Coming Face to Face with Town ‘N Country History

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Photo from Lost Ottawa

Yesterday I met a wonderful woman who had stories to tell. I always try to respect people’s privacy, but I was so captivated that she and her late husband once owned the Town ‘N Country Restaurant on Carling and Richmond in Ottawa I had to write about it. At 90 years old this woman has more recollections than I do at 65, and she captivated me in the short time we spoke.

 

In days gone by there were not many ‘good’ & affordable restaurants in Ottawa and the Town ‘N Country Restaurant was indeed a restaurant on the ‘edge of town’. But where else would your server give you swizzle sticks for your Shirley Temples, or enjoy a  Mickey Mouse ice cream Sundae, even if it wasn’t always on the menu.

 

Even if the Town ‘N Country Restaurant was demolished in 1978 it will still be memories of the place to go for special occasions. It was fondly nicknamed to some the “Green Valley West”  with its white linen, dark wood, and very good food.

 

All sorts of special dinners and events took place here over the years. The restaurant was frequently used for meetings and receptions of all kinds and Chicken Kiev and the French Onion Soup was something to remember.

 

I asked her yesterday what the most popular thing she served at the Town & Country Restaurant and she didn’t miss a beat and said quite emphatically,

 

“The roast beef!”

 

According to the newspaper archives the prime rib was indeed the best in the area and for some it was the very place they enjoyed their first lobster meal. Did you know in the 1950s former world heavyweight boxing legend Joe Louis would come to Ottawa as a celebrity judge or referee and he would insist on coming here for the chicken livers which he said were the best in the world. I had no idea about that tidbit but she told me she had quite the hand in the menu. She would try dishes at home and then ask the chef if he would try out her recipe for the restaurant. Chefs today are finicky about advice but she told me in those days they put all her dishes on the menu. After all she said, you had to have what people wanted and if it wasn’t on the menu they would go elsewhere.

 

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Photo from Lost Ottawa

Along with the the beautiful needlework portraits of old “Quebecois” characters that hung on the dining room walls there was that Duck a L’orange everyone talked about right down to the beloved foot long hot dogs.
Even though a Shopper’s Drugmart has replaced what was once Ottawa’s dining history we must remember that memories are special moments that share our history. Yesterday this woman gave me 100 feelings, a 1000 thoughts and a 100 memories. Today I was able to document a little Town ‘N Country Restaurant history– as even though she was a stranger, in reality we are all strangers with memories.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown Ne

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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.

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