Sad tidings III…

31 Jan

Well, it was fun while it lasted. For a brief instant, it looked like we would finally be free of the Wynne Spendthrifts and their profligate approach to running this once proud province into the ground.

Perhaps you remember the bungling of the e-Health file, the gas plant scandal, their union buy-offs, the Ornge air-ambulance boondoggle, the not-so-smart meters, the not-so-green energy and the feed-in tariff rip-off. The list is seemingly endless. In fact, I had to Google “list of Ontario Liberal scandals” (which resulted in 230,000 hits) because I was forgetting the full scope of their incompetence… which is exactly what their strategists hope: in the fullness of time, voters will, and do, forget.

But the dream came to a screeching halt when the news broke of Patrick Brown’s resignation. To be fair, Brown might well be a slimy sexual predator. And, in the interest of full disclosure, he wouldn’t have been my choice for party leader. However, the cynic in me finds the timing a tad odiferous. Six months before a critical election, playing the #MeToo card might have been a crafty move. To venture further down this rabbit hole, one could ask who might have played it. One possibility is someone in the Liberal camp. However, a more Machiavellian possibility is the Conservatives themselves.

Regardless of what happens in the end, we have started a very dangerous precedent, whereby anonymous innuendo and the “e-court “of public opinion is enough to ruin a person’s career and even life. Only the tortuous twists of the enlightened mind can demand an end to the death penalty because there’s a chance even one innocent person might be executed, but view anonymous, unproven accusations of male predation as courageous, automatically truthful and completely acceptable… despite the fact some of these ‘whispers’ might be vindictive and have no basis in fact.

Crokicurl makes its debut

Thanks to the efforts of Jim Tilker (with assistance from Ben Williams), the new rage in winter ice sports is coming to Dunvegan. First introduced in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2016, Crokicurl is a mash-up of ice curling and crokinole, the board game. The result is a life-sized version of crokinole that’s played on ice with plastic curling rocks instead of wooden crokinole “buttons.”

For those not familiar with crokinole (pronounced “croke-in-ohl”), it’s a game played on a round wooden board with small round discs. Legend has it that it was invented in Tavistock, Ontario, in 1876 by Eckhardt Wettlaufer for his son’s fifth birthday. The aim is to get the highest score by flicking the round discs from the outside of the board into the higher scoring rings in the middle of the board. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, as both players must try to knock each other‘s discs off the board. This “knock each other’s discs off the board” thing is probably what led to the birth of Crokicurl. It sounds a whole lot like the raison d’être behind the game of curling.

So Jim and Ben are aiming to recreate a life-sized version of a crokinole board on our frozen pond. Instead of buttons, Crokicurl players will use light curling rocks made of plastic. Just like a standard crokinole board, the Crokicurl “board” will have posts around the inner ring and a top-score centre hole.

That ain’t all…

Traditionally, Carnival goers start the day with a Country Style Buffet Breakfast at the DRA Hall, 19053 County Road 24, from 8:00 to 10:00 AM. Featuring chilled juices, hot coffee, crispy bacon, succulent sausages, fluffy scrambled eggs, stacks of flapjacks drenched in real maple syrup, the meal is a great way to beat the mid-winter blues for only $8.00 (children 5 to 12 – $5.00).

Then the Carnival action moves east along Dunvegan Road to 19314 County Road 24 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. There, Crokicurl will join a whole slue (also spelled, slew) of outdoor activities for the whole family. However before I go on, that word “slue” tripped me up. I wondered where on earth it originated. Turns out its root is an old Irish Gaelic word, slúag, for multitude. But let’s get back to the Carnival.

At the top of the list of fun things to do are the horse-drawn sleigh rides that meander through the bush. Dan Lacombe is back again this year with his Rolls Royce of sleighs that offers comfortable, easy to access rows of bench seats.

Then there’s fresh-air skating on the frozen pond and sledding and tobogganing down the hill on to the pond ice. With any luck, Denis Cormier will create one of his signature roaring bonfires again this year to warm fingers and toes and roast the occasional marshmallow. And don’t forget our 8th annual Snow Volleyball or “Snollyball” tournament

For younger carnival goers, there’s our popular Backwoods Scavenger Hunt. This year, DRA volunteer Amber Kilgour is planning an equestrian theme, with a special surprise ending. We are also hoping Carole Paigé, the First Nation reenactor who was so popular last year will be able to return. She can’t bring her Teepee, but she will have her drums and campfire stories of native folklore.

As a break from the outdoors, everyone is welcome to head to the farmhouse and warm up by the wood cook stove and enjoy a bowl of Terry’s homemade soup and oven-fresh rolls. All of the outdoor activities and refreshments are FREE… and all are welcome.

Ice Tickets… four days left!

Less than a week remains to February 3rd, the date the windows at the ticket outlets for the Dunvegan museum’s Ice Storm 20th anniversary fundraiser will slam shut. So I urge you to end the procrastination and pick up your tickets today. If possible, please do so at the Scotiabank in Maxville. Ice Storm tickets purchased there will be matched dollar for dollar. If you can’t make it to Maxville, tickets can be purchased at the Quirky Carrot in Alexandria, The Review in Vankleek Hill or on-line at:,

I still think the Silent Auction will be one of evening’s big hits. Norma MacCrimmon just dropped off a couple of neat items. The first is an official Ottawa Citizen “Certificate of Survival” for the Great Ice Storm 1998. The second is a framed poem by Maxville resident Tim Turney entitled Our Icy Winter Gate. I won’t spoil it by reproducing the entire work, but here are the first two stanzas:

The New Year scarcely had begun
‘Twas nineteen ninety eight,
The ice storm in it’s fury struck
And brought our “Winter gate”.

In the night, rain began falling
You could hear it on the trees,
Then the mercury started dropping
As our world began to freeze.

And while we’re on the topic of creative verse, our old friend Steve “Spider” Merritt is putting the finishing touches on a banjo ballad that remembers the frozen days of ’98. There’s a good chance he may be on hand on the 9th to share it with us.

One born every minute

The Book of Ecclesiastes said it best, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” This gave us our modern expression; “there’s nothing new under the sun.” And that’s the thought that struck me when I stumbled across what looks a lot like a mail fraud operation located in downtown Alexandria, Ontario.

The operation seems have to trawled the mails for a number of years. Both ads were in the “Agents Wanted” classified section: the first in June 1926 and the second in March 1931. What surprised me was the ads weren’t found in the old Farmer’s Advocate or a local weekly newspaper. Both advertisements graced the pages of the well-known Popular Mechanics Magazine. Here are the two ads so you can judge for yourself.

“AGENTS—$500 monthly easy selling Magic Gas. New Discovery. $1 box equals 33 gallons gasoline. Proven merits. Your name on cans. 300% profit. Write quick. P. A. LeFebvre & Co., Dept. 24, Alexandria, Ontario, Canada.”

MAGIC Gas equals gas 3c gallon. Harmless, guaranteed product. Used by largest bus companies. Circulars, labels, letterheads with agent’s name furnished. Particulars and proof free. P. A. Lefebvre & Co., Ltd., 42 Magic Gas Bldg., Alexandria, Ont.

The ads could well be on the up and up. Does anyone remember a company by the name of P. A. LeFebvre & Co. or the Magic Gas Building?