Once a week I spend quality time at our local archives, exploring resources and learning my way around building research from some of the experts who work there. I have not yet acquired their nonchalance at handling (carefully) yellowed parchment-thin 150 year old maps, crumbling leather-bound assessment roll books, or foggy photos of ancestors. Occasionally I am overcome with resonance.
Yesterday I had such a moment. We were searching for information about a property based on a client inquiry, and had occasion to examine a township map dated 1869. Reverentially. Breathless. Then the voice began. Intoning, in that familiar unique way, known now through just a few captured recordings, the names...
"Bush land scrub land-
Cashel Township and Wollaston
Elzevir McClure and Dungannon
green lands of Westlemkoon Lake...
Hershel Monteagle and Faraday
lakeland rockland and hill country..."
This is country that most people know only through the poetry of Al Purdy. Some of us may see the names on a map as we make a visit north along Highway 62. The country becomes more real somehow, in the presence of these old maps showing the old colonization roads, the lot lines and concessions such a source of pride and hope for those who homesteaded those places, places now littered with broken farms and broken dreams.
Now I must go read 'The Country North of Belleville' yet again.
And so must you.