Questions on the road to town

Great house in ActinoliteOne thing journalists do constantly is ask questions about what they see and hear. They can’t help themselves, you know; and those questions are what lead to interesting stories that other people will want to know about. This morning on a leisurely drive to Tweed – one of the two villages (the other being Madoc) that constitute “town” for us folks here in Queensborough – I found myself in full journalist mode, asking myself questions about a number of things that I saw. They are questions to which I do not yet have answers; but I am hoping that you readers will be able to provide some. Here they are:

Question 1: What’s the story on that great house?

Every time I drive through the hamlet of Actinolite, which lies between Queensborough and Tweed and is in fact the only community in Elzevir Township aside from Queensborough, I admire the magnificent and unusual stone house that you see pictured at the top of this post. It’s perched in a great spot on a hill overlooking the hamlet, and it’s really an extraordinary-looking – and obviously historic – place. I’d love to know the story behind who built it, what that golden-coloured stone is and where it came from, and who has lived there over the years.

Question 2: Was this house (or this site) once the Green Acres restaurant and campground?

Green Acres?

From way back in my long-ago youth here at the Manse, I remember a commercial operation that was called Green Acres on the west side of Highway 37 on the way to Tweed. (I imagine it was named after the television show that was hugely popular at that time, but I could be wrong. Remember Arnold Ziffel, the pig?) I could not recall what exactly Green Acres was, but was enlightened thanks to a mention of it in Evan Morton’s Heritage Herald column in the Tweed News a few weeks ago. A Tweed resident had brought in to the marvellous Tweed and Area Heritage Centre, of which Evan is the tireless curator, a 1958 copy of the Tweed News that he’d found in the attic of his house, and Evan shared some of the tidbits from it in his column. One item was:

Toronto man has acquired “Green Acres” … Norman De Piedro of Toronto, brother-in-law of James Mayo, of Jimmy’s Drive-In Restaurant, Actinolite, has purchased the Green Acres restaurant and cabins on No. 37 Highway, just south of Actinolite … The DePiedros expect to have the premises open for business within a week.

Now, my question (aside from: Jimmy’s Drive-In? Never heard of it) is this: every time I pass by the house in my photo, or at least the site that this house is on, I get the feeling that it was Green Acres. Was it? Oh, and hey – does anybody have any photos of Green Acres (or, for that matter, Jimmy’s Drive-In) when it was in operation?

Question 3: Was this ministry that ministry?

Ministry of Northern Mines and Development

All the time I was growing up in Queensborough, there was an office of the Ontario Ministry of Lands and Forests – the name was later changed to the decidedly less poetic “Ministry of Natural Resources” – somewhere in the vicinity of Tweed. I was never at that office, and in truth have never been sure of where exactly it was, but I know that the operation was a fairly big employer in the area at that time. These days there is an office of the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, which I know only because of this sign that I pass when travelling to and from Tweed. One of these days I’ll take the time to drive in and see what’s doing at that office, but in the meantime, my question is this: is the setup now occupied by the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines the same one that used to be the Lands and Forests?

And finally, Question 4: Why doesn’t somebody buy and reopen this former antiques and collectibles emporium?

Bridgewater Trading Corp.

I still remember the first time Raymond and I drove past the Bridgewater Trading Corp., right after we started visiting this area and were considering buying the Manse. It was a sunny day. I saw the sign and the fairly expansive setup of buildings from afar, and my heart leapt: an antiques emporium! Raymond and I love those places, and visit them whenever we can – often when we’re on holiday down in New England. (They have great antiques barns there, from which have come many of our treasures – see posts here and here and here, for instance – including a made-in-Canada vintage wooden toboggan.) What a thrill to find one in Tweed!

But alas, it was not to be. The Bridgewater Trading Corp. was closed (I don’t know when) and was for sale. And four or so years later, it’s still closed, and still for sale. That makes me sad every time I go by it, and it made me sad again today. I just know how much fun Raymond and I could have looking through the vintage wares (including the junk, of course) that a multi-vendor facility like that would have.

So final question: Future Tweed antiques-emporium operator, are you out there?

6 thoughts on “Questions on the road to town

  1. Katherine, here I go again. The original Lands and Forests office was in a two store brick house on your right hand side at the top of the hill going south out of Tweed. I know that for sure because that was my first job at age 16. I was 16 in April and started to work there in May and made 50 cents an hour as a secretary, that would have been in 1949. I went from the commercial class at Tweed High School. They outgrew the house and moved the office to the Municipal building and we occupied the entire top floor. I don’t know the names of the streets but it was on the corner one street over from the main street. They later also opened another office on the top of the hill going out of Tweed, I think it is the road that runs up past the Catholic Church. The sign you have a picture of was much later after my time of working there. Jack McMurray spent his entire career with Lands and Forest/ Natural Resources and I am sure if you talked to him he could fill you in on a lot more details.

    • Thank you yet again for all the information, Barbara! I was surprised to learn that the Lands and Forests office had once been in the Tweed municipal building; I’d never heard that at all, but I’ve since spoken to another employee who worked at the ministry in that building for some years. And she confirmed what you said about a second office being on the road that runs up the hill past the Catholic Church, Quin-Mo-Lac Road. On another matter: I was intrigued to learn from your note that you attended high school in Tweed, and not Madoc. Was that the norm for young people in Queensborough at that time?

  2. I went two years to Madoc and they did not offer the commercial program so I started in Tweed and road on the bus that . Jim Roushorn drove at that time and for a while we picked up Lud and his older sister and dropped them off at the Separate school.

  3. That magnificent stone house. I’d love to know the story behind it myself. Anytime we pass it I stare at it in awe. The stories some of these old places could tell! I stumbled upon your blog months ago whilst doing family tree research, and the questions I have now about this stone house is bringing me back yet again. Funnily too because I have been loving your posts and stories of Queensborough (and the surrounding areas) so much that I’d been dying all winter to take a drive out and see the area in person since were not that far away. I finally had the pleasure today to take a drive through. The beauty of your little hamlet upon driving in around the Black River is breathtaking! Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe how picturesque Queensborough is. I’ve decided I need to live there, or at least visit far more often now!

    • Hi Sarah! I continue to admire that house every time I drive by it, and I keep wishing someone would be able to tell me something about who built it and when. So glad you found Meanwhile, at the Manse; I’d love it if you’d let me know what your family connections to this area are. And your report on visiting Queensborough has brought a huge smile to my face! I’m always so thrilled when I hear of someone discovering how lovely our little hamlet is. You should think about living here – it’s a great community, pie-making classes and all! But at the very least, please stop by the Manse and say hello the next time you visit.

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