[Originally posted 12 July 2014]
"I love it when a plan comes together."
Remember that line from Mission: Impossible? The TV action series ran from 1966 to 1973, and the character Jim Phelps usually closed each episode by uttering that line.
Things came together for me and my siblings last week. We met up in Manitouwadge, where John lives. Grace came from Collingwood, Susanne from Thunder Bay, and I from Greenstone. It was the first time in over fifty years that we four had hung out together without the presence of our respective families and/or friends. It was grand.
Over the three days, Grace explored new territory, Susanne rediscovered old territory, and John and I (for two days) ran around the bush (more on that later). During the evenings and in the mornings, we recounted our adventures to one another.
On Thursday, while John guided two naturalists to a secret place dancing with a rare species of orchid, Susanne and I climbed a mountain. Grace begged off, said her metal knees forbade it. She went swimming or something.
Manitouwadge is surrounded by mountains. Not your Canadian Rockies-style of mountains, but very big hills nevertheless. Locals frequently climb Manitouwadge Mountain to get a splendid view of the town, and the landscape that stretches for miles and miles towards the Great Lake Superior.
Susanne and I got directions, parked at the base of the Mountain, and took to the steep, twisty trail . . .
Read the full article with colour photos on E.J. Lavoie's Blog > http://bit.ly/2bgzhMG
[Originally posted in October 2015]
1 ̶ Wearing Two Hats
If this post sounds as if it’s not about Greenstone history, please be patient and continue reading.
On Monday evening, April 13, 2015, the Municipality of Greenstone held a public meeting at the central office to hear comments about proposed amendments to Geraldton’s Official Plan and Zoning By-laws. If you heard about it beforehand, you are one of a handful who did. It was not well publicized by the Council nor by Premier Gold Mines Limited, almost as if they were hoping very few people would show up.
Well, very few did.
I was one of the few. I attended wearing two hats ̶ that of a citizen and that of an historian.
There were actually two public meetings, one after the other. The first proposed amendment would re-zone a large swatch of land within the boundaries of Geraldton from Rural/Future Mining to Rural/Residential. The second would re-zone an enormous area from Rural (I think) to Mining (Industrial).
Re the first amendment: Premier Gold is proposing a residential subdivision on the southwestern shore of Barton Bay, Kenogamisis Lake. Premier Gold proposes 33 large lots between Old Arena Road and the shoreline, west of the residential area of Little Longlac Townsite. You can download the details here: http://1drv.ms/1JZOk5y
As a taxpayer, I sought reassurance that I would not be paying to develop the new subdivision. The Municipality is committing to running a water line to it, and to maintaining an access road. That, I was reassured, was the total financial commitment of Greenstone taxpayers.
Wearing my historian’s hat, I raised two concerns . . .
Read entire article with images on E.J. Lavoie's Blog > http://bit.ly/2bdO50P
Some months ago, I came across two logging stories from Greenstone Region, both told in one magazine article. As the title suggests, the stories deal with danger, death, and grief.
I contacted the author, Ken Plourde, who worked in the Beardmore area in the summer of 1957, staying in the Domtar Staff House. He returned to live in Beardmore in 1960, working for Domtar until 1970. Black Dan, in the article, is the uncle of Ken Plourde's wife. Black Dan lived with his sister in Beardmore, Merle Smetaniuk.
Both the author and the magazine gave me permission to reprint the article:
Black Dan and Dynamite!
by Ken Plourde
I first worked in the pulpwood industry as a student in northwestern Ontario in 1957, at St Lawrence Corp. (later Domtar), which was originally Brompton Paper. At that time, the companies in the Port Arthur area (now Thunder Bay) were still moving logs by river transportation to lakes and thence across Lake Superior to mills. Others picked up the logs in Lake Superior and transported them by ship to mills like Red Rock, Port Arthur and Thorold. The industry was still cutting pulp by hand, mostly into 4-foot bolts for ease of handling, and for ease of river driving the logs. The 4-foot bolts obviously got hung up less in the rapids, and this length made clearing logjams easier. The downside to 4-foot bolts was the greater amount of handling, and the loads were less stable when hauling pulp on trucks.
Most of eastern Canada used river driving to transport logs to the mill, and many shanty songs and romantic lumberjack tales from the Ottawa Valley area were about these river drives. Indeed, Charlie Chamberlain, of Don Messer & His Islanders, worked and sang in river drive camps in those days. Books have been written about the tough lumberjacks going into town and stirring things up, including the story telling.
One such lumberjack tale involved a logging camp, near Auden, Ontario, east of Lake Nipigon . . .
Read the full article on E.J. Lavoie's Blog > http://bit.ly/2alWr0G
I am a fully paid-up member of the travelling public.
So, when something interesting crosses my path, I am entitled to stop and check it out.
When I was travelling north from The Soo near the end of June, I checked out Agawa Crafts at Pancake Bay. I fought my way through scores of fellow travelers to buy a book and an ice cream. At Old Woman Bay, I checked out the cliff face on Lake Superior to see if the old woman was home. Not that day. Chatted up an older couple who were frolicking on the immense sand beach. Few people know about this sacred spot.
At Wawa I had to drive into town because the store would not come to me. Still, hundreds of people every day find Young's General Store and linger longer than they imagined they would.
I knew about Young's General Store, so I deliberately broke my trip to enjoy it once again. How my fellow travelers found it, is beyond me.
It is the dream of every highway community in the country to compel the travelling public to stop and buy stuff. Some communities, such as Wawa and Pancake Bay, succeed big time. Others fail big time, even if thousands of people are driving by every single day.
Young's General Store is a combination curiosity shop and museum. Before you step up to the front porch, there are dozens of artifacts to draw your attention. And, if you're so inclined, a couple of old-fashioned privies to relieve your most pressing needs . . .
Read the full article with colour photos on E.J. Lavoie's Blog > http://bit.ly/2as2AgS
Taking my cue from poet Robert Frost, when I had miles to go before I slept, I stopped anyway.
No, not by snowy woods on the darkest evening of the year. It was mid-day under a scorching sun on Saturday, June 25. I was travelling north of The Soo when I saw the sign announcing an historical plaque.
Not seeing the plaque immediately, I was drawn into the bush by a friendly path and the sound of rushing water. I had arrived at the Chippewa River. Other travelers with dopey smiles were loitering about.
I had stumbled upon one of the magical places on Superior's North Shore. The river cascades over two ledges and runs merrily under the highway bridge towards the unseen lake. As I learned later, the lower falls is 6 metres high, and the upper one, 7 metres. (For you metrically challenged readers, that 20 and 23 feet.) I joined other pleasure-seekers on the bare rocks of the lower falls. I imagine that in early spring the ledge was smothered in foamy water, but on that day the river coursed through a narrow channel that younger legs than mine could probably overleap.
The fairy-tale path beckoned to me, and I scrambled up the hillocks to the upper falls. Like the lower falls, woody debris littered the boulders and bedrock. What a pleasant place to spend a summer day, but I had miles to go . . .
Returning on the path, I stopped frequently to admire the plants in the understory, each with its tale to tell. But, I still had miles to go . . .
You know, back in the '50s, one of the Group of Seven painters had found this river . . .
Read the full article with colour photos on E.J. Lavoie's Blog > http://bit.ly/2a6mlI5 .
Just the other day, I did two things I had sworn I would never do. And I did them on the same day.
First, I threw away a book.
And second, I bought a Starbucks product.
Both on the same day. Consider this a confession.
Last August we held a monster yard sale on our road in the country. Neighbours joined in. I had hundreds of books for sale, all from my personal library. I have been collecting ̶ and rescuing (but that is another story) ̶ books for 70 years.
The monster sale was a roaring success. Except . . . that very few books sold.
So, over the next few months, I found homes for the leftovers. And I had hundreds, hundreds of leftovers. The other day, I took the last volumes to Thunder Bay. I planned to give them away to the Thrift Store because nobody else wanted them.
When I told them what I had in the boxes, I was turned down. Flatly. Nobody, it seems ̶ nobody reads Reader's Digest Condensed Books any more. These are good solid volumes, with hours, weeks, and sometimes months of reading pleasure in a single volume. Nobody wants them. Even to build shelving with . . . With a few planks, one could build shelving that reaches the roof. Nobody wants Reader's Digest Condensed Books any more.
The Thrift Store was my last resort . . .
Read the full article with colour photos on E.J. Lavoie's Blog > http://bit.ly/29E8edt .
What caught my eye today was a flotilla of colourful kayaks on Kenogamisis Lake.
I pulled into the Geraldton waterfront to investigate. The paddlers were too far out on Barton Bay for me to contact, but I spoke to one of the supervising adults from the Thunderbird Friendship Centre (TFC). This was the second day of the Geraldton Multi-Sport Camp for Aboriginal youth, ages 12 to 16.
Later in the afternoon, I caught up with Ron Miron, instructor, as he was loading the now-empty kayaks on a boat trailer. He was assisted by Walter Davies, also of Longlac, and by Pete Hohmann of Virginia. How did the kids respond? I asked Ron. "They loved it," he said.
Cheryl Checkley is the Aboriginal Health Outreach Worker for TFC. She was also out on the lake, so I had to phone her later to get more facts.
Cheryl said this was the first time the three-day event has been staged here. The sponsor is a provincial body named Aboriginal Sport & Wellness Council of Ontario (ASWCO), and their representive, Heather Collins, was also participating as a facilitator. ASWCO covered all costs for the 13 young participants.
On the morning of the first day, Tuesday, July 5, the youngsters played golf at the local course . . .
For full article and colour photos, go to E.J. Lavoie's Blog at http://bit.ly/29iWX3l .
What’s a senior getting out of bed at 4:30 in the morning for?
Yeah, yeah, besides that . . .
Well, this senior got out of his bed yesterday morning at 4:30 to begin a 2,000-kilometre trip around Northern Ontario in less than a week.
No, I’m not being paid for it. No, I’m not compelled to do it. No. I’m doing it for pure pleasure.
You see, I love to write, and writing requires research, which means finding out how the rest of the world lives, or has lived in the past.
My goal was to reach Timmins by nightfall, with multiple stops along the way at Hearst, Kapuskasing, Smooth Rock Falls, Cochrane, and at roadside. Yes, from time to time I’d pass a transport or motorcyclist and then I’d pull over on the shoulder and scribble stuff in my notebook and then I’d catch up with the transport or motorcyclist and pass them again. Yes, that’s what writers do.
Okay, that’s what THIS writer does.
Okay, I did have a companion. Her name is Garmin. Okay, Garmin is my GPS navigational system. Garmin is helpful in countries with wild geography. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find an address in a foreign village when the natives do not publish maps and they hide the street name signs? Even Garmin was confused most of the time.
Between Hearst and Cochrane my cell phone went on strike, so I could not reserve a hotel room until suppertime.
Speaking of eating, I was too busy to eat until I reached Timmins. I thought I deserved a beer. Research, and writing, is sometimes an exhausting, demanding job that requires dedication, mental fortitude, and physical stamina.
I love a craft beer, which I can find only in cities. Timmins is a city. It is chock-full of traffic, and pollution of all descriptions, and crowdedness. I found a place that serves beer fresh from the tap. Wacky Wings . . .
Read the full article on E.J. Lavoie's Blog at http://bit.ly/299idIa .
E.J. Lavoie contributes a weekly column to Greenstone's Coffee Talk and the Nipigon-Red Rock Gazette. The column can be read in its entirety on his blog, complete with images. Just click the link at the end of each post.