In my previous post, I got all enthused about the fact that tiny Castleton, Ont. (about 80 kilometres southwest of Queensborough in neighbouring Northumberland County) still boasts a bustling general store, and I mused about the chances of Queensborough being able to support one too.
I mentioned that “town” for Queensborough residents – that is, the place where they have to go to buy anything at all – is about 15 minutes away. (Which is why it seems so appealing, to me at least, that Queensborough would have a general store again, as we did – two stores, in fact, Bobbie’s and McMurray’s – back in the 1960s when I was a child at the Manse.)
“Town” for us is either Madoc or Tweed, which are about equidistant from Queensborough in opposite directions, although Madoc might be a minute or so closer. In the olden days when I was growing up, our “town” was Madoc; our postal address was a rural route of Madoc (which it still is), and we went to senior elementary school and high school there. It was the default position for “town.” But now Raymond and I now lean a bit more to Tweed, perhaps because Queensborough has been absorbed into the Greater Tweed municipal area. One all-important determinant for what “our” town is: Tweed is where we take our garbage (and recyclables) to the dump.
So what’s in “town”? Well, let’s have some fun with a “best of Madoc” and “best of Tweed” list. Caveat: I haven’t spent all that much time in either town in the few months since we’ve owned the Manse, which means that most of what I know or remember about them is from many decades ago. Those who know Madoc and Tweed better in their present incarnations should feel free to correct me, or offer your suggestions!
- Quite a good Foodland supermarket, big and bright and with a thoroughly decent produce section (that’s my main guide for judging a supermarket). It’s also open till 10 p.m. every night, which is handy.
- A public library that’s much expanded from my Nancy Drew-borrowing days, with an archives/research setup and space for arts displays and public readings. I haven’t yet had time to visit, but I look forward to doing so.
- A medical clinic, with at least one doctor and dentist and sundry other practitioners.
- What looks like a great kids’ skatepark and water park and all-round good playground and activity space. When we drove by on a sweltering day recently I was really wishing I could get away with joining the little tykes splashing in the water fountains.
- A throughly excellent – and I mean excellent – butcher, the One Stop Butcher Shop. Their steaks, sausages (house-made) and so on are superb, and the service is friendly and funny.
A really nice restaurant/pub called The Barley. Cozy in winter thanks to wooden floors and ceiling and a roaring fireplace; lovely in summer because there’s a screened-in terrace right beside the creek that runs through Madoc. It’s in the town’s old firehall and has been restored and renovated very nicely.The first time I walked through the door I said, “This is in Madoc???” (Sorry, Madoc. That was unfair, and I’ve since learned my lesson.) They have amazing fish and chips and very good steaks (from across the street at the One Stop Butcher Shop).
- The Hidden Goldmine Bakery, which I’ve written about before but that has just recently moved into much bigger new digs in the centre of town, where long ago the Kincaid Bros. IGA store was. Everything Hidden Goldmine makes is amazing, but I am particularly partial to their chocolate-chip cookies, which I think are the best in the whole world.
Well, the highlight has to be the Tweed Heritage Centre, a wonderland of heritage information about the area, all lovingly collected and tended by the amazing Evan Morton, whose energy never seems to flag. There are archives, displays, collections, artwork, books, stuff for sale – it’s absolutely amazing.
- Not one but two Home Hardware stores – one focused primarily on building supplies and home renovation, the other more a general hardware store – that have supplied us with many an item. (Mind you, so has the Home Hardware in Madoc. Maybe I should buy some shares in Home Hardware, since we’re getting to be their best customers…)
- The Old Cheese Factory, a lovely shop in a historic stone building on the northern edge of town. All manner of fresh and frozen prepared foods for sale, as well as kitchen stuff, giftware, and even furniture.
- Quinn’s of Tweed, a store that has been there forever but that has morphed into an art gallery, a great display space for the work of local artists. It adds a real touch of class to the main street.
- The Skootamatta River, which runs very prettily right through town.
- The Tweed News, a great old-fashioned extremely local weekly newspaper. It’s a hugely wide broadsheet like they just don’t make anymore. Dedicated to local coverage, and they do a very good job. I also like the fact that the News’s offices on the main street double as a stationery and office-supplies store – something that small-town papers used to do but that you rarely see these days.
- The Elvis Festival. Oh dear, should I mention the Elvis Festival? Well, let’s put it this way: it’s a big deal for Tweed, and if you’re an Elvis fan (or maybe more to the point, an Elvis-imitators fan), it might be right up your alley. (This year’s edition is Aug. 24, 25 and 26.) But let’s just say you probably won’t see Raymond and me there.
So there you have it: a highly personal tour of the interesting things we’ve found in our two towns. I look forward to adding to those lists as we get to know Madoc and Tweed a little bit better – in my case, all over again.