“Lovely as a tree.”

Manse looking southwest 16 Oct 2017

Here at the Manse, we are so fortunate to be surrounded by a variety of trees, both on our own and our immediate neighbours’ properties.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree…

You all know that one, I’m sure – or at least some version of the first two lines. It came into my head this evening as I was downloading photos of the trees here at the Manse. The autumn foliage in the Queensborough area has in general been less than spectacular this year – probably due to the cool, wet summer and then the sudden burst of extreme heat just around the time the leaves had started to turn – but in the closing days of the foliage season some trees are looking pretty great. And one of these, I am happy to report, is the maple tree that Raymond and I proudly planted a few months after we bought the Manse 5½ years ago.

It’s funny to go back and look at the photos of that planting day in November 2012, to see how scrawny our maple was then – even though we’d taken the advice of my brother, John, and bought the biggest and fastest-growing one we could afford because, you know, none of us is getting any younger and it would be nice to see it turn into a tree of some size in our lifetimes. Here’s the view of our tree from the front porch of the Manse that grey late-fall day:

The maple on the day it was planted

Day 1 of our newly planted maple tree. It didn’t look like much then!

And here’s the same view (a little zoomed in on the tree) from this bright fall afternoon:

Autumn Blaze maple with the Tree of Life in background

Our beautiful maple tree (with the equally beautiful Tree of Life behind it to the right, across the street).

As you can see, our maple tree has grown and flourished. And the fact that it’s a variety called Autumn Blaze means that it looks spectacular come September and October – more so, I think, this year than in any of its autumns past.

So yes, poems may be lovely – but can they ever be as beautiful as a tree? That’s the question American poet Joyce Kilmer (“Joyce” in his case being a male name) asked (and answered in the negative) in his poem published in 1913 and memorized by countless schoolchildren since.

In reading here about the history of the poem – which is simply called Trees – I learned that Kilmer was inspired by the view from the window of his writing room in his family’s home in rural New Jersey. His son, Kenton, recalled many years later that their “well-wooded lawn” contained “trees of many kinds, from mature trees to thin saplings: oaks, maples, black and white birches, and I do not know what else.” Kenton Kilmer also said: “Dad never meant his poem to apply to one particular tree, or to the trees of any special region. Just any trees or all trees that might be rained on or snowed on, and that would be suitable nesting places for robins. I guess they’d have to have upward-reaching branches, too, for the line about ‘lifting leafy arms to pray.’ Rule out weeping willows.”

That description of the Kilmers’ “well-wooded lawn” reminded me of what Raymond and I are fortunate enough to enjoy here at the Manse. As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, which I also took this afternoon, not only do we have our maple but also the elm tree that we planted post-Manse purchase (it’s in the right foreground of the photo; it’s lost almost all its leaves now, but has also grown and flourished beautifully in the five years since it was planted), as well as huge yet-to-be-identified (by me, at least) evergreens at the rear of the property (actually in our neighbour-to-the-west Julie’s yard, but we can enjoy their beauty too) and a beautiful birch (behind Raymond’s red truck) and quite a few colourful deciduous trees on the property of our neighbours to the south, Brian and Sylvia.

And on the right of my photo you can just catch a glimpse of the branches of the two huge evergreen trees that fill out the northeastern section of the Manse property, and that tower over the house. Here’s a summertime photo I took of them when I wrote a few years ago about my (probably needless) worry about their proximity to the Manse:

Very large trees very close to the Manse

The two huge spruce trees – Norway spruce, I believe – that tower over the northeast corner of the Manse.

These two trees – which I once identified as red spruce, but which I believe are actually Norway spruce – are making their presence felt in a very different way than our Autumn Blaze maple this season. Like every other coniferous tree in our area this year, they have produced cones like it was nobody’s business. (Rather like the apple trees – another kind we’re lucky enough to have on our property – were drooping with their bumper apple crop last year.) The spruce trees are absolutely loaded with cones, as you can see in this photo:

Lots of cones on those trees

And better still in this closeup:

Cones closeup

And you can probably figure out what this means for us down below:

Cones on the ground

Yes indeed: a lot of cone-picking. This is how our lawn looks after two clean sweeps of the cones have already been made this season. And there are still hundreds left to fall!

But despite our trees sometimes being work – as in picking up many lawn bags’ worth of cones, not to mention fallen leaves – I have to say I am always appreciative of their beauty, and of how much they contribute to our lives and landscape. Like Joyce Kilmer, I love living in the midst of a “well-wooded lawn.” Would I swap poems for trees? Let’s just say I’m happy I don’t have to. Here’s Joyce Kilmer’s sweet little poem in full.

Trees

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

– Joyce Kilmer

Getting to the other side should not be this risky

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everyone! If you happened to be travelling this holiday weekend, I hope you made it there and back again safely, and in between enjoyed a happy time over good food with family and/or friends.

But speaking of getting there and back again safely, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to point out a dangerous spot on the route that I and many of my fellow Queensborough-area residents drive every single day, often more than once a day. In doing so, I’m hoping to raise some awareness and give the people who might be able to do something about the situation – which includes me and my fellow Queensborough-area residents – a bit of a push to do just that: do something about it.

The dangerous spot in question is the intersection of busy Highway 7 – part of the southern Ontario route of the Trans-Canada Highway – and Cooper Road, which runs north from 7 to the hamlets of Cooper and – when you turn east off it at Hazzard’s Corners – to Queensborough. (On the south side of 7, Cooper Road becomes Wellington Street in the village of Madoc.) For us residents of Queensborough and Cooper and surrounding rural areas, “town” – the place where you buy your groceries, do you banking, etc. – is generally Madoc, which lies directly across that busy intersection. We also use the intersection to get from home to points further south via Highway 62, which runs into Madoc; I take that route to Belleville every weekday to get to work, and many others do the same.

The problem is that there is no traffic control at the intersection aside from a stop sign with a flashing red light above it on the north and south sides – in other words, nothing to stop or slow down the fast-moving traffic on Highway 7 to allow us north- or southbounders through.

Heading south into Madoc, or north on the way home, it’s rare that we don’t have to wait for one or more cars or transport trucks to pass on Highway 7 so that we can safely cross. Everybody’s used to that.

But there are many times in the year – notably during the summer months, when Highway 7 is crammed with vacationers pulling camper vans heading both east and west, and also on holiday weekends like this one just ended – when the traffic comes in a steady, speedy stream. You have to be so patient and so careful, constantly looking in both directions, for a space between vehicles that’s sufficient for you to zip across. On really busy days the wait can be five minutes or more. To get an idea of what we’re up against, click on my video at the top of this post: I took it early this afternoon. I didn’t wait for the Highway 7 traffic to get crazy – just pulled over to the side of Cooper Road and filmed the first minute’s worth of traffic that came by. What you see is utterly typical of the highway under summer and holiday-weekend conditions.

The danger, of course, is that people, being people, get impatient waiting to get across. They may be late, or in a hurry to get somewhere, or just have a very low tolerance for waiting. Impatience and frustration can lead to risk-taking: darting through the fast-moving east-west traffic when there isn’t enough between-car space to make it across safely. I’ve seen the aftermath of one very nasty accident at that intersection, and I have no doubt that there have been quite a few more.

Wellington Street and Highway 7

The sign on the south side of the busy intersection: Highway 7 and Wellington Street in the village of Madoc. On the north side, Wellington Street becomes Cooper Road, Hastings County Road 12.

I’ve been thinking about this problem for some time, doubtless because, as mentioned, I use that intersection at least twice every weekday and several times on weekends too. But I got prompted to write this post because of a story a Queensborough neighbour told me a couple of weeks ago. His wife had been driving east on Highway 7, signalled and stopped to turn left (north) onto Cooper Road toward Queensborough, and was struck by a tractor-trailer. Mercifully the truck driver saw his error in time to swerve a bit and hit primarily the passenger side (she was driving alone) rather than crashing straight into the back of the car. She did not suffer any major injuries, though her car of course did; and my lord, what an absolutely terrifying experience. You see, in addition to there being no lights to control Highway 7 traffic at the intersection, there are also no turn lanes for the many vehicles that turn north off it toward Queensborough or Cooper, or south into Madoc. Yikes.

In contrast, just a short way west on 7, at another busy intersection – in this case, where Highway 7 meets Highway 62 – a set of traffic lights controls things and keeps everybody safe. Yes, impatient people, you do have to wait for the light to change from green to red – but isn’t that 45 seconds or so a heck of a lot better than waiting indefinitely for a gap in traffic at an uncontrolled intersection, and maybe taking a big risk when that gap doesn’t come soon enough for your liking? Here’s another video from today to show you how everything’s under control there, even on a super-busy traffic day:

I haven’t looked into this situation enough to know why there are lights at one busy Madoc intersection and not at another; perhaps the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (which I assume makes the decisions on traffic lights on provincial highways) gives priority to an intersection of two highways – in this case, 7 and 62 – over a one-highway/one county road – Highway 7 and Hastings County Road 12 (Cooper Road) – intersection.

But shouldn’t safety come before ministry priorities?

Highway 7 is pretty much the dividing line between two municipalities: Madoc Township to the north and Centre Hastings (which includes the village of Madoc) to the south. Not long ago I asked a member of Centre Hastings council about this situation; the council member told me that the transportation ministry is the body that has to take action. The advice I got was to gather people’s voices and ask the ministry to do something. Which I suppose is what I’m doing here, although I think it would be appropriate for the councils of Centre Hastings and Madoc Township to weigh in with the ministry as well. Horrible highway accidents are not in anyone’s best interest; safe roads are good news for everyone.

I spent some time this evening poking around the transportation ministry’s website, and you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I could find no obvious link for “I want to report a dangerous intersection where your ministry should install traffic lights.” I suspect that the best way to start on this one is to contact our elected representative at Queen’s Park. Members of Provincial Parliament have staff and contacts and know-how about government affairs that we ordinary people do not; plus what they’re paid to do is represent us on matters that concern us. Our MPP is Todd Smith, and he’s a friendly guy who was right here in Queensborough just recently, for our wildly successful Historic Queensborough Day. If you agree that this intersection needs a look and some action by the ministry, you can ask Todd to speak on our behalf by calling his constituency office in Belleville (613-962-1144; toll-free 1-877-536-6248), emailing him at todd.smithco@pc.ola.org, or writing to him at P.O. Box 575, Belleville, Ont., K8N 5B2.

Sir John A. speaks, Historic Queensborough Day

See that chap in the blue polo shirt standing behind Sir John A. Macdonald (I am not making this up) on Historic Queensborough Day last month? That’s Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith, and he’s the guy to contact if you agree with me that the Highway 7 intersection that many of us use every day could be made safer by the provincial transportation ministry.

And while you’re at it, why not contact some or all of the members of Centre Hastings council (click here for contact info) and Madoc Township council (members here, though contact information is a little skimpy; the township office’s number is 613-473-2677, and you can contact the township clerk by email at clerk@madoc.ca) to ask them to make the case to both Todd Smith and the transportation ministry?

Elmer the Safety ElephantAs we saw with the successful battle to save Madoc Township Public School, it is possible to make rural voices, issues and concerns heard. But that won’t happen unless we take it upon ourselves to speak up.

And hey, let’s hark back for a moment to my midcentury Queensborough childhood and ask: what would Elmer the Safety Elephant do?

A Queensborough miscellany, complete with porcupine

Roscoe, Liz and me at the Manse

Raymond and I had some visitors to the Manse one recent hot summery September Sunday afternoon: nonagenarian Roscoe Keene and his daughter Elizabeth Turcotte. (That’s me to the left of Roscoe.) While they both live in the area of Elginburg, Ont., Roscoe grew up in Madoc Township and has many family ties in this area. He also has a very special tie to the Manse, and there’s a reason why this part of the house was chosen for a photo to commemorate the visit. Read on for more…

Time for a another roundup of the news from Queensborough, people. I believe I’ve mentioned before that there’s never a dull moment in our little hamlet; here’s a sampling of what’s been happening over the past week or so, just to prove my point. And yes, read to the end and you will be rewarded with a porcupine.

Turkey Supper 2017

We had a full house and a lot of happy diners at the St. Andrew’s United Church Turkey Supper last Wednesday. Everyone was in a good mood, and the food and conversation were great. Another huge success in a long history of feeding people well at St. Andrew’s!

First: thank you so much to all who came out for the famous annual Turkey Supper at St. Andrew’s United Church! We had a fantastic turnout of people from near and far, and everyone was so nice and so complimentary about the fine meal. Best of all, since all the volunteer cooks and pie-bakers had been asked to cook and bake a bit more than usual, our food supply held up well and – unlike last year, when the unexpectedly huge crowd meant we ran out by the end – there was lots left after the doors closed, which meant that the hard-working cooks, servers, ticket-sellers and dishwashers could sit down together and enjoy a great feast. This event, which has been going on for longer than I’ve been on this planet (which is a not inconsiderable time), is an important one for St. Andrew’s: important because it gives us a chance to open our doors to the wider community and share one of our church’s great gifts, which is our ability to feed people really, really well; and also important because the money raised will help support the work of our little church both here and in the wider world. A good time was had by all, and it was for a very good cause.

Next item: A great visit and some sharing of memories at the Manse. Take another look at the photo at the top of this post. It shows Roscoe Keene and his daughter Elizabeth Turcotte (with yours truly), when Roscoe and Liz dropped in for a long-planned visit a week ago Sunday. We’re standing in front of the northeast corner of the Manse – which, as it happens, is just about the same place where Roscoe posed for a photo with his family on the day he and the former Joan Murray were married at the Manse, 72 years earlier. I told you the story of that wedding in this post, and here is one of the photos I used in it, showing the dashingly handsome and very happy groom with his new bride and his family:

Keene wedding

Joan (second from left) and Roscoe Keene in front of the northeast corner of the Manse on the day they were married here: June 9, 1945. With them are (from left) Roscoe’s sister Winnifred Ketcheson; Bessie Keene, Roscoe and Winnifred’s mother; and Cora Patterson – who, as the wife of The Rev. W.W. Patterson, who had just performed the wedding ceremony, lived in the house where Raymond and I do now. (Photo courtesy of Grant Ketcheson, Winnifred’s son and Roscoe’s nephew)

Item #3 is what I like to think of as a little Canada Post miracle. The other day this package arrived at the Manse:

Mailed to the Manse

What it contained was the latest issue of Municipal World magazine, which includes a story by my friend Liz Huff of Seeley’s Bay, Ont. Liz and I met when we were both speakers at events called Teeny Tiny Summits, organized by small municipalities and the Ontario Ministry of  Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for people who live in teeny tiny places (like Queensborough and Seeley’s Bay) to share ideas on maintaining their communities as great places to live, attracting people to them, and ensuring that residents get the services they need. Liz’s story is about those events and how they’re helping rural Ontario, and she was kind enough to make mention in it of me and my work here at Meanwhile, at the Manse.

But nice as it was to get the magazine with Liz’s story in it, I have to confess that the real thrill was that the package made it to us at all! After all, Queensborough hasn’t had a post office for almost 50 years; and “The Manse” isn’t exactly the kind of “911 address” that Canada Post usually insists on for delivery. (I wrote here about how a letter I’d sent a while back to a rural route address – something that worked just fine for mail delivery for decades – was sent right back to me by the post office.)

So: wow! Thank you, Canada Post, for recognizing Queensborough, even though it isn’t officially a post-office place (and in fact is confusingly torn between two other post-office places, as you can read here). Perhaps the Manse has become a destination!

And now the item that I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for: Yes, it’s the porcupine. Raymond spotted it this morning on Queensborough Road just west of the village. When he stopped the car and hopped out to get some footage, Porky waddled from the eastbound lane over to the side of the road, continuing his westward journey while accompanying himself with a little hum. (Actually those sounds are probably him expressing concern about Raymond’s presence.) We’ve seen too many of these remarkable creatures dead in the middle of the road, struck by vehicles and left for the turkey vultures to pick over. What a nice change to come across one alive and well, and saying hello to boot!

In Queensborough, there’s always something going on

Turkey Supper poster 2017

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

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

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

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

Pies at the church supper

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

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

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

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

New garden in Queensborough

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

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

Halloween party 2016

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

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

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

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

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

“Historic Queensborough Day – what a smash!”

Crowded King Street by Shelly Bonter

You don’t see this much activity on the streets of Queensborough very often! Crowds stroll around the village and peek into the under-refurbishment former Orange Hall (the large white building) while others enjoy a guided tour on a wagon pulled by Blaine Way’s team of horses. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

The reviews for Historic Queensborough Day 2017 are in, and they are unanimous. “What a smash!” my brother John texted me when he’d returned home from our special day on Sunday, Sept.10, and his visit to the hamlet where we both grew up.

“Wasn’t that a party! Great sense of community was evident everywhere!” Belleville-area musician Johnny Pecek, who kindly volunteered his services for the day, wrote in an email to me.

“Everyone involved should be so very proud of what was accomplished,” Gary Pattison, co-proprietor (with his wife, Lillian) of the Old Hastings Mercantile and Gallery in beautiful little Ormsby, wrote in a Facebook post after his visit. “The streets, houses, historical buildings, and public spaces were looking picture-perfect beautiful … This day was not only a look into where Queensborough has been, but also a look into what Queensborough has become and how it can continue to grow into the future. A fine example of a community working together to create something to be very proud of.”

And there’s more:

“All of you who worked to put together such a wonderful day deserve a toast, if not a medal: you seem to have thought of everything to make it enjoyable for people.”
– Doris Pearce, a visitor from Belleville who has deep roots in the Hart’s/Hazzard’s Corners area near Queensborough

“We were totally thrilled with the day and what has been done as a Queensborough village family. You should be very proud with what has been accomplished. Thank you for helping to preserve our heritage.”
– Grant and Gayle Ketcheson of Madoc Township, whose family roots in this area run as deep as anyone’s

Railway plaque unveiling

Something very cool that happened the day before Historic Queensborough Day, so that visitors on Sept. 10 could appreciate it: a plaque commemorating the history of the Bay of Quinte Railway line that ran through Queensborough was erected. The plaque, the brainchild of Jos (centre, in red shirt) and Marykay (far left) Pronk of Pronk Canada Machine Shop in Queensborough, was made right here by Jos. The location of the plaque and re-created railway-crossing sign (also made by Jos) is significant: it stands in front of the building (now a private home) that was Queensborough’s railway station. Also taking part in the informal ceremony were (from left) Jill Cameron and Don Huff of the Queensborough Beautification Committee, and the members of the Marskell-Lyon family who live in the home: Dave Marskell and Jessica Lyon, and children Allie, Abby, Louis and Lilly. Oh, and Diablo the dog took part too!

Top headline in last week’s Tweed News: “Queensborough community welcomes large crowd for historic celebration.” The story went on to recount all the activities of the day, and concluded: “It was apparent that countless volunteer hours were devoted, both in preparation and during the event, to make Historic Queensborough Day such a tremendous success. The impressive variety of events offered something for all interests, and fun for the whole family.”

To all of which I can only add: You can say that again.

People came by the hundreds. The weather was perfect. The displays – from historic memorabilia, to an A.Y. Jackson painting of Queensborough, to open doors at several historic buildings and two beautiful gardens, to an amazing variety of classic and vintage cars – were fantastic. Everybody enjoyed the horse-and-wagon rides. Canada’s first prime minister showed up. The food was great. And little touches, from baskets of fresh apples placed around the village for people to help themselves, to friendly smiles all round, made a big impact.

“This is wonderful!” “Queensborough is so beautiful!” I heard that over and over and over, all day long.

But enough with the words; let me show you Historic Queensborough Day in pictures, and you’ll really see what I mean. I was busy being tour guide for the horse-and-wagon rides most of the day so was unable to take a lot of photos myself – and thus am hugely grateful to many people who sent me photos or posted them on Facebook. (I’m sure they won’t mind if I borrow them to show you here – they’re beautiful!) Thanks especially to Shelley Bonter, the Queensborough Beauty Facebook page, Gary Pattison, Andrea Ellis, Darlyne Pennycook, Ashley Espinoza, Clayton Ibey and Terry Mandzy for many of these images, which I think perfectly convey what a happy, beautiful and memorable day it was for our little hamlet.

Special banners proclaimed what the day was all about. (Photo courtesy of Gary Pattison)

Lovely Daisy Cottage – which is being lovingly restored by new owner Julie Hiscock, left – was once the home of Nancy Foley’s (right) aunt, Evelyn Lynn. Nancy brought a member of the newest generation of her family to visit, and Julie welcomed them in period costume. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Espinoza)

A star attraction at the Queensborough Community Centre was a painting of a mid-20th-century scene at the corner of King Street and Queensborough Road done by the Group of Seven’s A.Y. Jackson. We are profoundly thankful to the painting’s owner (who wishes to remain anonymous) for the one-day loan. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

Closeup of the A.Y. Jackson painting of Queensborough. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Ibey)

A session on Indigenous history with Anne Taylor, cultural archivist of the Curve Lake First Nation, was well-attended, and Taylor held the crowd spellbound with her storytelling skills. The event, the first ever of its kind in Queensborough, took place in the hall at St. Andrew’s United Church. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

A very important visitor: Barbara Martin (née Sager) of Peterborough in front of the former general store that was owned for many years by her parents, Bob and Elsie, and then by her older sister, Roberta (Bobbie) Sager Ramsay. The building is now the home and business of Jos and Marykay Pronk, and they have done marvellous work restoring and renovating it. Barb is an invaluable source of information about Queensborough history, and we always love having her come visit! (Photo courtesy of Queensborough Beauty)

The vintage and classic car show drew way more participants than organizers had expected, which was absolutely fantastic. The crowds had a ball checking out the cars, and the owners enjoyed their visit to Queensborough. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

Elaine Kapusta, a driving force behind Historic Queensborough Day, was zipping all over the village on her trusty chariot all day long, making sure everything was running smoothly. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Ellis)

Heritage-themed decorations that beautify the property where the very first store in Queensborough (Job Lingham General Merchant) was located in the 19th century, then much later Sager’s General Store. Now it’s a private home and the Pronk Canada machine shop. (Photo courtesy of Darlyne Pennycook)

I was delighted that among the visitors to Historic Queensborough Day were my long-ago high-school friend Clayton Ibey and his wife, Brenda Weirdsma Ibey, from Peterborough. This is Clayton with me, looking happy at how well everything is going. (Photo by Anna Henderson)

There was so much to examine and enjoy among the clippings, photos, documents and artifacts on display at the Queensborough Community Centre. This one was a happy surprise for me: a report from the Peterborough Examiner, October 1967, about a service celebrating the 60th anniversary of Eldorado United Church. That’s my father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, at right in the photo; he was the minister at Eldorado and St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough at the time. With him and the the minister who was the guest preacher for the occasion, The Rev. Alfred Poulter, are two members of the congregation whom I remember well and fondly: Lottie Blair and George Ketcheson.

Wagon ride by Terry Mandzy

Bruce Gordon guides horses Barney and Don on a wagon ride through the village. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

My very own Manse as depicted on Goldie Holmes’s famous folk-art Queensborough quilt, which was on display at the Queensborough Community Centre. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Ibey)

The beautiful interior of the former St. Peter’s Anglican Church, now a private home. The church was closed in 1950s, so it’s been a long time since the public has been able to look inside. A lot of visitors were interested in taking a peek and learning about the restoration work done by the owners, Glen and Andrea Ellis. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

The very old building that once housed Billy Wilson’s blacksmith shop was open to visitors, with volunteers from O’Hara Mill loaning some blacksmith tools and answering questions. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

Visitors were blown away to see the interior of the former Loyal Orange Lodge, closed and used for storage for many years. Its new owners have cleared and cleaned it out, applied paint, stained the beautiful wooden floor, and used their artistic talents to produce stunning posters featuring Queensborough that adorned the walls. Wow! (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

The new owners of the Orange Hall, who are having buckets of fun with the place: Jamie Grant (note the orange hat) and Tory Byers. Visitors were excited about meeting them and talking to them about their plans for this important Queensborough building. (Photo courtesy of Gary Pattison)

Jos Pronk, owner of the building that began life as the first general store in Queensborough, goes through his display on the history of the building with some of the hundreds of people who stopped to see it. (Photo courtesy of Queensborough Beauty)

The steps that once led to Queensborough’s Methodist Church were made attractive with a display of flowers, table and chairs, and a photograph of the church that once stood on the spot. Thanks to Stephanie Sims for making everything look so nice! (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

Sir John A. speaks, Historic Queensborough Day

Sir John A. Macdonald (Brockville actor Brian Porter) gives a spirited stump speech to the crowd in front of the Queensborough Community Centre. Looking on are his wife, Lady Agnes Macdonald (Renee Porter) as well as local dignitaries Jack Robinson (left), the final reeve of Elzevir Township (where Queensborough is located) before it became amalgamated into the larger Municipality of Tweed, and Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith. Hidden behind Sir John are the other dignitaries who were kind enough to attend and take part in Historic Queensborough Day: Centre Hastings Mayor Tom Deline, Madoc Township Reeve Bob Sager and Tweed Deputy Mayor Brian Treanor. (Several other members of Tweed council, including Mayor Jo-Anne Albert, also stopped in at various points of the day, and Hastings-Lennox and Addington MP Mike Bossio, who was unable to attend, sent his congratulations.)

“Old reflects new”: a beautiful photo taken by Queensborough photographer extraordinaire Dave deLang at the barn adjoining the historic Kincaid House.

Outside Billy WIlson’s blacksmith shop. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

Beautiful phlox grown in the garden of DeClair Road resident Judith Best, who some years ago transplanted a few of the plants from the old and lovely bushes that blossomed each year in the garden of the late Evelyn Lynn’s home, now Daisy Cottage. They made for a perfect heritage plant display at the Queensborough Community Centre.

Enjoying the barbecue, Historic Queensborough Day

There were lineups for barbecued peameal bacon on a bun, hot dogs and hamburgers all day long at the Queensborough Community Centre. People enjoyed their food while sitting under the trees and chatting with old and new friends.

Visitors could explore the lovely grounds and gardens at St. Mary of Egypt Refuge on Barry Road. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

Sir John A. with the crowds by Shelley Bonter

Sir John A. and Lady Agnes chat with appreciative crowds – perhaps about his not-terribly-successful bit of land speculation right here in Queensborough (true story!) – after his speech. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

Sign at King Street and Bosley Road by Terry Mandzy

Signs steered visitors to the many things to see and do. (Photo courtesy of Terry Mandzy)

St. Andrew's by Clayton

A pretty view inside St. Andrew’s United Church, where the day began with the morning worship service. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Ibey)

Vintage car at Historic Queensborough Day by Queensborough Beauty

Several of the vintage-car owners came in vintage costume! (Photo courtesy of Queensborough Beauty)

Thompson House by Shelley Bonter

For many people, a highlight of the day was the chance to visit the elegant and historic Thompson House and the Thompson Mill. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

Visitors to the Kincaid House by Shelley Bonter

The Kincaid House, one of the oldest in Queensborough and one that artists have always loved to paint, was a popular spot on the open-doors circuit. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Bonter)

Wagon ride by McMurray's by Shelley Bonter

See you next time! As the wagonload of people drawn by Bruce and Barb Gordon’s team Barney and Don draws away (past the landmark building erected in the 19th century as the Diamond Hotel, later to become McMurray’s General Store), it seems a fitting time to say: See you on our next Historic Queensborough Day!

All spruced up for Historic Queensborough Day

Welcome to Queensborough September 2017

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

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

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

Roofing at the LOL

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

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

Jamie's truck at the LOL

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

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

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

LOL front

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

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

Historic home under renovation

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

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

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

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

Jos and the Lingham Store plaque

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

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

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

Gough House and plaque

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

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

Flowers on the Methodist Church steps

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

Work on garage at Daisy Cottage

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

Flower box at the river

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

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

(Can you tell I’m getting excited?)

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

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

Schedule of events for Historic Queensborough Day

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

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

It’s going to be a smashing day!

Historic Queensborough Day 2017 poster

The First People of Queensborough

Black River running through Queensborough

The Black River that runs through Queensborough, eventually meeting up with the larger Moira River that empties into the Bay of Quinte, was almost certainly a route used by Indigenous peoples in the days prior to European settlement.

Until relatively recently, the history of most North American places has generally been presented as what happened once the Europeans got here. Think about it: how much time did you spend in elementary- and high-school history classes learning about the Indigenous peoples who lived here for many thousands of years before people like John Cabot and Christopher Columbus turned up to “discover” North America, and people like Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain showed up to explore and claim what they found for their own monarchs? (If you’re a current or recent elementary- or high-school student, this probably doesn’t pertain to you; we live in more enlightened times now, history-teaching-wise. I’m thinking more of people of my own vintage who had their schooling in the middle part of the 20th century.)

The book that is the definitive (not to mention only) history of the Queensborough area is typical in this regard. Published in 1984, Times to Remember in Elzevir Township devotes about half a page (of a total of almost 300) to “The First People,” as the first chapter is called. After telling the reader about a few local finds of artifacts such as “rocks with pot holes, believed to have been used by Indians for grinding grain,” beads, arrowheads, a spear point and an earthen vessel, it immediately (on Page 2) moves on to European “first people” such as Upper Canada Lt.-Gov John Graves Simcoe, and the first land surveyors and timber-cutters of this area.

First page of Times to Remember

The first page of Times to Remember in Elzevir Township, containing pretty much all the information that the authors were able to gather about the presence of Indigenous peoples in this area before European settlement.

Now, please don’t think that I’m criticizing the authors of Times to Remember. I am quite certain that they would have included more information about the people who may have lived, or at least moved through, the Queensborough area prior to European settlement if they had had access to that information. The problem is that there is basically nothing in the way of written records of that time. There seems to have been an oral tradition, reported very briefly in Times to Remember‘s chapter on Queensborough, that there was a “little Indian village – then called ‘Cooksokie’ – by the (Black) River” in what is now Queensborough at the time the first “white man,” one Miles Riggs, arrived and built a sawmill and grist mill on the river. But to date, to my knowledge, not a shred of evidence has been turned up to support the existence of a permanent settlement here by Indigenous people, or of “Cooksokie” being an Indigenous name or word.

Historic Queensborough Day 2017 poster

The gorgeous poster for Historic Queensborough Day 2017, designed by Jamie Grant, the brand-new owner of one of Queensborough’s most interesting buildings, the former Orange Hall. Click on the photo to enlarge it and read all about this very exciting day!

So a few months ago, as a group of us Queensborough people started talking about holding a followup to our wildly successful Historic Queensborough Day in 2014, one person among us decided that some time and effort needed to be spent on finding out more about the people to whom this place was known long before anyone from “the old country” came here.

That person was (and is) my husband, Raymond Brassard. As plans have come together for Historic Queensborough Day 2017 – which will be on Sunday, Sept. 10, and believe you me, you don’t want to miss it; read more about it here and here, and follow updates on the Queensborough Community Centre’s Facebook page – Raymond has been busy researching, visiting archives, contacting experts in the field, and generally trying to piece together any information he can about the Indigenous history of this beautiful area.

The result is that on Historic Queensborough Day, there will be a presentation about this accumulated research. We’re excited to announce that the event will feature a special guest speaker and a video presentation. Anne Taylor, the cultural archivist at the Curve Lake Mississauga First Nation in the nearby Peterborough area, will present and discuss a film she co-produced, called Oshkigmong: A Place Where I Belong. The film is the story of the people of Curve Lake but also the larger story of the Mississaugas and the nation they are a part of, the Anishinaabeg. It was the Mississaugas who were using the lands and waters in the Queensborough region at the time that the British crown obtained it in a series of treaties in the early 19th century. The story of the Mississaugas of this entire region is, sadly, also a story of their unfair treatment following the signing of those treaties.

But the Mississaugas are not the only part of the Indigenous history of this region; the Huron Wendat people and the Mohawks are also known to have been here. All would have been attracted by its woodlands and waters, offering plentiful hunting and fishing.

What were these people like? What were their traditions, their lifestyles? What did they pass down through the many generations to their successors, the people of Curve Lake, Tyendinaga, Alderville and other First Nations territories?

Those are the kinds of questions that will be discussed at the Historic Queensborough Day presentation, most certainly the first ever of its kind in Queensborough. We hope you can join us for it!

The session will take place in the hall of St. Andrew’s United Church, 812 Bosley Rd., at 10:30 a.m., following the 9:30 morning worship service at St. Andrew’s. It’s expected to last an hour to an hour and a half, leaving you lots of time afterward to enjoy all the other activities of Historic Queensborough Day.

I am very proud of Raymond for undertaking this research project. There is much still to be done and learned, but it feels like this is a very good first step toward us being able to have a more complete understanding of all the peoples who have known and been touched by this beautiful and still unspoiled place.