I know that I do go on about how tremendous it is when readers share their stories and information about Queensborough (and renovating Victorian homes, and snowblowing, and whatnot) here at Meanwhile, at the Manse. But please humour me, because I’m about to do it again.
The other day a comment came in on one of my posts from last August about the Rock Acres Peace Festival, the Woodstock-like event that put Queensborough on the map way back in the summer of 1971. And since many readers probably don’t see all the comments, especially comments on long-ago posts, and most especially because this one contained such a spectacularly great story, I am going to share it with you right here.
But first, let me tell you that the photo at the top of this post comes from the same source, from reader Bert. This is quite exciting – it’s the second time (the first is here) that a reader has shared an original ticket from Rock Acres. I think it’s so cool that people would save their tickets for all these years! (Though, full disclosure, I would have too; somewhere in my files lurks a ticket for a Bob Dylan concert from 1977, among many other such bits of memorabilia.)
But a couple of other things about that photo:
One, it shows not just the front but also the back of the ticket. As Bert said in the email when he sent it, “You can barely make it out on the front side, but the rear clearly shows the embossed letters LEJJ, in this case backwards and in reverse, which of course is in reference to L.E.J.J. Enterprizes (cool spelling). The embossment was their way of controlling counterfeit tickets I guess.” (Note from Katherine: You can read about “L.E.J.J. Enterprizes” in my Rock Acres post here.)
And two: note the spelling on the ticket of “Queensboro”! A topic I was writing about just last night! Karma, man…
Okay, here’s Bert’s story. Click on this video (you’ll see why shortly), then as it plays, scroll down and read. Sit back, relax, and cast your mind back to those heady days of summer 1971:
Having recently turned 17 years old and with my parents away for the summer, it was a fantastic time for a middle class, teenage boy from the Toronto suburbs to have aspirations of being a hippie. As I recall, the local radio station, CHUM FM, talked about the Rock Acres Peace Festival from about June or so. Several of my buddies and I planned to go but I don’t remember if we got tickets in advance. As the July dates were postponed to August, this was going to be my second outdoor, weekend music festival of the summer as we also went to Rockhill ’71 in Mulmur Township, northeast of Shelburne, on July 2-4.
A buddy of mine and I hitchhiked from the north of Toronto to Queensborough on the morning of August 6. Stupidly, we chose Highway 7 instead of Highway 401. It took us about 8 hours, most of it with our thumbs stuck out, as surprise, surprise, no one wanted to give 2 longhaired, grubby guys a ride. Our more memorable lift was from these 2, what we called, greasers, an uncle and his nephew, in their convertible, somewhere west of Norwood. They mostly wanted to have a little fun with these 2 hippie boys as they kept on joking about pulling the gun out from under the front passenger seat while they passed a mickey back and forth. “Uh, guys? You can let us out anywhere here, that’ll be fine. Thanks for the ride.”
Once we got to Queensborough we made a grocery run to one of the general stores. I remember thinking how cool is this place, especially compared to suburban Toronto. Lots of our types of people milling around. We met up with about 8 other of our Toronto friends when we got to the festival site. Funny how little recollection I have of the festival site, the layout and the bands. Even the photos on your blog didn’t help. Another buddy and I reminisced and even he can’t remember. We do remember the bikers, and actually keeping away from the stage area because of them. That being said, it was a pretty cool weekend. Rumour has it, that it may have had something to do with our partaking, several times actually, in the use of alternative methods of exploring the sensory and psychological world around us.
To this day, the Saturday night of the weekend holds one of my best memories. It was late at night, the bands had finished, the bikers were calmed down, it was fairly quiet, we were sitting around our fire, and I was lying back on my sleeping bag looking up and enjoying the night sky and the stars. Not far away, coming from someone’s 8-track tape player, came the Rolling Stones song Moonlight Mile. I was, and am, a huge Stones fan to begin with, and that song was already a favourite of mine. But that night, in that atmosphere, under those conditions, the song was sublime. Anyone who knows the song, with Mick’s voice alternating between singing and sighs, the last minute and half gradual build up of guitar, piano and strings to the exquisite finish, can appreciate what I mean. It was transcendent. As mentioned, to this day when I hear Moonlight Mile, I close my eyes, think of that night and remember how special it was and how lucky I was to live in and be a product of those times.
We left the next day, tired, hungry, dirty but happy. It was a fun 3 days at the Rock Acres Peace Festival and in Queensborough. My buddy and I may have to do a road trip back this summer.
Hey Bert, what can I say but: Thank you for taking us all on your journey back to that splendid time, right here in our little Queensborough – and do come back for a visit!