July 31, 2007
I have been to eight or nine Chamber Music Festival events since this time last week, which means I am so behindhand, it doesn’t matter any more in which order I record them. I’ll start on that tomorrow. Something else I wanted to mention was our excursion to Kingston on Lake Ontario where we like to amble by the martello towers and the marinas and take a nosey look at people’s little boats. I like the way their owners name them: Mrs Tar, Pilgrim, Sea Turtle, Tortue, Loophole, Wave Raker, Sea Gypsy, My Be Sea (I don’t “get” that one). We have a couple of boat owning friends; he’s French and she’s an anglophone Canadian, and they’ve cleverly called their yacht Sail à Vie.
While we were in Kingston, we took a look around the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes where there was a wealth of information about many other kinds of water craft, including the timber drams (six “cribs” in each “dram”) that used to be tied together to form rafts, on which whole communities used to live as the timber was thus floated down the St Lawrence. They had to shoot the rapids on these rafts between Prescott and Cornwall before the St Lawrence was brought under control in the 1950s, and very dangerous it was too. A line of men with paddles had to stand at the back of the square raft acting as a rudder, the steersman yelling at them from the front.
The museum ship, the Alexander Henry, used to be a coastguards’ ice-breaking vessel and is still afloat in the dock beside the museum, but nowadays it stays put and offers Bed and Breakfast. We put our heads round the door of the Captain’s Cabin and saw the towels laid out there. Looks rather attractive, and it’s probably the cheapest B & B accommodation in the whole city.