Sitting in my car, waiting for my passenger, is eventful because on this approximate location and date (June 11, 1976) almost exactly 47 years ago I stepped foot on the nearby property which was to be my first residence in Almonte. The residence was then the retirement home of Rev. George Bickley and his wife Anne who for the moment together occupied the manse of St. Paul’s Anglican Church around the corner (poignantly immediately across from the original Land Registry office built around 1860). The contractual matter of my employment as a junior lawyer by Messrs. Galligan & Sheffield, Barristers, Solicitors and Notaries Public at their offices on Bridge Street had been concluded days before over dinner at the Mississippi Golf Club in the Village of Appleton.
I should also recognize that it was Senator George McIlraith QC whom I have to thank for initiating this important step of my life and professional career. Senator McIlraith, apart from being Counsel at Messrs. MacDonald, Affleck, Barrs. etc. where I was then practicing law at 100 Sparks Street, was the father of the wife of Michael J. Galligan QC. I had visited the McIlraith family at their home in the Village of Rockcliffe Park in Ottawa. The McIraith, Galligan and Sheffield families were decidedly and proudly of the country distinction up and along the Ottawa Valley.
What amuses me greatly is that 47 years later I end up living in the same arrondissement which defined and circumscribed my movement for most of my life in Almonte. To complete the picture I moved across the river to my first little house on St. George Street about 1978. Around the same time I bought the lease, hardware and material goods of the practice of Raymond A Jamieson QC at 74 Mill Street and opened my sole practitioner’s office in his former digs (where nearly 54 years before Freddie Larose had hauled a Goldie & McCullough safe up the sheltered staircase to the 2nd floor).
I’m guessing it was about 1980 I began renting part of the ground floor of 77 Little Bridge Street before buying the whole building (with three tenancies) and consuming the entire east wing on the ground floor for my own business. About the same time I bought a new larger house back on the other side of town. We stayed there until 2014 when I retired and moved back again to the opposite side of town where we remained until the move to Johanna Street on November 2, 2022. Somewhere in the midst of all that was a condo apartment in the By Ward Market in Ottawa and 25 acres of bush lot in Darling Township.
Now it’s all gone except our current digs where I am very pleased to say we are happily ensconced with an upriver view. I derive endless delight from living my dénouement on this side of town. The only competition for this side of town might be an address on Coleman’s Island. But it is not the singularity and quaintness of the Island that affords the charming open spaces, river views and the cleverness of Peter Mansfield’s new architecture where we now call home. I would never qualify as a true islander in any event; they’re far too unaccountable to admit to any casual identity. I’ll stick with me druthers!
We have today exemplified the many ineffable courtesies of living in the country on the river. Earlier this morning we languished in the sunshine on the balcony before going to the local hospital (about 1 km distant) for bloodwork and an ECG; then casually motoring along the Ottawa River to Renfrew to see about the latest in sleep apnea devices. And now – back home – we’re visiting local specialty shops for Maldon salt, roast beef and ham. And maybe chocolate chip cookies!