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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

We made it to the other side of the map!

Call us ‘old school’ but we both like to look at a road map when we’re travelling. There is something about holding onto a map to see where we are headed. We both find it gives us a better perspective than trying to ’pinch’ the screen of our phones to see where we are going to.

Our starting mileage this morning.

We had a very ambitious goal today for our drive and like any ambitious goal, we weren’t sure if it was even achievable. We both woke up before the alarm at 5:20am. Our plan was to try and be on the road by 6:45am and we were headed down Lakeshore Road at 6:43am! Our first goal accomplished!

The weather started out pretty nasty this morning with flooding on our street from all the rain that had fallen overnight. Once we reached the QEW leaving Fort Erie, we encountered a lot more rain, which was extremely heavy at times.

On the QEW somewhere before sunrise.

We had a nice phone call from Ron & Lenore singing an amended version of Willy Nelson’s “On the Road Again” this morning. I’m not sure exactly what the lyrics were, but there was something about Newman in the new lyrics they made up.

We stopped at the ‘On Route’ rest stop near Innisfil and luckily for us there was a Starbucks where Richard could get a coffee, me an Earl Grey tea and some delicious sous vide bacon gruyere cheese egg bites. The egg bites are a favourite of mine when I used to travel a lot on business, as most airports have a Starbucks. Ah the ‘good old days’! (Very tongue in cheek…happy to be retired almost a year now!)

By the time we reached Bracebridge the rain had stopped and things were looking a bit better.

Unfortunately the good weather and driving conditions did not last long and just before North Bay, Ontario, the rain started coming down again, and very heavy too!

Near North Bay, Ontario.

We made it to Temagami for our lunch where Richard quickly ate his home toasted turkey and cheese sandwich and then got back to driving, while I finished my lunch. We knew we might run out of daylight, but if we wanted to reach out destination tonight, we needed to be racing against the clock to try and reach the town we had set as our goal.

Our lunch spot near the train station in Temagami.

On a long driving day we always look at the points of interest signs to see what the historic significance of the area we are driving through. I will then google the point of interest that we just saw on the sign and will read to Richard what was significant about this area in history. Today for example, we learned about Sir Harry Oakes whose former home in Kirkland Lake, Ontario is now the ‘Museum of Northern History ‘. Sir Harry was an entrepreneur who made his fortune as a prospector registering the Lake Shore Mine in 1911, in Kirkland Lake, which became the most productive gold mine in the Western Hemisphere and ultimately proved to be the second-largest gold mine in the Americas. Sir Harry moved to the Bahamas in 1935 for tax reasons and became a British subject. In 1939 Oakes was created a baronet by King George V1 as a reward for his philanthropic endeavours in the Bahamas, Canada and Great Britain. During the Great Depression Oaks donated a 16-acre parcel of land in what is now the central area of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Oakes became interested in golf and, in the late 1920’s hired golf course architect Stanley Thompson (who also designed our club in Fort Erie - Bridgewater Country Club, formerly Erie Downs) to build a 9 hole golf course for him called the ”Sir Harry Oakes Private Course” in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The course was completed in 1929 and was the Oak Hall Par 3 public course more recently, until it seems to have closed in 2019. Sir Harry was mysteriously murdered in the Bahamas in 1943 at age 68 and no one was found guilty of his murder. What an interesting story to read about Sir Harry Oakes as we drove by Kirkland Lake!

As we were approaching Cochrane Richard looked at me and said “Isn’t Cochrane where you can catch the train to Moosonee, Ontario to go and see the polar bears?”

Sure enough, the polar bear next to the sign in Cochrane, Ontario gave it away. Apparently you can go and see the polar bears 4 days a week on a same day return trip on Via Rail from Cochrane to Moosonee!

Motoring right along and knowing we were going to lose our daylight soon, we found a truck that we could get behind and know that he could be our ‘sweeper’ as Richard likes to call the person we are following.

Our ‘sweeper’ ahead of us.

And just as it was almost pitch black, we pulled into Hearst, Ontario after a 12 hour and 20 minute day on the road, having done 661 miles!

Downtown Hearst.

We thought we would stay at the Esso/Husky truck stop for the night, but with so many trucks already in position, we couldn’t make it through the line of trucks to be pointing out towards the road. We cannot back up with Jerry attached behind us, so we always have to make sure if we get in somewhere we can pull out, instead of needing to unhook Jerry and back up. While at the truck stop, Richard put $200 of diesel fuel in Newman and we then headed next door to spend the night in the parking lot of ‘Your Independent Grocery Store’, in Hearst. There is also a truck with a trailer parked in front of us and the grocery store is closed for the night. Our plan is to leave very early tomorrow morning and see if we can make up some time, from leaving to leave 2 days later than we had planned because of Newman’s repair situation on the air bags.

The reference to making it to the other side of the map came to us the other night when our good friend and caretaker of our home, Liz came over. Liz’s grandmother lived in Hornpayne, Ontario and when her and her siblings were younger they would follow along on the paper map all the way from Fort Erie, to Hornpayne. Once they got to the ’other side of the map’, they would let their father know that they were getting closer to their grandma’s home. When Liz told us this story I thought I would use the line about ‘getting to the other side of the map’ as you really don’t know how big Ontario is until you have to drive through it to get to the ‘other side of the map!’

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