Drive into Queensborough on any given day, and you’re likely to come away with the impression that it’s a beautiful little place, but a rather sleepy one. You won’t find many other vehicles, and you won’t see too many people. Maybe a cluster of kids riding their bikes around if it’s a weekend, or late afternoon when school’s out on a weekday. Very possibly someone splitting firewood in a driveway. If it’s a weekday, you’ll find Jos Pronk in his machine shop “downtown” (the former Sager’s General Store, which Jos and his wife, Marykay, have beautifully restored), either getting a broken piece of local farm machinery back in business or doing some incredibly high-tech work for a large company in a big city. Also, except for wintertime, there’s almost always someone mowing a lawn somewhere. But that’ll probably be it. You’ll think, “Guess not a lot happens here.”
And you’ll be wrong.
Over the years that I’ve been writing Meanwhile, at the Manse, I’ve told you about a ton of community events in Queensborough: church suppers, dances, skating parties, kids’ events like Halloween parties, and maybe most notably the Historic Queensborough Day that we held in 2014 and again in 2017. (The next one is coming in 2020, so look out.) And then there was our most recent grand event, Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art (which I told you all about here), which attracted hundreds of people to our tiny hamlet one memorable sunny day last month.
Before I get to the end of today’s post, I’m going to tell you about several more events that are about to happen in Queensborough – and these after a year that has probably been one of the busiest, event-wise, that our community has ever seen. But when I affixed the headline “Something’s happening here” to this post, it wasn’t just because I have a bunch of special Queensborough events to tell you about and Invite you to.
No, it was because I was reflecting one recent day (while mowing the lawn, as it happens) about the fact that people are starting to sit up and take notice of Queensborough.
I’ve already mentioned the hundreds of people – we estimate 600 at least – who came from all over Ontario to enjoy Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art. Well, since that event a couple of weeks ago, more people have been showing up – people who didn’t make it to the art show, but who heard about it, and by extension our village, either through the publicity the show garnered (very positive publicity, I might add), or from friends who did visit on that memorable day. They’ve showed up out the blue, on weekdays and weekends, stopping to chat with people they run into, take some photos, buy copies of our walking-tour booklet and then actually do the walking tour. They want to see this special place that they’ve been hearing about.
And I think that is a really good thing – and a sign of good things to come.
You could say, I guess, that Queensborough is making its way onto the map. Not the geographical map – we were, of course, already there (if you looked hard enough). The map I’m talking about is not a physical one but more the map of public consciousness and interest. People are starting to hear about Queensborough, and coming to visit, because of its beauty, its heritage, its sense of community and, frankly, its magic – the word I heard over and over on Art in Queensborough day.
“Something’s happening here” is the opening line of a classic mid-1960s song by Stephen Stills, recorded by the band Stills had with Neil Young and a few others, Buffalo Springfield. The song is called For What It’s Worth, and even if you think you don’t know, it, you absolutely do. Click here to watch Stills, Young and the rest of the band perform it – and enjoy the ’60s outfits while you’re at it.
Anyway, that opening line is what came into my head as I was reflecting on the recent visitors-to-Queensborough phenomenon. The line makes you think about what that “something” is – and while in Stills’s case he says that the “something” “ain’t exactly clear,” I think we have a slightly better handle on what’s happening in Queensborough. We may not know what the end result will be – but we do know that people from elsewhere are starting to take a real interest in our little community.
What that interest may result in is anybody’s guess. I personally am not keen on Queensborough becoming a crowded, tour-bus-filled, overpriced-snooty-restaurant tourist mecca like Prince Edward County not far to the south of us. I do not want the traditions and the lifestyle of our quiet rural place to be lost. I want those with family roots that run deep in the Queensborough area to still, and always, feel at home here.
But as I’ve written several times before (like here and here), I’d also be delighted to see someone interested in operating a commercial venture such as a coffee shop, an art gallery, an antiques store, a bookstore or even an old-fashioned general store (ah, those were the days in Queensborough) coming here to our village. Something that would attract (and hopefully feed) visitors without disrupting our quiet way of life. I’d also be delighted to see some of the historic homes and farmhouses in our area that could use a bit of restoration and care get that attention from people interested in moving to a dynamic rural community and contributing to the life of that community.
Something is happening here. We shall just have to wait and see what exactly it translates into over the next few years. But while we’re waiting – hey, we have more special events for you to take part in! Coming very soon! And here they are, in the order they’re happening:
- This coming Saturday, Sept. 14, there’s a Harvest Dance featuring Cathy Whalen and the Land O’Lakes Cruisers, a country band that’s hugely popular in the local area, at the historic Orange Hall in Queensborough. Regular readers will know that the Orange Hall was also the venue for last year’s Black Fly Shuffle, and of course for the recent Art in Queensborough show. At both events, the restoration work that the building’s owners, Jamie and Tory, have done was almost as much the star of the show as the art and the music. People were wowed. And you’ll be wowed if you come Saturday to dance the night away. It runs from 7 to 11 p.m., and tickets (advance only) are available at Kelly’s Flowers and Gifts in Madoc and the Unconventional Moose gift shop on Highway 7 in nearby Actinolite, or by calling Elaine Kapusta at 613-473-1458. A good old-fashioned time is guaranteed for all – and all proceeds go to the work of the Queensborough Community Centre.
- A week and a half later, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, it’s the annual and ever-popular Turkey Supper at St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough. I’ve told you all about that event in previous posts, but I’ll tell you now that just thinking about the Turkey Supper makes my mouth water. Church members and all the volunteers who help out are getting ready to roast turkeys, peel and mash potatoes, make delicious homemade dressing, bake some beans, and of course make the pies that Queensborough is famous for. All you have to do is come and enjoy it! The supper runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m., and the cost is a very reasonable $14 for adults, $6 for kids from six to 12 years old, and free to kids under six.
- And then, just a week and a half after that, it’s How to Make an Apple Pie at the Queensborough Community Centre. This first-ever event is a followup to last year’s sold-out Master Pie-Making Class, when three of Queensborough’s master pie-makers taught a bunch of rookies (including me) the mysteries and secrets of making pie crust. On Saturday, Oct. 5, participants will be able to add to their pie knowledge by learning how to transform a basket of fresh apples (and of course their own homemade pie crust) into a freshly made apple pie. Yum! Spaces for this session are limited; you need to register by Saturday, Sept. 28, and you can do that by calling Elaine Kapusta at 613-473-1458 or emailing email@example.com. Last year’s session got rave reviews and was also a whole lot of fun; if you want to be a great pie-maker, you won’t want to miss this one.
Believe it not, there’s still more to come after that: a family Halloween party, and a community Christmas event. But let’s leave those till later. So much is happening in Queensborough that it can be difficult to keep track of it all.
But you know what? It’s all good. What a happening little place!