Families of Flower Station

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. 

Sunday Drive Staffords

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.

“The Montreal Gazette”, Dec. 19, 1882, p.1

Historical Lavant Township, Lanark County

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.

K & P Railroad stops from Kingston to Renfrew

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.

Entering Flower Station
Flower Station

Thomas Miller’s General Store – 1905

“The Ottawa Journal”, May 22, 1905, p.9

Emerald Cleland

“The Windsor Star”, Aug. 31, 1910, p.8

Albert ‘Abbie’ McGonegal

“The Ottawa Journal”, April 21, 1934, p.14

Mildred Desjardins

Tragic Loss Follows Dance

at Flower Station

“The Ottawa Citizen”, June 23, 1936, p. 7

Mrs. Deachman

“The Ottawa Citizen”, July 22, 1939, p.21

Effie Giffen

“The Ottawa Journal”, June 9, 1941, p.22

Joseph Lalonde Walks 15 Miles

in 1942 to Recruiting Center

“The Ottawa Citizen”, Jan. 31, 1942, p.16

‘Granny’ Jennie Crawford Majaury

“The Ottawa Journal”, June 30, 1950 p.5

Jackson Siblings Die Within

Hours of Each Other

“The Ottawa Journal”, June 4, 1954, p. 43

George Wales

“The Ottawa Citizen”, Dec. 8, 1955, p.20

Maud Bradford Hart

“The Ottawa Journal”, Oct. 1, 1956, p.37

Calvan McGonegal Wins

James Brothers Fishing Trophy

“The Ottawa Journal”, Feb 27, 1960 p. 13

Cardinal, Lalonde, & Kells

Take Top Spots

“The Ottawa Citizen”, April 29, 1961, p.13

Minnie McGonegal Ferguson

“The Perth Courier”,
March 1 1962, p.6

Party for Wilfred Jackson

“The Perth Courier” Aug. 2, 1962 p.11

Reeve Henry McGonigal

“The Perth Courier” Jan. 31, 1963, p.1

John Coupland

Follows in his Father’s Footsteps

“The Perth Courier” Aug. 22, 1963, p.15

Robert Closs

“The Perth Courier” Sept. 19, 1963, p.13

Mrs. Eldon Majore

Peace of Mind in the Country

Mrs. Eldon Majore – “The Ottawa Citizen”, Jan 21, 1969, p. 41
Excerpt from “The Ottawa Citizen”, Jan. 21, 1969, p. 41

Adam Fisher

“The Ottawa Citizen”, Dec. 14, 1994, p. 23

Stranded by Floods

“The Ottawa Citizen, April 5, 1998, p. 18

Irene (Gemmill) Crosbie

Irene (Gemmill) Crosbie – at Crosbie’s General Store, Flower Station in 1976

Irene Crosbie’s

90th Birthday Party

“The Ottawa Citizen”, March 15, 1999 p.43
Article and photos on Irene Crosbie from “The Ottawa Citizen”, Mar. 15, 1999, p.44
Irene Crosbie working at the store
Crosbie’s store

Don and Marlene Love

Met at a Sugar Camp

Don & Marlene Love – “The Ottawa Citizen”, Nov. 16, 2003, p.33
“The Ottawa Citizen” Nov. 16, 2003, p.33
“The Ottawa Citizen”, Nov. 16, 2003 p. 34
an excerpt from a story by Ron Corbett with photos by Julie Oliver

Winnifred Closs – 1916-2008

Extraordinary Local Writer

“The Ottawa Citizen” Feb. 9, 2008, p.39
“The Ottawa Citizen” Feb. 9, 2008, p. 50
One of Winnie Closs’ columns, “The Perth Courier”, Mar. 28, 1963, p.5

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.

K & P Railroad – photo: Library and Archives Canada

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”

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.

Scenic views near Flower Station

Country Drives poem

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/

or at:

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Rideau Ferry Inn – Those Hot Summer Nights!

Rideau Ferry Inn blog post image

Oh, those hot summer nights at the Rideau Ferry Inn!  The dancing, the laughter, stolen kisses, sneaking drinks in the parking lot, and the best live rock and roll around!

Its official name back then, was the Poonamalie Pavilion, but nobody called it that.  To my friends and me, it was simply the Rideau Ferry Inn; and you could find us there most weekend nights in the summer, socializing, laughing, and dancing the night away.

Situated along the clear, blue waters of the Rideau, the Rideau Ferry Inn has hosted many generations of tourists and boaters, providing sumptuous meals, comfortable accommodation, and lively entertainment.  Arguably, the highlight of the small settlement of Rideau Ferry, our former teenage haunt, wasn’t the original structure at this location.  The original building was actually a home.

The original structure was a house built in 1853 by Archibald Campbell.  Archibald married Elizabeth Buchanan, a preacher’s daughter.  Her father was the Reverend George Buchanan, and was one of the early Presbyterian ministers of Beckwith Township, serving the congregation at Franktown.

Their daughter, Helen Buchanan Campbell, married John Coutts.  As her parents were aging, and needed assistance, the couple moved in with them in 1870.  During that time, John made some additions to the home, and when he was finished, they not only had ample room for themselves, but had more than enough room to accommodate guests.  They began to rent rooms in the house to summer tourists, who were traveling by boat ,along the mighty Rideau waterways.

Coutts_House

As the years went by, their home became known as ‘Coutts House’, and eventually, had the reputation of being a very fine hotel.  In 1893 a three-storey addition was built at the back of the house.  A large dining room was added to the first floor. The second and third floors had fifteen hotel rooms each, and an indoor bathroom.

Rideau Ferry Coutts House 1889

After 1905, the building was rented to a series of business men. During the 1920s and 30s, regattas became popular, and Coutts House held canoe races, and rowboats races. The Coutts family also sponsored competitions for sailboats, and it was the site of many grand daytime celebrations, and intimate evening affairs, for the wealthy travelers, visiting in the summer.

In 1947, Doug Wallace, native of Osgoode bought Coutts House, tore it down, and built a new structure with wood framing, and grey granite blocks.  It was a two-storey building, and the second floor featured a large dance area, with seating on three sides.

By the 1960s, the building had become known as the Rideau Ferry Inn, and during this time, became licensed for liquor sales.  Up until that time people would smuggle in their own booze, particularly in the roaring twenties when rum-running along the Rideau had its hey-day.

Rideau Ferry Bridge

It was in the 1970s, that I first heard the tales about the popular night spot, and all the good times that were had at the Rideau Ferry Inn.  There were stories told up and down the halls of the Perth High School – stories of summer romances with cottagers staying at seasonal properties nearby, or the ultra-cool teens that traveled by boat along the Rideau, with their parents.  There was also talk of the teenage kids from the States, and their hip clothing and accessories; styles that would take years to reach our little communities near Perth.  There were lots of accounts at our high school of the talented rock bands that performed, and of the nights spent dancing to the top hits played by edgy disc jockeys.  I couldn’t wait to go and see it for myself.

Paul Tarle Band

photo: L.  Steve Francis, Mike McPherson, Brian Jones, and seated – Paul Tarle.

The main house-band at ‘The Inn’ in the early 1970s was the Paul Tarle Band – and we showed off our cool dance moves, as we listened to their popular rock classics.

Dance 1970s

One of the best parties of our steamy Lanark County  summers was the annual Rideau Ferry Regatta. Beautiful, sleek, boats from all over, competing for the sought-after prizes, and the prestige of being ‘Number 1’ on the big lakes.

Boat Show Rideau Ferry

Regattas were all about hot sun, cold beers, the cool, clear waters of the Rideau Lakes, and beautiful boats all around us.

Rideau Ferry Inn 1982

We’ll never forget the annual regattas, or the great music at the Rideau Ferry Inn. Bands like ‘Sammy Seaman’ and his group kept us up until the wee hours.  Some nights it was ‘Woody Herman and the Young Thundering Herd’, and other evenings we were entertained by the ‘Paul Chabot Band’.   Occasionally, instead of live bands at the ‘Inn’, there was a ‘Disco’ dance provided by a local disc jockey, by the name of  ‘Sounds Great’.

Many years after our frequent teenage visits to the Rideau Ferry Inn, the building was purchased by Elmer and Eva Purdon.  It was still ‘the’ place at that time to host fancy wedding receptions, or 50th wedding anniversary celebrations.

Because we’d had so many good times at the Rideau Ferry Inn, it was a terrible shock for my friends and I when we heard about the fire in February of 1986, that destroyed our former dance hall.  The fire started on the top floor, where the dances had been held for so many years.  The ground floor was also destroyed in the fire, and that is where the kitchen, the large dining room, and bar were located.

My friends and I drove down to Rideau Ferry a few days after the fire.  I don’t think it was so much out of curiosity, but more out of disbelief.  Could it be true, that the place where we’d passed so many of our happy youthful hours was really gone? There were so many memories of friendships, dancing, and all of the special evenings we spent at the Rideau Ferry Inn.

We drove up to where the Inn had stood, and looked around. No one said a word.  I think that as we stared at the charred foundation of the building, each of us was recalling our own versions of the times spent there, in our youth.  They were such innocent, awkward, magical, teenage times. We sat there for a few more moments, still silent, and then drove away, back up the Ferry Road toward Perth.

The building may be gone, but our fond memories of the Rideau Ferry Inn will remain with us forever.  We will always remember the music, the friends, and the good times. Those long summer nights, when the stars seemed to shine a little brighter, the sunsets glowed a little softer.  The peaceful, pristine, waters of the Rideau Lakes made a perfect backdrop for those innocent days of our youth, when life stretched out ahead of us…..so full of promise, and our dreams for the future.

Lake Life sunset

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An excerpt from – ‘Revelry and Rogues on the Rideau’  – ‘Lanark County Chronicle’ available in local book stores, or online. ISBN 978-0-9877026-23

LC Chronicle from web

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Local Names:

Although there were lots of tourists and visitors in the summer, they were only there for a few short weeks at most. We became acquainted with many of the folks who lived year-round at Rideau Ferry, and some of the local names at that time were: McLean, Donaldson, Buchanan, Gemmill, Frost, Sewell, Coutts, Gallagher, Beveridge, McKay, Wills, McVeety, Millar, Tully, Oliver, Dettrick, Bethune, Purdon, Hitchcock, Fitzgerald, Hall, Gould, Irving, Joynt, King, McCue, Wallace, McKay and Campbell.

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Join the author on a steamy hot summer night, park your car outside the Rideau Ferry Inn in the ‘passion pit’,  duck as the beer-bottles fly, and the action heats up outside.  Hear some of the top bands from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s play some classic rock and roll along the peaceful shores of the Rideau – read about it in the new book, released September 2020:

“Lanark County Collection: Winding Our Way Down Memory Lane”

LC Collection cover

available at The Book Nook, and The Bookworm, in Perth, and Mill Street Books in Almonte.

Also online at http://www.staffordwilson.com

photos:  Perth Historical Society, Carol-Ann McDougall, Perth Remembered, Vintage Smiths Falls and Perth, The Perth Courier, Georgia McNally, Vintage Race Boat Shop, and from private collections.

For boating on the big lakes  – Rideau Ferry Marina

Rideau Ferry Regatta

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http://www.staffordwilson.com

Finding the Spirit of Christmas in Lanark County

girl-at-the-window

The glass felt cold as I pressed my face against the kitchen window, and watched the snowflakes falling softly on the spruce tree beside the old house. The Christmas lights were wrapped ‘round and ‘round the tree, and the soft colours shone on the snow-covered branches below.

spruce-tree

It was Christmas Eve, the most magical night of the year, and I was bursting with anticipation. Santa was coming tonight, and would surely be leaving some wonderful gifts under the tree in the living room. I had been very good all year, and had written a letter asking for a lovely new doll with long red hair and big blue eyes. I stared up at the night sky, white with snow and wondered where Santa was? Was he in Lanark County yet, or was he delivering his toys to children in other parts of the world, along his route? Hal Botham, on CJET radio, said that Santa’s sleigh was spotted up north, so I was sure that he must be on his way to the Third Line!

Santa flying  Hal Botham

Supper was finished, and Mother was tidying up the kitchen. Soon, we’d be heading over to Calvin Church for their candlelight service. Every year we were allowed to open one present after returning from church, and then we had to head straight to bed, and go right to sleep, so that Santa could deliver our gifts.

When Mother was finished sweeping the floor, we put on our coats and boots, and headed outside. The old car was chilly, and the heater was blowing cold air. I shivered as we headed down the lane, and up the Third Line, toward DeWitt’s Corners.

snowy road

Everyone’s Christmas lights glowed,on that night, so long ago. The pine tree in front of Chris and Leanore Perkins’ house was decked out in blue lights, and Korrys had red and green lights framing their front door. Mitchells, Conboys and Scotts all had lovely bright lights, and we passed by house after house, all aglow in their Christmas finest.  Then we slowed down, and turned up Cameron side road.

farmhouse-christmas-lights-1     farmhouse-christmas-lights-2

farmhouse-christmas-lights-3   farmhouse-lights-4

When we finally arrived at the church, there were only a few cars parked, and some people had already gone inside. The light coming from the little country church glowed softly against the cool white snow, and the delicate flakes continued to swirl around as we parked, and Mother shut off the engine. When I opened the car door the church yard was silent. The snow continued to drift down softly, and as I stood there I listened, but couldn’t hear a thing. We didn’t speak as we walked up to the church, and I’ll never forget how calm and peaceful it was that night as we walked up those well worn steps.

Calvin United Church

Calvin United Church, Cameron Side Road, Tay Valley Township, Lanark County

We sat in our usual pew, behind Munros, in front of Johnstons, and in the next little while familiar faces appeared again and again at the doorway of the church, filed in, and took their seats. Many stopped to chat on the way to their pews. They were our neighbours, our classmates from Glen Tay School, and our good friends. As I looked around at all of their faces I realized how special it was to be there that night, and to be a part of this close community.

advent-candles

When everyone was finally seated, and it seemed like the little church couldn’t hold even one more person, the sounds of the organ filled the air, and the old wooden pews creaked as everyone stood up at once. The song was a familiar one; we all knew the words, and our voices swelled in unison as we sang the ancient carol, “Si..lent night……., Ho..ly night………,  All is calm……., All is bright.”

christmas-candlelight-service

Old, familiar carols were sung, and the story of the first Christmas was told once again.

And so that was how Christmas unfolded out in the country. The days and months leading up to that moment were filled with anticipation. Trees were trimmed, and cards were mailed. Letters to Santa were written, and toys were circled in pen, in the Sears Christmas Wishbook. We rehearsed for Christmas concerts, and ran down the lane each day, bringing back handfuls of Christmas cards, adorned with stickers and seals. Cookies were baked, and invitations went out to family members and friends,to come and spend the day.

All of these things played their part leading up to the most special day of the year; but it was not until we sat in the pews of the small country church, and raised our voices, singing our favourite carols, that I knew for sure that the spirit of Christmas was among us.

shepherds

I knew from an early age that the spirit of Christmas didn’t live in the beautifully decorated store windows in Perth, or under the brightly lit tree in our living room. I’m not sure if the Christmas spirit travelled up the Third Line, and down the Cameron side road like us, or if it came up Highway 7, and crossed at Gamble’s side road. I still don’t know how the Christmas spirit found us, in the little church……….all the way out in the country.

mary-and-joseph

All I know is every year it appeared on Christmas Eve without fail. I could see it in the faces around me, I heard it as we sang the carols, and our voices rose high into the old wooden ceiling. It warmed our hearts, filled us with pure joy, and a profound sense of peace.

christmas-spirit

If you ever find yourself searching for the Christmas spirit, I’ll tell you where it is. Just drive out the Third Line on Christmas Eve, to the little country church on Cameron side road. It’s the small red brick church at the top of the hill. Go ahead inside, and then wait. You’ll feel it. It will be there. It’s always there; and even if you live far, far, away, you can take it home with you, keep it in your heart, and it will stay with you forever.

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas banner 2

Some of the faces I remember on Christmas Eve at Calvin Church:

Calvin 1

Calvin 2

Calvin 3

Calvin 4

Calvin 5

Calvin 6

Calvin 7

Some are gone, none are forgotten.

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mangerFor unto you

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Calvin United Church was opened for worship in September of 1896, built on the property of Mr. John Cameron.  The first elected officers in the church were Andrew Gamble, William Scott, Andrew Palmer, George Miller, Andrew B. Miller, Andrew W. Miller, W.J. Palmer, John Jordan, Nichol Stewart, Alex Palmer and Sydney Miller. 

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To learn more of the history of Calvin United Church, Cameron Side road,DeWitt’s Corners, Tay Valley Township, Lanark County:

History of Calvin United Church

“Finding the Spirit of Christmas in Lanark County”,
An excerpt from “Lanark County Calendar:  Four Seasons on the Third Line”
ISBN:  978-0-9877026-30
Available at The Book Nook, Perth, The Bookworm, Perth, Mill Street Books, Almonte
and online: http://www.staffordwilson.com

L C Calendar book cover

http://www.staffordwilson.com