Note to self: you’re a dope for not having long underwear

Our hardy band

Here are some members of our hardy band of volunteers, setting up and getting ready to feed close to a hundred hungry Black River kayakers. Can you tell it was raw and cold out there?

Today was a big one in Queensborough, Day 1 of the two-day Marmora Area Canoe and Kayak Festival (Mackfest for short) that sees dozens and dozens of hardy kayakers test their mettle against the fast-flowing Black River and end up in the centre of our hamlet. It’s a fun and colourful annual spectacle for those of us who live here – not to mention for the kayakers, many of whom come from a long way away to take part.

For many of us Queensborough “regulars,” Mackfest means it’s time to help out with Treats on the Black River. Volunteers gather on the spacious lawns of Elaine and Lud Kapusta’s historic house at the heart of town and serve up barbecued burgers and hot dogs, hot chocolate, coffee and cold drinks, and slices of pie for as far as the eye can see to those cold and famished kayakers as they emerge from the water. The money made from food sales goes to support the Queensborough Community Centre and its many activities.

Today was my first time taking part as a full-time resident of Queensborough, and it was a fun, if chilly, experience. The best part was the heartfelt thanks the kayakers offered for the great food and the warmth of the fire – a nice welcome for them after their labours. They were so pleasant and appreciative, and their thanks made you feel just great. I want to show you some photos I took of the day’s activity – but first I have to tell you about an important lesson I learned today. Which is: if you live in the country, you have to have long underwear.

I had made a note to self after a brief stay at last year’s Mackfest in Queensborough about the need for long underwear – and then of course had completely forgotten about it. Really, never in my life (before today) had I seriously considered purchasing a pair of what I believe are still called long johns. I am not remotely a winter-sports enthusiast, and do my best to stay indoors where it’s warm throughout the cold months. My father, the minister/farmer/woodlot manager and world’s hardest worker, was a big believer in long underwear – as he had to be, working outside as he did for extraordinarily long hours in all weather. But me? I’m a big softy.

long underwear

Boy, did I ever near a pair of these today! (Photo from

So I felt like a dope today when I showed up where the volunteers were setting up. I was bundled reasonably well (layers, you know) on top, but clad only in a thin pair of trousers on the bottom. “I hope you’ve got your long underwear on!” joked our friend and neighbour John. “Ummm…,” said I – “Don’t own any.” “Well you’d better put on a pair of pyjama bottoms underneath then,” advised John. And you know what? Since I was already getting cold, and I’d just got there, I went straight home and did exactly as he suggested. I pulled out a pair of garish plaid flannel PJ bottoms, put ’em on under my trousers, and felt a thousand times better as soon as I re-emerged into the raw, windy, damp day. And let me tell you, that extra layer served me well. So: note to self (and any other city slickers who may be listening): if you’re going to spend time in the country, do yourself a favour and get yourself some long underwear. My quick online research shows that they sell it at Sears, Mark’s and L.L. Bean, among others – there’s just no excuse!

Okay, with that lesson learned, let’s move on to a little slide show of the day’s activity. And people, keep in mind that Mackfest continues tomorrow (Sunday), with lots more kayakers expected. Come on down, or over, to Queensborough, take in the spectacle under what are expected to be warmer and sunnier skies – and stop in for the best barbecued hamburger you’ll ever taste. Oh, and did I mention the pie?

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10 thoughts on “Note to self: you’re a dope for not having long underwear

    • Oh my goodness, Sash, trust you to find this! I am wildly camera-shy and was horrified when Terry Pigden came along with the camera, but I did enjoy talking to his wife, Eileen. It was great that Terry and Eileen stopped by to our event!

  1. LL Bean also sells jeans that are lined with flannel in case you don’t really want to have long johns… 🙂

  2. You just learned an important lesson, cuz! Long underwear (or even old pantyhose!) worn under pants make an enormous difference. Jeans seem especially cold, for some reason. Your best bet is to find your local equivalent of our beloved White’s of Lindsay–a down-to-earth store that sells a bit of everything. Of course, you can always go high tech through MEC or something, but there’s nothing wrong with those good old waffle-weave long johns. While you’re at it, invest in a long-sleeved undershirt, ideally with a turtleneck–money well spent!

    • The voice of wisdom and experience – thanks, Nancy! I saw your Facebook post the other day about White’s of Lindsay, and it reminded me of what a great old-fashioned store that place is. I might have to make the trek to get my long johns there!

  3. Or even heavy tights will help! Some of those kayakers continued on down the Black River to Hwy 7 – we always enjoy hearing the whoops of success as they complete the run of the rapids upstream from us and rest in the calm waters below, waiting for the rest of the group before they go on. It’s one of the sounds of spring for us!

    • That’s a nice way to put it! It really does mean that spring (okay, early, chilly spring) has arrived when the kayakers come. And they are just such nice people – it’s lovely to see how much they appreciate the outdoor opportunities that our area offers.

  4. It is always great to see the colourful kayakers visit this lovely village. They have been coming ever since we have been here now 18 years and maybe likely before. Jos told me the story when he first bought the store how he would sit in the up stairs window and see them arrive. So long ago. But I just want to mention the cute cable vision video Terry and Eileen were viewed taping and talking about the General Store in Sash’s comment. It was the Anderson’s General Store then and their is a nice photo of the store when they owned it on Pronk Canada Inc- Queensborough Machine Shop site. There is also a picture of Mrs. Anderson and Bobby standing together. Hopefully next year the water will be flowing high to see the Kayaker’s jump the dam. Then you just might have to BBQ up more burgers and enjoy those pies! 🙂 And don’t forget those nice warm long johns too.. 😉

    • Hahaha! Good advice, mk! Hey, can you send me the specific link to the photo of the Anderson-era store and the one of Mrs. Anderson with Bobbie? I’d love to share it with readers and I wasn’t sure where exactly to find it. One thing that didn’t show up on the video was me telling Terry and Eileen Pigden that you and Jos are the keepers of a vast body of knowledge about the history of the store, and that you have evidence from the time when Job Lingham operated it. Perhaps they will do a feature on the history of that great old building!

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