by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.
I have never been able to shake Samuel Beckett’s disturbing question in “Waiting for Godot” (the two-act play in which nothing happens in either): namely, what is the meaning of human existence? Until I get past it however I, like so many others, content myself with the diversion of an outing from time to time. An outing of almost any description enables the Vladimirs and Estragons of mankind to come close to some meaning in life, to ﬁll the gap while waiting endlessly and in vain for something to happen or someone to arrive.
While it isn’t assured that the outing will be rewarding, nor that every human undertaking is destined to be fulﬁlling, I can tell you with certainty I was not disappointed by the pancake breakfast at Union Hall on Sunday morning, March 30, 2014.
Each spring, a Pancake Breakfast is held at Union Hall, in the heart of maple syrup country. This year, home-made breakfasts, consisting of pancakes, sausages or ham, beans or blueberries, and lashings of butter and Fortune Farms syrup, will be served from 8 a.m. until noon on Sunday, March 30. Fruit juice, Equator coffee and tea will also be on hand. The price for this feast remains at $6 (for the regular size) and $8 (for the larger appetite).
The overnight Spring snowfall, though not an entire impediment, was nonetheless a trial of one’s determination to make the early morning trek to Union Hall Community Centre located at the intersection of Tatlock Road (CR9) and Wolf Grove Road (CR16) 3 kilometers south of Clayton. Once there however the recompense was bountiful! The appetite for the destination was whetted by the winsomeness of the fresh snow which puriﬁed the ﬁelds adjoining the road to Union Hall.
One cannot help but marvel at the history of Union Hall which was constructed in 1857. I recommend to you the chronicled compilation by Linda Camponi with assistance from Claudia Smith for Union Hall’s 150th Anniversary. A mere glance at the referenced portion of the Lanark County Atlas (1880) shows some of our important ancestral names, among them Metcalf, Gilmour, Afﬂeck, Rea, Snedden, Naismith, Robertson, Toshack, Yuill, Houston, Scott, Cochran, Steel and Paul. Likewise there are noted the tiny communities of Bennies Corners, Huntersville P.O., Rosetta P.O., Galbraith P.O. and Middleville P.O., dotted among the usual 100-acre and 200-acre spreads of the landowners. There are intriguing locations of “carriage shop”, “tannery”, “B.Y.” (brick yard), “Town Hall”, “Union Hall”, “Lead Mine”, “C.F.” (cheese factory) and “L.K.” (which I can only guess means Lime Kiln).
We were among the ﬁrst to arrive at Union Hall for the promised feast. And a good thing! Not only were we able to tuck in without delay but equally importantly we were afforded the moment to chat with the people who were making it happen: Joan Robinson, Terry Webb, Katie Cotnam, Suzanne Wiinslow Smith, Sadie Dupuis, Glennis Harwig, John Moore (Treasurer) and Les Humphreys (President). Several of us gathered about the soothingly warm wood burning stove to reminisce about the former Womens Institute Library (still housing valuable ancient novels) and to admire the hanging photographs of distinguished looking people now long out of mind. Seated or milling about the Hall were familiar faces, Denzil Ferguson, Harold McKay, Sue Cressy and Jack Hinton, all exchanging polite conversation with one another and reviving the elemental traditions of our historic community and this singular Hall which is run by a committee of local volunteers with the support of the Town of Mississippi Mills.
What a treasure we have at our doorstep in Union Hall! The reminder of a Blueberry Social is but one hint of the conventions which have abounded within its celebrated walls. If you are prompted to proﬁt by this oasis of delight, I understand the contact for hall rental is Howard Dunlop at (613) 256-1153.