Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

The Changing Seasons March 2017

A long-time Cobalt resident told me that this winter has been one of the easiest that she remembers in her 90 years living in the area. At the risk of diminishing the concerns related to global warming, I hope the trend continues.

Back in Southern Ontario, people report many signs of spring.

Am I jealous?

Yes and no.

Sure, I’d love to hear the birds sing and the frogs croak. I look forward to the perfume of lilac blossoms and the beauty of budding fruit trees. But not so early in the season. It’s not time yet. I feel mildly panicked on behalf of the creatures and plants that were lulled back to their summer states only to be clobbered by typical March snow storms.

Here, then, is my contribution to The Changing Seasons blog challenge for March. Not much different than February. It’s still winter outside, if not on the calendar.

Because of the thaw and freeze cycle, it has been easy to get around on top of snowbanks and across frozen lakes. I’ve been able to take shots that would otherwise require a boat, or hip waders at the least.

As I was composing this post, and writing captions for the images, and editing out ugly hydro lines and poles, I recalled my initial impressions of the place. They were not positive. Witness the enormous gashes torn in the rock, remnants of the mining industry that ravaged the landscape. To be sure, remediation efforts by the government mean that hazardous structures are barricaded or buried. But that means you will encounter chain-link fencing or rock piles everywhere you go. Not exactly what I’d call pristine.

I mention this now because I realize that when you look at the pictures, you might feel put off. But I must tell you that I no longer feel repelled by the place. I love it actually. These scars are reminders of the past and the back-breaking work by dedicated men and their equally hard-working wives. The shanties, the abandoned hydro lines, and the stone foundations are testament to the community spirit that built the Town of Cobalt.




Changing Seasons is a monthly blog challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Your contribution might be a single photo or a gallery, a recipe, artwork, whatever the month means to you.

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27 replies

  1. Wonderful pictures. I love visiting old areas like that, and trying to imagine what it must have been like back then. The Winter has been a really mild one even in our area. I think we will have a bumper crop of insects this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ron, I’m glad that you like them.
      Because Cobalt was on the frontier back in 1903 when silver was first discovered, it stirred a tremendous interest in Southern Ontario, and more so in the United States. Therefore, there are many photos from that time. I am like you – when I see the primitive conditions, I wonder what must it have been like living here?
      Good luck with the bugs. After winter, it’s black fly season up here. 🙂


  2. You’ve captured some beautiful images of Cobalt and I enjoyed both the tour and the mining lesson. I can see why the fencing has been put up around the rock cut to prevent an accident, but it doesn’t exactly blend in aesthetically with the environment, does it?
    I liked the photo you took from the bottom of the cut. Was this accessible only because of the ice on the lake, or is there a beach of sorts there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are correct: the fencing is rather “ugly on the eye” as they say across the pond.
      The photo of the cut is taken from about 50 paces from the face of the rock – on the frozen surface of the lake. Later in the summer, if it’s been dry, you can walk part way along the shore, but not here.
      There is no beach around this lake, and I doubt one would be built. Fishing and other recreational use of the water is discouraged. The habitat is recovering, but ministries are not taking their chances by permitting such activities.


  3. I’m not ready, either. In truth, I’m never in a hurry for spring. It’s the time now when I start seeds inside and start pullin up a bit of last year’s debris. But it will be more than a month til anything goes in the ground and almost a month until we even mow the lawn. Snow will come again before these things happen, and some years, even after.
    I think it’s stunning where you live, and I am particularly fond of the views of the tiny town from atop the hill 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes I like to push the limits with the garden – one year I planted peas in mid-March. I figured, you don’t get if you don’t ask, and this time, I was lucky. Then there was the year that I tried it again, and the seeds just languished and mouldered in the ground. But generally, I wait until the last frost date has passed and I’ll mow when the grass is so long it’s borderline savanna.

      I’ve never seen an east coast fishing village “in the flesh,” but that’s what comes to mind when I see Cobalt from the hill top. I’m glad you like those shots.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Earth wears her scars with a regal bearing and elegant grace. She’ll cover them with snow & vegetation, soften them with wind & water. She’s still our ageless mother, and somewhere, deep within each Human who roams, there is love for her beauty and her flaws.

    I love your photo tour, Maggie. To have all that rolling terrain to roam in is fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Even though I could almost feel the chill off your pictures, the vistas you show really are beautiful. I agree with your statement that seasons need to follow their natural cycle. Too soon and the flora and fauna get confused, too late (especially with winter to spring) and we get anxious and feel “off.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The ice on our pond vanished last night. A storm came through and blew it all away. I see snow geese and the occasional swan checking it out but they see me and Scooter and according to waterfowl, neither of us is considered trustworthy.

    Soon a breeding pair of Canadian Honkers will take up residence. They will hatch out a brood and over the next month, the coyotes, raccoons and eagles will break their hearts – and ours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the photo of Cobalt Lake with the blue-tinted ice: if you follow the trajectory of the fence line into the lake, you will note a snow-covered patch. This is a spit of land that was probably used to access an incline shaft to the mine. Well, these days, that bit of real estate houses a Common Loon’s nest. At least it did last year. They had one chick. I assume that they’ll return to the same nest? I’ll report back!

      Ah, the circle of life. Can be heartbreaking. I’ll leave comments about trustworthiness for another time. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your pictures are beautiful, but – I am weary of white before March arrives and once it gets here, I view white wet stuff as an insult.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very interesting the photograph, “The town of Cobalt from the lookout”. Seems like that view could lead the imagination to begin to invent some stories or even the start of a novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love the pics, but…you were really standing on the lake ?? We’ve had almost no ice this year, on any body of water. I’m ready for Spring, not looking forward to Summer…quite a switch from my ‘youthful’ years. Do you make use of those squatter’s cabins?..very cool part of the area history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yup, we were out again yesterday, walking on the ice. Even the larger and usually choppy bodies of water freeze solid in these parts.

      The previous owners made good use of the cabins for storage and the housing of ducks and rabbits. We found a good-sized pile of firewood in the one, so that was a bonus. The buildings are rickety and one is tipping over. Reiner plans on securing it this summer.

      Speaking of summer, I hear you about the heat. With the cold, at least you can dress for comfort.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Your photos make me wistful. We did not have anything that approached a real winter this year, and I miss the white snow/blue sky. For you it might have been an easy season, but for us that’d be a real winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was chatting with hubby along the same lines – that the winter this season is what I remember from my childhood. Cold, a good amount of snow, and blue sky. The familiarity is comforting.

      Being retired makes the difference in how I view winter. If I had to get around in this weather, or if there was urgency to clear the snow after a storm, I doubt I’d be using the term “easy.”

      Liked by 1 person

  11. The view of the town from the lookout reminds me of Hancock in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Also an old mining town.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many of these late 1800 and early 1900 towns were built overnight without planning. It may have been a nightmare to service the buildings and to construct streets and sidewalks after the fact, but the “higgledy-piggledy” nature makes for a very charming view.


  12. Thanks for the beautiful photos, Maggie. We’re not quite living in springtime yet, so I’m good seeing these photos, since they make me feel like we’re doing better.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. The Changing Seasons: March 2017 | Cardinal Guzman

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