30/09/2013 The Farmhouse: blogtember challenge

Monday, September 30: Share a photo of something old. Maybe something  that has personal history for you, that was passed down to you, and that has  special meaning to you. Tell us about it and why it’s special.

I was a bit stuck for this Blogtember challenge until I remembered that the OH and I drove past the old farmhouse where my dad grew up the last time we were in Canada. So, I’m going to blog about an actual farmhouse for this Blogtember challenge.

The old farmhouse. Photo: AJTC

The old farmhouse. Photo: AJTC

The funny thing is, I don’t really have any memories of this farmhouse. By the time I was old enough to really connect to this place, my grandparents had moved out. However, I still remembered roughly where it was – even though I hadn’t been anywhere near it for the last 23 years. When we were out searching for it, my uncle was driving around and almost drove right past it until I shouted and told him to stop the car.

It was quite an atmospheric day: overcast, autumnal, and damp from a morning shower. The leaves in Ontario were changing quickly and making beautiful splashes of colour against the grey background. I think the mood suited the farmhouse which was in need of a good lick of paint. However, the house looked like it had settled into its landscape well. I felt like it could tell a number of different stories about mundane activities of different members in a family and also across different generations. I would have loved to have gone inside. While I wouldn’t be able to tell what had changed, it would have been nice to look around.

What makes this ‘something’ so important to me is because its a physical piece of my history. My father lived there for a significant length of time, and it reflects the type of places and houses that my grandparents lived in as well. It also reflects a certain type of living and life which has become more eroded since I was a child.

During the same trip, we went even farther north to visit a place where my grandparents settled before my father was born.

Photo: AJCT

Photo: AJTC

This rather bleak image is of the remains of an old hydro-electric community where my grandparents lived before my father was born. I remember hearing so many stories about the Canyon and had always wanted to go and actually see what it was like. I couldn’t really envisage what it would look like. I had seen some black and white photos of the Canyon when there were houses still erected, but these were knocked down after the hydro dam was mechanised.

Abitibi Canyon - photo by RH Frampton

The Canyon. Photo: RH Frampton

My aunts and my grandparents lived here for a while, in a very isolated community. I can’t imagine growing up in such an isolated community. It was virtually cut off during winter, and the only hospital was miles away by train. My grandpa used to talk about hunting geese and other wildlife up around the Canyon.

When I was at the Canyon, it was virtually silent bar the sound of the river and dam. It had rained heavily on the drive up to the settlement, and I was fighting a cold. I found the place rather eerie. There were loads of memories, and experiences that had been obliterated by the destruction of the houses and the mechanisation of the Dam, but at the same time, it was clear that nature was starting to come back in slow dribs and drabs. Soon, any indication that people  used to live in this place were going to be erased.

Considering the length of time that it took to get there (2 days) and the length of time that we stayed (about 1 hour), I’m not sure that anyone else would consider it a worth while trip, but I had always wanted to go and see where my grandparents affectionately called the ‘Canyon’ and remember that times were so very different back then.

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