Haggis Candy – Goodies on Gore Street!

It was her father, James Haggis, who started the candy business in Perth, back in 1926, but it will likely be Sophia, who will always be remembered fondly, as the ‘Candy Lady’.

Sophia 1

 

Sophia used the original equipment, passed down to her, from her father, like the big copper pots for melting rich, velvety, chocolate, and buttery peanut brittle.

copper pots

 

melting chocolate

 

Each year at Easter, Sophia made delicious chocolate bunnies and eggs, and would offer to personalize them with any name.  She used a stiff white icing, and piped on the names by hand, as her eager audiences waited for their special egg to be completed.

Easter egg

 

Haggis Candy was located on the main street of Perth, at 60 Gore St. E.

 

Sophia 2

 

A very special time of year for Haggis Candy was Christmas, and Sophia decorated her store windows with her giant candy-canes, some of them almost six feet tall!

candy canes

 

One of Sophia’s specialties was her Horehound candy.  It had a very distinctive flavour, and some said that it was a good remedy for sore throats, and congestion.  Most of her customers just liked its unique taste.  People came from miles around to buy her Horehound.

 

horehound candy

 

Sophia made her candy from the Horehound Plant.  The plants are picked, dried, and steeped with boiling water.  The liquid is strained, sugar is added and brought to a boil, then cooled on a marble slab.  The finished candies are cut into squares, and rolled in powdered sugar.

horehound plant

Another customer favourite was Haggis’ taffy.   Sophia used the original steel hooks to pull her taffy, to just the right consistency.

 

taffy hook

 

…..and the finished taffy, ready to enjoy!

 

taffy candy

She used the marble slabs, passed down from her father, to cool her fudge quickly, so that it could be cut into squares.

marble slabs

fudge

 

Sophia had a quick smile, and a warm personality.  She loved following in the traditions of her father, and most of all loved to see the smiles on her customer’s faces when they tasted her delicious treats.

Sophia 3

 

Haggis’ Candy store was where you’d often find my friends and I, after leaving Perth High School in the late afternoon.  My personal favourites were Sophia’s milk chocolate peanut clusters, made with real Spanish peanuts!  Sophia would place a few in a small, brown-paper bag, weigh them, and hand them to me with a smile.  Sometimes I would bring them outside, walk down Gore Street, sit on the bridge, and watch the world go by, as I savoured my chocolate treats!

peanut clusters

 

On hot, muggy, summer days, Sophia made the most delicious banana splits, and often tourists and locals alike, would stop by her store to sample some of her rich, creamy, creations.

banana split

 

In 1988, at the age of 77, Sophia retired from the candy business.  She kept active in her later years, and continued to play the piano, as she had often done, at various events in Perth, over the years.

Sophia playing the piano

Sophia eventually left Perth, and moved to Kingston.  She lived a long life, and there were many very happy birthdays over the years!

 

Sophia 4

 

Sophia had a wonderful milestone birthday, when she celebrated her 100th!  She still had her kind smile, and bright eyes.

Sophia 5

 

After a long, happy, life, Sophia passed away at Providence Manor in Kingston, on Sunday, November 4th, 2012, at the age of 101.

She may be gone, but never forgotten, and many of us will treasure the memories of our childhood visits to Haggis’ Candy store.

She will always be fondly remembered as the ‘Candy Lady’.

………………

 

Read the fascinating story of Sophia Haggis Nee in “Lanark County Calling: All Roads Lead Home”.  Learn about Sophia’s childhood in Peterborough, her grandfather the Lockmaster on the Trent Canal, her grandmother Sarah, the published Poet, and find out about her great uncle Samuel Lowry and his scandalous court case.  Read about her days as a teenager at the Perth High School, and her chance meeting with the influential Mrs. Jack Stewart. Learn about Sophia’s most unusual trail-blazing career in Kingston, Ontario, before moving back to Perth to take over her ailing father’s business.  Read memories of the happy days at the candy store, the customers, the ‘regulars’, and some surprising things about this much-loved lady and well-respected woman entrepreneur in the town of Perth, Ontario.

LCCalling poster for web png

Merchants of Perth 1960s and 1970s at Christmastime

We wrote letters to Santa, placing them carefully in our mailbox on the Third Line, we circled gifts in the Sears Wishbook, practised our parts for the Nativity play, and if we were lucky we would visit Perth with Mother, and see the beautifully decorated stores along Gore Street and Foster Street, at Christmastime!

Merchants of Perth at Christmastime

m1-christmas-store-hours-1961

m7-town-hall

a-b-motors-dec-1970

m-achesons-mens-and-boys-wear-1963

m7-footbridge-stewart-park

aeroquip-dec-1975

m7-revere-hotel

albert-gale-dec-1965

m7-library

alices-beauty-salon-dec-1978

m7-mcmartin-house

allens-bakery-dec-22-1960

gore-st-1960s

 

m1-anna-mosl-1967

 

andys-window-cleaning-dec-1975

m5-nativity-play

antiques-dec-1976

m7-st-andrews-pres_

balderson-cheese-1978

 

m1-bank-of-montreal

m5-candlelight-service

m1-barries-meats

 

barker-barrister-dec-1966

m4-santa-coming-to-town

barr-motor-sales-dec-1965

 

beamish-1974

 

m7-st-james

ben-barbarys-dec-1970

 

benny-ks-dec-22-1960

 

bert-fournier-dec-1970

 

blair-and-sons-dec-1958

 

boles-grocery-dec-1975

 

boyd-real-estate

 

m-jp-brankin-fuels-1964

 

m1-the-bright-spot

brown-shoe-co-dec-1970

burchell-supply-dec-1958

 

burns-jewellers-dec-1978

cameo-beauty-shoppe-dec-1970

cameron-shoe-repair

canadian-tire-good-ad-dec-22-1960

m4-santa-parade-2

caribou-house-dec-1970

carolynnes-dec-22-1960

carson-farm-supply-dec-1970

m4-santa-parade-3

carson-realty-dec-1975

cavanaghs-1966

cavers-jewellers-mills-china-shop-dec-1975

m4-santa-parade-4

chaplin-and-code-hardware-dec-1958

 

chaplins-dairy-1969

chaplins-delivery-notice-1968

 

circus-surplus-dec-22-1960

m1-cleanrite-cleaners

 

conways-dec-1958

co-op-1974

coopers-furniture-dec-1970

couchs-taxi-dec-1970

county-motors-1974

 

craig-motor-sales-dec-1966

crain-insurance-1974

d-k-fabrics-dec-1970

darou-and-mcintosh-dec-1958

dicola-1957

dixie-lee-fried-chicken-dec-1970

 

dodds-and-erwin-dec-22-1960

m1-drummond-telephone

duncan-accountant-dec-1966

dunlop-coin-wash-1974

 

e-b

e-l

east-end-grocery-dec-23-1965

 

echlin-motors-dec-1965

farrells-store-stanleyville-dec-23-1965

franklin-fence-dec-22-1966

franks-barber-shop-1966

friendly-tv-dec-1970

fuller-store-rideau-ferry

general-insulating-dec-1958

girdwoods-dec-1970

 

golden-triangle-upholstery-dec-1970

greig-accountant-dec-1966

gwm-gift-shop-1974

h-m-centre-dec-1970

 

For delicious home-made candy-canes, stop by Haggis’ Candy store!

Haggis Candy cane

haliday-take-out-dec-1976

m-tm-hanson-plumbing

healey-transportation-dec-1970

hendersons-red-and-white-dec-1970

hodgson-and-sons-dec-1978

hoffman-and-son-dec-1958

m1-huddleston

 

hy-fund-studio-dec-1970

i-d-a-pharmacy

iga-dec-22-1960

iga-foodliner

international-silver-dec-23-1965

j-j-plumbing-1974

 

jack-and-jill-childrens-wear-dec-23-1965

jack-snow-1958

jamesbrothers1963-644x435

james-brothers-1958

ken-hannah-minnows-dec-23-1965

ken-hughes-motors-dec-1958

kerr-and-duncan-dec-22-1960

kitten-mill-dec-1978

leach-tire-dec-1970

levines-dec-22-1960

lightfords-dec-22-1960

m2-family-wrapping-gifts

macphail-tractor-sales-dec-1975

maximilians-dec-1978

mayor-and-town-council-dec-1975

mclean-noonan

mcnamee-plumbing-and-heating-1974

mctavish-motors-dec-1965

mcveety-electric-dec

 

mill-fab-dec-1976minute-man-dec-1975

 

montgomery-chiroptactor-dec-1966

moss-motors-dec-1965

nellys-shoe-store-dec-22-1960

nisbet-fina-1966

nixon-planing-mill-dec-1970

noonans-dec-18-1958-p-11

noonans-meat-market-dec-23-1965

 

northway-snowmobiles-dec-24-1970

oakes-bakery-1976

 

oroks-hardware-1978

pant-barn-dec-1975

 

perkins-bowling-alley

m1-laundromat

m1-pattenicks

PERTH BLUE WINGS 

m4-blue-wings-2

m4-blue-wings-1

m4-blue-wings-3

m4-blue-wings-4

 

perkins-motors-1958

perth-television-service-1974

m2-rudolph

perth-apothecary-dec-1975

 

perth-banks-dec-1970

m2-santa-and-the-kids

perth-co-op-1958

 

perth-fire-dept-1974

 

perth-flower-shop-1958

 

perth-hotel

perth-hotel-dec

m4-bordons-egg-nog

perth-motors-1970

 

perth-pinto-1974

 

perth-planing-mill-dec-1970

perth-tea-room-dec-1958

r-t
m-robiinsons-beverages-1963

 

reeds-smoke-shop-dec-1970

 

reliable-cab-dec-1975

m4-cow

revere-hotel-dec-1975

m4-christmas-stocking-little-boy

reward-shoe-store-dec-22-1960

rollys-restaurant-dec-1970

m4-santa-parade-5

rubinos-dec-1958

m4-santa-parade-6

russ-ellis-dec-1958

m-ryders-restaurant-1963

sawdons-appliances

scotts-chicken-villa-dec-1976

shaws-dec-25-1958

shaws1-644x336

siddalls-dec-22-1960

m4-santa-parade-7

small-brothers-1958

somerville-farm-supplies-dec-24-1970

m1-smiths-radio

soper-theatre-dec-1975

stan-cleroux-dec-1976

stan-tufts

stedmans-dec-1970

m4-santa-parade-8

m1-stanzel

street-travel-1974

sullivan-sanitation-dec-1976

tay-towne-cleaners-dec-1975

tay-valley-sports-dec-1975

tayside-bakery

 

teak-hair-dec-1976

the-mill-store-dec-1975

the-valley-book-shop-dec-1976

thomas-optometrist-dec-1966

thornburys-drug-dec-1970

tims-texaco-dec-1970

town-and-country-restaurant

van-pelt-carpenter-1974

 

vanderspanks-dec-1970

perth-birds-eye-view
m1-wayfare-restaurant-1967

letters-to-santa-1978

letters-to-santa-1978-2

m4-winter-farm

m4-new-years-rideau-ferry-inn

m7-santa-and-reindeer-flying

 

 

Hope you enjoyed our visit to Perth in the 1960s and 1970s!

This post is dedicated to the merchants of Perth, large and small.  Many work long hours to provide goods and services for the people in the area. Many sponsor local sports teams and community events.  As we fondly recall the merchants of days gone by, let’s remember to shop locally this Christmas season, and support the local artisans, craftspeople, and neighbourhood businesses in our community!

Merry Christmas!

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vintage photos of historical Perth buildings – Perth Museum
Merchant ads from “The Perth Courier”

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Christmas Ads for these merchants included:

A & B Motors,  Acheson’s,  Aeroquip, Albert Gale,  Alice’s Beauty Salon,  Allen’s Bakery,  Anna Mosl,  Andy’s Window Cleaning,  Antiques Vandenbosch,  Balderson Cheese,  Bank of Montreal,  Barrie’s Meats,  Ralph G. Barker,  Barr Motor Sales,  Beamish,  Ben Barbary’s,  Benny K’s.,  Bert Fournier,  Blair & Sons,  Boles Grocery,  Boyd Real Estate,  Brankin Fuels,  Bright Spot,  Brown Shoe Company,  Burchell Supply,  Burns Jewellers,  Cameo Beauty Shoppe,  Cameron Shoe,  Canadian Tire,  Caribou House,  Carolynne’s  Beauty Salon,  Carson Farm Supply,  Carson Realty, Cavanagh’s,  Cavers Jewellery, Chaplin & Code Hardware,  Chaplin’s Dairy,  Circus Surplus Store,  Cleanrite Cleaners,  Conway’s Menswear,  Co-op,  Cooper’s Furniture,  Couch’s Taxi, County Motors,  Craig Motor Sales, Glenn Crain Ltd.,  D. & K. Fabric,  Darou and McIntosh,  Dicola Fuels,  Dixie Lee Chicken,  Dodds & Erwin,  Drummond Centre Telephone Co.,  J.D. Duncan,  E-Z Clean Coin Wash,  E.B. Code and Son Insurance,  E.L. Darou Insurance,  East End Grocery,  Echlin Motor Sales, Farrell’s Store,  Franklin Fence & Furniture,  Frank’s Barber Shop,  Friendly T.V. – Klaas Van Bergen,   Hazel & Eric Fuller Store,  General Insulating,  Girdwood’s,  Golden Triangle Upholstery,  Todd Greig Accountant,  G.W.M. Gift Shop,  H & M Centre,  Holiday Take-Out,  T.M. Hansen Plumbing,  Healey Transportation,  Henderson’s Red and White,  Hodgson & Son,  Hoffman & Son,  L. Huddleston,   HY Fund Studio,  I.D.A.,  I.G.A.,  International Silver,  J.& J. Plumbing,  Jack & Jill, Jack Snow,  James Brothers Hardware, Ken Hannah Minnows,  Ken Hughes, Kerr & Duncan,  Kitten Mill,  Leach Tire Center,  Levine’s,  Lightford’s,  MacPhail Tractor Sales,  Maximilian Restaurant,  McLean Noonan,  McNamee Plumbing,  McTavish Motor Sales,  McVeety Electric,  Mill Fab,  Minute Man,  Montgomery Chiropractor,  Moss Motors,  Nelly’s Shoe Store,  D.M. Nisbet Fina,  Nixon Planing Mill,  Noonan’s,  Central Tire Supply – VanDusen’s,  Oakes’ Bakery,  Orok’s Hardware,  Pant Barn,  Perkins Bowling Alley,  Anne Patterson Laundromat,  Pattenick’s,  Perth Blue Wings,  Perkins Motors,  Perth Television,  Perth Apothecary,  Perth Banks,  Perth District Co-op,  Perth Fire Department,  Perth Flower Shop, Perth Hotel,  Perth  Motors,  Perth Pinto,  Perth Planing Mill,  Perth Tea Room,  R.T. Parks & Sons,  Robinson’s Beverages, Reed’s Smoke Shop,  Reliable Cab,  Revere Hotel,  Reward Shoe Stores,  Rolly’s Restaurant,  Rubino’s,  Russ Ellis,  Ryder’s Restaurant,  Sawdon’s Appliance,  Scott’s Chicken Villa,  Shaw’s of Perth,  Siddall’s,  Small Brothers,  Somerville Farm Supplies,  Smith’s Radio,  Soper Theatre,  Stan Cleroux Real Estate,  Stan Tufts Delivery Service,  Stedman’s,  Stanzel Plumbing  Street Travel,  Sullivan Sanitation,  Tay-Towne Cleaners,  Tay Valley Sports,  Tayside Bakery,  Teak Hair Fashions,  The Mill Store,  The Valley Book Shop,  J.A. Thomas Optometrist,  Thornbury’s Pharmacy,  Tim’s Texaco,  Town and Country Restaurant,  Van Pelt Cabinet Maker,  Vanderspank’s General Store,  Wayfare Restaurant, Rideau Ferry Inn.

 

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http://www.staffordwilson.com

Book Fair at the Crystal Palace

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

Perth Crystal Palace

perth-farmers-market-logo

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

arlene-at-the-table0001

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

anne-raina-and-kay-rogers0001

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

gene-bassett0001

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

larry-cotton0001

 

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

kay-at-home-in-tay-valley0001

 

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

stewart-park-festival0001

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

chatting-with-a-visitor0001

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

dawn-marie-brady0001

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

scott-reid0001

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

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

………………..

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

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Port Elmsley – Drive-In Dreamin’

port-elmsley-sign

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

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

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

port-elmsley-concession

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

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

port-elmsley-ad-1953

 

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

port-elmsley-1966

 

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

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

port-elmsley-lets-all-go

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

port-elmsley-chilly-dilly-1

port-elmsley-chilly-dilly-2

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

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

port-elmsley-mosquitos

 

port-elmsley-mosquito-coil

 

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

port-elmsley-1976

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

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

port-elmsley-1970-mustang

port-elmsley-1972-camaro

port-elmsley-plymouth-fury

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

port-elmsley-screen

port-elmsley-speakers

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

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

port-elmsley-exorcist

port-elmsley-jaws

 

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

port-elmsley-make-out

 

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

…….

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

…..

 

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

Port Elmsley Drive In

 

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

lanark-county-chronicle-for-website

 

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

 

Stomping in Ompah!

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Late one summer, we heard that there was going to be a music festival over the Labour Day weekend, up in Ompah.  This was going to be a back-roads tour to end all back-roads tours – an outdoor party with live music, and we couldn’t wait!

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There wasn’t really much up there at that time.  The most popular thing in Ompah was likely the Trout Lake Hotel owned by Wayne Kearney.  It was a former residence; over 150 years old, in fact it was the oldest building in Ompah and was now a bar. The old timers around there say that they began serving liquor there in 1904.  It was the first licensed establishment in Eastern Ontario and the locals also said it was one of the first bars in the province. That place was the home of some famous and infamous barroom brawls too, but we won’t get into that.  There were quiet times, but the people who went up there mostly summer fishing enthusiasts and the winter snowmobiling patrons kept it fairly busy.

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After much anticipation, Labour Day weekend finally arrived.  We packed as many of us that could fit into one of my friend’s parent’s cars and off we headed to Ompah.  We drove up the third line and turned up Cameron Side Road, past Calvin Church and over the tracks and onto Hwy 7. We turned onto the Elphin Maberly Road and continued onto Hwy 509, then Lake Road and Lafolia Lane.  We parked and got out of the car. The Stomp grounds were beautiful with tall, majestic trees, situated on a hill, overlooking Palmerston Lake.

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That first Ompah Stomp was held on September 3, 1978 and their special guests were Max Keeping of CJOH TV and Doug Anderson of CKBY FM.  The step dancing contest was held at about 8pm followed by old fashioned round and square dancing.  The musical guest artists that year were Sneezy Waters, Mike O’Reilly and Wayne Rostad.

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L-> R: Dennis Rowan (bass) , Neville Wells (vocals, guitar), Peter Clements (drums), Al Webster (guitar),  Band: Sweetwater 

I guess we thought that it was our own little ‘Woodstock’, and over the years the Ompah Stomp grew as people heard about it and wanted to experience the live music and party atmosphere. That first year, the organizers had anticipated about 200 people showing up and they ended up with a crowd of closer to 3,500.  The second year the crowds grew to 5,000 and the third year saw that rise to 6,500.

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L  – Tony Hickey       Centre –  Paul Munro,     R. – Brent Munro

 

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Wayne Rostad

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Some of the musical acts that performed at the Stomp were:  Neville ‘Nev’ Wells, also a member of the Ompah snowmobiling club, the Family Brown, Jack McRae and the King of Clubs, The Prescott Brothers, Hugh Scott, Ron McMunn and Carbine, Steve Glenn, David Thompson, Fred Dixon, Lynn and Chris, Lloyd Wilson, Dallas Harms, Ted Daigle, C-Weed Band, Terry Carisse and many others.

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L -> R: Dennis Rowan, Neville Wells
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 Guitar: Neville Wells

Drums:  Peter Clements                             

 

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Michael O’Reilly

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Gary “Spike” Spicer (guitar)                        Warren Sutcliffe (bass) 

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Pete McCormick (drums)

 

“Perth Courier” September 12, 1979 – a review of the second year of the ‘Stomp’:

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Dennis Rowan, Neville Wells

Al Webster

 

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Sneezy Waters
A poem written by Kathy Norwood, about the ‘Stomp’ printed in March 1980

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Peter Clements (drums)                                                    Doug Orr

“Perth Courier”  Sept. 2, 1981  page 19:

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Poster from 1982

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The Road to ‘The Stomp’  – 1983

road-to-ompah-1983Poster from 1984

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Liquor and beer flowed freely from coolers and wineskins and the lineup at the washroom facilities was unbelievably long, but everyone enjoyed themselves just the same.  It was wonderful to have a music festival so close to us.  Usually, if we wanted to hear live music of that calibre we’d have to travel to Ottawa or Kingston, so it was great to have the Ompah Stomp so close by.

 

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The Stomp would carry on for many years after those first few annual celebrations, and people would come up from the States and would come from neighbouring provinces as well, some came from as far as Alberta.  Labour Day weekend was one of the busiest and most exciting for us in the area, because we had the Perth Fair and the Ompah Stomp.

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Who would have ever thought that a small village of around 100 people and their little snowmobile club would be able to create a music festival that would attract thousands of people from all around. It was another example of the spirit of the people who lived in rural Eastern Ontario.  They never faltered in their belief that they could succeed, or lacked the confidence to organize a music festival just because they were a handful of folks from a tiny village.  The Ompah Stomp became a metaphor, an example for all of us that it only takes a few people who believe strongly in something to make a difference.  It sure made a difference for us kids in the country who were always looking for a little excitement; and the Ompah Stomp made our last weekend each summer something we’d all remember fondly for years to come.

Photos from the 1978 Ompah Stomp from the private collection of Don White from the band Grateful We’re Not Dead:  Grateful We’re Not Dead Facebook Page

Many thanks to Don White and Neville Wells for providing the names of the musicians in the photos!

Neville Wells Hall of Fame

For more information on Grateful We’re Not Dead:  Grateful We’re Not Dead Official Band Website

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Some of the families who settled around Ompah:  Dunham, Kelford, Closs, Conlon, Dawson, Ellenberger, Elliott, English, Gunner, Hitchcock, Cox, Keller, Killlingbeck, Kirkwood, Mabo, Massey, McGonigal, McDougall, Molyneaux, Moore, McDonald, Murphy, Payne, Praskey, Sproule, Thomas, Tooley, Richardson, Riddell, Roberts, Sproule, Stewart, Stinson, Thomas, Uens, Ostler, MacRow, Martelock, James, Ackerman, Allen, Struthers, Brown, Gunsinger, Lemke, Armstrong, Jeannerett, Hermer, McNeil, Badour, Johnston, Kring, HIll, Weiss, Wood, Card, Boyd, Dempster, Donaldson, Larock, Morrow, Mundell, Praskey, Ryder, Shanks.

 

… Search for your ancestor in the 1901 Census of Canada:

 

1901 Census of Canada

If you would like to read more about the Ompah Stomp, the complete story “Stomping in Ompah” is included in a collection of stories in the book “Lanark County Kid: My Travels Up and Down the Third Line”

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

For more information on the history of Ompah and some of its founding families:

Clarendon and Miller Community Archives:

http://www.clarmillarchives.ca/index.html

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

The Legend Behind the Recipes

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Lanark County Classics – Sneak Preview

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“In this collection of short stories the author invites the reader to journey back to a small farm in Eastern Ontario in the 1960s and 1970s.  Discover Irish legends, and learn about the troublesome banshees of North Burgess Township. Visit Clyde Forks, and share in an unsolved mystery that continues to baffle police today.  Join the celebration of a milestone, in the picturesque village of Middleville, and watch as a tragedy unfolds along the shores of the Mississippi, in Pakenham.  Chat with the neighbours at a popular general store in DeWitt’s Corners, and witness something unusual in the night skies over Perth. Join the author as she travels back to a simpler way of life, in this treasury of tales from another time.”

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“Once again, Arlene Stafford-Wilson triumphantly transports the reader into the heart of rural Eastern Ontario in the 1960s and 1970s. The stories selected for Lanark County Classics, are a fine and timely follow-up to her 2015 release Lanark County Connections.

Stafford-Wilson’s stories are composed with an intense clarity of phrase and image. As in her previous books, her fascination with the human and natural history of her native ground — the rural farmlands, villages and small towns in Lanark County is inexhaustible.

In her latest renderings, even seemingly uneventful lives in sparsely peopled Eastern Ontario hamlets like DeWitt’s Corners, Clyde Forks, Lanark, Middleville and Pakenham — farmers, shopkeepers and townsfolk — are brought back to life for closer examination. Her stories come alive with local names and family connections.  In the simplest of words, and with the richest descriptions, she makes us see and hear an ‘unremarkable’ scene that we will never forget.

No one, having read this latest book, would ever again question, “What is so interesting about small-town rural Canada?” Her thorough and dedicated study of historical ingredients, always come up rich and fresh, seem never to be used up, and draw the reader into that place and time.

What makes Stafford-Wilson’s growth as an author so crisply and clearly visible throughout Lanark County Classics is the familiarity of her materials. With her vivid reminiscences set in rural towns and villages; the more she returns to it, the more she finds.

This latest work, once again confirms that the short story is alive and well in Canada where these heart-warming tales originate, like cool fresh breezes straight off the Rideau Lakes.”

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

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com