Algoma Central Railway
The railway was incorporated in 1899, with the intention of making a line all the way to Hudson’s Bay. They started north from Sault Ste. Marie, but by 1914 they had given up on reaching the Bay. It was used for some lumber and ore transport, but what really made it big was the famous “Group of Seven”. Haven’t heard of the Group of Seven? Then I guess you aren’t Canadian. Seven artists rented a boxcar, fitted it out kind of like a motorhome, and spent the summer of 1918 on side tracks of the railway, painting their impressions of the beautiful landscape. They had so much fun they did it for about 5 more years. Their work was to Canada like Thomas Moran’s paintings were to the U.S. and Yellowstone. (If you don’t know about him, look it up. His work was a lot of the reason Yellowstone was made into our first National Park, and that started the whole National Park thing elsewhere in the world). (but I digress…) So the Group of Seven popularized the Sault Ste. Marie area and the train, and now it runs daily 114 miles (4.5 hours) up into a beautiful park, lets you hike for 90 minutes, and then ride back again.
Most of the native animals avoid the noisy train, and stay out of sight. But when the railway was being built, they noticed Bull Moose seemed to be drawn by the train whistle or horn. During mating season they would sometimes try to challenge the trains! They tell of one Moose that stood in the middle of the track, staring down the engine. Even when the engineer gently pushed him, he turned and walked… right down the tracks for a long way. He might have to give in, but not too easily!
I never shoot through glass or from moving vehicles… unless I am on a train, in Canada, and it’s raining, and the windows don’t open anyway.
Once at the park, it was raining like crazy. And we, like crazy, hiked all over in the rain. First destination was a lookout post. What did we think we would see?? Well, it was beautiful, but quite soggy!
Then we took the trail to Black Beaver Falls (below left) and Bridal Veil Falls (below other).
The last part of the trail was so rain-soaked we walked on the tracks most of the way back. And it was nice to know the train couldn’t leave without us if we were standing on the tracks! Rather like a Moose.
So, soaking wet made the trip back home seem quite long. We were cold and soggy and very glad to get back to a nice warm home!
Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre
Bushplanes are the only way in or out of much of the Canadian forest lands. This museum is dedicated to the interesting machines (and pilots) who make this land accessible.
A large part of the exhibit is about fire fighting… Canadians seem to rule the world when it comes to using planes for fire fighting. One model of their awesome planes can skim over a lake and pick up 6,000 pounds of water in 12 seconds! They drop millions of gallons of water on forest fires in an amazingly short time. They have to be sure there are no ground crews in the dump zone: the weight of the falling water can snap tree limbs and mess up a fire fighters whole day.
So here’s a firefighter and his lookout tower:
Lunch and Walking
On “Moving Days” we tend to be rolling around lunchtime. Sometimes we eat as we go (If we really have to be someplace), but often we pull over somewhere, have lunch, and then go for an exploratory walk. In the middle of nowhere. Or anywhere. One day, somewhere east of Sault Ste. Marie, on our after-lunch walk, we came upon an old cemetery. This stone had an imaginative display:
There were several French-looking stones that were quite different in tone:
These are from early 1900’s. The one on the right died on my birthday, (except almost 50 years prior), at 7 months old. Sad.
St George’s Anglican Church caught my eye… there are several beautiful churches nearby, but this was the most interesting architecture.
Bruce Peninsula National Park / Grotto
It’s rather fun to have a whole region named after one’s self! The Bruce Peninsula is very picturesque, and very popular. We have seen several Provincial Parks, which are like our State Parks, but Bruce gets a National Park status. There are all kinds of Bruce named places and companies and congregations and whatever scattered all over the place. The Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest and longest footpath, runs all the way from the Niagra River to the tip of Bruce Peninsula – over 500 miles. We did a couple hundred yards of it…
Ok, we’d probably have done more, except it was VERY windy and really cold. The waves breaking over the rocky shoreline were very impressive. The wind was blowing so violently it was hard to hold still enough to shoot pictures; and the freezing fingers didn’t help out much!
A nice hike through the forest leads to a rock arch and a deep grotto. This area is so popular in the summer that you have to reserve a parking time slot ahead of time.
I will say I wasn’t the least bit tempted to jump… but this sign makes it look like some have been.
The Sweet Shop in town had some more fun signs: