‘Woodpecker’ worries no more

26 Apr

It is with great sadness that I report the loss of another repository of Dunvegan history. Evelyn (nee MacLeod) MacQueen was a long-time resident of Skye Road. She died peacefully on Wednesday, April 19th. I’m told that Evelyn was raised around Dalkeith and moved to the Dunvegan area when she married her late husband Beverly. They took over his family’s small dairy farm on Skye Road and raised two children, Garry and Audrey. After Bev’s passing, Evelyn moved to a small house in Maxville on the same street as her two kids.

Doris MacIntosh of Skyevegan Farms was Evelyn’s next-door neighbour for 55 years, and she ever so kindly shared some memories of her old chum. “She was my best friend,” Doris told me when we talked on the phone, “and a second mother to me.” Doris remembers her as “one of a kind”… a caring person whose name deserved to be in the dictionary under the definition of good neighbour. For years, Doris and Weldon would even hide their kids’ Christmas presents at the MacQueen’s house, far away from prying eyes.

Evelyn was very active in the community, from the Kenyon Church Women’s Association and the Dunvegan Women’s Institute to the local Red Cross and helping with the Glengarry Old Tyme Fiddlers. She also loved to bake and was renowned for her buns, long a favourite at W.A. and W.I. suppers. “She always had a pan or two of squares in the freezer for when company dropped by,” Doris said. “And, can you believe it, at 91, she baked a lemon meringue pie for New Year’s.” When I asked how it tasted, Doris told me it was “simply delicious.”

Our old friend Ken McEwen also weighed in on Evelyn’s death. He and his wife Tina Mae had a summer home on Skye Road for a while. “The MacQueen house… was log,” he explained in an email. “Evelyn once said to Tina and me, that every time she saw a woodpecker around, she got nervous.”

As newcomers, Terry and I would bump into this special lady from time-to-time at community events and church suppers. However, we primarily knew the ‘rural mail carrier’ version of Evelyn. She and Bev did this thankless task for over thirty years and witnessed a huge amount of change over that time. Work for the average Canada Post rural mail carrier is far more formal today. They’re constrained on one side by union rules and the other by rigid corporate polices. For example, no longer can they drive their route ’in reverse’ and cross the road at each stop to deliver the mail from the driver’s window. Their vehicle must sport a flashing caution light on the roof and the driver must wear a high-vis vest. However, when Evelyn MacQueen and her husband Bev started delivering mail to Dunvegan rural routes #1 and #2 in 1966, things were a whole lot different. They were part of the ‘glue’ that held the tight-knit community together. Along with outgoing mail, they would collect news in this pre-Facebook era to feed the Post Office gossip machine. They’d also bring back notes to be passed along to others on the route and take around flyers for the many Dunvegan Recreation events.

On behalf of the entire community, at least what’s left of it, I’d like to express sincere condolences to Audrey, Garry and their extended family. Your sister, mother, aunt, grandmother, great grandmother and friend will be sorely missed.

GPM’s first A.I. poster

On Thursday, May 25th at 6:00 pm, museum volunteers Mona Andre and Carmella Ranellucci will be hosting a totally new fundraiser called “Paint Night.” If you’re unfamiliar with this type of event, it’s an evening of art-based fun that helps you discover your inner creativity. A knowledgeable artist will guide you every step of the way, as you paint your version of the featured image.

No experience is necessary. And all art supplies, snacks and refreshments are included in the admission price of $35 per person. However, space in strictly limited. So I’d recommend registering early. Just call Mona (343-987-7151) or Carmella (613-874-2400).

It’s interesting to note that the poster for this upcoming event features a drawing of the Dunvegan museum done using artificial intelligence or A.I. DALL-E was asked to render the image in the style of folk art painter Maude Lewis. The result is interesting, but a long way from accurate. However, it was just my first attempt.

When $10 may be greater than $15

Friday, May 5th, the date of the museum’s 2023 Annual General Meeting, is fast approaching. The first in-person AGM in three years will feature a Volunteer Appreciation award ceremony and a presentation by Glengarry’s archivist entitled, “When Royalty Came to Glengarry.”

If it’s like past AGMs, folks will start arriving around 5:30 for an informal cocktail half-hour. Then the evening’s program will start at 6:00 pm with a yummy (fingers crossed) potluck supper. A short business meeting, the award ceremony and A.J.’s unique insights into Glengarry life will follow dessert and coffee. The museum’s slate of officers and Board members for the coming year will also be approved.

Another item we might consider bringing up under ‘new business’ is the price of admission. Accounts I’ve heard suggest that today’s rate of $10 for non-members will rise to $12 or even $15, which would be a 50% increase.

Visiting the museum is a discretionary expenditure, not a necessity. In these inflationary times, could holding the line on pricing (effectively stretching the public’s entertainment dollar) result in a greater volume of guests?