Life Lessons at Carl Adams’ on the Tay

Carl Adams

If I hadn’t been completely convinced that our Mother loved us, I might have questioned why she would have chosen Carl Adams’ swimming hole as a good place to teach us all to swim.   Mother would drive us back there, two or three times a week, during the summer; usually after supper, and always at least an hour after we’d eaten – that was the rule.  She said that it was dangerous to swim right after you’d eaten, and that you could get cramps, and possibly even drown.  Of course, I’ve learned since then, that you can swim right after you eat, without either suffering cramps or drowning, for that matter, however, that was Mother’s rule and there was no point in arguing.  So, whether we were at Silver Lake, for a picnic, Christie Lake for a quick dip, or Carl Adams’, for a swimming lesson – Mother always wore her watch, and no one could even so much as wade around in the shallow water, near the shore, until the full sixty minutes had passed.

 

It was always exciting to hear that we’d be going to Carl Adams’; especially on one of those hot summer days, when the upstairs of the house was stifling hot.  Mother would announce that we were going to have a swimming lesson, and she’d grab her purse, and head for the garage.  That was my cue to run upstairs, and change into my bathing suit, and get a towel.  I’d also bring an extra one for Mother to sit on, because she liked to spread a towel out, on the flat rocks near the water, so she could offer some suggestions on improving our swimming technique.

 

I’d be changed in seconds, towels in hand and taking the stairs down, two at a time, and by that time Mother would have backed the car out of the garage, and be waiting, parked under the tall maple trees, that shaded our lawn.  We’d drive out of the yard, and down the lane, turned right, headed toward DeWitt’s Corners, windows rolled down, taking full advantage of the warm summer breeze, blowing into the car.

 

Usually at that time of year we’d see at least one hay wagon on the road, as we drove up the Third Line.  The hot, dry weather was ideal for cutting and baling the hay, and our neighbourhood farmers would be taking full advantage.   It wasn’t unusual to get stuck behind a tractor, which was bad for two reasons – one, now we had to slow down and weren’t getting much of a breeze blowing through the hot car, and two – I couldn’t wait to get to the swimming hole, and this would be greatly impeding our progress.   Sometimes, they’d pull off to the side so we could get by, but usually we’d just have to follow along behind, at a snail’s pace, until they’d turned off the road, and into a field.

 

If the road was clear, we’d be at DeWitt’s Corners in no time, and then we’d turn left up the dirt side road, past Clifford and Florence Munro’s. After a couple more turns on the dusty backroads, we’d arrive, and pull over by the flat rocks, under the trees.

 

It was a pretty spot, that’s for sure, with tall, graceful trees along each side of the rocks, framing that popular little section of the Tay River.  People in Bathurst Township had been using that little swimming hole for years, and it showed.  The broad, low rocks near the shore provided a natural seating area, the maple and willow trees offered welcome shade for spectators, and the cedar bushes all around gave off a fresh woodsy scent.  This time of year, we’d hear the heat bugs in full force, and see the shiny dragonflies, swooping effortlessly above the water.

 

Sometimes we’d see a couple of empty beer bottles, or empty chip bags, or cigarette packs, piled on the rocks – souvenirs left behind by teenagers, parked there the night before.   Occasionally we’d see the charred evidence that someone had built a little campfire; likely to cook a hot dog or two, or maybe toast some marshmallows.  Once in a while, there might even be a toy, or a towel abandoned on the shore, forgotten by one of the neighbourhood kids.

 

After we’d parked, Mother would grab the towels, and spread one out on the rocks and settle down.  Sometimes she’d bring a book or a magazine, or some crocheting to work on, but most of the time she’d just sit back, and watch us swim. Occasionally, Dickie Patterson, a local bachelor, would be riding by on his bicycle, and he’d stop, and sit, and chat, with Mother for a while, catching up on the local news. He lived up at Christie Lake, but we’d often see him riding, either on the Third Line, or on one of the backroads, such as these.

 

By the time Mother had settled down on her towel, I was already getting my feet wet, and assessing the temperature of the Tay River.  Most of the time, it felt pretty warm near the shore, because the water was so shallow, and I’d gradually wade into the first few feet of the river, and then I’d begin to feel the power of the current pulling at my legs.

 

Now, back to my original question, of why Mother would have brought us here, to learn how to swim.  Yes, it was in close proximity to our house; closer than Christie Lake, but here’s where the other questions arise.  There is, as I mentioned, a fairly strong current, in this part of the Tay River.  By the time I was in up to my knees I could feel it tugging at me.  Now, in order to remain in roughly the same section of the river, you had to start moving against the current, otherwise it would pull you down.  Once you were in all the way up to your neck, you had to start kicking or paddling at a pretty good pace, against the current, because the minute you stopped, you would be swept down the river.   Oh, and let’s throw one more wrench into this picture, for good measure –   remember the nice flat rocks up on the shore?  Well those nice flat rocks – Canadian Shield, I suppose, well, they extend right out into the water – except that the ones in the water were coated, in slippery, green moss.

 

Just so you’ve got the whole picture – we’re here with Mother, because we don’t have our swimming abilities perfected yet – not even close.  She’s brought us to a section of the Tay where there’s a fairly strong current, that keeps trying to sweep us off our feet, and when we do manage to try and get our footing, the surface below is slippery, wet, moss, that offers no traction whatsoever.  Many times, I’d slip on the moss, and the river would start to pull me along, and I’d have to paddle and splash like a maniac, so I could get back to the place where I’d started.  I often wondered if I didn’t fight my way back to the clearing, against the current, if I’d keep being swept along down the river, and end up somewhere in Perth!

 

So, what was the point of learning to swim at Carl Adams’ swimming hole?  Did Mother bring us there because it was convenient, and a quick ride from our house?  Or, looking back now, was there a bigger lesson involved?  Sure, once we learned how to swim there, against the strong current of the Tay – everywhere else we swam after that, seemed easy.  No current?  No slippery rocks to contend with?  Swimming anywhere else after that, was a cinch.

 

Maybe learning to swim at Carl Adams’ was a metaphor for the struggles that we would face later in life.  We’ve all had days where we feel like we’re fighting against a strong current, and moments in our lives that seem to have us perching precariously, on a slippery rock.  At times we’re certain that if we gave up the fight for even a minute, we’d be swept away down the river.

 

Looking back now, we learned so much more than how to swim at that quiet, unassuming little spot along the Tay River.  Many, many years ago, at Carl Adams’, we discovered that if we kept chugging along, persevering, and made it past the rough spots, that eventually we’d end up  back at the little clearing, warmed by the sun, leaves fluttering softly overhead, Mother smiling from the shore, and us, feeling all the stronger for the struggle.

 

(an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Kid: My Travels Up and Down the Third Line’, ISBN: 978-0-987-7026-16)

 

LC Kid

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

Christie Lake – Memories Along the Shores

 

We found tranquility, along the shores of this clear blue beauty.  A sanctuary of peace and contentment, a place where pink sunsets slid into still waters, and the melodious call of the loon marked the end of another perfect day, at Christie Lake.

It was also a buzzing social hub –  a gathering place for familiar faces, and new friends as well. Who could forget the laughter of the youthful parties at nearby cottages, or on Big Island? On warm summer evenings the shores were dotted with bright campfires, sputtering, crackling, shooting flames into the starry night skies. The rock and roll of our time echoed across the lake, with its steady beat, and powerful lyrics. Our music celebrated sweet young love, with a dash of social commentary, unique to those unforgettable times – the 1960s and 70s.

Where is Christie Lake?  Ottawa, the closest large city, is about an hour east, and the pretty town of Perth, is a quick, 15 minute drive.  The Stafford house, where we spent the idyllic days of our youth, was just a mile away, a quick bike ride up the Third Line; although it felt a lot farther on those hazy humid dog-days of summer.  By the time my friends and I rounded the corner near Jordan’s, the lake was in sight, and moments later our bikes had been abandoned, and we’d jumped joyfully, off the bridge, into the cool, clear, water.

bridge at Jordan's

Bridge at Jordan’s – photo:  Kathy Irvine

Christie Lake is one of the three largest lakes on the Tay watershed, along with Bob’s Lake, and Otty Lake.  It’s been said that the original name for the lake was Myers Lake, and that was way before my time; but I do remember the old timers referring to it as ‘Christy’s Lake’, or ‘Christie’s Lake’, and that it was named for John Christy, native of Scotland, the first settler on the lake.

After John Christy’s arrival, the second family living on the lake were the Allan’s. The original spelling of the lake was “Christy’s Lake”, but it was changed by the Geographic Board of Canada, to “Christie” on April 10th, 1908.

John Christy, his wife Isabella (Wright), and daughter, sailed on the ship ‘Eliza’, from Scotland, on August 3, 1815 and arrived first, in Quebec City.  Like many families arriving late in the year, they spent the first winter near their port of arrival. By 1816, the Christy’s settled at concession 2, lot 2 in Bathurst Township.

John Christy census of 1871

1871 Census of Bathurst Township

 

John Christy Jane Allen gravestone

John Christy – 1824-1909 son of pioneer John M. Christy

 

 

Alexandrine Victoria (Christy) Whillans  1839-1924

youngest daughter of pioneer John Christy, first settlers at Christy’s Lake

Alexandrine Christy Whillans Feb 19 1924 p 7 Ottawa Cit.

Feb. 19, 1924 p. 7,  ‘Ottawa Citizen’

“Victoria Whillans, was the youngest daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. John Christy, first settlers at Christy’s Lake, Ont., after whom the place is called.”

Lake banner # 2

 

Walter Christy 1870-1942

Grandson of pioneer, John Christy

Walter Christy Jan 22 1942 p. 12 Ott Cit.

Jan. 22, 1942, p.12 ‘The Ottawa Citizen

Christie Lake banner 6

George Christy – 1868-1949

Grandson of pioneer John Christy

George Christy Apr. 27 1949 p 2 Ott.Cit

George Christy gravestone

George Christy gravestone, Johnston’s Corners cemetery, south Ottawa, Ontario

 

 

The Canadian Barks Works

A small group of men from Perth:  Thomas Aspden, Alexander Morris, William Morris, Captain John Manion, and John Hart established the Canadian Barks Works at Lot 2, Concession 3 of Bathurst Township. It was located along the north shore of Christie Lake, on Gravely Bay, as it was thought there would be a good supply of hemlock trees to sustain the business. The purpose of the mill was to extract tannin from hemlock bark, to be used in leather tanning. The tannin was used locally at a tannery in Perth, and in the beginning of operations there was also enough to export to the U.S. The company closed in 1874, due to a shortage of hemlock in the area.

Canadian Barks at Christie Lake

The Canadian Barks Works at Christie Lake  (1868-1874) photo: ‘Perth Remembered’

 

Jordan's Cottages

 

Jordan Family

and the Descendants of pioneer George Jordan & Isabella Stewart

The Jordan family were among the early settlers to the area, having lived in the region continuously since the 1800s, when pioneer settler, George Jordan, arrived from Scotland, and settled at the foot of Christie Lake.

 

Christie Lake banner

 

Pioneer Settler, George Jordan,

born Yetholm, Roxburghshire, Scotland

 

George Jordan 1830-1908

George Jordan death certificate 1908
1908 death certificate of Scottish pioneer, George Jordan – early settler to Christie Lake

 

George Jordan (1830-1908) and his wife, Isabella Stewart, were parents to John Jordan (1865-1950), and it was John, who first established the business of vacation cottage rentals.

 

Christie Lake banner 2

 

John’s son, John Robert Jordan and his wife Martina Miller (1868-1940), continued the legacy, expanding the business and keeping with tradition.

Martena Miller Jordan 1940

1911 Census of Bathurst, Lanark County

John and Martena Jordan census 1911

2nd last column is year of birth, last column is age when the census was taken
Year: 1911; Census Place: 1 – Bathurst, Lanark South, Ontario; Page: 3; Family No: 19

 

Lake banner # 4

John Robert Jordan and Martena (Miller) Jordan

John Robert and Martena Jordan had a large family of four sons and three daughters:

(babies Donald and Martena, died in infancy)

George Edwin Jordan (1896-1977)

Arthur Miller Jordan (1897-1968)

Calvin Jordan (1899-1981)

Helen ‘Pink’ Muriel Jordan (1901-1987)

John Robert Jordan (1905-1965)

Sarah ‘Sadie’ Isabella Jordan (1910-1999)

 

baby angel

 

John Robert Jordan and Martena Jordan, sadly, lost two babies,  Baby Martena, born when her mother was age 41, and the second was Baby Donald, born when his mother was age 48:

Martena Jordan 1908 death cert.      Donald Easton Jordan 1916 death cert.

Death certificates for baby Martena Jordan, and baby Donald Easton Jordan

 

Lake banner # 5

George Edwin Jordan  1896-1977

George Edwin Jordan  & Charlotte (Keays) Jordan

Children of George Edwin Jordan and Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Jordan

Donald ‘Don’ Jordan  

Keith Jordan

William ‘Bill’ Jordan

Jean (Jordan) Bell

Evelyn (Jordan) Irvine

 

Jordans on Christie Lake in boat

Evelyn (Jordan) Irvine, with her daughters, and Jean (Jordan) Bell’s children – 1972 – photo: Kathy Irvine

 

 

Lottie Jean and Evelyn

Charlotte ‘Lottie’ (Keays) Jordan seated, at Christie Lake – her daughters Evelyn (Jordan) Irvine, and Jean (Jordan) Bell standing,  1973                  photo: Kathy Irvine

 

Lottie's obit

Dec. 8, 1977 p. 14, ‘The Perth Courier’

 

Lake banner # 1

 

George Edwin Jordan –   WWI military recruitment record:

George Jordan expeditionary papers

George Edwin Jordan – Canadian Expeditionary Forces record: Library and Archives Canada: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4968 – 47  Item Number: 493833

 

George Edwin Jordan obit 1977

“He received his education locally and served in the First World War”

Christie Lake banner 3

 

 

Arthur Miller Jordan 1897-1968

Arthur Jordan obit

 

“Pallbearers were four nephews, Donald, Keith, Bob and Alan Jordan; two neighbours, Wilbur Noonan and Gordon Stiller.”

 

Arthur Miller Jordan married Edna Ritchie in 1920

Children of Arthur Jordan and Edna (Ritchie) Jordan:

Phyllis (Jordan) Stewart

Shirley (Jordan) Weldon

Helen (Jordan) Rintoule

Joan (Jordan) McNaughton

 

muskoka chairs at the lake

Calvin Jordan 1899-1981

Calvin Jordan

married Marion Palmer in 1934

Marion Jordan

Calvin and Marion had three daughters:

Isobel (Jordan) Paul

Frances (Jordan) Dixon

Mavis (Jordan) Woolham

 

He was President of the Lanark County Federation of Agriculture, and for many years, a member of the Board of Calvin United Church

Calvin Jordan obit

March 25, 1981 p.2 ‘The Perth Courier’

 

 

pink marilyn bob sadie

Helen ‘Pink’ Jordan, Marilyn (Dixon) Jordan, Bob Jordan, and Sadie Jordan at the Jordan Homestead, Christie Lake, photo: Carolyn Jordan

Sadie Jordan, Librarian, Toronto Public Library

Sarah 'Sadie' Jordan

Sadie Jordan academic achievement

 

Sadie Jordan Toronto Library

‘The Perth Courier’, Sept. 19, 1930, pg.1

 

Sadie Jordan position at Tor Library

‘The Perth Courier’, Mar. 6, 1931, p.2

 

When Sadie graduated from the Perth High School in 1929 she was awarded the prestigious Carter Scholarship, for her academic excellence. Sadie enjoyed a successful career as a Librarian with the Toronto Public Library, and while she lived in Toronto, she attended  Bloor Street United Church,  300 Bloor Street W., Toronto, ON.

 

Helen Jordan  – 1901-1987

Helen Jordan

Helen Jordan had a distinguished career in the field of Nursing.  She trained at the North Bay Hospital, graduating in 1927.  She was promoted to Supervisor of Nursing in 1931.

In the spring of 1932, Helen Jordan was appointed to the position of Superintendent of the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, in North Bay.

Helen Jordan, Superintendent

Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, North Bay, Ontario

Helen Jordan appointed superintendent

‘The Perth Courier’, April 22, 1932, p.1

 

Christie Lake banner 4

 

Helen Jordan –  “Known to her friends, as ‘Pink’

 

Helen Jordan bio

‘The Perth Courier’, April 21, 1982, p.9

 

“….she joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps as a Nursing Sister.”

Helen part 1

Helen part 2

 

Helen Jordan roll of honour

War Veterans, who were members of Calvin United Church, Bathurst Township, Lanark County

Helen Jordan obit 1987

‘The Ottawa Citizen’, Jan. 21, 1987 p.46

 

 

Christie Lake c 1970

Bridge at Jordan’s Cottages – 1973 – photo:  Stafford family

 

John Robert Jordan

John Robert Jordan (1905-1965) married Mary Elizabeth Scharf (1909-1995) in 1933

John Robert and Mary Scharf Jordan

John Robert Jordan and Mary Jordan, at Christie Lake  – photo: Carolyn Jordan

 

John Robert Jordan and Mary Jordan had five children:

Robert ‘Bob’ Jordan

Alan Jordan

Lloyd Jordan

Harold Jordan

Betty (Jordan) Miller

 

Bob Jordan's family

Bob Jordan, his wife Marilyn (Dixon) Jordan and their three children, Carolyn, Darrell, and baby John in 1966, at the Jordan ancestral homestead –  photo: Carolyn Jordan

 

Christie Lake aerial view

Christie Lake, aerial view – photo: Carolyn Jordan

 

John Robert Jordan passed down the business to his son, Alan Jordan, and he and his wife Audrey (Conroy) Jordan have continued the tradition for many decades.  Their son, Paul Jordan, is now co-owner.

 

Jordan's Cottages 1971

Jordan’s Cottages

John Jordan established Jordan’s Cottages.

Cottage for rent John Jordan July 8 1943 p 4

Ad for Jordan’s Cottages – ‘The Perth Courier’  –  July 8, 1943 p.4

JR Jordan Jul 28 1948 p 24

Ad for Jordan’s Cottages – “The Ottawa Journal” – July 28, 1948 p. 24

 

John and Mary Jordan and family

John Jordan, his wife Mary Jordan, Robert ‘Bob’, Betty, Alan,  front:  Harold and Lloyd.    photo:  Carolyn Jordan

Mary Scharfe Jordan

 

Mary Jordan 1995

‘The Ottawa Citizen, Dec. 3, 1995 p.36

 

Betty and Alan.

Betty (Jordan) Miller and her brother Alan Jordan, at Christie Lake  – photo: Carolyn Jordan

Audrey Jordan from Carolyn

(Audrey (Conroy) Jordan, Alan’s wife, and George Jordan (Keith’s son) photo: Carolyn Jordan

 

Bev Miller's dock from Carolyn

Dock at Bev (Miller) Ferlatte’s home, Christie Lake      photo: Carolyn Jordan

 

 

Fire at Christie Lake bridge – 1940

John Jordan serious fire July 19 1940 p 4

July 19, 1940 ‘The Perth Courier’

fishing at sunset

 

“The Jordan home was ever a hospitable one, where the head of the household always found time to engage in friendly conversation and to perform some kindly act or unselfish deed.”

 

John Jordan –   1865 – 1950

John Jordan obit Sept. 1950

September 28, 1950 – ‘The Perth Courier’

 

loons on lake

 

John Jordan & Martina Miller’s son – John Robert Jordan operated Jordan’s Cottages after his father passed away.

John Robert Jordan’s marriage to Mary Scharf in 1933:

John Robert marriage to Mary Scharf 1933

 

 

John Robert Jordan obit 1965

 

 

 

Jordan's Cottages 1956

postcard – 1956

 

 

Christie Lake sunset - Kathy Irvine

Sunset, at Christie Lake                              photo:  Kathy Irvine

 

 

Jean and Don Jordan

Jean  (White) Jordan and Donald ‘Don’ Jordan boating on Christie Lake
(Donald –  a grandson of John Robert Jordan) photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

John Jordan, President of the Christie Lake Fish and Game Club

seeks to restore Pickerel to the area

Christie Lake Ottawa Citizen Fishing Nov. 24 1962 p 12

 Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 24, 1962, p. 12

 

 

Bill Keith Don at Christie Lake
Bill, Keith and Don Jordan, brothers, along the shores of Christie Lake,     photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Evelyn and Don and Lottie at Christie Lake

front: Evelyn (Jordan), her mother Charlotte ‘Lottie’, (Keays) Jordan her brother Don Jordan, front of boat – Don’s daughter Janice, sitting beside Evelyn’s daughter Sandy.   1960s.   photo:  Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Jordan clan at Christie Lake from Kathy Irvine

April and Meagan Bell, Sandy Errett, Karen Ronald, Janice (Jordan) Gordon,Patti Jordan, Kathy Irvine, seated in the chair a friend –  2006,   photo:  Kathy Irvine

 

Janice and Patti 1963

Janice Jordan and Patti Jordan, at Christie Lake, 1963 – (daughters of Don Jordan & Jean (White) Jordan)

Christie Lake sitting on the boat

Seated on a boat at Christie Lake, Don Jordan with his daughter, Janice Jordan – photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Christie Lake friends on deck

William ‘Bill’ Jordan,  Jean (Jordan) Bell & her husband Robert ‘Bob’ Bell – photo Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Sadie at the lake

Sarah ‘Sadie’ Jordan (1910-1999)  at Christie Lake – photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon
(Sadie –  youngest daughter of John Robert Jordan)

 

Sadie Jordan obit

 

Christie Lake sun setting Kathy Irvine

Another perfect sunset on  Christie Lake                                                                                                        photo: Kathy Irvine

 

Christie Lake – Famous for Fishing!

Christie Lake fishing contest

Oct. 23, 1941 p.2 – ‘The Perth Courier’

 

“Pickerel – 9 1/2 pounds, caught in Christie Lake by James Brady.”

“Northern Pike, 14 1/2 pounds, caught in Christie Lake by H.M. Gore”

 

Harold and Irma Knight at Christie Lake

Harold and Irma (Miller) Knight at Christie Lake,      photo:  Janet Knight

 

 

Christie Lake train 1959

CPR Train, Christie Lake, 1959

 

Jordan's Cottages view on the lake

Patti Jordan and Arlene Stafford-Wilson at Christie Lake

Patti Jordan and Arlene Stafford-Wilson boating at Christie Lake – 1976, photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon
(Patti –  Great-great-granddaughter of Scottish pioneer settler George Jordan (1830-1908)

 

Christie Lake island

Christie Lake – Island                          photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

Christie Lake by the willow tree

Christie Lake Summer Fun on a paddleboat                                     photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Christie Lake Reunions

 

Christy – Allen Reunion – 1954

Christy and Allan reunion 1954

First Christy-Allan Reunion

was held in 1954

Christy Allan reunion 1954 Jun 8 p. 3 Ottawa Journal

“Out of neighbourly fairness, the two original families drew lots to decide after whom the lake would be named.  It was Mr. Christy, of course, who drew the longest straw.”

Christie lake banner 5

 

Christie Lake reunion July 4 1955 p

Christie Lake reunion July 4 1955 part 2

‘Ottawa Citizen’, July 4, 1955, p.21

Jordan Family Reunion

Jordan reunion 2

photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

 

Jordan Family Reunion –  2009

Jordan reunion

photo: Janice (Jordan) Gordon

Cavanagh’s General Store

Cavanagh's store colour photo

Visitors to Christie Lake often picked up their food and supplies at Cavanagh’s store, in DeWitt’s Corners.  A full line of groceries, barbecue supplies, ice, was available.  It was a gathering spot, for meeting up with neighbours and friends, and catching up on the local news.  Cavanagh’s was also the local polling station, where neighbours could vote for their favourite political candidate.  This store was the heart of the ‘Corners’, and the place to go, before heading up to Christie Lake.

Bill Cavanagh # 2 at Christie Lake

left – Peter Mullins, center Earl Conboy, (Bill Cavanagh with his back to the camera) photo: JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler

 

Cavanagh's ad

Cavanagh’s Store – 1947-1985

The store opened on June 3, 1947 – carrying groceries, confectioneries, and tobacco products. Along with groceries and everyday sundries, Cavanagh’s store also sold gas supplied by Esso, a branch of Imperial Oil.

“In 1947 they moved to DeWitt’s Corners,

and re-opened her family’s general store,

under the name of  ‘Cavanagh’s Fine Foods'”

 

Locals and cottagers, along with campers at nearby Christie Lake, were all pleased to hear that there would be a general store in the area, and they would no longer have to drive to Perth, to pick up daily necessities.

 

Cavanagh’s store, DeWitt’s Corners      photo:  JoAnne Cavanagh Butler

 

Jim and Helen Cavanagh and Shep

Helen (DeWitt) Cavanagh, James ‘Jim Cavanagh, and their dog, Shep – photo:  JoAnne Cavanagh Butler

 

cavanaghs-store-black-and-white

Cavanagh’s General Store, DeWitt’s Corners     photo: JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler

 

Shep at Cavanagh's store

Familiar sights at Cavanagh’s store:  their dog Shep, and the Millstone  –  photo: JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler

 

Three DeWitt Sisters, at Ederney Cottage, Christie Lake

Cavanagh's cottage 1974

l to rt. Josephine (DeWitt) Lenahan,  Helen (DeWitt) Cavanagh,  Vera (DeWitt) Brady standing in front of the original family cottage on Station Bay, Christie Lake.          Photo: JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler

James ‘Jim’ Cavanagh named the cottage “Ederney”, the place in Ireland where his family was from.

 

Jim and Helen (DeWitt) Cavanagh operated the popular neighbourhood store for nearly four decades, until they retired in 1985.

Jim Cavanagh retired April 3 1985 p 18

‘The Perth Courier’, April 3, 1985, p.18

 

The DeWitt family, Helen’s ancestors, lived in the area for generations, going back to pioneer Zephaniah DeWitt. The first DeWitt land record was Bathurst Con 2 Lot 11, on 1st January 1823.

 

JoAnne waterskiing

JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler, water skiing on Christie Lake, with Mary Dineen (McIntyre)             photo: JoAnne Cavanagh Butler

 

Bill Cavanagh at Christie Lake

lt to rt:  Bill Cavanagh, Michael Switzer, Peter Mullins   photo: JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler
(Peter Mullins family’s cottage was located exactly at the site of the former Christie Lake Bark Company.  According to Peter, “Growing up, there were many logs in the water. A few are still there.”)

Helen Cavanagh Aug 4 1982 p 22

‘The Perth Courier’, August 4, 1982, p.22

 

“Helen was dearly loved by all who knew her,

and was an asset to her community”

empty chair at athe lake

 

 

 

Fishing at Christie Lake banner

Fishing at Christie Lake # 1

Jan. 16, 1920, p. 6 ‘The Perth Courier’

 

“Monster-size Fish Caught At Christie Lake”

Christie Lake fishing 2

July 29, 1927 p.1 – ‘The Perth Courier’

 

“12 pound Pickerel caught at Christie Lake”

 

Christie Lake fishing 3

Oct. 22, 1937, p.1 ‘The Perth Courier’

 

 

Christie Lake fishing contest

 

fishing image

 

 

The floods of 2017

Christie Lake:   The Floods of 2017

Heavy spring rains in the region, as well as a lack of good water management practices, are said by locals to have caused the flooding in 2017.  It was widely discussed at the time, that Parks Canada, governing body of  local lakes, was partly to blame in allowing its reservoir at Bobs Lake to become too high. It was said that logs were removed from a control dam at Bobs Lake, upstream, causing water levels to rise in Christie Lake. The flood was the worst that could be recalled in the past century.

Christie Lake flood of 2017

Alan Jordan wades through the waters that flooded Christie Lake in 2017

Christie Lake flood of 2017 part 2

Alan Jordan (left) and his son Paul Jordan, May 11, 2017 – owners of Jordan’s Cottages

Jordan's cottages flood 2017

High waters cause flooding in 2017 – Jordan’s Cottages

 

Christie Lake sundown Kathy Irvine

Sundown at Christie Lake                              photo: Kathy Irvine

 

 

Arliedale Inn banner

Arliedale Inn

The Marks family of Christie Lake were known for their vaudeville shows, and traveling theatrical entertainment.  Thomas Marks, one of the brothers, turned the family home into a hotel, and named it after his daughter ‘Arlie’.

Arliedale Inn Christie Lake

There were seven Marks brothers:  Robert, Tom, Alex, Jack, Joe, McIntyre and Ernie. Two of their sisters-in-law performed with them: Kitty, wife of Ernie, and May Bell, wife of Robert.  There were also two sisters Nell and Libby who did not perform on stage.

Marks family of Christie Lake

Seated:  L. to rt,  May A. Bell Marks, George Marks, R.W. Marks, Gracie Marks.

Standing; Joe Marks, Alex Marks

The Marks family presented melodramas for the most part, but also performed some comedy as well.

When their time for performing had come to an end, most of the family returned to the Christie Lake farm of their childhood. Robert continued to perform on stage until his late 70’s and then retired to the lake. He converted the barn where they had rehearsed into a summer hotel and was owner and operator until his death in 1936 at the age of 86.

Joe also retired to the farm where he died in 1944 at the age of 82.

Tom returned to Christie Lake when he retired, and converted the old house into a hotel and called it Arliedale, after his daughter Arlie. He passed away in 1935,  at the age of 81 years old.

Ella Tom and Arlie Marks

Ella Marks, her husband Tom, and daughter, Arlie Marks and dog, Buster.

 

Marks brothers

 

Tom Marks birthday Jan 18 1935 p 4

‘The Perth Courier’, Jan 18, 1935, p.4

 

 

Death of Mrs. Marguerite (Farrell) Marks –  mother of the Marks Brothers

Marguerite Farrell Marks obit
April 15, 1921, “The Perth Courier” p. 8

 

 

Arliedale lodge postcard

Arliedale Inn, Christie Lake

Arliedale beach

 

Dance at Arliedale Inn – July 1931

 

“…a lingering twilight, as though the sun had stood still just below the horizon.  It was just the sort of night that beckons youth and beauty.”

 

Christie Lake Dance July 10 1931 p 1

‘The Perth Courier’ – July 10, 1931, p.1

 

Arliedale # 2 snip

Arliedale ravine

Christie Lake dance Arliedale 1931

‘The Perth Courier’ – August 7, 1931, p.1

Arliedale July 20 1949 Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa Citizen, July 20th, 1949 p. 31

 

Arliedale May 26 1968 p 137 Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, May 26, 1968, p.137

 

Norvic Lodge banner

 

Norvic Lodge

Victor Lemieux and his wife Noreen (McGlade) Lemieux were owners and operators of Norivc Lodge.  Like the other properties set along the shores of Christie Lake, they had a beautiful shoreline, framing their homey, rustic lodge.

Victor, son of Jeremie Lemieux, and Margaret Hannah James, was born and raised in the tiny village of Fournier, in the township of Prescott-Russell.  The village is situated near the communities of Vankleek Hill, St. Isidore, and Plantagenet, a largely French-Canadian settlement. Victor’s father was a Lumberman, and his mother cared for the large family.

Victor’s wife, Noreen, a girl who grew up in the town of Perth, Ontario, was the daughter of Arthur McGlade, a labourer. The McGlade family were early settlers from Perth, originally from County Armagh, Ireland.  Catherine McCarthy, Noreen’s mother was also from an Irish pioneer family, from County Cork.   Noreen’s parents were married in Toledo, Ontario, October 16, 1899.

Noreen McGlade Lemieux

Noreen  ‘Nina’ (McGlade) Lemieux

Memories of working at Norvic Lodge in 1960, as told by Judy (Stafford) Ryan:

“The Lodge was ‘Norvic” named after the owners – Noreen and Vic.  She was called Nina, and they had a daughter Judy,  – about my age at the time.  The Lodge was on Christie Lake.

 I was the only one who had the job there, but because I also had a two week job at the Optometrist in Perth, while his secretary was on vacation, at the beginning of the Summer (Dad got it for me), my sister Jackie (Stafford) Wharton, went up to the Lodge, and held my job for me for that two week period.  I think Dad was also the one who got me the job at the Lodge.  Mother did not want me to go as she figured I would get ‘into trouble’.

We were paid $10.00 a week which was given to us at the end of the Summer.  We made great tips from the Americans, who stayed in the cabins – I could make up to $100.00 a week, depending on whether or not the cabins were full that week.

Our cabin was at the top of a hill away from the vacationers.  Our day started at 7:00 a.m.  We had to be down the hill to the Lodge in uniform, to set up the dining room for breakfast, take breakfast orders, serve it, clear tables and help wash dishes, etc.  We then went back up the hill, changed into shorts and t-shirts and cleaned all the cabins – made beds, dusted, vacuumed, cleaned bathrooms, changed towels, etc.  Then, back up the hill, back into uniform, to do the lunch thing. 

We were suppose to have a couple of hours off each afternoon, to do what we wanted.  However, part way through the summer, the lady who did the laundry left, and that was added to our jobs, without extra pay.  So after lunch, we would have to do the laundry – sheets, towels, etc. and hang them out on a line to dry.  Once a week, we would have to strip the beds, but changed the towels often. 

On days when we didn’t have to do the laundry, I would take the canoe, and a good book, and head for a small uninhabited island, and read for a couple of hours.  I knew that no-one could get to me there. 

Between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. we were back down the hill, in our uniforms, to set up for dinner, etc., etc. 

After everything was done, and cleaned up for the evening, we had time to ourselves, if we had any energy left.  I worked with a girl by the name of Claudette, and she was a real party girl, and as there was a party at some cottage every night, we went out most nights, along with the guy who worked at the Lodge store and gas bar, and he was allowed to use one of the motor boats, and that is how we got to the other cottages.

Just before I arrived to work at the Lodge that Summer there had been a bad boating accident, and I think one or two people had died.  The only way I found out about it was I saw a mangled boat with blood on it, stored in behind the lodge, when I was out walking one day, and asked the guy at the gas bar what happened.

That Summer was the first time I saw death!  There was a delightful family from Pennsylvania. there – three generations – Grandfather, parents, and two younger children.  I was serving breakfast this one morning, and the Grandfather, who was always so friendly and animated, told me about the different birds he had heard singing that morning, and during the conversation, he keeled over at the table.  I ran into the kitchen and got Vic (Lemieux) – told him the old man ‘fainted’.  Vic got the son to help him carry the Grandfather into the Lounge, behind the dining room, and they put him on the couch.  I remember going ahead and serving the other guests, and noticed people coming and going to the Lounge.   Nina told me later that the old guy had died, probably instantly, and I was really shocked and upset.  That is one of those memories that is permanently etched in your memory, especially when you are only 15.”

 – an excerpt from the book,  “Recipes & Recollections: Treats and Tales from our Mother’s Kitchen”, ISBN 978-0-9877026-0-9

 

 

Norvic Lodge ad Good food 1971

Norvic Lodge dining room

Norvic Lodge skin diving

Norvic Lodge boat show

May 10, 1962 – ‘The Perth Courier’

 

Norvic Lodge water show

 

Norvic Lodge – Christie Lake Surfers – summer of 1963

Norvic Lodge water show results

Victor Lemieux obit Mar 17 1998 Ottawa Citizen p 24

obituary of Victor Lemieux, ‘The Ottawa Citizen’, Mar. 17, p.24

Victor Lemieux gravestone

Grave of Victor and Nina Lemieux – St. John’s cemetery, Perth, Ontario

 

Red Cedar Inn banner

Red Cedar Inn

Red Cedar Inn was the official summer residence of the Marks family of entertainers.

“Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Marks are enjoying their beautiful cottage, Red Cedar Villa and will give an “at home” in the near future.”

‘The Perth Courier”, June 23, 1899

Christie Lake Red Cedar Inn

 

“The pickerel are biting fine

and large catches daily is the rule.”

 

Red Cedar Villa June 2 1899 p 1

 

Red Cedar Villa (also known as Red Cedar Inn)

Red Cedar Villa

Red Cedar Inn 1924

 “James is a great admirer of the lake and its beautiful scenery, and always calls on his friend Joe to have a chat and a drink of Mrs. Marks’ noted buttermilk.”

 

Christie Lake news – July 14, 1899

Christie Lake news July 14 1899 p 5 part 1

Christie Lake news July 14 1899 p 5 part 2

“The season at Christie’s Lake House opened much earlier this year than usual.”

 

Christie Lake news June 1, 1900 p 1

Christie Lake news – June 1, 1900, page 1

Red Cedar Inn July 3, 1924 p 6

‘The Ottawa Citizen’, July 3, 1924 p.6

Red Cedar Inn Jun 26 1941 p 24

‘The Ottawa Citizen’, June 26, 1941, p.24

Robert RW MarksRobert W. Marks  1855-1937

 

Red Cedar cottages Sept 23 1970 p 33

‘The Ottawa Citizen’ Sept. 23, 1970 p. 33

Christie Lake Camp

Christie Lake camp sign 2

 

Christie Lake Camp was established in 1922 by Judge John F. McKinley, of Ottawa.  The Judge believed that instead of punishing delinquent boys, he could offer them a chance to leave the temptations of the city, discover the great outdoors, and learn some new coping skills.

“………giving the boy responsibility, handling him with friendship, teaching him the general principles of good citizenship and doing so with the help of the open air.”

Judge John F. McKinley

Christie Lake boys # 5

 

Boys Enjoy Camp at Christy’s Lake

Christie Lake Boy's camp July 20 1923 page 5

July 20, 1923 – ‘The Perth Courier’

Christie Lake boys # 1

 

Splendid Results Attained

From Boys’ Camp at Christy’s

Christie Lake Boy's camp Nov 16 1923 part 1 page 2

Christie Lake Boy's camp Nov 16 1923 part 2 page 2

Christie Lake Boy's camp Nov 16 1923 part 3 page 2

November 16, 1923 – ‘The Perth Courier’

Christie Lake boys # 2

The boys arriving from Ottawa,  on Colonial Coach bus lines

Christie Lake boys # 3

The boys at their dock, below the main building

In 1958 Dr. Dan Offord became Camp Director. Christie Lake Kids programs were
under the guidance and direction of the late Dr. Offord, who was a well-known  child psychiatrist. Dr. ‘Dan’, as he was known, was a volunteer summer Camp Director for 47 years.

Dr. Dan Offord

Dr. Dan Offord, volunteered at Christie Lake for 47 years

 

Christie Lake boys # 6

Tremendous efforts went into fund-raising, over the past several decades, in order to maintain and repair the buildings and grounds at Christie Lake Camp.

In 2001, Dr. Dan’s work in research, at Christie Lake Camp, earned him the Order of Canada.

Dr. Dan Offord died at the age of 70, in 2004.

 

Christie Lake boys # 4

Heading up to the main building for lunch at the Christie Lake Boys’ Camp

Christie Lake kids camp

Learning to paddle a canoe at Christie Lake Camp

Christie Lake camp bonfire

Singing around the campfire, at Christie Lake Camp  – 2013

By the year 2000, approximately 400 boys and girls aged from 9 to 14 arrive every summer to learn outdoor skills and, build their self-esteem

Camp Opemikon – Scout Camp

Camp Opemikon

The land was purchased in 1937, and the camp opened in 1938.  Camp Opemikon has served the camping needs of the Scouting family for many years.

Camp Opemikon patch 1938

 

camp opemikon patch

camp opemikon map

 

camp opemikon cabins

Cabins at Camp Opemikon      – photo: Jason Chute

Canoes at Camp Opemikon

Canoes at Camp Opemikon – photo: Jason Chute

 

 

Christie Lake in colour

 

 

Special thanks to: Janice (Jordan) Gordon, Kathy Irvine, Carolyn Jordan, JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler, and Judy (Stafford) Ryan, for sharing their photos and memories, of this very special place.

 

Discover more about Christie Lake, and learn about the parties and pastimes of the 1960s and 1970s, at this popular vacation spot, in the story, “Stranded on Christie Lake”, one of the stories in ‘Lanark County Chronicle: Double Back to the Third Line”

LC Chronicle from web

“Lanark County Chronicle” – ISBN-978-0-9877026-23

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

 

Lanark County Calling – Book Launch

Just like the title of the book, when Lanark County calls us back home, especially in the fall of the year, we are welcomed by a panorama of fiery oranges, blazing reds, sunny yellows and dazzling greens.

leaf quote

 

lanark-county-sign

 

Signs of fall were everywhere, and a flock of geese escorted us along the road, all the way to Perth….
geese

 

A sunny drive up historic Gore Street, then we arrived at our destination – The Book Nook & Other Treasures.

Book Nook

 

Shortly after our arrival, I received a lovely bouquet of flowers from Rideau Ferry resident, Carol-Ann McDougall, along with her good wishes for the book launch.  What a thoughtful gift!

flowers from Carol-Ann

 

Owner of the Book Nook & Other Treasures, Leslie Wallack, provided a delicious assortment of milk chocolate and dark chocolate cookies, and piping hot coffee for all of the visitors to the store.

Leslie

 

One of the first visitors to the book launch, was old friend, and former class-mate Dianne Tysick Pinder-Moss.  Dianne and I have a long history, going back to our earliest days, at S.S. #5 School, a one-room schoolhouse, at Christie Lake, then to the Scotch Line school, and next, Glen Tay Public School, before heading off to Perth and District Collegiate Institute. Dianne and I also attended 4H Club together, as did many of the boys and girls in our rural farm community west of Perth.  Dianne is writing an article for the Agri News, on the new book “Lanark County Calling”, so mixing a bit of business, with the pleasure of spending time together again.

Dianne

 

Another special visitor who came early to the book launch, was former Art teacher from P.D.C.I – Wynne White.  What a pleasure to see Wynne after so many years have passed, and to learn that she remains active in her artistic pursuits.  This talented artist shared many of her techniques and methods over the years, and inspired those of us who attended her classes.  She often played the music of our time, during class, on a record-player at the front of the room.  One of the albums I recall was ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, and a tune that was played often –  ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.  Mrs. White understood the connection between music, art, and inspiration, and with her gentle ways, and kind encouragement, had a way of bringing out the best in all of her students.

Wynne White

 

Two special visitors drove all the way from Kingston, Ontario to be with us for the book launch, cousins Marie and Yvonne.  Marie and Yvonne, like myself, are descendants of pioneers Tobias Stafford of County Wexford, Ireland, and Elizabeth McGarry, of County Westmeath, Ireland, who were among the earliest settlers to Drummond Township in 1816.

Marie and Yvonne 2

It was a special treat to have my brother, Roger Stafford, stop by, and spend some time with us.  Roger divides his time these days, between his home in London, Ontario, and his winter place in Fort Myers, Florida.  Like the geese we saw overhead earlier in the day, Roger will be returning south in the next few weeks.  It was great fun to have him at the book launch!

Roger

 

A book launch would not be complete without a visitor or two from the home soil, the Third Line, DeWitt’s Corners to be specific.  Elaine and Dave Morrow stopped by, and we had a lovely visit with them, and caught up on some local news.

Elaine

 

A great deal of research goes into writing the stories in any book, and one of the stories in “Lanark County Calling”,  is about the Soper Theatre, in Smiths Falls.  Jan Stepniak was a great help with the story, and he shared some fascinating, behind-the-scenes highlights of his many years as both Projectionist, and Manager, at the Soper Theatre.

Jan Stepniak

Another memorable guest, one who was tremendously helpful in telling the story of the Soper Theatre, was Violet Gariepy.  Violet began working at the Soper in the late fifties, right up to the time when the theater closed in 2012.  She shared her memories, stories, and some insights into the people who worked there over the years, and the special recollections that made her time there such a pleasure.

Vi 3

 

After a busy day chatting with special guests, and visitors, it was time to say good-bye.

Many thanks to our host, owner of The Book Nook & Other Treasures, Leslie Wallack.  Treasures indeed, the busy, cheery store is overflowing with unique gifts, and lovely items for the home, along with a huge assortment of books, for children and adults alike. Leslie carries all of my ‘Lanark County’ series of books, as well as many other local authors.

…………………….

Special thanks to those who shared their memories, stories, and special recollections for the story ‘A Night at the Movies: Soper Theatre in Smiths Falls:  Violet Gariepy, Jan Stepniak, the late Gordon Evoy, Scott Irvine, and Tammy DeSalvo.
Also, thank-you to award-winning country music artist Neville Wells, along with Marilyn Taylor-Dunham for sharing their memories and tales, for the story: “The Legendary Ompah Stomp”.

……………………….

 

This post is dedicated to the memory of Gordon Evoy, former Usher, at the Soper Theatre.  Gordon passed away before the book launch, and I was not able to thank him in person, for the many hours he spent sharing his memories, and insights from his years working at the theater.  I had many phone calls with Gordon, and he would always end them saying he had to go and walk his little dogs, in the park, near his home in Smiths Falls.  It was clear that those lively little dogs were very close to his heart. Gordon also shared two photos with me, one of his mother Phyllis Evoy, a former staff-member of the Soper Theatre; Phyllis worked in the ticket booth for many years, and it has been said that she called many of the local children by name, and was a friendly face during her many years working there.

Phyllis Jenkins Evoy

 

Gordon also proudly shared a photo of his grandfather, Harry Jenkins, former theater staff-member, an Usher at the Capitol Theatre, in Smiths Falls.   When Harry retired, he worked as a crossing guard, on Brockville Street, helping children safely navigate the busy streets.

Harry Jenkins

Thank-you Gordon.  Your stories and memories are captured forever in the book.  God Bless.  May you rest in peace.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

A Lanark County Kid at Expo ’67

Expo 67

Throughout the entire year, in 1967, there were special events planned all across Lanark County, to help get everyone into the spirit of the 100th anniversary.  There was even a special flag created that year.

Expo flag

It was a stylized maple leaf made up of 11 triangles, representing the provinces and territories. I remember that the Lions Club was selling these flags in Perth, and one of the first places to hang one was at ‘The Perth Courier’ offices.   The grade eight students at Queen Elizabeth School went one step further, and constructed a three dimensional version of the flag.  They had a special ceremony at their school, with some local dignitaries – Rev. J. Gillanders did a devotional service. The Principal Miss Jean Blair was there, John Scott, Mayor Burchell, and Jack Wilson.

expo maple leaf

The Royal Canadian Mint issued new coins for the centennial year.  Each coin depicted a different Canadian animal – the back of the dollar coin had a Canada goose, the fifty cent piece was a wolf, and the back of the quarter was a lynx.  The Bluenose schooner on the back of the dime was replaced with a mackerel, the nickel featured a rabbit, and the one cent coin had a dove. It was also the last year that pure silver was used in our coins.

centennial coins

 

Mother and Dad decided that they would like to go to Montreal that year for the centennial celebration called ‘Expo ‘67’.  This was a kind of ‘world’s fair’, and was to be held in Montreal, Quebec, from April to October that year.  There were 62 nations in total that participated, and they each had displays and ‘pavilions’ set up to showcase their countries.  It was held on Ile Sainte-Helene, and Ile Notre-Dame, on an already existing island, and some ‘created’ islands as well.  There were likely many discussions back and forth between Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and the mayor of Montreal Jean Drapeau, to get everything just right. Canada would be hosting many nations of the world, as well as its own citizens celebrating their centennial.

Man and his world

Dad was delivering milk, door to door in Perth, working for Chaplin’s Dairy in Glen Tay at that time, and he would have his usual two weeks of vacation in July.

Chaplin's Dairy

 

It was decided that one of Dad’s vacation weeks would be spent at ‘Expo ‘67’, and Mother, who was the usual arranger-of-travels, began to look for accommodations. Mother read in the newspaper that there were families that lived close to the exhibition grounds in Montreal, who were renting rooms in their homes, and so she began making some phone calls, and writing some letters.  She found an English-speaking family who lived within walking distance to the Expo; they even had a little girl that was a couple of years younger than me, so that I would have someone to play with.  This seemed like an ideal choice.

Now came the tricky part……..  Dad did not like driving in heavy traffic.  He did not like driving in Quebec. He did not like driving on freeways.  Hmmm……Mother was going to be asking him to drive on busy highways, in Montreal, to probably what would be the most congested area for traffic in the entire country that summer.  This was going to be ‘interesting’.

The months passed by quickly, like they always do.  There were lots of celebrations going on all over Lanark County, and so, because it was such a busy year, I think that the time passed even faster than usual. The big week finally came.  It was time for Dad’s vacation.  The weather was hot and sunny, and we packed up the old Buick with our well-worn suitcases, and we drove down the lane, turned left onto the Third Line, and headed for Montreal.

Buick     suitcase open  suitcases closed

 

We crossed over at Glen Tay, and turned right onto Hwy 7, and headed east.  It wasn’t long before we saw the signs telling us how many miles it was to get to Ottawa.  Mother said we’d be passing by Ottawa on the Trans Canada Highway, and then continuing on to Montreal.

Dad didn’t like driving on the Queensway; not at all.  By the time we passed Bayshore I could see that he was getting a little ‘hot under the collar’.  By the time we got into Quebec, and were getting close to Montreal, I discovered for the first time in my life, that my father was bilingual. No, he couldn’t speak French.  He had grown up on the 11th Concession of Drummond Township after all, on a farm, in the 1920’s and 30’s. No, there wasn’t really any French being spoken up there.  No, the language that he started speaking, just outside of Montreal that day so long ago, was a completely new one – one that he likely wouldn’t want to be speaking when he dropped Mother off at Calvin Church on Sunday mornings.

swearing

 

Mother was giving him ‘the look’, and for once, it didn’t seem to be having any effect.  Apparently, from what I could gather, Dad was not too impressed by the skill level of the drivers in our neighbouring province of Quebec.

heavy traffic

Once we got into the downtown core of Montreal, we were trying to find the house where we’d be staying.  Dad got lost a couple of times before we finally arrived, and once again he demonstrated his fluency in a second language.  He would not, under any circumstances, stop and ask for directions, and Mother was frantically unfolding and re-folding the city map of Montreal. I sat quietly in the back seat, and hoped that we’d be there soon.

montreal map

We finally found the house, and pulled into their driveway.  They were very friendly people, and came right out to our car to greet us.  Their names were Jimmy and Vicki Irvine, and their little daughter Sharon was there beside them.  Jimmy helped Dad carry the luggage inside, and they showed us the room where we’d be staying, and I had a nice little cot on the floor, on one side of their room.

Mrs. Irvine was very kind, and she already had our supper on the stove.  She and Mother chatted in the kitchen, and Dad and Jimmy went back outside so Dad could have a smoke.  Sharon took me downstairs to their basement, and wow, their basement was really something!  She had more toys than I’d ever seen in my life, and right smack in the center of all of the toys was a spring horse!!  It was a plastic horse, set on a metal frame, and suspended by big heavy springs, and you could climb on its back, and either go up and down, or backwards and forward.  I loved it!  I was going to ask if I could have one of these for Christmas.  I thought to myself that there really wasn’t much chance of that happening, so I’d better enjoy riding it while we were staying here.

spring horse

We stayed with the Irvine family for the entire week.  We’d take the short drive to Expo ’67 each morning after breakfast, walk around, and see all of the different pavilions that were set up to showcase each country.  We even got a little paper ‘passport’ booklet, and a new stamp was added each time we visited another country’s pavilion. That was a pretty cool souvenir!

Expo passport

expo passport inside

 

 

Another souvenir from that trip was a little notepad with a red plastic cover, with the centennial maple leaf design on the front, and even better still, I was given three four-leaf clovers.  Mr. Irvine had a patch on his lawn where there were four-leaf clovers growing, and he picked three of them for me to press in my little notepad, before we left at the end of the week.

Expo notepad

4 leaf clovers

 

Mother and Dad kept in touch with the Irvine family for many years.  We never returned to Montreal, but they sent Christmas cards back and forth each year, for many years, until one year when Mother didn’t receive a card.  It had been many decades since our trip, and Mother wondered at the time if one of them had passed away.  The Christmas before that was the last time we would hear from them. It was sad to have lost our connection with the Irvine family.  Whenever we’d receive their Christmas card each year it always brought back the memories of Expo ’67, and of all of the centennial celebrations.

1960s christmas card

 

I fondly recall all of the special events in Perth that year, and in different parts of Lanark County.  When I think of the 100th anniversary of confederation, and of Expo ’67, I will always remember the Irvine family, and how they graciously opened their home to us, strangers from another province, that they welcomed us as if we were old friends, and made us feel a part of the big celebration going on in our country that year.

It serves to remind me, even today, that there are good folks everywhere, not just in our own back yards, but all across this great nation of ours.

canada 150

 

 

“Patriotism is not short, frenzied, outbursts of emotion,

but the tranquil, steady dedication of a lifetime.”  

                                                                       Adelai Stevenson

 

…………….

 

(story is an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Kid: My Travels Up and Down the Third Line”  ISBN 978-0-9877026-16)

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

 


Settlers’ Heritage Day & Lanark County Plowing Match!

Plowing match jpg for blog

They came from Scotland and Ireland, strangers in a new land.  Some came to escape persecution, and some came in search of a more prosperous life, far away from the harsh economic realities in the old country.  Some young men came alone, and they were the adventurers, and explorers, eager for fresh experiences, and new challenges.  Many brought their families, wives, and young children on the long ocean voyage, leaving behind parents, and grandparents that they would never see again.

Whatever their reasons for leaving their faraway homelands, they all brought their hopes and their dreams of a better life, and a brighter future for the generations that would follow.  One of the earliest settlements was Tay Valley Township in Lanark County.  It was an area rich with fast-flowing rivers, and picturesque lakes.  Early settlers cleared the forests, farmed the land, built mills on the banks of the rivers, and laid the foundations for future generations.

2016 marks the 200th anniversary of Tay Valley Township’s earliest settlement, and events and celebrations to mark this milestone will be held throughout the year.  One of the most exciting events will be the Settlers Heritage Day, combined with the 2016 Lanark County Plowing Match.

On Saturday, August 20th, beginning at 7:00 a.m,. through to 4:00 p.m., there will be activities for the whole family, including a maple-syrup pancake breakfast, fence building, sheep shearing, blacksmithing, genealogical research assistance, antique exhibits, and the popular plowing match. In addition, there will be presentations of Legacy Farm anniversary certificates, and lots of activities for the children, like wagon rides, a miniature animal farm, a puppet show, and story corner to name a few.

Don’t miss this special event celebrating 200 years of this historic township and the contributions made by the founding families!

Share in this historic celebration at 2677 Scotch Line, County Road 10 in Tay Valley Township.

For more information:  www.tayvalleytwp.ca   or call 613-264-0094 or 613-267-5353 ext. 133.

 

 

http://www.staffordwilson.com

 

Groundhog Blues in Lanark County

mr-groundhog

January always seemed like the longest month on the calendar. It was still cold and dark when February arrived, and there were so many months ahead before we could ride our bikes to DeWitt’s Corners, or Christie Lake.

Each year, we  waited patiently for Groundhog Day.  Would he see his shadow? Would there be an early spring, or would there be another two months at least of these cold, grey days?

Punxsutawney Phil had predicted the onset of spring since 1890 in Pennsylvania, and his Canadian counterpart Wiarton Willie began his annual forecast in the 1950s. At our house we listened closely to both forecasts, hoping that at least one of these rodents would offer some hope of an early spring.

So, we had two possible groundhog predictions, and two different radio stations. There was CJET in Smiths Falls, and Mother would often tune in and listen to Hal Botham after we’d left for school, while she did her ironing. CFRA was her usual early morning station and we’d often hear Ken ‘General’ Grant shouting, “Forward Ho!” as we ate our puffed wheat, before walking down the lane to wait for the school bus.

I could tell that Mother was also growing weary of the long, cold days of winter and if the ‘General’ didn’t report the prediction she wanted to hear then she’d likely turn the dial to CJET hoping that Hal Botham would have another version of the groundhog’s forecast. If it was cloudy, and the groundhog didn’t see his shadow, we’d have an early spring – just six more weeks of winter. By the first week of February we didn’t want to hear any other forecast. Six more weeks of winter would be enough to bear, without the possibility of the season being any longer!

When I came downstairs for breakfast that Groundhog Day morning so long ago, Mother had already set up the old ironing board and was busy ironing a linen tea-towel. I asked her if she’d heard the groundhog’s prediction yet, and she didn’t look up, but continued to iron. “It’s just a myth, just folklore”, she said, and she folded the tea towel neatly, and started on the next one.

ironing

“So, he saw his shadow?” I asked. “Yes they both did.” she responded somberly, still not looking up from her work, and folded the next tea-towel.

I sat quietly at the old kitchen table, ate my bowl of puffed wheat, drank my orange juice, and took my cod liver oil capsule without even being asked. Six more weeks would have spring starting sometime in the middle of March, but now it would be even longer.

I finished my breakfast, put my dishes in the old porcelain sink, pulled on my boots and coat, grabbed my wool hat, mitts and lunch pail, and headed out the door.

little-girl

As I trudged down the long, snowy lane-way to the Third Line, I felt defeated. It was sad how a couple of groundhogs that we didn’t even know could make Mother and I feel so depressed. I didn’t even understand how they could have seen their shadows that morning, because it wasn’t sunny outside at all. I couldn’t see my own shadow, and that meant that our local groundhogs wouldn’t be able to see theirs either.

school-bus

I didn’t really know where Wiarton was located in Ontario, and didn’t have a clue about Pennsylvania, but I was sure that none of the groundhogs in Lanark County saw their shadows on that cloudy, grey morning in February. Maybe the other groundhogs were wrong! Maybe there would be an early spring after all! Maybe the snow would be gone soon, and I could ride my bike up to Christie Lake again. I had to stay positive. I had to keep hoping. I had to………………

 

 

 

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

 

 

 

 

(an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line
ISBN 978-0-9877026-3-0)

l-c-calendar

http://www.staffordwilson.com

An Easter Tale from the Third Line

Easter Bunny 2

I’d heard some pretty far-fetched claims from my brother Roger before, but this one had to top them all. One spring morning long, long ago, he tried to tell me that our Mother was the Easter Bunny.

“He’d better be careful saying things about the Easter Bunny, I thought to myself, or he won’t be getting anything at all in his Easter basket.”

It was a typical, cool, Lanark County spring, and I could feel the wind from the north make its way into my coat, as I jumped rope on the sidewalk in front of our house. There really weren’t many flat surfaces good for skipping, in our yard.

girl jumping rope

 

The brownish spring grass was still wet and mushy, and the driveway was nothing but puddles all the way down the lane – soggy remnants of the melting snow. The old concrete sidewalk was definitely my best bet that day, for skipping, so that’s where I was. Jump, jump and swing the rope around; jump, jump and swing the rope around. Skipping was a pleasant activity to do when I was deep in thought, and my mind was racing a million miles a minute, on that day so long ago.

It was right after Mother left the room, as we finished breakfast on Saturday morning, when Roger had leaned over, and said in a hushed voice,  “She is the Easter Bunny!” Roger was older, and he knew a lot more, about a lot of things, than I did, so I tended to believe him most of the time; but this seemed pretty crazy. He had told me the summer before that I wasn’t born in the Perth Hospital like him, and that the family had found me in a cardboard box, near the railroad tracks, back the side road.

tracks back the side road

I was very upset when I heard that because I’d always believed that I was the same as everyone else.  Feeling ashamed, I ran outside, sat on the rope swing, and started to cry. I was still crying when Dad got home that night, so I didn’t wave at him when he drove up the lane. I was angry because he hadn’t told me the truth.

rope swing

Dad was smiling as he walked over to the swing, and asked why I was crying. When I told him what Roger had said, his whole face turned red, and he walked straight into the house. A few minutes later he returned with Roger, and made him apologize for lying to me. What a relief to find out that I hadn’t been found in a cardboard box, and was born in the Perth hospital, and that I was related to everyone else. Maybe this latest story about Mother being the Easter Bunny wasn’t true either?

I continued to skip, and once in a while the water on the sidewalk was swept up with the rope, and splashed on me. We’d had piles and piles of snow in the yard that year, and there was water everywhere, including the sidewalk, even though I’d done my best to sweep it off. I kept hoping that the story was just made up, and I tried to think of how it couldn’t be possible for our Mother to be the Easter Bunny.

There was no way that she could travel all over the world in one night, delivering chocolate. After all, it took twenty minutes just to get to Perth. It took ten minutes to get to Cavanagh’s store, in DeWitt’s Corners.

Cavanagh's store

It took at least ten or fifteen minutes for her to drive to Glen Tay School, and drop me off, whenever I missed the bus.

Glen Tay School

There’s no way that she could cover that much territory in one night. Maybe I should just ask her, I thought to myself, but what if she is the real Easter Bunny? Would she be mad at me because I’d found out?

Just as I was wondering if I should ask her, Mother opened the door, and told me that we’d be going to town soon, to pick up some things for Easter. I hung my rope over the handrail beside the steps, to dry, and came into the house. Mother already had her purse in hand, and her car keys in the other. As I headed back outside, she closed the door behind us. We stepped around the puddles in the driveway, got into the car, and she started it up.

It was a wet, mushy drive down the lane-way, and the Third Line wasn’t in much better shape. Big puddles everywhere on the way to Perth, and cars splashing each other as they passed. This was the dirty part of the year; not quite winter, and far from summer; just lots of mud, water, and small piles of murky-looking snow.

We drove up to Wilson Street, turned right, and in a few minutes we were parking in front of  the IGA store.

IGA store

 

Mother had read in ‘The Perth Courier’ that the Easter Lilies were on sale, and she wanted to pick one up for Aunt Pat, because we were having Easter dinner at their house.

IGA page 1

IGA page 2

(“The Perth Courier”, March 26, 1964, page 7.)

We walked into the store, and the lilies were near the front entrance. We picked one up, paid, and drove back out to the Third Line.

The days passed quickly, and soon it was Easter morning. There was a little yellow wicker basket at the end of my bed, filled with small chocolate eggs, wrapped in foil, and one tall chocolate rabbit, sitting on shredded green tissue, just like always. The wrapper on the rabbit said, ‘Mr. Solid’, and I peeled back the top of the wrapper, and took a little bite off of his ears. It tasted so rich and creamy that I took another little bite, wrapped him up, and set him gently on the green ‘grass’ in the basket.

 

Easter basket

I put on my new Easter dress, which wasn’t really new, but was new to me, and next I put on my little white shoes, with the strap across.  I took my small white stretchy gloves, and slid them on my hands.  They were a little tighter than the last time I’d worn them, but they would still do. I took them off, and carried them downstairs.

Easter kids

Mother had our breakfast on the table, and she was also getting ready for church. She had her good dress on, and was wearing an apron over it, to protect it. After breakfast we headed up the Third Line, toward Calvin Church.

Calvin church

When church was over, we stayed in the churchyard for a few minutes, talking with our friends and neighbours, then headed back home, and had our usual bowl of soup for lunch.

soup

Later that afternoon, we headed into Perth, drove up Gore Street, and turned off onto Halton Street, where Uncle Peter and Aunt Pat lived, at house number 48. Mother had been holding the Easter lily on her lap in the car, and carried it up the steps, to Aunt Pat’s house.

Easter lily

 

Aunt Pat was busy in the kitchen, preparing the ham and scalloped potatoes.

ham and scalloped potatoes

We always had the same thing at Easter – ham, scalloped potatoes, and fruit cocktail for dessert; and it was always tasty. Everyone went ahead into the living room, sat down, and Uncle Peter was telling jokes, as he often did, and kept everyone laughing.

Uncle Pete and Aunt Pat

(Uncle Peter Stafford and Aunt Pat Stafford)

I stayed behind in the kitchen, with Aunt Pat, and waited until no one else was around.  I asked her the question that had been bothering me all week. “Aunt Pat, is my Mother the Easter Bunny?”.

Aunt Pat was checking the ham in the oven, and she turned quickly around, and looked surprised at my question. “Who told you that?”, she asked. When I explained that Roger had told me, she laughed, and shook her head, and said, “Your brother is full of beans! Sometimes boys make up stories, and you shouldn’t pay any attention to him.”

What a relief! I finally had my answer, and now that I did the question seemed ridiculous. My hunch was right all along, that Mother wouldn’t have time to deliver chocolate to everyone in the world. It was just another ‘creative’ story from Roger. I would be more careful in the future not to believe his wild tales.

……………………………

 

Aunt Pat, had solved the mystery, and this little girl became a wee bit more skeptical.

In the years that followed, I had many memorable times with my older brother, and as the decades passed, he became a great friend, and a good-hearted companion.

Arlene and Roger

(Arlene Stafford-Wilson and Roger Stafford, Sept. 2018)

 

When all is said and done, we have our older siblings, as well as the local school-house pranksters, to thank for our healthy sense of skepticism, and the way it shields us from modern-day predators……. so much bolder and more cunning, than the early ones we encountered, on the Third Line.

…………………………………………….

 

(an excerpt from “Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line”  ISBN 978-0-9877026-30)

LC Calendar

http://www.staffordwilson.com