Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Rural Churches

Churches in small rural municipalities dot the landscape here, just like one-room schools, though more of the churches are located in small communities rather than off by themselves.  More of them, most of them in fact, are still used as churches, though many if not all are really struggling to keep the lights on!

This is the most beautiful rural church I remember, off by itself outside the village of Maxwell.  It's still in use I believe, but not necessarily every week.

This is St. James Anglican, by itself on the rural corner known as Fairmount.  Like many rural churches, it has its own graveyard.

The only other previous church I know of that is out in the country is this one, hidden quite well behind the pine tree.  A friend lives here, taking advantage of the resident pipe organ.

I should add the boarded up church at the Epping crossroads, unused for near 25 years.  Whatever group still controls it has turned down many offers to buy it.  I'm afraid it would be falling apart inside.

Now we get to the churches in small towns and villages.  This is the most important, for this is where my grandad was minister long before I was born, and where I was taken to church as a young child when we visited.  My mom lived in the manse next door, and my dad lived in the general store nearby (which still was a general store then) - guess how they met, living about 4 doors apart!

The United church in Eugenia - when I look this church up it refers to the church being amalgamated with the church in nearby Flesherton, so I'm not sure whether this is still a church or not.  But I am sure than many if not most small churches will have to amalgamate or close at some point in the future..

This old church is in the much smaller village of Rocklyn, and it's now a residence, close to the road but almost hidden behind trees.

Finally this very large church is Annesley United Church in Markdale, the church we used to attend when living at our previous home.  Its most striking feature is one of the largest pipe organs in the region, and the organist when we attended could really make it sing!  A Methodist church was built here first in 1870, but it was burned down by a man who was protesting the Methodist church's strong stand against alcohol!  A replacement was built within 2 years, and the present large brick building was erected in 1906.

This church is a good example of adapting to the shortage or members and therefore income.  They have established an active committee structure and are trying to rent out the rooms as much as they can, quite successfully I might add.  Looking at their events calendar, there are five groups, from yoga to guitar that meet 8 times in the typical week.  Unfortunately though, they have had great difficulty attracting a permanent minister.

Monday, January 29, 2024

One-Room Schoolhouses

Well, I've run out of current winter photos and things are rather boring around here now, so let's take a break and talk about other things.  I've drawn on past photos here, so I hope you enjoy them.

A generation ago, in the days of my parents, students in rural areas all went to small one-room schoolhouses.  They walked uphill in both directions of course, as my dad liked to say!  Later my dad taught in one for several years - see below.  They seem to be ubiquitous across the landscape here, spread out approximately the distance students could be expected to walk.  Today virtually all of these are homes or weekend homes.

This my favourite one, I used to go by it quite frequently.  It's well kept, still with its original bell.

This one is very similar, though the photo was taken on a blowing blustery day.

This is the small schoolhouse in Rob Roy, and is unusual in that it is maintained as a museum, with a lot of volunteer help.  Note that it's also accessible, probably the only one of the whole group that is!  Notice the similarities in architecture of these three

This tiny one appears to be used as a weekend place, with never much sign of people being there or sprucing it up the times when I went by.

This, also a weekend place I think, is being well cared for!

This schoolhouse, the one at Victoria /Corners, seems larger than others, and may actually be a two-room school, though the large attached garage looks out of place.

The most beautiful stone schoolhouse I know, and I even know people who attended this school - the Sligo Schoolhouse.  Echoes of Ireland anyone?

And this was the one-room school where my father taught, in the depths of the depression.  The large addition disguises the school quite well, but the original architecture is still there.

I realize now that all of these are private residences, except for that third one, now a museum.  But of course it is the culture of it that I think about, all those children sitting in one-room, usually from grade 1-8 all together.  Older kids would be helping younger ones, but the teacher had to be on top of work for all of the grades!

Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Big Melt

Well, the snow continues to melt, vanishing before our eyes.  The world is still white out there (well, white and a dirty brownish white), but it won't be long until the green is poking through.  Check out our snow stick over the last four days!

It felt like an early spring day out there today, I swept out the garage!  Then I actually went for a ride up and down the street.  Pretty sure I've never done that in January before!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Pretty Snowfall Before the Rain

Although it was supposed to start raining and bring us a few days of January thaw, we still got a nice light snowfall last night.  The temperature has gone up, so it stuck to everything, giving you that beautiful appearance.  It appears we will get less rain than in the original forecast, but the temperature is still above freezing.

The snow has compacted, but the fresh snow is clinging to everything.

I love the big Sugar Maple when it looks like this.

Every twig was covered.

And our snow stick has now vanished, though the rabbit trail is still there.

Monday, January 22, 2024


As I said, the snow has continued, but today (Sunday) we woke to bright sunshine!  It sort of came and went behind some thin clouds later, but it was very bright when it poked through those clouds and it left striking shadows in its wake.

The snow came down in light fluffy powder, easy to shovel, and piling up deeply.  I think it's about 16" on the level now, though we have some warmer days ahead so it will undoubtedly become a lot more compact.  I left this photo uncropped at the bottom because we have a resident rabbit!  You can see its deep trail in the powdery snow after it crosses the deck from its winter hideaway under our ramp I use to get off the deck.

Evidence of the snow stick has just about disappeared.  I guess the snow came a little more from the northwest, leaving this side less covered.

But yesterday was a different day.  Bright sunshine with no wind.  It was just glorious.  We hoped it meant a day of sun, but sadly that was not the case - at least we were not getting any more snow - we are getting more snow today though.

The sun did leave some very distinct shadows, which I enjoy.  If you were here I think you would hear the sound of joy in every skier and snowmobiler's voice!  It's a rollercoaster of weather this week here though.  Snow today and tomorrow followed by rain Wed, Thurs, Friday, and back to snow next weekend, then back up above freezing the next week!

I've been wondering what to post in coming weeks, since as you know I don't get out much in the winter, and I really do get tired of shots from our windows, so I scrolled through some of my 100k saved photos.  I was attracted by shots of buildings, including barns, churches, one-room schoolhouses, and so on.  I think I could come up with 20 or more posts of that order.  What do you think?

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Back to the Present!

Hope you enjoyed my posts from winters of the past, I think we're back to something similar now.  We finally got a significant dump of snow last Sunday, with about 10" falling.  Snow squall warnings for several days this week and the School Board promptly panicked, so we had three 'snow days' out of five this week!  But the cross-country skiers and snowmobilers were thrilled, finally!

Here's our view out back, snowing lightly at the time, pretty well white and you can see the snow creeping up on our snow crane.

His head is certainly buried at this point.  This was Jan. 14, last Sunday.  It hasn't really stopped snowing since.

Just to remind you, this was the view three days earlier, a nice skiff of the white stuff, but not much for mid-January!  And our snow stick looks almost normal.

Even then the scenery was pretty nice - as long as you just wanted to look at it.  Feels much more normal now.

Wednesday and Thursday are my 'getting out' days now, physio on Wednesday and lunch/coffee yesterday.  Enjoyed them both, but it's getting harder and harder for Mrs. F.G. to drop me off for lunch.  I use the Meaford transit successfully for my physio appointments; it's only available for the disabled.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Winter #8 - Wildlife

On the rare occasions when it happens, we do see wildlife in the winter, even though our bird feeders have failed to attract any birds in recent winters here in Meaford.  So I had to troll fairly deeply to even find these images, but here they are for your viewing pleasure.

I really enjoy the cheeky little Red Squirrel.  Black and grey squirrels are more numerous, but a smaller Red Squirrel will chase them away anytime!  I've found many small dumps of chewed spruce cones, for the squirrels seem to like to sit in the same place to chew them down for the seeds.

Most of our Canada Geese fly south, but there are always a few who either stay here, or at least wait til the snow arrive before disappearing.  I caught this flock leaving a flooded field.

Our favourites are the Snowy Owls who migrate down this far to spend the winter.  We'll never forget the year we saw over 20 along a fencerow some distance southwest of here.  But I've never been able to get a good close picture.

This white-tailed Deer was just waking up I think when I got this shot out the living room window.  We had added 15% clover seed when we seeded our new lawn, and it survived under the snow, bringing the deer who would paw the snow away before eating their salad!

These depressions in the snow are all spots where the deer have been searching for clover, and then bedding down for the night, right out our window.

And I'll end with a Chickadee.  We do get at least a few birds at the feeder!

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Winter #7 - A Hoarfrosty Morning

How many of you have seen hoarfrost up close?  I've experienced two days of widespread hoarfrost here in the valley, and on my way driving up here.  The atmospheric conditions have to be just right with clear cold nights.  It's certainly very beautiful driving through a hoarfrosted landscape on a bright sunny day.  So here are some photos for you to enjoy.  First - a close-up view.

And now some hoarfrost in the trees on a sunny day.

Hope you enjoyed these.  Winter has finally arrived here with a storm that blew through on Saturday.  I'll show you our snow stick shortly.  And yes, it's actually sunny out today.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Winter #6 - My Waterfall

I've always enjoyed chasing waterfalls, and for a year or two back in 2015/16/17 those were almost the only winter photos I took.  We're blessed by having a surprising number of waterfalls around, all thanks to the bedrock of the Niagara Escarpment.

This is the best known of them, Inglis Falls, just on the south edge of Owen Sound.  I'm told that my great-grandfather used to bring his grain to the mill here, to get it ground into flour for the winter.  It's half or more frozen in this photo, and a truly beautiful falls all year round.

A little harder to access, requiring a hike of a mile up a narrow valley, is Indian Falls.  It's a classic geologically, falling over a thin-bedded dolomite layer into the softer Queenston Shale, which accounts for the narrow, steep-sided ravine you have to hike up to get there.  The normal view is from the top, but one year of exceptionally cold temperatures, enough of the stream below froze over to allow you to hike up to see the falls from below.  It became a local hit, with crowds braving the cold to see the very icy waterfall!  Maybe you can see the footprints in the first photo.

Hoggs Falls is much closer to our former home.  Right in the heart of the upper Beaver Valley, it was once the home of an early power house for the nearby village of Flesherton, run by you guessed it, Mr. Hogg.  In summer you can clamber down to see it from below, but I wouldn't dare do that in winter.!

Similarly close to our former home is the village of Eugenia, with a higher narrow falls, here frozen in blue ice.  It too was the site of an early hydro attempt, which eventually arrived in the 1914 Eugenia Power Plant, still an important hydro contributor in this area.  It has the highest drop of any hydro plant east of the Rockies.

This was my first view of Stew Hilts Falls 10 years ago, when I hiked off the Bruce Trail to assess the idea of putting a side trail here.  You can read the geology here easily.  It falls over that narrow-bedded dolomite, the Manitoulin Formation, but quickly into the Queenston Shale which has eroded into these extremely steep slopes.

A few years later and a side trail was actually created, enabling hikers to see this tiny gem.  It's much better seen in the winter when these ice columns form - but that does require snowshoes to get here.  I had nothing to do with the side trail being named the Stew Hilts Side Trail.  And by default the little un-named waterfall became the Stew Hilts Falls.  I'll happily go to my grave knowing there's a waterfall named after me!