Archive for August 20th, 2009


The Spencerville Mill Foundation has produced an excellent guide to a walking tour of Spencerville. Many town buildings have an interesting history. I found the background behind two former hotels of particular note. The building above, now a private home, was once the Victoria Hotel. The guide offers this entry about the Victoria Hotel:

Originally constructed by David Spencer in 1837 the Victoria Hotel provided accommodation, food and drink to travelers. The hotel boasted an upstairs ballroom and a secret passageway to a store of liquor in defiance of the 1878 Temperance Act. In the late 1800s it became a private home and the ballroom was converted into seven bedrooms. The home has changed hands several times and undergone many interior renovations to modernize and enhance the oldest stone building in the village.

Secret passageway! Cool! The temperance movement in Upper Canada began in the first half of the 19th-century. By 1851, the region had a large membership in the Sons of Temperance organization. On June 21, 1854, there was a public excursion on the new Prescott-Bytown (Ottawa) railroad from Prescott to Spencerville by the Sons of Temperance. This archival report of the outing and other details of the local temperance movement was reprinted in the Prescott Journal.

The following is from a report in the Prescott Telegraph: “At 9 am many Prescott and Ogdensburg people left Prescott on a train hauled by the Oxford, of which R.C. Graves was conductor and John Lufkin engineer. The ladies had busied themselves the previous day with the result that the Oxford was almost hidden under wreaths of flowers. On the forward part of the engine was a particularly handsome wreath with the words ‘Ladies’ Interest’.

“In the centre and directly above it was a pair of antlers, highly ornamental and surmounted by a crown. The Union Jack, Stars and Stripes, Temperance banners and bunting floated from the different cars. After a run of about 30 minutes Spencerville was reached… At five o’clock (after a day of celebration under the Sons of Temperance banners) the whistle of the Oxford sounded for the return trip, and Prescott was reached in satisfactory time.”


The Canada Temperance Act of 1878 gave local governments the right to prohibit the retail sales of alcohol. It wasn’t until World War I that the temperance movement reached its peak. In 1915 and 1916, all provinces of Canada except Quebec banned the retail sale of alcohol (Quebec banned the sale of distilled liquor briefly from 1919). Most provincial legislation was abandoned during the 1920s. As prohibition continued in the U.S. into the 1930s, Canadian liquor interests found a large, illegal market for their product.

Prohibition must have been a sticky issue in the region as the town of Prescott was home to the J. P. Wiser distillery, which contributed significantly to the town’s economic well-being. In fact, in 1858-59, there were 4 distilleries in Prescott, as well as beer brewers.

Just down the street from the Victoria Hotel was the Exchange Hotel, of which the guide notes:

In the mid 1800s the Exchange Hotel and Stagehouse for Bytown (Ottawa) and Prescott was considered a comfortable house with livery service. Ten years later, under new ownership, it was renamed The Temperance Hotel. Prior to the 1960s, the post office was located here.

Presumably, the Exchange Hotel offered alternative accomodations to those sympathetic to prohibition who might not have wished to stay at the Victoria Hotel. The old Exchange Hotel building is pictured below.


Read Full Post »


I took advantage of a bare patch of ground in the front yard to plant a few annuals. For a bright splash of summer colour in the garden, there really is no match for a grouping of quick-growing annuals. In addition to some shorter orange and yellow marigolds, I planted a selection of taller plants, including an amaranthus variety with bright wine-red and pink leaves.


Behind the amaranthus is a grouping of “White Queen” cleome.


Their unusual, spidery flowers add a touch of the exotic. What a fabulous return on a small spring investment in a six-pack of seedlings!


At the rear is bright pink “Silver Cup” lavatera.


The Four O’Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) are so named for their habit of opening late in the afternoon. These particular blooms could be called Nine O’Clocks! It is nearly dark before they begin to open and the best time to view them is early in the morning, before they begin closing again for the day.


Three tall sunflowers are blooming at the back of the pack.


But there’s more than meets the eye in this pretty picture. Look closely, just in front of the sunflowers, and you may see some green vegetable vines.


Although sadly under-attended and outgrown by their flowery companions, a half dozen tomato plants have soldiered on and are producing fruit.


Was there ever a better treat than a juicy, midsummer tomato, straight from the garden? Mmmm!

When Fiddlegirl was here last, she told us about a visitor to whom she offered a cherry tomato, just picked. The visitor, sadly deprived of garden tomatoes her whole life, remarked “Is there something wrong with this tomato? It tastes funny. It’s so sweet!”
Considering how very easy it is to grow a few tomato plants, you’d think anyone with even a container on a balcony would avail themselves of this summer delight. They don’t know what they’re missing.


Read Full Post »