Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Share Your World – June 12, 2017

Remember this past winter when I was bemoaning the fact that I had too much time on my hands? I’m pleased to report that the change in seasons has removed that challenge. That and the fact that I’m busy with the Cobalt Historical Society, big time.

Early in June, we held a Speakers’ Symposium, a first for our group. We had no idea how well-attended it would be, especially given that the day-long event was held on a Saturday. And, this was the first warm sunny Saturday in weeks.

Of course there were hiccups, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed or accommodated. Problems like a computer that seized-up while downloading a thumb drive driver. Fortunately, we had back-up.

We filled the room, paid the bills, and have a bit left over to add to our trail account. Judging by the feedback we received, and the lively chatter during the breaks, the attendees enjoyed themselves.

Reiner and I are also busy attending meetings to discuss funding and grants as well as learning about Agnico’s plans for rehabilitation to the trails on the company’s mine sites.

Speaking of trails – or should I say “trials,” Reiner has been busy with the less than pleasant task of picking up garbage. He’s making the best of the “trashy” situation by saving the beer cans for a refund, and donating the proceeds to the trail account.

This morning we received news of a more serious nature. The Right-of-Way Mine was hit by vandals. Again. They broke the lock from the door that Reiner repaired a month ago and smashed all of the windows within reach.

I don’t imagine that there’s much we can do to prevent vandalism. If only the kids had a sense of pride for the place, a sense of their heritage.

If I won the lottery, I’d spare no expense to restore and protect the heritage sites: make the place a world-class destination. It would be something else! It would create jobs and tourism and we could have a riverboat gambling cruise on the lake and the train would run from Toronto loaded with loaded tourists who would unload their cash and load up on beer from my micro brewery – Cobalt Blue, I’d call the brew. Unless Labatt have a problem with that. If they do, then I’d buy Labatt and problem solved!

But, since I don’t buy lottery tickets…  the best I can  hope for is that when I give a kids’ talk at the library later this summer, hopefully I’ll be able to encourage a sense of ownership and appreciation for the mine structures and heritage. Maybe the upcoming generation of taggers and trashers might think twice before… well, tagging and trashing.

On a more pleasant note, this Monday we stopped in to visit with one of the Society’s board members, Florence Dean. Remember Florence? She of the “Find Florence” photo from back in May? It turns out that wasn’t Florence, but her niece who also has a house on the sample parcel of land.

Florence lives in the original McKinley Darragh Mine guest house. Her father, John Charles (Charlie) Dean bought the house 1928. Florence grew up in Coleman Township and recalls playing in the yard and visiting her friends over on Nipissing Hill. As an adult, she studied fashion and moved to Toronto where she worked as a buyer for Eatons. She’d return north for holidays any time she could, and when she retired, she moved back to live in the family homestead.

Florence gave us a tour of the house and her paintings. Over coffee and muffins, she showed us old photos that she thought might be interesting. I asked if she had more. Oh yes she does! Might I scan them for digital safe keeping? Oh, yes I could! Something tells me I won’t be bemoaning the fact that I have too much time on my hands next winter!

***   ***   ***

Inspired by Cee’s Share Your World – June 12, 2017
What do you do when you’re not working?

If you are retired, what do you that is not part of your regular daytime routine? 

What would you do if you won the lottery?

What makes you laugh the most? What is your biggest pet peeve with modern technology?


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27 replies

  1. I just don’t understand why anyone would get enjoyment out of destroying a landmark. I hope you can head some of that tendency off when you make your presentations to kids by instilling some pride into them before they get a little older and stupider. It sounds like you are very happily busy, doing what you love… good for you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t understand it, either, Janis. This kind of destruction is a common enough issue along the lines of wind and water damage – that is, it happens and we must defend or repair. It is aggravating, though, since I cannot let go of the notion that “the vandals should know better.”


  2. Good for you, Maggie! Word about good people gets around. Is that not the cutest house? Is the inside as fascinating (to me) as the outside?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lois! The interior has been updated over the decades but, yes! several rooms are in their original and fascinating state – lots of wooden floors, paneling, and built-ins AND the original Mission style furniture. I was drooling.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It seems as if you’ve found your perfect place Maggie, with plenty of interesting activities to keep you busy, and keep all your readers interested and learning about all this history.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. That IS a charming, charming home! How exciting she’s willing to let you collect and scan. We need to preserve as much history as we can. I’m glad you’re in the business of that 🙂
    Good luck with your kid chat!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had met Florence a couple of times at meetings, but hadn’t really had the chance to visit, so this was great to get to know her and hear her story. I am really excited about the photos – but I must keep better notes – or notes, period.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great job! That little house is a beautiful house. I would love to have something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Please do keep us apprised if it ever happens that you DO win the lottery, mmkay? I for one would love to come sip your microbrew while sitting in a rocking chair on your riverboat, taking a break from losing at blackjack to listen to your show-and-tell lecture on the history of mining in Cobalt…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s a very nice house. I cold see helping out with that. I have never understood the appeal of vandalism. I like Labatt Blue, but i’d happily try Cobalt Blue 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Labatt Blue is almost a Canadian icon – actually, I expect that marketing folks with the brewery consider it exactly that. That’s why I think they’d look sideways at my using the name.

      Either way, cheers to you and enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is one cool project you’ve stumbled upon. I adore the B&W photo of the three children. I can’t wait to learn more about this house and the family who lived/lives there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you like it, Ally – I feel badly that I didn’t write down the details that she shared with me. This was our first time in each other’s company outside of committee meetings and I didn’t want to come on all formal and interview/research-gathering. But at some point, I’ll have to document the stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The best way to prevent vandalism is to make teens and twenty-somethings central to cleaning up and restoring historic sites. You might be surprised how willing they will be to pitch in – and they all know each other better than most people think – and there is no more powerful force to either destroy or protect than peer pressure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve encountered stories about this, from large inner-cities – where the kids are enlisted to care for a garden, for example. Taking care and protecting creates a sense of purpose and pride of belonging.

      Thanks, Greg – I will tuck this away for our next meeting.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. One thing I’ve noticed in communities where the kids ‘run wild’ is…the kids don’t have anywhere to congregate. If they don’t have a communal space to just hang out and be kids (ie – they don’t have to pay to get in, buy something to stay around, or be hassled by the adults to ‘behave’) they tend to take an abandoned space and make it there own…

    Does Cobalt have such a teen space?

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I love the grandness of your vision! Everyone needs big dreams – and more importantly, you are involved in the community and making a difference.

    Sadly, so many of these small towns are cash-strapped because they don’t have the commercial tax base to support the community, and the reality is the residential tax base has a pretty low ceiling.

    Maggie, you speak with so much energy and passion, maybe you might consider talks / activities that would make local history ‘real’ in the local schools. Who knows, you might be able to inspire a young generation of historians and conservationists 🙂

    Liked by 1 person


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