Well! I am home again from my post Christmas trip to the balmy South. That is Southern Ontario, actually the Toronto area. It was a very nice visit with family and friends. I even got to stay a little longer when I discovered I would have to come home on the train.
After almost missing the train in the transfer in Toronto's Union Station, I found the train North full. This train is seldom full it is a subsidized passenger service of the Government, Ontario Northland Railroad. This is the rail road the opened the Northeast of Ontario to settlement and mineral exploration. The Northlander train travels north to Cochrane Ontario where the road North ends. From there you can continue on on the Polar Bear Express to Moosonee on the James Bay coast, travelling cross the Hudson's Bay Lowlands. I was thinking of this as I road the train and read my Christmas book, Fatal Passage, about the Arctic explorer, Doctor John Rae, which I mentioned in the previous post. He was the doctor, for the Hudson's Bay Company, at Moose Factory on the island in the mouth of the Moose River 12 miles from the mainland town of Moosonee. Moose Factory is one of the oldest settlements in Canada, about 400 years old. It was a major fur trading post for the HBC when it had the rights to trading in Rupert' Land (all the watershed of rivers draining into Hudson's Bay. This included 40% of what is now Canada and part of the territory in what is now Northern Central United States. It is a facinating read about a remarkable man.
The train ride went by quickly. I don't know if I fell asleep during part of it or was enjoying the book but the 5 hour trip came to an end quicker than I thought. The train passed through the snow belt area which has had a couple of major snowstorms this year already. They have more than 3 feet on the ground. The land was white and the evergreens stood out in contrast being also tipped in white. I can image travelling by train more in the future and after two such trips it does not seem to be so daunting. Maybe next time I will find the courage to venture into the dining car. I bet you didn't know I was a shy guy!
I got a couple of books for Christmas from my friend in Mississauga. She gave me John Irving's latest book, Last Night in Twisted River, which I expressed an interest in a while back. It caught my imagination because the story and Irving, an American author, has connections with Toronto and the Georgian Bay vacation country coast, which is not far from here. I am a little familiar with it. It should be a interesting story written by a skillful author.
The other book, Secret River, by Kate Grenville appealed to me interest in rivers both in reality and as a metaphor of life. It is a story based on some of her family history. The main character in the book is sent to the penal colony in Australia with his family after being convicted in England for stealing to feed his family there. (In the age of Dickens' England). In short, he serves his sentence and earns his freedom. He takes his family up a river to homestead on a piece of property. It is the story of their experience and their relationship with other homesteaders and an aboriginal population that feel they have ownership of this land. I look forward to reading this book also.
My reading is starting to back up. It would be a lot easier to get it done if I didn't have a computer. I am tempted to dedicate some specific hours of the day to reading: perhaps between 4:00 AM and 8:00 AM since I am up early most days. I just might try it.
The Birthday Girl. My sister, Penny
We went to see her and share a celebratory meal with her and her family. Her four grown children were able all to be there, which is a rare event as one lives in Montreal and another lives in London, England. The star of the occasion was my sister's first grandchild. He was born this past year and is a sweet charming little person who obviously has filled the whole McArthur tribe with joy. I don't know what I was thinking but I didn't even take a picture.
I was just icing on the cake. I can't remember when I last celebrated her birthday with my sister. In fact, being bad at keeping track of such things and it being so close to Christmas and New Year's Day, I usually forget to even send a card. It was a really nice visit. I am sure it will be a memorable birthday for her. I hope the year ahead brings her more interesting times and good health.
Well, the New Year will offer challenges to all of us. I hope everyone is up to the challenge and has a year full of interesting things and people with whom we enjoy spending time. To everyone I wish you a Happy New Year.