Tag Archives: storyland

More Memories of the Storyland Bunny

More  Memories of the Storyland Bunny

Sometimes people drop the nicest things in your mailbox. Last week I got a photo and a message from Pat McFarlane. Thanks Pat! It was all about the Storyland Bunny that sits in my yard.

Keep sending those memories in!!

  • The Storyland Bunny was a great joy to their family and visitors. John and her husband Richard ( Dick) met when we were all much younger before children at the Bank of Montreal. In those days we all got transferred often and kept track of our friends.
  • We visited John and Maria in Renfrew on our honeymoon ( before Storyland) and we kept in touch when he lost Maria.
  • The boys on the top left are Richard (Toronoto) and Kevin (Carleton Place).The young boy in red I have no idea.
  • Ronald (Toronto)- Girl in yellow top is Kristal, Carleton Place.
  • I think the photo is around 1975-1977

Thanks Pat!

Summer Life — More Stories about the Storyland Bunny

While You Were Sleeping —-The Storyland Bunny Moves to the Hi Diddle Day House

Yes the Storyland Bunnies Are still Alive and Well I might Add…

The Elements of Storyland-Are Those Bunnies Now in Bali Ha’i ?

Summer Life — More Stories about the Storyland Bunny

Summer Life — More Stories about  the Storyland Bunny

The Storyland Bunny in my yard

Tammy Marion emailed me on Saturday wondering if I knew our family’s Storyland Bunny had once been beheaded. Yes, I knew well that the rabbit sitting in my yard had been ‘Marie Antoinetted” ….

Apparently the white water rafting ‘kids’ down the road from Storyland on Storyland Road sometimes created acts of sabotage, including at least one beheading suffered by the five-metre-high fibreglass rabbit that welcomed visitors to the park. Storyland was the first man-made major tourist attraction in Renfrew County. The only other major attraction at that time was the Bonnechere Caves.

Storyland was founded in 1966 by Durk and Bonnie Heyda, immigrants from the Netherlands. The first figures were built in their basement; later ones were made by an artist. Berkhout bought Storyland in 1975 when his friend, Durk, grew ill: Raised in Holland during the Second World War, Berkhout had a difficult childhood. He visited the park and fell in love.

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
07 Sep 2013, Sat  •  Page 44

But in 1978, tragedy struck when his wife, Maria, was killed in a car accident, leaving him with five children. The business suffered until he remarried in 1983. Together, with a brood of nine children, he and Nancy rebuilt. By 1989, attendance was up to 40,000. When Berkhout retired in 2008, he sold the park to Todd Mattila-Hamilton, an Ottawa businessman who intended to inject new life into it “I saw potential,” says Mattila-Hamilton, 37. “That’s a classic attraction that has a built-in following.” Then the global economy collapsed, investment dollars dried up and he got cancer. “I haven’t had the strength to run the business. Storyland closed at the end of the 2011 season, which saw about 20,000 visitors. He put it on the market but was unsuccessful in finding a buyer interested in storytelling.

Dick Heyda had heard the “legend” of the monster of Muskrat Lake, near Renfrew, and worked all winter making a fibre glass “replica” of it according to a description (second or third hand) given by a Cobden man who claimed to have seen it. The 28-foot Hapyxelor, as he called it, was put on display in a prime spot in Storyland 40 acres of bush laced with trails and huge hand-made fairy tale characters overlooking the Ottawa River at Champlain Point, near Renfrew. read– Lake Monsters–Hapyxelor, Nessie, the Monster of Muskrat Lake

If Hapyxelor was largely a figment of many imaginations, no one seemed to mind. Heyda and his wife Bonnie worked long and hard to make it that way. They made the woods come alive with fairy tales. The fibre glass characters in clusters represented 30 different stories and in the middle of it all is Heyda’s own brainchild, Dr. Goodkind, who cared for all the Storyland inhabitants in Goodkind hospital. Many of the characters talked in both French and English and some, like the Pied Piper, come with sound effects.

In 1990 there were over 200 figures and 40 storyland settings including the wicked witch’s house, Mary’s growing garden, the Madhatter’s tea party and the old lady living in a shoe. Many of the settings had moving parts, activated by pressing a button.

John Berkhout, who died on May 30, 2022 at the age of 81, owned and operated the Storyland theme park near Renfrew for more than three decades, from 1975 until he sold it in 2008. There, more than one million visitors and generations of families came to walk its fairytale paths.

All stories come to an end. After 45 years of delight and imagination, the three-dimensional figures were dispersed at an auction that my son and I attended in the pouring rain. The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe, Little Miss Muffet and the Pied Piper were are now “chattels” sold to the highest bidder, along with the candy floss machine, picnic tables and inflatable slides. On the auction block: Two 12-foot-high fibre-glass rabbits, Porky’s Bandstand, the Cow Who Jumped Over The Moon, Storyland Windmill, Crooked Man and Crooked House, the Lion and the Mouse and more.

Every day I look out the window and remember that Storyland belonged to children and those that were young at heart like myself. It was the world of books, of summer, of Sunday drives, the family together for a special trip. Anticipation would build during the drive, along a twisting road off Highway 17 west of Ottawa. Giant ice cream cones with child-size alcoves stood as sentry boxes by the path from the parking lot. Once the kids and I got there we never wanted to leave, even though we went there many times. I am sad that my grandchildren will never experience Storyland, but one of the remains still lives in my yard.

The Balderson Cheese Cow- that stood beside the old Balderson Cheese place on HIghway 7 for years in my yard..

 As you know the Balderson Cow is nicknamed Baldy Welsh after Carleton Place’s iconic paddler from the Canoe Club. The Storyland Bunny is now named the Storyland Ballygiblin Bunny now he is residing in Carleton Plac

Nicki LaFramboise has the second bunny at the first ‘glamping’ site in Eastern Ontario. ELEMENTS LUXURY TENT CAMPING  is located on the former STORYLAND site, about a hour west of Ottawa– so no one need to worry–the  bunnies are in good hands–

The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
01 Aug 1970, Sat  •  Page 50

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
06 Aug 1999, Fri  •  Page 34

The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
03 Jun 2004, Thu  •  Page 77

While You Were Sleeping —-The Storyland Bunny Moves to the Hi Diddle Day House

Yes the Storyland Bunnies Are still Alive and Well I might Add…

For Glam’s Sake –Storyland Reinventing the Old Privy

While You Were Sleeping —-The Storyland Bunny Moves to the Hi Diddle Day House

While You Were Sleeping —-The Storyland Bunny Moves to the Hi Diddle Day House



Perry the powerhouse of the production–  All Photos by Schuyleur (Skyler) Seccaspina– that was his job– like his mother– photographer and document for history.

It began about 9 pm last night on Lake Ave. East in Carleton Place. I came downstairs not wanting to watch the Warriors game and there my two sons were in the garage with heavy tools. I immediately thought some repossession deal might be coming down. I don’t know what goes on these days with all these TV reality shows– who knows what’s going to be ravaged and plundered.

Being a concerned mother I asked them point blank why one had an axe and the other one had a giant plundering tool which some call a mallet.  They said they needed them and nothing else was said. When your kids are over 30 you don’t ask and just hope to heck you don’t get a call at 3 am in the morning. I waved goodbye and called it a day.



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My boys 1990  and 2013–last photo InsideOttawaValley.com 2013





At 10:45 PM my sons return asking for the front gate key. Okay… and then I said, “Am I getting the Storyland Bunny to look after?” Last time I asked Sky for said bunny was the day of the Storyland auction, and I knew the word “No” was always on the table. Perry being the muscle of the production roared up the street in a tiny bulldozer and all of us stood there being eaten by mosquitoes while he wheeled Mr. Bunny in. Steve was trying to cut a big Pine branch down and Perry just yelled,”Lower it a bit!” and he snapped it in half. Canadian Tire should use Perry as their advertising man for their power tools. He would give that guy “Gary” a run for his money.




The boys are always busy looking after their Dad’s business and and leasing and space at Motorhouse  has been rented to Ford (across the street) now by the family company Maniplex. Stay tuned, the boys are always up to something, and I knew their Dad would be happy to see the Bunny moved to the family home yard. Mom most certainly is.



Thanks Sky and Perry for allowing me to babysit him–  Mum is thrilled. As Steve says: “There is never a dull moment around here at Hi Diddle Day House!”






 As you know the Balderson Cow is nicknamed Baldy Welsh after Carleton Place’s iconic paddler from the Canoe Club. The Storyland Bunny is now named the Storyland Ballygiblin Bunny now he is residing in Carleton Place. Thanks Ted Hurdis and a high five from Lynette Stanfield!
Selena Connah We were wondering what the noise was! I can’t wait to show my kids that it’s there and my daughter will be happy she always says the cow needed a friend lol!

Diana Ani Stokely– looks like an arrest

Angie Mills Last night Matt and I heard the craziest sound coming from right outside… “what’s going on??!!!” I ran outside expecting to see monster trucks or army tanks and instead… GIANT BUNNY!!!!
I’m sorry to all our neighbours if my loud laughter disturbed anyone!
 From Jean Drader
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 and The Tales of Almonte


Storyland Bunny

Yes the Storyland Bunnies Are still Alive and Well I might Add…

Storyland bunny finds new home

The Elements of Storyland-Are Those Bunnies Now in Bali Ha’i ?


Springside Hall – The Hi Diddle Day home

So Where Was this Picture Taken? Springside Hall? Jamieson Sisters

More on Springside Hall– Other Owners

Moving Doorways– How Houses Change — Springside Hall Then and Now — Finlayson Series

The Hidden Dumbwaiter in Springside Hall –Finlayson Series

The Story of a Local Family -Finlayson- Richard Finlayson

The Case of the Disappearing Back Staircase — Springside Hall — Finlayson Series

A Houseful of Whimsy- Springside Hall 1982

Do You have a Hidden Room in Your Home?

What Did Adam Dowdall Find in My Carleton Place Yard?

The Sundial of Springside Hall

Then and Now Springside Hall 1920s-1930s Photos

Reusing the Past of Carleton Place — The Morphy’s and the McCann’s

October 13, 1977 George W. Raeburn of Lake Ave East— Artist and C. P. R. Man

My Neighbours –Photos of the Cliff- McCann House and Springside Hall

Update on the Time Capsule in Springside Hall

The Spirits Are Alive and Well

They Once Lived in My Home– The Cram Children — Margaret — Angeline “Babe” and Arthur

They Once Lived in My Home– Arthur Cram

The Morphy Cram House — Springside Hall

The Hi- Diddle-Day House of Carleton Place – Puppets on a String

Glory Days in Carleton Place– Linda Seccaspina

So Where Does the Water come from Under my House?

The Ghost Lovers of Springside Hall – A True Love Story

Do You have an Archaeological Find in Your Carleton Place Basement?

Feeling Groovy by the Lake Ave East Bridge

October 13, 1977 George W. Raeburn of Lake Ave East— Artist and C. P. R. Man

What if You Had a Fire and No One Came?

Just Another Day in Fawlty Towers — Part 2 — To Hell and Back

Just Another Day in Fawlty Towers

Dumbwaiter Calamities of Crockery

While You Were Sleeping —-The Storyland Bunny Moves to the Hi Diddle Day House



RIP angelo– stage 4 cancer and you stillwent with the boys to get the bunny

Yes the Storyland Bunnies Are still Alive and Well I might Add…


Supergirl Jess Irvine sent me this video from today’s Kiss 105.3 Ottawa  morning show. She missed most of the interview– but they were chatting about the former Storyland Bunnies. I have written about them until the cows come home, as they were part of many childhoods from the Ottawa Valley and need to be remembered.


If you live in the Carleton Place area, or are even driving up Highway 7 you can see the original Storyland Bunny on the lot of Motorhouse car dealership staring at the Thruway Restaurant. Why is he staring at the Thruway Restaurant? Quite simple– there were those among us that felt the iconic bunny was scary or disconcerting. Excuse me? So my son Schuyleur Seccaspina, who owns that bunny, moved it from the front of the lot to the side to please the folks. The perfect location would be in my yard– but he is having none of that.



My sons Schuyleur and Perry 1990 at Storyland–Linda Seccaspina

PGAC_20131003_Final_ACP19_01_I001_Content (1).jpg

Here they are again Photo–InsideOttawaValley.com 2013

Nicki LaFramboise has the second bunny at the first ‘glamping’ site in Eastern Ontario. ELEMENTS LUXURY TENT CAMPING  is located on the former STORYLAND site, about a hour west of Ottawa– so no one need to worry–the  bunnies are in good hands–but again one of them ( I am looking at you my son) would look great in my front yard. (nudge nudge wink wink say no more say no more)


Nikki’s Bunny- Photo–CTV Ottawa News – CTV News

It was a sad day when that auction happened in 2013. It poured rain all day as each item was auctioned off piece by piece. I documented it as I wanted people to remember what we once had. After all, sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.


Photo-Linda Seccaspina

So thanks to Kiss 105.3  for bringing up what was once great and be thankful we had childhood memories like these before technology took over.


Photo-Linda Seccaspina

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 News

You can see the original Storyland Bunny at: 


Address: 10446 Hwy 7, Carleton Place, ON K7C 3P2
The Second Bunny

Elements Luxury Tented Camp & Nature Spa is closed for the season now but you can see him next year

Address: 793 Storyland Rd, Renfrew, ON K7V 3Z8


Storyland Memories–Facebook

The Day That Storyland Died (takes time for photos to load)

It’s What My Son Said….

Storyland bunny finds new home

For Glam’s Sake –Storyland Reinventing the Old Privy

Gone glamping in Renfrew

The Elements of Storyland-Are Those Bunnies Now in Bali Ha’i ?

The Neelin Street Geese — Where are They Now?




Photo-Carleton Place Moms


Jennifer Hudebine Derstroff sent me an email about a hot topic on Carleton Place Moms on Facebook last week that was initiated by Tamara Hill. It was all about the two ceramic geese that used to sit in front of a house near the arena on Neelin Street. If my old laptop had not died I would have a picture of those ducks– but nothing is forever right? 

Karen Fleming Ferguson


For those who were asking about the geese, we wanted to let you know that they have settled into their new home at Carleton Place Childcare Services. Staff have organized their clothing and they are now sporting new outfits! See a frew outfits belwo





My son Schuyleur loved the Storyland Bunny so much he bought it when Storyland closed and it sits at his car dealership Motorhouse on Highway 7. Some people don’t really get what things mean, and after some complained ‘that it was too scary’  he had to move it over on the side that faces The Thruway restaurant.


Sky and Perry 1990


Sky and Perry 2013



2016 Storyland Bunny at Motorhouse on Highway 7 Carleton Place


The older folk in Carleton Place will remember the Rubber Tree on High Street in the 50s or the Alligator sign that sat in the former clay pits/ swamp just before the corner of McNeely and Lake Ave East where the new condos are.

Thankfully that Alligator sign was saved, and you can still see it in the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum ‘lobby”.  I  got a new sign made up when the other was ‘expropriated’– but Ralph Shaw had to take it down. Again things don’t last forever. 




So what happened to those geese that are no longer sitting on those steps on Neelin Street?  Did the original owners know how many people counted on seeing the geese? Some even said that families used to drive by that house specifically on their way to and from hockey to see what they were wearing.

As the ladies quizzed each other on the Facebook group Kate Lackey mentioned they had been for sale and Kels Uden’s mum had bought them and they were now sitting at the front door of Carleton Place Childcare Services (Arklan) safe and sound. One of them even dons a life jacket now– and believe me these geese have something to wear every single day by looking at the boxes of clothing that came with them!







Photo- Karen Fleming Ferguson

Some memories never fade– and even though things move, or photos are gone- the memories still last forever. We don’t remember days– we remember moments– especially those from our childhood. The Neelin Street Geese now have their very own forever spot and their fans are thrilled. Thanks to all those that cared!



My Granddaughter Sophia with them -September 2016



Talking about geese? Don’t forget to buy Carleton Place author Natasha Peterson’s new book Gayle the Goose Goes Global and her other books at:

To order copies of the book, simply ” fly” to Natasha’s website which is www.polarbearpress.com
You will be delighted with your purchase!


The William Street Ducks– What Happened to them? Let me guess– they are geese right? LOL


I would like to thank Karen Fleming Ferguson for all her updates on the Neelin Street Geese.

Karen Fleming Ferguson


The CP Childcare geese are getting ready for Christmas!

Related Reading:

One of the 7 Wonders in Carleton Place

So What was in That Old Alligator Hole Anyways in Carleton Place?

Gluten Free Corn Dogs and the Old Carleton Place Alligator Hole –Chef Ben White

Crikeys! The Elves Have Been Busy in Carleton Place

The Elements of Storyland-Are Those Bunnies Now in Bali Ha’i ?

The Day That Storyland Died (photos take time  to load)

So What are the Mysterious “diamond cross” cut-outs seen on barns in Lanark County?

The Preaching Rock of Lanark County

A Giant’s Kettle in the Middle of Lanark County

So Where Does the Water come from Under my House?

Lanark Mormons and Mormon Tree?

One of the 7 Wonders in Carleton Place

Where Was Meyers Cave?

For Glam’s Sake –Storyland Reinventing the Old Privy



Yesterday Nikki LaFramboise was featured in the Ottawa Citizen— and anyone who thinks the beautiful photos were  without hard work is nuts. This woman has worked her buttt off and I salute her and wish her nothing but the best.

Gone glamping in Renfrew


Photo- by Valerie Keeler

I wrote a funny story about a privy/outhouse called Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in my first book Menopausal Woman From the Corn. Did you know that outhouses were once topped by a cupful of ashes?  Rumour was the outhouse would always have a sweet earth smell with never an odor. Coal and trash ashes were supposed to be good as well. When we tore down the carriage house at our home there was also a hidden privy in there. How many privys were in Carleton Place? I am sure every home had one prior to 1900.



This is the privy at Heritage House in Smith’s Falls. This rare 2-storey privy was easily accessible for those late night visits. There are two shafts, the upper one being placed to the right side of the privy, and the bottom one placed further to the left side. A common wall separated the two shafts. The bottom portion of the privy was reached through a door on the outside of the building.

If you are not aware, Renfrew resident and woman extraordinaire Nikki LaFramboise bought Storyland and is turning it into a glamping site called: Elements Luxury Tented Camp and Nature Spa. For people who don’t know what that is: glamping is glamorous camping. Elements will be a luxury tented camp or outdoor hotel.  Eventually, there is hope to construct a rendition of Scandinavian bath on the property for a spa type setting. The tents will be large with the smallest one at 14-by-16 feet and come furnished like a hotel with  white linens, wood furniture and even a luxurious house coat.





So why am I talking about Storyland? Well, not only have I written about the memories often —a lot of the population of Carleton Place used to visit the former Storyland on a frequent basis. Nikki has insisted on restoring and keeping the original ‘settings” of Storyland as best she can. Not only that–Nikki has reinvented the old privy which means– it must be trendy and in vogue. Remember that Mississippi Lake cottagers before you put your fancy bathrooms in!




Nikki LaFramboise—“Afternoon Storyland project: outhouse reno! I’ll finish up tomorrow with professional finishes like rod iron accessories and only the finest 2ply.”


This is no small feat to restore Storyland, but  if you have an incredible imagination to think big, and the courage and determination like Nikki– well, she will make it happen for us all to enjoy!



Because of this monstrous job Nikki is doing for everyone I dedicate this  Bonnechere Manor Resident Choir video from Renfrew Ontario to her!

 Don’t Stop Believing Nikki!!


Bookings will be made available online in January 2016 for the upcoming 2016 season. You will be able to view the locations and amenities to each site. Pricing has yet to be announced and it officially opens in June of 2016.

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