Of mountains and railways…

16 Jan

So, what’s with the title Dave? Well, it’s sort of a play on the Steinbeck novel “Of Mice and Men,” which I haven’t read by the way. I don’t really read much outside of history (go figure), mostly because I don’t have time to with all the other stuff I need to read. Anyway, I was stuck for a title and that just popped into my head. I think it’s appropriate though; just as Of Mice and Men was based on Steinbeck’s experiences, this blog was talks about my past week. So, there is a decent explanation!

Well, since I have now opened the proverbial can of worms, I guess I should elaborate on the events of the past seven days. It did take me a few days to get back in the swing of things after returning to work, and I was certainly feeling drained by Friday. I was struggling to clear up that backlog of marking, which by the way I’m still not all the way through (I can see the light at the end of the tunnel though). Saturday was our second cross-country ski lesson, which was a bit more active than the first. The kids got to experience going down a hill, and so did Dad! However, going back up the hill was interesting, especially since I didn’t have poles to help me out. My glutes were feeling it a bit later that day.

Sunday afternoon found me and boys back on the trail up the mountain, determined to surpass last week’s distance. So we headed up another level on the mountain, which unfortunately has some tough sections. One area, which is too rough and narrow for snowmobiles (most of the trails are used by both hikers and snowmobilers), includes a 250 foot vertical rise in 1100 feet. That’s a thigh-crushing, hamstring-tightening, lung-popping 23% grade…how’s that for a description! Trying to get two little boys up that is not easy, nor is the fact that I could stand to lose 10 pounds and am somewhat out of shape. However, the view makes it all worth it, as does the time I get to spend with my sons. I really hope they grow up to appreciate and enjoy the outdoors as much as I do. I’m already mentally planning where I’d like to take them on my personal day in June…Leeblain comes to mind 🙂

As for railway related events, I did not get to the article as I expected to (I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope). However, there were some interesting developments. On Wednesday I received an email from the Chik-Wauk Museum, which is located at the end of the Gunflint Trail (just across the border in northeastern Minnesota in case anyone is wondering). They wanted to know if I was interested in doing a presentation there at some point in the summer; of course I said “yes.” It’s been quite a few years since I done a public lecture, probably dating back to 2000. In a four-year span I gave a series of presentations on the railway (twice), mining and logging at the Paipoonge Museum (now known as the Duke Hunt Museum). There is no date yet, but hopefully I will know by the end of March. I must say that I’m excited; it love to talk about the railway and I know there will be a receptive audience. I also relish the opportunity to bring a little Canadiana to our neighbours to the south and describe how closely related our histories often are.

My second development was another contact in the ongoing Alexander McEwen saga. I received an email from a kind lady across the pond in Britain, who as it turns out is the great-granddaughter of McEwen’s mistress. Wow, quite the interesting tidbit! While she was not able to offer any additional information, it is another piece of the puzzle and might help me get to my goal of finding a picture of him.

Digging through my files for his information led me to a few other things on the weekend. First I continued with my article filing that I mentioned in my previous post, which unfortunately I did not get entirely through (damn US railroads!). From that I spun into looking at the book chapters and a new chapter I added regarding the sale of the railway in 1898-99. As I looked at the file, I really wished I could get to Toronto sometime in the near future. There is a file at the Archives of Ontario on the sale of the railway that has some really important information (I looked at it in 1999, but I need a second go-around). In the meantime I think I will email the archives at CIBC to see if they have any documents related to the money loaned to the railway in 1890 and how it factored into the sale. Wow, I have some work to do, never mind working on the article!

Until next week…

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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Writing


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