All posts by jj1951

My husband and I retired in 2007 and decided to spend the kid's inheritance by travelling as much as we could until either the money or our health runs out. So far so good.

Day 71 – August 16 – Sault St. Marie, ON to Thunder Bay, ON

Today was a long driving day necessitated by the difficulty finding hotel rooms. We checked out of our hotel in The Soo and took a look at the lock before driving out of town. We were on the road to Thunder Bay by 10:30 and checked into our hotel here at 8:30. It is 704 km from Sault St. Marie to Thunder Bay.

The Sault St. Marie lock is a Parks Canada National Historic Site and the red chairs were there so – photo op. These chairs even had the Parks Canada logo on them.

All of the buildings at the lock site, as well as the Superintendent’s Residence (above) were made from red rock quarried when they dug out the canal.

A small section of the long International Bridge between Sault St. Marie, ON and Sault St. Marie, Michigan.

An hour or so after we left Sault St. Marie we pulled off to stretch and take a couple of photos at this pretty spot. We were passing the waters that drain between Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

Not too long after this spot we began the long drive along the coast of Lake Superior. We followed the shore most of the way to Thunder Bay. From there the lake arcs southwest and the highway proceeds due west so we lose sight of it after Thunder Bay.

We drove three kilometers of gravel road at Wawa to go to Magpie Scenic Falls where we stopped long enough to have lunch.

From there it was pretty much straight driving until we reached Nipigon and had dinner before doing the last 110 km to Thunder Bay.

The little lakes continue to dot across the land of Northern Ontario.

The sun was low in the sky as we approached Thunder Bay. Tomorrow will be a day like today as we are driving 702 km straight through to Winnipeg where we will spend three nights to recover from the two long driving days. Also, John has a zoom meeting he needs to attend on Thursday and I can do some laundry.

Day 70 – August 15 – Sault St. Marie (Awara Canyon)

We had to get up early this morning. As in 6:15 early so that we could board the train for Awara Canyon by 7:30. Awara Canyon is only accessible by rail. It is situated four hours into the Canadian Shield from Sault St. Marie. There are many small lakes along the way and lots of them have cabins. We did see gravel roads for quite a distance but I don’t know how far they extend.

During the trip to the canyon the train’s PA system would give geological information about the creation of the Canadian Shield, which are some of the oldest rock on earth, and a history of the developent of The Soo, as Sault St. Marie is affectionately called.

Having driven the highway in Northern Ontario I was fully prepared to spend most of the day looking at trees, which we definetly did, but small lakes broke up the forests every once in awhile. The forests in the Shield are a mix of deciduous and coniferous and if you are ever in the area in the fall I think that would be a spectacular time for this rail tour. The colours would be amazing.

I apologize for the window or interior lights in some of the photos. It was often hard to get the camera up and close enough to the window to block them out. When on a moving train you do not have a lot of time before the view is behind you.

Because we rode through forests for 4 hours to the canyon and 4 1/2 hours back, the majoritiy if this blog post will be pictures of lakes and trees. We were not told the names of any of the lakes.

Every rail car had several TV screens that projected the engineer’s view, which was a pretty nice feature since all you can see from your seat is what is beside the train on your side.

We crossed a very high curved trestle over the Montreal River and had a good view of the hydro plant that was built about the same time as the rail line and has been expanded several times since.

We arrived at the Awara Canyon Park at 12:10 and had to be back on the train at 1:30.

The train has engines on both ends so it drives in with one and drives out with the other. (And, no the gentleman is not waving at me. He was telling a story to his friends.)

If you were capable you could climb to the lookout and get an expansive view of the canyon. This hike took about 35-40 minutes and you had to climb 300 steps. Or you could walk along an easy trail and see three waterfalls. The Black Beaver Falls – North and South – were about a 30 minute (return) walk and you could go a further 10 minutes to see the higher Bridal Veil Falls. And if you could hustle a bit you had time to do both. The couple on the train sitting across from us managed to do that. We walked to the waterfalls.

In the fall these hillsides would be a gorgeous mix of red, yellow, orange and green.

Bridal Veil Falls are 68.5 meters (225′) tall. In the spring or a wet summer there would be two waterfalls here, perhaps three. It is easy to see the wet rocks to the left of the falls, but it also looked like there could be a water path on the right as well.

I took this photo because I liked the mix of ripple and smooth water in the river.

South Black Beaver Falls. 53.3 meters (175′)

North Black Beaver Falls.

For the return journey we traded seats with the couple across from us so we all got to see both views. I took a lot of photos, but with the window and lights reflections I deleted most of them. And after awhile, I just didn’t take any more. I thought, how many photos of water and trees does one need anyway?

There were quite a few places along the journey where I could glimpse some pretty impressive rock cliffs through the trees but never did get a clear view. This one is the only one that shows how rocky the area is.

The up-dam side of the Montreal River Hydro plant.

This area was a very popular with the famous Canadian Group of Seven artists. They spent a lot of time camping and exploring and painting the scenes of Ontario’s north country.

We arrived back in Sault St. Marie at 6:00 o’clock. We were blessed with lovely weather the entire day and we enjoyed our journey into the Canadian Shield.

Tomorrow we are on the road again; back to Thunder Bay.

Day 69 – August 14 – Sudbury, ON to Sault St. Marie, ON

We took a short drive north of Sudbury to the site of the original Murray Mine that is now filled with water and then headed west to Sault St. Marie.

About 55 km from Sudbury is the small town of Espanola. We had been through there in 2014 when we went over to Manitoulin Island, but decided to take another tour around since we had lots of time and Sault St. Marie is only about 3 and a half hours from Sudbury. There was a geocache hidden at a little park on the way into town that we stopped to find. The park had lots of plaques around a stone wall that told the history of the town. Espanola is a pulp and paper mill town. I did not know pulp paper was created by a Nova Scotia man.

I took this picture to insert in my blog because the caption caught my attention. The little boy on the dog sled in the lower right is six years old and delivering the laundry his mother cleaned for the logging camp. Who knows how far away from his house this little guy came to bring the laundry all by himself at such a young age.

Espanola was a POW camp during WWII. The mill had closed and the big buildings became the camp.

This dam was built to supply power to the paper mill.

Once we left Espanola it was just driving until we arrived in the Soo. Mostly we just drove by Ontario’s many trees, rocks and water, but we also passed some farmland.

We arrived in Sault St. Marie a little after three and decided to go see the Bush Plane Museum. It was a fortuitous decision. They were celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Beaver and admittance was by donation. There were games and balloon animals and food and live music and lots of people enjoying the day.

Bush planes were used a lot in early forest fire fighting in Ontario so there were some good displays about those days. This campsite showed the typical set-up for the 1940’s.

Just a standard canoe right? Nope.

This plane was equipped with skiis for winter landings.

It appears to be birthing a canoe.

The water buckets dangled below helicopters to fight forest fires are pretty big.

We climbed up a couple of flights of stairs to the fire tower and were able to see most of the hanger. There was a big space behind the wall on the left (which is a 3D forest fire display) is a huge area that was set up with tables for food and a large section of the wall was open to the outside where there were more tables and bands playing music. They had gone all out in their celebration.

A 1919 Stanley Steamer

1953 half-ton GMC truck

As we were leaving the museum, which is right on the waterfront, I snapped this photo of a freighter coming up the channel. Sault St. Marie is located at the northwestern tip of Lake Huron where it joins Lake Superior, so is a major point on the St. Lawrence Seaway. The land on the other side belongs to Sault St. Marie, Michigan.

Sault St. Marie Museum.

We found our hotel and settled in before going down to the restaurant for dinner. We have fun trip planned for tomorrow.

Day 68 – Aug 13 – Bracebridge, ON to Sudbury, ON

Before we left Bracebridge this morning we went to the downtown falls at the 80 horsepower water powered generating plant that the city was wise enough to purchase in 1894 to provide electricity for the town; a very forward thinking elected body.

Then we drove about 10 minutes out of town to High Falls where there is another hydroelectric dam and waterfall.

We crossed the bridge and followed a trail down through the bush to get a better view of the waterfall below the dam.

It was a bit of a tree root/rock scramble to get down from the road and back up.

We left Bracebridge about 11:30 and drove straight to Sudbury passing lots of Ontairo’s typical scenery of rocks, trees and water. There were many pretty little lakes along the way, all of which had cottages surrounding them.

When we arrived in Sudbury we drove directly to the big Dynamic Earth science center and booked an underground mine tour. Sudbury has been a mining town for well over one hundred years. An internet post says: The Greater Sudbury area is an astonishingly rich mining district. By every measure it is huge. By the end of 2021 the district has produced more than 8 million tonnes each of nickel and copper, and over 3200 tonnes of silver, 300 tonnes of platinum and 100 tonnes of gold.

In 1883, nickel-copper ore was discovered during construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The discovery led to development of the Murray Mine. Within a few years many more discoveries were made and Sudbury became Canada’s first major mining camp. Within 30 years of the discovery, the Sudbury area was the nickel capital of the world and the economic engine of northern Ontario. To date, Greater Sudbury mines have
produced a third of a trillion dollars of metal at today’s prices.

The Dynamic Earth science center is home to the Big Nickel, the largest depiction of a coin in the world. Big Nickel is nine meters (30′) tall, weighs 13,000 kilograms (14.33 tons) and is made of a series of steel plates welded together and designed to survive the Ontario weather. The massively iconic coin is an exact replica of the actual five cent coin as it was designed in 1951. It was constructed in 1964 by a Sudbury firefighter who had proposed the idea of the giant coin and a science center as a Canadian Centennial project for the city. The idea was rejected so, despite much opposition from the town, he acquired land (just outside city limits so he did not need a permit), hired a designer, raised funds and did it himself. Upon its completion, the total cost of the construction of the Big Nickel was approximately $35,000. In 1980 he was successful in pitching his idea for a science center and sold the Big Nickel to the Regional Municipality of Subury for $550,000 and the Dynamic Earth science center was born.

We had a half hour wait until our mine tour started so we wandered around a couple of the science center rooms.

Quartz

Amethyst. The photo below is amethyst as well. I have not seen that form or colour before.

Banded iron ore

Petrified wood

Refined nickel. 99.9% pure.

I think the coolest thing I saw was this sand pit. It was very fine sand and you could pile it up and move it around and the filter and lights above it would show the piles as a topographical map. Awesome fun.

I snapped this photo fast and it did not have time to focus properly, but I have included it to show another shape that people made of the sand.

The underground temperature stays about 13° C (46° F). We descended in a cage – big elevator – about 21 meters (70′). The deepest part of an actual mine in the Sudbury area is 2.5 kilometers (just over 1 1/2 miles). The tour showed what a mine and mining was like in 1890, 1950, and today.

Obviously it is dark underground and our guide would only light up the section she was speaking about so photos are not really good. I also do not remember all the names of things. I am usually good taking note of machinery and stuff but I found our guide super annoying so tuned out a lot of what she said. She was just too dramatic and tried too hard to be funny and upbeat for my taste.

This is one ton of Sudbury ore. When smelted, it will yield about a fistful size of nickel. If the mineral content of the ore is as low as 3% it is still profitable to mine.

Back in the early days of the mines boys as young as 13 could work underground. They, and the men, worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Highest paid person was the driller who earned $2.20 per day. Lowest earned $1.20. When the carts were full it was the boys job to bush them to the ore chute where the rocks would drop down to the lowest part of the mine. The mine started at the bottom and worked upward so everything was collected at the bottom where it could all be sent up together. If the ore chute got blocked, which it did often, the smallest boy would be sent inside with a long metal pole to pound the rocks to loosen them, then scramble out of the chute before everything dropped.

By the 1950s and 1960s machines had replaced a lot of the grunt work of pick, shovel and hand-hammered drilling.

This is a weird photo, but it was the most fun part of the tour. They simulated a dynamite blast. The hole in the center is fired first. The four holes surrounding it will go immediately next, the upper sticks will then blow, followed by the bottom ones so the rocks blow into one big pile. We all went around a corner and plugged our ears. It was very loud and smoke blew out and lights flashed. It was quite realistic and well done.

A second generation pnuematic drill. The first mechanized drills created a lot of dust so a second miner had to stand by and pour water on it to keep the deadly dust down in the mine. These ones are hydraulic so have a water source built in.

Much of the gigantic machinery used today is automated and run via joystick from the surface. At one time 22,000 people worked the mines in Sudbury, today it is 4,000.

This is a drill standing on its head. The shaft will go down and then the gold heads will extend and grind the rock away. The jumbo drill has four heads that drill a hole as large as the circular wire net in the photo below and can drill about the length of the ‘hallway’ (next photo below) – about 30 meters (100′) horizontally.

These are fir tree seedlings. They grow them in the mine with UV lights. There is enough moisture in the air to keep them watered and the temperature remains constant. When they get big enough they are planted around Sudbury as part of the reclamation project.

We had not had lunch and it was almost 4:30 so we stopped at the first restaurant we saw and ate before heading to our hotel. Tomorrow we drive to Sault St. Marie where we will stay two nights.

Day 67 – August 12 – Owen Sound, ON to Bracebridge, ON

Penetanguishene (Pen-e-tang-WISH-ene) is a bi-lingual community located on the southeasterly tip of Georgian Bay. We drove up here to see the Garrison Church, otherwise known as St. James Anglican. It is one of Canada’s oldest churches, built in 1836 and still in use today, so it was not open. I was hoping to see inside because the church was built with a center aisle wide enough for four soldiers to walk abreast. We had to negotiate detours because they were re-paving the street in front of the church, but eventually drove down a ‘local traffic’ only road and parked in the adjoining cemetery. There was a geocache hidden in the cemetery so we were able to find it while we were there.

There are two suggested origins for its full name – St. James-on-the-Lines. The first comes from its location on the lines of communication, or road, from the former military establishment at Penetanguishene to the south. The second may be from the old Victorian military usage of Lines for the rows of tents or buildings in a military camp.

The steeple bell was taken from an American schooner sunk during the War of 1812. There is some debate over which of two schooers it is from.

We next drove to Midland a few kilometers away to see the Huron-Ouendat (Wendat) Village at the museum. It is a pre-European reconstruction showing what Wendat life was like between 1500-1600. There may be 40-50 families in a large village while only eight or ten may live in a small hamlet. The populations would be made up of extended families who lived together for varying lengths of time.

Agricultural fields surround the village. Corn, beans and squash are planted together to maximize water and nutrients. They also planted sunflowers for oil. These crops provided an abundance of food for the villagers.

The village entrance is narrow and winding and controls access to its inhabitants from wolves, bears and unwelcome people. A surrounding fence also provides protection against strong winds and blowing snow.

The most important crop is tobacco and it is grown inside the village to protect it from frost and wind damage. The leaves are hung to dry in the longhouse in the fall. Tobacco is smoked in order to communicate with the spirit during village ceremonies, council meetings, curing rites and private prayer.

Large quantities of poles are stacked upright to preserve space and keep them dry. The poles provided an emergency building supply to repair or replace damaged structures. Bark containers filled with dried corn or meat were sometimes buried in the center of pole stacks to protect the food supply from animals.

Temporary shelters were fashioned after the wigwam made by the Algonkians, northern trading partners of the Wendat. The wigwams were used inside the village for housing guests and were built as summer shelters for the women of the village to use while they were working the fields as farming fields expanded away from the village. Hunting and fishing parties would also build them at their camps where they might stay for weeks at a time.

Corn comprised over 60% of the Wendat diet. It is harvested in the fall and dried in the longhouse. It would be ground into a coarse meal or flour for use in soups and breads. The kernals were placed in one of the specially hollowed out tree trunks and pounded with a pestle and were further crushed using a heavy wooden pole. The fine flour was done using grinding stones.

This tiny hut is a sweat lodge. They were not always a permanent structure in the camp, but were often purpose built for curing illnes or other rituals. Sometimes they were built inside and sometimes outside the village. Everyone would sit hip to hip, knees drawn up under the chin. The lodge would be covered with bark and skins and hot stones rolled into the center. Then the doorway would be closed. The men would sing and pray to the spirits, drink water and pour water onto the rocks to create more steam.

The shaman were called Arendiwane. They lived within the village but separate from the others. There were four types of Arendiwane: those who commanded the wind and rain, those who predicted the future, those who found lost objects, and those who healed. The healers were further broken down into two groups – the Ocata, who diagnosed the illness or source of the illness, and Aretsans, who prescribed the remedy. All received their powers through dreams, visions and contact with the spirit world.

Lookout towers were used to keep watch over the surrounding countryside. In times of war with other groups, the towers could be used to defend the village.

The Longhouse was a multi-family dwelling that was the center of Wendat life. Platforms lined the sides and were used for storage and sleeping. Cooking fires ran down the center. Rush mats were spread on the floor for sitting and sleeping in winter. Longhouses were where feasts were held, the dish game was played, clan decisions were made, the dead were mourned and babies were born. The upper rafters were used to dry corn, store beans, squash, tobacco, and animal hides.

There were two sizes of canoes. Large ones used to go on long distance trading expeditions could be up to 8 meters long and were used to transport goods throughout the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system. Smaller ones like in this shed were used for fishing, recreation, and personal short trips.

Games were very important to the people. Adults and children alike played them. Even ill people were encouraged to play to assist with healing. Lacrosse was played by all the men, even sick ones. The above photo is a Duck on a Rock pit. It is similar to bowling where you have to knock a small rock off a big one. The game was used to develop skills such as coordination, endurance and cooperation. Games brought clans (family groups) together in a social event which was often part of religious ceremonies.

We did a quick tour of the museum beside the village before leaving Midland and driving to Bracebridge for the night.

I always see a few really nice or unique pieces in museums.

This is an Everlasting Match. I looks like a pocket watch but contains a flammable liquid and flint that would ignite when scraped on the outside of the carrying case.

A shotgun shell loader. It was used to load and reload spent shotgun cartridges. The powder, shot, and wad compressed into the cartridge and new primer was added.

There was no sign to say how old the camera was, but it was really big.

What an amazing amount of detailed woodwork on this gorgeous clock!

Midland is a harbour town and all of these four sided stands have photos of boats and ships that would come into port for one thing or another over the decades.

This is the simplest hobby horse I have ever seen. A curved log, some sticks for legs, a bit of hair for the tail, a notch for the mouth and a carved circle for the eye. But I bet the child had many adventure on this little guy.

We had been hoping to spend a few days in the Muskoka Lakes area. John’s grandfather grew up here and told many stories of his youth. We saw several of the places he mentioned when we drove across Canada in 2014 but were hoping to do a bit more touring around. Unfortunately our accomodation issue has raised its head again and we could find no places to stay. So tomorrow it is off to Sudbury and the beginning of the long trek along the tops of Lake Huron and Superior. Sigh.

Day 66 – August 11 – Owen Sound (Tobermoray)

Today was an awesome day! And an unexpected one. We had been told Tobermoray at the end of the Bruce Peninsula north of Owen Sound was a nice place to visit so that was our primary destination for today. It is a one and half hour drive so as we were going along I looked up the area in a couple of my travel books. (I usually do this a day or so before we reach a place so we have a list of things to see, but the last few days I have not a lot of opportunity other than noting there were some waterfalls to check out.)

I discovered that there are two National Parks near Tobermoray: Bruce Peninsula and Five Fathoms Marine. Turns out Five Fathoms Marine National Park is the world’s best and most popular fresh water scuba diving site. There are 22 shipwrecks off the coast of Big Tub Harbour in the Georgian Bay and the water is crystal clear. About 20 small islands dot the waters and one of them is called Flowerpot Island after two dolomite formations on the shore. The Marine National Park protects the islands and if you want to visit Flowerpot you must book a tour from a private company that also collects the National Park fee. Thousands of people visit the area every year.

When we arrived in Tobermoray at 1:30 we immediately went to the ticket booth at Bruce Anchor to see if there were any available spots left on today’s tours. Luckily there were a couple of spots for the 3:35 sailing in a glass bottom boat that let you off for a couple of hours at Flowerpot Island so you could hike some of the trails.

It was a picture perfect day!

There was seating outside on top of the boat and that is where we sat. It was a good decision because we had awesome views of the two shipwrecks and the scenery as we sailed the 6.5 km to Flowerpot Island.

Both of the shipwrecks we saw are in the harbour. The first was damaged in bad storm but made it to safety. It was found to be too badly battered so they removed everything of use and let it sink. It is about 15′ below the surface of the water so our boat could go right over it. The captain did a slow 360° so everyone could see it.

The second one is not as deep so our boat could only get close to it. It was not as easy to see but is over 100′ long. A fire started in the ship and they towed it into the bay so it would not start any fires in town, but a storm blew it into the harbour where it burned and sank.

Big Tub Lighthouse.

We could see little islands on all sides of the boat as we made our way to Flowerpot.

The islands look like just trees, but there are some pretty large rocks hidden among them.

The lighthouse was manned for many years, but was eventually automated and the lightkeeper moved off island. The buildings were abandoned and deteriorated. A group of volunteers got together and worked to restore them.

The building on the left is now a museum, the building in the middle was the lightkeeper’s house and the building on the right was the assistant lightkeepers. The Friends of Bruce District Parks volunteers maintain the lightstation and which gives a sense of the lightkeepers lifestyle.

Flowerpot Light.

There are lots of caves scattered among the rocks on the island.

The Big Flowerpot and the Little Flowerpot.

Lots of people on the island. There are two companies that provide tours to the island. On some tours you sail out and then back and don’t leave the boat. Others will bring you out and leave you for four hours and others, like ours. leave you for about two hours. There are 6 campsites near Beachey Cove as well, but I don’t think they were available this year.

The Big Flowerpot

The formation at the top of the Big Flowerpot looks like a face and is called the Old Man. And it also proves that trees can grow almost anywhere!

It is suspected that the Little Flowerpot was once attached to the big rocks on the shore and created a cave or an arch, but that tides and erosion wore it down and it collapsed.

There is a nice protected harbour at Beachy Cove that is formed by a man-made breakwater.

Once we disembarked the boat we hiked along the trail that goes past both the flowerpots and all the way to the lightstation. The trail is a 3.5 km loop, but the section from the lightstation back to the harbour through the middle of the island is quite rugged and and has steep stairs. It is considered a difficult hike so most people walk the 1.1 km and then backtrack on the easy path.

The Little Flowerpot.

The Little Flowerpot has a pretty significant lean if you walk around the back side.

It is amazing that what looks just like a pile of rocks forms a tower that stays upright.

This is another of Bruce Anchors glass-bottom boats, but a much smaller one than we were on. Ours held close to 100 people.

We did not hike down to the Big Flowerpot. The path was quite steep and rocky. We were hoping to hike out to the lighthouse, but our boat left Tobermoray over half an hour late so that cut down our time on the island and we did not feel we had time to make it all the way there and back before we needed to be at the wharf for our return boat.

When we drove across Canada in 2014 it became my habit to sit in all the red chairs that had been set out in our National Parks. So, I needed to follow the tradition when we spotted these two chairs a bit further along the trail past the Big Flowerpot.

As we have been driving around in Central and Eastern Canada we have seen so many lovely stone and brick houses, both old and new. Usually I just admire them as we go by, but this one was very photo-worthy.

We thought we would drive around the countryside near Owen Sound, check out a few of the waterfalls I had noted and drive up to Tobermoray. That would have been a good day, but we very much enjoyed Plan B and our trip to Flowerpot Island instead!

Day 65 – August 10 – Lindsay, ON to Owen Sound, ON

We had a very diverse morning. Our first stop was a bank in Uxbridge to top up the wallet with some cash. Beside the bank was a statue of Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel S. Sharpe and a plaque about his sad end by suicide suffering with ‘shell shock’ (now known as PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

There must be a carillon in the old libray building because the bells were playing a tune while we were in the bank.

We stopped at the Uxbridge Historical Center. They had a small museum display and, as usual, we saw a few things we had never seen before.

There were 10 buildings on the grounds, but they were all locked so we could not go in. I think they only open them for a tour. We were not told there was no access but we were happy enough to wander around. I wanted to stop here because it was a Quaker community and thought there may be some interesting things to learn.

Municipal Hall

Fifth Line United Church. Erected 1870

Quaker Hill School.

Victoria Corners Hall from 1856. Sometime in the past few years a large tree fell onto this building. The back is all covered in tarps. It will be a major undertaking and expense to restore it.

I was a bit shocked to see the maple leaves turning colour already.

A few kilometers up the road we stopped again; to see the Foster Memorial. Thomas Foster, a local man who made a fortune in real estate and became a politician had the mausoleum built for the burial site of his daughter Ruby, who died at age 10 from pneumonia, his wife, who died from either cancer or tuberculosis, and himself, who lived to the ripe old age of 93 and died in Toronto.

The mausoleum was inspired by the Taj Mahal and much of the interior design is reminiscent of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

There are six types of marble, imported from France, Italy, the USA. The building was supposed to cost $125,000 but ended up costing $250,000.

The gold letters around the base of the dome say, “Take this my body, for it is done and I have gained a new life, glorious and eternal.”

Many of Thomas Foster’s relations are buried in the cemetery next door. It was originally called Zion Cemetery, but the name was changed to the Foster Cemetery. Chester McDonald, the eldest son of “Anne of Green Gables” author Lucy Maud Mongtomery is also buried here.

L.M. Montgomery lived for fifteen years in the manse of the Presbyterian Church in Leaskdale a few kilometers up the road from the Foster Memorial. She was married to Ewan MacDonald, the minister. She was already a successful novelist prior to moving to Leaskdale and wrote 11 of her 22 books while living here.

After the MacDonald’s moved the Township of Uxbridge bought the house and rented it out for many years during which time it became very derelict. In 2006 the Lucy Maud Montgomery Historical Society bought it and spent five years raising money and restoring the house. It opened to the public in 2011. Most of the furnishing are period pieces but there are a few original things, like her hope chest in the main bedroom that was donated by her granddaughter.

Maud took many photos of the various rooms in the house and also wrote about her life in the manse extensively in her journals so the Society had quite a lot of information about how rooms were decorated and furnished as they worked to restore it.

Daffy was the cat. The maid had to leave her upstairs bedroom window open every night so the cat could come in when it wanted.

The photos are of her mother, who died when Maud was young, her father and her two surviving sons, Chester and Stuart. Her middle child was stillborn. She named him Hugh.

She hated the dining room. It was too small, had too many doors and she wrote in her journal:

Some of the toys in Chester and Stuart’s room.

This beautiful spread was knit by a local woman without a pattern. She made it based on photographs of one that Maud had knit.

The church was a few doors up the street and on the other side of the road.

This life-size sculpture of Lucy Maud Montgomery sits in the church garden.

Maud claimed the space at the top of the stairs for her sewing room and from the window she could see her boys come home from the school across the street. The school is gone now but the beautiful brick farmhouse that was owned by the Leask’s for whom the town is named, is still there. The gravel road between the old school property and the farm house was one of Maud’s favourite views and the town has never paved it.

We found a few geocaches along a side road after we left Leaskdale and then had our lunch. After that it was a three-hour drive to Owen Sound.

Tomorrow we plan to drive up the peninsula to Tobermory, which we have been told is a nice area, and then putter around some of the nearby countryside.

Day 64 – August 9 – Cobourg, ON to Lindsay, ON

Today was one of our shortest driving days, but we still managed to take most of the day to do it. We left our friend’s house about 10:30 and drove to the Victoria Park in Cobourg to see the beach.

We headed north and passed through several towns and more farmland.

A bit of a jog westward took us near the town of Orona and the Jungle Cats Zoo. They work extensively with zoological societies around the world to save, protect and breed endangered animals. All of their animals have been born in captivitiy, either at Jungle Cats or other zoos and all have been hand reared. They are not tame by any means, but are comfortable in the presence of people. They did not have really large enclosures but every animal was very healthy looking and any that were walking around did not exhibit the tense pacing we have seen in some other zoos.

So today’s blog is comprised of critter photos. As always with wild animal enclosures you have to try navigate the fencing – so try look past the greenish shadowy-stripes in some of the pics.

Two female white lions. The pale colour (sometimes pure white) is from a recessive gene. The white lions were revered in Africa and found primarily at Krueger National Park, South Africa. It is thought that there are no longer any white lions left in the wild. All of the surviving ones are in zoos or preserves. Jungle Cats has three white adult females, a female cub and a male.

A Kestral, smallest of the birds of prey.

Red fox

Wolf cubs. There were four – two tan, two black.

They were playing keep-away with a stick.

The male white lion.

Serval – a small wild cat from sub-Sahara Africa. Protected in most areas of its range.

Several species of tiger are now extinct in the wild. I think the sign named four different ones. Even though they are protected and critically endangered they, and other endangered cats, are still hunted. The stripped or spotted coats are still prized and the parts of the cats are used in traditional medicines. A small farmer in India can feed his family for years from the sale of one skin.

Arctic wolf.

Black Jaguar

Hyena. They have the strongest jaws in the animal kingdom. They can crush the femur of an elephant. You can buy a ‘Behind the Scenes’ ticket and a staff member will take you to feed some of the animals. One of them had a container with banana pieces and grapes and couple was there to feed the hyena through the bars. The hyena loved bananas and gently took pieces from the woman’s palm. But it rejected any grapes that were offered until it saw that all the banana was gone.

Timber Wolf

This wolf is 14 years old and drags his back foot a bit when he walks, but otherwise moves around really well.

Delilah, the other female white lion and her cub. She quit nursing the cub when it was young so they took her away and bottle fed it and later reintroduced the cub to momma. She was happy to see her, so now they are in an enclosure together.

Cougar. They are very solitary and are rarely spotted in the wild.

Leopard

Bobcat

Madagascar Lemur

Ring-Tail Lemur

Napping Spider Monkeys

Tomorrow we drive to Owen Sound at the bottom of the Georgian Bay. We are spending two nights there just to look around the area a bit more than we did in 2014; then it is up to Bracebridge on Friday.

Day 63 – August 8 – Smiths Falls, ON to Cobourg, ON

We only had about a three hour drive from Smiths Falls, perhaps shorter if we took the freeway. We, of course, drove quieter backroads south to Kingston on the shore of Lake Ontario before we headed west along the coast to Cobourg.

Kingston is the site of Fort Henry which was built during the War of 1812, and about twenty years later, became a vital player in the protection of the new Rideau Canal waterway system.

Troop inspection.

Displays of the rooms of the personnel of the fort lined one side of the huge parade ground. I have taken the basic information from the window signs and used it for explanations.

An example of a Transient Officer’s Quarters. Regiments rotated through Kingston about every two yers and officers owned light, transportable furniture, called campaign furniture to make moving efficient and easy. As Fort Henry was never filled to capacity, each officer had a room to himself, whereas in many other postings two officers would often share a room this size.

A Senior Officer’s Quarters. Senior Officers would be men from the upper classes of British society. Unlike enlisted soldiers, officers could wear civilian clothing while off duty and were allowed to partake in activities in the town of Kingston. The majority of officers were from rural backgrounds where there was a lack of acceptable occupations for sons of the wealthy. Three choices for a career would be the army, the church or civil service. For many, the army, was the first choice as it offered abundant opportunities for sporting and social enjoyment.

Commandant’s Quarters. The Commanding officer was usually a Captain, or rarely, a Major. He was responsible for the daily operation of the Fort and there would be a considerable amout of paperwork required, much of it being done in his personal quarters, which also functioned as his office. If an officer was married, his wife and family would not be in residence at Fort Henry, instead living in private quarters in Kingston, or overseas in Britain.

This was the social hub of the Officer’s Mess. Officers would relax while off duty and socialize here following meals. Officers were expected to participate in the social life in whichever town they were stationed and would have hosted invited guests in this room.

The tradition of the Officer’s Mess was a strong one in the British Army. Officers were expected to dine in the mess most evenings of the week, although exceptions were made for those who were married and lived outside Fort Henry. The Mess was the center of social activities for the bachelor officers. The silverware, china, trophies, and furniture were all part of the mess and paid for and maintained by the officers at their own expense.

The preparation of officer’s meals took place in the Messman’s Room under the supervision of the Messman, who was usually a Serjeant nearing the end his service and employed by the officers to run the mess efficiently and oversee training and duties of the mess servants. The food was cooked in the Mess Kitchen through the adjacent passageway and then brought to this room to be carved and laid out on serving platters. Any sauces and side dishes would be prepared here. The Messman would coordinate the mess servants who would serve the various courses.

The guns were mounted between outer and inner walls at the base of the fort, a level below the quarters, supply rooms and parade ground. The stairs down, the floors, and the walls and ceilings of every gun station were wet. The groundwater just seeps through the mortar. It is freezing cold down here in winter.

Soldier’s wives quarters.

There were two bakeries manned by hired civilian bakers. They could bake 120 loaves of bread at a time. The soldiers received 1 pound of whole wheat bread per day as their ration, served at the noon meal which was the main meal of the day. They also received 3/4 pound of meat per day, including any bone and gristle.

The Soldier’s Cookhouse was where the men cooked their main meals. Meals were cooked in cauldrons and usually consisted of boiling meat (salt beef) and potatoes into a stew. Vegetables were purchased at the expense of the men and were also boiled in a mesh bag. The rotating task of being company’s cook was undertaken by the single men of the Company. They began after the evening meal on Saturday and continued for one week. The food was expected to be ready on time, not too early and not too late.

John was taking a photo through the gun barrel.

The parade ground is huge even with all the bleachers set up in it.

He is doing a firing demonstration in the dry moat between the Advance Battery and the main fort.

As we walked back into the Advance Battery to leave the fort these two played a tune on their fifes.

Kingston from the walkway between the parking lot and the fort entrance.

A nice clocktower in Kingston.

We drove along route 2 for a couple of hours to Cobourg and found our friend Pat’s apartment. We enjoyed a delicious dinner with her, and her sister, and brother-in-law before visiting for a bit and heading to bed.

Day 62 – August 7 – Smiths Falls, ON

We had a lazy start to the day and spent some time in our hotel working on a few thing and taking it easy. About noon we drove around Smiths Falls doing an Adventure Lab geocache which took us to several places that used to be major employers in the community. There was a huge farm implement company here that closed quite a few years ago and another place that made metal tool boxes which closed in 2008. The big Hershey’s chocolate plant also closed in 2008 but that building has now become a Tweed Marijuana plant. It took over the whole of the old Hershey’s factory, plus two other buildings on the street. It is a huge processing center now.

We also walked around in Confederation Park beside the Rideau Canal lock in downtown Smiths Falls.

After a late lunch we drove 25 minutes out of Smiths Falls to John’s second cousin’s cabin at Ottey Lake where we spent a lovely afternoon, enjoyed a delicious dinner and even had ice cream cake dessert to celebrate her eldest son’s 22nd birthday, which is tomorrow. It was a wonderful day.

Melanie stays most of the time at her own cabin but we met at her father’s cabin a bit futher down the road that she and her sister now own. We went for a walk through the woods to her cabin and back before dinner. We walked on the road between the cabins but came back on a trail through the forest.

Tomorrow is going to be another driving and visiting day. We are heading south to Cobourg where our daughter’s fiance’s mother lives. We are having dinner with her and spending the night before taking off on Tuesday. We decided to only go a short distance to Lindsay so we don’t need to rush away and have time for a good visit. Then we will be spending a few days in the Georgian Bay area.