Honey I’m home!

12 Aug

My apologies to loyal readers, but I had to take a few weeks off. A good part of the time was spent dodging raindrops as Terry and I did a “Frenchy’s” tour of the Maritimes. For those of you unfamiliar with the institution that is Frenchies (and its arch-rival, Guy’s Frenchy’s) here’s the lowdown. Both are used-clothing emporiums that can be found from lower New Brunswick to the Bay of Fundy/South Shore half of Nova Scotia.

The amenities are few. The clothing, roughly sorted into categories, is simply dumped into 4’ x 8’ bins. The rest is up to you. However, the bargains are many. All of their stock is imported from the USA and it’s not unusual to come across items that have never been worn. There are even top-notch brands we never see in Canada.

With a rug hooker in our household, Frenchy’s outlets hold the promise of hitting the mother lode… 100% pure wool garments and blankets that can be transformed into marvelous pieces of folk art. They also offer great saving on clothing, books and other treasures.

In between our Frenchy’s fixes, we managed to visit friends in the area including Barry Lucking who used to live on the 6th of Kenyon and now resides in Port Joli… Marilyn and John Macauley who have a marvelous cottage by the sea in Port Mouton… and Susan Wakefield and Nigel Fields in New Salem near the Bay of Fundy.

“It’s an ill wind…

that blows nobody any good.” This saying is based on the premise that even when something is bad, someone will usually benefit. And in the case of the proposed wind farm projects in St. Bernadin and St. Isidore, it will probably be Renewable Energy Systems Canada (RES Canada), Sierra Nevada Power Ltd. (SNP) and the Paris, France-based renewable energy conglomerate, EDF Energy.

True, a few select farmers and landowners will enjoy generous signing bonuses and hefty rental income in exchange for allowing the 328’ tall wind turbines with 116’ blades to be erected on their properties. However, it is their friends and neighbours who will be the ones who will have to live with the consequences.

What concerns do Dunvegan-area residents have with a wind farm project north of the 417? Perhaps none. But at the very least, we should keep a close eye on the storm brewing in Prescott-Russell as this 45- to 75-turbine project is rammed down their throats. Harsh words, but as communities all across Ontario have discovered, concerned citizens, and even their elected officials, are powerless to stop them. You’ve heard the expression “corn is king.” Well, under the provincial not-so-Liberal government, renewable energy corporations are “god.”

We might also want to keep a close eye on Leslie Clark’s old farm north of the hamlet. That’s the piece of land that a buyer from St. Isidore purchased and has transformed beyond recognition. For a while there, I thought the new owners had kindly left a buffer of trees along the road out of respect for the neighbourhood and as a natural snow fence. But I was wrong.

While I didn’t attend the “Save The Nation” meeting in St. Bernadin last week, I’m told 500 concerned citizens who oppose the proposed wind farms did. Luckily, a Dunvegan resident who was there sent me a photo of a project map that was on display. The wind farm’s footprint it outlined stretched from St. Isidore in the east to Casselman in the west. The map also detailed the parcels of “signed” land shaded in green, plus what I assume are the tower sites marked in blue.


It’s interesting to note that the “official” site map on the EDF Energy web site clearly ends at the Nation/North Glengarry border. However, the map I received via e-mail shows that Leslie’s old farm has been coloured green, on both sides of the 417. What’s even more disturbing is that it encloses what might conceivably be a “blue” turbine site in Leslie’s east field, right in line with the Stewart’s Glen Road. I’m not stating for fact that a turbine will be erected just north of Dunvegan. But the possibility might warrant further investigation… and perhaps a call or two to our municipal officials and MPP.

If erected, I have no doubt that this behemoth of a tower will follow the legal setback limits from the turbine to nearby residences of non-participants… to the letter. In Ontario, the setback for new projects like this is 550 meters or 1,800 feet. (And just in case you wondered, in Ontario, municipalities have no control over this setback distance.) On the plus side, there is NO setback protection for property owners who sign with the wind companies. The towers can be placed anywhere on their land, including right in the middle of their living rooms.

As for the question of how land clearly outside the project’s (and the Nation Township’s) boundaries has been earmarked for inclusion in the wind farm, I suspect the answer is simple. The person who owns it also owns property on St. Isidore Road… land that they may have already been pledged to the wind farm project.

In the coming weeks, we’ll look at ways this project could impact our community. But, in the meantime, you might want to visit the SaveTheNation web site: www.sauvonslanation.ca. It has some interesting links, including a touching story of an American farmer who, too late, realized the huge mistake he had made signing away his rights. There’s also an ear-opening link to a YouTube video that lets you experience, in high-definition audio, the sound of the turbines we will be forced to live with for the rest of our lives. You might also want to take a look at the web site of a group in North Stormont: www.northstormontwindturbineinfo.org.

I am looking into the feasibility of inviting organizers from the SaveTheNation and the North Stormont Wind Turbine Info groups to a public meeting here in Dunvegan at the DRA Hall. Stay tuned for more details.

PS: Those who have drunk the wind energy Kool-Aid… the Municipal Property Assessment Corp (MPAC) included… will tell you that wind farms have no significant impact on local property values. However, Madam Justice S.E. Healey from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice disagrees. In an April 2013 decision, she determined that landowners living near industrial wind turbine projects do suffer losses in property values of 22% to 55%. And municipal officials take note, lower property values = lower taxes.

August at the Museum

Jennifer Black, curator of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum dropped me a line about upcoming events in the month of August.

To begin with, if you’re a weaver, spinner, rug hooker or knitter, there are three more Fibre Fridays planned. Every Friday in August — from 10 AM to 2 PM — local fibre artists gather in the Williams Pavilion to ply their crafts, chat with visitors, offer demonstrations and provide advice to budding fibre enthusiasts. Jennifer says that everyone is invited to stop by and watch local artisans ply their craft.

I’ll have more details a bit closer to the date, but Saturday, August 22 is when the Glengarry Wood Fair and Wood Auction return to Dunvegan. If past Glengarry Wood Fairs are any indication, 1,000 visitors or more will flock to this event to enjoy a day dedicated to all things wood. There’s even a wood and lumber auction, which starts at 3:00 PM. For more details, visit their web site: www.woodfair.ca

Jennifer also wanted me to pass along an appeal for volunteers to help organize events for next year. “You can invest as much or as little time as you like,” says Jennifer. “See our web site or contact us at 613-527-5230 for further information.”

The Linney Report

For those of you who have been asking how downtown Dunvegan resident, Bob Linney, is doing, I’m delighted to report that his open-heart surgery went well. The doctors at the Ottawa Heart Institute were able to do a valve repair, rather than the replacement procedure they had anticipated.

After a couple of weeks of post-operative care, they finally kicked Bob to the curb last Friday morning and his wife, Karen, brought him home. I spoke with him briefly and he’s delighted to see the “green, green grass of home.” The prospect of something other than hospital food also has a certain appeal… even if he must follow the strict dietary constraints his caregivers have laid down.

Best wishes Bob for a speedy recovery.

Postcard from the past

Back in the day when people sent real mail with a reasonable assurance that it would be delivered in a timely manner, postcards were all the rage. I can remember with fondness the scenic views of Lakefield, Quebec (in the form of postcards) that were on sale at the old Evans and then Walker general store.

Back then most every little town and hamlet ordered a set of postcards. And Dunvegan, apparently, was no exception. As I was going through some archival materials the other day, I stumbled across a postcard from 1911 which had a glossy photo of our hamlet, complete with the caption “Dunvegan, Ont.” at the bottom. The photo on the front wasn’t as sharp as many from this era. Nevertheless, it clearly showed the former Lacombe house (recently demolished) and a general store to the west with the hint of a laneway in between. As the shot was taken from a spot just east of Alice Street, the drive shed and stable behind the store are clearly visible.

I was puzzled at first, because the two-storey general store didn’t quite match shots of the Ferguson store where Sherrill Trottier and her sister Shelia Kippen grew up. And then I recalled a story of “the night the old general store burned.” What the postcard captured was probably a rare view of the original store, before it was rebuilt as a single-storey structure. To test my theory, I sent a scan of the postcard to Sherrill and she confirmed my suspicions. Here’s what she had to say. “Wow! What a find! I know that my father bought the store in 1937. It was already a store, but… it was one story, and my parents and sister lived in two rooms in the back. And, yes I remember the old sheds at the back for tying horses. My father kept an Ayrshire cow for a while there as well… You could drive right around the store before our house was built in 1941. We called that laneway Polly Avenue when we were growing up.”

As this laneway has been named Alice Street as far back as the 1879 Belkin Atlas map of Dunvegan, I asked Sherrill from where the name Polly Avenue came. She replied, “I have no idea. The other side street farther east (Hendleton) was never open in winter, and in summer was filled with choke cherry bushes — little round berries with a little pit in the middle. It was not drivable. The area around Marcel Brunet’s house also had choke cherry bushes. My mother always made choke cherry jam and jelly.”

My plan is to include a scan of the postcard when I post this column on my Dunvegan blog: www.Dunvegan-Times.ca.