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  • Julie

A few weeks ago, for the first time ever, I went camping with just some friends! I have been camping with all of these people before, of course, but always with Girl Guides. This was my first time going camping without campers to look out for.

The trip was four days, but only two of those days were entirely in Algonquin Park. They can be easily labelled—the hiking day, and the canoeing day! There isn't too much to tell, so this post will mostly be a collection of photos.

The Hiking Day (Aug 10)

The first morning, we got up and had a leisurely breakfast. My favourite part was using the Kelly Kettle to boil water for tea. I love these! You build a fire in the bottom, fill the kettle, and carefully place it on top of the fire. The 'chimney' is wide enough to continue dropping sticks into. Pretty quickly the water boils! The only downside is it's size. While that didn't matter much on this trip, I've taken them on canoe trips before and they can be a bit cumbersome!

After a quick stop at the Portage Store to ask about renting canoes, we set off for a day of nice little hikes. We started with the Algonquin Logging Museum. This trail starts off in the bookstore, with little dioramas to look at and a video (which wasn't playing at the time). The rest of the trail is made up of chronological outdoor exhibits of different buildings and equipment used for logging.

I think this trail would be interesting for anyone who likes history, but I had a special link to what we learned about—my paternal grandfather was a logger who died in a related accident when my dad was a teenager. While this museum specifically talked about logging in Algonquin Park, the techniques would have been similar across Ontario. As I read the displays, I wondered if my grandfather had lived in these kinds of buildings, or used these kinds of tools as he worked in the 50s and 60s. My dad remembers some things my grandfather told him about, such as having a horse he often worked with.

I would definitely recommend checking this trail/museum out.

Station One - The Camboose Camp from the 1800s

Station Four - The 'Jammer' Crane

Station Nine - The Alligator Boat

Station Fifteen - Sawlog Camp (1940s)

After the Logging Museum, we went to walk the Spruce Bog Boardwalk. This was a short hike with some very unique scenery. Heather did a spectacular job acting as a tour guide for us by translating the French guidebook (as there were no English ones for us to use!).

We stopped off at our campsite for a late lunch, and went to do our last hike, Two Rivers Lookout. This was a short walk, but the climb was quite steep in places! Still, the view from the top was work the trek. We took lots of great pictures.

(Yeah, I look like a Girl Guide Advertisement—That's what happens when 95% of your camping clothing is related to GGC or Camp Woolsey!)

After our hikes, we went back to our our site for a quiet, relaxing evening around the fire!

The Canoeing Day (Aug 11)

Heather and I have gone on plenty of canoe trips in Algonquin Park, so we knew of a nice little day trip we could do on Canoe Lake—visiting Tom Thomson's Cairn for a picnic lunch.

Tom Thomson's story at Canoe Lake is very interesting, and I highly recommend reading more about it. The short version is that he was found drowned in Canoe Lake, but details around what happened to him, and then what happened to his body, are confusing and suspicious. He was a famous painter and said to be a very good canoer, making some people doubt his death was an accident. Whatever the truth is, the story is fascinating.

The weather was perfect for our little trip. We packed a lunch, rented two canoes, and headed out. I'll admit, my canoeing skills are a little rusty after two years away from camping. But we made good time and arrived at Tom Tomson's Cairn with no problems. It was a pretty popular spot! We had a nice picnic, then made the trip back to the Portage Store to return the boats.

(Funny aside, once as a kid my family was camping in Alqonguin and my dad and I wanted to canoe out to the cairn. I remember it being a pretty windy day. We made it to the right point, but thought we were lost and went back before going around the corner to see the nicely labelled dock!)

We had some well deserved ice cream, and went back to our campsite for another relaxing evening reading more about Tom Thomson, relaxing around the fire, and reminiscing about our old camping adventures at Woolsey (which is a very common topic for us!)

The next morning, we got up, slowly packed, and went home. Overall, a very nice couple of days with some good friends!

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Just about two weeks ago I went on a week-long trip to British Columbia to attend a horse archery clinic. Which I suppose warrants a bit of a backstory before I get into the trip itself.

My brother and I started doing archery at camp—Camp Woolsey for me, Scouting camps for Kevin. Over time, Kevin got his first bow, and I got mine a year or two later. We started going to a range at a nearby hunting store to practice, but more or less, we were on our own and self-taught. During this time I helped teach archery to plenty of girls and women while I worked at various Girl Guide camps, and sometimes I brought our bows along for adults to try something a little more substantial.

After some time, we got interested in trying out new bows. I decided on an longbow, but Kevin was starting to get interested in the different styles and history of horse bows. During the lockdowns, with time to spare, he started doing a lot of research and found some interesting youtube channels that talked about Eastern archery styles. I ended up getting my own horse bow sometime earlier this year (spring, 2021).

My three bows — my first take-down recurve (Ragim Matrix), my longbow (Ragim Fox) and my horsebow (AF Archery Tatar Blue)

Then, last spring, Kevin discovered a place nearby that teaches horseback archery, called Horses of the Sun! This was something we had talked about for awhile, but never thought we would actually get the chance to try it out. We got in contact with them and signed up, and started taking classes in the summer. I took riding lessons from when I was about 8 or 9 to when I was 16 or 17, but Kevin didn't have any experience with horses. So far, we've both been having a great time!

Me with some of the horses I've ridden for lessons - Marko, Inka and Drishti

Which finally brings us to the trip to British Columbia! At the end of August, we were told about a clinic that was taking place in British Columbia. The clinic was for a particular style of horse archery (Kassai) which isn't the way we're learning, so it sounded fun. Not only that, but horse archery in Canada is a fairly small sport, and part of the appeal of going was to meet other people in the country who do it. Also, I had never been to British Columbia before!

So Kevin and I, along with our teacher Uwe and our friend Sonja, went on the trip! We flew from Ottawa to Calgary and got a drive to Luxor Corrals, where we camped for the week. We learned about the Kassai style of shooting, as well as helped with the Kassai track and competition that took place at the end of the week. Unfortunately we didn't get to do quite as much riding as we had hoped, given that the three of us were far behind everyone else with riding experience. Later in the week we did get our own beginner riding class, and we also got to go on a trail ride (which was definitely one of my favourite parts of the trip!)

Another fun thing that happened was that we got to ride some mules, so now we can say we've done mule-back archery! This was also my first time every trying western riding!

Top Row: Popcorn

Middle: Luna and Junior (a mule!)

Bottom: Junior (the one picture I have of me holding a bow while riding, and it's barely visible) and Dreamwalker (another mule!)

Views from our hike and trail ride

The scenery was beautiful and camping was fun (if a little colder than we expected for mid-September!) We didn't see much else while in British Columbia, since there wasn't time for much besides the clinic. However, we did make a few trips to the nearby town of Radium to visit the hot springs, which were very nice after some of the cold and rainy days!

On the way back to Calgary, we had a chance to stop at a beautiful trail called Marble Canyon. It was a nice quick hike, following Tokumm Creek and the canyon it carved away from the road until reaching a waterfall. I loved the colour of the water, which is caused by rock dust from the glaciers scraping against bedrock. The dust reflects the light to create the colour. I also thought it was interesting to see how the trees were growing back up after a forest fire.

All in all, it was a fun trip! We got to try out some new stuff, and meet new people. Also, beautiful scenery! Now we hope that next time we see everyone, we'll be able to hold our own a little better (with riding, we're actually pretty good at the archery side of the sport)!

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This post was written by a friend of mine, Emma Kent. Emma is an artist and historian, with particular interests in local Otawa history, and Girl Guides of Canada history. Her projects can be seen on her website, here. Her exploration of Ottawa can be followed on instagram @hometownbytown

As someone who doesn't drive, I would love to live in a more walkable community with a great public transportation system. As the LRT expands, I feel like we are getting closer to the goal. Ottawa feels like a town meant to have a rail system and it's been amazing to see how the city is shaping the new system. However, it's also really neat to look back in Ottawa's history and see how another rail system, decades before, shaped the same spaces. Like most people in Ottawa, I have grown up without the streetcars, but in certain parts of the city, I can feel their echoes.

Trolley Station

The place where I first encountered the mark left behind by the streetcars was at the Trolley Station at Britannia Park. Now a picnic shelter, this station once connected Britannia beach to downtown through the Ottawa Electric Railway Company's line. The beach, still a popular summer destination, was once home to an amusement park. Prior to the First World War and inspired by the success of Coney Island, amusement parks began opening at the end of streetcar lines for working-class families. However, once more families began to own their own cars the draw of the parks faded as families now had the freedom to explore beyond the streetcar lines. The last streetcar rode into Britannia in 1959 and the beach is now fully encircled by the city that once considered it a remote cottage community, but we still have the trolley station to remind us of this Ottawa tale.

Last spring, I started going for walks to help fill my time and my favourite route involved walking along Churchill Ave. The street is long and straight but it was the sidewalk that made this the ideal walking route as it appears to be two or three times as thick as normal so if you cross paths with anyone it is easy to stay socially distant from them. I doubt I would have noticed this without covid and it wasn't until I read 'As I Walked About' by Phil Jenkins that I learned that the street used to have part of a streetcar line which explained its unusual layout. I love learning these little facts about Ottawa, and I can't help but wonder where else the city's landscape has been shaped by the echo left behind by the streetcars, even if it's as little as a sidewalk.

Mural in Hintonburg painted by Arpi

Driving to Westboro, there was always this weirdly shaped piece of land that caught my eyes. I'm not even sure when I found out that it was a public park rather than just some land between the road. Byron Linear Park is a long narrow strip of land that was once a right-of-way for one of the streetcar lines. Hintonburg welcomed its first streetcar in 1895 and for fifty-nine years this part was part of the residents' daily commutes. When the line was removed in the mid-1950s, the area was turned into a community green space running 2.5 km in length and varying between five and fifteen meters in width. As the second phase of the LRT rolls out, the park is currently closed and soon a new track system will run underneath. Bryon Linear Park, as well as the rest of Ottawa's history with rail, is far from over.

Mural on Church Hills St. depicting the history of Westboro

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