Last night I was at a historical night about my rural community. Today I sought out one of the still existing landmarks from the past that I learned about at that meeting.
In Carlisle, just about hidden from the main road outside Ailsa Craig, Ontario I found the small red brick Victoria Inn. How I wish I could own such a place! It is quaint, historic , on a lovely grassy lot and beside a babbling brook.
I can imagine carefully restoring it and pretending to be one of the Bronte sisters or something along that line. Such a cute little village off the beaten track! I struck up a conversation about the interesting landmark with a local fellow getting his mail and we chatted about a variety of things. It turns out I taught his young son back in the day! This man had moved his family out of the city and found this special charming place on a whim. Lucky him!
Just down the road, in Ailsa Craig I was touring around and was impressed with the beautiful grand homes as well as the lovely cottage like places along the side streets. A simply lovely old chapel caught my eye. A heritage Inn, now a home (I assume), with signage declaring it to be The Falstaff Inn, also captured my attention. So lovely to find these unique places ! Driving around a bit more I finally found the enchanting looking pottery studio I’d heard about but will return to as it wasn’t open today.
Just a skip or two away from there I noticed a sign pointing the way to The Ailsa Craig Arts Centre. Well, naturally I stopped the car and went in to see what I could find in there.This is what I do.
I was greeted by a volunteer, Belle, and spent about an hour enjoying myself immensely learning about the activities going on in the modern and fresh space. Quilting, painting, photography, writing and other artistic endeavours were discussed. I was shown a wonderful sample of these projects, crafts and art forms.
One on the go project, Fidgety Aprons, I found to be so creative and wanted to hear the story of their construction. These aprons are designed for people in memory care at nursing homes. Sensory items are attached to a variety of colourful materials and provide comfort to anxiety ridden hands. This item is done by volunteers and donated with genuine respect and kindness.
As I was on the point of leaving I was shown another gorgeous quilt stored in a quiet reading area and was told some tidbits about it’s construction. It is a story worth it’s own post, so I will save writing it for later. All I will say about it now is that it is about bears and the legacy of someone with mischievous tendencies.
Saying my goodbye at the door I was pleased to meet another friendly member of the art centre arriving. She introduced me to the rather impressive gentleman accompanying her as a viking! This viking in fact looked the part and yet had impeccable manners and smiling Irish eyes. He will be involved with the Quilts of Iceland Festival soon to be held this May in Ailsa Craig and take part in some Viking reenactments.This little village has international quilt art contacts and takes it all in stride!
As it turns out I was also informed that the potter I’ve been trying to track down was also just upstairs at the Arts Centre. She was involved in a presentation about Haiti and had made a Haitian soup for the participants. What an impressive and creative hub of activity I had found myself in by just going off the usual beaten path.
I left with some information about their writing group, a local author and with a smile on my face.I had lucked into such a welcoming and interesting group of arts loving country folks. It felt like finding more of one’s tribe.
On main street in Ailsa Craig I ventured into The Crown and Turtle Pub (turtles are an old Ailsa Craig symbol and another story to tell another time) for lunch. I enjoyed a tasty and hot soup and sandwich special as I made some notes on my day.
The pub is a cosy Irish Pub with a deep burnished glow decor. There is a corner snug named for some renowned patron. A wooden bar with all the glow of a mirror, glassware and authentic pub hardware sets the scene and an appetizing menu for meals is available. My server was welcoming and my meal was ready quickly. An outdoor area is also part of the pub I was told by my friendly server and most likely fills up on nice summer days and evenings.
I thought it would be a good place to visit again with my son if I can convince him to come along on one of my off the beaten path adventures. It must be fun to be a regular there and enjoy the pub scene with the locals. I noticed the Irish Viking fellow there as well so that tells you something.