Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Adventure in The Gut

Dumpdiggers explore the Kawartha Lakes

A trip north of the #7 Hwy in Eastern Ontario is like stepping back in time. That’s the feeling you get when you see the old farms with their tumbled silos and dilapidated barns, and signature red brick Victorian houses. Look closely - there’s still evidence of the insulbrick outbuildings and the ghost of an apple orchard behind the house on almost every one of these properties. The small little fields along the road are surrounded with oversized stone fences piled high with the limestone crumble of the Canadian Shield and dotted with last century’s farm equipment. Old combines and McCormack threshing machines are left to rust within sight of the road – a cry for help?

Some farm driveways feature unusual signage selling home cooked meals, fresh sweet corn, wild blueberries and straw bales. There’s a lot to read, including the names of the local children painted on the pink granite rock cuts, and signposts crowded with surnames on cottage roads.

On Sunday July 7th 2008, The Glove lead an expedition north from Havelock Ontario into a unique conservation area that’s 400 acres of natural splendor called The Gut. This place is well situated in the scenic Kawarthas cottage country near the Marmora mining district. The geology here is quite spectacular. The Gut is a centuries old rock cut wherein the mighty Crowe River has cut its own path through the quartz streaked green granite of the Canadian Shield.

The Crowe River moves quickly here and makes isolated pools among the rapids. The bottom of the channel is smooth in most places and its fun to frolic in the wash, but swimming is dangerous.

The land is owned by the local Crowe Valley Conservation Authority and they are poor so of course there are no camping facilities, and you'll find only the barest trails here on which there are no picnic tables, no BBQ huts, and no garbage cans or handrails; the place is very natural and a little dangerous.

In several spots wild raspberry bushes crowd the path, their thorny brambles deterring any deviation from the trail. Late July / early August will taste a record crop of wild red and black raspberries this year for it has been wet in Ontario this summer and the wild grape vines and berry bushes up here are loaded with green pimples that will soon be ripe juicy fruit.

Dumpdiggers appreciate the entropy that’s visible from the road in any excursion north of Havelock. Its fun to poke about in piles of debris close to the ditch, and deeper. Dumpdiggers found treasure fields along the historic 'South Road'.

Here’s a 1936 McCormick Deering ‘All Steel’ Mechanical Thresher. This machine separates the wheat from the chaff during the harvest. The belt drive was propelled by the Power Take Off at the side or rear of the farm tractor - these two innovations made it possible for small groups of people, the farm families, to work twice as much land as their ancestors, and put 2x more oats in their granaries, so they could feed 2x more livestock.

Cyrus McCormack patented the world’s first threshing machine in 1834. The first McCormick factory opened in 1847. If you read the company history you’ll note that Cyrus McCormack initiated a patent infringement lawsuit against the Manny Company of Rockford, Illinois in 1855 after the Manny reaper bested the McCormick Reaper that summer in the Paris Exhibition. The Manny Company hired Abraham Lincoln to represent them against Cyrus McCormack and it should come as no surprise that the Manny Company won the case.

For McCormack it didn’t matter anyway - over the next twenty years, the family business boomed until The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed the entire factory and the McCormicks' homes. But even then their manufacturing businesses quickly recovered. After several short term contracts split the business between the McCormick brothers, the whole operation was reformed in 1879 as the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company which is of course the predecessor of International Harvester Inc. and Case IH Corporation.

And what did the Diggers find that day?

Rummaging around in the pastoral roadside dumps did produce some interesting tidbits and minor prizes and pieces of larger puzzles...

Here's a nice dark olive glass Hemingway insulator that’s as common as dirt, but there are some interesting mold marks on the reverse - even the most common insulators have character up here, north of the number seven.

But the best discovery on the whole trip was this blue enameled steel two quart water pitcher – slightly rusted around the handle with one minor bruise along the base. Experts tell me this is the signature color of Eaton’s Catalog enamelware from the 1960s. It might have been connected with one of the first properties in the area and might herald from a time when The Gut was portaged by men carrying canoes.

3 comments:

cminicola said...

That actually looks like a Diamond insulator CD102 made by the Diamond flint Glass Co. which later became Dominion Glass Co. (Burlington, Ont)

Robert Campbell said...

Yes you're exactly right. It was a Diamond / Dominion. I meant to write that. Thanks for comment - nice to know someone is reading.

MarlyMS said...

hi linked u...interesting blog u have