Haggis Candy – Goodies on Gore Street!

It was her father, James Haggis, who started the candy business in Perth, back in 1926, but it will likely be Sophia, who will always be remembered fondly, as the ‘Candy Lady’.

Sophia 1

 

Sophia used the original equipment, passed down to her, from her father, like the big copper pots for melting rich, velvety, chocolate, and buttery peanut brittle.

copper pots

 

melting chocolate

 

Each year at Easter, Sophia made delicious chocolate bunnies and eggs, and would offer to personalize them with any name.  She used a stiff white icing, and piped on the names by hand, as her eager audiences waited for their special egg to be completed.

Haggis Easter candy Apr. 8 1982

Haggis easter candy

“The Ottawa Citizen”, April 8, 1982

Easter egg

 

Haggis Candy was located on the main street of Perth, at 60 Gore St. E.

 

Sophia 2

 

A very special time of year for Haggis Candy was Christmas, and Sophia decorated her store windows with her giant candy-canes, some of them almost six feet tall!

candy canes

 

One of Sophia’s specialties was her Horehound candy.  It had a very distinctive flavour, and some said that it was a good remedy for sore throats, and congestion.  Most of her customers just liked its unique taste.  People came from miles around to buy her Horehound.

 

horehound candy

 

Sophia made her candy from the Horehound Plant.  The plants are picked, dried, and steeped with boiling water.  The liquid is strained, sugar is added and brought to a boil, then cooled on a marble slab.  The finished candies are cut into squares, and rolled in powdered sugar.

horehound plant

Another customer favourite was Haggis’ taffy.   Sophia used the original steel hooks to pull her taffy, to just the right consistency.

 

taffy hook

 

…..and the finished taffy, ready to enjoy!

 

taffy candy

She used the marble slabs, passed down from her father, to cool her fudge quickly, so that it could be cut into squares.

marble slabs

fudge

 

Sophia had a quick smile, and a warm personality.  She loved following in the traditions of her father, and most of all loved to see the smiles on her customer’s faces when they tasted her delicious treats.

Sophia 3

 

Haggis’ Candy store was where you’d often find my friends and I, after leaving Perth High School in the late afternoon.  My personal favourites were Sophia’s milk chocolate peanut clusters, made with real Spanish peanuts!  Sophia would place a few in a small, brown-paper bag, weigh them, and hand them to me with a smile.  Sometimes I would bring them outside, walk down Gore Street, sit on the bridge, and watch the world go by, as I savoured my chocolate treats!

peanut clusters

 

On hot, muggy, summer days, Sophia made the most delicious banana splits, and often tourists and locals alike, would stop by her store to sample some of her rich, creamy, creations.

banana split

 

In 1988, at the age of 77, Sophia retired from the candy business.  She kept active in her later years, and continued to play the piano, as she had often done, at various events in Perth, over the years.

Sophia playing the piano

Sophia eventually left Perth, and moved to Kingston.  She lived a long life, and there were many very happy birthdays over the years!

 

Sophia 4

 

Sophia had a wonderful milestone birthday, when she celebrated her 100th!  She still had her kind smile, and bright eyes.

Sophia 5

 

After a long, happy, life, Sophia passed away at Providence Manor in Kingston, on Sunday, November 4th, 2012, at the age of 101.

She may be gone, but never forgotten, and many of us will treasure the memories of our childhood visits to Haggis’ Candy store.

She will always be fondly remembered as the ‘Candy Lady of Perth’.

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Read the fascinating story of Sophia Haggis Nee in “Lanark County Calling: All Roads Lead Home”.  Learn about Sophia’s childhood in Peterborough, her grandfather the Lockmaster on the Trent Canal, her grandmother Sarah, the published Poet, and find out about her great uncle Samuel Lowry and his scandalous court case.  Read about her days as a teenager at the Perth High School, and her chance meeting with the influential Mrs. Jack Stewart. Learn about Sophia’s most unusual trail-blazing career in Kingston, Ontario, before moving back to Perth to take over her ailing father’s business.  Read memories of the happy days at the candy store, the customers, the ‘regulars’, and some surprising things about this much-loved lady and well-respected woman entrepreneur in the town of Perth, Ontario.

Book Launch poster 1

http://www.staffordwilson.com

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.

merchants-of-perth-at-christmastime

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

kids Christmas store window

jamesbrothers1963-644x435

James Brothers Hardware store, at the corner of Gore and Foster St., Perth, Ontario
(photos of James Brothers Hardware and Shaws of Perth courtesy of ‘Perth Remembered’)

shaws1-644x336

Shaws, on Gore Street, in Perth, ON

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 Nee candy cane

(photo of Sophia Haggis Nee in front of her shop at 60 Gore StreetE., Perth, Ontario)

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.

girl at store window   Christmas store window

Something for the girls and guys, from the Perth Apothecary, Gore St., Perth

Charlie gift set Old spice gift set

Perth Apothecary

“The Perth Courier”, Dec. 9, 1976. p.11

First Snowfall of the year, at the Stafford House

stafford-house-1973

The Stafford House – 1973

The signs of the season weren’t visible only in the town of Perth. The first snowfall in the country meant bringing out our sleds, our flying saucers, and our winter toys!

Judy and Arlene with sled

Judy Stafford (with Mike, the family dog),and Arlene Stafford, at the Stafford House, 1963

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 putting up Christmas lights

Tobias ‘Tib’ Stafford, attaching Christmas lights onto our spruce tree, at the Stafford house, Third Line, Bathurst Twp. , Lanark County  – c. 1970s

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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Christmas mailbox

Arlene Stafford-Wilson at the creek behind Stafford House
Arlene Stafford-Wilson at the creek, where we skated as children, in the lowlands behind the Stafford house, 2014
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http://www.staffordwilson.com
“First Snowfall of the Year”, an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line”  ISBN  978-0-9877026-30

L C Calendar book cover

At the Book Launch for “Lanark County Calendar”

Lanark County Calendar Book Launch 2013 Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Arlene Stafford-Wilson and Leslie Wallack, owner of The Book Nook, 2013, at the book launch for “Lanark County Calendar”

Carol Bennett McCuaig reviews “Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line:

Lanark County Calendar

“This memoir by Arlene Stafford-Wilson is, to paraphrase the poet Keats, ‘a thing of beauty and a joy forever.’ This is my favourite among the books by this author. Her latest memories of a happy childhood spent on the Third Line of Lanark County’s Bathurst Township are sure to please her host of fans.

The book has its appeal on several levels. Schoolchildren will enjoy Arlene’s accounts of what it was like to be a child in the in the not-so- olden days, especially if the book is read to them by a teacher or grandparent. How will today’s youngsters view a little girl who played with a skipping rope, enjoyed board games with the family, and waxed autumn leaves to preserve their colour, with never a computer in sight? And how many may have heard the lonesome sound of a train whistle. or have woken up on a winter morning to find their drinking water turned to ice beside the bed?

Any child will surely understand the author’s dismay at being scammed by a carnie at the fair, after investing a whole two dollars in a game of skill designed to cheat the customer. Some things never change.

Present and former residents of Bathurst who find themselves mentioned in the book will no doubt set off on their personal trip down memory lane as a result. Who knows? The thrill of discovery may encourage them to record their own memories for posterity and we shall all be the richer for it.

As for me, I found myself identifying with Arlene’s Mother, who occupies a special place in the author’s heart. I was a country wife and mother in Lanark County in that same era and Mrs. Stafford’s daily round was familiar to me. Cooking, cleaning, baking, washing, ironing, gardening, making jam, maple syrup, pickles and preserves. Sewing, knitting, mending. Entering home craft articles in the fall fair. Working to make Christmas a magical time for the family and filling in for the Easter Bunny. Most of all, trying to make a quarter do the work of a dollar.

The author gives us a glimpse into a vanished era. When did you last attend church on Easter Sunday complete with white gloves and, if you were lucky, a new hat? Your mouth will water when you read about the wonderful homemade treats produced by Bathurst Township housewives for the delight of small ghosts and goblins at Hallowe’en. Nobody worried back then that the offerings might be tampered with, and what fun the youngsters had while contriving costumes from whatever materials that came to hand. No child in those days dreamed of wearing expensive store-bought outfits that would be abandoned after one evening’s wear. Modern-day parents could learn a thing or two from reading this book.

And who can forget the delight of cleaning the batter from the baking bowl when something delectable was being prepared for the oven, as the author did? Back then nobody worried about getting salmonella poisoning from raw eggs and somehow we all survived the experience.

Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line is definitely a book for everyone. When you reach page 136 you will find yourself looking forward with pleasurable anticipation to the next book in the series. 

In the meantime, as Arlene says, ‘We need only to close our eyes and we are back on the Third Line, walking up the lane, through the yard and entering the bright, warm kitchen. We are home again.”

Book review written by Carol McCuaig November 11, 2013

Carol McCuaig photo

Carol Bennett-McCuaig (1938-2018) was a former weekly newspaper editor who became a prolific and respected author. She earned two degrees from the University of Waterloo, one in History and the other in Religious Studies. She wrote sixty three books, including regional histories, commissioned works and books geared to helping people who are researching their Lanark and Renfrew County (Ontario) roots, and a long list of historical novels. One of her histories, In Search of the Red Dragon: The Welsh in Canada, received the Ninnau award for its contribution to North American Welsh culture. In 1997 she received an Achievement Award from the Ontario Heritage Foundation, for her body of work in recording regional history. She was a life member of Heritage Renfrew, and a past president of the North Lanark.

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http://www.staffordwilson.com