Friday, October 21, 2011

Opeongo Trail

OK, this is the last post of our Thanksgiving trip...promise. Grandmama will be getting anxious for pictures of the kids next week.

We set off for the 4 hour trip home from Riverwood on Thanksgiving Monday, and it only took us 7 hours! Yes, we did take the back roads once again and made many stops along the way to soak in the colour and visit a few historic sites.

We had a travel book that outlined the sights to see along the Opeongo Line, and it was not much out of our way, so we dusted off our maps, filled the thermoses with coffee, bought some delicious muffins for snacks, and went exploring along this historic route. The scenery couldn't have been prettier and the little towns were a delight.
Our first stop along the way was this old church in Rockingham. You can read more about it here. Rockingham Church
We parked the car, climbed the hill and wandered around the grounds before going inside to take a look around.
The old organ looked pretty good, but I couldn't get it to make a sound.
The fall colour put on a show outside the windows...
and memories of days gone by swirled around on the inside like falling leaves.
I felt like I was stepping into the past when I walked through the door and wandered down the aisle. I tried to picture the people sitting in these pews; what they would be wearing; and what kind of lives they had. The Opeongo Line was a hard place to try to make a living if you tried to farm the land.

We passed some old homesteads along the Trail, and I wondered what went through the minds of the first women to arrive as they got off their wagons at the end of a long journey and looked around. Nothing but dense bush everywhere you looked, thick clouds of mosquitoes swarming in the air, no neighbours, no corner stores, no electricity, no heat, no running water (or well)....and now they had to set up housekeeping in this isolated area. Where do you start? How do you get through that first night, those first few days, the next long years? My heart went out to those women.

One entry in the guest book in the foyer of the church was from a great grand-daughter of a lady married in this church. My mind wondered back through the years, and I wondered what the young bride wore that day; what kind of decorations did she have in the church; who sat in the pews to celebrate the day with her; what kind of reception followed and what did life hold for her after her big day. What were her hopes and dreams, and did she realize them?

The box you see to the left of the window in the picture below really intrigued me as I couldn't figure out what it was for. It was at the front of the church in the opposite corner from the pulpit. The sides were about seven feet high, and there was a narrow opening in the back corner of the box, with just enough room for a person to slip inside. There was a bench inside, but that was all. No shelves, hooks or table. Just a bench. Hmmm, what could it be for? Maybe it was the minister's prayer closet. Or maybe wood was stored in there for the stove that sits just outside the narrow opening in the box.
After our visit to the church, we once more set off in the direction of home. We did make lots more stops along the way though. This spot was perfect for a wee picnic...
beside this lake. Mmm, the scene was more delicious than the muffin and coffee.
Next stop was the Ghost town of Brudenell. The old Costello hotel is still standing and is for sale. I wish I could have seen inside this interesting looking building. Oh the stories those old walls could tell.
Then we motored on down the road to Balaclava. Below is a picture of the old hotel there...
and the sawmill in Balaclava across the street from the hotel.
We made one more stop in Foymount, an old armed forces radar base from the 1950's. It had lots of abandoned buildings, but we didn't take any pictures there. The buildings were abandoned, but not interesting, so the cameras had a rest.

We were running out of steam by this time, so we got back in the car and made a b-line for home.
We will for sure take this route home again in autumn as the scenery was spectacular and even on this busy Monday of a long weekend there was no traffic. We had clear roads and free sailing all along the route.

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