Tag Archives: Travel

FOR THE SUNDAY DRIVER 1990 — Then and Now

FOR THE SUNDAY DRIVER 1990 — Then and Now

This was written in 1990. Somethings have changed, some things have not. I thought because a nice weekend is predicted that I would publish this old 1990 tourist blog.

Today’s drive takes you to four small villages founded at the turn of the century: Plum Hollow, Athens, Delta and Forfar. About a 90-minute drive south of Ottawa, you can purchase locally-made cheeses and candy, discover the history of the area through the Delta Mill Museum and admire the murals of Athens.

1971-The old cheese maker of Plum Hollow; Claude Flood; 73; warns the end of small cheese factories will mean the end to first-quality Canadian cheddar. Ontario’s small cheese factories are being strangled into extinction by new regulations and dwindling milk supplies.

First stop is Plum Hollow, where Blackland’s Country Candy factory is situated in a century-old building that used to house the Plum Hollow Cheese Factory. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and while you can still purchase locally-made cheese there, you will also find a tempting assortment of fudge, hard candies, jams and jellies and elegant filled chocolates. Colored wicker baskets and flower-printed boxes can be made into a gift hamper, filled with items from the shop. Choose your favorite of 16 flavors of hard ice-cream.

The Witch of Plum Hollow’s home– if you click here there are about 15 stories about the witch of Plum Hollow

The Plum Hollow Witch 101 – Mother Barnes

To get to Plum Hollow, take Hwy. 7 southwest. At Carleton Place, join up with Hwy. 15 which heads south through Smiths Falls. Connect with Hwy. 29 as you leave Smiths Falls and drive 36 kilometres south to Toledo. Veer to the ET3 right down Road 8, and turn left down Road 5 after Bellamy’s Mills. Another eight km will take you to Plum Hollow.



The village of Athens, farther south, has become famous in recent years for its historical murals painted on the sides of shops. Scenes take you back to a summer band concert and a picnic at the turn of the century and the working life of the community. Look for the likeness of “Duke,” the resident German shepherd, at the bottom corner of the lumber mill scene on the H & R feed store.

To get to Athens from Plum Hollow, drive south down Road 5 for eight km. Park on the main street and wander the sidewalks to view the murals. Before you continue your trip, take a few minutes to walk along the side streets of Athens. There are many beautifully kept old buildings, some of which are represented in the murals. Head south to Church Street and wander through the cemetery. Many of the moss-encrusted stones date back to the early 1800s and provide a glimpse into the hardships and events that ruled the lives of the people of the area.

House of Industry Athens Farmersville

Monument erected to honour 400 buried in unmarked grave

Farmersville 1859 County Directory (Athens)

Head north from Main at the Pro Hardware store. Next stop is the village of Delta, one of the earliest settlements in the township. From Athens, take Hwy. 42 west for 15 km. Delta is home to the oldest mill in Ontario, a beautifully preserved grist mill that’s the subject of many Keirsted paintings.

delta ontario post card 1930_jpg

In the early 1800s this mill was thought to be the best building of its kind in Upper Canada and today the Delta Mill Society is working to restore the building to working order. You can visit the mill for free between 10 and 5; displays of equipment in the ground-floor museum depict the history and operations of the mill and its patrons. You can purchase note-card photographs of the building at the gift counter. Now continue on to Forfar, 10 km west along Hwy. 42.

No Drinking in Delta! Did You Know this About Delta?


Heather HeinsRideau Lakes Community Forum

Sunflower Bakery in Perth has moved to forfar . We bought some amazing multigrain bread and fresh buns , pies , brownies etc all made there . also a huge selection of variety of cheeses which we bought 4 varieties , and tons of other great items other stores do not carry . They also make fresh sandwiches , soup and have an ice cream counter . Open 7 days a week . Fresh baking is a huge plus for the area

Forfar Dairy

The Forfar Dairy (open today from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.) is on the left as the highway veers west through the village. Here you can purchase Cheddar, which is aged up to four years, as well as whey, cream and various butters. The shop also sells flavored teas and mustards, cloth bags of dressing and muffin mixes as well as hard candy and honey. Next door, the Forfar Dairy gift shop is open from 10 until 5.

Town draws crowds for curds By Doug McCann Visitors can always tell when it is 1 p.m. in the tiny village of Forfar. A small crowd of cheese fanciers gathers in the entrance of the Forfar Cheese Factory, eager to buy those first bags of fresh curds. There are usually lots of curds left by 2 or 3 p.m., but somehow I p.m. is the magic hour for true curd connoisseurs. This hamlet of perhaps 40 people has been put on the map by its cheese factory. The factory’s motto is, “The Cheese that made Leeds County famous” in reference to its winning several prizes for Cheddar throughout the years. Dave Dean, the factory’s master cheesemaker in residence, has made Cheddar cheese for 40 years, 12 of them at Forfar. In recent years, the factory began producing flavored ‘pop’ cheeses like garlic and caraway seed, which are excellent. But, to get a better idea of what this little factory stands for, try its Cheddar: It’s some of the best in the world. For a special treat, buy a wedge of four-year-old rare Cheddar. It costs a bit more but is well worth the extra price. The factory does not provide tours of its facility, but you can peer through the viewing window and watch the various stages of cheese-making. You might meet one of the cheese-makers if they have time, but don’t count on it since the staff keeps busy producing about 1,000 pounds of cheese per day. The Forfar factory’s cheese prices are often less than those of the large food stores. The cheese curd, is $1.95 per pound while other cheeses range from about $2.00 to (5.00 per pound, depending on age. To get to Forfar, drive past Smiths Falls and Portland on Highway 15 until you reach Crosby, about GO miles from Ottawa. Then, make a sharp left onto Highway 42 and drive about three miles until you reach Forfar.

CLIPPED FROMThe Ottawa JournalOttawa, Ontario, Canada02 Aug 1980, Sat  •  Page 128

Faecbook page

Forfar Cheese Factory

NOw-1536 County Rd 42 Elgin, ON, Canada

Some time ago I posted the photo of my grandfather, Clayton Coon, coming back to the Young’s HIll farm. He had taken milk to the Forfar Cheese factory and was returning with the milk cans loaded with whey for the pigs. That’s the photo on the right, which I have re-posted. The photo on the left mother took (1928), probably to showcase the flowering trees but, more importantly, if you look to the lower left you can see those same milk cans stored ourside to dry. I am always curious about how they did things–Roger Irwin

Stagecoach Restaurant


If you’re ready for a meal, continue about 10 km west along Hwy. 42 to the village of Newboro and the Stagecoach Restaurant. It serves brunch from 11 until 2 and is open for other meals until 9 p.m. You can return home through the scenic village of Westport, then up County Road 10 to Perth, or retrace Newboro Dennis Leung, Citizen your route back to Hwy. 15. Many readers have given us tips about this lovely area.

For a current up to date tourist information click below

The Backroads to Delta, Plum Hollow and Athens

1995 fire Plum Hollow Cheese

They actually hadn’t produced any cheese there since the early ’80s, probably strong armed out of business along with other small producers by the likes of Kraft or Parmalat, an interesting story in itself.

Since then it functioned as a candy shop, and an antique shop but that’s the limit of my memory. The loss is a historical one for the area, one less monument to a time when a small producer could thrive along with the surrounding farms, etc.

It was a very picturesque factory located on a hill. Approaching eastbound on the road it pops into view across a golden meadow, approaching westbound it springs into view at a sharp curve in the road, the golden meadow stretching out behind it.

Plum Hollow

Begin hereThe Plum Hollow Witch 101 – Mother Barnes

Weekend Driving- Smiths Falls Franktown and Carleton Place 1925

Weekend Driving- Smiths Falls Franktown and Carleton Place 1925

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Standing in front of the Smiths Falls, Hotel Rideau–Photo from The King’s Highway.



An honest to goodness story from the Ottawa Journal  August 18, 1925

In order to save gasoline we took the direct road from Smiths Falls to Carleton Place. It was 17 miles long and as narrow as a lodge resolution and covered with uncrushed stone. Our car had brand new tires guaranteed for 4000 miles and also an old spare.

In the first few miles driving on aggressive stone one of my tires blew. I immediately put on the spare which blew out when it saw Franktown. Pulling into Franktown, which is a place where they pull the sidewalks up on Sunday, we pulled up to a well for a drink of water. The awe-stricken natives manifested disgust from their window panes for the noise that our infirm wheels were making.



The Reilly Hotel on the Franktown Road

Wand had no choice but to drive five miles on uncrushed stone on a flat tire to Carleton Place. Half way there we had no choice but to stop for a little peace in our minds. A motorist from Quebec  came up and parked behind us with the same automotive ailment. We joined in unison in praise for the inducements of which the province of Ontario has offered to their motorists.


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Bowland Garage Carleton Place 1930- Both photos from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

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Central Garage 1954 Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum


In Carleton Place a blonde woman was in charge of a garage where she informed us that all the mechanics were out golfing-so we went on to another garage where our troubles were mended.

The road from Carleton Place to Ottawa was good so we tried to make up lost time. We had not gone one half mile out of the small town when we noticed we were being escorted. Our companion was a traffic cop who wanted to know if we were working for a telegraph company whose wires were down. I threw up my hands in frustration and we flew into the ditch and I was honestly sorry we were not all killed.

I paid $14 to get out of the ditch and wondered how much I was going to have to pay when his Worship decided how guilty I was when I appear before his Majesty in a few days. Right now I have decided to settle my personal affairs and preparing for a diet which our prison magistrates serve to perjurers, thieves and fire bugs.

My name is 118-133 Ottawa August 18, 1925



The Tales of Carleton Place— Public Archives-Automobiles in Carleton Place–191 McLaren Street



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 and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Related Reading

Amazing Hotel Rideau Photos

Tips From the Almonte Gazette “Travel Section” 1874


The Rules of the Queen’s Hotel in Carleton Place

The Central Garage in Carleton Place by Terry Skillen

The Garages of Carleton Place –1970’s






Feb 22 1940–Almonte Gazette

Miss Eileen Snowden and Friend Conclude Tour of 9,200 Miles

Miss Eileen Snowden arrived home in Almonte, Sunday night, concluding a motor tour that took her to the Pacific Coast and back. On January 2nd, driving her own car, and accompanied by a girlfriend, Miss Juliette Leone of Montreal, Miss Snowden left for California.

San Francisco in the 1940s-60s by Fred Lyon (17).jpg

The two young ladies spelled one another off at the wheel and quite often did 700 miles in a day. They proceeded through Detroit, Chicago, Omaha, Salt Lake City, Reno and San Francisco. Miss Snowden speaks highly of the last mentioned city with its fine streets, one of which runs for a great distance without any intersections. The tourists spent some time in Los Angeles and visited several of the famous moving picture studios. Movie stars in the night clubs and other popular amusement places were so numerous as to be scarcely celebrities.




Outstanding among these noticed by the visitors were Warner Baxter, and Alice Fay. From Los Angeles the Canadian girls headed South, returning through Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Niagara Falls. They found San Antonio, the great western Texas metropolis, a fine city. They visited Juarez in Mexico and had a look at life south of the Rio Grande.


The tourists met many Canadians in the Southwest, and upon making their nationality known were warmly received by the Americans down there who have a warm spot in their hearts for the Dominion. Main motor roads in Texas were excellent, stretching through the flat country for hundreds of miles with out a curve. In all the girls passed through 23 states of the Union, covered 9,200 miles and never had the slightest traffic accident. This is a record that many drivers of the alleged sterner sex might well envy.





Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 10 Oct 1941, FriPage 8

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Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 3 Mar 1942, TuePage 10

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The Ottawa Journal, 17 Aug 1939, ThuPage 18

Miss Stanzel had a pupil by the name of John Stanzell.. who was he?

The Fred Astaire of Carleton Place — John Stanzel

Christopher Gower — The Baryshnikov of Carleton Place


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

Hogging Buffalo Robes will not be Tolerated on a Stagecoach


'Oh no - a Highwayman!'

‘Oh no – a Highwayman!’


There is certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place

Washington Irving


If you wanted to a direct line to Kingston by stagecoach you had better get yourself to Brockville, as the main stagecoach line ran from Montreal to Kingston. It was situated on the King’s Highway along the banks of the St. Lawrence where cars whizz by each other these days at death defying speeds.  

You have to remember Morphy’s Falls, Perth, Almonte, Smiths Falls and other small towns  were fairly isolated with the closest large settlement being Brockville. The route to Brockville said some was like a large travelling wolf pack with as many as 200 wagons journeying along the roads each day. The road was narrow because of the trees and swamps, and it was literally more than just a trail through the dense woods.

At first, this was the only land route from Montreal to Kingston and in the winter it  really wasn’t that bad for travelling, but in the summer it was just awful. In low and swampy places round trunks of trees were laid to prevent the wheels sinking into the mire.

In 1837 a local Lanark citizen described his travels as “ A heavy lumbering vehicle reeling and tunblin along pitching like a scow among the breakers of a lake storm.”


Photo- Lanark County by Linda Seccaspina


When a bad spot was reached and had to be passed, travellers were frequently compelled to get off the stagecoach and trudge ankle deep through the mud. The rate possible to travel in stage coaches depended on the elements. In the spring and fall no more than  two miles per hour was all that could be accomplished.

The cost of travelling was three times that of a first class fare charged later on the Grand Trunk Railway. However, stories of great speed on occasions are related to stage coaches depending who it was and how many horses they had. It was customary at one time for the governor of Ontario to proceed up and down the St Lawrence in a large bark canoe rowed by 12 men and followed by another boat in which tents and provisions were carried.


Adherence to the Following Rules Will Insure a Pleasant Trip for All
  1. Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly.
  2. If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the Gentle Sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit WITH the wind, not against it.
  3. Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.
  4. Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort during cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver.
  5. Don’t snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger’s shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.
  6. Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses.
  7. In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry wolves.
  8. Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.
  9. Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It’s a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Historical Note:

The WATT family ran a line from their store to Bytown (see below by Taylor Kennedy).
Other early (1830’s) stage coach lines went from Bytown to Aylmer, Quebec to take people
to the steamboat docks for travel westward up the Ottawa River

Read More on: Bytown or Bust

Also read: The Lanark Heritage Transportation Project- Phase 1


Living In Constant Sorrow in a Lanark Swamp



Travels With Trevor Barr and Family —Ashes to Ashes — Eruptions and Frequent Anger of Volcanoes–Italy



The Vatican Museum in Rome is still the favourite museum of the elder Barrs– the kids not so much. Jenn first fell in love with it at the age of 23 when she did her first Western Europe back packing experience. She couldn’t believe what they had in the museum, and Trevor said he could have spent a lot more time there.  He said he could barely explain in words how incredible it was.There are priceless works of art, collected by the popes or often expressly commissioned by them. More than 70,000 pieces are on exhibition in over 42,000 square meters, with another 50,000 pieces preserved in the vaults and storerooms. Like Trevor told me: forget about seeing everything in a single visit: it simply can’t be done.


The most sought-after stop on the Vatican Museum trail is without doubt the Sistine Chapel, however every room is rich in history and precious examples of life from every era. From the first moment you enter the Vatican museums, you start to feel like a part of history that is being written here. Although the Vatican museums are becoming touristic places more and more, if you just ignore that fact and let yourself be overwhelmed by numerous pieces of art that are displayed here, certainly you will have an unforgettable experience.



The region (coastal strip) between Naples and Sorrento is serviced by a local light rail like operation with 4 lines. But it is really several small coastal towns linked. Jenn asked a local taxi driver there if he was from here and he said no. She asked where he was from, and he said about 2kms from there.

Of course since we are still in Italy, we need more food photos. Real Italian pizza is usually made with more herbs and spices to make it unique. They also seem to put on many more toppings. There is almost no similarity to her. REAL Italian pizza will make your mouth water when you see it BEFORE its cooked. So what do we want to do now? Eat Pizza?


How about some homework in lovely Italy or some glamping? Heck no! Let’s go to Pompeii!

Pompeii Before


Pompeii After

trev ves glam

It was lunch time in the ancient Italian city of Pompeii. Vesuvius, the nearby volcano, was about to begin 19 hours of spectacular eruptions. All the people in the 600-year-old town of 20,000 could have escaped. There had been time to flee. But in 79 A.D., no one recognized the inherent danger of the mountain’s warnings.

By the time Vesuvius stopped belching poisonous gas, the bustling city of Pompeii was silent, completely buried by volcanic ash and debris. It remained silent for 1700 years.



The people in Pompeii and Herculaneum were taken by complete surprise when the volcano erupted. However, the signs were there in the form of a series of earthquakes. In 63 AD, a massive earthquake shook the region, and damage from the earthquake was still being repaired when Mt. Vesuvius erupted 16 years later.


At that time, around 20,000 people — manufacturers, merchants, and farmers — lived in Pompeii, and another 5,000 lived in Herculaneum. The region was a popular summer tourist destination, and  there were some smaller towns and resort areas as well. Many of the people who did not flee when the eruption started were buried alive by ash and other molten material. It is estimated that about 16,000 people died in the eruption.


Normally after a natural disaster, cities are rebuilt, but not this time. Apparently the damage was so extensive and the effect of the tragedy so great that no attempts were made to reoccupy the area. Looters, however, did return to Pompeii, digging tunnels through the ash and debris and making away with many of the city’s riches.


Historians believe that Pompeii was buried under 14 to 17 feet of ash and pumice. In 1748 when explorers examined the site, they found that the volcanic ash had acted as a preservative, and many of the buildings and even the skeletons and remnants of city life were still intact. This city frozen in time has provided historians with a glimpse into what life was like in ancient Rome, and more than 1,000 casts have been made of recovered bodies that were preserved in the ash. The city of Herculaneum was less fortunate — it was buried under more than 60 feet of mud and other volcanic material.


In the 18th century, it became popular for western art, theater, and architecture to draw on Ancient Greece and Rome for inspiration. Scholars believe that this movement, called neoclassicism, was heavily influenced by the excavation of Pompeii.


The only active volcano in mainland Europe, Mt. Vesuvius is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. It is a complex stratovolcano, which is a highly scenic and highly deadly type of volcano. Stratovolcanos have gentle lower slopes, and then rise steeply toward the peak. Their eruptions are explosive and involve pyroclastic flows, which are fast-moving currents of fluidized rock and gases. Mt. Vesuvius is located on the western coast of Italy, making and cities and towns such as Naples highly vulnerable to destruction in an eruption


Mt. Vesuvius is still considered an active volcano. The most recent eruption occurred in 1944, and experts believe that a massive eruption could happen again soon, posing potential danger to the more than 2 million people who now live in the area.


Be careful Trevor!

We don’t want to get the volcano riled up!


Oops! Too late!

Actually, this is the black sand beach called Positano on the Almafi coast. Positano has been a welcome beach retreat since the days of Roman nobility and even the ancient Greeks. Looks like fun!

Stay tuned to next week where we are headed to Greece with the Barr family.


Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac and 5 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada.

Part 1- Travels with Trevor Barr–The Overture

Part 2- Travels with Trevor Barr Sous La Ciel De France

Part 3- Running with the Barrs through Spain

Part 4 – O Solo Mio Italy 

Part 5-Travels With Trevor Barr — Postcards from Venice –Part 5

Part 6-We’re Off Running Again in Italy – Travels With Trevor Barr and Family

Travels With Trevor Barr — Postcards from Venice –Part 5


trevkcbirthdayvenice (1)

The last time we saw The Barrs was in a preview of Venice where they celebrated daughter’s Kaceys birthday in St. Marco square during a fireworks festival honoring long-ago plague survivors.  However, the family told Kacey all of Venice was celebrating her birthday. They were not far off as, nothing ever seems straightforward in Venice and what a wonderful thought for her to remember for the rest of her life.

Venice never quite seems real, but rather an ornate film set suspended on the water. The alluring sceneries, timeless architecture, enchanting language, cuisine, the people– it’s impossible not to love Italy!  Few countries in the world can rival Italy’s cultural legacy. There’s something magical about this place. I decided to write about the Barr’s  time in Italy on a slower level for some reason, as it seems like a dream.

Imagine the audacity of building a city of marble palaces on a lagoon, Venice, capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a marshy lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. Its stone palaces seemingly rise out of the water. There are no cars or roadways, just canals and boats. The Grand Canal snakes through the city, which is filled with innumerable narrow, maze-like alleys and small squares. If you are in Venice, then travelling down the Grand Canal is a must. Going in the evening must be amazing with the reflections of lights on the canal. You can buy a travel card for the Vaporetto if you intend on going down the canal more than once, with times ranging from 12 hours to a week. The canal itself takes between half an hour to an hour depending on how you choose to travel. Beats the bus!
Dodges palace is a must. Doge’s former residence, the Gritti Palace, now a supremely elegant hotel that reopened last year after a 35-million-euro renovation. technically orivate chapel. Next door to basicilla priceless artwork. Feasts of days gone by are available in miniature at happy hour, when bars mount lavish spreads of cicheti (Venetian tapas).

Bring your camera, because when you find the iconic Bridge of Sighs, you will probably want to take a photo, or two, or three. This is one of the main attractions in Venice and ever days literally crowds of visitors come to the bridge, just to walk across. I was interested to learn that the bridge was actually once used by Italian prisoners, en route to the dungeons. The bridge is fully enclosed and features two actual layers, so that the prisoners going to and from the dungeon would not bump into each other. Well that’s what they say anyways.

TREVSt Marko

TREVSt Marko2
The Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) is where you will find the Bell Tower, which is actually a part of the basilica. The Campanile has become quite a sight on the square and is around 100 metres tall. It was built in the 10th century and then some 800 years later, disaster struck, it fell down in 1902. It was then re-built, although somewhat slowly, and is now as beautiful as it probably ever was.
Venice lives on like a kindly maiden aunt, always alive, but you are never quite sure for how much longer.
Here’s hoping she has a few more years left, because as Trevor said, you just have to keep on going to visit her.


As Robert Browning once said, “Every one soon or late comes round by Rome”- and that was the next stop for the Barrs.

Part 1- Travels with Trevor Barr–The Overture

Part 2- Travels with Trevor Barr Sous La Ciel De France

Part 3- Running with the Barrs through Spain

Part 4 – O Solo Mio Italy 

Travels With Trevor Barr — “Running with the Barrs” Through Spain — Part 3



Like a grape seed stuck in the gums of Europe, Andorra is sunk deep in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain. Trevor said they walked block after block only to see endless shops selling nothing but watches, jewelry, perfume, and electronics. At its widest point, Andorra is only about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) long and you could walk the entire length of the country in less than seven hours. In reality, the entire country is only “2 and ½” times the size of Washington D.C

The Barrs traveled by bus from Ax-les-Thermes, as the closest airport to Andorra la Vella is three hours away. The town has 66,000 residents, but has millions of tourists every year. It is home to many ancient churches and picturesque views and ski slopes. In order to increase their tourist appeal, Andorra has somehow arranged a tax-free, shopping utopia. Even with all the high-end stores they found Andorra a welcoming country, with little crime, and you could walk out at night, without getting robbed,

The family chose to take their time when they came to their hand-picked chosen destinations. When they would arrive in each town and immediately make themselves comfortable while they researched hostels and hotels. The hostels in western Europe averaged about $ 75 dollars a night.

There are no train lines or stations in Andorra, and none close to the Spanish border, so it was off by bus to Lleida Spain. Lleida is quite small and you will easily be able to get to all parts of it on foot.  The church sits atop the highest point in  the city and there are Roman influences in the architecture and even Basque influences in the names of town.




Throughout all Western Europe the family continued to eat in the local delis and bakeries. Sometimes they would splurge at a local restaurant where the staff was wonderful and greet you personally at the door. The food merchants had pride of ownership, so why would you not eat local foods?  Fresh fruits,  vegetables, and whatever you desired were always available. Trevor said he can no longer tolerate processed food since his trip. In fact, even with all this abundance of good food he lost two pant sizes! Of course there had to be a candy store made out of candy somewhere!


Next on the list was The Running of the Bulls in  Pamplona. Unlike rural Carleton Place, when the cows get out onto the highway, the fiestas of San Fermin are celebrated every year from the 6th to the 14th of July. They have become internationally known because of the running of the bulls, where the bulls are lead through the streets of the old quarter as far as the bull ring by runners. Unfortunately Pamplona was too crowded, and they could not get into the town. Personally, I say thank god, or Trevor might have ended up like some of these chaps below.


A quick pit stop in Zaragoza which is in the valley of Ebro, Spain’s most water-bearing river, with an impressive landscape with picturesque villages and very old traditions and popular customs. Zaragoza is one of the great monumental towns in Spain. It was founded some 2000 years ago, and Old-Iberians, Romans, Goths and Arabians equally left their heritage. Zaragoza as well includes important buildings of Spanish baroque.


Zaragoza lies in the valley of Ebro, Spain’s most water-bearing river, in an impressive landscape with picturesque villages. It was founded some 2000 years ago, and Old-Iberians, Romans, Goths and Arabians equally left their heritage. Zaragoza as well includes important buildings of Spanish baroque.

zag church

Visitors to the Our Lady of Pilar Church church may notice a curious memorial that hangs to the side of the chapel.  Two bombs are displayed there, a symbol not of violence, but of miraculous intervention.  During the opening days of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the two bombs were dropped on the church by airplanes.  Miraculously, neither exploded.  They remain today as a reminder of how the power of love is stronger than any armament.



It was now on to Barcelona where there are 4.2 km of golden sandy beaches only 10 minutes from the city centre. You can view ten thousand photos of its sunny streets and towering spire– but until you are standing there Barcelona is all about the architecture. The beauty of the Modernista architecture and Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia church Familia church is incredible. By the looks of Trevor in his Motley Crue shirt the architecture was ‘kickstartin’ his heart’.



las r

The Spanish poet Federico García Lorca once said, “Las Ramblas street is only street in the world, which I wish would never end.” Folklore says that if you drink from this famous fountain at the top of La Rambla you will always return to the city. Will the Barrs ever return to Barcelona like some that have drank from this fountain? Stay tuned!

Next stop? Viva Italia!

Part 1- Travels with Trevor Barr–The Overture

Part 2- Travels with Trevor Barr Sous La Ciel De France


Travels with Trevor Barr — Part 2 – Sous La Ciel De France


trev fr

According to Trevor, France is everything that people make it out to be and then some. Imagine breakfasting on warm croissants from the boulangerie every single day, and enjoying art museums. The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, culture, and great food.  As Frank Zappa once said, “there is no hell in France”. The country’s long history lends itself to beautiful ruins, castles, architecture, and culture, but each time the Barrs have visited France the experience has been different.

However, he warns, traveling in France is second to none in expense in Europe. But, there are things to do in France without spending a lot of money. The Barr’s solution was to enjoy the smaller towns and purchasing their own food from the local merchants. The food in Europe is nothing like here Trevor explained. It’s fresh, and because there were many bread, cheese, and meat shops around,  it was quite easy to enjoy delicious food on a budget. In fact, wine is cheaper than water.


The best way to get around France is via the high speed rail, and their first stop was Caen. If you haven’t studied your history books Caen is the capital of Lower Normandy and home to the Caen Memorial Museum. It is regarded as the best World War II museum in France and only 15 minutes away from the D-Day beaches. Trevor said the museum was amazing, and made the whole family proud to be Canadian. When they went to Juno Beach he said it gave him the chills just remembering the soldiers who valiantly fought on those very beaches on June 6, 1944.






The Egise St Pierre church on the south side of Caen was obliterated during the war and rebuilt. It was built in the 13th and 14th centuries, and there was an added addition in the early 16th century. The church is best known for its 245 foot tower whose spire was destroyed in 1944 during the war and then restored. It is across the road from the Caen Castle which mostly was destroyed in WW2, but the ruins were preserved. In a footnote –  at the end of the bombing in WW2, the civil population of Caen had fallen from 60,000 to 17,000. After an emotional journey to Caen, next on the list was the town of Foix.


Trevor described Foix, which is situated at the base of the Pyrenees mountains, as similar to a painting that Walt Disney might have created. It is a circular town built around the Foix castle that stands at the junction of the rivers Arget and Ariege. The Chateau de Foix was  built in the 10th century as a stronghold for the Counts that ruled the Bearn area. It is also home to 11th-century church and narrow streets lined with medieval, half-timbered houses. In Foix lies the  popular sub terrain river of Labouiche – the longest underground navigable river in Europe -and the Lombrive Caves which form an impressive limestone subterranean gallery. The Barrs spent 3-4 days there enjoying the locals (with very few tourists) and said it was 30-40% cheaper than visiting the larger towns. As his kids were in french immersion they played in soccer games with the local kids and made a lot of friends. One thing he kept mentioning during the interviews was that they never worried about their children during their travels. I found that so refreshing and wonderful.


On the way to Andorra la Vella, still in the Pyrenees, the next stop was what one would call the ‘Aspen of France’. Ax-les-Thermes is a ski resort/spa town well known for its sulfurous hot springs first developed in the 1300s by King Louis to treat soldiers returning from the crusades afflicted with leprosy. The  Bassin des Ladres (lepers’ pond) still sits in the center of town where you can soak your feet in the warm waters for free. It is approved for the treatment of rheumatism and sequelae of trauma and the treatment of respiratory tract. Would you believe there’s never any ground snow in the winter as the hot springs flows beneath the pavement of this ancient city.


If you journey by train the average journey time between Ax-les-Thermes and Barcelona is 6 hours and 42 minutes but the Barrs decided to take the bus and head to Andorra La Vella next. Andora La Vella is actually a luxury town retailing duty- free electronic and designer goods. Pretty odd for a town that Trevor called a pinprick between France and Spain. Each day was a new experience for them as they never had fixed plans. They were travelers not tourists. A traveler just reads a map and goes. Stay tuned next week for more of their “9 sets of luggage” journey.

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Part 1- Travels with Trevor Barr–The Overture

Author’s Note– It is one thing to write about something and do research as you go along, but after I saw Trevor’s pictures I shook.  When I saw the pictures of Caen and Juno life became so real.

“June 6, 1944 the 3rd Canadian Division landed on Juno beach. It was time to payback the Germans for the slaughter at the Dieppe raid two years earlier. At the end of D-day the Canadian forces proved that they could fight along side the Americans and British and teach the Wehrmacht a lesson.

Bagpipes played their eerie sound as the Royal Highland Regiment left the harbour in England. They played the pipes on the transports as they rocked up the shore. They bagpipes howled as the Black Watch hit Juno Beach The bagpipes gave a simple message to the Germans defending Juno beach: we are crazy, we are coming, and you are going to die.”

D-Day on Juno Beach

I’m Retired — Go Around Me!



Memories of George Burns, black and white TV, and Blue Chip stamps are still coherent in my memories, so I consider myself no spring chicken. I qualify for senior discounts but still treading in that grey clouded area two years from the “big senior” monthly payout. Yesterday as I listened to my first flight call; I watched seniors and those who needed extra help board first. This was a no brainer to me as I have great respect for those who begin their day with coffee and obituaries. I mean if you are not getting older you’re dead right?

What I was not prepared for was the nasty displays from some of these seniors. The demands began to flow immediately and one flight attendant had to calmly explain the lengthy wait of the featured Salisbury Steak plate was due to business class being over booked. Thirty minutes later loud protests about the flimsiness of the plastic cutlery quickly made me realize that some of these folks were not aging with dignity.

Half way through the flight I fully understood there is less tendency to please people at that age when the seat in front of me lowered onto my knees with a thud. There was no amount of self-knowledge that comes with getting older or they would have realized I was now watching the movie almost upside down. Throughout the flight there was a continuous steady procession from this crowd to the rear of the plane to the lavatories. I knew there was no “mile high” action or texting on the toilet going on as there was a single seat wheelchair bumping into me each time it ferried one of them up and down the aisle.

I have never been afraid of playing my age, but honestly, when you request first seat boarding should you not wait to deboard the plane after everyone else? I waited patiently as three elderly women struggled to get off before anyone else behind them. I wanted to advise the polyester suited ladies that canes should be used only for the mobility of walking not pushing away those in back of you- especially those that had to go to the bathroom but could not get up because the seat in front was acting as a barricade.

As I stood there waiting to debark this sentimental journey with damp underwear I contemplated the good thing about getting older is you have less desire to go out and conquer everyone you see. But as I watched those same seniors seated in special wheelchairs flocked by Air Canada attendants waiting to claim their baggage I wondered. I then realized Ogden Nash was right: You are only young once, but some stay immature indefinitely.

Photo from The Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum Facebook page

I think these guys are all retired now.

Tonight is the inaugural meeting of the 126th Council of the Town of Carleton Place.
This photo shows the “The First Carleton Place Town Council 1890″ (after incorporation as a town).
Front Row : D. Cram; William Pattie, Reeve; Richard F. Preston, Mayor; Abner Nichols, Joseph Stewart, James Morton Brown
Back Row: T. Hodgins; Colin Sinclair; A.R.G. Peden, Clerk; A.T. Hudson; Alex Campbell; Peter Grant”.

Travels with Trevor Barr –The Overture



For eight hours in a two week period I sat at The Moose on Bridge Street documenting the world travels of Trevor Barr and his family. Some of us travel to seek new information, while others want to explore their souls. Trevor and his wife took this journey because they wanted to save their marriage. You will have to follow me for weekly installments to see what the Barr family experienced, and if their final mission was a success.

If you want to walk away from everything and travel the world, you will have to get religious about this. The first thing you have to do is figure out what you want to get rid of. I am sure you would be amazed how much useless crap you own, and in Trevor’s case he and his family sold everything, lock, stock and barrel. He said it wasn’t emotionally difficult to sell all of their possessions. The family tried not to dwell on it, and remembered why they were doing it. He added that it didn’t take long to do, and if you are about to create a piece of art, well you need a blank canvas.

If you are dreaming about writing all day, eating croissants, and living a Hollywood film life while you travel, forget it. Some people say structure is a big deal, but in Trevor’s case they didn’t really plan each day. After all, a good traveler has no fixed plans. But, making sure you have internet access however is important. Without the world wide web– you’re screwed.

One thing this whole trip taught them is that you don’t need anything as much as you think you do. If you are selling everything, why would you travel with a bunch of things? You can more or less get anything in any country in the world at this point. If you can’t get it, chances are it’s really not that essential to your survival. Traveling light makes things a lot easier. It was time for them to let go of things, time to create a new story, and this is the beginning of the Barr’s family dream.

First stop was Paris, France where he first proposed to his wife Jen. As Audrey Hepburn once said:

“Paris is always a good idea!”