Is it B’s Bay or B Bay?

Our Sunday adventure today – in lieu of hunting for Easter eggs – was a drive to Barry’s Bay “a community in the township of Madawaska Valley located two hours west of Ottawa on the shores of Kamaniskeg Lake, with a 2016 population of approximately 1,300 people“. The jaunt was a 2-hour ride each way.  The purpose was to familiarize ourselves with the Canadian Legion at which I am to receive my COVID vaccination on April 14th next. The outing was the first we’ve had of this duration in months so we welcomed the occasion. Until today the pandemic had succeeded to narrow our focus imperceptibly. It helped naturally that the sky was blue and that the temperature had risen to a very tolerable 13°C sufficient to enable us to open all the windows and the landau roof.

The Algonquin people named the area Kuaenash Ne-ishing, meaning beautiful bay. They used it as a rendezvous area, often hosting pow wow gatherings.

The first efforts by the authorities of the British colony of Upper Canada to survey the waterways of this area came in 1847, when mapmaker James Haslett visited the area. Haslett noted the presence of an Irish farmer named William Byers living in the area, which may have been transcribed as “Barry’s”, giving the name Barry’s Bay on Haslett’s maps. Later residents developed the more colloquial back story that the first permanent structure was built in the late 1850s by a James Barry, a foreman for a lumber company, which the lumberjacks working under Barry took to calling Barry’s Camp on the Bay, shortened to Barry’s Bay.Together, the details acknowledge that fact that the earliest settlers were loggers and farmers.

By the late 1850s, the authorities of Upper Canada looked to expand colonization in this region by building the Opeongo Line, a series of roads extending westward from Renfrew. Between 1858 and 1910, the area attracted settlers of Irish and Polish descent, with the 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from Wilno to Barry’s Bay, in particular, receiving a number of Polish settlers.

The Barry’s Bay post office was established in 1876, and the town was officially incorporated in 1933.

The town served as a standby base for the Canadian Military during World War II. Local workers and lumbermen were reformed into soldiers to help contribute to the war efforts of Canada.

Though we had driven to Barry’s Bay at other times it was nonetheless a fresh romp.  I had forgotten how mountainous the upper Ottawa Valley becomes when leaving the plateau surrounding Ottawa. Because it is a holiday weekend – and in particular the central part thereof, namely Sunday – the traffic was predominantly limited.

On our way into Barry’s Bay we eyed BAYBUD CANNABIS.  Clearly an advantage of being old is the unrestrained privilege to investigate anything that can make one feel better. I bought two vials of CBD oil. I’ve made a point of trying both CBD and THC products and combinations thereof from Ottawa to Florida. Finding an analgesic that works is a challenge. It’s not the same as shopping at the LCBO but it affords at best the same benefit. The competition is OTC pills like Tylenol and certain exotic pharmaceuticals which invariably carry high milligram content. Historically it’s only the narcotics like codeine that perform but at the price of irregularity.

After we got back home I drove alone to the car wash in Stittsville. The drive was superlative. It was as though the car had been softened. I felt as though I were sailing through smooth air. The late afternoon traffic had evaporated. Surprisingly the brushless wash had a six car lineup.  But the regular wash just down the road was empty. Afterwards I filled the tank then headed back home into the sunset.


Post Scriptum

Your trip to Barry’s Bay reminded me of a Polish lady who worked with me. She often spoke of the area as her sister had a cottage there. My friend was about 12 years old when the Russians sent her and others to Siberia and she often responded when someone threatened to “send her to Siberia” if she did something wrong, “No thanks I’ve already been there.” From Siberia she went to a camp in India then on to England and then eventually to Canada. She told me that she learned most of her English by reading Perry Mason stories. Another Polish lady worked with us and they had both met in the camp in Siberia and had followed each other to the various camps and finally to Canada.

She still lives in Toronto but has now moved into a senior’s residence as she is getting on in age and we keep in touch by phone.