Going to town. Would that be Madoc, or Tweed?

Tweed has one thing that Madoc does not: stoplights. Two sets! Madoc has only a flashing-red four-way stop at the main intersection. I wonder if the folks of Madoc wish they had stoplights too.

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!

Madoc has:

  • 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.
  • This is the screened-in rear verandah of The Barley restaurant and pub, looking out over Deer Creek in Madoc. A lovely place for lunch or dinner.

    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.

Tweed has:

  • The Tweed Heritage Centre, run by the indefatigable Evan Morton, is a happening place.

    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.

9 thoughts on “Going to town. Would that be Madoc, or Tweed?

  1. Hmmmm….Madoc is about 14 km away while Tweed is 20 km. But, given the state of the roads to both, the travel time differential is not significant However, if travelling to Belleville, I typically go via Tweed because, until recently, hwy 37 was better than hwy 62.

    In terms of economics, I would suggest that Madoc is a bit more vibrant. Certainly, its grocery store is twice as good. On the otherhand, its municipal politics is more turbulent than Tweed’s.

    In terms of town identity, those of us who grew up in Queensborough typically identify with Madoc, primarily because of our schooling. Historically, differential road conditions also biased us towards Madoc as the Queensborough Road to hwy 7 was so poor that travel time was about 30 minutes [versus 10 today]. In contrast, when going to Madoc, only the 1 km section near Hazzards was problematic. As for newcomers, it may depend upon age. Older folks may be more attracted to Tweed’s perceived more “laid-back” pace.

    Town identity has created difficulties with municipal politics. In 2001, towns & townships in Ontario were “encouraged” by the Municipal Act of 2001 to merge into larger municipalities, presumably to reap the benefits of economies of scale & derived efficiencies. Elzevir merged with Tweed & Hungerford, probably because its capital was Actinolite, a hop-and-skip down the road from Tweed — certainly, I don’t recall a referendum or consultation with the residents. For those of us “north of 7” [baaaa, baaaa, baaaa…], a merger with Madoc Township would have been a more natural fit [especially since Madoc Township was at odds with Madoc & Huntingdon Townships which merged to become the Municipality of Centre Hastings — to this day, Madoc Township remains one of the very few townships that never merged with anyone]. Even the name “Municipality of Tweed” [Evan Morton suggested “Sagonaska”] remains a craw stuck in the back of the throats of many Queensboroughites/Queensboroughrillians. The sense of alienation within Tweed politics prompted us to pressure the candidates during the last election campaign to pay more attention to Queensborough and to hold actual Mun. Council Meetings here. So, we’ve had two Mun. Council Meetings [both the best attended of all the Mun. Council Meetings], one last Sept [53 people], and another this past June [28 people], have received significant funds for the Queensborough Beautification Initiative, and the Queensborough Road to hwy 7 is currently undergoing resurfacing.

    The dump issue is another sore spot. With the Madoc dump being only 8-9 km away, we were quite upset when we were forced to use the Stoco dump, 25 km away, from 2002 onwards. With this in mind, some Queensborough residents asked during the last Mun. election campaign for garbage & recycling pickup. Alas, it seems to have become a broken promise, or at least fallen off the radar.

    More attributes for Madoc:
    OPP station
    2 schools
    2 farm feed stores
    Home Hardware + TimBr Mart building centre
    Ford dealership
    soon, a McDonald’s

    • Graham, it’s fantastic that you bring the knowledge and memory of so many continuous years in Queensborough to bear on the discussion! Very interesting insights into the local municipal-politics scene – and you have me cheering for the people of Queensborough for getting involved, attending council meetings, making their voices heard. Good for them! Also, I am interested in your point about the improvement of the Queensborough Road making the trip to Tweed so much faster. When Raymond and I first came back I was surprised at how quick that trip was; in my memory it was always quite a bit farther to Tweed than to Madoc. But of course I had forgotten that the road at that time wasn’t very good. I appreciate your – as we call it in the news business – “institutional memory”!

      Sent from my iPhone

      • Prior to the mid-1970s, the Queensborough-to-hwy-7 section was a winding gravel road infested with zillions of potholes. It took literally 1/2 hour to traverse. Then, around 1975-6 [George Best knows the date the best as he was an Elzevir Councillor at the time], Hastings County [it became a County Road then] performed a major upgrade including paving with real asphalt. I believe it has been paved once since and then tarred-and-chipped twice, with the third application this summer.

  2. Great to get an objective view of our two towns. Until I read that I thought Madoc was far better! A few corrections; Madoc Foodland is open 24/7, ( definately not a point to brag about), Madoc has 3 doctors plus a nurse practicioner and the river running through Tweed is the mighty MOIRA, ( the Skoot and the Black Rivers join south of hwy 7, then south of Tweed the Clare River joins in on the journey to Belleville and the Bay of Quinte). Love your postings, you give us natives a renewed sense of pride in our unique corner of the world. We have a “look back” section from the Belleville Intell (when it was a real newspaper) that tells a bit about Queensborough and Goldie Holmes quilts, I’m sure you would like to have it. We’ll either stick it in your front door or bring it to Hazzard’s service on the 19th. Also, I have seen a great old pic taken in front of Sager’s store in the 30’s. I’ll try to run it down and get a copy…Grant K.
    P.S we drove through Queensborough the other evening, the manse looks so happy!

    • Thanks for all this info, Grant! Mrs. Carman, who taught me Hastings County geography in Grade 4, probably would not be impressed with my mistake about the Moira River! (You have to admit, though, that “Skootamatta” is a fun word to say – or even type.) I would love to borrow that Intelligencer piece on Goldie Holmes the Quilt Lady, our old neighbour; she will definitely be the subject of one or more future blog posts.

      I appreciate your comment about the Manse looking happy these days. That make ME happy!

      We are still hoping/planning to be at the Hazzard’s service on the 19th. We look forward to seeing you and Gayle there!

  3. Hmmm…it is the Moira River in Tweed 🙂 Tweed also has 3 schools (although two are to be replaced next year with a single brand new one), no McDonalds (that is a plus :), I understand the Municipality has been in discussions with Madoc re: some arrangement for landfill services (don’t know the status)… Long live friendly competition Tweed vs. Madoc!

    • Vicki, I totally agree re the friendly rivalry! That is interesting news about a possible arrangement between Madoc and Tweed re dump services. I can certainly understand why the people of Queensborough are annoyed at having to drive all the way to Stoco to get rid of their garbage and recycling. I mean, it’s a nice drive and all, but that’s a lot of vehicle emissions and burned gas.

      Total mea culpa on the fact that it’s the Moira River that runs through Tweed, not the Skootamatta. You weren’t the only one to spot that error!

      Sent from my iPhone

  4. We currently have our house up for sale in Barrie, Ontario and are presently looking to move to Tweed. We have been there a few times looking for homes and will be coming there once again once our house is sold. We just love the area and are looking forward to moving there. Is there anything else you could recommend to us such as any specific areas we should be looking at. Thank you so much. Jean and Jeff white.

    • Hello, Jean and Jeff – I’m so glad you found Meanwhile, at the Manse! And even more glad that you plan to move to our lovely little corner of the world. I’d be interested to learn how you discovered the Tweed area, and I bet my readers would too. And I think I shall put your question out to the readers to see if they have some thoughts on good places to check out in the Tweed area. Myself, I would of course (of course!) tell you that Queensborough is the best place, but extending that a bit, I think I would say that – unless you are absolutely determined to live right in the village of Tweed (which would be totally understandable; it’s a great little place, and you absolutely must subscribe to the Tweed News to know all that is going on) – it might be worth checking out the byways in the general vicinity. Of course you will find Queensborough up Queensborough Road, but there’s also Black River Road, French Settlement Road (which Raymond and I haven’t explored yet), Varty Road (ditto), and south of Tweed, Countryman Road, Quin-Mo-Lac Road, etc. There is beautiful, beautiful countryside, and there are some really nice houses. Take your time, and you will be sure to find a gem. And you must come visit us at the Manse in Queensborough!

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