Sharbot Lake is a little slice of paradise approximately 100 km from Ottawa. It’s not a big town, the type of place you could easily miss if you weren’t looking for it. Many Ontarians we met along our journey hadn’t even heard of the place. But for what it lacks in name recognition and size, it eclipses many far bigger cities with charm and hospitality.
Thursday we left Peterborough, and weren’t really sure what to do. We had a show on Friday but no show on Thursday and nowhere to go. We figured it was worth a shot to call Frank and Sandra White, the owners of The Crossing Pub where we would be playing on Friday, because they also own the Sharbot Lake Country Inn where we would be staying. So we figured we could perhaps get a discounted rate to stay on Thursday.
Before I go any further I should state that Frank and Sandra are from Newfoundland. We had heard about their legendary Newfoundland hospitality from our friends in The Once, who had played there not long before us. A prime example- Phil Churchill from The Once had casually mentioned while eating there that he loved their horseradish. When he got home from the tour what showed up in the mail? A 4L vat of the horseradish. That kind of thoughtfulness goes a long way in an industry where artists can often get shafted. We joking told Phil we were going to casually tell them how much we loved their burgers.
So Frank and Sandra graciously welcomed us to stay at their Inn a day early. We showed up and they showed us around and gave us a lay of the land. Many of the guests at the Inn were Newfoundlanders up working construction on the highway in the area. It also happened to be Frank and Sandra’s anniversary, and they asked us to come on over to the restaurant to help them celebrate with their family and some of the Newfoundland workers.
We had a little time to kill so we set our stuff in our rooms and wandered out to the back end of the Inn. It is situated right on Sharbot Lake, with all the back rooms getting an idyllic view of the lake and surrounding forest. We were warned about the poison ivy by Frank and Sandra, who even went so far as to point out which plant was actually poison ivy. Which leads us to, as I mentioned in the first blog of the trip, the dumbest game that was played on our tour.
Us not being the woodsy type, we did not have much experience with poison ivy. We were fascinated with the stuff, and the effects it could have on our skin. So fascinated, in fact, that two members of the band decided to take turns slapping each other with poison ivy leaves just to see what would happen. Seriously. They got a little worried after they Googled some of the extreme effects it has had on others. And more worried when they realized they wouldn’t feel any of these effects until the following day. They were under the impression that since they didn’t feel anything right away, they had gotten off scot-free.
We had a great evening at the Inn with Frank and Sandra and their three daughters. We played music late into the night, and their daughter Gabby surprised us all by knowing Keep Your Head Up on fiddle. The night got late, and some of the other Newfoundlanders there had a very early rise to get to their construction jobs, so we hit the hay.
The boys who had slapped each other were poison ivy were relieved to wake up with no blisters or rashes. Frank and Sandra again impressed us by offering to take us out for a boat ride on the lake for the afternoon. We spent the rest of the day diving off the boat and lounging in the sun on a nice secluded part of the lake, truly a highlight of the trip.
The show in their pub that night was sold out. Gabby played fiddle on Keep Your Head Up. After the show we again stayed up late playing acoustic songs with the family and a few members of the audience. Another late night. We woke again to the hospitality of the Whites, who offered us a place to stay after our upcoming gig at the Blue Skies festival (a festival deserving of its own blog), then headed to Kemptville for the next show. Musicians take note – The Crossing Pub and Restaurant in Sharbot Lake should be a stop on anyone’s tour itinerary. We were treated like kings for two nights and played to a sold out crowd in a new town. You can’t ask for much better than that.
I always try to get in a little reading on the road. It’s easy to get reading done in the van when we are inching across the map of Canada, but it seems once we hop out of the van there is always something to do. I read American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt. Both were fantastic books for a road trip. The main characters in each novel were wandering through their own landscapes, attempting to adhere to their best laid plans while not really knowing what lay ahead. Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.