A even more laid back day today (the 5th) as we boarded the school bus to return to the boat at Chaffey’s Locks where we continued downstream towards Kingston, going through the lock there, then the Davis lock, and finally passing through the four locks at Jones Falls where we are staying and continuing on ending at the bucolic Upper Brewers locks. The bus met us there and returned the group to the hotel at about 3 PM. While onboard I simply enjoyed the scenery which in time changed from a more mountainous wooded terrain to flatlands once we left the extension of the Canadian Shield which extends even down to the Adirondacks. I encountered the Canadian Shield while crossing Canada on Via Rail’s The Canadian.
Since that time I have been reading about what we saw and about Fort Henry that we will visit in Kingston tomorrow. I always like to know how things are put together and why things/towns are where they are. In a Fort Henry booklet I found at an Information Center (I stop at all information centers to collect brochures and booklets) while crossing the border, there is a statement as to why the Fort and Rideau Canal were selected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And it is this rationale that I love learning about an area as I learn why things are what they are: Geography, Politics, and Technology. What more needs to be said, think about it.
So, for two hours I have enjoyed the enclosed Victorian porch, just like home, but overlooking the waterway, reading, studying, and relaxing. This evening we have a lecture on the War of 1812, the Rebellions in Canada of the late 1830s and 1840s. I am convinced that this trip will have me expanding my time period of research and the reach of my travels.
Writing continues on Thursday 6 October. This Road Scholar program has not been a dizzy rush like my tour of Greece and Turkey last year, or some of the paces that I have put you through on my earlier trips this year, but instead for me it has been very educational and introduced me to another period of history that I was deficient in. What is exceptional about the Road Scholar programs are the guides/instructors that they get. Our leader is a retired Parks Canada historian who worked for many years on the Rideau Canal. Our lecturer last evening, also retired from Parks Canada, was also well versed in the history and natural resources of the area, and a captivating speaker and photographer. Today at Fort Henry in Kingston (which is now closed for the season) the director give a wonderful history tour, and then we had a lecture by Brian Osborne who as a retired professor was instrumental in obtaining the UNESCO designation of World Heritage Site to the canal and the Kingston Fortifications. Top notch individuals and all extremely professional and worthwhile. So if you ever consider one of the Road Scholar programs, do keep this in mind.
I am so filled with facts that I have a whole new understanding of Canada and our relations with our neighbor. Before I forget, this coming Monday the 10th there will be a show on PBS on the War of 1812. Looking at the preview last evening I note that Ken Burns and Florentine Films were involved with its production. Canada was concerned about the US invading up into the late 1860s. Remember it was just in 1867 that Canada finally became a country and separate from Britain. Even at the conclusion of our Civil War, Canada was still afraid that with our trained soldiers and “manifest destiny” desires that we would march North and capture these British lands. The Saint Lawrence River was a natural border, but hard to defend in time of war, thus the Rideau Canal (and really more appropriately termed a Waterway) was a natural solution for a military route to move men and materials to the military strongpoint of Kingston at the junction of the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, and the Cataraqui River that completes the end of the Waterway.
After Brian’s lecture we boarded the bus and went to the Kingston Mills locks with our box lunches. It was a perfect day for a picnic and an absolutely gorgeous setting. The last set of locks before Kingston this four lock station has a combined lift of 45 feet and also served as a military base up to World War I – its location is that important. Just below another large man-made lake to balance out the slack water route, the canals are cut into the rock with the river off to the side, and crossing over is the main railroad line first built in 1858 if I remember correctly. A Via Rail train passed over us, and I recalled traveling on this exact track from Montreal to Toronto in August to meet The Canadian train.
We then went downtown Kingston and had about 45 minutes to walk around on our own. Back to my travel fast mode in which I enjoyed the architecture and walk along the shore. I will return to Kingston. After dinner we finished the War of 1812 DVD, and I have been finishing up the writing of this excursion. Once I post this I will delve into reading up on my trip to Saranac Lake tomorrow once the program concludes after lunch. I have lots of ideas of things to do, but also do not know what I will bump into along the way. And I have three choices picked out for routes and exploration back home from Saranac Lake, so all I can say is, “stay tuned for the returned home post.” I have so much more I enjoyed and learned, but did not include – probably enough for a dissertation if not a book. Thanks so much for sharing my journeys again. Yesterday I had 60 page visits, almost topping my busiest day on September 26th of 63. As always, yours, RAY