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An interesting relationship…

14 Jul

No, this isn’t an exposition about my marriage or my attempt to delve into couples advice. Nobody wants to hear me give my two cents about either of those topics. This is rather a commentary about another relationship that affects many people’s lives, an international relationship. You probably have no clue what I’m referring to, so I will explain myself.

The title was inspired by the recent national holidays on both sides of the border, Canada Day and Independence Day. What made me think of this topic? Well, it all stemmed from a post I saw on Facebook on July 4th, very humorously labelling it as “Happy Treason Day” to the “ungrateful colonials.” It made me laugh! It also made me think of the relationship between our two countries; best of friends, but still very different. Many of the people who helped build what would become Canada in the early 1800’s had left the US following the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War, the United Empire Loyalists. My home province of Ontario still bears that legacy in its motto; Ut Incepit Fidelis Sic Permanet -Loyal she began, loyal she remains. One nation forged in rebellion against a country that the other still remains tied to in heritage and tradition. Interesting how things play out!

So, here we are into the third week of summer vacation. Wow, that went by fast! It has been relaxing and busy all at the same time. I’ve spent the last few weekends out at camp, which has been a lot of fun for the boys (and for me too). I have had to do some work out there, but it’s all good. Speaking of July 4th, we did travel down to Grand Marais for the celebrations and fireworks south of the border. It was a nice time in a great little town.

Fireworks, July 2015.

Fireworks, July 2015.

Fireworks, July 2015.

Fireworks, July 2015.

Fireworks, July 2015.

Fireworks, July 2015.

Fireworks, July 2015.

Fireworks, July 2015.

When I last wrote I was about to head down to Duluth for the UMD football camp. It was a very hectic 3 days, but fantastic for everyone involved. The players learned a lot and also had a lot of fun. Even though I’ve coached for football for 16 years, there are always new things to see and experience. You can read more about more our time at UMD here.

UMD, June 2015.

UMD, June 2015.

In my previous post I also wrote about my excitement for summer and all the hiking I would be able to do. Well, it’s week 3 and I have yet to get out. Why? Well, I’ve been preoccupied with a few other things, but I was mostly waiting for the bush to get a little drier. It seems as though I’ll be waiting a little longer. I was supposed to go out today with the boys and my brother who in town from Toronto, but my evil nemesis, the weather, derailed my plans again. Just as I thought things we starting to dry out nicely, the area southwest of the city got a large dump of rain. The rain gauge in the Whitefish Valley recorded 123mm of rain; crap! I had hoped to get out to the boundary waters to do a little exploring along Little North Lake, but there were washouts and road closures along Highway 588 (the only road out to the area). It’s very unfortunate for all the people in the Hymers and Nolalu area who experienced flooding.

Despite the frustration of the weather, I have been able to do some very constructive work on the railway lately. After my return from Duluth, I was able to head down to Grand Marais for the day to look through the Arpin Papers at the Cook County Museum. If you remember my post from last August, these papers are the personal letters of Pigeon River Lumber Company president Daniel Arpin and are a gold mine of information. I was able to get through another 2 volumes and I’ll have to head back to look through the last two at some point.

Arpin Papers, June 2015.

Arpin Papers, June 2015.

Arpin Papers, June 2015.

Arpin Papers, June 2015.

While I was there, I stumbled across a very interesting find. Several years ago, I was shown a photograph of “Merritt’s Camp” by Sue Kerfoot. After learning that this was located at the east end of the lake, I remarked that it resembled the arrangement of buildings that composed the US customs house in that area. The same photograph is in the collection of the Cook County Historical Society, so I asked them for a copy. As it turns out, that the photo was actually taken of an image in a book. Thankfully, the negative also included the title of the book.

George Shiras III was a wildlife photographer who had many of his images published in National Geographic and was a pioneer in the technique of night flash photography. In 1936 he published a two volume collection of his work entitled “Hunting wildlife with camera and flashlight.” Thanks to Amazon and the expenditure of $25 US, I was able to acquire a copy for myself. From the book (and some research), I determined the picture in question was taken sometime between 1919 and 1923. Shiras was in the area trying to photograph moose and stayed at the former customs residence which was at the time owned by the Merritt family of Marquette, Michigan. Sometimes luck is on my side!

Merritt's Camp, 1920's.

Merritt’s Camp, 1920’s.

Next Tuesday I leave for 4 days on Gunflint Lake to take part in an exploration of the former PRLC logging camp with archaeologists from the US Forest Service and the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Hopefully Mother Nature will smile on us while we are there, as this is sure to be an exciting investigation. Some “digging” was done in the area during the 1960’s or 1970’s, but this will be the first detailed and professional examination of the site.

I obviously am very excited and grateful for this opportunity, in part for the potential historical information it may uncover, but also for the simple fact that I’ll be out in the field. I’ve already documented my frustration with the weather, so I think I can be excused for my enthusiasm. Hopefully I can be of assistance to the archaeologists. It would be great if I could come back here in a few weeks and report on some useful discoveries that were made.

In any case, I better get rolling. I promise I won’t wait too long to post my ramblings about the trip. Until then…

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Posted by on July 14, 2015 in Hiking, History, Railway, Research, Writing

 

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