Tag Archives: Enviroment

Hilda Geddes — The Queen of Snow Road and the Mississippi

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!


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

Town Council Speech About the Hackberry Tree– Update on ‘The Tree”

Town Council Speech About the  Hackberry Tree– Update on ‘The Tree”



Credit to Emily Nicole Stanzel for raising the issue and starting the Petition!!

Last night at the council meeting I was going to read this:

People are very proud of their local history, but don’t always express how much they value something until it’s threatened. Because it adds character and distinctiveness to an area, heritage is fundamental in creating a ‘sense of place’ for a community– like this Grandfather Hackberry Tree that rumour on the street is that McArthur Island developers want to remove and replace with a smaller new Hackberry tree for a traffic circle.

I have been assured by a few couple of council members that there is no danger to this tree, and then I have heard from a few very reputable sources that it has to come down for the traffic circle and will be replaced by another Hackberry tree.

I personally cannot not change anything no matter how much I care and I consider myself to be a tree lover, not a tree hugger. As a tree lover, I believe that some trees are assets and some trees are liabilities. This tree is an asset to our town and I would hate to see this 120 plus year-old tree come down and be replaced.

Maybe I am jumping the gun, BUT the most basic requirements of a modern municipality should be a tree cutting bylaw, a registry of heritage trees, and I am hoping that this tree will never even be considered to be on the danger list.



After great discussion Councillor Sean Redmond, Jerry Flynn and Doug Black said that the tree was staying, unless it has issues. My heroe, Jim McCready, who is a Registered Professional Forester/ Certified Arborist and does work for Carleton Place had a detailed report of several other Hackberry trees on the island that he also wants to save– so stay tuned.

But thank you everyone.. thank you

Save the tree Sign the Petition

Re: The McArthur Island Tree– Should it Stay or Should it Go?

Screenshot 2017-12-03 at 17.jpg

Tuesday night Council December 12th meeting agenda

Received from Joanna Bowes, Manager of Development Services
Addressed to Planning and Protection Committee
Date October 13, 2017
Topic DP3-04-2017, 150 Mill Street, McArthur Island



Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.” –― Cree Indian Prophecy 

The McArthur Island Tree– Should it Stay or Should it Go?

Lizzie Brunton Goes One on One with the Carleton Place Hackberry Tree


Carleton Place Fallout– When and Where Does it End?


Kate Hurdis I just wanted to share this link. Anyone interested can special order Hackberry trees through the Carleton Place Nursery. Continue repopulating the Hackberry tree population and support local business.




The Tale of “Hackaberry Found” in Carleton Place


Dream a Little Dream About the Hemlock Tree



So What Happened to The Findlay House Stone?


The McCarten House of Carleton Place–Ginko Tree


The tree stays

Carleton Place’s official tree avoids axe




So Can I Pillage the Land Freely in my town?




Oingo Boingo! Bobolink Birds Bothered- Concerns-Carleton Place Citizens #2


When Were Some of the Trees Planted in Riverside Park?



Lost Lanark Legacy Fruit Trees– Need Help!



The Faeries of McArthur Island- Dedicated to the Bagg Children



Whatever Happened to the Lanark County Greening Apple?

collagelost trees.jpg

Are we in Neverland? Concerns from Carleton Place Citizens #1

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Carleton Place? What if You or I did This?


Yup, here she goes again some are saying, and you know what? I don’t blame you.

But, someone has to care what is going on here at the end of Lake Ave West– without the approval of County Council. Please attend the next council meeting on–Tuesday, September 20, 2016 Council Chambers at 7:00 p.m if you do and voice your opinion to your councillor. If this was me or you who caused this–would we be put somewhere without a key.

Do we need a bloated development like this new one  in Carleton Place at the end of Lake Ave West? Do we need to put a stormwater management pond on our town-owned parkland–Roy Brown Park? The “Bodnar Project” will add close to 600 new homes and cars.

 Pre-construction has already destroyed the wildlife corridor and eco system– and nothing has been built yet. This is inexcusable – it’s the proverbial biting the hand that feeds us.

RECORDED VOTE for the stormwater management pond and the way this land looks– Mayor Antonakos Yea– Councillor Black Nay– Councillor Doucett Yea– Deputy-Mayor Flynn Yea– Councillor Fritz Nay– Councillor Redmond Yea –Councillor Trimble Nay

Mark Smith added:

I’ll bet there won’t be different flowers in bloom during the different seasons, or butterflies, bees, dragon flies, green frogs, grass snakes, the 2 species of Ground Nesting Sparrows will be gone as well as most of the ground feeding birds since there will be no insects left, and I’ll bet no Monarchs either since there is very very little left of the Milkweed. (tiny little patch off to the side in the lower meadow within the Natural Environment area)

Wonder where they are going to get the water to water the planted grasses or sod, after they lay it, from now on… and on and on and on…. since there is NO tree cover or any plans for any (non shown), it will be in a huge open field and exposed to the sun from early morning till late evening with the same grasses as in your lawn. Imagine what your lawn would look like exposed to the sun morn till night without any watering this past summer!


Excerpt  from Policy Review Committee – August 16th, 2016 – Page 5

THAT staff engage Stantec and Cavanagh Construction, on a time and material basis, to construct Phase 1 of Roy Brown Park so that the pavilions and signage can proceed.

Pictures of what it used to look like and the nature shots you will not
see again (all the Meadows except a tiny, small tight spot are GONE)

The work to be done by the Developer is a dog park, flat structure  and open grass area (Phase 1) Why it is being stripped of top soil I cannot understand.– Photos and text by Mark Smith








DSCF3114-long grass.JPG



The ground cover also destroyed/damaged in the Northern Meadow when putting
in the trails. It appears to me they just drove where ever they wanted
to without any consideration for the ground cover (very thin, on bedrock).- Photos and text by Mark Smith



No longer exists


No longer exists


They also destroyed 1 of the only 3 birch trees in the park (I believe)
and badly damaged another putting the trail through from the swamp
culvert (Gas line trail) to Boundary road–Photos and text by Mark Smith


How much more?

Related Reading:

This week in—Really Carleton Place? Really?

Oingo Boingo! Bobolink Birds Bothered- Concerns-Carleton Place Citizens #2

It’s Your Decision– Roy Brown Park

So Can I Pillage the Land Freely in my town?




Photo by clearscience


Mark Smith on carletonplace.com answered the question about deviating the forest:

Until you make a formal application to the Planning Department the Town does not require any studies (Environmental, Tree Counts etc etc)

Currently the County has Control over large Parcels of Land with forested areas but (I Understand) their previous ‘tree cutting’ Bylaw was unenforceable at the current time.

The County is in the Process of updating the bylaw that would cover any lands (conditionally with trees) over 1 HA (apx 5 acres), this still leaves small parcels of land 1Ha or less where the Owner can do as they wish. (thats some 20-35 houses per Ha)

The Town needs a Bylaw that would cover treed areas of less than 1Ha.

Personally if a Home Owner (Single/Duplex) wants to cut down the trees in his yard, well okay, but to cut down all the trees on a property and put up a triplex town houses that should be covered by a Town Bylaw.

This is a touchy situation as most people don’t want the Government to tell them what to do on their own land and I do agree up to a point.–MGJSmith


Diverdown replied:

So if I get this right Mark, if I take a chainsaw, go on town property, cut a tree down, I’d end up in court.  If a developer goes on town property devastates a forest they do so with impunity.  I’d get charged most likely with public mischief or destruction of public property (they’d probably seize my chainsaw) but we have no by-laws stopping developers.  Interesting!


A philosophical question, why do we have zoo keepers if we let the animals run free?


Are you Mad Enough yet?


ODD FACTS-St. James Gate has a tree on their Bridge Street property that interferes with their patio. It’s not a big tree but, the town would not allow them to take it down. Of course we can take 200 Maples down. Granted it was a Hackberry Tree. Councillors voted to protect it. Were there any rare trees in that forest they cut down?


Related reading”

Is This What You Want Carleton Place?

Are we in Neverland? Concerns from Carleton Place Citizens #1

Oingo Boingo! Bobolink Birds Bothered- Concerns-Carleton Place Citizens #2

Carleton Place resident asks council to reconsider Roy Brown Park use

Bears and Foxes Seen in the Carleton Place Appleton Almonte Area

CPHS Students Declare War on Mississippi Lake – 1973



Our Mississippi Lake became a battlefield for some 60 Carleton Place High School Students who declared war in Lanark County in July of 1973. Armed with an Opportunities for Youth grant they spent every weekday carrying out a massive biological study of Mississippi Lake. Laurie Mace’s group was concentrating primarily on the lake between Carleton Place and Inisville. Miss Mace said, “It’s really not really a lake, it’s an enlargement of the Mississippi River”.

Monday to Friday the group met at Carleton Place High School where they set up up headquarters and then proceeded to cruise the lake. Not only was their data collected by both Ottawa Universities, health units and cottage associations—they took it farther than that. The group was prepared to testify in court against anyone they found contributing to lake pollution.


The students had problems with fishing, and were chased away by the OPP, as they tried to catch mudpout at night  The police claimed their boats had improper lighting. The students were also working for the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority’s SWEEP program. SWEEP- “Students Working on Enviromental Enhancement Programs” was once a provincially summer work program. The group, including 20 girls, cleaned up illegal dumps, and removing refuse from roadsides and streams. They also repaired embankments –attacking weeds, and made flower beds. In Carleton Place they even helped spruce up the town’s old railway station.

Supervisor Bill Barrie was pleased that they had built a new raft for swimming lessons in Carleton Place when the town’s original one was smashed. These students made $2.00 an hour. The pay was low, the spirit tremendous because the students believed the work was meaningful.

What’s happening today?

Top photo- Linda Seccaspina

Circa 1970’s CPHS graduates photo- files of The Carleton Place Canadian- Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

Seasonings of the Beckwitch


Yesterday I wrote about the Witches of Rochester Street. Most of that story was true, with the exception of Martha Stewart. As far as I know, Martha’s spatula has never hit the town lines. Last week however, I met the closest I will ever come to pioneer sustainable agriculture advocate Alice Waters. If you have never heard about her, it is because she is an icon in the United States.

Water’s philosophy is that cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. She is a passionate advocate for a food economy that is “good, clean, and fair.” For nearly forty years, her restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, Ca. has helped create a community of scores of local farmers and ranchers whose dedication to sustainable agriculture assures the restaurant a steady supply of fresh and pure ingredients.

Our local “Beckwitches” are actually comprised of husband and wife Penny and Greg Foster. They make their products together, and have even involved their children into their business. In addition to the soaps and hand made goods, they are now are branching out to garlic (planted last fall in the rain with baby in tow) and heirloom vegetables. This year The Beckwitch will be growing glass gem corn, about 15 varieties of tomatoes, and all their own hot peppers for their infused salts.

Greg and Penny are Beaver leaders with 1st Beckwith Beavers. They are also giving their garden education to the Beaver colony as well. They already brought them to the dairy farm to give them a taste of farming and they even milked the cows.They have five children ages 2 through 18, and built their forever home at the front of the family dairy farm.


The Beckwitch’s concept was built on upcycling and being environmentally responsible. They try and buy local where they can, they re purpose as much as possible (chip bag pouches for instance) and want to promote edible propagation. They harvest and preserve most everything, dehydrate what they can’t and are known to gift their produce within the community to others.

This gifting concept led them to another idea – The “Free in CP – Gracious Giving and Receiving” FaceBook Group. They have almost 300 members as of today (all local to CP) and the group runs on kindness and kind words – and everything is free! It is a free cycling group with manners (and they do enforce it!). They have met so many individuals through their group and believe it is bringing the community together, not to mention reducing waste in our landfills. The Free in CP group has also provided Penny an avenue to request needed items for her Angel Gowns, where she makes angel gowns and wraps for babies born too soon or still from donated wedding gowns.

In 1996, Alice Water’s commitment to education led to the creation of The Edible Schoolyard at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School: a one-acre garden, an adjacent kitchen-classroom, and an “eco-gastronomic” curriculum. By actively involving a thousand students in all aspects of the food cycle, The Edible Schoolyard is a model public education program that instills the knowledge and values we need to build a humane and sustainable future.
Recently Penny has begun to receive donations for her own school garden projects. Her first school garden project will be at St. Gregory’s school in Carleton Place next month where she will help 277 students make classroom gardens. There will be themes like pizza garden, herb garden and perennial garden, with the hopes that she can convince the schools to make outdoor gardens at each school.

This serves many purposes as it will not only teach the students about edible propagation but high school students can manage the gardens over the summer and earn their volunteer credits too. Jessica Pettes, (wife of Chef Dusty Pettes from Ballygiblins) has graciously offered to assist her with the school garden projects.

If this wasn’t enough, Penny also works full time as a senior analyst with National Defence and a full time graduate student at the University of Ottawa. This is her fourth university degree. Her previous research pursuits were on a gendered perspective of mentoring women, and she is an academic and a published author of two peer reviewed articles on the subject. Her current research through the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa involves the gendered perspectives of entrepreneurial identity, to help contribute to women specific business research.

What do Greg and Penny do in their spare time? According to Penny they sleep sometimes!

The Beckwitch

522 9th Line East
Carleton Place, Ontario
(613) 508-1199
Penny Needs a few things for her  school garden project.. Please read here!
Photo of  Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School– I watched this grow and they had chickens too!

Carleton Place- The Happiest Damn Town in Lanark County

For the Facebook Group:

Tilting the Kilt, Vintage Whispers from Carleton Place by Linda Seccaspina is available at Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street, the Carleton Place Beckwith Museum in Carleton Place, Ontario and The Mississippi Valley Textile Mill in Almonte.  available on all Amazon sites (Canada, US, Europe) and Barnes and Noble