Best one ever… almost

5 Apr

DRA president Kim Raymond admits that she had no idea what to expect in the way of a turnout at last Saturday’s community breakfast. However, when the dust settled, her post-event report showed there’d been no need to worry. “The response was amazing,” Kim told me in an email. Even with the cold, rainy weather, the hardworking volunteers served around 175 meals. “There was only one other better-attended breakfast since I’ve been keeping track,” Kim continued, “in February 2014.”

An event like this is a team effort, and Kim obviously had a great one. Ben Williams, Robert Campbell and Sarah Jane Raymond helped with set up, which included fresh cut flowersdonated by Sarah Jane. In preparation for the hungry horde, Lynn MacGillivray helped Kim pre-cook the sausages, while Evan MacIntosh, Mona Andre and Anne Bertand pre-cooked the bacon. Heather MacIntosh, Heather Raymond, Ardeth Wilson, Sean Burgess, Eileen Franklin, Laurie Maus, Louise Quenneville and Sandra MacPherson donated muffins and other home-baked treats. And Abby MacLennon and Reagan Aubin oversaw the on-stage playroom for kids… and then helped clean up. Last , but not least, there were the cooks —Bob Linney, Greg Byers and Dennis Ranger — who worked furiously to keep up with the rush. “We were all out of practice,” Bob told me, “(it) has been a few years since the last DRA breakfast.” The last member of Team DRA was Laurent Souligny from ‘Dunvegan Gold’ who generously donated locally-made maple syrup. Well done all. Thank you.

Ken’s inquiry answered

Regular reader Ken McEwen (who left his parent’s farm in the 7th Kenyon in 1952) wrote me a few days ago to ask if I had any news about René Trottier. I was happy to report that I’d run into him at the DRA Spring Breakfast. Norma MacCrimmon had brought René down to the hall. “He had his trademark smile and ‘Bonjour James’ greeting,” I wrote back. “Was good to shake his hand.”

FIVE general stores?

In last week’s column I riffed off the contemporary economic portrait of Dunvegan painted byIan Cumming in a recent Ontario Farmer article. However, a serendipitous encounter with Glengarry’s chief archivist, Allan J. MacDonald, provided a snapshot of commercial activity in this little corner of Glengarry that put both our accounts to shame. The only catch is that the entry in the Farmers and Business Directory he showed me was dated 1899. Back then, the village’s head count was 300. Moreover, the community appears to have taken the “shop locally” message to heart, most likely because the roads of the day left a lot to be desired. (If you’d like to see an example, there’s one in the presentation Allan is giving to the Glengarry Historical Society tonight at the Alexandria Sports Palace.) Dunvegan circa 1899 was a glowing testament to the entrepreneurial spirit that once built this country. We had: fivegeneral stores; two hotels; two blacksmiths; a tanner; a physician; a carpenter; a harness maker; a cheese maker; a jeweller; a furniture maker; an agricultural implement agent; a post office; and three mills – grain, lumber and planeing.

1971 and still counting

Eighteen or so months ago, I reported that Rosemary Chatterson of Music & Mayhem fame had hit the 700 mark in her fidget blanket project. Fidget blankets help calm individuals with dementia by providing tactile stimulation. Rosemary’s mission has been to get them into the hands of as many patients as she can.

I hadn’t touched base with her for a while, so I emailed and asked how many blankets she was up to now. “1,971,” she replied. And Rosemary expects to reach 2,000 before the end of the month. I asked if she had thought about hanging up her sewing machine when her blanket output matches the calendar year — say 2023. “No, absolutely not” she replied in an email. “The need is increasing as people discover the benefits of a fidget blanket for special needs kids, as well as those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

Whenever Rosemary needs a break from sewing, she turns to her one of her other interests: from delivering Meals on Wheels and playing piano at the Manor and local churches to playing pickle ball four times a week at the Dome. (I’m exhausted just writing about her.)Rosemary is always grateful for donations of fabric and fidget items… or monetary donations to help with her frequent trips to Value Village and Dollarama. She can be reached at 613-525-1336.

Ringy-dingy explained

My appeal has borne fruit. I asked if anyone knew how the wooden wall phones found in some Dunvegan homes of the early 20th century worked. And Jim Fletcher (who grew up in Dunvegan before retiring to Kanata) responded.

His mother was an operator in Lochiel when she was young, and according to Jim each subscriber was assigned a specific sequence of rings. “Ours was three short,” he told me in an email. “I think Jensen’s (the house Terry and I live in today) was one long, one short and one long, and Martin Ferguson’s store was two long and four short.” To ‘ring’ another telephone, Jim said you’d use the crank on the side. Giving it one quick turn was a ‘short’ ring, and one slow turn was a ‘long’ ring.

“If you wanted to call the operator, maybe for a long distance call,” Jim wrote, “there was a button on the side that you pushed in and held while you turned the crank.” Doing so, according to Jim, alerted the operator without ringing the bells on any other phone. “In an emergency,” Jim concluded, “you lifted the receiver and cranked the handle without stopping.” This was the signal for everyone to lift their receiver and listen in.