The Octagon – September, 2021

 Greetings all,

This year has been a challenging one to say the least but on a positive note we are thankful that the Fintry delta and the Fintry Estate have been spared from the catastrophic wild fires that ravaged the Westside. Our hearts go out to those who lost their homes and businesses; the sense of loss is unimaginable and we wish you the best as you go through the grieving process and get your lives back together again. Our thanks go out to the brave firefighters who have given their all, day after day as they fought this beast. I cannot even imagine how terrifying it must have been that Sunday night when the winds came up and the fire tore across the landscape. Kudos to you all.

As I write this, the Fintry Estate is still on alert, and the campground and Manor House are still closed. If we are given the green light to reopen we will announce it on our web page  Unfortunately, because of the ongoing Covid restrictions, we are unable to hold our Fintry Fall Fair which was scheduled for September 12th.  We are however still hopeful that we will be able to hold our Annual General Meeting on Saturday, September 25th at the Manor House. Again, stay tuned to our website!

Like everyone else these days, our Curator Dan has been delving into some interesting books lately and has come up with some interesting items from the Fintry library.

“Since the arrival of Covid 19, many of us have re-discovered some of the ‘ survival skills’ that were commonplace in years gone by.      Entertainment was home-made and especially appreciated during the longer winter evenings.  There is some evidence that amateur theatricals were performed at Fintry, and we know that apart from curling, songs and music were part of life on the Delta.    Most households in England and Scotland would have had collections of books, if not extensive libraries reflecting the interests of various members of the family.    The Dun-Waters at Fintry were no exception, and through the generosity of Rod and Karen Stuart, we have a considerable part of Fintry’s original library. Some of these books belonged to James Waters, J. C. Dun-Waters’ father, and others belonged to Alice, Margaret, and the Stuarts, Katie and Geordie.

We are told that James Waters, as he was at Cambridge, was far more interested in outdoor sports than academics or literature. The books that we have bear out this statement. Several volumes of poetry, essays and historical works are in pristine condition . . . those on horses, dogs and hunting are well thumbed!

Picking up a few items in the book collection, one comes across : Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates and Universal Information relating to all Ages and Nations”   This is the 23rd Edition, with a history of the world to the end of 1903. Published by Ward, Lock and Co. London 1904.   This large volume has Alice Dun-Waters’ bookplate inside the front cover, and would have been part of the library at Plaish Hall, just before moving to Canada.

Last summer, we were presented with a volume of “Songs of the Hebrides”.  This is inscribed “To Ishbel Gray, from J. C. Dun-Waters, Fintry, Christmas 1931, with love”.  Carmen Gingles of Edmonton is Ishbel Gray’s niece. The book has no published date, but the dedication is worth quoting in full, “To The Women of the Hebrides,   who were not only skilled in the spinning and weaving of fine linen, and in the curious arts of the dyer, but who sang at their work, and, singing, fashioned for themselves songs that are as rich in colour as the wools they steeped in lichen and heather, and as curious in construction as the tartans they designed —subtle, too, as the interlacements of Celtic illuminative art — this attempt to preserve and restore some of their songs is dedicated.”     

The Celtic heritage of Scotland was dear to James Dun-Waters.

A curiosity of another kind is the small French volume, “Traite historique et dogmatique de la vraie religion”.  This is a beautiful example of a secret hiding place for keys, jewels or other small valuables. The book has been made into a box by cutting out a space inside which was then lined with marbled paper. When closed and placed with other books on a shelf, it would have taken a non-initiate a very long time to discover its contents.”

I hope everyone is able to enjoy the last remnants of summer with smoke-less skies as we look forward to better days ahead.

Stay safe everyone,

Kathy Drew, Friends of Fintry Provincial Park

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