Club members and dignitaries gathered at the Social and Athletic Club in Harrowsmith Saturday to acknowledge a $19,500 grant the club received to renovate its building o Colbrooke Road.
The grant was presented by Ontario Trillium Foundation Bob Burge, who began his remarks by acknowledging the Anishinabe and other First Nations history of the area.
“This year, OTF was asked to administer the Ontario 150 Community Capital Grant Program,” Burge said. “And the Harrowsmith District S & A Club was one of just over 200 Ontario150 grantees to get the good news that you’d received funding.
“And the Club’s done all this work to make sure that this community space continues to be a great meeting place for years to come. Thank you for bringing your request to our attention and we’re so pleased that we could help you continue to make your community a healthier and more vibrant place.”
S & A Club treasurer Penny Lloyd said the grant was used to do new electrical wiring, new insulation, drywall and painting and perhaps most importantly, a new steel roof.
“We won’t have to do the roof again,” she said.
The S & A Club, a registered charitable non-profit corporation began in the mid-’60s. Since its beginning, it’s offered a wide variety of community and family events such as Canada Day in the Park, the Santa Claus Parade, family movie nights, dances, softball and various other activities. They encourage new families to join the association
No pressure is placed on members to volunteer, making it the members’ choice as to how much time they want to commit to volunteering and as to which events.
The hall itself is available to rent for meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, family dinners and reunions.
Twice a year, Five Star Farm on Scanlan Road in South Frontenac opens up its barns and fields for the public.
“We really believe in education and giving people an opportunity to see what rural life is like,” said Tracy Parker who owns the farm with her partner Curtis Moore and their five kids.
Parker and her family have lived on the farm (she refers to it as a “homestead”) for four years and started doing the Festival events last year.
“It’s a big hit with young families . . . we open at 10 so of course they started showing up at 9:30,” she said jokingly. “We’re pretty new but we like to show off what we have in Frontenac County.”
This was the first time they’ve had vendors in for the event, like Cota’s Catering Truck, Conboy’s Maple Syrup, Barb’s Perogies and Perry Farms.
“The food seems to be popular,” Parker said. “Previously, it was just poor mom running around making coffee.”
Parker said although she didn’t grow up on a farm, it’s in her genes and she’s always wanted one.
“My family were farmers but my mom’s generation sold the farm,” she said. “But I still had the vision, I love the history, I love the kids and I love teaching.
“This is the best scenario, I get my fix of little kids.”
While they do have horses and feed them with the hay from their own fields, most of the animals on the farm are chosen “for their personalities” and a “love of people.”
She said they grow food for themselves (“five kids and all athletes”) including some chickens but mostly the operation is about the spring and fall events, as well as birthday parties and weddings etc.
The next event is scheduled for next spring, around Easter, she said.
“Our events are a success if we educate some people, nobody gets hurt and at least one kid is crying because they don’t want to leave,” she said.
But after the last guest leaves on this Saturday, “it’s time to put the equipment and animals in the barn, and turn back into a farm for winter.”
South Frontenac Students interested in exploring painting, pottery, and printmaking will have an opportunity to take classes this fall.
Gabriel Deerman and Ashley Doucette Pilles operate Salmon River Studios out of Tamworth. Last year they started offering afternoon art classes in Tamworth, Enterprise, Centreville and Newburgh in Lennox and Addington and this year they are expanding to Frontenac.
The two artists are establishing their own practices out of their studio and one of their goals is to foster the arts in their community by offering the classes. It makes for a bit of a juggling act to keep making and teaching art while running a studio, and for Ashley even more so since she is also a supply teacher, but they love teaching art and exploring different materials and media with their students.
“We both taught oversees for four years, teaching art mostly. We came home and we decided we wanted to try and start a private art teaching practice. We found that what was most valuable to parents is if we started working in the schools. It’s turned out to be a lot of fun. A lot rural schools are lacking in arts programming, and that’s where we step in for families and kids who are interested,” said Gabriel Deerman.
Salmon River Studios is committed to arts education for all ages and all abilities. Workshops for adults in various media are being offered out of the studio, and the artists also work with special needs young adults in association with New Leaf Link in South Frontenac.
They are also looking into some other schools in South Frontenac where they might offer classes
The classes take place once a week after school, at a cost of $50 per month. Students in all elementary grades (Kindergarten to grade 8) are welcome to join in. There is a limit to class size, somewhere between 12 and 15 students depending on the room that is available and makeup of the classes.
The Township of South Frontenac’s major Canada 150 event of the summer seasons, a Road Rally and Celebration, will be based at Harrowsmith Centennial Park, but but all corners of the large township are taking part, as travelers by road or bicycle will have the opportunity to visit some of the 7 sites around the township where activities are planned to celebrate a different Canadian Province or Territory.
By registering at Centennial Park starting at 10, each vehicle will receive a passport and a map of the sites.
“At each site there will be an activity to complete, as well as a fun fact sheet to fill in, and a photo op. Participants who do all three, the fact sheet does not need to be correct only filled in, will receive three stamps in their passport. Each stamp will be traded in for a ballot, which will be thrown in a drum. Ballots will be pulled from the drum at the end of the day for a series of prizes worth a total of $2,500.” said event organizer Pam Morey.
Activities will follow provincial themes, such as mountains in BC, dinosaurs in Alberta, etc.
Rally sites are located in all four districts of the townships, and in addition to the provincial sites, there are bonus sites which are points of interest in the township, including spots such as the Holleford Crater. Ballots will can also be earned at the bonus sites.
“The idea is for rally goers to pick up a map and decide where they want to go and enjoy themselves,” said Morey, “not so much to visit all of the sites, which could make for a long day.”
In addition to the car rally sites, a bike route has been set up, setting out from Centennial Park and accessing two provincial sites as well as 3 bonus sites.
Starting at 1 o’clock, the seven provincial sites will open at Centennial Park, in addition to a wide variety of other events, including: live music all day, a vendors village, petting zoo, 4H club animals, inflatable slides and houses, food trucks, a beer garden, and more.
The rally portion of the day wraps up at 4 o’clock, and the other events at the park will carry on from there. The prize draw (participants must be there in person to win prizes) will take place around 6:15 and the music and fun will continue on into the evening until fireworks at dusk will mark the end of the rally.
“This is an event for the whole family, and the great thing about it is how many different groups from throughout the township are participating, by running provincial sites or otherwise. The idea is to travel and enjoy South Frontenac while celebrating the culture of the ten provinces. There will be lots of surprises along the way and in the Park. Whether people are interested in the car rally, cycling or just enjoying the events at the Park, it will be a chance for everyone to get together and celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.
There are posters throughout the township about the event, and look to the Frontenac News next week for more details. Full details and maps will be available at Centennial Park on the 26th.
On Monday, July 17, a newly-created street in Harrowsmith was opened and named in honour of Bill Robinson, popular long-time Portland representative on South Frontenac Council, who passed away earlier this year.
It was a simple but colourful ceremony: first Mayor Ron Vandewal dragged aside the ‘Road Closed’ sign, then former Mayor Phil Leonard drove the first car along the street: Bill’s lovingly restored bright turquoise 1972 Volkswagen Bug. Bill would have approved.The new street, connecting the Star Corners road to the Colebrook Road, is part of the Harrowsmith revitalization plan, which will eliminate the dangerous 5-way corner in the heart of the village.
Culinary skills for healthy living was the topic of the day as clients, staff, friends and family gathered at the Harrowsmith Free Methodist Church last week.
Recently, New Leaf Link (NeLL) received a $7,000 grant for a one-year pilot project to help its community build culinary skills and nutritional awareness using locally produced foods from the Community Foundation of Kingston and Area and the Regina Rosen Food First Fund.
NeLL is a not-for-profit charitable organization based in South Frontenac Township that supports continuing education and meaningful occupation of youth and adults with developmental disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, acquired brain injury and other neurological conditions.
Karen Steiner, founding executive director of NeLL said the project is rooted in NeLL’s overall philosophy of ‘eat wisely, move naturally and be socially connected.’
“This program will combine practical skills, such as following a recipe, with broader learning around a theme of introducing plant-based colour into one’s diet throughout the seasons,” Steiner said. “All of our cooking over the year will use this theme to generate recipes and as the basis for decision-making around meals such as grocery shopping or eating in a restaurant.”
The program one of two current NeLL initiatives, the other being an arts program, and is offered in partnership with Community Living Kingston and Extend-a-Family Kingston.
“We are delighted to have the support of these groups in our initiative,” Steiner said. “Community Living residents will take part in our programming and Extend-a-Family has offered access to it community garden for produce used in the cooking classes.”
Steiner is also hoping these partnerships will lead to other joint ventures and programs.
“We’d like to see the building of other partnerships that we can grow in together,” she said. “It’s a chance for NeLL participants to socialize, and grow social networks with common interests.
“For example, if we have outings — like birdwatching or trips to farmers markets — some of the other groups might join in.”
The Trail Time Junction bike shop sprung in a previous abandoned corner of the Johnson Real Estate Office in Harrowsmith in early June without much fanfare. Martha and Sean, the volunteers who operate the shop for the owner, who is disabled, were motivated by a love of cycling and an enthusiasm for the K&P and Cataraqui Trails.
“We knew that people were using the trails for cycling and that cycling is gaining in popularity in South Frontenac, and we were able to make this space into a decent shop, so here we are,” said Martha when I visited last week as they were opening for the day.
Since they have opened they have quickly become a clearing house for people who are interesting in getting back into riding a bike after many years, avid cyclists looking for repairs or upgrades to their bikes, and curiosity seekers from around the community.
They sell refurbished brand name bikes, mostly from Giant, Trek or Norco, in a price range of around $250 to $350. They also recondition bikes and buy and sell.
“We get people who want to upgrade their bikes and people who have old bikes that are in good shape and might need a bit of work. For us its all about getting them out on the trails or the roads in a safe bike that is set up properly for them,” said Martha.
Sean does all the repairs in a small workshop behind the showroom, where there are 20 or 30 bikes available for sale or for rent.
“Mostly what we have been doing, and it has been very busy, is getting people back on a bike after many years and helping those who are already active with the sport to improve their enjoyment,” said Martha.
Sean is an avid cyclist himself, and he loves being located at the junction of the two trails because that gives him options for rides on his breaks and lunch hour.
“There is some really good cycling on the K&P and Cataraqui Trails,” he said, “the scenery is fantastic, it is quiet. The trail is smooth and flat. You can’t really beat it.”
“That’s why we named the store Trail Time,” said Martha.
When the first part of the K&P Trail in Frontenac County was opened, the celebration ceremony took place just south of the Trail time shop, just on the west side of Road 38 where the K&P and Cat Trails, which are joined at that point, are about to split off, with the Cat traill heading west and south and the K&P turning north to head up to Hartington and Verona.
With road word scheduled for Harrowsmith, Sean and Martha are hoping that plans to build a trailhead in Harrowsmith can be resurrected. Frontenac County commissioned an architect to come up with a plan several years ago. The proposal, which included parking, washroom facilities, a roofed structure, landscaping and a park,. Was received by the council of the day but no action was taken.
“With the amount of use people make of the two trails, it is an ideal location for something to be put in. Said Sean.
In the meantime, Trail Time has been providing a rest stop behind their shop, offering couches, shade and water to trail riders. They have posted signs at the trail letting riders, and walkers, know there is a cool rest stop available.
Then major goal of the store is to get people out on bikes, enjoying the countryside. Since they have opened they have been busy buying and selling bikes, and helping people.
“Whether people are looking to upgrade, or to find something simple to get them on their way, we can always find a way to make it work. Whatever their level of fitness or financial situation, we can get them on a bike,” said Martha.
Trail Time is now open 7 days a week, 9-5 (or thereabouts) until at least Labour Day. They intend to remain open all year.
2nd annual Harrowsmith Car Show is set for this Sunday (July 23) at Centennial Park.
It will feature 150 to 200 cars in 10 -12 catregories. Vehicles from 20’s and 30’s all the way on up to more recent models will be on display. Those interested in showing can register in advance by call the show organizer, Larry Teal at 613-374-2489. It costs $5 per car and there are dash and trophy plaques available at this event.
It is free to the public (a donation jar will be set up) and onsite catering is being provided by Kelly Foods of Kingston.
(A continuing series of articles to be used as part of the build-out of the Villages pages on Frontenac-live.ca, this look at the history of Harrowsmith and Verona is based on the book, Portland - My Home by Wiliam J. Patterson)
In 1802 Micajah Purdy registered the lots in what was later (1807) called Portland Township. In 1804, John Shibley, where this story really begins, bought the south-west corner of the township (what is now essentially Harrowsmith) for £175. He split up his land in three, giving a piece to each of his sons Jacob and Henry. Portland Township then had a population of at least six because each Shibley man was married at the time.
From that point forward the township began to grow in population. Between 1810 and 1830 land was being sold at bargain prices in the township because the government of Upper-Canada had more land than money and they would often use land in places like Portland as a reward for loyal service, military pensions, civil servant wages etc. In 1819, there were nineteen households in the township. By 1826, the population was recorded at 279, and by 1829 had risen to 343. In the 1830’s the population had even more growth due to the high number of immigrants from the United Kingdom. In the 1840’s the population of Portland spiked yet again, creating a township that was two thirds full with the majority of vacant lots being in the north. Verona and Harrowsmith contained little vacant area at that time.
Now that there was a full community, Jacob Shibley went to work ensuring it was a well governed and just place. He became justice of the peace and was one of the first two councillors along with Clark Nicholls. Shibley has served in the War of 1812 as a regiment commander and later became a captain. He even became the county’s first member of Parliament. He was “undoubtedly the most important man in Portland” according to local historian William J. Patterson, who wrote the book, Portland my home.
In the 1840’s with a relatively stabilized population and a growing government, there was a movement away from pioneer subsistence farming practices (mainly growing wheat) and on to mixed farming. The number of farm animals dramatically increased during this period as did the average acreage of cleared land per farm. Because of this change in farming practices, there was a higher annual salary per household than ever before. By the 1840’s the populations of Verona and Harrowsmith had significantly improved their quality of life.
In the early years, education was limited. Parents needed their children to help on their farms. Upper Canada eventually established a public elementary school system in 1846 although less than half of the township’s child population attended. Small school houses started popping up in Portland Township and were used for worship on weekends because it was too expensive to build both a church and a school house.
A number of new occupations were possible from the 1840’s and afterwards because of schools, government, and the building of the Kingston & Pembroke railroad. The prosperity in Portland over the second half of the 19th Century funded the building of the K&P, the establishment of a Board of Health, and providing limited support to low-income members of society. By the 1880’s Verona and Harrowsmith provided such opportunities to their populations that there are records of railway workers, undertakers, bakers, miners, plasterers, photographers, nurses, store clerks and seamstresses in addition to farmers.
By 1848 Joshua Hicks had opened the first tavern in Verona. And by 1849 the first Methodist church was built in Harrowsmith (Wesleyan Methodist Church). As William Peterson points out in Portland My Home, the two events are related and had implications for a very long time. Patterson wrote that “Methodism taught that salvation came from separating oneself from the temptations of the world. It was a denomination with a strong social conscience that believed in one’s duty to one’s neighbour”.
Because of this strong community oriented conscience during the 1870’s there was a movement by the Methodists to stamp out drunkenness. This movement led to the establishment of temperance organizations and the building of temperance houses such as the Verona Temperance House which was completed in 1910. The Verona organization had over 100 members. Religion was also linked at this time to a political identity. Methodists were Reformers and Anglicans were Tories. Jacob Shibley was a Reformer.
Unlike the religious affiliations in the rest of Upper Canada in the second half of the 19th Century, favouring the Church of England and Presbyterian Church, in Portland 52% of the population was Methodist. At the end of the 19th Century a new wave of Methodism arrived in Portland, called Free Methodism. In 1889 Rev. A.H. Norrington tried to bring Free Methodism to Harrowsmith and received rotten vegetables in return – lots of them, thrown at him and his followers. Norrington moved on to Verona with greater success and by 1891 they had built a church. The Verona circuit became the strongest Free Methodist community in Canada by 1895 – producing 23 Methodist ministers, and gaining popularity due to the mass baptism of converts in Rock Lake. Eventually Free Methodism made its way back to Harrowsmith and in 1919 the Presbyterian church was bought and converted into a Free Methodist church. The Harrowsmith congregation continued to grow throughout the 20th Century and at one point even published a newspaper, called The Harrowsmith Banner.
Harrowsmith and Verona have a long history of industry and resource extraction as well. In Verona, the mills and factories of the 19th Century were mostly in service of the local population but some of the produce was destined for export – cheese most notably. Today, there are few remnants remaining to tell us how many mills there were or what they were producing. We do know that in Verona there was a saw mill and a flouring mill in the 1870’s around the same time that Verona was supplied with a source of power. In 1912 Davy Well Drilling was established by Charles Davy and his son William. This is the third oldest well drilling firm in Ontario and still in business today. It is currently run by the 5th generation and services over three hundred homes a year, a far cry from the 1940’s when they were drilling at most 40 wells a year. The first saw-mill in Portland township was in Harrowsmith opened in 1826. Many more saw-mills were opened later in the century as well as nearby associated industries such as barrel factories, tanneries (using tan bark), and carriage factories. Eventually all of these wood-associated businesses closed down and in the 1930’s only Harrowsmith’s cheese box factory was still running. Eventually the resource industries in Verona and Harrowsmith died out and their economies relied on small shops and stores.
What is really special about Harrowsmith and Verona is their social and community development. In the first half of the 20th Century the township hall in Harowsmith was used for visiting troops of actors and in 1927 - under sponsorship from the Women’s Institute – for local amateur productions. Verona had a local group of entertainers called The Dumbells from the 1920’s on. The Women’s Institute was an original Canadian organization for rural women, the Harrowsmith branch opened in 1924 and the Verona branch in 1927. These organizations provided a social focus for women outside of church circles and involved work for the betterment of the community. Thanks to the Harrowsmith Women’s Institute, the library was built in 1926. Both the Verona and Harrowsmith branches provided aid to less fortunate families during the depression and made countless contributions to charities such as the Red Cross during WW1. In the second half of the century the focus of their work was in education, scholarships for local students at Sydenham High School, public speech competitions, etc. The Verona Women’s Institute has since closed but the Harrowsmith branch is still going strong. Just last month they celebrated their 92nd anniversary.
Verona and Harrowsmith share much of their rich history. Both hamlets are today home to thriving communities and the beautiful countryside. In the 1900’s there was a natural rivalry between the two township centres in the form of hockey matches and baseball games. Organizations and clubs that were founded in one were immediately duplicated in the other. Thankfully that rivalry has been put to rest and we can appreciate the positive impact that these twin hamlets have had on our local rural history.
Don Bates drove the Official Pace Car of Canada Day at Centennial Park in Harrowsmith.
Franny & Beebs, hosts of the popular YouTube/Facebook phenomenon In the Breezeway, showed up all the way from Cobourg to be in the parade and headline the show at Oso Beach.
Patriotic Flag Wavers signing O Canada, on top of the lookout between Palmerston and Canonto Lakes in North Frontenac!
Preparing the cookie decorating table (Sunbury)
Although rain put the damper on half of Maberly’s Pie in the Sky event, Anne Thomlison, Mary Lou Pospisil, Sue Munro and Marlene Ambler presided over the sale featuring “at least 100” (Photos - Craig Bakay and Wilma Kenny)