Category: Video

Gatineau Valley Historical Society 50th

Tonight the GVHS is celebrating 50 years of existence with a party at Camp Fortune. I was invited to give a short presentation on the history of Camp Fortune but found myself with a scheduling conflict so prepared this short video which the GVHS is planning to screen.

Once again I apologize for my lack of frequent postings at GuideGatineau and point you to some of the other work I’m doing. This should be of particular interest to Ottawa residents because it relates to what your city council is doing (or not doing).

At this time some city councillors are trying to suppress information on how the city is missing it’s targets for greenhouse gas reduction, and worse want no part in planning how to do better in future.

If you live in Ottawa please tell the mayor and your city councillor to include two things in the next round of buget planning: (a) an over-arching climate change action plan; and (b) five short term initiatives identified by city staff as having the largest greenhouse gas emission reduction impacts.

Wildlife Photography Interview

France Rivet and Shelley Ball were good enough to spend time with me discussing
the photographs on display at the Gatineau Park Visitors’ Centre this summer.
Click on the image at left to see the promo poster and listen to them talk about
the exhibit in this four minute video.



Why is Shilly Shally Called Shilly Shally?

Anyone who walks, bikes or skis the Ridge Road in Gatineau Park —that’s Trail # 1—knows the intimate little cabin named Shilly-Shally.

It’s located less than half a kilometer north-west of where Ridge Road crosses the Fortune Parkway; Keogan shelter is nearby on the south-east side of the Parkway.

Shilly-Shally is a phrase meaning “unsure” and is thought to have arisen more than 300 years ago from people saying “Shall I? Shall I?” That’s according to The Oxford English Dictionary at least.

But our Gatineau Park cabin wasn’t exactly named for that reason.

Before skiers took to the Gatineau Hills farmers tried to eke out a living along Ridge Road and one of their old buildings eventually became a snug retreat for lucky skiers. At first though as a ski cabin Shilly-Shally was not open to the public but rented out each year for what is reported to have been the princely fee of $15 per season.

There are a few theories as to why the cabin is called Shilly-Shally.

One is that it represents a halfway point along the trail and might be a place where skiers decided whether it was worth going the whole way or turning back.

This would tie into a meaning of indecision but begs the question of “half way to where?”

Shilly-shally occupies a place on the periphery of where Ottawa Ski Club skiers ventured. It seems unlikely to me that it was considered a significant halfway point along the Ridge Road since skiers would have to ski the entire way back along Ridge Road; plus, in the early years, Ridge Road was still a road—in use by sleighs, rutted and not always the first choice of skiers.

As this 1951 map shows, only the Merry-Go-Round Trail (Trail # 11) came near Shilly-Shally (the red dot) and even that passed by at the top of Khyber Pass not exactly beside Shilly-Shally.

Another theory also relates to a meaning of “unsure” and I like this one better. The NCC only stopped leasing Shilly-Shally for private use two or three decades ago and so there are people still alive who leased it and one of these—Sheila Thomson—has her own tale about why the cabin is called Shilly-Shally.

She and several other teenage girls were some of the earlier skiers using the cabin and what they were unsure about was how to get the wood stove going.

Here’s what she says:

“In the 1940s my father repaired this old ramshackled building that was where Shilly-Shally is now for some of our friends to stay and it was a group of teenaged girls who didn’t know how to take care of themselves; the stove smoked and they didn’t know how to cut the wood. So he called the place Shilly-Shally and the name stuck. It was a kind of pun of “chilly chalet” because it didn’t keep warm.”

ADDENDUM- Here’s an image (kindly provided by Michael MacConaill) of an older version of Shilly Shally from 1960 when the place was leased by Rosemary Gilliat. It depicts her annual Shilly-Shally Spring Party, with a showshoe race around that general area.