Wrapping up Y2K

Fortunately, year 2000 came in like a lamb and appears to be going out like one, too.

This is the final column of the year and a time for reflection.

2000 in review

Of course there was the confusion and concern over Y2K, computer bugs and impending preparedness for a nightmare that never arrived.

Here’s a monthly compendium Pontiac issues.

January: On Thursday January 20 there was a total lunar eclipse where the moon was plunged into total darkness by the shadow of Earth.

In early February I documented sightings of a snowy and a barred owl, the former on my property, the latter at Murphy Provincial Park in Ontario, near Perth.

March was an intriguing month. I attended a “beef farm day,” presented by Shawville MAPAQ officers Roger St-Cyr, Engineer and Agronomist, and Mavis Thompson, Agricultural Technician. A busload of farmers plus a straggle of onlookers like me visited two local beef operations: Erwin Mohr and Kathy Armitage’s Quyon farm, as well as Bob Younge’s place in Clarendon. I learned about the changes that our beef producers are coping with thanks to the program called “Cattle Manure Management Practices.” A major component is keeping cattle and manure from watercourses. Perhaps MAPAQ will have a follow-up session I can go to, to see how people are doing in 2001.

April saw the Pontiac Tourism AGM at Campbell’s Bay where the morning’s panel discussion included speeches delivered by two well-known Pontiac tourism operators, Sean Mannion (Ottawa Adventures) and Linda Thompson (Pine Lodge). Two regional guests speakers were present. André Raymond, spoke of Québec’s Abitibi-Temiskaming region, while Bill Schweig, Reeve of Radcliffe Township, represented Ottawa Valley Tourist Association. Networking among the larger tourism operators was encouraged.

In May I reported a rare visitor to our pond: a little blue heron. But May was far more notable because of the crisis in Walkerton, Ontario: water poisoning and death. As a result of that tragedy, I tested my water at Micro-B labs in Hull, using my water as a trial so you and I could learn together about what testing for potability means… and how to interpret the results. (Remember, get your water tested again, in spring.)

During June, do you remember that we had low temperatures and rain? Lilac blossoms lingered, as did the wild plum: beautiful!

July saw Quyon’s Homecoming Week, the celebration of Quyon’s 125th anniversary. Fashion shows, dances, ball games and other well-attended events helped showcase my village’s history and vitality.

During August I visited Toronto a few times, and pondered about garbage… Mayor Mel Lastman planned to truck Hog Town’s garbage to Kirkland Lake, if you recall the story. That decision has recently been recinded thanks to people power… but I’m still wondering when garbage and the Hilton Mine will raise it’s head as an issue here in Pontiac.

September saw blight devastate Pontiac gardens. Everywhere, tomatoes became infected with Phytophthora infestans, a type of fungi, otherwise known as a type of “water mould.” Spores travel up to 20 km in rainy, windy conditions and are particularly successful at infecting potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and nightshade in wet, humid or cool weather. Many Pontiac residents pulled out all of their tomato plants.

October was horseback riding month, where the Gatineau Trail Riders Association organized a day ride along the base of the Eardley Escarpment and raised our awareness of equine tourism.

In November I got you all riled up about woodlot management and clearcutting, then tempered that with a plea, asking you to get out and vote. Well, you responded and the Liberal’s Robert Bertrand is our MP again for another four years.

December is still in progress, and characteristically, I encouraged everyone to embrace a natural, uncomplicated and non-commercial Christmas.

Have a very safe and very happy Christmas, everyone.


Meanwhile, check out the night sky… No there’s not a lunar eclipse that I know of… But the space staion may be seen at times, with sun gleaming on its 72-metre wings. Discover when you might see it at http://spaceflight.nasa.gov

Other snippets to learn about: In Australia, botanists discovered a new species of tree belonging to the family Proteaceae. It is a direct descendent of a 90 Million year-old species that was alive when the continent was part of Gondwanaland, the supercontinent that encompassed New Zealand, South America, and Antarctica. Dr. Peter Weston of Sydney’s Royal Botanical Gardens noted that it’s amazing the tree was only just discovered, as “this rainforest has been scoured to within an inch of its life by some very good botanists.”

We don’t need to go Down Under for new stuff: DNA test have determined that there’s a new species of wolf here in Canada.

Which all tells me that there’s so much to learn… right under our noses!

Isn’t the world a fascinating place? And we, here in the Pontiac, are an integral part of it. Whether it’s clearcutting, beef farming, hunting, equine tourism or transforming the old railbed to a recreational corridor (or not), our region hums with vitality.

Happy New Year, everyone! I’ll “talk with you” in 2001!

Katharine Fletcher lives and writes from her electronic cottage north of Quyon. She welcomes your comments. Contact her at fletcher.katharine@gmail.com and visit her site, read about her travels, books and more at www.chesleyhouse.com.