Hamlet in our hamlet

26 Jul

If you’re reading these words on Wednesday, or even during the day on Thursday, July 27th, you’re in luck. You can still enjoy a unique evening of entertainment at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. At 7:00 pm tomorrow, a Shakespeare-in-the-park troupe from Ottawa will be preforming Hamlet. Dunvegan is just one of 40 venues the Company of Fools will be appearing in and around the capital this summer.

There are no advance tickets to buy, and no reserved seating. At the end of the play, the performers will simply ‘pass a hat’ asking for donations. The suggested amount is $20, so bring cash.

I’ve heard it said that the Company’s colourful, family-friendly approach (which includes clowns, masks, puppets and audience interaction) might be theatre, “but it isn’t Shakespeare.” This may be true from a purist’s perspective. Nevertheless, the crowds that turned out when the Company played at the museum on two previous occasions seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.

Why not decide for yourself. The play starts at 7 pm, but the gates open at 5:30 pm. So bring a picnic hamper and dine al fresco while waiting for the imaginary curtain to rise. And don’t forget your trusty lawn chair.

Take me out to the…

There was a time in Dunvegan’s past that baseball was a thing. However, when we hit town in 1980, those days were done. All that remained of the baseball diamond that had been built on the site of the hamlet’s former cheese factory was a chain-link backstop. I’m happy to report though, that baseball has been making a bit of a comeback, of late. Not in North Glengarry, of course… where soccer is still king (and queen). If you live in Dunvegan and want to follow in Babe Ruth’s footsteps, you gotta leave town.

One such outlier is Cole Williams, from the 8th of Kenyon. Cole, a multi-talented lad who, in addition to playing piano and the fiddle, also plays right field and pitches with the 14U Cornwall River Rats. Cole called to tell me that his team, after winning the District Championship, won the Provincial Championship on Saturday, besting the Oakville Whitecaps 5 to 4. This of course was a thrill for Cole and his teammates. But they’re even more pumped by the fact they’re be flying to Alberta in a few days for the Canadian Championship in Lethbridge. Cole didn’t mention it, but I notice his team has started a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of the trip. If you’d like to help sponsor a player, they’d love to hear from you.

By the way, if the River Rats were to win big in Lethbridge, their next stop will be Taylor, Michigan where they would compete in the Junior League Baseball World Series. Cole, our man on the mound, promises to keep us posted.

Our annual art show

One delightful addition to the Dunvegan museum’s events calendar in recent years has been the Glengarry Artists’ Collective Exhibit. The Collective is a non-profit association of local artists, glass workers, sculptures, writers and musicians and it brings a little culture to our neck of the woods.  The number of members participating in the show fluctuates from year to year; this season it’s seventeen. However, it’s always worth a visit.

If you’d like to give it a try, the exhibition will be held in the Big Beaver schoolhouse from July 29th to August 13th. The official opening is on Saturday, July 29th, starting with a vernissage from 11:00 to 1:00. All are welcome to attend, meet the artists and enjoy a few refreshments.

Too beautiful to burn

I had a chance to inspect the wooden floor in the Williams Pavilion last Wednesday and it is truly impressive. The design resembles a parquet floor, but on steroids. Rather than hundreds of tiny squares, it’s made up of perhaps a dozen or more very large squares, with the boards of each square laid at right angles to the neighbouring square. The boards are attached to a frame of pressure treated 2x4s laid directly on the ground.  “The new floor is essentially floating on the ground,” museum chairman Matt Williams told me.

Where did all the flooring come from? Well, it’s one of those ‘when life hands you lemons, make lemonade’ scenarios. Museum volunteers Jack Fraser and Ernie Macmillan both lost numerous ash trees to the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that probably hitched a ride in a hardwood pallet from north-eastern Asia. Rather than chopping the dying trees into firewood — “the wood was too beautiful to burn,” Ernie told me — it was decided to mill them into flooring for the pavilion. In all, Matt estimates that Jack and Ernie donated between 20 and 25 trees to the project.

Booze with a real buzz

I only have room for one of the stories I promised you last week. It comes from Tell Me Another Story by Joan Finnigan, published in 1988. In her chapter on Glengarry, she included an interview with the late Hugh P. MacMillan that went like this: “One of the Bethunes that lives at Fiske Corners, this Bethune was a bootlegger. He was also a beekeeper and he had a very ingenious system for hiding his booze.” Hugh P. went on to describe how, during the 1930s, Bethune hid this illegal liquor in his beehives. While the police searched his farm numerous times, they never found his stash. Finally one OPP officer asked him about the boxes in the field. Bethune’s evasive answer made him suspicious, so he started knocking them over. “Well, the last that was seen of him he was bailing into his cruiser and off down the road, followed by a champion swarm of bees,” Hugh P. said with a chuckle.