Posts Tagged ‘St. Lawrence River’


Steam Fog


Steam fog, also called sea smoke (or in this case, river smoke) or frost smoke, is formed when very cold air mixes with a shallow layer of saturated warmer air over a body of water. As the warmer air is cooled beyond the dew point, it can no longer hold as much water vapour, and the excess condenses out, producing a steam or smoke effect. On a recent very cold January day, I snapped this photograph of a smoking St. Lawrence River.

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Snowy River

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Mink, St. Lawrence River

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St. Lawrence River, Ripples

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St. Lawrence River


View of Ogdensburg

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Prescott Harbour Lighthouse


Ice Fishing


Old Ferry Wharf


Riverside Yarrow

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The terms maze and labyrinth are often used interchangeably, but they are two quite distinct entities. Wikipedia offers this definition:

In colloquial English labyrinth is generally synonymous with maze, but many contemporary scholars observe a distinction between the two: maze refers to a complex branching puzzle with choices of path and direction; while a single-path (unicursal) labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path, which leads to the center. A labyrinth in this sense has an unambiguous through-route to the center and back and is not designed to be difficult to navigate.

When RailGuy and I were driving along the street that parallels the river in Morrisburg, I noticed that the Lakeshore Drive United Church had a small plaque mounted near the sidewalk. The sign reads “Lakeshore Labyrinth”. Intrigued, we stopped to investigate.


The church itself is a lovely structure. It was built in 1880 by the Methodist Church of Canada. It became a United Church at the time of the Church Union in 1925. It is constructed of brick, with cut stone dressings, following a Gothic design. The east spire, on the left, was destroyed by a lightening strike in 1964 and later reconstructed.


Following the path around to the rear of the church, we found the labyrinth laid out before a sparkling view of the St. Lawrence River. The setting is very tranquil and inviting.

The modern labyrinth can be thought of as a pilgrimage. It symbolizes the difficulties we experience as we journey through life. Following the path to the centre offers a meditative experience.


A cross is at the centre of this labyrinth. A plaque at the rear of the church indicates that the Lakeshore Labyrinth was a memorial project in recognition of a legacy from Ross Hummell, with support from his brothers and sisters, and donations from local construction firms. It was dedicated in June of 2007.

The Labyrinth Society has an online locator for labyrinths around the world.


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Along the St. Lawrence River, just east of the town of Prescott, is a stone lighthouse. It marks the site of the Battle of the Windmill, which took place in November of 1838. I had to think about this. Eighteen-thirty eight? Most of the historic sites around this part of the world relate to the War of 1812. Then it came floating back to me from history classes many years ago. The Upper Canada Rebellion! William Lyon Mackenzie, 1837 and all that. But I was still confused because I thought that the events associated with the short-lived rebellion took place in Toronto. However, there is more to the story. In 1838, a group of rebels, the Patriot Hunters, with popular support in the northern states, planned to invade Canada and liberate Canadians from their British colonial masters. Unfortunately, much of the Canadian population was sympathetic to British rule.

On November 12, 1838, a force of about 250 Hunters occupied the hamlet of Newport and its windmill, a strong stone structure. British militia and a force of about 600 Canadians arrived and a standoff ensued. When no support arrived from America, and after a final assault on November 16th, the Hunters were forced to surrender. Eleven men were subsequently executed and another 60 were transported to Australia. That’s the condensed version. You can find more detailed information here.


The windmill is open daily over the summer months. When I visited, I met the two guides, the very knowledgeable and well-informed Nick, left, and the very enthusiastic Mick. Mick escorted me up the windmill to its upper level and provided some details of its history, while Nick provided additional information about the history of the Rebellion. The structure was converted from a mill to a lighthouse in 1874. A series of stairs provides access to the upper level, where you can enjoy an excellent view of the St. Lawrence river.


There are assorted historic markers in and around the lighthouse, but with the help of Nick and Mick, I didn’t feel I needed to read them all. However, this plaque, currently placed halfway up the stairs inside the windmill, caught my eye.


History, like youth, is wasted on the young. It takes a certain amount of world experience and a broader perspective than most 12 year olds have attained to really appreciate events of the past and their impact on the world we inhabit now. Change did come to Upper Canada. In 1848, the Province of Canada received responsible government. In the long run, the reformers won. Amnesty was granted to William Lyon Mackenzie and the rebels in February of 1849. Memory of the events at the Windmill faded away and the battle became a footnote in history books, the Windmill a tourist stop. However, the reality of those 4 days in 1838, and how they effected the lives of people living here then, was brought back to me when I came across the gravestone of Captain George Drummond, commemorated on the plaque above, in the Spencerville Cemetery. The motif at the top of his stone shows his rifle laying beneath a willow tree. His epitaph reads:

Death thou hast conquered me
And by thy dart I am slain
But Christ shall conquer thee
And I shall rise again.


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