Honey Fair 2023 is toast

21 Jun

I’m sad to say that, for this year at least, the Glengarry Pioneer Museum’s 2023 Honey Fair has been cancelled due to a lack of vendors and presenters. The decision was reluctantly reached at last week’s meeting of the event’s planning committee. Disappointing news, given that last year’s Honey Fair debut was such a great success. Last August, committee co-chair Jim Mullin told me that every vendor he spoke with did very well. “The exhibitors are already looking forward to next year’s event,” Jim said.

But that was then. When the participation registration requests went out this year, the response was underwhelming to say the least. Perhaps it was the event’s new date, in July rather than August. Feedback from last year’s participants had suggested that the event be held sooner. But the new timing may not have been best for everyone. Another factor may have been the day of the week chosen for the event. Saturdays may not be the ideal choice as they can conflict with local farmers’ markets. Or perhaps it was the weather. As Jim’s co-chair Louise Leblanc Mazur explained it in an email announcing the cancelation, “We understand that it has been a difficult winter and spring for beekeepers and flower growers. Many beekeepers are rebuilding their yards…” Regardless of the reason (or reasons), the bottom line is that it’s a lose-lose-lose for the public, exhibitors and museum.

Nevertheless, there’s always next year. In her email to past participants, Louise went on to say that the committee is looking for a date next season that hits the sweet spot forbeekeepers and flower growers. “Our event last year was a wonderful success,” Louise wrote, “and we feel that we need to make sure the next one is as successful.”

Smith-In news to come

Unfortunately, I have yet to receive any information on how this past weekend’s blacksmithing festival went at the Dunvegan museum. So my report on this event will have to wait until next week.

“Dear diary” snippets

I never realized how mobile the residents of Kenyon Township were back in the late 1800s. At age 24, Donald D. Kippen, son of Duncan Kippen and Annie Sinclair of Lot 29, Concession 4, penned a diary on the blank pages of an old accounts book from a Montreal dry goods merchant. As his entries reveal, Donald and his family — and a number of their neighbours — were members of the church in Dunvegan. His writings offer some interesting insights into life in those days. Here are a few of the highlights.

April 5, 1880 – Monday we were boiling sap. Today made only a few gals. Tomorrow is the first Tuesday of April. That is the day of the Annual meeting of the congregation of Dunvegan Church. Donald (The Bush) Sinclair is to go up there to give an account of his stewardship. The roads are bad – likely he will go on horseback (7 miles). William McDonald, the Black shoemaker, came up today. He has to make boots for Rob, Dune, and I. It will take him nearly a week.

January 7, 1881 – Christmas and New Year’s passed quietly. A little party at Donald Kippen’s. A social at Dominionville. Service in Dunvegan Church New Year’s Day. The bottom went out of one of their coal stoves and they had to go into the old church.

In the following entries, “Town Hall” is the original name for the hamlet of Greenfield. It took this from the Kenyon Township town hall that was built there. The stone building still stands today and is used by the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. It’s also worth noting that the $21 Donald was paid on the 15th of October, 1881 is worth well in excess of $550 today.

October 11, 1881 – Last night the first regular express train came to the Town Hail. There was a little shin dig (sic) at John McPhee’s. Taking up our potatoes today – they are good.

October 15, 1881 – Today was payday for the Railroad, at the Town Hall. I got $21.00 from McDonald for hauling stones

October 16, 1881 – Got my first ride on the Canada Atlantic Railway from the Town Hall to Charlie Roy’s Corners after water.

I know that the science is settled and the lack of snow these days is the result of global warming and the need for more diversity, inclusion and equity. However, it would appear that, even in Donald’s day, you’d have to wish long and hard for a White Christmas. It was probably Henry Ford’s fault for dreaming about the internal combustion engine. You’ll note that Donald and his contemporaries were using horse and carriages in the middle of the winter.

November 15, 1881 – No snow. We are threshing at Duncan Sinclair’s for two days. Threshed 21 bushels of spring wheat of a sowing of two. The train went west yesterday and did not get back yet. The railroaders are almost gone.

December 25, 1881 – No sleighing yet.  Christmas Day. I was at Charlie McDonald’s Sunday School tea at Hugh Kippen’s. A horseback ride all alone.

January 18, 1882 – Rob and I were at the Concert in the New Independent Church at the 17th (at St. Elmo). Nice time singing, speeches, and a tea party. It was the carriage we had. Good carriage roads.

February 3, 1882 – Sacrement Sunday at Dunvegan tomorrow in Dunvegan (sic). Pretty cold.

February 16, 1882 – I and my friend Jane Ann were at a pay ball at the Hall. The Martintown singers could not come up, so it was disappointing. It was the carriage we had – roads not bad for carriages.

If we have the space, we may look at a bit more of Donald Kippen’s fascinating diary in next week’s column.