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May 4, 2016

 

EVENTS

Delta Maple Syrup Fest 2016  1.jpg

 

(L-R): Grandmother Marion Hough, 91, grandson Garrett Hough and his father Doug celebrate Garrett’s 13th birthday with a pancake lunch at the Delta Maple Syrup Festival. Heather Halladay, festival volunteer for 48 years, looks on.                                                                                                            Photo: Sally Smid

 

More than pancakes at Delta Maple Syrup fest

 

By Sally Smid

The Delta Maple Syrup Festival has become an annual tradition for local residents as well as many who travel from great distances. This year’s 49th festival on April 16  and 17 was welcomed by perhaps the first warm sunny weather of spring which was great for outdoor maple syrup vendors, displays and wagon rides. The event is now managed by the volunteers of the Delta Agricultural Society.

A first for the event this year was KOPTERS helicopter rides priced at $50 as well as the Hydro One Electricity Discovery Centre.  The 1,000-square foot mobile education trailer with hands-on, interactive exhibits that explain Ontario’s power system, provides tips to lower electricity costs, and teaches electricity safety as well. Supervisor Dave Watts explained that the exhibit is free of charge but must be booked a year in advance.

Craft sales in the Exhibit Hall, a giant book sale in the Old Town Hall offered bargains.  Free face painting and the Rynestone Magic Show were a favourite of the kids in attendance.  “The best magic I did was making those pancakes disappear,” remarked the entertaining magician.

Certainly the “all you can eat pancakes flooded in fresh maple syrup” with sausage, had to be the highlight of the festival once again.  Chant Family’s Sugar Maple Farm in Portland provided the syrup this year. A very successful season of syrup production has come to an end. Many of the old timers recalled that originally there was  a tour of the sugar bush which was more possible when the event took place in March. Meals were served on both levels of the Exhibit Hall. At one time visitors could also watch maple syrup being made and bottled in the local Confederated Food Syrup Plant building. 

The Delta Mill was open for the first time this year with tours and milling and blacksmith demonstrations.  The Fire Hall Museum was also open and local teams competed in a ball hockey tournament. 

Spokesperson and secretary William Morris expressed his thanks to all of the fair members and volunteers who contributed so much to make the festival the “most successful event in recent memory.” 

“In speaking with representatives of our various community partner organizations, everyone expressed very positive comments about the number of visitors to their site and the interest and enthusiasm generated within our village. Once again, we have put Delta on the map!” he remarked. He also reported that “2,100 people enjoyed 4,200 pancakes this year with 130 kg of sausages being served along with 240 kg of pancake batter mix, 2500 butter patties, and 136 litres of pure maple syrup being consumed!”

The Delta Agricultural Society is looking forward to the 50th anniversary edition in 2017 and moving forward with plans for the Delta Fair.  Along with the anticipation about the possibility of new businesses on Main Street, the energy and hopes of this small but enthusiastic community are on the rise. Continued on page 16

 

 

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Watson Settlers Trek Presentation 1.jpg

 

Author Ken Watson answers a question at his “Finding the Settlers Trail” presentation at the JBC on May 20                                                                                                          Photo: Sally Smid

 

Settlers Trek will pass through Athens May 15

 

By Sally Smid

 

Many area residents have been hearing about the upcoming Settlers Trek which is starting in Brockville on May 15 and travelling through Lyn, Athens, Delta, Portland, Rideau Ferry and then on to Perth on May 20.

The Settlers Trek 2016 committee organized the event which is being presented by the Athens Lions Club. The Trek is a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the first Scottish immigrants and disbanded veterans from the War of 1812 who came to the area and is based on the approximate route of the 1816 trek.  There will be a variety of ceremonies, events and encampments along the way.

Those who attended the presentation by author Ken Watson at the Joshua Bates Center in Athens on May 15 certainly have a better understanding of this historic event. Ken’s background in geology, local heritage and web design added to his proficiency as a speaker on the topic, “Finding the Settlers Trail”. 

Listeners gained an understanding of Crown Land Grants and a new appreciation for the hazards, hardships and challenges that early pioneers faced as they travelled over primitive trails ridden with rocks and holes which often entered swamps and flooded areas. 

Henry Smid of the Athens Heritage Society pointed out that the Joshua Bates Center, where the event took place, was in fact named for one of those early settlers. He was the first mail carrier,  and he built a plank toll road from Athens to Unionville, now Forthton, where veteran Colonel John Kilborn resided. This 21 year old was commissioned by the Crown to lead the daring group to the area north of the Rideau where they would receive land grants. Much of the route taken would be later realigned and some original roads no longer exist.

Ken spoke of “The New Stone Mill” in Delta in 1816 when “all roads led to Delta” and it was a center of industry.

The settlers eventually boarded a scowl or barge and traveled down the Rideau to Murphy’s Bay and then continued on ox cart to the Tay River to Perth.

“It’s always a pleasure to attend a well-researched and informative talk like Ken Watson gives us. Seeing images of the old maps of the route contrasted with present day images of key sites was particularly interesting to me and really helped give perspective,” commented local historian Brian Phillips.

To  learn more or to become a volunteer for the event: www.settlers trek2016.ca or www.portlandonrideau.com

 

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