Retired and on the Move

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Location: BC, Canada

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Belgium - Lasne and Area

Marie-Claire’s sister Jeaninne and her husband Edouard live on a small farm (our temporary abode) in Lasne, about 30-40 minutes from Brussels. Lasne (pronounced “lawn”) takes its name from the river whose headwaters are found here. The root of the word is the Flemish “ walscher lanen” or “river of calm waters”. The center of Lasne is about 15 minutes from Waterloo, the site of the decisive battle of what in North America we call the War of 1812. The outcome of the battle had such a significant impact on the history of the western world that in a future post we’ll cover some of the headquarter sites of the various forces on each side.

But for now let’s concentrate on Lasne. Think of South Surrey and White Rock about 50-60 years ago and you’ll be able to draw a reasonable comparison. Cut down most of the trees in South Surrey and convert the land into a mix of very large, medium-sized, and small farms that have been cultivated since about 1100. Add a few hobby farms and a high ratio of horses for the upper and upper middle classes, cut the width of most of the roads in half and change some of the asphalted ones to pavé (rough-cut paving blocks about 4” X 4”X 6” deep). Lasne covers about 4,700 hectares so its 15,000 residents (about 2000 of them “foreigners” like us) are thinly spread throughout this rural community.

The farm

with its courtyard

is located on an ancient Roman road – Le Grand Chemin - which today consists of about 40 houses and then leads off to the northeast to Wavres and to the southwest to Nivelles, where as our lives unfold we will find our next “home”. Le Grand Chemin is at an elevation of 137 meters even though we are about 220 km from the English Channel. So while this area has lots of rolling hills and valleys between us and the Channel lies the low flatlands known as the Flanders and to the northeast Holland – Les Pays Bas – the Low Countries.

There are many pretty, but narrow lanes like Rue des Fiefs seen here.

To get a better idea of how narrow, here’s an Opel in the same location.

This the lane down which we must bring our motorhome because the installation of sewers on the Grand Chemin has blocked the normal access route. Once you get off main routes in much or Europe you find roads and streets that are about wide enough for one large farm wagon pulled by a team of two horses abreast – or today one large tractor. In locations like this that means a car or truck coming in the opposite direction has to back up – or you have to back up to a place where someone can pull off enough to the side to let the other pass. We haven’t figured out the exact rules of who backs up, but the other day when we met a huge garbage truck on this road it was us who backed up. Later the same day we faced down another car, because we knew it wouldn’t have to back up as far as we would. We even gave him a nice wave of thanks, but it wasn’t reciprocated. Maybe he was having a bad hair day – or maybe we broke some unwritten but locally well known rule.

“Downtown” Lasne has a mix of about 25 different stores each one specializing in one type of retail goods – pharmacy, shoe store, bakery and pattiserie (pastries to die for), tabac (tobacco and newspapers/magazines), chocolate store etc. and one church.

A large truck always results in a two or three minute traffic jam to allow the truck to straddle the two very narrow lanes of the road. Europe is sprinkled with towns and main streets like this. Even in larger cities there will often be neighbourhoods that look like this. Although supermarkets are fairly common all of the small retailers seem to be surviving quite happily.

A 20 minute walk in the other direction takes us from the farm to the small community of Ottignies – now part of Louvain-la-Neuve. Ottignies has a pretty town square from which hot air balloons are launched in the summer- sometimes 5 at a time.

This is an old farm house in Ottignies. To the left of the house is a large equipment garage, to the right some outbuildings and in the background the barn. Large farms in this area boast substantial buildings and seem quite prosperous (farming enjoys significant subsidies in many parts of the European Economic Community).

The church in Ottignies is relatively young (1780) and its side yard cemetery shows how Belgians still honour their dead with the placing of flowers on the first of November. (Marie-Claire remembers this well because her mother had a flower shop and it was very important that the temperature did not go under zero degrees C because people would then bring flowers from their garden and not buy them in the store).

Half way between the farm and Ottignies and visible from both is the Tour de Moriensart, a fortified house and tower built by 1220 by the first seigneurs (a term that all you good students of Canadian history will remember from your studies of the French regime).
The square tower of roman civil architecture was finished in 1220 and is still inhabited by the current baron. The brick superstructure on top of the square tower was added in the 16th century. The new brick buildings (unpainted and to the left) were added recently and are used as dining rooms for events like weddings and major social events, an economic use that many historic and privately owned properties are subjected to. Inheritance taxes create challenges even for large landholders and one way to create revenue is to open these properties to paid public use.

Lasne is great for trails that are used by cyclists, walkers and horses. If you had to choose a beautiful, peaceful, historical, sportive place to live, and it had to be away from the ocean, this would be it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Atlantic Crossing in November

Note: Remember to enlarge any picture left click on the picture

To cross the Atlantic we had to first get back to NYC, Brooklyn Borough, where we would board the Queen Mary 2. With the van safely at Roger’s brother’s we decided to take the train back to NYC. We knew that it was scheduled to take about 12 hours, a bit surprising, since it had taken les than 8 hours to drive from NYC to St. Catharines, Ontario. Roger should have remembered that there was a railway near his home town – the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo – the TH&B – aptly and lovingly nicknamed the “To Hell & Back”. That was our Amtrak experience.

We had been informed when booking and paying for our tickets that we would pick them up on the train from the conductor. Luckily, Roger’s sister-in-law, was working that day so she drove us to the St. Catharines train station about 45 minutes prior to the departure time. After about 15 minutes Roger thought, “why don’t I just check on these tickets at the wicket?” The agent phoned the train conductor – “no I don’t have any prepaid tickets on board”. The agent called Amtrak ticketing and they checked in the computer that we had indeed booked 1st class tickets to NYC Penn Station. But they also said that although they had our credit card on file they had not processed the payment and therefore the tickets could not be issued. The S. Catharines agent sold us two 2nd class tickets to Niagara Falls NY where we would be stopping for 1½ hours so that US border agents and customs could process the train. So that explained 1½ hours of time that would be lost by taking the train.

Once customs had cleared the train, apparently after many cups of coffee since the train was only about 1/3rd full I finally found the conductor to be allowed off the train and escorted to the ticket office with minutes before the train is due to leave. “Oh no,” says the agent “we don’t have any 1st class reservation for you and you can’t have one because it is fully booked, but you owe me $210 US for two 2nd class tickets.” Following a lot of forceful discussion Roger convinced the agent that the price was unreasonable given that we had already had to pay for part of the trip in St. Catharines and that they had messed up our reservations. $140 US was the eventual price, and jogging back to the train Roger re-boarded just in time. The rest of the trip was “fun” – tracks that need regrinding and new roadbeds resulting in a lot of swaying and bumping; filthy toilets and staff that was unprepared to clean them; terrible but expensive food and drinks. At Albany, the capital of NY state we were told there was a ½ hour break to change crews. After 29½ minutes someone decided that they would change the engine so that produced a further delay.

Eventually we arrived at Penn Station almost 1 hour late and found our way on the subway back to Robert’s loft over Galapagos.

Saturday we relaxed and did our final packing, walked around Bedford Avenue and spent time in Jayla.

Knowing that the New York Marathon would totally close Bedford Avenue for 3 hours on either side of the time we were supposed to board the QM2 on Sunday 5 Nov., we had called a local limo service on the preceding Tuesday to confirm that they would be able to pick us up and get us to the docks on time. Even after reminding the limo service that there was a marathon that would close Bedford Ave. they assured us there would be no problem. Ever-cautious Roger called them again on Saturday night to confirm all this and to book a limo for 1130. “No problem mistah, we know all about the marathon.”

Next morning at 1150, having waited in vain on the sidewalk with our large collection of luggage, we waited on hold on their phone for another 20 minutes to have them tell us that couldn’t get across Bedford Ave. “Duh!!!! WE told you that on two separate occasions.” Call another limo service used frequently by Galapagos. “No problem, we’ll be there in 5 minutes.” TWENTY MINUTES LATER, we call again. “Well we can’t get across Bedford.” “Duh!!! We just told you about the marathon when we called.” Last option we get ourselves and our 7 bags 2 blocks up to Bedford, 1 block to another limo service and 2 blocks beyond Bedford to where the limos are parked in the street because of the Marathon. “Ah, at last we can relax.” Not quite – the driver doesn’t know where the QM 2 docks, or where Pier 12, Brooklyn is. Enough of this comedy!!! The morale of the story – avoid marathons and don’t believe limo dispatchers.

We do eventually arrive at Pier 12, which is actually a large and modern facility, and are quickly and graciously processed through boarding and find our cabin. It is not huge, but with a king-size bed, large shower and washroom, a decent-sized covered balcony, TV, stereo and lots of storage we know that we are going to be comfortable.

At sunset the QM 2 slips and proceeds past the Statue of Liberty, although at one point it looks like another passenger is stealing it to return it to France. Wouldn’t that be “un scandal” for George Bush?

Following a delicious supper and a great sleep we explore the ship. She is HUGE! And we will be discovering new things every day of the crossing.

Anyone for swimming on the North Atlantic in November?
Here are two pools and 4 hot tubs to choose from.

But it doesn’t look Marie-Claire will be getting in her bathing suit in the next few days.

Nor will any of these passengers even though we are in brilliant sunshine. In the end we only saw two passengers in the water - and they were in a hot tub.

The interior is understated luxury, very tastefully decorated, extremely clean and no signs of the tackiness that a lot of cruise ships display in their outfitting.

Marie-Claire's favourite was the Champagne Bar - an entire bar devoted to the elixir of life.

There are a thousand and one different activities that occupy one’s time – you can spend every day in the well-stocked library reading beside a starboard window or if you are early enough looking out forward facing windows about 70 feet aft (back) of the bow (the front of the ship).

Eventually we settle into a rhythm of a workout in the gym or a 1 mile walk (3 times around the upper deck); 3 meals a day; 2-3 hours of reading; a film in the cinema (that also converts into a planetarium each day for astronomical shows related to the Atlantic), attending the Oxford University lecture series on the Atlantic World (historian and Oxford Professor Emeritus Jeremy Black); The Battle of Britain (Joshua Levine – Imperial War Museum); and the Oceans; the Last Frontier (Professor Simms from Woods Hole Ocean Institute); the large theatre live show each evening featuring Broadway stars and European performers – in all the ship has at least 45 musicians (instrumentalists) engaged in live performances day and evening in various locations. There is also an Oxford lecture series on Faustus in literature which was apparently highly entertaining. But our days and evenings were already fully. By the end of each evening, having set our clocks ahead one hour to account for the 5 time zones we cross, we are happy to be lulled to sleep.

As we said the QM 2 is huge, and with her 3 stabilizers per side and her incredible length and waterline there is only about a 24 hour period of a strong gale with winds to 55 knots that we have any sense, when inside, of being on a ship. She is so stable that the number of people appearing for meals never seems to vary (unlike Roger’s 1957 two-way crossing of the Atlantic in Canadian Pacific steamships when he was frequently joined by as few 20 other passengers in the 2nd class dining-room), and Marie-Claire has no need of the motion sickness tablets she had purchased as a precaution.

All too soon it is the last evening and we will arrive in a very tight berth without the help of tugs at 0800 on Saturday 11 Nov. Why and how does such a huge ship do this? There is a tremendous ongoing savings in the cost of tugs and greater flexibility of ports is achieved. It is accomplished by having 3 bow thrusters generating total of 15,000 horsepower to push the bow to either port or starboard. That looks after the bow. The ship is diesel electric which means that its diesel engines generate electricity that in turn drives electric motors. This means there is no need for a long shaft running from an engine to a fixed propeller. Instead the QM 2 has 4 pods suspended under the hull, each with its own extremely powerful electric motor. Two are a bit forward and toward the sides of the hull. These two are fixed and can move the ship ahead or astern. The other two can be turned 90 degrees to either side so they can act as stern thrusters pushing the stern to either side. In addition she has a Dynamic Positioning System (DPS) that allows the Master to move the ship in one meter increments in any direction by instructing the computer to move her to a specific latitude and longitude, assisted by the ship’s Global Positioning System (GPS). OK, we know that all sound a little technical, but at least everyone has heard of GPS – and if it is not in your car, or your pocket it will be in a few years. Having two pods that can change direction allows the ship’s autopilot to steer her without any rudders. So she is rudderless, something unheard of not too many years ago.

Having already been cleared through UK customs during the crossings the disembarkation is a simple matter of waiting until your colour and number are called and boarding the appropriate bus, limo, or bicycle … in our case a comfortable motor coach that takes us to London’s Waterloo Station to board the Eurostar train for Brussels. Amtrak is to Eurostar as night is to day; as a winter blizzard is to a warm tropical island with balmy breezes; as washing and hanging clothes by hand in the middle of winter is to … but you get the picture. Included in our ticket price we have champagne, wine, hard liquor if we choose, an excellent supper and speeds of 150 km in the 20 minutes ride in the Chunnel under the English Channel and 250-300 km for the rest of the 2 hour and 22 minute trip that arrives on time and covers more or less the same distance as our 12 hour trip on Amtrak’s “To Hell and Back”. We booked our tickets on-line from the middle of the Atlantic, picked them up by inserting in a ticket dispenser the credit card we used to book them, and proceeded to the platform with our huge pile of luggage in a hand cart.

It was wonderful and the attendants were so gracious and helpful that one of them even carried one of our bags when we couldn’t find a cart in Brussels. Marie-Claire’s elder sister, Christiane, met us at the Brussels Midi station, with tickets already in hand for our short trip to Waterloo – the real one where Napoleon met his Waterloo. We will be staying in and around Waterloo and with Marie-Claire’s younger sister Jeannine and her husband Edouard in nearby Lasne. Every day when we go to Waterloo we pass the various battlefields so we will be exposed to a lot of world-level history as we search for our next moving home.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Port Dalhousie - Roger's Hometown

Warning: this may be of no interest to the majority of readers. Who cares about a kid growing up in small town Ontario in the post-war years? Hopefully his kids and grandchildren for whom this brief sketch is written. So feel free to skip this post.

Roger’s home town, Port Dalhousie, Ontario is a peninsula bounded by Lake Ontario and Twelve Mile Creek. Originally consisting of swampy lowlands along the creek and dense forests on the loamy clay of the higher ground, the area supported the Neutral Indians who had avoided war with the Hurons to the west and Iroquois Confederacy to the east and south. With the Iroquois defeat of the Hurons in 1650, the fate of the Neutrals was sealed.

European settlement began with the emigration during and after the American Revolution of those loyal to the British, the United Empire Loyalists. Until construction in the 1820’s of the first of four Welland Canals, the area boasted a number of isolated farms. Two major problems, one local and the other “national” in scope hindered further development of the larger area, today known as the Niagara Region. In the Region, millers faced the problem of maintaining high water levels to run their mills. On the “national” scope Niagara Falls was an insurmountable barrier to ships and shipping between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes to the west and north. A canal in the area would address both challenges.

With the construction of the first canal and its opening in 1829 the peninsula became known as Port Dalhousie and developed as a center for supplying ships moving between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Many of those involved in canal construction found work in ongoing maintenance; as mule, pony or horse drivers on the towpaths; and in the services that sprang up around the entrance to the canal and to the first lock. As a kid Roger, his brothers and friends used to paddle out to the intact remnants of the towpaths from the second canal.

It soon became apparent that the size and depths of the locks in the first canal were insufficient to effectively carry the traffic. In fact our own sailboat could not have passed through it – we would have run aground in every lock. The first canal also used the Niagara River above the Falls as part of the route to Lake Erie and the currents were too fast for efficient movement of engineless sailing vessels. The canal company was soon suffering from insufficient cash flow and high costs of maintenance and operation. It was evident that its heavy debt was unlikely to be repaid and the government of Upper Canada (today Ontario) “converted the loan to stock in 1837 gaining directorial control of the company” – one of the first examples of the mixed enterprise system on which Canada has depended for its growth.

The second canal begun in 1842 and completed in 1851 had locks of cut stone and parts of several locks can still be seen today. The boats from Roger’s Sea Scout Troop kept their boats in the remnants of Lock 1.

While the locks have been totally or partially backfilled and covered with earth, renovation of them would be largely a matter of excavation.

The third canal was begun in 1875 and completed in 1887. The fourth canal – today’s Welland Canal that forms part of the Seaway – was completed in 1932. Its entry was built 3 miles east of Port Dalhousie. But Lock 1 of the third canal continued to operate in Port Dalhousie until after 1960 providing access to Muir Brothers’ Dry-dock where smaller lake ships – up to 270 feet – were repaired. Roger used to deliver newspapers to the Dry-dock (one of the last two remaining buildings shosn at left) and to the keepers who wintered over on ships above Lock 1. Roger also remembers sneaking aboard and crawling through Canadian Navy corvettes that had been brought up from Halifax to Muir Brothers for breaking up into scrap metal after World War II.

With the move of the canal away from Port Dalhousie the major ship suppliers like Latcham’s and Scott’s continued to supply food and other supplies. Roger remembers going on deliveries with his friend Murray Scott as kids of 9 or 10 years. This remained a viable part of their businesses until refrigerators and freezers became commonplace on lakers and their need for fresh meat and vegetables disappeared.

At the age of 9 Roger got a newspaper route that he doubled in size to about 120 customers spread over about 11 kilometres. For about 8 or 9 months a year this was not a big deal. On a bicycle it took about 1 ½ hours. Friday was collection day and getting the weekly 25 cents subscription rate from 120 people took somewhat longer. But the 3 – 4 months of freezing temperatures and snow presented the real challenge. “Paperboys” tried everything including winding line around their tires in imitation of the chains used on cars. But nothing worked as well as a sleigh and a newspaper bag. Walking across the canal bridge to the Michigan side and on to the pier to deliver to the lighthouse keeper was always a cold experience for those winter months.
Built in 1898 this lighthouse replaced an earlier that had burnt a few years earlier. Using the shorter outer light and the one in the foreground ships coming to the canal could align their course to the transit or range created by lining up the two lights and gain entry. The red daymarks and lights of Roger’s youth have been replaced by green daymarks, and the inner light has been extinguished. Mariners of today familiar with the “red right returning” rule will realize that keeping red markers on the starboard side when entering this harbour would have run them aground on the beach. Hence the change of colour.

Lakeside Park was a small (big to a 9 year old) amusement park consisting of a Merry-go Round (today referred to as a Carousel), 5 rides that required adult supervision, numerous games and food booths, an archery range, a bathhouse, a dance hall, a baseball diamond and bleachers and several covered eating areas. Only one covered picnic area and the carousel remain. It has been moved from the beachfront, where it was subject to flooding as lake levels rose, restored and placed in a new building. But rides are still 5 cents.

Originally established by the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railroad as a destination with daily boats from Toronto, and trains from elsewhere, the “park” buzzed with life from Victoria Day weekend in May (the day we all tried to get in our first swim no matter the temperature) to Labour Day. Company sponsored days at the park were common with Dofasco and Stelco – the two steel companies in Hamilton – an annual sight for many years. Emancipation Day was always a big event with train and bus loads of negroes (today Blacks or African Americans) coming from Niagara Falls and Buffalo NY. That was the day we saw lots of impromptu food booths selling barbecued chicken and ribs and slices of watermelon. Craps was the favourite game of the day and the local police detachment (all two of them) turned a blind eye.

The Lions Club provided free swim lessons in Lake Ontario to all the kids in town. During Roger’s era Martha Stewart was the chief instructor and was assisted by various local teenagers, including at one point Joan Kent. We started off the beach (seen here on a blustery 1 Nov.) near the old bandstand and eventually graduated to the “First Light Post” on the lake side of the canal pier. Once we were really good more advanced lessons, including St. John’sLifesaving, were taught at the “Third Light Post” – by then we knew we owned the town. We could go anywhere – canoeing and rowing on the canal to Read’s Island,
playing hockey on the canal or Martindale Pond, out past Gary (Frenchie) and Eileen Laba's farm, in the winter, riding our bikes and packs about 15 miles to the scout camp – Wetaskawin – affectionately known as “Camp Wet Your Skin” where we would stay for weeks, usually with John Hitchison who later became a helicopter pilot and officer in the US Army. Once, after astute study of his scout manual, Roger dug a cold pit to store hamburger. When cooked, the hamburger tasted great, but obviously the pit was not deep enough for the 25 Celsius days of summer. He was violently sick for hours – his first experience with food poisoning.

Refrigerators were a rare luxury well into the 1950’s, oil heat was unusual and natural gas was unheard of. Johnson’s Ice and Coal delivered both. In the autumn the winter load of coal would arrive down a chute into the basement coal bin and mothers would complain of dust for days. Blocks of ice would be delivered year-round for the highly inefficient ice boxes of the period. During winter the milk boxes or cubby-holes opening into the kitchen with a second small door opening to the outside could double as cool boxes. Every kid in town loved it when the cream on the top of the bottles of whole milk would freeze, push up the lid and afford them a treat – frozen cream - when they brought in the milk. A lot of mothers wondered what had happened to their cream. McMahon’s was the local dairy just up the street, with a few cows there and others further out in the country. Horse drawn carts delivered locally produced milk and bread well into the 1950’s. It was always a huge deal to be allowed to “drive” the carts, although as we learned later when we were old enough to “drive” the whole route, each horse knew the route by heart and if we tried to turn them the wrong way they just ignored us. Sam, Sam the Bakerman ran the town bakery and the horse cart – we used to ask for “stailies” hoping to get some treats, an activity that mortified my mother who worried that the neighbours would think we were never fed.

Horses periodically provided useful droppings for the kitchen gardens that seemed to be in every backyard. You felt fortunate if your house got the deposit.

Rowing was a major sport, much bigger than football, baseball or even hockey. Port Dalhousie is the home of the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta, and host to many national and international rowing events. The annual “Henley” would flood the town with young guys, many of whom were billeted in homes. By the 1960’s women’s rowing was also strong. Here's a women's crew (high school) pushing off the jetty in 1 Celsius weather.

The rowing club headquarters used to be adjacent to the downtown and the Legion, but this meant complications in major events since shells for future races would be rowing up the course while races were coming down. By taking over Read’s Island, a unique and uninhabited island which was for many kids an island in the Mississippi where we could be Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Blackbeard or whoever we chose to be, and filling in the remnants of old towpaths, the rowing club was able to establish a base that is at least 25 times larger and has the added benefit of being about the half-way mark in the course.

The downtown dates to the canal era and boasted 3 hotels with segregated beer parlours when Roger was a kid delivering newspapers to them. Well into the 1960’s Ontario beer parlour had two sections – a Ladies and Escorts and a Men’s Only sections. Coming from a temperance family it was a learning experience for Roger every time he delivered papers to the hotels

and to the Legion, a very active place 5-10 years after the end of WW II.

Although only a small town of about 1300 when Roger was 9, Remembrance Day always involved a parade to the Cenotaph. Veterans of the Boer War, WW I, and WWII would always parade with scouts, cubs, girl guides, CGIT, and other organizations.

Born during WW II and remembering the parade of backfiring 1930 cars on VE day, having veterans as neighbours and a Boer War veteran around the corner meant that Roger’s generation had a second-hand but very real experience of war. Some lost parents; other parents were wounded; Roger’s Sea Scout leader, Jack Seymour, had been a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy – WW II and its aftermath were major influences on this generation. Some reacted by becoming involved in an army, airforce or sea cadet corp in their high school; in some high schools it was compulsory for all males.

Port Dalhousie had some veterans whose lives were shattered by war. “Shorty” comes to mind. He was a WW I veteran who would be seen every night after the hotel beer parlours closed at about 10 PM, walking up the center of Main Street in the street car tracks, muttering to himself as he rolled home. Eventually we learned that, as a young man, really a boy, he had seen his best friend killed by a sniper some 35 years earlier.

Roger’s kindergarten teacher, Miss Rough, had been a missionary in China, whose mission had been overrun by the Japanese. She had spent 5 years as a POW – so she too was a veteran when she came to teach in this building on Main St. (now a private home with a magnificent view over 12 mile creek.

The town had a bank – the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The manager lived in a bank owned house down the street from us and the assistant manager/teller lived above the bank.

It also boasted a jail built about 1845.

Of course there was a post office (now a pizza parlour) where residents picked up their mail from their private locked box or from General Delivery every day.

Red’s Barber Shop (now a candy store) on Front Street facing the canal and later Gus Holman’s on Main Street was the site for many boys first haircut and the locale for lots of men’s discussions about politics, duck hunting, local gossip – any topic that came to mind – Red or Gus could hold forth on it.

Two restaurants sat side-by-side on Front Street.

Two confectionaries and sometimes three served the sweet teeth of the town. Dickinson's on Main Street (to the left) and for years Parkinson’s right across the road. Later closer too Roger's home there were Hagen's and Rennie's. All of these were family owned and run.

Further up the street past the public school and St. John’s Anglican Church was Buchanan’s or “Buckie’s”. Being equidistant between St. John’s and St. Andrew’s United Church it was often a gathering place for kids after church. My friend Roger Johnson, having done his duty as an altar boy at St. John’s would magically appear there about the time I was getting out of St. Andrew’s after an hour of Sunday School and an hour of church. In fact for many people it was a bit scandalous that “Buckie’s”, or any store would be open on a Sunday in 1950’s Ontario.

Marie-Claire says “enough already!!!”. So I’ll stop for now – but I’ll be back!! With churches and historic homes.

This will be the last post for about a week. Tomorrow (Sunday 5 Nov. we set sail on the Queen Mary 2 and we don't expect to have internet access at a reasonable cost.