Saturday, April 17, 2004

Duck Lake days

To Orrville, Ontario for Easter week-end. I rented a Toyota Matrix XR for the journey to the lake country near Parry Sound. The car reminded me of a latter-day Austin Cambridge. As with all rental cars we had difficulty, this time with getting the interior light to go out. When we realised that the car had a split-tailgate - you can either open the rear window or the whole tailgate - our troubles were few. We stop off at Nobleton on the way north at the Country Bake Shop for Kaiser buns stuffed with Swiss cheese and salad and coffee. They are trying hard here as they have Tim Hortons for competition a few doors down.
Saturday morning to Parry Sound for shopping. There is a queue in Home Hardware as cottage country wakes up to spring. The lady at the checkout is apologetic as we purchase rubbish bags, lightbulbs and those flexible hoses for the end of your downspout. I meet the same lady in the queue at Shopper's Drug Mart a short while later and being in a small town we make small talk.
Then to the Northern Baking Company, formerly Der Brotkorb, for lunch - squash soup and a BLT sandwich made with good German wholegrain bread washed down with strong coffee. The right stuff.
We look in the Mighty Dollar store - "Lease Expired, 50% off storewide, All sales final." A quick tour by the Georgian Bay and "Grandpa's Dream", a tugboat, is moored in the icy harbour with a for sale sign.
We continue on to Depot Harbour in the Wasauksing First nation to look for the remains of this Ontario ghost town. How ironic to be mooching about an Indian Reserve looking for remnants of a defunct settlement of the white man. You can still see the old railway terminus and the boat dock which once hosted a bustling town at the end of the Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway.
Sunday we took the unmade Settlement Road north to Magnetawan, which has a dam and a lock on the Magnetawan River and a small museum which says "Open - July, August." We stopped off at the restaurant opposite the Schmeler Hotel, friendly folk and good food at country prices. We counted at least four churches, Lutheran, Presbyterian, United etc. We get gas at the Bait and Tackle, 3km north of Magnetawan. In the shield you ask where to get gas else you might get a nasty surprise. We were clueless about a lever that gives access to the gas cap - the rental car curse again.
Monday on the way home we divert off the highway to visit the Big Chute Marine Railway on the Trent-Severn waterway. Here boats overcome the better than 50ft difference in height by riding in a cradle. The weather is perfect and there is nobody there, but of course there are no boats - still you can't have everything. A mink is playing on the boat dock and poses for photographs or so it seems. Earlier we have seen herons fishing on the lakes. The peace and quiet is everything - I pick up litter to show my appreciation.
The Canadian Shield is a rugged environment but it has many things the city lacks like time and trust. The farm fields are full of large rocks, some almost entirely consisting of rock, where you'd think nobody could eke out a living. Many of the early settlers gave up and moved west to the prairies but some folk still cling on here. They are making something out of nothing.

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