Sad tidings…

24 Jan

It saddened me to learn that Steve and Jean Kaluta’s daughter, Tanya, died last week while in the Ottawa General hospital… lovingly surrounded by her parents, her brother Michael and his fiancée Natasha and her sister Krista and her husband Mike. Death is rarely welcome news, but for a child to die before her parents do is contrary to the way the world is supposed to work.

Steve and his wife, Jean, moved from Lachine in 1992 to a farm a few lots east of us. Until his retirement, Steve commuted to Montreal, where he worked for Bell Canada as a computer projects supervisor. More recently, Steve celebrated a second ‘retirement’… unplugging his table saw and hanging up his tool belt to focus on his hobbies: hunting and trapping.

Tanya’s celebration of life will be held on Saturday, January 27th between 2:00 and 5:00 PM at the Glengarry Funeral Home in Alexandria. As per Tanya’s wishes, a simple, non-denominational ceremony will take place at 4:00 PM. Family and friends are invited to join the Kaluta family as they say goodbye.

Sad tidings II…

As I was writing the item above, an e-mail arrived from Bruce MacGillivray with more sad news. Eileen MacGillivray passed away last Sunday night. Despite sharing a surname, Bruce and Eileen weren’t directly related, family tree-wise. But they were close neighbours. “We shared a farm lane with her family,” said Bruce, “and my older sister and I played at their place all the time.”

While not a resident of Dunvegan, Eileen had strong ties to this community. She had long been a friend with Robert Campbell’s late mother, Hilda. As girls, the two attended high school together and both worked in Montreal after graduation — Hilda at Northern Electric and Eileen at CPR. And it was thanks to Hilda that Eileen met her husband-to-be during a Young People’s Society sliding event held at Hilda’s family farm, just west of Kirk Hill.

For many years, Eileen — an avid euchre enthusiast — was also a loyal supporter of the Dunvegan Recreation’s euchre luncheon event. From time to time, people ask me why I help host this tournament, a game I have absolutely no interest in playing. This is why: for the privilege of meeting individuals like Eileen and learning a wee bit of their life story. My sincere condolences to Eileen’s kith and kin. All her friends at Dunvegan’s Euchre Friday will miss her terribly.

Best potluck ever!

If you couldn’t attend the Dunvegan Recreation Association’s annual business meeting last Friday evening, you missed out on one of the best potluck supper’s Dunvegan’s ever seen. Every dish on the groaning serving table was homemade, and they were all delicious. No politically correct, tofu-laden light fare this crowd. Just flavourful, down-to-earth grub into which one could sink one’s teeth. If you were so inclined, there were even a few hearty vegetarian dishes that fit right in. And what the dessert counter may have lacked in variety, it more than made up for in sinful quality. A delicious end to a superb meal.

The evening was made even more enjoyable by the impressive turnout of 25 keen DRA supporters and a new “smaller tables” layout. Instead of the traditional horseshoe arrangement, restaurant-style tables of six (complete with Kim Raymond’s hand-sewn DRA Blue tablecloths) gave the room a far more intimate and friendly atmosphere.

Dinner done, DRA president, Ben Williams, and treasurer, Sean Burgess, gave an overview of this small community group’s impressive list of activities and programs. The next item of business was to acclaim the members of the DRA’s Executive Committee for the next two years. Not trusting my memory, I asked DRA secretary Vivian Franklin for the list of officers and directors. She replied, “Hi James, here they are: Head Honcho – Ben Williams, Second Head Honcho – Kim Raymond, Bean counter – Sean Burgess, Scribbler – Vivian Franklin and Directors – Laurie Maus, Amber Kilgour, Mona Joly-Andre, Karine Speuhler and newbies Louise Quenneville and Eileen Franklin.

Living history rocks

Living history enthusiasts were very pleased with their first-ever recruiting day. The event took place at the DRA hall on Saturday and had representation from two Living History organizations: the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles and an Upper Class Civilian Society from Montreal. The day also featured a display of accouterments from the early 1800s and a Powerpoint presentation on how to get started as a Living History reenactor. While almost sacrilege here in Glengarry, the presentation drew a cost comparison between being a reenactor and playing amateur hockey. Aside from collecting your equipment, which both hockey players and reenactors must do, the annual participation costs for being a Living History buff is far more affordable.

Glengarry Fencible Jim Mullin told me that they were delighted with this inaugural event. “Of the people who were able to stay for the formal presentation,” reports Jim, “six have signed up to get involved in the hobby.” The group hopes to hold another recruitment drive in Dunvegan soon, as well staging them in Orleans, Cornwall, Pointe-Claire and St-Jean, Quebec.

If you missed the presentation and would like to learn more, contact Jim Mullin at… or you can follow them on Facebook at @uptheglens1812.

Ice Storm deadline in sight

I know we Glengarrians love leaving event ticket purchases to the very last minute. But I wanted to warn you that, in the case of the Glengarry Pioneer Museum’s Ice Storm 20th anniversary fundraiser, “last minute” means February 3rd… NOT the date of the event, i.e., the 9th. February 3rd is when the museum has to tell the caterer how many folks will be attending.

Thanks to the Scotiabank in Maxville, all Ice Storm tickets sold at their branch will be matched dollar for dollar. If you can’t make it to Maxville, tickets can be purchased online at the Quirky Carrot in Alexandria, The Review in Vankleek Hill or on-line at:,

I mentioned the Silent Auction briefly last week and things are really heating up in this department. Local craftspeople are contributing items such as hand spun wool scarves, gleaming tin ware, high performance clothing, plus preserves, honey and maple syrup to add to your pantry. Well-known woodworker, Blair Williams, has even donated a handcrafted table fashioned from the branches of an ice-bent tamarack tree and an elm top from the stables that once stood on the Maxville Fairgrounds.

The organizing committee is still trying to get their hands on an emergency power generator to auction off. It would be a great way to “generate” much-needed funds for the museum and positive PR for the firm that donates it. If you have a generator you’d like to give to the cause… or are willing to share photos, stories or memorabilia from the ice storm, please contact the Glengarry Pioneer Museum at 613-527-5230 or email

Dunvegan dog thieves

Before signing off, I thought you’d be interested in a Lost & Found advertisement I came across in the December 14, 1917 issue of the Glengarry News. Placed by Archie McRae of Dunvegan, it caught my eye because of its inclusion of a big stick in an ad that usually relies exclusively on a carrot. It reads: “A Spites (sic) Pomeranian bitch, white, with collar on. Reward. Persons harboring her will be prosecuted.” Obviously, back in 1917, Dunvegan was a den of dognappers. As for the typographical error at the top of the ad (Spites), I suspect that the clerk who took the ad wrote it down phonetically. I think Mr. McRae was referring to “Spitz,” a type of dog characterized by long, thick and often white fur, and pointed ears and muzzles.