Thursday, 19 March 2015

Jardine Sideroad Barn

"The Survivor" - Watercolour - 8"x14"

One of the things I love about the country is the abundance of barns that still exist, sitting forlornly in fields, and sometimes hidden by trees. They are fast becoming a remnant of a vanishing era as many are falling increasingly under the threat of demolition as their territory is overtaken by development. Barns have existed for centuries in many forms, and the word "Barn" comes from the old English term "bere" for barley (or any grain), and "aern" meaning a place of storage.  They can be both large and small, but the general purpose was to shelter such valuable commodities such as livestock, crops and the implements of  one's trade.  Some even came with silos of stone or concrete to assist in the storage of the grains.

The Blue Mountain area is blessed with many fine examples, and the one in my painting has always been a particular favourite for me.  It sits proudly at the corner of the Jardine Sideroad and Highway #24, and even though it has been stripped of much of it's beautiful barnboard cladding, it still commands a somewhat regal presence.  I have done a previous post on the beautiful farm home which once sat before it, but sadly it has been lost to the ravages of time and the wrecking ball.  Fortunately the barn still stands as a testament to the hardy folks who built it,  and who's lives were once intertwined with the land on which it sits.

The barn in the shot above sits on an abandoned and derelict farm just outside of the town of Acton.  We stopped by to explore it one day while driving back home to Milton from the cottage.  I couldn't help but snapping some shots, and even though it is mostly just a frame of timbers, it still is worthy of some impressive shots.

The Sixth Street Bridge, Collingwood Ontario

Of all of the historical images in my collection, this one remains one of my most favourite ones.  This wonderful shot was taken of the Sixth Street Bridge which crosses Silver Creek at the junction of Sixth Street and Osler Bluff Road on the 24th of May, 1912.  I have always referred to the mountain side of Sixth Street as "Old Mountain Road" as it was much closer to town than the County Road 19 access road which is closer to Osler Bluff Ski Club.  

The first bridge over Silver Creek was constructed in the mid 19th century, and then was replaced by one of iron in the 1880's.  The current and final structure was built in 1911, and this photo is unique in that it shows not only the current bridge, but the previous iron one as well.  The railing on the newer bridge was eventually changed from one of open construction to concrete, and at one time you could still discern the construction date of 1911 on the lower part of the concrete.

I have a particular fondness for this site as my folks live just upstream of this bridge, and I grew up playing in this river and under the bridge too.  Many will no doubt recognize the structure, but few will appreciate the history behind it.  In honour of this wonderful local landmark I penned a poem on the subject of bridges.  

The rush of water beneath
The flow of traffic above
River of life and history
Bridges take many forms
Of stone, wood or concrete
A marker of time, and a means of travel
Bearing silent witness
To the ebb and flow of nature and humanity
Be it humble or grand
A bridge crosses nature
To reunite man

I hope you've enjoyed this post, and thank you for reading it!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The General Store

Duntroon General Store

A long time ago, before the era of shopping malls and big box stores, the humble General Store was the mainstay of many a small community.  Stores such as these usually carried a broad selection of merchandise such as edibles, clothing, and a host of other household necessities.  Folks would travel both near and far to stock up for the week or longer depending on the distance, and anything not usually carried could be ordered for them from a large centre for pickup at a later date.  Not only was the general store a source of merchandise, but before the age of social media it was also a hub of social activity where folks could catch up and usually mail or collect their post items too.

The General Store in my sketch is from 22 years ago,in the hamlet of Duntroon,  and although the building is still there - sadly, the store is no more.  The thing I liked about it is how the owners still chose to display some of their wares outside along the storefront as was the custom in days long past. My second sketch is of a store still open for business which is also located in a small hamlet named Badgeros.  It's comforting to know that even though many of these wonderful small town treasures have disappeared, there are still those who appreciate them enough to keep their retail fire burning.

Badjeros General Store

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Poplar Heights Hotel

The Poplar Hotel in the mid 19th century

The Poplar Heights Hotel as it was once called sat just outside of Collingwood Ontario at the corner of Highway #24 and the Poplar Sideroad. Board and batten in it's construction, this beautiful structure was most likely constructed in the Georgian style in the mid nineteenth century and featured a 3 bay front and a centre hall floor plan.  

From the information I managed to gather at our library, the hotel was apparently already in existence when it was purchased by Thomas Bannister who was born in Leicester England in 1833.  He emigrated to Canada in the 1850's and was wed to Mary Hunt in York, Upper Canada (now known as Toronto).  They purchased the farm and hotel on the corner of the Poplar Sidereal and Hurontario Street where they raised their family. Two of the Bannister children - sisters Elizabeth and Maude lived in the home, and after the passing of their parents, Elizabeth inherited the house where she continued to reside until 1954.  

Ironically the home came to be purchased by Les Allen who was the son of Maude Bannister and her husband William.  Apparently they lived in the home until 1964 when it was again sold to the Scattergood family. After that, it changed hands several more times until it eventually reverted to it's roots and became a Bed & Breakfast.  As a kid, I remember visiting this beautiful old home with my folks and recall that it had a beautiful staircase - a design feature I'm a big sucker for in any old home.

Unfortunately, this beautiful old structure is now but a memory having fallen victim to the wrecking ball earlier this year.  Once again a part of our heritage has been sacrificed in the name of progress.  It's sad that so many folks don't realize that beautiful buildings like these are fast becoming extinct, and if we all soon don't wake up to this sad reality - soon much four history will be gone forever.