again.  This quilt is embroidered with the names of local families.  If your family lived in the area it would be worth the trip to see this marvelous quilt, and discover your ancestor’s name embroidered in green.

 

Shamrock quilt 1

 

The Shamrock Quilt holds a special connection for Doris Quinn and myself.   My Dad’s Aunt, Julia Stafford, married William Quinn, and both the Quinn and Stafford families are among the many, many, names on this precious artifact.  It was a wonderful moment to be able to stand beside Doris, and see those names from the past, those who are no longer with us, but remain forever in our hearts.

 

Shamrock 2

Photo below:   Julia Stafford and Bill Quinn, on their wedding day, Sept. 14, 1909.

Julia Stafford Bill Quinn

 

The following, are just a few squares, a small sample from the quilt, to show how the names have been stitched and displayed.

 

Shamrock 3

There are many other squares that were not photographed.  Anyone with ancestors from this area may want to visit the quilt themselves for a more in depth look.

 

Shamrock 4

 

Another square of the quilt, but the quilt is enormous, and would be best viewed in person.

 

Shamrock 5

 

A final square from this historic piece.  Hopefully the museum will photograph and digitize the entire quilt.  That might be an interesting and very worthwhile project for the summer students!

 

Shamrock 6

 

The late afternoon held a wonderful surprise – a visit from an old friend Susan Newberry Sarsfield.  It was a real delight to visit with Susan, her Mom, and her daughter!

Susan at the Museum

 

Like all good things, our visit to the Lanark Museum came to an end, and our host Anne Graham, kindly walked us out and into the sunny July afternoon.

It was a day filled with history, and the importance of preserving our past.  There are few tasks more essential than being the caretakers of our heritage.  The Lanark Museum is the proud custodian of our region’s artifacts, memories, stories, and treasures.

 

street in front of museum

Many thanks to the kind folks at the Lanark and District Museum for hosting us, and sharing their collection of priceless treasures.  Thanks also to the visitors who stopped by to share some stories and recollections.   Anne, Norma, Gene, Doris – it was so nice to spend time with you – thanks for helping to make our day special.

 

As we said goodbye, and headed down the highway,  we are struck by the pristine beauty of the Lanark Highlands, the clear waters, the fresh air, and the greenery as far as the eye can see, on this beautiful summer day.

 

Until we meet again…..

 

 

Country road summer

 

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com
Stories for the Lanark Museum readings from:
“Lanark County Kid:  My Travels Up and Down the Third Line”
‘Lanark Sweaters – Soft as a Kitten’
‘Balderson Cheese – Craving the Curd’
ISBN 978-0-9877026-16

Book Fair at the Crystal Palace

Autumn’s brightest maple trees were the colourful backdrop for the 3rd annual Book Fair at the Crystal Palace in Perth, Ontario. Nestled along the historic Tay Basin, the Farmer’s Market hosted a number of local authors, along with their usual offerings of produce, craftspeople, artisans and home-baked goods.

Perth Crystal Palace

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The yearly event is a wonderful opportunity for visitors and residents alike to meet with authors, share in discussions, ask questions, and discover the literary offerings produced in their community.

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Anne Raina, author of ‘Clara’s Rib’, and Kay Rogers, Editor of ‘At Home in Tay Valley’ share a few words at the opening of the event.

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Author Gene Bassett was back this year with his books ‘Tall Tales’ and ‘Stolen Moments’. In Gene’s words, “Hopefully, these vignettes will give the reader time to pause, and give reflection to the humour and serendipity that keeps us in tune with life in all its ups and downs.”

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Larry Cotton, author of ‘Whiskey and Wickedness’ brought the full complement of books in his series.

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Kay Rogers was on hand at the event to promote “At Home in Tay Valley”, a collection of stories and memories from the people of Tay Valley.  Proceeds from the sale of At Home in Tay Valley will support an annual scholarship for a student graduating from Perth & District Collegiate Institute, or from St. John Catholic High School who has demonstrated a keen interest in history.

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Joel Leblanc and Thomas Uhryniw were busy, promoting the popular souvenir book marking 25 years of the Stewart Park Festival.

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A number of local readers as well as some out of town visitors stopped by to say hello.

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What a treat to see a former classmate and neighbour from the Third Line – Dawn-Marie Brady, and share a few memories!

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Signing a copy of my new book “Lanark County Classics: A Treasury of Tales from Another Time” for Scott Reid, member of Parliament for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston.  Scott kindly shared some fascinating stories and history of the historic Haggart residence in Perth. It was a pleasure to meet with such an avid reader and history buff!

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Once again, many thanks to those who stopped by to say ‘hello’ on this busy Thanksgiving weekend.

Thanks as always to our host the Perth Farmer’s Market for sponsoring this event, for promoting local authors, and most importantly for supporting literacy in the community.

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For more information about the Perth Farmer’s Market:    Perth Farmer’s Market

http://www.staffordwilson.com

35th Anniversary – Lanark County Genealogical Society

lanark-county-genealogical-society35-years

Maple leaves displaying a kaleidoscope of colour, and crisp fall air set the scene for the 35th Anniversary celebration of the Lanark County Genealogical Society.  As we drove along Highway # 7, the bright signs along the way reminded us that we’re entering the ‘Maple Syrup Capital’ of Canada, although the spectacular scenery leaves no doubt in our minds.

 

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The much-anticipated event was held in the Beckwith Township Hall, near Carleton Place, –  the perfect setting to mark this milestone for the genealogy society.

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A beautifully decorated cake served as the centerpiece for the buffet table, generously laden with all sorts of delicious choices for the celebratory luncheon.

After lunch, LCGS President Jayne Munro-Ouimet opened the program, welcoming one and all to the celebration.

Honoured to be the invited guest speaker, my presentation focused on ‘Genograms’, and how they can be used in addition to vital statistics, to illustrate patterns and traits in a family tree.

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LCGS member Mary Kerfoot spoke briefly on the Kerfoot family, and their proud history in Lanark County.

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The Historical Artifact Committee of the LCGS presented a Kerfoot Family Bible, featuring entries going back to the earliest times in the township.  The members of the committee recounted the story of how the family bible was rescued from a Salvation Army thrift shop in Victoria, British Columbia, and transported safely back to Lanark County.

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L to R:  Jennifer Irwin, Rosemary Campbell, Beckwith Township Councillor Tim Campbell,  LCGS President Jayne Munro-Ouimet, Mary Kerfoot, and Brian Dowdall.

(Mary Kerfoot is a direct descendant of pioneer George Kerfoot)

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Several presentations were made to distinguished members for their years of service and their dedication to the Lanark County Genealogical Society.  Below, Frances Rathwell and George Stewart receive their well-deserved recognition from the Society from Jayne Munro-Ouimet, LCGS President.

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At the conclusion of the formal presentations, a book-signing and ‘meet and greet’ was held at the book table.

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A special highlight of the day was a gift from the LCGS of the heavenly liquid gold produced in the Lanark County maple trees each spring.  This particular bottle was produced at  Wheelers Maple Syrup near McDonald’s Corners.

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It was a day to remember in Beckwith Township!  A proud and important milestone for the Lanark County Genealogical Society, marking 35 years of continual service in helping people far and wide connect with their family roots.

“On March 27, 1981, twenty-four genealogy enthusiasts met near Smiths Falls Ont., to discuss the formation of a local genealogy society. This group grew in scope and number to become the Lanark County Genealogical Society in 1982. In 35 years the organization has grown to include members from all over the world . The mandate of the Lanark County Genealogical Society is to assist members in researching family histories, and in the gathering, recording and preserving of genealogical information pertaining to Lanark County.”

Congratulations on 35 great years!

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To find out more about the Lanark County Genealogical Society LCGS

To discover the family history collections, land records, wills, and research aids held at the Lanark County Archives Archives Lanark

For information on Wheeler’s Maple Syrup Wheelers

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Lanark County Classics – Book Launch

A sunny, warm, late September day brought record crowds to the official book launch for “Lanark County Classics: A Treasury of Tales from Another Time”.

The Book Nook, a popular store on the main street of historic Perth, Ontario, was the setting for a steady stream of book lovers eager to read the latest collection of stories set in Lanark County, the picturesque maple syrup capital of Ontario.

The newly released stories in this series are set in Perth, Lanark, DeWitt’s Corners, Pakenham, Clyde’s Forks, Middleville, and the former North Burgess Township, taking the reader along on a journey back to the 1960s and 1970s in rural Eastern Ontario.

An early visitor to the store on Saturday, was Tara Gesner, from Metroland Media, a reporter covering the book launch for the local newspaper.

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There were many new faces stopping by, after reading the glowing reviews appearing in several publications   Review of Lanark County Classics

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A reader from Port Elmsley stopped by, interested in local history, and had certainly come to the right book launch for stories set around the region.

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Dianne Tysick Pinder-Moss, former classmate of the author has purchased the entire collection for her mother, who has been a fan of the series since the beginning.

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Nancy Townend, Pakenham resident, came to the launch after hearing that one of the stories ‘Perils in Pakenham’, was set in her lovely,scenic, village.

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Carol-Ann McDougall,  resident of the Big Rideau Lake, featured in the story “Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story” Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story  brought a lovely, bright yellow chrysanthemum to grace the table of the book launch.  Carol-Ann has read all of the books in the Lanark County series, and has been looking forward to reading the newest collection of stories.

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Carla Brown stopped by, as she often does, to purchase the latest Lanark County book for her grandmother Shirley Myers.

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Avid reader of local history, Tom Ayres was eager to get the latest book in the series.  Tom has read all five in the collection, and is the reader who requested the story on Antler Lodge, featured in the last book – Lanark County Connections. Antler Lodge

tom-ayres-book-launch-2016

 

One of the stories in the new book, Lanark County Classics is ‘Meet Me in DeWitt’s Corners. The story takes the reader back to the earliest days of the hamlet, recounts the history of this proud settlement, and the DeWitt family, whose name still graces the community today.   It was a special treat to have members of this founding family attend the book launch.

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Jane DeWitt Brady O’Grady – descendant of pioneer Zephaniah DeWitt, founding family of DeWitt’s Corners.

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Also, a direct descendant of Zephaniah DeWitt, and native of DeWitt’s Corners – William ‘Bill’ Cavanagh,  son of Helen DeWitt and James ‘Jim’ Cavanagh, and his wife Brenda.

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Another native of DeWitt’s Corners, and descendant of pioneer Zephaniah DeWitt, sister of Bill, JoAnne Cavanagh Butler, daughter of Helen DeWitt and James ‘Jim’ Cavanagh:

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It was a real treat to share some memories of DeWitt’s Corners with Jane, JoAnne and Bill!

Along with the DeWitt descendants, long-time residents of DeWitt’s Corners, Elaine and Dave Morrow stopped by the book launch.  Both Dave and Elaine contributed their memories and stories of DeWitt’s Corners for the book.  Owner of The Book Nook, Leslie Wallack, is standing to the right of Elaine. Leslie and her staff were busy the entire day assisting visitors to this popular store.

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Beverly Miller Ferlatte also stopped by the book launch.  Beverly shared her memories of S.S. # 4 , Bathurst, School for the story based in DeWitt’s Corners.  Beverly’s grandmother Mary Jordan was a well-loved and respected teacher at the school for many years.  The school house has been converted into a residence and Beverly’s brother Brian is the current owner of this historic building.

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Janice Jordan Gordon was another contributer to the DeWitt’s Corners story in the book. Janice was very helpful in identifying the children in several class photos from S.S. # 4 Bathurst School.

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A book launch would not be complete without a visit from former neighbours from the Third Line of Bathurst, Margery Conboy and her daughter Diana. Margery and her husband Wayne Conboy also shared their memories of DeWitt’s Corners, and the historic cheese factory that remained at ‘The Corners’ until 1979.

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Another former neighbour, Dave Mitchell,stopped by the book launch.  Dave was also interested in reading the story on DeWitt’s Corners, and finding out more about the history of the area where he was raised.

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The Book Launch at The Book Nook was a great success!  Many thanks to host Leslie Wallack and her staff, for keeping up with the steady crowds, and for providing the delicious refreshments.

A special thanks to all who came, from near and far, to stop by and chat, to share some memories, and to be a part of the busy day!

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Stories in “Lanark County Classics”:

  1. Baffling Banshees in Burgess
  2. Meet Me in DeWitt’s Corners
  3. Mystery in Clyde Forks
  4. Multitudes in Middleville
  5. A Grand Era in Lanark
  6. Perils in Pakenham
  7. Perplexed in Perth

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

 

Port Elmsley – Drive-In Dreamin’

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Someone decided one night we should save a few dollars and put a couple of people in the trunk of a car so that they could get in for free at the Port Elmsley Drive-In Theatre.

I guess we can just chalk this one up along with the other peculiar things that we did as teenagers.  Luckily no one was hurt, but for the three bucks they each saved on admission it was a pretty undignified way to arrive at the movies.

It’s possible that we weren’t the first ones to try that little stunt.  After all, the Drive-In had been open for a long time before any of us had ventured there.

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It was in September 1952 that ‘The Perth Courier’ ran a short article about a Drive-In being constructed at Port Elmsley.  The article stated that it was the first to be fabricated in this district and it was built by Gordon White of Ottawa for W.J. Williams, of Newboro.

The article went on to say that it would be assembled on a ten acre property a half mile south of Highway 15 and that the Drive-In would have a capacity for 300 cars. It would feature a design first of its kind in Ontario, where the projector booth would be in a two-story building nearly 400 feet from the screen.  This was a distance that was 150 feet greater than any of the other Drive-In theatres at that time.  It was to open the following May of 1953 at a total cost of $75,000.  True to their word, they opened on schedule and called the new Drive-In ‘the Showplace of the Golden Triangle’.

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Port Elmsley was indeed a great location for a Drive-In theatre because it’s situated about halfway between Perth and Smiths Falls.  There were always droves of cottagers and tourists staying around Rideau Ferry and the surrounding lakes in the summer. There were also many residents of the towns and villages nearby that enjoyed a drive up Highway 15 on a warm summer night to see some great movies.

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Because the Drive-In opened in 1953, many folks had parked in that huge parking lot and viewed many movies on that big screen long before my friends and I ever made it there in the ‘70s. In fact, it was more than twenty years after it opened that it became one of our familiar haunts each summer as we passed the nights away under the stars.

Some of us were lucky enough to have gone to the Drive-In as children, dressed in pajamas, playing on the teeter-totter and swings between the first row of cars and the giant screen. As the sun sunk low in the sky, we were having the time of our lives. What could be better than staying up past your bedtime with a whole bunch of other kids, the aroma of popcorn in the air and watching the cartoons at the beginning of the show?

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Every kid knew the words to the concession jingle ‘Let’s all go to the lobby, let’s all go to the lobby, let’s all go to the lobby, to get ourselves a treat.”  When we heard that song it was our cue to start heading back to our parents’ cars because the movie would be starting soon.  By the time they played the Chilly Dilly song about the big, juicy, dill pickles, we were in the back seat with our pillows and blankets, all ready for the show to begin.  Much to the delight of most parents I’m sure, we were asleep by the time the second feature began and this allowed them some peace and quiet and time alone – well, almost alone.

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We’d usually begin assembling all of our gear during the afternoon.  First, we’d pack up a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels, because there was nothing worse than having a big messy streak or some bugs splattered right in the middle of your window.

Mosquito coils were also vital to a relaxing evening.  Because of the speaker hanging off of the front window we weren’t able to close it all the way, so burning a mosquito coil would take care of any of the little pests that flew into the car.  If none of the gang had any, we’d have to head out to Canadian Tire on Highway 7 and pick some up before the show.  We’d place one of the little green coils on its small metal stand, set it on the dashboard and light it up. Many years later I happened to read on the side of the package that those coils were for outdoor use only.  Oh dear!

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A couple of pillows and a blanket were a nice touch and made movie-viewing a comfy, cozy event.  We’d also bring a small flashlight because nothing was worse for us girls than stumbling around on the gravel path trying to find our way to the washroom on a dark, moonless night; especially right after watching a scary scene in a horror movie. That just didn’t work for us.  Sometimes we’d bring a roll of t.p. from home, in case they ran out, which happened once in a while during the all-night movie marathons.

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I still recall the crunch of the gravel as we slowed down to enter through the gates into the Drive-In and began scouting for a good spot.  A good spot to us was front row centre and enough space for the three cars to park side by side so that we could socialize.  We also had to make sure that all three speakers worked so we would pull into the spots and test the speakers, otherwise we’d have to move all three cars to a new location, maybe a row behind.  Of course every row farther back that you were you would have to contend with people getting in and out of their cars in front of you or turning on their cars to clear their windows because they were fogged up for some reason.  So, the best real estate in the lot was the front row, right in the center of the screen and if we went early enough the best spots would be ours.

I think the lads liked having spots near the front not just for the sake of the movie, but so that their cars were together and very visible in the front row.  There’s no denying that they all had sweet cars.  Those three cars managed to get some looks touring around town and had been known to burn up more than a little rubber on the quarter mile runs down Roger’s Road.

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The warm summer air would be filled with strains of Foreigner’s ‘Hot Blooded’, or Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and typically a little bit of our favourite space cowboy, Steve Miller singing “The Joker’; a song that you could say became a symbol of  the times. Some have said that it was an era of music like no other, before or since and the sounds of our generation could be heard throughout the parking lot of the Drive-In on those sultry summer nights in Port Elmsley.

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As the sun slid down lower in the sky the horizon glowed first in a dusty pink, then a soft purple. There was always one car that began honking their horn because they believed that it was dark enough to see the movie.  After a minute or two, more people started to honk and then shortly after that the show would begin.

One of the things that we enjoyed the most were the ‘Dusk to Dawn’ shows where the first movie would begin at dusk and the movies would continue all night until the early morning when it became too light to see the picture on the screen.  The movies were played back to back and were often horror films like ‘The Exorcist’ or ‘The Omen’ or ‘Jaws’. I recall one night that my friend and myself, even after having consumed large quantities of pop, did not want to use the washroom just in case that giant crazy shark ‘Jaws’ had somehow compromised the plumbing system out in Port Elmsley.  We just weren’t taking any chances.

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We saw many nights come and go in Port Elmsley.  There were some beautiful, sleek, muscle cars in those days parked row after row, paint glistening in the moonlight.  We made numerous trips to the concession stand in an attempt to fill our unquenchable teenaged appetites.  We even had a few scary trips in the dark, giggling on our way to the washroom and back. We screamed a few blood-curdling screams as did some of the folks in the neighboring vehicles one evening I recall, as the character Jason appeared in his hockey mask in the thriller ‘Hallowe’en’.

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Today, the Port Elmsley Drive-In is one of a handful of drive-ins still operating in Ontario. Leave it to the folks in Lanark County to know a gem when they see one and to continue to go out and enjoy movies under the stars.  I hope that in the future that the little kids in their p.j.s, young people and not so young people will take the time to visit the drive-in and have as much fun as we did.  Take a trip to Port Elmsley and make some of your own memories!

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In its heyday, Port Elmsley had many residents and some of the family names that were common in that area were:  Armstrong, Taylor, Stone, Hunter, Weatherhead, Best, Couch, Wicklum, Weekes, VanDusen, Seabrook, Shaw, Sherwood, O’Hara, Moore, Dudgeon, Lavender, Findlay, McTavish, McVeety, Beveridge, and Clements.

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For information on the Port Elmsley Drive-In – showtimes and coming attractions:

Port Elmsley Drive In

 

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The full story “Dusk to Dawn in Port Elmsley” is part of a collection of stories in the book “Lanark County Chronicle”

lanark-county-chronicle-for-website

 

Available at The Book Nook, The Bookworm & Blackwood Originals in Perth,  Perfect Books  in Ottawa, Mill St. Books and Divine Consign in Almonte, or on online

 

The Legend Behind the Recipes

The bright-eyed twenty-something grabbed her hat, and headed straight for the recruiting station, after hearing that her only brother was rejected from the military because of his poor eyesight.  “Someone has to represent our family in the war efforts!” her voice fading as she ran down the sidewalk, vanishing out of sight.

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The No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School in Lethbridge would become her new home, where she would meet the dashing young Lanark County farm boy Tim Stafford.

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After a whirlwind of dating, he asked for her hand, and they married on July 12, 1943.

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In the months that followed she began to feel a bit queasy, and discovered that they were going to have a baby.  The rule in those days was to discharge female soldiers who were expecting, and sadly, she gave up her position as Corporal, and returned  home, where she gave birth to a strapping baby boy on a warm spring day in May of 1944.

When the war ended, they settled on a farm on the Third Line of Bathurst Township, Lanark County, just west of Perth, Ontario, and the family continued to grow.  Now there was big brother Tim and his two little sisters Judy and Jackie.

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Always busy in the kitchen, an excellent baker, Audry began to enter the home-craft competitions in Perth Fair.  Her baking was a big  hit, and she won blue ribbons, red ribbons, silver cups, silver trays, and filled her china cabinet with the spoils from her winnings.   She won so many prizes over the years that her reputation for baking was the talk of Lanark County, and the Agricultural Society asked her to be a Fair Judge.

 

perth-fairfirst-place-ribbons

 

For decades, Audry was a Fair Judge throughout the County of Lanark – at the Perth Fair, the Maberly Fair, the Lombardy Fair, even more distant fairs in Madoc and Tweed.  She became a well-known Fair Judge throughout Eastern Ontario.

Audry lived a long life, and when she passed away her children assembled all of her prize-winning recipes, and included stories of growing up on the little farm out on the Third Line of Bathurst.  The book was called “Recipes and Recollections: Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen”   (Audry’s first-born Tim, and second-born Judy are featured on the cover)

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This popular book has become the ‘go-to’ guide for anyone who loves the traditional, the classic, the old-time, farm-style recipes.    No less than 93 prize-winning recipes are featured in the book, and it has become a best-seller, ideal for anyone considering competing in the baking categories at the local fairs who’s looking for an ‘edge’.

“Recipes and Recollections” will warm your heart, and fill your stomach, with homemade comfort foods guaranteed to please the crowd!

Available at The Book Nook, The Bookworm & Blackwood Originals in Perth,  Perfect Books & Books on Beechwood in Ottawa, Arlie’s Books in Smiths Falls, Mill St. Books and Divine Consign in Almonte, or on http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com