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SUMMER 2011

WHEN THE RAILS RULED IN HASTINGS COUNTY PETER C. NEWMAN AT HOME IN BELLEVILLE BANCROFT BUILDER A CANOE CRAFTSMAN MAURICE ROLLINS - FROM TWEED TO THE TOP C O V E R I N G T H E A R T S , O U T D O O R S , H I S T O R Y, P E O P L E A N D P L A C E S


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Country Roads

discovering hastings county

Country Roads

discovering hastings county

CR Country

VOLUME 4, ISSUE 2, SUMMER 2011

Contents

CO-PUBLISHER & EDITOR Nancy Hopkins 613 395-0499 CO-PUBLISHER & EDITOR John Hopkins 613 395-0499

SALES DEPARTMENT Jennifer Richardson jennifer@countryroadshastings.ca 613 922-2135

Roads

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ART DIRECTOR discovering hastings county Jozef VanVeenen

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Ron Brown Orland French Bill Hunt Gary Magwood Shelley Wildgen CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Anna Sherlock Brandon West Scott Tysick HOW TO CONTACT US Telephone: 613 395-0499 Facsimile: 613 395-0903 E-mail: info@countryroadshastings.ca Website: www.countryroadshastings.ca For written enquiries you can reach us at: PenWord Communications Inc. P.O. Box 423, Stirling, ON K0K 3E0 COUNTRY ROADS, Discovering Hasting County is published four times a year by PenWord Communications Inc. Copies are distributed to select locations throughout Hastings County including the ­communities of Bancroft, Belleville, Madoc, Marmora, Stirling and Tweed. Copies are also delivered to select homes within southern Ontario. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: 1 year: $10.50 2 years: $18.90 3 years: $27.30 All prices include H.S.T. The contents of this publication are p­ rotected by copyright. Reproduction of this ­publication in whole or in part without prior written permission of PenWord Communications Inc. is prohibited. The advertising deadline for the Fall 2011 issue is August 12, 2011. COVER PHOTO:

A true sign of summer - the butterfly enjoying the flora. © Scott Tysick

FEATURES 8 - REMNANTS OF HISTORY

24 - MAKING CONNECTIONS

The ghost rail lines of Hastings County

Bancroft canoe builder a true artist

14 - AT HOME IN QUINTE

28 - GERALD PRATLEY - FINAL TAKE

What in the World is Peter C. Newman ­doing here?

18 - THE FORMING OF AN ENTREPRENEUR

Canadian Film Icon called Stirling Home

The Remarkable Journey of Maurice Rollins

DEPARTMENTS 4 - EDITORIAL And these are their stories...

4 - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 6 - GOING GREEN Change Always Needs Its Pioneers

23 - HIDDEN HASTINGS Trip Back in Time

33 - CROSSROADS The Royal Wedding – Hastings County Style

35 - MARKETPLACE 36 - COUNTRY CALENDAR Things to see and do in Hastings County

38 - BACK ROADS Stirling’s Corner Gas

Summer 2011 • Country Roads

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e d i t o r i a l

And these are their stories…

Photo: Haley Ashford

We know our readers fall into the category of ‘people who need people’ and that’s good because when we began compiling this issue of Country Roads we found ourselves surrounded by stories of the people in our midst. We aren’t intentionally gender biased – but as circumstances would dictate it’s predominantly the stories of men that found their way to the pages of this issue. And as such we bring you the story of one gentleman who has just made this area home, another who lived here for his final years and yet another man born and raised here. Their stories are very different but the two things they have in common are the richness of their lives and a connection to Hastings County. Peter C. Newman is one of Canada’s preeminent writers, having been the Managing Editor of Maclean’s magazine and the author of 25 books including autobiographies on Canada’s political elite. He recently relocated to Belleville and local author W. C. (Bill) Hunt sat down with Newman to hear his thoughts on his new home and future writing plans. The Loyalists are involved but you’ll have to read the story to learn the rest. Speaking of Belleville, have you ever gazed in awe at the wonderful curved condominium building at the foot of Front Street? The ‘Anchorage’ is a Maurice Rollins project and its story is fascinating – as are the many escapades of one of Belleville’s most colourful entrepreneurs. Born on the kitchen table in Tweed, living in Belleville since the age of one, Rollins shares his life story in a new biography, The Remarkable Journey of Mau-

letters

to

Dear Country Roads I am originally from Marmora. My mother included an edition (Fall, 2008) of your publication with a birthday gift. This one had an article about the old Catholic church (Saint Mathilda’s) and some of the history. This place was very special to me and I thought the article was well written. T h e n ex t p i e c e w a s about my friend Chris Magwood and his straw buildings. It was nice to see a friend and hear how they are doing. I wanted to extend a ‘thank you’ for the little taste of home when I have been gone for the better part of 20 years. I am including a polar bear picture that I took in Churchill, MB, as I work each fall as a Tundra Buggy Driver and Interpretive Guide. Keep up the great work. Neil Mumby Tete Jaune Cache, BC

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Country Roads • Summer 2011

rice Rollins written by Orland French. We’re delighted to bring you some excerpts from his book. Gerald Pratley lived a life surrounded by the world’s most famous in the entertainment industry but in his last years called Stirling home. His career was full of many highs including a 2002 Special Genie Award but it was his Officer of the Order of Canada of which he was most proud. Pratley passed away on March 14 at the age of 87. Writer Shelley Wildgen tells us the life story of Gerald Pratley in her feature article. We’re very proud to bring you a feature article on the Ghost Railways of the region by writer Ron Brown. As an author Brown has probably written more books on Ontario history than anyone. His story takes you on a journey throughout the county and provides a lot of insight into our towns, hamlets and cities through the story of the rail lines - why they were so important and how they connected both people and products. Sadly trains no longer stop in many of these communities and in most cases the rails have been removed and the land is now used as a trail system. Is there anything more synonymous with Canada than the canoe? Maybe the beaver, but the canoe is right up there. It was how native peoples traversed the waterways of this country and later the voyageurs. Bancroft’s Will Ruch is a canoe craftsman. He builds wood canoes and a single vessel can take many months. The work is highly specialized and personalized. Each canoe is made to order for the individual client. Ruch says he would be able to spot his canoes anywhere! And the story list goes on - there’s a local inventor, a splash of photos on the Royal Wedding – Hastings County style, and more.

We invite you to read on! Happy Summer.

the

editor

Dear Country Roads I want to compliment you on the writing of When a Tree Falls (Spring, 2011). It clearly combines a lot of environmental and economic information and applies it to the local forestry industry. It should be picked up (with modification) by other papers and magazines. I not only enjoyed the information but the use of the language. Joe Langer Belleville, Ont. Dear Country Roads I would like to let you know that I found your article on forestry (Spring, 2011) very well written, informative and balanced on several levels. I had similar comments from others. Thank you. Jan Smigielski (Editor’s Note: Jan Smigielski was quoted and used as a reference in the article ‘When A Tree Falls’ that appeared in the Spring, 2011 issue of Country Roads).


ANNOUNCING COUNTRY ROADS, Discovering ­Hastings County is excited to announce the launch this June of our ‘new and improved’ website

www.countryroadshastings.ca. The site has been ­designed to be very social and user friendly and a place where ­readers can connect with other readers. It is a ­vehicle for your thoughts, comments, insights and ­information about the stories you read in COUNTRY ROADS.

largest selection

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NEW SITE INCLUDE: •R  eaders can submit comment(s) on current ­feature articles • You can read the comments made by other readers • Submit your comments and feedback in general to us via the Letters to the Editor option • Read back issues • Connect with local businesses and services • Check for local events • Read NEW exclusive online editorial content – each with a connection to stories from previous issues in our ‘And now for the rest of the story…’ webpage column. Online content will include a backyard astronomy column by Dr. Brian McGaffney and stories and photos from ‘Voyageur Bob’ Abrames’ paddling adventures. If you are a facebook user please search COUNTRY ROADS, Discovering Hastings County and give us the thumbs up! When we upload new information to our site you will be the first to know so you can check it out.

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If you’re not a facebook user – no worries – just check our site on a regular basis and you will be up to date with ongoing COUNTRY ROADS editorial. So check us out and please let us know what you think about our magazine.

We’d love to hear from you.

www.batemanhouse.com • 1-888-Bateman (228-3626)

Summer 2011 • Country Roads

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G o i n g

G r e e n

CHANGE ALWAYS NEEDS ITS PIONEERS BY GARY MAGWOOD

A

ll major shifts in human consciousness college received a federal grant, but the proWater pumps are big business. “In 2009 over need the pioneers, the visionaries, the totype subsequently “disappeared” from the $30 billion was spent on water pumps operating thinkers, the individuals who quietly, college. A year later Walsh patented his “No in the world that consume electricity,” Walsh or not so quietly in many cases, proclaim what Freeze” water pipe and hose system that aspoints out, “even more for electric motors.” might transpire in an unmeasured future. sures uninterrupted water service when the temIn 2005 Walsh was the recipient of the FedGiven our insatiable appetite for energy over perature drops below zero, but doesn’t need eral Green Party Energy Efficiency Award for the past 80 years or so and our collective diselectricity. his “No Freeze” hose system and today his regard for the consequences of the rapid conThe years that followed included forays into efforts are once again focused on the potensumption of these resources, very few individuorganic farming, the construction of an earthtial for moving water and other liquids with als were urging caution or conservation. sheltered, passive solar log home, and a freeminimal energy requirements or even without One person who was paying attention was range beef farm, which Walsh subsequently sold electricity. 65-year-old Roger Walsh, an inventor with to a small food chain. For a time he was manuIn addition to the movement of water, eleca special interest in green, energy-efficient facturing and selling his patented Enviroficient tricity charges Walsh’s inventive juices. In retechnologies, who cent years he estabhas worked with lished Less Energy small-scale solar Inc. This division of and wind power his numerous entergeneration, energyprises concentrated efficient electronic on developing more lighting ballasts and energy efficient elecemergency systems, tronic ballasts for plastic extrusion prohigh efficient fluocesses, multi-fuel rescent and metal wood stoves and furhalide (MH) lighting naces as well as his systems. A prototype own water pumping MH ballast and lamp systems. are currently being After university tested in the Rogers Walsh found himself Centre in Toronto. working on home Walsh is convinced renovations and built the company could a series of frame, log experience a 50 perand brick houses in cent drop in energy To r o n t o ’s B e a c h consumption if and area. The move into when it adopts his sustainable technoltechnology. ogy came with a Even with 25 patnomination for an e n ts to his name, Roger Walsh has been inventing environmentally conWalsh’s “No Freeze” hose system won him a Federal architectural design many for environscious products, many to do with the efficient moveGreen Party Energy Efficiency Award in 2005. ment of water, for over 30 years. Graphic courtesy Roger Walsh award for a passive mentally friendly iniPhoto courtesy Roger Walsh solar log home built tiatives, Walsh is alon the Scarborough ways rolling around Bluffs in 1976. more, sometimes Walsh then began to dabble in other forms of multi-fuel stove and boiler furnace. But once radical, ideas about green, sustainable and enalternative energy generation with the designagain Walsh found his passion flowing back to ergy efficient ways to reduce our collective caring and building of a cyclonic wind turbine that the subject of moving water. bon footprints. looks like a large, horizontally-mounted wheel In the early nineties he formed “Frost Free “We all have to contribute to the betterment with ‘driver cones’ that resemble an air sock Water Systems Inc. and began the manufacturof humanity, but we need to do it without conor traffic cone on the outer edges of the wheel. ing and installation of his systems. In 1995 he suming more energy,” he says. And then riffing These driver cones catch the wind even in the patented a high efficiency, closed-loop, hybrid on JFK’s famous quote, Walsh adds, “Do not lightest of breezes so power can be generated air-powered water pump and related technoloask what more can I take from and do to our in very low, multi-direction wind speeds. gies that operate on 12-volt DC power, solar planet but what can I do to help preserve and This development was evaluated by Sir Sanenergy or straight from the grid. The technology repair Planet Earth, our only home that sustains ford Fleming College in 1979, for which the was improved and re-patented in 1997. us and life.”

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Country Roads • Summer 2011


Experience TWEED this Summer

Municipality of tweed The Municipality of Tweed is home to many exciting events each year.

Join us in 2011 for these and more ..... Tweed & AreA ArTs CounCil Visit www.tweedartscouncil.ca

Arts workshops and shows throughout the year. Amazing accomplishments in a historic location!

Tweed lions MusiC in The PArk Tweed Memorial Park

Sunday afternoons from June to September. Crowds come from all over to see the great shows!

CAnAdA dAy CelebrATions And Tweed horTiCulTurAl FlowerAMA July 1 at Tweed Memorial Park. Fun and celebrations for all ages!

Tweed AgriCulTurAl FAir Visit www.tweedfair.net July 7 to 10 at Tweed Fairgrounds.

2011 marks 130 years for this community tradition!

kiwAnis ChiCken bbQ July 21 at Tweed Memorial Park.

For lunch or dinner…a popular event every year!

Tweed sTAMPede And JAMboree rAM rodeo Tour July 29, 30 & 31 at Trudeau Resort & Banquet Hall. A great family weekend full of fun and excitement!

hAsTings CounTy Plowing MATCh Visit www.hastingsfarmshow.com August 17 & 18 at Countryman farm. A rural tradition in Hastings County!

Tweed TribuTe To elvis FesTivAl August 26, 27 & 28 at Fairgrounds.

Homade Baking brought to you by Guselle & Jodi

A brand new fully sanctioned event!

Tweed & AreA sTudio Tour Visit www.tweedstudiotour.org October 1 & 2 at various locations.

• Creative Cakes • Pies & Tarts • French Pastries • French Bread • Specialty Candy

Amazing showcase of artists and artisans!

FesTivAl oF Trees December 1, 2, 3 & 4 at Agricultural White Building.

info@sweettemptationsbakery.ca 329 Victoria St. N., Box 508, Tweed, ON K0K 3J0 613.478.2212

A spectacular event that gets better every year!

Watch our events calendar at www.twp.tweed.on.ca

Tweed – We’re fun, friendly & eclectic Summer 2011 • Country Roads

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d i s c o v e r i n g

h a s t i n g s

c o u n t y

Remnants of history The ghost rail lines of Hastings County BY RON BROWN

This swing bridge sits on the south bank of the Trent Canal near Glen Ross. It was the rail line’s mode of crossing the body of water. Photo by Anna Sherlock

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Country Roads • Summer 2011


Hogan’s railway hotel in the ghost town of Millbridge Station once hosted passengers travelling on the Central Ontario Railway. Situated in the middle of what is now a forest, the site of the hotel and Millbridge Station are east of Highway 62, north of Madoc.

This interior photo of the Queensborough station shows a modified Van Horne style copied in most of the Bay of Quinte Railway’s original stations. Photo courtesy the Ron Brown Collection

Photo courtesy the Ron Brown Collection

As in so much of Ontario, Hastings County relied on the steel rails to get around. Fresh from the era of the ­horse-drawn stage coach and the hay wagon, the arrival of the railways was a welcome relief. Now people could travel and ship their goods, reaching their destinations in hours rather than days. While the earliest of the lines were forged along the Lake Ontario shore, settlers who were making their homes further north had to wait. ­Eventually, Hastings County would see four separate rail lines crisscross its rugged and rocky hills.

While the tracks of the Canadian Northern Railway were lifted many years ago, those of the CPR still rattle and hum to the CPR’s freight trains. But it is to the north of this rail corridor that the ghosts of Hastings County’s abandoned lines lurk.

The Central Ontario Railway This rail line owed its origins to the Prince Edward County Railway. From the arrival of the Loyalists in 1784, the County depended largely on fishing and barley shipments. Finally, in 1879, the Prince Edward County Railway opened a line to connect Picton with Trenton, which lay on the Grand Trunk Railway west of Belleville. Shortly after the Prince Edward County Railway reached the Trenton junction plans were laid to extend the line northward to the gold fields of Eldorado. Although the Belleville and North Hastings Railway had been built there earlier that line lasted only a short period. By 1889, the Central Ontario Railway (COR) had reached Coe Hill and its rich deposits of iron ore. From this line, a number of branch lines extended to other mineral locations, such as the Belmar branch to the gold mines in Cordova,

the Ontario Belmont and Northern Railway to the iron deposits of Marmora, and the Bessemer and Barry’s Bay Railway, which was intended to connect with the Ottawa Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway (OA&PS) near Barry’s Bay but which failed to make it past the Childs mine. In 1899 the COR was extended northward from the Coe Hill line towards Bancroft with the intent of ultimately reaching the OA&PS at Whitney rather than Barry’s Bay. But once again construction stalled. Finally, in 1909 the COR was acquired by the Canadian Northern Railway, which completed the line into Bancroft and then to Maynooth. But even then the tracks were never completed to the OA&PS and terminated at Wallace, a remote location north of Maynooth. Eventually the deposits were depleted, and the mining branches were closed. The Belmar branch to Cordova was gone by 1941, while the tracks from Maynooth to Wallace were lifted in 1965. By then all the mining branches were “ghosts” as well. Meanwhile, the main route to Bancroft and Maynooth remained in operation until 1985 when the entire length of line from Trenton northward was abandoned.

As with many such “ghost” rail lines throughout Ontario, the route of the COR is now a rail trail, popular for hiking, although most commonly used for snowmobiling. North of Glen Ross the trail is known as the “Hastings Heritage Trail” while south of Glen Ross it is called the “Lower Trent” trail where it is for hiking or cycling only. From Trenton Junction to Glen Ross the trail follows the Trent River passing the historic milling town of Glen Miller. The trail then passes through the nearby community of Batawa, a company town founded by shoe maker Thomas Bata in 1939 when he and 100 of his fellow Czech countrymen fled to Canada to escape the Nazi atrocities. From his original factory in Frankford, he expanded his operation and built a new townsite which he called Batawa. In Frankford the station site marks the trailhead for the Lower Trent Trail with maps and trail information. The station was recently relocated to Stockdale, although the foundation remains visible at the corner of Wellington and Miller Streets. At Glen Ross, a short distance north of Frankford, the trail crosses the Trent River on a 120 Summer 2011 • Country Roads

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Remnants of history

metre trestle while a swing less and the disillusioned bridge was used to cross pioneers uprooted and fled the Trent Canal a short diswest, leaving in their wake tance beyond. That bridge abandoned farms and a still sits on the south bank string of ghost towns. of the canal. One such ghost town is North of the canal, the the mill village of Milltrail encounters the Grand bridge, with buildings Junction rail trail a short which formerly served as a distance west of the vilhotel, general store, gas stalage of Stirling. At Bonartion and school. Where the law the Hastings Heritage tracks of the railway passed Trail meets yet another a few kilometres to the east, such trail, the former route the station hamlet of Millof the Ontario and Quebridge Station grew. While bec Railway. Constructed the station has long gone, in 1884, this line was built the former Hogan’s Hotel, from Toronto to Montreal built to serve rail travelers, via Smiths Falls. Between is a private home and oddly The large two-storey station in tiny Maynooth still stands just east of that village, but the building has deteriorated greatly. It was once the northern terminus of the Central Ontario Railway and housed the Havelock and Glen Tay, the out of place amid its forest offices of the line’s supervisory staff. line was lifted in the 1980s surroundings. Photo by Anna Sherlock and now serves as a snowThe next station stop was mobile trail. Although it was once a major railbuildings. Once it was revealed that many of Gilmour, once a remote logging community, toway junction, Bonarlaw remains little more than the claims were fraudulent, the boom collapsed day a modern rural community lining the Wesa roadside hamlet where shrubs now obscure the and Eldorado became a ghost town. The station lemkoon Lake Road. The station was removed station grounds. platform is still visible beside the trail while during the1980s although the hotel still stands The route then winds its way to Marmora with the community’s surviving structures straggle beside the trail. its long association with iron mining. While the along Highway 62, a ghostly reminder of the The Coe Hill branch, which was originally the tracks of the COR originally lay a few kilometown’s lusty legacy. At Bannockburn the trail main line, has also been developed as a trail. The tres to the east of the town, the station itself meets the long vanished roadbed of the Bay of Coe Hill station survives in the fairgrounds of now rests in a park in the centre of the town. A Quinte Railway, which has left no trace other that community. branch line which once led to the gold mines at than that line’s two-stall engine house located Although the Bancroft area is more noted for its Cordova, abandoned since 1941, is marked by along a private lane. remarkable variety of collectible minerals, more a laneway beside the Crowe River in Marmora North of Bannockburn, a ghost trail of a difthan any other area on earth, the railway was atwhere industrial ruins beside it include machinferent kind can be followed, that of the ill-fated tracted here by the lumber. ery and foundations from a sawmill operation. Hastings Colonization Road. Originally, the land Although the tracks have been gone for more In 1867 Ontario’s first gold mine opened and along the road was free if the settler cleared the than two decades, the Bancroft station still stands Eldorado boomed into a bustling town of 80 land and built a cabin. But the soil proved worthon the right of way just west of the main street.

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Country Roads • Summer 2011


Remnants of history

After serving in recent years With a few portions exas a mining museum and cepted, the route of the tourist office, the station is Grand Junction Railway currently vacant. has become a rail trail, used At the north end of Banmostly by ATVs and snowcroft, Y Road represents the mobiles, although few railrailway “Y” which formed way buildings survive. The the junction of the COR trail makes its way through with the Irondale Bancroft places like Foxboro and and Ottawa Railway. The the ghost distillery town of right of way for that long Corbyville and then northlost line now forms a sceward to Madoc Junction. nic shoreline drive beneath Here a line known as the the cliffs of Baptiste Lake. Belleville and North HastA short distance east of ings Railway branched off Highway 62, the trail passfor the gold fields of Eldoes through the partial ghost rado. It too is now a trail town of Hybla, yet another which extends to the southrailway town, and once a ern limits of Madoc. The Driven by mining and the rich iron ore deposits of the area, the Central Ontario Railway (COR) lines had made by their way to Coe Hill by 1899. Today the station resides in the community fairgrounds. centre for shipping products most prominent feature of Photo by Anna Sherlock such as feldspar from the that route is the trestle over mines in the nearby hills. Moira Lake. The real terminus of the rail line lay at Maywest of Port Hope. But when the Grand Trunk From Madoc Junction the route of the Grand nooth. This historic community reflects at least Railway proposed a similar route the Belleville Junction then swings westward to the attractive two chapters in the history of North Hastings. group backed off. and historic village of Stirling, where from 1879 Originally it served as the junction of two coloniBut by 1870 the GT had not yet begun its own to 1962 the Stirling station remained a busy shipzation roads, the Hastings Road and the Peterson loop line, and the Belleville group chartered the ping point for farm and lumber products. The Road. When the railway arrived it built a massive Grand Junction Railway and began construction. station stood empty until 2004 when the Stirling two-storey concrete structure beside and rail yards After reaching Peterborough, the route continued Rotary Club along with the historical society and to the east of Maynooth village, where a small satwest to Omemee to connect there with the Midthe municipality moved the building onto a new ellite village developed around the station. land Railway and then the Toronto and Nipissing foundation where it functions now as a museum Railway, thus completing the “loop” to Toronto. and community centre. It is one of Ontario’s finer Passenger service ended in the 1960s and examples of railway station preservation. The Grand Junction Railway freight traffic began dwindling in the 1980s. The At Anson, west of Stirling, the rail trail crosses As early as 1852, business interests in Belleville section of line between Peterborough and Corthe route of the Central Ontario Railway, now began to promote a loop line which would lead to byville, north of Belleville, was abandoned in the Hastings Heritage Trail. The nearby village Peterborough and then loop back down to Lake 1987 and in 1990 the Peterborough to Lindsay of Hoards Station developed around the station Ontario at Toronto, or at least at some lake point portion was lifted. and the feed mill. While no trains have passed

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Remnants of history

here for more than two decades, the name “Hoards Station” can still be seen on maps and on local businesses. The feed mill still stands by the right of way, while the station name board has been placed on the side of a nearby building.

than from the port of Napanee on the Grand Trunk Railway to Tamworth. A few years later the line was extended northwesterly to Tweed. Meanwhile, to more directly connect Deseronto with the Grand Trunk west of Napanee, the Rathbuns opened the Bay of Quinte The Bay of Railway and Navigation Company, absorbing the Quinte Railway NT&Q and giving the On the shore of the Bay of company its long sought Quinte in the port of Deseafter link not just to the ronto, the Rathbun family Grand Trunk but to their turned a milling and shipvaluable interior resources. ping business into an extenIn 1893 they extended In 2005, the Stirling-Rawdon Historical Society and the Stirling Rotary Club bought the station, relocated it a few metres east of its original site and restored the building. Built in the Van Horne style, it is two stories high, sive transportation empire, their line further northand with gable ends and a freight-shed extension. Today it is open to the public year round and used as a the highlight of which was easterly to the mica mines venue for events and meetings and houses a railway museum. This photo is from the late 1970s. the Bay of Quinte Railway. around Sydenham Lake Photo by Don Sherlock It all began because their and then in 1902 they extimber limits were far from tended the Tweed branch their mills, and Edward Rathbun chose to contered the Napanee, Tamworth and Quebec Railline further to the villages of Queensborough struct a rail line into the Hastings County area way originally to link Napanee with Ottawa. But and Bannockburn to link with the Central Onwhere his limits lay. In 1879, the Rathbuns charfunding fell short and the route went no further tario Railway.

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Remnants of history

Soon after, the Rathbun empire began to crumble. The mills in Deseronto closed, as did the cement plant at Marlbank. In 1910, the failing line was bought by the Canadian Northern Railway for the sole purpose of facilitating the completion of that line’s proposed route from Toronto to Ottawa, which they did by building from Sydenham to the nation’s capital. When that line failed as well, the Canadian National Railway took over the route and subsequently closed the Tweed to Bannockburn section in 1935, and then six years later that between Yarker and Tweed. From Yarker to Bannockburn most of the right of way was sold off to adjacent property owners and has vanished. But a surprising number of the substantial stations built by the Rathbuns have survived, four of them as private homes. Survivors include those at Erinsville, Tamworth, Marlbank, Stoco and Queensborough. In Stoco, located a short distance south of Tweed, the BQ station stands by the road on the west side of the Skootamatta River, where the bridge abutments remain visible in the water. Tweed, an attractive lakeside town, unfortunately has retained no evidence of the rail line. North

Local rail history is preserved for all to see in this sign. The train made its way to Coe Hill for the last time in 1965. Photo by Anna Sherlock

of Tweed, Queensborough is a village with several early heritage buildings, including the Bay of Quinte station, which is now a home. The line proceeded no farther than Bannockburn, now on Highway 62, where it formed a junction with the Central Ontario Railway. While the latter has become the Hastings Heritage Trail, the BQ right of way has vanished. Meanwhile, that portion of the line which the CN operated until 1984 has become the Cataraqui Trail

linking Strathcona, north of Napanee, with Smiths Falls. As the years pass, the legacy of the lost rail lines fades further into the past. Those who worked on the rail along with their tales are fewer in number each year. Despite the role which these rail lines played in the story of Hastings County, too little is done to preserve that legacy. While rail trails allow today’s generation to relive the route, and while stations such as at Stirling survive thanks to a concerted community effort, others may disappear due to neglect and disinterest. Preserving our past is neither cheap nor even on occasion popular. But it would be a disservice to our future generations to do otherwise. Ron Brown is an author of more than 20 books on the lesser known heritage features of Ontario and Canada and include ‘The Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore,’ an illustrated history of railway stations in Canada, and ‘From Queenston to Kingston; the Hidden Heritage of the Lake Ontario Shore.’ The contents of this article are based on his latest title, ‘In Search of the Grand Trunk and other ghost rail lines in Ontario,’ published by the Dundurn Group. (www.ronbrown.ca)

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d i s c o v e r i n g

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c o u n t y

Captain Peter C. Newman, C.D. and his spouse, Alvy Bjorklund. Peter joined the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve in 1947 as an able bodied seaman. Photo courtesy Peter C. Newman

AT HOME IN QUINTE

What in the world is Peter C. Newman doing here? BY C. W. HUNT

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At home in Quinte

Peter and Alvy’s new cutter GRACE NOTE, which they are keeping at the former Morch Marine in Belleville. Both are avid sailors and are looking forward to sailing in Quinte waters. Newman always has an office in his boats and has written some of his best prose in them. Photo courtesy Peter C. Newman

You would hardly expect one of Canada’s most famous authors to move to the Quinte area. Quinte offers a relaxing lifestyle, a ­cornucopia of natural beauty, a lively arts community plus a palpable sense of place, but it’s hardly the centre of the publishing universe or, for that matter, the centre of anything. Peter C. Newman has met and interviewed almost all of Canada’s business and political elite. He has been able to inveigle his way into the confidence of the most reticent and powerful men in Canada. The result, combined with his dramatic and witty writing style, has pulled back the curtain on a world as secretive as a Wahabi terrorist cell. Consequently, Newman’s books on Canada’s business establishment have sold over a million copies and been translated into both French and Russian editions. In the mid-1950’s, Newman began writing a regular column for Maclean’s magazine. In the Seventies when, as managing editor he converted Maclean’s into a weekly, he began writing a weekly column until, just a few years ago, he semi-retired to write just one column a month. Even for people who have never read a book, these columns have helped make Peter C. Newman a household name. His origins are improbable. His father, Oscar Karel Neumann was the owner of Czechoslovakia’s largest sugar beet factory. The family lived

comfortably in the hard slogging industrial town of Breclav. They had servants, a pool, and a uniformed chauffeur. Peter was raised by nannies and driven to school each day in a large black limousine. All this changed dramatically with the rise of Naziism. In order to survive the Nazi death camps, the family had to abandon all their possessions and flee Europe, barely escaping the camps that were the fate of Peter’s grandparents who thought their age would save them; it didn’t. These traumatic events help explain Newman’s fierce Canadian nationalism; he was a co-founder of The Committee For An Independent Canada. Along with Pierre Berton, Newman has been one of Canada’s most prolific authors of creative nonfiction. His focus has been on political leadership - Diefenbaker, Pearson, Mulroney - as well as on the business elites of the country. He has written 25 books with sales of over two and a half million copies, plus millions of words for Maclean’s magazine. But these achievements have come at a cost. Along the way, he married and divorced three

times, a dubious achievement which he blames on his own shortcomings. Unfortunately for his past marriages, Newman does not regard writing as work but as joy. His other joys are music, sailing, and the reciprocal love of a beautiful and intelligent woman. In 1996, he married Alvy Bjorklund, a single mother with two daughters from a previous marriage whom Peter has legally adopted. The old Peter C. Newman began his day, not with a coffee and the morning newspaper, but at his typewriter, noisily pounding on the keys with two fingers, stopping periodically to exclaim joyfully. His muse is Stan Kenton. As Newman explains, “a lot of my good writing goes together with music, which makes it more accessible to the reader. Music adds cadence and energy to my writing.” For some years, he organized a band, which he named – tongue firmly in cheek – ‘The Bouncing Czechs.’ Newman plays the drums with the same joyful exuberance that he brings to the writing of his books. But why did Peter and Alvy come to live in Belleville? After all, they had met and married in beautiful Vancouver, lived there for a few years then moved to a one-stoplight town on the sunshine coast of British Columbia. From there, they went to Europe, living in Zurich and later in London, England, where Alvy worked toward a doctorate in medical psychology. But they are both passionate Canadians and when Alvy’s studies were completed they returned to Canada. Summer 2011 • Country Roads

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At home in Quinte

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The Newmans intend to restore their early Victorian home as close as possible to its original appearance. Reference HC 6135, Hastings County Historical Society photograph collection

Initially moving to Toronto where Alvy’s daughter, Dana, is a senior administrator with Sick Children’s hospital, they decided to relocate to eastern Ontario for several reasons. As Peter put it, he soon realized he did not want to waste two hours every day getting to and from a destination in Toronto. Even more important to their decision to move to eastern Ontario was Peter’s choice of a major new book he wanted to write about the Loyalist settlers. As he explained it, “I consider myself a story-teller and the reason my books on the Hudson’s Bay Company sold half a million copies was that it was a great story, based on the epic sweep of history with the clash of character and circumstance providing the narrative arc. The history of the United Empire Loyalists falls solidly in that category - and it is focused on that area of Canada where we [now] live.” He is hoping to have the book finished by 2013. Another reason the Newmans decided on Belleville was Alvy’s desire to put her training in the health field to valuable use. This meant a municipality large enough to support a group practice, which could include someone with her special training. With two hospitals and a university, Kingston seemed the most likely choice. Alvy and Peter decided to drive east from Toronto to Kingston, taking old highway 2 and looking into various communities along the way. When they drove through Belleville, both Alvy and Peter were enchanted by the city’s early 19th century architecture, which reminded them of Europe. Peter already knew that Belleville was near the centre of a great sailing area. Further investigation into the city’s arts community and various heritage homes convinced them that Belleville was where they wanted to live. As Alvy

described their search, “We simply had to have a heritage house ... the older the better! In Switzerland, we lived in the old town of Zurich in a former inn built in 1240 and in London, we lived on the Thames in a home built in 1870, so we wanted the ambiance and coziness that can only come from these old homes.” They found just such a house in Belleville. Built in 1851, the early Victorian home has 14 rooms plus a large attic and, with no houses nearby, allows them to leave the many large windows uncovered so as to flood the house with the natural light they both require. There are also enough rooms to provide both Peter and Alvy with separate offices, as well as to afford each family member sufficient space and privacy. Equally important are the high ceilings, which provide space for their hundreds of books. Peter and Alvy intend to restore the house as closely as possible to its original appearance. Of equal importance to their decision was the opportunity for Alvy to apply her professional medical skills. She has joined Quinte Counseling Services on John Street, which is the largest group practice of its kind between Toronto and Montreal. This enables Alvy to apply her specialized training in a practical manner, helping people cope with stress, depression, obesity, chronic pain, grief, and the myriad problems of lifestyles gone awry. Peter said he is content in Belleville, that, “the people here are my kind of people.” His only complaint, he joked, is the lack of a deli like that of Schwartz or Ben’s in Montreal. The Newmans’ daughter, Dana, has also fallen in love with the area and hopes to find a position soon. The youngest daughter, Brandi, is a senior Animal Welfare Officer in Calgary and now, with twins on the way, the Newmans are hoping they


At home in Quinte

can entice Brandi’s family this way and have all the grandchildren living close by. “I was always looking for the ideal single woman and that was a big mistake,” Newman admitted, “because if I’d gone out with single mothers as Alvy was -- they are nurturers – you can see she’s beautiful, and lively, and funny. And so for the first time I married a single mom and now I’ve got a family because I was all alone, I have no brothers or sisters and my parents are dead,

so I was not just looking for a wife, I was looking for a family.” He has clearly found it. As he was confessing this, their six-year-old granddaughter, Katie came into the room and climbed into her grandfather’s lap. The affection between them was so palpable, it changed the air. Peter’s recent autobiography was titled “Here Be Dragons.” The title is derived from old nautical maps and indicates uncharted seas lurking

with dangerous creatures – with dragons. Newman has clearly slain his dragons and Quinte is the richer for it. He said he hopes this is his final move. C.W. Hunt is the author of six books. His most recent, “DANCING IN THE SKY, The Royal Flying Corps in Canada, 1917-1919” tells the dramatic story of how Canada was catapulted into the age of aviation.

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d i s c o v e r i n g

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The Forming of an Entrepreneur The Remarkable Journey of Maurice Rollins BY ORLAND FRENCH

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The Forming of an Entrepreneur

Always a staunch Conservative, Harry Rollins greets Tory leader John Diefenbaker (left). Photo courtesy Maurice H. Rollins Collection

Children Maurice, left, and brother John, right, with their father Harry and grandfather Hulsie. Photo courtesy Maurice H. Rollins Collection

When a baby pops out of the womb, ready to be moulded into its role in society, who can guess what that tiny wee person is likely to become? Who could have guessed that Maurice Rollins, born in Tweed, Ontario, in 1927, would make his first fortune in suburban houses and his second fortune in a coast-to-coast motel chain? Nobody, that’s who, because the opportunities for his success in those fields were as yet unborn. The first planned suburb in Canada, Don Mills, was not developed until 1954. The postwar baby boom did not mature into families demanding houses until the 1960s. The proliferation of the automobile and the creation of a vast highway network did not occur until after the Second World War, paving the way for waves of motorists who would demand affordable overnight accommodation.

A country lad born in Hastings County in the 1920s might, possibly, grow up to be a doctor, a lawyer, a pharmacist or an engineer. Maybe. But he was more likely to become a farmer, a store clerk or a truck driver. Maurice Rollins is said by some of his admirers to have the intellect to have excelled at any profession he chose, and indeed he was inclined to be a pharmacist. But he had other skills, and daring, to put to use and he lived a life of carpe diem – seize the day. Rollins breezed through public and high schools in Belleville, Ontario, earning top marks in his senior grades and even scoring 100 in Latin. But personal depression appeared to stand between him and a professional career. He couldn’t face attending university. When he got his first job as a labourer, pushing wheelbarrows full of cement, his parents may have thought that he was doomed to a mediocre life in the construction business. Rising as high as foreman, perhaps, but not expecting much more. However, there were innate skills in his entrepreneurial nature which were not taught in

schools. Rollins was a Depression child. Two years after he was born, the Depression of the ’30s rolled over the land and everybody was hard-pressed for money. As a product of the Depression, he learned how to make a hardscrabble dollar. This experience would be of immense assistance to him as he built, first, his construction business and, later, the Journey’s End hotel chain. He is what he is because of what he made of the opportunities presented to him. If you want to be as successful as Maurice Rollins, the pattern is fairly easy to follow. When you’re a kid of eight or so, start raking leaves and shovelling snow for money. When the circus comes to town, sell lemonade. At 13, start working on summer construction jobs at 7 a.m. every day. Be on the job site or at the office by 7 a.m. all your life. Work every day from 7 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m., go home for supper and work four or five more hours in the evening. When you’re 83 you can relax and go in as late as 7:30; stop working at night. Work all day Saturday and half of Sunday. Be prepared to lose a family along the way.

The Remarkable Journey of Maurice Rollins is published and financed fully by Maurice H. Rollins. Revenues from its sales will be donated to mental health organizations dealing with depression. This hardcover book in full colour may be purchased from Greenleys Bookstore in Belleville or from Wallbridge House Publishing, 246 Albert Street, Belleville, ON, K8N 3N9. Price is $39.88.

Summer 2011 • Country Roads

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The Forming of an Entrepreneur

The semi-circular shape of The Anchorage gave every unit a sweeping view of the Bay of Quinte. Photo by Sylvia French

Maurice H. Rollins in the garden of his home, photographed August 4, 1990. Photo by Fred M. Lawrence Co.

Supervise every job yourself, even if it means being on the road or in an airplane every day. Pour your earnings back into the business. Treat the stock market with the same disdain you have for casinos and stay away from both. In negotiations, leave something on the table for the other guy. Do deals with a handshake. When you’re getting in over your head, hire professionals to help you through. Be loyal to your staff even when it may not be apparent that they deserve it. Select your targets and goals and follow through. Walk away from losing ventures. Be generous with your earnings. Give back to the community. Don’t golf. Take two weeks vacation, max.

Maurice Rollins was born on a wooden kitchen table at 7:20 in the morning and he hasn’t been late for breakfast since. Even in his eighties, he is usually at the office at 7:20 a.m., figuring that if his mother was into labour at that hour of the day, he should be too. He is rather proud of his basic-level entry into the world, because it became a symbol of his life. Whenever anyone would say they were born in Belleville General Hospital or some other Taj Mahal of

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medical technology, he would say, “I was born on a kitchen table in Tweed, Ontario, May 25, 1927. A humble beginning, indeed.” His parents were Harry and Maude Rollins, who preserved details of his birth and childhood in a string-tied baby book. Rollins is the product of Irish heritage through both his mother’s and his father’s families. Maurice’s great-great-grandfather George Rollins emigrated from Ireland, arriving with his wife Janet on the shores of the United States after a six-week sea voyage in 1848. They were not young people, full of energy to hack out a homestead in the wilderness. In today’s society they would have been preparing for retirement. George had been born March 6, 1790, making him 58. Janet, born March 3, 1791, was 57. Had his ancestors stayed in the country where they first landed in North America, Maurice Rollins might well have been raised an American. Four sons of the Rollins family emigrated first to the United States. By the time George arrived in the U.S. in 1848, brother James had already moved on to Canada. Apparently he encouraged his siblings to follow, for George moved to Ivanhoe after spending a year in the United States. Brothers Robert and William John, after marrying American brides, also moved to Canada. George founded what has become known as the Rollins homestead near Ivanhoe on Lot 11, Concession 6 in the Township of Huntingdon. There

he built a log house that lasted as a residence until it was destroyed by fire in 1939. The area had been settled by pioneers around 1803, and was full of family names such as Mitts, Woods, Carscallen, Burnett, Haggerty, Roy and McMullen. A school teacher named Thomas Emo called the place Ivanhoe after Sir Walter Scott’s novel of the same name. Whatever was in the bountiful composition of the soil, the nature of central Hastings County led to a proliferation of Rollinses. Large families were common. George had 10 children, of which the third, James who married Matilda (Mc)Cord, had 11. The eighth of these, Hulsie, married Charlotte Fleming and produced 10 more children. Hulsie was Maurice Rollins’ grandfather; he and Charlotte farmed at Ivanhoe. The fifth of Hulsie and Charlotte’s children was Harry, who married Maude Houston and had two children, the first of which was Maurice. The second, John, was born 13 months after Maurice and died in 2010. When Maurice was one year old, his family moved to Belleville, 30 miles to the southwest. Grandfather John Houston was the owner of the Houston Lumber Company of Tweed. John’s father, Maurice’s great-grandfather, had been Robert Finley Houston, who had large land holdings on Stoco Lake and had established the Houston Lumber Company in 1893. He had emigrated from Ireland where he had owned mills. Robert married


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Jane Benerd Humphries, and their marriage produced son John. The family business, Houston Lumber Company, moved to Belleville in 1929. Grandfather John, who owned it along with his brother Fred, sold the Tweed operation to the Rashotte family. Today the company once known as Houston Lumber has become the Rashotte Home Building Centre. In Belleville, John and Fred purchased the abandoned Steel Company of Canada property on the south side of St. Paul Street near the waterfront, in an area commonly known as “The Wharf”, and opened a new location for Houston Lumber. There was a rail spur into the property which allowed for direct delivery of lumber materials, and initially the business did very well. This was an area known as Foster Ward, the area south of the CPR tracks, near the bay. The hoitytoities of East Hill would sniff and refer to residents of that area as “wharf rats”. Rollins protested later, “I had good friends there, I didn’t treat them like that.” Yet the prevailing prejudices of north-of-thetracks Belleville would come back to haunt him 40 years later when he tried to sell condominiums at the Anchorage, built on a former coal dock among the “wharf rats”. What if, Maurice Rollins the builder reasoned, he built a high-rise condo right on the bay, with a curved design so that every unit had a panoramic view of the historic Bay of Quinte. The corridor

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The Forming of an Entrepreneur

ran along the back of the units, following the inside curve of the building, which was an expensive way to design a building. You could sit in your living room and with a sweep of your eyes cover the entire bay from Pointe Anne in the east to Trenton in the west. Who could resist the opportunity to live in luxury on the bay? The only land Rollins could find readily available, handy to downtown Belleville, was an old coal dock. The harbour area was still in the last vestiges of the industrial era. A sizable tank farm squatted across the street from the condo, with four large tanks storing gasoline. Tankers came to the dock at Meyers Pier. The neighbourhood was sprinkled with rundown housing. Waterfront land is very much prized today for recreational and residential use, and Belleville is blessed to have so much accessible to the public. The Anchorage has become a desired location, as in the real estate mantra, “Location! Location! Location!” But in the 19th and early 20th centuries, waterfront was good only for industrial development, because you could get coal ships in and goods shipments out, and you could run railway lines along it to serve waterfront industries. The other thing you could do with waterfront was run sewers into it, and dump your garbage into the bay to fill in marshy areas. And you could fish from

shore, if you liked doing that sort of thing next to the sewer outlets and the garbage dump. When Rollins and the other kids played hockey in the harbour in the 1940s, they had a ready-made source of water beneath their feet. “When you got thirsty, you’d just knock a hole in the ice with your hockey stick and take a drink. We didn’t think anything of it.” The whole area caused Belleville’s wealthier crowd to wrinkle their noses and curl their lips. Because, worst of all, the Anchorage was the other side of the tracks. Early in the 20th century, two railway lines sliced along the shoreline of Belleville and cut off the waterfront. First came the Canadian Northern, followed shortly afterwards by Canadian Pacific. The Canadian Northern line was absorbed by Canadian National and abandoned. The Canadian Pacific line is still in use, crossing the Moira River on an iron bridge. But there is no longer a station, and long Canadian Pacific freights rumble through town with no intention of stopping anywhere except occasionally at the Tim Hortons doughnut shop on Dundas Street. As late as 1964, local freight trains trundled down a track in the middle of Pinnacle Street, dangerously close to brushing against cars and trucks on either side. The area had a slightly tainted odour about it. Who, it was asked, would pay $80,000

for a waterfront condo for the pride of wearing a “wharf rats” T-shirt? Anyone who had grown up in Belleville could have told Rollins that upscale people would not live with the wharf rats. Then again, Rollins himself had grown up in Belleville and was warmed by memories of a happy childhood on the waterfront. Who could not like living there? It turned out hardly anybody would and he had great difficulty selling units with a splendid panoramic view of the beautiful Bay of Quinte. Today the tank farms are gone, half-million-dollar housing units are rising along Pinnacle Street where the trains used to roll, the entire Meyers Pier area has been rebuilt as new parkland, underground contamination has been cleaned out or neutralized, and the Anchorage has become one of the prime residential locations on the Bay of Quinte. Developers praise Rollins for his foresight in building a quality building on a prime location. He was just a man ahead of his time, even if he almost went broke proving it. But he got to thinking about other ways of making money, like building a motel that could provide no-frills, clean, cheap accommodation. Maurice Rollins sold his construction business and embarked on another venture – building the Journey’s End chain.

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Country Roads • Summer 2011

Julie Lange Wealth Advisor


H i d d e n

H a s t i n g s

TRIP BACK IN TIME BY JOHN HOPKINS When you turn off Highway 37 onto Marlbank Road at the south end of Tweed the subsequent drive to Marlbank is about 22km. But by the time you get there you may feel you’ve travelled further – a lot further. While Marlbank is still an active and vibrant community, its real heyday came at the turn of the century (19th to 20th, not 20th to 21st) when cement was big business and the town was an industrial hotbed. According to the Heritage Atlas of Hastings County, Marlbank was originally named Allen’s Mills, but acquired the name Marlbank for the local deposits of marl, or fine clay. This marl is apparently quite good for making cement, and, according to the website www.ontarioabandoned places.com, in 1891 the English Portland Cement Company built a plant in Marlbank. At its peak the cement plant employed around 200 men and the community consisted of 40 residences and a boarding house that slept 100. The cement plant was closed in 1914, likely due to competition from plants in better locations. While a rail line had been built into Marlbank, the plant in Pointe Anne, near Belleville would have been considered attractive thanks to its location on Lake Ontario. Marlbank never regained the dizzying heights of the early 1900s and the rail tracks were taken out in 1941. Today, as you drive into the village on the Marlbank Road you can still see some of the remains of the cement works from the road, although other portions are on private property and inaccessible. In the community itself a few of the original buildings from the glory days still stand.

The Marlbank Phoenix Tavern has seen a lot in its 100 years of existence. Photo by John Hopkins

The Marlbank Phoenix Tavern remains in operation and over the winter acquired new operators. Built in 1905, the Tavern acquired its name thnaks to its survival through a number of fires. Although the interior has been extensively modified and updated, the exterior still retains much of the character of an old hotel / bar / dining room as it may have existed when the cement plant was in full flourish. St. Matthews Anglican Church is another example of remarkable durability. The old wooden church is over 100 years old but still standing. Also still thriving is the church guild, a non-denominational group of Christian women who get together once a month. According to long time resident Tammy Meeks the

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guild is the “hub of the community,” hosting weddings, funerals, card games and other community gatherings. “The oldest guild member is 92 and she still makes the monthly meetings,” Meeks says. Just south of Marlbank, on Moneymore Rd. is Philoxia’s Gift Shop, which features among its products original Pheylonian Beeswax Candles. The business, officially named Pheylonian Production Kohr has been in operation since 1971 and consists of family members and friends. The Philoxians have their origins in eastern Europe in the early 1900s and the family now based near Marlbank immigrated to Canada in the 1940s and 1950s. Beeswax candles are reputed to be highly preferable to more common paraffin examples. According to literature from Philoxia’s Gift Shop, they are non-allergenic, non-toxic and soot free, burn longer and cleaner than paraffin candles and emit a natural honey aroma. “Pheylonian candles are currently enjoyed by Royalty, Presidents, Vice Presidents, Prime Ministers, Movie Stars, medical practitioners, therapists and event Indian Chiefs,” the company says. The gift shop sells many other natural products, including certified organic cream honey, Pheylonian Lip to Toe Healing Balm, herbal teas and natural food products, and even handmade toys. More information on the gift shop and its products can be found at www.pheylonian.com and if you stop into the shop Iilah Chickalo will be pleased to explain his products and their benefits. The cement works and the hustle and bustle of industry may have passed, but Marlbank is still humming along.

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Summer 2011 • Country Roads

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d i s c o v e r i n g

h a s t i n g s

c o u n t y

Making connections

Bancroft canoe builder a true artist BY JOHN HOPKINS

Ruch has a keen appreciation for the ­history of canoeing and these two boats, which belong to customers, hang in his shop. The top one is a Peterborough built by William English in the 1920s and the bottom one was built by Walter Dean of the Sunnyside Beach area of Toronto. Photo by John Hopkins

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Making connections Left: For many enthusiasts canoeing is an opportunity to reconnect with nature, where the journey is more important than the destination. Photo courtesy Will Ruch

A canoe… and then some BY JOHN HOPKINS

After being extensively modified, the CHEECHOO was used on patrols in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. Ruch’s workshop runs entirely off the power grid, adding to the rustic nature of his business.

Photo courtesy Canadian Canoe Museum

Photo by John Hopkins

He has been described as the “Stradivarius” of wood canoe builders, one of the few remaining craftsmen in an art that has almost disappeared in this country. From his shop just outside of Bancroft Will Ruch painstakingly constructs traditional wooden canoes. It is a laborious and time-consuming endeavour, but one Ruch considers immensely rewarding. And for his customers there are simply no substitutes for a boat built with such meticulousness and passion. There are few objects associated with Canadian heritage like the canoe. The early history of the country is filled with stories of the Natives and later Europeans using canoes to conduct their trade across great expanses or search out the coveted Northwest Passage to Asia. Light, easily transported and able to traverse a wide variety of bodies of water, the canoe emerged as a vessel that could do it all. “To a lot of people this is Canada,” says Ruch, tapping one of his boats in his workshop, which runs entirely off the hydroelectric grid. “In England, an open canoe is called a ‘Canadian.’” The image of the canoe as both a romantic and practical form of water transportation led to the growth of builders like the Peterborough Canoe Company and the Chestnut Canoe Company in New Brunswick, which both churned out boats well into the 20th century. But change came at the end of the Second World War, when the Grumman Corporation, a northeastern U.S.-based manufacturer of military aircraft, discovered a peacetime use for its leftover aluminum, facilities and manpower. In 1944 the Grumman canoe was born. With a reputation for

being lighter, sturdier and stronger than wooden examples the aluminum canoe became a staple and wood canoe builders like Peterborough and Chestnut went out of business. The wood tradition has not disappeared, however, and small independent builders like Ruch find there is a demand for a canoe built in that style. Ruch got his start in the business in 1984. A native of the Muskoka area he was exposed to a wide variety of outdoor sports as a teenager, although canoeing was not necessarily his greatest passion. He competed in cross country and biathlon, and after high school found a spot on the Canadian biathlon team. Eventually, however, he started working with a canoe builder, making repairs to boats. “I did repairs for a number of years,” he explains. “It was quite a good experience – I would take other stuff apart and see how it failed and get an understanding of the process and see what worked. It was good to learn in that environment.” Eventually Ruch started building his own canoes and he moved to the Bancroft area in 2004. “I knew the area because I used to buy cedar from around here,” he says. “Muskoka was getting

The versatility of canoes is one of their most admired qualities, but some boats have managed to go above and beyond their intended use. One such canoe is the CHEECHOO, a 24-foot James Bay freighter that has recently passed into the hands of the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough. According to the museum’s curator Jeremy Ward the CHEECHOO was built in the 1960s and named for Cree hunting guide George Cheechoo. Eventually the CHEECHOO was acquired by Game Warden Claude Winters of Wellington, Ward reports, and Winters modified the hull extensively for his work in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties. He added a wheelhouse, forward hatch, windshield, fog lights, a 40 horsepower Johnson motor, built in fuel tank and a captain’s chair. The latter is a navigator’s seat from a World War II Anson trainer bomber, probably acquired from Trenton as surplus after the war. The boat was used for patrol, law enforcement and protection of fish and wildlife by the Department of Lands and Forests in the 1960s. The CHEECHOO was then acquired by Charles Derry of Madoc, and eventually found its way into the hands of Gary Caley of Picton, who recently donated it to the museum in Peterborough. The CHEECHOO is described by Ward as a “marvelous example of a thoroughly Canadian working boat.”

Summer 2011 • Country Roads

I 25


Making connections

Ruch uses a steam bending process to form the canoe’s ribs.

The process is long and the finished product expensive, but it is hard to match the quality and character of a wooden canoe.

Photo by John Hopkins

Photo courtesy Will Ruch

more built up and I had a chance to buy land here, so I thought it was a good opportunity to start up.” The world of an independent builder like Ruch is less about selling a product to a customer and more akin to establishing a relationship and a connection with a client. Before he starts building a boat for a customer there is an interview process. “I want to know if what I build is going to fit with what the person wants,” Ruch explains. “People take better care of something when there is a story behind it. It is not just a ‘thing’ to them. I think we’ve lost this with a lot of modern stuff but it’s important for people to have a connection and take care of things. “When you show people what goes into it, they have respect and enjoy it more. I want a product to go to someone who will take care of it.” Ruch describes the initial contact with a potential customer as similar to a first date. “It’s the start of a journey,” he says, “as opposed to walking in the door and saying, ‘I want one of those’ and leaving it at that. I get people who like craftsmanship, history, specialization. They aren’t expecting it to be all done at once.” Such dedication and passion comes with a price, and one of Ruch’s 16-foot boats can retail for around $5,000. It also takes time. Last winter Ruch was building two canoes for clients, as well as making repairs on others. The complete build of a canoe from start to finish may take three months. “It’s amazing how the cost of materials has gone up,” he explains. “For some of the stuff there’s not a big market so it’s harder to get, things like canvas or even something as simple as brass tacks.” Each canoe is built on a form. Ruch generally uses local white cedar for the ribs, which are steam bent. Red cedar from British Columbia is used for the planking, which is fitted and fastened to the ribs. The wood is sealed and varnished and then the canvas is applied. The canvas is stretched, fastened, filled and painted. It is not binded to

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Country Roads • Summer 2011

the hull but attached at the gunwale edge so the wood can expand and contract underneath with temperature changes. Ash is used for the gunwales and a variety of different woods might be used for the decks. “If you’re doing all the stages of building yourself, you understand how each stage affects the next,” Ruch points out. “It’s fun to take something apart that was built 100 years ago and see where the problems are, where there are flaws.” With so much time and dedication put into each project, it is not surprising that Ruch feels a special connection with each of his creations and can always spot one of his canoes on the water. “After hundreds of hours spent building it a part of you goes into the boat,” he explains. “It’s fun to see your own boat being used. I’d recognize one of mine anywhere.” While Ruch makes his career building canoes in the traditional wooden style, he does not entirely dismiss the popularity of aluminum boats, as their convenience and accessibility likely interested people in canoeing who might not otherwise have tried the sport. But in his view an aluminum canoe can’t possibly match the beauty of a oneof-a-kind wooden boat. “You could consider them [aluminum canoes] as cold, noisy and dirty,” he says. “They function well but aesthetically they are lacking. When you look at a canoe there is something so sensuous about the shape, the lines and the curves. If a canoe has a nice shape it will likely work well.” Ruch likens the building of a wooden canoe to travelling by canoe itself. In many ways it is less about the final destination than the journey to get there. “People can grow with a canoe and gradually it can start to feel like the canoe’s an extension of the person,” he says. “When you travel in a canoe you’re generally travelling at such a pace that you get to know your environment more intimately. You know the rocks, the logs, the subtle things.

You’re self-propelled so nature has more force on you, and it’s good for us to experience that, to realize our place. The canoe lets you see where you fit into the grand scheme of things. We’re not omnipotent, we come from somewhere. “There’s not a lot of distraction in a canoe. It pulls you in. It’s not a virtual experience. “The canoe is a vessel on a journey, and it is all about the journey as opposed to the destination. It is important what you learn on the journey, and when you get to the end it’s a bit of an anticlimax. I feel that when I finish building a canoe. There’s a little bit at the end, when I’m finished, that I almost don’t want it to go. I feel let down.” Ruch manages to take advantage of the canoeing opportunities in the Bancroft area, although he admits it’s not quite as often as he would like. “As I’ve said before, the great thing about the canoe is it’s so portable,” he explains. “You can just throw it on the roof of the car and drive somewhere and put it in the water. And we’re lucky around here that we have lots of public access. “I’m not out as much as I would like. It’s a case of making time for it. I think it’s important to have that time to recharge or you can lose the whole point of why you’re doing it. I think you need to stop working every once in a while. “I also think connecting with people is important, to get feedback.” Indeed, Ruch’s business is all about the connections – whether it’s people connecting with each other, paddlers connecting with a boat or people reconnecting with nature. “I think it’s like the resurgence of farmers’ markets,” he explains. “People are longing for that connection to the earth, to nature. They don’t know where things come from anymore and they want to change that. They want to have that connection, have that story.” And so work begins on another canoe – another journey to be undertaken, another story to be told, another connection to be made.


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Country Roads • Summer 2011

h a s t i n g s

c o u n t y


Gerald Pratley – Final Take Canadian Film Icon called Stirling Home BY SHELLEY WILDGEN

When you are true to yourself……really true to yourself….there can

Canada’s shores only to find the course, and the redhead both defunct. Here’s the thing about single-minded, steadfast determination. Nothing stops the dream. His love of film, and redheads for be no compromises. that matter, would colour Pratley’s entire life. In short order, Gerald shook off the nonSuch was the life lived by Gerald Pratexistent film course, landed a contract posiley, Canadian film critic / historian / archition script-writing at CBC in Toronto and, vist / pioneer / teacher and mentor. Pratley with the redhead a mere memory, he went could no more sacrifice his love of cinema on to meet his wife Margaret Kennedy, a than Oliver Hardy could lose weight or secretary at a local film company. She spied Stan Laurel could give up his hat. a likely husband, and Gerald recognized a Pratley died March 14. In the end, Cangood typist when he saw one. ada A.M.’s first film critic’s incredible Margaret remembers their first meeting as memories faded with Alzheimer’s disease. if it were last summer. “Gerald went for an He lived quietly with his daughter Orize interview to speak with my boss, Mr. Glenand her husband Paul Madill in Stirling. denning, and when we chatted I warned him Over the past few years he loved walking that my boss was going to use him for his about town, making regular visits to the film information and he may never get it In 2002, after more than 50 years in the Canadian film library and the post office, commiserating back.“ Words to live by in the film industry. and entertainment industry Pratley was awarded a Special Genie by the with Balu the pharmacist, stopping to see “I invited him for dinner to speak with my Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. the girls at West Wings, attending the andad who was also from England. My father Photo courtesy Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television nual Panto at the Stirling Festival Theatre, was a Cambridge educated lawyer and he and faithfully watching each episode of helped Gerald proof his copy. My brother CBC’s Coronation Street. Gerald recognized the power and life held within told him to get rid of his English clothes and dress Pratley was born the son of a British railway film. In his words, “They can show us the present, like a Canadian. I felt sorry for him, so I’d invite guard in London, England in 1923, but it wasn’t recreate the past and conjure the future.” There him for meals with my family and we’d walk for until he disembarked from Troopship H.M.S. was no question Gerald’s future would always be miles. We could only have a five-cent tea.” MargaEmpire McKendrick in the summer of 1946 that connected to film, and so with the news of a direcret’s father assisted Gerald with his words, mindhis life’s dream and work would begin. Always tor’s course being offered by Canada’s National ful of the difference when writing for Canadians. fascinated by cinema as a child, and despite his Film Board as well as the lure of a redheaded This helped him to grow at CBC and led him into mother warning him against ‘romantic rubbish’, girlfriend, the idealistic 23-year-old arrived on a 1948 marriage with Margaret. “I was very much Summer 2011 • Country Roads

I 29


Gerald Pratley – Final Take

Gerald Pratley’s time in the cinema world brought him face to face with many stars such as James Dean, Alfred Hitchcock and Clint Eastwood. Photos courtesy Pratley family.

like a secretary to him, and we toddled off on our honeymoon with typewriter in tow. He had me typing scripts, and I was very let down.” Gerald’s CBC script-writing duties soon morphed into three weekly movie-based radio programs. With very little recorded film music available, or many Hollywood stars nearby, somehow ‘Pratley at the Movies’, ‘The Movie Scene’, and ‘Music From the Films’ became CBC on air fixtures until 1975. They were successful because Pratley moved through the obstacles and brought all the glamour he sought straight to the CBC airwaves. His first interview was with Ronald Reagan, who just happened to have been detoured through Canada on his way to Britain. Pratley found him and interviewed him. He also persuaded CBC to run a radio documentary on Fred Astaire, based on a story he’d written about the actor / dancer while still in England. Legend has it that Astaire came out of retirement because of that article, making him forego his current disillusionment with show business and through Pratley’s words, reflect on his own love of movies. According to Gerald’s daughter, Jocelyn Leighton, Astaire then insisted on Pratley being present at any future interviews he granted. By the time Pratley was hitting his stride with show business interviews and film critiques, his family had grown just as fast. The daily demands of Margaret and their three daughters – Orize, Denise and Jocelyn – far exceeded Pratley’s domestic capabilities. His career was on fire. He

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Country Roads • Summer 2011

was the first on air radio movie critic in Canada and well into the illustrious career he’d dreamed about. By the fifties, Pratley formed A-G-E Film Society, a group that privately showed movies on Sundays when that wasn’t possible anywhere else, he championed The Toronto Film Society, and the Toronto and District Film Council, he was an advisor to the Stratford International Film Festival - the first in Canada – and he wrote about film for Film in Review, Hollywood Quarterly, International Film Guide, Canadian Film Weekly, Canadian Film Digest and Variety. Pratley knew director Ingmar Bergman, wrote books about directors John Huston, Otto Preminger and John Frankenheimer, and danced with Sophia Loren. It is at this point in a life when choices are made, and for better or worse, paths are carved. Although never divorced, Margaret and Gerald Pratley parted ways. A difficult time for the girls, to be sure, but curiously, although they’ve never shared their dad’s passion for film, they now recognize their father’s paternal limitations while appreciating his finer qualities….even his foibles. With laughter, the women recalled a time their dad was getting off a plane. Ever the ladies man, he literally fell all over himself thanking the attractive flight attendant for such a smooth ride. After tumbling down the steps of the airplane, he jumped up, dusted off and without a ripple, smiled and shook the hands of the dignitaries waiting for him. Orize Pratley remembers seeing him mostly at work and sometimes wishes her elegant father

had introduced her to The Beatles, but when it comes to the life choices he made, Orize firmly states, she will “always admire someone who follows a dream all the way through.” Daughter Jocelyn smiles and quotes Reba McEntire. “The greatest man I never knew lived just down the hall.” That said, she always admired his integrity, how he approached everything as wonderful and new, and she embraces his life philosophies like “You don’t want to be associated with people who don’t remember your name or can’t use descriptive words.” Gerald never shortened names and hated to be called ‘Gerry’. Gerald Pratley met Risa Shuman in 1975. Risa was a student of film at York University, a sharp, film-focussed redhead, who went on to become Executive Producer of TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies. A match was struck. Together Gerald and Risa navigated their way through more than a decade of working and socializing in Toronto’s film community. “He did so much for Canadian film,” says Shuman. “This one person was the pioneer of so much film in this country.” In the sixties, before the now popular Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) came to be, “Gerald started the Ontario Film Institute and Film Theatre which was housed at the Ontario Science Centre. He would receive movies from all over the world. Big distributors also previewed their movies.” A professor at Seneca College, York University and Ryerson University, he held honorary degrees


Gerald Pratley – Final Take

from York and Waterloo Universities, as well as from Ohio’s Bowling Green University. A winner of many awards, and writer of a dozen books, Gerald Pratley’s proudest achievement came in the eighties, when he was given the Order of Canada; he was eventually elevated to an Officer, something he wore proudly for the rest of his life. As one of Canada’s foremost movie critics, Pratley was a frequent television guest of Brian Linehan’s City Lights and Saturday Night at the Movies. He even had a small part in the movie, ‘Gorillas in the Mist’, starring Sigourney Weaver. The Ontario Film Institute and the Ontario Film Theatre were acquired by the Toronto International Film Festival in 1991. The Institute was then named the Film Reference Library and the Film Theatre was named Cinematheque, Ontario. “Naming the Ontario Film Reference Library after him would be a nice gesture,” suggests Shuman. “It’s now in the new King Street location of Bell Lightbox. They didn’t make him an honorary member or even give him a pass to the festival. He had to apply for a pass like everyone else. A lot of the people who are very well regarded are really big donors, but I’m from a time when people named buildings and organizations after people who did good things.” Shuman goes on to explain, “There’s a lot of territorial business and politicking to have a film

shown at a festival. The fact that they didn’t really start the festival and that someone (Gerald) came before them is not something they like to think about. He was at the right time with the right stuff and he was able to develop and nurture things the way he wanted to. When funding became difficult he’d pay from his own pocket. Gerald didn’t have a huge ego. He just wanted his work to speak for itself. He wasn’t from that world. He felt hurt and slighted but he was a gentleman among nogoodniks.”

Although the Pratley / Shuman relationship “outgrew itself” after 15 years, the two remained close. Shuman recalls, in an effort to help Pratley cultivate a relationship with his grandchildren, she dressed him in the Polkaroo outfit from the children’s show, Polka Dot Door. “I put the children all in the den of our apartment. He knocked at the door. They screamed because in that costume he was so tall. We terrorized them….but I helped him appreciate his family I think.”

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Travel with Ron Brown as he probes the shoreline of Lake Ontario and discovers its heritage. Explore forgotten coves, historical lighthouses, and unique features of the landscape. Even in large cities such as Hamilton and Toronto there are forgotten stories and unusual sights. Brown offers a treasure trove of the past to entice today’s explorers.

Despite the “green” benefits of rail travel, Canada has lost much of its railway heritage. This book revisits the times when railways were the country’s economic lifeline, and the station the social centre. Although most have vanished, the book celebrates the survival of that heritage in stations which have been saved or indeed remain in use.

Available from your favourite bookseller and as an ebook.

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Summer 2011 • Country Roads

I 31


Gerald Pratley – Final Take

Gerald Pratley, O.C. receiving the Officer of the Order of Canada decoration from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier Hotel in Ottawa on Oct. 24, 2003.

Gerald Pratley seen with daughters ( from l to r) Orize, Denise, and Jocelyn and their mother (front) Margaret. Pratley lived in Stirling with daughter Orize and her husband. Photo courtesy Pratley family.

Photo by Sgt Eric Jolin, Rideau Hall; courtesy Office of the Secretary to the Governor General of Canada

Among the many colleagues Gerald Pratley influenced, Shlomo Schwartzberg, film critic, arts journalist, film programmer and instructor who teaches film courses through the LIFE Institute at Ryerson University, agrees with Shuman about the poor treatment afforded Pratley, but clearly holds many of Pratley’s standards as his own, stating his long lasting success was due to “his niche with reviewing films from other countries…making it interesting and offering something no one else was offering. He refused to be told what he couldn’t do.” Kevin Courrier, a freelance writer/broadcaster, film critic, author and teacher of film courses

through the LIFE Institute at Ryerson University, remembers agreeing to disagree on a number of issues with Pratley. “In our relationship, the differences were there. He had cultivated tastes and he had high regard for certain directors, but not necessarily their inheritors. Alfred Hitchcock and Brian DePalma, for example. I saw DePalma building on where Hitchcock left off, but Gerald would not see that at all. He was one of the real guys. You can take issue with their likes and dislikes but you can’t take issue with their commitment to their truth. When you’re true to yourself, you do break a lot of hearts.”

So, what about Margaret (Kennedy) Pratley? When I met her, she was sitting quietly in her daughter’s wicker porch chair, remembering the man she married and never divorced. Clearly very close with her daughters, ironically Margaret’s apartment is just a few doors away from where her estranged husband lived with Orize and Paul. After reminiscing about her marriage and seeming slightly bemused by the turn of events over the past half century, Margaret Pratley rose, and excused herself. ‘Murdoch Mysteries’ was about to start, and she didn’t want to miss it.

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C r o s s r o a d s

THE ROYAL WEDDING – HASTINGS COUNTY STYLE BY NANCY HOPKINS The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton might have officially taken place at Westminster Abbey on April 29, but Hastings County was not without its own royal festivities and pomp. Bonnets were dusted off, fine attire suitable for such an occasion was removed from the back of the closet, and men donned tux and tails. There was a Belleville country inn with fine English china and eats, a royal wedding rehearsal party in Stirling with the unveiling of ‘the dress’ and even the Queen Mum and her ladies in waiting were part of Hastings County celebrations! On Friday, April 29 over 60 guests celebrated the royal nuptials with a Royal Wedding Tea

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at Belleville’s Montrose Inn. Overlooking the Bay of Quinte, the mansion provided the perfect setting for such a grand occasion. Attendees were treated to royalty with “Queen Victoria”, two of her ladies-in-waiting and another royal couple in attendance. These special guests were portrayed in authentic period costume by the Heritage Ambassadors of Kingston and tea room visitors reveled in the opportunity to converse with the honoured guests as they wandered among the tables while Montrose Inn owner Dianne Campbell shared the details of their attire. The tea was served British style with dainty tea sandwiches, scones with preserves and the all

important Devonshire cream, capped off with delightful sweets. Rustic Routes/HI Country in Stirling marked the occasion with a Royal Wedding Rehearsal Party the night before the official day. It was an evening of bonnets, wedding wishes for the royal couple and a little bit of shopping thrown in for good measure. The crowning glory of the night was the unveiling of the gown. The 100+ guests in attendance honoured the young royal couple as they entered into the union of marriage. Cheers to William and Kate from all of us here in Hastings County, Ontario, a member of the British Commonwealth.

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PHOTOS COURTESY RUSTIC ROUTES/HI COUNTRY & MONTROSE INN 1. Jean Lucas shows off her striking hat during The Royal Wedding Rehearsal Party in tribute to the royal couple, William and Kate. 2. The bride, aka Rebecca Marmei, was the toast of the night at the Rustic Routes/HI Country Royal Wedding Rehearsal Party in Stirling. 3. Denise & Reg McCurdy dressed in their finest attire, fitting for the royal occasion. 4. Megan Belanger, daughter of the Rustic Routes/HI Country owner proved that guests of all ages were in a celebratory mood. 5. The guest of honour, the ‘Queen Mum’ with her two ladies-in-waiting presides over the festivities at the Royal Wedding Tea at the Montrose Inn. 6. Members of the Heritage Ambassadors of Kingston decked out in period costume added a dash of royal flavour to the celebrations. 7. Guests were served in style at the Montrose Inn tea held on April 29th to celebrate the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Summer 2011 • Country Roads

I 33


C r o s s r o a d s

POET REMEMBERS AYLWARD TRAGEDY In the Spring 2010 issue of COUNTRY ROADS we ran a feature article entitled The Controversial Case of the Aylwards. The story chronicled the events that led to the 1862 murder of William Munro and the subsequent trial and public hanging in Belleville of Richard and Mary Aylward, Munro’s neighbours. For the article we recruited the students of the St. Theresa’s Catholic School Renaissance Society to reenact the trial, using the actual court transcripts in an effort to understand the differences between justice at that time as compared to current practices. A few months after this article appeared we were contacted by Joan (Munro) McKay, the great, great, granddaughter of the deceased. McKay, a resident of Ottawa, has spent many years researching, travelling, learning Irish, and writing, resulting in a book of poetry about the incident and people involved. “The impetus for the book was questioning why a 23-year-old mother of three young children would be so moved by something as to kill someone with a scythe,” McKay said. “I thought this is insane and I started digging, because the whole idea of them being hanged was just incredible so I wanted in my mind to balance the two stories, which is why I used the voice of the two women.” The result is her book of poetry, simply called ‘Hastings Road’. We turned to Marmora poet Chris Faiers to review the publication and are delighted to include his thoughts on the book and its importance to Hastings County.

A poem from the book: In this beginning At her back the carapace of history and rock that is Ireland becomes these shoreline stones. Cradled in her hand their eons of compressed time de-construct, enter her bloodstream through the palms of her hands, For the briefest moment she knows her name and understands. But there are things she cannot know – that tides will separate her places of belonging from those of forced arrival, that there will be a time she imagines herself stone tumbling on ocean’s floor, dreaming the slow drift of land mass which would carry her back to Kerry’s Ring, that the sound of the sea will follow her like phases of the moon, inform parts of her she will never understand, but will regret, that madness will bring a darkness filled with many voices, a scaffold, and many voices, that in this beginning will be her end.

T

he publishers of Country Roads asked if I’d mind taking a look at a book of poetry about the last public hanging in Belleville. I couldn’t see a way to politely refuse, and curiosity overcame my reluctance to read yet another well-intentioned, but inevitably awkward and amateurish, self-published collection. Fortunately, ‘Hastings Road’ is the exception. It is completely ‘professional’ poetry by any literary standards of which I’m aware. And it is heartfelt, well researched and of historical significance to the pioneer legacy of north Hastings County. ‘Hastings Road’ belongs in the limited company of several other literary works about our area, all by Canadian writers of the highest reputation. Jane Urquhart’s first novel, ‘Away’, and Al Purdy’s poem, ‘The Country North of Belleville’, also capture the hardships and loneliness that sometimes led these pioneers to crazy acts of desperation. Of course Susana Moodie’s

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Country Roads • Summer 2011

classic and seminal memoir ‘Roughing it in the Bush’ is the standard. Before reading the book I knew nothing of poet Joan McKay and her work, although I’ve recently adjudicated two national poetry contests. I don’t know her background, and unlike most other poetry collections, there are no biographical notes, no photoshopped author’s picture, and no boasting list of credits. There is just a one page introduction, which is entirely about Irish immigrants Mary O’Brien and her husband, Richard Aylward. McKay is a distant descendant of the victim of the hanged couple, so it is interesting that the primary voice in her book is that of the perpetrator. McKay does note that she thought long and hard about events and their historical context. The richness of her poetry could only come through such a long and reflective process.

Hastings Road, Historical poetry by Joan McKay, 64 pages, cerlox bound, $10.00 Retail Copies are available from the author at 2636 Ulster Crescent, Ottawa, Ontario K1V 8J6. joan.mckay@sympatico.ca.


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Summer 2011 • Country Roads

I 35


C o u n t r y

C a l e n d a r

Things to see and do in Hastings County

To submit your event listing email info@countryroadshastings.ca or call us at 613 395-0499. ART GALLERIES/EXHIBITIONS

THEATRE/LIVE ENTERTAINMENT

Art Gallery of Bancroft, 10 Flint ­Avenue, Bancroft, 613-332-1542 www.agb.weebly.com

Bancroft Village Playhouse, 613-332-5918 www.bancroftvillageplayhouse.ca July 5 – 23 - The 39 Steps, a witty spoof of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 classic film in which the hero finds himself in constant danger. Four actors play over 100 characters. Aug 2 - 20 - Storm Warning by Norm Foster. Set in 1953 at a rustic cottage resort, the story brings us into the life of Jack, a reclusive WWII vet with shadows in his past, and Emma, a brash and brassy bigband music arranger. Presented by Laugh Lines Theatre. Aug 26 – 27 - The Vaudevillian Hoop La, a variety show for all ages brimming with dance, music, comedy and surprise. Presented by Happy Medium Theatre. Special pricing of $12.50 for kids under 12 and seniors over 65.

J une 29 – July 31 – Trees.Sky. Rocks.Water, watercolours by Ketha ­Newman Aug 3 – 28 – Tactuality (Fabric, Sculptures & Oil) Collette Dionne Aug 31 – Sept 25 – Works by Rocky Lawrence Green Belleville Art Association Gallery, 392 Front St., Belleville. 613-968-8632. July 12 - Aug 5 - First annual One by One Show & Sale. All paintings are 12” by 12” canvases in a variety of media. All are priced at $100 each. JOHN M. PARROTT ART GALLERY, Belleville Public Library, 254 Pinnacle Street, Belleville, 613-968-6731, ext. 2240, www.bellevillelibrary.com Gallery One June 2 - July 14 - Relativity; Gerry Putman and Victoria Wonnacott. The paintings of two family members under one roof for the very first time. Gallery Two June 2 -July 14 - Series in Parallel - various media by Picton artist Andrew Innes Consists of four series: the Dot Series, The Folding Series, The Self-Image series and the Landscape Series. Tweed Heritage Centre Art Gallery – 40 Victoria St., Tweed. 613-478-3989. July -”Walls and Fences” Aug - “Elvis Exhibit”

Belleville Theatre Guild, 613-967-1442 www.bellevilletheatreguild.ca Sept 22 – 7pm – 60th Anniversary Open House, Watch short scenes from the upcoming season. Reception to follow The Empire Theatre June 14 – 25 - Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - Two con men find the French Riviera isn’t big enough for both their ambitions. To settle the matter they make a bet… the first to swindle $50,000 from a young heiress wins and the other must leave town. Directed by Caroline Smith. Adults $29.50, Youth (18 and under) $20.00 + HST

June 28 - Stompin’ Tom - Earlier this year one of Canada’s greatest treasures – Stompin’ Tom Connors turned 75 years young. Stompin’ Tom is in the 47th year of his incredible music career. Tickets: $52.50 incl. HST + ticket service fee June 30 - Men Without Hats “Dance If You Want Tour.” For the first time in 2 decades Montreal’s New Wave Group Men Without Hats are going on tour in Canada. Tickets $27.00 + HST + ticket service fee Aug 16 – 27 - The Wizard of Oz - There truly is no place like home as the beloved family musical The Wizard of Oz fills the Empire stage. Note: some scenes may be too frightening for very young or sensitive children. Adults $25.00 + HST, Youth (18 and uner) – $12.50 + HST Festival Players Theatre www.festivalplayers.ca June 30 - July 8 - Amelia: The Girl Who Wants to Fly, by John Gray This new musical re-imagines the meteoric rise of Amelia Earhart from the girl next door to the iconic first woman in flight. This show plays at Fields on West Lake, in Wellington. www.festivalplayers.ca or 1-866-584-1991. July 14-30 - The Book of Esther, by Leanna Brodie -In the rural community of Baker’s Creek the Dalzell family struggle to keep their farm, family and faith intact. To top it all off, their 15 year-old daughter Esther has just run away from home. This show plays at Mount Tabor Playhouse, in Milford. www.festivalplayers.ca or 1-866-584-1991.

Leona

Aug 4-27 - The Ballad of Weedy Peetstraw, by Peter Anderson & John Millard A simple country boy by the name of Weedy Peetstraw sells his soul to the devil in order to play the banjo. It’s a little bit silly, a little bit bluegrass and a whole lot of fun! This show plays underneath a grand tent, outdoors at Rosehall Run Vineyard, in Wellington. www. festivalplayers.ca or 1-866-584-1991.

July 26 – 29 – Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing - Oh, brother! Sibling mischief and best pal escapades are the problems Peter Hatcher faces in his attempts to deal with his impossible little brother, Fudge. Based on the popular title by Judy Blume. Tickets $8 Aug 10 – 20 – 2 & 8 pm - Sexy Laundry - Henry and Alice are a middle-aged couple coming to grips with their lacklustre sex life in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy.

The Regent Theatre, 224 Main St., Picton, Ontario, 613-476-8416, ext. 28 or 877-411-4761 www.theregenttheatre.org Aug 5 - Johnny Winter - Blues Legend. Presented by Zapp Productions. Aug 25 – Ian Tyson – Presented by The Waring House and The Regent Theatre

EVENTS

The Stirling Festival Theatre, West Front St., Stirling 613-395-2100 1-877-312-1162 www.stirlingfestivaltheatre.com July 12 – 16 - 2 & 8 pm - Mama’s Country Record Collection - A young woman returns to her small town home to help her father clean out the basement. As they dig through Mama’s old record collection, they realize that they are more alike then they thought. Tickets $29 July 18-22 and August 22-26 - Theatre Camp - for ages 8-12, where kids learn songs, dance and a little improv too and put it all together in a talent showcase at the end of the week. Enrollment limited to 28 participants per session. $195.00

Dombrowsky, MPP Prince Edward-Hastings

Contact my office for Provincial matters. Belleville 81 Millennium Pkwy, Unit 3 P.O. Box 575 Belleville, ON K8N 5B2 Tel: 613-962-1144 Open M–F 9:30 to 4:30 Bancroft Satellite Office 33 Station Street, Unit C Tel: 613-332-5850 Open Wednesday 9:30 to 4:30 Picton Satellite Office 206 Main Street, Unit 4A Tel: 613-476-9616 Open Friday 9:30 to 4:30

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Country Roads • Summer 2011

June 24 - ST-JEAN-BAPTISTE ­CELEBRATION on Baker’s Island, CFB Trenton. Family activities at 4 pm followed by a evening concert at 7 pm. Bonfire, fireworks. Everyone is invited to join us! Info 613-955-8837or www.franco-phare. June 26 – 3 pm - Strawberry Social – Hastings County Museum of Agricultural Heritage, 1pm unveiling of the Children’s thActivty Centre. Tickets available at the museum. www.agmuseum.ca 613 395-0015 June 26 – 10am – 4 pm -O’Hara Mill Pre-Canada Day Bash. Celebrate the birth of our nation by taking a look into our past. Arts & crafts, entertainment, coloring contest and more. O’Hara Mill Homestead Conservation Park, Madoc, On 613-473-1725 or www.ohara-mill.org July 1 - Tweed & District Horticultural Society “Flowerama” at Tweed Memorial Park - 10 am - 4 pm. Floral displays, door prize, gardening advice all under the Marquee.


C o u n t r y

C a l e n d a r

Things to see and do in Hastings County

To submit your event listing email info@countryroadshastings.ca or call us at 613 395-0499. July 1 & 2 - Deseronto Waterfront Festival. Tall Ship Sailing Tours, attractions, live music & shows, rides, games, contests, food and vendors. Downtown Deseronto www.deseronto.ca July 1 – 4 – Grand Opening Weekend – Quinn’s of Tweed Fine Art Gallery. www.QuinnsOfTweed.ca July 7 – 10 - Tweed Agricultural Fair, Tweed Fairgrounds. 2011 marks 130 years for this community tradition. www.tweedfair.net July 9 – 11am – 4pm – Self Guided Garden Tour presented by The Prince Edward County Green Trust. Email: theprinceedwardcountygreentrust@yahoo.ca July 14 - Kiwanis Chicken BBQ, Tweed Memorial Park. For lunch or dinner…a popular event every year. July 15-17 - 3rd Annual Frankford 2011 Island Blues Festival, Frankford Tourist Park. www.loyalblues.ca July 24 – 10am – 4pm - O’Hara Mill, Heritage Day - Guided Tours of pioneer buildings and running saw mill. Pioneer crafts and antique machinery demonstrations. O’Hara Mill Homestead Conservation Park, Madoc, On 613-473-1725 or http://ohara-mill.org July 28 – 31 – Rockhound Gemboree & Mineral Capital Stone Carver’s Show. www.bancroftdistrict. com 1-888-443-9999

July 29 – 31 - Tweed Stampede and Jamboree, Trudeau Resort & Banquet Hall. RAM Rodeo Tour. A great family weekend full of fun and excitement! July 30 - Celebrate Marmora Family Fun Festival Celebrating Arts, Culture and Heritage! Art in the Park, Family Day, Purdy Festival and Shakespeare in the Park www.celebratemarmora.ca July 30 - Annual Centre Hastings Skate Park Competition - Centre Hastings Skate Park, Madoc. www.centrehastingspark.com July 30 – Aug 7 - CLIC Eastern Ontario Photo Show, 2nd fl. Gallery, Books & Company, 289 Main Street, Picton, Ontario. Presented by The Prince Edward County Arts Council. www.easternontariophotoshow.com or Susanne Barclay, Event Co-chair at (613) 393-2276 August 6 – 1pm - Trenton Horticultural Society & Garden Club, Flower/Vegetable Show & Tea. $3.00 at Grace United Church, 85 Dundas St. E. Trenton. For info call Joan 613-392-2572 email barry.m@sympatico.ca August 17 – 18 - Hastings County Plowing Match at Countryman farm. A rural tradition in Hastings County! www.hastingsfarmshow.com Aug 18 – 3 – 7 pm - O’Hara Mill, Annual Corn Boil -Great family fun, Scare Crow building, egg tossing, frog jumping, corn husking, log sawing and nail hammering competitions. Hot dogs, corn on the cob and entertain-

ment. O’Hara Mill Homestead Conservation Park, Madoc On 613-4731725 or http://ohara-mill.org Aug 20 - BEACH PARTY in Maynooth, behind the historic Arlington Hotel, Hwy.62 & 127. A Food Bank donation and a toonie gets you in to the Mix Up in the sand. Tel.613-338-2862. Aug 26-28 - Tweed Tribute to Elvis Festival - Tribute Artists competitions, Elvis © Collectibles Vendors, and much more. Tweed Fairgrounds. Contact 613478-3864 www.tweedelvisfestival.ca Aug 26 – 28 -Shannonville World’s Fair - Midway, arts & crafts, tractor pull, beach volleyball, classic car show and more. Tyendinaga Township Fairgrounds. www.shannonvillefair.com Aug 27 - 11 am – 4pm -Water Buffalo Food Festival - Food and vendors serving sample recipes using Mozzarella di Bufala cheese and water buffalo meat. Admission $20 Downtown Stirling, Covered Bridge & Mill Street. Go Buff in Stirling- www. stirling-rawdon.com/gobuff Aug 27 - Queensborough’s Triathlon Run/Walk, Swim, Bike. Start your training early, bring family and friends & join in this great event. Let’s Participate, Queensborough style. Do one component of the Triathlon or all three. Have Fun! Register 9:30 Starts 10:00 am 3:00pm

September 3 -4: 22nd Annual Hastings Highlands Loggers Games and Fall Fair (Saturday) and Mud Bog (Sunday). Part of the 150th anniversary of Maynooth celebrations in 2011 which culminates October 1st with an unveiling, historic walking tours, dinner and dance and other events of interest. www.maynooth.on.ca Sept 3 – 5 - 10am to 4pm – 4th Annual Rednersville Road Art Tour 2011. Artists along Rednersville Road ( County Road # 3) in Prince Edward County open their studios to the public. Over 18 studios and workplaces. This is a free self-guided tour. Watch for signs along the route. www.rednersvilleroadarttour.com Sept.4 - St. Ignatius Church Turkey Dinner & Bazaar, 12 noon till 6 pm, Hwy. 127. “A delicious meal since 1917!” Sept 10 – 11am – dark - Drum Nation Festival at the Mill -A festival about interaction and creative learning with family and friends through learning circles and performances creatively explore drumming, dance and instruments from around the world. Conscious living items, Instruments, Art & more for sale. O’Hara Mill Homestead Conservation Park, Madoc On 613-473-1725 or www.drumnationfestival.com

Oct. 1 - 150th Anniversary of Maynooth. All day celebrations, historic walking tour, family reunions, dinner and dance. For information, visit www.maynooth.on.ca

SEASONAL May 21 - Labour Day- Hastings County Museum of Agricultural Heritage. Open 7 days a week 10 am - 4 pm, (last admission 3 pm). NEW THIS YEAR: Weekends in September,437 West Front Street, Stirling, ON, 613 395-0015 www.agmuseum.ca May 15th – October 2 - Sunday Night Cruise, 97 Front Street, Trenton - from 5pm. Classic, Vintage and Special Interest Vehicles for show. Selected nights for BBQ’s and Bands - July 3, Aug 14, Amphitheatre in ­Centennial Park. 613-392-9640 June – Sept- Tweed Lions Music in the Park Sunday afternoons. Tweed Memorial Park Crowds come from all over to see the great shows.

Sept 16 – 18 – Prince Edward County Antique Show & Sale, Crystal Palace, Picton Fair Grounds, 375 Main Street East, Picton, Ontario. Holly Newland 613 393-5886, boogleberry@sympatico.ca

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Summer 2011 • Country Roads

I 37


Back Roads

d i s c o v e r i n g

h a s t i n g s

c o u n t y

Stirling’s Corner Gas For over 50 years travelers coming north into Stirling up Highway 33 have been greeted by the traditional corner gas station. When this photo was taken, in 1961, the business was owned by Moe Montgomery. It then became Loshaw Auto Service until it was bought a few years ago by Moe Grewal, who has named it Stirling Corner Gas & General Store. The house beside the station, which is currently a residence, used to be the store but that is now integrated into the station itself. Photo courtesy Stirling Corner Gas & General Store

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Country Roads • Summer 2011


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22nd Annual Hastings Highlands Loggers Games, The Mud Dawgs Mud Run and the Maynooth Fall Fair - September 3 & 4

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COUNTRY ROADS Summer 2011  

A cultural and lifestyle publication celebrating life in Hastings County, in eastern Ontario, Canada.

COUNTRY ROADS Summer 2011  

A cultural and lifestyle publication celebrating life in Hastings County, in eastern Ontario, Canada.

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