Quintessential Queensborough, on display for you

At Bobbie's store

One of the most classic Queensborough pictures of all time, in my view: local folks sitting on the benches at Bobbie Sager Ramsay‘s general store. That’s Bernice Cassidy, Bobbie’s younger sister, in the coat at the right-hand end of the bench. And there are (as there always were) some kids eyeing the potato chips and candy displays. It’s nighttime; in the days of my childhood in Queensborough, Bobbie’s and McMurray’s stores stayed open quite late several nights a week. The stores were the focal point of our community. You can see this picture, and many others that will bring back memories, at Historic Queensborough Day.

Well! It has been a busy, busy Saturday, preparing for tomorrow’s Historic Queensborough Day here in our pretty little hamlet. The weather is forecast to be fine, the village is looking splendid (thanks to hard work by property-owners and volunteers), and the legwork has been done. If you’ve decided to join us for the event, I am thrilled; and if you’re still hesitating, well, please consider this post my encouragement for you to do so. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

All the details of the event are in my post here (and there’s still more information in posts here and here and here and here), but long story short:

  • Our weekly service at historic St. Andrew’s United Church (built in 1890) is at 11 a.m.
  • A barbecue of excellent hamburgers and hot dogs, with homemade and locally baked sweets and treats for dessert, starts at 12 noon and runs till 4 p.m. outside the Queensborough Community Centre (the village’s former one-room schoolhouse, built in 1901).
  • A little ceremony, complete with dignitaries (Politicians! You know you love them! Plus special guests), paying tribute to projects by the Queensborough Beautification Committee and the Queensborough Community Centre Committee – new street signs, a historical sign, beautiful floral displays, and general sprucing up – takes place at 1 p.m. “downtown” by the river.
  • Two stunning local gardens, at 1861 Queensborough Rd. and 2225 Queensborough Rd., will be open to visitors from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • There are displays of fantastic (believe me, I’ve seen them; and more on that shortly) historical material at the Queensborough Community Centre, from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • And throughout the afternoon you are invited to stroll, drive, cycle or take a horse-and-wagon trip through town, your copy of our Historic Queensborough brochure/guidebook in hand ($3 each, with all proceeds to help the work of the Queenborough Community Centre Committee), and learn about the history of our splendid little north-of-7 corner of the world.

Tonight as I write this final pre-event post, what I am particularly excited about is the collection of historical material that you’ll find on display at the Community Centre. Raymond and I went up there this morning to join other volunteers in the scheduled setup session, only to discover that a lot of the setup work had already been done through long hours over the course of the previous week by indefatigable QCC volunteers Elaine and Lud Kapusta. Here is Elaine today, looking (justifiably) a little bit tired but (extremely justifiably) happy at the results of all that work:

Elaine, just before Historic Queensborough Day

The tireless Elaine Kapusta, at the close of an exhausting week of preparing displays for Historic Queensborough Day.

The display is incredible. If I hadn’t had to be so busy doing setup work today, I could have spent hours and hours going through it all. There are photos and documents about the schools, the churches, the women’s groups (Women’s Institute, Ladies’ Aid, United Church Women, etc.), the general stores, business and industry, the families of Queensborough – and it’s all just fascinating. Trust me: you will be immersed the moment you walk through the door.

Here are a few photos that I hope will whet your appetite:

Ladies' Aid meeting

The minutes of a meeting of the Queensborough Ladies’ Aid held Feb. 22, 1945, at Jennie Moore’s farm (1376 Queensborough Rd., which was the home of Leslie and Jean Holmes and their family when I was a kid in Queensborough a couple of decades later) – and, serendipitously, a photo of the participants in that very meeting. Can you name them? Stop by and share what you know!

"Doomed to trouble"

Mr. J.H. Squires, proprietor in the very early 20th century of the flour (grist) mill around which Queensborough grew up in the 19th century, wrote multiple letters a day to suppliers, customers, and so on. A book containing copies of his letters has been preserved and makes for fascinating reading. In this one, he complains to the people at the Ogilvie Flour Mills, Montreal, that he is “doomed to trouble” on the rolled-oats front. The sacks of rolled oats, which must have been shipped from the Ogilvie people, “look as though they had been dropped into water” before being loaded onto the railway car bound for the Queensborough station, he reports. “They are yellowish green caked hard. Please cancel my other order for the 5 sacks due to come out in (railway) Car on 20th of Sept. These 2 sacks are not worth much only for feed & then not much more than one dollar a bag.” Poor Mr. Squires!

Checking out the displays

Hard-working Queensborough Community Centre Committee volunteers (from left, Barb Ramsay, Betty Sexsmith and Wendy Gordon) finally took a break from their labours late this afternoon to examine the displays, and reminisce. In which exercise I happily joined them.

Bill from Bobbie's

Of all the great historical documents I saw today, this one clutches at my heart the most. It is a detailed bill from Bobbie Sager Ramsay’s general store, dated Oct. 31, 1969. In Bobbie’s handwriting! How many of those same bills came home with the groceries in paper sacks here at the Manse. And how wonderful to see one once again!

I think you get the picture. Whether you grew up in Queensborough and later moved away; or have lived here all your life; or have distant family connections with Queensborough; or whether you are just interested in local history and a small community that has a great story to tell and is still telling it – you are most welcome, and I think you’ll enjoy yourself mightily. See you there!

2 thoughts on “Quintessential Queensborough, on display for you

  1. To Katherine, Elaine, et al: Our sincere thank-you for sharing the wonderful sights and history of Queensborough. You light up our lives! Congratulations on a class-act event. Twas even better than we had imaginged. You should be very proud.

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