Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Brewers unlocks

 Last month I spent a lovely week in my own company at a tiny house north of Kingston, and the inevitable visits to locks on the historic Rideau Canal ensued.

My love affair with canals and locks is longstanding (and a passion I shared with my dearest travelling companion.) Hint: should you be so inclined, this blog is searchable.

It was no surprise, except to me, that I ended up at Lower Brewer's lock during the first afternoon outing of my August solo holiday. I came upon the lock station from Highway 15. It took a moment to realize just where I was. And how good it felt. How many memories reside there. I spent the afternoon there, in the lush tropical heat, solemn white cedars, purple loosestrife and a heron painted in to make the scene perfection, ospreys mewling overhead. I felt deliciously out of touch with the sunbronzed posh boat people ascending and descending. 

Blog visitors responded strongly to my photo of a humble lockstation building at this lock back in 2017. Den and I  'discovered' this place, arriving from the west, on a cross-country winter drive. The setting was absolutely pristine, silent - and nearly inaccessible due to a heavy ice coating laid over every surface. Such a different day, in every way.

First. The bridge was closed. Den was known for doing what I called "engineering studies" of heritage technology, and passing on his prodigious knowledge. This timber king post swing bridge (replica)  was a case in point. So much is closed to me now, why NOT the bridge? Ironic.

Ah, but there is much to be examined here, even without engineering expertise. A few buildings in close proximity to each other connect technology from vastly different eras. The defensible lock-keeper's house, built during the heart-breakingly difficult years of canal construction in 1826-1832. A mill, built maybe mid to late 1800s, based on settlement history, repurposed finally as a gallery. And a  hydro powerhouse (guessing 1940s due to the decoration, and steel framed windows) harnessing the river channel. 

At the time I wrote of the little white building: "a little icon to return to in what promises to be that kind of year." I'm not sure what kind of year 2017 was, but there's no doubt that 2020 and 2021 have been "that sort of year" for me.

This place was full of you, Denny, and our ice-castle visit from so long ago.