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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

The Matches!!!

Yesterday we left in Jerry to take the ferry over to Masson, Quebec so we could meet up with Richard’s brother Norm and their Cousin Louise to golf at Buckingham Golf Club or in French ‘Club de Golf Buckingham’. As we were driving through downtown Buckingham I asked Richard if he ever felt sentimental about going back to his hometown where he grew up. He said “No, I’m happy to come for a visit, but I’m not sentimental about coming home.”

As we drove through the downtown area we saw quite a few stores had been closed over the past year due to Covid, but there were also some new restaurants which had recently opened, which showed some promise.

Downtown Buckingham

A very interesting hand reaching out above a downtown Buckingham restaurant

Scotiabank in Quebec is of course Banque Scotia

This restaurant used to be called “le Morocco” which was owned by Richard’s grandparents They also built the building for the restaurant. Richard used to help in the restaurant as did many of the cousins.

For those of you not familiar with Buckingham, Quebec, it is a town located in the Outaouais region in the western portion of the Province of Quebec 30km outside of Ottawa, Ontario. The population of the town is 16,685. Buckingham was established in 1799 by a former member of a British Regiment, with the first people settling in Buckingham in 1823, when the first mill was built. In 1812 Napoleon Bonaparte initiated a continental blockade, which forced Great Britain to look to other sources for importing lumber. Large wooded areas were discovered in Lower Canada, including the area that became the Outaouais region. The lumber industry was central to the region’s economic development for over a century with wood pulp continuing to be important for several decades afterwards. In 1837 the first sawmill was built by Levi Bigelow. The city of Buckingham‘s economy has been dominated by Albright and Wilson Co. (ERCO) which employs most of the people in the area. The Maclaren family may have lived in Buckingham but their industry is part of Masson (a neighbouring town). In 1864 James Maclaren built a sawmill in Buckingham. The company became the J. MacLaren & Co. The company also built a hydroelectric dam along the Du Lievre River, just north of Buckingham at the start of the Great Depression.

A picture of the MacLaren paper mill in Buckingham which is on the side of a building on MacLaren street downtown Buckingham. Richard worked for the mill one summer. HIs job was to work on the log booms on the river pushing the logs down towards the mouth of the sluice. The sluice went 2 miles down to Masson where the mill was. Sometimes Richard would also work on the sluice, making sure the logs didn’t get jammed. Now they truck the logs down to the mill instead of using the river to move the logs. After that summer Richard decided he should make a career of the travel industry instead of being ‘River man’.

As we approached the Club de Golf Buckingham I asked Richard to please take me down “Hotte” Street.

Hotte Street, Buckingham, Quebec.

The view down Hotte Street which is just one block away from the Golf Club!

We had arrived at the ‘Royal & Ancient’ Club de Golf de Buckingham.

Entering the hallowed ground of Club de Golf Buckingham.

Overflow parking along the 18th fairway with the clubhouse and raised patio in the background. Cousin Louise told us the day that she won Club Championships she was parked along the 18th fairway and a wayward golf ball from the elevated tee box on the 18th hole went dead left and through her window Ouch! Not a nice present for winning Club Championships! And of course where did we park yesterday? Along the 18th fairway.…

The first tee at Club de Golf Buckingham, with the pro shop in the background. I have promised my friend Miss Heather that when we come back through this area in August we are going to ‘hit the pro shop’ for some golf clothes shopping. Buckingham pro shop has some of the best women’s and men’s golf clothing around, at very reasonable prices!

I was trying to get some pre-round shopping done in the pro shop when I heard Richard’s brother Norm say that we were next on the tee! I still had my sandals on, so I quickly had to run back to Jerry and put my golf shoes on and meet everyone on the first tee. It seems that this trip we have had our tee times all mixed up for some reason, but we never missed a tee time at least.

Norm’s wife Jo took our photo before the round. The skies looked quite ominous as we were about to tee off. Cousin Louise challenged me to a Match, knowing that Norm and Richard had to settle their match from the two days prior with Richard taking the first day at Predator Golf Club and Norm taking the second day at Talon Golf Club. Louise said that she loved my new golf dress I was wearing so if I lost, she got my dress! Yikes. I hadn’t brought a change of clothes with me so I knew I needed to bring my game!

The first hole at Buckingham is a very challenging one right off the bat. A severe uphill par four, which is tree lined on the left and right side. I never seem to hit the tee shot I need on this hole to be able to hit directly to the green on the next shot. I’m usually left, under a tree and punching out into the fairway. Sure enough, I hit the exact same shot yesterday. I was under a tree with no swing. YEESH. I managed to make a 6 on the hole, which is no way to start a round, when Louise made a 5, but the good news is Louise had to give me a stroke, so we are all square after 1. Richard and Norm also had their match going and Richard was also down 1 after 1.

Louise and Norm were walking on the front nine.

Louise waiting to hit on the 3rd hole - a par 3. Louise’s tee shot was so good, she almost made a hole in one. I managed to get on the green, but not realizing how slow the greens were, I three putt. Yikes. Now I’m down by 1 in our match and I’m also 3 over par after 3!

The pro at Buckingham has his own sign on the golf course!

After remembering the golf course and getting into our match, I really started playing well. I really enjoy Matchplay and the challenge of raising my game was a lot of fun. We also had a lot of joking going on between the 3 cousins. At one point Louise grabbed Norm’s golf club as we were waiting to tee off and asked if he had arthritis in French. I am not bilingual but I started laughing because I could understand what she had asked. Louise joked that because Norm has mid sized grips on his clubs, she thought he had changed up his grips because of arthritic hands. We couldn’t stop laughing at that one. If you have ever seen how high and how long Norm hits the ball, you would know there is no way he has arthritic hands!

The 9th hole. A downhill par 3 and the cousins are all waiting to hit on the bench on 9.

The 3 cousins. Louise Hotte was mentored by Richard and Norm’s father - Jean Guy Hotte. Jean Guy was a scratch golfer and was President of Club de Golf Buckingham. I never had the chance to play a round of golf with Jean Guy, but I wish I could have played with him before he died. I have heard countless stories of his golfing escapades and we heard more yesterday as Richard and Norm at times, were cursing their father on the back nine for designing the tree lined fairways, which somehow kept finding their balls off the tee!

9th hole at Club de Golf Buckingham. This is the site of the only hole in one by Richard Hotte! And as Richard is explaining this to me, he tells me that the green used to be two tiered and where the bunker is, in the front of the green, used to be the lower tier of the green.

After 9 holes the matches were: Norm +2 on Richard and I was +3 on Louise. I had shot a 40 on the front and Louise shot a 42.

The back nine has only 4 original holes - 10 - another par 3, 11, 17 & 18. The 10th green is almost impossible to hit and hold, being an elevated green. Everyone of us was short of the green and had to resort to chipping to reach the pin. I managed to make a long putt for par to tie Louise on the hole.

Wide open fairway!

We had a lot more jokes on the back nine with some fantastic shots being made all round. Louise on #15 said she was down in the match by 3, so she needed to chip it in for a birdie and didn’t she do just that! A chip in birdie on command to get my lead down to only 2.

In the other match between Richard and Norm, Richard was having some difficulty because he had smashed his hand the day before against a tuft of grass. He wasn’t going to stop playing, but his hand was throbbing for most of the back nine.

On the 16th hole I was able to close out our match between me and Louise. I’m not used to getting strokes from someone, so it was a nice change to play a better golfer and get some strokes!

On the 18th tee. A very short downhill par 4.

Louise teeing off on 18. Both Louise and Norm made birdie on 18!

Norm teeing off on 18. If you look very closely you can see the ball taking off from his club!

So I was able to keep my dress! Louise didn’t win the match although she did shoot an even par 36 on the back nine. I was able to shoot 38 and shoot a 78 for the day. Louise beat me on the gross score with a 77! What a fun round of golf with Norm shooting 78 as well. It was nice to see and experience some very good golf on the day!

Next it was time for me to finally visit the pro shop to see what I could find!

A nice new Cutter & Buck men’s quilted hooded rain and wind resistant jacket for Richard and at $33 thought it was a ‘steal’!

Nancy Lopez half finger golf glove for me. I’m missing buying my half finger golf gloves at Golf Town since the stores had been closed for so long in Ontario. I thought this glove was very cute and stylish too.

After spending a few dollars in the pro shop it was time for the gathering of the Hotte and Rae family on the patio at the Club. Richard had invited his cousin Boo and step Uncle John as well as his sisters and their partners, and his mom and her friend Wilbert.

We were 14 gathered on the patio enjoying a drink and some food together

Trying to decide on the pickerel or the fish and chips!

Shirley Hotte, mom of Richard, Norm, Lizzie and Karen and her partner Wilbert.

Lizzie, Richard’s sister and Jo, Norm’s wife.

Norm and step Uncle John Rae.

Gilles, Louise’s partner and Louise of course!

Cousin Frances ‘Boo’ Rae and Richard.

Eric husband of Karen Hotte, Richard’s youngest sister Karen.

What a time we had sitting around listening to the stories of cousins and aunts and uncles who all grew up or lived in Buckingham. It was a wonderful time of reunion for many of us who have not been able to see family or sit out on a patio over the past 16 months.

After our meal Cousin Louise and Gilles invited us over to their place.

We drove in the wrong driveway to the very large 120 acre property that Gilles and Louise have. We thought this was their house, but it turns out it was his mother’s house and now they use it as a guest house. It definitely looks like something built in the pioneer days!

The craftsmanship of this old house was amazing!

Gilles showing us the Lake they have on the property. What a beautiful vista for a meal al fresco!

Gilles created this fountain and also made the Pegasus, flying horse!

Gilles also made this wall and created all of the molds for the cement lions and pots. What a talent!

We had a nice visit recounting the matches and the golf game we had as well as learning more about the family history from Gilles, whose father also knew Richard’s dad and mother very well. After a nice long visit it was time to drive down to Masson and take the ferry home to Ontario. It was so nice to be able to visit and re-unite with family and see everyone in person, instead of virtually, now that we are fully vaccinated and the Provincial rules allow for small gatherings.

We sure slept well last night after all of the fresh air we had yesterday. We both didn’t get out of bed this morning until 9am! I needed to have a workout in Newman before we headed into Ottawa, so our day got going very slowly.

Our first stop was to visit:

Apple Saddlery is a great store in the East end of Ottawa which specializes in all things for horses, but they also have a fantastic shoe collection known as a ‘wall of Birkenstocks’ and men’s and women’s casual clothing. I was hoping to find some new shoes for Richard in this store, but unfortunately most of what they had this time of year was sandals. We did manage to pick up a nice casual belt for Richard though.

We then headed to HomeSense where I was hoping to find some decor items for our home in Fort Erie, but unfortunately everyone else in Ottawa got there before us since the stores opened a few weeks ago, and the shelves were pretty empty. It was a bit disappointing considering we don’t have a HomeSense in Fort Erie and I was really hoping I could get what I wanted in a bigger city such as Ottawa.

Next up was to visit the Middle Eastern grocery store on St. Laurent Street. I love middle eastern mixed nuts and they are hard to find unless you know where there is a great middle eastern grocery store. We had invited Norm and Jo over for a BBQ later in the day, so this grocery store was a great spot to pick up groceries for our BBQ.

A great grocery store with lots of imported items from the Middle East like the best Sour Cherry jam which Richard and I both love! I often pick up the middle eastern spices at this grocery store in bulk as I know they are very fresh and inexpensive.

After grabbing some sushi for Richard’s lunch at Farm Boy, we headed back to Recreationland RV park and Newman to prepare for Norm & Jo’s arrival.

Enjoying sitting outside Newman. We have decided we much prefer summer RV living, to winter RV living! 5 months on Vancouver Island with rainy and cool temperatures never let us experience true RV Living outdoors!

Jo & Norm enjoying the campsite with us.

Grillmaster Richard preparing our BBQ dinner on the Napoleon BBQ. The 30 pound propane tank has sure come in handy which we bought in Courtney, B.C. At Costco when we thought we might run out of propane for heat in Newman.

Chicken and beef kebabs with sujuk sausages.

Our new Dollar store salad bowls with 3 different salads that I made for dinner. Tomato/cucumber salad with fresh mint and homemade garlic scape pesto and sheep’s feta cheese, 3 bean salad with fresh basil and home grown garlic from Richard’s step uncle John Rae, Grilled mushrooms with arugula salad. YUM YUM! And we have some leftovers for our lunch on the road home tomorrow!

Norm had brought his e-bike to ride home, so he had to leave around 8pm so that he would make it home before dark at 9:15pm. As we checked up on him he had just arrived home at exactly 9:15pm. A nice 1 hour and 15 minute and 27 km bike ride home along the country roads and bike paths of Ottawa.

Well the matches were a lot of fun between the golfing group yesterday. Richard had to pay his $10 to Norm for losing 2/3 rounds while we were up visiting. I’m sure there will be a rematch at some point in the future whether it is up here in Ottawa or in Florida somewhere! And Louise has been invited to Florida too in case she wants to try and win some of my other clothing down there! This trip has been a lot of fun post Covid to catch up with family. It’s amazing how something as simple as seeing family in person has become so strange to us after what we have all been through in the past 16 months. It’s time to start reaching out and making connections again and planning those day and short trips to see family and friends again. We feel so lucky to have Newman and Jerry to be able to travel and relax in such a comfortable manner to take a quick trip like this one.

Tomorrow we journey all the way home to Fort Erie. Fingers crossed Newman and Jerry are well behaved and our trip is uneventful!

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