Art in Queensborough: We’ve got a song! (And a video!)

How about this, people: our upcoming (Saturday, Aug. 24) Queensborough extravaganza called Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art – which is going to be one for the ages, I’ll tell you that right now – has not only a theme song, but an official video!

jamie-and-tory-at-lol-by-gary-pattison

Jamie Grant and Tory Byers, who have brought the Orange Hall back to life. This photo was taken on Historic Queensborough Day 2017, the first time visitors got a chance to peek inside and see what they were doing with this great old building. A lot has been done since then! (Photo by Gary Pattison)

This comes thanks to Jamie Grant, co-owner (with his amazing wife, Tory Byers) of the historic Orange Hall in Queensborough, now named the Queensborough Arts Centre. As you probably know from my most recent post, the Queensborough Arts Centre (24 King St., Queensborough) is going to be the focal point for our extraordinary celebration on Aug. 24 of Queensborough’s historic place in the Canadian art world.

Jamie is not only a very talented graphic artist, digital superstar and old-building renovator; he’s also an accomplished musician. Kind of a Renaissance man, really.

It’s Jamie who has created the gorgeous publicity materials – rack cards and posters – with which we’ve been blanketing the Madoc-TweedMarmora area (and beyond) to let people know about Queensborough in Art/Art in Queensborough. Here, take a look:

Q in Art poster

The gorgeous poster that Jamie Grant designed for our art event.

As I’ve been going from storefront to storefront asking if we can put up these posters, I’m tickled by the response I get when people see them: “How beautiful!” And of course I always credit Jamie.

But now, in addition to all that great printed stuff, there’s a song and a video! And they’re more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Not only is the song a bit of an earworm (meaning you can’t get it out of your head; it seems to be the new soundtrack of my regular five-mile walks around the Queensborough “block”), but the video images are a hoot. Over images of Queensborough (and some other stuff) is a recurring spread of orange – for the Orange Hall, of course. But my favourite part is when there’s a shot of Jamie singing in a reproduction of the famous Vincent Van Gogh painting Bedroom in Arles. Here’s Vincent’s original:

Bedroom in Arles

And here’s Jamie, singing about Art in Queensborough in – well, a very similar setting:

Jamie in Vincent's bedroom And the absolute best part is that, walking across the bottom of the screen as Jamie sings about Art in Queensborough in Vincent’s bedroom, is Maude the dog. (Or is it Maisie? Jamie and Tory have two beloved canines, and I can never keep them straight.)

I just want to say that this video makes me smile more broadly every time I watch it. I hope the same is true for you.

Meanwhile, in other Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art news:

Q in Art rack cards

The gorgeous rack cards that Jamie designed to help us publicize the event. Click to enlarge.

Since last I wrote about the grand event a week or so ago, still more artworks have materialized for the show that will be mounted in the Orange Hall. These new arrivals include a painting set in Queensborough by Mary Schneider, co-founder of the Schneider School of Fine Arts in nearby Actinolite (that school being one of the big reasons Queensborough is on the art map, thanks to instructors of the calibre of A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven – who also painted in Queensborough, and you can see the resulting work on Aug. 24), and a piece of Queensborough-themed folk art by the legendary Goldie Holmes, whose famous Queensborough quilt will also be on display at the show. All in all it looks like we will have well over 100 pieces of art featuring or inspired by Queensborough, or done by Queensborough artists. At the rate things are coming in it’s hard to keep track, but I can tell you right now this is going to be a big – and beautiful – show.

And as you know from my previous post, the exhibition isn’t the only thing this day will be about. There will be…

  • Music in the streets of Queensborough
  • Art activities for kids
  • Artists at work (quite of few of them) throughout the village, ready to answer your questions and talk about their work
  • Self-guided walking tours of our beautiful, historic village
  • And of course, of course, this being Queensborough, there will be excellent food. I will tell you more about the food part in a later post.
  • And: if you’d like to purchase a beautiful souvenir of Queensborough – aside, that is, from one of the artworks that will be for sale – we will have some nice options for you, and more on that in yet another later post.
Orange Garden, Queensborough

The Orange Garden, where you can enjoy a picnic lunch before or after viewing the art.

I’m getting pretty excited about all this, and I hope you are too. So come on, hum a few bars with me:

Are you going, going to the show?
Queensborough in Art – Art in Queensborough!
There will be artists on the streets
Depicting beauty that they see;
Troubadours sing and walk around,
And everyone’s welcome to the town.
The mill and the Black River are there for all –
Picnic in the garden at the Orange Hall.
You’ll have a ball for one and all!
Are you going to the show?
Queensborough in Art – Art in Queensborough!
August 24th, rain or snow (!)
Are you going to go?
Art in Queensborough!

Coming soon! A day to celebrate Queensborough in the art world

Q in Art logo

The logo for Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art, designed by the hugely talented Jamie Grant. Jamie and his wife, Tory, own the Queensborough Arts Centre (the historic former Orange Hall) that will host an extraordinary show of Queensborough-themed artwork on Saturday, Aug. 24. You’re invited!

How many places with a population of around 75 can you think of that could round up more than 100 pieces of art – including one by a member of the Group of Seven – featuring or inspired by that place? I mean, maybe over yonder in England where they have all those quaint villages and dazzling pastoral views. But here in Canada? In Eastern Ontario? Not too many, I don’t think.

Q in Art card

Rack cards that have been widely distributed in local businesses and offices, also designed by Jamie Grant. The folk art shown on the bottom is a detail from Goldie Holmes’s famous Queensborough quilt, showing the Orange Hall (site of our event) and the home beside it. Click on the image if you’d like the see a bigger version.

But (to no one’s surprise, I’m sure) I’m here to tell you that Queensborough can proudly, and truthfully, make that claim.

And what’s more to the point, we’re going to show those works of art, on a very special day this month to which you are invited, and that is going to knock your socks off. I mean it.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Queensborough is the place to be for an event called Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art. Did I mention that there will be more than 100 works of art on display? Given that submissions and loans of art pieces for the show keep pouring in, the final number may well be considerably higher. Every piece features a Queensborough scene, was inspired by Queensborough, or was done by a Queensborough-area artist. I trust you will agree with me that this is pretty fantastic.

Oh, also fantastic? Admission to this splendid show is free! And some of the works will be for sale!

But there is so much more about Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art day. So much so that it’s going to take me more than a single post here at Meanwhile, at the Manse to get to it all and do it all justice. (Stay tuned, for example, for a post about a theme song composed just for this event, along with its video! Not to mention one about the thrilling [and, obviously, delicious – not to mention classic Queensborough] food options that will be on offer during the day.)

But let me try here to give you an overview of the day, which is being organized by the hard-working volunteers of the Queensborough Community Centre Committee. I assume you have already marked Aug. 24 in your appointment calendar. If you haven’t, better hustle off and do that now.

Perhaps first I should give you a bit of background on why Queensborough has been such a magnet for the visual-arts world for as long as anyone can remember. Mainly, it’s because it is such a beautiful place.

Queensborough_in_ summer_credit_Elaine_Kapusta

Looking across the Black River from the historic Thompson House and Mill to the former St. Peter’s Anglican Church. With views like this, how could Queensborough not attract artists? (Photo by Elaine Kapusta)

(I’ll never forget the time a few years back when a city couple came by the Manse to pick up a couple of vintage kitchen chairs that I was helping the Hart’s-Riggs Women’s Institute sell off. [The ladies were surprised to learn that people would pay good money for those classic midcentury kitchen chairs, which they had been prepared to toss into the dump. It was fun!] Anyway, it was a glorious summer day, and as the city couple’s SUV pulled up in front of the Manse the wife hopped out and exclaimed, “I have no idea where I am, but it is gorgeous!” She was right, of course.)

Thompson House

Thompson House, by Queensborough’s Dave deLang. This is one of the beautiful buildings in our village that keep artists coming back.

Queensborough’s location on the Black River, with a dam and waterfall right in the heart of the hamlet, make it an area of “outstanding natural beauty” (as the hosts often say about places in the rural U.K. in a BBC program that Raymond and I have become addicted to, Escape to the Country). In addition, our hamlet contains a number of lovely historic homes and buildings – some beautifully restored and kept up, others quaintly fading. (The latter category is a magnet for artists.)

Queensborough in autumn

The dam and waterfall at the heart, which powered the mills that the village grew up around. (Photo by Elaine Kapusta)

But there is another reason why Queensborough has a special place in the Canadian art world – and this is what brings us to the Group of Seven angle. Back somewhere in the middle of the last century (early 1950s or thereabouts), the Madoc Art Centre was established on a stretch of Highway 7 just a bit south of Queensborough.

Madoc Summer Art School, 1957. This would have been before the school’s move to nearby Actinolite and change of name to the Schneider School of Fine Arts. (Photo from the Ontario Archives via the Madoc and Area Local History Facebook page)

Students at the Madoc Summer Art School, 1957

Students at the Madoc Summer Art School, 1957 Standing at right (in white trousers) is instructor Donald Fraser, a renowned Canadian artist who later moved permanently to Queensborough and painted many scenes here. You’ll be able to see work by Fraser in the Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art show on Aug. 24. (Photo via the Madoc and Area Local History Facebook page)

In 1963, the centre moved a bit east and south to the Elzevir Township hamlet of Actinolite and became the Schneider School of Fine Arts, run by a husband-and-wife team of respected artists, Roman and Mary Schneider. (You can read a previous post by me that includes photos from the site of the art school here.)

Cabins at the former Schneider School of Fine Arts

Cabins where the summer art students would have stayed – when they weren’t painting in Queensborough – at the Schneider School of Fine Arts in the hamlet of Actinolite.

One of the instructors for students who came each summer from near and far to learn and to hone their technique was none other than A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven, Canada’s most famous artists. (Talk about learning from the best! You can watch a nifty National Film Board video about Jackson here.) Another well-known Canadian painter who taught at the school was Donald Fraser, a scenic painter for the CBC. And both A.Y. Jackson and Don Fraser came to Queensborough and painted!

A huge highlight of Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art will be your chance to see an original A.Y. Jackson painting of Queensborough. It shows a 19th-century home (still standing, and still lived in) and a blacksmith’s shop that once stood on the southeast corner of the small “block” that constitutes “downtown” Queensborough. I remember that blacksmith’s building from my childhood here, though it was no longer in operation. (I’m not that old!) What a thrill it was when this painting by a Canadian master suddenly came to light before our Historic Queensborough Day in 2017. The owner graciously lent it for display on that day, and visitors crowded around to get a glimpse. That same owner has once again kindly lent the picture for Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art, and it is sure to be the main attraction.

A.Y. Jackson painting at the QCC

A painting by A.Y. Jackson of Queensborough on display at Historic Queensborough Day 2017. (Photo by Shelley Bonter)

Don Fraser, meanwhile, ended up moving permanently to Queensborough and remained inspired to paint local scenes – “the rocky bush and crumbling barns of the Laurentian Shield,” as his online biography puts it – to the end of his life. There will be several Donald Fraser canvases on show on Aug. 24, and some of them will be for sale – your chance to have a piece of Canadian and Queensborough art history of your very own.

Don Fraser painting

One of the Donald Fraser works featuring “the rocky bush” around his Queensborough home that will be on display during Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art.

But it wasn’t just the famous artists who taught at the art school who came here to paint; their students did too. I wrote here about my happy childhood memories of the art students invading our hamlet en masse on pleasant summer days, setting up their easels at various spots and working away. We kids loved to look over their shoulders, fascinated to watch them mix their paints and magically re-create on canvas the scenes that surrounded us every day.

As a result of all this artistic activity, Queensborough became something of a destination in the art world. While the Schneider School of Fine Arts closed quite some time ago, painters, photographers and other artists still come to Queensborough very regularly to be inspired by the views in our hamlet. Here’s Nicole Amyot of Ottawa, who stopped in one day a couple of years ago (I wrote about that here) and single-handedly brought back for me those childhood memories of the artists behind their easels in Queensborough:

Artist at work close up

Nicole Amyot of Ottawa working on a painting of the Queensborough mill and waterfall.

As well, the Queensborough area can boast a remarkable number of artists who actually live here: painters, fabric artists, sculptors, photographers, woodcarvers and more. Their work, too, will be on show on Aug. 24, and trust me: you will be impressed.

One of the most famous of Queensborough’s artists is, of course, Goldie Holmes, a renaissance woman who wrote songs and poems and was a pillar of her church and community in addition to being an outstanding folk artist. (I wrote about Goldie and her work here, and in that post is a link to an interview that she did with Sylvia Tyson for CBC television. Her comments in it about life in Queensborough are absolutely splendid.) We are thrilled that Goldie’s famous Queensborough quilt (much admired by Tyson in that video) will be on display as part of Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art, thanks to a generous loan from the Tweed and Area Heritage Centre. I suspect it’ll be at least as big an attraction as the A.Y. Jackson painting – because Goldie was our very own artistic superstar.

Goldie Holmes's Queensborough quilt

Goldie Holmes’s famous Queensborough quilt, featuring homes and prominent buildings in the village, will be on display at the former Orange Hall (left-hand panel, bottom row) on Aug. 24.

But there’s going to be so much more to see and do on Aug 24! In addition to the art show itself, you can:

  • Watch artists at work throughout the village. They’ll answer your questions and be glad to show you what they’re doing.
  • Enjoy lovely, quiet music by strolling minstrels (two young professional singers who have kindly agreed to take part in the day)
  • Take a self-guided walking tour of historic Queensborough
  • Steer your kids to children’s art activities
Actinolite, Black River in Spring by Bob Hudson

Actinolite, Black River in Spring by Bob Hudson – a gorgeous work that the artist (a former resident of our area) has super-generously donated for a fundraising draw.

  • Enter a draw to win a painting of the Black River by Grimsby, Ont. (formerly Madoc) artist Bob Hudson, very generously donated by the artist himself
  • Listen in on an interview with Tweed-area artist Audrey Ross, who’ll share her memories of attending the art school as a student
  • And here’s almost the best part: amazing food! (This being Queensborough, of course you knew there’d be amazing food.) At the Queensborough Community Centre (our historic former one-room schoolhouse), there’ll be a barbecue featuring the ever-popular peameal bacon on a bun and (a first for Queensborough), veggie burgers for the non-meat-eaters among our visitors.
Orange Garden, Queensborough

The beautiful Orange Garden, right beside the Orange Hall (Queensborough Arts Centre) is where you’ll be able to enjoy classic small-town sandwiches (or a picnic that you bring yourself) in lovely surroundings.

  • Meanwhile, in the absolutely stunning Orange Garden created beside the Orange Hall by Jamie Grant and Tory Byers, you’ll be able to get those amazing church-basement (as I like to call them) sandwiches that only church ladies know how to make: egg salad, tuna salad and so on, cut into cute little triangles and so delicious that you can eat about a hundred of them and still want more. It was the brainwave of tireless Queensborough Community Centre Committee volunteer Elaine Kapusta to serve up those sandwiches for sale, and I just know they are going to be a major, major hit. (I know at least one person who is coming to Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art just for the sandwiches.)
Queensboro by Robert Huffman

Queensboro (note the old-fashioned spelling) by Kingston artist Robert Huffman. Can you tell which part of our village this depicts? The painting will be one of more than 100 on display Aug. 24 at the Queensborough Arts Centre.

Really, it’s going to be an incredible – and dare I say it, historic – day. If you love art, Queensborough, local history, food, rural communities that are doing cool things – or, as is very likely, all of the above – then please join us!

In Queensborough, there’s always something going on

Turkey Supper poster 2017

Here’s the big news in Queensborough for the coming week: it’s time once again for the famous annual Turkey Supper at St. Andrew’s United Church. Please join us!

Today here at Meanwhile, at the Manse, we’re bringing you some bits and bobs of Queensborough news: a little of this and a little of that, and all of it good.

One reason for keeping things brief in this latest instalment is that it is too hot for anything right at the moment. This business of 32-degree temperatures at the end of September is seriously crazy. And when you live in a 130-year-old Manse that doesn’t have air conditioning, even hunkering over the keyboard of a laptop makes a person hot. So let’s keep it brief, shall we?

First things first: you need to know that this coming Wednesday, Sept. 27, is when the famous annual Turkey Supper takes place at St. Andrew’s United Church here in Queensborough. Now, I fully realize that high-summer temperatures in September may not put you in mind of a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, but look at it this way: it’s too hot to cook! So let us do it for you! It’s always a splendid meal, topped off by our famouser-than-famous homemade pies. And all proceeds go to the work of our historic little church.

Pies at the church supper

Homemade pie is a very important part of the Turkey Supper!

If you joined us for the Turkey Supper last September, especially if you showed up close to closing time, you will know that something that had never before happened, in all the decades (six at least) of the St. Andrew’s Turkey Supper, did happen: we ran out of food. We were the victim of our own success! Never before had we had so many people attend our event. Only a very few people went away unfed, and they were mostly the hardworking men and women of the church who’d been cooking and serving all afternoon and evening, who took it in good humour – but still, this was unprecedented and unfortunate. It’s not going to happen again! This year people who formerly roasted one turkey are instead roasting two. (One of these is my husband, Raymond.) People who formerly peeled 10 pounds of potatoes are instead peeling 20 pounds. (One of these is me.) People who formerly made two pies are making three, or four. (That would be many sainted women from Queensborough and area.) So we are ready for the crowds!

And we hope you’ll come. It’s a lovely, old-fashioned church-social evening of great food and friendly conversation with people you’ve known forever and people you’ve only just met.

Okay, next on the list: a beautiful pop-up garden!

New garden in Queensborough

A beautiful (and unusual) garden that suddenly appeared a few days ago in front of the historic home of our new neighbours, the Alinards. What a lovely addition to the streetscape!

Speaking of St. Andrew’s United Church, I was walking up there from the Manse for the worship service this past Sunday, and I suddenly noticed that a beautiful new garden had appeared in front of a historic home along the way. Where for some years nothing but a patch of ever-larger weeds has stood, the young family who are the brand-new owners of the house (which was for many years the home of Goldie Holmes, Queensborough’s famous Quilt Lady) have created a gorgeous little fall-themed oasis. In it are ‘mums, a piece of driftwood (perhaps representing the family’s former home on the west coast), some vintage items, pumpkins of different colours and sizes, and pretty shrubs and rocks. How absolutely lovely! Bit by bit, almost every little corner of Queensborough is getting spruced up.

Halloween party 2016

What a great community Halloween party we had last year! The historic Queensborough Community Centre (formerly our village’s one-room school) had kids (and whole families) dressed up as everything from angels to superheroes, and enjoying games (like bobbing for apples), contests and dancing – not to mention treats! This year there are quite a few more kids in Queensborough, so Raymond and I are hoping for lots of trick-or-treaters at our door come Oct. 31.

And finally, speaking of that young family (whose wee son, Noah, is my new pal): there are so many kids in Queensborough all of a sudden! In the 5½ years since Raymond and I bought the Manse, our hamlet has gone from almost zero pre-school and school-age children to, at my last informal count, at least 10, with half a dozen more who don’t live here full-time but are frequent visitors (to grandparents’ homes or whatever). These kids hang around together, play games together, climb trees, build forts, and bring sparkling life to Queensborough.

Can you guess where this is going? Think: what’s the next big event in the lives of North American kids? You’ve got it: Halloween! When I was a kid growing up in Queensborough, it was the perfect place for Halloween. There were just enough houses to visit that your pillowcase (or in the case of us Sedgwick kids, your plastic pumpkin) would be filled with treats. And the place was small enough that everyone knew everyone else, which meant that the handing out of treats was always preceded by the householders having to guess which of the local kids were the masked trick-or-treaters at their door. There was no anonymous trick-or-treating in those days! And an added bonus was that the treats were often homemade: chocolate or maple fudge, or popcorn balls. Nothing better, if you ask me.

Now, I know the days of handing out homemade fudge on Halloween are gone. But I think we’re ready to go back to something not altogether dissimilar from the Queensborough Halloweens of my childhood: everybody knowing everybody; people who answer the door delighting in the cuteness and cleverness of the costumes worn by the kids, whom they know by name; a happy and friendly community atmosphere pervading the whole event. Possibly preceded by a community Halloween party a few nights earlier, as we had to great success last year.

All of which makes me realize: not only is there never a dull moment in Queensborough; there’s also always something to look forward to. We live in a happy little place!

“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!

All spruced up for Historic Queensborough Day

Welcome to Queensborough September 2017

Autumn-themed decorations adorn the Welcome to Queensborough signs, thanks to the work of the Queensborough Beautification Committee.

We are getting ready to welcome you to Queensborough! It’s just a few days until Historic Queensborough Day 2017 – this coming Sunday, Sept.10 – and let me tell you, a lot of people have been putting a lot of hours into making it a splendid event for everyone who comes.

Many good things have been happening in our little hamlet recently, and I thought I’d highlight some of them for your enjoyment before sharing with you the schedule of events for what is going to be a very busy day this Sunday.

Roofing at the LOL

What an amazing sight greeted me one early morning last week: a team of roofers replacing the very tired roof on the Orange Lodge building. It’s so encouraging to see the brand-new owners immediately undertake this much-needed work!

Probably the biggest news of recent times in Queensborough is that the former Orange Hall, the LOL (Loyal Orange Lodge) Branch 437, has been purchased and renovations are under way.

Jamie's truck at the LOL

Jamie Grant’s pickup truck playfully displays his new acquisition in Queensborough.

As you can read in the little guidebook to Queensborough produced a few years back (copies will be available Sunday for a mere $3; all proceeds go to the work of the Queensborough Community Centre Committee), the Orange Hall is one of the earliest buildings in the village, used for many community functions over the years (wedding dances, shows by travelling entertainers, a polling station at election time, and church services prior to any of the churches being built) in addition to its official LOL functions. The building has sat unused save for storage for some years, looking ever more decrepit.

What a delight it is to see new owners Jamie and Tory clearing it out, installing a new roof and electricity, painting and just generally having fun fixing it up and making plans for the place. Why, Jamie even has a pickup truck bearing a big decal celebrating his new/old purchase using the more modern connotation (“laughing out loud”) of the initials LOL.

LOL front

Suddenly the front entrance to the former LOL looks pretty welcoming, thanks to pretty paint colours, some vintage artifacts, and some orange highlights – an attractive nod to the building’s past. And speaking of attractive, we have LOL owner Jamie, a designer, to thank for our brilliant Historic Queensborough Day poster! (Check it out at the bottom of this post.)

The LOL is one of the buildings that will be open for you to take a peek inside on Sunday. I think you’re going to like what you see!

Historic home under renovation

Another historic home that is undergoing a major renovation and restoration. It’s looking fantastic!

Just around the corner from the lodge is another historic home that had been, shall we say, let go for many years but that also has recently been purchased by enthusiastic new owners.

Major gutting and renovations are under way, and everyone in the village is admiring the hard work that Jamie and Leslie are putting into the project, and looking forward to welcoming them and their young family when they move in before very much longer.

And then there are the historic plaques, another new feature of the village. There are two so far, the brainchild and creation of Jos and Marykay Pronk of the Pronk Canada Machine Shop. This shop is located in the building that was for many years (including during my childhood in Queensborough) Bobbie Sager Ramsay’s general store, but long before that, in the mid-19th century, was the site of the operation of the village’s very first general merchant, Job Lingham. The newly installed plaque there tells that story.

Jos and the Lingham Store plaque

Jos Pronk, metalworker extraordinaire, with the plaque he created providing information about the building where he lives and works – an extremely important one in Queensborough’s history.

I think you’ll just have to come to Queensborough yourself – whether on Historic Queensborough Day or another time – to read the exact text. (That’s my way of luring you here.) But one thing I love about this idea is that people who happen to discover Queensborough when they’re out for an afternoon drive or bike ride or hike will be able to learn something about its buildings even if they don’t have a copy of the Queensborough guidebook and even if they don’t happen to run into anyone who can answer their questions. If enough of these handsome plaques are erected, they will in themselves provide a self-guided tour and history lesson for visitors.

Following Jos and Marykay’s lead for their building, another Queensborough resident, my childhood friend and schoolmate Graham Gough, commissioned from Jos a plaque for his own historic home, listing its owners from the time it was built in 1871 until the present day. The plaque just went up a few days ago; doesn’t it look great?

Gough House and plaque

The new plaque listing all the owners of the attractive brick home built as the Jeffs Manor in 1871.

All over Queensborough, people who’ve kindly (or should I say bravely?) volunteered to open the doors of their buildings so visitors to Historic Queensborough Day can peek inside have been clearing stuff out, tidying things up, and just generally trying to make everything look as good as possible. Gardens and flowerpots are looking great; renovation projects are making a major difference to the overall look of the village. Here are a few more photos to show you the kind of thing I’m talking about:

Flowers on the Methodist Church steps

Flowerpots make for a pretty scene at the old steps that once led to the village’s Methodist Church.

Work on garage at Daisy Cottage

A vintage shed being newly reframed, part of major restoration and landscaping work at pretty Daisy Cottage. It’s one of the homes that will be open for a peek on Historic Queensborough Day.

Flower box at the river

Flowers spill over the planter at the base of a plaque beside the Black River “downtown” giving visitors information about Queensborough’s history. The plaque was unveiled on the first Historic Queensborough Day, held in September 2014.

So yeah: we’re getting ready for your visit! We hope you will join us Sunday for:

(Can you tell I’m getting excited?)

All this plus the opportunity to spend a day, or part of a day, with other people who have Queensborough connections, or who just appreciate our beautiful little village.

Okay, for those of you planning your visit, here’s the official schedule of events:

Schedule of events for Historic Queensborough Day

Volunteers will be handing out copies to everyone who arrives in the village, and on the back will be a map showing the locations of all events (plus important things like washrooms). We’ve got you covered!

But if you’d like any more information ahead of your visit, don’t hesitate to post your query as a comment here, or email me or chief organizer Elaine Kapusta: sedgwick.katherine@gmail.com or elainekapusta@hotmail.com.

It’s going to be a smashing day!

Historic Queensborough Day 2017 poster

Big news: the return of Historic Queensborough Day!

HQD Orange Lodge

The former Orange Lodge, one of Queensborough’s oldest structures and one that has lots of fascinating stories to tell, will be among the buildings open for a peek during Historic Queensborough Day. The historic building has just been purchased by a couple who have very exciting plans for its future. This is wonderful news for Queensborough!

One fine September Sunday three years ago, the biggest and most successful event in recent Queensborough history took place: the first-ever Historic Queensborough Day. One of the comments heard over and over from the hundreds of people who showed up that day was: “You have to do it again!”

Well, folks, I am very glad to report that we are doing it again.

Please mark Sunday, Sept. 10, on your calendar and plan to be in Queensborough that day to learn about and celebrate Queensborough’s history, enjoy a great meal, and meet a whole bunch of old friends and new. Historic Queensborough Day 2017 is going to be bigger and better than ever!

A large group of hard-working volunteers – members of the Queensborough Community Centre Committee plus lots of other interested residents – has been working for some time on the logistics of the day. We’re very much still in the fine-tuning phase, but at this point we have a full lineup of of events, and that’s what I want to share with you right now.

HQD QCC with Buddy Table

The Queensborough Community Centre (the village’s former one-room schoolhouse) will house a raft of displays on Historic Queensborough Day. Outside, barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers will be served, and homemade sweets will also be for sale. Diners will be welcome to sit at the newly installed “buddy table” (at left in photo), a giant picnic table installed by members of the community in memory of indefatigable Queensborough supporter the late John Barry.

The focus of the day, as in 2014, will be the Queensborough Community Centre, where there will be all kinds of displays about Queensborough’s history: the schools, the businesses (stores, hotels, blacksmith’s shops, etc.), military history, the churches, the cheese factories (did you know that wee Queensborough had two cheese factories?), the mines that once dotted the area around us, the railway that had a station here, women’s groups (including, of course, the Women’s Institute), the Orange Lodge (which was as much a community centre as the home of a fraternal organization), the families and genealogies, the “nursing home” (essentially an early hospital), and more. But the highlight will certainly be one of the most famous things ever to come out of Queensborough: a folk-art quilt featuring images of the buildings of the village, made by hand in the middle of the last century by Queensborough’s Quilt Lady, Goldie Holmes. You can real all about Goldie, her fame and her quilts here and here; and here is a photo of the quilt you will be able to see in person on Sept. 10:

The famous “Queensborough quilt” by the late Goldie Holmes that is usually displayed at the Tweed and Area Heritage Centre but for one day only – Historic Queensborough Day – will be back in Queensborough. Can you identify the buildings on it? (Hint: one of them is featured in the photo at the top of this post; another one is the Manse!)

What else is on for the day? Well, I’m glad you asked. A lot!

In no particular order, events include:

HQD The Kincaid House

The Kincaid House, one of the oldest (and most photographed/painted) in the village. This will be the spot to get a family photo taken and at the same time share with our eager history-recorders your family’s history in, and connections to, Queensborough.

  • A presentation, including a documentary video, on the latest available research on the Indigenous peoples who once moved through and camped in the Queensborough area.
  • The ever-popular horse and wagon tours of the village’s historic sites and buildings; here’s a photo of yours truly (the one waving) doing the tour-guide routine on Historic Queensborough Day 2014 as volunteers Bruce and Barb Gordon lead their team, Don and Barney, through the village:
Historic Queensborough Day

Photo by Ruth Steele

  • A visit from none other than Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald – or at least, a most remarkable facsimile. Sir John A. and his wife, Lady Agnes Macdonald, will be on hand to greet visitors and talk about their connection to Queensborough (hint: it has to do with a property deal that didn’t end up all that well), and the great man will make a brief speech to the assembled crowd at 1 p.m. Now how about that?
  • And a new event that I’m pretty sure will be very popular: open doors and a chance to peek into some of Queensborough’s most significant buildings. It’s not a fancy house tour; you’ll get a look inside, but you won’t tromp through every room. And some of these buildings are very much in the “before” stage of the before-and-after restoration process. But it’s a rare chance to get a glimpse of these buildings’ past, present and possibilities, as I like to say. One stop on the open-doors tour is the former Orange Hall, featured at the top of this post and a critical part of Queensborough’s history; we’ll have information about its past, and perhaps some ideas for its future from its enthusiastic brand-new owners, Jamie and Tory. Another is the Kincaid House. Other stops include:
HQD former Anglican Church

The beautiful former St. Peter’s Anglican Church (Queensborough’s first church), now a private residence.

HQD The Thompson House

The outstanding Thompson House, built in 1845.

HQD The Thompson Mill

The grist (flour and feed) mill and sawmill on the Black River that the village of Queensborough grew up around. Queensborough’s first post office was inside the mill, and vestiges of it remain.

HQD Ice Locker at McMurray's Store

The ice locker at the former McMurray’s General Store (and before that, Diamond Hotel). Here ice that was cut from the frozen Black River in wintertime was stored through the year to keep food cool and fresh.

HQD Billy Wilson's Blacksmith Shop

The former shop of blacksmith Billy Wilson, the only one of several blacksmith’s shops that once served Queensborough that is still standing.

HQD Daisy Cottage

The lovely (and in the process of being lovingly restored) Daisy Cottage, the home of Evelyn Lynn when I was a kid growing up at the Manse.

And of course there will be food! The barbecues at the Queensborough Community Centre will be fired up in the morning to serve peameal bacon on a bun for those who’d like to grab breakfast; a little later the volunteer chefs will switch over to hamburgers and hot dogs. You’ll also be able to buy hot and cold drinks and homemade goodies. Hey, it wouldn’t be Queensborough if there weren’t good food!

Barbecue on Historic Queensborough Day 2014

The barbecue on Historic Queensborough Day 2014: sunshine, good food, and Queensborough memories to share.

Those of us who have been working hard to organize Historic Queensborough Day 2017 are feeling pretty excited about it all. The turnout at our first event, in 2014, exceeded all expectations, and we’re hoping for even greater things this time around. If you have any questions about the day, or have artifacts, photos, historical documents etc. that you’d like to contribute to our displays (we’ll take good care of them and get them back to you!), please contact either Elaine Kapusta (613-473-1458, elainekapusta@hotmail.com) or me (613-473-2110, sedgwick.katherine@gmail.com).

Queensborough looks forward to welcoming you on Sunday, Sept. 10!

August Affair: a poem about the Rock Acres Peace Festival

Rock Acres Peace Festival site

At the heart of the Rock Acres Peace Festival – a photo taken by one of my correspondents who has kindly shared memories of the event but has requested anonymity. Thank you to that person!

Today, people, is Aug. 6, 2014. Do you know the significance of that date? Well, I’ll tell you. It is the 43rd anniversary of Day 1 of the Rock Acres Peace Festival, Queensborough‘s one and only (to date, as I always like to say) rock festival.

Since Meanwhile, at the Manse has (I say quite proudly) become the go-to place on the internet for information about that amazing (and, yes, long-ago) event, you can learn all about Rock Acres in my various posts, notably here and here. But if you want more, just click on “Rock Acres Peace Festival” under the Categories heading on the home page of this blog, and you’ll learn pretty much everything you might want to know about what happened when hundreds of long-haired young people came to tiny Queensborough for a weekend of peace, love and music in that summer of 1971.

Okay, well, maybe not everything. Because as it happens, on this anniversary of the start of the festival, I have a new bit of information for you. How do you like that?

Goldie Holmes

Goldie Holmes, Queensborough’s Quilt Lady – and unofficial midcentury poet laureate.

It is nothing less than a poem about the great event by the late Goldie (Ash) Holmes, Queensborough’s famous “quilt lady” – she made quilts that were brilliant folk art featuring buildings and scenes from the Queensborough area; you can read about that here and here. Goldie also wrote poetry and, as I reported here, a song recorded by one of Canada’s early country-music stars.

My Memory Book of PoemsGoldie’s poem about Rock Acres is included in her collection My Memory Book of Poems, published in 1976. The book is delightful to leaf through; Goldie recorded all manner of events in verse, from the Madoc Fair, to bus excursions by the Queensborough branch of the Women’s Institute, to the momentous Rock Acres Peace Festival. The poems may not go down as monuments in world literature, but as records of a place, a time and a community – Queensborough and its inhabitants and institutions in the middle of the 20th century – it is kind of unmatchable.

I love her poem about the rock festival, which is entitled August Affair. The metre and rhyme may be a bit tortured, but Goldie paints a very complete picture of the event. And what I especially like is her fair and even kindly attitude toward the young people who came from near and far to Queensborough. As you read it, I think you’ll appreciate her interest in these kids (They “gave us a slant/On this generation, how they like to live/And it gave us a chance, hospitality to give,” she writes), and her appreciation for what they did for our hamlet’s economy and renown.

So without further ado, here is the inimitable Goldie Holmes on the Rock Acres Peace Festival. And hey, everyone: happy anniversary!

Rock Acres Peace Festival crowd

Another photo by my anonymous correspondent, whom I thank once again!

AUGUST AFFAIR

The “Rock Acres” festival is over, Hurrah!!
It is something we’ll remember for many a day.
In the year nineteen hundred and seventy-one,
In the spring, the excitement begun
When the public became aware of the plan
For a rock festival on a local man’s land.
His sons did some planning, folks hoped for no harm
When the festival came to “Rock Acres” farm.
There were injunctions against them and feelings ran high
When they first said the festival would be in July.
But it was put off until August and then,
The young folk came walking, the weekend to spend.
Some carried bundles, some had packs on their backs,
But for “Rock Acres” farm they were all making tracks.
They came on cycles, and cars too, good ways to travel
And went in on the narrow, crooked road made of gravel.
When they came to our village, in the heat of sun’s ray
To swim in the mill-pond and put in the day.
Until it was time for the festival fun,
Of Rock and Roll music when night-time had come.
They behaved very well, caused no fuss or havoc
Didn’t shop-lift, or cheat, or create any panic.
The two local merchants sold things galore
Friends helped out at Sager’s and McMurray’s stores.
The kids had long or short hair, some wore jeans, some short pants
Some had on bikinis, and gave us a slant
On this generation, how they like to live
And it gave us a chance, hospitality to give.
The O.P.P. were kept busy, here and there on patrol
And we felt they were keeping things under control.
Around our village we felt pretty good
And hoped they all sensed our deep gratitude.
Down at “Rock Acres” festival there was plenty of drugs
Also there were many mosquitoes and bugs.
Can and pop bottles and other stuff too
Could be seen on the ground ‘ere the festival was through
There were some traffic problems, which were handled quite well
And a number of people said the festival was “swell.”
Some rail fences around, soon went up in smoke
In little bon fires to warm young folk.
The weather was fine, the whole weekend through
Which helped out the young folk, and helped us out, too.
The noise bothered some of the neighbours quite near
And kept them awake all the night, so I hear.
I’m glad the rock festival is now in the past
And I hope it’s the first that we have, and the last.

– Goldie (Ash) Holmes