Resident's View of "Countryside" spans Almonte and Arnprior Areas

The following piece won second prize in the Bernice Noblett competition for the Eastern Ontario Area Women's Institutes (WI). The award was presented at the WI's convention in Kemptville.

My Countryside, by Jean Sadler.

My Countryside is a block of land roughly 1,000 square miles in area.

It starts on a farm on the outskirts of Almonte in School Section #9 known as the Tannery School. This education centre of a once-thriving little village known as Leckie's Corners was where my mother went to school.

There I learned my three Rs, took part in paper chases in Wolfe's Grove, watched baby bluebirds grow and learned the vigor of walking a mile to and from school, all within sight of the Auld Kirk and my venerable ancestors.

Education requirements led me into the town of Almonte High School with its many famous former pupils, like Sir Edward Peacock, R. Tait McKenzie and James Naismith. While there I fell under the influence of Mrs. J. K. Kelly, area president of the Women's Institute in 1936, who gently but firmly pushed me in a professional direction while learning about guiding, women's institutes, the pleasure of competition in agriculture and horticulture fairs and hopefully about being a useful human being.

Then for a short time I left Almonte and its Mississippi falls and hilly streets for further learning in larger centers. There I learned to hate the city and its congestion, traffic, noise and strangers, so I returned to family, friends and work. Once more fate stepped in and placed me with a farmer along the Mississippi. A short drive took us to Blakeney with its general store and beautiful rapids.

Across the bridge and up the hill to the highway was Sneddens', the famous stopping place were the Prince of Wales rested on his way from Arnprior to Almonte. Across the highway to the next concession was Bennie's Corners, where James Naismith went to school and played duck on the rock. Down the eighth line a mile or two on the Indian River was Baird's Mill which became Tait MacKenzie's summer home, now known as the Mill of Kintail.

Driving west we went to Pakenham with its famous stone bridge and its large and stately home of Dickson, and the Royal Mounted Police farm and for a short while the Women's Institute was part of my life.

Then our footsteps led us to the Madawaska to the industrious town of Arnprior with its history of McNab and Gillis, to live within site of the meeting of the waters of the Mississippi and the Madawaska, with those of the mighty Ottawa.

After many fulfilling years came retirement and time with the Women's Institute, time to tour the many sites of the Mississippi, Madawaska and Bonnechere valleys.

Within an hour we can see the last of the log booms of Gillis Mills, once second to none in Canada and we can visit White Lake, home of the Laird of McNab, Burnstown and Calabogie of logging history, (stopping places) and travel the Bonnechere with its chutes and stories of the Openongo.

My countryside is inhabited by us, descendants of the pioneers and newcomers from cities and other countries who are gradually inter-mingling with us. They adapt some of our ways and while doing so, some of their customs rub off on us. So they enrich us and lift us out of our complacency and show us the value of the natural beauty around us, our freedoms, our lifestyles and our inheritance - our countryside.

Now I hope the coming generations will help to preserve this land from devastation from acid rain, urban sprawl and pollution and love and appreciate the blessings and beauty of my countryside - their countryside.