Record Crowds at the Annual Festival of the Maples in Perth

The weather was picture-perfect for the 40th Annual Maple Festival this year in the pretty town of Perth, Ontario.  The bright late-April sun warmed the thousands of residents and visitors who had gathered for this annual rite of spring in Lanark County.  Known as the ‘Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario’, the county of Lanark enjoyed a banner year with an exceptionally lengthy maple harvest. Week after week of cold nights with temperatures dipping below zero, followed by warm afternoons reaching highs in the double digits meant a long and abundant run of sap.  No less than 40 gallons of this sweet, watery fluid are required to produce one solitary gallon of syrup and the task requires patience, care, and an abundance of labour.

The annual festival drew crowds in the thousands for this year’s event.  Partly due to the sunny spring temperatures, but mainly because of the incredibly talented live musical acts, delightfully tempting wares of the local food trucks, as well as arts and crafts vendors, and of course the stars of the show – the Lanark County maple products offered up and down the streets, closed to all but pedestrian traffic.

Leslie Wallack, owner of popular local store The Book Nook was busy all day both inside and outside as customers dropped by to pick up a selection or two from some of their variety of literary offerings in the store.  In front of the store on this beautiful sunny day, local authors were there as part of Authors for Indies Day, raising awareness of the importance of Canada’s independent book stores.

Leslie and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001.JPG

Our book table was busy throughout the day with many friends and former school-mates and neighbours dropping by to say hello.

Nancy Hudson, cousin of talented band member Don White (of ‘Grateful We’re Not Dead’) stopped by to chat, and we briefly discussed the local musical acts including her nephew, appearing throughout the day at the Maple Festival.  There was a tremendous amount of talent featured up and down the streets of Perth for music-lovers of all ages.

Nancy  and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001

Third Line friends and neighbours Trina McMillan Conboy and the bright and handsome Sawyer Conboy stopped by.  It’s always nice to see the folks from ‘the home soil’, and was delightful to hear young Sawyer discuss his newly acquired talent of driving the garden tractor.  A budding future farmer on the Christie Lake Road perhaps?

Sawyer Trina  and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001

Former classmates Brenda Wark and her sister Norma came by for a quick visit.  We three were among the first group of students when Glen Tay Public School was a shiny new building. We shared many laughs and good times in those early days at Glen Tay.

Brenda Norma  and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001

Another former classmate Dianne Tysick Pinder-Moss stopped by with her husband Bob, and was nice to have a few minutes to catch up on the news.  Dianne and I go all the way back to our days in a little one-room school-house at Christie Lake.

Dianne  and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001_1

Our lovely niece Tracey, visiting from Oshawa with her Mom and Dad, stopped by and we had a great visit.  Tracey and her folks were enjoying their first ever Festival of the Maples in Perth, and had many positive comments about the local treats they had sampled as well as the variety of local products and vendors available.

 

Tracey and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001Tracey her Dad and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001

Former co-worker Cheryl Sheffer stopped by to say ‘Hello’ and chat for a bit.  It was so nice to meet Doug as well.  They were having a great day visiting all of the local vendors and taking in the sights and sounds of the busy festival.

Cheryl Kevin and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001

Another visiting author, seated to my left was James Bartleman, former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, signing copies of his book.   Born in Orillia, Ontario, James moved to Perth after he retired, and now calls the ‘prettiest town in Ontario’ his home.

James Bartleman and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001

One of our local reporters stopped by.  She was busy working on stories for the next edition of ‘The Perth Courier’.  We had a great chat about one of the tales from my book “Lanark County Chronicles”  that features mobster Al Capone and his fascinating adventures along the Rideau Lakes.

Local reporter and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001Local reporter takes photo  and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001

Speaking of the Rideau Lakes, we had a nice visit with Rideau Ferry resident Carol-Ann McDougall and her lovely daughter Shannon who were enjoying some of the sights and sounds of the festival along Gore Street.

Carol Ann Shannon and Arlene Maple Fest 20160001

After a busy day at The Book Nook, another Festival of the Maples has come to an end.  The attendance set records, the weather was unusually sunny and warm for April, and event was a great success.  Thanks to all who stopped by to visit and say ‘Hello’, and special thanks to Leslie Wallack for hosting the event.   This Lanark County ‘kid’ had a wonderful time as always in the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario!

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

 

Winter Warriors

winter fence
Eastern Ontario winters are not for the faint of heart. They are bitterly cold. They are relentless…and, they are long. They are not for the casual skier wanting a fashionable romp down a pretty hill only to return to the safety and warmth of their faraway homes. They are not for the frivolous winter vacationer staying at a rustic lodge to photograph a deer or a moose, from the comforts of their cozy cabin windows.

These winter days are for hardy souls only; all others need not apply. These are for people prepared to use a heavy shovel and an ever-present snow brush on a daily basis. These are for people possessing the knowledge and necessary techniques for walking on different types of ice…without falling. Some ice is flat and smooth like a hockey arena. Some ice is snow-covered, just enough to make the hidden surface even more perilous. Some days the ice is black, unseen, undetectable, rendering the walker completely unaware of their vulnerability.

 

black ice

This is where you’ll find the stalwart souls who soldier on, through ice and snow, from October through April each year, month after long winter month. These are the people who listen to reports of schools closing, and distant cities shut down because of the ‘bad’ winter weather, as they trudge through the snow on their way to work because it’s ‘just another day’. These are the people, young and old who wade through snow, stroll on the ice, and drive on slick roads in freezing rain, for months each year. Before their school day or work day has even begun, they have shoveled their sidewalks, brushed off their cars, stepped gingerly on ice, trudged through resistant snow drifts, all of this while bitter cold winds sting any skin unprotected by cumbersome layers of clothing and boots.

thermometer

These are the enduring rank and file, possessing rare perseverance, stamina and patience. They are dreamers and unflinching optimists. In the final unbending weeks of the coldest season they will study seed catalogues, plan gardens, visit boat shows, and envision themselves under clear, blue skies on calm, warm, July afternoons. They conjure endless images of cottages, muskoka chairs, hammocks, beer and barbecues. They dream of tulips and trilliums, green grass, and sunny days.

day dreaming

cottage country

 

 

 

As the late winter unwinds its final few weeks in Eastern Ontario, perhaps the most anticipated signal to herald the new season for these enduring folks, will be the time-honoured, and always sublime, first taste of their beloved maple syrup. It spells the defeat, the finish, the finale, the wind-up, and the end-of-the-line for winter. It marks the beginning of spring, of brighter longer days, and the sweet, golden taste of victory for the hardy souls who have survived yet another long, cold Canadian winter.

 

 

 

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

 

 

 

 

Discover the history of maple syrup production in Lanark County, Eastern Ontario in ‘Taffy on the Tay’, an excerpt from Lanark County Chronicle – ISBN978-0-9877026-23

History of Maple Syrup in Lanark County