|Adventures in LA LA Land|
WE CERTAINLY HAD LOTS OF ADVENTURES
Our first of two historical bus tours was by all accounts a great success! But it definitely required a great deal of flexibility on the part of the organizer!
With a full bus, we left Belleville right on time and headed to Napanee where we turned north onto Highway 41. En route, our commentator, Orland French, provided basic information and a few jokes to lighten a basically boring ride. He asked everyone to be on the lookout for a five-lined skink which became the joke for the day! Once headed north, we took a quick trip through Selby, whose main claim to fame these days is as the home of the Lennox and Addington Community Theatre in a restored red brick Methodist Church. From there we headed to Roblin, with Orland relating how Roblin wasn’t always in its present location, and how the current white stucco church began life as a wooden church in Marlbank!
Leaving Lennox and Addington, Orland jokingly noted that he was contracted only for LA and therefore turned the mike over to Mary-Lynne. Once in Marlbank, we did a quick bus tour when our bus driver showed his prowess in making a three-point turn when we ran out of village! Adventure #1. We then stopped at the ruins of the Old Cement Plant for a photo stop. Fortunately, there was very little traffic on this normally busy road that connects to Tweed, so we didn’t lose any of our passengers as they straggled along the road and roadside to view the ruins. As we passed through Tweed, Evan Morton’s museum on the main street was pointed out, along with the tiny jail. The main attraction in Tweed was the welcome pit stop at Timmie’s at the north end of the town.
Passing Actinolite, we noted the Marble Church, commissioned by Billa Flint and built of stone quarried right on site, designed by the same architect who designed Bridge Street Church in Belleville. The similarity of Romanesque style to Bridge Street was also noted. We proceeded along Highway 7 to Flinton Road, also built by Billa Flint to provide a route for lumber from his mill in Flinton, where all the streets are named after people in his family. The sign as you enter Flinton Road (“12 kms of winding road”) is certainly an understatement and definitely prophetic! On the way, Mary-Lynne described the beauty of the fall colours in this area and the many stands of pine and deciduous trees. Several passengers noted huge beaver dams in nearly ponds and lakes. Once over the Hastings/Lennox and Addington line, Orland resumed his commentary about Flinton Road, originally reputed to be an Indian trail. Manoeuvring this road in a 56-passenger tour bus was the second of many adventures! Our third adventure occurred when we tried to see the waterfalls where the original mill was built and found we had to go quite a way on a dirt road to find a suitable place for our bus driver to turn the bus around. But we found one and were soon on our way again back into Flinton and on to Northbrook.
Our stop is Northbrook was another adventure we hadn’t counted on, as I was contacted by my North Lennox and Addington contact on the Wednesday prior to the tour to tell me that they had discovered there was a double booking for the hall where we were to have lunch in Cloyne. Thankfully, Marg Axford arranged for an alternate location – in Northbrook. As we left Highway 41 to proceed down another dirt road, several passengers doubted there was any United Church down that road, but just when we thought we were on the wrong road, there it was– a new building with people waiting to feed us. Although it was an hour earlier than we had planned to eat, everyone was ready to stop! As far as I know now, the lunch for the second trip will be in Cloyne as originally planned.
Our stop at the Cloyne and District Pioneer Museum was definitely a highlight of the day. This little local museum is larger than it looks from the road and holds a treasure trove of artifacts, well organized and well documented. It is definitely worth a stop if you are in the area. In fact, a day trip to see the museum and Bon Echo would make a great outing. The display on Bon Echo Inn provided background for our next stop–Bon Echo Provincial Park.
At the park gate we were met by a very well-informed guide, Lisa Roach, who took us for a short walk through the woods, past the original site of the Bon Echo Inn and down to the Narrows, where she provided a very interesting commentary on the rock, its history, the numerous indigenous pictographs, flora and fauna (including the five lined skink) found in the park. Bug repellent was used generously to make this part of the tour comfortable for all. This was definitely a worthwhile stop for those who decided to take the walk down to the Narrows.
We then headed back down Hwy 41 through Cloyne and Northbrook to Kaladar where we stopped briefly at the site of the old Kaladar Hotel and Orland related some tales of this once bustling community. As we headed south, we couldn’t help but notice the many strikingly different rock cuts, which Orland noted are well described in his book, Lennox and Addington. Also, on this stretch he noted that somewhere off road is the only known patch of prickly pear cactus this far east and north in Canada and the only major location of five-lined skinks (Ontario’s only lizard) – who knew??? I am sure many of our passengers doubted there was such a creature until Lisa mentioned them in her commentary!
Two different communities settled at roughly the same time, only a few miles apart and so different! The names of area side roads and the huge limestone Catholic church should have been the first clues. Erinsville was definitely the Irish Roman Catholic community through which the rail line travelled on its way to the cement works in Marlbank, while Tamworth was the Irish Protestant village to the south and east. Our on-board guide in Tamworth, Robert Storring, proved to be an encyclopedia of history and folklore of the village, pointing out all its best features, including its main street red brick buildings and the many things that make it an ideal place to live. (Of course, a real estate agent such as he, would say that!!!) Nevertheless, everyone on board found his narration another highlight of the tour and he was enthusiastically applauded at the end of his tour.
Our next adventure came when we missed the side road over to Newburgh and took an unscheduled tour through Camden East. Fortunately for us, one of our passengers, Jane Scott, an active member of the Lennox and Addington Historical Society, jumped in with commentary. By now almost a half hour later than we had planned, we then took County Rd 1 over to Newburgh and entered the village from the south, rather than the north. There waiting patiently for us in front of the ice cream store and bakery were four volunteers from the Rogues Hollow Renewal Committee ready to take us on a half hour walk. This situation was another adventure which called for immediately “going with the flow.” I knew our passengers were more interested in ice cream than a walk, so we changed plans! We stopped for the ice cream/bakery break, and when everyone had finished their ice cream (no ice cream allowed on the bus) we had two Rogues Hollow volunteers guide us on a bus tour of the village to show us the many historic sites for which this village is renowned. This was a much better plan as we saw more of the village back streets, than if we had been walking. We also stopped at the home of David Anderson and Viola Kalinowski who were kind enough to let us walk through their gorgeous gardens to view the mill and dam ruins. This is the site (annually on the third Saturday in June) of Art Among the Ruins, one of the best art and craft shows in Eastern Ontario. Fortunately, David provided lots of postcards to advertise the event.
Following our visit to Newburgh, we headed cross country to the hamlet of Strathcona to view what is left of the village and the now extensive Strathcona Paper Mill.
You’ve heard me reference the importance of weather gods for our bus tours. They can make or break a bus tour! They were with us until we got onto the 401, when it started to rain. Throughout the day we had mainly overcast skies, a nice breeze to keep most of the bugs away and comfortable temperatures. At least the rain held off until we were almost home! All in all, it was a great day with lots of adventures in LA LA Land. Knowing our second trip is always different in some way, I wonder what adventures await us on June 9th…