The Almonte Alameda

The tree-lined pathway of 100 sugar maples along the Ottawa Valley Recreation Trail known as the Almonte Alameda was officially opened Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.

Almonte artist and businessperson Stephen Brathwaite, who spearheaded the initiative, noted it’s one of the nicest projects he’s been involved with in the town.

Brathwaite, along with Ron Ayling, first approached Lanark County council with the concept back in August 2019 and county council decided to move forward with plans for its design. Brathwaite, Ayling, gardening guru Ed Lawrence and landscaper Allan Goddard, got to work on fundraising. To date, more than $40,000 in community and business donations have been realized with over 180 individuals contributing to the project. Brathwaite thanked corporate donors BML Landscaping, Cooney Construction, Cavanagh Construction, Mother Earth Landscape Materials and Levi Home Hardware for help with soil, mulch and more.

The route we chose today for bicycling was along the erstwhile railway right-of-way from the Old Town Hall to Martin St N which is precisely 6 km from the start. The water fountain (where a commemorative plague to his memory is erected) recalls my former boarding school colleague (and Town Councillor) Bernard Cameron age 65 years who was murdered February 11, 2016 by a disgruntled family associate. His brother John Cameron and I attended boarding school together as well and also Dalhousie Law School. John lives in Nova Scotia and took over the law practice of Senator Henry Hicks with whom my parents Yvonne Chapman and Group Captain C. G. William Chapman, DSO were acquainted when my father was Commanding Officer of Greenwood Air Force Base in Nova Scotia many years before. I worked professionally for John’s parents Peggy Cameron and Col. John R. Cameron.

Because we began our outing before nine o’clock this morning there were not as many people on the pathway as expected for a Saturday morning. The Farmers Market in the Elizabeth Kelly Library parking lot was however teeming with summer adventurers and those looking for a meat pie for dinner this evening.

The Alameda is already a promising shady alley in the centre of Town; however, the pathway from the Town Hall to Martin St N is lined with wonderfully prolific foliage ensuring a comfortable bicycle ride in the heat of the day.

The former Ironworks building (now the home of the Barley Mow restaurant) affords an attractive view from the bridge looking down the Mississippi River towards nearby Coleman’s Island.

As we cycled back and forth on the recreational pathway I recalled the many people whom I have known along the same route on both sides; viz., Debbi and Mike O’Malley (who recently sold their riparian mansion at 51 Main St E across the River from the Town Hall);

Ann and Peter Brown (who formerly lived immediately next door to Debbi and her late husband James Mackie and who built a new home on Strathburn Street across from the mansion “the Glen” where the Cameron family lived); Norma Blaine and Air Commodore Donald Blaine (who owned the stone home “Graystone” immediately across the street; the house would slightly rattle when the erstwhile trains passed nearby; they were friends of my parents); Mr. Justice Jame K. Hugessen and his new wife Louise Stevenson who moved downriver from the Town Hall to Coleman’s Island,

Patricia and Frank Vetter (who own the B&B called “Menzies House”);

Gay and Philip Wood (who supplied me with endless professional picture/painting frames and original paintings including one which formerly belonged to his sister and who has indicated she’d pay to have it back but I have as yet declined the proposition); Penny and Keith Blades (who formerly owned “Pinehurst” and who were among the first people with whom I dined socially when I came to Almonte in 1976; the party was at Halcyon and John Bell’s place on the Clayton Road though John grew up in “Old Burnside” across the River);

John Jamieson; Fraser Symington; Joanie Redpath and Tom Redpath; Raymond A. Jamieson, QC; Dr. Lou Sharpe DDS; Yvonne and Colin Finlay; Jill McCubbin; and, Alexandra Atack and Dr. David Atack MD.