“Historic Queensborough Day – what a smash!”

Crowded King Street by Shelly Bonter

You don’t see this much activity on the streets of Queensborough very often! Crowds stroll around the village and peek into the under-refurbishment former Orange Hall (the large white building) while others enjoy a guided tour on a wagon pulled by Blaine Way’s team of horses. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

The reviews for Historic Queensborough Day 2017 are in, and they are unanimous. “What a smash!” my brother John texted me when he’d returned home from our special day on Sunday, Sept.10, and his visit to the hamlet where we both grew up.

“Wasn’t that a party! Great sense of community was evident everywhere!” Belleville-area musician Johnny Pecek, who kindly volunteered his services for the day, wrote in an email to me.

“Everyone involved should be so very proud of what was accomplished,” Gary Pattison, co-proprietor (with his wife, Lillian) of the Old Hastings Mercantile and Gallery in beautiful little Ormsby, wrote in a Facebook post after his visit. “The streets, houses, historical buildings, and public spaces were looking picture-perfect beautiful … This day was not only a look into where Queensborough has been, but also a look into what Queensborough has become and how it can continue to grow into the future. A fine example of a community working together to create something to be very proud of.”

And there’s more:

“All of you who worked to put together such a wonderful day deserve a toast, if not a medal: you seem to have thought of everything to make it enjoyable for people.”
– Doris Pearce, a visitor from Belleville who has deep roots in the Hart’s/Hazzard’s Corners area near Queensborough

“We were totally thrilled with the day and what has been done as a Queensborough village family. You should be very proud with what has been accomplished. Thank you for helping to preserve our heritage.”
– Grant and Gayle Ketcheson of Madoc Township, whose family roots in this area run as deep as anyone’s

Railway plaque unveiling

Something very cool that happened the day before Historic Queensborough Day, so that visitors on Sept. 10 could appreciate it: a plaque commemorating the history of the Bay of Quinte Railway line that ran through Queensborough was erected. The plaque, the brainchild of Jos (centre, in red shirt) and Marykay (far left) Pronk of Pronk Canada Machine Shop in Queensborough, was made right here by Jos. The location of the plaque and re-created railway-crossing sign (also made by Jos) is significant: it stands in front of the building (now a private home) that was Queensborough’s railway station. Also taking part in the informal ceremony were (from left) Jill Cameron and Don Huff of the Queensborough Beautification Committee, and the members of the Marskell-Lyon family who live in the home: Dave Marskell and Jessica Lyon, and children Allie, Abby, Louis and Lilly. Oh, and Diablo the dog took part too!

Top headline in last week’s Tweed News: “Queensborough community welcomes large crowd for historic celebration.” The story went on to recount all the activities of the day, and concluded: “It was apparent that countless volunteer hours were devoted, both in preparation and during the event, to make Historic Queensborough Day such a tremendous success. The impressive variety of events offered something for all interests, and fun for the whole family.”

To all of which I can only add: You can say that again.

People came by the hundreds. The weather was perfect. The displays – from historic memorabilia, to an A.Y. Jackson painting of Queensborough, to open doors at several historic buildings and two beautiful gardens, to an amazing variety of classic and vintage cars – were fantastic. Everybody enjoyed the horse-and-wagon rides. Canada’s first prime minister showed up. The food was great. And little touches, from baskets of fresh apples placed around the village for people to help themselves, to friendly smiles all round, made a big impact.

“This is wonderful!” “Queensborough is so beautiful!” I heard that over and over and over, all day long.

But enough with the words; let me show you Historic Queensborough Day in pictures, and you’ll really see what I mean. I was busy being tour guide for the horse-and-wagon rides most of the day so was unable to take a lot of photos myself – and thus am hugely grateful to many people who sent me photos or posted them on Facebook. (I’m sure they won’t mind if I borrow them to show you here – they’re beautiful!) Thanks especially to Shelley Bonter, the Queensborough Beauty Facebook page, Gary Pattison, Andrea Ellis, Darlyne Pennycook, Ashley Espinoza, Clayton Ibey and Terry Mandzy for many of these images, which I think perfectly convey what a happy, beautiful and memorable day it was for our little hamlet.

Special banners proclaimed what the day was all about. (Photo courtesy of Gary Pattison)

Lovely Daisy Cottage – which is being lovingly restored by new owner Julie Hiscock, left – was once the home of Nancy Foley’s (right) aunt, Evelyn Lynn. Nancy brought a member of the newest generation of her family to visit, and Julie welcomed them in period costume. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Espinoza)

A star attraction at the Queensborough Community Centre was a painting of a mid-20th-century scene at the corner of King Street and Queensborough Road done by the Group of Seven’s A.Y. Jackson. We are profoundly thankful to the painting’s owner (who wishes to remain anonymous) for the one-day loan. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

Closeup of the A.Y. Jackson painting of Queensborough. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Ibey)

A session on Indigenous history with Anne Taylor, cultural archivist of the Curve Lake First Nation, was well-attended, and Taylor held the crowd spellbound with her storytelling skills. The event, the first ever of its kind in Queensborough, took place in the hall at St. Andrew’s United Church. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

A very important visitor: Barbara Martin (née Sager) of Peterborough in front of the former general store that was owned for many years by her parents, Bob and Elsie, and then by her older sister, Roberta (Bobbie) Sager Ramsay. The building is now the home and business of Jos and Marykay Pronk, and they have done marvellous work restoring and renovating it. Barb is an invaluable source of information about Queensborough history, and we always love having her come visit! (Photo courtesy of Queensborough Beauty)

The vintage and classic car show drew way more participants than organizers had expected, which was absolutely fantastic. The crowds had a ball checking out the cars, and the owners enjoyed their visit to Queensborough. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

Elaine Kapusta, a driving force behind Historic Queensborough Day, was zipping all over the village on her trusty chariot all day long, making sure everything was running smoothly. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Ellis)

Heritage-themed decorations that beautify the property where the very first store in Queensborough (Job Lingham General Merchant) was located in the 19th century, then much later Sager’s General Store. Now it’s a private home and the Pronk Canada machine shop. (Photo courtesy of Darlyne Pennycook)

I was delighted that among the visitors to Historic Queensborough Day were my long-ago high-school friend Clayton Ibey and his wife, Brenda Weirdsma Ibey, from Peterborough. This is Clayton with me, looking happy at how well everything is going. (Photo by Anna Henderson)

There was so much to examine and enjoy among the clippings, photos, documents and artifacts on display at the Queensborough Community Centre. This one was a happy surprise for me: a report from the Peterborough Examiner, October 1967, about a service celebrating the 60th anniversary of Eldorado United Church. That’s my father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, at right in the photo; he was the minister at Eldorado and St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough at the time. With him and the the minister who was the guest preacher for the occasion, The Rev. Alfred Poulter, are two members of the congregation whom I remember well and fondly: Lottie Blair and George Ketcheson.

Wagon ride by Terry Mandzy

Bruce Gordon guides horses Barney and Don on a wagon ride through the village. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

My very own Manse as depicted on Goldie Holmes’s famous folk-art Queensborough quilt, which was on display at the Queensborough Community Centre. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Ibey)

The beautiful interior of the former St. Peter’s Anglican Church, now a private home. The church was closed in 1950s, so it’s been a long time since the public has been able to look inside. A lot of visitors were interested in taking a peek and learning about the restoration work done by the owners, Glen and Andrea Ellis. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

The very old building that once housed Billy Wilson’s blacksmith shop was open to visitors, with volunteers from O’Hara Mill loaning some blacksmith tools and answering questions. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

Visitors were blown away to see the interior of the former Loyal Orange Lodge, closed and used for storage for many years. Its new owners have cleared and cleaned it out, applied paint, stained the beautiful wooden floor, and used their artistic talents to produce stunning posters featuring Queensborough that adorned the walls. Wow! (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

The new owners of the Orange Hall, who are having buckets of fun with the place: Jamie Grant (note the orange hat) and Tory Byers. Visitors were excited about meeting them and talking to them about their plans for this important Queensborough building. (Photo courtesy of Gary Pattison)

Jos Pronk, owner of the building that began life as the first general store in Queensborough, goes through his display on the history of the building with some of the hundreds of people who stopped to see it. (Photo courtesy of Queensborough Beauty)

The steps that once led to Queensborough’s Methodist Church were made attractive with a display of flowers, table and chairs, and a photograph of the church that once stood on the spot. Thanks to Stephanie Sims for making everything look so nice! (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

Sir John A. speaks, Historic Queensborough Day

Sir John A. Macdonald (Brockville actor Brian Porter) gives a spirited stump speech to the crowd in front of the Queensborough Community Centre. Looking on are his wife, Lady Agnes Macdonald (Renee Porter) as well as local dignitaries Jack Robinson (left), the final reeve of Elzevir Township (where Queensborough is located) before it became amalgamated into the larger Municipality of Tweed, and Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith. Hidden behind Sir John are the other dignitaries who were kind enough to attend and take part in Historic Queensborough Day: Centre Hastings Mayor Tom Deline, Madoc Township Reeve Bob Sager and Tweed Deputy Mayor Brian Treanor. (Several other members of Tweed council, including Mayor Jo-Anne Albert, also stopped in at various points of the day, and Hastings-Lennox and Addington MP Mike Bossio, who was unable to attend, sent his congratulations.)

“Old reflects new”: a beautiful photo taken by Queensborough photographer extraordinaire Dave deLang at the barn adjoining the historic Kincaid House.

Outside Billy WIlson’s blacksmith shop. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

Beautiful phlox grown in the garden of DeClair Road resident Judith Best, who some years ago transplanted a few of the plants from the old and lovely bushes that blossomed each year in the garden of the late Evelyn Lynn’s home, now Daisy Cottage. They made for a perfect heritage plant display at the Queensborough Community Centre.

Enjoying the barbecue, Historic Queensborough Day

There were lineups for barbecued peameal bacon on a bun, hot dogs and hamburgers all day long at the Queensborough Community Centre. People enjoyed their food while sitting under the trees and chatting with old and new friends.

Visitors could explore the lovely grounds and gardens at St. Mary of Egypt Refuge on Barry Road. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

Sir John A. with the crowds by Shelley Bonter

Sir John A. and Lady Agnes chat with appreciative crowds – perhaps about his not-terribly-successful bit of land speculation right here in Queensborough (true story!) – after his speech. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

Sign at King Street and Bosley Road by Terry Mandzy

Signs steered visitors to the many things to see and do. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

St. Andrew's by Clayton

A pretty view inside St. Andrew’s United Church, where the day began with the morning worship service. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Ibey)

Vintage car at Historic Queensborough Day by Queensborough Beauty

Several of the vintage-car owners came in vintage costume! (Photo courtesy of Queensborough Beauty)

Thompson House by Shelley Bonter

For many people, a highlight of the day was the chance to visit the elegant and historic Thompson House and the Thompson Mill. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

Visitors to the Kincaid House by Shelley Bonter

The Kincaid House, one of the oldest in Queensborough and one that artists have always loved to paint, was a popular spot on the open-doors circuit. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

Wagon ride by McMurray's by Shelley Bonter

See you next time! As the wagonload of people drawn by Bruce and Barb Gordon’s team Barney and Don draws away (past the landmark building erected in the 19th century as the Diamond Hotel, later to become McMurray’s General Store), it seems a fitting time to say: See you on our next Historic Queensborough Day!

16 thoughts on ““Historic Queensborough Day – what a smash!”

  1. We are so sorry we had to miss your day but rest assured, we are hearing many awesome comments on the great success it was. The pictures speak volumes. You Katherine and all of the Queensborough(ites) who made it possible deserve a round of applause. That 150th recognition was well deserved! Next year?

    • I’m sorry too that you couldn’t join us, Dianne – I would love to finally meet you in person! But yes, it was a very special day. Next year? Probably not; we’ve kind of decided that a three-year interval (as in the space between the first Historic Queensborough Day in 2014 and the one we just had) is just about right. It gives us lots of time to prepare and come up with new activities and events – not to mention to rest up from the last one!

  2. Katherine, I have been waiting for your post of the day, which I was confident would be as delightful as the day! Thanks for such a thorough tour, and for capturing the elation of the organizers, participants and visitors so perfectly. You all have something very grand to be proud of, the regeneration of an historic hamlet. And then sharing it so generously! I managed to visit for an hour or so – enjoyed a peek at the Kinkaid house, and a chat with Raymond. It was a joy to be able to wander and feel welcome in so many lovely spots by so many nice folks – like Elaine’s house and the mill property! Well done, all!

    • I’m so sorry I missed seeing you on HQD, Lindi! But of course I was busy going around (and around, and around) the village on the wagon tours. Though that was a heck of a lot of fun, the best part being how delighted the riders in the wagon were with the sights and stories of Queensborough. Thank you so much for helping us celebrate the day, and for your congratulations to our hard-working team of volunteers. They are the best!

  3. Somehow, Brenda and I missed St. Mary of Egypt Refuge. Oh well, next year! The citizens of Queensborough were friendly and welcoming. I can’t imagine them closing the drapes and turning off the lights come Halloween.

    • I’m so glad you and Brenda were able to come, Clayton! And if it’s any consolation, I too missed being able to visit St. Mary of Egypt – there weren’t enough hours in the day. Rest assured there will be a next time; how can we not, given how well everything went this time around (and also in 2014)? And no, we will most definitely not be rolling up the sidewalks at Halloween – in fact, with the amazing infusion of families with young children into Queensborough in the past year or two, Halloween is going to be amazing in Queensborough this year. On another matter – thank you so much for taking, and posting on Facebook, all those lovely photos of HQD; I was really strapped for photos (not having had time to take many myself) for this post, and you and some others really came to the rescue. Which is what old friends are for, right?

    • Hi Michael – wow! It’s been so many years since I’ve seen you, and I am so delighted to meet you again (so to speak) here. Am I right in remembering you playing electric guitar in a concert at St. Andrew’s United Church once upon a time? Probably around the time that my dad was the young man that he is in that photo. Thanks so much for commenting, and I hope I’ll run into you in person sometime soon!

  4. And in that picture with Rev. Sedgwick and Rev. Poulter are two of the stalwarts of hazzard’s Corners Church, Mrs. Lottie Blair and Mr. George Ketcheson. In my mind, they always represented an example of true Christians. They left their beloved Hazzard’s Church when it closed and proceeded to worship at Eldorado, and I never heard my grandfather, George complain.
    Again, congratulations on a wonderful Queensborough Day….Grant and Gayle

    • Thank you so much, Grant and Gayle, and you are absolutely right: your grandfather, George Ketcheson, and Lottie Blair were “pillars of the church” (whether at Hazzard’s or Eldorado) personified. True Christians, and wonderful people. I remember them so fondly.

  5. “What a smash!” is 100% correct! Katherine, this looks like it was such a wonderful event. I wished I lived closer, as I would have loved attending this. The hard work by you and your neighbours has been appreciated by so many — the photos show this so well. Thank you for your blog entry, sharing this beautiful day with us.

    • Thank you for you kind words, Sash! We are already thinking about our next Historic Queensborough Day, probably in September 2020, so consider yourself on notice for a trip! I would be absolutely thrilled to meet you in person in Queensborough after all the many supportive comments you’ve posted here at Meanwhile, at the Manse over the years, and the many great tips you’ve given me about the history of our lovely little pocket of the world. We’ve never met, yet I know we are kindred spirits!

  6. Was looking forward to your write up on the day Katherine and you did not disappoint. Did not get into the old Kincaid house but I am sure some time when we are down you will let us see it. We went up to St. Mary of Egypt and ran out of time. I wanted to see many things and of course missed a lot of people I would like to have seen but one can not do both. Don and I thoroughly enjoyed it along with a friend we took with us. The committee and all the volunteers did a wonderful job and I am sure everyone involved was happy with the weather and turn out and feel now it was worth all the time and effort put into it.. Looking forward to the next big day.

    • Barbara, be assured you have an open invitation for the visit to the Kincaid House absolutely any time you’d like. I’m so glad that you and Don were able to join us once again for Historic Queensborough Day; as I said in the post, you are most definitely a VIP in Queensborough! Thank you so much for the countless ways in recent years that you have helped us gather and preserve the history of this special little place where you and I grew up. Now we can all look forward to the next HQD!

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