Ham… with a side of history

13 May

Just for fun, I plugged “history of ham suppers” into Google to see what would come up. And, lo and behold, there amongst the links to ham suppers in support of historical societies from across eastern Canada, there was a little gem of an article from the Hartford Courant by Korky Vann (I’m not allowed to make these things up) entitled Church Suppers: Comfort Food and Tradition.

In her article, Ms. Vann points out that, “Different regions of the country developed different types of food specialties: fried chicken dinners in the South, bean and ham suppers in the Northeast. Apple pie suppers in Vermont. Amish dinners in Pennsylvania. Chowder suppers on Cape Cod.”

And Google assures me that the same sort of regional specialization holds true in Canada. For example, while the Lion’s Club in Staynor, Ontario relies on the tried and true Ham & Beans model… in the province of Prince Edward Island, the traditional ham supper is expanded to include lobster. One Island group even added a twist that reflects today’s dash & dine culture. Their fundraiser is a “take-out only” affair. None of that nasty, stop and meet your neighbour nonsense for these folks.

Ms. Vann also consulted Sandy Oliver of FoodHistoryNews.com. “Church suppers have been a New England tradition for generations,” says Ms. Oliver. “The idea is a very old one. After the Revolution, churches could no longer support the minister with a town levy. Women’s auxiliary groups started to organize ice cream socials and church suppers to raise money.”

This ‘key to a person’s wallet is through his or her stomach’ philosophy continues to this day in church congregations everywhere. And our own Kenyon Presbyterian Church in Dunvegan is no exception.

This coming Saturday, May 16th, the Kenyon Women’s Association will be holding their Annual Ham Supper at the church hall in Dunvegan from 4:30 to 7:00 PM. As always, the menu will include down-home comfort foods: baked ham, scalloped potatoes, vegetables, baked beans, cabbage and jelly salads, buns, pies and other desserts. As David Joachim, editor of The Church Supper Cookbook, pointed out in Korky Vann’s article, “…comfort food is the name of the game, dishes that have been around for decades. You’re not going to find sushi at a church supper.”

Our upcoming church supper is $12 for adults and $6 for young ones aged six to twelve. Children five and under are free. And for those of you who can’t leave home, perhaps you can sweet talk a friend or neighbour into bringing the supper to you. Take-outs are available.

As I wrote a few years back, the food is downright delicious and the proceeds go to a very good cause. Dunvegan’s Kenyon Women’s Association plays a very important role in the upkeep of our local church, as well as related outreach and community activities. The event’s organizers also wanted me to stress that everyone is welcome to attend this community-building event.

Come say “hello… goodbye”

This coming long weekend is also when the Glengarry Pioneer Museum will opens its doors for the 53rd straight year of preserving and promoting Glengarry’s proud history.

This season, one entire building will be devoted to the 100th anniversary of the First World War with a new exhibit entitled “Glengarrians & the Great War.” And a second new exhibit will explore the French presence in Glengarry.

This weekend is also when interim Curator, Renée Homiak wraps up her year-long stay at the museum and turns the reins back over to Jennifer Black who has been off on maternity leave. This is your chance to say goodbye to Renée and to thank her for all the energy she has invested in the Museum’s continued growth and prosperity. It is too bad that the finances of the tiny institution preclude keeping both Jennifer and Renée on staff. As they say in Toronto, it would be “awesome” to see what synergy would arise from having these two professionals work together.

Renée hopes that you will stop by to speak to her about her latest exhibits and her Museum experiences over the past twelve months. “I have been overwhelmed by the community spirit surrounding this museum and the historical treasures that this museum holds,” says Renée. “It will be sad to leave, but I will always return.”

The Museum will be open from 10 AM to 5 PM … weekends only… until Sunday, June 13th. Then, starting on June 15th, it will be open six days a week, from Tuesday to Sunday. The museum is located in the center of Dunvegan at the intersection of County Road 24 (Dunvegan Road) and County Road 30 (Greenfield Road).

The 2015 season is filled with perennial favourites such as the annual Historical Driving Tour, the Glengarry Wood Fair, the Harvest Fall Festival and the “Battle of Glengarry” War of 1812 Reenactment. There will also be WWI guest speakers, a return of the “Shakespeare in the Pavilion” evening and a new offering: The Celtic Fair. More details can be found at www.GlengarryPioneerMuseum.ca or by calling the museum at 613-527-5230.

Admission to the museum is $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for students. However, since the 2015 season is just about to begin, your BEST value is to purchase a membership and not have to worry about general admission for the rest of the year. The membership program has three levels of support: Individual (only $15 per year), Family (just $25 per year) and Individual Lifetime (a bargain for a one-time donation of $150).

As a member, you’ll enjoy: a special discount on entrance fees to all Museum exhibits and events; a 10% discount on most Museum merchandise and souvenirs; a discount on the rental of the Williams Pavilion; an invitation to the Museum’s Annual General Meeting; advance notice of special events; and the Museum’s information-packed Timelines newsletter edited by Lynn Macnab. To become a member, just call at Heather at 613-525-5268. You’ll be glad you did.

Euchre time in Dunvegan

I simply don’t know where the time goes. As I was deciding what I should include in this week’s column, it dawned on me that this Friday, May 15th is our monthly Euchre Luncheon (traditionally the event is held on the third Friday of each month).

I was absent for the last luncheon/tournament, but our Euchre meister, Ann Stewart, tells me that the event attracted over 20 players… including a number of new faces.

I sure hope these same folks (along with even more) will cross our threshold on Friday. Admission for the afternoon of food and fun is only $5 and includes sandwiches and homemade sweets — both before and after the cards fly. Held in the DRA Hall at 19053 County Road 24, the event starts at 12:00 noon and wraps up around 3:30 PM. Everyone is welcome to join us. The only criteria for admittance is that you like to have a good time.

I may be for the birds… but

I know that a number of Glengarrians only fill their bird feeders during the winter. But I’m not one of them. For me, the really rewarding time is the summer season. That’s when Mother Nature sends us a host of new visitors. And these frequent flyers are only home for a few months to furiously feed and breed, before heading south as the leaves begin to turn.

This past weekend alone saw the return of the spectacular male rose-breasted grosbeak (and his more demur mate) and the ruby throated hummingbird. And, who knows, they might be joined in a short while by the Evening Grosbeak and, be still my heart, the Indigo Bunting.

Another ringy-dingy

In response to last week’s piece about party lines, I was delighted to get an e-mail from Steve Warburton of Glengarry News fame. I could paraphrase Steve’s recollections about party lines on the Prairies, but I think it better to let Steve tell his story in his own words.

Believe it or not, I am old enough to remember party lines. My grandparents had one on their Saskatchewan farm and I was always fascinated how they could tell the difference between “our ring” and “not our ring.” I remember grandma getting ornery at her party-line doppelganger for tying up the phone for hours at a time. I also remember getting chided for listening in once. I was only about seven and I had no idea why the two old ladies talking were so worried about “poor Audrey’s husband who’s been drinking again.” I had just drank two glasses of lemonade and I didn’t see how that was a bad thing at all.

Thanks Steve, and keep those cards and letters coming.

And before signing off…

As loyal readers will recall, a few weekends ago, the Dunvegan Recreation Association held a cleaning bee at the DRA Hall. I did inquire as to how the work detail went, but only just heard back from DRA president, Ben Williams. Here’s his report:

Sorry, I obviously forgot to reply to this one when I last read this e-mail. The clean-up went great. The two “DRA workhorses” – Vivian Franklin and Kim Raymond were there cleaning windows and raking up the lawn while our newest addition Mona André took on the beastly task of cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms. She was only available for an hour, but did more than her share in that time! The place looks great and will look even better after Vivian gives the bathrooms a much-needed coat of paint.

Hopefully, I’ll see you all back here next week.