Meteor Shower in Jordan’s Front Field

meteor shower

 

It was one of those sweltering hot summer days in August when most people preferred to stay inside and try to get a ‘cross-breeze’ flowing through their house, for a little relief.  Even my friends Debbie and Jane, who loved to lie outside and work on their tans; decided it was even too hot for that.  Debbie lived down the road at DeWitt’s Corners, and we were visiting our friend Jane, as we often did, relaxing in their living room, and fanning ourselves with some magazines to keep cool.

 

We had a stack of ‘Tiger Beat’ teen magazines, and were going through them page by page, picking out the cute guys.  Donny Osmond was often one of the stars splashed across the front cover in those days.  Donny and his brothers might as well have been from Mars – five brothers with enormous, perfect teeth, wearing white fringed jumpsuits, and white leather boots.  It definitely wasn’t a sight you would have seen on the Third Line – not even up at Christie Lake. Sometimes at the lake we saw tourists from Pennsylvania or New York, who were dressed a little fancier than the locals, but that was about the extent of it.  No, we never saw any lads in white jumpsuits around Perth.

 

Another head poked into the room – it was Patti, from next door.  Patti announced breathlessly, that she’d heard there was going to be a meteor shower that evening, and she thought we should all stay up to watch it.   Hmm, I thought to myself, – it wasn’t like I had anything better planned.   I could stay at home tonight with Mother and Dad, and watch ‘The Tommy Hunter Show’, or see a meteor shower with my friends.  That was an easy decision.

 

So, where were we going to watch the meteor shower, and by the way – what exactly was a ‘meteor shower’?  Patti explained that it was thousands and thousands of shooting stars falling all at once, and that it would go on for the entire night.  She said we could set up an area in her front field, bring some snacks, and make an evening of it.

 

We began to make plans for what sort of supplies we’d need to stay up all night in Jordan’s field.  Debbie suggested that we should have some music.  She had just bought a new album by Deep Purple called ‘Machine Head’, and we all loved their song ‘Smoke on the Water’, so she volunteered to tape some songs from that album, and also some songs from a couple of albums I had at home.  I said I’d ride my bike home and bring back Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, and my Eagles album.  Everyone liked Elton’s ‘Honky Cat’ and ‘Rocket Man’ and the Eagles ‘Witchy Woman’ and ‘Take it Easy’. They’d be perfect for our night of stargazing.

 

I was home in no time, grabbed my albums, threw them in a bag, and off I went on my bike, back down the Third Line to DeWitt’s Corners.  I had some money left over from my birthday, so I stopped at Cavanagh’s store, and went inside to pick up a few treats for us.  I didn’t have that much money, so my choices were a bit limited.  Helen Cavanagh was working behind the counter as usual, and was asking how the family was.  She always made a point of asking about Roger in particular – likely because he had been such good friends with their son Bill.  We were talking about how hot it was outside, and it was nice to be inside the store because it was a lot cooler in there.  I picked up a bag of black liquorice twizzlers; I didn’t see any of the strawberry kind; and then I grabbed a bottle of Pure Spring Cream Soda, and a bottle of Tab.  After paying, I still had a bit of change left, so I spent the rest on Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum, stuffed it into my pocket, thanked Helen, and headed out of the store.

 

We all met at Patti’s- Jane, Debbie and I, and gathered up our stuff – our snacks, the tape recorder to provide the music, and we also had a pair of binoculars, although I don’t remember where they came from, and we headed out to the middle of Jordan’s front field.

 

It was a beautiful night.  There weren’t too many nights of the year in Bathurst Township that were warm enough to stay outside all night, but this was definitely one of them.  It was one of those perfect August evenings – it had been a little too hot during the day, but now that the sun was sliding down below the horizon, it was likely still around 75 or 80 degrees.

 

We grabbed a quilt from Patti’s house, carried it outside, and spread it in the field.  We were about halfway between the house and the Third Line.  We wanted to be far enough away that our music wouldn’t bother anyone in the house.   Patti went into the house and brought out four bowls of spaghetti.  That was one of her favourite dishes to cook for guests, and she had definitely perfected her sauce.

 

Debbie had been fiddling around with the cassette player and had got the music going.  By then, it was really dark, and it seemed like all at once, we started staring up at the sky looking for meteors.  We were asking Patti what time the meteor shower was supposed to begin.  She said she wasn’t sure – which didn’t get a very positive reaction from any of us, but she never claimed to be an astronomer, so we’d just have to wait and let nature take its course.  It wasn’t too long after that we began to notice falling stars, one after another, sometimes in clusters; they almost looked like they were raining down.

 

We stared at the sky for hours.  We talked about school for a while.  Debbie and I were graduating from Glen Tay Public School that year – Patti and Jane had one year left to go.  We all wondered what it was going to be like to be at the Perth High School.  Patti’s older sister Janice, was already there, and so Patti knew a bit about what it was like.  It was going to be very different for all of us to be in such a large school, and also to be in Perth all day, instead of out in the country.

 

It was getting late. The stars were still falling, streaking through the sky – it was really something, and I for one, had never seen anything like it.

 

Patti went up to the house, and when she came back, she said it was three in the morning.  We were all getting tired.  Jane and Debbie decided to pack it in and go home, so they grabbed their stuff, and headed up toward the house to retrieve their bikes.  Patti and I watched from the field as they rode down the lane, and turned up the Third Line, giving us a wave as they headed home.   Well, we might as well go inside too.  We picked up the corners of the quilt, carried our stuff in, and headed up to Patti’s room.  I don’t think it was very long before we fell asleep.

 

The next morning, I got up, picked up my bike out front and headed home.   It was Sunday morning so I would be expected to get ready for church.  I got home, walked into the kitchen, and Mother asked if I’d had a nice time at Patti’s and I said that I had.  I went upstairs, had a bath, and put on a dress for church.

 

In the car on the way up the Third Line, heading for Calvin church that morning, Mother had the radio on, and was listening to the news.  The weatherman in Kingston was talking about the meteor shower the night before, and what a ‘spectacular’ sight it had been.  I didn’t want to say that we had sat out in Jordan’s field all night watching it, because I didn’t think Mother would be very impressed, so I said nothing.

….

 

Many decades have passed since our ‘meteor shower’ get-together, but I’ve since discovered that meteor showers occur regularly, are visible in most parts of Eastern Ontario during the summer, and they almost always are at their peak during August.   In fact, on the local news this past summer, the weather forecaster, spoke about the ‘Perseids’ meteor shower.

 

Naturally, when I heard the words ‘meteor shower’ my ears perked up. I hadn’t thought about the meteor shower for years.   They went on to say that the Perseids meteor shower had been observed for almost 2,000 years.  They said that the meteor shower is visible from the middle of July and the peak is usually between August 9th and the 14th each year.  It was their next statement however, that almost made me fall off of my chair.  They stated, “August 12th, 1972 is reported to have been the most active shower in recorded history.”

 

August 12, 1972?  I was speechless.  According to the weather forecaster we had witnessed the most ‘spectacular’ meteor shower!  Well, it certainly was a night to remember – the pitch-black sky out in the country, some great friends, some good music, and the most active meteor shower in recorded history, long ago, in Jordan’s front field.

 

This story is dedicated to the girls who sat with me, on a quilt, in Jordan’s front field, on August 12, 1972, :  Patti Jordan, Debbie Majaury, and Jane Munro. 

Thanks for the memories my friends!

(an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Kid: My Travels Up and Down the Third Line’)

LC Kid

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

Christie Lake – Memories Along the Shores

 

We found tranquility, along the shores of this clear blue beauty.  A sanctuary of peace and contentment, a place where pink sunsets slid into still waters, and the melodious call of the loon marked the end of another perfect day, at Christie Lake.

It was also a buzzing social hub –  a gathering place for familiar faces, and new friends as well. Who could forget the laughter of the youthful parties at nearby cottages, or on Big Island? On warm summer evenings the shores were dotted with bright campfires, sputtering, crackling, shooting flames into the starry night skies. The rock and roll of our time echoed across the lake, with its steady beat, and powerful lyrics. Our music celebrated sweet young love, with a dash of social commentary, unique to those unforgettable times – the 1960s and 70s.

Where is Christie Lake?  Ottawa, the closest large city, is about an hour east, and the pretty town of Perth, is a quick, 15 minute drive.  The Stafford house, where we spent the idyllic days of our youth, was just a mile away, a quick bike ride up the Third Line; although it felt a lot farther on those hazy humid dog-days of summer.  By the time my friends and I rounded the corner near Jordan’s, the lake was in sight, and moments later our bikes had been abandoned, and we’d jumped joyfully, off the bridge, into the cool, clear, water.

bridge at Jordan's

Bridge at Jordan’s – photo:  Kathy Irvine

Christie Lake is one of the three largest lakes on the Tay watershed, along with Bob’s Lake, and Otty Lake.  It’s been said that the original name for the lake was Myers Lake, and that was way before my time; but I do remember the old timers referring to it as ‘Christy’s Lake’, or ‘Christie’s Lake’, and that it was named for John Christy, native of Scotland, the first settler on the lake.

After John Christy’s arrival, the second family living on the lake were the Allan’s. The original spelling of the lake was “Christy’s Lake”, but it was changed by the Geographic Board of Canada, to “Christie” on April 10th, 1908.

John Christy, his wife Isabella (Wright), and daughter, sailed on the ship ‘Eliza’, from Scotland, on August 3, 1815 and arrived first, in Quebec City.  Like many families arriving late in the year, they spent the first winter near their port of arrival. By 1816, the Christy’s settled at concession 2, lot 2 in Bathurst Township.

John Christy census of 1871

1871 Census of Bathurst Township

 

John Christy Jane Allen gravestone

John Christy – 1824-1909 son of pioneer John M. Christy

 

 

Alexandrine Victoria (Christy) Whillans  1839-1924

youngest daughter of pioneer John Christy, first settlers at Christy’s Lake

Alexandrine Christy Whillans Feb 19 1924 p 7 Ottawa Cit.

Feb. 19, 1924 p. 7,  ‘Ottawa Citizen’

“Victoria Whillans, was the youngest daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. John Christy, first settlers at Christy’s Lake, Ont., after whom the place is called.”

Lake banner # 2

 

Walter Christy 1870-1942

Grandson of pioneer, John Christy

Walter Christy Jan 22 1942 p. 12 Ott Cit.

Jan. 22, 1942, p.12 ‘The Ottawa Citizen

Christie Lake banner 6

George Christy – 1868-1949

Grandson of pioneer John Christy

George Christy Apr. 27 1949 p 2 Ott.Cit

George Christy gravestone

George Christy gravestone, Johnston’s Corners cemetery, south Ottawa, Ontario

 

 

The Canadian Barks Works

A small group of men from Perth:  Thomas Aspden, Alexander Morris, William Morris, Captain John Manion, and John Hart established the Canadian Barks Works at Lot 2, Concession 3 of Bathurst Township. It was located along the north shore of Christie Lake, on Gravely Bay, as it was thought there would be a good supply of hemlock trees to sustain the business. The purpose of the mill was to extract tannin from hemlock bark, to be used in leather tanning. The tannin was used locally at a tannery in Perth, and in the beginning of operations there was also enough to export to the U.S. The company closed in 1874, due to a shortage of hemlock in the area.

Canadian Barks at Christie Lake

The Canadian Barks Works at Christie Lake  (1868-1874) photo: ‘Perth Remembered’

 

Jordan's Cottages

 

Jordan Family

and the Descendants of pioneer George Jordan & Isabella Stewart

The Jordan family were among the early settlers to the area, having lived in the region continuously since the 1800s, when pioneer settler, George Jordan, arrived from Scotland, and settled at the foot of Christie Lake.

 

Christie Lake banner

 

Pioneer Settler, George Jordan,

born Yetholm, Roxburghshire, Scotland

 

George Jordan 1830-1908

George Jordan death certificate 1908
1908 death certificate of Scottish pioneer, George Jordan – early settler to Christie Lake

 

George Jordan (1830-1908) and his wife, Isabella Stewart, were parents to John Jordan (1865-1950), and it was John, who first established the business of vacation cottage rentals.

 

Christie Lake banner 2

 

John’s son, John Robert Jordan and his wife Martina Miller (1868-1940), continued the legacy, expanding the business and keeping with tradition.

Martena Miller Jordan 1940

1911 Census of Bathurst, Lanark County

John and Martena Jordan census 1911

2nd last column is year of birth, last column is age when the census was taken
Year: 1911; Census Place: 1 – Bathurst, Lanark South, Ontario; Page: 3; Family No: 19

 

Lake banner # 4

John Robert Jordan and Martena (Miller) Jordan

John Robert and Martena Jordan had a large family of four sons and three daughters:

(babies Donald and Martena, died in infancy)

George Edwin Jordan (1896-1977)

Arthur Miller Jordan (1897-1968)

Calvin Jordan (1899-1981)

Helen ‘Pink’ Muriel Jordan (1901-1987)

John Robert Jordan (1905-1965)

Sarah ‘Sadie’ Isabella Jordan (1910-1999)

 

baby angel

 

John Robert Jordan and Martena Jordan, sadly, lost two babies,  Baby Martena, born when her mother was age 41, and the second was Baby Donald, born when his mother was age 48:

Martena Jordan 1908 death cert.      Donald Easton Jordan 1916 death cert.

Death certificates for baby Martena Jordan, and baby Donald Easton Jordan

 

Lake banner # 5

George Edwin Jordan  1896-1977

George Edwin Jordan  & Charlotte (Keays) Jordan

Children of George Edwin Jordan and Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Jordan

Donald ‘Don’ Jordan  

Keith Jordan

William ‘Bill’ Jordan

Jean (Jordan) Bell

Evelyn (Jordan) Irvine

 

Jordans on Christie Lake in boat

Evelyn (Jordan) Irvine, with her daughters, and Jean (Jordan) Bell’s children – 1972 – photo: Kathy Irvine

 

 

Lottie Jean and Evelyn

Charlotte ‘Lottie’ (Keays) Jordan seated, at Christie Lake – her daughters Evelyn (Jordan) Irvine, and Jean (Jordan) Bell standing,  1973                  photo: Kathy Irvine

 

Lottie's obit

Dec. 8, 1977 p. 14, ‘The Perth Courier’

 

Lake banner # 1

 

George Edwin Jordan –   WWI military recruitment record:

George Jordan expeditionary papers

George Edwin Jordan – Canadian Expeditionary Forces record: Library and Archives Canada: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4968 – 47  Item Number: 493833

 

George Edwin Jordan obit 1977

“He received his education locally and served in the First World War”

Christie Lake banner 3

 

 

Arthur Miller Jordan 1897-1968

Arthur Jordan obit

 

“Pallbearers were four nephews, Donald, Keith, Bob and Alan Jordan; two neighbours, Wilbur Noonan and Gordon Stiller.”

 

Arthur Miller Jordan married Edna Ritchie in 1920

Children of Arthur Jordan and Edna (Ritchie) Jordan:

Phyllis (Jordan) Stewart

Shirley (Jordan) Weldon

Helen (Jordan) Rintoule

Joan (Jordan) McNaughton

 

muskoka chairs at the lake

Calvin Jordan 1899-1981

Calvin Jordan

married Marion Palmer in 1934

Marion Jordan

Calvin and Marion had three daughters:

Isobel (Jordan) Paul

Frances (Jordan) Dixon

Mavis (Jordan) Woolham

 

He was President of the Lanark County Federation of Agriculture, and for many years, a member of the Board of Calvin United Church

Calvin Jordan obit

March 25, 1981 p.2 ‘The Perth Courier’

 

 

pink marilyn bob sadie

Helen ‘Pink’ Jordan, Marilyn (Dixon) Jordan, Bob Jordan, and Sadie Jordan at the Jordan Homestead, Christie Lake, photo: Carolyn Jordan

Sadie Jordan, Librarian, Toronto Public Library

Sarah 'Sadie' Jordan

Sadie Jordan academic achievement

 

Sadie Jordan Toronto Library

‘The Perth Courier’, Sept. 19, 1930, pg.1

 

Sadie Jordan position at Tor Library

‘The Perth Courier’, Mar. 6, 1931, p.2

 

When Sadie graduated from the Perth High School in 1929 she was awarded the prestigious Carter Scholarship, for her academic excellence. Sadie enjoyed a successful career as a Librarian with the Toronto Public Library, and while she lived in Toronto, she attended  Bloor Street United Church,  300 Bloor Street W., Toronto, ON.

 

Helen Jordan  – 1901-1987

Helen Jordan

Helen Jordan had a distinguished career in the field of Nursing.  She trained at the North Bay Hospital, graduating in 1927.  She was promoted to Supervisor of Nursing in 1931.

In the spring of 1932, Helen Jordan was appointed to the position of Superintendent of the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, in North Bay.

Helen Jordan, Superintendent

Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, North Bay, Ontario

Helen Jordan appointed superintendent

‘The Perth Courier’, April 22, 1932, p.1

 

Christie Lake banner 4

 

Helen Jordan –  “Known to her friends, as ‘Pink’

 

Helen Jordan bio

‘The Perth Courier’, April 21, 1982, p.9

 

“….she joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps as a Nursing Sister.”

Helen part 1

Helen part 2

 

Helen Jordan roll of honour

War Veterans, who were members of Calvin United Church, Bathurst Township, Lanark County

Helen Jordan obit 1987

‘The Ottawa Citizen’, Jan. 21, 1987 p.46

 

 

Christie Lake c 1970

Bridge at Jordan’s Cottages – 1973 – photo:  Stafford family

 

John Robert Jordan

John Robert Jordan (1905-1965) married Mary Elizabeth Scharf (1909-1995) in 1933

John Robert and Mary Scharf Jordan

John Robert Jordan and Mary Jordan, at Christie Lake  – photo: Carolyn Jordan

 

John Robert Jordan and Mary Jordan had five children:

Robert ‘Bob’ Jordan

Alan Jordan

Lloyd Jordan

Harold Jordan

Betty (Jordan) Miller

 

Bob Jordan's family

Bob Jordan, his wife Marilyn (Dixon) Jordan and their three children, Carolyn, Darrell, and baby John in 1966, at the Jordan ancestral homestead –  photo: Carolyn Jordan

 

Christie Lake aerial view

Christie Lake, aerial view – photo: Carolyn Jordan

 

John Robert Jordan passed down the business to his son, Alan Jordan, and he and his wife Audrey (Conroy) Jordan have continued the tradition for many decades.  Their son, Paul Jordan, is now co-owner.

 

Jordan's Cottages 1971

Jordan’s Cottages

John Jordan established Jordan’s Cottages.

Cottage for rent John Jordan July 8 1943 p 4

Ad for Jordan’s Cottages – ‘The Perth Courier’  –  July 8, 1943 p.4

JR Jordan Jul 28 1948 p 24

Ad for Jordan’s Cottages – “The Ottawa Journal” – July 28, 1948 p. 24

 

John and Mary Jordan and family

John Jordan, his wife Mary Jordan, Robert ‘Bob’, Betty, Alan,  front:  Harold and Lloyd.    photo:  Carolyn Jordan

Mary Scharfe Jordan

 

Mary Jordan 1995

‘The Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 3, 1995 p.36

 

Betty and Alan.

Betty (Jordan) Miller and her brother Alan Jordan, at Christie Lake  – photo: Carolyn Jordan

Audrey Jordan from Carolyn

(Audrey (Conroy) Jordan, Alan’s wife, and George Jordan (Keith’s son) photo: Carolyn Jordan

 

Bev Miller's dock from Carolyn

Dock at Bev (Miller) Ferlatte’s home, Christie Lake      photo: Carolyn Jordan

 

 

Fire at Christie Lake bridge – 1940

John Jordan serious fire July 19 1940 p 4

July 19, 1940 ‘The Perth Courier’

fishing at sunset

 

“The Jordan home was ever a hospitable one, where the head of the household always found time to engage in friendly conversation and to perform some kindly act or unselfish deed.”

 

John Jordan –   1865 – 1950

John Jordan obit Sept. 1950

September 28, 1950 – ‘The Perth Courier’

 

loons on lake

 

John Jordan & Martina Miller’s son – John Robert Jordan operated Jordan’s Cottages after his father passed away.

John Robert Jordan’s marriage to Mary Scharf in 1933:

John Robert marriage to Mary Scharf 1933

 

 

John Robert Jordan obit 1965

 

 

 

Jordan's Cottages 1956

postcard – 1956

 

 

Christie Lake sunset - Kathy Irvine

Sunset, at Christie Lake                              photo:  Kathy Irvine

 

 

Jean and Don Jordan

Jean  (White) Jordan and Donald ‘Don’ Jordan boating on Christie Lake
(Donald –  a grandson of John Robert Jordan) photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

John Jordan, President of the Christie Lake Fish and Game Club

seeks to restore Pickerel to the area

Christie Lake Ottawa Citizen Fishing Nov. 24 1962 p 12

 Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 24, 1962, p. 12

 

 

Bill Keith Don at Christie Lake
Bill, Keith and Don Jordan, brothers, along the shores of Christie Lake,     photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Evelyn and Don and Lottie at Christie Lake

front: Evelyn (Jordan), her mother Charlotte ‘Lottie’, (Keays) Jordan her brother Don Jordan, front of boat – Don’s daughter Janice, sitting beside Evelyn’s daughter Sandy.   1960s.   photo:  Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Jordan clan at Christie Lake from Kathy Irvine

April and Meagan Bell, Sandy Errett, Karen Ronald, Janice (Jordan) Gordon,Patti Jordan, Kathy Irvine, seated in the chair a friend –  2006,   photo:  Kathy Irvine

 

Janice and Patti 1963

Janice Jordan and Patti Jordan, at Christie Lake, 1963 – (daughters of Don Jordan & Jean (White) Jordan)

Christie Lake sitting on the boat

Seated on a boat at Christie Lake, Don Jordan with his daughter, Janice Jordan – photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Christie Lake friends on deck

William ‘Bill’ Jordan,  Jean (Jordan) Bell & her husband Robert ‘Bob’ Bell – photo Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Sadie at the lake

Sarah ‘Sadie’ Jordan (1910-1999)  at Christie Lake – photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon
(Sadie –  youngest daughter of John Robert Jordan)

 

Sadie Jordan obit

 

Christie Lake sun setting Kathy Irvine

Another perfect sunset on  Christie Lake                                                                                                        photo: Kathy Irvine

 

Christie Lake – Famous for Fishing!

Christie Lake fishing contest

Oct. 23, 1941 p.2 – ‘The Perth Courier’

 

“Pickerel – 9 1/2 pounds, caught in Christie Lake by James Brady.”

“Northern Pike, 14 1/2 pounds, caught in Christie Lake by H.M. Gore”

 

Harold and Irma Knight at Christie Lake

Harold and Irma (Miller) Knight at Christie Lake,      photo:  Janet Knight

 

 

Christie Lake train 1959

CPR Train, Christie Lake, 1959

 

Jordan's Cottages view on the lake

Patti Jordan and Arlene Stafford-Wilson at Christie Lake

Patti Jordan and Arlene Stafford-Wilson boating at Christie Lake – 1976, photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon
(Patti –  Great-great-granddaughter of Scottish pioneer settler George Jordan (1830-1908)

 

Christie Lake island

Christie Lake – Island                          photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

Christie Lake by the willow tree

Christie Lake Summer Fun on a paddleboat                                     photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Christie Lake Reunions

 

Christy – Allen Reunion – 1954

Christy and Allan reunion 1954

First Christy-Allan Reunion

was held in 1954

Christy Allan reunion 1954 Jun 8 p. 3 Ottawa Journal

“Out of neighbourly fairness, the two original families drew lots to decide after whom the lake would be named.  It was Mr. Christy, of course, who drew the longest straw.”

Christie lake banner 5

 

Christie Lake reunion July 4 1955 p

Christie Lake reunion July 4 1955 part 2

‘Ottawa Citizen’, July 4, 1955, p.21

Jordan Family Reunion

Jordan reunion 2

photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Jordan Family Reunion –  2009

Jordan reunion

photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

Cavanagh’s General Store

Cavanagh's store colour photo

Visitors to Christie Lake often picked up their food and supplies at Cavanagh’s store, in DeWitt’s Corners.  A full line of groceries, barbecue supplies, ice, was available.  It was a gathering spot, for meeting up with neighbours and friends, and catching up on the local news.  Cavanagh’s was also the local polling station, where neighbours could vote for their favourite political candidate.  This store was the heart of the ‘Corners’, and the place to go, before heading up to Christie Lake.

Bill Cavanagh # 2 at Christie Lake

left – Peter Mullins, center Earl Conboy, (Bill Cavanagh with his back to the camera) photo: JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler

 

Cavanagh's ad

Cavanagh’s Store – 1947-1985

The store opened on June 3, 1947 – carrying groceries, confectioneries, and tobacco products. Along with groceries and everyday sundries, Cavanagh’s store also sold gas supplied by Esso, a branch of Imperial Oil.

“In 1947 they moved to DeWitt’s Corners,

and re-opened her family’s general store,

under the name of  ‘Cavanagh’s Fine Foods'”

 

Locals and cottagers, along with campers at nearby Christie Lake, were all pleased to hear that there would be a general store in the area, and they would no longer have to drive to Perth, to pick up daily necessities.

 

Cavanagh’s store, DeWitt’s Corners      photo:  JoAnne Cavanagh Butler

 

Jim and Helen Cavanagh and Shep

Helen (DeWitt) Cavanagh, James ‘Jim Cavanagh, and their dog, Shep – photo:  JoAnne Cavanagh Butler

 

cavanaghs-store-black-and-white

Cavanagh’s General Store, DeWitt’s Corners     photo: JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler

 

Shep at Cavanagh's store

Familiar sights at Cavanagh’s store:  their dog Shep, and the Millstone  –  photo: JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler

 

Three DeWitt Sisters, at Ederney Cottage, Christie Lake

Cavanagh's cottage 1974

l to rt. Josephine (DeWitt) Lenahan,  Helen (DeWitt) Cavanagh,  Vera (DeWitt) Brady standing in front of the original family cottage on Station Bay, Christie Lake.          Photo: JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler

James ‘Jim’ Cavanagh named the cottage “Ederney”, the place in Ireland where his family was from.

 

Jim and Helen (DeWitt) Cavanagh operated the popular neighbourhood store for nearly four decades, until they retired in 1985.

Jim Cavanagh retired April 3 1985 p 18

‘The Perth Courier’, April 3, 1985, p.18

 

The DeWitt family, Helen’s ancestors, lived in the area for generations, going back to pioneer Zephaniah DeWitt. The first DeWitt land record was Bathurst Con 2 Lot 11, on 1st January 1823.

 

JoAnne waterskiing

JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler, water skiing on Christie Lake, with Mary Dineen (McIntyre)             photo: JoAnne Cavanagh Butler

 

Bill Cavanagh at Christie Lake

lt to rt:  Bill Cavanagh, Michael Switzer, Peter Mullins   photo: JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler
(Peter Mullins family’s cottage was located exactly at the site of the former Christie Lake Bark Company.  According to Peter, “Growing up, there were many logs in the water. A few are still there.”)

Helen Cavanagh Aug 4 1982 p 22

‘The Perth Courier’, August 4, 1982, p.22

 

“Helen was dearly loved by all who knew her,

and was an asset to her community”

empty chair at athe lake

 

 

 

Fishing at Christie Lake banner

Fishing at Christie Lake # 1

Jan. 16, 1920, p. 6 ‘The Perth Courier’

 

“Monster-size Fish Caught At Christie Lake”

Christie Lake fishing 2

July 29, 1927 p.1 – ‘The Perth Courier’

 

“12 pound Pickerel caught at Christie Lake”

 

Christie Lake fishing 3

Oct. 22, 1937, p.1 ‘The Perth Courier’

 

 

Christie Lake fishing contest

 

fishing image

 

 

The floods of 2017

Christie Lake:   The Floods of 2017

Heavy spring rains in the region, as well as a lack of good water management practices, are said by locals to have caused the flooding in 2017.  It was widely discussed at the time, that Parks Canada, governing body of  local lakes, was partly to blame in allowing its reservoir at Bobs Lake to become too high. It was said that logs were removed from a control dam at Bobs Lake, upstream, causing water levels to rise in Christie Lake. The flood was the worst that could be recalled in the past century.

Christie Lake flood of 2017

Alan Jordan wades through the waters that flooded Christie Lake in 2017

Christie Lake flood of 2017 part 2

Alan Jordan (left) and his son Paul Jordan, May 11, 2017 – owners of Jordan’s Cottages

Jordan's cottages flood 2017

High waters cause flooding in 2017 – Jordan’s Cottages

 

Christie Lake sundown Kathy Irvine

Sundown at Christie Lake                              photo: Kathy Irvine

 

 

Arliedale Inn banner

Arliedale Inn

The Marks family of Christie Lake were known for their vaudeville shows, and traveling theatrical entertainment.  Thomas Marks, one of the brothers, turned the family home into a hotel, and named it after his daughter ‘Arlie’.

Arliedale Inn Christie Lake

There were seven Marks brothers:  Robert, Tom, Alex, Jack, Joe, McIntyre and Ernie. Two of their sisters-in-law performed with them: Kitty, wife of Ernie, and May Bell, wife of Robert.  There were also two sisters Nell and Libby who did not perform on stage.

Marks family of Christie Lake

Seated:  L. to rt,  May A. Bell Marks, George Marks, R.W. Marks, Gracie Marks.

Standing; Joe Marks, Alex Marks

The Marks family presented melodramas for the most part, but also performed some comedy as well.

When their time for performing had come to an end, most of the family returned to the Christie Lake farm of their childhood. Robert continued to perform on stage until his late 70’s and then retired to the lake. He converted the barn where they had rehearsed into a summer hotel and was owner and operator until his death in 1936 at the age of 86.

Joe also retired to the farm where he died in 1944 at the age of 82.

Tom returned to Christie Lake when he retired, and converted the old house into a hotel and called it Arliedale, after his daughter Arlie. He passed away in 1935,  at the age of 81 years old.

Ella Tom and Arlie Marks

Ella Marks, her husband Tom, and daughter, Arlie Marks and dog, Buster.

 

Marks brothers

 

Tom Marks birthday Jan 18 1935 p 4

‘The Perth Courier’, Jan 18, 1935, p.4

 

 

Death of Mrs. Marguerite (Farrell) Marks –  mother of the Marks Brothers

Marguerite Farrell Marks obit
April 15, 1921, “The Perth Courier” p. 8

 

 

Arliedale lodge postcard

Arliedale Inn, Christie Lake

Arliedale beach

 

Dance at Arliedale Inn – July 1931

 

“…a lingering twilight, as though the sun had stood still just below the horizon.  It was just the sort of night that beckons youth and beauty.”

 

Christie Lake Dance July 10 1931 p 1

‘The Perth Courier’ – July 10, 1931, p.1

 

Arliedale # 2 snip

Arliedale ravine

Christie Lake dance Arliedale 1931

‘The Perth Courier’ – August 7, 1931, p.1

Arliedale July 20 1949 Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Citizen, July 20th, 1949 p. 31

 

Arliedale May 26 1968 p 137 Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, May 26, 1968, p.137

 

Norvic Lodge banner

 

Norvic Lodge

Victor Lemieux and his wife Noreen (McGlade) Lemieux were owners and operators of Norivc Lodge.  Like the other properties set along the shores of Christie Lake, they had a beautiful shoreline, framing their homey, rustic lodge.

Victor, son of Jeremie Lemieux, and Margaret Hannah James, was born and raised in the tiny village of Fournier, in the township of Prescott-Russell.  The village is situated near the communities of Vankleek Hill, St. Isidore, and Plantagenet, a largely French-Canadian settlement. Victor’s father was a Lumberman, and his mother cared for the large family.

Victor’s wife, Noreen, a girl who grew up in the town of Perth, Ontario, was the daughter of Arthur McGlade, a labourer. The McGlade family were early settlers from Perth, originally from County Armagh, Ireland.  Catherine McCarthy, Noreen’s mother was also from an Irish pioneer family, from County Cork.   Noreen’s parents were married in Toledo, Ontario, October 16, 1899.

Noreen McGlade Lemieux

Noreen  ‘Nina’ (McGlade) Lemieux

Memories of working at Norvic Lodge in 1960, as told by Judy (Stafford) Ryan:

“The Lodge was ‘Norvic” named after the owners – Noreen and Vic.  She was called Nina, and they had a daughter Judy,  – about my age at the time.  The Lodge was on Christie Lake.

 I was the only one who had the job there, but because I also had a two week job at the Optometrist in Perth, while his secretary was on vacation, at the beginning of the Summer (Dad got it for me), my sister Jackie (Stafford) Wharton, went up to the Lodge, and held my job for me for that two week period.  I think Dad was also the one who got me the job at the Lodge.  Mother did not want me to go as she figured I would get ‘into trouble’.

We were paid $10.00 a week which was given to us at the end of the Summer.  We made great tips from the Americans, who stayed in the cabins – I could make up to $100.00 a week, depending on whether or not the cabins were full that week.

Our cabin was at the top of a hill away from the vacationers.  Our day started at 7:00 a.m.  We had to be down the hill to the Lodge in uniform, to set up the dining room for breakfast, take breakfast orders, serve it, clear tables and help wash dishes, etc.  We then went back up the hill, changed into shorts and t-shirts and cleaned all the cabins – made beds, dusted, vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, changed towels, etc.  Then, back up the hill, back into uniform, to do the lunch thing. 

We were suppose to have a couple of hours off each afternoon, to do what we wanted.  However, part way through the summer, the lady who did the laundry left, and that was added to our jobs, without extra pay.  So after lunch, we would have to do the laundry – sheets, towels, etc. and hang them out on a line to dry.  Once a week, we would have to strip the beds, but changed the towels often. 

On days when we didn’t have to do the laundry, I would take the canoe, and a good book, and head for a small uninhabited island, and read for a couple of hours.  I knew that no-one could get to me there. 

Between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. we were back down the hill, in our uniforms, to set up for dinner, etc., etc. 

After everything was done, and cleaned up for the evening, we had time to ourselves, if we had any energy left.  I worked with a girl by the name of Claudette, and she was a real party girl, and as there was a party at some cottage every night, we went out most nights, along with the guy who worked at the Lodge store and gas bar, and he was allowed to use one of the motor boats, and that is how we got to the other cottages.

Just before I arrived to work at the Lodge that Summer there had been a bad boating accident, and I think one or two people had died.  The only way I found out about it was I saw a mangled boat with blood on it, stored in behind the lodge, when I was out walking one day, and asked the guy at the gas bar what happened.

That Summer was the first time I saw death!  There was a delightful family from Pennsylvania. there – three generations – Grandfather, parents, and two younger children.  I was serving breakfast this one morning, and the Grandfather, who was always so friendly and animated, told me about the different birds he had heard singing that morning, and during the conversation, he keeled over at the table.  I ran into the kitchen and got Vic (Lemieux) – told him the old man ‘fainted’.  Vic got the son to help him carry the Grandfather into the Lounge, behind the dining room, and they put him on the couch.  I remember going ahead and serving the other guests, and noticed people coming and going to the Lounge.   Nina told me later that the old guy had died, probably instantly, and I was really shocked and upset.  That is one of those memories that is permanently etched in your memory, especially when you are only 15.”

 – an excerpt from the book,  “Recipes & Recollections: Treats and Tales from our Mother’s Kitchen”, ISBN 978-0-9877026-0-9

 

 

Norvic Lodge ad Good food 1971

Norvic Lodge dining room

Norvic Lodge skin diving

Norvic Lodge boat show

May 10, 1962 – ‘The Perth Courier’

 

Norvic Lodge water show

 

Norvic Lodge – Christie Lake Surfers – summer of 1963

Norvic Lodge water show results

Victor Lemieux obit Mar 17 1998 Ottawa Citizen p 24

obituary of Victor Lemieux, ‘The Ottawa Citizen’, Mar. 17, p.24

Victor Lemieux gravestone

Grave of Victor and Nina Lemieux – St. John’s cemetery, Perth, Ontario

 

Red Cedar Inn banner

Red Cedar Inn

Red Cedar Inn was the official summer residence of the Marks family of entertainers.

“Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Marks are enjoying their beautiful cottage, Red Cedar Villa and will give an “at home” in the near future.”

‘The Perth Courier”, June 23, 1899

Christie Lake Red Cedar Inn

 

“The pickerel are biting fine

and large catches daily is the rule.”

 

Red Cedar Villa June 2 1899 p 1

 

Red Cedar Villa (also known as Red Cedar Inn)

Red Cedar Villa

Red Cedar Inn 1924

 “James is a great admirer of the lake and its beautiful scenery, and always calls on his friend Joe to have a chat and a drink of Mrs. Marks’ noted buttermilk.”

 

Christie Lake news – July 14, 1899

Christie Lake news July 14 1899 p 5 part 1

Christie Lake news July 14 1899 p 5 part 2

“The season at Christie’s Lake House opened much earlier this year than usual.”

 

Christie Lake news June 1, 1900 p 1

Christie Lake news – June 1, 1900, page 1

Red Cedar Inn July 3, 1924 p 6

‘The Ottawa Citizen’, July 3, 1924 p.6

Red Cedar Inn Jun 26 1941 p 24

‘The Ottawa Citizen’, June 26, 1941, p.24

Robert RW MarksRobert W. Marks  1855-1937

 

Red Cedar cottages Sept 23 1970 p 33

‘The Ottawa Citizen’ Sept. 23, 1970 p. 33

Christie Lake Camp

Christie Lake camp sign 2

 

Christie Lake Camp was established in 1922 by Judge John F. McKinley, of Ottawa.  The Judge believed that instead of punishing delinquent boys, he could offer them a chance to leave the temptations of the city, discover the great outdoors, and learn some new coping skills.

“………giving the boy responsibility, handling him with friendship, teaching him the general principles of good citizenship and doing so with the help of the open air.”

Judge John F. McKinley

Christie Lake boys # 5

 

Boys Enjoy Camp at Christy’s Lake

Christie Lake Boy's camp July 20 1923 page 5

July 20, 1923 – ‘The Perth Courier’

Christie Lake boys # 1

 

Splendid Results Attained

From Boys’ Camp at Christy’s

Christie Lake Boy's camp Nov 16 1923 part 1 page 2

Christie Lake Boy's camp Nov 16 1923 part 2 page 2

Christie Lake Boy's camp Nov 16 1923 part 3 page 2

November 16, 1923 – ‘The Perth Courier’

Christie Lake boys # 2

The boys arriving from Ottawa,  on Colonial Coach bus lines

Christie Lake boys # 3

The boys at their dock, below the main building

In 1958 Dr. Dan Offord became Camp Director. Christie Lake Kids programs were
under the guidance and direction of the late Dr. Offord, who was a well-known  child psychiatrist. Dr. ‘Dan’, as he was known, was a volunteer summer Camp Director for 47 years.

Dr. Dan Offord

Dr. Dan Offord, volunteered at Christie Lake for 47 years

 

Christie Lake boys # 6

Tremendous efforts went into fund-raising, over the past several decades, in order to maintain and repair the buildings and grounds at Christie Lake Camp.

In 2001, Dr. Dan’s work in research, at Christie Lake Camp, earned him the Order of Canada.

Dr. Dan Offord died at the age of 70, in 2004.

 

Christie Lake boys # 4

Heading up to the main building for lunch at the Christie Lake Boys’ Camp

Christie Lake kids camp

Learning to paddle a canoe at Christie Lake Camp

Christie Lake camp bonfire

Singing around the campfire, at Christie Lake Camp  – 2013

By the year 2000, approximately 400 boys and girls aged from 9 to 14 arrive every summer to learn outdoor skills and, build their self-esteem

Camp Opemikon – Scout Camp

Camp Opemikon

The land was purchased in 1937, and the camp opened in 1938.  Camp Opemikon has served the camping needs of the Scouting family for many years.

Camp Opemikon patch 1938

 

camp opemikon patch

camp opemikon map

 

camp opemikon cabins

Cabins at Camp Opemikon      – photo: Jason Chute

Canoes at Camp Opemikon

Canoes at Camp Opemikon – photo: Jason Chute

 

 

Christie Lake in colour

 

 

Special thanks to: Janice (Jordan) Gordon, Kathy Irvine, Carolyn Jordan, JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler, and Judy (Stafford) Ryan, for sharing their photos and memories, of this very special place.

 

Discover more about Christie Lake, and learn about the parties and pastimes of the 1960s and 1970s, at this popular vacation spot, in the story, “Stranded on Christie Lake”, one of the stories in ‘Lanark County Chronicle: Double Back to the Third Line”

LC Chronicle from web

“Lanark County Chronicle” – ISBN-978-0-9877026-23

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

 

Lanark County Calling – Book Launch

Just like the title of the book, when Lanark County calls us back home, especially in the fall of the year, we are welcomed by a panorama of fiery oranges, blazing reds, sunny yellows and dazzling greens.

leaf quote

 

lanark-county-sign

 

Signs of fall were everywhere, and a flock of geese escorted us along the road, all the way to Perth….
geese

 

A sunny drive up historic Gore Street, then we arrived at our destination – The Book Nook & Other Treasures.

Book Nook

 

Shortly after our arrival, I received a lovely bouquet of flowers from Rideau Ferry resident, Carol-Ann McDougall, along with her good wishes for the book launch.  What a thoughtful gift!

flowers from Carol-Ann

 

Owner of the Book Nook & Other Treasures, Leslie Wallack, provided a delicious assortment of milk chocolate and dark chocolate cookies, and piping hot coffee for all of the visitors to the store.

Leslie

 

One of the first visitors to the book launch, was old friend, and former class-mate Dianne Tysick Pinder-Moss.  Dianne and I have a long history, going back to our earliest days, at S.S. #5 School, a one-room schoolhouse, at Christie Lake, then to the Scotch Line school, and next, Glen Tay Public School, before heading off to Perth and District Collegiate Institute. Dianne and I also attended 4H Club together, as did many of the boys and girls in our rural farm community west of Perth.  Dianne is writing an article for the Agri News, on the new book “Lanark County Calling”, so mixing a bit of business, with the pleasure of spending time together again.

Dianne

 

Another special visitor who came early to the book launch, was former Art teacher from P.D.C.I – Wynne White.  What a pleasure to see Wynne after so many years have passed, and to learn that she remains active in her artistic pursuits.  This talented artist shared many of her techniques and methods over the years, and inspired those of us who attended her classes.  She often played the music of our time, during class, on a record-player at the front of the room.  One of the albums I recall was ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, and a tune that was played often –  ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.  Mrs. White understood the connection between music, art, and inspiration, and with her gentle ways, and kind encouragement, had a way of bringing out the best in all of her students.

Wynne White

 

Two special visitors drove all the way from Kingston, Ontario to be with us for the book launch, cousins Marie and Yvonne.  Marie and Yvonne, like myself, are descendants of pioneers Tobias Stafford of County Wexford, Ireland, and Elizabeth McGarry, of County Westmeath, Ireland, who were among the earliest settlers to Drummond Township in 1816.

Marie and Yvonne 2

It was a special treat to have my brother, Roger Stafford, stop by, and spend some time with us.  Roger divides his time these days, between his home in London, Ontario, and his winter place in Fort Myers, Florida.  Like the geese we saw overhead earlier in the day, Roger will be returning south in the next few weeks.  It was great fun to have him at the book launch!

Roger

 

A book launch would not be complete without a visitor or two from the home soil, the Third Line, DeWitt’s Corners to be specific.  Elaine and Dave Morrow stopped by, and we had a lovely visit with them, and caught up on some local news.

Elaine

 

A great deal of research goes into writing the stories in any book, and one of the stories in “Lanark County Calling”,  is about the Soper Theatre, in Smiths Falls.  Jan Stepniak was a great help with the story, and he shared some fascinating, behind-the-scenes highlights of his many years as both Projectionist, and Manager, at the Soper Theatre.

Jan Stepniak

Another memorable guest, one who was tremendously helpful in telling the story of the Soper Theatre, was Violet Gariepy.  Violet began working at the Soper in the late fifties, right up to the time when the theater closed in 2012.  She shared her memories, stories, and some insights into the people who worked there over the years, and the special recollections that made her time there such a pleasure.

Vi 3

 

After a busy day chatting with special guests, and visitors, it was time to say good-bye.

Many thanks to our host, owner of The Book Nook & Other Treasures, Leslie Wallack.  Treasures indeed, the busy, cheery store is overflowing with unique gifts, and lovely items for the home, along with a huge assortment of books, for children and adults alike. Leslie carries all of my ‘Lanark County’ series of books, as well as many other local authors.

…………………….

Special thanks to those who shared their memories, stories, and special recollections for the story ‘A Night at the Movies: Soper Theatre in Smiths Falls:  Violet Gariepy, Jan Stepniak, the late Gordon Evoy, Scott Irvine, and Tammy DeSalvo.
Also, thank-you to award-winning country music artist Neville Wells, along with Marilyn Taylor-Dunham for sharing their memories and tales, for the story: “The Legendary Ompah Stomp”.

……………………….

 

This post is dedicated to the memory of Gordon Evoy, former Usher, at the Soper Theatre.  Gordon passed away before the book launch, and I was not able to thank him in person, for the many hours he spent sharing his memories, and insights from his years working at the theater.  I had many phone calls with Gordon, and he would always end them saying he had to go and walk his little dogs, in the park, near his home in Smiths Falls.  It was clear that those lively little dogs were very close to his heart. Gordon also shared two photos with me, one of his mother Phyllis Evoy, a former staff-member of the Soper Theatre; Phyllis worked in the ticket booth for many years, and it has been said that she called many of the local children by name, and was a friendly face during her many years working there.

Phyllis Jenkins Evoy

 

Gordon also proudly shared a photo of his grandfather, Harry Jenkins, former theater staff-member, an Usher at the Capitol Theatre, in Smiths Falls.   When Harry retired, he worked as a crossing guard, on Brockville Street, helping children safely navigate the busy streets.

Harry Jenkins

Thank-you Gordon.  Your stories and memories are captured forever in the book.  God Bless.  May you rest in peace.

 

 

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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

 

 


Autumn Passages

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”

Humbert Wolfe

Harry Stafford cover

 

October began with a kaleidoscope of colour stretching from ground to sky, as far as you could see, and it ended with grey horizons, bare trees, and cold winds, sometimes even snow.

Although some of our trees turned just one shade of orange or yellow, many of them were ablaze with every hue from the palest yellow, the brightest orange, three or four different shades of green, to the bright, clear reds, all competing for attention, as they fluttered in the cool winds of autumn. The colours were so beautiful that often we would try to preserve them by waxing the leaves, and putting them between the pages of a book.

red leaves  maple multi leaves

Walking through our yard, I’d pick out the biggest and brightest leaves I could find. I’d seek out the perfect ones that hadn’t been torn by the winds, or chewed by insects. I’d try to get a nice variety of bright green, lemony yellow, and of course the stars of the show were the brilliant oranges, and rich, shiny reds.

girl collecting leaves

I’d bring them into the house, and Mother would get out her tube of waxed paper, the iron, and the ancient, battered, ironing board. That old thing had seen better days!

ironing leaves

We’d place each leaf between folded sheets of waxed paper, cover them with a tea towel, and press down with the hot iron.

ironing board

 

When we’d finished, I’d take my treasures, and store them carefully between the pages of a thick book, and place them on a shelf of the bookcase in the living room.

leaves in a book

 

Pressing the brightest leaves and saving them in a book was my way of trying to hold onto the season and make it last. It was the most colourful time of the year, and I wanted it to stay with us as long as possible.

Of course like most things in life, it didn’t last, and bit by bit the north winds came, the nights grew colder, and one by one the leaves blew off the trees, and the cruel frost stole their colours away.

bare trees

Overnight, it seemed that our yard changed from a bright, happy carnival of colour, into a stark, eerie, cold and barren place, gloomy and silent, waiting for the onset of winter.

It was during those final weeks of October that I’m sure we could have rented out our yard to a production company to film a spooky horror movie. The tall, imposing maple trees stood bare and dark, against the evening skies. Most of the birds had gone south for the winter, and so the yard was quiet……too quiet.

spooky trees

The sun slipped down behind Mitchell’s barn earlier each night, and sometimes I’d be nervous walking up the lane-way, or back the side road.

bare trees sunset

I rode my bike a little quicker, back from Cavanagh’s store; not just because the air was cooler, but because it was deathly quiet, and the leafless trees cast long, ominous shadows across the Third Line, as I made my way back home.

Cavanagh's at night

Why did the places and things that seemed so natural and so comfortable a few short weeks ago, suddenly seem dark and ominous?

I think it all boiled down to three things: heat, light and colour.  Over the course of the eight weeks beginning in early September, to the last few days of October, we lost all three.

It happened gradually of course; not all at once. The heat left first, and although the first part of September was almost like summer, it was as though someone was turning down a giant thermostat, a couple of degrees each day. The light left slowly as well, a minute at a time, over the days and weeks, then came the end of daylight savings time, and the light was reduced to a brief eight hours or so each day. The colour was the last to go, and hung on bravely until the frost came, and the leaves turned a murky shade of lifeless orange, and were so brittle that they could be crushed like egg shells.

dried leaves

The transition from summer to fall that we witnessed each year might have seemed daunting, even depressing, to someone new to the area. Being Lanark County kids, we just took it in our stride, knowing that this, like our other three seasons, was only temporary. Dealing with the changing seasons, whether the change seemed like a positive, or negative thing, was a good lesson to carry with us in life. We learned to make the best of whatever was thrown at us.

jumping in the leaves    hiding in the leaves

So every fall, as the winds grew cooler, and the dusk came earlier, our thoughts would turn to Hallowe’en. Our stark, colourless yards looked spooky anyway, so we made the best of it! We didn’t fret because summer was gone; we made the most of the new season, by making plans for the scariest night of the year!

It was time to scrounge around in the attic, put together our best costumes, and get our candy sacks ready for that annual trek, up and down the Third Line!

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(excerpt from:  “Lanark County Calendar – Four Seasons on the Third Line” )
ISBN 978-0-9877026-3-0

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http://www.staffordwilson.com

Groundhog Blues in Lanark County

mr-groundhog

January always seemed like the longest month on the calendar. It was still cold and dark when February arrived, and there were so many months ahead before we could ride our bikes to DeWitt’s Corners, or Christie Lake.

Each year, we  waited patiently for Groundhog Day.  Would he see his shadow? Would there be an early spring, or would there be another two months at least of these cold, grey days?

Punxsutawney Phil had predicted the onset of spring since 1890 in Pennsylvania, and his Canadian counterpart Wiarton Willie began his annual forecast in the 1950s. At our house we listened closely to both forecasts, hoping that at least one of these rodents would offer some hope of an early spring.

So, we had two possible groundhog predictions, and two different radio stations. There was CJET in Smiths Falls, and Mother would often tune in and listen to Hal Botham after we’d left for school, while she did her ironing. CFRA was her usual early morning station and we’d often hear Ken ‘General’ Grant shouting, “Forward Ho!” as we ate our puffed wheat, before walking down the lane to wait for the school bus.

I could tell that Mother was also growing weary of the long, cold days of winter and if the ‘General’ didn’t report the prediction she wanted to hear then she’d likely turn the dial to CJET hoping that Hal Botham would have another version of the groundhog’s forecast. If it was cloudy, and the groundhog didn’t see his shadow, we’d have an early spring – just six more weeks of winter. By the first week of February we didn’t want to hear any other forecast. Six more weeks of winter would be enough to bear, without the possibility of the season being any longer!

When I came downstairs for breakfast that Groundhog Day morning so long ago, Mother had already set up the old ironing board and was busy ironing a linen tea-towel. I asked her if she’d heard the groundhog’s prediction yet, and she didn’t look up, but continued to iron. “It’s just a myth, just folklore”, she said, and she folded the tea towel neatly, and started on the next one.

ironing

“So, he saw his shadow?” I asked. “Yes they both did.” she responded somberly, still not looking up from her work, and folded the next tea-towel.

I sat quietly at the old kitchen table, ate my bowl of puffed wheat, drank my orange juice, and took my cod liver oil capsule without even being asked. Six more weeks would have spring starting sometime in the middle of March, but now it would be even longer.

I finished my breakfast, put my dishes in the old porcelain sink, pulled on my boots and coat, grabbed my wool hat, mitts and lunch pail, and headed out the door.

little-girl

As I trudged down the long, snowy lane-way to the Third Line, I felt defeated. It was sad how a couple of groundhogs that we didn’t even know could make Mother and I feel so depressed. I didn’t even understand how they could have seen their shadows that morning, because it wasn’t sunny outside at all. I couldn’t see my own shadow, and that meant that our local groundhogs wouldn’t be able to see theirs either.

school-bus

I didn’t really know where Wiarton was located in Ontario, and didn’t have a clue about Pennsylvania, but I was sure that none of the groundhogs in Lanark County saw their shadows on that cloudy, grey morning in February. Maybe the other groundhogs were wrong! Maybe there would be an early spring after all! Maybe the snow would be gone soon, and I could ride my bike up to Christie Lake again. I had to stay positive. I had to keep hoping. I had to………………

 

 

 

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

 

 

 

 

(an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line
ISBN 978-0-9877026-3-0)

l-c-calendar

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Spring Came Up the Third Line

maple girl

One of my friends from DeWitt’s Corners said that they’d seen a robin in their back yard, but I hadn’t seen one yet. The only sign of spring that I’d noticed was the steady drip of water, coming off of the old roof, in the late afternoons, when I returned home from Glen Tay School. That meant that the temperature was rising above freezing during the day, so the sap must be running again.

Sure enough, that same day, I saw Dad heading down the lane, toward the Third Line, and he had his carpenter’s auger in his hands. That old thing looked battered and ancient, but it sure did the trick when he needed to tap some trees. We didn’t have a big maple bush like Korry’s, across the road, but Dad always tapped a few trees along the laneway, so that we’d have enough syrup for the family.

carpenter's auger   spile

If anyone had bothered to stroll past the trees that we’d tapped, they likely would have laughed themselves silly. It wasn’t exactly a professional operation. None of the buckets matched. We had a grey metal pail, that hung on one of the spiles by a rusty wire. We also had a white plastic bucket, that Mother had made, by cutting up an empty corn syrup jug.  Another bucket was made from an empty Billy Bee honey container. We even used one of my old sand pails, that I’d played with on the beach, when we went to Silver Lake in the summer. Any available container was ‘fair game’. It was only for a few weeks after all, and they couldn’t afford to be spending money on something that was used for such a short period of time each year.

Looking back, it didn’t really matter what kind of buckets you used, as long as you had something to collect the sap. I used to stand at the side of the tree, and watch as the clear, sweet liquid dripped ever so slowly, drip, drip, and splashed into the bucket below. I’d lift the bucket off of the metal hook, and dump the sap into Mother’s biggest mixing bowl, hook the bucket back on the tree, and carry the bowl gingerly up the lane way, and into the kitchen. Mother would be ready with a piece of clean cheesecloth, stretched over the big aluminum pot on the stove, and she’d take the bowl of sap, and dump it into the pot. The cheesecloth would catch all of the little specks of dirt, or bits of wood, that had come from the tree, so that the sap in the pot was nice and clean.

I guess if I’d been a little older, and a lot smarter, I would have asked Dad for one of the big pails from the garage, to transport all of the sap, in one trip, into the kitchen. Instead, I emptied one bucket at a time, into the big mixing bowl, and trekked all the way back and forth, up to the kitchen. Up the lane, and down the lane, I went over and over again, until I was finished; usually just before supper time. One night I forgot to empty the buckets, and the next night the sap was overflowing, running down the side of the tree, onto the snow. No one said anything about it, but I felt bad because I hadn’t done my job, and worse still we’d have less syrup because of it.

The air in the old kitchen smelled sweet for those few weeks each year, as the sap boiled away on top of the stove. Usually by the third or fourth day we’d have enough for a little bowl of syrup for dessert. The first syrup of the year was always the lightest in colour and in flavour, perfect for eating straight out of the bowl. Dad liked to pour a little cream into his syrup, and give it a stir. He’d take a piece of day-old homemade bread and dip it into his creamy syrup mixture, until he was down to the last sweet drops, and then he’d do one last sweep of the bowl with his bread.

maple syrup jug
The other kids in the family poured their syrup over vanilla ice cream, but I liked mine straight-up, with nothing getting in between me and that sweet, perfect, maple flavour. I’d take a melamine bowl and teaspoon out of the old sideboard, pour myself a little, and enjoy it just like that.

As the weeks passed by, the syrup became darker in colour, and the flavour grew richer, and more intense. It was like magic watching the syrup change from a light honey colour to the rich, dark, amber toward the end of the run. The sap dripped slower and slower from the trees, as the days grew longer and warmer. When I waited for the big orange school bus to chug up the Third Line, it wasn’t as dark outside, nor as cold, in the early mornings,

The sun was shining a little brighter each week, and our driveway became a soggy obstacle course, as we stepped around the growing puddles of water. The snow banks finally shrunk, and shriveled away. Soon after, we’d take the buckets down, and put them away in the back porch for another year. Dad removed the spiles from the maple trees, wrapped them in a soft cloth, and placed them in the top drawer of his tool chest in the garage.

By then, the maple trees were beginning to bud, and a few of the familiar spring birds were returning to Mother’s bird feeder, in the back orchard. Almost all of the snow had shrunk down to a few dirty white mounds, spaced here and there in the yard, and the ground was spongy, cold and brown. The sun grew a little brighter each day, and stayed up in the sky later and later, after supper each night.

robin in snow

Spring wasn’t here yet, not even close; but all the signs were there that it was just around the corner. Each year when we tapped those maple trees, I knew that Spring was not far away. It was only a matter of time now that she’d be coming up the Third Line, with all of her delicate shades of green. She’d be bringing her warm sun, and her gentle breezes. She’d slip into our yard quietly one morning, and tell all of the flowers to wake up, and show their colours. She’d whisper to the squirrels and the chipmunks, and invite them to come back and play in our yard.

black squirrel

I often wondered if Spring could see us tapping our trees, and if that was her signal to make her way back into Lanark County, and into our yard. Maybe there was something magical about the syrup, and once we’d had our first taste, Old Man Winter knew that it was time for him to pack up his snow, and his cold winds, and head up north. Either way, we always knew that as soon as the sap began to run we’d be seeing Spring in all of her glory in no time at all!

spring buds

 

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com