10th Anniversary Celebrations at The Book Nook in Perth, Ontario

Leslie and Arlene Book Nook 10th

Through the ages, we have always marked births, marriages, the change of a season, harvest time, and turning the page to a new year.  This month, in the town of Perth, we mark another special event – the 10th anniversary of a popular bookstore on the main street – The Book Nook.

As part of the celebrations for this important milestone, owner Leslie Wallack invited special guests to her store, for each of the four Saturdays in May.  It was my pleasure to take part on Saturday, May 20th, to mark this happy occasion, in the pretty town of Perth.

When we arrived on Saturday morning, The Book Nook was decorated with cheery signs inside and out, and as visitors came through the store they were reminded of the special draws being held for prizes, throughout the day.  On this particular Saturday, the three separate draws featured prizes of distinctive, natural wood, hand-crafted containers – a lovely addition to anyone’s home.

Looking around the store, I paused a moment to recall the history of this building, and that 60 Gore Street East was not always home to The Book Nook.  In my teenage years in Perth, this was the location of Haggis’ Candy Store.  My friends and I were frequent visitors, and often scrounged our pennies together to buy some peanut clusters, or horehound candy, made with care by Mrs. Sophia Nee.   I looked around, remarking to Leslie that in my youth Mrs. Nee’s large glass and wooden display case was near the front window, and minutes later Leslie reappeared with an old photo of Mrs. Nee in front of the store.

Haggis' candy store front

photo: courtesy of Leslie Wallack

Leslie remembered when she first took over the store, there was a cot in the rear where former owner Mrs. Nee would often sleep, after a long night of tending to her candy-making.  Clearly, this store has a proud history of women operating a business.

horehound  sophia-haggis

photo:  Sophia (Haggis) Nee

Sophia Haggis Easter

Sophia with her Easter candy

 

The Book Nook enjoyed steady traffic all day, in and out, with the large section of children’s books being a popular spot for browsing, and picking up special gifts.

We were lucky to have such beautiful weather, and the warmth and sunshine streamed through the windows of the store, and reminded us that spring was finally here.

Arlene at table 10th anni Book Nook

Kevin paused to take a rare moment on the other side of the camera.

Arlene and Kevin 10th Book Nook

While the entire day was filled with happy moments, and good conversation, one of the highlights for me was three special ladies who dropped by to say ‘Hello’, and chat for a while.

I had a great visit with Rosetta Van Alstine, sister of former classmate Anne.  With the annual maple harvest just passed, we discussed some of the history of the early maple producers  – her Uncle Ken Van Alstine among them.  I learned that Rosetta’s grandfather was also a maple producer, going back yet another generation.  Her Uncle Ken was one of the first in the 1960s to use plastic tubing to transport the sap for part of his maple harvest, as well as using the traditional methods of horse and sleigh.

To read more about some of the legacy maple producers like Rosetta’s uncle – Ken Van Alstine – Lanark County’s Maple Legacy

Arlene and Rosetta Book Nook 10th

photo:  Arlene and Rosetta Van Alstine

It was a real delight to have a visit with Shirley (Kerr) Scott.  Shirley is the sister of my former classmate Marie Kerr.  The Kerr family goes back for generations in the DeWitt’s Corners, former Bathurst Township community. Shirley was my sister Jackie’s classmate, and they sat together on the school bus each day, and were the best of friends. Shirley shared a story of visiting Jackie out west, and how much she enjoyed the time they spent together; a reminder that special friendships continue through the decades, growing richer as the years pass by.  I had my own memory for Shirley, a reminder of the time as young girls Jackie had invited her to stay overnight when our parents were out of town, and when Shirley’s parents learned that the girls were alone, they came to the house and brought her back home. Young girls today would be surprised to learn how much stricter our parents were back in those days!

Arlene and Shirley Book Nook 10th

photo:  Arlene and Shirley (Kerr) Scott

Another special visitor was Carol-Ann McDougall.  Carol-Ann, originally from Kirkland Lake, now makes her home in a delightful water-front property, built on the shores of the mighty Big Rideau Lake.  Carol-Ann and her husband Ken purchased a piece of land along the shores fifteen years ago, and came up to visit each summer, dreaming that someday they would build a home there.  Last year, their dream came true, and an account of their heart-warming tale is titled  “Lake Life:  A Rideau Ferry Love Story”.

Lake Life – A Rideau Ferry Love Story

Arlene Carol-Ann Book Nook 10th ann

photo: Arlene and Carol-Ann McDougall

Another highlight of the day was the draw for prizes!  I was honoured to be asked to pull three names from a basket.  The three winners each received a beautiful, hand-crafted wooden case – a lovely container for special keepsakes and treasures. These were generously donated by  Simply Shaker , makers of one of a kind, hand-made furniture, on the main street of Perth.

Draw for the prizes at Book Nook

photo:  Arlene, Leslie’s Mom, and Leslie

It was a special day to mark a milestone for The Book Nook.  It was also a time to reflect on the history of the store, and to recall another woman entrepreneur Sophia Haggis Nee.   Like Sophia Haggis Nee, Leslie Wallack will take her place in the history of the town of Perth, another woman entrepreneur making her mark, adding to the charm and character of this delightful and historic main street.  Congratulations Leslie!

Arlene Book Nook 10th

 

An event is always more memorable when it’s  shared with some special people.  Many thanks to all of those who stopped by, and congratulations to the lucky winners of the draw!  Happy 10th Anniversary to The Book Nook, and wishing you much success in the years to come!

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We all become stories

 

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http://www.staffordwilson.com

First Snowfall of the Year

mailbox-snow-2

The first snowflakes of the season fluttered down softly, carried gently by the light breezes, back and forth across my path, until they finally touched the earth, and vanished. The very first snowfall of the year seemed magical, and we gazed up in wonder as if we’d never seen the fragile white crystals before.

It had been many, many months since the last few signs of snow had disappeared late in the spring, and I wondered to myself if these first light flakes of the new season would stay on the ground. Almost in unison with the first snow, the merchants of Perth began to decorate their windows for Christmas, and up and down Gore Street there were signs that Christmas was coming.

James Brothers, Stedman’s, and Beamish had bright lights and shiny garlands in their windows, and Shaw’s always had a festive window display.

jamesbrothers1963-644x435

shaws1-644x336

A walk down to Haggis’ candy store was not to be missed, as Mrs. Nee’s colourful candy canes, creamy Christmas fudge, and salty nuts were temptingly displayed.

sophia-haggis  candy-counter

The Perth Apothecary always had a beautiful Christmas window with all of their lotions and potions packaged so beautifully, ready to place under the tree. However, the signs of the season weren’t visible only in the town of Perth.

Out in the country, we turned on our outdoor lights on December 1st, and even though the lane was long, we could see Dad’s handiwork as we drove up the Third Line, coloured lights draped round and round the spruce tree. Dad took great pride in his annual Christmas display, though it was a far cry from the elaborate decorations on the more stately homes in Perth. It’s strange how, as a child, the lights on your own home, no matter how modest; seem brighter, and more magical than all the rest.

spruce-tree

That first, delicate snowfall of the year falls so silently, whispers so softly, and serves to remind us that Christmas is on its way. It’s time to gather the boxes of decorations from the attic, and time to test our outdoor displays. There are Christmas cards to prepare for mailing, and special foods and drinks to assemble for the big day.

Whenever I see that first snowfall, and the lights and displays all around, I am reminded of our own humble spruce tree on the Third Line, and the weeks of preparation that followed, leading up to the most glorious time of the year.

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“First Snowfall of the Year”, an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line”  ISBN  978-0-9877026-30, available at The Book Nook, The Bookworm, and Blackwood Originals in Perth, Mill Street Books in Almonte, Perfect Books in Ottawa, and online- http://www.staffordwilson.com

L C Calendar book cover

photos of James Brothers Hardware and Shaws of Perth courtesy of ‘Perth Remembered

photo of Sophia Haggis Nee, of Haggis’ Candy Store,  -‘The Kingston Whig Standard’