Art in Queensborough: come for the art – and stay for the food

Church-basement sandwiches 2

If you love these sandwiches – and really, who doesn’t? – then you will DEFINITELY want to attend Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art this coming Saturday. Yum!

I call them church-basement sandwiches. My Queensborough friend Elaine calls them funeral sandwiches. I know other people who call them party sandwiches. But there’s one thing we all call them: delicious.

And guess what? You will be able to enjoy them at what is rapidly becoming our world-famous Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art event this very Saturday!

(That would be Saturday, Aug. 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Orange Hall – now called the Queensborough Arts Centre – in Queensborough. If you’ve been stuck on a desert island for the past month or so and haven’t heard about it yet, you can find out everything you need to know from my posts here and here, as well as from our Facebook event here.)

Q in Art poster

I’m sure you know from the photo at the top of this post what this delicious foodstuff that I’m talking about is. It’s those small triangular sandwiches served up at rural and small-town social functions all over this part of the world.

Go to a funeral, or a wedding-anniversary open house, or a celebratory church service, or an evening function at a school, and chances are good to 100-per-cent (100-per-cent in the case of any function held in a church) that the food part of the event will include these addictive little sandwiches.

The procedure for making them is simple, and pretty standard: take a loaf of white or brown bread, butter it, and then between every two pieces spread egg salad, or salmon salad, or tuna salad, or chicken salad, or thin slices of ham with a bit of yellow French’s mustard. Cut them into triangles, and deliver them to the kitchen at whatever church or other facility is hosting the social event in question. There “the ladies” will arrange them prettily on a platter, and serve them up to what is guaranteed to be a very appreciative group of eaters.

Church-basement sandwiches

Here in Queensborough, our tradition is to not cut off the crusts on our church-basement sandwiches. The Queen might not be amused, but it suits us just fine. Oh man, just look at those egg-salad sandwiches…

The only variation that I know of is that in some places they cut off the crusts. Here in Queensborough, where church-basement sandwiches are a tradition of very long standing, we do not cut off the crusts. Hey, we’re not serving cucumber-and-watercress sandwiches to the Queen at afternoon tea; we’re feeding hungry people who’ve traded their work clothes – overalls, jeans and T-shirts, nurse uniforms, etc. – for a bit of dressup to say goodbye to an old friend who has died, or to celebrate 60 or 70 years of matrimony of the couple in the farmhouse down the way. We are people with hearty and appreciative appetites, and the crusts on the sandwiches are just fine, thank you very much.

As I have written before at Meanwhile, at the Manse, the most amazing thing about church-basement sandwiches is that you can eat dozens of them and still want more. Why is this, people? Is it because they’re small and don’t take up much space in your stomach? Is it because they’re so yummy that the regular “I’m-full-so-stop-eating” signals in your brain go on hiatus? Or is it just, you know, some kind of magic? I do not have the answer to this question (though I favour the “magic” option), but I know the phenomenon is real. And anyone I’ve ever spoken to about church-basement sandwiches gives a smile of knowing recognition when I mention it to them.

Don at the barbecue, MACKFest 2018

Barbecuing for the kayakers at high-water time in spring on the bank of the Black River, Queensborough.

As longtime readers know, Queensborough has quite the reputation for feeding people well. The church suppers at St. Andrew’s United, which I’ve written about many times (notably here and here) are deservedly famous, especially when it comes to the homemade pie at the end of the meal. Our community pot-luck dinners are astounding. We’ve been known to hold spectacular pig roasts, and in fact, thanks to the generosity of a local farmer, are planning another one for next month. In the kayaking world we are legendary for the barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs (oh, and did I mention homemade pie?) that we serve up every spring when there’s high water on the Black River and the kayakers are out in droves to test themselves against it. Our pancake breakfast every May is legendary.

As you can imagine, then, when it comes to spreads of church-basement sandwiches – well, there’s no place that can top Queensborough.

When the members of the Queensborough Community Centre committee were discussing what food options we would offer to visitors to Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art on Saturday, the first items on the list were kind of traditional. Yes, we will have a barbecue, which will include the ever-popular option of peameal bacon on a bun. Then we got a little bit radical (by Queensborough standards) and decided to also cook up veggie burgers. This will be a first for our hamlet, which is located in the midst of serious meat-eating country, but we recognize that the time has come. (And speaking as someone who has cut down radically on the amount of meat in my own diet, I say: yay.)

But then the aforementioned Elaine had what I think was the brainwave of all brainwaves: church-basement sandwiches!

(Or, as she calls them, funeral sandwiches. As a waggish old friend of mine from high-school days – who plans to visit Art in Queensborough – commented of that name: Sandwiches to die for!)

But Elaine’s idea came with a twist: because this is food for purchase, not laid on free as part of a church celebration, we’ll sell them as full (i.e. slice-of-bread size) sandwiches. Don’t worry, though! They’ll still be cut into triangles to ensure their special magic. For a wildly reasonable price you’ll be able to buy a full sandwich tidily packaged in a Ziploc bag. Open it up, and you’l have those individual triangles of deliciousness. There will be ham, chicken salad, salmon salad and (my everlasting favourite) egg salad. These are homemade by the ladies of the Queensborough church and community, so excellence is pre-ordained. However, I warn you: you’ll probably need to buy more than one…

Actinolite, Black River in Spring by Bob Hudson

Actinolite, Black River in Spring by Bob Hudson – a gorgeous work that the artist (a former resident of our area) has super-generously donated for a fundraising draw.

All proceeds from the sale of food and drinks (soft drinks, water, coffee and tea) will go toward covering the costs of mounting Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art. Because, as I’ve noted before, the exhibition of Queensborough-themed artwork (more than 100 works and counting) that is the central element of the day has absolutely no admission charge. We want people to come and just enjoy the artwork, the beauty of Queensborough, and the fun of watching artists at work throughout the village. Yes, it does cost our committee money to make it happen, but we are hoping to recoup at least some of those costs through food sales and also a draw to win a beautiful gouache painting of the Black River that has been generously donated for the occasion by artist Bob Hudson.

So! After the hungry work of visiting the exhibition in the Queensborough Arts Centre (24 King St.), strolling through our village and appreciating why its beauty has attracted so many artists over the years, and looking over the shoulders of the artists who will be setting up their easels and tripods to work that day – you’re going to want some great food. And people: we have got you covered.

Come for the art, stay for the food (sandwiches to die for!), and have a wonderful day. See you Saturday!

Art in Queensborough: We’ve got a song! (And a video!)

How about this, people: our upcoming (Saturday, Aug. 24) Queensborough extravaganza called Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art – which is going to be one for the ages, I’ll tell you that right now – has not only a theme song, but an official video!

jamie-and-tory-at-lol-by-gary-pattison

Jamie Grant and Tory Byers, who have brought the Orange Hall back to life. This photo was taken on Historic Queensborough Day 2017, the first time visitors got a chance to peek inside and see what they were doing with this great old building. A lot has been done since then! (Photo by Gary Pattison)

This comes thanks to Jamie Grant, co-owner (with his amazing wife, Tory Byers) of the historic Orange Hall in Queensborough, now named the Queensborough Arts Centre. As you probably know from my most recent post, the Queensborough Arts Centre (24 King St., Queensborough) is going to be the focal point for our extraordinary celebration on Aug. 24 of Queensborough’s historic place in the Canadian art world.

Jamie is not only a very talented graphic artist, digital superstar and old-building renovator; he’s also an accomplished musician. Kind of a Renaissance man, really.

It’s Jamie who has created the gorgeous publicity materials – rack cards and posters – with which we’ve been blanketing the Madoc-TweedMarmora area (and beyond) to let people know about Queensborough in Art/Art in Queensborough. Here, take a look:

Q in Art poster

The gorgeous poster that Jamie Grant designed for our art event.

As I’ve been going from storefront to storefront asking if we can put up these posters, I’m tickled by the response I get when people see them: “How beautiful!” And of course I always credit Jamie.

But now, in addition to all that great printed stuff, there’s a song and a video! And they’re more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Not only is the song a bit of an earworm (meaning you can’t get it out of your head; it seems to be the new soundtrack of my regular five-mile walks around the Queensborough “block”), but the video images are a hoot. Over images of Queensborough (and some other stuff) is a recurring spread of orange – for the Orange Hall, of course. But my favourite part is when there’s a shot of Jamie singing in a reproduction of the famous Vincent Van Gogh painting Bedroom in Arles. Here’s Vincent’s original:

Bedroom in Arles

And here’s Jamie, singing about Art in Queensborough in – well, a very similar setting:

Jamie in Vincent's bedroom And the absolute best part is that, walking across the bottom of the screen as Jamie sings about Art in Queensborough in Vincent’s bedroom, is Maude the dog. (Or is it Maisie? Jamie and Tory have two beloved canines, and I can never keep them straight.)

I just want to say that this video makes me smile more broadly every time I watch it. I hope the same is true for you.

Meanwhile, in other Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art news:

Q in Art rack cards

The gorgeous rack cards that Jamie designed to help us publicize the event. Click to enlarge.

Since last I wrote about the grand event a week or so ago, still more artworks have materialized for the show that will be mounted in the Orange Hall. These new arrivals include a painting set in Queensborough by Mary Schneider, co-founder of the Schneider School of Fine Arts in nearby Actinolite (that school being one of the big reasons Queensborough is on the art map, thanks to instructors of the calibre of A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven – who also painted in Queensborough, and you can see the resulting work on Aug. 24), and a piece of Queensborough-themed folk art by the legendary Goldie Holmes, whose famous Queensborough quilt will also be on display at the show. All in all it looks like we will have well over 100 pieces of art featuring or inspired by Queensborough, or done by Queensborough artists. At the rate things are coming in it’s hard to keep track, but I can tell you right now this is going to be a big – and beautiful – show.

And as you know from my previous post, the exhibition isn’t the only thing this day will be about. There will be…

  • Music in the streets of Queensborough
  • Art activities for kids
  • Artists at work (quite of few of them) throughout the village, ready to answer your questions and talk about their work
  • Self-guided walking tours of our beautiful, historic village
  • And of course, of course, this being Queensborough, there will be excellent food. I will tell you more about the food part in a later post.
  • And: if you’d like to purchase a beautiful souvenir of Queensborough – aside, that is, from one of the artworks that will be for sale – we will have some nice options for you, and more on that in yet another later post.
Orange Garden, Queensborough

The Orange Garden, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch before or after viewing the art.

I’m getting pretty excited about all this, and I hope you are too. So come on, hum a few bars with me:

Are you going, going to the show?
Queensborough in Art – Art in Queensborough!
There will be artists on the streets
Depicting beauty that they see;
Troubadours sing and walk around,
And everyone’s welcome to the town.
The mill and the Black River are there for all –
Picnic in the garden at the Orange Hall.
You’ll have a ball for one and all!
Are you going to the show?
Queensborough in Art – Art in Queensborough!
August 24th, rain or snow (!)
Are you going to go?
Art in Queensborough!

Coming soon! A day to celebrate Queensborough in the art world

Q in Art logo

The logo for Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art, designed by the hugely talented Jamie Grant. Jamie and his wife, Tory, own the Queensborough Arts Centre (the historic former Orange Hall) that will host an extraordinary show of Queensborough-themed artwork on Saturday, Aug. 24. You’re invited!

How many places with a population of around 75 can you think of that could round up more than 100 pieces of art – including one by a member of the Group of Seven – featuring or inspired by that place? I mean, maybe over yonder in England where they have all those quaint villages and dazzling pastoral views. But here in Canada? In Eastern Ontario? Not too many, I don’t think.

Q in Art card

Rack cards that have been widely distributed in local businesses and offices, also designed by Jamie Grant. The folk art shown on the bottom is a detail from Goldie Holmes’s famous Queensborough quilt, showing the Orange Hall (site of our event) and the home beside it. Click on the image if you’d like the see a bigger version.

But (to no one’s surprise, I’m sure) I’m here to tell you that Queensborough can proudly, and truthfully, make that claim.

And what’s more to the point, we’re going to show those works of art, on a very special day this month to which you are invited, and that is going to knock your socks off. I mean it.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Queensborough is the place to be for an event called Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art. Did I mention that there will be more than 100 works of art on display? Given that submissions and loans of art pieces for the show keep pouring in, the final number may well be considerably higher. Every piece features a Queensborough scene, was inspired by Queensborough, or was done by a Queensborough-area artist. I trust you will agree with me that this is pretty fantastic.

Oh, also fantastic? Admission to this splendid show is free! And some of the works will be for sale!

But there is so much more about Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art day. So much so that it’s going to take me more than a single post here at Meanwhile, at the Manse to get to it all and do it all justice. (Stay tuned, for example, for a post about a theme song composed just for this event, along with its video! Not to mention one about the thrilling [and, obviously, delicious – not to mention classic Queensborough] food options that will be on offer during the day.)

But let me try here to give you an overview of the day, which is being organized by the hard-working volunteers of the Queensborough Community Centre Committee. I assume you have already marked Aug. 24 in your appointment calendar. If you haven’t, better hustle off and do that now.

Perhaps first I should give you a bit of background on why Queensborough has been such a magnet for the visual-arts world for as long as anyone can remember. Mainly, it’s because it is such a beautiful place.

Queensborough_in_ summer_credit_Elaine_Kapusta

Looking across the Black River from the historic Thompson House and Mill to the former St. Peter’s Anglican Church. With views like this, how could Queensborough not attract artists? (Photo by Elaine Kapusta)

(I’ll never forget the time a few years back when a city couple came by the Manse to pick up a couple of vintage kitchen chairs that I was helping the Hart’s-Riggs Women’s Institute sell off. [The ladies were surprised to learn that people would pay good money for those classic midcentury kitchen chairs, which they had been prepared to toss into the dump. It was fun!] Anyway, it was a glorious summer day, and as the city couple’s SUV pulled up in front of the Manse the wife hopped out and exclaimed, “I have no idea where I am, but it is gorgeous!” She was right, of course.)

Thompson House

Thompson House, by Queensborough’s Dave deLang. This is one of the beautiful buildings in our village that keep artists coming back.

Queensborough’s location on the Black River, with a dam and waterfall right in the heart of the hamlet, make it an area of “outstanding natural beauty” (as the hosts often say about places in the rural U.K. in a BBC program that Raymond and I have become addicted to, Escape to the Country). In addition, our hamlet contains a number of lovely historic homes and buildings – some beautifully restored and kept up, others quaintly fading. (The latter category is a magnet for artists.)

Queensborough in autumn

The dam and waterfall at the heart, which powered the mills that the village grew up around. (Photo by Elaine Kapusta)

But there is another reason why Queensborough has a special place in the Canadian art world – and this is what brings us to the Group of Seven angle. Back somewhere in the middle of the last century (early 1950s or thereabouts), the Madoc Art Centre was established on a stretch of Highway 7 just a bit south of Queensborough.

Madoc Summer Art School, 1957. This would have been before the school’s move to nearby Actinolite and change of name to the Schneider School of Fine Arts. (Photo from the Ontario Archives via the Madoc and Area Local History Facebook page)

Students at the Madoc Summer Art School, 1957

Students at the Madoc Summer Art School, 1957 Standing at right (in white trousers) is instructor Donald Fraser, a renowned Canadian artist who later moved permanently to Queensborough and painted many scenes here. You’ll be able to see work by Fraser in the Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art show on Aug. 24. (Photo via the Madoc and Area Local History Facebook page)

In 1963, the centre moved a bit east and south to the Elzevir Township hamlet of Actinolite and became the Schneider School of Fine Arts, run by a husband-and-wife team of respected artists, Roman and Mary Schneider. (You can read a previous post by me that includes photos from the site of the art school here.)

Cabins at the former Schneider School of Fine Arts

Cabins where the summer art students would have stayed – when they weren’t painting in Queensborough – at the Schneider School of Fine Arts in the hamlet of Actinolite.

One of the instructors for students who came each summer from near and far to learn and to hone their technique was none other than A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven, Canada’s most famous artists. (Talk about learning from the best! You can watch a nifty National Film Board video about Jackson here.) Another well-known Canadian painter who taught at the school was Donald Fraser, a scenic painter for the CBC. And both A.Y. Jackson and Don Fraser came to Queensborough and painted!

A huge highlight of Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art will be your chance to see an original A.Y. Jackson painting of Queensborough. It shows a 19th-century home (still standing, and still lived in) and a blacksmith’s shop that once stood on the southeast corner of the small “block” that constitutes “downtown” Queensborough. I remember that blacksmith’s building from my childhood here, though it was no longer in operation. (I’m not that old!) What a thrill it was when this painting by a Canadian master suddenly came to light before our Historic Queensborough Day in 2017. The owner graciously lent it for display on that day, and visitors crowded around to get a glimpse. That same owner has once again kindly lent the picture for Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art, and it is sure to be the main attraction.

A.Y. Jackson painting at the QCC

A painting by A.Y. Jackson of Queensborough on display at Historic Queensborough Day 2017. (Photo by Shelley Bonter)

Don Fraser, meanwhile, ended up moving permanently to Queensborough and remained inspired to paint local scenes – “the rocky bush and crumbling barns of the Laurentian Shield,” as his online biography puts it – to the end of his life. There will be several Donald Fraser canvases on show on Aug. 24, and some of them will be for sale – your chance to have a piece of Canadian and Queensborough art history of your very own.

Don Fraser painting

One of the Donald Fraser works featuring “the rocky bush” around his Queensborough home that will be on display during Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art.

But it wasn’t just the famous artists who taught at the art school who came here to paint; their students did too. I wrote here about my happy childhood memories of the art students invading our hamlet en masse on pleasant summer days, setting up their easels at various spots and working away. We kids loved to look over their shoulders, fascinated to watch them mix their paints and magically re-create on canvas the scenes that surrounded us every day.

As a result of all this artistic activity, Queensborough became something of a destination in the art world. While the Schneider School of Fine Arts closed quite some time ago, painters, photographers and other artists still come to Queensborough very regularly to be inspired by the views in our hamlet. Here’s Nicole Amyot of Ottawa, who stopped in one day a couple of years ago (I wrote about that here) and single-handedly brought back for me those childhood memories of the artists behind their easels in Queensborough:

Artist at work close up

Nicole Amyot of Ottawa working on a painting of the Queensborough mill and waterfall.

As well, the Queensborough area can boast a remarkable number of artists who actually live here: painters, fabric artists, sculptors, photographers, woodcarvers and more. Their work, too, will be on show on Aug. 24, and trust me: you will be impressed.

One of the most famous of Queensborough’s artists is, of course, Goldie Holmes, a renaissance woman who wrote songs and poems and was a pillar of her church and community in addition to being an outstanding folk artist. (I wrote about Goldie and her work here, and in that post is a link to an interview that she did with Sylvia Tyson for CBC television. Her comments in it about life in Queensborough are absolutely splendid.) We are thrilled that Goldie’s famous Queensborough quilt (much admired by Tyson in that video) will be on display as part of Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art, thanks to a generous loan from the Tweed and Area Heritage Centre. I suspect it’ll be at least as big an attraction as the A.Y. Jackson painting – because Goldie was our very own artistic superstar.

Goldie Holmes's Queensborough quilt

Goldie Holmes’s famous Queensborough quilt, featuring homes and prominent buildings in the village, will be on display at the former Orange Hall (left-hand panel, bottom row) on Aug. 24.

But there’s going to be so much more to see and do on Aug 24! In addition to the art show itself, you can:

  • Watch artists at work throughout the village. They’ll answer your questions and be glad to show you what they’re doing.
  • Enjoy lovely, quiet music by strolling minstrels (two young professional singers who have kindly agreed to take part in the day)
  • Take a self-guided walking tour of historic Queensborough
  • Steer your kids to children’s art activities
Actinolite, Black River in Spring by Bob Hudson

Actinolite, Black River in Spring by Bob Hudson – a gorgeous work that the artist (a former resident of our area) has super-generously donated for a fundraising draw.

  • Enter a draw to win a painting of the Black River by Grimsby, Ont. (formerly Madoc) artist Bob Hudson, very generously donated by the artist himself
  • Listen in on an interview with Tweed-area artist Audrey Ross, who’ll share her memories of attending the art school as a student
  • And here’s almost the best part: amazing food! (This being Queensborough, of course you knew there’d be amazing food.) At the Queensborough Community Centre (our historic former one-room schoolhouse), there’ll be a barbecue featuring the ever-popular peameal bacon on a bun and (a first for Queensborough), veggie burgers for the non-meat-eaters among our visitors.
Orange Garden, Queensborough

The beautiful Orange Garden, right beside the Orange Hall (Queensborough Arts Centre) is where you’ll be able to enjoy classic small-town sandwiches (or a picnic that you bring yourself) in lovely surroundings.

  • Meanwhile, in the absolutely stunning Orange Garden created beside the Orange Hall by Jamie Grant and Tory Byers, you’ll be able to get those amazing church-basement (as I like to call them) sandwiches that only church ladies know how to make: egg salad, tuna salad and so on, cut into cute little triangles and so delicious that you can eat about a hundred of them and still want more. It was the brainwave of tireless Queensborough Community Centre Committee volunteer Elaine Kapusta to serve up those sandwiches for sale, and I just know they are going to be a major, major hit. (I know at least one person who is coming to Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art just for the sandwiches.)
Queensboro by Robert Huffman

Queensboro (note the old-fashioned spelling) by Kingston artist Robert Huffman. Can you tell which part of our village this depicts? The painting will be one of more than 100 on display Aug. 24 at the Queensborough Arts Centre.

Really, it’s going to be an incredible – and dare I say it, historic – day. If you love art, Queensborough, local history, food, rural communities that are doing cool things – or, as is very likely, all of the above – then please join us!

A deerfly song just for me, courtesy of my teenage hero

Joey Edwards

Joey Edwards: DJ, friend, and composer of a special song about my deerfly battles. (Photo courtesy of Joey Edwards)

Wow! Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to comment on my post of a couple of days ago. The “Glad to see you back” sentiment was overwhelming, and sure made me feel good. As anyone who’s undertaken the job of producing a blog knows, it’s a lot of work and takes a lot of time. (Especially when your internet is sometimes dodgy, as it can be here in Queensborough.) That’s the main reason – actually, the only reason – you hadn’t seen an instalment of Meanwhile, at the Manse for several months: as my father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, always used to say, “So much to do and so little time in which to do it!”

Hat filled with dead deerflies

My first post in a long time here at Meanwhile, at the Manse was about the plague of deerflies we’re experiencing in Queensborough this summer. Here’s the deerfly catch on the sticky strip I attach to my walking cap – just one day’s worth.

Not all of those quick and kind responses came in the form of comments appended to my blog post about the Great Deerfly Menace of 2019. Some came in person and via email. And one of those emails – which was waiting in my inbox very early the morning after my deerfly post went up – came from none other than Joey Edwards!

Readers with long memories – and those who, like me, were pop-music-loving teenagers in the Hastings County area in the early 1970s – will recall Joey Edwards as the evening disc jockey (and this was when there actually were discs, i.e. records, to jockey) on CJBQ-AM radio out of Belleville. One of the most fun things that’s ever happened in the lifetime of this blog was when, almost five years ago, Joey made contact with me here, having spotted a reference I’d made earlier to his goofy, hilarious, best-music-ever-filled radio show, of which I was a huge fan when I was growing up here in the middle of the last century. From way off in a new life and career in Beijing, Joey has stayed in contact since then, and I’m pleased to say that thanks to Meanwhile, at the Manse, other fans of his radio work have been able to find and correspond with him too.

Anyway: Joey must have seen my post very soon after it hit the internet, because by the time I opened my email the next morning, there was already a message from him. And not just any message, people. It was a little song, just for me! About the walks I’d written about in which I enjoy the beauty of nature around Queensborough but truly hate the deerflies that come with it, especially this summer.

Like I said, it’s a little song, just one verse long. Here are the lyrics:

Katherine talks to Mother Nature
With a special request
Please Mother Nature
Can you tell your deer flies
To take a permanent rest!

Which is cute enough on its own, but the special effects on the recording are what make it. So now, without further ado, please allow me to share with you Katherine’s Deer Fly Ditty, by Joey & The Keep-on-Yuckin’ Band:

If this delightful gift is my reward for a long-in-the-making new Meanwhile, at the Manse post, then I sure am glad I sat down in front of the laptop once again. Joey, I cannot thank you enough. But right now – gotta go. I’ve got a walk to take. And some deerflies to fight off.

The deerflies from hell in Kilometre 4

Hat filled with dead deerflies One walk’s worth of deerflies on a sticky strip that I wear on my walking cap.

Hello, everyone! After a months-long hiatus that has been filled with a whole lot of Queensborough community work plus the day job that pays the bills here at the Manse, I am back! And I have many things to tell you about: an amazing art-themed event coming up in Queensborough next month; the ridiculous system that we Queensborough people have to use to get rid of our trash and recycling; the major road-repair project going on just west of our hamlet; some fantastic improvements to the landscape in Queensborough; and my terror-of-renovation paralysis. To name just a few. But today I want to talk about – wait for it – deerflies.

Because the deerflies have been really, truly terrible this summer of 2019, as anyone who’s been outside in rural Ontario will surely agree. “Never seen them this bad before,” I’ve heard quite a few people say.

Now, I suppose an obvious way to avoid being bitten and bothered by these very annoying insects is just to stay indoors. But who wants to do that, when summer is so beautiful in Queensborough?

For me especially, being outdoors is a big thing these days, because I’ve taken up a walking routine. Four or five afternoons a week you can find me walking the Queensborough “block” – not the “downtown” Queensborough block that you can easily cover in less than 10 minutes, but the big block that takes you eastward out Queensborough Road toward Moore’s Corners, then south till you get to Bosley Road, and then west and north along Bosley till you arrive right back at the Manse where you started. It’s a five-mile/eight kilometre route, which I cover in a tiny bit over one and a quarter hours, mixing it up every other day by starting out on Bosley Road and walking in the other direction.

My walking route My five-mile/eight-kilometre walking route. The wooded area in the bottom right corner is where the deerflies are thickest.

Normally that hour and a quarter is a very pleasant time indeed, good for my brain and spirit as well as my body. I listen to the breeze and the birdsong, wave to the motorists who meet or pass me (and who almost invariably give me a big, friendly wave in return), say hello to the various dogs along the way (Lacey, Jugs, Mimi, Bella, Lily, Magnum and China, among others), observe the wildlife (bunnies, turtles, butterflies, ducks, frogs, once even a fox) and the cattle, horses and sheep grazing on local farms, and quietly meditate on the life and beauty that surround me.

Deerfly strips My secret weapon for getting rid of at least some of the deerflies. You can find it at farm-supply and hardware stores.

But for the past few weeks, the deerflies have significantly intruded on my walking pleasure. As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, there are a lot of deerflies on my route. And of course that photo – one day’s haul of deerflies caught on the sticky strip I wear on my walking cap, an essential deerfly-survival tool that I have my Queensborough friend and neighbour Herb to thank for introducing to me (you can read about that here) – only shows the deerflies I actually vanquished that day. The ones dumb enough to get irreversibly stuck on my cap are a small proportion of the ones that fly in zippy circles around my head and body, eager to alight and suck my blood via a painful bite.

However, there is quite a bit of satisfaction in bringing an end to a significant number of deerflies using this handy tool each day. And it makes for rather a dramatic look; as my friend and neighbour Tory commented yesterday when she saw my fly-filled cap at the end of my walk: “It’s like art!”

This brief video from yesterday’s walk will give you some idea of what the deerfly situation is like. Those little things that zoom in and out of view in the blink of an eye? They are, of course, the deerflies.

The video was taken along a stretch that I call Kilometre 4, a not-very-imaginative title for the final kilometre on the 4K Bosley Road portion of my walk. (That is, on the days when I start by going south from the Manse on Bosley. It’s actually Kilometre 5 when I walk in the other direction, but in my mind it’s always Kilometre 4.)

The start of Kilometre 4 The beginning of Kilometre 4, at the Rathwell farm as you head south from Queensborough along Bosley Road. Beware: deerflies ahead. In spades.

This is the section that has the fewest homes and open fields, and the most wooded areas. And those wooded areas make it Deerfly Central.

Midway along Kilometre 4 The old split-rail fences make Kilometre 4 a scenic part of the walk. But it’s hard to enjoy the scenery when you’re beating off deerflies.
The woods that harbour deerflies These woods harbour the varmints.

If you come across me walking that section during these high-summer days, you may be hard-pressed to pick me out amid the black swarm of deerflies that will be circling me from head to ankles. Mercifully, once I emerge from that stretch they peter out, at least a bit.

The end of Kilometre 4 Always a welcome sight: where Bosley Road ends at Queensborough Road is also the end of Kilometre 4. When you get here, you are out of the woods when it comes to deerflies – literally as well as figuratively.

I am not much for insect repellant, but I have discovered that spraying my arms, legs and back of my neck with Deep Woods Off at least keeps the deerflies from alighting and biting, and that helps a lot. They still swarm and annoy, but at least I arrive home more or less unbitten and unbloodied.

My jingly bells to let bears know I’m around.

The other thing I seem to have discovered is that deerflies are attracted to sound – or at least the sound of tinkling bells. On my walks I carry a little bracelet with bells attached, and I jingle it when I’m along the quietest and most wooded stretches of the walk. It’s because I don’t ever want to meet up with a bear, particularly a mama bear feeling protective of her cubs, and I am reliably informed that making noise will warn the bears of human presence (because they don’t want to meet me any more than I want to meet them) and keep them steered clear. You might think that the chances of meeting a bear on my walks are slim, and they probably are. But bears are not infrequently spotted in the Queensborough area and, you know, it only takes one.

But back to the deerflies and my accidental discovery: on one particularly horrific deerfly day, I noticed that they seemed to be a little less thick around me in the periods when I was not jingling the bells. Now, my first thought that was that this was only because the places where I use the bells are also the most wooded places, where the deerfies are thickest. I dismissed my observation.

On the next walk, however, I noticed the same thing. And to test it, I tried jingling the bells a little bit two or three times when there were few or no deerflies about. Instantly, more appeared. Have I made an astounding, groundbreaking scientific discovery, do you suppose?

On the last couple of walks, I refrained from using the bells entirely. And you know what? While the deerflies were still very much in evidence, they weren’t as thick as they had been previously. Which is a very good thing. On the other hand, there’s a tradeoff, in that to make this new system I’ve discovered work, I don’t get to use my bear-repellent method. In the overall scheme of things, I think you’d probably agree, deerflies are a better thing to run into than a bear.

Fewer deerflies My hat at the end of yesterday’s jingle-free walk. You’ll notice that there are considerably fewer deerflies.

Then again, the decrease in the deerflies could simply be due to their season coming to an end. To which I think many of my readers in rural Ontario will say: can’t come soon enough.

On Nov. 11 the bells will peal, and Queensborough will remember

Legion Bells of PeaceOn Nov. 11, 1918 – one hundred years ago this Remembrance Day – bells rang out across Europe and all over Canada. The bells pealed from every church steeple and clock tower to tell a populace heartsick and weary from four terrible years of war that the conflict we now call World War I was over at last. For many Canadians, the ringing of the bells meant that beloved husbands, sons and fathers would be coming home at last. That the horror and danger in which those far-off loved ones had lived the past years of their lives were over. That they could return to their farms, their trades, and their families.

It is almost impossible for us, who have never lived through such a time, to imagine what joy the sound of the bells must have brought those hearers in cities, towns and villages across our country.

But for many others, the ringing of the bells announcing the Armistice would have been bittersweet at best. Like their friends and neighbours, they would have been happy that the brutal, senseless conflict was finally over; but for them, there would be a son, husband or father who would never come home. The bodies of their loved ones would lie through eternity in cemeteries far away across the ocean.

Tilloy cemetery

“Between the crosses, row on row.” The British War Cemetery in Tilloy-les-Mofflaines, France, where Sgt. Winfred (Fred) Glover of Queensborough is buried. I told Winfred Glover’s story a few years ago (you can read it here), and his is one of the names that will be read out prior to the ringing of the bells on Nov. 11 in Queensborough.

As Canada marks Remembrance Day 2018 this coming Sunday, bells will toll again in many places. The Royal Canadian Legion and the federal government have partnered for the Bells of Peace project, urging communities and churches to ring their bells 100 times, precisely at sunset, to commemorate the end of the Great War and to remember those who served and, in so many cases, died in the conflict.

It is sure to be deeply moving to ring and to hear the bells, and to think about what that sound must have meant 100 years ago.

Here in Queensborough, we will be doing our part. At 4:46 p.m. Sunday – the precise moment of sunset in Queensborough on Nov. 11, 2018 – our community’s bells will start to ring, once every five seconds, until they have rung 100 times. And the community is warmly invited to come and take part, and to help ring the bells.

St. Andrew's Easter 2

Usually the ringing of the bell in the steeple at St. Andrew’s United Church is to signal the start of Sunday worship. This Nov. 11, however, the bell will ring 100 times as we remember those who gave so much in the Great War.

HQD QCC with Buddy Table

In the clock tower at the Queensborough Community Centre (formerly our one-room school) is one of the bells that will be rung on Sunday, Nov. 11.

Where are our bells? They are in the steeple of St. Andrew’s United Church, and in the clock tower of the Queensborough Community Centre, the historic building that was once our village’s one-room school. One hundred years ago there would have been more bells – those in the steeples of the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Methodist churches, none of which are still operational – but we are fortunate that we still have two historic bells that can be rung, just as they certainly would have been a century earlier.

A flyer going out to mailboxes throughout Queensborough and area this week invites everyone to come and take part. But even if you live outside our area, you are welcome to join us and, if you’d like, to help ring the bells. Just come to St. Andrew’s (812 Bosley Rd.) or the community centre (1853 Queensborough Rd.) no later than 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

We especially hope children and teenagers will come and take part, as a way of learning about the Great War and the people from their own community who gave so much in it. Any who are too little to pull the bell ropes themselves are welcome to get a helping hand from a parent; there will be some veteran bell-ringers on hand to help out as well.

WW1 names from QCC

The World War I Honour Roll, showing those who attended or had graduated from Queensborough’s school who served in the war. The names will be read out on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Elaine Kapusta)

On the walls of both the community centre and St. Andrew’s, there hang plaques listing the names of people from Queensborough who served in both the First and Second World Wars. Those names will be read out prior to the bell-ringing, as we remember their service.

Descendants of those who fought in the Great War are especially welcome. Anyone who has photos or letters from the war era that they could bring to show is encouraged to do so.

After the bells have been rung, everyone will be invited to stay at the church or the community centre for hot cider and conversation. We hope this will be a way to bring together the members of our community – those who’ve lived here all their lives, along with those who’ve only moved to Queensborough quite recently – to share and celebrate our history.

Ring the Bells of Queensborough this Remembrance Day

The flyer going out to Queensborough-area homes this week. I hope you can join us on Sunday.

In asking that the bells be tolled at sunset, the Legion has cited a beautiful and well-known line of poetry: “At the going down of the sun and in the morning / We will remember them.”

The poem, entitled  For the Fallen, was written by a Briton, Robert Laurence Binyon, and published in the Times newspaper in the U.K. in September 1914 – very early in the war. Before it was over, so many more would fall. You can read the full poem here – it is quite lovely – but I particularly like two of the stanzas:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Indeed we will. I hope you can join us in Queensborough at sunset this Sunday as we do so.

“So what’s happening in Queensborough?”

Welcome to Queensborough, fall 2018

Welcome to beautiful Queensborough, where things are always happening! And one of the best things about our hamlet is the work that the volunteers on the Queensborough Beautification Committee do to enhance our community’s welcome and street signs.

“So what’s happening in Queensborough?” People ask me that question all the time.

It comes from members of my extended family when we gather at times like the recent Thanksgiving weekend. It comes from colleagues at work. It comes when I attend events in far-flung parts of Ontario, and well beyond. It comes in emails and social-media messages from across Canada and all over the world.

And here’s the thing: the people who ask me that question already know what my answer will be. (It’s always just one word: “Lots!”) Why? Because the news has got out that Queensborough is a happening place. I am modestly proud of the part that Meanwhile, at the Manse has played, over the almost seven years of its existence, in spreading the word about Queensborough. Bust mostly I am proud (and not at all modestly) of the work that the people of this tiny, beautiful place are doing to make it punch way above its weight when it comes to interesting events and widespread recognition. I would go so far as to say that Queensborough is one of the better-known population-75 places (okay, maybe our population’s a whopping 200 or so when you count – as we should – the Greater Queensborough Area) on the entire planet. And that is something!

Regular readers will doubtless have noticed that Meanwhile, at the Manse has been a bit quiet lately. I apologize for that; my excuse, such as it is, is that I’ve been awfully busy. But that’s part of the deal with living in Queensborough, isn’t it? There’s always something.

So let me fill you in on what’s been going on. Late summer and early autumn weren’t quite as busy as the whirlwind few months we had last spring, but there’s still lots to share with you.

St. Andrew's Turkey Supper 2018 – enjoying the meal

Enjoying the meal: some of the hundreds of people who came out to enjoy the St. Andrew’s United Church Turkey Supper in late September.

I believe I’ll begin with the annual Turkey Supper at St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough, which took place in late September. Now, regular readers will know that our St. Andrew’s suppers (which I’ve written about many times, notably here and here and here) have a long tradition of success, attracting crowds of people from all over the place who are eager to enjoy a splendid meal in the congenial atmosphere of our pretty, historic country church. But this Turkey Supper was something special.

St. Andrew's Turkey Supper 2018 – lineup of cars

Raymond outside St. Andrew’s United Church surveying the very impressive lineup of cars that brought people to the Turkey Supper. And there were just as many lined up in the other direction!

On a day that turned from grey and gloomy to gloriously sunny just in time, hundreds of people turned out. As usual, there were lineups even before the doors opened at 4:30 p.m. What was a little less usual was that the people just kept coming. And coming. And coming. Normally by 6:15 p.m. or so – the supper runs until 7 – almost everyone who’s going to come has already showed up and is seated at the communal tables, enjoying the meal. This year, there was turnover after turnover in the church hall, with seats in the waiting area – the church sanctuary – filled by new arrivals as soon as they’d been emptied by those who’d been called in to the meal. There was still a churchful of people waiting well after 6 p.m.!

St. Andrew's Turkey Supper 2018 – waiting to be called 2

The thing about sitting in the St. Andrew’s sanctuary and waiting for your ticket number to be called so you can go in and enjoy the Turkey Supper (or, in the spring, the Ham Supper) is that it’s a marvellous opportunity to catch up on the news with friends and neighbours. Which is exactly what everyone in this picture is doing!

The men and women who were working their butts off (to use a not very churchy term) to keep the turkey and trimmings coming out of the kitchen, and the places set, and the dishes done, began to worry that we might run out of food. But in the end, we had exactly the right amount: every visitor ate heartily and well, the church members and supporters who had worked so hard were able to do the same once the crowds were gone, and there was even a bit left over.

Pie at the Turkey Supper 2018

As always, the selection of homemade pie at the Turkey Supper was impressive – and delicious. Queensborough is justly renowned for its homemade pie.

And when all was said and done, almost $3,500 was raised for the ongoing work of St. Andrew’s! That is a very big deal for a small country church. Everyone who came out to the dinner, and everyone who roasted turkeys, baked pies, peeled turnips, set places, and washed and dried mountains of dishes deserves huge thanks – not just for a job well done on that particular evening, but for keeping a truly great Queensborough tradition alive.

Okay: what else? Well, let’s talk about the Orange Hall!

Welcome to the Orange Hall

The main entrance to the former Orange Hall at 24 King St., Queensborough, as it looks these days. It’s a far cry from the ugly and decrepit look the front of the building boasted for decades before Jamie Grant and Tory Byers purchased it.

When last you heard about the Orange Hall – from me, at least – it was early June and we were basking in the success of the Black Fly Shuffle (a community dance) that had just been held there. It was the first time in half a century that a public event had happened in that building, one of the oldest in our hamlet and a place that, back in the day, regularly played host to dances, concerts, travelling shows, wedding receptions and all kinds of other socials. After decades of disuse that saw the building fall into extreme disrepair, it was purchased and saved by Jamie Grant and Tory Byers, a couple – from the perspective of my advancing age I think of them as a young couple – who are bursting with energy and creativity. What they did to repair and restore the Orange Hall in such a short time brought smiles and wonderment on the evening of the Shuffle to those who’d last been there 50 or more years ago. To me, looking on and thinking hard about how important that evening was, it brought (well-concealed) tears of joy. The restoration of the Orange Hall is a huge step in the revitalization of our community.

But hey – that was almost five months ago! Things have happened since then!

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Jamie and Tory went on to purchase the large empty lot that is immediately east of the Orange Hall. (That lot is much more empty since a shocking fire in 2012 destroyed a beautiful historic brick house that had been on it.) They also were able to buy the smallish 19th-century house that’s just to the east of the empty lot. Taken together, this will allow them to do a lot more with the Orange Hall, which came with only the land that it sits on and, as a result, no plumbing (because no land for a septic tank). With the empty lot added in, all that’s changed, and the possibilities for the building have opened up immensely. In addition, in very short order Jamie and Tory bought and spiffed up the little house next door to the empty lot, and now it’s as cute as all get out. And they brought in a gazebo for the lot in between! They (and we) have visions of concerts in summer evenings, kids’ activities, all kinds of fun community stuff on this centre-of-town property that they’ve brought back to life.

So what’s next in Queensborough? Well, in just a couple of week’s it’ll be Halloween, and I’ve already told you what a bang-up job Queensborough does on that front. On Oct. 27 – the Saturday before Halloween – the annual Family Halloween Party takes place at the Queensborough Community Centre. Again, I’ve told you about it previously in this space, but this event is getting bigger every year – thanks in part to so many young families having moved into the Greater Queensborough Area in the past few years. So many kids! So much potential for big fun at the QCC on the 27th! The Halloween Party has turned into one of the social events of the year, and you don’t want to miss it. Especially if you have kids.

Queensborough events

The draft – emphasis on draft! – lineup of events for 2019, as discussed at last week’s meeting of the Queensborough Community Centre committee (and marked up with my own scratchings). As you can see, we have a busy year ahead!

And then what? Well, I’m glad you asked. Just a few days ago Raymond and I were at the monthly meeting of the Queensborough Community Centre committee, of which we are both members. The main item on the agenda was planning events for 2019, and I think it’s fair to say it’s a heck of a lineup we’ve got. I mean, really (in chronological order, starting in January): a chili cookoff; our annual community potluck supper, which this year will also be a Games Night; hamburgers, hot dogs and homemade pie served up by the Black River during kayaking season in the early spring; the Earth Day trash bash, to clean up the roadways in and around Queensborough; an Easter egg hunt; the St. Andrew’s Ham Supper; the ever-popular Pancake Breakfast in May; a Queensborough-themed art show (Queensborough having been a mecca for artists for much of its history); a kids’ softball tournament; the annual children’s summer drop-in program at the community centre; a new fall harvest event, complete with fireworks and – get this – a street dance (!); the St. Andrew’s Turkey Supper; a followup to our hugely successful pie-making class, this time teaching pie newbies how to make a world-beating apple pie; the family Halloween party, of course; and Christmas carolling throughout Queensborough, to be followed by an evening of Christmas skits and other fun.

An ambitious lineup for a tiny hamlet? It sure is.

Can we pull it off? Of course we can! We are Queensborough – a place filled with community spirit and dedicated volunteers.

The only question that remains is: won’t you join us?

Watch this space, the local media, and the Facebook pages of the Queensborough Community Centre and St. Andrew’s United Church for details on each event. Please join us for as many of these events as you can; if you live here and can help out with some or all of them, please do!

So what’s happening in Queensborough?

I feel like my old standby answer, “Lots!” is no longer sufficient. We’ve moved past that.

What’s happening in Queensborough? More than ever!