Should we do it again next year?

St. Andrew's on Historic Queensborough Day

It was terrific to see the good turnout of local folks and visitors from afar at historic St. Andrew’s United Church at the start of  Historic Queensborough Day.

I thought it might be fitting to end my string of Historic Queensborough Day-themed posts with some thoughts about repeating the event in future years. Now, I should stress that this idea didn’t come from me; it was something that numerous people suggested during the celebrations here in our little village last Sunday. “I’d come again, and bring other people,” was something I heard more than once. And: “I know someone who would love to come to this.” And so on.

While the volunteers who helped out that day, some of whom (like me) are perhaps still recovering from all the excitement and hard work, probably feel a bit wary about promising a repeat event quite so soon after the first one, there certainly have been some good ideas tossed out for a second Historic Queensborough Day. Are you interested? Well then, I’ll tell you:

  • First off, as Anne Barry of the Queensborough Beautification Committee noted during Sunday’s ceremonies – which included recognition of the great work that her committee has been doing – there are plans in the works for more signage (probably with landscaping/flowers attached) and other projects at entrances to the village. So that would be a lovely thing to recognize.
  • Some of the visitors Sunday said they’d like to be able to tour a few of the historic homes in the area. I know that house tours can be extremely popular – the famous and longstanding one in Port Hope, Ont., being a good example – so that might well be something to think about. (Mind you, the Manse is unlikely to be one of the tour stops, unless this so-called renovation that Raymond and I are supposedly undertaking suddenly gets moved into high gear.) One excellent suggestion I received today was that the tour include “the old stores, churches, mill and maybe a few houses.” Now wouldn’t that be great?
  • As I mentioned in an earlier post, the hosts at the two splendid gardens that were part of this year’s event both said they wished it had been held earlier in the summer, when gardens are in full bloom. Maybe an earlier event with more gardens?
  • As I’ve also written before, Queensborough and its views and buildings have a long history of being subjects for painters, photographers and other artists. In addition, we are (and have been through the years) blessed with an abundance of talented people who do outstanding wood carving, photography, painting, quilt-making, and so on. Some sort of focus on Queensborough and the visual arts, past and present, could be both interesting and beautiful – and good publicity for local artists and artisans.
  • And what about music? One reader suggested a concert in the park (presumably the pretty park area down by the Black RIver), and wouldn’t that be nice?
  • We’d have to have the horse-and-wagon rides again. People loved them – and thanks once again to Bruce and Barb Gordon for providing them. I also found myself reminiscing during the day about pony rides that used to be a prime attraction for kids like me once upon a time (when I was growing up here) at strawberry socials at St. Andrew’s United Church. And that got me thinking that pony rides and/or other events just for kids would be a fun thing to offer.

We’ve also had a few suggestions for making things more fun for everyone at future events:

  • Having a special “sneak preview” of the historical displays the evening before the event for the volunteers, including the owners of the gardens, who will be working hard on the day itself. Maybe a wine and cheese reception would be nice.
  • Ensuring there’s a guest book at the various events, where visitors can leave not only their names and where they come from but also their contact information if they’d like to know more about Queensborough or hear about future events.
  • Have name tags for people who are longtime residents, or descendants of longtime or early residents, so that other visitors will know them and can ask questions and share stories and knowledge.
Lineup for burgers

The lineup for barbecued burgers and hot dogs was really, really long, but people were patient and chatted happily about Queensborough as they waited. This photo, by the way, is one of a bunch of very nice ones of Historic Queensborough Day taken by photographer Dave deLang; you can find more on the queensborough.ca website by clicking on Home and then Event Calendar – or just click here. And thanks, Dave!

  • And possibly most importantly of all: buy more food to barbecue! Raymond had to run into Madoc not once but twice on Sunday to replenish supplies, even though the planning committee had bought what we thought was lots and lots of food. It sure is a good problem to have, to end up with way more people in attendance (and chowing down on burgers) than had been expected.

So what do you think, people? Should we do it again? Would you come if we did? Would you (gulp) volunteer to help out? Please post your comments and thoughts!

Tonight I have a postscript: As I write this, I am feeling very badly because Raymond and I have inadvertently missed another local social event, a roast-beef dinner being held by the Cooper-Rimington Women’s Institute in the nearby hamlet of Cooper. We had heard about the event last weekend, had had every intention of attending to enjoy a delicious meal and to support the Cooper community – and managed, in the past few busy days, to forget about it until it was too late. I’ve already had glowing reports from some Queensborough folks who did attend, and I just wanted to say to Cooper readers: our apologies, and please let me know about the next event. I promise to publicize it here, and to be on hand myself to enjoy it!

Summer will come again, and here’s proof

Summer, by Dave deLang

“A reminder of things past and to come,” our Queensborough friend (and photographer extraordinaire) Dave deLang said in the message that accompanied this beautiful photo. Dave took the picture in the Queensborough area in the summertime, and miraculously somehow just knew that it was exactly what I (and you, dear reader) needed to see tonight amid the greyness and gloominess of midwinter. Thank you, Dave! (Photo by Dave deLang)

The business of moving households can be hard work – did you know that? Especially when one is changing provinces, as Raymond and I have (from Quebec to Ontario, specifically beautiful Queensborough, Ont.). Of course there is the horrendous job of getting all your stuff (and at our age we have accumulated a lot of stuff, much of it books) from Point A to Point B. But far, far more onerous and stressful, I have decided this evening, is the task of changing one’s contact information.

Now, once upon a time that meant a change-of-address card to the post office and letting Bell know that you’d be disconnecting the dial phone in one place and reconnecting it in another. Man, those were the days.

Now, thanks to all that “time-saving” internet technology we all subscribe to, we have to spend hours and hours and hours and hours changing online contact information for all the banks and credit-card companies and phone companies and utilities and email providers and iPhone and iCloud and on and on and on and on – and really, where is the time-saving in all of that?

And heaven forfend that in the middle of this weeks-long process a person (say, just for argument, me) should screw up when trying to change an Apple ID, which controls just about everything on every internet device in the household.

And heaven forfend that this screwup should be discovered on Friday evening, after a very long work week.

But it was. So I have just spent almost three extraordinarily stressful hours – at what should have been a relaxing start to the weekend – trying to sort it all out. Which made me even grumpier than I already was thanks to the grey and gloomy day it has been today. The January thaw that has suddenly set in, after the ice, snow and bitter cold that so many of us have just gone though, should be cheering – but today’s leaden skies just made one feel more encased than ever in winter’s strongbox.

All of that gloominess (on the part of both me and the weather) is why an unexpected email tonight from our Queensborough friend and photographer extraordinaire Dave deLang (you can see some of his other beautiful photos here and here and here and here – that last one’s the Manse!) was a jolt of sunshine and happiness. Amid all my digital stress and distress, into the email inbox popped the glorious photo atop this post, which Dave had taken in the Queensborough area some summer or other.

Such a joyful thing!

I immediately wrote back, asking him if I could share the photo with readers here, who were probably as much in need of a reminder of summer and sunshine as I was. And Dave said: “By all means use it. I hope it reminds everyone that winter isn’t forever.”

“Winter isn’t forever.” Words to live by. Thanks for making us all feel better tonight, Dave!

Art from then and now: as “The Dude” Lebowski would say, it ties the room together.

The newest artwork to adorn the walls of the Manse is a picture of: the Manse! It’s a photograph by our friend, neighbour and excellent photographer Dave deLang, using techniques that I do not begin to understand, that make it look as much like a painting as a photograph.

There are a lot of creative people in Hastings County generally and Queensborough particularly, and Dave deLang is one of them. I first met Dave through this blog, when he offered some helpful and knowledgeable suggestions about insulation and renovations and such. And then it turned out that he was a photographer, and a very fine one at that. If you go here you will see the gorgeous photo he shared of what he calls an “Angel Sunset” in the Queensborough area; and if you go here, you will see many other of his stunning photos.

Anyway, one very early morning a while back, unbeknownst to us, Dave came by the Manse and made the above early-morning-at-the-Manse photo. I posted the photo full-frame here, and as you can see, it looks like an amazing cross between a photo and a painting. Here’s how Dave explained what he had done, and it will mean something to some of you but I’m afraid it’s a bit over my head: “Pastel rendered in Photoshop and Corel Painter.”

We loved the picture and asked Dave if we could get a framed print of it, and he very kindly made all the arrangements. And a highlight of our last very busy weekend at the Manse was stopping by Dave’s place to pick up the finished product, which we are delighted with. It now hangs on the wall of the Manse’s living room – a room that, in its totally unrenovated state complete with 50-some-year-old curtains and a mishmash of furniture and boxes of books, is the definition of “work in progress.” But it is made infinitely more attractive thanks to Dave’s work of art.

And, thanks to a little bit of magic from the past, we are able to display it in conjunction with another artwork featuring the Manse, this one done in the mid-1960s by then-Queensborough painter Norah Hiscock as a commission from my father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick. That painting has been kicking around in my family ever since, and recently it has been returned to the very spot where it hung through the years Rev. Sedgwick and his family (that would be us) lived there.

The Manse as Art x 2: At left, a painting of the house done in the mid-1960s by Queensborough artist Norah Hiscock; at right, Dave deLang’s photo from 2012. Both hanging in the Manse’s living room, on either side of the curtains that date from the same era as the Norah Hiscock painting: my long-ago childhood.

I love the old and the new pieces of art being together, and I love both the pictures. As Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski of the great and hilarious Coen Brothers movie The Big Lebowski would say: “They really tie the room together.”

Will those wasps EVER be gone? (She asks, waspishly)

Bad wasp. Bad, bad wasp. Go away, wasp. Go away and DO NOT COME BACK!

Raymond and I have just had yet another splendid weekend of discovery in Queensborough and area, and as always I have stories to tell and pictures to share of new things we saw and did. But as often happens on a Monday when we drive home to Montreal and work, I’m tired after a long day and can’t do justice to all that wonderful stuff, so will do a quick post on the only rough spot of the weekend.

I was out at midday Saturday for a meeting with our friends and fellow Queensborough residents/enthusiasts Dave deLang and Elaine Kapusta to talk strategy and research for a Queensborough website. When I returned to the Manse in time for a planned errand-running excursion with Raymond, the look on his face as he greeted me was very serious and anxious, and the first words out of his mouth were, “I’ve got some bad news.” My heart leapt into my throat: Has someone been in a terrible accident? Has someone died?

Well, no: but the wasps were back.

Truly dedicated readers will know that we’ve been battling the wasps since they first made their appearance early last spring. We’ve had the exterior of the house sprayed twice. We’ve had to; Raymond is extremely allergic to wasp stings, and hospitals are uncomfortably far away from the Manse when it comes to emergencies. I’ve written about it here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here, and gracious but I’m getting tired of the subject (and the problem).

The most recent spraying was only three weeks ago, and we had high hopes that the issue had been laid to rest. Imagine, then, how Raymond must have felt when, while I was out at my website meeting Saturday, he walked into an upstairs bedroom only to find it full of very alive and buzzy wasps. You won’t be surprised to hear that he did not hang around that particular quadrant.

I think the story has a happy ending. We got the people who had sprayed before on the phone, they sent a very nice guy named Frank around first thing this morning, and Frank went into the room in question and gave those wasps what for (translation: some powerful spray that meant nobody should go back in there for four hours minimum). He also located the place where they were coming in and plugged it up. And as we were leaving to drive back to Montreal and work, he was commencing yet another spraying of the exterior.

Everybody knows this has been a bad summer for wasps, because of the heat and the drought. But really, this has been a tiresome thing for us. Tonight I looked up the definition of “waspish” in my Merriam-Webster, and it describes rather well how I’m feeling about the situation: “resembling a wasp in behaviour; snappish, petulant.”

When it comes to wasps at the Manse, that’s me: snappish and petulant. Go away, wasps!

Sunset over Queensborough

Dave deLang calls this photograph Angel Sunset. Stunning, n’est-ce pas? (Photo by Dave deLang)

Thanks to this blog and the wonders of email, Raymond and I have a friend in Queensborough whom we haven’t even met yet – though I think we will this coming weekend. He is Dave deLang, and he and his wife, Irina, live on Declair Road, part of the GQA (Greater Queensborough Area) and a couple of miles east of the village itself.

Dave is a fantastic photographer. It’s been a lifelong passion for him, he tells me: “I have had cameras since I was around 12 years of age. I remember my first ventures were to a local graveyard to photograph old gravestones. I had a morbid fascination with history then. I used photography to pay my way through my post-secondary education (weddings and in-home family pics). The routine was school all day, evenings and weekends photography and presentation. Eventually I burned out from photography and swore off being a professional, although I kept my finger on the shutter button, only as a hobby.  Now that I am retired I can devote some additional time to my favourite pastime.”

Dave kindly gave me permission to post his photo Angel Sunset, which he sent to us a little while back. It was, he says, “made from the second-floor balcony of my house … I saw the sunset and immediately changed lenses on my camera for a more appropriate one, exposed for the sky to silhouette the trees and subsequently cropped in Photoshop.”

I’d wanted to post it because I have every intention of making those of you who don’t live in Queensborough green with envy at how lovely our little corner of the world is.

And speaking of getting the word out, Dave has agreed to work with Elaine Kapusta and me (though credit where credit is due here: Elaine has done 100% of the work to date) on a website for Queensborough. One of the key things we plan to put on it is a kind of virtual walking tour of the village, with historical information about the various buildings. Well, obviously you can’t do that kind of thing properly without some nice photos, so I think you can see how Dave’s talents and interests are going to be enormously helpful.

It’s all coming together in Queensborough, a place of beautiful – even angelic – sunsets!