Something’s happening here.

One of Queensborough’s great historic buildings – originally the Diamond Hotel, then for many years McMurray’s General Store – now boasts an art installation that changes every few months. The idea and execution are courtesy of Jamie Grant of the Queensborough Arts Centre (the historic Orange Hall). The current show features photos by Marykay York-Pronk of the Queensborough Beauty group. Lovely! An indication that interesting things are going on in Queensborough…

Drive into Queensborough on any given day, and you’re likely to come away with the impression that it’s a beautiful little place, but a rather sleepy one. You won’t find many other vehicles, and you won’t see too many people. Maybe a cluster of kids riding their bikes around if it’s a weekend, or late afternoon when school’s out on a weekday. Very possibly someone splitting firewood in a driveway. If it’s a weekday, you’ll find Jos Pronk in his machine shop “downtown” (the former Sager’s General Store, which Jos and his wife, Marykay, have beautifully restored), either getting a broken piece of local farm machinery back in business or doing some incredibly high-tech work for a large company in a big city. Also, except for wintertime, there’s almost always someone mowing a lawn somewhere. But that’ll probably be it. You’ll think, “Guess not a lot happens here.”

And you’ll be wrong.

Art in Q: crowds at the show Huge crowds came out for the recent Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art day.

Over the years that I’ve been writing Meanwhile, at the Manse, I’ve told you about a ton of community events in Queensborough: church suppers, dances, skating parties, kids’ events like Halloween parties, and maybe most notably the Historic Queensborough Day that we held in 2014 and again in 2017. (The next one is coming in 2020, so look out.) And then there was our most recent grand event, Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art (which I told you all about here), which attracted hundreds of people to our tiny hamlet one memorable sunny day last month.

Before I get to the end of today’s post, I’m going to tell you about several more events that are about to happen in Queensborough – and these after a year that has probably been one of the busiest, event-wise, that our community has ever seen. But when I affixed the headline “Something’s happening here” to this post, it wasn’t just because I have a bunch of special Queensborough events to tell you about and Invite you to.

No, it was because I was reflecting one recent day (while mowing the lawn, as it happens) about the fact that people are starting to sit up and take notice of Queensborough.

Queensborough walking tour Our Queensborough Walking Tour booklet has been flying off the shelves recently – to the point where we’ve had to order a third printing.

I’ve already mentioned the hundreds of people – we estimate 600 at least – who came from all over Ontario to enjoy Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art. Well, since that event a couple of weeks ago, more people have been showing up – people who didn’t make it to the art show, but who heard about it, and by extension our village, either through the publicity the show garnered (very positive publicity, I might add), or from friends who did visit on that memorable day. They’ve showed up out the blue, on weekdays and weekends, stopping to chat with people they run into, take some photos, buy copies of our walking-tour booklet and then actually do the walking tour. They want to see this special place that they’ve been hearing about.

And I think that is a really good thing – and a sign of good things to come.

You could say, I guess, that Queensborough is making its way onto the map. Not the geographical map – we were, of course, already there (if you looked hard enough). The map I’m talking about is not a physical one but more the map of public consciousness and interest. People are starting to hear about Queensborough, and coming to visit, because of its beauty, its heritage, its sense of community and, frankly, its magic – the word I heard over and over on Art in Queensborough day.

Buffalo-Soringfield-For-What-Its-Worth“Something’s happening here” is the opening line of a classic mid-1960s song by Stephen Stills, recorded by the band Stills had with Neil Young and a few others, Buffalo Springfield. The song is called For What It’s Worth, and even if you think you don’t know, it, you absolutely do. Click here to watch Stills, Young and the rest of the band perform it – and enjoy the ’60s outfits while you’re at it.

Anyway, that opening line is what came into my head as I was reflecting on the recent visitors-to-Queensborough phenomenon. The line makes you think about what that “something” is – and while in Stills’s case he says that the “something” “ain’t exactly clear,” I think we have a slightly better handle on what’s happening in Queensborough. We may not know what the end result will be – but we do know that people from elsewhere are starting to take a real interest in our little community.

Barbecue on Historic Queensborough Day 2014 The barbecue on Historic Queensborough Day 2014: sunshine, good food, and lots of people from near and far. The next Historic Queensborough Day, in 2017, attracted even more people.

What that interest may result in is anybody’s guess. I personally am not keen on Queensborough becoming a crowded, tour-bus-filled, overpriced-snooty-restaurant tourist mecca like Prince Edward County not far to the south of us. I do not want the traditions and the lifestyle of our quiet rural place to be lost. I want those with family roots that run deep in the Queensborough area to still, and always, feel at home here.

From the bridge, August 2019 The view from the bridge in “downtown” Queensborough one day last month. With views and tranquillity like this, who wouldn’t want to live here?

But as I’ve written several times before (like here and here), I’d also be delighted to see someone interested in operating a commercial venture such as a coffee shop, an art gallery, an antiques store, a bookstore or even an old-fashioned general store (ah, those were the days in Queensborough) coming here to our village. Something that would attract (and hopefully feed) visitors without disrupting our quiet way of life. I’d also be delighted to see some of the historic homes and farmhouses in our area that could use a bit of restoration and care get that attention from people interested in moving to a dynamic rural community and contributing to the life of that community.

Something is happening here. We shall just have to wait and see what exactly it translates into over the next few years. But while we’re waiting – hey, we have more special events for you to take part in! Coming very soon! And here they are, in the order they’re happening:

Harvest Dance Q'boro The poster for the Queensborough Community Centre’s Harvest Dance, designed by Orange Hall co-owner and artist extraordinaire Jamie Grant. Click to enlarge.
  • This coming Saturday, Sept. 14, there’s a Harvest Dance featuring Cathy Whalen and the Land O’Lakes Cruisers, a country band that’s hugely popular in the local area, at the historic Orange Hall in Queensborough. Regular readers will know that the Orange Hall was also the venue for last year’s Black Fly Shuffle, and of course for the recent Art in Queensborough show. At both events, the restoration work that the building’s owners, Jamie and Tory, have done was almost as much the star of the show as the art and the music. People were wowed. And you’ll be wowed if you come Saturday to dance the night away. It runs from 7 to 11 p.m., and tickets (advance only) are available at Kelly’s Flowers and Gifts in Madoc and the Unconventional Moose gift shop on Highway 7 in nearby Actinolite, or by calling Elaine Kapusta at 613-473-1458. A good old-fashioned time is guaranteed for all – and all proceeds go to the work of the Queensborough Community Centre.
  • Turkey Supper poster 2019A week and a half later, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, it’s the annual and ever-popular Turkey Supper at St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough. I’ve told you all about that event in previous posts, but I’ll tell you now that just thinking about the Turkey Supper makes my mouth water. Church members and all the volunteers who help out are getting ready to roast turkeys, peel and mash potatoes, make delicious homemade dressing, bake some beans, and of course make the pies that Queensborough is famous for. All you have to do is come and enjoy it! The supper runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m., and the cost is a very reasonable $14 for adults, $6 for kids from six to 12 years old, and free to kids under six.
Making pie at Table 1 Learning the ropes of making pie crust at last year’s Master Class in Pie Making. A full house of participants at the Queensborough Community Centre got to learn from the best: three veteran Queensborough pie-makers.
  • And then, just a week and a half after that, it’s How to Make an Apple Pie at the Queensborough Community Centre. This first-ever event is a followup to last year’s sold-out Master Pie-Making Class, when three of Queensborough’s master pie-makers taught a bunch of rookies (including me) the mysteries and secrets of making pie crust. On Saturday, Oct. 5, participants will be able to add to their pie knowledge by learning how to transform a basket of fresh apples (and of course their own homemade pie crust) into a freshly made apple pie. Yum! Spaces for this session are limited; you need to register by Saturday, Sept. 28, and you can do that by calling Elaine Kapusta at 613-473-1458 or emailing elainekapusta@hotmail.com. Last year’s session got rave reviews and was also a whole lot of fun; if you want to be a great pie-maker, you won’t want to miss this one.

Believe it not, there’s still more to come after that: a family Halloween party, and a community Christmas event. But let’s leave those till later. So much is happening in Queensborough that it can be difficult to keep track of it all.

But you know what? It’s all good. What a happening little place!

On Nov. 11 the bells will peal, and Queensborough will remember

Legion Bells of PeaceOn Nov. 11, 1918 – one hundred years ago this Remembrance Day – bells rang out across Europe and all over Canada. The bells pealed from every church steeple and clock tower to tell a populace heartsick and weary from four terrible years of war that the conflict we now call World War I was over at last. For many Canadians, the ringing of the bells meant that beloved husbands, sons and fathers would be coming home at last. That the horror and danger in which those far-off loved ones had lived the past years of their lives were over. That they could return to their farms, their trades, and their families.

It is almost impossible for us, who have never lived through such a time, to imagine what joy the sound of the bells must have brought those hearers in cities, towns and villages across our country.

But for many others, the ringing of the bells announcing the Armistice would have been bittersweet at best. Like their friends and neighbours, they would have been happy that the brutal, senseless conflict was finally over; but for them, there would be a son, husband or father who would never come home. The bodies of their loved ones would lie through eternity in cemeteries far away across the ocean.

Tilloy cemetery

“Between the crosses, row on row.” The British War Cemetery in Tilloy-les-Mofflaines, France, where Sgt. Winfred (Fred) Glover of Queensborough is buried. I told Winfred Glover’s story a few years ago (you can read it here), and his is one of the names that will be read out prior to the ringing of the bells on Nov. 11 in Queensborough.

As Canada marks Remembrance Day 2018 this coming Sunday, bells will toll again in many places. The Royal Canadian Legion and the federal government have partnered for the Bells of Peace project, urging communities and churches to ring their bells 100 times, precisely at sunset, to commemorate the end of the Great War and to remember those who served and, in so many cases, died in the conflict.

It is sure to be deeply moving to ring and to hear the bells, and to think about what that sound must have meant 100 years ago.

Here in Queensborough, we will be doing our part. At 4:46 p.m. Sunday – the precise moment of sunset in Queensborough on Nov. 11, 2018 – our community’s bells will start to ring, once every five seconds, until they have rung 100 times. And the community is warmly invited to come and take part, and to help ring the bells.

St. Andrew's Easter 2

Usually the ringing of the bell in the steeple at St. Andrew’s United Church is to signal the start of Sunday worship. This Nov. 11, however, the bell will ring 100 times as we remember those who gave so much in the Great War.

HQD QCC with Buddy Table

In the clock tower at the Queensborough Community Centre (formerly our one-room school) is one of the bells that will be rung on Sunday, Nov. 11.

Where are our bells? They are in the steeple of St. Andrew’s United Church, and in the clock tower of the Queensborough Community Centre, the historic building that was once our village’s one-room school. One hundred years ago there would have been more bells – those in the steeples of the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Methodist churches, none of which are still operational – but we are fortunate that we still have two historic bells that can be rung, just as they certainly would have been a century earlier.

A flyer going out to mailboxes throughout Queensborough and area this week invites everyone to come and take part. But even if you live outside our area, you are welcome to join us and, if you’d like, to help ring the bells. Just come to St. Andrew’s (812 Bosley Rd.) or the community centre (1853 Queensborough Rd.) no later than 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

We especially hope children and teenagers will come and take part, as a way of learning about the Great War and the people from their own community who gave so much in it. Any who are too little to pull the bell ropes themselves are welcome to get a helping hand from a parent; there will be some veteran bell-ringers on hand to help out as well.

WW1 names from QCC

The World War I Honour Roll, showing those who attended or had graduated from Queensborough’s school who served in the war. The names will be read out on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Elaine Kapusta)

On the walls of both the community centre and St. Andrew’s, there hang plaques listing the names of people from Queensborough who served in both the First and Second World Wars. Those names will be read out prior to the bell-ringing, as we remember their service.

Descendants of those who fought in the Great War are especially welcome. Anyone who has photos or letters from the war era that they could bring to show is encouraged to do so.

After the bells have been rung, everyone will be invited to stay at the church or the community centre for hot cider and conversation. We hope this will be a way to bring together the members of our community – those who’ve lived here all their lives, along with those who’ve only moved to Queensborough quite recently – to share and celebrate our history.

Ring the Bells of Queensborough this Remembrance Day

The flyer going out to Queensborough-area homes this week. I hope you can join us on Sunday.

In asking that the bells be tolled at sunset, the Legion has cited a beautiful and well-known line of poetry: “At the going down of the sun and in the morning / We will remember them.”

The poem, entitled  For the Fallen, was written by a Briton, Robert Laurence Binyon, and published in the Times newspaper in the U.K. in September 1914 – very early in the war. Before it was over, so many more would fall. You can read the full poem here – it is quite lovely – but I particularly like two of the stanzas:

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Indeed we will. I hope you can join us in Queensborough at sunset this Sunday as we do so.

“So what’s happening in Queensborough?”

Welcome to Queensborough, fall 2018

Welcome to beautiful Queensborough, where things are always happening! And one of the best things about our hamlet is the work that the volunteers on the Queensborough Beautification Committee do to enhance our community’s welcome and street signs.

“So what’s happening in Queensborough?” People ask me that question all the time.

It comes from members of my extended family when we gather at times like the recent Thanksgiving weekend. It comes from colleagues at work. It comes when I attend events in far-flung parts of Ontario, and well beyond. It comes in emails and social-media messages from across Canada and all over the world.

And here’s the thing: the people who ask me that question already know what my answer will be. (It’s always just one word: “Lots!”) Why? Because the news has got out that Queensborough is a happening place. I am modestly proud of the part that Meanwhile, at the Manse has played, over the almost seven years of its existence, in spreading the word about Queensborough. Bust mostly I am proud (and not at all modestly) of the work that the people of this tiny, beautiful place are doing to make it punch way above its weight when it comes to interesting events and widespread recognition. I would go so far as to say that Queensborough is one of the better-known population-75 places (okay, maybe our population’s a whopping 200 or so when you count – as we should – the Greater Queensborough Area) on the entire planet. And that is something!

Regular readers will doubtless have noticed that Meanwhile, at the Manse has been a bit quiet lately. I apologize for that; my excuse, such as it is, is that I’ve been awfully busy. But that’s part of the deal with living in Queensborough, isn’t it? There’s always something.

So let me fill you in on what’s been going on. Late summer and early autumn weren’t quite as busy as the whirlwind few months we had last spring, but there’s still lots to share with you.

St. Andrew's Turkey Supper 2018 – enjoying the meal

Enjoying the meal: some of the hundreds of people who came out to enjoy the St. Andrew’s United Church Turkey Supper in late September.

I believe I’ll begin with the annual Turkey Supper at St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough, which took place in late September. Now, regular readers will know that our St. Andrew’s suppers (which I’ve written about many times, notably here and here and here) have a long tradition of success, attracting crowds of people from all over the place who are eager to enjoy a splendid meal in the congenial atmosphere of our pretty, historic country church. But this Turkey Supper was something special.

St. Andrew's Turkey Supper 2018 – lineup of cars

Raymond outside St. Andrew’s United Church surveying the very impressive lineup of cars that brought people to the Turkey Supper. And there were just as many lined up in the other direction!

On a day that turned from grey and gloomy to gloriously sunny just in time, hundreds of people turned out. As usual, there were lineups even before the doors opened at 4:30 p.m. What was a little less usual was that the people just kept coming. And coming. And coming. Normally by 6:15 p.m. or so – the supper runs until 7 – almost everyone who’s going to come has already showed up and is seated at the communal tables, enjoying the meal. This year, there was turnover after turnover in the church hall, with seats in the waiting area – the church sanctuary – filled by new arrivals as soon as they’d been emptied by those who’d been called in to the meal. There was still a churchful of people waiting well after 6 p.m.!

St. Andrew's Turkey Supper 2018 – waiting to be called 2

The thing about sitting in the St. Andrew’s sanctuary and waiting for your ticket number to be called so you can go in and enjoy the Turkey Supper (or, in the spring, the Ham Supper) is that it’s a marvellous opportunity to catch up on the news with friends and neighbours. Which is exactly what everyone in this picture is doing!

The men and women who were working their butts off (to use a not very churchy term) to keep the turkey and trimmings coming out of the kitchen, and the places set, and the dishes done, began to worry that we might run out of food. But in the end, we had exactly the right amount: every visitor ate heartily and well, the church members and supporters who had worked so hard were able to do the same once the crowds were gone, and there was even a bit left over.

Pie at the Turkey Supper 2018

As always, the selection of homemade pie at the Turkey Supper was impressive – and delicious. Queensborough is justly renowned for its homemade pie.

And when all was said and done, almost $3,500 was raised for the ongoing work of St. Andrew’s! That is a very big deal for a small country church. Everyone who came out to the dinner, and everyone who roasted turkeys, baked pies, peeled turnips, set places, and washed and dried mountains of dishes deserves huge thanks – not just for a job well done on that particular evening, but for keeping a truly great Queensborough tradition alive.

Okay: what else? Well, let’s talk about the Orange Hall!

Welcome to the Orange Hall

The main entrance to the former Orange Hall at 24 King St., Queensborough, as it looks these days. It’s a far cry from the ugly and decrepit look the front of the building boasted for decades before Jamie Grant and Tory Byers purchased it.

When last you heard about the Orange Hall – from me, at least – it was early June and we were basking in the success of the Black Fly Shuffle (a community dance) that had just been held there. It was the first time in half a century that a public event had happened in that building, one of the oldest in our hamlet and a place that, back in the day, regularly played host to dances, concerts, travelling shows, wedding receptions and all kinds of other socials. After decades of disuse that saw the building fall into extreme disrepair, it was purchased and saved by Jamie Grant and Tory Byers, a couple – from the perspective of my advancing age I think of them as a young couple – who are bursting with energy and creativity. What they did to repair and restore the Orange Hall in such a short time brought smiles and wonderment on the evening of the Shuffle to those who’d last been there 50 or more years ago. To me, looking on and thinking hard about how important that evening was, it brought (well-concealed) tears of joy. The restoration of the Orange Hall is a huge step in the revitalization of our community.

But hey – that was almost five months ago! Things have happened since then!

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Jamie and Tory went on to purchase the large empty lot that is immediately east of the Orange Hall. (That lot is much more empty since a shocking fire in 2012 destroyed a beautiful historic brick house that had been on it.) They also were able to buy the smallish 19th-century house that’s just to the east of the empty lot. Taken together, this will allow them to do a lot more with the Orange Hall, which came with only the land that it sits on and, as a result, no plumbing (because no land for a septic tank). With the empty lot added in, all that’s changed, and the possibilities for the building have opened up immensely. In addition, in very short order Jamie and Tory bought and spiffed up the little house next door to the empty lot, and now it’s as cute as all get out. And they brought in a gazebo for the lot in between! They (and we) have visions of concerts in summer evenings, kids’ activities, all kinds of fun community stuff on this centre-of-town property that they’ve brought back to life.

So what’s next in Queensborough? Well, in just a couple of week’s it’ll be Halloween, and I’ve already told you what a bang-up job Queensborough does on that front. On Oct. 27 – the Saturday before Halloween – the annual Family Halloween Party takes place at the Queensborough Community Centre. Again, I’ve told you about it previously in this space, but this event is getting bigger every year – thanks in part to so many young families having moved into the Greater Queensborough Area in the past few years. So many kids! So much potential for big fun at the QCC on the 27th! The Halloween Party has turned into one of the social events of the year, and you don’t want to miss it. Especially if you have kids.

Queensborough events

The draft – emphasis on draft! – lineup of events for 2019, as discussed at last week’s meeting of the Queensborough Community Centre committee (and marked up with my own scratchings). As you can see, we have a busy year ahead!

And then what? Well, I’m glad you asked. Just a few days ago Raymond and I were at the monthly meeting of the Queensborough Community Centre committee, of which we are both members. The main item on the agenda was planning events for 2019, and I think it’s fair to say it’s a heck of a lineup we’ve got. I mean, really (in chronological order, starting in January): a chili cookoff; our annual community potluck supper, which this year will also be a Games Night; hamburgers, hot dogs and homemade pie served up by the Black River during kayaking season in the early spring; the Earth Day trash bash, to clean up the roadways in and around Queensborough; an Easter egg hunt; the St. Andrew’s Ham Supper; the ever-popular Pancake Breakfast in May; a Queensborough-themed art show (Queensborough having been a mecca for artists for much of its history); a kids’ softball tournament; the annual children’s summer drop-in program at the community centre; a new fall harvest event, complete with fireworks and – get this – a street dance (!); the St. Andrew’s Turkey Supper; a followup to our hugely successful pie-making class, this time teaching pie newbies how to make a world-beating apple pie; the family Halloween party, of course; and Christmas carolling throughout Queensborough, to be followed by an evening of Christmas skits and other fun.

An ambitious lineup for a tiny hamlet? It sure is.

Can we pull it off? Of course we can! We are Queensborough – a place filled with community spirit and dedicated volunteers.

The only question that remains is: won’t you join us?

Watch this space, the local media, and the Facebook pages of the Queensborough Community Centre and St. Andrew’s United Church for details on each event. Please join us for as many of these events as you can; if you live here and can help out with some or all of them, please do!

So what’s happening in Queensborough?

I feel like my old standby answer, “Lots!” is no longer sufficient. We’ve moved past that.

What’s happening in Queensborough? More than ever!

Summer memories made in Queensborough

Painting at QCC 3

Look at these amazing (and very intent) young artists! They were taking a lesson from local artist Linda Myrie at the Queensborough Community Centre‘s summer drop-in program. Read on to see a photo of their finished artworks.

As I write this post, the summer of 2018 is fading into memory. It is Labour Day evening, and all over Queensborough and everywhere else, children are being put to bed in good time so they can be awake early to catch the bus on the first day of school. I’m willing to bet that every single one of them has a little knot of nervousness in their stomach, perhaps enough to keep them awake for a bit. They’re wondering what the school year has in store for them. What will their teacher be like? Will the classes be hard? Will all their friends from last year still be around? By the time they jump off the bus tomorrow afternoon, at the end of Day 1, they’ll be happy and relaxed and feeling comfortable about it all. But this evening? This evening, they’re a little bit anxious about what lies ahead. And you know what? Their teachers are feeling exactly the same way. I can say that because I’m a teacher – and I’m already fretting about the close-to-sleepless night I’ll probably have, thinking about what tomorrow has in store.

Before the end of this last day of summer – not officially, but the start of school always makes you feel that summer’s over –  I’d like to tell you about a fantastic thing that happens every summer here in Queensborough. And it’s all about kids.

Summer drop-in schedule

The flyer that went out to Queensborough-area households in June, letting them know about the summer drop-in program. Pretty great lineup of activities for kids, isn’t it?

For more than 10 years, volunteers with the Queensborough Community Centre Committee have operated a children’s summer drop-in program. It takes place Tuesday and Thursday afternoons throughout July, and kids can attend a single session or the whole shebang at an extremely modest cost: $15 per child for all eight sessions, with a maximum of $30 per family no matter how many kids they have; or $5 per single session.

The drop-in program was the brainchild of tireless Queensborough volunteer Elaine Kapusta, who spent her professional life in education as a teacher and principal and thus brought a world of knowledge and ideas to the proceedings. But over the years more and more of the heavy lifting has been taken on by other volunteers from the community – including young people who started at the drop-in centre as wee kids!

Raymond and I are often travelling in July, and thus in the years since we moved to Queensborough I haven’t had much of a chance to check out the summer program. But our vacation schedule was a bit different this year, and so one bright afternoon in mid July, I headed up to the community centre to have a first-hand look.

The community centre – our hamlet’s historic former one-room school – was a happy blur of noise and bustle when I walked through the door. The activity that day was painting; a long table had been set up, and on both sides of it, kids were ranged in front of miniature easels, working away at their canvases. Some of the younger ones were at separate smaller tables, where their parents, other adult volunteers and the drop-in centre’s tween- and teenaged counsellors and counsellors in training were helping them. Leading the proceedings was Tweed artist Linda Myrie, one of an impressive array of visiting presenters for the program. Everybody was having a good time – and here are the results!

The kids with their paintings

Good work, guys! Queensborough drop-in program participants with their paintings. Photo courtesy of the Queensborough Community Centre Committee

I was impressed with a whole bunch of things during my visit:

  • How many kids there were. The place was full.
  • How focused they were on their painting activity.
  • How well-organized everything was – everything from painting materials to snacks was on hand as needed, and volunteers would appear whenever one of the young artists needed a bit of help or encouragement.
  • How much fun everyone was having!

This is just a wonderful setup for the kids in our community – and not just the littler ones who come for the fun. It also provides paid summer jobs to the counsellors – most of whom are “graduates” of the drop-in program – and, for the counsellors in training, experience that may well lead to that paid summer job in future years. Here are the 2018 crop:

Drop-in counsellors and counsellors in training

This year’s drop-in program counsellors and counsellors in training were (from left) Kira Davidson, Bradon Shaffer, Evelyn Stephens and Brook Gylytiuk. Photo courtesy of Elaine Kapusta

There was a day very early in the summer when I was out on the front porch of the Manse working on something or other, and I suddenly realized that there’d been a steady stream of early-teen kids going by on their bikes or on foot – about one every 20 minutes or so. What was up? I wondered. And then I realized: they were going to their interviews for counsellor positions at the drop-in program. What a terrific experience for these kids!

The budget for the drop-in program is not huge. The money to operate it comes from generous donations from community organizations – the Tweed Festival of Trees, the Madoc and Tweed Kiwanis Clubs, and the volunteer-run Madoc thrift shop, which raises money for a host of community causes – as well as from individuals. Meanwhile, it’s the hard work of dedicated volunteers – Joan Sims, Stephanie Flieler, Lisa Whalen and Jamie Gordon – that keeps it all running.

Thanks to the Queensborough Community Centre’s Facebook page, I can show you a few other photos of the fun that the kids had at this year’s drop-in program. There was first-aid-training day…

First aid at drop-in program First aid 2

… and a visit from some wild creatures that belong to Tyrannosaurus Pets in Belleville…

Giant snake at drop-in program

hedgehog at QCCJoanie with the giant snake
Meeting a varmint

And perhaps best of all, the traditional Water Day that concludes the summer drop-in program – a day for the kids to get outside in their swimsuits and, thanks to water balloons and water everywhere, get really, really wet:

water day 1

water day 2

Here’s what one parent posted on the QCC Facebook page the day Water Day was announced there:

Noah has been talking about it all morning!!! Woke up to his smile and “Is it camp day?” this morning. You have all been doing such a great job with this program! Thank you!

I’m sure that this mum was speaking for all parents of the kids who were able to enjoy the drop-in program this summer, and in summers past. It makes me so proud to know that, thanks to an inspired idea by Elaine and so much dedication by her and the other volunteers through the years, our tiny hamlet is able to offer this marvellous experience to our children.

As we bid farewell to summer 2018, I know that a whole bunch of Queensborough children and teenagers are eagerly awaiting the drop-in program of 2019. Way to go, Queensborough!

We wined, cheesed and Black Fly Shuffled – and we’re not done yet

Square dancing at the Orange Hall by Jamie

Old-time square dancing at the Orange Hall in Queensborough! After half a century, it came back. The Black Fly Shuffle, a couple of Saturdays ago, was truly a historic night in our little hamlet. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Hello, everyone, from almost the far side of all the social activities that have been happening in Queensborough this spring. If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard from me in a while, the answer is simple: I’m pooped!

Kayakers 2018 by Lloyd Holmes 5

The kayakers doing their thing over the dam on the Black River in Queensborough in April. Freshly barbecued hamburgers and homemade pie awaited when they got out of the water. (Photo by Lloyd Holmes)

Way back in early April, I gave you a rundown of everything that was lined up for our tiny hamlet in the coming weeks. (Man, early April now seems like centuries ago.) First there was the annual visit of the intrepid kayakers ending their spring-runoff run down the Black River with hamburgers, hot dogs, homemade pie and a very warm welcome in Queensborough. I’d told you in that early-April post that the event probably wouldn’t happen because of low water conditions; but it did come off in the end, and was a great weekend, as you can read here. In that same post, I also told you about the successful Ham Supper that we held for approximately the 4,728th time (okay, I exaggerate a bit, but it’s probably been close to a century) at Queensborough’s St. Andrew’s United Church. And I telegraphed the annual Pancake Breakfast at the Queensborough Community Centre, which once again packed them in. (Sadly, I had to be in Toronto that weekend so don’t have photos of it.)

So what happened next?

Well, first it was the Wine, Cheese and Chat About Queensborough event at the Queensborough Community Centre on Saturday, May 12. It was the first time the Queensborough Community Centre Committee had tried anything like this, and it went even better than we’d hoped. Everyone circulated through the tables labelled for the four themes established for Queensborough by community members at a similar event five or six years ago: Develop, Beautify, Heritage and Enjoy. As we enjoyed a glass (or two) of wine (or a cup of coffee), the ideas flowed. All was helped along immensely by Karen Fischer of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, who has worked closely with Queensborough in recent years to develop a vision for our community and to try to make it a reality – and who took these photos of us at work:

Heritage Table at Wine, Cheese and Chat

The Heritage table at the Wine, Cheese and Chat, with Elaine Kapusta as facilitator. (Photo by Karen Fischer)

The Enjoy table (the fun one!) at the Wine, Cheese and Chat, with Raymond Brassard as facilitator. (Photo by Karen Fischer)

Beautify table at Wine, Cheese and Chat

The Beautify table at the Wine, Cheese and Chat, with Shane Cox as facilitator. (Photo by Karen Fischer)

Develop table at Wine, Cheese and Chat

The Develop table at Wine, Cheese and Chat, with me as facilitator. (Photo by Karen Fischer)

The community members who gathered came up with some fantastic ideas for our hamlet, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Special Christmas activities, including seasonal lighting of the falls on the Black River.
  • A co-op neighbourhood store.
  • A farmers’ market featuring locally grown and raised foods.
  • A bandshell for community entertainment events.
  • A Queensborough archives.
  • Historical street signs for DeClair and Rockies roads.
  • More plaques for historic buildings.
  • A street dance.
  • More play areas for kids.
  • Bread-making classes. (Along the lines of our recent master class in pie-making, a monster hit.)
  • Restoration of Queensborough’s baseball diamond so that we could host softball tournaments featuring teams from all the local hamlets.

Is that not a great list? Next week the QCC Committee will be following up and talking about next steps, which ideas to proceed with, and so on. If you’re interesting in joining the committee and taking part in those discussions and plans for the future, you are welcome! We’re meeting at the community centre (the village’s former one-room schoolhouse), 1853 Queensborough Rd., at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 11.

* * *

So there was all that. And then there was – drum roll, please – the Black Fly Shuffle!

Orange Hall: It was worth the wait

Half a century – it was worth the wait! This is the sign put up at the Orange Hall – the former Loyal Orange Lodge Branch 437 – by Jamie Grant (a talented graphic designer) to welcome Queensborough back inside one of its most important buildings for the Black Fly Shuffle.

Dancing at the Shuffle, by Jamie

Dancing to the country tunes of the Country Travellers in the freshly painted and gussied-up Orange Hall. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

It was the first community event held in Queensborough’s historic former Orange Hall for close on half a century. And what an evening it was!

The hall, looking terrific (and funky), even in its mid-renovation state, was filled with people of all ages enjoying old-time square dancing and also “round dancing” (by which I mean regular dancing; I’d never heard that term prior to the Shuffle, and perhaps you haven’t either, but now you know. You’re welcome) to two bands, Doug Pack and the Country Travellers and John Sedgwick (my brother!) and the ToneKats.

Country Travellers

The Country Travellers perform traditional country music, much to the delight of the crowd and the dancers at the Black Fly Shuffle. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

The ToneKats at the Shuffle, by Jamie

The Kingston-based ToneKats, featuring my brother John (at right on stage, playing bass), livened things up with songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Buddy Holly, Elvis, and Bryan Adams among many others. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

It was just fantastic to watch the square dancers – both the veterans, who were amazing, and the rookies, who did their best to learn the moves – in action. And I don’t think it’s just sisterly pride when I say that my little brother’s band was terrific. Also, this being Queensborough, of course there was great food involved: halfway through the evening, at 10 p.m., there was the traditional (for old-time Queensborough dances) break of 15 or 20 minutes when everyone was able to load up their plates with sandwiches, cheese, cookies and other goodies that had been brought by all who came to the dance. It was delicious, and it was just the fuel we all needed for another round of energetic dancing, putting to the test the floor joists in the 146-year-old hall.

Stephanie at the ticket booth

Stephanie Sims, one of the volunteers with the Queensborough Community Centre Committee, was on ticket-selling duty in the old ticket booth at the Orange Hall. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

We Stand for King and Constitution

“We Stand for King and Constitution”: this is the Loyal Orange Lodge flag that was in the Orange Hall when Jamie and Tory bought it. (I believe the king in question is a young Edward VII, after whom the Edwardian Age is named.) It was on display at the Black Fly Shuffle, and lots of visitors found it fascinating. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Perhaps the best part of the evening was the stories.

“We had our wedding dance here,” one person told me.

“I met my husband at a dance in this hall,” said another; she and her husband recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

A third told me that a community bridal shower had been held for her in the hall prior to her wedding, which was 60 years ago this past fall.

Others spoke fondly about attending – or performing at – dances in the old Orange Hall back in the day, and reminisced about some of the shenanigans that were known to take place outside, in the darkness of a spring or summer evening. Hot times in little midcentury Queensborough!

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Jamie Grant and Tory Byers, who have brought Queensborough’s Orange Hall back to life. (Photo by Gary Pattison)

I cannot say enough about the husband-and-wife team of Jamie Grant and Tory Byers, who took a huge chance in buying the Orange Hall a year or so ago, have done an immense amount of work on cleaning it out and cleaning it up, have built a full stage and added a ton of whimsical touches, have lots more plans ahead – and basically threw open the doors and welcomed a whole community inside their building at the Black Fly Shuffle.

It was a lovely, lovely night. A night to remember.

Here are some words that kind of say it all, posted by Tory on the Queensborough Community Centre’s Facebook page the day after the Shuffle:

Tory's words after the Shuffle

And here’s a terrific video that Jamie made of the big night. The woman who gives the camera (with Jamie behind it) a huge smile at about 1:47 is, of course, Tory:

* * *

Okay, well – have you caught your breath yet from all that activity? (And I haven’t even mentioned the 128th anniversary celebration at St. Andrew’s United Church, which happened this past Sunday, and was absolutely wonderful.) Now: guess what’s next!

It’s happening this coming Sunday, June 10, and it’s the second annual Music Night at St. Andrew’s, an evening when you get to sit back and enjoy great music by local performers for an hour and a half, followed by a social time over coffee, tea and lemonade with friends and neighbours – and all in aid (thanks to a freewill offering) of sending two Queensborough kids to camp. Yesterday I did the camp registration for those kids, brothers aged 9 and 11 who are fairly new arrivals in our hamlet and have already made friends with pretty much everyone in town. They are smart, friendly, polite and full of beans. I’m certain they will love their week at Camp Quin-Mo-Lac in early July – and I thank you in advance for helping make it happen by coming out to Music Night! (And if you can’t come but would still like to support the cause, let me know.)

Music at the Church 2018

I think I can safely say, as I have many times before, that Queensborough is a happening place. To see all those people come together a couple of weekends ago for an old-fashioned community dance – that was really something. As is seeing all the people who come and enjoy events like our Pancake Breakfast, church suppers, the kayakers’ weekend, and so on. And then to know in advance (thanks to the success of last year) that so many people will come out and support Music Night to send two local kids to camp this summer…

Really, you know, Queensborough is not just a happening community; it’s a caring community.

And we know how to kick up our heels and have a good time.

I cannot imagine a better place in all the world to be.

Hey, Queensborough: Let’s talk about Queensborough!

Which direction for Queensborough?

What direction for Queensborough? Please come and have your say, and enjoy some wine and cheese, this coming Saturday (May 12, 2018) at the Queensborough Community Centre.

You know, I love the fact that people from all over the world – and I mean all over the world; in the past couple of days alone, we’re talking Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, the U.K., the Philippines, Australia, France, Ireland and Russia, in addition to Canada and the U.S. – check into and read Meanwhile, at the Manse. People out there in the wider world: Thank you! I love you! But my most important audience will always be the people who live right here in our North of 7 neck of the woods, because – well, because you are my people. And because we are doing things together. Good things.

This post is aimed at that local audience. It’s about an interesting experiment we’re undertaking this coming Saturday (May 12) for the people who live in and care about Queensborough and the Greater Queensborough Area.

(What is the GQA, you ask? Well, I define it by the roads that lead into or are close to our hamlet. If you live anywhere on Bosley, Barry, DeClair, Rockies, Hunt Club or Queensborough roads – as well as the smaller roads that lead off them, like Hass, Carson, Hart’s and Cromwell; and then there’s Cooper Road and surrounding offshoots – then feel free to consider yourself a citizen of the Greater Queensborough Area.)

The event, organized by the Queensborough Community Centre committee, of which Raymond and I are proud members, is called Wine, Cheese and Chat About Queensborough. Here’s the deal: you show up at the Queensborough Community Centre (our hamlet’s historic and well-preserved former one-room school, at 1853 Queensborough Rd.) at 4 p.m. Saturday; you are warmly welcomed and offered a glass of red or white wine (donated by volunteers with the committee) – or, if you prefer, a cup of coffee or tea – plus some first-rate local cheese from the Ivanhoe Cheese Factory; and after half an hour or so, when everyone’s met everyone and we’re all feeling comfortable, we’ll sit down and talk among ourselves about our little community.

The background is this:

Six years ago, a whole bunch of people from the Greater Queensborough Area gathered in the same place (though without the wine and cheese, more’s the pity) and tossed around ideas for what they’d like to see happen in Queensborough: their vision for the community, if you like. The event was, like this coming Saturday’s, organized by the Queensborough Community Centre Committee; and, like this coming Saturday’s will be, it was brilliantly helped along (I can’t bear the bureaucratic word “facilitated”) by Karen Fischer, an agriculture and rural economic development advisor (in the old days they called them “ag reps”) for our region with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Karen has been a staunch – and I mean staunch – friend to Queensborough over the years. She has attended so many meetings, responded to so many emails, offered up so many ideas: I think – in fact I know – that she likes us here in Queensborough! She really likes us! And so I know she’ll do a great job once again this coming Saturday, helping us corral and organize our ideas and maybe turn them into one or more plans of action.

The upshot of that gathering six years ago was a vision statement and four goals for our community. This vision statement says:

The Queensborough Community vision is to maintain a quality rural lifestyle through building community pride and preserving its heritage, and supporting and developing a vibrant commercial, residential, recreational and cultural setting.

And the four goals we set were:

  • Develop community pride
  • Preserve our heritage
  • Develop economically
  • Enjoy.

But now, prodded by Karen and ourselves, we’re wondering: do the vision and the goals need to be updated? A lot of people – including, wonderfully, a lot of young families – have moved into our community since 2012. What do these new Queensborough residents – you new Queensborough residents – need, want, expect and hope for from our community? And how can we all work together to make this happen?

Those are the questions we’ll be asking, and hopefully answering, this coming Saturday.

And here’s what I have to say about all this: you should come!

Because there’s so much we can talk about!

Like, for instance (to throw out some of my own pet beefs/ideas/projects):

  • Why in the HECK can’t we get trash and recycling pickup in Queensborough? Having to emit ridiculous amounts of fossil-fuel pollution into the environment as we drive all the way to the Tweed dump at Stoco is just ridiculous, especially when the trash and recycling pickup trucks from neighbouring Madoc Township drive right through our hamlet on the way from pickup in the Cooper area to their next stop on Queensborough Road to the west. Can we not persuade our municipal council to help us find a way to piggyback onto that service?
  • Would games nights at the Queensborough Community Centre be a good idea? Back in the day (that would be my long-ago childhood here in Queensborough), crowds of people would show up every week for euchre parties at the QCC, and everyone had a whale of a time. Some local hamlets – notably Actinolite, which along with Queensborough is the only other population centre (if you count “population” as being 50 or so people) in Elzevir Township, now part of the Municipality of Tweed – still have euchre parties, and they are still popular. Meanwhile, local libraries hold games afternoons at which people young and old gather to enjoy playing all kinds of board games. I’ve already spoken with one fairly new Queensborough resident who would love to attend regular games nights; should we try it?

But what else? What do we need in Queensborough? I’m voting for a store, but you all knew that, given my many posts on the topic and my nostalgia for the general stores that once upon a time were pretty much the heart of our community. What else? More in the way of kids’ playgrounds and activities? More heritage stuff? (Don’t even get me started on my cunning but still secret plan to turn a historic but decrepit and neglected building into the official Queensborough archives … )

What are your ideas for our community?

People, we need you. It’ll be a fun and fulsome exchange of ideas. Do you have kids? Bring them along! We’ll have juice boxes and lots of people with lots of kid experience to help entertain them while you’re engaged in visionary discussions.

Here’s the official poster for the event that went out to the community via Canada Post. If you live in the GQA, I hope and expect you’ve seen it. If you’re further afield but are a friend of Queensborough, and would like to join in the discussion, you are so welcome.

Queensborough wine, cheese and chat

Your community really does need you. Even if you’re one of the quiet households on Barry, Bosley, Queensborough, DeClair, Rockies, etc. roads who keep to yourselves – this is a fantastic chance to come out to a friendly gathering, meet some neighbours, and participate in a great discussion for a future that will affect all of us.

As I finish this post lateish into the evening, the peepers are singing their hearts out in “downtown” Queensborough. Their music is making its way into the Manse through the screened doors and windows. This lovely spring that has finally arrived has brought new life everywhere, and our hamlet is looking so beautiful. As I weeded the flower garden for the first time of the season today, I waved to so many cars and trucks passing by, and everyone waved back.

We live in a wonderful place; we are so fortunate. Especially when it comes to our friends and neighbours.

So: let’s channel all of that good stuff about living in this lovely, quiet place, look to the future – and make that future a good one for us, and for the generations that follow us, in the GQA.

Oh, and P.S.: Whether you can come on Saturday or not, please visit the Queensborough Community Centre’s Facebook page or click here and respond to a quick and easy survey we’ve posted there (with much help from our friend Karen Fischer); your answers (and by the way, the survey is completely anonymous) will be SO helpful as we chart our community’s course.

Dull moments are few and far between in Queensborough

Kayakers 2018 by Lloyd Holmes 6

What an amazing image! Lloyd Holmes of Marmora (though originally of Cooper) took some incredible photos as kayakers from all over Ontario, Quebec and beyond descended on Queensborough for the Marmora Area Canoe and Kayak Festival last month. It was just one of the many special events that have been going on, with more to come. Photo courtesy of Lloyd Holmes

Oh my goodness, people, I am just breathless trying to keep up my reportage on all that’s been going on in Queensborough, and all that’s about to go on. If you’ve been wondering why you haven’t heard from me in a while, it’s simply this: there is too much happening, and thus never a spare moment! Which is a pretty great thing to say about a hamlet as tiny as ours, but still: one gets dizzy after a while.

So tonight, in the few spare moments I have managed to find, I want to quickly give you the scoop on the two big upcoming events in our hamlet that you absolutely have to know about  – and attend, if you possibly can. And then I’ll give you a glimpse of what we’ve been up to lately.

QCC pancake breakfast

The men of Queensborough, hard at work serving up a delicious pancake breakfast. They’ll be doing it again this Sunday.

Let’s get right to it. This Sunday (May 6, 2018), you owe it to yourself to come to our hugely popular Pancake Breakfast. The all-male volunteer crew from the Queensborough Community Centre (with substantial help from quite a few female volunteers) will serve you up a splendid breakfast of pancakes with fresh Queensborough-made maple syrup, sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, coffee and juice. It’s just the best, not only for the food but for the chance to catch up with the news from neighbours and from former Queensborough folks who come back for this event each year. Here’s the poster. Be there. The super-reasonable cost is $10 for adults and $5 for kids six to 12 years old; kids under six eat free. Wow!

Pancake Breakfast

Okay, next: The Black Fly Shuffle. Folks, I’ve previewed this already, but I really can’t begin to tell you how great this event is going to be. In a single evening we are going to:

  • See my musician brother John Sedgwick on stage with his excellent Kingston band, the ToneKats, in the community where he, like me, grew up;

AND… (drum roll please)

  • Have an old-time square dance! Complete with caller! People, are you ready to allemande left and allemande right and do-si-do and dip and dive once more? I am sure that you are. And if you don’t know those old-time square-dance moves, not to worry: we have some veterans of Queensborough square dancing who will show you how it’s done.

Black Fly Shuffle Flyer 2

We hope the blackflies after whom the dance is named won’t bother us too much as we whoop it up (in a family-friendly, alcohol-free way) in Queensborough. If you can imagine a better time than this, my friends, then you have a heck of a lot more imagination than I do.

Jamie and Tory at LOL by Gary Pattison

Jamie Grant and Tory Byers are having more fun than anything with the old Orange Hall. (Photo by Gary Pattison)

If you’re interested in attending – and who wouldn’t be? – you should nab your ticket(s) now, because they really will go quickly. (Remember our recent Master Class in Pie-Making, when we had to turn people away because it was so popular? Don’t let that be you when it comes to the Black Fly Shuffle!) It’s going to be an absolute hoot. The poster tells you everything you need to know about where to get tickets.

And: I would be very remiss if I didn’t give a huge shoutout to Jamie Grant and Tory Byers, who became the owners of the Orange Hall not very long ago and since then have done so much to return it to its old place as community centre, arts centre, dance hall and so on. In just a few months, Jamie and Tory have made a huge difference in Queensborough, and we are so appreciative!

Okay, now that I’ve got your social calendar filled for this coming Sunday and also for Saturday, May 26, my work here is pretty much done. But before I sign off and return to still more planning and publicity work for Queensborough events, let me share a few visuals of what we’ve been up to recently.

First comes the Ham Supper, an annual tradition at St. Andrew’s United Church. As always happens, I was too busy setting and clearing tables, pouring tea and generally being a gofer during the supper rush to get photos of people enjoying the great food, but I did get this one that I rather like of the cleanup crew:

Ham Supper 2018 cleanup

As I said when I posted this photo on the St. Andrew’s United Facebook page: If you think the food-serving operation at our church suppers is impressive, you should see what it’s like in the kitchen afterward! The busy and well-organized volunteers wash, dry and put away a mountain of dishes, and any leftover food is packed up and donated to a program that feeds hungry high-schoolers in nearby Madoc. We had another successful event thanks to all who showed up, and to all who helped. And we had a lot of fun!

Of course there was lots of pie:

Pies at the 2018 Ham Supper

A Queensborough Supper wouldn’t be a Queensborough Supper without a LOT of pie.

The other big event that’s happened recently is the one I telegraphed to you at the very top of this post: the annual visit by kayakers from all over the place during the Marmora Area Canoe and Kayak Festival, which was April 21 and 22. The weather was gorgeous, the water was high, and lots of spectators turned out to watch the fun as the kayakers jumped the dam over the Black River in “downtown” Queensborough.

One spectator kind of stood out:

Goose at the kayakers

A Canada Goose kept close watch on the proceedings for much of the day Saturday.

Here are spectators and kayakers enjoying the sunshine on the lawn of the historic home of Lud and Elaine Kapusta, where burgers were barbecued for all by volunteers with the Queensborough Community Centre:

The Kapusta lawn during MACKFest 2018

Things get colourful as the kayakers gather at the takeout spot below the dam:

Kayakers at the bottom, MACKFest 2018

Still wearing their wetsuits, the adventurers line up for burgers and hot dogs:

On the porch, MACKFest 2018

It’s a big job keeping up with the demand for burgers, as Chef Don discovered:

Don at the barbecue, MACKFest 2018

Of course, this being Queensborough, there was homemade pie for dessert:

MACKFest 2018 pies

But enough of my middling photos. Let’s turn it back over to the pro. Here are more of Lloyd Holmes’s amazing shots of the fun. Thank you so much for sharing them, Lloyd!

Kayakers 2018 by Lloyd Holmes 7

Photo courtesy of Lloyd Holmes

Kayakers 2018 by Lloyd Holmes 8

Photo courtesy of Lloyd Holmes

Kayakers 2018 by Lloyd Holmes 2

Photo courtesy of Lloyd Holmes

Kayakers 2018 by Lloyd Holmes 5

Photo courtesy of Lloyd Holmes

Kayakers 2018 by Lloyd Holmes 4

Photo courtesy of Lloyd Holmes

Kayakers 2018 by Lloyd Holmes 1

Photo courtesy of Lloyd Holmes

And with that, I believe I’ve made my case that we know how to have fun in Queensborough. See you at the Pancake Breakfast and the Black Fly Shuffle!