Great Father’s Day Gift

17 Jun

This coming Sunday, June 21st is another one of those excuse-for-a-sale, Hallmark holidays: Father’s Day. I know every retailer worth his or her salt is hawking the “Perfect Gift” for dad, from BBQ tool sets to Father & Kid Disney-themed sneakers. But I’m going to suggest something completely different… the gift of knowledge.

This Father’s Day — following the de rigueur Sunday brunch — bring Pop to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum in Dunvegan and treat him to a series of fascinating presentations on Glengarry’s contribution to the “war to end all wars.” Entitled Soldiers, Weapons, and Medicine in WWI, the information-packed afternoon will feature three local historians speaking about the world’s first truly global conflict.

To start, Robin Flockton will give the audience an overview of all the theatres of the war during 1915: from the Atlantic, the Western Front and the Battle of the Frontiers to Serbia, Japan, China, the Ottoman Empire, Armenia and Egypt.

Then, researcher Thelma MacCaskill will take the discussion from a bird’s eye view to a series of close-ups when she talks about three soldiers from our area: Arpad Urquhart of Dunvegan who is buried in France, Roderick MacLennan of Dalkeith who died in the second to last month of the war and Peter James MacLaren who, in a 1916 letter home, wrote about his experiences with the Black Watch and wearing a kilt for the very first time.

The afternoon’s third speaker will be Steve Barrett, an ordnance expert, who will provide a synopsis of the weapons used on the battlefields of WWI. He’ll also discuss how the development of automatic weapons completely changed the face of war… forever.

Finally, Robin Flockton will return to the podium to talk about the Canadian Army Medical Corps. I’m told the Corps, which came of age in WWI, had its beginnings in Cornwall. In fact, the first native of Glengarry to set foot in France in 1914 was a medical doctor. And the only woman named on the Glengarry War Memorial was Edith Rayside from Lancaster, Matron-in-Charge of all nursing in Canada.

So, this coming Sunday, hop in the car and head to Dunvegan to learn more about the Glengarry’s connection to the Great War. The cost for the afternoon of informative lectures is only $5 for members and $10 for non-members (which includes light refreshments). I might also suggest that you treat Dad to a Family Membership. Just $25, he and your entire clan will enjoy the many benefits of Museum membership.

For those of you who have never been to our humble hamlet, the Glengarry Pioneer Museum is located at the crossroads County Road 24 and County Road 30 in Dunvegan. For more information, call 613-527-5230, e-mail info@glengarrypioneermuseum or visit,

Dunvegan Park NOT for sale!

The phone lines and e-mail boxes around Dunvegan were a-buzzing last week when a “For Sale” sign appeared suddenly on a corner of the DRA Park on Murray Street. This came as a big surprise to the Dunvegan Recreation Association, the folks who had bought the vacant lot at the corner of County Road 30 and Murray a number of years ago.

The park came about when the DRA wanted to move the play equipment they had down by the creek west of the soccer pitch… and the lot beside Marcel Brunet’s house came up for sale. The DRA dipped into its reserve fund and bought the property. Marcel believes the land was purchased from Cathy Campbell who lived in the Westport, Ontario area at the time.

I can’t remember exactly what year this all took place, but I do know that Robb and Joyce Cutts were still here and were part of the “bee” that helped erect the basketball hoop. So it had to be in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I also think it was Brian Campbell who moved the swing sets with his trusty backhoe.

But back to the “For Sale” sign. Apparently, the park had been lumped in with other properties that the Township decided to put up for sale for back taxes. For some reason, it was never on the Township’s radar that the property belonged to the DRA. Nevertheless, just before amalgamation and the formation of North Glengarry in January of 1998, a deal was struck with all recreation associations in Kenyon. The agreement was that, since the associations were unincorporated, ownership of their property would be transferred to Kenyon Township in exchange for the elimination of property taxes and inclusion under the Township’s insurance policy. After a great deal of debate the Dunvegan Recreation group decided to accept the offer and Kenyon Township became the nominal owners of the DRA Hall, the Dunvegan soccer fields and the DRA Park.

Things started to fall apart a few years later, when Kenyon ceased to exist and the new amalgamated Township of North Glengarry absorbed all its assets and records. Over the years, the Township has struggled to grasp the fact that many of these recreation/community properties were originally bought and paid for through the impressive fund-raising efforts of the area’s recreation volunteers.

As the “Park for Sale” incident in Dunvegan underscores, the time has come to regularize this situation once and for all. An inventory of recreation properties in the Township needs to made. And, more importantly, these property need to be re-zoned “institutional.” With an “institutional” rating (the same as churches, cemeteries and buildings owned by charities enjoy), the properties are exempt from property taxation and can only be sold if strict conditions are met.

Now, I have been told repeatedly that the Township cannot re-zone properties… only the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) can do this. This is totally INCORRECT. MPAC’s role, as its name implies, is assessment. Not zoning. That’s the role of the Township’s planning or zoning committee. And it re-zones properties all the time… as evidenced by the zoning change notices in the Glengarry News nearly every week. Once Council approves the zoning amendment to the Township’s Official Plan, it then goes to the Counties for incorporation in the master plan. The key thing to remember is that this master plan is a “living” document; it is constantly being amended and updated.

And while the Township is re-zoning North Glengarry Recreation Association properties as “institutional”, why don’t they also apply this designation to the various Glengarry Pioneer Museum holdings?

New time works well

Since we’ve just been talking about the DRA Park, I thought you’d like to know how the DRA’s “Meet Your Neighbours” event went. In was held in the park this past Sunday. We had family visiting from Toronto and couldn’t attend, but fortunately the DRA’s Kim Raymond e-mailed me the following report.

“I would say the event today was a success. I counted about 35 people for our total attendance. The decorated caterpillar cupcake cake I made was well enjoyed — not much left by the end. The kids enjoyed the swings, bubbles, sidewalk chalk (used on our small basketball court), as well as the Velcro ball game and the popper ball toys I found for them. The kids were pleased to take the various items home with them at the end of the day.

Oddly enough, it was the older generation that seemed to enjoy the popcorn machine, along with the coffee, lemonade, orange juice and water. The weather co-operated beautifully. It was sunny and bright, without being too hot.

I am of the opinion that holding it after the church service worked very well. We saw many people that are not new to us, but whom we don’t usually see at the Meet Your Neighbours event. There were some new faces too.

Thanks should go to Vivian and Scott for providing the truck and moving the large table and popcorn machine to and from the hall. Sean organized power to the popcorn machine, and Ben made sure the drinks were cool. Aiden brought ice. Laurie took photos. And Heather McIntosh brought over two boxes of Timbits which were much appreciated.”

Harleys visit Kenyon Presbyterian

I checked in with Dona Addison to inquire about last Sunday’s “Blessing of the Bikes” service at Kenyon Presbyterian Church. She tells me that it went well, even though only 16 motorcycles showed up. I hope the organizers aren’t discouraged, because most new events tend to get off to a slow start. The Museum’s Harvest Fall Festival, for example, began with just hundreds of visitors. Now attendance is approaching two thousand.

Dona tells me that the “Blessing” also attracted three children: Cadence McIntosh and Abby Leroux with their bicycles and Jesse Leroux with his John Deere jeep.

The motorcycle enthusiasts arrived at 10 AM and had a great social time meeting the congregation and enjoying coffee and doughnuts. This was followed by a church service that incorporated a blessing of the riders. Then the action moved outside where Rev. Julia blessed the bikes (both big and little).

It will be interesting to see how the service grows, assuming it is repeated next year.

James returns to Euchre

After a two-month absence, I’ll be back behind the counter to help Linda Burgess and Ann Stewart at this Friday’s popular DRA Euchre Luncheon. I sure hope I’ll see the Hall filled with regulars and newcomers alike enjoying a delicious lunch of homemade sandwiches and sweets, followed by an afternoon of fellowship and card play. Admission is a mere $5.00. And the doors are thrown open well before noon so people can catch up on all the news, before the trays of food are uncovered at noon.