My previous blog entry on a spooky theme concerned a ghost I couldn’t see. Today’s entry is the polar opposite: I saw something that wasn’t there … anymore.
I grew up going to Muskoka, Ontario, Canada for the summers. My family had a cottage there on the lake and before you get any grand ideas the cottage was pretty much well-loved and beat all to pieces. Pine needles stuck out from between the ceiling boards in the bedrooms and every cupboard door had a corner nibbled out of it to make an escape route for one of the numerous hungry chipmunks that roamed freely about the place. But we loved it, and since I went up to the cottage every summer, it was my home.
We also had access to an old wooden runabout boat, which my sister Boo-Boo could drive. I never learned, mostly because it was so creaky and old that trying to drive it made me crazy. The gearshift came up through a slot in the floor, and you had to press your right foot against it to keep the gearshift in place while the boat was running. The throttle was a chrome handle on the steering wheel and it liked to stick, too, so if you weren’t paying attention and you turned the boat hard right the accelerator went right along with the turning wheel and suddenly you were going right really FAST.
Anyway, so the story goes: my sister Boo, my cousin Nancy, and I were crossing the lake to visit a friend. We were crossing the main channel and right in front of us was the old lake steamer Segwun. Originally there were about a dozen lake steamers cruising up and down the lakes delivering mail, but the other eleven blew over, burned, or sank at some point over the past 100 years. Only old faithful Segwun keeps on plugging away. If you go to Muskoka, she’s still there, and I encourage you to go for a ride and see traveling the way it used to get done before they invented roads.
So there we were, crossing the lake, and as we crossed the Segwun’s wake, we got bounced around a bit and I looked up and realized that if I had been a passenger on the Segwun 100 years ago and looked to my left I would have seen the old Beaumaris Hotel still standing on the bluff where it had stood until 1947 when it burned to the ground before I was born.
So, I looked left and there it was.
I remember thinking: Holy crap, there it is! And I was amazed because to my recollection I had never even seen a picture of the old Beaumaris Hotel before, I had only heard stories about it from my grandparents generation. I know no one ever mentioned the long rows of dormer windows I saw or the boardwalks along the shore or the pennant that was snapping in the wind from the single tower. I also knew that I was going to lose the image of the hotel as soon as I blinked and so of course, I did blink and Poof! It was gone, just like that.
This time my cousin Nancy caught the surprised look on my face and she asked me: What did you see? And I stammered: I just saw the old hotel, the old Beaumaris hotel.
She laughed and told me to have another beer but she changed her mind when I pointed out something that none of us could have known and that was where the hotel was located because I saw the hotel standing further down along the shore where the golf pro shack was instead of on the shore where everyone always said the hotel had been. When I went back and asked my grandfather about the location he confirmed that where I had seen it was correct and that in general people were wrong about where it had once stood.