Letters to Santa from Perth!

santa letters 2

Letters to Santa

as published in:

The Perth Courier

We’ve all written them –  letters to Santa Claus.  Whether we lived out in the country, in a village, a town, or even a city, we all sat down with a sheet of paper and a pen, and wrote to jolly old St. Nick, asking for that special toy, dreaming that we’d find it under our tree on Christmas morning.

“The Perth Courier” began to publish some of these letters to Santa, and for many years, in the month of December, we could discover what the local children were hoping to receive, from the man in the red suit.

Here are some of the best letters, and maybe you’ll even see your own!

Christmas 1

Christmas 2

Writing the letter to Santa

Sometimes we needed help from an older brother or sister

to make sure that our letters were written as clearly as possible!

Christmas 3

Sent to the North Pole

We also had to make sure that we wrote the correct address for the ‘North Pole’ and walked it down the lane, and set it carefully in the mailbox!

Letters to santa at the mailbox

Christmas 4

Christmas 5

Christmas 6

Christmas 7

Christmas 8

Christmas 9

Christmas 10

Christmas 11

1981 Letters to Santa

from “The Perth Courier”

Christmas 12

Christmas 13

Christmas 14

…..and some of the letters were from rural kids. 

These ones are from Glen Tay:

Christmas 15

This young boy even admits

to being a little bit bad!

Christmas 16

Christmas 17

Christmas 18

Christmas 19

Christmas 20

Christmas 21

1983 Letters to Santa

Christmas 22

Christmas 23

….and from the kids

at Drummond Central:

Christmas 24

Christmas 25

…and some more letters to Santa

from Glen Tay:

Christmas 26

…and little Debbie even included

a lovely sketch for Santa:

Christmas 27

1984 letters to Santa

Christmas 28

Christmas 29

Christmas 30

1983 letters to Santa

from the Perth Daycare Centre

Many of us recall the column called ‘The Private Eye’, and some of the interesting tidbits of news from around Perth that was published each week.  In December of 1983, some of the wee tots at the Perth Daycare Centre wrote to Santa, and the Private Eye had a few favourites!

Christmas 31


Another letter to Santa found in a battered old shoe box, many years ago, written by a little girl, who only wanted one thing for Christmas…

Dear Santa:  I live on the Third Line, not far from Christie Lake.  We live in a red brick  house, between Glen Tay and DeWitt’s Corners.  I hope you can see it from the sky on Christmas Eve.  It’s right across the road from George and Merle Korry’s farm, and between Perkins’ and Mitchell’s farms.  I have been very good.  I got a sticker this year from my Sunday School teacher, Betty Miller, for good attendance, and I try to be good at home, and sometimes I help my mother in the kitchen, and help Dad outside when he needs me.  I would like a Beautiful Crissy doll please.  She has long red hair and an orange dress.  Please bring a Davey Crocket hat for my brother Roger, new skates for Judy and Jackie, and some books for my brother Tim.  I will leave some carrots for your reindeer.   


Always remember to leave a nice snack for Santa.  It’s a long night, and he works very hard.

cookies and milk for Santa

…….and guess what the little girl found under her tree Christmas morning?

Santa under the tree

…..the doll she asked for in her letter to Santa!

Beautiful Crissy

A reminder to all of us that Christmas Wishes really do come true!


L to R:  Jackie Stafford, Arlene Stafford, and Judy Stafford – 1963 at the Stafford house, 3rd Line of Bathurst Township, Lanark County

…and whether you’re young, or not-so-young, whether you write a letter to Santa, or just look up into the clear winter sky, and wish on a star, 

Always believe in the magic of Christmas!

Santa and the reindeer flying

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Member, Association of Professional Genealogists
Honorary Life Member, Lanark County Genealogical Society
Author of : “Lanark County Christmas”, “Lanark County Comfort”, “Lanark County Collection”, “Lanark County Calling”, “Lanark County Classics”, “Lanark County Connections”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid”, & “Recipes & Recollections”
available at local stores or email: lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com


Book Review, “Lanark County Christmas”

Just in time for holiday gift giving, Arlene Stafford-Wilson has released another fall reading classic, “Lanark County Christmas — Memories of a Yuletide Past.”

As in previous books that have showcased local families from Lanark County, and lists them alphabetically in an appendix for easy reference, this local author and genealogist includes many familiar names. But this time, there is a twist on her storytelling.

She offers chapters to others to tell their own personal tales of their Christmases in Lanark County. It’s a warm-cozy-hot chocolate-by-the-fire kind of book that is sure to have your own memories bubble to the surface.

More than 50 vignettes are shared by the sons and daughters of families who have settled in Perth and the surrounding area. They have brought to life their own holiday traditions.

From the 1940s to the 1980s, this classic will be one to pass down from generation to generation.

Who remembers making a Christmas wish list from the Eaton’s catalogue? Martha Craig does.

Dave Crosbie shares his memories of Christmas concerts at SS No. 1 in Lavant, or the Thurlow School.

Sleigh rides through the countryside — especially through the maple bushes of Lanark County — were popular among those who shared their Christmas memories, as was hunting for the perfect tree, shortbread and other Christmas cookie baking and, of course, watching the Perth Santa Claus Parade.

Christmases were spent with family — that is the common thread of all these heartwarming stories. Whether they came to Lanark County, or Lanark County visited from afar, the tradition of loved ones spending time together never fades.

Stafford-Wilson sets the stage with her own family memories. Her ancestors, who arrived here from Ireland in the 1800s, brought with them the tradition of Christmas cake, among other traditions.

“ … dried fruits were soaked in whiskey and rum, and more alcohol was added each day, as the fruit became increasingly plump and full,” she writes. “In preparation for ripening the cake, large square pieces of fresh clean cloth were dipped in hot water, then rubbed with flour to render them waterproof.”

Learn about the burning of the Yule log and its significance to Ireland. Wool socks were hung by the fire, and usually a toy made from wood and a ripe orange were discovered inside them on Christmas morning.

Stafford-Wilson said her father shared that it was a rare treat to get fruit when he was growing up, and an orange at Christmas was a juicy treat.

“The traditions and customs of our Irish ancestors were passed down through generations,” she writes, “from the very first settlers to present day.”

No matter how you mark the holiday season, may you find a little Christmas gift in your stocking by this author — it’s sure to pique the interest of many families in Lanark County.

“Lanark Country Christmas — Memories of a Yuletide Past” is available at the The Book Nook and Other TreasuresSpark Books and Curios, both in Perth; Mill Street Books in Almonte; or by contacting the author via her website at staffordwilson.com. You can also email lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com.

Laurie Weir : Editor of the Smiths Falls Record News and Perth Courier. Twitter @ljweir or IG @weir_on

Summer Slips Away Down the Road


Autumn crept silently through the front fields and up to the old house, each September without warning.   It seemed as though one day it was hot and sunny and green in our yard, and the air was warm, as we ran up and down chasing the ball, and chasing each other.  Then one day, sometimes the very next day, the morning air was so cool that we had to wear jackets to school, as though Mother Nature had turned off the heat over night.

Maybe we just hadn’t noticed the small spattering of gold and orange leaves on the big maple tree closest to the Third Line.   I suppose we could recall some flocks of geese honking and flying over the house in the past couple of weeks, but we thought nothing of it at the time.


After all, it was still hot outside, and our trees were wearing their summer greens.  Both the days and evenings were much quieter now, so we knew that meant that many of our songbirds had left for the season.  We could see the branches of the trees in the orchard behind the house were drooping with the weight of the apples, as they hung close to the ground.

apple trees

Arlene in the apple orchard

Arlene Stafford in the apple orchard, behind the Stafford house, 1964

The Perth Fair was over for another year, and we had already been back to class at Glen Tay School, catching up with our friends, and finding out what they’d done all summer.  Our teacher, Mrs. Conboy, had made the rounds in the classroom, and handed out the Hilroy notebooks, and packs of brand new Laurentian coloured pencils.

Glen Tay School

Glen Tay Public School, Bathurst Township (Tay Valley Township) Lanark County

Hilroy notebook    Laurentian coloured pencils

We were getting used to the long bus ride to school again, and rediscovered the fun of bouncing up and down in the back seat, and going over the ‘good’ bumps on Bowes’ side-road.   It was time once again to choose a new book or two, from the monthly Scholastic book club flyer.   Mrs. Conboy made her way around the classroom, recording the numbers for Wednesday’s hot dog order for Hot Dog Day, and if we would be ordering a half pint of milk for an extra ten cents, to wash it all down.

Dencie Conboy vignette

Mrs. Dencie (Tryon) Conboy, 1922-2013  (former teacher at Glen Tay Public School)

hot dog day  half pint

We noticed that the floral arrangements had been changed at Calvin Church, from bright, summer flowers, to an orange and brown fall display.

Cavanagh’s store                                                                       Calvin United Church

Popplewell’s had a pumpkin sitting on their front step when we drove by, on our way to Cavanagh’s store, and the cattails in the swamp, near the railroad tracks, were beginning to turn from their rich summer browns, to their autumn white.   Some of the flowers in our yard were turning drab shades of brown, and drooping, and we could hear the echoes of rifles being fired in the distance, as hunting season began.


Bit by bit, the late summer showed signs of change, one at a time, each one adding its two-cent’s worth, until one day, we looked up in surprise, and it was fall.  I never understood how it seemed to sneak right by us like that, and I often wondered if autumn arrived in the middle of the night, afraid to compete with summer’s glory at mid-day.  Maybe autumn didn’t want us to see it turning our beautiful flowers brown, or causing all of the leaves to fall off of the maple trees, or stealing our daylight hours away from us a minute or two at a time.

sunset fall

Some of my friends were glad that fall had arrived, and said that the summer was too hot, and they looked forward to the cooler weather.  They couldn’t wait for Hallowe’en, and the first snowfall, and skating, and hockey, and making snow angels.

Instead, I was sad to see the summer fade, and then vanish completely, greens turning to oranges, then browns, carefree days of playing in the sun changing to days and nights bundled up in coats and mittens, shivering at the end of the lane, waiting for the school bus to arrive, on those dark, cold, early mornings.

Seeing summer depart was like watching a jolly friend leaving through the front door, packing up the bright colours, and warm sunshine, in a big sack, and heading up the Third Line, without a backwards glance.  “Wait for me!”, I’d think to myself, as I watched it head up the road.  It would be three long seasons before it returned, and my heart would be heavy as I longed for its arrival, back to our yard once again.

wait for me



‘Summer Slips Away Down the Road’, an excerpt from “Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line”, ISBN 978-0-9877026-30, available in local book stores, and online.

LC Calendar

Arlene Stafford-Wilson


Books available:

The Book Nook, 60 Gore St. E., Perth, Ontario

Spark Books & Curios, 76 Foster Street, Perth, Ontario

Mill Street Books, 52 Mill Street, Almonte, Ontario

or email: lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com

Memories of the Perth Fair

Perth Fair midway 1

It wasn’t just our Mother who loved the Perth Fair.  Yes, she spent months preparing for those brief few hours each Labour Day weekend, at the fairgrounds, along Rogers Road, but the rest of the family also felt a sense of excitement, rivalled only by Christmas morning!

Perth Fair logo on blue

The day had arrived!  The day that we would drive into Perth, park at our Aunt Pat and Uncle Peter Stafford’s house on Halton Street, walk up the road, and enter the gates.  By the time we got to the entrance, and Mother showed her Exhibitor’s Pass, we were bursting with anticipation. I knew that Mother would be heading straight for the Homecraft Building to check on her entries, but instead, I chose to slow down, look around, and take it all in.

Perth Fair poster 1966

She glanced back, waved, and then rushed down the well worn path, through the midway, and up to the buildings. I stood with my back against the side of the Lion’s Hall, and glanced around. There was so much to see that I didn’t know where to look first.  Being a kid, my eyes naturally gravitated toward the rides.

Perth Fair ride 1   tilt a whirl

They were all spinning and whirring, and the bright sun was bouncing off of all of the shiny metal.  There was a Ferris wheel, a Scrambler, a Tilt-a-Whirl, and the Bullet.  The Swings took up a lot of room, and so they were set up to the right of the buildings.  I could see four kiddy rides: a Merry-Go-Round, Baby Airplanes going round in a circle, Ladybugs, and a Little Red Caboose making its way along a tiny round track.

Once my eyes had taken in the rides, my senses turned to all of the sweet aromas of the Fair. Right across from where I was standing was the Lion’s Club ladies’ booth, and I could smell their fresh, homemade hamburgers, and the savory scent of fried sweet onions.  Straight ahead of me, just past the entrance was a vendor swirling a paper funnel around and around, in a circle, pink cotton candy swelling out from the stick, as he twirled it inside the machine.

concession 1  cottonn candy

Next to the cotton candy stand, was a man selling corn on the cob, and several people were waiting in line.  Folks were holding their cobs by a short wooden stick that had been plunged right into the big end of the cob, and there were two or three separate unwrapped pounds of butter set on the edge of the counter of the vending cart. The butter had already taken on a curved shape as people spun their cobs, and then salted them.

corn on a stick  corn dog

Next to the corn vendor was the hot dog cart. A tall, lanky man was grilling hot dogs on one side, and the finished dogs were spinning slowly around glistening on the grill. On the other side of the wagon, a younger lad was piercing hot dogs with long slender sticks, dipping them in batter, and placing them into a big deep fryer.  The cart had a low shelf with mustard, ketchup and relish and some diced onions for people to dress their hot dogs.

candy apples   caramel apples

There were two more food carts, so I strolled a bit farther down the midway toward the buildings. The first cart held a popcorn machine, even bigger than the one that I’d seen at the Soper Theatre in Smiths Falls.  It was a large, metal machine, painted red, and the popcorn was spilling out of the top into a big glass case.  The vendor was lifting it out with a bright, silver scoop, and placing it into small white paper bags that were decorated with red stripes and a clown’s face.


The last food vendor in front of the Commerce building, was making snow cones.  There was a square, metal and glass machine and an old man in a dirty apron was pouring ice cubes into a big funnel on the top.  There were white cone-shaped paper cups stacked in a tall dispenser attached to the side of the machine and when he cranked the handle on the opposite side snow came out of an opening at the front.  There were clear plastic squeeze bottles lined up on a shelf, at the front of the machine, and each was labeled with a different flavour: cherry, orange, lemon-lime, grape and blueberry.

snow cone

I’m not sure if I was really hungry or if it was just from seeing and smelling all of the different kinds of food, and I thought that I might buy either a small bag of popcorn, or a blueberry snow cone. I dug deep into my pocket, and pulled out my money.  I had exactly twelve dollars, and my money had to last for the whole weekend, and this was just the first day.  I needed to save some, because my friends Susan and Jane Munro, Patti Jordan, and Debbie Majaury, would be coming into town later, and I’d want to go on the rides with them. Because the rides were $1.25 each I had to be careful not to spend money on food, so I stuffed the bills and change back in my pocket, and kept walking, taking in all the sights along the way.

midway 2

Photo: 1967 Old Home week,  David Bromley (clown on the left) Fred Mather (clown on the right)

I heard a man’s voice yelling at me, and it startled me so much that I jumped.  I looked toward the man timidly, and he was in a game booth, right behind a food cart, and he had a table set up with some wooden milk bottles, stacked in a pyramid.  He had a baseball in his hand, and called to me to come and knock over the milk bottles. It scared me so much that I just walked away.  I wasn’t used to strangers.  We knew everyone out on the Third Line, and lots of the folks in Perth as well.  None of the people we knew ever yelled at us like that, right out of the blue, and certainly not a stranger.  I walked quickly away, not looking back.

ring toss

The people that operated the games made me nervous.  They had a lot of tattoos, which was something we never saw in those days.  Many of them were a bit too aggressive. I’d played some of those games before, and although I won, I didn’t get the big stuffed bears and dogs that were hanging along the top and sides of their booth.


I’ll never forget the first time I played a game.  The back wall of the booth had four or five rows of balloons blown up, and they were stuck to the wall.  I thought I’d have no problem hitting one of the balloons, so when the man yelled at me to come and play, I thought it would be a sure thing.

prize every time

He said it was $1.00 for three darts so I handed him my money, and he handed me three darts.  Sure enough, the balloons weren’t that far away, and I hit and burst all three of them.

3 darts for a dollar

He reached down under the table, into a big cardboard box, and handed me a mangy looking stuffed snake.  It was about six inches long, and had an orange felt tongue, badly stitched onto its mouth, and two black felt eyes, that weren’t even lined up.

I looked up at the big stuffed bears and asked him why I hadn’t won one of those.  He said that my prize was a ‘small’ and if I wanted a ‘large’ prize I’d have to play and win, trading up to a ‘medium’ then win a certain number of ‘mediums’ and then I’d finally get one of the big bears. Holy cow!  Talk about disappointed!  What kind of scam was that?  Folks from Bathurst Township were used to other people dealing with them fairly. This game seemed like out and out trickery, and I wasn’t very impressed.  Still, I didn’t want to tell Mother that I’d just wasted my money, so I kept it to myself.  I didn’t even want to tell my friends that I’d been fooled like that.  I just felt stupid.

I walked by all of the other game booths, and watched people play.  Some folks walking around the fairgrounds were actually carrying one of the great big stuffed animals.  I wondered to myself how many of those mangy stuffed snakes they’d had to trade up in order to finally claim the big prize.

Perth Fair 1956

Photo: Perth Fair 1956 – L to R –  Wanda Mahon, Bette Duncan, Mary Douglas, Marsha Ann Nichols, Heather Murphy, Bill Redman (Bill operated the concession stands for the March Midway)

I walked past the last game in the midway, and there was a rough-looking older woman, holding a bunch of short, wooden fishing rods, with small black metal squares on the ends.  There was a round aluminum tub of water on the ground, and floating along the surface of the water were dozens of little yellow plastic ducks, and they each had ‘S’, ‘M’ or ‘L’, marked on their heads in black marker – small, medium and large I guessed.  I must have been staring too long at the tub of ducks because she called out at me to come and play.  She said everyone is a winner.  Not to be tricked again, I asked her what the prizes were, and she showed me.  She didn’t have huge stuffed animals, but it was only fifty cents to play, and you could fish in the tub until you caught a duck.

fishing game

I dug into my pocket, and pulled out two quarters, gave them to her, and she handed me a fishing rod.  By this time, after watching other folks play for a few minutes, I had figured out that the heavy black square on the end of the rod was a magnet, and that each of the yellow plastic ducks must have a magnet inside so they would stick to the line.  I looked down into the tub, and I could see that there were about forty or fifty ducks marked with an ‘S’, maybe ten marked with a ‘M’ and there were only three that I could see marked with an ‘L’.   I took my time, and positioned my rod right over one of the ‘L’ ducks and plunged it into the water.  Wouldn’t you know it, just my luck, the magnet had stuck to a duck with an ‘S’, the lady pulled it out of the tub, and handed me a prize.  It was a 45 rpm record in a paper sleeve.  I thanked her, and looked at the label.  It was the Shirelles’ song “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”  Hmmm.  Well, the record was a few years old, but we had a record player at home, and some plastic adapters to play 45s, so this didn’t seem like such a bad prize after all.  Not bad for fifty cents!

The late August sun was working its way up into the sky, and I thought it must be close to noon.  I was starting to feel hot, and decided to head up to the buildings, and cool off inside.  The exhibit halls at the Perth Fair were grey metal arched buildings, with straight walls, and rounded roofs.  One of the buildings was known as the Commerce building, and it had lots of different vendors selling their products and services.  The other building was the Homemaking building, and this is where you could find exhibits of sewing and fancy work, vegetables, flowers, canned goods, maple products, and of course home baking.  It’s also where you could find our Mother!

Home Baking

As I walked closer to the building, there were two tables set up, right outside of the entrance.  One person was raffling off a quilt made by Mrs. Bert Frizzell, and the other was selling tickets for the annual draw to win a baby beef. Sure enough, as I approached the main door, I spotted Mother, standing along one of the baking counters, talking to Evelyn Bothwell, and Margaret Campbell.  Mrs. Willard Shaw and Mrs. Archie Ferguson were working at the next counter, arranging some of the craft displays.  The ladies all nodded and smiled at me, knowing that I was one of Mother’s ‘helpers’, responsible for carrying her baking in to the building each year, the evening before the judging took place.  I usually had a meringue pie on my lap, in the car, on the way into Perth, and there were countless trays of muffins, loaves, cakes, pies, cookies, bread, rolls and biscuits to carry, carefully, into the building each year.  Along with all of those tasty treats, she would also enter photography, flowers, vegetables and sewing, but it was the home baking competition where her talents shone.

maple syrup and honey display

Mother spotted me, smiled excitedly, and waved me over to the counter.  “Your Mother won the most points in the baking category again!” Mrs. Bothwell exclaimed, and the ladies pointed out all of the red ribbons and tags, behind the glass counter.  Mother beamed, and said that Mrs. Bell from Balderson had come very close to beating her, and that she’d have to stay sharp for next year!

prize ribbons     most points in baking 1965

There were also many other folks who won prizes at the Fair that year as well.  There was a gate prize each year, and the ticket number would be drawn, called out, and the winner received ten pounds of Balderson Cheese.  Now who wouldn’t want that!  They estimated that the crowd that year was around 15,000 and I’m not sure who won the gate prize, but someone went home that night with a big slab of the best cheese in the county.

mammoth cheese

One of the most popular events was the harness racing, and the winner was Eddie Norris of Perth. There was also a Tractor Rodeo – contestants had to drive tractors through an obstacle course pulling wagons and manure spreaders.  In the 14-18 yrs. division some of our local lads had a good showing.  Bill Poole came 1st, Allan Lowry was 2nd, and Brian Miller of Drummond Centre came 3rd.  In the 19 yrs. and over division Mervin Conboy of Maberly took first place, with Jack James from Middleville taking 2nd, and our neighbour from the Third Line, Wayne Conboy taking 3rd.

Donald Hossie, another neighbour, was the top winner in the seed and grain competition, and Mrs. Robert Moodie won the Sewing and Fancy work class with no less than 23 firsts! Mrs. John Auchterlonie, also from the Third Line, took top honours for her vegetables and fruits, and Mrs. Isobel Kent came first in the Flower competition.

flowers Perth Fair

giant pumpkin

Ray Poole was the winner of the best bale of first cut hay, and our neighbour, John Miller of Glen Tay, won for the best dairy cattle.  John’s sister Ruth Miller, won for the best senior calf.  Other winners from the Third Line included Paul, Dale and Jane Brady, winners for their 4H dairy cattle entries. In some of the other 4H competitions local lads Alfred Bowes and Brian Miller, John Miller, and Linda Bell of Balderson were winners.

showing calf      4H logo

Everyone enjoyed the light and heavy Horse Shows and the livestock competitions.  That was the first year that Charolais cattle were introduced into the mix, and so it was quite special to see them in the arena.

Horse and Charlolais at the Fair

showing calf # 2

showing at the Fair # 3

My good friends came to the fairgrounds that Saturday afternoon, and we had a wonderful time, riding the Scrambler, and the Tilt-a-Whirl, screaming, laughing, and then feeling dizzy on our walk back down the ramp, at the end of the ride.  We were all a little nervous about riding The Bullet, because while one of the two cars was right side-up, the opposite car was up-side-down.  We stood there quite a while watching other people riding, and screaming, and laughing, before we got up enough nerve to try it out ourselves.  I didn’t really like being upside-down, and some of my change fell out of my pocket, onto the ground below.  Luckily, one of our neighbours Linda Brady saw it fall, and she stood there and waited, until the ride was finished, and hung onto my change for me.

bullet ride

As always, the Grandstand shows at the Perth Fair were great entertainment for people of all ages!  Beautiful late summer evenings, clear skies, all the rides lit up, the scents of delicious food in the air, and wonderful live music, made those nights magical!

grandstand 2


bandstand 3 edit

Everyone always came out to see the famous Trans Canada Hell Drivers!

Hell Drivers 1969Hell Driver clown

Hell Drivers at the Fair

Along with the Grandstand entertainment, one of the highlights of the Fair that year, was the Old Time Fiddlers competition on Sunday, and the musically-gifted Dawson Girdwood walked away with the top prize. Barb Closs from Lanark came second in the step-dancing competition, although we thought she should have come first, she was such a talented performer.  Watching the fiddling and step-dancing was a memorable finish to the Labour Day weekend.

Dawson Girdwood

Dawson Girdwood

The last night of the Fair, as always, was bittersweet.  We knew that it was almost over for another year.  I walked through the midway one more time, all the way to the Lion’s Hall.  The ladies in the Lioness Booth were packing up their big jars of mustard and relish, and some of the nearby vendors were starting to clean their food carts, and take them apart.

midway 4

Some diehard fans of the Fair were still playing games; taking a last spin at the Crown and Anchor wheel, or throwing one last pitch at Skeet ball, not wanting the fun to end.  Although it was getting late, there were still a handful of people on the rides laughing and screaming. The good-natured folks running the rides didn’t seem to mind and they gave these last few stragglers extra long rides.

As I walked back up through the midway, I took one last look behind me, as if I wanted to freeze the moment in my memory, then I reluctantly climbed into the car.  Dad started up the engine, and drove through the side entrance, onto Cockburn Street.

It was a wonderful fair!  I sat in the back seat of the car, tired from the busy weekend, as Mother chatted excitedly to Dad, already planning her exhibits for next year’s fair.

kids driving away

School would be starting soon, and the days would grow cooler, and the sun wouldn’t feel quite as strong as it did for the Fair.  In the weeks to come we’d bring our jackets down from the attic, and spend our evenings doing homework, instead of riding our bikes up and down the Third Line. As the daylight hours dwindled down we’d begin to see the onset of nature’s paintbrush, and its random strokes of yellow and orange, dotted across the maple trees in our yard. This would be our last taste of summer for a long while, and what could possibly be a more fitting way to finish off the season, than a glorious sunny weekend spent at the Perth Fair!


Perth Fair 1963


This story is an excerpt from:

Memories of Home Drummond North Elmsley

The story ‘A Day at the Fair’, original publication in:
“Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line”   ISBN 978-0-9877026-30
some photos from: ‘Perth Remembered’, and from ‘Perth Fair’
L C Calendar book cover

To order:


Arlene Stafford-Wilson


My Mother, she was Orange…..and my Father, he was Green

“You picked a hell of a day to get married!”

Those were the first words spoken to our mother, the day she met her new father-in-law, Vince Stafford.  He was referring to the fact that they were married on the twelfth of July. He made it quite clear that he was not pleased that his son had chosen to welcome a Protestant into their Roman Catholic family, on July 12th of all days!

Some called it Orangeman’s Day, and some referred to it as the ‘Glorious Twelfth’.  On July 12th each year, Protestant organizations celebrated the victory of Protestant King William of Orange, riding a white horse, who defeated Catholic King James, at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690.

William white horse

The Orange and the Green

When I was a kid, the Irish Rovers recorded a song called “The Orange and the Green”, about a child growing up with one Roman Catholic parent, and one Protestant parent.  We saw them perform the song many times over on a popular television show called ‘The Pig and Whistle’, and the irony of the song was not lost on us.

Irish Rovers “The Orange and Green”

Our father, a Roman Catholic, from Drummond Township, grew up attending St. Patrick’s church in Ferguson Falls, while our mother attended Calvin United in Bathurst (Tay Valley) Township.

St Patricks and Calvin

Although the feelings of bias and animosity between these two religions may seem foreign to us in these more inclusive times, they were still very much in the forefront, during the 1940s, when my parents married. Mother said she never felt accepted by Dad’s family, particularly his parents; and that never changed even up to the late 1950s and early 1960s when the in-laws passed away.

This religious prejudice ran on both sides of the fence. I recall our cousin, Ruth Rutherford, in Ogdensburg, New York, was forbidden to marry her sweetheart, a Catholic lad, and she never got over it.  She remained single for the rest of her life, unable to marry her true love.

It may be difficult for us to imagine, but there were times in our early history in Canada where it was not uncommon for the July 12th celebrations to result in violence or even death.

Montreal Orangemen riots

‘The St. Alban’s Advertiser’, July 20, 1877, p.3

In the early years of the last century, the Orangemen’s Day parades in Canada drew crowds in the thousands, and it was not unusual for fights to break out, and insults along with injuries were to be expected.

Orange Day parade Toronto 1911

Orange Parade, Toronto, July 12, 1911

Although Orangeism originated in Ireland and England, Ogle Robert Gowan, the Order’s first Canadian Grand Master is recognized as the founder of Canadian Orangeism.  It is interesting that Gowan is known to have been a frequent visitor to a local fortune teller, Mother Barnes, the Witch of Plum Hollow. Not wishing to be seen consulting a sooth-sayer, he often sent his wife and their maid to ask questions about his politics and his career.

Orange Lodges, as the membership halls were called, sprang up all over Canada, and in Eastern Ontario, they were a common sight in almost every community.  The closest Orange Hall to our house was at Wemyss, frequently used as a dance hall, and a place to play cards and socialize.

Wemyss orange hall

  “The Perth Courier” Sept. 27, 1940, p.4

Carleton Place was one of the first communities to establish a Loyal Orange Lodge, along with Perth, Smiths Falls, and Montague Township.

Carleton Place Orange Lodge

In the early days, thousands attended Orange events:

Orange celebrations Perth 1904

“The Perth Courier”, July 8, 1904, p4

Through the decades, many community organizations also held their meetings and socials at the local Orange halls.

Drummond Centre

“The Perth Courier”, Oct. 23, 1941,p.1

Carleton Place had one of its largest crowds of visitors on July 12, 1920:

Orangeman's Day 2910

In 1921, the Orange Order agreed on several resolutions, including one intended to abolish all separate schools in Canada.

Orange resolution passed

The popularity of the Orange Order celebrations continued through the 1930s…

orangemens day 1934

“The Perth Courier”, July 13, 1934, p.1

orange order flag

Flag of Canada’s Grand Orange Order

An Orange parade was often led by one of the members on a white horse, symbolizing the white horse ridden by King William of Orange, at the Battle of the Boyne.

orange order white horse

Some of the symbols worn by members of the Orange Order

orange parade symbols

Orange Order – ‘Keys to Heaven

orange order keys

To assist in the war efforts, every Orange Lodge in Canada was turned into a recruiting office in WWII

orange lodge war efforts 1940

“The Perth Courier”, July 19, 1940, p.1

Lanark County Oranges Lodges, Active in 1946

orange lodges lanark county 1946

Lanark County – Orange Order Officers 1946

orange lodge lanark county officers 1946

“The Perth Courier”, July 18, 1946, p.1

In 1957, the Orange Day celebrations were held in Almonte, and Rev. Canon J.W.R. Meaken, shared some comments as part of his address to begin the meeting:

orange order address 1957

“The Perth Courier” July 25, 1957, p.7

Interest in joining the Orange Order began to dwindle in the 1960s and 1970s, and instead of thousands attending the annual parade, it became ‘hundreds’.

orange parade 1971

“The Perth Courier” July 8, 1971, p.1

Memberships grew smaller and smaller in many parts of the country, and in Lanark County, one of the oldest Orange Lodges, in Carleton Place, closed after 185 years, in January of 2015. The existing membership would merge with the Montague lodge # 512.  (The Grand Lodge of Ireland issued the original warrant for the Carleton Place Lodge back in 1830.)

orange lodge Carleton Place closing

Left, John Arksey, County Master for Rideau/St. Lawrence County Orange Lodges,center, Kevin Bradley, Grand Master of the Carleton Place Lodge, and Mark Alexander, provincial grand master, Ontario East, of the Grand Orange Lodge of Eastern Ontario.
“Inside Ottawa Valley” Dec 02, 2015, by Desmond Devoy, ‘Carleton Place Almonte Canadian Gazette’

At one time, there were 30 Lodges throughout Lanark County. After the closing of the Carleton Place Lodge in 2015, only the Montague Lodge and the Smiths Falls Lodge (No. 88), remained. The Almonte Lodge (No. 378) amalgamated with Carleton Place in 1987, Franktown in Beckwith Township (No. 381) in 1992, and Drummond Centre in Drummond/North Elmsley Township (No. 7) in 2013.


Throughout the many decades of the celebration of Orangemen, their sometimes vocal, and occasionally violent encounters with the Catholics, our family will continue to celebrate July 12th for a different reason. July 12th, for us, was the joining of the two religions, historically separated on this date, a young Protestant girl from the west, and a handsome Roman Catholic lad from Drummond Township.


Maybe they were ahead of their time.  It was 1943 afterall, and marrying outside of one’s religion was often frowned upon.  Luckily for us, the five children that followed in this unconventional marriage, would grow up in a home where we learned to respect different opinions, different points of view, and different religions.

Christmas baking

And so, the Protestant girl, and the Catholic boy were married for almost 50 years, until Dad passed away.

I still smile when I hear that Irish Rover’s tune, “The Orange and the Green”,  and July 12th, for us, will always be a special day in our own family history.


Arlene Stafford-Wilson


Carl Adams’, Bathurst Township, Lanark County


“I drifted into a summer-nap under the hot shade of July,

serenaded by a cicadae lullaby, to drowsy-warm dreams of distant thunder.”

Terri Guillemets


Long before our Mother brought us for our swimming lessons at Carl Adams’ there were a number of mills along the Tay River that harnessed the power of the water to produce local products. 

In the early 1800s the area was enjoying its first surge of settlers which had come mostly from Scotland and to a lesser degree from Ireland as well.  These folks and those that followed them used the fast running waters to saw lumber, grind grains, and process wool. The Tay River’s origins were the waters which flowed in from up past Bob’s Lake and made its way through Perth, all the way to Port Elmsley.

Our swimming hole was known simply as ‘Carl Adams’ and was named for one of the owners of a nearby lumber mill located on Concession 1 lot 12 of Bathurst township.  Lumber was produced at that mill until the early 1900s and it was also owned by the Ritchie family at one time.

The low, flat rocks along the shore provided a natural seating area where our Mother could watch us splashing in the water.  We were always eager to go for a swim on those long, hot summer days when the sun was beating down and we couldn’t seem to get a cross-breeze flowing through the old house.

Although the surrounding trees have grown and matured, the swimming hole hasn’t changed much over the years. The Tay flows past in a steady stream, sparkling in the hot sun and the flat rocks beckon us to sit for a while and remember simpler times.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson, at the Stafford house, 3rd Line Bathurst Twp.


Lanark County Kid“, features a story, “Carl Adams on the Tay: Lessons in Life

Available at:

The Book Nook, Perth, Ontario – https://thebooknookperth.com/

Spark Books, Perth, Ontario – https://sparkperth.ca/

Mill Street Books, Almonte, Ontario – https://millstreetbooks.com/


Arlene Stafford-Wilson


Arliedale Lodge, Christie Lake

Playground of the Rich

and Famous

Once known as ‘the playground of the rich and famous’, Arliedale Lodge was owned and operated by Tom Marks, and his wife Ella, and named for their only child, Arlie.

Arlie Marks with her dog, Buster

The famous Marks Brothers

Tom Marks, owner of Arliedale Lodge, made his fortune as a member of his family’s musical theater group, known as The Marks Brothers.

The Marks Brothers were one of the most remarkable theatrical families in Canadian history, performing comedy skits and melodramas . Incredibly popular on the vaudeville circuit, the seven brothers played across Canada and the U.S. throughout the latter part of the 19th century and into the 1920s.

Born and raised at Christie Lake, near Perth in Eastern Ontario, they played to packed venues until moving pictures ushered in the sad demise for touring repertory companies.

“As prosperity increased the brothers sprouted diamonds like lights going on in a building. The men and their wives as well; we all had them, on fingers, arms, watch-fobs —everywhere. Tom wore a triple-stone ring with a five-carat diamond in the middle and a four carat stone on each side of it. It was never off his finger, on stage or off. If playing a tramp, a farmer or a cop, no matter what—the ring illuminated every gesture on stage.”

Kitty Marks, June 21, 1958 in an interview with Macleans magazine

Famous ‘Marks Brothers’ theatrical group – Tom, Alex, Joe, and Bob

Arliedale Lodge

Grand Opening

June 14, 1922

“The most modern summer hotel in all of Lanark County.”

Grand Opening, Arliedale Inn, June 9, 1922 p. 4, “The Perth Courier”

Warm summer evenings were spent enjoying live music and dancing, chef-prepared cuisine, and the latest fashionable cocktails on the verandah.

In 1922, Tom and his wife, Ella Marks, opened ‘Arliedale Lodge’, and the who’s-who of Perth, and distinguished guests from far and wide flocked to the resort. Many of the guests were members of theater companies, musicians, dancers, performers and they returned to the lodge each summer for fun-in-the-sun water sports, fishing and boating. Warm summer evenings were spent enjoying live music and dancing, chef-prepared cuisine, and the latest fashionable cocktails on the verandah.

1920s Cocktails

Flappers from the entertainment industry sipped drinks on the verandah and mingled with the famous Marks family

Friends, popular musicians, performers, and distinguished guests from across Canada and the U.S. flocked to the lodge each year.

Advertised as “the most modern summer hotel in Lanark County, with the main line of the C.P.R. railway, just 100 yards from the door.”

Canoes and motor boats were available to guests at Arliedale

An article from “The Perth Courier” captures the mood and magic of Arliedale Lodge in the 1920s and 1930s:

“They were all merrymakers, and here was the time and place for fun and fancy. On a slight elevation facing the main front porch of Arliedale, about 100 yards away the dancing platform had been placed, the waxed surface glistened in the bright Delco lamps and Burns’ Orchestra syncopated the latest hits of the dance world. When the show was over there were many pledges made to return again to the breezes and beauties of this attractive and inviting part of famous Christie Lake.”

Popular songs of the 1920s, in the heydays of Arliedale Lodge: “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby”, “Bye Bye Blackbird”, “Rhapsody in Blue”, “My Blue Heaven”, “Yes, We Have No Bananas”, “Sweet Georgia Brown”, “Singin’ In the Rain”, “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover”, “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love”, “Ain’t We Got Fun”, “Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue”

Arliedale dance schedule – June 30, 1922, p. 8, “The Perth Courier”

“Evenings were a time to socialize. After dinner, elegant ladies appeared in their fashionable flapper gowns, faces glowing, kissed by the sun; and well-bred gentlemen mingled on the verandah, enjoying drinks and cigars, and telling tales of the biggest fish caught, or the fastest boat ride across the lake.”

Many people were curious about the famous guests at Arliedale, and so Tom Marks began to submit a weekly list to the local newspaper, naming the guests, who were often from prominent families, and wealthy members of high society.

August 4, 1922, p. 8, “The Perth Courier”

Death of Tom Marks

Thomas H. Marks, noted trouper of a bygone generation, and one of the Marks Brothers of old-time vaudeville fame, has taken his last curtain call.  He died at his home, Arliedale Inn, Christie Lake, on Saturday, aged 81 years, and those of his audiences who survive him will be hushed with regret at the disappearance of a figure once familiar on the boards across the entire continent.”

“The Ottawa Journal”, May 11, 1936, p.9

Arliedale Lodge is Sold

Following the death of Arliedale Lodge owner, Tom Marks, the resort, including 33 acres of property was sold to local auctioneer, Clayton Hands, and his business partner, Richard Newson.

“The Perth Courier” September 5, 1963, p. 8 (25 years ago)

1938 Owners Clayton Hands

& Richard Newson

June 16, 1939, p. 5, “The Perth Courier”

July 7, 1939, p. 5, “The Perth Courier”

Richard Newson and Clayton Hands built a baseball diamond at Arliedale, and began to host softball games on summer weekends.

July 28, 1939, p.5, “The Perth Courier”


Neil and Verla Stewart

In the spring of 1957, Neil and Verla Stewart purchased the resort and surrounding property, and changed the name from ‘Arliedale Inn’ to ‘Arliedale Lodge’.

Neil Stewart, who served as President of the Christie Lake Hunters and Anglers Association focused on a more sporting aspect to the lodge, focusing on sport-fishing, as well as pheasant-shooting.

“Pheasant shooting has never been too good in the wilds about Ottawa. But now, Neil Stewart, who operates Arliedale Lodge at Christie Lake, 12 miles west of Perth, has set up a pheasant shooting ranch. Here, for a fee, pheasant are almost a sure thing if you can hit them on the wing.”

Nov. 17, 1960, p. 19, “The Ottawa Citizen”

1969 Owners

Bill and Anna Groom

Anna and Bill Groom owners of Arliedale Lodge 1969-1971- photo courtesy of Kathy Groom Stewart

Bill and Anna Groom purchased Arliedale Lodge in July 1969.

“Arliedale Lodge had 1,000 feet of lake frontage, including a sandy beach. The weekly rate in the 1970s was $70.00, which included three meals daily. On the exterior there was a large wrap-around verandah with chairs and a lounge. Guests played horseshoes, darts, and croquet on the lawn.”

quote from: Kathy Groom Stewart – who worked at her parents’ lodge.

In December of 1971, Bill and Anna Groom sold Arliedale Lodge to Michael P. Schafer Sr., and for many seasons the lodge stood vacant…

What happened next to the popular summer resort on beautiful Christie Lake?

Discover the history and the mysteries of this legendary resort, built on a peaceful lake in Eastern Ontario.

From the earliest days of the famous Marks family and their distinguished guests hosting the who’s-who of the entertainment industry, and the many owners throughout the years.

Read the shocking rumours, learn about a mysterious fire, and what became of this fashionable resort at Christie Lake.

“Arliedale Lodge: Playground of the Rich and Famous”, one of a collection of stories in the new book, “Lanark County Comfort: Homespun Tales to Warm Your Heart”.

At The Book Nook, 60 Gore St. E, Perth, Ontario, Canada.

(also at Spark Books, Perth, Ontario, and Mill Street Books, Almonte, Ontario

For information call -613-267-2350.

To order your copy:

Arlene Stafford-Wilson, at the Book Nook, September 2021


Chaplin’s Dairy – Christmas Eve

Dad was always late getting home on Christmas Eve. It had nothing to do with the weather, which was often unpredictable that time of year, with snowstorms or freezing rain. It was because he delivered milk for a living, and December 24th was the last time he’d see his customers on his milk route before Christmas Day. Chaplin’s Dairy was closed December 25th.

For a man who wasn’t particularly outgoing, more of the strong silent type, he still managed to make a lot of friends, and was well-liked by his customers, and that was a big part of the reason he was late on Christmas Eve. In fact, he wasn’t just late toward the end of his route, he was late all day; losing a few minutes here, and a few minutes there, spending extra time with each customer, until, by the end of his route, he was running very late indeed.

It wasn’t something to complain about. Dad’s customers made a point of greeting him at the door on December 24th; the same people who would often leave a hastily scribbled note explaining how much milk they wanted, and sometimes the money they owed was left with the note, on their front steps, or between the doors, or stuck in an empty milk bottle. Christmas Eve was different. Dad’s customers not only came to the door when he knocked, but they presented him with boxes of peppermint patties, and chocolate covered maraschino cherries, packs of cigarettes, Christmas cards with one or two dollar bills inside. They made a point of shaking his hand, wished him a Merry Christmas, and thanked him for bringing their milk all year.

Long after nightfall, when he finally finished delivering to his last customer in Perth, he drove the big rattling pink and white Chaplin’s Dairy truck back to Glen Tay, then unloaded all of the empty milk bottles, brought them into the dairy, got in his car, and drove home.

He was always late for supper, and some years we waited….and waited…., but more often, Mother would just give up after an hour or so, and put his dinner in the oven to keep it warm. We were all busy, running around getting ready to go to Calvin Church for candlelight services, so Dad would often have to fend for himself when he finally arrived.

If I close my eyes, I can still see him, heading across the snowy yard, laden down with bags and boxes filled with chocolates, gifts, and cards from his customers. He’d stop just before he reached the house, set everything down, and plug in the Christmas lights that were wound around the snowy spruce tree beside the house.

He never forgot the kindness and generosity of the customers on his route, and when he’d open a box of chocolates he’d remark, “these are from the Murphy family”, or “the peppermint patties are from my customer, Mrs. Ferguson, on Sherbrooke Street. He displayed all of their Christmas cards proudly – some on top of the old black and white television, and some on the shelves of the china cabinet, and he placed the one and two dollar bills in an envelope and handed them to Mother, who saved them to use toward something practical.

As the days grow shorter and colder, and the long shadows stretch across the sky earlier each afternoon, I remember those Christmas Eves, waiting for Dad to come home. At the time it seemed like a bother, squirming in our chairs, growing impatient for our supper, and wanting the evening to be over quickly so the morning would come, and we could open our gifts, and see what Santa had left in our stockings.

It’s only now, many years later, that I realize what a special day December 24th must have been for Dad, to be greeted so kindly, to be showered with gifts, to listen to the expressions of heartfelt gratitude, the sincere appreciation, along with the warm handshakes and genuine best wishes for a happy Christmas. The fact that his customers took the time and expense to gift him with boxes of chocolates, cards and the one or two dollar bills meant the world to him. Dad told us that some of his customers were of modest means, and could scarcely afford the milk he delivered each day, let alone a gift for their milkman.

Looking back it was things like this that made Christmas special – meals made with love for all to share, the homemade ornaments gracing the tree, carols sung by candlelight at Calvin Church, the scent of the fresh spruce in the living room, and seeing our Dad beaming with pride as he passed around box after box of delicious chocolates, a gift of gratitude, for a job well done, and with warmest good wishes for a Merry Christmas.

For more about Chaplin’s Dairy

Chaplin’s Dairy in Glen Tay:

Chaplin’s Dairy in Glen Tay


A story about Chaplin’s Dairy, in “Lanark County Kid”:

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Member, Association of Professional Genealogists

Honorary Life Member, Lanark County Genealogical Society

Author of : “Lanark County Christmas”, “Lanark County Comfort”, “Lanark County Collection”, “Lanark County Calling”, “Lanark County Classics”, “Lanark County Connections”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid”, & “Recipes & Recollections”

available at local stores or email: lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com

Arlene Stafford-Wilson


Stafford House: The Post-War Years

This is the house where it all began. It is the place that became the setting for so many stories, so many books; the idyllic backdrop where canopies of Lanark County sugar maples dominated the peaceful grounds surrounding the house.

The home had been in the family since 1936, when Dad’s aunt and uncle, Thomas and Clara Carberry purchased the property, but it truly became the Stafford house, when Mother and Dad returned from the war in 1946.


Audry stared down thoughtfully, her hands cradling the pink and white china tea cup. Was the war really over?, she wondered. It had been so many months, that turned into years, with those dark uncertain clouds hanging over their heads. All they seemed to hear in those days was bad news; news of young lives lost in battles far away. Could it be true? Could they finally get on with their lives now, and spend time together as a family? She’d read about the victory celebrations, and seen photos in the newspapers of the ticker-tape parades, but it wasn’t until she heard from her husband; it was the news that she’d been waiting for…he’d be boarding a ship bound for Canada. He was coming home.

They met at the #8 Bombing and Gunnery School, in Lethbridge, Alberta. She was a pretty young Air Force Corporal, from Edmonton, and he, a dashing young Sergeant from Lanark County. Mother was drawn to his handsome face, and neat appearance. She claimed that she could spot him across the parade square on the base because the crease of his pants was so crisp.

Corporal Audry Rutherford, W.D. Royal Canadian Air Force

Tobias ‘Tim’ Stafford & Audry Rutherford, on a date in Lethbridge, Alberta

In those days, relationships on the military base developed quickly by necessity, never knowing when someone would be deployed to serve elsewhere. Within a few months of their budding romance, the orders came that Dad was to be shipped overseas, to serve at the RAF base in Bournemouth, England. They quickly made plans to marry. Mother would remain on the base, and continue her duties as a Corporal, and Airforce Physical Education Instructor.

On their wedding day, July 12, 1943

Home At Last

There was an unmistakable sense of hope and optimism beaming from every deck on that grey hulking warship as it left the English port, bound for Halifax. It seemed that every man aboard had a permanent smile on his face, a joke to tell, and precious well-worn photos to show the others; of faces they’d be seeing soon, after so many dark and lonely years.

He longed for home. He missed the rugged Canadian landscape; the tall pines, the colourful sugar maples, and the crystal clear lakes and rivers that dotted the Ontario landscape of his youth. Most of all he missed…her. He could almost see her face above the dark rolling waves of the north Atlantic, as the ship sailed closer to their base in Halifax. The constant ache in his heart whenever he thought of her, gradually easing into a sense of purpose. The nervous dread and unsettling fears of war were behind him now, and he had a wife, and two young children to provide for.

The Stafford House

“My Aunt Clara and Uncle Tom own a beautiful property. They said we can come and stay with them until we get settled. I know you’ll be very happy there; I promise. It’s a red brick house, built on a gentle hill, surrounded by lovely shade trees. There are lots of bedrooms, plenty of space for a growing family. There’s even an apple orchard behind the house. When the kids are older we can send them apple-picking, and you could bake us some pies!”, he grinned.

Clara and Tom were approaching retirement age by the time the young Stafford family moved in with them. Clara didn’t drive, and wanted to move to Perth, so that she could get around a bit easier. Maybe it was time for her nephew and his young family to take over the property….

Some Help for the Veterans

Over one million Canadians served in WWII, and in 1944, the Department of Veterans Affairs was created to assist soldiers returning from duty. Their mandate was to ease the way back to civilian life, after so many years of war. The Veterans’ Land Act was one of the programs established so that veterans were eligible for loans to buy land, livestock, and equipment. Over 30,000 Veterans obtained land for farming through this program.

….and so, the young Stafford family was able to purchase the beautiful property from Aunt Clara and Uncle Tom….

Tim Stafford & Judy Stafford, in the driveway at Stafford House

….and many years later, this 1947 photo was featured on the cover of a book…

Tim and Judy Stafford, featured on the cover of “Recipes & Recollections: Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen”

Tobias ‘Tib’, ‘Tim’ Stafford with Judy Stafford, at Stafford House, 1947

…and then there were 3

Judy Stafford, baby Jackie Stafford, and Tim Stafford, 1948, at the Stafford House

The family settled in, and bit by bit, it grew in size. Jackie was born, then Roger, and finally Arlene, and the family was complete.

Judy Stafford, Tim Stafford, Jackie Stafford, and Roger Stafford in 1958

Arlene Stafford in the apple orchard, behind the Stafford House

Many years later, the Stafford House, the picturesque yard, and the woodlands surrounding the property would be the inspiration and the setting for many stories and books.

From the early days of spring and the young buds on the trees, gathering sap, and the house filled with the sweet scents of maple, as the sap boiled in a huge pot on the old stove. The shy tulips and daffodils nudging their way out of the cold ground, and the songbirds returning after a long, cold winter.

Summer was filled with the fresh scents of hay, and the rattling, rumbling tractors and wagons parading up and down the Third Line. Trips to Carl Adams’ swimming hole, and Christie Lake on the steamy hot days, and the nightly spectacles of tiny black bats swooping and sailing through the tall maple branches, followed by the sounds of the bullfrogs in the lowlands, and the crickets lulling us to sleep.

Fall was all about colour, from one end of the yard to the other, and as far as the eye could see; spectacular shades of orange, red, and yellow, and the scents of wood-smoke and the sweet ripe apples hanging low in the orchard.

The year always finished the same way, with the magical weeks leading up to Christmas. It was a busy, bustling, time, for baking, stringing lights, mailing cards, repairing broken ornaments, practicing for Christmas concerts, and most of all, waiting for Santa….

Arlene Stafford, Mike, the family dog, and Roger Stafford

…and so, these were the early years at the Stafford House; the weeks and months after the war. They were the busy years, and years of adjustment. They were the years after two young soldiers met on an airbase in faraway Lethbridge, and fell in love, in such uncertain times.

It was because of their love, their hope for the future, and their sense of optimism that the family grew and prospered at the Stafford House. It was where we developed a strong work ethic, a respect for others, and where we learned about the importance of honesty, integrity, and faith.

Today, on Remembrance Day, I will think of these two soldiers, who possessed both the courage and the optimism to forge ahead with their love and their commitment, even in the darkest days, when the world was at war, and for this, I will be forever grateful.

Lest We Forget

‘Poppies’ – watercolour painting, by Jackie (Stafford) Wharton, 2020


Memories of an Old Fashioned Hallowe’en

old fashioned Hallowe'en

(The families who lived along our ‘Hallowe’en route’: Blair, Brady, Bowes, Cavanagh, Chabot, Closs, Doyle, Heney, Johnston, Jordan, Kerr, Korry, Kyle, Leonard, Majaury, Mitchell, Morrow, Munro, Murphy, Myers, Paul, Perkins, Pettigrew, Popplewell, Radford, Scott, Siebel, Somerville, Stafford, Stiller, Truelove, Turnbull, Tysick, and Webber)

What was Hallowe’en like in those days?

It doesn’t seem that long ago……….back in the 1960s and 1970s, when we couldn’t wait for that magical night in October – Hallowe’en!

The days grew shorter, crisp air blew in from the north, and an eerie silence hung over our yard, as the last few geese left for the season.  Darkness crept up our lane-way each evening, shortly after the school bus dropped us off, and bare branches cast long shadows across the Third Line.

bare trees golden

In the days leading up to the big event, we watched ‘The Great Pumpkin’, and if we felt brave enough, maybe a horror movie or two, just to put us in the spirit.

The great pumpkin

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, released Oct. 27, 1966

great pumpkin

Who could forget Janet Leigh’s blood-curdling scream in the movie ‘Psycho’, or Jessica Tandy running for her life, in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie ‘The Birds’ ?



“Pyscho”, release date, June 16, 1960 – (with Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, and Janet Leigh)

The Birds

the birds

“The Birds”, release date – March 28, 1963, starring: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The living room always fell silent at our house, during Ichabod Crane’s encounter with the Headless Horseman, in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”…..

Icabod Crane

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, original release 1949, by Walt Disney Productions

Spooky music

Sometimes, we’d listen to some music, to put us in the Hallowe’en mood!

“One-eyed, one-horned, flyin’ purple people eater”

purple people eater

“The Purple People Eater”, by Sheb Wooley, released in 1958

“He did the mash, he did the monster mash,

The monster mash, it was a graveyard smash!”

monster mash

“Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett, released August 25, 1962.  The BBC banned the record from airplay in 1962, stating that the lyrics were too morbid.

Ouija Board


The Ouija Board was released by Elijah Bond, on July 1, 1890, as an innocent parlour game. The name was a combination of the French and German words for ‘yes’.  The boards enjoyed a heyday in the 1920s, and have remained popular through the years. They have been criticized by some religious denominations, and as recently as 2001 were burned by fundamentalist groups in New Mexico.

No Ouija Boards at the Stafford House !!

Our Mother would NOT allow us to bring a Ouija board into the house!

One year, Mary-Jane Murphy, a friend who lived in Perth, invited some of the members of our 4H Club to visit her, and try out the Ouija board in her basement rec room.

Ouija game board

I recall some of us almost jumped out of our skin that same night, when a candle flickered in the middle of our ‘session’!

candle flickering

Did something make the candle flicker, or was it just our breath, from a lot of giggling teenage girls?

TV specials

Some of our favourite t.v. shows had Hallowe’en ‘specials’:

The Munsters


“The Munsters”, first episode: September 24, 1964

The Addams Family

Addams family

“The Addams Family”, first episode, Sept. 18, 1964

Hallowe'en Costumes

Preparations were made weeks in advance – deciding what we would wear for Hallowe’en.  Anyone familiar with the late fall weather in Lanark County, knows that our costumes had to be loose enough to fit over our fall jackets.   I remember a few Hallowe’en nights when there was snow on the ground, which meant clunking around in a big pair of boots all night.

It was time to head to the attic, and find some discarded clothes and make a costume!


Kids today, would not have been impressed with our costumes.  They were homemade, and usually consisted of an old pair of pants, an old shirt, maybe some tattered sheets. No one in those days bought a pre-made costume, so we had to be creative.

costume     costume-2

costume-3      costume-4

Free Masks from Kellogg’s

In the 1950s and 1960s, Kellogg’s advertised free Hallowe’en masks on the back of their cereal boxes.  All you  had to do was cut out the mask, punch two holes in it, and add a rubber band or a string.  These were all the rage!  Especially the Tony the Tiger mask!

Kellogg's Hallowe'en masks


Tony Tiger mask


Sometimes, there were Hallowe’en parties at Glen Tay School, and we wore our costumes, and bobbed for apples.

bobbin for apples

candy sacks

Mother always helped us find a suitable sack for our candy, and we could choose between an assortment of her old pillowcases.  It was always a good idea to bring at least two pillowcases – just in case it was a busy night!


The weeks passed by, and October 31st finally arrived!

After school, we ate supper quickly, and could barely contain our excitement!

Next, we watched out the window………………………………….and waited for dusk!

spooky night

We donned our costumes, grabbed our pillowcases, and began the trek up and down the Third Line.

dark country roads

Long lanes

Some of the lanes were long.  Very long.  Very, very, long.  So, we often had a debate at the end of each lane, with our friends, and decided whether it would be worth the walk.


Up and down the Third Line we scampered, running up the long lane-ways,  and along the dark country side roads.

late fall road

Kids today, might be surprised to learn that people didn’t decorate their homes, nor did they have elaborate displays on their front steps, or in their yards.

Most people didn’t have any decorations at all, and the ones who did, usually had a single, jack-o-lantern, on their front porch.


In small, rural communities like ours, it wasn’t unusual to be invited inside, and whoever answered the door would try to guess who we were!

inviting Hallowe'en kids inside

We’d stay inside for a few minutes, and might be asked how our parents were doing, or how things were going at school. Some people would even ask us to sing a song, or tell a joke, to earn our candy.  It was all good-natured fun. Often, the person who answered the door would remind us to be careful crossing the roads, or ask us to say hello to Mother and Dad for them.

kids crossing the road

It’s true, we may not have had glamorous costumes, and the decorations were a little bit sparse in those days, but the homemade treats and goodies made up for that.

It was not uncommon to receive farm-fresh apples, loose peanuts in their shells,  homemade fudge, and Hallowe’en molasses kisses.  There was no need to check the treats before eating them.  We knew everyone, and they knew us.  They were our neighbours, our classmates, our friends.

fresh apples

peanuts   kerrs-kiss-2

best treats

So….which house on our route the tastiest treats?

By far, hands-down, the best fudge on the Third Line was at Radford’s and Korry’s.   Mrs. Radford’s fudge was legendary in the area, and Ethel Korry’s fudge was so creamy, and silky smooth! Sometimes Mrs. Korry and her daughter-in-law Merle, were still busy cutting the fudge into little squares when we arrived, and they’d wrap them, and place them in little bags for us.

(see Mrs. Radford’s fudge recipe at the end of the story!!!)

cutting-fudge     homemade-fudge

One of the best stops for trick-or-treating on the Third Line was the popular general store – Cavanagh’s – owned by Jim and Helen.

Cavanagh's store - colour

The Cavanagh’s were generous with their candy, and some of our favourite treats were the Pixie Stix, the Thrills, and the Gold Rush gum.

pixy-stix thrills-gum  gold-rush-candy

Kraft Caramels were a popular treat, and many of the neighbours would throw a handful into our pillowcases, along with some pumpkin teeth candies.

pumpkin-teeth    kraft-caramels

Our Mother often made caramel apples, with fresh apples from our orchard.



One of our favourite treats on Hallowe’en were Mother’s homemade caramel popcorn balls.  She mixed freshly-popped popcorn, with the melted caramels, in a big metal pot, on top of the old stove.  She shaped them into a ball, let them dry on a cookie sheet, and wrapped them in plastic, before handing them out at our front door.


Those were certainly nights to remember!   – Long, dark, lanes in the country, our costumes made from discarded clothes, and our pillowcase sacks!

The cool fall air, and the tall, bare, maple trees that lined the dark roads, leading up to the farmhouses, all added an air of suspense, as we ran from house to house.

Homemade treats, fresh from our neighbour’s kitchens, couldn’t be beat.

We even had a little song that we sang on Hallowe’en, and perhaps it will bring back some memories of those happy Hallowe’en nights, of our youth:

Hallowe'en song

 There weren’t many tricks…

vintage hallowe'en.JPG

There was no shortage of treats

koolaid ad


I hope you enjoyed our trip back in time, to those magical Hallowe’en nights, along the Third Line!


As promised, a recipe for the best fudge on the Third Line.

Oh the Radford family’s lane was soooooo long!  I have to admit that it wouldn’t have mattered to us kids if their lane was ten times as long, we would have gladly made the trek for a few precious pieces of Mrs. Radford’s homemade fudge!


Mrs. Radford’s Fudge:

(kindly shared with us – from Nancy (Radford) Tarle)

Mom’s Cream Candy

2 c brown sugar

½ c milk (any kind including Carnation)

¼ c butter

1 tsp vanilla

Boil the first two ingredients, stirring constantly on lowest heat required, to maintain low boil, until soft ball stage in cold water. Add butter and vanilla, (and nuts if desired).  Beat until thick, with electric mixer, then finish beating by hand until no longer shiny, and begins to harden around sides of pot.  Pour into pan.


A note of thanks to the families who lived along our ‘Hallowe’en route’. Thanks for always making us feel welcome in your homes, and thank-you for some of the best treats around!

Blair, Brady, Bowes, Cavanagh, Chabot, Closs, Doyle, Heney, Johnston, Jordan, Kerr, Korry, Kyle, Leonard, Majaury, Mitchell, Morrow, Munro, Murphy, Myers, Paul, Perkins, Pettigrew, Popplewell, Radford, Scott, Siebel, Somerville, Stafford, Stiller, Truelove, Turnbull, Tysick, and Webber


every year

And a big thanks to my Hallowe’en companions. We all spent weeks in advance of the big night, planning our homemade costumes, and these girls trudged up long country lanes with me, giggling and laughing all the way, we dodged the occasional firecracker thrown at us in DeWitt’s Corners, and they will always be a part of these special memories – you know who you are…. Patti Jordan, Debbie Majaury, Jane Munro, and Susan Munro. Thank-you for the memories. 

Hallowe'en card

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Member, Association of Professional Genealogists
Member, Lanark County Genealogical Society
Author of 10 books: “Lanark County Christmas”, “Lanark County Comfort”, “Lanark County Collection”, “Lanark County Calling”, “Lanark County Classics”, “Lanark County Connections”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid”, & “Recipes & Recollections”
available at local stores or email: lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com

For more memories of Hallowe’en in the 1960s and 1970s: including memories of Tim Stafford, Judy (Stafford) Ryan, Jackie (Stafford) Wharton, and Roger Stafford:

“Recipes & Recollections: Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen”


available in local stores, and online



(photo of Cavanagh’s store courtesy of JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler)