Happy Valentine’s Day from Queensborough!

Valentines in Queensborough, 2017Thought I’d share with you nice people the delightful Valentine’s Day-themed touch that the volunteers with the Queensborough Beautification Committee have added to our made-in-Queensborough street signs.

Really, Queensborough is just the best. Isn’t it?

Bosley Road valentine

A Christmas card from Queensborough

Christmas card from Queensborough

The historic little wooden church (formerly St. Peter’s Anglican, our village’s first church, now a private residence), the river that runs through our “downtown,” a light dusting of snow and a pretty ornament to celebrate the season: it’s a Queensborough Christmas!

I went for a quick tour of our perfect little Christmas village yesterday with the intent of photographing the work that our hamlet’s beautification committee has done once again this year to make Queensborough look like – well, like the perfect little Christmas village. Once I got home and looked at the photos, it struck me that they would make a nice Christmas card from Queensborough. So to all of you lovely readers who live in Queensborough, or who once lived in Queensborough, or who wish you could live in Queensborough; to all of you who visit us here in Queensborough; and to all of you who live too far away to visit but have sent your interesting stories and good wishes and kind thoughts Queensborough’s way – well, Merry Christmas!

I’d been thinking about taking some photos of the beautification committee’s work because of the pretty wreaths the beautification volunteers had put on a “Welcome to Queensborough” sign that I see every day on my drive home from work. Here in these shortest days of the year that drive is always in the dark, and so I’d been saying to myself, “Self, get out there and get a daylight photo on the weekend!” And yesterday I finally did:

Christmas sign, west entrance to Queensborough

Welcome to Queensborough! The seasonally decorated sign at the western entrance to our village. Over the little hill that you can see in the near distance, you drive into a pretty little dip past historic buildings (the old one-room schoolhouse, the former Roman Catholic Church) and beautifully decorated homes. Did I mention that we live in a perfect little Christmas village?

I also checked out the signs at two of the three other entrances to the village (yes, all roads – north, south, east and west – lead to Queensborough), and was delighted to find that each had been decorated in a different style. Here’s the sign at the eastern entrance, with its gold wreaths and ribbons:

Christmas sign, east entrance to QueensboroughAnd here’s the one at the northern entrance. I have a particular fondness for this sign because a) it’s the newest one, designed and made right here in Queensborough by our own brilliant metalsmith Jos Pronk (also the new chair of the beautification committee); and b) it has the backstop from Queensborough’s old ball diamond in the background. Bring back village ball teams, I say!:

Christmas sign, north entrance to QueensboroughHere’s a photo from the heart of “downtown” Queensborough, showing the dam over the Black River (thankfully, in this year of terrible drought, with water going over it) and our seasonally decorated made-in-Queensborough street signs:

Christmas in downtown Queensborough

And here is the corner of Queensborough that Raymond and I call home, the intersection of Bosley Road and King Street where you’ll find the Manse:

Christmas at Bosley and King, Queensborough

I like this photo because it’s so Queensborough. An old fence. Trees. Attractive made-in-Queensborough signs. And pretty seasonal ornaments, put up by people who just want to make our beautiful village that much more beautiful.

Queensborough and Christmas: they just go together. Don’t you think?

Death, beauty, nature, gardening: a Queensborough miscellany

tomato plants

I am just delighted about the heirloom tomato plants that Raymond and I put into our garden early this evening. Don’t they look nice beside the soon-to-blossom peonies (a gift from our Montreal friends Johannah and Tracy) and our bright-red oil tank?

It has been another in a string of sunny, hot days here in Queensborough, though today the heat was moderated by a lovely soft wind that had the added bonus of steering the bugs away. As I drove home from work along Queensborough Road late in the afternoon, I was luxuriating in the beauty of the rural countryside.

And then I saw the turtle.

Regular readers will know that Raymond and I are among the many local residents who do everything they can to make sure the various species of turtles that inhabit our region get safely to the other side of the roads that they are bound and determined to cross during the warm months. I’ve told you before (like here and here) about how Raymond in particular has taken on as a mission the business of helping out the turtles. But we both travel with shovels and gloves in our vehicles – the gloves for picking up the smaller turtles, the shovels for moving the big snappers – and I’ve done my share of this turtle crossing-guard work too.

So when I saw a smallish turtle-shaped object at a big curve on Queensborough Road, I of course slowed down – only to realize with horror that the turtle was on its back and probably dead. I pulled over, hoping that the poor thing only needed to be righted after a glancing blow from a vehicle, and that it would be okay. But it was not to be; there was the pool of blood trickling away from the body of that innocent little painted turtle with the gorgeous markings that you can see here:

Dead turtle, Queensborough Road

A sight you don’t want to see: a beautiful painted turtle, killed on the road.

Poor, poor turtle. I only hope that the driver who struck it did so accidentally and without deliberate intent to harm; I am told (though I hate to think it’s true) that some cruel people actually try to hit the turtles when they see them. I personally hope that those people burn in hell, though I suppose that’s not a very Christian thing to say.

I decided that one thing I could do for the little turtle was to get its body to the side of the road so it wouldn’t be struck again and again, and crushed and mangled. What I saw when I turned it over with my shovel wasn’t very pretty, but I gently carried it to the tall marshy grass where it had probably been hoping to lay its eggs, and bid it farewell. And carried on with the rest of my drive back to the Manse, feeling deeply sad.

But you know, there are things to make a person feel better. Like seeing the flower baskets that our friends at the Queensborough Beautification Committee have once again hung all over the village, and that look absolutely splendid:

Queensborough hanging baskets 2016

This past weekend, the volunteers with the Queensborough Beautification Committee once again installed hanging flower baskets on the made-in-Queensborough street signs. They are beautiful!

And then there were the irises that have bloomed in the Manse’s front garden:

Manse irises

And also, the 2016 crop of geraniums in hanging baskets that Raymond had bought this afternoon from our reliable supplier, the garden centre at Madoc Home Hardware, and put up on the front porch:

flower baskets 2016

Two of this year’s geranium baskets (along with a wasp trap to protect Raymond) on the Manse’s front porch.

And the satisfaction of planting (with Raymond’s help) the two heirloom tomato plants – Brandywine and Black Vernissage – and that we’d bought at the Whole Darn Town of Madoc Yard Sale a couple of weekends ago. You can see the results of our planting session in the photo at the top of this post.

Also, there was the interesting surprise, as we prepared the ground for those plantings, of a pair of recently shed snake skins!

snakeskins

Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Garter Snake whose acquaintance I made a few years ago have not disappeared after all.

And finally, as Raymond and I sat on the front porch post-planting session, admiring our garden and our flowers and pretty little Queensborough generally, came the crowning touch: the first appearance of the year of a hummingbird at our feeder. These tiny things are so lovely, and they seem so friendly. I wish I had a picture of Mr. Hummingbird to show you, but you all know how fast and flitty hummingbirds are.

None of these good and happy and pretty things made me forget the sad end of the turtle; but they all – perhaps especially the snake skins, left behind as the snakes enter a new phase of life – reminded me of the wonder of the cycle of the seasons and of the natural world. Death is just a part of that cycle, isn’t it? But so is renewal, and new growth. And the return of the hummingbirds. Life is good.

But people, please please please be careful about the turtles when you drive!

News you need: more details on the cows’ visit to town!

Cows come to Queensborough

Not the most recent visit of wandering cattle to Queensborough – but proof (from a previous year) that it does happen every now and then. That’s Queensborough’s historic former one-room schoolhouse (now the Queensborough Community Centre) in the background – which is almost as “downtown” as it gets in Queensborough. (Photo courtesy of Anne Barry)

I hope you’ll be pleased to know that I have an update tonight on what had been a slightly mysterious (to me, anyway; but then I’m easily mystified) visit of some cattle to downtown Queensborough. I reported on that visit in a post here, noting that, while it seemed to be the consensus in the village that a broken gate and some hoofprints and other telltale signs did come from one or more roaming cows, the odd thing was that no one, least of all me, seemed to have actually seen the roaming cows. And I wondered how that could have happened, because, you know, a band of roaming cattle is not something you think you’d miss if the roaming happened right in front of your house – say, the Manse.

Now, if you happened to see the comments section of that post, you’ll know that our team of Queensborough reporters (I of course include myself in that team, but there are lots of others) was on the job and was able to provide both confirmation and more detail. But in case you didn’t see the comment from our friend Marykay, here’s the skinny: the cattle were indeed spotted, by her husband, Jos – early in the morning, I gather – clustered on the lawn of the pretty and historic former Anglican Church (now a private home) at the east end of town. I guess they were enjoying a little nosh there before making their way up the street to the place where they felt they just had to bust down a gate to get onto another patch of nice green grass. (Jos, by the way, was able to track down and notify the cattle’s owner.)

Marykay also reported (and our friend Anne has confirmed, by means of the great photo at the top of this post) that this is far from the first time that cattle have visited our village. Apparently they also showed up last year (maybe from a different farm?) and enjoyed a fine snack amongst the greenery and flowers in the planter boxes around the “Welcome to Queensborough” sign on the east end of town before continuing on. (As it happens, both Marykay and Anne are members of the Queensborough Beautification Committee, which is responsible for those nice planters. Which, I might add, I noticed today have been seasonally spruced up very prettily with some pumpkins and other autumn touches.)

So there you have it: an eyewitness account, a precedent from past years, and a photo of a previous visit. What more could you want? Well, how about another piece of sleuthing (just call me Nancy Drew) suggesting that at least one of the cows did make it onto the Manse property?

Possible cow pie

I discovered this in a corner of our soaked-from-the-rain yard. What do you think: cow pie, or not?

As I wrote in that first post, I have some plants that look like an animal of some size may have tromped through them, and that was my first clue. But later, on pacing our little Manse acreage this past weekend, I came across something off in a far corner of the yard that looked distinctly liked rain-sodden cow pie. Again, as I did in my first post, I must stress that I am not in the least bothered by any of this; I find the whole thing highly amusing. But have a look at my photo and tell me: do you think we had a real live cattle visit?

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!

History and community spirit – again!

Queensborough historical sign

“Queensborough: A Place of History and Beauty,” the headline on our new sign on the bank of the Black River in “downtown” Queensborough says. To which one might add (given the generous donations of time, talent and money around the sign project): “And also a place of great community spirit.”

As I reported not too long ago, the pretty little hamlet of Thomasburg (which is, like Queensborough, part of the GTA, the Greater Tweed Area) had a significant occasion last month when a sign outlining its history was officially unveiled. The event got lots of coverage in the local press (one of the stories is here), and this all prompted Evan Morton, the tireless and irreplaceable curator of the Tweed and Area Heritage Centre, to wish in his weekly column in the Tweed News that the other GTA hamlets might follow suit.

Well! What Evan didn’t know, apparently, was that Queensborough actually beat Thomasburg to the punch! The only difference being that our historical sign hasn’t (yet) had an official unveiling, with municipal officials and whatnot on hand. That may yet be arranged. But the most important thing is that the sign is up, and – thanks to generous donations of money and time and work by volunteers in the community – is looking very handsome indeed.

You might recall that I reported here on the early efforts, led by Queensborough’s Elaine Kapusta and the Queensborough Community Centre Committee, to produce the sign. And in the interest of full disclosure I should admit that the text was composed by yours truly, though that work was no big deal. What I really want to tell you about this evening is all the other work and support that went into this project.

First, after the sign itself was produced, there was the building and erecting  of the framework for it and the planter box at its base, followed by staining of the wood: that was looked after by John Barry and Frank Brooks. And then there are the newly planted flowers in that planter, which are lovely! Those were paid for thanks to a generous donation by Chris and Vicki Moak and family (you might remember that Chris and Vicki, who own a busy towing company, saved Raymond and me one time when a car situation left us by the side of the road). Anne Barry was the volunteer (from the Queensborough Beautification Committee) who planted them.

In its site down by the Black River in “downtown” Queensborough the sign looks fantastic! It tells people who pass through our hamlet something about its history – with photos, including of course one of the Rock Acres Peace Festival – and also, I think, about its community spirit. This bit of beautification (and education, about Queensborough’s past and present) was all completed thanks to private donations and volunteer work, so at zero cost to taxpayers.

Over the two and a half years that this blog has been in existence, I’ve recounted lots of instances of good old-fashioned community spirit and community pride here in Queensborough. (Very notable among those other examples are the recent erection of made-in-Queensborough street signs, and the flower baskets that have been hung from them and that are being maintained by volunteers.) Our historical sign is only the latest; I know there will be many more to come. It all just reinforces (as if that were needed) how proud and happy I am to live in this beautiful, historic little place.