Here it is January and it’s -16 degrees C outside! The 2oldguyswalking team are looking forward to Spring when we can get into some real walking routes with descriptions and pictures relating to this blog. But until then I would like a change of subject and get philosophical here to entertain you with this post.
They say you can’t go back and whoever “they” are, they seem to be right! When I was a young rug-rat my parents informed me it was time I went to school and get educated. No, I did not have to walk ten miles uphill both ways to get to school. The quaint little one room school was next door to my home. It was called Camborne SS #10 ½. Sixty years later I am still bewildered where the ½ came from, no other school in Ontario seems to have the ½ designation! This school had grade 1 to grade 8 all in one room! We should have all been really well learned as we were exposed to a ton of info as the teacher went from grade to grade with lessons.
Finally at grade 8 graduation (unlike today, there was no wild party attended by parents and friends to celebrate this great event!) Guess what…they closed this little school the year I went to High School ten miles away and had to ride the big yellow bus to get there! A new multi-room school complete with a large gymnasium was established that year.
Note: This school still exists and is used as a community meeting place complete with a great new playground.
At about this time Camborne was blessed with a great Ski Club. This club was owned by a wonderful couple named Mr & Mrs D who hired what seems like hundreds of neighborhood kids in their first time paid jobs. I was lucky to get the best job there…the rope-tow operator! The rope-tow was actually a ’48 Chev car with the body removed. It was enclosed in a wooden shack at the top of the ski hill, and powered a rope that ran in a loop to the bottom of the hill. To ski to the top of the hill, skiers had to get in the ‘groove’ with their skis and grab the moving rope under their arm and hang on for dear life with both hands to ascend the hill. Here is the best part of the job, I could bring selected friends up the hill twice as fast as they would ever go down it simply by pressing down hard on the gas pedal! Almost as much fun was to stop the rope when same friends were half way up and watch six people fall flat on the ground and then try to get back onto the moving rope!
Again in life, the year I had to leave for a real job, the Club installed a really swanky chair lift to replace the rope-tow!
NOTE: The Ski Club was closed soon after as climate change prevented the needed snow cover on the south-east facing hill.
At this time, my father passed away and soon after my mother sold the beloved 120 acre farm where I was raised with my ten siblings. The good news here was that Mr & Mrs D had bought from my dad about twenty-five acres of land for the ski hill expansion and their beautiful chalet home before the rest of the farm was sold. It is still a joy for my sisters and I to visit with Mr & Mrs D.
Next to (almost) disappear was the Camborne United Church. It was in need of plenty of restoration and the dwindling congregation forced it to close for many years. The graveyard here is the final resting place for some of my family members and many old friends and neighbors. I still like to explore here to check names and dates on the many tombstones.
NOTE: Thanks to many Camborne residents and especially Mr & Mrs D, the church has now been renovated, reopened and attended by many for church services, funerals, weddings and community events.
Another closure!! The Emond General Store closed!! This was where my parents could buy goods on credit (before credit cards) and all residents picked up their mail here (the first community mail boxes!) Us kids collected empty pop bottles along the highway and turned them in to Albert Emond for a pop and a chocolate bar, all for twenty cents (and got two cents back on the pop bottle).
In the early seventies my grandmother passed away and my wife and I bought her old homestead in Coldsprings. After twelve years of extensive renovations we sold this home to my sister and brother-in-law. They then sold it to my cousin. In the mean time we could still visit the old place, but it is now occupied by strangers.
About thirty years ago we bought my mother-in-laws house in uptown Port Hope, a rambling old 150 year old double brick house with an old barn (see the posting “Base Camp”) and lots of old chestnut, black locust, maple, cedar and walnut trees. My “Garden of Eden” was soon created with all my favorite plants and shrubs, flowers and lots of grass. Many varmints also made this their home. Squirrels, skunks, chipmunks, groundhogs, rabbits and racoons soon visited the one acre ‘zoo’. We even had a one-time visit from a young deer!
Four years ago the Ex and I sold the old home (Divorce) where my two sons spent most of their growing up years. After sitting empty for a few years, the new owners decided to raze the old house and removed the old barn and cut down most of the old trees. They have grand plans to construct a new four-thousand square foot mansion, multi-car garage and an artist’s studio. The good news here is the construction crew was given permission to dismantle the home and to recycle almost all of the materials from it. All metal went to the local scrap yard, patio paving stones & basement rocks will be used in future landscaping projects. All lumber from the roof and pine floor boards will be re-milled and reused elsewhere. Scrap wood will be turned into wood chips for the contractor’s wood-chip fueled boiler and all brick rubble is now a base for a new driveway. The ornate front porch even has a new home somewhere in town.
The rare “Port Hope” bricks were likely produced from an old brick yard that once operated near the location of the apartment building in which I now reside! Many local restorations will benefit from these bricks and most will go to a restoration project in the historic Distillery District in Toronto.
The General Foods/Kraft factory in Cobourg where I worked for almost forty years has now closed, and has gone from a state of the art food grade manufacturing building to a recycling depot! This sprawling factory once employed over twelve-hundred employees when I was hired there in 1966 as a Quality Control Technician. Products you will all be familiar with were produced there. Jell-o, Tang, Crystal Light, Shake N Bake, Kool Aid, Cool Whip, General Foods International Coffee, Minute Rice and all the Post Cereals were made there. Some products that may not be so familiar to you are Awake (frozen orange juice); LaFrance (laundry soap); Swans Down (cake mix); After Five Cocktail Mix and in a separate building Gaines Pet Food.
My old High School, the Cobourg District Collegiate Institute West that I attended for five years (I liked grade nine so much I did that one twice) and they must have thought that I also liked grade twelve as they asked me to repeat that one also! But by now I hated High School, so I eventually earned my grade twelve diploma via the Ontario Study at home program!
One other thing from my past is now slated to be removed from my life! The old one- lane Mill Street Bridge appropriately named after an old, long-gone Mill ( does every village and town in Canada have a Mill Street?) has been declared to be too old, unsafe and expensive to be replaced. After much public input (read anger!) it has been blocked to all but pedestrian use and when Township coffers allow, it will be replaced by a new pedestrian only bridge. As a kid, I used to impress my friends by walking along the railings on the old bridge, seems really a dumb thing to do now as it was a long way down to the stream below. To those old friends…the secret to my bravery (stupidity) was to always, and I mean always, lean towards the road side…not the water side!
This bridge is still open and can be located in Camborne via Albert’s Alley west off Northumberland County Rd. 18. To drive there, take Kennedy Rd. west from County Rd. 18 and turn south on (guess what! A NO EXIT) Doyle Road and park at the bottom of Toenail Hill. I would bet good money that no one in Camborne (but Mr & Mrs D) know that hill has an name! When this bridge is replaced, hopefully this year, the 2oldguyswalking team will be there with a before & after posting all about it. Stay tuned.
Yes, maybe I am getting a bit paranoid…but on the bright side, at my age there ain’t many more places left that I can’t go back to!