PRIDE of Place
An interview with Michael Rikley-Lancaster - theHumm June 2020

PRIDE of Place
An interview with Michael Rikley-Lancaster - theHumm June 2020

Michael Rikley-Lancaster is the Curator of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum and a member of the group that was planning to launch the first-ever Mississippi Mills PRIDE Week this June. We contacted him to find out how both the Museum and MM Pride are faring.

theHumm: Since becoming Curator, you (with the assistance of your staff, board and numerous volunteers) have made many improvements to the Museum and have hosted incredible exhibitions by artists from around the world. Can you speak to the importance of supporting our rural cultural institutions during these challenging times, and assisting them in returning to “normal” once it is safe to do so?

Michael Rikley-Lancaster: More than ever the cultural sector (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) in rural communities need support. They are cornerstones that act to preserve, research, educate and enlighten rural communities.

Even though travel and tourism have changed, once the cultural sector can re-open we will be an escape for community members, because visiting a local cultural institution provides a place to learn, experience and enjoy undiscovered aspects of our community.

One of the museum sector’s growing initiatives is for museums to function as community hubs, encouraging residents to come together to share and enjoy their common experiences.

Community hubs are safe spaces for community members, they contribute to health and well-being, and their volunteers feel a sense of belonging. They contribute to greater literacy, knowledge and creativity. They also promote increased rates of volunteerism and a better sense of “knowing where you live.” While these cultural hubs are closed right now, they are working hard to create virtual hubs to keep their communities engaged. For a quick example: visit the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum at and search the Almonte Gazette for local history or just a sense of “how it was back then.”

Museums and galleries boost the local economy, contribute to innovation, and are an integral part of the fabric of our community. Museums ultimately contribute to a better quality of life.

You recently began flying the rainbow flag at the front door of the Museum. Why is it important for cultural institutions — and other public places — to be visibly welcoming to members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community?

At the beginning of 2019, the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum hung the rainbow flag at the front of the museum. It was only recently that it was removed (it was damaged by the wind) and its replacement is pending.

The MVTM raised the rainbow flag to celebrate “Friendly Almonte, Mississippi Mills”. This flag represents a welcoming and inclusive attitude in a community that celebrates the diversity of all who visit us and who call this place home.  Originally the flag included eight stripes, but colours have been removed due to fabric availability, creating the current and most recognized form. Each of the six colors has a meaning: red is life, orange is healing, yellow is sunshine, green is nature, blue is harmony and purple is spirit.

This flag of many colours also represents the unity of all and the celebration of differences.

Rural cultural institutions are gathering places for the whole community. We are places of inclusion. The rainbow flag shows that we are a welcoming and safe space.

How is the Pride in MM group pivoting their planned activities in light of the current situation?

The committee has changed from planning a week of in-person events to a month of online events and learning opportunities. You can find them at or on Instagram @prideinmm .

You and your husband moved to Almonte “from away” several years ago. How do you feel our rural community is doing in terms of being welcoming to the 2SLGBTQ+ community?

First, a short explanation: 2SLGBTQ+ stands for: 2S=Two-spirit, L=Lesbian, G=Gay, B=Bisexual T=Transgender, Q=Queer & Questioning, += And so many more other identities too! The acronym 2SLGBTQ+ refers to gender and sexual identities and is the most commonly used, but as the plus indicates there are many other ways folks identify within the spectrum of gender and sexual identities.

My husband and I have always felt welcome in Mississippi Mills. The museum volunteers, old and young, welcomed both of us into their circles.

In 2005, before moving to Mississippi Mills my husband and I lived in Ottawa, where we were planning our wedding. We were having a difficult time finding someone in Ottawa to marry us. At the time I was working at the Canadian Museum Association in Ottawa with Emily Paige (raised in Pakenham). While talking with Emily about this challenge, she recommended we speak with Heather Kincaid at the United Church in Pakenham. We then set our wedding to be held at the Mill of Kintail Cloister with Heather officiating. She was so welcoming and was so pleased to marry us.

We held our wedding reception at the Iron Works (now the Barley Mow) in Almonte. To our surprise that was the weekend of the Highland Games in Almonte and some bagpipers at the end of the games were having a drink in the pub. They decided to surprise us by serenading the reception.

We really enjoy the friendliness of this community, in contrast to what we sometimes encountered in Ottawa in the past. Shopping for tuxedos together for our wedding was another comical experience in Ottawa; I do not think that the older gentlemen ever understood…

Have you noticed any improvements over your time here?

I am always excited when I see more stores and community organizations in Mississippi Mills with a rainbow sticker or a flag. Mill Street Books always flies a rainbow flag out in front of their store every June. The General Fine Craft keeps a pride sticker in their window, and these are only two examples. When I was young, I only ever saw a few rainbow flags around, even in the largest cities.

These times of social isolation are hard on everyone, but perhaps particularly so for marginalized groups. Are there services or assistance available for folks in this area?

There are several services listed online for support groups for 2SLGBTQ+ folks here in Lanark County. is a good start in looking for support.

For youth who may be questioning or who have immediate concerns there is a helpline at 1–800–268–9688 and more information at .

What are you personally most concerned about during this challenging time?

I am most concerned about everyone’s safety at this time, and I think that is our number one priority. At the same time, I think that mental wellness needs to be part of our concerns. As we have had to self-isolate, those who are alone or of a unique minority can feel even more abnormal and isolated… maybe a simple rainbow flag can make all the difference to reduce thoughts of self-harm, or just to improve everyone’s state of mind.

I also want to point out that if you are in crisis or need help these services are available: Lanark County Mental Health Crisis Service, available Monday–Thursday 8am–8pm and Friday 8am–4pm at 1–613–283–2170; and the Distress Centre of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville, available 5pm–midnight, seven days a week, toll-free at 1–800–465–4442

What are you optimistic about in terms of what happens to our community during and after the pandemic?

This time is making us connect and learn in different ways. Coming out of this we will appreciate even more what life has to offer. And I think cultural institutions in our local communities will be even more valued and visited.


Where to Find the June Humm - theHumm June 2020

We’re heading out to deliver the June issue of theHumm! Because things have changed a wee bit since the last time we did our distribution, here’s a list of the places we will be trying to deliver to. Hours and more information can be found at the links. Happy Humm hunting!


Dandelion Foods

Don’s Meat Market donsmeatmarke......


Jeff Wallace — Wallflower Turned Art Auctioneer! - theHumm June 2020

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

A new artist is blossoming in our midst. Rising to the COVID-19 challenge, Burnstown artist and businessman Jeff Wallace is discarding his anonymity and charging into the fray, determined to make a positive contribution. But first, introducing:

Jeff Wallace — Artist

Wallace has only recently arrived in a place in his life where his first love, art, is able to play a bigger role. As Forrest Gump’s mama always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You......


COVID, Kids, & All the Feelings - theHumm June 2020

By Nicki Gallo

There’s this exercise that I like do when I work with kids. It helps us to explore how our feelings are something that we experience in our bodies as well as our minds. First, I give the child a piece of paper with the outline of a person. I ask them to colour the location on the body where they feel certain emotions and match it with a colour. For example, they may feel red/anger in their hands: “I’m so mad I could punch someone!” Or feel yellow/nervousness in their bellies: “I have b......


Supporting Local Artists: In Person and Online! - theHumm June 2020

By Miss Cellaneous

The good news for area art lovers is that many local galleries have been able to re-open — most with reduced hours and all with extra safety precautions in place. We highly recommend a visit to Almonte’s General Fine Craft and Sivarulrasa Gallery , Riverguild Fine Crafts in Perth ...more

PRIDE of Place
An interview with Michael Rikley-Lancaster
- theHumm June 2020

Michael Rikley-Lancaster is the Curator of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum and a member of the group that was planning to launch the first-ever Mississippi Mills PRIDE Week this June. We contacted him to find out how both the Museum and MM Pride are faring.

theHumm: Since becoming Curator, you (with the assistance of your staff, board and numerous volunteers) have made many improvements to the Museum and have hosted incredible exhibitions by artists from......


Talking Transformation
An interview with Noé Charron
- theHumm June 2020

Noé Charron is a 22-year-old non-binary trans woman (who uses both she/her and they/them pronouns) who started her transition while growing up in Almonte and working at Baker Bob’s. We contacted her to find out how her transitioning was perceived and received by the community, and what advice she has for people who want to try and foster a more welcoming and compassionate atmosphere.

theHumm: As an employee at Baker Bob’s, you were one of my only examples of someone who......


Embers of Hope
Embracing Life in an Age of Ecological Destruction and Climate Chaos
- theHumm June 2020

By Kris Riendeau

Bonita Ford is a co-founder of Permaculture Eastern Ontario and author of the new book Embers of Hope: Embracing Life in an Age of Ecological Destruction and Climate Chaos. We contacted her to find out how this book came to be, and how she hopes it can help us all to “nurture the small forces that may radically transform our world”.

theHumm: You had me from the title, because hope seems to be one of the most precious “commodities” — albeit one that isn’t for sale ......


Ice Cream Contest!Play “Passport to Brain Freeze” - theHumm June 2020

By Sarah Kerr

Hello again friends! I hope you and your littles are ready for a 3-month summer “vacation”. But one from the ’50s without camps, daycares or programmed sports… and for many, juggling working from home. Sounds idyllic, right? Okay, this doesn’t exactly sound like vacation, but if there’s any advice that I can offer it’s that the summer of quarantine begins now!

Yes, you may be wondering if I’m the minister of education to declare something like that, and to be clear… no I am not. But as the d......


Almonte, Spirit of Place
A New Book from Photographer John McQuarrie
- theHumm June 2020

John McQuarrie is a photographer and publisher of the recently released book Almonte, Spirit of Place. We contacted him to find out how his most recent book came to be, and how the current lockdown is affecting its reception in the community.

theHumm: Your photos are stunning — can you tell us a bit about your training and background?

John McQuarrie: Like many working photographers, I simply consumed print and online tutorials along with each advance in imaging......


A Time of Transformation - theHumm June 2020

By Kris & Rob Riendeau

Welcome back to the print version of theHumm! We are thrilled to return to this format, and we sincerely hope that this issue finds you well. As you might imagine, it is a bit different from our ......


Faces & Fabric
of a small town during pandemic
- theHumm June 2020

As the community grapples with a pandemic that is radically reshaping every aspect of public and private life, we are striving to capture the historic shift through the eyes of everyday people in M......


Lots of Time to Plant! - theHumm June 2020

By David Hinks

Missed planting the vegetable garden on the May 2-4 weekend (well it was a bit early this year)? Do not despair if you haven’t planted your entire vegetable garden yet. It is not at all too ......


KITCHEN at Sivarulrasa Gallery
An Exhibition in Partnership with the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum
- theHumm June 2020

Until July 10, Almonte’s Sivarulrasa Gallery is pleased to partner with the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum to present KITCHEN, an exhibition that elegantly combines wo......


Rural Root Zooms into Spring with Couples - theHumm June 2020

At its best, community theatre brings together people from all walks of life to share ideas and create friendships. This has been Rural Root Theatre’s strength since 2005, and they have no intent......


Poplar - theHumm June 2020

By Susie Osler

A Poplar round supports my weight. Its dying body lies here, sprawling in pieces around me. Rings of honey-coloured carbon circle in around dark, decaying heartwood that Woodpeckers have already ......


PRIDE in the Valley! - theHumm June 2020

Here’s an overview of PRIDE plans (as of press time) across the Ottawa Valley. We recommend following these groups on Facebook, because things may change and activities may be added as it becomes......


Role Models for Rough Times
James Naismith and John McLendon
- theHumm June 2020

Just as we were going to print, stories about the death of George Floyd started hitting the news and social media. theHumm doesn’t report on breaking news, but we thought this information about a......


Bike Boom
The Resurgence of Cycling in Uncertain Times
- theHumm June 2020

By John Pigeau

Following a national trend, business at local bike shops is booming. 

“A hundred percent, absolutely,” says Pete Wood, owner of Heritage Bikes in Perth. “A lot of people are finding that......


“Trishaw” Crowdfunding Campaign Launched - theHumm June 2020

With support from Lanark County Council and several local businesses, Cycling Without Age Lanark County (CWALC) has taken the next step by launching a $7,000 crowdfunding campaign with the goal o......


Back to the Books! - theHumm June 2020

By Karen DeLuca, Librarian

The past few months has certainly been posing a challenge to readers everywhere.

For some it has meant exploring those long-forgotten books neatly displayed on bookcases at home. For others ......


Enough’s Enough! - theHumm June 2020

By Glenda Jones

We’ve been behaving ourselves and “staying the blazes home” for the past twenty-eleven weeks. It’s been fine up to this morning, when I scared myself half to death looking in a mirror. Who kidnap......


We are All in this Together - theHumm June 2020

By Wanda MacDonald

In small communities like ours, you just need to ask for help and people step up. And everyone is definitely doing just that!

Mississippi Mills Together — or MMTogether for short — is one wa......


The Power of Tech Shabbats
- theHumm June 2020

By — Kris Riendeau

Back when COVID-19 was just a gleam on the social media horizon, Rob and I listened to an intriguing podcast while delivering the February issue of theHumm. Presented by The Long Now Foundation, ......


Food Truck Evolution - theHumm June 2020

By Sebastian Weetabix

Months ago Weetabix asked his loyal readers “what starts with ‘F’ and ends with ‘uck’?”, and the correct answer had no apparent connection to the spread of a virus or a fundamental change in the ......


Cinema Therapy, Books and Guided Meditations
Finding Some Peace in a Pandemic
- theHumm June 2020

By John Pigeau

In the midst of this dreadful pandemic, people are having to cope with all manner of new challenges. We’re a resilient bunch though, and so far many of us have improvised rather well. Meeting up ......


Business-to-Business Support
A Full-Circle, Feel-Good Story
- theHumm June 2020

By the Fulton’s team

When Shirley Fulton-Deugo, owner of Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush, got together with the team from Almonte’s Dairy Distillery, little did she know great things were in the makin......