Monday, 31 July 2017

Save the Wharf!!!

Save the Wharf!!!

In my youth, oh so long ago, I spent a great deal of my leisure time at White’s Bluff Wharf... 

White's Bluff Wharf, 2017

...not that I had a great deal of leisure time, being a career girl since the age of three.

Novice Career Girl

The wharf was the place to be in the summertime. Once we were allowed to swim unsupervised, we wanted to swim at the wharf in the deep water, jump off the piers, socialize with friends, maybe even smoke the odd cigarette and partake in some underage drinking! I won't even mention "spooning" and skinny-dipping. The wharf was particularly appealing after a long day in the hayfield.

Experienced Career Girl

Wharf School
I've spent enough time at the wharf over the last 50 years to be considered "experienced", if not "expert." Of course, one does not become a Wharf Expert immediately. There are developmental stages to Wharf Expertise, much like grades in school. Once you have mastered Tiptoeing Down the Side Stairs... 

Side Stairs 

...and slipping quietly into the water, you progress to Grade Two, Side-Jumping. If you are particularly precocious, you might even do it backwards.

Liam Roche

It could be a bit frightening at first. Remember, it is deep, and rumour has it there is a jeep, a Lincoln-Continental and two motor-cycles down there! 


Once Side-Jumping has been perfected, it is a natural progression to End-Jumping. The current is stronger at the end, so be cautious. Sunsets are an added bonus.

Owen, Evan and George

When you have mastered Side-Jumping and End-Jumping, it’s time to move on to Pier-Jumping. In my day, you stuck your big toe into the date,1934, carved into the side of the pier, and slid your youth-slim body up to the top, took a deep breath, and JUMPED!!

Amelia Bruce

Now a few things have changed. The date is gone from the pier, worn away by erosion and old age. The youth-slim body is gone as well, expanded by excess and old age. And there is some controversy about that date,1934, which is engraved in my mind. My sister and I disagree on that, as on many things. Aunt Gladys says 1938, and she is probably correct!! 


As you know, diving requires more finesse than jumping. One has to endure a few BellyFlops before you conquer the smooth dive off the side. Be patient----it will come. And then, when you’re 60, it will go. And you’ll get back to BellyFlops.

Summer Tracy and Grace Duplisea

Perfecting the BellyFlop

You move from Side-Diving to Pier-Diving. It’s a beautiful sight, and a beautiful feeling to cut the water and slice into its surface powered by that extra height of four feet. Stretch your arms out, elbows over your ears, hands pointed. Keep your legs straight and together. Expect a BellyFlop or two in your training period.

Trish Clark

As you advance through the stages, you might be fortunate and talented enough to join a Wharf-Jumping-Choreography-Group. You’ll need a coach to master this feat. And a fairly sharp photographer.

Olympic Coach: Beth Quigley

Again, this all takes practice. There will be days when things don’t go as smoothly as planned. Like life in general.

Practice Makes Perfect

There is no official graduation from Wharf School. You'll just know when you've made it!

Wharf Alumni
Kline MacDonald

Wharf History
The wharves along the St. John River were refurbished in the 1930s as a make-work project to counteract the effects of the Great Depression. They served as stopping points for the riverboats that travelled the river until the 1950s, transporting people and produce.

The D.J. Purdy 1924-1946

At the end of the riverboat era, the federal government took over the maintenance of the wharves until 1997 at which time the St. John River Society acquired 13 of the wharves. In addition to providing a site for the leisure activity of boaters, swimmers and scenery-admirers, keeping the wharf public ensures public access to the river.This makes the SJRS, a not-for-profit organization, responsible for insurance and maintenance costs. Not cheap!

Wharves owned by SJRS

The community of the Kingston Peninsula is currently fund-raising in an effort to raise $25,000 for the needed repairs of White's Bluff Wharf, the longest and the BEST wharf on the river.

Surface Damage

Pier Damage

Wharf Fund-Raising
What manner of fund-raising have they undertaken?
Well, there is the monthly 50/50 draw.

50/50 Draw

There is Yoga on the wharf every Wednesday evening.

Yoga on the Wharf

There are Wharf-Related Art Prints for sale.

The Wharf

The Beach

There are Wharf T-Shirts for sale.

Wharf T-Shirts

There was the "Save the Wharf Party" on July 22nd...

...attended by hundreds of supporters. Thank You!

Wharf Supporters

...And made possible by dozens of volunteers in orange T-Shirts. Thank You!!

Volunteer Tory Burke

If you want to be part of this great cause, you can donate money here: White's Bluff Wharf Repair DonationsOr you could attend yoga, invest in a print, buy a 50/50 ticket, purchase a t-shirt.  Then you could say, "Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt!!"

"Got the T-Shirt"
Nora and Ruthie Fullerton

And the fund-raising continues! Upcoming events include a coffee-house, busking at local stores, and a dinner and an auction. 

Busking Event 

If you have never visited White's Bluff Wharf, drop in for a picnic, a swim, a jump off the pier. Access is still public. Sunsets are still phenomenal. You might even see a River Nymph.

River Nymph
Norah English

Your contributions are very much appreciated by the community and the generations to come. 

.....Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Happy Birthday, Eh!

Happy Birthday, Eh!

Canada is getting a lot of attention this week as she/we/it turns 150. We are challenged to define what it means to be Canadian, to rethink our symbols, and to simply embrace the word “eh”, eh.

Canada 150

When I was 10 years old, Canada turned 100. I thought that was really old. In an effort to broaden the horizons of the New Brunswick relatives, my Toronto aunts generously arranged for a number of the country cousins to attend Expo 67 in Montreal. Remember this ditty?:

“Come one, come all

 Come one and all
 To Expo ’67, Montreal”

Expo '67 Montreal

Although I only remember snippets of that trip, I’m sure my horizons were broadened. I remember elevators, escalators, Place Ville Marie, the American pavilion which was a geodesic dome, the bags of pamphlets and brochures I dragged home with me and kept in my bedroom closet until after I finished university. My aunts sublet an apartment in Montreal for the summer, and the various New Brunswick relatives stayed there over the summer months. I remember being so impressed by the words “sublet” and “apartment”, concepts so foreign to my rural experience of 10 years.

American Pavilion

What does it mean to be Canadian in 2017? That discussion has been all over the CBC this week. CBC---speaking of what it means to be Canadian... One radio discussion I heard this morning cautiously agreed that we should be proud of our country, but not too smug as we have some black marks in our history that we need to atone for.


And what about those symbols? Mounties, moose, beavers, maple syrup, hockey. Do they still represent Canada? There are more Canadian adults playing golf than playing hockey, and twice as many kids play soccer than play hockey. In 2017, one in five Canadians is foreign-born, and 81% of us live in urban centres where it is unusual to meet a moose or a beaver.

Urban Moose 

That little word “eh” continues to set us apart. According to CBC, it is still widely used across the country, but is declining in use by the younger generation who replace it with “right, hey, you know, or don’t you.” It is still alive and well in my house. But I’m old. And I have a case of maple syrup in the basement of my urban home, eh.

Maple Syrup Stereotype

...Until Next Time...

Friday, 26 May 2017

Spring Tonic

 Spring Tonic

It is rhubarb season again. I’m back in the field for the fifth year, picking then peddling the beautiful stalks. Just raking in the dollars!

Beauty in a Banana Box

I have the same intern. He has the same complaints---hard work, poor pay.

Super-Tom: Rhubarb Intern

K-9 Security is still with me, a little slower, deafer, blinder, cuter.

K-9 Security: Nuggett

I always think of my great grandmother, Alice, while I am picking rhubarb. Although I have absolutely no memory of Old Gram, we lived in the same house for the first two years of my life which were the last two years of her life. She is really just a myth living in my mind. 

Robert, Alice and Baby Bob

Old Gram called rhubarb “Spring Tonic”, the idea being that the first fresh food available on the farm could revive you after the long winter. “She used it as a physic,” my mother said. A physic? Here you go: Physic definition, a medicine that purges; cathartic; laxative. 

A Physic

There are a couple of stories about Old Gram that stand out in my mind. One is that she would go out to her verandah and yell to her adult sons who lived on farms on either side of her. She did not need a phone. She just stood on the verandah and hollered out "GEOOOOOORGE" to the right of her, and "FRAAAAAANK" to the left of her. I have the impression she liked to be in charge. 


One of my older sisters has a vivid memory of Old Gram cutting her toenails on the verandah. With a knife. In my imagination, it is a rhubarb knife.

Pedicure Anyone?

There is so much you can do with "Spring Tonic". I recommend just stewing it if you want to use it as a physic. Rhubarb pie is a sure hit---my mother always added a handful of raisins to soak up the excess juice. There are TONS of Rhubarb Recipes online, from Rhubarb Chutney to Rhubarb Punch. Here is an easy but delicious Rhubarb Cake recipe from my sister-in-law's kitchen.  

Rhubarb Cake
1/2 c soft shortening
1 1/2 c light brown sugar
Cream above together
1tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 c buttermilk
Mix all above
Add 2 c flour mixed with 1/2 tsp salt + 1 tsp b powder
Stir until almost combined
Add 1 1/2 c raw or still frozen rhubarb
Mix until combined
Put in a greased oblong pan
Sprinkle with a bit of white sugar mixed with cinnamon
Bake at 350 until done

Rhubarb Cake

I leave you with a few “Fun Facts” about Rhubarb:
·        It is native to China
·        The leaves are toxic
·        The word “rhubarb” can also mean a heated argument or dispute
·        It is very high in calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, dietary fibre and more
·        It is considered a vegetable, not a fruit

·        rhubarb   - Word used to describe anywhere you didn't originally intend to be, usu. a roadside ditch or somewhere off of a sled or wheeler trail; "He got goin' too fast and put 'er in the rhubarb." Occasionally, rhubarb functions as a verb, as in "He got goin' too fast an' rhubarbed 'er." See also: pucker-brush. (From Carleton County Colloquialisms)

Barb's Pie Social

...Until Next Time...

Wednesday, 26 April 2017



I couldn’t decide whether to write about Forest Bathing, Mono-Tasking, Thought Monogamy, or Marbles this month. I’ve opted for marbles as it seemed most fitting for the season. I’ll save those other intriguing subjects for another time!


When is the last time you played marbles? I think grade four was my peak marble year. Tag, skipping and marbles were the top activities on our playground at that time. I was pretty good at marbles. Remember the rules? Clearsies, keepsies, fairsies, pinky shots? I had a neat black leather marble bag with a drawstring that held my crockies and my aggies. 

Marble Bag

I don’t remember the “cat’s eye” marble being in my grade four lexicon. However, it’s a very important motif in Margaret Atwood’s 1988 novel, if you care to do some literary exploration on marbles.

 Cat's Eye

On Easter Weekend, in a game with my Little Brother Noel, and his little brother, Kolten, I found out that I’m still pretty good at marbles. Bending over is a bit of a challenge, but I still have a mean pinky shot. 

Marbles with Noel, Kolten and Nugget

There was more to Easter weekend than playing marbles. There was biking on the trail...

Trail-Bikin' With the Boys

...and the Easter Egg Hunt. I splurged and bought four bags of foil-wrapped eggs at the Dollar Store. I hid 60 eggs around the house and yard. After the two boys found them all, and counted them, I hid them again. And again. And again. That $6.60 went a long way. 

Easter Eggs in a Fancy Easter Basket

All of this marble/spring activity/nostalgia is to remind you of the rewards of being a Big Sister to a sweet little boy. When I signed on to this gig, I didn’t give much thought to what this relationship would bring to me. Spending time with this kind, thoughtful,creative, inquisitive, reflective, appreciative little boy brings great joy to me and my extended family.  

Ice-Fishing at Killarney Lake

Consider becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister. It’s all about spending time, not money. Currently, there are about 40 kids in our area awaiting a match. You too could re-discover your prowess in marbles! It’s a definite ego-booster.
(Click on this link for more informationBBBS).

Adult Marble Champion

April is the major fund-raising month for BBBS. Thanks to many of my friends have already donated to this year’s campaign which ends on April 30th. If you would like to contribute online, follow the link below. Thank you for your support in funding this organization that makes a positive difference in kids’ lives.
Donate to BFKS:My Little Brother, Noel

...Until Next Time...