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.

Add new comment

CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

The Erie Canal; Means and Dreams

This photo is from Schoharie Crossing State Historical Site. The crumbling infrastructure is the oldest part of the Erie Canal -where it crossed Schoharie Creek. 

...

Crown Point, Ticonderoga, and Saratoga

Not everyone wants to see where the American Revolutionary War got up and got going - but we did.

.... 

The summer after college I worked in my family’s printing business, trying to earn and save enough to move out. To where I was not sure, but somewhere!

"The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley..."

Thank you, Robert Burns, for that title. 

We were driving from Gaspé to the next town when this happened.

Gaspé Peninsula & MB's Big Hike to See Gannets

Like I wrote previously, our plan was to turn to the right at the bottom left hand side of the map (see below) and drive east to Nova Scotia and then shoot up to the 7-hour ferry that would schlep us to Newfoundland.

Following the St. Lawrence River: “Further up and further in.”

We drove right past Montreal and Quebec.  We really “should” have turned off the Trans-Canada and gone into these cities to see historical sites I have been reading about for years.  Except, well, neither of us wanted to ‘do a city’ yet.  We love city life, but cities don’t kindle imagination the same way as the surprise of smaller towns and the beauteous unrolling of fields and woods, river and sky outside out car windows.  I bet people who live in rural areas like to take their breaks in a city when they get the chance…

Tag Cloud

17 minutes AARPtaxes AAUW Acadia Accountable apples Arrows baby balance Barkskins Beauty Becky BookReport boy scout Bread BuyAngry Cahokia Canada cello Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus Clowns clutter consumerism Courage creditreport death December DecisionFatigue decluttering Detroit Duty eBay Eclipse FairTrade farmer firealarm Fitness Five Flexible flu Fort de Chartres Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal Frugality Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe geode ghosts GovernorThompsonStatePark Guatemala guns happiness Healthinsurance HelleKBerry History home HomeRepair Honduras HouseinBlueRiver hurricane Innkeeper Interview InviteMe2Speak JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich justice Karen Lamb LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Lincoln LockedOut Love Ludington Macaw Manitoulin MargaretFuller Marquette marriage Mayan MayaWorks MilwaukeeMarch4OurLives MindfulChickens Mistakes Mother mouser movies museums must-haves New York City Nomadland Outside PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon poetry Preaching privacy Quern Questions recipe recipes recycling Reruns resolution Retirement RitesofPassage Roses Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd ShortStory sickness SofritoBandito SpaceShuttle spring square feet StoryStarts Stubborn Survival Susan taxes teenager Thanksgiving ThePerpetualYou ThreeBillBoards TidalBore TimeBeing toddler tortillas travel Traveler Tubing UnrelatedObservations UTLAStrong vacation Valentines vanilla Vietnam VivianWokeUpDrowning vole WalkingAndSeeing war WarsanShire weaving wedding WhyAttendChurch WillaCather
Ad Promotion