A few months ago I wrote about the ghosts – or scars – left behind by events from the past. They seem to be all around us if only we stopped long enough to notice them. Sometimes however we don’t actually recognize what we are seeing.
That’s what happened to me last week.
I was on a cycling/kayaking trip in Eastern Ontario near the Quebec border. It was a section of the Waterfront Trail I had wanted to do for a long time and it finally bubbled up to the top of my list.
The location was the Long Sault Parkway … a chain of 11 small islands in the St Lawrence River connected by a road and a series of small bridges. This parkway is now very popular with campers, boaters, and cyclists, however the days we visited, the park was unexpectedly very quiet.
Our day of riding was stinking hot and the strong head wind felt like it was blowing heated air from an oven. We stopped often – to hydrate and take photos – and that’s when one particular scene caught our attention. In the distance, people were lounging out on a spit of rock.
On this particularly hot afternoon, it looked extremely inviting.
Since we were riding an out-and-back, we decided that on our return trip we would try to find our way onto this interesting little spit of land to check out the water.
When we got there, we discovered it wasn’t a rocky outcrop at all, but an old asphalt road. That’s where the ghosts from the past came in.
Back in the 1950s, a decision was made to flood the area for the creation of a nearby power dam and deepen this section of the St Lawrence Seaway. Several communities located on this chain of islands were going to be buried under water so all the people and the buildings from their villages were relocated.
Two new communities were created from this relocation – Long Sault being one of the them. The islands remaining after the flooding were then made into parkland. The highway that existed at the time was also affected by the flooding and had to be relocated.
We had just found the original highway … or what was left of it.
It became a new subject of fascination for us and the next day while kayaking we attempted to follow the path of this former highway from island to island.
Sometimes our first clue about the existence of the highway was just strange rippling on the surface of the water.
Discovering this unexpected ghost from the past and exploring some of its history was unquestionably the highlight of this adventure.