Life works in mysterious ways.
When I was 21, I was going into my second year of post-secondary education at Carleton University. I was moving off campus with some friends and my Dad drove me with my bed and IKEA furniture from Toronto to Ottawa at the end of the summer. I had to go back with him to finish my last week at my summer job before school started in September, so after we dropped off my stuff, we turned around and headed back to the big city.
In my family, my Dad is known for his “adventures.” Usually, this would mean getting in the car and heading out to explore a new part of the city or a small town in Ontario. We spent a lot of time touring around Prince Edward County when I was a teenager, blasting the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar and getting ice cream at Slickers, Bloomfield, Ontario’s best kept secret.
It was an overcast day at the end of August when we began the long drive back to Toronto from Ottawa. Out of the blue, my Dad pulled off the highway, announcing that we were going on – surprise, surprise – an adventure. We followed a few country roads which soon took us to the main street of a cute little town. We parked and walked along the road, over the Rideau Canal, looking at the locks and heading toward the ruins of an old mill along the water. A history buff, I remember being impressed by the well-maintained ruins and the exhibit inside one of the buildings that explained the history of the mill and how it helped found the small town. When we were done at the ruins, we walked back over the bridge and found a cute café in the back of one of the majestic stone buildings along the main street. Knowing we had a long drive ahead of us, we went back to our car after lunch and headed back towards the highway. It wasn’t a long detour, but a great memory that I have of an adventure with my father on the way back from setting up my new life in Ottawa.
If life was like a novel, I would call this detour foreshadowing. The little town where my Dad and I stopped was Merrickville. We admired the Merrickville Lockstation as we crossed the river to the ruins of the old industrial complex, dating back to 1744, which grew around William Merrick’s original sawmill. We had a lovely lunch at the Yellow Canoe Café.
If you had told 21-year-old me that I would be back using my journalism degree in that small town where my Dad and I had our adventure that afternoon, I would have thought you were crazy. The thought never crossed my mind that I would one day attend their council meetings, take photos at their events and do my best to tell the stories of the many unique people who make the Village of Merrickville-Wolford their home.
I was reminded of my first introduction to Merrickville when I was showing it off to my friend when she came to visit over the May long weekend. We were sitting in the Yellow Canoe Café enjoying some soup and one of their delicious scones when the memories of that visit came flooding back. It’s funny how memory works like that. I have been to Merrickville hundreds of times now, but it took coming back without my reporter hat on to remember that fateful visit almost ten years ago.
Although I never imagined my life would lead me to know so much about the small town which at one point was a small blip on my radar, I feel so grateful that life pulled me in that direction.
I haven’t checked in with my Dad to see if he remembers our little trip to Merrickville, but I bet he does. The town can’t help but leave an impact on the people who visit. Obviously, it left some sort of impression on me – one that in one way or another drew me back to tell the stories of the historic and vibrant community that I have come to know so well. Life is wonderfully strange isn’t it?