The Carlington Summit
by David Darwin.

Our devoted editor informs me he has received some positive feedback on the first “From the archives” column last month. He has encouraged me to continue with the journey through the annals of time as recorded on the pages of past issues of the Summit. And so I shall.

Being an ever-helpful editor, he even suggested a topic for this month's time journey. Elsewhere in this issue another stage in the life of our neighbouring Central Experimental Farm is reported. Now it is a national historic site, but it once was being considered as a waste processing site!

Yes, it's true. The October, 1985 edition of the Summit carried this alarming headline: Farm - Waste Plant Site? It seems the regional government of the day, troubled by the 354,000 tons (that's Imperial tons, not metric tonnes) of garbage produced in Ottawa-Carleton every year, hired a company to identify possible waste processing sites. Of the twenty-two possible sites, the corner of Carling and Holland, on Experimental Farm property, was one.

According to the article, “The proposed plant may have a chimney up to 300 feet high, and entrance ramps for trucks to come and go. It could process daily 280 tons of garbage, which would be sold to Agriculture Canada and the Civic Hospital as a heat source. A small residue would be hauled away to another landfill site.”

In this day and age of NIMBY (not in my back yard), such a proposal would have received howls of protest. Fifteen years ago was no different. The Carlington Homeowners Association sponsored a meeting at which local residents “voiced their objections.” These included “health hazards, vermin control, odour, additional traffic, and the overall effect on the Farm as a tourist attraction.”

The meeting concluded with a generally well-received suggestion that any waste processing plant be located at present dump sites.

Harvest time

The same 1985 issue carried a more upbeat story about the Farm. Reporter Barb Robertson visited with Carlington resident Ross McDonald who had worked at the Farm for eleven years as a plant breeding technician.

McDonald's job was to develop a better feed corn “characterized by early maturing and high yield.” The work was painstaking, with one breeding project taking 8 or 9 years to complete. This involved pollinating by hand, growing, harvesting and then assessing each crop. The best from each crop was crossed and bred the next season.

On the eve of the centennial of the Farm (in 1986), McDonald found the results of the work of his predecessors most satisfying. In 1885, farms were yielding about 25 bushels of corn per acre. In 1985, the average yield was closer to 125 bushels.

Certainly a more productive use of the Experimental Farm lands than burning garbage.

Deadly find

Having just gone through the celebration of Hallowe'en, I thought there might be just enough space left to tell a truly scary story. The October, 1983 Summit contains an account of an alarming discovery made by three boys playing in the Carlington Woods. It seems Kevin Willmott, along with Ricky and Jody Moreau, discovered someone had been constructing a fort or small log cabin in the woods. Upon closer inspection, “they discovered that the cabin contained six rifles together with ammunition and an army jacket.”

I am not sure what your children might do in this situation, but reporter Kathryn Sendybyl indicated no shock or warning when she wrote that the “boys brought the rifles to the Moreau home so that a report could be made to the Ottawa Police.”

Can you imagine the sight of three boys coming out of the woods behind Caldwell Avenue carrying six rifles? Kevin's mother Joan reportedly said the incident pointed out the need for a Neighbourhood Watch program in the community. Nothing was said about the need for instructing children about the dangers of picking up and handling firearms.

Still hoping

I would like to repeat my challenge from the first column. If you are interested in some aspect of the history of this fine community, or you have a story to be told, or you have some photos of Carlington in its earliest days, please get in touch with the Summit via the info on page 2 or to me personally at ddarwin@ncf.ca.