Growing up, I spent most weekends and summers on the Manitouwabing River in Ontario’s cottage country. Even now, living on the west coast, I find myself back there visiting most summers. In fact, I just returned after two relaxing weeks in that quiet countryside surrounded by family and good friends.
This visit was marked by two very special occasions. The first was a reading I was invited to do at the McKellar Library. The second was the wedding of our very good friend’s daughter, which we were delighted to attend.
This was my second reading at the McKellar Library, and once again, Maxine and Joan did a tremendous job of hosting the event. Not only was my reading announced on the Township’s roadside billboard, but they also advertised it in the local paper and even announced it on 103.3, Moose FM.
They served coffee with muffins, doughnuts and fishing poles. Yes, fishing poles. I mentioned it last year and I’m going to say it again. This has to be the only library in the world where you can check out a fishing pole with your book and go down to the lake in their back yard to throw a line in. Pretty special. You’ll want to get your library card for this one.
McKellar Library was the first library to carry my books and the staff and area residents have been wonderfully supportive, so I was thrilled to treat them to the very first reading from my fourth book, tentatively titled The Gift: Penance. It’s not even published yet, and they’ve already ordered a copy! Many thanks to Joan, Maxine, Jackie and Debbie for their outstanding hospitality.
The wedding came off with only the one expected hitch. The bride was stunning, her groom handsome. Vows were spoken, cake was eaten, toasts were made, but it was the first time I’d seen a drone taking photographs.
During the second week, we managed to get out fishing, which afforded a slow tour of our childhood haunts along the river we swam in and knew so well. The ‘hood’s changed considerably and is no longer a sleepy riverbed with acres between simple homes, summer cottages and farm houses.
My grandfather’s house has been beautifully re-built and his property subdivided. Where he once tilled potatoes, a gorgeous home now stands. Across the way, in what used to be cow pasture, another cottage, reputed to be 8K square feet, has been built. Lovely “cottage”, by the way, as are the other mansions that now call the Manitouwabing home, I just wish they’d offer tours.
When we were kids, we’d see maybe one boat a day go by, and when it did, it was an event. It didn’t matter that the boats were almost always canoes or small aluminum fishing boats. We’d run to the shore to see who it was and shout out, “Having any luck?” Sometimes they’d hold up their catch and we’d wave. Because of the falls, the river’s a dead end, so the boaters would all have to come back our way. We’d wave again and call out “Good luck,” and they’d disappear around a bend. Today, over the course of a day, a dozen pontoon boats or PWCs might motor past.
Change is inevitable, so it was bound to happen; the only surprise is that this beautiful, sleepy river wasn’t discovered by the masses many years ago.
But not everything changes; we still wave when a boat goes by, even if we do it from the porch and don’t know who’s behind the wheel; the deer flies still have me wind-milling my arms like a lunatic; and I still indulge the mosquitoes in far too many free meals.
Every year it’s a joy to come home and see the changes, and each year it gets more difficult to say goodbye. Until next year, McKellar…