Written by Joan Delaney
posted on May 13, 2015 12:22
Editor’s Note: Normally we stay close to the St. Lawrence River… “on it, under it, or above it.” However, many Islanders venture each summer up the “Rideau” (often pronounced Ridoo by those down south) so it was with sadness that we accepted the fact, two years ago, that the Opinicon had closed. Now for the good news.)
May 9, 2015 Gardening Day at The Opinicon Resort
The lawns at The Opinicon Resort, located at Chaffeys Lock on the Rideau Canal, were a hive of activity on Saturday, as dozens of volunteer gardeners pitched in to help tidy the neglected gardens.
The property had been closed for two years with only the lawns receiving any attention.
New owner Fiona McKean had received an outpouring of support when the news broke that she and her husband, Tobias Lutke, had purchased the grand dame of the Rideau, in January of this year.
Fiona accepted the numerous offers of help from well-wishers, who became friends on The Opinicon Facebook page, and she organized two volunteer days –one on April 25th to clean up the yard and the other on May 9th to get the flower and vegetable beds ready for the season. In spite of cold, windy weather, April 25th, the turnout was good.
Volunteers arrived on a warm, bright morning on Saturday May 9 from places such as Amherstview, on Lake Ontario and as far away as Pennsylvania, to join the local residents in rescuing the large rhubarb patch and other planted areas.
Two of the part-time gardening staff, Terri and Denis Comeau, recounted seeing two rhubarb plants in the overgrown area of grass and weeds, when they were hired. After the work on Saturday, the bed revealed at least 40 healthy plants, which will be used for dessert preparation. Other beds were stripped of weeds and readied for planting.
At noon strains of live music were heard and everyone was summoned to lunch provided by the Opinicon staff. Two musicians serenaded the crowd from the lodge veranda, as the volunteers and staff members were offered a selection of wraps, salads, drinks and bags of chips. Volunteer Bob Butcher quipped, “This gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘garden party’!” Following the lunch break, most people happily returned to their assigned areas to work.
When asked what she would comment on the event, Fiona replied, “Only to say that it’s amazing, what kind of transformation can take place in a few hours, when you have a small army of dedicated volunteers. It was such a heartwarming day”.
The Opinicon dining room re-opens Saturday May 16 for the season and reservations are being taken for room bookings.
By Joan Delaney
Joan Delaney and her husband live on Indian Lake, close to the hamlet of Chaffeys Lock. Since the build of their house there, in 2007, Joan has immersed herself in the local organizations.