Post-community daze?

7 Jun

It’s a ‘post’ world these days… from Justin’s claim that Canada is the first post-national state,to the tsunami of disturbing post-modernist thought that has surged from the ivied halls of academia. I would argue that we’re even seeing the dawn of the ‘post-community’ era, whereby the close-knit ties of neighbourhoods, hamlets and towns are being torn asunder by the Great Covid Migration. Knowledge workers emancipated by the new ‘work-from-anywhere’ ethos have flipped the switch on the Industrial Revolution and are moving from the big urban centres to more bucolic surroundings. They come in search of lower housing costs and more living space. However, as they remain firmly connected, albeit virtually, to the friends and colleagues they left behind, many are not really in search of a new community.

At a recent meeting of a Dunvegan museum committee, members decried the struggle torecruit new volunteers and how the community spirit of the region is fast waning. One, a resident of Maxville, said she barely knew anyone there any more. Another member seconded this observation and reported that the whole tenor of Vankleek Hill had changed. And closer to home, the Dunvegan Recreation Association’s recent “Meet Your Neighbours’ event drew many long-time residents, but only one newcomer. And he wasn’t even from the immediate area. Of course the DRA cadre welcomed him with open arms, but the more than sparse turnout is a sad commentary on the times.

Sunday’s switcheroo

This item is intended primarily for the active members of Kenyon Presbyterian Church in Dunvegan. Rev. Jim Ferrier asked me to inform you that, this coming Sunday, June 11th, the time of the worship service has been changed. For this week only, the service in our neck of the woods will be at 9:30 am. It will revert to 11:00 am for the Sundays that follow. For those wondering why, I gather that St. Columba (Dunvegan’s sister church) requested the switch in worship times. The 11:00 am time slot makes it more convenient for family and friends to attend the two baptisms the congregation of St. Columba have lined up for next Sunday. For more details, you could try Maggie Dean’s ‘Kirk Hill’ column.

Regalling vs. Regullying

I had a lovely note from a reader last week commenting on the long lost practice of regullying. For those who missed the item, ‘regullying’ promoted surface drainage in the days before widespread tile drainage. A horse-drawn (and, later, tractor-pulled) reguller was used to maintain the natural gullies that existed in a field.

Apparently, this reader’s father, a dairy farmer, often spoke about regulls… although, he pronounced it ‘reGALLS’, with the emphasis on the second syllable. She concluded by saying, “(Regulls) were effective until you had to drive through them taking the crop off.” To help determine how widespread the practice of regullying was, I asked for the location of her family’s farm and if she could describe the rig her dad used for regullying. Hopefully, I’ll have more news next week.

Ecclesiastical farm team

In 1967, Dunvegan’s Rev. H. Russell Ferguson compiled a small booklet on Kenyon Church’s Sunday Schools and Young People’s Society. In it, he quotes from a booklet written by the Rev. Professor D. N. MacMillan: “No less than eight Sabbath Schools have been carried on within the congregation at one time or another, and the majority of this number, have had a long and worthy history. We may well believe that these organizations are deserving of a considerable portion of the credit for the congregation’s spiritual strength.”

Rev. Ferguson suggests that the history of these Sunday schools is in lockstep with the Kenyon Church, stretching all the way back to its founding in 1840. The impression I get is that these ‘schools’ were a sort of farm team for the Church proper; they delivered religious instruction close to where the community’s children lived. For the most part, the religious classes were held in the area’s secular school buildings: Skye, Stewart’s Glen, Ireland (the tin-clad building still stands on the 8th, a bit west of Fiske’s Corners Road), Baltic’s Corners, Greenfield and Fiske’s Corners. In 1923, there was also a small Sunday school class held in a private home in Bridgeville. Apart from the main Sunday school in Dunvegan, the ‘outreach’ schools primarily operated in the summer months.

In 1967, Rev. Ferguson acknowledged that only the Dunvegan Sunday school was still operational, As he wrote: “All of these, except the Mother School at Dunvegan, are no longer in existence, due to various causes, not the least of which were the diminishing population, the centralization of secular education… and the consequent closure of the Schoolhouses throughout the area.”

Dr. Ferguson also devoted a few pages to the Kenyon Church Young People’s Society, an organization that had been founded in 1901. The Society’s main aim was to “develop the religious life of the young people.” It also fostered a commitment to charities, both missionary causes and those closer to home. For example, a 1938 donation from the Society helped with the installation of electric lighting in the church. Another testament to the impact of the Society is the list of the then current members Dr. Ferguson included at the end of his “Sketch.” It reads like a Who’s Who of the region’s notables over the past 56 years: Donald Clark, Murdie Clark, Jack Fraser, Ray Fraser, Sharon Grant, Shirley Grant, Beatrice MacLeod, Kevin MacLeod, Terry MacLeod, Merril MacPhee, Kennie MacRae, Phyllis MacRae, Glenn MacRae, Donna Nixon, Bill Shields, Helen Shields, Darwin Shields, Marianne Loewen, Maureen MacPhee and Joan Montgomerie.

The longest day

As our old friend Ken McEwen pointed out in a recent email, yesterday marked the anniversary of the largest seaborne invasion in history… D-Day. He included a quote attributed to Nazi Germany’s General Irwin Rommel, “When it comes, for both sides, it will be the longest day.”