Autumn Splendour: Admiring Fall Colours in Eastern Canada

Cooler weather has finally settled in to Eastern Canada after a long hot dry summer. While I thoroughly enjoyed the sizzling  temperatures, I was apprehensive about what the fall months would bring.  After having lived on the Caribbean island of Dominica for almost 20 years, who could blame me for fearing the worst, in terms of a plummeting thermometer!

As it turned out, semi-tropical weather accompanied me on a mid-October  Canadian Thanksgiving journey to the east coast of Canada to visit relatives.  Unusually warm, sweltering, sunny days preceded the heavy deluge that Nova Scotia received from the remnants of Hurricane Matthew on October 10th, Thanksgiving Monday.

But several days before that powerful storm drenched this Maritime Province, spectacular scenery occupied the shorter autumn days of my train journey on ‘The Ocean‘.  When I booked the excursion from Kingston Ontario to connect with the east coast train departing from Montreal, Quebec,I had forgotten that I would not have the  long  summer hours  of daylight to see the sites/sights along the way. But no matter: I was better rested during the overnight segment of the 27 hour trip and was duly rewarded with colourful landscapes the next morning as the train passed through the upper St. Lawrence Valley of Quebec, crossed in to northern New Brunswick, following along the Mirimichi River in a southerly direction to the innermost marshlands of the Bay of Fundy at Sackville, New Brunswick and Amherst Nova Scotia. By the time we approached Halifax around 7 p.m., weary passengers were rewarded with a sensational sunset over a lake situated just north of the provincial capital of Halifax.

For a map of my rail journey, click here.

On the train, some of nature’s palette of colours that I admired from my window seat:
Thanks to the gorgeous weather which continued during my visit with relatives in the Annapolis Valley, it was easy to go on long walks and drives every day except the one when heavy rains kept most people inside, recovering from their Thanksgiving feasts.
The fall festive season in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia completely reflected the abundance of the harvest. While there had been a prolonged drought during the short growing season, certain crops definitely did thrive. The hues of orange and related shades on the spectrum blended sweetly  with the greens and browns of the now-barren fields:
On a fine day after Hurricane Matthew’s remnants had lashed Nova Scotia, my cousin Greg took my Aunt Vivian and me on a drive through part of the Annapolis Valley. Then my cousin Dwight and ‘sister’ Patricia took me over to historic and scenic Grand Pré UNESCO World Heritage Site just before I departed for Halifax the next day. While some leaves had fallen due to the high winds of the previous Monday, there was sufficient foliage to admire in the heart of this beautiful Canadian province:
 There were even vibrant flowers, sweet berries and hardy plants to admire, thanks to the temperate weather in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.  But I am sure that my cousins’ green thumbs had something to do with that too:

On my way back to Kingston (by air!), I spent a short time in Halifax, the major urban centre in the Maritimes and my home for many years.  As the weather remained fine well into October, I was struck by the beauty of this lovely city and remembered other times there when the prolonged autumn was moderated by the post-summer warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

And now that November’s here, in multi-shades of grey, I am thankful to have had such a sensational and scenic autumn in eastern Canada.  While it did not offer the endless greens found in Dominica,  the region’s pre-winter natural beauty was definitely good for my soul!

Advertisements

One Long Lovely Summer in Eastern Canada: Wilderness, History and Celebrations near Kingston, Ontario

My 'home from home' for six weeks was this quaint little cottage on Dog Lake near Battersea, Ontario (as seen from a canoe!)

My ‘home from home’ for six weeks was this quaint little cottage on Dog Lake near Battersea, Ontario (as seen from a canoe at sunset!)

During the summer of 2015, I had a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a prolonged stay near Kingston Ontario, which is my home town.  For six weeks, I stayed in a familiar  rural setting and got to know it even better.  On the edge of the wilderness,I stationed myself for numerous idyllic summer days at one of the  cozy Three Little Cottages on Dog lake. These cute and comfortable cabins are owned by longtime neighbours and friends, Sharon and Will

The Freedom Farm is situated near the Three Little Cottages, and the home of proprietors Sharon and Will Freeman.

The Freedom Farm is situated near the Three Little Cottages, and the home of proprietors Sharon and Will Freeman.

Freeman of Battersea, Ontario. Their organic Freedom Farm, which is situated in close proximity to the cottages is the perfect complement to my Canadian quest for clean air, food and water!  While these dedicated farmers quietly toiled over about 30 varieties of produce for their clients of the Community Supported Agriculture program, I was able to observe the tending and growing process and occasionally devour the ‘fruits’ of their labours – with great pleasure!DSCF5773

There are lots of good reasons to spend time at the Three Little Cottages and Freedom Farm - I should know!

There are lots of good reasons to spend time at the Three Little Cottages and Freedom Farm – I should know!

Its somewhat remote location actually forms part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere (FAB), which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. One of the biggest thrills for me in this place of  serenity and solitude was the abundance of opportunities to observe wildlife up close.  It was very exciting to be able to ‘shoot’ animals without ever disturbing them in their natural habitat.  For me, that was a new experience that I want to repeat!  A sampling of my encounters with wild four-legged and two-winged creatures is found below.

Bees happily buzzed around these hives on the Freedom Farm. They certainly had fields of plenty to make great honey!

Bees happily buzzed around these hives on the Freedom Farm. They certainly had fields of plenty in order to make great honey!

I nick-named this Great Blue Heron, 'Herman' because he seemed to want to get to know me. He certainly left his calling card - on my car and the roof of the cottage!

I nick-named this Great Blue Heron, ‘Herman’ because he seemed to want to get to know me. He certainly left his calling card – on my car and the roof of the cottage!

Little bunnies occupied the fields and lane ways - around the garden, of course!

Cute little bunnies hopped about the fields and lane ways – but they were not encouraged to hang  around the garden, of course!

OF course, some domestic animals occupied the Freedom Farm - ponies, dogs and a cat added to the homey feel of the place.

Some domestic animals occupied the Freedom Farm – ponies, dogs and a cat added to the homey feel of the place.

At daybreak, , a family of deer would sometimes come to the shore directly opposite the cottage for a drink.

At daybreak, , a family of deer would sometimes come to the shore directly opposite the dock of the cottage for a drink.

I caught this Pileated Woodpecker early one morning at Gilmour Point on Dog Lake.

I caught this Pileated Woodpecker early one morning at Gilmour Point on Dog Lake near Battersea Ontario.

It’s also an area renowned for fishing, and my brother and sister-in-law took advantage of that opportunity.  Edwin did catch a ‘big one’, but that is a story for another day.  I had fun watching them cast their lines – morning, noon and night!

Many days, I read books by Kingston poet laureate and author Helen Humphreys. I also took short excursions to nearby villages such as Westport, Glenburnie Latimer, Seeley’s Bay and Inverary.  These little

It's fun to look over the pretty village of Westport on Upper Rideau Lake from Spy Rock in the Foley Mountain Conservation Area.

It’s fun to look over the pretty village of Westport on Upper Rideau Lake from Spy Rock in the Foley Mountain Conservation Area. Photo taken by Edwin.

hamlets formed part of my childhood experiences  and I always enjoy returning to them.  Then there were times when I

There's always another 'big one' out there, and the many fishing enthusiasts on Dog Lake will tell you so!

There’s always another ‘big one’ out there, and the many fishing enthusiasts on Dog Lake will tell you so!

I caught Edwin and Beth casting their lines at the crack of dawn - ever hopeful for one that didn't get away!

I caught Edwin and Beth casting their lines at the crack of dawn – ever hopeful for one that didn’t get away!

drove half an hour south of the cottage near Battersea  to go ‘downtown’, as my family used to refer to outings to Kingston from our country location.

This year, I decided that it was time to refresh my memory about the history of my  beloved Limestone City, which was settled in the mid-17th century.  It was no coincidence that  my sudden

This regal statue of Sir John A. Macdonald figures prominently in the park named after him in Kingston!

This regal statue of Sir John A. Macdonald figures prominently in Kingston’s City Park!

interest in a local refresher was prompted by the celebration of the 200th anniversary (bicentennial) of the birth of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister.  Although he was not actually born here, he resided in Kingston, Canada’s first capital, for most of his life  He subsequently died in Ottawa, the current longstanding federal capital.  This visionary man was instrumental in developing a national railroad (from coast to coast) and, as a Father of Confederation, recognized that the country’s early cultural and regional differences  would ideally make an exceptional nation! He met with many pitfalls along the way (both personally and professionally), but he perservered, and  his ideas greatly influenced the kind of country that Canada is today!

I

There are a number of buildings around Kingston that were once occuspied by Sir John A. for personal or business interests. This pub was his law office. It's located on King Street East and offers good food at reasonable prices!

There are a number of buildings around Kingston that were once occupied by Sir John A. for personal or business interests. This pub was his law office. It’s located on King Street East and offers good food at reasonable prices!

caught up quickly on what was long forgotten in terms of my knowledge of this great Canadian when I took in the Salon Theatre Company’s top-notch re-enactment of the key events during Macdonald’s life in Kingston in an outdoor setting.

If you are in Kingston Ontario in the summer months, you've got to check out the Salon Theatre Company's super show on Sir John A.!

If you are in Kingston Ontario in the summer months, you’ve got to check out the Salon Theatre Company’s super show on Sir John A.!

The Salon Theatre Company offered a highly entertaining and instructional production called 'In Sir John A.'s Footsteps in downtown Kingston.

The Salon Theatre Company offered a highly entertaining and instructional production called ‘In Sir John A.’s Footsteps’ in downtown Kingston.

I thoroughly enjoyed the one hour performance by this professional acting troupe, and I could easily understand why they were rated a Trip Advisor top attraction in Kingston this past summer!

As this production further provoked my interest in reacquainting with my home town, I took a guided bus tour

Bellevue House in Kingston is afascinating museum that displays effects from the time when Sir John A. and his family lived there in the mid 19th century.

Bellevue House in Kingston is a fascinating museum that displays effects from the time when Sir John A. and his family lived there in the mid 19th century.

of the Limestone City, as Kingston played such a prominent role in the founding of the Dominion of Canada. The historic sites are all very significant and well worth the review.   As well, I heard more about our first prime minister.  Kingstonians are certainly proud of their Sir John A.!

The dome of Kingston City Hall (centre) and the spire of St. Mary's Cathedral (left)figure prominently as one approaches from Lake Ontario.

The dome of Kingston City Hall (centre) and the spire of St. Mary’s Cathedral (left)figure prominently as one approaches from Lake Ontario.

One another steamy day, I took the ferry from Kingston to Wolfe Island and back in order to get cooled off and to appreciate the lovely city from  its

Kingston is renowned for its excellent sailing conditions. It hosted the sailing competitions during the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

Kingston is renowned for its excellent sailing conditions. It hosted the sailing competitions during the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

important location at the intersection of Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and the Rideau Canal! Certainly the afternoon’s journey was most revitalizing. However, I did not take time to visit the quaint town of Marysville on the island, but will certainly do that on my next trip to Kingston.

The rehearsal studio at 'The Isabel' overlooks Lake Ontario. What a spectacular setting for musical and theatrical endeavors!

The rehearsal studio at ‘The Isabel’ overlooks Lake Ontario. What a spectacular setting for musical and theatrical endeavors!

It was a complete delight to take a guided tour of the brand new Isabel

I was very honoured to be taken on a tour of the Isabel Bader Center for the Performing Arts by its Director,Ms. Tricia Baldwin. I am very grateful to Ms. Faye Ransom, Senior Development Officer/Gift Planning at Queen's University for organizing this delightful visit.

I was very honoured to be taken on a tour of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts by its Director, Ms. Tricia Baldwin. I am very grateful to Ms. Faye Ransom, Senior Development Officer/Gift Planning at Queen’s University for organizing this delightful visit. Photo taken by Faye.

Bader Centre for the Performing Arts at Queen’s University.  As a graduate of the School of Music, I truly admired the state-of-the-art performance hall and attractive rehearsal space, both with world-class acoustics.  I was bold enough to sing a few notes from the stage and was completely amazed by the quality of the sound.  I envied current students, who I am sure will make good use of this facility.  I hope they will enjoy it as much as I would!

In fact, the entire summer seemed to be filled with joyous events and occasions.

Before the formal grad ceremony commenced, Mara played flute with the high school band. Behind her on alta saxophone is her brother Dallin (in the hat). They are both accomplished musicians!

Before the formal grad ceremony commenced, Mara played flute with her high school band. Behind her on alto saxophone is her brother Dallin (in the hat). They are both accomplished  young musicians!

My niece Mara was thrilled to receive the Governor General's Medal at her high school graduation for the highest average in academics.

My niece Mara was all smiles when she received  the Governor General’s Medal at her high school graduation for the highest  academic average at her high school .

It was an honour  as a proud Auntie to attend the high school graduation of my niece Mara, whose incredible academic accomplishments earned her the prestigious Governor General’s Medal, among other awards and  post-secondary scholarships.  She is a very humble, hardworking young lady, and I wish her much success in her university studies (at Queen’s!) and beyond.

A couple weeks after that ceremony, I was honoured to attend another milestone: that of the marriage of

It was a beautiful day in early July when my longtime friends David and John 'tied the knot' in a moving ceremony before 100 guests at their home in eastern Ontario.

It was a beautiful day in early July when my longtime friends David and John formally ‘tied the knot’ in a moving ceremony before 100+ guests at their home in eastern Ontario.

longtime friends David and John at their home in eastern Ontario.  Throughout that special afternoon, I was enveloped in the complete sensation of love and honour that prevailed throughout this unforgettable day.  I felt so proud to be one of the 100+ witnesses of their formal vows of commitment to each other.  The feelings of good will were definitely infectious.  I wish my dear friends happiness and love always.

I cherish this photo of me with my brothers, Edwin (l) and Marc from our Summer 2015 reunion.

I cherish this photo of me with my brothers, Edwin (l) and Marc from our Summer 2015 reunion.

Then later that summer, I realized a commitment that had been overlooked for several previous visits due to the timing of my stays in Canada. My nephew Dallin is an accomplished student actor who

Auntie Gwen delighted in the chance to spend a little time with her niece Mara and her nephew Dallin in the Summer of 2015.

Auntie Gwen delighted in the chance to spend a little time with her niece Mara and her nephew Dallin in the Summer of 2015.

has participated in a number of plays produced by the  Stirling Festival Theatre‘s Young Company in Stirling, Ontario. This year, I got to take in all the fun watching him and the cast singing and acting their hearts out in ‘Legally Blonde, The Musical’. After I saw the hilarious show for the second time, we gathered for a family reunion at The Black Dog Family Restaurant in Stirling, to top off the happy events of the Summer of 2015. We were all in fine form, and I have the photos to prove it!

After our gathering I drove back to the little cottage north of Kingston to spend what I thought would be my final week in Canada. As we now know, Tropical Storm Erika changed my plans and I got to enjoy a longer visit with family and friends. But before that happened, I felt  completely at peace with my commune with nature and the pervasive tranquility that enveloped me during my six week retreat at the Three Little Cottages.  I hope it won’t be too many summers before I can return there again!

But wait… there’s more! I haven’t told you about the adventures in Nova Scotia  with my relatives this past July!  Find out about my down-east fun times in the next post!

At summer's end, even the fishing fanatics have gone 'home'.

At summer’s end, even the fishing fanatics on Dog Lake have gone ‘home’.

One can get up close and personal with the granite shoreline when in a canoe.

One can get up close and personal with the rocky granite shoreline of Dog Lake when in a canoe. It’s part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere (FAB).

A Canary Flies North: ‘Home’ to Kingston, Ontario, my lovely ‘Limestone City’ and its familiar Environs

The Kingston waterfront at Flora MacDonald Confederation Basin Marina has always been the perfect place to cool off.  The limstone structure is a martello tower was one of six built in the mid 1800's as part of a military defense system against the U.S.!

The Kingston waterfront at Flora MacDonald Confederation Basin Marina  on Lake Ontario has always been the perfect place to cool off. The limestone structure is a Martello tower which was one of six built in the mid 1800’s as part of a then-military defense system against the U.S.!

Kingston's limestone City Hall was completed in 1841 and is a National Historic Site of Canada.  the nations's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald lay in state in this building after he died in 1891.

Kingston’s limestone City Hall was completed in 1841 and is a National Historic Site of Canada. The nation’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald lay in state in this building after he died in 1891. Kingston was the first capital of Canada!

By the time I arrived in Kingston, I was more than ready for a little down time around my old haunts.  Mind you, I had enjoyed every minute of my visit to Canada thus far.  Now, with few obligations, I simply wished to relax and take it easy before heading back to Dominica.

My first home in Canada never disappoints:  the Limestone City was in the midst of a Buskers Festival.

A Hip Hop Troupe from NYC was teaching some boys how to make the right moves to the rapper's beat.

A Hip Hop Troupe from NYC was teaching some boys how to make the right moves to the rapper’s beat.

A young juggler from Montreal sets his cap on Princess Street, the main drag and attracts passersby with his clever throws.

A young juggler from Montreal sets his cap on Princess Street, the main drag and attracts passersby with his clever throws.

Although I was tired from a day of travel from Halifax, I quickly perked up when I watched some of the entertaining acts on the streets.  I was staying overnight just off of the Queen’s University Campus so I spent a little time wandering around the student ghetto, revisiting some of my old digs.  It was fun to see that they still looked the same, although I am certain in 30+ years, much had changed!

The sunflowers at the Kingston Farmers' Market brought back fond memories of my parents' garden, just north of the city.

The sunflowers at the Kingston Farmers’ Market brought back fond memories of my parents’ garden, just north of the city.

I fondly recalled my two year spent in this house on Earl Street with three other roomies.  My room had the upstairs window, was large and airy, and was referred to as the 'Executive Sweet'!

I fondly recalled my two years spent in this house on Earl Street with three other roomies. My room had the 2nd storey window, was bright and airy, and was referred to as the ‘Executive Sweet’!

Edwin and Beth dance a two-step to a little Cajun music emanating from tow saxophonists who were playing on  an anchored tour boat wihile passengers boarded.  Everyone smiled at their spontaneous fun!

Edwin and Beth danced a two-step to a little Cajun music emanating from two saxophonists who were playing on an anchored  paddle wheel river tour boat while passengers boarded. Everyone smiled at their spontaneous fun!

Next morning, my brother Edwin and his wife Beth came to meet me in town before we headed north to the cottage where I would be staying for the next week.  We did spend a little time walking around the Saturday Farmers’ Market, and also enjoyed part of the trail along the Kingston waterfront in MacDonald Park (named after Canada’s first prime minister who lived here).

Gwen hams it up on the restored century old Gaskin Lion in MacDonald Park.  She was a bit more demure when the last photo of her was taken here - 50+ years ago!

Gwen hammed it up on the restored century old Gaskin Lion in MacDonald Park. She was a bit more demure when the last photo of her was taken here – 50+ years ago!

Brother Edwin has a  more stately demeanor while astride the stately historic lion in MacDonald Park.

Brother Edwin had a more stately demeanor while astride the  historic lion in MacDonald Park. Lake Ontario is in the background.

The Kingston Farmer's Market offered numerous varieties of fruit in mid-July.

The Kingston Farmers’ Market offered numerous varieties of fruit in mid-July.

After I picked up my rental car, we drove in a northerly direction, bought groceries in our long-time local grocery store in Glenburnie (where we grew up), visited our parents’ graves at  the Latimer Cemetery and then headed further northeast to the village of Battersea.  There we took a side road to Dog Lake, where I would be staying at one of the Three Little Cottages, owned by  family friends Sharon and Will Freeman.  Another longtime neighbour from our childhood days, Jean (Sharon’s mother) lives

I return to this "Little Cottage"  on Dog Lake again and again.  It is so peaceful there and I always feel really well during my stay.

I return to this “Little Cottage” on Dog Lake again and again. It is so peaceful there and I always feel really well during my stay.

close-by and I felt as if I were really coming home.  They also run the Freedom Farm,an organic operation offering Community Supported Agriculture, wherein clients buy shares in the weekly harvest.

This beautiful mosiac sign welcomes clients and guests to the Freedom Farm property, which included the Three Little Cottages.

This beautiful mosaic sign welcomes clients and guests to the Freedom Farm property, which includes the Three Little Cottages.

I settled in easily with help from Edwin and Beth.  It was a lovely day and we took a walk around a pretty point of land with a little community-supported beach, a few minutes walk away.  It felt a bit cool to me so I was not inclined to take a dip!

Later that evening, the American fishermen in the adjacent two cottages returned with their catch.  We watched them come in and then noticed that one who had already disembarked from the boat had returned with a machine that at first we thought produced smoke to keep away bugs.  Almost instantly, I felt it was something more harmful.  In half a minute, without my bidding, my brother went outside and politely asked: “Is that smoke?” “No, it’s insecticide,” came the reply. “Turn it off please! That will make my sister very sick!” shouted Edwin.  They quickly complied but even though the fogging machine was only on for a couple of minutes, I could smell it in the air and had to leave the windows closed all night.  I did attempt to contact Sharon and Will, but they were out.  However, early next morning, Sharon came down from the farmhouse to tell the fishermen that insecticides were not permitted on the property, as an organic farm is in operation and there are  also bee hives on site.  This was a most unusual occurrence and we were all very surprised by this freak incident.  I think the fishermen felt very badly and had not thought about consequences of chemical use in this extremely pristine area.  I am sure they will think twice before they ever do that again!

The granite rock outcrops form part of a bio-diverse region, called the Frontenac Axis.  The topography is dramatically and naturally snesational, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Area.

The granite rock outcrops on Dog Lake form part of a  unique geographic region, called the Frontenac Axis. The topography is dramatically and naturally sensational, and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve since 2002.

Dog Lake is a fisher's  and draws hundreds of enthusiasts every summer.  I believe there is ice fishing in the winter too!

Dog Lake is a fisher’s delight and draws hundreds of enthusiasts every summer. I believe there is ice fishing in the winter too!

The scenery around the Three Little Cottages  on Dog Lake is restful and restorative

The scenery around the Three Little Cottages on Dog Lake is restful and restorative

The view of early morning mist on Dog Lake from my cottage porch evoked a feeling of complete serenity.

The view of early morning mist on Dog Lake from my cottage porch evoked  feelings of complete serenity.

Chef Edwin tends to the savory homemade turkey sausages (no additives!) that we purchased at the Glenburnie Grocery.

Chef Edwin grilled the savory homemade turkey sausages (no additives!) that we purchased at the Glenburnie Grocery.  It had just started to drizzle. Dog Lake is in the background.

Later that evening, Edwin and Beth returned to their hotel in Kingston and came back early next morning for a big breakfast. It was a rainy day, only the second one in my five-week Canadian stay and I could not complain about the weather despite ‘Hurricane’ Arthur’s unforgettable appearance in Nova Scotia.  Our meal was a team effort, and we did certainly overindulge as torrents of rain pounded on the roof for a couple of hours.

Part of the lock system at Jones Falls on the Rideau Canal between Kingston and Ottawa Ontario.

Part of the lock system at Jones Falls on the Rideau Canal between Kingston and Ottawa Ontario.  A few boats were waiting to go through at the highest lock en route to Ottawa.

Beth and Gwen pose on the bridge at Whitefish Lake at the Jones Falls Lock Station on the Rideau Canal.

Beth and Gwen posed on the foot bridge at Whitefish Lake at the Jones Falls Lock Station on the Rideau Canal.

It cleared up somewhat just as we started out on a little trip to Jones Falls, a scenic and historic site  half an hour further north.  It forms part of the Lock System  for boaters on the Rideau Canal, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.       The locks have been operational since the early 1800’s!  The walk-about in the fresh damp air was most reviving and we even worked up an appetite for ice cream, which we purchased at a little café near the parking lot.

We returned to the cottage for a quick lunch, and then Edwin and Beth departed in the early afternoon so that they would stay ahead of heavy Sunday afternoon traffic returning to the Greater Toronto Area from points north, commonly called  “cottage country.”

I was then left to my own devices: naps; books; walks; visits with my friends on the farm; and occasional half-day trips to Kingston.  It was a little cool the week I was there, but I bundled up and warmed up with plentiful cups of coffee and tea.  One evening, the plaintiff yips of nearby coyotes reminded me that I was on the edge of the wilderness – and it was wonderful!

While I did have a few moments of guilt about not helping out on the Freedom Farm, I recognized that my abilities in that specialty are limited and my allergies to grasses and bugs would not have made any task easy.  Therefore, I sometimes walked around the organic farm while staff and WWOOF volunteers toiled away to raise the finest organic produce one could ever consume.  The air was sweet and pure.  I took pleasure in

This artistically appealing organic raspberry pie tasted as good as it looked.  It was prepared by Bill, another amazing nonagenarian.  The Freedom Farm staff, volunteers and I quickly devoured t eh whole thing!

This artistically appealing organic raspberry pie tasted as good as it looked. It was prepared by Bill, another amazing almost nonagenarian. The Freedom Farm staff, volunteers and I quickly devoured the whole thing!

my little chats with the workers and partook of the demolition of a delectable organic raspberry pie, baked by Jean’s almost 90-year-old brother, Bill.

Here are some scenes from Freedom Farm in production:

The green house shelters special produce such as gigantic egg plants.  I've never seen any that big! (sorry -did not have camera with me to capture them)

The green house shelters special produce such as gigantic eggplants. I’ve never seen any that big! (sorry -did not have camera with me to capture them)

This is one of the two mini-horses on the farm.  Children adore them and so do I!

This is one of the two mini-horses on the farm. Children adore them and so do I!

Sharon and a WWOOF volunteer tend to the organic plants with TLC.

Sharon and a WWOOF volunteer tend to the organic plants with TLC.

Sharon proudly holds up some beautiful beets - a Freedom Farm specialty.

Sharon proudly holds up some beautiful beets – a Freedom Farm specialty. And look at those incredible carrots in the background!

Jean, mother of Sharon is an energetic septagenarian who is actively involved in the farm's operation . She is seen here harvesting pole beans.

Jean, mother of Sharon is an energetic septuagenarian who is actively involved in the farm’s operation . She is seen here harvesting pole beans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whenever I ventured in to the lovely Limestone City, I was aware that I did not feel as well as I did in the great outdoors north of Kingston.  I would be very tired and feel  nauseated after a few hours in the urban centre, but that would gradually clear once I was back at Dog Lake.  Such is the life of a person with environmental health challenges! I have no regrets, however, about time spent in my hometown, as there were some people to see and things to do, such as a long-awaited  tour of Queen’s University, my alma mater.

I had been in touch with Faye Ransom, from the Arts and Science Advancement Team with respect to my small bequest to  the Queen’s School of Music.  We had corresponded for a couple of years and it was she who offered to show me around the campus next time I was in town.

We met at a predesignated street corner on the edge of campus.  I was dressed like a tourist, but that didn’t fool Faye.  She greeted me with a huge smile and a warm hug, as if she had finally found a long-lost friend!  I couldn’t help but feel welcome with her cheeriness, enthusiasm and easy-going demeanor.  She didn’t mind all of my questions either!  There were a few unfamiliar buildings on campus.  I was particularly interested  in the new library, as that is one of my areas of interest and training.  We went inside the massive complex, and while it is certainly technologically current, I was relieved to see that books still exist!

The new sports complex is state-of-the art and also houses other facilities for the students and faculty.

The new sports complex is state-of-the art and houses other facilities for the students and faculty.

The Stauffer Library (social sciences and humanities) was completed in 1994 and is the largest building on campus.

The Stauffer Library (social sciences and humanities) was completed in 1994 and is the largest building on campus.

I did wonder about the music library collection, as it is no longer housed in School of Music.  No more said, and Faye took me to Special Collections, found within the old Douglas Library (from my time).  She introduced me to the new librarian, and he took us into the stacks where I observed ‘classical’ LP’s that I know I had listened to during my studies.  How did I know for sure?  As a librarian, I recognized the accession numbers on the jackets, which dated back  to the 70’s and ’80’s!  There were even a few turntables in the listening room. I am glad that not all is obsolete!

Gwen and Shirley Roth, Administrative Officer of the School of Music at Harrison-LeCaine Hall, which was built in the early 1970's.

Gwen and Shirley Roth, Administrative Officer of the School of Music smile on the steps of  Harrison-LeCaine Hall, which was built in the early 1970’s.

The highlight of this foray was of course, a visit to the Music School.

Music 1981 alumni and longtime friends Gwen Whitford and David Self recently got-together in Barbados, where David is working and still playing piano/organ. Gwen was on her way home to Dominica, where she still does some singing.  Photo taken by John.

Music 1981 alumni and longtime friends Gwen Whitford and David Self recently got-together in Barbados, where David is working and still playing piano/organ. Gwen was on her way home to Dominica, where she still does some singing. Photo taken by John.

They were in the midst of some renovations, but the workers pointed to a stack of composite  photos on a table and I quickly came upon my dearest Class of 1981.  Ever-efficient Faye also introduced me to Administrative Officer Shirley Roth, who updated me on many of the latest in-house developments.  I was also honoured to meet Dr. Margaret Walker, current Director of the School of Music.

Faye Ransom was the perfectperson to take me around the campus.  She was very sensitive to my interests, and also gave me a great overview of Queen's today.

Faye Ransom was the perfect person to take me around the campus. She was very sensitive to my special interests, and also gave me a great overview of Queen’s today.

I love the blend of oldand new on the Queen's Campus.  Here is some limestone again.  This is Kingston Hall, which no doubt dated back to the 19th century.  Queen's was founded in 1841.

I love the blend of old and new on the Queen’s Campus. Here is more limestone – one of Kingston’s claims to fame. This is Kingston Hall, which I believe dates back to the 19th century. Queen’s was founded in 1841.

I briefly updated them on my music endeavors on Dominica and told them I was very touched to revisit this special building where I spent untold hours and made lasting friendships between 1977 and 1981.  I didn’t have time to see the new world-class Isabel Bader Centre for Performing Arts, which is opening in September 2014, but I will certainly check it out next visit.

After 1 1/2 hours, I felt very satisfied with the overview of my beloved Queen’s, and I thanked Faye profusely for showing me around, bringing back some sweet memories and wowing me with what

is new!

My remaining days at the Three Little Cottages passed quickly. I was fortunate to see both brothers one more time before I left, thanks to tremendous efforts on their parts.  I went back to Dominica with a firm desire to spend quality time with my Canadian family again very soon!

My niece Mara is graduating from high school in June 2015.  I plan to be there for the celebration - God-willing and weather-permitting.

My niece Mara is graduating from high school in June 2015. I plan to be there for the celebration – God-willing and weather-permitting!

My nephew Dallin (pronounced day-lin) performs with the Stirling Festival Theatre every summer. I've got to see him in action next summer!

My nephew Dallin (pronounced day-lin) performs with the Stirling Festival Theatre every summer  This year, he was in the cast of Footloose, the Musical, which received rave reviews. I’ve just got to see him in action next year!