Thursday, November 13, 2014

Completing Some Circles

Labour Day Weekend 2014...good weather, and a long trip from Arnprior to Guelph, Ontario where daughter Ilana attends university.

When she first started, 3 years ago,  we drove her down "the long way". we took a more pleasant but circuitous route to avoid the traffic gridlock of Toronto, which is now worse than Los Angeles. Down highway 7 to Peterborough, and then via Newmarket and Orangeville.  My mother and her 8 siblings grew up in a foster home in Orangeville after my Grandmother died in the 1920's.

The family had been together where my grandfather has a farm (rented) at Acton, Ontario.  My mother was born in Acton in 1912 and spent her first years there.

The route we took went through Orangeville and then Acton, just before Guelph.  My mother was so pleased to hear that Ilana had seen her home town. Though the town and the surroundings have changed very much.

We met Ilana on Friday afternoon, and she gave us a tour of Guelph, a tour she does for prospective students and their parents. The highlight for me was the Arboretum, one of Canada's finest, which contains, among many other interesting southern trees, several Bald Cypress; large and healthy and more than 1000 miles from their northern range limit! I asked, via email, the arborist how this was accomplished.  I am still awaiting a response. I enjoyed seeing Tulip Trees, and Black Walnuts and so many more.

We then had supper and went to our friends' home where we stayed. They have one of the largest Black Walnuts I have seen growing right out of their deck.

Another circle: Martha and Jan lived together in Ottawa back in the early 1980's. She, and her spouse, Daniel, both got jobs at U. Guelph, giving us yet another reason to visit.

One other circle we need to close...Jan's cousin Bob Davis had founded back in the mid 1960's the first alternative school in Canada: Everdale.  We had wanted to see it with Bob. Tragically, Bob died a few years ago. Yet, we wanted to see this magical place, which didn't last long as an alternative school, and has now gone on to other great things. Daniel, Martha, Ilana, Peter, Jan and I drove northeast of Guelph to Hillsburgh, where the school, much changed, has been converted to a community farm, provided Harvest Share, training and education about sustainable agriculture.  Bob was quite proud of this changed role for Everdale, as the people who founded the farm were long-time friends.

Helena and Wally greeted us warmly and gave us a tour. He also explained the growth of the Harvest Share endeavor, and that they also operate a large farm at Black creek just North of Toronto.  So if you live in the area, do check them out.

I suggest you learn about Everdale and the Harvest Share concept at their Website:

Daniel, Martha, Jan, Ilana at Everdale

Wally explains how Everdale works to Jan

Plaque dedicated to Cousin Bob Davis

Scenic view of Everdale. Helena and Wally get to enjoy this view!

The next day, Peter, Ilana, Jan and I went to the Elora Gorge.  When I went to school at University of Waterloo, I visited this spectacular Grand River gorge several times. The town of Elora (near Guelph) grew as a mill town, taking advantage of the tremendous water power supplied by a narrow limestone cut.  On a Sunday afternoon, people come from all over to wade in the shallow water, fish or just observe the view. Elora is not far from St. Jacobs, heart of a local thriving Mennonite community.  You can see two very dapper Mennonite gentlemen amongst the visitors below.

Many silly people, who obviously do not share my terror of heights, enjoy (!?) this strange activity called "zip-lining" across the Gorge. This looks like ET is enjoying (?!) the trip.

Girls enjoy a wade.  Note the bridge crossing the Gorge.  That's one of the streets in the "touristy" town of Elora. Nice, huh?

Closer look at bridge.  High, isn't it? Shudders....

No, really? This is something people PAY to do?  I don't comprehend.

View from bridge.  The Grand River Conservation Authority does a decent job of keeping the local parks in a semi-natural state.  Given the development pressures, this is a vitally important organization.

Back home via the long lovely Highway 7 route,  then to High Lonesome in our next shared experience.