So I spent a very interesting Sunday. After cleaning up some of the snow that fell on Saturday, it was that time of the year to put up the Christmas decorations. Needless to say my boys Ethan and Noah were ecstatic, probably more so about the approach of the season that about the tree(s) coming out. Had I had more time, I would have done my part which is to put up the lights outside. Unfortunately some of my talents were needed inside and I also had plans for later in the day.
The last Sunday in November is traditionally a football day here in Canada as it is playing of the Grey Cup. For those of you outside Canada, football here means the gridiron (not soccer) and the Grey Cup is the Superbowl of the Canadian Football League. This year was the 99th installment of this great tradition and since 1992 my good friend Dave (yes, another Dave; there are three of us!) has hosted a Grey Cup party. Unfortunately my Eskimos were not in the big game, but it is a good excuse to get together with the guys (btw, BC beat Winnipeg 34-23).
Speaking of football, much of my time over the last few days has been devoted to putting together a highlight video of our past season. I use this video for recruiting in the off-season and for promoting our program. I know the kids also love to watch the video; keep an eye out for it in the next week or so on YouTube.
My railway work over the past few days has consisted of a mixed bag of things. In preparation for writing the article, I pulled some material from my files regarding the need for railways in Canada and how it became part of our national identity. I also busted out my copy of Pierre Berton’s The National Dream as it had some great stuff about Canada’s enchantment with railways.
I’ve also spent some time doing a little light research on the net. It is very interesting how you can find yourself bouncing around from subject to subject as you get ideas or some other sort of inspiration. I found myself on Saturday night looking up some material on John Paulson; I was able to find a few good tidbits. First, Paulson was involved in another railway project before his Paulson Mine days called the Lake Superior, Willmar and Dakota Railway (I have no idea if it was ever built). My other interesting development was stumbling upon a website for the Eagle Lake Lutheran Church, where Paulson’s brother Ole was pastor for 11 years. The site talks about how many parishioners moved to the Willmar area from Carver County after the Civil War.
Yesterday I found myself vainly trying to find information about the establishment of the customs house at Leeblain. At the same time this city was being abandoned (trains stopped running to Gunflint in 1903), the Pigeon River Lumber Company was starting its operations at the east end of Gunflint Lake. They built a short logging railroad called the Gunflint and Lake Superior and both US and Canadian governments established customs houses in the area. The office on the Canadian side became know as Leeblain (even though it was several miles away from the original location). It was opened in July 1903 and closed in April 1909 (it was moved to North Lake). Unfortunately I could only find a short excerpt on the net; I’ll need to try to get a copy of the Acts of Parliament for 1909.
There was one curious and unexpected revelation that came from my digging yesterday. I had heard stories that there was a gold exploration north of Leeblain during the 1890’s; I believe it was Justine Kerfoot who first told me about this. I found a report from the Ontario Bureau of Mines that mentions this small development. Maybe at some point I will have to try to locate this shaft, but given its location it might be quite the undertaking. I’ll be sure to write about the mine if I ever get there.