Summer is almost here! That means new opportunities to get out and about. So Lost Ottawa took a trip to the Eastern Ontario Railway Museum in Smiths Falls, which was a major railway town from the 1850s into the 2000s.
The railway museum is a reminder of those times, but one of those lost-in-plain-sight kind of places that you might have passed by a million times without going in.
To be honest, we weren’t expecting much because we had heard that the museum has a lot of rolling stock, a station building and a yard to take care of, but hardly any money. You do see evidence of the lack of cash when you visit.
That just makes it all that much sweeter to report that we were very pleasantly surprised. Hats off to the volunteers!
The highlight of our visit was a ride the museum offered on two cabooses pulled by Canadian Pacific diesel locomotive 6591.
We managed to get on quick and snagged a spot in the cupola, which is the raised part of the caboose with the windows, where members of the crew looked out see if there there were any problems with the equipment.
From there we were able to watch the train back roll out of the station, around to the other side, and back again. It was a short trip, but the volunteers explained all sorts of things about Smiths Falls and the role of the caboose in railway life, and everyone left the train with a smile on their face. Kids especially liked it.
Other highlights of the museum are the station building, and a rare dental car once used to provide dental care to Ontario’s rural communities.
On the other side of the yard is a bright orange snowplow car, looking something like a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica. Kids had a riot climbing around inside it, as well as operating the hand-powered speeder nearby. There’s also a boxcar with an exhibit inside.
Some might find the museum a little “thin” without a train ride, so people should be aware that the train doesn’t operate every day.
However, according to the their website, the museum will be offering train rides on July 2, August 26 and 27, as well as October 7 and 8. On December 2 and December 3, Santa will visit on the North Pole Express.
I’d advise confirming the dates before you go, but do check out the museum when you get the chance. We left thinking it made a fine destination for a drive in the country on a sunny afternoon.
The museum is open 10-5 every day of the week in summer. To get there, take Highway 417, then 7 to Carleton Place. Turn left onto Highway 15 and stay on 15 until you get to the T-junction in Smiths Falls. If you remember how to skirt downtown (which we all did when 15 was a major route to the 401 and Toronto), do that. Otherwise, turn right onto Cornelia Street West, bear slightly right on Cornelia at Elmsley, turn left off Cornelia onto William. Turn left off William at the sign for the Museum. Takes about an hour to get there from Downtown Ottawa.
Lost Ottawa – the Book was the best selling local interest book in Canada last year.
That’s right! According to our friends at Chapters/Indigo, we sold more copies of Lost Ottawa than anyone sold books about Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver.
We’re pretty proud of that result. It makes us feel like we did something positive for the community and the community responded.
I know from all the book signings I did that people really enjoyed the stories, so naturally a new book is in the works. Here’s the original of the picture we’ve chosen for the cover. It’s a Tuck postcard from their “Oilette” series, based on original black and white photographs, but coloured to look like oil paintings. In fact our first cover was from the same set, containing six postcard pictures of Ottawa.
Why this particular picture, you ask? Well, this may seems a bit over-the-top, but Lost Ottawa to me is not some place in the past that was once factual and is now gone. It’s a place in the mind. In the imagination, where where you can “put yourself in the picture” and imagine the possibilities. I wanted a somewhat whimsical picture that captured that feeling. Who can’t imagine driving their sweetheart in an open car beside the Rideau Canal on the original Government Driveway with the Rideau Queen steaming majestically alongside!?
Plus, there’s plenty of “lost.” The steamboats, for one thing. The ancient cars, the rustic staircase, a canal that doesn’t look like that anymore, with the original Exhibition buildings at Lansdowne Park peaking out in the distance.
As for the contents of the new book, it follows the same format as the first, containing 75 of the most popular posts from our Facebook site, as voted by people themselves through their likes, comments, and shares.Whereas the first book had the most popular stories from our first four years on Facebook ending in 2016, the new book has the best stories since then, written up the same way with a picture, a short blurb, followed by the edited comments arranged in the form of a dialogue.
There are definitely a few classics — people really did love their Capitol Theatre! Otherwise we’ve got new stories ranging from the Grace Hospital to the Diamond BBQ, and watching Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Towne to Bill’s Joke Shop to. We’ve got many more stores, plazas, and restaurants, and we’ll have talk more about them in a few days.
Right now you can pre-order Lost Ottawa – Book Two by clicking here, or by clicking the picture in the sidebar. That means you’ll be getting your copy just as soon as the printer can print them and the mail carrier can deliver them to your door!
You might not have been getting your daily fix of Lost Ottawa recently, so in this post we explain how to get more Lost Ottawa in your Facebook feed.
What’s the problem?
Well, our stats used to say that Lost Ottawa posts went out to an average of 15,000 to 20,000 people, but we have 45,000 members. Those numbers meant there was a good chance you saw at least one post from us every day.
Our current stats say that recent posts from Lost Ottawa are only being seen by 5,000 to 10,000 people. These numbers mean some of you aren’t seeing any Lost Ottawa content at all on some days. Maybe even a few days in a row.
Our declining number are the result of adjustments Facebook has made to its famous algorithm, intending to emphasize “family” and “social interaction” (and distract people from the various Russian and privacy scandals they’ve been having lately).
What to do? Here are three steps you take to tell Facebook you want more Lost Ottawa content.
Step Three is the one you should take if you want to get more content right now, but first …
To keep getting Lost Ottawa in your feed, the most important thing you can do over time is engage with Lost Ottawa content when you see it. The almighty FB algorithm will know that you liked a post, gave a thumbs up to comment, clicked on a picture, or (best of all) left a comment, and Facebook will send you more content.
You can actually start declaring your interest right now by going to the Lost Ottawa Facebook community page and interacting with the posts and pictures we have there. Plus, you’ll get a chance to catch up — and we’ve been posting some good stuff lately.
Give Lost Ottawa priority in your FB preferences.
To do this, go to your own Facebook page and find the News Feed link at the top left. Click on the three dots to get the drop down menu, then choose “Edit Preferences.”
You’ll get the preferences window you see below.
Click on “Prioritize who to see first.” You’ll get the next screen.
Click on our logo. The star will appear. Voilà and you’ve just told Facebook you want it to give priority to Lost Ottawa content. Click “done” to exit.
You could see quite a few logos in this window, so you might need to choose “all” and then “pages only” from the drop-down button to find the logo for lost Ottawa.
Also, one oddity here is that you can choose up to thirty things to “see first.” So you likely won’t actually see Lost Ottawa first in your feed … but it’s a start!
You can tell Facebook to send you more Lost Ottawa by changing some settings on the Lost Ottawa Facebook community page.
Start by finding the “following” button towards the top of the page.
Under the header for news feed, choose “see first.” Under the heading for notifications choose “all on (posts).”
This will theoretically tell Facebook that your are not only interested in Lost Ottawa, but so interested you want them to send you all Lost Ottawa posts.
No more algorithm … maybe. I suspect FB will send you all our posts only as long as you keep interacting with the content. Otherwise they’ll decide you really did want to see all those cat videos.
That’s it. Follow all these steps and you’ll be getting more Lost Ottawa soon!