Posts Tagged ‘Iroquois’


The October full moon is called the Harvest Moon. I have yet to get more than a glimpse of the moon, which was full on October 4th, as we have had heavily-overcast skies and rainy weather for the last week or more. However, that didn’t stop my own little harvest from taking place. My unambitious vegetable garden included several varieties of squash vines, and the squash, in keeping with the season, are ready to harvest. Even if you know nothing at all about gardening, you can grow squash. While better care may result in a better harvest, you can nevertheless enjoy a taste of home-grown squash simply by planting a few wee seedlings in the spring and ignoring them until October. Winter squash (as opposed to tender squash varieties such as zucchini) will keep much of the winter. Simply store them in a cool, dry spot and there you go, a summer treat awaiting your pleasure.


The Iroquois grew squash, corn and beans as the ‘Three Sisters’, sustainers of life. Together, the trio provide a complete protein. The Three Sisters were traditionally planted together. The corn provides a support for the beans. The beans enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen, while the squash plants shade the ground, conserving moisture and keeping out competing weeds. One of my favorite fall dishes is called Three Sisters Mizithra. It is made with spaghetti squash, a fun variety that can tempt even youngsters who wouldn’t consider eating squash.


To prepare the squash, pierce it in a few spots to allow steam to escape, and wrap it in foil. Place it in the oven and bake it at 375° for 1 hour and fifteen minutes. After removing the squash from the oven, remove the foil and cut the squash in half lengthwise, allowing it to cool until it can be handled.


After removing the seeds from the centre of the squash, use a fork to scrape the squash flesh from the shell. The squash comes away in the long, spaghetti-like strands that give the squash its name. Combine 2 cups of cooked white beans (I use a can of white navy beans) and 1 cup of corn, and heat until hot. Combine these with the squash in a large bowl. You can also add diced bell pepper to add a touch of colour. In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter together. Pour this over the squash combo and toss. Sprinkle with cheese, parsley and basil to taste.

The mizithra mentioned in the dish’s name is a kind of Greek cheese. I never have this on hand and usually use plain old cheddar, but other cheeses would make an interesting variation. Serve hot. Enjoy.


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On June 23rd, Iroquois recognized the 50th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The headline event of the celebration, held at the Iroquois Point park beside the seaway lock, was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride. The weather was perfect, a bright sunny day set off by a brilliant blue sky. It was fun to see the horse vans parked in the shade at the west end of the park, and the troop of horses being prepared for their show. Above, the ride assembles amongst the park trees in readiness for their entry into the ring.


Here they come! There was a large and enthusiastic audience seated in bleachers and chairs around the ring. There was a bit of a delay in starting because the shuttle buses, bringing people from the parking lot at the shopping centre, were in big demand, with long lineups of people waiting for a ride. Those who arrived earliest seemed content to enjoy the warmth of the sun as they anticipated the beginning of the ride.


The ride members line up for the introduction and salute. The performance takes about half an hour. The ride is set to music and the 24 horses and riders perform a set of intricately structured figures. The display is best observed from a height so that the designs created by the horses can be appreciated. Still photos can’t capture the flow of the ride, but hopefully these pictures will give you an idea of what it’s like.




Every imaginable variation on intersecting lines is included. Crossing in single file, in pairs, in foursomes, at the trot, at the canter, it’s all there.


In “The Cartwheel”, horses at the centre of the wheel revolve slowly, while those in the ‘spokes’ and on the outside rim, must move at a trot or canter.


“The Dome” was featured on the Canadian $50 bill.


The ‘Grand Finale” of the ride is the charge, a real crowd-pleaser. After the ride is finished, the riders fan out and position their mounts around the perimeter of the ring so that the audience can come up and admire the horses at close range and ask questions. Below, the mare Visty and her happy, beaming rider are admired by fans. The Musical Ride made a great centerpiece for the celebration.


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Early Ontario Gravestones by Carole Hanks. McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd, 1974.

I picked up this slim volume from a remainder table in a Toronto bookstore when I was working downtown, back before my kids were born; which is to say, a long time ago. I’m not sure why the topic appealed to me, but I dug the book back out when we moved to the St. Lawrence area. This part of the country saw some of the earliest British and European pioneer settlements in Upper Canada and many local cemeteries feature markers from those long-ago pioneers.

The earliest markers in Ontario date to the 1790s.  Prior to that date, wooden markers were used and settlements were sparse. The oldest gravestones I have come across are in the Blue Church cemetery near Prescott. The inscription is nearly illegible but you can read the year, 1798.


The last decade of the 18th century saw the beginning of a style of gravestone that would be dominant throughout the 19th century, a marble, rectangular slab. The soft surface of the marble used has resulted in considerable damage to these stones through erosion caused by weather and pollution. Inscriptions can be difficult to make out. Some markers have been damaged falling over while still others have sunk into the ground far enough to obscure part of their message. About 1820 to 1830, marble markers increased in abundance and show the workmanship of professional craftsmen. Unlike markers of the 20th century, that generally lack  individuality, 19th-century markers can be quite imaginative, with a variety of motifs, shapes and epitaphs. Following here are examples of popular motifs. Except as noted, the markers are in the Iroquois or Prescott cemeteries.


One of the most popular motifs was the willow tree.  Margaret Johnson’s marker provides a graceful example.


The willow tree motif is here incorporated into a graceful curving top. The inscription reads Nancy, wife of Jacob Brouse, 1834.


The marker of Annah Hurd, died 1822, gracefully combines a willow motif with a classical urn. This well-preserved gravestone is in the Blue Church graveyard.


The grasping hands motif was also popular. Often a heading over the engraved hands reads “Farewell”. This example is the marker of Christopher Carruthers, died 1879.


The heading on the gravestone of Henry Edward Palmer, died 1847, reads “Gone to Heaven”. Other markers featuring the pointing hand motif are headed “Gone Home”.


Flowers, especially roses and lilies, symbols of purity, are common motifs. The marker of Robert Henry, died 1847, has a very attractive version of flowers in a vase.


The markers of Henry and Samuel Brown display two other popular motifs, the Holy Bible and a dove.


In a land of immigrants, some markers pay tribute to the country of origin of the deceased. The twin markers of James and Mary Hollehan record their birthplace as Kilkenny, Ireland. A few markers recall the occupation of the deceased. Some gravestones are engraved with the sign of the Masons. The last marker included here is that of Captain William Moore, accented with a nautical motif.

Postscript: See also followup post on epitaphs.


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What’s the difference between a computer and a piece of fruit? The letter A. The apple was named for it’s first promoter, John McIntosh. The computer, in homage to this well-loved fruit, is also a Mac, but with an A, Macintosh. The McIntosh, no A, was developed just a few kilometers down the road from here, in the hamlet now known as Dundela.


The first McIntosh apple tree, the tree to which all McIntosh apples you see in your supermarket today can trace their lineage, was found by John McIntosh, a United Empire Loyalist of Scottish descent, when he was clearing brush on his property.


His achievement, and that of his son Allan, in finding and promoting the apple is well-marked in little Dundela today, with multiple plaques and a large mural on the side of the community hall.


The original tree lived and produced abundant fruit until 1908. When Maida Parlow French was improving her orchard, the McIntosh was much preferred over the other variety of apple represented in her orchard, the Wealthy. Wealthy apples were developed in Minnesota for growing in areas with cold climate, and by French’s record, seem to have been easier to grow, but brought less money at market. The Botanical Society of America has a great poster that shows the development of a McIntosh apple from a bud in the spring to the ready-to-eat fruit. Check out their site.


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Apples Don’t Just Grow by Maida Parlow French. McClelland & Stewart, 1954.

The library has a local history shelf, and I picked up this book on a whim. My expectations weren’t great, as it was written more than half a century ago, and I expected it to be dated. I was surprised to find how well the book has aged. Maida French’s story is very engaging and I was sorry to reach the end of the book, having become an admirer of French and fond of her three sons.

Apples don’t just grow. They require a lot of care. Maida French learned the ins and outs of orchard maintenance and apple marketing when she moved to the family farm with her three young sons and set out to earn a living with the orchard. She had lived in Toronto with her husband, but when he died of an illness that used up all of their financial resources (pre-OHIP!), her options were limited. The Parlows owned a farm near Iroquois, located by the St. Lawrence river, which had been given to their United Empire Loyalist ancestors in 1784. However, the farmhouse had long stood empty and the orchard had been unattended for some years. In her book, French tells of the first 3 years on the farm as she, her sons and her Mom who comes out to help her, work to repair the house and return the orchard to health.

No year is given, but the story seems to begin about 1930, the beginning of the Great Depression. It is very much a tale of anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, with difficulties at every turn. Apple scab, inclement weather, shifty apple buyers and countless hours of hard physical labour are but a few of the challenges faced. However, French also conveys the great joy to be found in country life, the pleasure of keeping animals, growing your own garden vegetables, experiencing the coming and going of the seasons, listening to the birds.

What a wonderful childhood her sons experienced! Their young lives were filled with the freedom of the outdoors, exciting adventures, animals large and small, and the satisfaction of meaningful work. One of my favorite episodes tells of the Christmas Eve when the boys wanted to be in the barn at midnight, the hour when, legend has it, the animals can speak. They spend a warm, quiet time with the animals in the midnight barn, but when they are leaving, fearing the children are disappointed, their Mom says

“I’m sorry! It couldn’t happen, you know. That was just an old story, a legend George told you about animals talking.” ” But, Mummy!” They sprang around me. “They did talk. They talked. They were answering us all the time.” I stood there staring at them. David said, “You didn’t expect they’d speak English, did you?”
What had I expected? That was it. I had expected nothing. How could I understand? I had brought no gift. It was the children who had come with gifts. Love, and thoughtfullness, and belief, all they had, they had brought out to our stable on Christmas Eve.

When they arrived at the farm, the orchard was already there for them, planted by another. They decide that they should make a contribution to the future as well, give something back to the land, and to their busy lives add the chore of planting thousands of evergreen seedlings.

It was difficult to remember that French would have been of my grandparents’ generation, her voice feels so immediate and affecting. Her three sons would be of my parents’ generation. The book was published in 1954 and the closing chapter provides an update. The three boys all went off to fight in World War II and the oldest son didn’t return. At the time of writing, French expected their farm to be expropriated for the redevelopment of the town of Iroquois as it was moved to make room for the flooding of the St. Lawrence Seaway project. (See A Shopping Plaza Fit for a Queen) After finishing the book, I set out to locate the property. It appears that plans to move the town to that plot of land were changed, because Iroquois is west of the farm site. Parlow road is still there. There no longer seems to be much agricultural activity in the area and the road is lined with houses on large lots.


There was little sign of the farm or the orchard left. I didn’t see a house that matched the description given in the book and it seems to be gone. There was a small plantation of pine trees that might have been among the trees the family planted, and by this old barn stood an aged apple tree that might be a last remnant of the orchard.


Here is the view of the St. Lawrence river as seen from Parlow Road.


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The Iroquois plaza is our closest shopping centre. Though unprepossessing, it is quite handy, having a bank, grocery store, drug store, and a Mac’s where I can pick up the weekend paper. Still, who would have thought it had an illustrious history?

Iroquois is situated on the St. Lawrence River. To accommodate the St. Lawrence Seaway project of the 1950s, 10 villages were flooded and substantial sections of Iroquois and neighbouring Morrisburg were relocated. As part of the redevelopment, a new shopping plaza was built in Iroquois. At the time that the shopping plaza opened in 1957, it was considered the most modern in Eastern Ontario. When Queen Elizabeth II visited Canada in 1959 and viewed the Seaway project, a 10 minute stop at the Iroquois shopping plaza was included in her itinerary.


Here are a much younger Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.


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