Chances are good that today’s paper contains a photograph by Steve Warburton of Peggi Calder accepting the Glengarry Pioneer Museum’s Volunteer Certificate of Appreciation award at Friday’s AGM. While I know that a picture is reputedly worth a thousand words, I think those who were unable to attend the event should have some background as to why this dedicated volunteer from Dunvegan was chosen.
Peggi Calder is not a born and bred Dunveganite. She and her husband Bill chose to make Dunvegan their home nearly 45 years ago. They were part of the back-to-the land movement that flourished in North America briefly from the late sixties to the early eighties.
In the mid-70s, Bill and Peggi almost bought a motel in Cape Breton. However, when they returned to sell their Pointe Claire home, they found that Quebec’s Bill 22 had destroyed West Island property values. So they turned their sights to Ontario in search of a farm where they could raise beef cattle, chickens and turkeys. And they found what they were looking for in Donald Ivor MacLeod’s farm just west of the Dunvegan crossroads.
A few years after settling in and, more importantly, after both of their children reached school age, Peggi decided to immerse herself in the local community… starting with the Women’s Institute. Now this was a very active group when she first joined. I remember their amazing homemade turkey suppers with great fondness. True, these fundraising dinners were a lot of work for such a small group. Peggi found them an invaluable learning experience, though. As she told me, “you can learn a lot from people as you wash dishes with them for hours on end.”
Over the years, Peggi held many positions in the WI, working her way up to District President. But the writing was on the wall. Younger women had no time for the WI. So, as membership dwindled, the sad decision was reached to close the Dunvegan chapter in the early 90s. As one of her last official duties, Peggi and I worked together on the sale of the WI Hall to the Dunvegan Recreation Association. Our goal was to make sure it continued to be available as a meeting place for the community.
However, when it comes to volunteering, Peggi wasn’t a one-trick pony. She was also actively involved in the Glengarry Trails project, serving as its vice president for two years. As well, she taught Sunday school at Kenyon Presbyterian Church down the road. This was back when Sunday school classes — and DRA executive meetings — were held in the brick schoolhouse across from the church. The historic building is now home to Sean Burgess and Erica-Rose Bugera.
And that’s not everything on Peggi’s volunteer dance card. She helped the late Gordon Hardy marshal Dunvegan’s relief efforts during the Ice Storm of ’98. She was the Dunvegan columnist in the Glengarry News for many years. And, as virtually everyone in the community did back then, Peggi would volunteer to flip burgers or fry onions in the DRA’s fundraising booth at the Maxville Fair and Highland Games each year.
Peggi was once heard to say that, “community involvement is just something you do when you have kids.” But Peggi’s community spirit didn’t evaporate the moment her children grew up and moved on. If anything, it increased, as she focused more and more on the Glengarry Pioneer Museum.
There, she volunteered by: giving her fascinating “Wild Edibles” presentation; assisting Flora Chisholm cater luncheons for museum events and for the Fall Festival Horse Parade (a tradition she carried on after Flora passed away); and serving as a member, and then Secretary, of the museum’s Board of Directors.
It was Peggi who developed the museum’s first acquisitions policy. She also served on the acquisitions committee. And, after her husband Bill put together the museum’s first computer database, Peggi entered the collection records.
However, the museum project that gave Peggi the most joy was helping Maxville’s Angus McRae bring his trapper’s cabin and collection to Dunvegan. Peggi was drawn to the “Trapper’s Cabin” undertaking because of her love for the outdoors. Over the course of the two-year project, she would talk with Angus about her time growing up, and the years she spent hunting rabbits, squirrels and partridge with her Dad. And how her Mom would cook up whatever they brought back from their expeditions.
Working with Angus, was like a trip down memory lane for Peggi. She loved learning from him and listening to his stories. And she’s especially glad that she and Ronna Mogelon were able to record his stories for future generations to hear.
For all this and much more, Peggi Calder was selected to receive the Dunvegan museum’s 2018 Volunteer Certificate of Appreciation… and I heartily salute their choice! Thank you, Peggi.
Card playing tsunami
Okay, “tsunami” may be hyperbole. Nevertheless, there was a very healthy turnout at last Friday’s euchre luncheon: six full tables of eager seniors. And they brought teenager-sized appetites with them. In fact, to ensure we had enough food for the post-game lunch, Linda Burgess and I had to make up extra sandwiches, while the participants battled to take tricks.
Ann Stewart awarded 50/50 prizes to Gabrielle Meloche, Jenny Laforest, Ginette L’Ecuyer, Margot MacRae, Caroll Paquette, Hugh L’Ecuyer and Rolland Paquette. As for the top scoring players, 1stprize went to Claire Van Putten, 2ndprize went to Roland Paquette and 3rdprize went to Margo MacRae. The door prize was awarded to Isobel MacLennan. And the “Most 4s” players were Claire Van Putten and Ellen Bellefeuille.
The next DRA Euchre Luncheon is scheduled for Friday, May 18thin the DRA Hall at 19053 County Road 24 from 12:00 noon to around 3:30 PM. Admission is only $5.00 and includes one of the most delicious euchre buffets in the township.
Bee needs YOU
While National Volunteer Week (April 15-21) officially ended last Saturday, I’d like to suggest you extend it a few more days and give Jennifer Black a hand this coming Saturday, April 28thfrom 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM. It’s the Glengarry Pioneer Museum’s “Spring Cleaning Day” and Jennifer is looking for help to get the museum ready for the new season. This includes light cleaning, putting out picnic tables and bringing out larger artifacts from their winter hibernation spots. If you — or better yet, you and your family — are willing to donate a few hours, please call Jennifer at 613-527-5230. By giving of your time on Saturday, you’ll join the ranks of Canada’s 12.7 million volunteers.
Use it or lose it
As I mentioned in last week’s column, The Cornwall & District Family Support Group — with the encouragement of the Glengarry Memorial Hospital — is hoping to offer caregiver support meetings in Alexandria. They are intended for families with a loved one dealing with bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, BPD or other serious mental health issues.
If you’re hesitant to share, remember the golden rule of these peer support groups is: “what is said in the group, stays in the group!” Knowing that you can finally talk frankly with people who won’t judge you and who understand exactly what you’re going through can be a huge relief. The group can also be a great opportunity to learn how to better cope with the “roller coaster” of mental illness.
If enough people express an interest, the first meeting will take place on Tuesday, May 8th. To register, call 613-527-1201 and leave a message. Someone from the Cornwall & District Family Support Group will get back to you with the meeting’s location and other details.
PS: Please share news of this potential peer support group with your social media network. You never know who may be suffering in silence.