We'll skip past the bit about the dog on the bed, suffice it to say that we're considering putting her in the kennels next time.
Anyway, another cold morning at Earl Rowe. Cold enough, in fact, to put the heating on for a few minutes to take the edge off things. It was warming rapidly outside but that aluminium construction that Airstream is so proud of doesn't do you many favours when it gets cold. Still, that's what the furnace is for, even if it is the first week in August.
I noticed that our noisy neighbours, who'd been illuminating the campground with their own personal floodlight, still had it burning at 9.30 in the morning. They're a couple with a boy aged about nine or ten and I think they're trying very hard to do the camping thing for the child, but I'm not sure that they're natural campers. Their tent was a tad flimsy and not at all well put up; the fly-sheet was incorrectly fitted and exposed a fair bit of the mesh roof of the tent and, given that it was a very dewy night, I'd imagine that they were getting a little damp inside. I did wonder if I should offer to help but I'm not so sure that I'd have been welcomed; I guess you have to learn these things bit by bit. The kid seemed to be having a good time, though, so I'm sure his parents thought that sleeping on the ground in a damp tent was worth all the pain and suffering.
We had a plan this fine morning, and that was to motor northwards to the historical site of Sainte-Marie-Among-The-Hurons. (Click here to see the official website). It's the site of a very early settlement in New France where French Jesuit missionaries set up a base to work with the local Wendat tribe. I say "work" but I mean convert and trade, of course.
We'd decided to avoid the motorway, having seen the density of traffic yesterday, so had a meandering journey up to the town of Midland, on the south edge of Georgian Bay. It's not a fast run when you go across country but you do get to see, and to appreciate, the countryside. The roads are mostly arrow-straight and the terrain reasonably hilly, but the views across to the Niagara Escarpment over in the west were excellent once we'd attained some height. The field divisions are a bit smaller here, I guess because it's not all flat like in Chatham, and the array of crops was a little broader than the usual cash crops of Corn and Beans (that's Maize and Soya).
We did pass a zoo on the way, one where a lot of the animals were out grazing in big enclosures. It was quite odd to see animals like Zebra and Giraffe in a field in Ontario, but it made the trip a little more interesting.
On arriving at Sainte-Marie, we were struck immediately by the Quebec flags everywhere and realised, of course, that this site was more significant to the people of Quebec, and Francophones in general, than to us non-French types. Indeed, there were many Francophones to be heard enjoying the site; it was almost like being back in Quebec.
Because the site is largely outdoors, we were able to bring the hound with us. She was only restricted from access to the museum and the restaurant, which meant that she trailed around with us and enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells (particularly the smells) on offer.
Sainte-Marie isn't a direct reconstruction of the original but it does have buildings, reproduced faithfully in every respect, that may have been on the site when it was first established. It also has a lot of university aged students working there, dressed in character and offering interpretation and demonstrations of some of the things that the original inhabitants may be been busy with. I've said it before but North Americans do history really well. All the buildings were constructed, as far as possible, as the originals would have been, complete with wooden hinges and hand-worked beams. There was no lighting in any of the buildings and, in a lot of them, there were log fires burning (gently - it is August) in the grates or in pits outside. The dog was a bit spooked by the darkness in the buildings but was very interested in the fires, especially where meat had obviously been prepared earlier in the day.
There were small amounts of corn and beans (runners in this case) being grown on site, along with squashes and herbs. There were chickens in the chicken run, pigs in the sty and cows in the enclosure; all very authentic.
My favourite buildings were the two native Longhouses, replicas of those used by the Wendat. You have to see the size of these things to appreciate them and, whilst they had benches inside for visitors to hear lectures, they were pretty much as they would have been, complete with a fire burning in the middle and the smoke drifting around in the roof before it made its way out of the hole in the roof. Wonderful!
The hound behaved, we saw all that we needed to see, albeit that Mrs T was limited to a very quick spin around the museum, and we left the place feeling very content. It cost $12 each to get in and I think that was quite reasonable; run by the Federal Government, you see, not by someone requiring a profit.
Before making our way back to Earl Rowe, we did take a diversion to the town of Penetanguishene, just over the hill from Midland. We'd been there a year or two back and enjoyed a cruise around some of the islands in Georgian Bay, so we thought we'd go and have another look. The old cruise boat, the Georgian Queen (an eighty-year old tug and icebreaker), had been replaced by a fake paddle steamer (The Georgian Queen was up for sale, apparently, but I couldn't find out what had happened to it), which was a shame, but it was nice to stand on the dock and feel the wind blow in on a warm and sunny afternoon.
The same slow run home was just as pleasant and we settled into a home cooked meal back at Towed Haul. The evening was getting cold again so we sat in and read, which was nice.
Day four is to be packing up day, so our plans were more or less set. We sorted the hound out before we went to bed and she was not on the bed as we settled in - you'll have to read tomorrow's entry to see how we fared in the night!
Mr Toad - Airstreamer
The Old Blog