Leap and the Net Will Appear!
I’m Jane, here caning an antique rocker at the Port Hope Fair.
In 1998, I moved from Toronto to the tiny hamlet of Gore’s Landing, about 1 1/4 hours east of Toronto on the south shore of Rice Lake. My interest in simple living quickly became both deeper and easier.
I fell in love with my heritage house on sight. I knew that I wanted to live within its old walls before I’d even been inside. It was built in 1855 by William McBride, Gore’s Landing’s first boat builder and coffin maker (his photo is in the Peterborough Canoe Museum). It’s a small and simple dwelling that retains most of its original character.
Gore’s Landing is a wonderful hamlet with its very own open-twice-each-week library in the community hall.
Rice Lake is also a very popular fishing destination (sadly, for the fish) for people from Ontario and from across the U.S. border. Many people have been coming here during the summer for generations. My move here is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I self publish a booklet, “Self-guided Walking Tour of Historic Gore’s Landing” (see below for more info). Here’s more about Gore’s Landing’s history in a 2017 blog post.
My professional background is with the not-for-profit sector where I worked as an editor, an administrator, and in publicity and P.R. Working with Ontario Nature (it was then the Federation of Ontario Naturalists) began my love of the natural world and has been the underpinning of my life. I attended the Kyoto climate change summit on a contract with ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives). I also worked with a co-operative theatre company (Tamahnous Theatre in Vancouver), and children’s media (OWL magazines, books and television). When I moved here, I was a freelance writer and editor. Then I happily found work as the manager of the Northumberland Orchestra & Choir (a wonderful group of dedicated amateur musicians), then as administrator of Hospice Northumberland.
When I left Hospice, “Smallbones Studio of Home Arts & Sustainable Living” was born. One of my favourite maxims is “Leap and the net will appear” (I’ve had it on my bulletin board for decades). I leapt. I began making natural, healthful and sustainable alternatives for the items that we use every day, things such as a simple bar of soap. Then I opened a tiny shop in my front parlour. This website began in 2007. The shop is no longer open, but I have my front parlour back! In July 2018 I finally decided to pretty well retire and the only things I make for sale now are natural, sustainable and vegan soaps. Update, October 2018: I’ll be 70 next month and finally decided to retire my shop!
Simple living and becoming more “green”
I love gardening — from organically grown vegetables and berries to native forbes, shrubs and trees. And, of course, there’s my “Sally Garden” devoted to beautifully coloured willows for basketry. The plan is to eventually delve into willow art and basketry. I’ve always wanted to experiment with living willow structures. Apart from the gardens, I mow very little ‘lawn’. I cut paths and one small section near the pond. A vegetarian since 1984 and vegan since 2010, I’m expanding the veg and herb gardens every year.
My deep roots as an environmentalist have taken wing here. Although I don’t have the resources for things like solar or wind power, I’ve been able to implement many smaller things. The septic system failed shortly after buying the property, so I installed a composting toilet and greywater system. Composting everything compostable is second nature. I rarely buy new articles of clothing (there are a lot of thrift stores in this area that support various organizations). In 2004, I planted native shrubs & trees by the Gore’s Landing dock to help restore a touch of natural shoreline. They’ve thrived! Living as sustainably as possible has many rewards — the feeling of making a positive impact, no matter how small, is one of the most rewarding.
What’s your story?
If you have a story about your take on living simply and sustainably in your part of the world, I’d love to hear it and perhaps share with others on these pages. Living simply and sustainably means respecting this marvellous world — all people, all plant life, all animals, all natural resources — to feel joy in what we’ve been given, and to continue to learn, to share and to consciously feel the joy. Thank-you for visiting Smallbones!
Gore’s Landing: An Historic Hamlet on the South Shore of Rice Lake
The Gore’s Landing Walking Tour is self-guided and begins with a short recent history of the hamlet of Gore’s Landing, beginning in 1844. Long before European settlers, the first people to enter the Rice Lake area were the Palaeo-Indians – spear points have been found that are thought to be as old as 11,500 years.
The rolling Oak Ridges moraine and recumbent drumlin islands in Rice Lake give the hamlet an enchanting setting. Its aesthetic appeal reminded many British settlers of the lakes and scenery of their homeland. Their legacy of sketches, paintings and writings has given the hamlet a rich heritage. Fortunately, records for the Township of Hamilton have been preserved to an extent greater than those in many municipalities. Catharine Parr Traill, one of Canada’s foremost early writers, was a resident. Her records give an invaluable glimpse of pioneer life at Gore’s Landing.
Be your own tour guide!
Today, Gore’s Landing residents are proud of our hamlet’s rich history and pleased to share it with visitors. The walking tour guide covers approx. four kilometers in the main section of the village. There is a photo of each house and a description of its origin. I made this walking tour guide using the information (with permission) in “Gore’s Landing and the Rice Lake Plains,” which is no longer in print and I’ve updated it since.
When my computer crashed in August 2020, it took my old QuarkXPress with it. The guide was made with Quark. Unfortunately, as I can’t afford to buy the new version, I’m no longer making the walking tour guide.