Potty humour wins heritage prize

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by admin on February 17, 2010

By Louise Schwartz

It was no surprise to many at the Tulip Valley Restaurant last Monday noon that Melanie Hopkins of Burnett won the secret ballot. While some Ontarians were enjoying their Family Day holiday, 28 enthusiastic local residents gathered over lunch for a celebration of Heritage Day. This national day, which falls on the same day as Ontario’s Family Day, is the third Monday of February. Heritage Day is an opportunity to celebrate the architectural heritage and historic places of Canada.

Organized by local historians Michael Cooper, Anita Rutledge and Janet Long, Monday’s lunch was used to increase awareness of the Fairbairn House Heritage Centre in Wakefield. Fairbairn House is a 150-year-old home that is about to be transformed into meeting place and heritage centre for Gatineau Valley residents and visitors.

The highlight of the lunch was a contest loosely based on those TV spots from the 1990s called “Heritage Minutes”, which illustrated an important moment in Canadian history. Master of ceremonies Michael Cooper challenged those present to stand before the group and speak about their own heritage minute. With a brass London policeman’s bell, he gave each speaker two minutes, swinging the bell in warning a few seconds before they were cut-off. Ballots were distributed for voting for the best story.

Almost half of those present rose to the occasion. R.J. Hughes of Larrimac gave his one minute rendition of 175 years of history of the land around which Tulip Valley Restaurant is located. Shirley Shouldice reminisced about her first date with husband-to-be Lorne, skiing down the Vorlage hill, and Norma Geggie retold how the first surgeries took place in Wakefield. Neil Faulkner’s heritage minute focused on the raising the Wakefield Bridge in 1996, and Ken Bouchard spoke about founding of the Canadian Ski Marathon and Jackrabbit Johannsen’s role.

However, the stand out winner of the day was Melanie Hopkins who recounted her misadventure as a young girl on a night-time trip to the family outhouse. The story revolved around a new flashlight (her father’s), its accidental fall into the hole of the one-seater and her attempt to retrieve it with the help of smaller sister. Although arguably not a true “heritage” minute, it brought laughs from the crowd and won her a CD of the actual Heritage Minutes.

Louise Schwartz is a member of the Gatineau Valley Historical Society and lives in Chelsea.