Tag Archives: author

Hilda Geddes — The Queen of Snow Road and the Mississippi

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Hilda Geddes — The Queen of Snow Road and the Mississippi

Hilda Geddes spun her tales, and we learned to understand ourselves.Her book-The Canadian Mississippi River by Hilda Geddes is one of the referencebooks I use all the time. I wish I had met her.

Editor’s note: This is an edited version of a eulogy given by writer Michael Dawber at the funeral of Hilda Geddes, a historian, columnist and storyteller in Snow Road Station, Ont, who died March 13 at the age of 93. By Michael Dawber The English novelist E.M. Forster wrote that “our final experience, like our first, is conjectural. We move between two darknesses.” It is the contribution we make to our community, to society, and to one another that lights the way between those two doorways.

Hilda Geddes spent nine decades making that contribution. Her contributions were enormous and freely given. Like her father John, whose remarkable diary describes the life of Snow Road Station, a hamlet west of Perth, for more than half a century to 1966, Hilda recorded in 1988 the day-to-day existence of this community, which is my home too, for close to 30 years, almost as long as I have been alive.

Like the Yukon’s Edith Josie, Hilda was a community storyteller renowned far beyond her home. I am sure everyone who live in the area has read her words, heard her stories and, through them, experienced this remarkable place. Hilda has been a fixture of Snow Road for so long that the two are part and parcel. In her book The Canadian Mississippi River, Hilda wrote: “I have always had an affinity with the big Mississippi River and the K&P Kingston and Pembroke Railroad, having been born beside both.

While I was growing up, I always had the feeling that the K& P Railway and the Mississippi River would go on forever, my home from 1912 being beside the Snow Road station. During the 27 years I worked for the federal government in Ottawa, I never lost my roots at Snow Road. She told me her interest in storytelling began after she retired from the public service in 1967. In the mid-1970s she was asked to compile a historical sketch for the Presbyterian Church centenary, and from there began a 25-year exploration of this community and the Ottawa Valley beyond.

She told the collective story of this vast place in a way accessible to everyone, with humour and character, in six books and countless newspaper columns. Hilda could spin a long yarn from earlier days, and obviously enjoyed the spinning. I will never forget the afternoon Hilda and her brother Ralph told me the story of lightning striking five different places in the family home, the two of them each building the tale higher with burning telephone lines and smoking mail sacks. And another of her many stories was a tale about the excursion trains to the Renfrew Fair. “This train was scheduled to leave Renfrew around 9 p.m., but usually would wait if all the passengers were not on tap. On one occasion, however, it pulled out on time and some of our crowd got left behind. They had gone to a movie, thinking the train would wait.”

Instead, it pulled out on time, and when they arrived at the station, all they saw were the red rear lights going out of sight. They hired a taxi hoping to catch it at Renfrew Junction, but again it had left. They went ahead hoping to catch it at Opeongo, with the same result. They were forced to stay in Renfrew all night and come down on the morning train. They were a “sheepish looking bunch.”

She said her one regret was that she had not begun her work 50 years ago, when living memory reached back to the pioneer days. It gives you pause to realize that the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk only four years before Hilda was born. The youngest generation now could not imagine the reality of that time without the stories of our elders to remind us. Hilda wrote once, “Today, our memories of the old Snow Road as told by our parents are fading, and one wonders if the following generations will ever hear of it, or remember it if they do hear the story. This was at the root of my desire to chronicle all the data I could …” We are all fortunate that she had that desire.

More than 2,500 years ago, the Greek poet Sappho wrote, “I say that, in another time, someone will remember us.” Thanks to the commitment of Hilda Geddes, we can know we will all be remembered, and so will she.

27 Mar 2001

If you have not read  The Canadian Mississippi River by Hilda Geddes.. run don’t walk!

relatedreading

The Saylor Store on Snow Road (McLaren Depot)

History of McLaren’s Depot — by Evelyn Gemmill and Elaine DeLisle

The old Cornucopia Lodge on Snow Road

A History of Snow Road & McLaren’s Depot

Margaret Closs Lanark and Snow Road- Genealogy

Mississippi Station?

McLaren Left it All to the McLeod Sisters–His Maids!

For the Love of Money-Gillies Gilmours and the McLarens

Logging Down the Line From Snow Road to Lavant to Carleton Place to Appleton to Galetta

Snow Road Ramblings from Richards Castle — From the Pen Of Noreen Tyers

Summer Holidays at Snow Road Cleaning Fish — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

Snow Road Adventures- Hikes in the Old Cave — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

Summer Holidays at Snow Road Cleaning Fish — From the Pen of Noreen Tyers of Perth

The Dear Abby of Lanark County -Mary Cook Clippings

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The Dear Abby of Lanark County -Mary Cook Clippings

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CLIPPED FROM

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
14 Jun 1980, Sat  •  Page 73

 

Mary Cook Archives

Mary and Walter Swinwood — Mary Cook News Archives 1981

The Evolution of the Women’s Institute — Mary Cook News Archives 1982

Bob Sadler’s Boat Rides –Mary Cook News Archives 1982

Carleton Place Ladies Auxiliary — Chamber of Commerce 1987– Mary Cook Archives

It’s Hard for Women to get into Office in Carleton Place — 1974 –Mary Cook

Mary Cook Archives —Philip Mailey — January 25 1983

Carleton Place a place for Mad Scientists! Mary Cook News Archives 1983

Mary Cook Archives — Rifle Ranges and Nursery Schools — September 1980

Mary Cook News Archives — The Wool Industry 1982

The Moldowans —- Mary Cook News Archives 1982

Clippings of Cheryl Coker — Mary Cook News Archives

Donald Lowry …. Mary Cook News Archives

1976 Agricultural Tour — Mary Cook News Archives

The Man Known as D.K. Findlay–David Findlay

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The Man Known as D.K. Findlay–David Findlay
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David Findlay, one of the Carleton Place clan, famous for the stoves they’ve been manufactured for a century or so. In 1942 he left law for literature. Writing had been paying him for a long time. It kept him, his wife, two boys and two girls very nicely, indeed. I had a hard time finding his work until I realized he went under the name of D.K. Findlay.
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“I was at Osgoode Hall when I sent a story to the Canadian Magazine and they paid me $4 for it”, he said.  “And they asked for more. This was wonderful. I kept on writing and I had the great, good luck to tie in with a first class agent in New York Sydney Sanders. He took very real interest in Canadian writers, and was a personal friend of the Saturday Evening Post people and helped me tremendously.”
In 1933, David Findlay made the goal of most short story writers. The Saturday Evening Post accepted and paid him $500 for what he calls a “He and She” story.  He sold many stories to the Post, Colliers, American and Red Book.  He was also at the time in 1958 correcting proofs on “Her Subliminal Mind”, a topical effort that will appeared in the Saturday Evening Post.
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He had a year in the British Isles and on the continent after he graduated from University of Toronto. He wheeled his way and through France gave him background for “Search For Amelia”, his first full length novel.  He was in England as a freelance writer with a loose contract with Maclean’s Magazine and he also got around the air fields a lot and that gave me more background for the book. His younger brother, “Jock”, one of the original night ‘fighter pilots of 406 Squadron was killed in 1941.
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CLIPPED FROM

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
16 Sep 1941, Tue  •  Page 4

David held a pilot’s licence and many ideas of love and adventure are borne on the wings of flight. What about habits of work? “I work through the morning from nine to one and I hate to be interrupted”, he said.” I’m not worth a hoot at the typewriter in the afternoon but like to go back in the evenings. It’s absolutely imperative. If you are going to be professional writer, you need to develop habit of work. Why hadn’t more of his stuff appeared in Canadian publications? “Just no market here for short stories”, he said. Macleans is about the only publication that brings out fresh stories and pays good prices. .
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It’s been my experience that the United States magazines have absolutely no prejudice against Canadian writers. And if their stories have a Canadian background they’re quite happy about that? What about the future of the short story? . . “Look at history”, David Findlay said. “Story telling is one of the world’s oldest professions. Stories have been read for four or five hundred years. People have always wanted them and the movies, radio and television clamour for them.”

Odes to Steve Sherman

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This morning Steve Sherman’s wife Kathleen emailed to say that Steve passed away on Thursday from cancer. Most of you would have known him as Another Steve on Open Salon and Steve S. on Zoomers Canada. Since Open Salon closed, Steve has always been part of an internet foursome which included: Tink, myself and Creekend UK.  It wasn’t really the writing that kept us together; it was our friendship which was always the main course, and we shared our lives on a pretty regular basis.

So, today I celebrate the life and writings of Steve Sherman with all of you. I have posted his favourite blog, and his very last. I am going to miss you sweet friend. To quote Bill T. Jones: ‘Living and dying is not the big issue. The big issue is what you’re going to do with your time while you are here.”  Steve, you spent it well, and I am proud to say you were my friend. The world will miss you, and I miss you already. 

 

 

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The, ahem, Mature Employee
Open Salon will disappear from cyberspace over then next two weeks, according to Salon Media Corporation. Jason and I published blogs on Open Salon in a time long ago and a place far away when blogs and bloggers were a big deal.
In memory of those times, I am sharing my best post from Open Salon. This was my personal favorite. Other people must have liked it as well; it generated over 58,000 unique views.
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With Apologies to Lewis Carroll and Robert Southey
“You are old, My Employee,” the young Boss said,
“And your beard has become very white;
And yet you show up every morning for work—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“Your great age,” The Boss continued in fun,
“I feared it might injure your creativity;
But now that I’m perfectly sure you have none,
I need staff a bit nearer their nativity.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “your potential too flat
For projects beyond the straight line;
Yet you act as a mentor to our most promising staff,
With their respect, which by rights should be mine!”

“In my youth,” said The Employee, “I took to my work,
And each day I increased knowledge deep”;
While in his mind ran the thought, “This is all for naught.
It’s my last day to work for this creep.”

“We have talked for two minutes, and that is enough,”
Said The Boss; “You have wasted our air!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Here’s a bag, pack your things, Now Downstairs!”

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Lewis Carroll inserted his “Father William” verse into “Alice in Wonderland” as the caterpillar’s required recitation. Carroll’s nonsense verse was a parody of a moralizing verse by Robert Southey. Today, Southey is remembered for little other than being the object of this parody.
In a sense, my verse is a parody of a parody.

I wish my poem was nothing beyond a nonsense parody. Alas, I have lived through The Employee’s experience. As I am sure have many others

 

 

 

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Photo by Steve Sherman on Zoomers: Eschscholzia Californica- April 29, 2014 at 6:57pm

 

When I’m Feeling Sadly I Find a Song and Play it Badly
Posted by Steve S
on April 10, 2015 at 11:00pm

It’s music that does the best to pick me up when I am down. Irish Whiskey, bourbon and beer are tied for second.

Isaiah was quoted in the bible as saying,”Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Although he always struck me as an old grouch, I always liked that.

When I feel down, I like to play a little music. I try to do that when no one else is around, since I am not a great musician. Most of the music I like to play is old. It varies from old hippie era to Renaissance era.

I have spent most of 2015 dealing with a painful health problem. After a discouraging doctor appointment I stopped at a local music store and bought a ukulele. I’ve played winds for years but I decided it was about time I learned a string instrument.The uke has gotten me through some painful times (for me and anyone within listening distance) and I am starting to figure it out. The uke has also pushed me into singing, which I gave up when an puberty made me a bass voice.

 

From his wife Kathleen:

After a gracious journey down this last, difficult length of his life’s path, Steve died on Thursday. Thank you all for the many ways you walked that journey with us. I am grateful for the love and support each of you gave, as was Steve.

Steve believed that you live while people remember you. So…

“Say not in grief that he is no more, but say in thankfulness that he was. A death is not the extinguishing of a light, but the putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come” ~Rabindranath Tagore.

 

Where You Can Buy My Books

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I have had several people email me this morning asking where you can buy my books. I guess I’m not very pushy because I seldom put my links on the bottom of my stories, but it is in my bio on the bottom of each story.

So here are the details– I have 6 books out and a new one will be out soon. It will be a compilation of all the stories I have written about Carleton Place and Lanark County the past year.

What the Hell Do You Really Know About Lyle Dillabough?

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This is Lyle and Jennifer Fenwick Irwin when we had the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum picnic last year. I have heard many stories about Lyle, but never met him personally until a few years ago.

Lyle is not your average bear musician. Soft spoken, kind, and has a well rounded knowledge of Carleton Place. He knows more than you think he knows, trust me. I have had a few discussions with Lyle now and love listening to his stories about the area. I personally call myself the National Enquirer reporter of local history, but Lyle is the real deal.

Lyle has a new book out and does Tales from the Troubador on Valley Heritage radioSupport someone who has stood tall in our community and remains one of the most popular storytellers in our area. Love you Lyle!

 

 

Holiday Greeting from Someone Who Writes too Much

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If you know me you get way too many Facebook notifications and emails. I write too much and really can’t really stop. I guess I’m on a mission to get the word out there. The word is– live for each second, and don’t miss a thing, because if you blink, just once– it could all go away in a minute’s notice.

Be thankful for one more day that is added to your life. Enjoy the morning light, and the moonlight, life isn’t meaningless. Even though my opinions may be opposite to yours, I try to understand. Though our ways may differ, they come from the same place, our hearts. Sometimes in life you might have to start over. Keep fighting- as it’s all about surviving. We just can’t worry life away now–time is fleeting. No matter what you celebrate–enjoy the day, and hug your family. Each minute is worth it!

Photo of the Knight Family 1956 Cowansville, Quebec.

Arthur and Bunny Knight (parents)

Fred and Mary Knight (grandparents)

Linda Knight (me)

Baby Robin Knight

All have succumbed to cancer, except me. So I write to keep memories alive. At this point in my life it seems to be everyones:)

To quote  Max Keeping on Angelo’s Obituary: “Cancer is Such a Bully”!  May we send our love in droves to Max as well as our families.