Friday, September 29, 2017

The Graveyard, Canoe Lake

Last year my son took us up to see the Mowat graveyard on Canoe Lake. It's a very small plot with only a couple of graves. There is an ancient birch tree standing sentinel within the confines of the picket fence all covered in moss and debris from the forest now surrounding it. Last year the branches on the tree were thick and heavy, and it was amazing they were still attached to the tree as their weight looked to be more than the tree itself. One large branch is the first thing you see reaching out to you when you first arrive at the site. 

summer 2016

summer 2016

summer 2016

summer 2016

summer 2016

On the weekend, my husband and I retraced our steps back to the graveyard only to find that over the course of winter or spring, one of the large branches gave up the ghost and collapsed onto the forest floor. Not only did the branch break off, it left a massive hole in the trunk of the tree. Someone has cut up the branch to clear it out of the grave site, and you can see the thickness of the branch on the small portion left there. We should have counted the rings! It would be interesting to know how old this tree really is.

where the branch broke down the picket fence

Luckily the branch didn't break the large hand carved gravestone directly under it, but the fencing took a beating. The graveyard birch tree has lost some of its impressive grandeur. The picket fence has lost some of its pickets, and the overall look of the graveyard is taking on more and more of an abandoned look.

There are only two marked graves within the original gravesite. One is of a 21 year old worker who died at the mill in this former lumber mill village. The other is of a small boy. There is also the disputed 'grave' of Tom Thomson just north of the picket fence. A cross was placed here in his memory, but the actual grave is further north in the underbrush. I walked up through the brush a bit, but couldn't see anything that might be the grave. The mosquitoes were terrible here that day, so I wasn't inclined to look too carefully. At the recommendation of the cottagers we met in the summertime, I picked up the book "Northern Lights" by Roy McGregor. He has written an indepth look at Tom Thomson's life and controversial death/burial. Mr McGregor has me convinced that Tom Thomson's body is still buried here in the park on the shores of Canoe Lake where he spent some happy summers, and where he eventually died. People have suddenly placed coins on the cross ... and a tiny black button! There's enough money here now to buy you a Tom Thomson burger at the Portage Store restaurant (if you hurry!).

the cross that marks an approximate location of Thomson's grave

The large gravestone in the background (leaning on another rock) is of the mill worker,
 the young boy's gravestone is in the foreground.

If you've never been to the gravesite, and are in the area, here is how to get there from the Portage Store on Canoe Lake. Paddle north on the lake, past the two large islands, to where you see cottages lining the north shore. This is the former village of Mowat, and some of the cottages are original to the village. This is the cluster of cottages you are aiming for ...

Now paddle to the east (right) of these cottages and just around the bend you will see a small low rocky point. This is where you will pull up your canoe. You will see lots of log debris in the water still here from the mill operation beside this rocky point. Apply copious amounts of bug spray now.

Walk straight up into the woods where you will see the former lumber mill's big rock foundations rising up from the ground. 

mill's rock foundations
There is a vague path straight past the foundations, but basically head straight up from the lake until you come out to the end of a laneway that is still used by the cottagers. There may be a few cars parked here. Walk out along this lane to a connecting gravel roadway. Turn west (left) at the road and continue walking until you see a path emerge on the right-hand side of the road. We passed two hydro poles alongside the road and the path was just past the second pole. Follow the path into the woods. The underbrush is thick here, and you'll end up with lots of scrapes and scratches if you're in shorts and t-shirts :) The path then comes to a more open grassy area, which can sometimes be quite boggy. When we walked through this time, it was like a lake and we just slogged straight through the ankle deep water. Despite the stifling heat over the last few weeks, this water was really cold, so it must be from a creek or spring. Oh yeah, wear footwear that you don't mind getting wet (flip flops will get sucked off in the bog). Once through the grassy bog, you're in a piney woods that continue for another stretch until you suddenly climb a short steep hill and poof! you're at the gravesite. At this point you will be glad that you have the bug spray on. You may even want to reapply after walking through the springfed waters. Enjoy your visit!

log dumping ground from the former lumber mills ... over 100 years and the logs are still sitting here
Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ragged Falls

Just outside the tiny town of Dwight along Hwy 60 in Ontario is Ragged Falls park. There is a very pretty falls that cascades down a chute of dark grey rocks that is quite mesmerizing and well worth visiting if you're driving by. We stopped in here after we hiked Centennial Ridges on Saturday. 

The fall colours aren't that spectacular this year, most likely because the weather has been extremely hot. Even the nights aren't as chilly as they normally are this time of year. Lots of trees were already bare, and there was a lot of brown, rather than the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows.

We spent some time walking to the top of the falls and then clambering over the rocks to get right beside the water. It was extremely loud and thrilling to watch all that white water so close. Of course the best way to appreciate the falls is to see a video!


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hot Autumn

My husband and I spent four days up in Algonquin Park again this past weekend. It was so hot! The temperatures here in Ontario have soared up and up the past few weeks, and on the weekend it was 32C (that's without humidex) up in the northern woods. I had really been looking forward to a refreshingly cool fall camping trip, but it seems summer returned for us instead.

We arrived Friday afternoon and quickly set up our campsite and then went out for a paddle around the lake (Canisbay). It was so still and warm. Although the campground was full, most of the canoe-in sites were vacant. We stopped in at one beside the beaver pond to look for moose ... no luck there, but we did see a few feathered friends.

canoe-in site looking back at the campground

canoe-in site

canoe-in site
We saw a couple who had decided it would be a good idea to ignore all the available canoe-in sites and set up camp on the small island in the lake ... where no camping is permitted. They even pitched their tent directly under the sign that said no camping. There are fire pits and toilets (box over a hole) provided at the canoe-in sites for a reason. Some people just don't think.

 These common mergansers were entertaining us for a while ...

great blue heron
The following day we hiked the Centennial Ridges trail. It got above 31C that day. I''m not sure how hot it was in the middle of the day while we were on the trail, but the truck's thermometer read 31 at around 2:30 when we finished.!!!! But the trail is one of the best in the park. You just can't beat the views. It's a 10.5 km trail with the highest elevation being 170 metres (560 ft) above 'the parking lot' (as written in the trail guide). It goes on to say 'because the trail has several major rises and descents, the total vertical distance you will have to climb during your outing is approximately 360 metres (1,200 ft). The vertical climbs rob you of breath (and a bit of dignity), but the vertical descents rob you of knee cartilage and muscle elasticity! My legs are still sore three days later. Was it worth it? You betcha!


The trail takes you along one set of cliffs, and then you climb higher to more cliffs above and behind the first set. In the next photo we are at the highest portion and you can see where the previous cliffs are by the tree line in front. 

the view from the highest clifftop
Lake of Two Rivers is in the centre of the photo and Whitefish Lake is to the left (you can just see a corner of it)

One interesting thing that is new on the horizon is this tree (sorry I had to crop the photo to a hazy image to show the tree). It's the dark blob that rises above the furthest horizon. Although it's difficult to see in the photos, it was very obvious when looking off the cliff in person. The tree is fake, and there are two that I know of in the park this year. They are cell towers. The trees look ridiculous, and tower well above all the other trees. They are a prominent bluish green that resemble the bad replications of evergreens that were for sale in the seventies for Christmas trees. We now have cell phone reception in the park. Perhaps this makes people on canoe trips more at ease, I don't know. 

There were a few turkey vultures flying along the edge of the cliffs. Some of them were lower than we were :)

Some ponds were up high as well!

 In the next photo we have hiked down to the "front" cliffs and are a lot closer to Whitefish Lake.

It took us a good five hours to complete the trail. It was a wonderful walk, though, and there weren't too many people crowding the cliff edges as in other years. It's kind of nice when you walk along and see the same people again and again as everyone stops here and there to take in the views before continuing on. Most people are quite friendly and say a few words as you meet again. There were a few dogs along the trail too, and they looked really hot. I hope they all got in for a good swim at the end of their walk. We shamefully left our old dog at home again, but I couldn't help but feel a twinge of regret when we get into the woods with all their mulchy leaf smells.

Thanks for stopping by!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...