by Brent Eades
One of Canada’s most beloved public figures in recent decades was Stuart McLean, host of CBC Radio’s ‘Vinyl Cafe’ show for over 20 years. Stuart passed away in 2017.
In 2013 he brought the show to the Old Town Hall, and I had the pleasure of being in the audience for the taping with my daughter Rachel. That episode was re-broadcast yesterday on the CBC.
It opened with a beautiful tribute to Mill Street; here’s an excerpt:
I arrived just as the sun left. I walked over to Mill Street – which for those of you listening at home – is the main street here in Almonte, Ontario. This pretty little village some 50 odd kilometers to the south and west of Ottawa. And it was while I stood there at the top of Mill that my heart went boom.
Why? What happened? Well. Your main street is as perfect as a sentence written by Andy White.
Allow me to parse it.
Most main streets are complex, compound sentences. They go on and on and on, and rely on every manner of conjunctions. Neither their beginnings nor endings are clear. They struggle up, and then peter out in wastelands of car dealerships and big box stores. Mill street starts at Bridge Street and ends three hundred odd metres along at Almonte Street. And there is nary a car dealership, nor box store from beginning to end.
I was also a judge, along with former mayor Shaun McLaughlin and Mary Lumsden from Mill Street Books, of a story content the town ran in conjunction with the Vinyl Cafe folks. Here’s the winner we selected, Lucy Carleton’s The Sooner Scout:
(The Vinyl Cafe folks chose a different story for Stuart to read on-air: it was quite charming too.)
You can listen to the full episode here: