By Sharon Lakey, Director
Sunny weather, good company and Danville Fair–how could one beat that? After serious planning by Historical Society President, Paul Chouinard, and gracious people in our community saying “yes” to his proposed itinerary, quite a day was in store for our return visitors from Danville, QC. And the group’s willingness and good humor throughout the whole experience made it a pleasure to carry out the plans laid out by Paul and his Danville hosts and hostesses.
At around 9:30, the Canadian group met with our Select Board and Town Administrator, as well as Kate Beattie and Betty Calkins, for coffee, juice and warm muffins (a la Kate) at Historical House. While the two groups got to know one another, Paul excused himself to decorate the Sugar Ridge campground wagon upon which members of a merged contingent would shortly ride in the parade.
When he returned, Paul gathered those who would ride in the wagon, and the rest of us walked to the parade site. The Fair Committee had gone all out to welcome our French Canadian guests. The Town Hall was decorated with both national flags and the streets were lined with fairgoers. The six-hitch Sugar Ridge team carrying the contingent waited with patience and power in front of Diamond Hill store as our guests were welcomed by our national anthem, followed by the Canadian anthem, in both English and French.
Pierre Grimard, president of the large art symposium that is hosted in Danville, QC, was visibly moved and asked, “Who was that?”
“Toby Balivet,” I answered, “He is our Town attorney and a member of our recent delegation to Danville, QC.”
“Perfect,” said Pierre. “Perfect.”
After the parade, the group moved to Alice Hafner’s house on Danville Green, where she hosted a luncheon for the group and a mixture of other Danville guests in her lovely great room. Adding ambiance to the lunch, she had set a fire, which was most welcome. A chill wind, hinting that summer doesn’t last forever, was blowing. Making a special effort to pay a visit to the Canadians were Danville, VT, artists Jeff Gold and Nancy Diefenbach, who have attended the art symposium in Danville, QC.
After lunch, the group moved in two cars to Greenbank’s Hollow, where David Houston and Hollis Prior, leaders of that site renovation, gave a short tour and talk about the mill site. Packets provided to the group included photos of the former huge textile mill located there. David and Hollis are experts at explaining where the mill sat and how the water was directed through the huge stonework walls to provide the power for the mill. One could almost see the mill working.
Then it was off to Joe’s Pond along the Harvey’s Hollow, Keiser Pond and Oneida roads, then along the winding pond roads to Jane Milne’s camp. Chip, her son, was there waiting for us as captain of Jane’s comfortable pontoon boat. “We’re going on the water?” exclaimed Robert Lemire, an English speaking historian. “I don’t like the water much.” But he was encouraged by all and was a good sport. We loaded the boat. By previous arrangement Chip headed to Priest’s Island. Just a week before, North Star readers read Jane Brown’s article about the very islands we were to see. Chip drove us by Sam Whittier’s manmade island and then he headed to Priest’s Island, where we were greeted graciously by a surprised Abel Toll. We were pleased to go into the little temple there. It is beautifully kept and quiet, the columns giving it an air of grandeur for its small size. On the way back to shore, the loons made their appearance, not at all fearful as the boat slipped right by them. Robert was glad to be back on “terra firma,” and we said goodbye to Chip and Joe’s Pond.
Coming back through Danville, it was onto Hill Street and out to North Danville where Molly Newell was hosting a tea for our guests at the elegant and historical Broadview Farm bed and breakfast. After a guided tour of the house by Molly’s friend Carol Ottinger, Molly poured tea and coffee into china cups and guests were invited to partake of an assortment of delicious items from the table. The late afternoon sun and breeze made the large porch a relaxing respite for quiet conversation.
After tea, it was off with Sue and Dick Strifert leading the way to the Old North Church. Sue and Dick are directing the most recent renovations to the building. Dick led the tour through the building, explaining the work that is being accomplished now in renovating the windows and plaster walls as well as the history of the earlier renovation and care that the Old North Church committee has carried on for so many years. Some of the group climbed the stairs to the balcony where Dick pointed out the unusual slightly bowed timbers that create the great strength of the span across the building.
The group returned to Danville around 6:00 p.m. It had been a wonderfully busy day, full of learning and camaraderie. Before departing, Maier Hemond presented Paul a gift to the Town. Like the George Cahoon photo that now graces the Town offices in Danville, QC, we now have a 150 year celebration token of our sister town hanging in our Town Hall. It depicts their clock tower. Like ours, it still keeps good time.
To view a complete photo album of the event click here.
This article was first published in the September issue of The North Star Monthly.