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.
Signs of fall were everywhere, and a flock of geese escorted us along the road, all the way to Perth….
A sunny drive up historic Gore Street, then we arrived at our destination – The Book Nook & Other Treasures.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thank-you Gordon. Your stories and memories are captured forever in the book. God Bless. May you rest in peace.