(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)
Hi there –
Well, we were told we wouldn’t have Internet access tonight but I’ve picked up a weak signal so I’ll send you our latest news. The last time I wrote from Alliston I told you that Alliston was the Potato Capital of Canada. I have since found out that it is only the Potato Capital of Ontario so PEI doesn’t have to worry. We also found out that Alliston has a very large Honda car manufacturing plant. The Man took his car by the plant to show it where it may have been made. The car didn’t seem very impressed. One last thing we found out is that Alliston is the birthplace and was the home of Sir Fredrick Banting, the inventor of insulin and other things.
We started off the day by walking through the cemetery at Alliston where we found many of the Lady’s distant relatives, the Kerrs, Nobles and Ferris’s who settled around here in the early 1800s. It’s a beautiful cemetery but kind of sad because right next door to it is a huge senior’s complex and their only view is the cemetery. The Man says there’s a conveyor belt connecting the two but I don’t believe him. I didn’t feel very comfortable eating the grass there either.
We spent most of the day lost, travelling up and down very unusual and out of the way roads trying to find traces of the Lady’s family. We travelled down one very narrow, hilly, curvy dirt road only to find at the bottom of a hill two women standing beside their SUV. The Man stopped and asked them if they needed any help and they said no they were just waiting for their kids. So the Man asked, “Can you tell me where we are?” After telling us about concession lines, township lines, side roads and lot lines the Man figured they were just as lost as we were. As it turned out the Man fluked onto what we believe we were looking for, the house that the Lady’s great grandfather, Robert Noble, built in the early 1800’s. As with most of the houses here, it is built of brick and therefore looks as good as the day it was built.
We also found the Perm/Mulmur cemetery where a large gathering of Ferris’s lie including Thomas and Catherine Ferris who came from Ireland in about 1830 to settle here. It was a beautiful spot with rolling farmland and a great view though they probably don’t appreciate it.
We also spent some time at the Dufferin Museum Archives. The museum is a beautiful new building with lots of great information about the area and it’s history.
Because of being lost we ended up driving about 150 kilometres around the area and ended up 30 kilometres from where we started in the morning. It was getting very late when we started looking for a motel and the Man and Lady were getting quite snarly, I was fearing for my life.
As a last resort, we ended up in the only motel in Bradford, Ontario. The Man was ecstatic because it was the ultimate in sleazy motels. We knew we were in trouble when we were finally parking the car and saw a toilet under the trees. Even the Man started getting a little queasy! The Man and Lady jumped from chair to bed in order not to put their feet on the floor and I wore baggies on my hooves as the carpet was very spotty. Fortunately the Man and Lady’s friend, Rosamond, had warned us that when entering a sleazy motel room, you must immediately whip off the bedspread because you don’t know what or whom has been on it. (I’m not sure if she’s speaking from experience with sleazy motels.)
All evening the Man kept saying how nice it was and you could barely notice the large fist sized patches on the gyproc and the holes in the bathroom door because the sun was pouring through the grungy windows creating a golden glow. Unfortunately the front window wouldn’t open but it was ok because the bathroom window fell off into the Lady’s hands. I am still scratching but the Man claims he only saw one small flying type insect.
We went for dinner next door to the BBQ Palace and the lady at the counter looked at our credit card as if it was a dead snake. The atmosphere wasn’t very exciting there. Before bed the Lady piled up furniture in front of the door and slept in her clothes. The next morning we were up and on the road at six. We went to breakfast at a different cafe and had the same problem with our credit card and the hostess would only accept cash. We decided we must be getting too close to Toronto and it was affecting people so we decided to make a beeline to the East coast.
We got on Highway 17, the central Trans Canada route through Ontario and were revived by the sight of beautiful pine and maple forests, lakes, rolling hills, farms and rocky outcrops of the Niagara Escarpment.
We stopped for lunch at Merrickville and had a fascinating time. The site of Merrickville was originally called Grand Falls. Around 1800, a Mr. Merrick decided that it would be an idyllic spot to build some mills powered by the Rideau River that runs through there. Eventually a town grew around his mills and became known as Merrickville. Around 1850, the British government realized that the waterways needed to be opened up to create a supply line for the military so they created a 200 kilometre network of canals and locks.
At Merrickville there are about six locks where we watched two boats enter from both ends to bypass a treacherous part of the river. There was about a 18 metre (60 foot) difference from one side to the other and it took about 45 minutes for the whole process of opening and closing the locks to get the boats through. It was all hand operated winches and chains. The town itself was very well restored and we saw lots of wonderful stone buildings.
We continued on east to Alexandria where we found a very pleasant clean motel for the night. We’ll continue our journey east tomorrow once we plot out our course. We’ll keep you informed.