Cottage Sketch

Doors Open 2010

Several hundred people visited the cottage on Saturday 29 May and Sunday 30 May during the Doors Open event this year.
Our restored Tollhouse/museum was open, staffed by our hard working volunteers.

One of the activities was a limerick contest. The subjects of either roads or tolls, on-the-spot writing (ie no off-site-consultation), and the structural requirements imposed by the classic limerick form, were not deterrents to this year's poets. There were more entries than last year, therefore Professor David Latham of the Department of English at York University, who is knowledgebale about Great Art and understands well the rungs to be climbed on the way to Immortality, had to take greater care (and extra wine) in selecting this year's winners. His comments on each winning entry are included here. Thanks to all contestants, and to those who did not win there are 365 days ahead in which to practice. The winners are to be congratulated and should (post office willing) receive their cheques within a week.

Winners of the 2010 Limerick Contest!

Saturday 29 May: First Place and $15, DIANE EVARISTO
"The Tollkeeper's Life"

Here stands the humble abode,
Of a tollkeeper on an old road
Where the family worked hard
Both inside and in yard
Passing time till the travellers showed.

Judge's Remarks: This verse helps us to identify with the pioneer lifestyle of a Victorian family dependent on the brief contact with the daily travellers.

Saturday 29 May: Second Place and $10, CONSTANCE SEMLER
The tollkeeper's life was unique
And shrouded in glorious mystique.
Was he devil or saint?
Were his fees without taint?
If only the tollbox could speak

Judge's Remarks: While the sing-song rhythm typifies the prosody of the limerick, The riddle formula suits the sense of mystique and secrets lost within the tollbox.

Saturday 29 May: Third Place and $5, ROMI LEVINE
There once was a house on a road
Where a family had not a smidgen of gold,
They collected tolls
For it put food in their bowls
And it is now a museum of old.

Judge's Remarks: The vivid imagery of the humble bowls with no smidgen of gold helps distinguish the conventional notion of an institutional museum from the celebration of our working-class heritage.

Sunday 30 May: First Place and $15, FAYGLE TRAIN
There once was a cottage for tolls
Whose old walls were covered in holes
But there were people who cared
'Bout how the poor cottage fared
Because history is one of their goals!

Judge's Remarks: This limerick conveys the spirit of preservation and restoration involved in celebrating the heritage of our city.

Sunday 30 May: Second Place and $10, BRIAN SHORT
To maintain the roads we must force
Each farmer with his cart and his horse
To stop on Davenport Road
And pay the tollkeeper by the load
A tax on the farmer who had no recourse.

Judge's Remarks: The pioneer images of the farmer, cart, and horse remind us of how trade and transportation have changed over the centuries.

Sunday 30 May: Third Place and $5, JORDAN VENN
There once was a man of great wealth
Who avoided tolls without tact or stealth
The collector took him to court
And with unjust retort
The judge made the collector pay for it himself.

Judge's Remarks: The punchline is a comic tradition of limericks, and this one conveys our adversion to private-enterprise turnpikes, like highway 407, that deny free public access.

Winners of the 2009 Limerick Contest!

The struggle for immortality through attempting "deathless art" in the form of poetry is over for this year at the Cottage. On the subject of either tolls or roads, there were more entries on Sunday 24 May, than on the preceding Saturday. The judge, Professor David Latham of York University, had some difficulty in selecting winners because some entries did not follow the essential rhyme scheme of a limerick or, in one case, repeated the same word ('great Limerick art' never repeats itself.) There was only one winner for Saturday, and four for Sunday, as follows:

In the region of York, home to me,
Runs a highway that charges a fee.
With the taxes we pay
And the traffic delay
You would think we could drive on it free.
-----Rod Weir of Thornhill (First prize $15)

A tollkeeper on Davenport Road
Would charge farmers so much per load,
But the farmers soon found
A free way around
And soon no more tolls were bestowed.
-----Barbara Evans of Toronto (Second Prize $10)

A man going out for a stroll
Came up to a quite pricey toll.
He looked left and right
And with no one in sight
Hopped over, and finished his stroll.
---Jeremy Federico of Brampton (Second prize $10 -Saturday)

The Davenport tollkeeper, Harry.
Came from Ward's Island by ferry.
He took up his post
Saying, "This is the most,
As long as the wagons don't tarry".
-----Valerie Sonstenes, Gabriola Island, B.C. (Third prize $5)

There was an old tree of white pine
That was clearly in rapid decline;
They cut the boards straight
For the tollkeeper's gate,
And everything turned out just fine.
------Manfred Schurzke of Toronto (Third prize $5)

The cheques have been sent to the winners, and their original submissions will be kept in a binder in the Tollkeeper's Cottage to inspire new literary gems for next year.

     Thanks for Your Support!

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The Tollkeeper's Cottage