5 Lessons from Our Country Garden

cucumbers and onions in vinegar

 

Lessons from the Country Garden

Looking back, our humble garden on the Third Line, taught us some important life lessons.

1. Patience

We learned patience, in the long, slow, process, of waiting months, for the vegetables to grow.

2. Responsibility

We learned the value of careful watchfulness, making sure that the weeds were pulled, and the ground was kept moist.

3. Enjoying the Fruits of our Labour

We also learned the rewards of hard work, as we carried the ripened vegetables into the house, anticipating the flavours of summer.

4. A Penny Saved, is a Penny Earned

Another lesson was ‘thrift’, and the money that could be saved, in times when there wasn’t much money, in growing our food from seed.

5. A Quiet Mind

Most of all, we learned that working in the garden provided tranquility. It was an inner peace that comes from our hands working in the warm earth, and feeling the welcome heat of the sun soothing our faces and backs.  Our country garden not only fed our bodies, but also nurtured our souls.

cucumbers

Mother’s Cucumber Salad

Mother made a special treat from our garden with cucumbers and onions, still warm from the earth.  With a few simple ingredients, anyone can enjoy this gift from the ground, a Stafford family favourite.  Prepared early on summer mornings, the mixture sat in a glass jar, on the old kitchen table, all day. As each of us passed by, our mouths watered, knowing those sweet, sharp, flavours would be the highlight of the evening meal…

INGREDIENTS

2 cups water

1/3 cup vinegar (apple cider, white, and rice wine – your favourite)

2 Tbsp sugar (optional)

1 to 2 tsp salt

2-3 sliced garden cucumbers

sliced onion or green onion 5 – 10 whole green onions – trimmed, or ½ c – 1 c sliced onion

Additional vegetables may be added  (sliced sweet bell peppers, whole cherry tomatoes)

Method:

In a bowl, or large glass jar, add the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt.

Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Add the onions and cucumbers.

Let stand for at least four hours, until you are ready to eat.

(you can refrigerate if you like, but our Mother let the mixture sit in a glass jar, on the kitchen table, from early morning, until supper time)

Enjoy!

girl in garden  cucumber pai;

 

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

For more farm-fresh summer recipes: ‘Recipes & Recollections – Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen’ – 

R and R bookmark image

 

 

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.

rcaf_wd_recruiting

Recruiting poster, 1942, RCAF, Womens’ Division

 

Jack Rutherford

Audry’s brother, Jack Rutherford (photo above) – wanted very much to serve in WWII, but was not accepted as a recruit, due to his eyesight.

 

The No. 8 Bombing and Gunnery School in Lethbridge, Alberta, would become Audry’s new home, where she would meet the dashing young Lanark County farm boy Tib Stafford.

audry-in-uniform

Audry in uniform, on a visit with her parents in Edmonton, Alberta

 

mother-and-dad-dating-in-lethbridge

Audry Rutherford and Tib Stafford, on a date in the city of Lethbridge, Alberta in 1943

 

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

 

Mother and Dad's wedding announcement

Audry and Tib’s wedding announcement, Edmonton Journal, July 13, 1943, page 8

 

mother-and-dads-wedding

Audry (Rutherford) Stafford & Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford – on their wedding day July 12, 1943

 

Audry took great pride in her military contributions, and was honoured to be in the very first graduating class of Physical Education Instructors for the RCAF Womens’ Division.

airforce-women-1942-001

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.

 

Tim and Judy 1946

Tim Stafford and Judy Stafford, 1947

 

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.

Stafford-House-in-1947

Stafford House – 1947, 3rd line of Bathurst (Tay Valley) Township

 

Mother Tim Judy Jackie.jpg

l to rt.- Judy Stafford, Audry Rutherford Stafford, Tim Stafford (front – Jackie Stafford)

 

Judy Tim Jackie Roger at the fence

Judy Stafford , Tim Stafford, Jackie Stafford and Roger Stafford

 

Stafford Christmas long ago

l to rt – Roger Stafford, Arlene Stafford on Judy Stafford’s lap, Audry (Rutherford) Stafford, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford, Tim Stafford, Jackie Stafford

 

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.

Perth Fair results 1965

perth-fairfirst-place-ribbons

 

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-stafford-judging-a-quilt

Judge Audry Stafford, performing her duties, at the Lombardy Agricultural Fair

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, 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)

recipes-recollections-cover-1

 

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’.

 

apple sauce loaf

Audry’s Apple Sauce Bread – won first prize ribbons, year after year at local fairs

 

“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 &  Mill St. Books  in Almonte, or online at http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story

big rideau lake

They were a couple of crazy kids from Kirkland Lake – outdoorsy-types, loved to ski and ride ski-doos, and most of all, they loved each other. After high school, they enrolled at Carleton U. , married in 1982, settled down in Orleans, and raised a couple of kids.

Fifteen years ago they went for a drive, and that was the first time they laid eyes on the Rideau Lakes. They’d never seen anything so blue, so peaceful, and so perfect. He looked at her and said, “This place feels like home.” And at that precise moment, they decided that someday they would build a house on that very spot.

At first, they bought a trailer, and a plot of land near the shoreline, and every season, without fail, they returned to the Big Rideau.

Their kids grew up, and they knew that it was time –  time to sell the house in the suburbs and build their dream along the water’s edge. The Big Rideau had been calling their names for years, and they were finally able to answer.

 

ken and carol ann

Mornings begin now with pink skies at sunrise, and waves gently lapping the shores. Evenings wind down to the sound of the loons as the sun dips low along the horizon and eventually disappears into the lake.

Ken on the boat

 

A bumper crop of apples, along with a perennial Perth Fair prize-winning recipe for Applesauce Loaf from “Recipes & Recollections”, filled their lake house with the warm scents of home baking.

applesauce bowl and bookapple sauce loaf in the pan 5

applesauce loaf in the ovenapplesauce bread finished

 

Time is spent lovingly restoring a 1961 classic boat to her former glory, and day-trips to Perth or Brockville, along the scenic Rideau waterway.

ferry bridge

 

lake life with ken and carol ann

 

boat

 

You never know who might stop by for a visit in Rideau Ferry!

deer at Rideau Ferry

 

Pull up a chair on the deck, and soak up the warm summer sun…

dog 2

 

 

Make some new friends at the annual Rock the Dock…

life at the lake

 

 

or dance the night away at the yearly corn roast, along the shores of the Big Rideau

night scene

 

Grab a cold drink, and sit outside at the fire pit.

fire pit

 

Whether you feel like socializing, or would prefer a quiet evening listening to the sounds of the loons, there’s always something to do at the lake!

loons

The beguiling charm of Rideau Ferry has been capturing the hearts of visitors and residents alike going back as far as the days of the pioneer settlers.

“One of the most notorious characters that passed his leisure time along the Rideau waterways was none other than Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone.  Al Capone was a mobster based out of Chicago, and he made his fortune as a bootlegger, during prohibition.

Al Capone

He is said to have been a frequent visitor to a grand home in Kemptville, that was once owned by John Harris.  Harris was a local who became a pharmacist, and worked in Chicago.

 

Al Capone's house

It has been suggested, that because of his background in chemistry and science, he was possibly cooking up quantities of moonshine in his home, and as you can imagine, this was of great interest to Capone.

In 1927 Harris built the beautiful, stone mansion that still stands today on Oxford Street in Kemptville.  Locals say that the house was built with a state of the art security system, and series of underground passages.  The grand home features leaded glass, a main switch to control all of the lights in the house, and a panic button wired directly to the local police station. It has yet to be confirmed that there are two tunnels leading from the house; one that links the home to the Kemptville Hotel, and the other which connects the house to the river.

Some of the stories have suggested that Capone himself hid a quarter of a million dollars, between the walls.  Whether fact or fiction, witnesses, some of them lifelong residents of Kemptville, who were around in the 1930s and 40s, claim they saw many long, black limousines and the infamous black Cadillac parked at the home.  Coincidentally or not, Harris sold the house, and moved away within a few weeks after Capone’s death.”

On a lighter note, one of the popular dancehalls of the 1950s – 70s was known as the Rideau Ferry Inn. It was built on the site of what was originally a family home known as ‘Coutts House’.

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. They also sponsored events for sailboats and it was the site of many grand daytime celebrations and intimate evening affairs for the wealthy travelers visiting in the summer.

Coutts_House

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 smuggled in their own booze, particularly in the roaring twenties when rum-running along the Rideau had its hey-day.”

Rideau Ferry Inn

Whether you’re a visitor to the Rideau Lakes region, or living the ‘Lake Life’ like residents Ken and Carol-Ann McDougall, Rideau Ferry and its majestic, pristine waterways offers something for everyone.

With a rich history, and its striking beauty, the lakes are a wonderful place to pull up a chair and enjoy the view.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

If you spend time around Rideau Ferry, you may hear these surnames that go back in the history of the area since the early days of the settlement:

Best

Bethune

Beveridge

Buchanan

Campbell

Cornell

Covell

Crombie

Dettrick

Donaldson

Fitzgerald

Frost

Gallagher

Gemmell

Gould

Grierson

Hall

Hitchcock

Houze

Irving

Jackson

Johnson

Joynt

King

Mathews

McCue

McKay

McLean

McVeety

Millar

Miller

Moore

Oliver

Poole

Purdon

Reid

Richards

Rintoul

Runge

Sewell

Shaw

Smith

Stewart

Taylor

Thomlinson

Tully

Vandusen

Wallace

Wills

Wilson

Wood

——-

Excerpts on Coutts House, and Al Capone’s heyday, taken from:
“Lanark County Chronicle – Double Back to the Third Line”    ISBN 978-0-9877026-26

LC Chronicle

Recipe for the prize-winning Applesauce Loaf, may be found in –
“Recipes & Recollections: Treats and Tales from our Mother’s Kitchen”  ISBN 978-0-9877026-09
recipes & recollections cover 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Available in local book stores, and online
www.staffordwilson.com

The Stafford House

 Stafford House

When the book “Recipes and Recollections” was first published in 2011, most people could only dream of visiting its magical setting. As the book gained popularity beyond the local region, it’s likely that many readers had no idea where such places as Glen Tay or DeWitt’s Corners were located. They may have even wondered, “Is it a real place?”

Perched on a gentle hill, a short drive west of Perth, Ontario, the ‘Stafford House’ has become known as one of the area’s most celebrated fictional houses. It is one of the best examples of a building associated with a Canadian author, Arlene Stafford-Wilson, who used the farmhouse as both the inspiration, and the setting, for her popular books.

Built in 1906, the two-storey house, a warm and welcoming residence, was home to the Stafford family for almost 50 years.

Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford, and his wife Audry (Rutherford) Stafford, members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, met during WWII, at the Number 8 Bombing and Gunnery School, in Lethbridge, Alberta.  They married in 1943, shortly before Tib was shipped overseas, to serve in Bournemouth, England.  Their first child, Timothy, was born in Lethbridge in 1944, and their second, Judy, in 1945.

When the war ended, Tib brought his young family back to his native Eastern Ontario. Born and raised on the 11th concession of Drummond Township, he spent his youth on the homestead of his namesake, native of southern Ireland, and an early pioneer settler to the region.

With the help of a Veteran’s grant, Tib and Audry purchased the ‘Stafford House’, from Tib’s aunt and uncle, Thomas Carberry, and Clara (Richards) Carberry.

George Watson started out in Perth after WW2 ended by working as an electrician’s helper at McVeety’s Electrical.  He then hired on to Ontario Hydro as a lineman when the company was first established in town.

Susan Watson:

“Dad recognized your Dad out in the county coming along the road with a big wagon.  He was pleased to see him, having known him in the Air Force in Lethbridge, where my Dad was a pilot for the Ferry Squadron and your Dad was a frame mechanic and your Mum was a fitness instructor.  My Dad and your Mum were both Westerners so they were a threesome of friends.

The hookup for electricity in the 1940’s was a mere 35 amps.  People needing more had 50 amps but that was rare.  Your house had the 35.  Wiring the house was fairly straightforward except for all those bats in your attic and their guano everywhere up there.

In 1948, when we moved to a new wartime house on South Street, your Dad was our milkman!”

 

Stafford House in 1947

Stafford House – c. 1947

 

Early History of Stafford House

The Land

The southwest half of Lot 14, Concession 3, of Bathurst Township, was a Crown Grant, deeded to John Wilson. These ‘crown grants’ were given to loyal soldiers, who served in the British Army. John Wilson, a gunner, with the Royal Artillery, served for 11 years, and 107 days.  Wilson, his wife, and two children were ‘located’ on the property, on September 20th, 1816. The land was officially deeded to John Wilson, on June 20th, 1820.

The Original Owners of Stafford House

– Isabella Thompson Miller & Andrew Burns Miller

Isabella Thompson Miller (1850-1928) born in North Gower, Ontario, was the daughter of Gilbert Thompson and Agnes Callandar.   She was the fifth child of seven, and remained on the family farm in North Gower, until the age of 28, when she married Andrew Miller.

Andrew Miller (1850-1909), was born in Bathurst Township, the son of William Miller and Margaret Burns.  He was the youngest of nine children, and laboured on his parents farm until the age of 28, when he married Isabella Thompson.

Late in the fall of 1896, Andrew and Isabella Miller both age 46, purchased the land where Stafford House stands today, and they moved into a house, built by one of the previous owners.  It is not known at this time, if this was the original dwelling built by the Wilson family.

Unless a settler was of independent means, the early homes built in Eastern Ontario, in the early nineteenth century, were almost always built with logs, cut while clearing the property, due to cost and convenience.  It is quite likely that the existing house, when the Miller family purchased the farm,was constructed of logs:

“Few habitations can be more rude than those of the first settlers, which are built of logs, and covered with bark or boards…. The most that an emigrant can do the first year, is to
erect his habitation, and cut down the trees on as much ground as will be sufficient to plant ten or twelve bushels of potatoes, and to sow three or four bushels of grain.”

MacGregor, J. – 1832,  British America. 2 vols. Blackwood,  Edinburgh

As settlement progressed in Eastern Ontario, and more land was cleared and put into agricultural production, owners often replaced existing log homes with improved structures of frame, brick, or stone.

The Red Brick House

The Miller family, built the existing red brick home, in 1906, ten years after purchasing the property.

When the house was completed, after much excitement and anticipation, Andrew Miller, his wife, Isabella, their three children moved in: Andrew and Isabella were both 56 years old, and their children John, age 25, Ernest, 20, and Nina, 17 years old.

A Wedding!

The house was just 2 years old, when Isabelle and Andrew Miller’s son Sterling, married his sweetheart Jessie, on 8 Sep 1908.  Jessie Graham, was the daughter of John Graham and Jean Hastie.  They were married in Calvin United Church, a short drive from home, on Cameron Sideroad.  Calvin United Church, a fairly new building at that time, was built in 1896, 10 years before the Miller’s completed construction on the house. 

Calvin United Church December 20140001

Calvin United Church, built in 1896, Bathurst Township (Tay Valley Township)

Sudden Death of Andrew Miller

Sadly, Andrew Miller lived less than three years in their brand new home.

It was said that Andrew, age 59, showed no signs of illness, and had worked, as usual, in the barn all day, with no complaints, according to his obituary, published in ‘The Perth Courier’:

“After partaking of tea in the evening, he read for a while and then lay down on the lounge, and slept for about an hour.  Awakening from this sleep, he went out to the stable to see to the horses, which is a usual thing for some of the men in the family to do.  Returning, he again read until about 11:30, when he retired.  Mrs. Miller, being partly asleep, did not notice anything until his deep breathing caused her to call to him.  Receiving no answer, she gave him a slight shake, and finding him not moving she proceeded to light the lamp, and gave the alarm to her daughter (Nina), who proceeded to her parent’s bedroom and received the terrible shock that the vital spark had fled.”

(an excerpt from the obituary of Andrew Burns Miller, ‘The Perth Courier’, February 26, 1909 p. 1.)

The medical examiner determined that on Feb 21, 1909, Andrew died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

At the time that Andrew Miller passed away, his son, Sterling, and his wife, lived two miles from the homestead, also on the 3rd concession of Bathurst Township, and his son, Ernest, and daughter, Nina, were still living at home.

Two More Weddings

In the years that followed, two more weddings were celebrated in the Miller family.  First, Ernest, then Nina’s weddings:

Ernest Miller’s Wedding – 6 years after the house was built

On Sept 4, 1912, Ernest Miller age 26, married May White, of Almonte, daughter of George White and Elizabeth Hossie.  They had two sons, Andrew ‘Gordon’ Miller, born 1913, and John ‘Jack’ Miller, born 1920.

Nina Miller’s Wedding – 13 years after the house was built

Oct. 22nd 1919, Nina, age 30,  married Bill Stewart, age 29, son of  Nicholas Stewart and Mary Ann Robertson, of Bathurst.  Nina and Bill had two sons – Andrew ‘Andy, in 1920, and Kenneth ‘Ken’, in 1922.

Death of Isabella Miller – 22 years after the house was built

Isabella ‘Bella’ Miller passed away, at home, on October 5th, 1928, at age 78.  The funeral was held at home, officiated by D.B. Gordon, of Calvin United Church, then to Elmwood Cemetery in Perth.  Pallbearers were Norman and John Wallace, Edwin and Harvey Miller, her nephews, George Korry, and James Scott.

After his mother, ‘Bella’, passed away in 1928, Ernest, age 42, was head of the household, and continued to farm the land.  His sons Andrew ‘Gordon’ Miller moved to Sudbury, and worked as a smelter, and younger son, John ‘Jack’ Miller moved to Toronto.

Ernest Miller Drowns

“I recall at a very young age, my mother and I were in the basement of the old house, and I was asking questions about who lived there before us.  She said that she believed it was a Miller family, and that one of their children had drowned.  

Mother and Dad didn’t live in the house until 1946, and so it was likely either one of the neighbours who told her this, or perhaps Dad’s aunt and uncle, who owned the home after the Miller family.” 

                                                    Arlene Stafford-Wilson

 

Tragedy for the Miller Family: Nov 9th, 1931, Ernest Miller, age 45, Accidental Drowning in Green Lake

Ernest Miller drowns 1931

 

 

Nina Miller Stewart

– Just three years after the accidental drowning of her brother, Ernest, on April 6 1934 – Nina died suddenly, of cardiac failure, , at the age of 45.

Of the original Miller family – only the eldest brother, Sterling, survived.  Sterling lived to age 82, and passed away in 1962.  Sterling spent his life farming on the 3rd concession of Bathurst, 2 miles from the family home.  His wife Jessie predeceased him in 1950.  At the time of his death, Sterling was survived by his late sister Nina’s sons, Andrew and Ken Stewart, of the Perth area, and his late brother Ernest’s two son’s, Andrew ‘Gordon’, of Sudbury, and John ‘Jack’ Miller of Toronto.

After so much tragedy in the Miller family, the house was sold, and ownership changed from the ‘Estate of Ernest Miller’ to Thomas Carberry.

1936 New Owners of the house – Thomas and Clara Carberry

Tom Carberry, and Clara Richards Carberry, grew up in the Ferguson Falls area, attended the same schools, and also were members of St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic church.

Tom was the son of Michael Carberry and Bridget Lynch Carberry.  Tom’s grandfather, James Carberry, was a member of the group that came to be known as ‘The Seven Irish Bachelors’.  The seven young men came from Ireland together in 1820, and made a pact that they would work together, and each would help the other become successful. They also agreed that if they failed, they would return to southern Ireland.  They were: John Quinn, Patrick Quinn, Terrence Doyle, James Power, John Cullen, William Scanlon, and James Carberry.

Thomas Carberry was born at Ferguson Falls, and farmed on the family homestead in his early years.  In 1931, he sold the farm, and he moved to California. Tom had two sisters living in California, Esther ‘Essie’ Carberry Diericx in San Francisco, and Bridget Carberry Zanetti, living in Mountain View, California.

During his years in Mountain View, Tom purchased a fruit farm and operated the business for several years before returning to Canada.

When he returned to Lanark County, in 1936, he purchased the farm on the third concession of Bathurst Township, from the estate of the late Ernest Miller.

Clara Richards, Tom’s wife, was the daughter of Thomas Richards, and Catherine McKittrick. Thomas Richards, farmer, was also a superintendent of schools for the Township of Drummond.  Catherine McKittrick, wife and mother, was said to have skin so fair that she resembled a porcelain doll.

Thomas Carberry and his wife, Clara Richards Carberry lived in the red brick home, and took great care of the surrounding property.  It was during the time they  lived there that Tom’s knowledge of cultivating fruit trees led to the planting and tending of an apple orchard behind the house.  Although the climate was not as favourable as in California, Tom and Clara tended their trees with care, and each fall had a nice crop of McIntosh apples, perfect for pies, applesauce, and snacks.

Tom and Clara remained in the house for ten years.

When their nephew, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford, returned from the war, with his wife, Audry, and two young children, Tim, and Judy, Tom offered to sell them the home and land.

 

 

This traditional, rural home would become the backdrop for many well-loved books: “Lanark County Kid”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Calendar” and “Recipes and Recollections” “Lanark County Classics” “Lanark County Connections”, and “Lanark County Calling: All Roads Lead Home.

Judy Tim Jackie Roger at the fence

Along the fence, at the west side of the property, 1958 – l to r – Judy Stafford, Tim Stafford, Jackie Stafford, and Roger Stafford

 

Jackie Ronnie Judy Arlene

l to rt. at the bottom – Arlene Stafford, Jackie Stafford, Ronnie Waterhouse (our cousin) Judy Stafford – this shows the location of the old barn. When the barn was torn down in 1961 it was replaced with the white wooden garage, built by Tib and his sons. Still standing today.

Audry in front of the house

Audry (Rutherford) Stafford, standing on the sidewalk, facing west

Judy and Arlene at the front steps

This view shows Judy (Stafford) Ryan (left) and Arlene Stafford-Wilson (rt), along the sidewalk. This was the entrance used the most by the Stafford family.  The area between the sidewalk and the brick wall was used as a flower bed; with brightly coloured tulips in the spring, and then with bright annuals in the summer, like marigolds and petunias.

 

Staffords Jackie Tim Roger Judy Arlene

The Stafford children standing on the sidewalk, facing west, in 1962: l to r – Jackie Stafford, Tim Stafford, Judy Stafford, Arlene Stafford, front: Roger Stafford

Judy near the spruce tree

Judy (Stafford) Ryan, 1964, standing near the steps, on the west side of the house. The spruce tree to her right is mentioned often in the stories leading up to Christmastime. As this tree grew larger over the years, Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford strung brightly coloured lights on the branches. He used small aluminum pie plates behind each light, to act as reflectors, and the modest display could be seen from the Third Line.

The Stafford House, is valued both for its good aesthetic, and functional architecture. Its farmhouse design, places it firmly in Canadian vernacular building traditions of the earliest part of the 20th century. It is of an appealing, sturdy type, very common to many areas of eastern Canada. The interior of the house boasts a classic, traditional design, featuring good craftsmanship, and durable materials.

old back porch

Arlene Stafford, and Roger Stafford, washing his beloved dog, Mike
(the original back porch, accessed through the kitchen on the inside)

new back porch

Arlene Stafford with Jackie Stafford – Building materials can be seen on the lawn as the new back porch had just been completed.   Inside access was through the kitchen.  There were outside steps up to the landing. The clothesline, where Mother stood to hang clothing and bedding, attached to the new back porch, can also be seen in the photo.

Judy at the front door

This photo of Judy (Stafford) Ryan, and the Stafford family pet, Mike,  shows how the entrance appeared in the early 1960s. This was the door commonly used by the family, not the more formal entrance at the center of the front of the house.  The outer door was replaced in the early 1970s with an aluminum-framed screen door.

new garage

 

Many aspects of the interior plan, finishes, and details, have been lovingly preserved, and its overall scale and materials, are enhanced by its setting in park-like grounds, surrounded by stately maple trees.

The author described the family home: “a big beautiful red brick house, smothered in tall maples in the front, and apple orchards at the back, was the magical home of my childhood”

Judy Jackie and Arlene apple orchards

1964 – Judy Stafford, Jackie Stafford, front – Arlene Stafford – to the rear Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford, in front of the apple orchard- the orchard was located behind the house.

Judy in the apple orchard

Judy Stafford in the apple orchard

 

Arlene in the apple orchard

Arlene Stafford gathers apple blossoms, in the easterly section of the apple orchard, behind the Stafford House – 1964

Judy and Arlene in the orchard

Arlene Stafford-Wilson (l) and Judy (Stafford) Ryan, in the west section of the apple orchard, behind the Stafford house, 1964.

 

1967 Christmas

 

the old house

The Stafford House, as it appeared from 1946-1992, while the Stafford family lived there.

Many are charmed by the beauty of the surrounding countryside, and the large and romantic woodland which drifts gently down the hillside, towards the railroad tracks, and the beloved duck pond, mentioned many times in Stafford-Wilson’s books.

tracks back the side road

Nearby, visitors can take a short walk, or a drive down the side road, and see the little creek where the Stafford children caught tadpoles in the spring.

creek-behind-the-house0001

In the cooler weather, visitors may walk along the fields, where the young Staffords carefully chose their Christmas tree each year in December.

Stafford Christmas tree

A Stafford family Christmas tree – fresh-cut from the woods behind the house. Standing at the rear – Judy Stafford, center, mother – Audry Stafford, l to r Jackie Stafford, Roger Stafford and Tim Stafford.   The television was placed along the front wall of the house. To the left of where the television was location, there was a ‘hall’ door, leading to the central outside door of the house, and to the vestibule and central staircase.  The chesterfield, which was a deep burgundy colour, was along the western wall.  The western wall ran parallel to the sidewalk.

View the rolling farmlands, stunning landscapes, and nearby tiny villages of Glen Tay, and DeWitts Corners. Take a short drive up Cameron Side Road, and you will see the charming red brick Calvin Church where the Stafford family attended, another landmark which is mentioned many times in Stafford-Wilson’s books.

Calvin United Church brightened

In 2014, for the first time, the Stafford House was open to the public, as part of the Heritage Perth Christmas House Tour. Special exhibits included photos from the private collections of the Stafford family showing the exterior and interior of the house as it was, when they lived there from 1946 – 1992. Included in the displays were some of the author’s Mother’s original hand-written recipes preserved, previously published in ‘Recipes and Recollections: Treats and Tales from our Mother’s Kitchen”.

Organized by the Perth and District Canadian Federation of University Women, the Heritage Perth Christmas House Tour, featured 8 local homes including the Stafford House, transformed for the holiday season by gifted local decorators.

Christmas House Tour

As the Stafford House changed ownership over the years, sold to the Brady family, then sold by the Brady family to the Parker family, renovations have taken place, including the addition of a front porch, and many modifications to the interior, to modernize the home.

Details of John Wilson’s Crown Grant – “Transactions of Land Grants Made at the Military Depot, Perth, Lanark County 1816 – 1819″, taken from National Archives of Canada, MG9, D8-27, Vol. 1, Microfilm Reel #C 4651

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Speaking Engagement at Archives Lanark

March 2 2013 LCGS0001Cattle Drives presentation March 2 20130001

It was a cool sunny day with clear roads for the drive to Archives Lanark, located in the old Drummond Township offices just east of Perth, Ontario.

The parking lot was full and the crowd was enthusiastic at the March meeting of the Lanark County Genealogical Society. It was great to see so many familiar faces and nice to see some new ones as well. We were greeted warmly by LCGS President Janet Dowdall, past President Marilyn Snedden and Irene Spence of Archives Lanark. It was a pleasure to finally meet Jayne Munro, Programme and Public Relations Co-ordinator who had invited me to speak on behalf of the LCGS. I would like to thank Frances Rathwell for supplying the digital projector as well as her help with the set-up.

The members of the LCGS provided a lovely table of refreshments including homemade muffins, cheese and crackers, assorted candies and a refreshing fruit punch.

It was nice to re-connect with old friend Max Sutherland and also to see Rosetta Van Alstine, sister of my former Glen Tay School classmate Anne. Also present was Irma Willoughby who shared her story of observing the cattle drives with her father, back in the day. Brian Dowdall brought great news that he and Janet had recently acquired some very old local documents including some original land titles dating back to the early 1800s.

The presentation included a PowerPoint slide show illustrating three of the pioneer families: McGarry, Stafford and Doyle. Also included were slides discussing the Thomas Stafford family and his descendants. The presentation concluded with a reading of Chapter 6 of my newest book ‘Lanark County Chronicle’ and the story of the ‘Cattle Drives of Ferguson Falls’. There was a question and answer period followed by the presentation of a bottle of maple syrup and a thank-you card from Frances Rathwell.

Sales were brisk at the book table and many books were signed; dedicated to their new owners.

We would like to thank the Lanark County Genealogical Society and Archives Lanark for hosting the event and for all who helped with the set-up and the delicious refreshments and made the day so memorable for us.

Book Signing Saturday December 15th in Perth

Book Nook

Join us at The Book Nook next Saturday, December 15th, 2012 from 12 noon until 2 p.m.

Set along the banks of the Tay River, the Book Nook offers something for readers of all ages and interests. Looking for a unique Christmas gift or stocking stuffer? How about a copy of ‘Lanark County Kid – My Travels Up and Down the Third Line’. Come back to the family farm in Bathurst township and share in the adventures in the nearby communities of Perth, Balderson, Lanark, Carleton Place and Almonte.

For the cook or baker on your list, or for someone who just likes to read about growing up in the 50s, 60s and 70s in Eastern Ontario, how about a copy of ‘Recipes and Recollections – Treats and Tales from our Mother’s Kitchen’. Set in picturesque Lanark County, the book takes you back to days on the farm, all through the seasons including our old fashioned country Christmas. The book includes over 90 award-winning recipes perfected by our late Mother, a former Judge at local fairs.

Have your copy signed and personalized for a memorable gift this Christmas. We will be at The Book Nook and would love to see some familiar faces from the Perth area and look forward to meeting some new folks as well.

The Book Nook is located at 60 Gore Street East, the main street of Perth, Ontario. It’s been said that Perth is “the prettiest town in Ontario” and you haven’t seen Perth until you’ve strolled down the historic streets at Christmas time. The shops, many of them nestled in stately stone buildings are all decked out in their Christmas best.

Whether you’re coming back home to Perth or you’re a first-time visitor, you’ll feel welcome. Photograph the historical sights or discover the quaint shops showcasing one of a kind gifts from the local artistic community. Wherever your travels take you in Perth, don’t forget to pop by The Book Nook and say ‘Hello!’.

See you next week!

Time for Christmas Baking!

“I think a little mouse has been in my cupboard!”, Mother would say mischievously. Of course I knew exactly who the ‘mouse’ or ‘mice’ were that had been sampling the baking supplies in the kitchen cupboard near the old sink. I was the ‘main’ mouse, and loved to sneak a little taste of the walnuts, coconut and cherries that Mother stored for her Christmas baking. My brother Roger was the other mouse in the house. He would sneak handfuls of chocolate chips from her baking cupboard after school, and scurry away into the living room.

walnutschipits

coconut                   cherries

Luckily, on those days, so long ago, there were still enough ingredients so Mother could add yet another type of cookie onto her list.

date squares   chocolate chews

Stacks of cookies and squares had been accumulating in the old chest freezer over the past couple of weeks.

toffee   chocolate fudge

 

She was knee-deep into her Christmas baking, and as the weeks flew by, there was an ever-growing supply of shortbread, sugar cookies, chocolate chews, date squares, fudge, and toffee piling up in preparation for the big day.

 

christmas-cookies

 

One of my favourite types of cookies Mother made, and tucked away in the freezer for Christmas, were the peanut butter balls. Once thawed, they were as sweet and tasty as the day they were made. They don’t require a lot of fancy ingredients, and they look festive and elegant on any Christmas dessert plate. Make them now, and stash them in your freezer! Hopefully, the ‘mice’ in your house will leave a few for Christmas!

 

kids-and-cookies

Peanut Butter Balls

1 c of peanut butter
1 c of rice crispies
½ c chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp of melted butter
1 c icing sugar
Desiccated coconut

Mix together the peanut butter, nuts, rice crispies, butter and vanilla, and roll into balls.
Drop the balls into a mixture of thin icing
Roll in coconut
Place on a sheet of waxed paper, and let them set

For variety,  Peanut Butter Balls may be dipped in melted chocolate, mixed with sprinkles, M & Ms, or decorated with bits of pretzels and candies for a festive holiday look!

peanut-butter-balls-dipped-in-chocolate  peanut-butter-balls-with-holiday-sprinkles

peanut-butter-balls-chocolate-chips-and-sprinkles  peanut-butter-ball-reindeer

 

Enjoy this traditional Christmas treat now, or freeze for the holidays!

little kid and cookies

 

What would a Christmas sweets plate be without some melt-in-your-mouth homemade Shortbread Cookies!

 

whipped shortbread

Shortbread Cookies

1/2 c  corn starch

1/2 c  icing sugar

1 c  all purpose flour

1 c  soft butter

Mix dry ingredients.   Blend-in butter, until soft dough is formed.  Chill for 1/2 hour.  Shape into balls 1 inch in diameter.  Flatten with fork.  Decorate with cherry slices.

Bake in slow oven at 300 degrees F, for 20 – 25 minutes, until light golden.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Be sure to leave some Christmas cookies for Santa!

 

Santa and cookies

 

Who was the lady behind all of those melt-in-your-mouth Christmas cookies?

Audry Stafford competed in local fairs in Lanark County for many decades, and won so many prizes in the baking divisions that eventually she was asked to become a Judge.

In the years that followed she judged baking at fairs, large and small, across the county, and throughout Eastern Ontario.

 

Mother with birthday cake

 

photo:  Audry Stafford with Tib Stafford, in their farmhouse kitchen, on his birthday, July 15, 1990, Third Line, Bathurst Township, Lanark County, Ontario.

……………

Recipes in this story are from “Recipes and Recollections: Treats and Tales from our Mother’s Kitchen”
93 of Audry’s prize-winning recipes are assembled in a book “Recipes and Recollections”, along with stories from her five children, about growing up in rural Eastern Ontario, spanning the years from the 1940s through to the 1980s.

…………………………………………

http://www.staffordwilson.com

Recipes and Recollections book cover sept 2012