About johnageddes

Kingston, Canada based family physician, photographer, grandfather, thespian and philanthropist. Founding Trustee of the CanAssist African Relief Trust. Development work in Bosnia and Herzegovina and East Africa.

Stepping out – Little boxes

This week I have found a few little boxes on my walks that have drawn my attention. I came across the “Tiniest Art Gallery in the World” on Cherry Street. (A gallery is defined as a place where works of art are displayed so I guess it qualifies) It consists of a little wooden box on a post by the sidewalk with room for one piece of art. I understand that it changes once a month. This month there were a couple of ink on paper tattoo designs. Something to stop for a moment to enjoy as you stroll past.

The world’s tiniest art gallery.

I also found a little lending library in a similar box on Patrick Street that had a Betty’s Library sign over it (and some milkweed in the garden for the Monarchs). What a delightful idea to have this little sharing library in the neighbourhood.

Earlier in the summer I had spotted a cheerful little kids library on College Street, complete with a swing and a pair of little chairs for kids to stop and sit and look at a book.

With the cooler weather setting in I have picked up my walking a bit more. The summer was too hot to walk farther from the breezes by the waterfront. Since May, have been able to cover most of the streets in the Kingston core. It is a bit more difficult to do those farther from home now since once I walk to the more peripheral neighborhoods I am ready to turn around. I may have to drive there and explore on foot from where I park.

Throughout the summer, I have mentioned that the flowers have been spectacular and they continue to delight me as I walk. Here are a just a few from the past week. I am looking forward to some autumn colour as well before winter sets in.

Stepping out – taking a break – and a recipe for Irish Soda Bread!

The weather has been warm and I have covered most of the territory in Kingston core that is surrounding where I live so to complete my personal challenge of walking all the streets in the core, I will have to go a bit farther afield. When the cooler fall weather hits, I will try to do that.

Today, rather than walk this morning, I elected to make some Irish Soda Bread in my cast iron skillet. I took it out to my balcony in the September sunshine and enjoyed it with coffee and some fresh peaches and blueberries. A couple of friends have asked for the recipe so here it is:

Irish Soda Bread in the Cast Iron Skillet

Ingredients:

3 cups flour

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Baking Soda

3 Tbsp cold Butter, cut in little chunks

1/2 cup raisins

Some candied orange peel cut in small pieces

1 egg

1 1/2 cups Buttermilk ( I substitute 1 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar made up to 1 1/2 cups with milk)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F with the cast iron skillet (about 9-10 inch diameter) in the oven to get hot as well.

Sift the dry ingredients together. Add butter and cut it in with a pastry cutter or crumble it in with your fingers until the mixture is coarse and even.

Mix in the raisins and orange peel.

Make a dip in the middle of the dry mix and beat the egg and add the milk to it. Mix it all together. (I use a wooden spoon and I only mix it enough to be sure that the dry ingredients have been incorporated.)

Remove the skillet from the oven (IT IS HOT. BE CAREFUL.) and put a bit (1/2 Tbsp?) of olive oil into it and coat the bottom and sides of the skillet. I have a little silicone brush that I use to brush it around.

Pour the batter into the skillet and even it out. Bake for about 40 minutes or until done.

I sometimes drizzle a bit of icing on it – made by combining some icing sugar with a few drops of milk to make it runny enough to drizzle onto the bread. If you add too much milk it is way too runny.

Serve warm with butter, jam or honey. Freezes well, too. Enjoy

And just for a bit more summery cheer before autumn closes in, here are a couple of photos of flowers I have taken in the past couple of weeks while walking around the hood.

Stepping out – Week 12

I stuck close to home this weekend. The sun was bright and the temperature around 28 degrees. Too hot to walk too far afield.

I started and ended my weekend with my GoPro camera. The weather was muggy and I was busy with the Kingston Storefront Fringe Festival but I managed to snag some photos of the Kingston core. All within a 10 minute walk of where I live. I am very lucky.

I have compiled these into two short videos. I hope they capture the weekend in Kingston from Saturday morning to Sunday evening. Enjoy.

Saturday morning between 8 and 9 am

Sunday evening between 8 and 9 pm

Cooling off

And here’s a reminder of what it looked like in January!

Stepping out – Week 11

The flower gardens as I have walked the streets of Kingston have been delightful this year. We had a cool, wet, slow spring and now it is hot and sunny. The flowers seem to have loved it. And so have I.

Here is a collection of flower photos that I have taken on my walks over the past several weeks. I hope they bring cheer to your day.

Even the geranium on my balcony has rewarded me with a plethora of bloom. Right now the one plant has 23 flowers on it.

Stepping out – Week 10

I have lived downtown for ten years and yet I did not know that there is a Sunday Market at the Memorial Centre (Kingston). In keeping with my goal of learning more about my community through walking every street in the Kingston core, I headed over to the Memorial Centre this morning.

I discovered a busy market with vendors from near and far selling local goods and produce.. I chatted with a baker from Kemptville and bought a bacon butter tart from them before they were all gone (by 10:15 am).

I also picked up some frozen Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls that I will have for dinner from a vendor from Lyn, Ontario. (I didn’t know where that is. It is a hamlet just west of Brockville.) There were also lots of stalls selling fresh local produce and greens, iincluding dandelion leaves in bunches that look like a head of lettuce and bunches of garlic scapes (the green tops with the little flower bud at the top).

If you are a Kingstonian and have not yet checked out this Sunday market, give it a go. I will be back for sure.

And while we were wandering the neighbourhood, Anne-Marie and Dave flagged us down to go for coffee at the nearby Coffee Way. We had lots of theatre chat and I learned about Connor’s little venture selling good condition LEGO sets. If you want some Vintage LEGO, let me know and I will put you in touch with him.

On my way along Montreal Street I encountered this delightful streetside garden, just a few steps from Blakey’s Flower Shop.

All in all it was a great Sunday morning. By noon I had walked 10 km, visited with friends, found a new market and come home with something special that I can warm up for dinner. Ahh, summer.

Stepping out – Week 9

It’s crazy, really. Why do we think we need to go farther afield to find interesting things to explore. Within a few blocks of where I live are two absolutely beautiful cathedrals. I rarely go into them. But when I travel, if I see a church I always go in, sit for a few moments to soak up the ambience and reflect.

St Mary’s Cathedral on Johnson Street in Kingston is really magnificent inside. The cornerstone for the present building was laid in 1843 and the cathedral, much as it remains today, was constructed over the next five years. Over a few years around 1990, a seven million dollar restoration of the original building was done. The limestone was carefully restored or replaced and one of the walls and buttresses was replaced.

The interior of this building is stunning and inspirational. Guided tours are available throughout the summer on Weekdays (except Wednesday) from 1-5. Check this wonderful building out.

St George’s Cathedral is more familiar to me as I have been to concerts there (the acoustics are wonderful) and even last Christmas Eve I wandered in to just sit in the back pew and absorb the peace. St George’s Cathedral was built in 1862, replacing a smaller wooden St George’s church that, from 1792, was located opposite the Market Square ( about where Morrison’s Restaurant is now) . It was enlarged between 1891 and 1894 but then much of the roof and interior was destroyed by fire in 1899. It was quickly repaired to be as it appears now, 120 years later.

St George’s also has a beautiful interior and throughout the summer the doors are open for visitors to come into the church and witness its grandeur.

I suspect that many visitors to Kingston admire these churches but how often do local residents who are not part of these congregations drop in to spend a few moments of quiet and absorb the grandeur that is part of our community? Both are worth a visit.

To show just how close to home these wonderful churches are to me, I took this photo from the rooftop of my apartment building. The spire of St Mary’s is in the left upper horizon and the dome of St George’s is in the middle right third of this photo.

Stepping out – Week 8

As summery weather finally hit us this week, I took the opportunity to get up early to watch the sun come up on my own home town. When I travel I often post video montages of the cities in different countries so I thought it appropriate to share one of my own home town, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

These scenes were shot between 5:30 am and 6, all within a few blocks of home, when the streets were quiet and serene. Enjoy this little tour of my neighbourhood.

Stepping out – Week 7

It’s getting a bit more difficult to walk the streets where I have not yet been in the Kingston core since it is farther just to get to them. But I continue with my quest to cover all the core Kingston Streets in the next several weeks. So far this where I have been since early May.

I’ve walked all the streets marked in yellow on this map of Kingston’s core.

Part of my challenge was not just to walk but also to stop to notice and discover and chat and I have also realized that there are a lot of interesting places right in my own neighbourhood that I have not really explored.

For example, this week I ventured into the Pump House Steam Museum that is at the base of West Street. In addition to the permanent exhibits about the building and it’s contribution to providing water to Kingston there is a new display outlining the changes along Ontario Street (where I live) over the past couple of centuries. ( I notice that there is a free curated historical walk to explore along Ontario Street on Saturday June 29 at 11 from the museum. I plan to take my granddaughter. Ice cream at White Mountain after the walk might be the teaser.)

The Pumphouse building was built in 1849 at which time it started to provide piped water to the community, privately at first but later as a public utility. Prior to this clean water was at a premium in the city and typhoid and cholera epidemics were not uncommon.

The Kingston waterfront was not always the pleasant, clean, accessible place that it is today. The apartment building where I live is called “The Locomotive” because it is on the site of a factory that once built steam engines, including the Spirit of John A that is now on display across from City Hall. Shipbuilding and trade by ship along the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River was once the main activity by the waterfront here. The railway took over in the late 1800’s.

In the photo above, I have blended two pictures taken at what is now Confederation Basin. I took the one on the right this morning. The left half is from 1953 when there were still tracks running through what is now the park where the fountain is in front of City Hall. The train is leaving a bit of a carbon footprint, I think.

Also a block from where I live is a restaurant that is now PJ Murphy’s Irish Gastro Pub. It used to be Frankie Pesto’s. Within a week of the new owners taking over this building it had a sign outside saying that it had been voted Kingston’s #1 Irish Gastro Pub. I wondered who had even been in it yet, let alone who was doing the voting. Then I realized that it is Kingston’s ONLY Irish Gastro Pub.

The building is where the Grand Trunk Railway passenger station was from 1886 to 1929. Apparently the ticket agent, J.P. Hanley, sold steamship line tickets, railway tickets and also operated an insurance office. The station became known as Hanley Station. The Grand Trunk railway was in competition with the Kingston & Pembroke line that became known as the Kick and Push. The station that is now the Tourist Office across from City hall was for the K&P.

The Grand Trunk Passenger office around 1900 and PJ Murphy’s today.

My neighbourhood must have been a busy one in those days. I suspect I would have loved it then as much as I do now.

So if you have stuck with me this far, here is the bonus that ties all this together. At the Pumphouse Steam Museum is a room full of model trains. I had great fun pushing the buttons to make them run. And there in the corner was the train set that was used in the opening of the Friendly Giant. Find the boot. Now look up. Look way up.

Stepping out – Week 6

June 6-12

Part of my plan to take more notice of things around me as I walk will be to stop and talk with people from time to time. I like to chat and last week I had two interesting and illuminating conversations with strangers.

As I walked along Wellington Street I glanced up at the little passageway that is marked “Martello Alley“. It looked colourful so I stopped to take a photo. I always thought that this was an antique dealer’s place and had never ventured in. The proprietor, David Dossett, obviously another extrovert, wearing a shirt splattered with paint, saw me taking the photo and called me in.

Turns out it is not an antique dealer at all but a very eclectic little collection of items that are locally made and paintings and photos and posters made by local artisans. I ended up there chatting with David for over half an hour and only skimmed the surface of all the bits and pieces there are to explore. Got some colourful photos, too. Drop in sometime. David will give you a tour.

As I was walking along the lakeshore there was a group of young men clustered around some kind of apparatus with a remote control. Turns out they are from McGill and are attending a robotic conference at Queens this week. They have been working for four years on a robotic swimmer. Of course I had to stay around to watch them try it out in the water.

The machine, just bigger than a breadbox and with claw-like arms, literally crawled into the water from the shoreline, swam around and then crawled out onto shore. I will upload a short video to Youtube as it is kind of hard to describe.

Throwback to the 1830’s and a “sort of” relative

This week I have been working in Toronto and I took it upon myself go seek out this plaque that acknowledges a very distant relative who had a significant role in Ontario history.

Peter Matthews (1790-1838) was married to my fourth great aunt, Hannah Major. Hannah’s, brother, Henry Major (1808-1887) was my third great grandfather. The Major family originated in Caven, Ireland, moved to the Maritimes in 1775 and then to the Pickering district of Ontario where they owned a sawmill in – wait for it – Majorville, a little community near Highway 7, just north of Whitby that is now known as Whitevale. The White family took over the district from the Majors in the 1840’s and thus renamed the town. Sounds a bit like the Wild West.

Peter Matthews was born near Belleville Ontario, the son of United Empire Loyalists. He and Hannah Major were married in 1811 when she was 15 years old. They had 8 children and she died at age 33. I don’t know much more about Hannah but there is a lot of information about her husband Peter who farmed at first but subsequently became a political figure and local martyr/hero.

During the war of 1812, Peter fought under General Brock. Later, he became involved with the rebels around Toronto led by William Lyon MacKenzie who were protesting and fighting the Family Compact group that controlled Upper Canada. This was thirty years before Canada became Canada and Ontario was Ontario. Peter ended up leading a group of 1000 rag-tag protesters against the government soldiers in December 1837. They were soundly defeated and Peter and his co-conspirator, Samuel Lount were captured and tried for treason. Once convicted, they were held in a dirty small jail cell and eventually they were hanged in a spectacle execution that took place near the old Courthouse, now very close to the King Edward Hotel around King and Yonge Streets. The city limits ( see the map below) were at about where Dundas Square is now. Montgomery’s tavern, dubbed the Rebel Camp was at approximately present day Yonge and Eglinton.

The execution was done, in part, to make an example of these rebels who, in fact, were trying to advocate for a fairer government. Their bodies were thrown in the Potters Cemetery initially but were later moved to Toronto Necropolis Cemetery where a monument bearing the inscription below was erected in 1898. Peter was also posthumously pardoned by Queen Victoria.

This week I found the plaque on a building at 1 Toronto Street marking the gallows spot where Peter Matthews and Ssmuel Lount were hanged. There are other monuments and plaques at the cemetery and in Pickering.

My connection with this fellow – a sort of six degrees of separation – is somewhat remote and not truly ancestral but it is intriguing to read about his exploits and demise and know that my thrice great grandparents and the rest of the Major Family must have found all this quite disruptive and disturbing.