Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids May 2 & 3, 2015

Click here for the complete schedule of events & activities


The title and tagline of our press release reads:

Rural Burritt’s Rapids Joins Jane’s Walk Ottawa
     ~ Why should urbanites have all the fun?

I point this out not because the lines are clever but because they’re true.

Burritt’s Rapids is one of 26 villages in the amalgamated City of Ottawa. Half of us live on the north side of the Rideau River (the Ottawa side) and the other half on the south, within the Township of North Grenville. Politically, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher. But for people-purposes, we are one community.

Rural life has evolved since Burritt’s was founded in 1793. It has been a frontier outpost, a malaria-infested death-trap for canal workers, a vital manufacturing, trading, and agricultural hub, in decline when the railroad passed by, and now, a bedroom community for Ottawa. Technology – and the 416 Highway – has brought us closer to the fold; many of us live with one foot in the city and one in the country. Economic and lifestyle changes have made us less village-rooted and interdependent on our neighbours.

Jane Jacobs may have preached the mantra of getting out and walking urban neighbourhoods, but the same goes for rural life. Here in a village of a few hundred souls it’s possible not to see other residents from one season to the next. Interests, technology, economics, kids, work, schedule, health and age pull us in a variety of directions with no guarantee of crossing paths. In our fantasies we happen upon our neighbours, stop to chat, offer g&t’s on the front lawn, or spontaneously pull together a barbecue. In reality, we have to make a point of getting together, preferably with no agenda other than having fun.

So this is what we’re doing when we launch the Burritt’s Rapids edition of Jane’s Walk next weekend: We’re getting together as a village through organized and informal walks, talks, exhibitions, and related activities – including the ubiquitous potluck – and inviting others to join in the fun.

I think Jane would have been proud.

Jane's Walk Burritt's Rapids Community Hall

Looking for the Press Release? Click here

See also: www.janeswalkottawa.ca for complete listings of the walk ‘n talks.

Please click here for general event information:
About Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids
Getting Here & Services

Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids has been organized in partnership with the Burritt’s Rapids Community Association, Inc. (BRCA)

Saturday, May 2nd

Jane’s Run with the Locals
Prefer your exploration at a quicker pace? Join the locals for a 10k run around the picturesque countryside. Route length is negotiable according to the needs of the group.
Leaders: Andrew Vignuzzi & Graham Ross
Location: Meet in front of  the Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

10:00am – 11:30am
Frontier Fraternalism: The Rideau Masonic Lodge #25 Collection at the Canadian Museum of History
This presentation will recount the fascinating story of these artifacts and their role in community-building in Burritt’s Rapids two centuries ago. It features an interactive discussion with local Masonic members.
Presenters: Forrest Pass (Historian, Canadian Museum of History) & Bob Parnell (Local Masons)
Location: The Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

11:30am – 12:45pm
Architectural Walk with the Village Doyennes
Burritt’s Rapids was founded by United Empire Loyalists in 1793 and it remains remarkably well-preserved, not to mention charming. The history of the village will be discussed through the lens of its architecture.
Leaders: Olivia Mills & Renee Smith
Location: Meet in front of the Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

1:00pm to 2:15pm
Burritt’s Rapids: 15,000 BP to 1832
Let’s look back….waaaay back. A visual presentation using period maps and images looking at Burritts Rapids from the ice age to the landscape changes brought about by the building of the Rideau Canal. Loosely based on Ken’s book “The Rideau Route – Exploring the Pre-Canal Waterway.”
Presenter: Ken Watson, author/local historian www.http://www.rideau-info.com/canal/
Location: The Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

2:30pm to 4:00pm
Burritt’s Rapids “Living Library” Story Swap
Wherever there are people, there are stories. This will be an informal, moderated discussion with past and present community members who have deep roots in the village. It is a first opportunity to hear (and record) stories that are critical to our oral history. All are encouraged to attend. Bring photos and other artifacts if you like.
Moderator: Andrea Cordonier
Contact: andrea@habicurious.com  or (613) 269-4585
Location: The Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

Sunday, May 3rd

9:00am – 10:15am
Jane’s Yoga with the Locals
What finer way to wake up on a sleepy Sunday morning? If the weather is happy, we’ll be outside in Swing Bridge park; if the weather is sad, we’ll be at the Community Hall
Leader: Susan Foley, decorative artist & Kundalini yoga practitioner
Location: Meet in front of the Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall; bring your own mat
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

9:00am – 10:00am
Jane’s Worship with the Locals
Christ Church is a lovely Gothic Revival-style building completed in 1832. It is a critical village landmark. Like many rural parishes with shrinking congregations, it would benefit from the lively joy of a full house. Come worship and take a peek around. Listen for the ringing of the 9:00am bell.
Minister: Reverend Carolyn Pollock
Location: Christ Church Anglican, 4419 Donnelly Dr.
Click for more information

9:00am – 10:15am
Disappearing Habitat: Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg
In this family-friendly, hands-on workshop, John McKenzie will discuss the importance of wildlife habitat and Matt Alkerton will dispel the myths of modern trapping practices. Please see the event listing for additional information.
Presenters/Leaders: John McKenzie & Matt Alkerton
Location: Tall Pines: 720 River Rd South, Burritt’s Rapids
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

10:30am – 11:45am
Shrubs: Diversity & Drama in the Garden
Dave Dunn, one of Canada’s gardening superstars, will discuss how shrubs can be used in the design of a garden to play the role of “bones” and backdrop, as well as add interest, colour and texture. Coping with tight spaces and urban garden scale will also be discussed.
Presenter: Dave Dunn, co-owner of Rideau Woodland Ramble
Location: The Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

12:00pm – 1:30pm
Jane’s Potluck with the Locals
Nothing says ‘community’ like a potluck! Please click on the event listing for important details.
Coordinators: Joanne & Paul Harrison
Action: Please call (613) 859-9116 to register your dish
Location: The Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

1:30pm – 4:30pm
Snap, Crackle & Pop! Open Lab with David Weston, Renaissance Man
Engineer. Luthier. Pyrotechnics expert. Forty years experience generating and measuring electromagnetic fields. 

Here’s the deal: Fireworks contain metal particles such as aluminum, magnesium, magnalium, iron grit etc to produce sparkling effects and colour. The concern is: If these particles are exposed to high levels of magnetic and electric fields, such as close proximity to hydro power lines, will the particles heat up or spark between the particles and thus cause detonation?
The experiment on view is to  expose inert material loaded with the metal particles to electric and magnetic fields and monitor for breakdown and heating. On display are the test jigs and generators as well as his ornate 14 course 22 string baroque lute.
Presenter: David A. Weston, EMC Consulting Inc., (613) 269-4247
Location: 325 County Rd. 23, Burritt’s Rapids (Merrickville)

1:30pm – 2:45pm
Architectural Walk with the Doyennes
Burritt’s Rapids was founded by United Empire Loyalists in 1793 and it remains remarkably well-preserved, not to mention charming. The history of the village will be discussed through the lens of its architecture.
Leaders: Olivia Mills & Renee Smith
Location: Meet in front of the Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

3:00pm – 4:15pm
Ethnic Subterfuge: A Personal Walk Through the Rideau Corridor Social History 1830 – 1930
Presenter: Glenn J Lockwood
Location: Christ Church Anglican
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

All Day and/or Associated Activities

Saturday & Sunday 10:00am – 4:00pm
European Classic Car Collection
Owner: David Watson/Arnprior Fire Trucks (613) 623-3434
Location: The main street of Burritt’s Rapids (Grenville St.)
Notes: The display may be weather-dependent

Saturday & Sunday 9:30am – 4:00pm
Voyageur Canoe Tours on the Rideau Canal 
Guides: Rideau Roundtable – Stew Hamill, (613) 269-3415
Sponsors: Tallman Truck Centre Ltd. & Ann Martin
Location: Meet in the gravel parking lot, south side of the village, adjacent to the swing bridge
Notes: Free interpretive paddling tours will be offered from two 16-person voyageur canoes throughout the day; safety equipment & an intro to paddling will be provided; tours will run rain or shine although high winds and/or high water would be a safety consideration; offered on a first-come, first-served basis; accessibility is at the discretion of the organizers and the activity may not be suitable for everyone. www.rideaurountable.ca

Saturday & Sunday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Ramble the Gardens of Rideau Woodland Ramble (RWR)
What: Self-guided tours of this popular, award-winning garden centre and public gardens
Location: Rideau Woodland Ramble (RWR) 7210 Burritt’s Rapids Rd. Burritt’s Rapids (Merrickville)
Contact: info@rideauwoodlandramble.com  www.rideauwoodlandramble.com
Click for Jane’s Walk Ottawa event listing

Exhibiting Artists

Saturday & Sunday 10:00am – 4:30pm
Exhibiting Artist: Joyce Frances Devlin
Contact: Joyce Frances Devlin (613) 269-4458
Location: Main Hall exhibition space, Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall, 23 Grenville Street
Click here for more information

Saturday & Sunday 9:00am – 5:00pm
Exhibiting Artist: Dave Dunn
Contact: info@rideauwoodlandramble.com  (613) 258-3797
Location: Rideau Woodland Ramble, 7210 Burritt’s Rapids Rd., Merrickville (Burritt’s Rapids)
Click here for more information

Saturday & Sunday 10:00am – 4:30pm
Exhibiting Artist: Susan Foley
Contact: (613) 269-4309  www.susanfoleyfloorclothes.com  susanfoley460@gmail.com
Location: Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall
Click here for more information

Saturday 10:00am – 4:30pm
Exhibiting Artist: Debbie Alexander
Contact: dalexander@ripnet.com
Location: Lower Level Studio, Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall
Click here for more information

Exhibiting Artist: Jayne Couch Molony
Contact: jayne.couch@ripnet.com
Location: Old Church, Burritt’s Rapids
Click here for more information

Doors Open

Saturday 1:00pm to 3:00pm/Sunday 1:30pm to 3:30pm
Doors Open: Merrickville & District Historical Society Archives 
Contact: Nina Donald, (613) 269-4289
Location: Lower Level, Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall

Saturday & Sunday 10:00am – 4:30pm
Doors Open: Christ Church Anglican
Location: 4419 Donnelly Dr, Burritt’s Rapids

Saturday 10:00am – 1:30pm
Doors Open: Burritt’s Rapids Public Library (formerly the Lockmaster’s House)
Location: 1 Grenville St, Burritt’s Rapids

Doors Open: Masonic Lodge
Location: 3 Oxford St., Burritt’s Rapids

Self-Guided Tours (Online)

Burritt’s Rapids Walking Tour

Parks Canada – Tip to Tip Walking Trail


Joyce Frances Devlin: Painter & A Painted House

As part of the Jane’s Walk Burritt’s Rapids community festival, Ms. Devlin will be exhibiting select pieces in the main gallery space of the Burritt’s Rapids Community Hall on May 2nd & May 3rd, 2015.


If I had any sense, I would pound a wooden stake into my front lawn, attach a five kilometre length of string, and scribe a zone of exploration around my house. To some degree, I’ve theoretically begun to do this, knocking on doors and dropping off flyers for our upcoming Jane’s Walk events here in Burritt’s Rapids. With every person I speak with I realize how little I know about the people who live beyond the adjacent properties. We think we have to go far to find interesting, but we don’t.

Joyce Frances Devlin and I have known of each other for years but had never formally met. We’re not talking a bustling metropolis here: We live in rural Ottawa with .5 km of paved road, a slight rise in the land and maybe six houses on acreage between us. We share mutual friends and acquaintances, admire the same views of the countryside, likely drive past each other on quiet roads.

I discovered her work at The Ottawa Art Gallery shortly after the close of her one-woman show So Much Beauty in 2011. Several of her pieces are part of the local treasure trove of the O.J. & Isobel Firestone Collection. It was a confluence of bad and good timing – missing the exhibition but discovering the artist – and I had to settle for the catalogue which I planned to get signed one day.

Joyce Frances Devlin
“So Much Beauty” Exhibition Catalogue, 2011, The Ottawa Art Gallery

Until I picked up the phone and cold-called her about exhibiting during our upcoming community festival, we remained a mystery to one another. A cup of coffee, fresh figs and a torrent of conversation about our common B.C. roots followed. She signed the catalogue, agreed to exhibit her work, and a few days later I began photographing her fantastical painted house.

Devlin has earned her professional respect and, arguably, more. Her work is part of private and public collections worldwide.

She was born in Fort Fraser, British Columbia and studied at the Vancouver School of Art between 1950 and 1954, under Jack Shadbolt, Peter Aspell and Gordon A. Smith, amidst a heavily modernist art scene. She experimented with abstraction, creating boldly coloured collages and patterned canvases. Yet, she remained devoted to a wider variety of subject matter, developing an interest in portraiture, landscape, and symbolic imagery. Devlin created what she called “interior landscapes”: spiritually metaphorical images of birds and flowers as well as the juxtaposition of abstract collage with landscape imagery. She moved herself and her two young sons from British Columbia in 1965, and has since lived and worked in the Ottawa region.1

She did what few women could do at the time: She supported her family with sales of her commissioned portraits, her best-known, one of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. At 83, she continues to paint and sell.

Aside from exhibiting select works at the Hall, Devlin is preparing for a solo show at her home studio May 30 & 31 & June 4 & 5, 2015. Please contact her directly at (613) 269-4458 to view, purchase or commission work.

  1. http://www.ottawaartgallery.ca/node/4 

Everything Changes: Shooting the Domtar Lands

Since mid-winter, I’ve had the pleasure of photographing the Domtar lands with a team of volunteers from the Workers History Museum in Ottawa.

Windmill Development Group, Inc. is poised to re-develop the land which has been home to pulp and paper giants E.B. Eddy and Domtar since 1891. Because of the placement of the buildings, there isn’t much of a view of Chaudiere Falls from the street. However a few interior windows provide a broader look at the topography. It takes little imagination to see why this land – islands in the middle of the rushing river between Ottawa and Gatineau –  is the most coveted real estate in the city and a traditional sacred site for the Algonquin people.

Our work is an exercise in documenting and cataloguing. It requires systematically photographing each building from top to bottom, beginning with overviews (ceiling, walls, floor) followed by detail work, including room and object measurements. It’s intense and methodical work that requires us to always keep moving forward. Taking part in the project meant developing some new habits: I needed to slow down, use a tripod, and become more measured in my approach. It was the perfect excuse to dig deeper into my camera’s manual and stretch beyond my photographic comfort zone.

But because too much work and not enough play makes Jack a dull boy, we steal the occasional break to take advantage of the light, shadow play and textures which are ubiquitous inside and out. It’s like recess when we pause at a logical place, set our white boards and measuring tapes aside, and run around like kids, exploring with our own personal mind’s eye view. Today, working outside in the sunshine, an enormous pool of overhead light became a natural theatre set. It didn’t take much arm-twisting to marshall the boys into the spotlight.

Photographing the Domtar lands

And then it was my turn. Paul directed me forward by a foot and I became a glorious shadow. The best things about hanging with other photography enthusiasts? You don’t have to explain the rule of thirds or tell them what button to press. They see what you see and more.

Andrea Cordonier

Most of the buildings we’ve explored are astonishing and dream-like; patinas, colours, markings, signs, graffiti, textures, the old-growth timber beams and even the detritus add to the delight. It’s every urban explorer’s dream-come-true because of the shear volume of everything. For my first few shooting days I was overwhelmed, my vocabulary reduced to a monosyllabic “Wow!”

The team has been working for nine months and Paul Harrison, the project lead, anticipates it will take another six or so to reach completion. We are fortunate to be part of the living history of the place, creating a snapshot in time when everything about the land and buildings is about to change.

Here are two mini-galleries to compare and contrast between our mid-winter shoots, deep in the bowels of the buildings, and today’s spring foray to shoot exteriors. Winter was particularly intriguing because of its steam heat fogs, massive icicles dangling outside the windows, icy pools trapping bits of interesting objects, and the sculptures created by the hot drips of leaking pipes landing on the frozen floors.

But spring offers its own delights and a different kind of visual treasure-hunting. I can hardly wait to see what comes next.

Further reading:

A Day in the Life of a WHM Volunteer at the E.B. Eddy Mill – Part 1
A Day in the Life of a WHM Volunteer at the E.B. Eddy Mill – Part 2
A Day in the Life of a WHM Volunteer at the E.B. Eddy Mill – Part 3
A Day in the Life of a WHM Volunteer at the E.B. Eddy Mill – Part 4

Marie Watt: Piecing Together A Story

It was my first community sewing circle. I couldn’t have chosen a better introduction than the one I received from Marie Watt, a Portland, Oregon-based artist whose storied circles bring creative ideas to life.

A half-dozen tables bisected the Great Hall of the National Galley of Canada, arranged beneath the canopy of glass and steel that frames the finest views in Ottawa.  The low winter sun wove deep shadows over the participants, heads bowed to their handwork. Needles and thread moved in and out, a rhythm punctuated by laughter and frequent pauses to admire another’s handiwork or welcome a stranger to the group.

Watt moved patiently and expertly amongst the women – and a few men – explaining her approach to creating communal art pieces. Individual reclaimed blanket pieces, measuring maybe 18 by 24 inches, some patterned by ribbons of removable tape, some nearly naked and open to freeform design, provided a loose map for the many hands working towards creative unity. Numbered drawings corresponding to each blanket piece offered clues to its final form.

Marie Watt Artist
A print, our thank-you for participating in the sewing circle

Watt, a multidisciplinary artist, identifies herself as “half Cowboy and half Indian.”  Born to the son of Wyoming ranchers and a daughter of the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nation (Iroquois/Haudenosaunee) her work “draws from indigenous design principles, oral tradition, personal experience, and Western art history,” shaped “by the proto-feminism of Iroquois matrilineal custom, political work by Native artists in the 60s, a discourse on multiculturalism, as well as Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art

“I am interested in human stories and rituals implicit in everyday objects.”

She is best known for Blanket Stories, the stacking of secondhand and donated blankets to create towering installations that reference “…linen closets, architectural braces, memorials (The Trajan Column), sculpture…, the great totem poles of the Northwest and the conifer trees around which I grew up.”1

At her lecture leading up to the sewing circle, I was astonished by the powerful stories behind the donated blankets. While there are thrift store finds, many of the blankets are the most significant family heirlooms one can imagine: Often handmade and frequently re-made by necessity, passed down through generations, brought across time and place, they are amulets to protect and cloaks to make invisible, devices to cover, shelter, carry, store and amuse, and pneumonics to remember, witness, and instruct. How much is demanded of such a common object! I wonder about the people who offer them up: How much is closure? How much is sorrow or joy?

This work-in-progress is bound for SITE Santa Fe, part of the exhibition Unsuspected Possibilities running from 18 July through 25 October, 2015. I hand Marie my card and offer up a vintage Pendleton blanket, the sole memento of a trip to Albuquerque twenty-five years ago.  It may not have as much story-value as others, but it does have holes chewed by my (former) dog, rendering it less blanket-like and ripe for reincarnation. Plus there’s a neatness to its potential repatriation to New Mexico.

Marie Watt Pendleton Blanket
My own Pendleton blanket on offer, purchased in Albuquerque

Marie Watt’s lecture and sewing circle was the first in the four-part Contemporary Conversations series presented by the Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies and U.S. Embassy Ottawa.

Upcoming events in the Contemporary Conversations series:

Nick Cave  Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Eric Fischl  Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Stephen Wilkes  Thursday, November 19th, 2015


National Gallery of Canada
380 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario Canada K1N 9N4

  1. http://mkwatt.com/index.php/content/work_detail/category/blanket_stories_objects/ 

Pocket Loot

If you’re planning on poppin’ some tags at your local thrift shop anytime soon you might want to consider this: A few years ago I was shopping for coats at the Coquitlam Value Village. On I tried one, then another, and another until I finally stuck my hands in the pockets. Out came a fiver, followed by a tenner which practically paid for my entire purchase! Feeling particularly golden, I resisted the urge to frisk the entire rack.

The moral of the story is two-fold: first, people put money into pockets and forget about it; and second, if you’re ever stuck somewhere without cash, look for a thrift shop and go for the scrounge. Winter wear seems to be particularly robust.

I tell this story because spring is on our doorstep and I’m inching towards the annual winter/summer clothes swap-out and closets tidy.  Lo and behold, squished in the back of the hall closet, I found my long-forgotten MEC vest (from Value Village, of course).  Hmmm, I thought, hmmm…..

And hmmmm was right. I recognized pocket loot from the very first squeeze: Out came $60 cash, a stack of business cards, my misplaced bank card, four packs of seeds and the usual wads of kleenex and receipts. Now I’m feeling motivated to clean the van…

What’s the best thing you’ve ever found in your pockets or other unexpected place around your house?

Exploring the intersection of people, their homes, and communities