Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Silver Highlights – My Retirement Account

When I tell the story of how Reiner and I found ourselves retired and living in Cobalt Ontario, I usually start by listing the several factors that affected our decision. Among them:

  1. He was laid off from his geologist job the first of November, 2015.
  2. All of his job applications were un-answered. A good news/bad news scenario because he was enjoying his time off work. But still, we had bills to pay, right?
  3. My part-time contract job would end in a month.
  4. The bank played hardball. Reiner missed a payment on his line of credit. The bank said, “Pay up. All of it. Now. Or, if you want, we’ll be happy to carry the loan for 8.5.%” We paid it up, but that put a bite into our savings.
  5. An early spring ice storm took out several trees in the yard. It would take weeks, if not months of work to clean up the mess.

He sat down beside me one evening shortly after the storm and talked about how discouraged he felt. The enormous job of cleaning the fallen lumber was only part of it. The house and yard were in good shape, thanks to his diligent attention, but it would only be a matter of time before the next repair job, and the next outlay of cash.

At the time, he at 65 and me at 60, we were both ready to retire. But if we were to remain in that house, we needed to find jobs.

The kind of geology work he was likely to get would involve scheduled rotations to and from remote mine sites. That meant I’d be home alone for weeks at a time, caring for the house and yard. Not an attractive prospect, in my eyes. As a matter of fact, I was comfortable with the concept of apartment or condo-living. Let’s leave the heavy lifting to someone else for a change.

But Reiner wanted a proper house on a proper property.

“Can’t we move to Cobalt?” he asked.

I gave him “the look.” He knew how I felt about that idea.

Cobalt is an historic silver mining town two hours north of North Bay. Reiner has been mineral collecting in the area most of his life – that is, over forty years. He is crazy about the place not only for the wall-to-wall mineral collecting opportunities, but for the mining heritage preserved by the town’s National Historic Site designation.

I’ve been to the mine camp a half-dozen times since meeting Reiner. My first impression was not positive, nor did subsequent visits change my mind. The scarred rock faces with gaping gashes and rusting and dilapidated mine structures… combined with sad and sagging houses… no. Too far away from friends and family, too isolated, and just too ugly on the eye.

Nope, not moving to Cobalt.


Emphatically, no.

Hence, “the look.”

On to plan B. Clearly, even though we had declared that we’d live out our days in Paris, we now had to admit that we could not afford to stay at our current address. But real estate prices in Paris were crazy-stupid. The town was enjoying celebrity status real estate-wise. People were clamouring to relocate to the “Cobblestone Capital of Canada“. We might be able to afford a fixer-upper. But that held no appeal.

The discouragement mounted.  He was uncharacteristically forlorn.

“Let’s see what’s on MLS.” I prepared to deliver more bad news: no suitable listings in Cobalt. I was, of course, expecting to be right.

I was wrong.

Son of a gun! Look what we could buy in Cobalt! For the price of well-equipped SUV! With a view of the lake and our favourite collecting spot!

And that’s when Plan C for Cobalt went into force: March 31, 2016. The whirlwind move from Southern to Northern Ontario, from (un)employed to retired. Exactly two months later, May 31st, we landed.

Old abandoned cabins next to our house. I love ’em, they are so rustic and iconic of the area. Yes, you are right. I have changed my mind about the sad and sagging buildings.


Categories: In Other News, Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

48 replies

  1. The Southern California me says, “Burrrrrrrrrrr!” The photographer me says, “Oh my, what wonderful photo ops!”

    I’d love to live in Paris too, but we are probably talking about different counties and continents.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What an interesting twist to a retirement story. It sounds like a wonderful place to live. Are there many people in Cobalt?


    • There was feeling of hanging on for the rollercoaster ride and a feeling of divine intervention. I say this because with all of the usual headaches and stresses that go along with moving households (with two fussy and carsick cats) in an extremely short space of time, everything fell into place, right up to the moment we picked up the keys: 10 minutes before the lawyers office closed for the day.

      More to come about the town – it would not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it suits us fine. There are about 1100 people, last I heard.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow! Talk about a meteoric change in just a matter of months. (No pun intended there with the whole rock/mineral/geology thing) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Maggie, this looks beautiful This is your view? I will be up to visit in the spring. 😀 Congrats on retirement and the move.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is one of several views.

      For the last few years, I’ve maintained that I wanted to live somewhere with a view – I didn’t care if it was water, mountains, even a view of a metropolis from 15 stories high, I wanted a view of the distance.

      Let me know when you are coming – we’ve got a funky-bunkie for visitors.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, congrats! It is indeed a beautiful view!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a beautiful photo, Maggie. That is iconic Northern Ontario …. the deep snow and low slanting light. You captured it so well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, thank you! I love the light here, too – in the summer, it is fiercely bright – I won’t say oppressive, because it’s not, but it has a definite presence.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The days are noticeably longer in the summer up north.
        On the flip side, the winter days are shorter … which gives those wonderful long shadows I love so much.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I was surprised by the effect of latitude on the daylight – though I don’t know what I was expecting – I mean, I knew about “land of the midnight sun” and all that – I guess I never connected the dots to figure out that the change would be gradual.

          We have about 30 minutes more daylight here in the summer – and of course, 30 minutes more dark in winter. The cats, unfortunately, do not honour our preference to get up with the sun.

          Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow. Pretty amazing life changes since we last “saw” you, Maggie. My husband was forced to retire a bit early, 38 years with the same company. We are still here in PA. But you are living proof that we always end up where we were destined to be.💖 Sometimes, if we just speak about the possibility out loud, the universe makes it happen. I need to start talking more about warmer climates. ☺☺☺

    Your view is amazing. Enjoy it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Seems like a story with a happy ending, though we miss you here in Paris. I would love to visit Cobalt some day!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Looks beautiful. I’m a fan of warmer climates myself but I’m still living in snow country just not as much as you get.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well that is a fascinating change! I’m so glad you’re back! Will you be writing again and showing us rocks and stuff? Or is this like a drive-by? Sorry to be so greedy. 🙂
    I’ve enjoyed your photos and lil glimpses into your world all this LONG, LONG time, but … okay, greedy again, I apologize.

    My FIL retired in a similar fashion. He wasn’t ready, but there just weren’t any good lines to catch, so early retirement for him. He has a part-time gig now and he likes it, probably because it’s more of a take-it or leave-it kinda thing and not so much the everyday grind.
    I’m disappointed he didn’t buy a cabin on a plot of land in beautiful scenery, but you know, he didn’t ask me. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Finally took the time to read your blog Maggie – such a wonderful story. I’m so happy for you and Riener that Cobalt is such a great spot to have landed. Will await more blogs to learn more!!!


  12. Oh goody! The full story behind the photographic snippets. Do go on…. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. enjoyed hearing your story – and woo hoo – plan C was the right one.



  14. I love the double entendre in your title. As I have said to anyone who will listen, I’ll be working until they haul me out by my Depends, popping Advil daily to creak my way down the corridors, and waiting for the invention of quadfocal spectacles. Husband retired last year and I am envious beyond the greenest of golf courses (he doesn’t play, but you know, eh?). There will be big changes when I eventually do quit paid employment including relocating to a different kind of home. Thanks for sharing your change in life in such a Maggie-manner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So dang WONDERFUL to hear from you again, Susanne!

      I love your spirit. I am constantly torn between wanting leisure time or fulfilling/meaningful work – paid or otherwise. Actually – no, not paid. Being paid has it’s obligations and I don’t want to commit to that.

      Thanks for stopping by to comment. I look forward to catching up with your writing.


  15. Cobalt sounds an interesting choice, Maggie. It sounds as if you’ll be part of an intimate community. Do you get those wonderful Northern Light displays at night? I’m always amazed how the universe places us where we need to be. Wishing you both every happiness in your new abode. Such delightful dwellings in the photo. Is cobalt a mineral as well as a colour and a town? ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately, we are just below the usual range for Northern Lights, though on occasion we might get a stray beam.

      Thanks for the idea for a blog post: yes, Cobalt is a mineral and a colour and a town! Here’s a sneak preview: Cobalt Blue pigment is derived from the mineral Cobalt. The mineral cobalt was found in abundance alongside the silver up here. At the time, there was not much use for the stuff, so cobalt was considered waste. In 1903 when the first silver discovery was made, Willet Miller, the government geologist of the day, decided to name the train stop “Cobalt”.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I love the name Cobalt, even though blue is synonymous with depression. As you probably remember I collect blue glass, not seriously, but the kids have given me bottles over the years and I find it uplifting.
    I hope you find Cobalt uplifting too!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. What an interesting road to retirement! I’m glad you took the plunge. I’ve been retired about 18 months now. The time has flown by. I’m not yet ready to do anything productive, I actually get annoyed if I have to be somewhere at a certain time. I like the feeling of having the whole day to do anything or nothing. Unfortunately it’s been mostly nothing. But I might fix that someday. Or not.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, and for following me too! 🙂 🙂 I look forward to getting to know you as well. Once upon a time I lived in Hancock Michigan, in the upper tip of the Upper Penninsula…in an old mining community…so I can sort of imagine what Cobalt might be like. Winters must be long. But we’re on the upswing to spring now. I can’t wait!


    • Hi there! Thanks for stopping in to visit the blog.
      I cannot tell you how much I appreciate what you say about not being ready to do anything productive. The only obligation I have on my calendar is a three-hour volunteer gig every Tuesday. And sometimes I resent that! Which is ironic as all get-out because I love libraries, for one, but what better way to get to know the town and the citizens?
      I am somewhat familiar with Hancock through my hobby as a mineral collector – The Upper Peninsula is famous for copper specimens.



  1. For More Information – The Zombies Ate My Brains
  2. Up-Rooted – The Zombies Ate My Brains
  3. Change of Perspective – The Zombies Ate My Brains

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s