Backyard view

What a unique maturity it is for me to be fleetingly nestled in the middle of Almonte mere steps whence once worked or resided many of the colourful people whom I first met here over forty-six years ago and many of whom are no longer whinnying among us (John Hawley Kerry, Elizabeth Schoular, Bob Morton, Bill Gomme, Marg Campbell, Percy Baker, Stan Morton, Nick and Jean Magus, Carson Johnson, Raymond A. Jamieson, Louis Peterson, Elizabeth Kelly, Henry Wendzich, Bob France, Des Houston). We are poised to straddle the nearby Mississippi River, capturing meanwhile the height of my professional grounding in this idyllic country town. I should add too that not a little of my erstwhile social engagement in Almonte has been reignited by the serendipitous acquaintance of one Mr. Campbell who yesterday, as I was about to mount the staircase to our Mill St Apartment, introduced himself as the contractor working on outfitting the new restaurant immediately beneath the hotel apartment where I now sit, writing and projecting into the setting sun in the southwestern sky on what I believe will be one of the last magnificent autumn days.

Mr. Campbell’s diffident introduction yesterday was enlarged today on the heels of his report in answer to my unconstrained nosy enquiry that he lives on Strathburn Street. Instantly I drew in my breath!  Strathburn Street is a tiny street, home to the Glen (Col. John R. Cameron and his wife Peggy), Burnside (Angus and Carlotta Morrison), Old Burnside (Howard Campbell), the Gate House (Edward Harrington Winslow-Spragge and his wife Isobelle), Strathburn Farm (Andy Brown and his wife Glenna) and Peter and Ann Brown’s new place. It is not a street upon which there is frequent travel. I have the privilege to have represented everyone on that street without exception. Indeed Bernard Cameron and I were in boarding school together at St. Andrew’s College where, as a prefect, I regularly ensured his deliberation.

Bernard Cameron, a 65-year-old second-term councillor and a retired high school teacher, was killed in his mansion on Strathburn Street in the eastern Ontario community of Almonte, Ont., on the morning of Feb. 11.

Turns out Mr. Campbell bought Burnside and is now engaged in what I anticipate will be a thorough renovation. More proximately it also unfolds upon my additional pursuit of information  – there, how’s that for masquing my tarsome nosiness – that he owns the very place where I now sit. Our hotelier friend Rob Prior is the owner of the Riverside Inn but he manages the business of 28 Mill St Apartments for Mr. Campbell.  This particular intelligence stimulated my interest further.  Mr. Campbell is not interested in “flipping”. His is an outright adherent of the sustainable value of real estate. He has 2 or 3 children (another “on the way”) whom he’s intent upon giving a more rural upbringing than they might have accomplished in the previous residence in the centre of downtown Ottawa. I made the typical old fogey comments about the propriety of his real estate investment views. He was just as quick to rebut my diluted rendition. And just before I leave this matter, I should note as well that Mr. Campbell owns another significant property though it is one located on Union St N on the other side of the River called the Thoburn House (named after one of Almonte’s former leading woollen industrialists).

And that’s my bird’s eye view of the backyard! The End.