Long before the days of fast-paced living, our family had a weekly ritual, known as the Sunday drive. It always took place after church, following the noon-time meal. Families were large in those days, and Mother wanted to make sure that everyone had a hearty lunch before heading out into the country. Looking back, it seems like a curious thing to do, when you already live in the country, to drive to another part of the country, but it wasn’t uncommon in those days.
The Staffords, getting ready for a Sunday Drive: left to right, Roger Stafford, Jackie Stafford, Tim Stafford, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford (Dad), Arlene Stafford, missing from the photo: Judy Stafford who was taking the photo, and Audry Stafford (Mother), who was likely making one last trip to the pantry to pack some cookies for the ride.
Home, the starting point for our drive, was the Third Concession of Bathurst Township, some called it the Third Line, or the Christie Lake Road. After we’d all climbed into the car, we often headed straight to Balderson, to pick up a bag of squeaky curd for the trip. We almost always visited Ferguson Falls, where Dad grew up, and Lanark was another familiar stop along the way. There was sometimes a debate in the car at this point about whether to travel up toward Calabogie. Mother often protested, saying that all those hills, twists, and turns on the back-roads made her stomach queasy. With a twinkle in his eye, and a promise to take it slow, more often than not, Dad headed up the road toward Clyde Forks and Flower Station.
The landscape around Flower Station was a spectacular sight to behold in the autumn, when the colourful maple leaves were at their peak. Gold, red, green, and orange, in every direction, as far as the eye could see; just like a postcard. Small in size, but big in heart, it was one of the tiny hamlets that sprung up in the late 1800s, during the heydays of the nearby mining operations; and the Kingston and Pembroke ‘K & P’ Railroad stopped daily, bringing mail, and supplies.
Families of Flower Station
Alberts, Alcorn, Arnott, Barker, Barr, Bingley, Bissett, Bradford, Brown, Browning, Caldwell, Cameron, Cardinal, Cassel, Clark, Cleland, Clements, Clifford, Closs, Cloutier, Coupland, Craig, Crawford, Crosbie, Cumming, Deachman, Deschamps, Desjardine, Dignon, Dunham, Dunlop, Dunn, Easton, Elliott, Ellis, Ferguson, Fisher, Gallagher, Gardiner, Grey, Giffen, Guthrie, Haskins, Horn, Jackson, Jamieson, Jabot, Johnston, Kelly, Knight, Lalonde, Laroque, Lee, Leahy, Love, Lyon, Machan, Mahan, Major, Majore, Majaury, Martin, McArthur, McCurdy, McDonald, McDougall, McFadden, McGonegal, McInnis, McIntosh, McIntyre, McKinnon, McLaren, McWilliams, Metcalfe, Miller, Milotte, Moffat, Morris, Moulton, Nicholson, North, O’Brien, O’Donnell, Ogilvie, Patterson, Paul, Pierce, Pearce, Percy, Peterson, Power, Purdon, Reed, Reid, Roach, Robertson, Rodgers, Rousseau, Rutherford, Sheridan, Simpson, Sly, Spencer, St. Pierre, Stedman, Stewart, Storie, Stratford, Thurlow, Turnbull, Umpherson, Wales, Wallis, Watt, White, Williams, Willis, Woods, and Wright.
The village was named for Roswell Pettibone ‘R.P.’ Flower, Governor of New York, who financed this section of the railway. At the height of the mining operations in the late 1880s, there were three boarding houses, two general stores, a church, a school, and a railroad station. Postmaster, Gilbert White, operated the post office, and sold general merchandise, out of his residence.
Thomas Miller’s General Store – 1905
Albert ‘Abbie’ McGonegal
Tragic Loss Follows Dance
at Flower Station
Joseph Lalonde Walks 15 Miles
in 1942 to Recruiting Center
‘Granny’ Jennie Crawford Majaury
Jackson Siblings Die Within
Hours of Each Other
Maud Bradford Hart
Calvan McGonegal Wins
James Brothers Fishing Trophy
Cardinal, Lalonde, & Kells
Take Top Spots
Minnie McGonegal Ferguson
Party for Wilfred Jackson
Reeve Henry McGonigal
Follows in his Father’s Footsteps
Mrs. Eldon Majore
Peace of Mind in the Country
Stranded by Floods
Irene (Gemmill) Crosbie
90th Birthday Party
Don and Marlene Love
Met at a Sugar Camp
Winnifred Closs – 1916-2008
Extraordinary Local Writer
As the lumber business tapered off, and the mining operations slowed down, the K & P railway never saw the volumes of traffic they had anticipated in the beginning. By late in the 19th century, the railroad was experiencing financial difficulties, and by 1894, the company, operating at a loss, went into receivership.
The Canadian Pacific Railway, ‘CPR’ began to buy up shares, and by 1901, owned 83% of the shares, and had replaced many of the top executives with their own. The C.P.R. officially gained control of the K & P Railroad in 1913.
By the 1930s, passenger service declined and they began to operate ‘mixed trains’ of passenger cars and some freight cars. By the late 1950s, only freight cars remained. The last ‘through’ train ran on December 29, 1961. As time passed, in the 1960s, the smaller, less profitable stations along the railway line were closed, including Flower Station.
K & P Trail
The original route of the K & P is being converted, in sections, to a recreational walking and biking path, known as the “K & P Trail”
Take a Sunday Drive
Visit Flower Station
The tradition of the Sunday drive at our house went on for as long as I can remember. Mother occasionally scolding Dad because he was over the speed limit, and he always countered with the same excuse – that he needed to burn the carbon build-up off of his sparkplugs.
There were often bags of squeaky curd, and sometimes a stop for ice cream cones, or a cold bottle of Pure Spring pop. Once in a while there was pushing and shoving in the back seat, met by a stern glance backwards from Mother.
No matter where those winding back roads in Lanark County led us, there was always beauty around every corner; with crystal-clear lakes and streams, quiet spots for a picnic, trails and paths beckoning us to come for a stroll.
Maybe one of these Sundays, you’ll venture out to Flower Station. Travel north on highway 511 past Hopetown to Brightside. Turn west on Waddell Creek Road to the French Line. Proceed north on the French Line Road to Joe’s Lake, then west on Flower Station Road to Flower Station.
Be sure to walk or hike the beautiful K&P Trail in the village of Flower Station. Head north past Flower Station, to Round Lake and Clyde Lake or, walk south, past Widow Lake to join Clyde Forks Road. Be prepared to enjoy the unspoiled forests, the sounds of nature, breathe in the pristine air, and spend a tranquil day in one of Lanark County’s special gems – Flower Station.
Discover some fascinating stories about Lanark County back-roads tours, like “Mills, Mines, and Maples: Touring the Back Roads of Lanark County in the book, “Lanark County Connections: Memories Among the Maples”
Read about a WWII war-time encounter overseas, with a young soldier named Jim, from Flower Station, in “A Grand Era in Lanark”, from “Lanark County Classics: A Treasury of Tales from Another Time”
Books available at:
The Book Nook, in Perth, Ontario https://thebooknookperth.com/shop/
The Bookworm, in Perth, Ontario https://www.bookwormperth.com/
Mill Street Books, in Almonte, Ontario – https://millstreetbooks.com/