Friday, August 20, 2010

Sackets Harbor Trip

Our Trip July 21,22,23, 2010

We left Grimsby about 10:15am.It took us 45 minutes to cross into the states at the Queenston Lewiston bridge.It was easy to find highway 104 which we followed most of the way until we got on highway 3 near Fulton and followed it right to our cabin at The Willows by the Lake near Sackets Harbor arriving at 6:00pm.Leaving Lewiston we headed north to the 104 passing north of Lockport.The 104 was also called Ridge Road.It seemed to be slightly elevated to the surrounding area.There were lots of trees on both sides of the road so we didn’t see any big large fields on our drive. There is a Seaway Trail on the southern shore of Lake Erie,Niagara River,Lake Ontario and The St.Lawrence River going on for 454 miles.Our 104 highway going east through New York State was south of it but when we drove along the St. Lawrence River we covered parts of the Trail.

It rained pretty heavily on the way and the windshield wipers were on full.We found a Tim Hortons for lunch but thought it wasn’t going to stop raining.Then we made a dash for it.Here are some of the small places we went through on the 104 highway. Wrights Corners Ridgewood Johnson Creek Waterport Murray Clarkson Webster (north of Rochester) Ontario Sadies N Rose Red Creek Westbury Hannibal .Then we came to Fulton on highway 3. This seemed quite large it has a population of 11447.There were all the regular eating places and shopping centres like we find at home.

Highway 3 took us right to our pretty little cabin at The Willows on the Lake ,a 12.5 acre site at the eastern end of Lake Ontario,3 miles from Sackets Harbor, near Henderson Bay. We settled in, then left for supper at The Boat House in Sackets Harbor.When we got back to our cabin we found a thunder storm had gone through with high winds knocking down tree branches and one tree by the bay.The hydro was out also.The owners gave us a flashlight.We had left the window on the porch up and my bed blankets were wet so I just used my sleeping bag.It was a hot night.

The next morning I got a picture of about 50 Canada Geese on the lawn by the water.The owner came and ran after them shooing them off the property .We went for a lovely breakfast at Tin Pan Galley in Sackets Harbor.We were able to sit outside under the large trees on the bricked patio.There were lots of flowers and hostas and sunlight streaking through the leaves. Then we walked to Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site,a lovely large park now with a stone wall around the cliff’s edge.We walked through taking pictures and when we got back to the entrance it was time to get a tour through the Commandant’s House in The Navy Yard. This house was not built until the 1840’s. We started the tour with a movie in the ice house by the water.Then we walked through the Carriage House where there was a hands on display.Pamela lay down in a hammock similar to those used by sailors in the 1812 era.We next went to The Commandant’s House as it was in the 1850’s when Commandant Tattnall and family from southern Georgia lived there. The house had 3 stories with a balcony both front and back.There was a piano even though no one in the family could play one.The family liked to eat oysters since he was from the south but it took 4 days to get the oysters from the south to Sackets Harbor,thus they weren’t fresh,they spiced them up but the family was always feeling sickly.They had a pump in the kitchen in the basement, the water coming from the harbor,the pipe was low enough that they could even pump water in the winter.There was an outhouse which collected rainwater and flushed the toilets,the waste water going by underground pipe over the cliff into the harbor.Sometimes the drifting current brought this water back into the bay where the water was being pumped into the house.

When the Civil War began Commandant Tattnall went back to the south.The north called him a traitor and sold off all the household belongings. We got to lift the heavy dress his wife wore summer and winter.

Next it was time for lunch at Karens .Then we went to Sacket’s Mansion built in 1801 which is now a museum.Here we saw a film and picked up information and a map of how to get to Bolt’s Castle at Alexander Bay.We took the scenic route through this part of Jefferson County,passing through Dexter on Black River Bay,going through Chaumont on highway 12E.Chaumont is on Chaumont Bay.We went through Three Mile Bay to Cape Vincent which was a significant area during the war of 1812.It is on the St. Lawrence River across from Kingston Ontario.We drove along the river to Clayton.There is a boat museum here but we didn’t see it. In the 1890’s there were 16 express trains going to and from the village of Clayton a day.We drove through Clayton to Alexandria Bay arriving around 2:00pm . Here is where the Thousand Island House was built in 1871-72 and where Charles Boldt his wife Louise,and their son and daughter stayed in the summer of 1893 and 1894.Then we took the ferry to Boldt’s Castle.It is on Heart Island a five acre island where George Boldt built the castle for his wife Louise .It has 127 rooms .George Boldt was a millionaire proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The castle was begun in 1900.300 workers ,stonemasons,carpenters and artists were employed.In 1904 tragedy struck.Boldt telegrammed the island and commanded the workers “to stop all construction immediately “ Louise had died suddenly.A broken hearted Boldt could not imagine his dream castle without his beloved.Boldt never returned to the island.For 73 years the castle remained vacant,left to the mercy of the wind ,rain,ice,snow and vandals.The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority assumed authority in 1977 determined to preserve Boldt’s legacy for the public .Millions of dollars have been spent in bringing the buildings back to life. Some 220000 tourists view the buildings each year.We just walked through The Castle but there are 5 other structures on the island.They are:-The Power House,The Alster Tower,The Hennery,The Arch and a stone gazebo.

After leaving the castle we came back on highway 12 till it met 81,then took the two laned 81 highway south skirting Waterdown on the Black River,then taking Arsenal Street west back into Sackets Harbor.We picked up a pizza at a little hut ate our supper there and took the rest back to our cabin for breakfast (there proved to be enough for lunch too).

It was another lovely night with a good sunset.We met and chatted with a couple in the gazebo before going to bed.They were from Pennsylvania,he had been a computer programmer.Next morning it was raining when we went back to the Tin Pan Galley for breakfast after which we went to The Seaway Trail Discovery Centre.This is an old limestone building built as a hotel on the Sackets Harbor waterfront after the war of 1812. A lifelike animated Ulysses S. Grant greets you in the former tavern room.Grant played checkers here as a young Army Officer stationed at nearby Madison Barracks.The mission of the Discovery Centre is to inspire you to travel parts of the 454 mile costal region of Lake Erie,Niagara Falls,Lake Intario and the St.Lawrence River.

It was about 12:30 when we left Sackets Harbor and headed for home.Just out of Sackets Harbor was a sign pointing to Smithville.We had to go and see this place since we live in Smithville.It was a small place in the country ,not many streets and not many houses,but there was a historic Baptist Chuch there.We headed east till we hit highway 81,then followed the road south to Syracuse,caught the Interstate 90 to Buffalo.It only took 15 minutes to get across the bridge.We stopped at Wendys for supper then were home in half an hour.I got two books as my souvenirs of this trip,one called Boldt Castle Heart Island—Alexendria Bay,New York and The Thousand Islands, and the other—The Erie Canal—The Ditch That Opened a Nation..

This canal is fascinating to me.It runs roughly parallel to Interstate 90.It took seven years of labour by a predominantly immigrant workforce.It was a 4 foot deep 40 foot wide ditch connecting Lake Erie on the west with the Hudson River in Albany.It was a 363 mile trek across the wilderness of New York State.In its day it was far and away the longest canal in the world.It was completed in 1825.There were 83 locks to raise and lower the boats and barges 682 feet from one end to the other.TheErie Canal did more than simply serve as the nations first super highway. Canal towns with names like Rome,Lockport,Tonawanda and Buffalo were doors leading to the American West.The Erie Canal made New York City the premier port in United States.It opened the regions that are now Ohio,Indiana,Illinois and Michigan for trade.It opened the Great Lakes and it cleared land across New York State for the railroads.The canal gave merchants a way to cross the Appalachian Mountains and transport goods without braving the muddy inefficient roads across the state in 1825. It took 7 weeks to travel across New York State by horse and buggy.On the Erie Canal that same trip took just 7 days and the mules did virtually all the work.

Today 73.5 per cent of New York State residents live within two miles of The New York State Canal Ssytem---which in addition to the expanded Erie Barge Canal includes—Cayaga-Seneca Canal—The Oswego Canal—and the Champlain Canal.The Erie Barge Canal remains fully navigable today and has become a world-class tourism and recreation destination.The old song about the mule named Sal and the low bridge –everybody down is still sung .

THE ERIE CANAL                                                                                  

I’ve got a mule,her name is Sal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

She’s a good ol’ worker an’ a good ol’ pal

Fifteen mile on the Erie Canal

We’ve haul’d some barges in our day

Filled with lumber coal and hay

And we know every inch of the way

From Albany to Buffalo

Low bridge everybody down!

Low Bridge,for we’re comin to town!

And you’ll always know your neighbor

You’ll always know your pal

If you’ve ever navigated on the Erie Canal

We better get along on our way ol’ gal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

‘Cause you bet your life I’d never part with Sal

Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal

Git up there mule, here come a lock

We’ll make Rome ‘bout six oclock

One more trip an’back we’ll go

Right back home to Buffalo

Chorus—Low bridge,everybody down---

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's a Holiday


The car needed fixing .I attached my bicycle to the car rack and drove to the garage I was then going to spend a few hours while they fixed the car at the park.Balharbour Park is a small park on  the lake with only two park benches in it on the side of the hill.I sat there to read my book. It was one of those lovely sunny days,blue skies up above,white clouds floating by and a warm breeze blowing off the lake.A lady came walking down the path with two black labrador dogs .They headed straight for the water.She found some sticks and threw them in and the dogs had great fun retrieving them.The dogs looked identical.I asked if they were from the same litter she said no one was hers and she was looking after the other for a friend who was on a weeks holidays.They left the park, then the next thing to watch was a flock of geese bobbing along in the water.Two bicyclers came down to the lake to view the scene.It was very clear but you could not see across to the city on the other side of the lake.I tried to reach the garage to check on the car.The phone could not connect.Next the park crew came to cut the grass.With three large mowers and two weed eaters running it was time for me to leave the park.I rode leisurely along the bike trail to the next little town and had lunch.It was toonie Tuesday so Kentucky Chicken seemed good.It seemed like I had had a nice little holiday while waiting for the car but when I got to the garage the attendent said," I have been trying to reach you. Your car needs a part and it will take 3 hours to do the job but I could not get you on the telephone.Let me check your number." He had made a mistake copying down my number. He said,"let our car service take you home and we will repair the car then go and pick you up" . It happened .Such was the day...It still seemed like a holiday.
Ended the day by going to our grandson's soccor game. He scored a goal.....It still seemed like a holiday

Monday, August 16, 2010


We had an airplane picture taken of our farm buildings in the 1950’s. You can see the white picket fence stretching from the woodshed to the driving shed clearly.Grandma gave me the money one year to build it.It was my summer project.I had no electric tools just a hand saw.I measured the distance,how many post I needed,how many two by fours,and how many cedar boards I would need to cut into pickets.There was an old broken down page wire fence there with a style I had built over it so we could get into our garden .This had to be removed and cleaned up first.I went to dad’s post pile to get the six to eight new posts I would need to hang the fence on.I had to peel the bark off the posts with the draw knife to make them shiny and clean.We had a one man post hole digger that was just like a shovel with a lever on the one side so when you pushed the handle down ,it would close a scoop on the shovel and when you pulled the shovel out of the hole all the earth would come out with it.I had to measure the boards cut them the right length,then measure a vee for the picket and saw it off by hand.This was quite a bit of work and took quite a bit of time.I made a gate in the fence with hinges so we could walk out into the garden.Then I had to paint the fence white with a paint brush.I was pretty proud of that fence.I probably painted it a few times over the years. The white picket fence was still there when dad sold the farm.


July 17 2010.

Change Ahead

I am just practising to see if I am learning how to edit and write blogs. That will be the change ahead.

By way of introduction

The Sports Field

The Sports Field

It was Sunday afternoon.I was sitting on the front porch reading.I could hear laughter,shouting and horns blowing coming from the Leisure Park.I decided to get on my bicycle ride over and see what was happening today.There is a pathway leading from our subdivision through the soya bean fields to the Leisure Park.That’s what they call it.I call it The Sports Field.

There was a rugby tournament taking place.These Sports Fields are huge.There were two large well groomed baseball diamonds,lighted for evening games.There is an oval exercise track, and six soccor or rugby fields.There is a building with modern washrooms and lots of parking spaces.Everything looked lovely and green and well kept.

There must have been 100 cars in the parking lot.Crowds were sitting in their portable chairs watching the various games.There was a loud speaker system and a portable platform for the officials to sit on and make announcements and give the calls of the game.There were light portable tents for some to sit under and keep out of the hot sun. When the tournament was over the players were fed hot dogs and hamburgers.The food tents gave protection from the hot sun.There were four portable generators which provided the electricity to run the large portable coolers that contained the food.Everything seemed to be running smoothly and it looked as though all were enjoying a good time.

I got to thinking what it was like when I was growing up.I was a country boy and there were only about 400 people living in the nearest town.There was no soccor or rugby teams,just a baseball team but I never had any time to play on it in the summer.Most farm boys were needed to help with the haying and harvesting.It was a busy time.

There was no organized teams for most of us,we few kids would make up our own games.Usually we played baseball and called it scrub.There were no adults around or ball diamonds to play on.We just put down a piece of wood or a sack for our bases and played in a field near the farm buildings.We did have lots of fun but my how things have changed.

Written August 15 2010

The Hammock

A hammock to me always seems the ideal image of a restful relaxing summer under the tall maple trees. You lie there and swing gently in the warm breeze looking up into the leaves watching the clouds moving slowly across the sky,your mind dreaming of far away places or the next horse back ride you are going to have racing back the lane and through the bush.That was my summers while growing up on the farm.We always had a hammock and the trees were placed just the right distance apart to hang it.We had canvas hammocks and rope hammocks but the one I remember the best and the one that lasted the longest was made out of old wooden barrel staves.

We got some brace wire,laid three strands of it about eight inches apart,drew the ends together in a v shape and wrapped the wire around a solid iron ring.We used little staples and hammered the brace wire to the back of each barrel stave,the other side of the wooden stave was smooth and when a rope was tide to the rings at each end of the hammock and fastened to the trees our hammock was in place.It was strong and sturdy two people could lie side by side on it.Or they could sit up put their legs over the sides sitting back to back and swing themselves with their feet.One person could stand on the ground and push the other on the hammock.You could make it go very high and turn it over knocking the rider out. You could pull up and down on the rope and give the rider a bumpy ride.On this wooden hammock you could even stand up while the other person was giving you a swing.It was fun getting some blankets lying in the hammock and reading your book.I even remember sleeping over night on the hammock.

I remember too liking to go to the garden picking peas,filling my pockets and taking them back to eat while swinging on the hammock.The hammock was only twenty feet from the door to the house and after eating our dinner or supper we would often have a race to see who would claim the hammock for a good swing.Still today when I meet a distant relative he always reminds me of how much fun they had when he and his sister came to visit playing on our hammock.

In the 1960’s after having back surgery for a slipped disc and not being able to lie on a regular hammock I remember making a flat one.I went to the bush and cut poles to make two tripods.I found some old chain that I had saved after taking apart an old hayloader.I got a scrap piece of ¾ inch plywood 4 by 6 feet. I hung a pole between the two tripods. I put the chains on the pole and slipped the flat board through the chains.Now I had my portable hammock.I put a pillow and mattress on the board with a couple of blankets, got a book to read and spent many an enjoyable hour swinging gently in the warm summer breeze.I even had a portable radio.What a life!

July 15 2010



Twilight will be coming soon.I get on my Supercycle with balloon tires.I painted the fenders black when they began to rust.The rest of the bicycle is green. I pedal out of the little town into the country.I am in no hurry, my bike is a cruiser and that’s what I do. No bending my back or head looking down at the road for me.I like to see the country.

It has been a hot day,hot and humid but now ,it is cooler.Summer is moving on, the fields are very green and the corn is taller than I am and coming out in tassel.I ride by a farm and see two Four Wheelers coming up the field past the corn . I can hear the laughter of the riders above the engine.These little four wheelers are fast and peppy.The riders come past the farm buildings and house and ride out onto the paved road.They are coming towards me.One vehicle has a man and his son on it,the other has an eleven year old girl, her friend and an adult behind them.She has the four wheeler under control and speeds past me,turns around at the corner and comes back.I wave they wave back at me.

In the field by the road is a brown mare and a pony.They are eating grass.The field has been cut recently and there is nothing nicer than the smell of freshly cut new mown hay which is carried to me by the warm breezes.

All this makes me remember my days growing up on the farm and the fun we had.We had horses not motorcycles or four wheelers.We rode horseback either bareback or with a saddle.There is no greater thrill.The horse responds to your touch and jumps forward.You nearly fall off.You pull the reins to the left or to the right and there is immediate response.If you have two horses one is racing the other.You can feel the excitement and the nervous energy of your horse under you,he wants to run.

We had a high two wheeled cart too.That was fun riding back the lane,through the ditch and over the bumpy fields by the woods.We also had a buggy,this did not go as fast as the four wheelers but your ride was a lot quieter and still you could feel the wind in your hair and on your face as you moved along. Ah memories…

I got back on my bike and turned the corner onto a gravel road.The swallows were swooping and flying gracefully in front of me.I wonder how many insects they were getting.I got off the bike and watched them,then walked up the slight hill.I could hear the frogs calling in the reeds.It was a lovely ride before darkness descended and I returned home.

Written August 14 2010