Monday, 13 September 2010

Canada 2 - A Great Lake, Creatures of the Night and Shopping

30th August

We had breakfast outside our cottage, at 8am it was already very warm, the chickadees were chirping all around, the cicadas lazy summer sound filling the air.  Below us the Conestoga River meandered through the valley, and I watched a blue heron flying low over the river, what a wonderful way to start the day!

Soon we were on our first trip away from this idyll, to Lake Huron. which was around an hour and a half drive north west.  The countryside we drove through was mainly flat farming land, corn seemed to be the main crop, it reminded me of the area where I used to live, which wasn't that far from here.  Occasionally, along the roadside were signs bearing religious quotes such as.  "Repent and ye shall be saved" and the suchlike.  There is a strong Mennonite community in this area, their homes and farms often distinguished from others by a star on the outside.  The Old Order of Mennonites still wear old fashioned clothing and drive horse and carts, we saw a few on our travels around the area.
We arrived at a small town called Southampton which was on the shores of Lake Huron.  The pure blue sky was reflected in the lake which stretched off in all directions to the horizon.  It was like a sea - in fact this lake is at least as big as our Irish Sea. Often it just hits you how massive a country Canada is and this was one of those moments.

Lake Huron
The only break on the horizon was Chantry Island, which is about a mile out in the lake, it's white lighthouse dazzlingly bright in the sunshine.  In the 1850's six lighthouses, called Imperial Towers,were built along this dangerous coastline to help settlers sail safely on the lake.  The Great Lakes can be as treacherous as any sea or ocean, there are 50 shipwrecks around Chantry Island alone.  The lighthouse was first operational in 1859 and is still in use today and you can go on tours there.  The island is now also a bird sanctuary.

The shoreline at Southampton had a lovely beach, it was a very hot day, but a cooling breeze came in off the lake which made it very pleasant.  Surprisingly there were few people on the beach, and we just wandered along it and paddled in the water.

Glenys and me outside the Little Barn shop
We had lunch outside in the shady rear terrace of the nearby Walker House Hotel before heading a short distance north to one of the Saugeen (a local river) First Nation Reservations.  The original people of Saugeen are Ojibway. They became known as Chippewa by people who could not pronounce Ojibway and this is the name the people are now known by.  It was noticeable how much smaller the houses were within the reservation.

We stopped at the Little Barn Craft Shop run by an elderly, chatty guy called Orlyn Solomon.  The shop sold native goods, some made on the local reserve.  We all bought something, I got a wooden horned owl cleverly carved using the natural contours and colours of the wood and bark to show the bird's details. 

After this we headed home and relaxed for a while at our cottage in the afternoon sun.  Where ever I am I always love the late afternoon/early evening, when the colours become rich and the mood mellow.

We later joined Dianne and Dan at their nearby cottage for our dinner.  We had a lovely evening eating, drinking wine and chatting as night fell.  The creatures of the night started to come out, we heard a rustle nearby and shone a torch (torches are a constant companion at the cottages due to having no electricity) in the direction of the sound just in time to see the black and white tail of a raccoon disappear into the night.

31st August

I woke at 5am with my legs and feet itching madly - unfortunately as well as creatures of the night coming out it also meant the flies of the night come out and I'd got a lot of now very itchy mossie bites.  I managed to get to sleep again and in fact ended up having a bit of a lie in.  Once up, I counted my scarlet bites, 23!  Glenys had a few too but not as many as me. 

We were short of well water so I went to the hand operated pump and drew some water, quite hard work! Then we went over to the other cottage and had a brunch of peameal bacon (a bit like gammon, very nice) and waffles with syrup, though I skipped the syrup, too sweet for me.

Then Dianne and Dan took us to Conestoga Mall in the city of Waterloo about a 40 minute drive for our shopping fix.  We agreed that they would come back for us in three hours.  We wandered around the mall which was really nice, not too big so not tiring to look around.  I bought a bag and some shoes, unfortunately prices in Canada are not as cheap as the USA compared with UK prices, so neither of us bought a lot, still it was fun.  I also got some cream for my itchy bites!

We had a snack,  and used the toilets - which were gorgeous, you really get to appreciate proper toilets when you are using porta potties and a privy LOL!

We were picked up at the agreed time and just had an easy rest of the day.  We watched birds in the valley with our binoculars.  We saw a flash of scarlet - a red cardinal and we also saw a red tailed kite in a tree by the river. If you,love nature and wildlife, as both Glenys and I do, this is a wonderful place to be.

ianne and Dan and again had a lovely evening.  Glenys hadn't known either of them before but now they were like old friends and of course they have been good friends of mine for years now.

We went back to our, Russell's, cottage following the beam of the torch, and something scurried away as we got near the building, maybe a raccoon?  The sky was pitch black and stars very bright, there was no sound except for the cicadas.  We got into the cottage and lit the oil lamps (I loved the smell of the oil) and switched on the battery lights.  It created a gentle light, and I found it nice to have no TV, I liked this simple life.

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