Hubby brought home a terrific book the other day. Yes, from the library, I wish we could support all the local authors and artisans, but I still have 1300 books of my own to sell!!
The book is called, Vanished Villages: Discover whistlestops, old mills, lost hamlets, relics and ruins of Ontario, by Ron Brown (1996)
Picture the 1600s, with native villages. Palisades and longhouses created an time and place guided by tribal laws, an economy and a strong consensus government.
Until the colonies determined that there were gold, furs, ancient pine forests, which they felt all needed mining. At that point, The Hudson Bay Company (HBC), desperate for beaver felt, fought for territory with the Northwest Company (NWC).
The NWC mined the natural resources south of the Great Lakes watershed, while the NWC exploited the shore and watersheds of Hudson Bay. Between them they built over 600 Ontario trading posts. It wasn't until 1821 that the rivalry was assuaged with amalgamation, and by the end of that century trading posts were reduced to 52 locations.
This book covers all of Ontario, but what interested me, for this blog,
was the section on the 'Vanished Villages' around Georgian Bay. Read more in Post 2!
The sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the men and the ship heralded by many - especially Gordon Lightfoot, celebrates a life long gone.
Many ships, sunk near Batchawana Bay, marked on the map.
I was amazed with all the small towns across this province and, obviously, across this continent, that have disappeared over time. Places where the trains no longer have whistle stops, forts and ports no longer have a purpose, miners and manors no longer dig or build, lumber mills and wood burning locomotives no longer need the massive pines.
Fur trading posts are abandoned and haunted by skeletons of ancient ghosts, furriers and farriers, missionaries and pioneers and decaying barns
lumber barons drank their whiskey in fine establishments
The railway, of course, changed the land forever. The animals disappeared off of the land, being plundered as never before.
The small cabins, as described in my grandmother's stories, disappeared in far off locations, replaced by larger towns and outposts.
The map shows the North Channel (We stayed in Blind River) and Manitoulin Island, Georgian Bay on the east, off of Lake Huron. These were mainly fishing villages, small communities in which fishing and the lumber industry, as well as mills provided a working living for many.
But it was the mills that did the environmental damage. It was the farmers who drove Natives off of rich hunting lands. See post 2 for more information.
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