Drive an hour east of Ottawa and get off Highway 417 and you'll find yourself on the old stagecoach road to Montreal and the village of Dunvegan. In the mid-1800s it was a prosperous little village. A store was built in 1840 by a man named McIntosh, and 20 years later it had changed owners and welcomed travellers as the White Star Inn,.
Travellers and locals would gather in the little tavern It was a place to meet, to talk, to pick up the mail, to get the news, to eat.. Here's the kitchen.
It's said to be the oldest continuously licensed tavern in Ontario.. Here's that tavern, and I hope to write more about that aspect of Dunvegan in the next blog!
Some decades ago, when the the road nearby was being improved and the ditches dug on either side of the pavement, the construction crews came across all kinds of bottles that had been buried over the decades. The bottles were donated the the Glengarry Pioneer Museum and are on proud display at the White Star Tavern. It's reasonable to assume that the contents of these bottles were consumed on those very premises.
But for me today, the White Star Tavern was a special place. I had it all to myself. Well, myself and about 300 school kids and their teachers who came to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum for the Seventh Annual Education Day.
What a great time we had! The students were broken up into groups of about 20 and took their turns visiting some 18 displays that had been set up in various locations in the museum. Here they are listening to fur traders.
This is Jill Metcalfe, who drove in from Osgoode this morning to spend the day showing kids the period art form of making silhouettes.
The students were invited to make their own silhouette pictures of one of their classmates. Here's Jeremy and some of the pictures that his friends made of him.
One of the favourite presentations for the kids was lessons in how to sword fight, presented by Drummond Fraser and "Trooper" Pat Gilliland. After learning the six basic attack moves and the six basic parries, the kids had a chance to practice the techniques on one another.
As for me, I loved the chance to talk to students about the War of 1812 as a war, not just between armies and countries, but a war of ideas. We talked about what ideas would make neighbours turn against one another, and divide families.
I had a chance, as well, to read from Brothers at War. I hope I'll be invited back by some of these schools to do presentations in the classroom. I've given them information on how to contact me through Authors Booking Service.
At around three in the afternoon, the buses came by to take the kids back to Williamsburg, Vankleek Hill, Russell and other communities that have a deep heritage that is preserved at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. Thanks to Jim Mullin and the organization for letting me be a part of it.
Tomorrow I return to Dunvegan for the "Battle of Glengarry!"