Mary Beth Writes

Sault is a French word that mean topsy-turvy as in the rapids on the St. Mary river that tumbles between the US and Canada. Or summersaults. Isn’t that cute?

We walked a lot that first day. We thought the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site; which is two old houses that we wanted to see, were just around the corner from where we parked. Nope; more like two miles there and two miles back.  But it was a brisk day and after our hot, humid Wisconsin summer it was delicious to wear a jacket and not sweat.

Charles Oakes Ermatinger was born in 1776 in Montreal, Ontario. By the time he was 19 he was a clerk for a trading company, which meant he went out into the wilderness (well, wilderness to European guys; home to the people who lived there) to talk with First Nation people and buy their furs. He was working along the North Saskatchewan River in late 1798 when he and another trader became lost. Ermatinger found his way out of the forest after 16 days; his companion never returned. What a way to start adulthood.

Do you remember my posts about how white guys in the fur trading business would marry First Nation women? (who married who and how that worked out) That’s what Ermatinger did. In 1800, when he was 24 and she was 15, he married Charlotte Calloonalute’, daughter of a prominent Ojibway leader. In their life together she would bear 13 children, eight of whom would survive. Then, in 1832 when he was 56 and she was 47, they married again in a Montreal Catholic church.

When he married her the first time, he effectively removed himself from the European cultural standards of that time. He would have to live away from “society”. I can imagine this 25-year old young man, intrigued and possibly smitten by his new First Nation bride, very willing to forego his white culture. But then this. Thirty-three years later he declared to his world that his wife was the love of his life … and she apparently said the same. This was a partnership that worked. Maybe you have to be old to be moved by this. I am.

Ermatinger was a trader and merchant. In the early 1820’s, as his wealth grew he built a trading post as well as their Stone House (that we walked two miles to see). It was the first stone house north of Montreal. Through long cold winters at the east end of Lake Superior, 200 years ago, their home was the social center of their community.

Ermatinger died in 1833 with a reputation for hospitality, a clever businessman who helped build the prosperity of the region. (John Jacob Astor did not like him; you know there’s a good story there. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/ermatinger_charles_oakes_6E.html)

And then there was this curious home. The first floor was built in 1821 to be an ammunition-powder magazine, presumably by Ermatinger. By the end of the 1800’s, Francis Clerque added on the second floor and moved in.

Francis Clerque was a Genuine Character.  He was born 1856 in Maine, went to law school, and then spent much of his life inventing and promoting and badly managing business schemes in Bangor, in Bar Harbor, Sault Ste Marie and more.  He even spent a year pitching and getting contracts to build a railroad across Persia! (Russian politics got in the way.) He had huge ideas; he believed if one started one business near a source of power they could then piggyback many more business enterprises around that. He made and lost his own and many other investors’ fortunes. 

In Sault Ste Marie (where he went after burning out in previous communities) he started a hydro-electric plant, Algoma Steel, a new canal and lock system still in use, a paper and pulp mill, a railroad, and two mines. He was wildly over extended as well as a poor day-to-day manager and it all went bust in the early 1910’s. Except the infrastructure of these businesses was in place and his start-ups continued … although he left town.

He never married and, it seems, neither did his two brothers. Curious, don’t you think?

In any event, while he lived close to 20 years in Sault Ste Marie, he in habited this oddly charming small home. He was a gregarious, over-confident dreamer, and I bet spending an evening in his company was fun.

If you want to know more, check this out: http://www.city.sault-ste-marie.on.ca/library/Clergue_Personality.html

Comments

I can “feel”the vacation in those pictures. Interesting.

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Kids & Books & Boxes & Paper Towels Tubes

Two things today – both related to schools.

1. I’ve volunteered for three years at Whittier Elementary School in Waukesha.  Once a week I walk out of my world into 3rd grade world and while I am there, my world simply disappears!

If you are the kind of person who is fond of kids who have ordinary and extraordinary challenges with reading and learning and doing kid-math – please consider being a volunteer, too.  You can call up schools near you. 

Location, location, location...

Here is another short MB take on the impeachment hearings.

Why Ukraine?  

Location, location, location.

Trump wanted the Ukrainians to turn the Biden name into a scandal. Trump is obviously in the thrall of Putin; whether this is criminal or simply his dangerous fascination with strongmen is the questions du jour. In any case, it seems likely that Trump Whisperer Putin suggested, “All you need to do is connect Biden to graft and you can win this election. Worked the last time, didn’t it…”?

Because Putin wants to run Ukraine.  

Why?

Follow the money.

When they tell you who they are...

I have a very big cold.  Not all that relevant to you but aggravating to me. Anyway, last night I coughed and woke myself up a lot; I had time in which to to think about the impeachment hearing drama in Washington.  I don’t have that much to say all at once. But I am noting particular things as this goes along and I am going to say them

On Friday Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee harangued about the “the unfairness” of impeachment hearing’s rules.

The Impeachment Hearings - Argh & Damn

Len and I watched a lot of the impeachment hearings this week. George Kent, William Taylor, and Marie Yovanovitch showed us the worthy, smart, and patriotic Americans still serving our nation. Or at least trying to do so behind the chaos and greed, the ineptitude and apparent bribery of the people in this administration. 

Some Sore Paw Thoughts

 Last night I read on the sofa for a couple hours. Then I came upstairs, brushed my teeth, and went to bed to read some more. Honest, that’s it. That’s mostly what I did yesterday. A few chores and errands. A lot of reading.

Then while turning one more page - my foot started to hurt! One moment nothing; next moment a big twitchy thing flared along the side of one foot. I rubbed it and tried to stretch the muscles but that made it worse, so I took ibuprofen and went to sleep. I woke this morning and although it hurts less, it still hurts.

Genius & Why you Shouldn't Judge a Fish by What it Can't Do

Someone asked me what I thought might be the definition of genius. (If you send me an open-ended question I might try to answer you, too.)

Here are some of my thoughts.  Because on Halloween, plus the day the House of Reps votes on how to proceed with the impeachment proceedings, plus California is on fire, plus there is a half of foot of snow out my window – why wouldn’t we talk about shades of genius?

Sometimes it's calming to talk about a situation that doesn't exactly affect many of us. 

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