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Music (and History!) at the Mill

This coming Saturday I will be welcoming visitors to one of my favourite places: the historic O’Hara’s Mill & Homestead just north of Madoc, Ontario.

As a volunteer with both O’Hara’s and QSCM, it has been a dream of mine for the past couple of years to bring these two organizations together by having a concert at the Mill. This dream is also an extension of the tradition that was started by the O’Hara family so many years ago to welcome guests into their home and to share the beauty of their surroundings.

As a prominent family, the O’Hara’s were known for their generosity and for their desire to share with others. At their many social events, they would have included musical entertainment and one can well imagine the family and their neighbours enjoying the very same music that we will be enjoying on Saturday. An organ, which in fact was made in Madoc, currently sits in the original house to represent what they would have used to perform both classical and popular music.

The family’s success allowed them to send a least one child to the very prestigious Alexandria College, or what is now known as Albert College. Minnie O’Hara graduated with a degree from the college and went on to be a local music teacher. It is said that the girls liked Miss O’Hara as a teacher because she was strict, and the boys hated her as a teacher… because she was strict. Her personally-signed sheet music and storage box are one of the many family artifacts that are in the O’Hara collection.

As the last descendant to live on this property, Jenny O’Hara Pincock and was, in addition to being an painter and published writer, an accomplished musician. She studied music at the Ontario Ladies College in Whitby and at the Toronto Conservatory of Music, where she earned a gold medal for her performance on the pianoforte in her graduation year. She then graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto in 1912 and later established a conservatory here at O’Hara’s from which she taught music to many local children until her death in 1948.

Had you ever heard of the North Hastings Conservatory of Music? Please leave a comment or story below.

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