WC diners hear tales of old

KINBURN – Unbeknownst at the time, the West Carleton Diners Club hosted the last public event in West Carleton last Friday (March 13).

The West Carleton Diners Club partnered with Sharing Wisdom, Lives and Hearts Across the Ages for a catered lunch, stories of West Carleton’s past and a display of historical items from the Huntley Historical Society’s collection.

Around 48 seniors attended the event, a number shy of the expected 80, possibly because of the growing concern of the spread of COVID-19 as the first confirmed case in Ottawa had been announced just a day earlier.

“It’s really great to see you all today and I don’t even know what to say in these unusual times,” the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre’s (WOCRC) Heidi Wieler said. “The WOCRC is following Ottawa Public Health’s guidelines and they were good with this event going on. We’ll see what happens going forward.”

The WOCRC is the organizing group behind the West Carleton Diners Club. Three days later, as this story is being written, the world and the Ottawa area have changed dramatically. Every public building in Ottawa and the surrounding area have been closed, and now many, many private businesses. Public gatherings have been roundly discouraged. Drastic measures in hope of slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

“These are unusual circumstances and there is a lot of fear,” Wieler said before lunch was to be served. “If there is any time for snake oil salesmen to come out, now is the time. Be wary out there.”

COVID-19 dominated the conversation at the table West Carleton Online was seated at. But it was more a topic of conversation then a talk rooted in fear.

Following a lunch catered by the Greensmere Golf Club, Sharing Wisdom’s Gillian Mattock took the stage. This was the final event of six Sharing Wisdom, Lives and Hearts Across the Ages was hosting. The government-funded program based in West Carleton provided service and community support through six different workshops designed to bring the younger and older generations together to share knowledge and skills.

The diners club event was more about entertainment though. Mattock took to the stage, surrounded by relics from the recent past to share three historical stories based in West Carleton.

Matttock told the stories of the Great Fire through a reading of former West Carleton Online columnist Terrence Currie’s 2009 book The Ottawa Valley’s Great Fire of 1870; The Big Snowstorm, Spring 1955 by Roy Daley; and The Story of the Beginning and the Ending of the Life of James Daley, also by Roy Daley.

You could hear a pin drop in the Kinburn Community Centre hall as all present were deeply focused on Mattock’s words.

Following her readings, Mattock promised she would put those stories and a few others together to create a “nice book for distribution.”

“It ended too soon,” Wieler said. “I don’t know if you feel like I do, but I could listen to those stories all day.”

Mattock felt the historical stories were a great finale to the year-long Sharing Wisdom program. She hopes the history of the area is shared for generations to come.

“It was so fascinating, I loved doing the research,” Mattock told West Carleton Online. “There is such a rich heritage here and we can’t let these stories die. We have to share them.”