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!

Art and Queensborough: a brilliant combination

As I write this, Queensborough is very quiet. From the front porch of the Manse I can hear nothing save the water of the Black River running over the dam at the centre of the village, some crickets, and the occasional barking of a small dog, sometimes answered by a slightly bigger bark from a slightly bigger dog. Not a soul, walking, biking or driving, has crossed my field of vision for quite some time. But one week ago today – wow, was that ever a different story! If you click Play on the video at the top of this post (shot by Raymond, the best husband ever), you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about. You should definitely press Play. Though I’ll warn you that the video was shot very early in the day last Saturday – just before the multitudes arrived in Queensborough.

Art in Q: enjoying the Orange Garden by Jamie Grant

Visitors to Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art enjoy the glorious weather and the Orange Garden. In the background is the lovingly restored Orange Hall, where the art exhibit was held. Photo by Jamie Grant

Art in Q: streets lined with cars

The streets of Queensborough were plugged with vehicles a week ago, as people from all over Ontario visited to see the hamlet that has attracted so many artists over the years.

On a glorious sunshiny summer day, Queensborough was absolutely packed with people. They strolled through the village, stopped to take photos, pointed out buildings and views to each other, consulted their Queensborough walking-tour guides, and just generally looked like they were having a wonderful time. Which – given that added to the mix was a stunning show of Queensborough-themed art (including a painting by A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven) and some great food to enjoy – they were. Our first-ever Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art event was a success beyond our wildest hopes. It was a spectacular day for Queensborough.

Art in Q: crowds at the show

The Orange Hall was filled all day long with people taking in the more than 100 artworks on display.

It was a lot of work to put together, though, which is the main reason it’s taken me a few days to get around to composing this report for you. I was exhausted! The handful of volunteers who make up the Queensborough Community Centre committee, supplemented with a small number of invaluable outside helpers, really outdid themselves putting the show together and ensuring the day went off well. In about the 14th straight hour of the arduous process of hanging and arranging and otherwise displaying the more than 100 artworks in the show at the historic Orange Hall, one of the key helpers commented wryly, “I think we might have bitten off more than we can chew.” At which we all chuckled – and then doubled down again to get the job done in time for the huge influx of visitors on Saturday.

Art in Q: A.Y. Jackson

The painting of Queensborough by A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven – which is owned by an area resident who has requested anonymity – got pride of place (not surprisingly) at the show: front and centre at the Orange Hall/Queensborough Arts Centre. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

To the hundreds of people (we estimate at least 600) who came from near and far to enjoy the show and the day: thank you so much! Your appreciation for the art, and for Queensborough, made all the work worthwhile. A huge number of attendees were first-time visitors to our hamlet, and it was thrilling to see how much they enjoyed discovering it. “It’s beautiful!” “It’s magical!” I heard that over and over again, all day long.

Art in Q: barbecue at the QCC

Visitors were able to enjoy a barbecue at the historic Queensborough Community Centre (our village’s former one-room schoolhouse) and church-basement sandwiches served at the Orange Hall. Stephanie Flieler and Tyler Walker were among the hard-working barbecue crew.

To those who worked so hard to make the show a success – the QCC volunteers; the owners of the Orange Hall, Jamie Grant and Tory Byers, who have done an amazing job of restoring the historic building and beautifying the grounds attached to it; to Judith Almond Best, who spent an entire day meticulously making labels for each of the artworks; and most especially to Tonny Braden, a former Queensborough (now Madoc) resident without whose endless hours of hard work and expertise about art and art shows we never could have pulled this off – what can I say but: a job well done, gang. Just brace yourselves, because almost every visitor I spoke to said something along the lines of, “You have to do this again!”

But now, because images can tell this story so much better than words, I want to show you what this glorious Queensborough day looked like. Some of the photos are mine, and some are from others who attended or otherwise took part in the show. Enjoy!

Art in Q: the auction etc. by Jamie Grant

Just a few of the glorious paintings on display. At top left is a particularly meaningful one for us Queensborough folk. It’s by artist Barbara Whelan, and shows the auction that took place when McMurray’s General Store closed. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: Robin and Clara by Jamie Grant

Our strolling troubadours for the day, Robin and Clara. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: Robert Tokley painting

One of my favourites from the show: Maple Syrup Time at Ramsay’s Sugar Shack, by Robert Tokley, a brilliant artist with deep Queensborough roots. The late Harold Ramsay is the figure depicted in the door of the sugar shack. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: Goldie Holmes quilt

Folk artist Goldie Holmes’s famous Queensborough quilt (which I’ve written about before, notably here) greeted visitors at the entrance to the show. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: talk with Audrey Ross

One of the events of the day was yours truly (at left) interviewing well-regarded Tweed artist Audrey Ross about the time she spent learning her craft in Queensborough (thanks to the nearby Schneider School of Fine Arts) and her life in art. Audrey, who is 91 and proud to tell you so, is a great painter and a wonderful storyteller! (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: Queensborough

There were several works in the show by Donald Fraser, a renowned artist and art teacher who chose to make Queensborough his home and found the landscape of the area a great inspiration. This piece, titled simply Queensborough, was my favourite. I am pretty sure the scene it depicts (painted in the early 1960s) is the barn of the late John Thompson. It no longer stands but I remember it well from my childhood here. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: Queensborough School

This painting depicting Queensborough’s one-room schoolhouse and the former St. Henry’s Roman Catholic Church (now a private home) is by Debra Tate-Sears, a well-known artist who comes from Tweed. It was kindly lent for the show by the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: Bob at work

Tweed artist Bob Pennycook, who produces gorgeous canvases, was one of the artists who got out their easels and did some painting during the day.

Art in Q: Mrs. Holmes's Washing by Jamie Grant

Another of my favourites from the show: Mrs. Holmes’s Washing by the great Poul Thrane. The artist is well-advanced in years but, I am delighted to report, was able to attend the show. “Mrs. Holmes” was the late Jessie Holmes, who lived at the eastern end of Queensborough. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: Winter Day at the Rockies, Poul Thrane

Another lovely Poul Thrane canvas. This one is called Winter Day at the Rockies. The Rockies is a “suburb” of Queensborough, a few miles east and north. This painting truly captures that area. (Photo by Diane Sherman)

Art in Q: LOL deck by Jamie Grant

Visitors enjoying the Orange Hall deck (note the orange umbrellas on the picnic tables!) and the Orange Garden. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: Jamie artwork and Ruth

Artwork by James (Jamie) Cipparone of Queensborough, and the amazing woman who was doubtless (at age 99) the oldest visitor, Ruth Holmes of Cooper. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: Jamie artwork and Ruth

Elaine Kapusta (left), a driving force behind all that the Queensborough Community Centre Committee does (including Art in Queensborough), with Audrey Ross, who brought wit, sparkle and great art to the show. (Photo by Diane Sherman)

Art in Q: Festival Elephant

Festival Elephant, an intricate and gorgeous piece of fabric art and handiwork by Queensborough’s Judith Almond Best. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: at the general store

Visitors to the art show enjoyed strolling through the village and meeting its residents. Here, Jos Pronk and Marykay York-Pronk welcome some of them at the site of their home and business (Pronk Canada Queensborough Machine Shop). This great building in “downtown” Queensborough was for many years Bobbie Sager Ramsay’s general store.

Art in Q: Old Anderson Home

Old Anderson Home by Donald Fraser. I love the painting (showing a home on Rockies Road), but I also love how one of the Orange Hall’s amazing original 16-over-16-pane windows shows up in reflection in this photo. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Q: Alex at work

Artist Alex Bulzan, who divides his time between Toronto and Queensborough, at work on a plein-air painting on the bank of the Black River.

Art in Q: Poul Thrane etc. by Jamie Grant

There was so much to see. The show was truly dazzling. (Photo by Jamie Grant)

Art in Queensborough: come for the art – and stay for the food

Church-basement sandwiches 2

If you love these sandwiches – and really, who doesn’t? – then you will DEFINITELY want to attend Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art this coming Saturday. Yum!

I call them church-basement sandwiches. My Queensborough friend Elaine calls them funeral sandwiches. I know other people who call them party sandwiches. But there’s one thing we all call them: delicious.

And guess what? You will be able to enjoy them at what is rapidly becoming our world-famous Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art event this very Saturday!

(That would be Saturday, Aug. 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Orange Hall – now called the Queensborough Arts Centre – in Queensborough. If you’ve been stuck on a desert island for the past month or so and haven’t heard about it yet, you can find out everything you need to know from my posts here and here, as well as from our Facebook event here.)

Q in Art poster

I’m sure you know from the photo at the top of this post what this delicious foodstuff that I’m talking about is. It’s those small triangular sandwiches served up at rural and small-town social functions all over this part of the world.

Go to a funeral, or a wedding-anniversary open house, or a celebratory church service, or an evening function at a school, and chances are good to 100-per-cent (100-per-cent in the case of any function held in a church) that the food part of the event will include these addictive little sandwiches.

The procedure for making them is simple, and pretty standard: take a loaf of white or brown bread, butter it, and then between every two pieces spread egg salad, or salmon salad, or tuna salad, or chicken salad, or thin slices of ham with a bit of yellow French’s mustard. Cut them into triangles, and deliver them to the kitchen at whatever church or other facility is hosting the social event in question. There “the ladies” will arrange them prettily on a platter, and serve them up to what is guaranteed to be a very appreciative group of eaters.

Church-basement sandwiches

Here in Queensborough, our tradition is to not cut off the crusts on our church-basement sandwiches. The Queen might not be amused, but it suits us just fine. Oh man, just look at those egg-salad sandwiches…

The only variation that I know of is that in some places they cut off the crusts. Here in Queensborough, where church-basement sandwiches are a tradition of very long standing, we do not cut off the crusts. Hey, we’re not serving cucumber-and-watercress sandwiches to the Queen at afternoon tea; we’re feeding hungry people who’ve traded their work clothes – overalls, jeans and T-shirts, nurse uniforms, etc. – for a bit of dressup to say goodbye to an old friend who has died, or to celebrate 60 or 70 years of matrimony of the couple in the farmhouse down the way. We are people with hearty and appreciative appetites, and the crusts on the sandwiches are just fine, thank you very much.

As I have written before at Meanwhile, at the Manse, the most amazing thing about church-basement sandwiches is that you can eat dozens of them and still want more. Why is this, people? Is it because they’re small and don’t take up much space in your stomach? Is it because they’re so yummy that the regular “I’m-full-so-stop-eating” signals in your brain go on hiatus? Or is it just, you know, some kind of magic? I do not have the answer to this question (though I favour the “magic” option), but I know the phenomenon is real. And anyone I’ve ever spoken to about church-basement sandwiches gives a smile of knowing recognition when I mention it to them.

Don at the barbecue, MACKFest 2018

Barbecuing for the kayakers at high-water time in spring on the bank of the Black River, Queensborough.

As longtime readers know, Queensborough has quite the reputation for feeding people well. The church suppers at St. Andrew’s United, which I’ve written about many times (notably here and here) are deservedly famous, especially when it comes to the homemade pie at the end of the meal. Our community pot-luck dinners are astounding. We’ve been known to hold spectacular pig roasts, and in fact, thanks to the generosity of a local farmer, are planning another one for next month. In the kayaking world we are legendary for the barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs (oh, and did I mention homemade pie?) that we serve up every spring when there’s high water on the Black River and the kayakers are out in droves to test themselves against it. Our pancake breakfast every May is legendary.

As you can imagine, then, when it comes to spreads of church-basement sandwiches – well, there’s no place that can top Queensborough.

When the members of the Queensborough Community Centre committee were discussing what food options we would offer to visitors to Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art on Saturday, the first items on the list were kind of traditional. Yes, we will have a barbecue, which will include the ever-popular option of peameal bacon on a bun. Then we got a little bit radical (by Queensborough standards) and decided to also cook up veggie burgers. This will be a first for our hamlet, which is located in the midst of serious meat-eating country, but we recognize that the time has come. (And speaking as someone who has cut down radically on the amount of meat in my own diet, I say: yay.)

But then the aforementioned Elaine had what I think was the brainwave of all brainwaves: church-basement sandwiches!

(Or, as she calls them, funeral sandwiches. As a waggish old friend of mine from high-school days – who plans to visit Art in Queensborough – commented of that name: Sandwiches to die for!)

But Elaine’s idea came with a twist: because this is food for purchase, not laid on free as part of a church celebration, we’ll sell them as full (i.e. slice-of-bread size) sandwiches. Don’t worry, though! They’ll still be cut into triangles to ensure their special magic. For a wildly reasonable price you’ll be able to buy a full sandwich tidily packaged in a Ziploc bag. Open it up, and you’l have those individual triangles of deliciousness. There will be ham, chicken salad, salmon salad and (my everlasting favourite) egg salad. These are homemade by the ladies of the Queensborough church and community, so excellence is pre-ordained. However, I warn you: you’ll probably need to buy more than one…

Actinolite, Black River in Spring by Bob Hudson

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

All proceeds from the sale of food and drinks (soft drinks, water, coffee and tea) will go toward covering the costs of mounting Art in Queensborough/Queensborough in Art. Because, as I’ve noted before, the exhibition of Queensborough-themed artwork (more than 100 works and counting) that is the central element of the day has absolutely no admission charge. We want people to come and just enjoy the artwork, the beauty of Queensborough, and the fun of watching artists at work throughout the village. Yes, it does cost our committee money to make it happen, but we are hoping to recoup at least some of those costs through food sales and also a draw to win a beautiful gouache painting of the Black River that has been generously donated for the occasion by artist Bob Hudson.

So! After the hungry work of visiting the exhibition in the Queensborough Arts Centre (24 King St.), strolling through our village and appreciating why its beauty has attracted so many artists over the years, and looking over the shoulders of the artists who will be setting up their easels and tripods to work that day – you’re going to want some great food. And people: we have got you covered.

Come for the art, stay for the food (sandwiches to die for!), and have a wonderful day. See you Saturday!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q in Art poster

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

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

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

Bedroom in Arles

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

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

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

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

Q in Art rack cards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q in Art logo

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

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

Q in Art card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Queensborough_in_ summer_credit_Elaine_Kapusta

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

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

Thompson House

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

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

Queensborough in autumn

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

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

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

Students at the Madoc Summer Art School, 1957

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

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

Cabins at the former Schneider School of Fine Arts

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

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

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

A.Y. Jackson painting at the QCC

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

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

Don Fraser painting

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

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

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

Artist at work close up

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

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

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

Goldie Holmes's Queensborough quilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A deerfly song just for me, courtesy of my teenage hero

Joey Edwards

Joey Edwards: DJ, friend, and composer of a special song about my deerfly battles. (Photo courtesy of Joey Edwards)

Wow! Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to comment on my post of a couple of days ago. The “Glad to see you back” sentiment was overwhelming, and sure made me feel good. As anyone who’s undertaken the job of producing a blog knows, it’s a lot of work and takes a lot of time. (Especially when your internet is sometimes dodgy, as it can be here in Queensborough.) That’s the main reason – actually, the only reason – you hadn’t seen an instalment of Meanwhile, at the Manse for several months: as my father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, always used to say, “So much to do and so little time in which to do it!”

Hat filled with dead deerflies

My first post in a long time here at Meanwhile, at the Manse was about the plague of deerflies we’re experiencing in Queensborough this summer. Here’s the deerfly catch on the sticky strip I attach to my walking cap – just one day’s worth.

Not all of those quick and kind responses came in the form of comments appended to my blog post about the Great Deerfly Menace of 2019. Some came in person and via email. And one of those emails – which was waiting in my inbox very early the morning after my deerfly post went up – came from none other than Joey Edwards!

Readers with long memories – and those who, like me, were pop-music-loving teenagers in the Hastings County area in the early 1970s – will recall Joey Edwards as the evening disc jockey (and this was when there actually were discs, i.e. records, to jockey) on CJBQ-AM radio out of Belleville. One of the most fun things that’s ever happened in the lifetime of this blog was when, almost five years ago, Joey made contact with me here, having spotted a reference I’d made earlier to his goofy, hilarious, best-music-ever-filled radio show, of which I was a huge fan when I was growing up here in the middle of the last century. From way off in a new life and career in Beijing, Joey has stayed in contact since then, and I’m pleased to say that thanks to Meanwhile, at the Manse, other fans of his radio work have been able to find and correspond with him too.

Anyway: Joey must have seen my post very soon after it hit the internet, because by the time I opened my email the next morning, there was already a message from him. And not just any message, people. It was a little song, just for me! About the walks I’d written about in which I enjoy the beauty of nature around Queensborough but truly hate the deerflies that come with it, especially this summer.

Like I said, it’s a little song, just one verse long. Here are the lyrics:

Katherine talks to Mother Nature
With a special request
Please Mother Nature
Can you tell your deer flies
To take a permanent rest!

Which is cute enough on its own, but the special effects on the recording are what make it. So now, without further ado, please allow me to share with you Katherine’s Deer Fly Ditty, by Joey & The Keep-on-Yuckin’ Band:

If this delightful gift is my reward for a long-in-the-making new Meanwhile, at the Manse post, then I sure am glad I sat down in front of the laptop once again. Joey, I cannot thank you enough. But right now – gotta go. I’ve got a walk to take. And some deerflies to fight off.

The deerflies from hell in Kilometre 4

Hat filled with dead deerflies One walk’s worth of deerflies on a sticky strip that I wear on my walking cap.

Hello, everyone! After a months-long hiatus that has been filled with a whole lot of Queensborough community work plus the day job that pays the bills here at the Manse, I am back! And I have many things to tell you about: an amazing art-themed event coming up in Queensborough next month; the ridiculous system that we Queensborough people have to use to get rid of our trash and recycling; the major road-repair project going on just west of our hamlet; some fantastic improvements to the landscape in Queensborough; and my terror-of-renovation paralysis. To name just a few. But today I want to talk about – wait for it – deerflies.

Because the deerflies have been really, truly terrible this summer of 2019, as anyone who’s been outside in rural Ontario will surely agree. “Never seen them this bad before,” I’ve heard quite a few people say.

Now, I suppose an obvious way to avoid being bitten and bothered by these very annoying insects is just to stay indoors. But who wants to do that, when summer is so beautiful in Queensborough?

For me especially, being outdoors is a big thing these days, because I’ve taken up a walking routine. Four or five afternoons a week you can find me walking the Queensborough “block” – not the “downtown” Queensborough block that you can easily cover in less than 10 minutes, but the big block that takes you eastward out Queensborough Road toward Moore’s Corners, then south till you get to Bosley Road, and then west and north along Bosley till you arrive right back at the Manse where you started. It’s a five-mile/eight kilometre route, which I cover in a tiny bit over one and a quarter hours, mixing it up every other day by starting out on Bosley Road and walking in the other direction.

My walking route My five-mile/eight-kilometre walking route. The wooded area in the bottom right corner is where the deerflies are thickest.

Normally that hour and a quarter is a very pleasant time indeed, good for my brain and spirit as well as my body. I listen to the breeze and the birdsong, wave to the motorists who meet or pass me (and who almost invariably give me a big, friendly wave in return), say hello to the various dogs along the way (Lacey, Jugs, Mimi, Bella, Lily, Magnum and China, among others), observe the wildlife (bunnies, turtles, butterflies, ducks, frogs, once even a fox) and the cattle, horses and sheep grazing on local farms, and quietly meditate on the life and beauty that surround me.

Deerfly strips My secret weapon for getting rid of at least some of the deerflies. You can find it at farm-supply and hardware stores.

But for the past few weeks, the deerflies have significantly intruded on my walking pleasure. As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, there are a lot of deerflies on my route. And of course that photo – one day’s haul of deerflies caught on the sticky strip I wear on my walking cap, an essential deerfly-survival tool that I have my Queensborough friend and neighbour Herb to thank for introducing to me (you can read about that here) – only shows the deerflies I actually vanquished that day. The ones dumb enough to get irreversibly stuck on my cap are a small proportion of the ones that fly in zippy circles around my head and body, eager to alight and suck my blood via a painful bite.

However, there is quite a bit of satisfaction in bringing an end to a significant number of deerflies using this handy tool each day. And it makes for rather a dramatic look; as my friend and neighbour Tory commented yesterday when she saw my fly-filled cap at the end of my walk: “It’s like art!”

This brief video from yesterday’s walk will give you some idea of what the deerfly situation is like. Those little things that zoom in and out of view in the blink of an eye? They are, of course, the deerflies.

The video was taken along a stretch that I call Kilometre 4, a not-very-imaginative title for the final kilometre on the 4K Bosley Road portion of my walk. (That is, on the days when I start by going south from the Manse on Bosley. It’s actually Kilometre 5 when I walk in the other direction, but in my mind it’s always Kilometre 4.)

The start of Kilometre 4 The beginning of Kilometre 4, at the Rathwell farm as you head south from Queensborough along Bosley Road. Beware: deerflies ahead. In spades.

This is the section that has the fewest homes and open fields, and the most wooded areas. And those wooded areas make it Deerfly Central.

Midway along Kilometre 4 The old split-rail fences make Kilometre 4 a scenic part of the walk. But it’s hard to enjoy the scenery when you’re beating off deerflies.
The woods that harbour deerflies These woods harbour the varmints.

If you come across me walking that section during these high-summer days, you may be hard-pressed to pick me out amid the black swarm of deerflies that will be circling me from head to ankles. Mercifully, once I emerge from that stretch they peter out, at least a bit.

The end of Kilometre 4 Always a welcome sight: where Bosley Road ends at Queensborough Road is also the end of Kilometre 4. When you get here, you are out of the woods when it comes to deerflies – literally as well as figuratively.

I am not much for insect repellant, but I have discovered that spraying my arms, legs and back of my neck with Deep Woods Off at least keeps the deerflies from alighting and biting, and that helps a lot. They still swarm and annoy, but at least I arrive home more or less unbitten and unbloodied.

My jingly bells to let bears know I’m around.

The other thing I seem to have discovered is that deerflies are attracted to sound – or at least the sound of tinkling bells. On my walks I carry a little bracelet with bells attached, and I jingle it when I’m along the quietest and most wooded stretches of the walk. It’s because I don’t ever want to meet up with a bear, particularly a mama bear feeling protective of her cubs, and I am reliably informed that making noise will warn the bears of human presence (because they don’t want to meet me any more than I want to meet them) and keep them steered clear. You might think that the chances of meeting a bear on my walks are slim, and they probably are. But bears are not infrequently spotted in the Queensborough area and, you know, it only takes one.

But back to the deerflies and my accidental discovery: on one particularly horrific deerfly day, I noticed that they seemed to be a little less thick around me in the periods when I was not jingling the bells. Now, my first thought that was that this was only because the places where I use the bells are also the most wooded places, where the deerfies are thickest. I dismissed my observation.

On the next walk, however, I noticed the same thing. And to test it, I tried jingling the bells a little bit two or three times when there were few or no deerflies about. Instantly, more appeared. Have I made an astounding, groundbreaking scientific discovery, do you suppose?

On the last couple of walks, I refrained from using the bells entirely. And you know what? While the deerflies were still very much in evidence, they weren’t as thick as they had been previously. Which is a very good thing. On the other hand, there’s a tradeoff, in that to make this new system I’ve discovered work, I don’t get to use my bear-repellent method. In the overall scheme of things, I think you’d probably agree, deerflies are a better thing to run into than a bear.

Fewer deerflies My hat at the end of yesterday’s jingle-free walk. You’ll notice that there are considerably fewer deerflies.

Then again, the decrease in the deerflies could simply be due to their season coming to an end. To which I think many of my readers in rural Ontario will say: can’t come soon enough.