Monday, May 30, 2016

Cobalt Silver Mines

Cobalt is the location where hard rock mining in Canada started.  Legend has it that a frustrated blacksmith threw his hammer, and it glanced off a rock.  When he went to pick it up, he saw the rock where the hammer hit is was shiny.  And as they say, the rest is history!

When you arrive in the centre of town (much smaller today than when mining was in its heyday), you can't help but notice this headframe.  It's a real headframe, from a mine nearby, but was dismantled and moved here to be part of the Mining Museum.

There was a small display of old mining equipment, and these sculptures of miners, in relief against the bedrock, looking as if they're about to enter a mining tunnel.

I thought the sculpture was quite effective, and the more I read, the more I got fascinated by the history.  The silver discovery was made in 1903, and Cobalt quickly became a boom town.  Busy mining lasted about 30 years before the veins of silver no longer brought a profit.

Silver was mined in horizontal tunnels into the rocky hills, and more frequently in tunnels accessed by vertical shafts.  In the tunnels, narrow gauge rail lines like these were used, first with miners simply pushing the small carts, and later with battery powered 'locomotives' like the one on the right of these three.
The headframes (some preserved like this one, and some dilapidated) that are such an obvious part of the history, provided the hoist up and down into the mine.   There are several right in town (this is the Right-of-Way mine site), and quite a few more scattered outside the town.

These seem to be the iconic symbol of the silver mining, and you can see several by following the Silver Heritage Trail, a driving route which wanders southeast of Cobalt.  Both it and part of the town itself are a National Historic Site.

Inside the museum are several paintings of headframes from different mines.  I was interested to see this one which was obviously an older painting of the picture above.

Another mine headframe.  The success of the silver mines in Cobalt is the foundation of Canada's hard rock mining industry.  Skills developed here were taken elsewhere, and prospectors from Cobalt discovered gold in nearby Kirkland Lake and Timmins and further afield.  The provincial School of Mines was established here (now part of Northern College), and the first Provincial Geologist appointed here.   The silver provided profits for mining companies to invest elsewhere, with the result that mining of metals has been an important industry in Canada ever since.

Tomorrow - our mine tour.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cobalt Ontario

We're just back from Cobalt, a 6 hour drive north, where our son and his wife live.  Our daughter-in-law bravely quit her job 3 years ago, and they moved to Cobalt, a northern mining town, so she could enroll in the Vet Tech program at Northern College.  She graduated on Friday - three cheers!  A very big mid-life career change!  And we're terribly proud of them both.

I'll tell you a bit about Cobalt tomorrow, but of course there had to be some interesting shopping along the way.  The North Cobalt Flea Market is a somewhat crazy place, but we stopped just because of its reputation.  I put in my time playing with pictures of colourful things.

Mind you they did have fabric, so for a couple of serious quilters it was worth the visit.

Then there was the wool shop in New Liskeard, where our daughter-in-law works occasional shifts.

And then there was the Quilt Barn, just out of town (in a barn), a shop which ranks high in my list of quilt shops because it has a man-cave (at least a place to sit).

That wasn't all.  There was Thornloe Cheese Company, which makes great cheeses, and sells Chapman's ice cream (from right here in Markdale).  And we drove over into Quebec for a fabulous meal at the 'Bistro Elle and Louis' in Val Marie.

But most of all we visited, attended both the award ceremony and the graduation at Northern College, and learned a bit about the mining history of Cobalt.  The Northern College campus here grew out of the old School of MInes, which in turn is here because of the discovery of silver in 1903, and the interesting mining history of Northern Ontario that followed.  More about that tomorrow.  I expect I'll get a few blog posts in this week before we get too busy again.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Turkey Vultures

Saw some black birds on the road the other day, enjoying a lunch of roadkill, and managed to stop before they all flew away.  Just snapped 2 or 3 pictures before they rose on their huge wings, but somehow I got the focus quite well.

This one was flying off immediately, but I liked the shot with its wings out wide.

This one stayed on the fencepost until I got a shot off through the open window.

Then it left too.  You gotta be quick!

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lake Huron Skies

Earlier this week we took a day and drove over to Lake Huron, stopping at Kincardine and Point Clarke, to see two lighthouses we had never seen.  It was a beautiful sunny day, though quite cold with a strong breeze off the lake.  Lake Huron in the distance was the deepest blue I have ever seen.  We enjoyed the whole day exploring.

Down the beach a few brave people were sitting in the sun, and someone was flying a big bright kite.  Not many bikinis in sight yet though; we were wearing jackets.

I'll get to pictures of the lighthouses when I get the chance.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fences, Dogs, Cattle and the Trail

In between the two streams and bits of woods that I shared the past two days the trail followed right beside a farmer's fence, across his land, with a handshake agreement.  But on the other side of his fence is pasture some of the year, and he finds dogs on the trail do scare the cattle, even with a fence to keep them separate.

It's a beautiful walk beside the farmland, but some hikers from further away don't understand why dogs shouldn't be allowed.

In some cases landowners have cancelled handshake agreements because of persistent use of dogs on the trail, so we do our best to get hikers to co-operate in locations like this.

In the meantime, I got some nice pictures of the fence.

At the far end of the field you're past the pasture and beside a crop field.  The only way the trail survives in our area is through co-operation with rural landowners.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Anthea's Waterfall

I continued walking down the trail from yesterday's post, to find the original waterfall I was going to see, Anthea's Falls.  This part was just a beautiful walk through a deciduous forest, with the leaves coming out, and the sun shining through them brightly.

With no bugs to bother me here, it's hard to think of a better day for a walk in the woods!

It wasn't long before I came to the second shallow stream, this one with just a stepping-stone bridge, in the foreground.

And just off the trail, here was Anthea's waterfall, about a four foot drop over a very mossy green ledge.  A half-second exposure, with a tripod.

And a different look at it, from the side.  A fast exposure without a tripod.

There's a plaque in memory of Anthea on a boulder beside the trail.  I understand she was an adventurous mountain biker, who was killed in a crash when she was riding on the trail.  I didn't know she was born the same year I was, and died when she was only 23.  A very fitting memorial.

Walking back I was facing the sun, and the green leaves were showing up even more.  This is an understory dogwood tree.

And this is the long narrow bud of a small beech sapling with the leaves just starting to unfold.

Just a really nice walk in the May Woods.


Today we're just back from a long day of running errands 'down south' where we go to visit our daughter, doctors, and a favourite nursery or two.  Brought back several pots of flowers.  And it was actually HOT today, too hot for me for a couple of hours.  I'll try and get two or three pre-scheduled blog posts done before the next big task interferes.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The May Woods

A week ago now, I broke away from garden work and went for a walk on the trail, heading east from Blantyre, where I knew there was a small waterfall, and some nice deciduous woods.  I haven't been on this section of trail for several years.

It was one of those beautiful May days, the leaves well on their way to being out, and a glow of green throughout the woods.  A pleasant easy walk too.

In the first section of this trail there are some really big old trees which I enjoy.

I like the bright green of the Sugar Maple leaves against the blue sky.

I didn't see a lot of wildflowers, but I did spot these two colours of violets.

I had completely forgotten about the first stream that you come to, just a short distance down the trail.  And there's a nice new bridge over it too.

Both of the streams in here are small little streams; they emerge from springs just a short distance upstream.  We'll see the second stream tomorrow.

It's a nice little stream, and it does tumble down over the edge of the slope creating a small waterfall.  I tried some of those 'slow' water shots, but the harsh sunlight through the trees made the lighting difficult.  I must remember that often the best shots for places like this should be taken under cloudy skies.

Two more posts to come from this walk, but I'll leave you with these growing and glowing beech leaves lit by the sun.


We're entering the busiest six weeks of the year for us in 2016.  We have a garden that needs more work than I can give it, and the weeds grow fastest during the month of June.  I'm already falling behind with what should be done there.  We've got a bit of travelling, visiting, and visitors, as well as an out-of-town wedding.  There are projects on the trail and on Bruce Trail properties that I'd like to get at.  To say nothing of maybe the occasional hike, paddle, or a bit of photography.

The result will probably be a lot fewer blog posts for 6 weeks or so.  But I'll be accumulating adventures to share later along with everything else!  Take care.

And a special thanks for all the kind comments on yesterday's post about William.  We are indeed very proud of him, what he accomplished in his 38 years, and the work he did.

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