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Monday, 14 September 2020

shrooms, toadstools, no ATVs and peace and quiet at Callaghan's Rapids

I visited Callaghan's last Saturday morning from 10 AM to a bit after noon. I hadn't planned to visit, as I'm concerned about confrontations, esp. as I've had one or two in the past, but then curiosity got the better of me : ) First I picked up what little garbage remains in the parking lot - only some cigarette packages and a couple of crushed cans. I was the only person or vehicle inn the lot. Then I walked the path to the bridges, and again there was basically no trash, just lots of mushrooms and toadstools on full display. One ATV passed me when I climbed the bank from the 'illegal' EOTA parking lot, and they stayed on the trail as we casually waved to each other.

The bridges were completely uninhabited. It was a beautiful early fall morning, so I'd expected at least some visitors, but word of mouth must have spread quickly about the OPP ticketing campaign last weekend! I sat on the east end of the bridges for 10 or 15 minutes, enjoying nature as I used to be able to do in the distant past without the buzz of annoying ATVs. 

After the break I walked down the bank to the river, and again almost no trash anywhere. There was the deserted cowling of an ATV, but that was beyond my means of carrying out. The river is really low now, and I walked the bank to the second beach or trail area where there's an old campsite. Again no trash! I walked further downstream to the middle trail back to the parking lot, when I heard a couple of ATVs zipping through the woods on the trail to the rapids. Fortunately I didn't encounter them.

When I got to the parking lot after my hour plus ramble collecting a small plastic bag of garbage, a guy was reading the covid signs by the entrance. I said hello and we chatted for some time. He's a local landowner, Jeff B, who owns property adjacent to Lorrie and Callaghan's. He noticed I had my bag of garbage, and said he'd recently brought his sons to the parking lot and collected many bags of garbage. He didn't know about our Friends group, so I gave him my card with my email address. While we were chatting the other Erin arrived on bikes with her fiance and a friend (best man for their wedding next week?). I introduced Jeff to them, so perhaps they have established further contact with Jeff.

One thing I felt was missing on my visit was some kind of identifying marker, perhaps a large brightly coloured tee shirt or vest with "Friends of Callaghan's" or somesuch on it. I suspect there's at least one very capable artist in our group or larger circle who could design this. Wearing an identifying shirt or vest would inform the public that our group exists, and would also establish a conversational opening for questions about Callaghan's and our Friends group.

Let's keep up the good work, as it was so pleasant for a change visiting Callaghan's and feeling comfortable even in the bridges area.

 peace, Chris

 p.s. Jeff said there's an EXTREMELY rare fern which only grows in one place in the depths of Callaghan's forests - he's also a nature photog who was there to photo the puffballs and any of the rare orchids if they've survived the ATV onslaught

Saturday, 12 September 2020

The Retaking of Callaghan's Rapids Conservation Area

In August three years ago I had the following letter-to-the-editor published about the ongoing habitat destruction in Callaghan's Rapids Conservation Area. None of the parties responsible for the maintenance of this gorgeous natural resource took sufficient action, although large boulders were ringed around the parking lot and in the area where the trans-Canada trail bridges crosses over The Crowe River. Unfortunately many of the ATV vandals have winches on their vehicles, and many of the rocks were pulled aside and even more illegal trails were created and the river banks and even the river bed were further damaged.

Upset neighbouring cottagers and farmers and other concerned locals have finally reached the tipping point about this vandalism, habitat destruction, and garbage accumulation. Action had to be taken to save Callaghan's from complete ruin. A local group of concerned residents has formed in the past month and begun holding meetings.

We collected enough money, $750, at our second meeting on Sept. 1 in the Callaghan's parking lot to offer to pay the OPP overtime to enforce the area's regulations. The OPP was sufficiently embarrassed by this request into finally organizing patrols on the Labour Day weekend, and some 15 tickets were issued to the ATV trespassers and a couple of illegal campers. Of course it remains to be seen if enough ATVers, trash scatterers, and illegal campers were permanently scared off by the blitz, and if the OPP will continue to maintain patrols of the conservation area.

from my blog
Sunday, 20 August 2017

 Conservation Area surrendered to ATV vandals 

Published as a letter-to-the-editor in the Central Hastings/Trent Hills News (metrolandmedia) Thursday, Aug. 24/17 page B4, titled Callahan's Rapids under serious threat Aug. 20/17

 Dear Editors: I've been enjoying the 800 hectares of natural beauty at Callahan's Rapids Conservation Area for 28 years. The peace of mind this sanctuary always provides has given me an affordable summer vacation spot as well as a place to recover in solitude from various personal tragedies. But over the 28 years I've watched a gradual decline in its care and maintenance. When I first visited there were change and toilet facilities and waste receptacles were available. The toilets and waste bins disappeared decades ago, sadly replaced by illegal campsite fire pits filled with garbage. The three main footpaths have been 'supplemented' by a maze of rutted trails torn through the thick bush, courtesy of illegal ATV trespassers. 

Seemingly Crowe Valley staff are content to sit in their air conditioned offices and surrender our once pristine conservation area to the vandals. I've never once seen a uniformed conservation officer during my dozens of visits to Callahan's Rapids. Considering it's a ten minute drive from Crowe Valley's Marmora headquarters to the conservation area, I wonder why this lack of monitoring? Ditto the OPP - never once have I seen a cop car stopping all the illegal ATVs. Our local taxpayer dollars are being wasted while we wait for our public servants to perform their duties. The fish and birds, whose breeding areas are being destroyed, are voiceless. Ditto the frogs, toads, snakes and turtles who are having their habitat ripped up by fat and lazy ATV joyriders.

There are rare orchids in the woods which are now criss-crossed by ragged trails and illegally chopped down tree stumps. Today I watched a parade of ATVs driving downstream from the Trans Canada bridges to the rapids, a distance of several kilometers. The jerks were often churning through several feet of water, and I kept hoping they'd ruin their noisy idiot machines. The senseless damage they were doing to the habitat is hard to believe. Simple solutions: for starters I'd like to see a couple of uniformed Crowe Valley Conservation officers in the parking lot on weekends. Although they are empowered to give tickets, just their presence would cool out some of the garbage leavers and illegal campers. Our local OPP should also visit on weekends, and begin by issuing warnings for the first few weeks to the ATVers. 

Something has to be done soon, or we're going to lose this special spot to the vandals among us. The original donors of this sacred conservation area must be turning in their graves. for the frogs, toads, snakes, birds, bees, fish, trees, orchids and all our other silent friends who depend on us for their preservation,

 Chris Faiers (signed)

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

The Mask - by Cowboy Bill


An airborne virus with no cure or treatment.
Shelter in place, avoid  bereavement.
N95 reserved for front line lot.
Some spirits saved, some souls not.

Six feet apart and circles in a queue.
United but separate to save but a few.
Social distancing the only thing being taught.
Some spirits saved, some souls not.

Drinking and dining inside our bubble.
Plexiglass walls keeping out the trouble.
On the back nine for a hole in one shot
Some spirits saved, some souls not.

These veils our passport to recovery.
Allowing us all to join in the revelry.
Our reward for not getting caught.
Some spirits saved, some souls not.



Cowboy Bill
August 2020

Friday, 31 July 2020

fan letters today

Decades ago I realized I'd never earn a living as a Canadian poet. The greatest satisfaction I can receive for being a Canuckian poet is when my work touches someone's life or soul. This morning I received two unexpected such emails. The first is regarding a copy of ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun which I loaned to a new neighbour. The second emails are from the nephew of the two "bushrats" who befriended me when I moved to the eastern Kawartha Lakes area over 31 years ago. 

Bill and his wife came over this morning - gave them tour and he had really good ideas. Thank you for the contact!
And i want to buy the second book from you to savour. Only read summer section because i wanted to stay in sync with season. 3 lines, one haiku, in there stuck in my head.
Advertised yard sale but may have to postpone as storms are predicted for Sunday but i wont cancel yet... its only Thursday!

                                                                       ~    ~    ~

Hello Chris, my name is Patrick Hill. I am a nephew of Joe and Bob Hill, I loved the poem you wrote and have shared it with the rest of our family. I was hoping that you had some more stories and or experiences you could share on these two? By the way, the medals were Joe's, he served in the merchant marine Lol. I have a family Facebook page filled with over 500 newspaper articles on the Hill family and their run ins with the law. Their mother was sent to jail for 3 months and she had to take her 4 month old baby with her, moonshine was her offence.

hope this reaches the right person
Patrick Hill

                                                                     .    .    .

Thank you so much for responding. I can hardly wait to see what comes to mind after the beers. Family lore has it that Joe was involved in the 1961 bank robbery, but the info is scarce. I have read the book, and seen the play at our local outdoor theater, 4th line theater.

I was having a visit with two of my cousins and they told me that Joe was involved with a bank robbery in Norwood, but never got caught.
This family has a long history of breaking the law and family feuds, we lost a great uncle in 1905 to a drive by shooting (horse and buggy). Lots of info on assaults, pig stealing, cattle stealing, cattle poisoning, arson, moonshining, murder, attempted murder, etc. 

I would love to share the info with any historian, it is all public information, you just have to know where to find it. Lol.
Cheers and I look forward to our next chat.
You must have also known Hindu (Yeomans) that lived by the bridge at deer river.

Patrick Hill

here's their poem:

a bushrat's intimations of mortality at Callaghan's Rapids

in memory of Joe and Bob Hill

guy at the liquor store
old dude like me
12 pack on the conveyor belt
asks if the snow on my empties
is from ice fishing on Crowe Lake

'nope, just snow drifted into my porch
haven't been on the ice drinking beer
hoping for a pickerel bite in decades'

'Say, you must know some friends of mine?'
I answer with the Hill brothers,
Joe & Bob
old bushrat brothers who taught me
to fish & hunt when I moved here
quarter century ago
both been dead for a decade or more

'Don't know them,' he replied
what about Fred Smith?
yeah, he was a neighbour for a while
beautiful wife
'yeah, she left him for down south'

I say, 'I'd rather have liquor than a wife!'
half joking - maybe not
yeah, Joe & Bob Hill
they had a bunch of other brothers
but it was those two bushrats
who showed this big city kid
the ropes of rural life

Cordova outlaws - yeah
some tall true tales from those two
fought like all brothers
told some nasty stories on each other
maybe true
medals from World War Two
but which one!
or both

hydro crewmen
dynamite, booze
cooking in camps
on the hydro line cuts
which civilized this area
if Al Purdy had held a steady job
he'd a been one of them

Bob & Joe
tried to teach me to fish pickerel
Scott's Dam - bottle of rye
in my back pocket
sipped it to impress them
& dull the black fly bites

flies leave me alone now
they don't like bushrat blood
anyway - 
but flies sure loved my
virgin rye-laced freshness

after the LCBO drop-off
Chase & I wander Callahan's Rapids
the haunted trail - den-laced cedars
tracks everywhere - underground creeks
as well - careful every step
Chase & I take or we could be stranded
broken legs

and I think back on Bob & Joe Hill
can't remember if I promised not to write about them
crazy blood brothers who lived in this
halfway land of muskie rivers, creeks, swamps
Bob bragged he'd fucked on every island
in Cordova Lake
a challenge I've never followed
(well once or twice)

Bob & Joe
dead too young from alcohol
& doctors who don't respect bush people

Bob & Joe's stories reverberate:
the big bank robbery in Havelock
robbers had a boat stashed across Belmont Lake
when the dirt track ended the cops' chase lakeside
they paddled across smooth as silk
money & robbers never found -
some still looking for both

never thought before
but was it them?
my old bushrat buddies
Joe drove a new Lincoln
but his money I bet
came from his slicko gambling
slyer than the Campbellford
doctors & lawyers from campsite poker
he'd suck them in with mispronounced words
lose a few hands to the city suckers
then bang down big when the pot grew large

or ...........
all this aft's walk I thought of Bob & Joe
long, long gone to that big swamp in the sky
bushrat brothers, Bob measured his winters
by muskies lying on the snow of Blairton Bay

guess I'm the next generation now
not half as tough, but still upright
growing craggy & beer bellied
still walking the trails they showed me
the secret fishing holes
the icy islands where they lived & loved

Chris Faiers

January 20, 2014

Friday, 10 July 2020

hotter than Jamaica, blue herons, populist pandemic fools

Hi Weed,

Your beautiful 'midnight heron' birthday card arrived yesterday. I suspect it arrived long overdue, as you'd included my defunct post office box (#69), and this tends to confuse Canada Post no end  : ) All that's needed now is my street address, altho they're not even consistent with that for some people, as my friend Morley uses the same public mail boxes, and he's supposed to included "rural route #1". nonsensical!

Sometimes I forget how spoiled I am to live in such a thriving wilderness area. There are several types of local herons, the most noticeable is the blue heron. I sometimes sit on a lawn chair by the north end boat launch with one on the dog walkers, Judy, and her golden retriever, Cooper. A blue heron often flies by, and sometimes stops to fish right across the river from us among the flowering lily pads.

Recently I've spent some mornings on my friend Morley's deck, which overlooks the same stretch of The Crowe River. Again, we almost always see at least one or two  blue herons flying along the river. Magickal, and a nice distraction from this prolonged heat wave we've been enduring along with the covid-19 pandemic quarantine.

Morley took a week's hols to briefly escape his horrible auto factory job during the heatwave, and yesterday when we walked through the local park a Jamaican lady commented that our weather has become "hotter than Jamaica!"   

I hope you're surviving the pandemic OK? There are almost no cases in our greater area, a benefit perhaps of being so rural and underpopulated. The Yanks are suffering horrible casualties, as are the Brazilians. The countries with right wing populist "leaders" are experiencing the worst of the pandemic, altho hoping the various electorates see the folly of voting in such fools probably won't happen.

peace & love  :  )-

Friday, 19 June 2020

new book on 1960s Thames Valley scene (will include quotes from Eel Pie Island Dharma)

On 2020-06-18, at 12:37 PM, ANDREW HUMPHREYS wrote:
Hi Chris
I'm an author working on a book about the Richmond and Twickenham scene of the 1960s and '70s. It covers the whole Eel Pie Island, Crawdaddy, L'Auberge scene, from about 1956 (when L'Auberge opened and Eel pie started hosting jazz) to the demolition of the hotel in 1971. While the music is at the forefront of the story, I'm also keen to ground it in the alternative cultural landscape of the time – the arts labs, squats and commune. I've read Eel Pie Island Dharma, and I'd like to quote from it if may? It might also be fun to chat, if you're willing? Maybe Skype or Zoom or something similar? I've almost finished the first draft of the book and am now working on the final chapter, which cover the years of the commune, hence me getting in touch with you now. It will be published later this year.

I hope to hear from you.
Best wishes,
Andrew Humphreys

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for contacting me - it makes my day when someone expresses an interest in EPID and those long ago crazy days of the 1960s  ;  )-

You have my permission to quote whatever you wish from Eel Pie Island Dharma. Just make sure I and my publisher, Hidden Brook Press, are given credit. I've cc'ed my publisher, Tai Grove of Hidden Brook Press, on this so he's aware.

I've also cc'ed Weed, whose memoir of the commune is included in EPID. He may be an even better resource than I on the cultural history of the commune.

I've also cc'ed two Twickenham playwrights, Tom and Sam, who have completed a first draft of a movie script based on EPID.

Of course I'd be most willing to natter your ears off about my time on the island. I'm not the most techy of people, so I don't use skype or zoom - in fact I just have a very old-fashioned landline. Tom and Sam found a way to cheaply connect with me long distance, so that may be the best way to chat.

Have you read the hardcover book, Eel Pie Island, by Michele Whitby and Dan Van Der Vat?

Best wishes for your book - the Thames Valley scene was a very magickal time and place! 


Hi Chris
Thank you for getting back to me so quickly and with such positivity. To be sure I will fully credit your book and Hidden Brook Press, and hopefully some people who read my book might be directed to yours to find out more. I'd love to hear from Weed, and have him on my list of people to contact. Similarly, Tom and Sam, I'd be very curious to hear more about your project. I do know Michele's excellent book and I'm in touch with her – where mine differs is that it places Eel Pie in context and talks about what else was going on around the area, like the Richmond Arts Workshop (and its inspiration in the Drury Lane Arts Lab), the L'Auberge scene, the local art schools, and so on. I'll look into how to make cheap international phonecalls and get back to you shortly on that – it would be fascinating to chat.
More soon.

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Memorial poem for O Puck: Patrick Connors

A Period of Transition

In Honour of O Puck

March 21st.

The first full day of spring.
Birds are chirping, the sun shines
leaves are forming on the trees.

Today is the day
O Puck has left this dimension.

And yet I know 
his spirit lives on.

He taught us in 2012
    that the end of the Mayan calendar   
                    was NOT

the end of the world

but merely a new beginning…

"The universe is in a period of transition," O Puck said,
 "All the stars and planets
            are in perfect alignment.

"It has taken us over 5000 years
to get to this point, but make no mistake -
our time has come.

"If you are not ready for our destiny
                    the world will leave you behind.

"But if you will accept this new dawning
    the importance of mother earth, the sacredness of all people

                then you are ready for the days
            which will change the world forever."

I know I will see my friend again
    after I have made a period of transition.

We will laugh and hug, and he will tell a joke
        about an angel, a poet
and the eagle.

And we will laugh again
        and he will teach me how
                    to live in a world beyond enlightenment.

Robert Preston Doepper

October 1, 1945 – March 21, 2020

Rob passed away as a result of a massive stroke which followed open heart surgery in Toronto Canada.

He was predeceased by his parents John and Gloria Doepper of Wellfleet MA and is survived by his brother Richard and wife Margaret of Delray Beach, FL; sister Denise Ilkovich and her husband David of Wellfleet, MA; His daughter Tara Zai Mead of Port Perry, Ontario and his nieces Julie La Rosa, Katie Ilkovich, Sasha Gerardi and nephew Ben and their families.

Rob was born in Brooklyn NY in 1945 moved to Wellfleet MA in 1960 graduated from Nauset Regional High School in Orleans, MA he attended the University of Oregon, and was a veteran of the U.S. Navy.  He had a varied career ranging from construction to being an Administrator for Housing for the indigenous peoples of Canada, worked on courseware concept for the Ontario Ministry of Education to teach young children about people and places with the goal of inoculating them against racism to working for ChocoSol, a cacao processing company.

He was known to many of his friends as Intelligent, spiritual, generous, loving, kind, teacher, mentor and good friend.  He cared deeply about the environment and “Mother Earth”, he was more concerned about helping his fellow man than helping himself.

Some of his accomplishments include:

Planetary Synergy Award
Outstanding Achievement Award for Volunteerism
Save The Rouge Valley Foundation
“Pride of Place” Roundtable, City Council
Founding Chairperson – First Peoples Cultural and Recreational Centre of Scarborough
Certificate of Merit – Native Canadian Centre of Toronto
And the list goes on…
Rob/Puck marched to the beat of a different drummer…

“Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” – Henry David Thoreau