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The Way We Were

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the July 20, 2005 issue. Reprinted with permission.

'No hotdogs, just scones at 'hysterical' Moorside opening

by Catherine Joyce

Moiya Wright remembers what it was like at Meech Lake that March of 1955

"We'd had no snow for weeks, I'd just given birth to my first son in the hospital and come home in lovely, clear weather. And then the blizzard hit. The power went off. The snow was so high, no plow could get down the Meech Lake Road. I needed a prescription. David had to ski to meet his cousin who managed to drive as far as the intersection at the Camp Fortune Road with the medicine. We were socked in for days."

Ever intrepid, Moiya arrived with her family from Scotland in 1947 to make a new life. While teaching skiing in the Laurentians in 1953, she met David Wright, a direct descendant of Philomen and co-heir to the family business, Wright Brothers' Supply. Married within the year, they settled at the Meech Lake homestead and by 1960, had five children under the age of five - Phil, Heather, Jim, Ian and Susan.

Early on Moiya helped to organize the successful "Housewives Ski Day" - every Tuesday at Camp Fortune - where 200 women came out.

The Way We Were
Moiya Wright and one of her watercolours. She is one of the seven founding members of Galerie Old Chelsea. Photo courtesy Catherine Joyce.

Soon she was involved in setting up the Tea Room at Moorside with Judy (Sparks) Crawley. "It was all boarded up but we went there to let our kids run around. While talking to the NCC about a log house museum in Old Chelsea, we asked about making Moorside into a tearoom. The NCC wouldn't let us do it without an association. So we helped to create The Gatineau Historical Society to set it up."

As the first President, Moiya remembers the 'hysterical' opening of Moorside that May 24th weekend in 1961. "The kitchen was ancient. The stove only had two burners. We'd decided no hotdogs - only scones and honey, tea and ice cream. But the woman we'd hired to run Moorside had too much to drink. People were coming up in droves because we'd made the front page news - so there we were, desperately baking, washing dishes, racing to stay ahead of the ravenous crowds. But we'd planted a seed. And it flourished!"

By 1963 Moiya and David had started their own business in Ottawa - that signature Canadian celebration of indigenous art, "The Snow Goose", on Confederation Square and later on Sparks Street. "I loved it - finding and showcasing unique crafts by Inuit women. Selling original Dorset prints." Soon David was working full time with her as the store took off.

By 1988 Moiya began painting watercolours, becoming in 1990 one of the seven founding members of Galerie Old Chelsea. "If you keep your feelings open, life leads you."

Facing the recent sale of her Meech Lake home, Moiya carries deep memories in her heart.

Watch for her next show, August 21, at the gallery.


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