Over The Back Fence

Jan 20th, 2016 | By | Category: Over The Back Fence


Volunteer Profile…

When it was suggested that Laura Bains of Carleton Place deserved to be recognized as an outstanding volunteer in her community, Y@H, after learning of her many hours of volunteering, agreed.

It would appear that for most of her life Bains has devoted her many talents to helping others, and that road has taken her from working with both Brownies and Girl Guides to hours at the Food Bank, along with volunteering with the Carleton Place Chamber of Commerce. And the list goes on of the organizations which have benefitted from her giving back.

She has gone beyond her own town too, having helped the Almonte Lions Club with their community dinners, and in neighbouring Beckwith Township, where it was known that neighbours had a key to her house to use in case they had an emergency and needed a place to stay.

Bains has a rich tenor voice and also volunteers with the Carleton Place Town Singers, and on Mondays she can be found at the local arena skating with the town’s seniors, and helping them stay upright.

She has been a valuable volunteer with the Mississippi Mudds, a local theatrical group, working as a stagehand, running lights, booking ushers, selling tickets or filling any other slot where an extra pair of hands was needed.

Bains, who home-schooled her two children, knows first-hand how important one-to-one teaching is, and now is a valued volunteer at an elementary school in Carleton Place.  She devotes much time to the local schools as a motivational speaker, and a new venture, where her tutoring skills will be put to good use, is about to become a reality.  Although there will be a nominal fee attached to the program to cover her expenses, Bains will be giving a percentage of her earnings back into her community and local charities.

Y@H congratulates Laura Bains, her dedication as a volunteer, and her many hours of making her community a better place to live in.

Where Is It Now? 

– Don Messer’s violin

Unlike many Canadian artifacts, the violin played by the late Canadian music legend Don Messer is alive and well and in good condition. It’s under the stewardship of Canadian fiddle champion Frank Leahy, who plays it on a regular basis and occasionally lets other fiddle players take their turn with the bow.

Leahy acquired the prized instrument in 1997, 24 years after Messer’s death. It’s the same French-made violin Messer used during thousands of live shows and barn dances, on radio and on his popular television variety show Don Messer’s Jubilee, which was produced in Halifax and broadcast by the CBC network nationwide from 1958 until 1969.

The cancellation of the show by the public broadcaster in 1969 caused a nationwide protest, including the raising of questions by Members of Parliament in the House of Commons. Messer, a native of Tweedside, New Brunswick, died of a heart attack on March 26, 1973.

Following the death of his wife Naomi a few years later, the Messers’ three daughters divvied up their father’s collection of instruments, with eldest daughter Dawn Attis getting the violin. After sitting in her closet in Halifax for more than 20 years, its strings decaying and its bridge in disrepair, Attis decided it was time to pass the instrument on to a fiddle player of this generation.

After interviewing several fiddlers, Attis picked Leahy, who had never met Messer but had admired and was influenced by his music since he first picked up a violin at the age of six. Prior to being contacted by Attis, Leahy, who lives in Waterloo, Ont., had no idea the violin still existed.

At shows where he plays Messer’s songs on the historic violin, members of the audience often break down in tears. Following most of his concerts, he invites fiddlers in the crowd to play a few tunes on the historic instrument.

Funny You Should Ask

Q: I remember many years ago when I visited my grandparents’ home, that there was always an assortment of odd looking bottles on a shelf in their bathroom. They were from a drug company that my grandmother thought had the magic cure for everything. Even though it was a very long time ago (I am now in my ‘80s), I remember the name of the company like it was yesterday. The name was Dr. Pierce and the medicines were called “common sense cures for everyday ailments.”  I think the medicines came from a town in Ontario, but I was wondering if you could find out what some of those cures were that Dr. Pierce said his medicine treated.

A: Well, did you send us on a chase! Yes, there was indeed a Dr. Pierce, and we found a fair amount of information in a book called Good For What Ails You.  His labs were in the United States, as well as in a town called Bridgeburg, Ontario (which we could not find on the map). Dr. Pierce’s Family Medicines claimed to invigorate and cleanse the whole system, treat female weaknesses, morning sickness, hysteria, and nervousness. We also found out Dr. Pierce operated what he called the Invalids Hotel and Surgical Institute of Buffalo.

Of course, he claimed to cure many other ailments as well, but there seemed to be a heavy emphasis on female issues. Good for you for remembering!

The Farm Scene

For the past 80 years, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has been advocating on current issues and concerns for the Ontario farmer. And last year was no exception. The OFA worked closely with the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture to reassure its members that special concerns have been recognized by the government.

These concerns are wide in scope and include farm property taxation and assessment, energy rates and reliability, land use planning and farmland preservation.  This latter concern has drawn much attention, as more and more prime farmland is lost to industry and urban growth.

Mostly unknown to those who are not in farming, Ontario farmers are dealing with one of the highest electricity rates in all of North America. According to the OFA, these costs are driving up the cost of doing business, making it harder for Ontario farmers and farm processors to compete on a national and international scale.

The Federation continues to push for natural gas for rural communities who do not have it. Natural gas expansion to farms in rural Ontario communities should be the provincial and federal government’s first priority when it comes to infrastructure in rural Ontario. A recent press release stated: “Natural gas infrastructure is an investment for the future as powering the farm fleet could be possible with biogas supplied from farms as a renewable source.”

Farmland preservation should be a top priority for all levels of government. It is critical to the health of the entire country.

The OFA is the largest and longest serving farm organization in Canada.

Remember When …

It was 41 years ago this month that Apollo 14 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, piloted by astronauts Alan Shepard, Ed Mitchell and Stuart Rossa.

Ten years earlier, Shepard had become the first American in space. He was the fifth man to walk on the moon, and celebrated the event by hitting a few golf balls from the lunar surface.

As we know, it became almost commonplace to have someone walk on the moon, as more and more explorations took place. However, the United States was quick to acknowledge Shepard’s walk, naming him the first American to do so.

Who Said What …

“Canadians have an abiding interest in surprising those Americans who have historically made little effort to learn about their neighbour to the North.” 

Deceased broadcaster Peter Jennings

Contributors to Over The Back Fence include: Mary Cook, Randy Ray and Mark Kearney. Please send us your questions and suggestions for future pages.

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