Cask & Barrel

Mustang Drive-In

Jun
03

I came across an article in the National Post the other day that gave a wonderful history of one of my favourite attractions in the County, the Mustang Drive-In. As a kid I would call them up every Saturday on the landline and listen to Paul read out the programming for the night. I became familiar with his sign-off “The cheques in the mail” long before I understood what those words actually meant. The honking at the start of each show, trying (and failing) to get the little speakers outside of the car to play the audio, and the constant battle between wanting to keep the windows down but the mosquitoes out were mandatory parts of my childhood summers.

In some ways the drive-in has changed with the times. Films are now shown via digital projection, there are TWO movie screens showing double features each night, and upcoming features are announced on their Facebook page. But the soul of the place remains intact. Last time I went there was a shadow puppet show during intermission. Paul’s voice still greets you over the radio to announce the start of the movies. And there was honking — lots of honking.

Address
1591 County Rd 1
Picton, Ontario

Contact
(613) 393-2006
www.facebook.com/mustangdrivein

Great Canadian Cheese Festival

Jun
01

When: June 3 – 4, 2017
Where: Crystal Palace in Picton

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is Canada’s biggest cheese show, featuring our country’s best artisan cheesemakers. The two day festival gives visitors the chance to taste the best cheeses and artisan food products, as well as wine, cider, and craft beer.

Visit cheesefestival.ca for more details and to purchase tickets.

Rumrunners

Apr
12

South Marysburgh

Main Duck Island, twelve miles from the shore of Prince Edward, was a convenient staging point for rumrunners smuggling liquor into the United States during Prohibition. In the early years, possession of alcoholic beverages for personal use was still legal in Ontario, and although the island was occasionally raided, there was little federal agents could do to prevent stockpiling of whiskey, which was subsequently taken to the American shore at a convenient time.

However, a bizarre situation developed when the Ontario Government bowed to pressure from Temperance organizers and prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol in the province. Manufacture of liquor for export purposes was still legal. Boatload after boatload of export whiskey left the Ontario distilleries, only to be smuggled back into the province and boot-legged to local consumers. This was far safer than slipping past American law enforcement officers, and fortunes were made in the County from the rum-running business. Many small operators sold a few cases of whiskey here and there to eke out the family income, and an unbelievable number of local residents were involved on an occasional basis. Unfortunately for the smugglers, Ontario eventually cracked down on rumrunning, and one by one the amateurs dropped out, leaving the hazardous profession in the hands of a daring few.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

Buried Treasure

Apr
05

South Marysburgh

In 1760, two French ships ran into heavy seas near Main Duck Island and foundered. One of the ships attempted to sail into the harbour at Main Ducks, but the ship broke apart on the point. There were a few survivors, who salvaged some supplies and a chest of gold from their broken vessel. The gold was buried somewhere on the island. One by one, the marooned sailors died of cold and starvation and were buried, until there was but one left. This poor sailor’s skeleton was found many years later, far from the graves of his fellow crew members, and the point where the ship foundered has been known as Graveyard Point ever since. The chest of gold still waits on Main Duck Island.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

Gold Off Pt. Traverse

Mar
29

South Marysburgh

On April 29, 1853 the passenger and cargo steamer “The Ocean Wave” burned and sank three miles off Pt. Traverse with the loss of twenty-eight lives.

The Ocean Wave was a cordwood burner and the fire is believed to have started from sparks from her funnel. She had apparently been engaged in a race up the lake with another boat. The fire was so intense that it drove the second mate from the wheel and destroyed all of the lifeboats. The engine could not be stopped and was still running when she sank. The Captain was rescued by a Pt. Traverse farmer who rowed the two miles out to the burning ship. Nearby vessels saw the fire and rushed to the scene, picking survivors out of the icy waters of the lake.

It is said that all of the company’s earnings for the year were aboard The Ocean Wave. The gold and silver was being carried to Montreal for deposit when she went down, and as far as anyone knows, still lies on the bottom of the lake.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

The Wreck of the Bavaria

Mar
22

South Marysburgh

The Bavaria was a three-masted timber drogher under tow by a steam barge, when it ran into mountainous seas near Point Petre. The Bavaria’s tow line parted and the ship, unable to gain any steerage way, quickly drifted off. She wasn’t found until two days later on Great Galloo Island, southwest of Main Ducks. The ship was intact, ropes in place and sails stowed. The Captain’s papers and freight money were in his desk; there was a batch of bread in the galley oven, and a pet canary was found chirping cheerfully in its cage. The disappearance of the crew of the Bavaria remains a mystery to this day.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

Maple in the County

Mar
19

When: March 25 – 26, 2017
Where: Various locations

Maple in the County is the annual celebration of the maple harvest, featuring sugarbush tours, pancake breakfasts, and more at venues all over Prince Edward County. Check out mapleinthecounty.ca for a detailed list of activities and an interactive map of venues. Highlights include:

maple in the county

  • Nyam Gway at Trail Estate Winery serving Maple Bacon Mac & Cheese, paired with Chardonnay Musqué. Preorder tickets here.
  • Maple smoked salmon crostini served fireside at Norman Hardie Winery with wines by the glass.
  • A maple-themed menu prepared by Chef Neil Dowson at County Road Beer.
  • The Grange winery hosting a 5-course winemakers dinner in their Century Barn. Chef Scott Royce has created a maple-inspired menu that will be thoughtfully paired with estate wines by winemakers Caroline and Maggie Granger. More information available through Seasoned Events.

The Schooner Picton

Mar
15

South Marysburgh

One of the strangest stories of shipwrecks in the vortex is the tale of the schooner “Picton” which, along with two others ships, the “Acadia” and the “Annie Minnes”, was carrying coal back to Canada.

The three ships were lying in harbour in Charlotte, across the lake in New York. There had been a storm the night before, but the day dawned fair.

Captain Jack Sidley of the Picton was known as a skilled and daring skipper and the Picton had the reputation of running “like a scalded cat”. Sidley had his young son, Vessey, on board with him and he was anxious to get home, so the Picton headed out of the harbour first with the Acadia about ten minutes behind her and the Annie Minnes a half an hour behind that. An hour out into the lake eye witnesses among the crew members of the Acadia and Annie Minnes reported being surprised when they saw the topsails of the Picton coming off. They thought that Sidley had decided to reef, but all of a sudden the Picton just went out of sight, “like she’d fallen into a bottomless pit.”

The two following ships dropped their sails down, looking for survivors, but all that floated by them were a few loose gratings and a sailor cap, with not a sign of the crew. The Annie Minnes and the Acadia searched for some time, but no bodies were ever found.

Months later, near Sackett’s Harbour, New York, a fisherman’s son saw a bottle bobbing in the water for three days running. Curious, he finally rowed out to pick it out of the water. Inside was a note, written in pencil that said:

“Have lashed Vessey to me with heaving line so we will be found together.” — Captain J. Sidley, The Picton

Nobody to this day has been able to explain how the Picton went down so fast, or what happened to the wreckage, or how Captain Sidley had time to write a note, or lash his son to him.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

The Marysburgh Vortex

Mar
08

South Marysburgh

So many ships have gone down in the stretch of water around Main Duck Island and Point Traverse the area has become known as “The Graveyard of Lake Ontario”. In these waters compass readings are unreliable, shoals and sandbars lie treacherously waiting, and fierce storms blow up with no warning. The number of tragedies that have occurred rivals the infamous “Bermuda Triangle”. Local lore refers to the area as “The Marysburgh Vortex” and any strange events are automatically attributed to its effect.

Also, Prince Edward County sailors will never paint their boats blue. The colour is considered very unlucky. The only boats that are blue belong to yachters and that’s because “they don’t know any better” according to the sailors.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.

The Germans of Marysburgh

Mar
01

North Marysburgh

After the American Revolution, there were many mercenary soldiers who had been hired by the British who had no wish to return to Europe. One such group of soldiers from Brunswick and Hanau were offered settlement in Marysburgh, or Fifth Town as it was then known. The group was left waiting at Kingston until the distant township was surveyed. It was late fall by the time they reached their land. Materials and supplies were promised, but at that time, Marysburgh was at the ends of the earth, and very little help actually arrived. The leader of the group, Baron von Reitzenstein, borrowed money to outfit the settlement when his complaints to British authorities went unanswered. When creditors pressed the Baron to repay this money, he was unable to settle his debts, and his 600 acre allotment was seized. Disillusioned, he returned to Quebec City where he died in 1794.

The settlement hung on. Eventually the farms prospered and the little German community grew. The first church in the County was the Lutheran Church which stood just north of Roses Cemetery, which was known for many years as “The Old Dutch Burying Ground”. (“Dutch” is a corruption of “Deutsh”). The church lasted for only a few years, as the congregation was too small to support a regular clergyman, but these early settlers have left their legacy in the form of the many German names that are still found on County mailboxes; names like Minaker, Dainard and Bongard. A plaque in front of the Rose House Museum in North Marysburgh commemorates Baron von Reitzenstein and his little band of soldiers turned settler.

 


Source: Kellough, Janet. The Legendary Guide to Prince Edward County. Picton, Ont.: Kellough Productions, 1994.