Being A Charles Dobbie Groupie — Balderson Before Selfies

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A selfie isn’t fundamentally about the photographer’s relationship with the camera, it’s about the photographer’s relationship with an audience. In other words, selfies are more parts communication than self-admiration (though there’s a healthy dose of that, too)  Our local museums love getting old photographs because sometimes you can see what the past was like in the backgrounds of these pictures.

I have been a groupie of many things through my life– lately, it is the historical photograph and recordings of Charles Dobbie. Here are some I wanted to share.

Photos of a Fair, at Balderson, Ont., c. 1912. Charles Dobbie

The two photographs below are from the Dawson Kerr collection in the Perth Museum, Perth, Ont. Mr. Kerr was raised in in the village of Fallbrook, Ont., just a couple of miles north-west of Balderson, where this fair was located (see Don McGregor’s email to me below). I had previously speculated on this website that the location of the fair was Fallbrook, but Don McGregor has set the record straight. The two photos show different views of the same crowd.

Photograph of fair or circus tents with crowd

Complete first photograph of a fair, Balderson, Ont.

Photograph of some people in crowd around fair or circus tent

Closeup of some people in front of the tent in the photo above.

Photograph of fair or circus tents with crowd

Second photograph of a fair in Balderson, Ont. The windmill seen over the top of the barn was installed c. 1912.

Photograph of people in crowd around fair or circus tent

Closeup of some people in the photo above.

Extreme closeup of a group in second photo

On Sept. 29, 2005 I received an email from Donald McGregor, who grew up on his grandfather’s farm which is shown in these photographs. I’ve combined his original email with two others of October 17 & 18, in which he answers my question about the fate of the original Balderson Presbyterian Church. He says in part:

” . . . The second complete set of photos is definitely identified as taken place at Balderson. The location is on the farm of James C. McGregor, presently occupied by James C. McGregor a great-grandson, and Howard J. McGregor a grandson.

The fair was set up with the tents just south of the present barn built in 1948, along side the Lanark Road (Hwy 511). I grew up in Balderson on this farm — Donald C. McGregor b. 1941.

The building on the extreme right of the panoramic view is a machine shed which was once the original Balderson Presbyterian Church built about 1839 and moved to this location . . . by my grandfather J. C. McGregor.

The “Old Church” as it was called in my farm days was moved to the very spot where the School Fair tent was located. The new Presbyterian Church was officially dedicated Sept 1904, although the old church was located temporarily close to the original location. It was therefore moved to the McGregor farm 1905. It remained as a machine shed for about 65 years until it was moved from the roadside location to an adjoining field in 1970. It remained there until it was torn down in July 1975. I was there the day that it was pulled down by chains from a tractor. Ironically, the morticed joints assembled by the earliest Scottish Presbyterians in 1839, sturdily held in place, and only after several attempts did the frame finally succumb and was pulled to the ground. Howard McGregor and his son Jim were responsible for moving and relocating and demolition.

The windmill as seen over the top of the barn, that part which is still standing at the east end of the barn beside the road, was installed in about 1912 ???

In the Perth Courier, there was reference to a prize list from this fair which I would believe included schools from the Bathurst and Drummond Twps. My uncle Neil McGregor participated in this fair and won a prize. He was born in 1901, and if attending this school would have been 10 – 11 years old.

(Quoting an) article from the Perth Courier re: School Fair at Balderson 1912 & 1913. Ten school sections were represented at the fair which probably included the schools of Bathurst and Drummond. The Balderson School was a union of both Bathurst and Drummond. In 1912 Neil McGregor won a prize for potatoes and in 1913 he placed 4th with another pupil for an oratorical presentation “Stick to the Farm”. Ironically it was Neil’s brother John (b. 1899) who was to be the farmer while Neil worked for a bank in Montreal.

The elm trees are evident in the photo. These trees lined the west side of the Lanark Road (Hwy 511) in front of the McGregor property. At one time there were close to 20 stately elms which must have been planted mid 1800’s. Several were gone before the 1940’s and the last was removed in the 1970’s for widening of the road. Also Dutch Elm disease had taken its toll, and wind storms. “

Balderson Photos 2015—Linda Seccaspina

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

2 responses »

  1. Just loved this one Linda as I also grew up in this area and know this story of the old church as well and yes the windmill was still there last time I was home .It stands like an icon for the days gone by that’s for sure! The only thing that is amiss is the spelling of Dobie as you forgot to add another D . This is a relative of mine and it should have bee spelled as Dobbie , But then maybe Mr Mcgregor had a mispronunciation of it. Just thought that this might help if you were looking for Charlie”s memoirs as he was one of the first of the historical people in the area to do a lot of research and documentation as far as I know. I used to just love visiting him for hours and listening to the stories that he would tell. His favorite saying was never forget where you come from and you will always know where you are going!
    Thanks again for such a great job!

    • Thanks Rose… I feel like I know you and I just love anything I see my him.. I have seen his name spelled so many ways– but I know you know what is the right way.. HUGGGGGG.. and Elsie Gardnier said the same saying LOLOL

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