A monsoon is a seasonal prevailing wind which lasts for several months. The term was first used in English in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and neighboring countries to refer to the big seasonal winds blowing from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea in the southwest bringing heavy rainfall to the region (Dictionary.com).
So you’re probably thinking, “Dave, you live in Thunder Bay and according to Dr. Koppen, it is a Humid continental (Dfb) climate (sort of)…you don’t experience monsoons!” As I demonstrate some of my geography skills in jest for you, it seems as though we do. It has been raining for the better part of five days now. It is actually quite bad; several outlying municipalities have declared emergencies today as well as the city of Thunder Bay. We have received well over 100mm of rain that have caused flooding, washouts and for the first time in my teaching career, cancelled buses. Some unfortunate people have had their basements ruined. The ditches, creeks and rivers are full of water; my backyard looks like a swamp! The sun is supposed to return on Wednesday, so let’s hope it dries up soon.
This week is the last week of May and it could not come soon enough. My burnout only seems to get worse! Football training camp starts soon and there are a whole bunch of things that need to get done before that happens. There is timetabling, graduation and a bunch of meetings still to go. I know that it will fly by, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I just need a breather!
All the rain doesn’t bode well for my plans to do any hiking in the near future. Rather hard to walk near rivers and lakes when they’re flooded. On Sunday I decided that since I could not hike, I would take the boys on a little drive. My one hour expedition turned into three hours, but it was all good. What could I possibly do in those wet conditions you ask? Well, my main objective was to create some places on Facebook with my phone so that I could effectively locate them when I post. I didn’t get everything done, but the Harstone Bridge, Harstone, Silver Creek, Hymers, Sellers, Leeper and Nolalu are now all officially recorded. I’m sure I’ll finish the job soon enough…the drive made me want to look at these areas sometime soon.
The most dramatic development of my week (other than the flood of course), was when I was informed that a very sensitive area of the railway is due for some development. The North-Gunflint Lake corridor is my favourite on the railway and I try to get there as often as I can (I booked my field work for August 5-8 at Gunflint). It is the farthest area from Thunder Bay and fairly inaccessible, so it has remained mostly free from human interference.
I received an email on Saturday that there were plans in the works to possibly open a resort on the Canadian side of Gunflint Lake, near the ghost town of Leeblain. I have spoken about Leeblain before, and it contains the remains of an old hotel and workers camp, the most important of which are several rock ovens. These ovens were used by Italian labourers on the railway to bake bread and in other places such as BC they are preserved in parks. About 2.5km west of Leeblain is the Gunflint Cross I wrote about a few weeks ago.
I’m not against the development; it would actually be nice to access Gunflint Lake without have to endure a 1 hour boat ride from North Lake or go through the US. However, I think it is critical to ensure that these important historical sites are preserved and protected. I’ve written emails to local MLA’s Michael Gravelle and Bill Mauro, as well as the local archeological review officer for the Province of Ontario; hopefully someone listens to my pleas. I will certainly mention any developments should they arise in my subsequent blogs.
Now speaking of Gunflint and Leeblain, I’ve confirmed my plans to visit the area this summer. On August 5th I will be doing my railway/mine presentation at the Chik-wauk Museum and I had hoped to conduct some fieldwork in the following days. By chance I stumbled upon long-time Gunflint summer resident and current lodge owner John Schloot. Back in the 60’s John spent many summers on Gunflint and often visited the Bishop family on North Lake and the old railway station there. He recently purchased the Moosehorn Lodge on Gunflint, which is now known as Cross River Lodge.
I’ve visited the US side of Gunflint Lake several times, staying mostly at the Gunflint Pines Resort, but I also spent an evening at the historic Gunflint Lodge. John graciously suggested that I stay at Cross River and I was more than happy to oblige. Besides, John has old films of the North Lake Station taken in the 60’s and I am very eager to see them. He has even kindly offered to provide me with a copies that I can post on my YouTube channel. The trip should be interesting since I managed to convince my wife Jo-Anne to tag along with the kids. She’s not particularly outdoorsy, so hopefully we can find some things for her and kids to do while I hike the railway. If the weather is good, it should prove to be very a memorable visit.
Anyway, I think it is about time to wrap things up. Maybe be next week the water levels will have subsided somewhat and everyone can return to a relatively normal routine. Until then…