Preserving and Promoting local history for the former Rideau Township
Log Fence

19 members visited two excellent sites on June 22, the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum and the Domaine Perrault Winery, travelling by bus.

The Cumberland museum was very interesting, and well worth another visit. It is spread over 100 acres, with 32 buildings and 3,000 artifacts, and portrays rural life during the 1920s and 1930s. The entrance to the village is in the Vars Train Station, with a telegraph office at one end.

In the 1970s after the creation of VIA Rail 100 train stations were taken out of service. Many were torn down or burned, and the community was worried about the Vars station. At the same time, developers were building new houses in Cumberland and the town bought the present site of the Heritage Village to preserve some public green space. The local historical society purchased the train station and moved it to its present site (in three sections), and in June 1976 it was opened to the public.

Several other old buildings that were in danger of being torn down were similarly rescued and moved to the Heritage Village, including Knox United Church, a schoolhouse, and several houses. And a group of volunteer firemen built a firehouse where their first fire truck, a 1938 International, now resides.

We were driven around the village in a covered wagon that kept most of the drizzle off. Our tour took us to the miniature railway operated by the Ottawa Valley Live Steamers and Model Engineers – some members might be tempted to return when it is running.

 Fire Hall at Cumberland Village Museum

Brian Wright of course enjoyed touring the fire station with it’s truck and equipment.

Julie, our sommelier, describing the vines they use.

Julie, our sommelier, gave a very interesting talk on the vines and their care, particularly through the colder seasons of the year.

Next on our tour was the working sawmill, especially popular with the men, most of whom gravitated to the front row viewing section. We saw boards being sawn from a log, and then boards being trimmed. Equally fascinating was the demonstration at the pump factory of the manufacture of a wooden pump, made of tamarack wood, using a boring tool and various bits. The pump included a plunger rod, check valve, and foot valve. We were told that the city of Ottawa still has some wooden pipes, and that at one time 90% of its water pipes were made of wood. Several pump factories were in existence in the area at one time, although most have since disappeared.

Another gender split happened when we stopped at the print shop which was located next to Watson’s Garage.

 The print shop

The print shop was certainly very well equipped for its period and the presentation was excellent.

I’m told that several men saw two old tractors there, one of which is still in use, as well as an old car (a Durant) and a number of old metal signs for motor oil, spark plugs, etc., from the 1930s.

In the print shop a volunteer described and demonstrated the operation of various machines in the print shop, and gave us postcards he had just printed which marked the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s visit. He also talked about the evolution of the printing presses, including the hot type machines which were used from the 1880s until the 1970s and the current high speed ink jet printers.

We then were transported to the Domaine Perrault vineyard and winery, in Navan, which is also a dairy farm. Tom MacDonald surprised us with the news that the farm had belonged to his great grandfather many years ago, and remained in the family for some years. The large barn was built in 1860, and was the largest in Eastern Ontario for years.

We were warmly greeted by the sommelier, Julie Ricard, and escorted to their patio for lunch and wine tasting. Between the delicious picnic lunch supplied by our very capable tour organizer, Ruth Wright, and the several wines that Julie poured for our tasting, we spent a delightful couple of hours. We learned a lot about the process of grape growing and production of wine, and the enjoyment of pairing wine with food. We visited the building where the wine is made, aged and bottled, then went across the road to see the tiny grapes just beginning to grow on the vines. The sandy loam soil and the good drainage of the sloping field combined with the growing of cold hardy varietals that have been developed for this climate all contribute to a successful wine. Before leaving the winery several members visited the on-site shop; we were accompanied on the trip home by the occasional discreet clinking of bottles!

A very interesting and enjoyable day, thanks to our organizer Ruth, our bus driver Gerry Egan, the tour guides at the Cumberland museum, and Julie, our sommelier.

The June Excursion to the Cumberland Heritage Village
Museum and the Domaine Perrault Winery

Article and Pictures by Susan McKellar