Coming from a family of packrats- I have realized that over the past days, trying to sort through the “family stuff “ is going to be a huge project. I have literally thousands of photographs, clippings, books and papers to wade through. This is defiantly going to take years to complete. But, I am going to tackle it and get started…

For today though I am going to share with you some more of my memories at “Abbey Dawn”. It was such a magical place for me. Often during the summer months, when visiting my grandparents, Gramp and I would, in the morning, set-out through the wide screen door of the back porch, out along the winding driveway for the trek-up the big hill to the museum.

He would have his trusty walking stick in one hand and in the other, while we walked, you could hear the coins jingling away, as they rattled around in the tyrian purple coloured hand-knit wool sock (generally tucked into a Crown Royal purple cloth bag with a gold chinch rope). The money that clanged away as it was swung in the sock as we walked, was for giving change to the visitors at the museum.
My job during those walks was to carry the lunch and thermoses that Gran had prepared for us for our day up at the museum.
The museum was built back from the edge of where we call the ridge. The edge is a massive rock-top to the gorge (more on that in other stories) with a 'spansive'(wide sweeping vista) of the St. Lawrence River and beyond. On clear days one could see the United States across the water.

I remember at certain times of day, the Gananoque Boat Lines would float by and blow their loud horn and we would wave back, and ring the bell in reply. One time Gran and one of her sisters took me on the tour boat when they did this horn blowing right after they did a speel over the loud speaker about Gramp "Abbey Dawn" and its history. That was thrilling for me as I could just see in my minds-eye Gramp waving up on the ridge.

My memories of seeing the people arrive, park their cars in the lower parking lot and walk their way along the little pathway up to the site, listening to Gramp talk about what we were going to do and say, feeling excited about meeting new people and watching Gramp again “do his thing”. It was all such a wonderful adventure for me and I felt so grown-up being allowed to and expected to help.

The routine was generally about the same, Gramp greeting and welcoming everyone, introducing himself and me, explaining what the tour was going to consists of, talking about the reason for and the history of Abbey Dawn, taking the tour, amongst, showing and describing the numerous Native Indian artifacts while all the while meandering closer to the ridge. Finally getting up to the ridge and seeing Gramp spread his arms full-out to the position of his Native Indian name which was bestowed to him “Great White Eagle”, in full flight soaring over the vista. Every time I saw it I was mesmerized; he was a showman.

I, through all of this, was to keep my eyes on any young folk, keep their attention, relate to them, help keep them entertained while the grown-ups would do their thing, then as we left the ridge heading towards the museum the last stop tour stop I would gently herd the young folks attention towards the fun little goodies on and in the large deep dark wood and thick glass display cast which was just inside the left side of the double-door doorway. There, the pamphlets and souvenirs were on top of the showcase and the cash-sock was hidden underneath, and inside the case, were the very special small Native Indian items such as a small pouch, a pair of children's mocasines all beautifully beaded, a play toy and the long peace pipe. Also to, since "Abbey Dawn" was one of the first bird of prey sanctuaries in North America, there were the paintings by Allan Brooks that Gramp comissioned, and all the birdland information, about to.

a postcard dated Aug 1921
of a sandpiper on Gramp's hand, in prior years to Abbey Dawn

Some days it seemed like there were never ending groups of people filing through, and other days there would be just smatterings of visitors, and, in between giving the tours was my private time spent with Gramp, it all was so wonderful.

I suspect I have enough materials to open up my own museum. Among the thousands of things I have four years worth of scrap books of my grandmother’s. She made them while she attended the Ontario Ladies’ College in Whitby Ontario, starting in 1909, there are all the historical stories and information about other family members, newspaper clippings and scrap books, two years of letters of almost daily letters from my grandmother to my grandfather prior to when they wed in 1913 he had saved, peoples diaries, WWI and WWII family correspondence, all the material my mother saved from when she trained as a nurse at KGH in Kingston and following when she prepared to go overseas and her time and recordings while over there, and it goes on and on and on ...

oh yes, then there is the bell,

how the Royal Patronage came to be, the movie, the Robert Holmes memorial, and on and on the stories go.

At times, I do admit, I have become quite overwhelmed with it all, but now that I am doing what my wise father suggested to do of mapping it out, and my sister Kerrie suggested of setting goals and sticking to them, it seems to be a bit less daunting a task, just as long as I keep my focuse on the goal at hand...

Admittedly, my living room reminds me somewhat what "the stacks" look like in the basement of the old Queen’s University’s library, and my previously called linen-room, now, has turned into just a catchall, the rest of my place I have thankfully been able to keep (so far) relatively normal, but I can not promise anything in the coming days months and so on. Hopefully, as time goes on, I will learn and be better equipped to cope with this, but in the mean time, I will just keep chipping way at it. And along the way, I will keep you up to date on my progress

The City of Kingston, where I wa born and raised is on the edge of the 1000 Islands. Being one of Canada’s oldest cities it has much history which I hope to discuss over time, but the following will give you an idea of the the region looks like
public domain image obtained from Wikimedia Commons

You can see more by clicking on Boldt Castle

 1000 Islands actually consists of  1,800 islands; what is considered an island is any landmass that is above the water for 356 days a year and supports the growth of at least one tree.

Beautiful images of the 1000 Islands and Boldt Castle can been seen at

Have fun and I hope you enjoy.

And until next time enjoy being alive.

This post has been submitted to "Show and Tell" hosted by Cindy at  My Romantic Home


dustbunny8 said...

Thank you so much for sharing this!You have been entrusted with things more precious than gold-Memories and history.Don't be overwhelmed,be sure and take breaks and reward yourself so it stays a labor of love and does not become a chore.And don't forget that your own memories are important also-record them as well.I had no idea of the beauty and history of this place until I read your post,thank you again and best wishes!

Jeanne said...

That is lovely Lynda. Wow, I do not envy you but at the same time, what a lovely treasure to discover and unfold. Your story is very timely as my dear grandfather passed this week at 99 years of age. Your story reminded me of those special moments with him as a young girl. Good luck with your is great that you are documenting it this way.
Jeanne :)

La Petite Gallery said...

I am a new visitor, hope we can be friends..

La Petite Gallery said...

I loved reading your memories. That is one thing I have even though I lost everything in my house fire. Memories, My mom had alzheimers and I watched her go into a silent veg state. She was from Ontario and was in a convent for a few years during WW1

Yes, enjoy those memories. Thank you.


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