32 Grenville Street M4Y 1A3



Christopher Greaves


Midland because we piacked yet-another-page-at-random from Ron Brown's book "Downtown Ontario" . It was to have been a Saturday drive, then we figured overnight. Then we found that the Comfort Inn had a room for $85, so we booked two nights and spent three days exploring the district.

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We drove up from near the airport; took less than two hours at my speed (100KM/hr in right-hand lane as befits an old fart) and included a stop for tea from our thermos flask .

Checked in, then a nice lunch at Kelsey's across the street, then a cruise of the town, a nap, and back to the town docks,

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Balm Beach is easy to find and popular. We set off northwards up Tiny beaches Road looking for quieter spots, but found only places like the one shown above.

This is a "city lot", 66-feet wide, set aside by the municipality to provide access for the public. The entrance is narrow; the beach is 66-feet wide. Move on. Only selfish cottage owners here.

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Meandering back eastwards alonmg Concession 13 we drop into Penatanguishene after a great view of St Anne's RC church. Here we are at the Town Docks and the tourist information centre.

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A view across the gulf shows Penatanguishene and its marinas.

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A wharf-side diner and grill is available, with a steady stream of arrivals as we sat watching.

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Here's another view of Penatanguishene across the bay.

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Google Maps shows a lovely herring-bone pattern; the effect of ref;ected bow waves in the narrow inlet.

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I liked the planter pots, shaped like Big Red Canoes.

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To the south east a serious thunderstorm was tring to get started. We heard later that on the Friday night Toronto GTA was flooded with torrents of rain. We had nary a drop; nothing that prevented us from having a good time.

We learned too that a collection of five low-pressure dimples were centered on us the whole trip. In retrospect I think that our little patch of blue sky was the centre of the system, and the clouds ringing us were the clouds ringing the "eye". The system stretched from the Atlantic coast of maine to North Dakota.

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Here is a little anvil cloud trying to be big. If I didn't know better, I'd say that there was a massive wildfire just to the south of our spot.

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While we were there a replica vessal quietly slid into the dock.

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Here she is; smaller than the lifeboats on the Shaw Saville Line.

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Next morning (lotsa coffee and complimentary breakfast at The Comfort Inn) we went for a drive.

First stop Martyr's Shrine. Above is a photo of the church building taken through the trees.

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Betty asked me if that was the Niagara Escarpment; I hedged my bet by saying that I supposed it was. For all that it's really a tree-line, I suspect that the growth parallels the gound, so that we see one of the many shelves of the overall saucer-shape of the escarpment as it becomes visible across Southern Ontario.

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Here is a poor shot of the chancel. The screen show a pinting of the martyrs.

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An even poorer shot of the martyrs.

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The roof fascinated me; it appears that we are sheltering under an over-turned birchbak canoe. The panels are of veneer, perhaps maple. Bubbles have arisen over the years, probably because of uneven temperature and moisture content.

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The gardens are lovely. I couldn't resist bringing back a memory - on camera, of course.

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Here is a view of the chancel and sacristy from the north-west corner. The twin spires of the west end stare over the valley floor.

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I was struck by the view across the valley. Quite similar to the view in Bridgeport. In both cases I am staning at a point of interest looking across a valley towards our motel, and a multi-lane highway snakes between the two spots. See for example the third image on the Bridgeport page .

Across the street is The Wye Marsh Conservation Area . Nice enough people, but not at all interested in letting Fred and I put in the canoe on their property. Guided tours only, please, and only in their canoes.

Later I learned that one of the hotel staff put in on the north side of the bridge for highway 12, and just waves in a friendly manner when they stream through the guided tour. I guess there's nothing to stop one doing that

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Various posters suggest that you'll see wildlife if you take the tour.

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But I've already seen enough canada geese to last me a lifetime; mine or theirs.

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These are a novelty. We have Black Swans native to Western Australia .

Port McNicoll

Then on to Port McNicoll.

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Davidson Street runs out along the western side of a dock, and at the end has sprung up an exclusive estate. The houses are obscenely huge.

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Across the street is a delightful bit of wetland.

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HMS Keewatin is now tied up at the dock as a tourist project.

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The name rang a bell, but I had to visit the ship to learn WHY it rang a bell!

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Here's a view of millionaire's alley.

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The captain leaving the ship.


Then on to the happy village of Coldwater.

We had a good lunch in Tiffany's, and then strolled the town.

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A beautiful creek runs northwards through the village. I'd like to own the house and sit on the banks of a morning, with a mug of coffee, or an evening with a bowl of iced cream.

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There's a small spot on the east side too, backing on to the main street.

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We stopped for gas before leaving town; I filled the car, came to about $60, and went inside to pay, holding open the door to let a woman out before I went in.

I Paid; the cashier said "Thank You" and I asked "What's your accent?". England. What part? Manchester. "ooh! I'm a Farnworth boy meself!". Turns out the lady for whom I'd held the door was from Bury, where my sister went to school. They say "small world", but it is really a coincidence to be expected from time to time. Nice when it happens, though!

Big Chute Marine Railway

Off to Big Chute, home to, I believe, North America's only marine railway

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The cradle runs on rails; a boat id suspended from slings within the cradle. The rails run out of the water, across the road, and into the water on the other side.

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Here is a view of the rails; where the inner and outer rails are at different heights, the variance maintains the cradle in an almost-horizontal orientation.

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A few statistics, with (lower right) a schematic view of the cradle at one end of its run.

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More descriptive text and images. The Marine railway at Big Chute has many placards describing the site.

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When the cradle is being lifted from Georgian Bay, the winding station at the top of the hill takes in cables from the western end (left of photo) and spins them out to the eastern end. The direction of winding is reversed for passage from the Trent-Severn into Georgian Bay (east to west and higher water to lower water)

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Here's a close-up of two pulleys.

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The centre of the undercarriage has a neat switching gear that I've not quite worked out.

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Here is the old cradle and railway. Twenty years ago both were in operation; I suppose maintenance costs have driven the older one into retirement.

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Note the hand-crank and cog-and-chain mechanism.

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The cable ran on a plain old iron roller set between the tracks.

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A pictorial view of Big Chute. The body of water on the right, the Severn river, ampties into Georgian bay on the left.

Midland - Comfort Inn

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A view from the northern parking lot looking through the intersection of King street and Heritage drive.

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Turning to the left, the view along the parking lot. The wood behind the motel continues down the side and is in view here.

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"The Sign" on Highways 12/93 a.k.a. Heritage Drive

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The western end of the motel shows where a path starts into the wood.

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Here I am starting down the path.

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In the wood, looking back towards the motel.

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Three or four barbecue sets and picnic tables are available for guests.

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Some of the friendly staff at The Comfort Inn.

Parks of Midland & Penatanguishene

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Midland - St Anne's church

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Movie 5857

Movie 5858 (58s) The cradle passes over the roadway, westward; water continues to drip from the cradle for the entire trip. It passes over the winding-station pulleys. Around the 50s mark you can see a single boat silohetted against the sky, with two passengers enjoying the view. The control cabin, like a signal-box, is on the north side of the railway, and appears late in the movie to the left of the screen.

Movie 5859 (1m 56s) I follow the cradle along the walkway on the south side of the tracks. Around the 20s mark the cradle begins its steep descent to Georgian Bay. (As do I!). At the 37s mark, to the left of the screen, the difference in elevation between the two sets of rails is evident. At 1m15s the leading wheels enter the water. I pan back to show the incline, and the control cabin astride the hump. At 1m54s the cradle is flooding; the boat will soon be floating free.

Movie 5861 (9s) A short view throiugh the bushes of the rush of water through the gorge that parallels the Marine Railway.

Movie 5862 (9s) Another short view throiugh the bushes of the rush of water through the gorge that parallels the Marine Railway.

Movie 5868 (20s) A view downstream of the chute; I was asked why it is called Big Chute, and attempted to give a rational explanation whilst holding my tongue in my cheek.

Movie 5869 (7s) A view of the cradle on its return trip, eastwards, from Georgian Bay to the Trent-Severn system.

Movie 5870 (5s) The pulleys outside the winding station.

Movie 5871 (9s) A closer view of the pulleys outside the winding station.

Movie 5872 (24s) The cradle continues on its return trip. Note the passenger sitting on the bow of the boat. At the 3s mark, a bell begins ringing, but the cradle is practically on the roadway by this point! At the 11s mark, the cradle is well into the roadway, but the gates are still descending. It's not a big deal - the cradle towers over the cabin and is visible in motion for quite a way off. Also traffic stops to sight-see anyway, so you can't drive through.

Movie 5874 (1m47s) near the end of its return trip, the advent of the cradle is marked by dripping water. At the 24s mark the leading wheels dip into the water; I pan back to show the rails for the rrailing wheels which (rails) have already begun their descent. All in all it is a very peaceful operation. At 1m31s the cradle is sinking beneath the water and the boat floats free.


416-993-4953 CPRGreaves@gmail.com

Toronto, Wednesday, August 30, 2017 3:06 PM

Copyright 1996-2017 Chris Greaves. All Rights Reserved.