This just in: news tidbits from the Manse

One of my "finds" from visiting multiple yard sales in Madoc and area last weekend: a new addition to our collection of vintage board games at the Manse. This is the exact same edition of the Parker Brothers game that my siblings and I played when we were growing up at the Manse, back in the early 1970s. I can't wait to play it!

A vintage-board-game news update: One of my “finds” from visiting multiple yard sales in Madoc and area last weekend was an addition to our collection of games at the Manse: a 1970s edition of Masterpiece. It is the exact same edition of the Parker Brothers game that my siblings and I played when we were growing up in that same house.

It’s a bit of this and a bit of that tonight, dear readers. I thought there were some things I might have left dangling in earlier posts that I should update you on; and then there are little bits of news and developments from Queensborough and area that I wanted to share. Here goes:

How were the blackflies?
After I expended considerable verbiage last week on what the blackfly situation might be when Raymond and I visited Queensborough this past long weekend – there were posts on the subject here and here and here, and lots of good comments from readers – I thought I should let you know what transpired when we got to the Manse. Let me put it this way: my old Queensborough friend Graham, who had issued dire warnings about how bad the blackflies would be, showed up on the front porch on sunny Saturday morning to announce: “I think they’re pretty much past for this year.” And they were. There were blackflies, for sure, and they went straight for Raymond (because he is so sweet, as I’ve mentioned before; the bugs love Raymond), but they truly were no big deal.

Another photo of beautiful lilacs taken on the Victoria Day weekend, though I will confess it was not in Hastings County: this is on a back road between Mott's Mills and Toledo, Ont., taken on our way back to Montreal.

Another photo of beautiful lilacs taken on the Victoria Day weekend, though I will confess it was not in Hastings County: this is on a back road between Mott’s Mills and Toledo, Ont., taken on our way back to Montreal.

A local lilac celebration
I’ve done a couple of posts – here and here – in the past week about how gloriously beautiful the lilacs were last weekend, and I made mention of a Lilac Festival in the village of Warkworth, just over the Hastings/Northumberland county line. And a Lilac Festival is a good thing, but as our Queensborough neighbour Sally has pointed out, there’s also a lilac celebration happening in nearby Madoc this Saturday (i.e today, when you read this): a Lilac Luncheon and Bake Sale at St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church there (which, you can be pretty sure, is one of the very few St. Peter’s Presbyterian Churches in the whole world – I mean really, a Presbyterian church named for the founder of Roman Catholicism? That is kooky!). Anyway, the Lilac Luncheon and Bake Sale runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and if you’re in the Madoc area (which, sadly, Raymond and I are not): Go!

A healthy sign of life at St. Andrew's United: our excellent minister's name is now on the sign at the front of our historic little chuch building!

A healthy sign of life at St. Andrew’s United: our excellent minister’s name is now on the sign at the front of our historic little chuch building!

A step forward at St. Andrew’s United Church
At a recent service at St. Andrew’s in Queensborough I commented to our friend Terry, a stalwart of the church, that it was too bad that the sign on the front of the church (donated by the late Pauline Harris and her brother, Jack McMurray, in honour of their parents, Clayt and Blanche McMurray, who ran one of the general stores in Queensborough and were pillars of the community and church – I remember them well, and fondly) did not include the name of our current (excellent) minister, The Rev. Caroline Giesbrecht. Well, Terry said he thought he could do something about that, and sure enough, this past weekend, there was Caroline’s name! It’s a nice sign of life for our faithful little church and congregation.

The rhubarb plant in our back yard is flourishing, is it not?

The rhubarb plant in our back yard is flourishing, is it not?

And finally…
The rhubarb plant that I first discovered off in a far corner of the Manse’s back yard last early spring is back! (“Last early spring” is, by the way, a Bob Dylan turn of phrase [from If You See Her, Say Hello], and I use it deliberately as an homage on Bob’s 72nd birthday, which is today. Bob Dylan changed my life. And probably yours.) Anyway, the rhubarb plant is flourishing! If you go here you can read my post about how all the kids I grew up with in Queensborough loved to pick rhubarb and eat the sour/sweet stalks (sprinkled with salt) raw. Even though I don’t particularly like rhubarb, I love having this plant growing wild at the Manse. It reminds me of the good old days. And what does that old Carly Simon song say? “These are the good old days.”

Let’s have a listen to Carly, from 1971. The good old days:

10 thoughts on “This just in: news tidbits from the Manse

  1. I like that: “they went straight for Raymond … but they truly were no big deal.” To you, maybe. What about poor insect-bitten Raymond? I must be sweet, too, because when Winnie and I are in the woods, flying, biting bugs inevitably eschew her to concentrate on attacking me. … You can include me among those whose lives were changed by his Bobness. … I travelled through your beloved Hastings County a couple of times recently, Katherine, albeit north of Queensborough. My usual route to visit family in Huronia is through Ottawa to Renfrew – where they say things like, “G’day, I’m from the (Ottawa) Valley” – and then west on a series of winding roads through rugged Canadian Shield backcountry to Orillia and beyond. I always take a break in Bancroft (which I believe is still in Hastings), to grab some java and check out the local bookstore. I love the lonely, rugged beauty of that lengthy stretch of highway with its lakes, rolling hills, sweeping vistas and abandoned log cabins. You don’t see many cars or people, but cross paths with a lot of wildlife. I once saw a moose near the road. Here’s to Hastings!

    • I guess my take on the bugs didn’t sound quite like I meant it to, Jim! Let’s rephrase: while Raymond would (and did) complain about being bitten, I think even he (who has experienced truly bad blackflies and mosquitoes on fishing trips in the wild long ago) would concur that what we encountered in Queensborough last weekend was really not “a situation.” (And the subsequent cold weather is probably making things even better, bug-wise!)

      I know and also love that route you speak of, from Renfrew to Bancroft (yes, Bancroft is in Hastings County – it’s very much the “capital” of North Hastings). We usually take that route when travelling from Montreal to my family’s farm in Haliburton County, though at the hamlet of Paudash we turn off the highway and go north. It’s a road that really does evoke the pioneer-frontier past, isn’t it? Beautiful and lonely. Lucky you, to have seen a moose along it! (And not to have had said moose appear in front of your car while you were driving.) As for Bancroft, I really like it. It is so far from a place of any size that it is forced to be self-sufficient, which means you can find pretty much anything you need there. Its commercial area has not been wrecked by people dashing off to Walmart in a nearby city to buy things cheaper (and in the process undermine the commercial vitality of their own community). I’ve driven by that bookstore dozens and dozens of times but unfortunately have never taken the time to stop in. You have inspired me to do so!

      • Yes, Katherine, I’ve made the same observations about the self-contained, small-town charms of Bancroft. The bookstore is pretty decent, and I like the fact it’s not part of a chain. A wonderful sandwich place is only a couple of doors away, where I can never resist having one of its decadent butter tarts. … My trip west also has me turning off at Paudash and heading along 118 to the scarily named Tory Hill, where you probably go north to Haliburton. If, however, you were to turn south onto 503 and travel toward the old Icelandic community of Kinmount, you’d come across a most interesting establishment known as The World’s Smallest Bookstore. Ever seen it? I’ve stopped there many times. In fact, I’ve thought of writing a little feature story about it, but I don’t know where I could market it. The World’s Smallest Bookstore is the antithesis of a big-box store. In fact, it’s a clapboard former chicken coop (and, just behind it down a hill, a shed), where shelves are stocked with all sorts of great books. It’s open 24 hours a day and it operates on the honour system. There is no cashier. Everything costs $3 (just drop your loonie and toonie in the can), including a dozen fresh chicken eggs in the shed’s fridge or one of the carved wooden plaques made by proprietor Gord Daniels, a retired Toronto milkman and drycleaner, originally from the area. He says he gets his books by travelling around the country and buying them library, garage and yard sales. His inventory is amazing, and it would be well worth a sidetrip the next time you’re heading up 118 Haliburton.

      • Paudash, Tory Hill, Kinmount – my Haliburton (and area) life is flashing before my eyes! Here’s the crazy thing, Jim: I know Kinmount way better than I know Bancroft, because it is on the way to our farm when you come at it from Port Hope – a route I have travelled hundreds of times. And I have shopped and dined and gone to church in Kinmount many a time, and even once attended the famous Kinmount Fair. And never once have I seen this incredible-sounding bookstore! You can just bet that that state of affairs is not going to last past my next visit. Thank you for the information!

  2. That’s it. No lemon meringue lie for you this Thanksgiving. Unless you let me win Masterpiece first.

    • Valerie, I was SO thinking of you when I scooped up that game! I hope and trust you will find another one at another yard sale sometime soon. And remember the mantra: If you see something you really want, buy it!

      Meanwhile, thanks for the mention of lemon meringue pie. It has given me an idea for a blog post one of these times. Cheers!

  3. Unless Gord Daniels’s heath deteriorates – he’s 74, has two artificial hips and “a patched-up heart” – I think the bookstore will be there for you the next time you pass through, Katherine. You’re forgiven for missing it because, well, it is the world’s SMALLEST bookstore. It’s a mere five klicks east of Kinmount on the south side of the road. Just look for the l-o-o-o-ng sign. I realize it’s out of the Montreal Gazette’s sphere of influence, but I really think someone should do a proper story on this unique place. … Does the Kinmount Fair offer any Icelandic treats, or has that part of the town’s heritage faded away?

    • Okay, now I know why I’ve never seen the place – County Road 503 (formerly Highway 503, if memory serves), the road between Kinmount and Gooderham, is one I haven’t been on in many a year. But now there’s a reason to check it out! As for the Kinmount Fair, it is quite a big deal in the area, but it was so long ago that I visited (let’s just say I wasn’t out of my teens) that I’m sure my memories of it, such as they are, would not be representative of it today. I’m not sure how much Kinmount has done to mark the onetime Icelandic community, save to put up a historical plaque commemorating it. I will look into that; I have an aunt in the area with a great interest in local history (she was at the unveiling of the plaque) who will be happy to have her brain picked.

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