An object of hungry desire

Weston Biscuits shelf

This gorgeous metal biscuit shelf is among the fine selection of food-themed antiques for sale (along with amazing baked goods) at Madoc‘s Hidden Goldmine Bakery. How I covet it to help store our collection of vintage cookbooks!

There is something for sale in beautiful downtown Madoc that I would just love to have. Its price, however, is a little north of $300, and while I am quite sure the amount is fair, it’s a little rich for my blood right at the moment. Because it is located in the wonderful Hidden Goldmine Bakery – source of the best butter tarts you will ever eat, as well as possibly the best cookie, the splendid Cinnamon Sparkle – I get to see and ogle this object frequently – because you can’t make a trip to “town” without stopping by the Hidden Goldmine.

This object is, as you can see from my photo, a vintage metal store shelf for holding packages of Weston biscuits. Now, Weston being a fine old Canadian company and all, the name is a big lure for me. I’m also very interested in the fact that this particular shelf may have come from Raymond’s home state, Massachusetts, because in the small print at the bottom it tells us that the biscuits it was helping to market to consumers had been made in a factory in Watertown, Mass.

(Now, before we go one bit further I need to point out that Watertown, Mass, is not the same thing as Watertown, N.Y., home of WWNY-TV, channel 7 CBS on the old black-and-white TV that was at the Manse when I was a kid growing up here. In the period, I might add, that I think constituted the golden years of television [as I wrote about at length here]. Those golden years included a corny made-in-Watertown kids’ show featuring the late Danny Burgess. Anybody here remember Danny Burgess? I’m sure at least a few of you do.)

Anyway, I am surprised to know that the George Weston company, Canadian through and through, had a factory in New England, and so far I haven’t found anything about that on my friend the internet. But really it’s no matter. What does matter is how much I would like to have that biscuit stand!

Why? Because I think it would be the perfect funky place to display some of our large (and growing) collection of vintage cookbooks. The ones I find at yard sales and flea markets and library sales, that promise midcentury hostessing perfection, not to mention a limitless supply of casserole recipes. I love those cookbooks! (As I’ve written before, notably here and here.)

To show you how much I love them, here are some photos featuring some of the titles. Perhaps the pictures will bring back some culinary memories for you too:

Vintage Betty Crocker cookbooks

Thanks to Betty Crocker, I have instructions on being the perfect hostess and making the perfect dinner for two. Like: Liver and Bacon Patties, with Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Broiled Tomato Halves, Fruit Compote and Ginger Creams. Wow!

Serve At Once/Dinners That Wait

I deliberately put side by side the two cookbooks Serve At Once (subtitle: The Soufflé Cookbook) and Dinners That Wait, a classic featuring recipes that finish themselves off on the stovetop or in the oven while the hostess sits down with her guests for “a leisurely cocktail.”

Vintage cookbooks

More vintage classics (and not-so-classics).

Vintage cookbooks 2

I have a soft spot for anything by Elizabeth David. And the bright colours on the dust jacket of her cookbook brighten up the shelf!

Oh yes, I guess I should also show some proof that we do have modern cookbooks too:

Modern cookbooks

And also proof that I actually use my cookbooks. Just look! Do you think any previous occupant of the Manse has ever made such a nice cheese soufflé? (Thanks for the recipe, Julia!):

Katherine's Famous Soufflé

Hot and beautifully puffy, light as air: a cheese soufflé (recipe by Julia Child) just out of the Manse’s vintage Harvest Gold oven.

Anyway, that’s a very quick partial tour of the contents of the Manse’s cookbook collection. Now can you see how perfect Mr. George Weston’s biscuit shelf would be to show them off?

A small-town main street, then and now

“Durham Street, Madoc, circa 1960” reads the caption below this photograph. What a lovely, nostalgic image of a bustling small town at the peak of mid-20th-century prosperity!

I’ve written many times before (like here and here, among lots of other posts) about how many books Raymond and I seem to have acquired over the years. So given that, you won’t be surprised to know that one of our favourite shops in Madocwhich is “town” for most of us in Queensborough, although sometimes Tweed is “town” too – is a bookshop. It’s a used-book shop, actually, and it’s a there for a good cause; all money raised from sales of the books goes to support the (excellent) Madoc Public Library. The store is called The Bookworm, and it’s operated by the Friends of the Madoc Library.

Both Raymond and I have found some really interesting books at the Bookworm over the course of many visits there. One thing I particularly like about it is that it has a fairly big section of classic hardcover and softcover books. (In other words, it’s not all about Danielle Steele paperbacks, though if you like those, there are lots of them too.) I’ve come across some pretty unusual and cool books in that section, and let me tell you, the prices are unbeatable. For those who might like to stop in: it’s at 80 Durham St., kitty-corner from the wonderful Hidden Goldmine Bakery.

Anyway, while I’m happy to pass on a tip on a great source of secondhand books, the real point of this post is something else. I wanted to share with you a photo that hangs on the wall at the front of the Bookworm: my photo of that photo is what’s at the top of this post. It’s a shot of Durham Street, which is more or less the main street of Madoc, taken “circa 1960,” as the caption at the bottom of the photo says:

Durham Street citation

When I spotted this photo during my most recent visit to the Bookworm, I was captivated by it, and by the feeling of nostalgia that washed over me.

Now, my time in the Madoc area didn’t begin until a few years after 1960; it was 1964, to be exact, which is when my family moved to the Manse in Queensborough. But certainly in the years we lived in the area, Madoc looked far more like that image from 1960 than it does now. Gracious – all those businesses that are no longer with us, more’s the pity. (Like Stickwood’s Dry Goods, and Ross’s Ladies’ Wear, just to name a couple.) And what’s even more a pity is the great buildings that are no longer with us, notably the one on the left housing the Café (what was that café?), with the amazing curve at the top of its facade. Sadly, there have been a number of fires on the main street of Madoc resulting in the loss of some beautiful and important old buildings – presumably including that one.

Now, don’t get me wrong: the downtown area of Madoc still has lots of well-kept historic buildings. And it’s still a bustling little place. But like so many small towns, it’s not quite as bustling as the scene you see in the photo. Here’s a (much less good) photo I took this past month of the same scene:

Durham Street, Madoc, 2014

More or less the same view of Durham Street, but 54 years later: my photo taken in December 2014. It should be noted that this was an early-morning photo, before the retail business of the day had really got started – hence the scarcity of people in the picture.

Anyway, I think it’s delightful that such a memento of the old days is on display at the Bookworm. And I also think it’s delightful that the Bookworm is part of the main street. It is one of the businesses that helps keep Madoc a lively and interesting place, all these years later.

I guess my mum was right.

Electric frying pan at the Manse

Electric frying pans may not be fashionable now the way they were in the middle of the 20th century, but our new model served its primary purpose – warming up tea biscuits – very well indeed. Doesn’t it look chronologically appropriate atop our 1970s Harvest Gold stove?

When I was a kid growing up here at the Manse, one of the small appliances that was in extremely heavy rotation in our kitchen was the electric frying pan. My mum, Lorna Sedgwick, used it for all the things that many people would have used a non-electric frying pan for: that is, frying bacon and eggs, sautéing (canned) mushrooms, and making grilled cheese sandwiches. She also used it to fulfill what is now the primary role of the then-uninvented microwave oven: to warm up leftovers. And finally, she used it for what I have decided was its highest and best purpose, which was to warm up dinner rolls from the bakery or supermarket.

Since I grew into a teenager as snotty and snarky as is the next teenager, I used to make fun of my mum’s use of this old-fashioned appliance. (Which, by the way, she had almost certainly been given as a wedding or shower gift; she and my dad were married in 1959.) I haughtily informed her that bacon, and most other things that one fried or grilled, tasted better when done in a cast-iron frying pan that sat directly on the stove. And also that in using such a pan (or its successor in my culinary life, the non-stick non-electric frying pan) there was no bother about an electrical cord and, besides, it was easier to wash up. But Mum always stoutly defended her electric frying pan, cord and all, and in fact does to this day.

Can you see where I’m going with this? Of course you can. Guess who just recently acquired the very first electric frying pan of their lives? It’s Raymond and me, of course. Which means that once again there is just such a thing in that same Manse kitchen.

Proctor Silex Factory Store

The sign that caught our eye in Picton.

Here’s how it came about – and in telling you the tale I might be doing you a shopping service. When Raymond and I were down in Picton, in neighbouring Prince Edward County, one day late last month, we noticed a sign for a “Proctor-Silex/Hamilton Beach factory outlet.” Well! Picton seemed like an odd place for such a thing, but that made it all the more important that we check it out. And sure enough, there, in an utterly nondescript building with minimal and unenthusiastic signage, was indeed a Proctor-Silex/Hamilton Beach factory outlet! With all kinds of different appliances at pretty decent prices, especially the ones that were on back-to-school special.

Wondering how the heck this happened to be, I asked a pleasant person behind the counter whether the “factory” of the “factory outlet” in the place’s title was also in the building, or at least in Picton. She told me that the appliances were all made elsewhere and imported, but that the Picton operation is the distribution centre for the whole of Canada. Now isn’t that something!

nside the Proctor-Silex factory store

Browsing at the factory outlet, where there are lots of small appliances.

We left with three appliances: an ice-cream maker (electric, that is; not the kind that requires rock salt, a bucket, and endless hours of churning); a coffee maker (to replace our old one, which dripped coffee all over everything when you poured); and – yes – an electric frying pan. They were on special sale, you see. And as I noted to Raymond, we don’t have a microwave, so warming up leftovers is kind of a nuisance.

And way more to the point, there is no better way to warm up dinner rolls than in an electric frying pan. Why? Because the low heat you can set it to, and the lid you place securely on top, allows them to get warm while staying nice and soft – not too crispy, as happens when you put them in the oven, but not too mushy, which is the inevitable result of microwaving them.

And how did I know this wondrous thing about electric frying pans? Because my mum told me, that’s how. Raymond and I put it to its first test this past weekend, warming up some buttermilk tea biscuits (yum) from Madoc‘s Hidden Goldmine Bakery to accompany the corn chowder that I’ve already told you about – the one that was delicious but would have been better had some slab bacon been available to add to it.

Anyway, the tea biscuits were perfect. Raymond was happy. And my mum was right.

The missing ingredient, coming soon (I hope) to a village near us

Corn Chowder

Homemade corn chowder at the Manse, made with fresh local corn – but missing one key ingredient that I have so far been unable to procure locally.

I hope that as you read these words you are also admiring those very appetizing-looking (if I do say so myself) bowls of homemade corn chowder in the photo above. I adore corn chowder, which is of course yet another way (aside from boiling and eating it straight off the cob) to enjoy the bounty of fresh local corn in August and early September. And so I whipped up a batch just last night, following a tried and true recipe by New England chef extraordinaire Jasper White. (You can find his recipe here, and if you like corn and cooking, I wholeheartedly urge you to try it.)

Now, I’ve made this chowder lots of times in the past, but this was the first time I’d done so here at the Manse. All went swimmingly save for one hiccup: the unavailability of what I consider a key ingredient, which is slab (unsliced) bacon. The recipe calls for four ounces of same, which you cut up into one-third-inch dice, sauté till it’s nice and crisp, and cook up along with the corn kernels, chicken stock, diced potatoes, diced red bell pepper, diced onion, some cream, fresh thyme, a couple of spices, and salt and pepper. What’s nice about those chunks of bacon is that they add lovely hits of delicious bacon saltiness (salty baconness?) that play off deliciously against the sweetness of the corn.

Slab bacon

Slab bacon: this is what I’m talking about!

Slab bacon is dead easy to find in Montreal food stores and supermarkets; it’s at every deli counter, and you just ask them to cut the size of piece you want. I used to get it quite regularly to make not only corn chowder but also Julia Child‘s Boeuf Bourguignon and quite a few other things. Not so much in little Madoc, however. I tried at the otherwise well-stocked deli counter at the Foodland store, and also inquired at the excellent One Stop Butcher Shop. No luck.

Now, I suppose longtime readers might be thinking of my self-pitying complaints a while back about being unable to find white-wine vinegar for a potato salad. And perhaps you will remember the conclusion of that yarn, which was a salad made instead with red-wine vinegar (which was readily available) that was absolutely perfect and a bit of a lesson in making do and not getting too fancy about your food. (Also, I should note that the vinegar situation at the Foodland got significantly more interesting and varied after the appearance of that post, which I noted here, and I no longer have any vinegar worries at all.)

And yes, I did manage to make last night’s chowder with a substitute, which was a package of Schneider’s extra-thick bacon. But I do have to say that it was less of a success than the red-wine-vinegar potato salad had been; I really missed those nice big crispy bacon chunks in the chowder. I am hoping that in future my plea for slab bacon might result in its appearance at the One Stop.

There are other food-related things Raymond and I have had to get used to not having readily available since our move to Queensborough from Montreal: fresh (i.e. local and unfrozen) lamb and veal, for instance; watercress for my favourite green salad; and oh, lord, real baguettes and croissants would be so nice once in a while…

But as I was doing my grocery shopping and other errands in Madoc on Saturday, even after having ascertained that no slab bacon was going to be procured, I found myself smiling and thinking how very, very much I like living here. Maybe it was the always-super-friendly service from the guys at the One Stop as we picked up some of their excellent breakfast sausages; or the warm feeling one gets when emerging from the wonderful Hidden Goldmine Bakery with an armful of cookies and tea biscuits and a small apple pie for good measure; or maybe it was Russell, who works at the Foodland and is always on hand with a hearty greeting for everyone. At any rate, I felt thoroughly at home and happy here in our little north-of-7 corner of the world, and realized that in exchange I probably can live without slab bacon. For a while, at least.

I love a small-town parade

Santa at the Madoc parade 2013

Thanks to the excited kids I was surrounded by, it was kind of magical when Santa’s float arrived at the end of Madoc’s nighttime Santa Claus parade. Oh, who am I kidding? It was magical!

I hadn’t intended to go see the Madoc Santa Claus parade. It was this past Saturday evening, and for various reasons I already had to be in Madoc (which is “town” for us – unless “town” happens to be Tweed that day) not once but twice earlier on Saturday. A third trip in from my nice warm Manse in Queensborough, to stand in the cold and watch a few floats go by? Not in the plan.

But when the nice people working in not one but two of the shops in town (the One Stop Butcher Shop and the Hidden Goldmine Bakery – both superb food places, by the way) asked me enthusiastically on my first trip of the day whether I’d be at the parade, I thought, “You know what, Sedgwick? It’s a big deal in this little town, it’s Christmas, you haven’t seen it before – and it’s kind of cool to have a nighttime Santa Claus parade. Just do it.”

And so I drove the 15 minutes into Madoc for a third time on Saturday, and I am happy to report that the parade was delightful.

Have you ever been to a First of July or Santa Claus parade in a very small town? Where every firetruck that can possibly be mustered – vintage, new and in between, pumpers, tankers, the works – is called in to stretch things out? Where big shiny trucks lent by the local car dealership ferry along the county warden and the local member of Parliament, waving furiously? Where the marching bands may be a little few and far between but totally make up for it in playing with great gusto? And where the treats handed out to the kids by walkers in the parade include not just candy but fresh cheese curds from the local cheese factory and cartons of chocolate milk from the local dairy? (Can you tell this is dairy-farming country?)

The parade wasn’t miles long – it lasted about half an hour, moving at a very slow pace – but given that it was pretty cold outside, that was just fine. The kids – and who knew that Madoc had so many kids? – were absolutely enthralled, and their parents were clearly enjoying watching them be enthralled. There were throngs of people along the route, more people than I have ever seen in Madoc before. It reminded me of what some of my wonderful readers had to say (in response to my post here) about what a busy place it used to be on Friday nights, when all the stores would stay open late and all the people who lived in the surrounding countryside would come into town to shop and see people.

It was just a lovely parade. And oh, such excitement when the kids spotted Santa’s float coming at the end!

I do believe that, thanks to a somewhat reluctant third trip of the day to Madoc on a cold and wintry night, and thanks to the good folks who put together the Madoc Santa Claus parade, I have got myself right smack into the spirit of Christmas.

A perfect day.

This photo gives you a sense of what a glorious day it was in Queensborough and environs yesterday, but I took it for another reason: these are among the row of maple trees that my father used to tap to make maple syrup way back in the day. We kids helped with the gathering of the sap each evening, and it is a very happy childhood memory. More on that in a future post, but you will understand how driving past these old maples on Queensborough Road west of the village was a great start to a perfect day.

This photo gives you a sense of what a glorious day it was in Queensborough and environs yesterday, but I took it for another reason: these are among the row of maple trees that my father used to tap to make maple syrup way back in the day (the mid-to-late-1960s and early 1970s). My siblings and I (and many other kids from the neighbourhood) used to help gather the sap each evening, and it is a very happy childhood memory. More on that in a future post, but you will understand how driving past these old maples on Queensborough Road west of the village was a great start to a perfect day.

Raymond and I spent a grand total of 36 hours at the Manse in Queensborough this weekend, from our arrival a little after 10 p.m. Friday night to our departure a little after 11 a.m. (which is really 10 a.m., but 11 given the !#@*& imposition of Daylight Saving Time – better not get me started on that – this morning). You might think that such a visit is so brief as not to warrant just under 9 hours of driving there and back again, from and to Montreal. But you would be wrong. Because our one full day there – yesterday, Saturday – was: a perfect day. (And Friday night and Sunday morning were very nice too.)

What constitutes a perfect day for us in Queensborough and environs?

Well, it begins with glorious weather. The forecast the night before had been for a cloudy day Saturday, but we awoke to brilliant sunshine, not a cloud in the sky, and pleasantly warm temperatures (which proceeded to get even more pleasant as the day went on; we spotted guys doing roofing work in T-shirts, and people sitting outdoors enjoying the sun).

After coffee at the Manse, it was on to our errands. In order:

Things were going full-speed at O'Hara Sugar Maples Saturday morning; the warm sunshine was making the sap run like crazy. Note the smoke from the wood-fuelled fire boiling down the sap to make delicious maple syrup.

Things were going full speed at O’Hara Sugar Maples on Hart’s Road Saturday morning; the warm sunshine was making the sap run like crazy. Note the smoke from the wood-fuelled fire boiling down the sap to make delicious maple syrup.

Try to find some new-crop maple syrup. We’d read in the local papers the night before about an event held in late February, bringing together local syrup producers and local politicians and whatnot to officially launch the 2013 season, so we thought some new product might be found. We stopped in at O’Hara Sugar Maples on Hart’s Road, and were enormously fortunate to be able to buy a litre of the first batch – two bottles of which had just been set aside for entry in “The Royal” (that’s the prestigious Royal Winter Fair in Toronto). We were offered a small sample, and it was as light and delicious as any maple syrup you’ve ever tasted. And the syrup inside the bottle we bought was still warm! It doesn’t get any fresher or better than that.

Here’s a little video showing how crazily fast (in the warm sun) the sap was pouring in from the pipelines connected to the tapped trees to the sugar house, where it would be boiled down to make syrup:

Next, do the rounds of Madoc:

  • First stop, Hidden Goldmine Bakery, to try to buy one box each of their awesome cookie selection. (Successful on the cinnamon-sparkle, peanut-butter, and chocolate-chip front; Raymond’s new favourite, cranberry-oatmeal, was sold out, but clearly we had no shortage of cookies when we emerged.)
  • Next: Kelly’s Flowers & Gifts, a delightful shop that doubles as the Sears catalogue outlet – and we needed a Sears catalogue because we need old-fashioned spring-roll window blinds for the Manse, and Sears seems to be the place to get them. And a bonus! It turns out the proprietor, Kelly Declair, was a classmate of mine at Madoc’s Centre Hastings Secondary School back when we both were teenagers (I have got to dig out my old CHSS yearbooks) and now lives in – Queensborough! So Kelly and I compared notes on several things, including how much we love Queensborough.
Our new Mission-style table, purchased at Kim's Kollectibles in Madoc Saturday, in the afternoon sunlight between our two leather-and-wood rocking chairs in the Manse dining room.

In the afternoon sunlight, our new Mission-style table, purchased (on sale!) at Kim’s Kollectibles in Madoc Saturday, between the leather-and-wood rocking chairs in the Manse’s dining room.

  • Then: Kim’s Kollectibles, a fun antiques-and-collectibles place that was having an end-of-winter sale to make space for the new stuff sure to come in once auction season starts, which will be soon. (Antiques-and-collectibles sellers get a lot of their stuff at auction sales. I’ve written here and here – among other places – about how much Raymond and I enjoy going to the auctions in Hastings County.) We bought a nice Mission-style side table for the space between out two vintage leather rockers in the Manse dining room, along with a bunch of books (right; there‘s a surprise), a Bunnykins china cup and bowl (I am a sucker for Bunnykins, since I had some when I was a wee girl and well remember how easy it was to be coerced into eating my supper thanks to my eagerness to find out what the Bunnykin Family was doing in the picture at the bottom of the plate or bowl), and a few other things that you may hear about anon.
  • Last stop in Madoc: the car wash, so Raymond could rinse the mud off the car. And while he was doing that, I opened up my new Sears catalogue and was transported back through the years by the smell of the ink on a newly-opened mail-order catalogue. Try it and see!
The little footbridge leading you to Kelly's Restaurant, a cool little place that's been serving good food (in a pretty setting off Highway 37) for four decades.

The footbridge leading you to Kelly’s Restaurant, a cool little place that’s been serving good food (in a pretty setting off Highway 37) for four decades.

The rustic and cozy interior of Kelly's is filled wirh vinatge advertising signs and whatnot. Yoo have to love the Supertest memorabilia; remember Supertest?

The rustic and cozy interior of Kelly’s is filled with vinatge advertising signs and whatnot. Yoo have to love the Supertest memorabilia; remember Supertest?

Then it was on to Tweed. We’d collected enough recyclables in the past few Manse visits that we had to make a run to the municipal dump at nearby Stoco. But before that we stopped for lunch at the funky and delightful Kelly’s Restaurant on Highway 37 between Tweed and Actinolite. Kelly’s has been around since the early 1970s, and has a cool kind of patina about it. You walk across a little footbridge to get to the slightly hippie-looking frame restaurant located in a pastoral setting. Inside, the walls are covered with vintage signs and photographs. The welcome is friendly, the ambience is great, there are lots of fellow diners, and the food is excellent: I had one of the best Caesar salads of my life (restaurants so often mess up Caesar salad – for one thing, using the unpleasant bitter dark-green outer leaves of the romaine lettuce instead of the hearts, which is the proper way – but Kelly’s gets it right) and Raymond had a splendid burger.

Late Saturday afternoon at the Manse, looking out the window at the back yard: more evidence of visits by the local wildlife.

Late Saturday afternoon at the Manse, looking out the window at the back yard: more evidence of visits by the local wildlife.

We had a few errands to run in Tweed: food shopping, etc., nothing too exciting but perfectly pleasant. Then on to the dump, and then back home – all still under glorious sunshine and amid temperatures that reached 9C. We unloaded the car, installed our nice new (to us) little table, and had a long(ish) refreshing nap. That evening, we enjoyed lamb curry that we’d bought at The Old Cheese Factory in Tweed, a good bottle of wine, and a long session of reading in our rocking chairs. And then bedtime, in a place where one sleeps very soundly because the pretty little village around us is so quiet.

Is that not the perfect day? In Queensborough or, maybe, anywhere else?

A McDonald’s in Madoc, on the “bypass”: good or bad thing?

McDonald's is open for business in Madoc, and it was big news in the local newspapers. This photo is from the Belleville Intelligencer, and you can read reporter Mark Hoult's report on the new business here.

McDonald’s is open for business in Madoc, and it was big news in the local newspapers. This photo is from the Belleville Intelligencer, and you can read reporter Mark Hoult’s report on the new business (still, as of the time the photo was taken, minus the giant Golden Arches) here.

It was a big deal for the small village of Madoc when it was announced several months ago that a McDonald’s franchise would be built just outside town – on what we used to call, back in the day, “the bypass.” Those days of the 1960s and early 1970s were when terrible things happened to towns large and small thanks to the “modern” idea of “the bypass.” They were the days when good highways were new, gas was cheap, and speed was what one wanted in travel. Ergo, bypassing towns in which you had to reduce your speed to 30 miles an hour (this was before metric, people) via a highway just outside of the town limits was considered a highly desirable thing. And the result was that an incredible number of villages and towns were “bypassed” – by the traffic, and thus by economic opportunity. And ruined, or very nearly. It was basically the worst civic-planning decision of all time. All in the name of progress.

But anyway, the bypass of downtown Madoc exists in the form of “Number Seven Highway,” as people of a certain vintage charmingly call it. No. 7 is the Trans-Canada, and zips straight through from Ottawa to Peterborough and thence carries on along the northern edge of Toronto, though many westbound travellers head south at Peterborough, via Highways 35/115, to the 401 and on to Toronto.

At the point on “the bypass” where it intersects with another highway, #62 running straight north from Belleville through Madoc and on to Bancroft and beyond, a bit of a commercial centre is springing up. There is a Tim Horton’s and an Ultramar – and, as of these past recent weeks, a McDonald’s. You can’t blame these operations for choosing location, location, location; it’s a busy crossroads, not only for cars but also for transport trucks and, in their various seasons, ATVs and snowmobiles. The parking lot at the new, open-24-hours McDonald’s is set up for all those vehicles and buses too.

I’ve heard a lot of local people express dismay at the coming of the Golden Arches. They worry – justifiably – about travellers, and locals too, stopping there for breakfast or lunch or supper rather than patronizing the restaurants in town, off the bypass. They see it as an unwelcome intrusion by Corporate America into a pretty, unique and off-the-beaten-track little village. I totally get that.

There’s another side to the coin, though. For one thing, my understanding is that the McDonald’s has agreed to have a sizeable display of brochures and other local tourist information. If travellers who would ordinarily whiz by will now stop at the Madoc McDonald’s – “McMadoc,” as the ads in the local papers call it, which I find rather cute – for a bathroom break at minimum, and maybe a meal, and into the bargain are able to find out what lies in the area beyond the bypass – well, they might just possibly venture a bit south into the village itself. And they will discover treasures like the Hidden Goldmine Bakery and the Country Treasures gift, antiques and collectibles store, not to mention coffeehouse Amazing Coffee, Johnston’s venerable gift shop and pharmacy, the fantastic One Stop Butcher Shop, the Barley restaurant and pub, a couple of good pizza places, and quite a lot more. Or they might decide to turn north and discover the O’Hara Mill living-history site and conservation area, or try some Eldorado Cheese Factory cheese, or go as far north as Bancroft, “The Mineral Capital of Canada” – or even, if we Queensborough folks have our planned walking-tour brochures on display, come and see beautiful and historic little Queensborough.

And aside from all that, McDonald’s is very good about having wi-fi available, helpful in an area where internet connections can still be a tad dicey. And it will be handy too for those who might want a late-night nosh in a place where most restaurants are closed pretty early in the evening. Or to any of us on the occasion once or twice a year when we really crave a Sausage McMuffin With Cheese.

And it brings jobs, which is not a small consideration.

So I am going to vote, for now, on the positive side of the new McDonald’s, the McMadoc. And hope it doesn’t turns out to have been a terrible move.

Like the bypass.