Tag Archives: sarah cavanagh

Beware of the Lanark County Fairy Rings

Beware of the Lanark County Fairy Rings

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Die to the damp weather lots of mushrooms have been spotted through Lanark County and even the rare Blue Mushroom have been seen. If you do not know the history of the Blue Mushroom be careful around them as they are said to be food for the Leprechauns. Leprechauns eat some nuts, different types of wild flowers and mushrooms.

Did you know that under European law Leprechauns are a protected species? So if on your wanderings you happen to spot a leprechaun, you can take a picture, but you must leave the little fellow alone– even in Lanark County.


Right Next to Giant Tiger in Carleton Place


Right Next to Giant Tiger in Carleton Place

There is a said to be a  Leprechaun colony located in Portland, Oregon. The journalist who first said that it was a leprechaun colony—these leprechauns could only be seen by him—wrote about the adventures of the leprechauns who lived here. They say the leprechaun is the poor cousin of the fairy — but if you see any out and about or any fairy rings– please let me know.

Perfect Fairy Ring


Right Next to Giant Tiger in Carleton Place–There was a semblance of a fairy circle there but someone had kicked them all over. NO leprechauns for us!

fairy ring, also known as fairy circleelf circleelf ring or pixie ring, is a naturally occurring ring or arc of mushrooms. The rings may grow to over 10 metres (33 ft) in diameter, and they become stable over time as the fungus grows and seeks food underground. They are found mainly in forested areas, but also appear in grasslands or even in the Lanark Highlands.

Fairy rings are the subject of much folklore and myth worldwide—particularly in Western Europe. While they are often seen as hazardous or dangerous places, they can sometimes be linked with good fortune.

Of course it can take a darker turn when the fairies curse those humans who dare to intrude upon their circle. Locals in Somerset, England, used to give fairy rings the forbidding nickname “galley-traps” as late as the twentieth century. They believed that when a man who had committed a crime passes through a fairy ring, he is doomed to hang within the year.

In Scandinavia, you didn’t have to be a criminal to fall victim to the curse: anyone entering a fairy ring would be haunted by illusions forever after, unable to tell reality from imagination. The curse may be related to a specific aspect of life, like food: one tale warns that after taking part in the fairy’s dance circle, a man will crumble to dust at the first taste of non-fairy cooking. Other folk tales warn of more general punishments such as disease, bad luck, or an early death.

In all these tales, a ring of toadstools marks off a space distinct from the human world. Therein lies its fascination, and its peril. Whether the curious human escapes with only bruises or whether his time in fairy territory addles his brain permanently, he cannot stay with the fairies. They are beautiful and intriguing but ultimately unknowable.


How to forge ahead with wild edibles in Lanark County—Sarah Cavanagh–Hometown News-August

The world is your oyster! Well maybe not your oyster in Eastern Ontario but quite possibly your leek, your berry, your apple or your fiddlehead. We are blessed in our region to have a plentiful bounty of wild edibles right outside our door.

If you have ever considered trying your hand at the 100 mile challenge, from May to October in Lanark County is the time to do it. The 100 mile challenge refers to consuming only foods grown, raised and produced within a 100 mile radius of your home. The idea was first described by J.B. MacKinnon and Alisa Smith in the book The 100-Mile Diet. The book spurned a Canadian TV series based in Mission, British Columbia that followed six families who agreed to consume only foods grown, raised and produced within a 100 mile radius of their home for 100 days.

You might be saying to yourself – I live in town, it’s not like I have access to a 100 acre farm! Alas, there is no need. This afternoon, I had a delightful bowl of wild berry crumble foraged from my backyard right in the heart of Carleton Place. You don’t need to go into the depths of the wild to find wild edibles (although it certainly offers more variety). Many can be found in backyards, parks and along public trails.

Now a word of caution to the novices in our midst. Never eat anything you aren’t 100 per cent sure is edible. Ask a local, sign up for a foraging seminar or grab a copy of the Peterson Field Guide. Many poisonous plants are mistaken for edibles and some are only edible in certain stages of growth or have certain parts of the plant that can be eaten. All wild mushrooms are a bit of a forager’s Russian roulette so study up. The reward is some delicious (and free) meals for the summer.

There are some great local resources for the foragers among you. The Valley Wild Edibles Facebook page as over 900 members, all discussing wild edibles and sharing tips and tricks.

In the past few years there have been a variety of “wild food” walks in our area hosted by groups such as the Lanark Wild Food Club. Bodywork for Women, a local company that hosts workshops and offers therapies for myofascial release, lymphatic drainage, Chinese therapeutic massage and reflexology,  hosted two talks this spring at the Carleton Place arena. You can find their page on Facebook at: facebook.com/getherfixednow/if you’d like to keep an eye out for their 2018 offerings.

These are great opportunities to learn from experts and hone your food hunting skills. The Wild Garden (www.thewildgarden.ca) hosts learning walks and online resources for the new forager. The company also offers monthly herb boxes that the website describes as an “opportunity to connect with and learn about the wild edible and healing plants of the Ottawa bioregion.” There is a theme each month and edibles are delivered to your door. Typically the boxes contain a loose tea blend, an infused honey/syrup or vinegar, a seasoning blend, a preserve, salve, incense etc.

Another great online resource is www.ediblewildfood.com, which provides recipes and blog posts on how to survive on wild edibles at various times of the year.

You may find you are not such a novice once you get reading up on the practice. There are some classic spring favourites like dandelions (which can be used in salads, as a coffee substitute or to make syrup), wild leeks, asparagus and fiddleheads that many of us local Lanark kids have harvested, eaten or at the very least heard about.

Once you hit the sweet spot between mid-June and late July the berries are plentiful – we have classics like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, but also some lesser known treasures like the gooseberry. These are commonly foraged items and most of you, like me, probably spent many childhood afternoons filling your faces with every sweet thing we could find growing in the fence line.

Once mid-September hits, we’ll be filling our baskets with apples that are ripe for the picking down most backroads.

There are some less common but equally delectable options – alfalfa, bull thistle, cattails, sunflowers and milkweed are all wild edibles. In fact nothing is quite as astonishing as the versatility of a cattail.

Something to remember if harvesting wild food, specifically in spring, is to never over harvest. If you want the crop to return next year you have to leave some behind and be weary of the roots. Only take what you can use. Also it’s a good to pay attention to where you are foraging to make sure there are no obvious area pollutants or bad water sources that could make the food unsafe for you to consume. Basically avoid chemical spray zones, factories or right along a big highway.

This article was first published in the August issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our August issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer or read their digital version.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)


The Faeries of McArthur Island- Dedicated to the Bagg Children

The Sugar Bush Fairy at Temple’s Sugar Bush

The Dreams of a Sugar Plum Fairy

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So What’s Going On at Home Depot or Rona Land?




Photo by Bill and Carole Flint- our local sky pilots

My Carleton Place friend Sarah Cavanagh is also a writer for Hometown News like I am- and does tons of other local community things you have no idea about. I am hoping when I pass on to the Little House on the Prairie in the sky she carries on for me– as there is no one else I’d rather have write about our area.

Our Sky Pilot Bill Flint took this picture this week and it made me wonder..

So, Sarah Cavanagh–what is going on there?

The Beckwith Trail?

It’s the paved straight part at the top of the picture with the road that veers to the right. (the end of that side road is the pond) It runs straight past Home Depot to the 10th line and then from the 10th line to the 9th line of Beckwith.

The first part of the trail is mostly farmer’s fields, but there’s a pond off to the side the kids like to throw rocks in and there’s frogs and minnows.  Although it’s used often as a dumping ground 😞 the 10th line to the 9th line portion is really nice. It is well treed and maintained and has a lovely section through the wetlands with cat tails taller than we are. It comes out just down the road from Beckwith Park.


The best thing to happen to that whole area will be the development of it actually. 
I was researching the development plans for the area, and it actually sounds very nice – a community centre, 2 new elementary schools, parks, 15 hectres of natural space/park…sounds a lot nicer then the dump for sure! 


Thanks Sarah…for all you do!

Thank You Sarah Cavanagh & Hometown News



Months ago the North Industrial Park of Carleton Place was renamed The Dunlop Business Park after a 51 year promise to the Kenny family. In November I posted that  a decision had been made and the name was officially changed.

However in the local newspapers and town council meetings, I still see and hear it being referred to as the North Industrial Park even though the name has officially changed. The Kenny family is also waiting for the street sign to physically change. These past few weeks I had a few inquiring emails, and I wish to assure everyone that Deputy Mayor Jerry Flynn and Councillor Brian Doucett said they would look after it.

In this month’s edition of Hometown News there is an article by our roving reporter Sarah Cavanagh  who correctly calls it –Carleton Place–News From the Dunlop Business Park.

Thank you Sarah it made me smile.

Pick up the latest copy of Hometown News at Independant Grocers, FreshCo, Apple Cheeks Consignment, Murray’s Furniture & Flea Market, MacEwen Gas Bar, Carambeck Community Centre, The Owl Cafe and The Eating Place




Read All About it in Your Hometown News





Local Carleton Place promoter and resident Sarah Cavanagh has an article on page 12 about the facelifts to Carleton Place arena. She also also wrote the piece about the Carleton Place free Christmas dinner.


When Corn Doesn’t Grow- Neilson Chocolate Will– by Linda Seccaspina



“William’s Grandmother sent them money to make a fresh start, so Neilson decided to open a grocery store in Toronto in 1867. Sadly, he didn’t have much luck with that store and the business went bankrupt three years later”.

To read the rest of the article I wrote, check it out on page 16 about the Neilson family.

Now available in Carleton Place–You can pick up the free newspaper at a multitude of places in Carleton Place like: FreshCo  and Independent.



From the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum’s Facebook page:

On page 16 of the new “Hometown News” paper, I discovered an article about the Neilson family of Appleton. Did you know that William Neilson – a local lad – was THE William Neilson Limited of ice cream and chocolate fame??? A quick search of our collection revealed this Christmas card sent to local tobacconist Henry Schwerdtfeger from William

Life on the Farm in Photos From Gillies Corners –1950s


Sarah Cavanagh from Carleton Place sent me these pictures yesterday of life on the farm in Gillies Corners. They tell a of hard work like the Edwards family in Carleton Place. Sarah sent along a small photo bio:

“They aren’t too old 1951-55. They are photos from the farm my dad grew up on (and still lives on) in Gillies Corners. 4/5 are from 1955 and picture the family harvesting  the season’s hay. The hay barn in the pictures is still used today. The one (of the 2 men sawing) is from 1951. The little boy on the tractor in the one hay picture from 1955 is my dad at 6yrs old. The women in the house dress unloading the loose hay is my Grandmother (Irene Brown) helping my Grandfather (Bill Stevens). And the 1951 picture is my Grandfather (Bill Stevens) and a neighbor sawing barrels in half with the bucksaw”.






Life in North America in the 50s was dominated by hot and cold wars. This period began in 1950 with the Korean Conflict. It ended with the Vietnam War. And everyone lived with an uneasy Cold War in between when life seemed to teeter on the brink of all-out nuclear attack.there were more immediate concerns, as it may have been for most farm families during this time. They were aware of the world events, but were more concerned with keeping the family and the family farm together. It is pretty evident in these pictures that Sarah’s grandparents felt the same way.

Tea and Fuzzy Socks — Facebook Chat with Sarah Cavanagh



Sarah, can you write me a bio so I can write about you?

Begin Facebook chat……………..


Since I hate writing in reference to myself (most especially in the 3rd person) I am going to jot this down in the 1st person. I am a 36 year old mother of 3 (Jackson-4yrs, Alexander-2yrs and Lyla 6mnths) living in Carleton Place. I am married (going on 2 years now) and life is pretty, well ordinary. I am the owner of Ariza Consulting (started in 2007) and my company provides a number of support services to businesses. I am a jill of all trades – I write, edit, organize, train, advise and plan. Having had 20+ jobs in the last 19 years I am have acquired many different skills and as such I am able to offer clients “the corporate boardroom on a small business budget”. I am happy to have worked with some wonderfully talented local people and businesses as well and connect businesses to each other when their needs are outside my wheelhouse (or if I’m too busy to take on more work solo).

These days I haven’t had much time for hobbies. Before I had small children in the house I wrote and read a lot, I’m a history buff and love a good chat about philosophy or politics. Once upon a time I painted quite a lot and I still do I suppose if you count crafts with my kids. I could say that community events are a hobby of sorts. I love taking an idea and making it a reality and bringing something unique to our area at the same time. I live by the philosophy that where you live is more than just an address so in keeping with that I try in any way I am able to improve where I live, to support my community and neighbours and to try to fill gaps where I can.

I love that my children are growing up in a town where they are involved and invested in what happens, where store owners know them by name and where they feel safe among their neighbours. When I started volunteering on the Facebook group/page, the Carleton Place Social Scene (oh gosh like 4yrs ago now), I wanted very much to create a space that encouraged neighbours to get to know each other and to be active in the community, a place to ask questions, get information and promote all the things I loved about living here. I think the reason it’s been successful is that Lisa started the group with that same vision and once the two of us came together in this shared goal there was nothing stopping us! I am so proud of the work we’ve done with the group. That people in our community share ideas and stories together and in doing so make changes and spark new traditions. The Carleton Place Winter Carnival was born on that group wall (as were a number of other community events and initiatives), I am truly honored to be a part of it.


I grew up on a farm in Franktown (just outside of Carleton Place), we raised pigs and chickens and sheep, grew a variety of crops and lived a pretty simple country life. I have 2 younger brothers (1 my Irish twin, sharing my birthday on January 1st). I attended high school in Perth (St John’s Catholic High School) and was always a bit of a nerd. I loved unique things and hunted through my grandparents attic and thrift stores for clothes instead of the trendy malls of my peers, I cast off the music of my generation and worshiped at the alter of The Doors, Janice Joplin and the Beatles. I was an odd duck but a studious one and school was always something that I enjoyed. To this day I still love learning something new, studying or taking on a new project.

I started school young so graduated at 17 and went to University at Trent in Peterborough where I studied Anthropology and English Literature for 2 years before returning to the area following my parent’s divorce. I moved to Carleton Place actually, rented an apartment above where Natural Pet Foods is today and my youngest brother moved in with me to finish High School at Notre Dame. After that I bounced for a number of years, living with family and then in Brockville and Kingston. When in Kingston I attempted to resume my studies at Queens (Sociology) and attended for 1 year before moving to Calgary with my roommate for a whole new adventure (If you do the math that’s 3 years of study and alas no degree – I think, to date, it’s my only regret).

We decided on a whim to go west and without jobs or friends or anything more than a couple of cats and a couple of suitcase we hopped a plane. I worked for a cell phone software company and as a video store clerk, I tasted sushi for the first time (I love it!), acquired a love of country music and the rodeo and saw the Rockies. My job involved managing teams of translators and at times I had a team of 300+ people. I enjoyed getting to know them from afar and would send weekly team newsletters and celebrate each of their unique languages and cultures. I had team members on every continent and learned so much about each of their country’s history, language and culture. I loved my work and rose quickly in the ranks, I even started a social committee (of course and arranged with a local pub to offer happy hour drink/app specials on Friday afternoons to our company. I wrote a newsletter, encouraged team building events and training and made my home away from home, a little more familiar.

After a year I came back to Ontario, living in Rideau Ferry on the water with my brother for another year or so and worked for a real estate company but finally a fantastic job offer lead me back to Calgary for another nearly 2 years before my roommate and I (and our cats) landed in the Glebe in downtown Ottawa. More adventures followed as 2-single 20 something gals explored the big city. We were blessed to have moved into a building with a handful of apartments, the majority of which were occupied by young women similar to us. It was a sorority type experience and we made fast friendships. It’s in the Glebe where I got that first taste of community-based living. It was like its own little self-contained world of fine dining, art, trendy shops and community events. We had parties on the front lawn that all the neighbours came to and watched the world go by from our front porch and at times it felt like we were in our own little bubble. In those years between University and the Glebe I also travelled (something I never thought I’d be able to do growing up). I went to Mexico, Dominican, Ireland and Scotland. I fell in love with Europe and still hope to go back one day. At 27 I decided I wanted to buy a house and take my life in a new direction. I shopped around and found an affordable little wartime home in Smiths Falls…suddenly I was a home owner (still had the 2 cats).

I met and started to date my now husband, went to Vegas for my 30th birthday, Steve and I then travelled together to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and a friend’s wedding and then came home and moved in together (into a little house in Carleton Place, same 2 cats) and the rest, as they say is history.


I’m a pretty ordinary girl, a mama who loves her kids and exploring the world with them, a wife who truly believes her husband is the absolute best decision she ever made, a friend (a good one I hope) and a pretty decent neighbor.

Facebook Chat Conversation End

 In the end I kept the chat as it as I could have not written this any better because— in my mind Sarah is no ordinary girl!