Spirit Rock Conservation Area

On Wednesday Ray and I took a trip to Colpoy’s Bay inside the Spirit Rock Conservation Area. It was my first visit.

Colpoy's Bay © James MacDougall
Ghost Leaf Colpoy’s Bay © James MacDougall
Colpoy's Bay © James MacDougall
Colpoy’s Bay © James MacDougall
Colpoy's Bay © James MacDougall
Colpoy’s Bay © James MacDougall
Colpoy's Bay © James MacDougall
Colpoy’s Bay © James MacDougall
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE COPYRIGHT JAMES MACDOUGALL AND MY NOT BE USED WITHOUT PERMISSION.

Moon Shot

I’ve been trying to get a decent shot of the moon for years. This evening the sky was crystal clear and the moon was a brilliant crescent so I tried again. This time I set my camera right and used a tripod. it made all the difference. I used my Nikon D5000 with the following settings: ISO:200, f-Stop 10 and shutter speed at 1/200. I don’t have a zoom so I’m happy with the way it came out.

Moon Shot  ©  James MacDougall
Moon Shot © James MacDougall

 

This is a cropped shot by the way. The original raw shot is below

Moon Raw ©  James MacDougall
Moon Raw © James MacDougall

Thanks to Digital Camera World for the tips!

The Corran (The McNeill House)

Occasionally there are things in your backyard waiting for you to discover if you would only turn around, take a step forward and look. Yesterday I turned around.

Wiarton (the home of Wiarton Willie the prognosticating albino rodent) is 35 minutes from where I live and is the gateway to the Tobermorey peninsula, that long finger of land that seems to point to the outer limits of the world as you drive north. Just beyond this small city on Georgian Bay is the Spirit Rock which conveniently is located in the Spirit Rock Conservation Area. Along with this scenic outpost are found the ruins of a manor known as The Corran. This appropriately is said to be Gaelic for ‘land running into the sea’ as well as the name of the Irish county the owner Alexander McNeill came from. Yesterday my friend Ray and I drove up to explore

The Corran Ruins © James MacDougall
The Corran Ruins © James MacDougall

Construction on the home began in 1882 by Hester McNeill and her husband Canadian Member of Parliament Alexander McNeill.  The 17 room manor was filled with luxury and opulence, oriental carpets, bearskin rugs, a marble bath and an extensive library. All of this was surrounded by 3 acres of gardens including 500 rose bushes among which were the black roses of McNeill’s home Ireland.  There was also a stable for the horses, a barn for the Durham Shorthorns that McNeill bred, an ice house, a power generator and two cottages for the McNeill’s dear friend and estate manager Alfred Lewis, who had come with his wife and daughters from England to help McNeill after Hester passed on in 1890, the manor still not complete. Lewis himself died in 1931 the victim of the first auto accident in the region. Alexander McNeill passed on himself the following year a month short of 90.

Corran Ruins © James MacDougall
Corran Ruins © James MacDougall

The McNeill’s only had one child, Malcolm and Malcolm never married or had children. He lived in the home with the housekeeper Sally Simmons and when Malcolm passed on in 1952 the home went to her. Malcolm had left debts and Simmons could not afford the upkeep of the home and property. She sold it in 1960 to a man from Willowdale Ontario. Soon after the home was vacated forever. Over the next 16 years it endured youthful vandalism ending it’s days in fire. The property now belongs to Grey Sauble Conservation. The gardens and orchards are gone now overgrown with trees and weeds. All that remains are some of the two story stone walls and the steps to the front entrance where the porch once was.

Corran Ruins © James MacDougall
Corran Ruins © James MacDougall

Resources and References

Alexander McNeill: Wikipedia entry
Ontario Abandoned Places
Spirit Rock Conservation Area

ALL PHOTOGRAPHS ARE COPYRIGHT JAMES MACDOUGALL AND MAY NOT BE USED WITHOUT PERMISSION.

That’s Life

This song has a lot of personal meaning. In April 2012 things came tumbling down for me and I found myself facing a crisis unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was in shock for a long time after, but as the song says you have to pick up and get back in the race. Of course the final stanza of the song ends on an ominous note in which the narrator/singer states if nothing happens for him by July he’s going to give up. I prefer to interpret it in a more positive light. We all face challenges. We all get knocked down at times and even when we do get back up there is no guarentee we won’t get hit again, and more than likely we will get hit again. So things are cyclical. The persona here is ready to get hit and go through it all again and he knows it will feel like death. He also knows he survived and will survive again whatever comes his way.

That’s life, that’s what people say
You’re riding high in April,
Shot down in May
But I know I’m gonna change that tune,
When I’m back on top, back on top in June

I said, that’s life, and as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks,
Stompin’ on a dream
But I don’t let it, let it get me down,
‘Cause this fine old world it keeps spinnin’ around

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
A poet, a pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race

That’s life, I tell ya, I can’t deny it,
I thought of quitting, baby
But my heart just ain’t gonna buy it
And if I didn’t think it was worth one single try,
I’d jump right on a big bird and then I’d fly

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
A poet, a pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself layin’ flat on my face,
I just pick myself up and get back in the race

That’s life, that’s life
And I can’t deny it
Many times I thought of cuttin’ out but my heart won’t buy it
But if there’s nothing shakin’ come here this July
I’m gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die
My, my

Songwriters
KAY, DEAN / GORDON, KELLY L.

Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Curious?

Where do we come from? Where do we go? What is our connection to this world and to others?

There are so many questions that we cannot answer, but as humans we are driven to ask. And if we do not ask them openly, we are confronted by them; by the silence, by isolation, by the night. In moments of distress and trauma questions overwhelm us in a flood of inquisition that drains to single point where our mortality and identity exist.

“Curious” is a place to set down my thoughts and ideas, my art, my interests, my reflections, and despite the apparent gravity of this introduction there will be humour and levity here too, because that’s life.