A social at the Manse, in this room but a century ago


Raymond and I had a great day today at the Madoc Fair, but that’s not what tonight’s post is about. I can’t do justice to the fair without posting several photos, which I cannot do given internet limitations here. So instead I’ll tell you about something that happened long ago in the Manse, pretty much right where I’m sitting as I type this. I read about it this evening in Jean Holmes’s excellent history book Times to Remember in Elzevir Township. I was perusing the chapter on the churches of the township, since that’s the one where the Manse figures prominently. And I came upon this:

“A very fine tribute was paid to the young people of the church at the time. [The time being the early 1890s, shortly after the Manse was built in 1888.] They planned to hold a social at the parsonage [that’s the Manse!] as they proposed to paint the exterior of the church and otherwise improve and beautify it. ‘The Young Methodists in and around Queensborough, take a lively interest in the church, both temporally and spiritually, and give excellent promise of living good and useful lives. At their social, a special feature of the entertainment was the varied selections of vocal and instrumental music, speeches, mimicry, etc., all rendered through a gramophone belonging to W.J. Taylor, Esq. of Tweed, editor and proprietor of the Tweed News. This instrument is a whole host. Receipts amounted to $20.’ (North Hastings Review [the predecessor of the sadly long-defunct weekly Madoc Review newspaper]) Those ‘young people’ were the grandparents of many of Elzevir’s residents today!”

Well, the “today” of Times to Remember in Elzevir Township (published 1984) is – there’s no other word for it – yesterday. “Many of Elzevir’s residents” of the time have moved on, geographically or metaphysically. But what a lovely picture that history gives us of what was doubtless a happy and bustling social occasion at the Manse about 120 years ago, right here where I am writing this. My photo with this post, taken just now (and full of the jumbly mess of a house awaiting a major renovation, though with the major virtue of the double doors at right, almost certainly original to the house), shows the “living room” (as my family called it in the 1960s and ’70s when I was growing up here – in the old days I expect it would have been called the drawing room) just inside the formal front door (which no one ever uses any more) of the Manse. Tonight I was picturing the happy and eager young Methodists piling in through that front door, moving into the drawing room where Mr. Taylor’s gramophone may have been installed, and probably moving then into the dining room (where I now sit in my rocking chair here in 2012) for a glass of (decidedly non-alcoholic; they were Methodists!) punch to fortify them through the fund-raising evening of “instrumental music, speeches, mimicry, etc.”

If the walls that are around me this minute could talk, what stories they could be telling! Of “good and useful lives,” and so much more.

But wait a minute: I think they already are.

2 thoughts on “A social at the Manse, in this room but a century ago

  1. What a great image…young Methodists enjoying what a Robertson Davies character once referred to as the “Whee”. I think you need to revive the idea of a social!

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