Sunday, August 09, 2009

Oh!, Hello. Welcome back blog traveler. Looking for rel eh? rel and I made each other's acquaintance yesterday and he has enlisted my help to finish up his story about Merrickville. Since I've lived here my whole life I'll act as your tour guide for some of the story and rel will chime in at those junctures with personal anecdotes. My name? Oh yes, well you can call me cbs; short for Coal Black Squirrel.
Just to clear up a common misunderstanding about black squirrels: We exist on both sides of the border. While our first cousins, the grey, out number us world wide (1 in 10,000) we have established large enclaves in some areas of the US and the UK. Here is a link.
Early Thursday morning, rel arose with the sun to meander the village byways to snap some pictures; he prefers early morning and evening for his photos, thinking the colors and perspective are enhanced more than when the sun is directly over head.
We'll start over by the blockhouse on the corner 0f Main and St. Lawrence streets. The Blockhouse was built in 1832 to defend the Rideau Canal. It is the largest of the four military blockhouses on the Rideau. Never used militarily it was the home of lockmaster Johnston, and is now a National Historic Site. A museum inside operated by Merrickville & District Historical
society Houses a collection of typical 19th century implements.
The Blockhouse
Just of few yards north of the Blockhouse there is a bridge on Mill Street which crosses over one of the Rideau locks. When the locks are being opened the bridge must be rotated out of the way to enable boats, particularly taller boats, to maneuver through the lock.

Mill Street Bridge rotating to clear the lock to traffic.

Once the bridge is clear of the lock and the water level equalized the waiting watercraft traverse the lock.

Pleasure boat passing through the lock at Merrickville, Ontario Canada
Between rel and D., his wife, they take 100s of pictures, but put only a paltry few here to just share a glimpse of their experiences.

When the bridge rotated back in place, rel and D. crossed the bridge and made their way north on Mill street. With-in a block they came upon the remains of the 1793 Industrial complex which grew up around William Merrick's original sawmill. By the early 1800's flour and grist mills had been added, and by 1850 a major foundry and woolen mill were part of the complex.

Entrance to 1793 Industrial complex.
Continuing up a slight incline we look left across the street to see the building referred to as Merrick Tavern c. 1830 at 106 Mill St. Commonly considered a tavern because of it's style and proximity to the industrial complex. This stone house was owned by Aaron & Terrance Merrick. One of the earliest surviving homes in the village, it was restored as a private home in 1980.
Merrick Tavern
Later in the day, after Hugh MacLennan our B&B host, had passed on some info, we stopped by. The owner is a former (perhaps still) Ottawa newspaper photojournalist turned artistic photographer. Hugh also mentioned that this gentleman's wife runs "Stashes" restaurant, a polish restaurant, in Montreal. Merrick's tavern is now his abode as well as studio and showroom. We browsed around inside for 1/2 hour or so and, indeed, his artistic photography is well evident.
Continuing northward, rel snapped pics of houses not knowing anything about them other than they appealed to him.

John Johnston House c. 1850
512 St. Lawrence

Built for retired Sergeant John Johnston, who served as Merrickville's lock-master from 1836 to 1869, this stone house, exhibits the classic style of Greek revival. Note the suicide door, installed in anticipation of a porch to be added later.

Knox Presbyterian Church 1861
618 St. Lawrence

Restored by Heritage Merrickville Foundation in 1983 to maintain its historic presence, this red-brick building, the earliest surviving church structure, has been preserved for community use as Knox Hall.

Pre-cellphone, if you wanted to call your mom and tell her that you and your chums were going to stop into the ice-cream shop for a cone and would like an extension on your curfiew, you'd make use of a telephone booth such as this one, in still working order, on St. Lawrence Street just next to the Goose and Gridiron pub and restaurant.

Millers of Merrickville could be an 1830's early stone house at 323 St. Lawrence Street. rel and D. shopped there and bought a bird house and some garden stakes for their garden but it shows up here as an introduction to a human interest anecdote which occured across the street at Bob's Fresh Cut Fries.


Mid-morning D. and I couldn't resist, anylonger, the aroma of fresh french fries wafting in the area and decided to indulge in a small helping of french fries from Bob's. There are a few picnic tables set up in front of Bob's and you sit family style at these tables while indulging. Sitting at our table were D. and I and this delightful young lady and her mother. While D. and her mother were at the window ordering she and I were across from each other waiting patiently to eat. Well I was waiting patiently. The young lady was attempting to ensure that her mother ordered two Pogos for her (Pogos?). I had no idea what Pogos were. Later I determined that they are what we call corndogs. Maybe it's just me. :>)
Anyway, while she was eyeing her mom, I snapped this pic of her intense expression.

In short order the four of us were busy indulging our appetites. D. had set out a napkin and squirted some ketchup on it and she set a cruet-shaker of malt vinegar in front of me and said," if you want vinegar on your fries put some fries on a napkin and sprinkle them with the vinegar."
I replied: " aren't you going to put vinegar on your fries?"
"No," she replied.
When I said; "What kind of Canadian are you? No vinegar on your fries?" the girl's mom broke up laughing. Well of course that broke the ice and conversation ensued. It turned out that they lived in Ottawa, but had only been there for 5 years, after emigrating from Maldova. The young lady answered my inquirery; "are you eight years old?" by showing me 7 fingers. However her mom told us that she would turn eight on September 9th. She, infact, had been born 2 days before the 9/11 attack. They were on a holiday visit and were going to go horseback riding later.
I learned about the sad economics of Maldova when the mom said it was the impetus for her to emigrate to Canada as a single mom. In Maldova the average daily income is around $2.oo.
We went our separate ways; they to ride horses and we to check in to the bed and breakfast that had caught our eye on our trek north up Mill Street.
The Magee House c. 1845
205 Mill Street
Built in the 1840's and acquired shortly thereafter by early foundryman William Magee. This Queen Anne Victorian is one of the most attractive homes in the village. Carefully restored it is now operated as the "Millisle B&B." Our wonderful and gracious hosts were Hugh and Debra MacLennan. Debra is a professional chef and this was readily apparent at breakfast on the grand veranda the next morning. (Choices: fritatta, quiche, or salmon, plus fruit cups and scones.)

Our room; The Rideau room.
It's the smallest room at the home but was the only vacancy and we felt lucky to be able to stay there. It was more than adequate and was very nicely decorated with antiques of the 19th century.

For supper we made our way to Dicken's Gad's Hall Place (eating house).
Carla was our waitress. D. ordered a chicken dish with feta cheese served on risotto. I went with the special: 1/2 rack of ribs, chicken wings (mild, at my request), coleslaw, and a cup of chili. Thursday's is rib night as well as jazz night at Gad's Hall. While we were eating we had the opportunity to chat with the jazz trio's drummer and the band's name sake, Brian Downey. Interestingly the mom and young daughter we'd lunched with also showed up for dinner at the Gad's Hall Place. We didn't sit together and they left before the band started.
Adding to the ambiance of the evening was this dapple grey drawn carriage highlighting the atmosphere of another time.

The Brian Downey Trio jazz band entertained from 8 - 11 pm. Brian told us that they also play every Friday night in Brockville at the Brock Pub. We only stayed 'til ten but the music was super and we swayed and tapped our feet to every note. In fact, I knew the words to each and every song they played. An evening of serendipity, well worth the decision to spend another night in Merrickville. We will return!

Tim Roberts, singer and sax player with Brian Downey's Trio.

D. took this photo of Brian Downey, drummer for Brian Downey's Trio.
We were going to go to Brockville to hear the trio Friday night after our return but D. had a reaction to something in the facial mask she experienced at the spa and her eyelids swelled and were itchy enough for her to pop some benedryl. Needless to say she slept through the evening. But soon we will journey to the Brock Pub to hear the Brian Downey Trio again.



Blogger Jewel said...

Thanks for the reminder of this charming town. Now I am prompted to return. Haven't been there for 5 years or so. Will make a nice day trip.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Shelby said...

looks like a really lovely place. enjoyed your writings this morning.. happened upon your "happenstance" post from October last year.. loved it.

take care.

8:41 AM  
Blogger PEA said...

Well nice to meet you cbs, you've really done a terrific job telling us about Rel and D's trip to Merrickville! What an absolutely fascinating place it looks to be and it's the type of place I love to visit, loaded with history. How I would love to live in such an area, at the much slower pace of days gone by. Those houses are so beautiful and elegant! I do hope you show us more pictures:-) By the way, we don't have black squirrels here in my area, we don't even have gray ones and yet they do where Steve lives which is a 3 1/2 drive away! Makes you wonder how come they haven't made it here yet! lol xoxo

2:05 PM  
Blogger Kay said...

CBS you are sooo sweeeeet1 what a great time R and D had I am very happy for them ... R takes pretty good piccies eh!?

7:22 AM  
Blogger Michelle Johnson said...

Merrickville sounds like such a nice place. The atmosphere you've recreated here with the help of CBS was great. I love your pictures. And, someday I hope to be lucky enough to ride in a horse drawn carriage. Have a great night.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Churlita said...

Gorgeous photos.

My word verification was Jesse...Whoever that is.

4:07 PM  

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