Winter (and photo!) fun at Shiverfest

With five centimeters of fresh snow on the ground and temperatures near freezing, we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful morning to enjoy Shiverfest, Manotick’s annual winter carnival. See?

Sleigh ride

Shiverfest horse

Simon pulling

Shiverfest mascot sledding

Tristan at Shiverfest

Shiverfest Lucas

Tristan and Simon at Shiverfest

My only regret is that the intense quad workout I decided to do at the gym might have been a poor choice to go with hauling Lucas half a mile to the tobogganing hill and back, not to mention dragging him back up after every trip down the hill. I can’t feel my legs anymore!

Come shiver in Manotick this weekend!

One of the many things I’m loving about Manotick is that there’s a community festival of some sort about every six weeks or so. This Friday and Saturday, it’s Shiverfest!

24:365 Skates

There’s all sorts of family fun, including a bonfire, public skating, a chili cook-off and even a photography contest. There’s a pancake breakfast followed by a special kids’ program featuring face painting, tattoos and a visit by a truck from Ottawa Fire Services at the Manotick Arena. Later in the day on Saturday, there’s a show by Dino’s Reptiles, and a late afternoon teeny-bopper dance. There’s also horse-drawn sleigh rides and tobogganing in the park. Doesn’t that sound like an awesome winter day?

For more information, including lots of specials from local vendors, see this Shiverfest pdf from the Manotick Village and Community Association.

Ottawa’s Hidden Treasures: Manotick’s Haunted Mill

I may have mentioned that I am newly infatuated with Watson’s Mill, the historical centerpiece of Manotick and barely a few steps’ walk from the new house.

Since we moved in, I’ve been itching to get out there with my camera and simply wander around for a bit. It was Christmas morning, in fact, after everyone had settled in after breakfast to play with their toys and I needed some fresh air, that I finally managed to creep out with my Nikon.

I wandered over the dam and around the grounds, and these frost-patterned windows with their Christmas wreaths caught my eye.

Mill window

It was only later in the weekend that the hair on the back of my neck stood on end when I thought about taking these pictures. I was reading up on the history of Manotick (a post for another day) when I came across references to the haunting of Watson’s Mill. I’d heard about the Mill’s ghost before, and in fact there was even a Haunted Ottawa presentation at the Mill just a couple of days after we moved in, but somehow I’d completely forgotten about it when I was creeping around with my camera in the gloaming.

The more I read, the more fascinated — and unnerved — I became. Do you know the story of Ottawa’s most haunted place?

Foggy Mill

The Mill was built in 1860 by partners Moss Dickenson and Joseph Currier. It’s one of the few remaining operational grist mills (it uses the current of the Rideau River to grind wheat into flour) in North America. Shortly after it was built, Joseph Currier met his second bride-to-be, Anne Crosby, in Lake George, New York. She had never been to Manotick, and after their January 1861 wedding and month-long honeymoon, he brought her home to celebrate the Mill’s first year of operation. It was March 11, 1861 — almost 150 years to this very day.

By all accounts, Anne was delighted with her new husband and new home. On her first day in Manotick, Currier brought his new bride to show off the Mill. As she was ascending the stairs to the second floor, her long, hooped crinoline got caught in a piece of machinery, and she was flung against a support post and killed instantly.

Currier never set foot in the Mill nor Manotick again. He went on to become a Member of Parliament, and eight years later married his third wife, the granddaughter of Philemon Wright. He commissioned a house be built for her as a wedding gift, and called it Gorffwysfa, Welsh for “place of rest.” The address? 24 Sussex Drive.

As for poor Anne, she never left the Mill. Visitors to the Mill report chills and goosebumps when they mount the stairs to the second floor on even the hottest summer days.

When I read this account, from an undated Ottawa Citizen story, the hair stood up not just on my neck but all the way down my arms, too.

But in 1980, two boys were walking across the dam beside the mill, the old lamps along the pathway giving off a pale, yellow glow in the deepening twilight. As they approached the mill, they heard a noise from above, like someone falling. They looked up to see a woman in a long skirt, standing at the window watching them. They froze. The ghostly figure tilted her head, and the boys grabbed each other and ran. Keeping their eyes on the window, they saw Ann slip away, and then reappear in the next window, following them.

Over the years, Ann has been seen more often. She’s become possessive of her mill, and doesn’t like things changed. If tour guides move anything, they’ll come in the next day to find it moved back to where Ann wants it.

Her footsteps, pacing along the second floor, are getting louder. Some people say it’s because she knows her secret is out, so she doesn’t have to hide in the darkness anymore.

But in the cold winter months, when the mill is closed to visitors, Ann gets lonely. She comes out, sometimes walking along the front of the mill, but mainly watching people from her favorite window by the pathway.

If you walk by, late on a winter night, you can sometimes hear her low, mournful voice, calling to the people below.

Since I read this account, I’ve been back to the Mill a couple of times. I won’t stop wandering around, and I won’t stop pointing my lens at it. In fact, it’s on the route of my favourite Manotick walk.

13:365 The Haunted Mill

But I find myself cringing, trying very hard not to hear anything out of the ordinary as I cross the dam and mount the steps beside the Mill, willfully concentrating on the snow-covered steps and not the old Mill with its second-floor windows looming over me.

And when I do take my pictures, I won’t look too carefully through the viewfinder, either, lest I catch a glimpse of poor Anne Crosby Currier, lost 150 years ago.

So far, 2011 is looking pretty damn good!

It’s barely 10:00 on New Year’s Day, and (at the risk of jynxing myself) I’ve gotta say, it’s been a pretty damn good year so far.

I woke up at a spectacular 6:20 am, almost a full hour later than I’ve woken or been woken up for most of the month of December. As the light came into the day, I realized Manotick was blanketed in a heavy fog, so I slipped out with my camera and had an awesome and peaceful photo walk before most of the village was awake.

Foggy Mill

One foggy duck

When I booted up the computer, I found out that Postcards from the Mothership placed third (yay!!) in the Canadian Weblog Awards’ Humour Category. Did I mention “yay”???

2010 Canadian Weblog Awards

Then I started making one of my favourite new dishes, baked jalapeno beans with bacon, in the slow cooker for dinner tonight. Because, any day that starts with bacon and jalapenos in a pan just has to be a good day.

And now, I’m dashing this out quickly before the babysitter comes over, so Beloved and I can sneak out to catch Harry Potter in the theatres. Fog for breakfast, popcorn for lunch and jalapeno beans for dinner. Really, could a year start any better than that?

Happy new year to all of you, my sweet bloggy friends. May 2011 be filled with bliss. And laughter — cuz, I’m funny!! 😉

Enjoy an “olde fashioned” Christmas in Manotick this weekend

Looking for a great way to kick off the countdown to Christmas? Why not come on down to Manotick this weekend and enjoy the village that has completely captured my heart?

Manotick Olde Fashioned Christmas

On December 4 and 5, the village transforms itself into a Christmas village with horse-drawn carriage rides, a crafter’s market, breakfast with Father and Mary Christmas, strolling carollers and yes, a Santa parade. There’s also a Victorian penny sale, face painting, pictures with Santa and a family Christmas party with games and crafts. Seriously, can you imagine anything more delightful? And the weather should be perfect, cool but clear and perfect for hot chocolate and apple cider! Click this link for a .pdf with the full schedule.

If you do come out to Manotick, make sure you check out some of the great little shops and businesses. There’s My Toy Shop, a great little independent toy store, and The Gingerbread Man — a bakery that specializes in, you guessed it, gingerbread cookies and houses. Yum! And don’t miss the Manotick Village Butcher for locally grown, sustainable and ethically raised meats that are completely affordable and cut to your specification.

So you know I love Santa parades, right? We find one to attend each year. But this year, the boys will actually be participating in the Manotick Santa parade, riding in their school float. I don’t know who is more excited, me or the boys! Stay tuned, I’m guessing there may be a photo op or two to be had! 🙂

Our house, is a very very very fine house!

It’s official!! Conditions have been waived and agreements have been signed — come hell or high water, we’re moving to Manotick a little more than 60 days from today!!

Wanna see the new house? It’s beee-yooo-ti-ful! It’s a three-plus-two bedroom bungalow that was built in 1968, and it sits on about a half-acre of land on the northern part of Long Island. I don’t have any interior pics to share yet, but here’s the outside:


Lookit that veranda! It stretches almost the entire length of the house. Have I ever told you that I have a porch fetish? As I was paging through the MLS and FSBO listings looking for a place, the three things I’d check were: is it a four bedroom? What does the kitchen look like? And, does it have a porch? I love love love me some porches.

Here, tell me this is not a porch to die for:


And? And!! You can’t quite see it, but at the end of that long and lovely veranda, there’s a Separate! Private! Porch! off the master bedroom. I kid you not. When I saw that porch on the online listing, I just about fell over myself in my hurry to make an appointment for a closer look.

And if you think the porch made *my* head explode, imagine the reaction of the boys when they got a look at this back yard:


Yeah baby, that’s a play structure AND a tree house AND a tire swing. As my mother quite rightly observed, Tristan has been asking for a tree house since he was old enough to talk. During the first showing, where we brought along not only both my parents but also all three kids, the boys ran around the house saying, “This is our dream home, this is our dream home!”

Oh yeah, and it’s nice on the inside, too! Like I said, three bedrooms upstairs, plus your usual living room (with fireplace) and dining room and kitchen (which has a patio walk-out to the back yard), all in lovely blond hardwood, and plenty of bright windows. In the basement, there’s a family room and a bedroom, and another room that can’t officially be called a fifth bedroom because it has no windows so they call it a second family room, but it will actually be used as a huge bedroom for one of the boys.

At first, the idea of putting the boys in a basement bedroom really worried me — but then I realized that since it’s a bungalow, they’re actually just one floor below me instead of two, and that made it seem much more reasonable. Plus, the basement bedrooms are HUGE! We’ve already decided that the northern half of the basement will simply be decreed “boy land” and they will have plenty of room to grow — and we have room for an upstairs office/guest room as well as a room for Lucas.

Speaking of the boys, I’m going to go ahead and register them in their new school (which has some spectacular results based on the latest EQAO testing) for the first day of school. It will be a bit of a pain during the transition phase, but less traumatic by far than having them change in mid-year — especially since Simon entering Grade One will have enough transition on his plate as it is!

We take possession at the end of October, so wish us many, many happy house-selling vibes. We list it tomorrow and the sign is already on the lawn – eek! I have a whole ‘nother post to write about the absolutely insane 10 days we just put in to get everything ready.

But for now, do you love that porch — erm, I mean, house! — or what? 🙂