The Day That Storyland Died


My sons Perry and Schuyleur Seccaspina at Storyland

Once upon a time when songs of The Cure and Skid Row filled the air, two small boys loved to go to Storyland, which was situated right dab in the middle of the “Frew.” The small park featured a tiny mini-golf course, a small water park, live performers, playgrounds, small rides, and staff dressed as fairy tale characters. Oh how the children loved Storyland!

Durk and Bonnie Heyda, who thought life itself was a wonderful fairy tale were unable to have children. Instead, they chose to build story scenes in 1966 to amuse hikers on their way to the Champlain Lookout located at the rear of their property.

In 1973 Durk Heyda suffered a heart attack and control was handed to family friend John Berkhout. Berkhout continued the parks growth throughout the 1980s, adding mini golf, paddle boats and many additional story scenes, some including moving mechanical scenes. Sadly throughout the years the park lost its magic as children today are more interested in theme parks than they are in fairy tales.

If you see the magic in a fairy tale, you can face the future, but Ottawa businessman Todd Mattila-Hartman and his company, Great North Parks only managed to keep it for 3 years and no longer was Storyland protected by the cherished fairy tale.

It was a rainy day last Saturday when Storyland was about to lose its magic stories one by one. Tears fell from the sky as peace and happiness in Storyland can only exist in perfect conditions.  I begin to take photos and my son sends a text to the universe.

“5 mins in… This is already getting embarrassing. No wonder I don’t take her places more often!”

The auctioneer sold things quickly and my son refused to use his umbrella under the torrential rain. Noticing as a mother does that water was running down his neck, I immediately assumed the role of P. Diddy’s former assistant  Fonzworth Bently who carried a umbrella constantly over Diddy’s head. Similar to living in a fairy tale world, Bently now owns his own umbrella line. Would I have the same reward? Or would I suffer the usual universal fate?

As I approach the fairy tale gate I think of  the alluring fairies, the hungry dragons and, the savage knights in their shining armour. Somewhere, sometime, they all have been real under the blankets of my childhood.

Rapunzel tells me she knows “who is who” in the park today. The country folk are wearing rain coats, camouflage, and Duck Dynasty gear, while the the city folks are wearing shorts, short sleeves, and toting steaming cups of Starbucks.

Fairy tales should be respected and so should fashion. I eye Irene Boland from Arizona in a fabulous mock 80’s cheetah coat while she respectfully gives my “French Lieutenant Woman” coat the up and down. Strangers that have barely met speak like old friends about fashion and not about Storyland.

Some can’t seem to find their story and take cover where ever their lit cigarette finds home.

Once this dragon made small children shiver– now  his stories still refuse to die as people take photos and dream of the fire that once spewed from his mouth. Dragons always have interesting personalities and expensive dental work.

The fairy tale is not the conclusion, but the doorway to a more brilliant reality. Did The Old Woman that lived in this shoe really have that many children? Or is this the summer home of Octomom?

Fairy stories are so potent, they refuse to die, and so does the rain that keeps pounding down. No one seems to care–they are here for the bargains.

Humpty Dumpty seems angry and tells everyone, “I ate him up and didn’t let go until I had to come up for air.” Maybe that is why Humpty sold for $4000 as it takes a special person to bring a guy like that home. Constance Bay is never going to be the same!

Do people choose art that inspires them even in a fairy tale world? Obviously, as the person that bought this is turning it into a doghouse.

The stairs to the top of Storyland were evil and odious and by stair 6 my gluten tendon popped once again and I realize we are in this fairyland on sufferance — or just plain suffering.

I feast my eyes standing at the Champlain Lookout and wonder silently how I am going to get back down. The wild vision of the fairy world does not entertain me as my back upper leg throbs in pain as I nearly fall on my derriere slipping on the wet ground. What came out of my mouth at that point in time could be heard for miles throughout the Ottawa Valley below.

I am among the natives now as no matter how I look at it this house it is still crooked. Is it my dollar-store glasses?

Truly, there is magic in fairy tales and slides you played on as a child. The son exclaims in delight that his purchase was made in Paris. I grin and ask him if that might be Paris, Ontario. He gives me the look.



I have strayed into a fairy tale world of characters where anything can happen. Who knows what these three have been up to while retired in the barn. I watch Once Upon a Time–I know what goes on!

Is the word really “fairy tale” and are we just the guardians?  You must admit they both have lovely smiles.

May you never grow too old to believe in magic and fairy tales. I felt the cards come alive–and searched for my friend from Arizona so we could compare notes on their very trendy attire. My son says he will not buy them as they are in rough shape. I beg your pardon–I too am in rough shape these days. Not that there is anything wrong with it!

Some mothers may be inquisitive and accidentally break the flap of the Magic Mushroom. I suddenly hear loud voices telling me if I break it– it’s sold. I know if I turn around my son is shaking his head and going to mention I should call this blog : “How My Mother Trashed Storyland!’

There are signs from former staff everywhere and they seem to all say,’We did what we could!

“I believe that our lives, just like fairy tales – the stories that have been written by us humans, through our own experiences of living – will always have a Hero and a Heroine, a Fairy Godmother and a Wicked Witch.”
― Lucinda Riley, The Girl on the Cliff

No matter how old we are we still need to believe in fairy tales, and sadly Storyland is no more. May it forever rest in peace.


The 12-foot high fiberglass rabbit that greeted visitors at the front gate was sold to one of the little boys in the first picture–my oldest son.

The rabbit will be moving to Carleton Place so no one will ever forget Storyland. It will proudly reside (insured, lit and cemented down)  in front of Vittorio Automotive  (Vegas odds are looking at Spring:) because my son still believes in magic–like his Mother. Did I mention he believes in fashion too? Ahh, chip off the old block.

It is now being turned into Essentials Luxury Tented Camp and Spa by Nikki Laframboise.Read all about it here.

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

2 responses »

  1. This was my favourite place as a kid and I have a lot of pictures of my brother, sister and I here. So sad the story didn’t have a fairtale ending. But I am glad to see so many people wanting to have a piece of their childhood memories.


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