Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Abandonment Issues: Cordova Mines Vansickle House 4 (Ma Bell)

Ma Bell's house

This was originally intended to be a three-part-series. But alas, Ninja and I finished off Vansickle Road this past weekend, in the company of my older brother, and we found three more abandoned houses before reaching the abrupt dead end. So this will now be a six part series. Coincidentally, it all comes back around full circle to my own personal experiences.

In the third post, I stated that exploring these types of locations offers a glimpse into the past, and where we came from. I didn't actually mean a literal glimpse into our own pasts. But that is exactly the case here, this was a true glimpse into my own past, and it brought back memories that I had long forgotten.

In the summers of the early 1970s, my grandparents rented the tiny cottage above the garage, from the Cordova Mines Vansickle House 4 property owner, the widow Kay Bell. Each summer, my mother would take a two week holiday from her nursing job at St. Joseph's Hospital and spend her vacations relaxing on the shores of Cordova Lake, and lounging in this miniature cottage. Kay Bell was quite fond of my mother and gave her a lamp and an antique butter dish as wedding gifts, which she still possesses.

My grandparent's cottage
My grandparents cottage

Spring forward to the late seventies and early eighties. My grandparents would spend entire summers at the cottage rent free, in exchange for caring for the property on behalf of the aging Kay Bell, who we called Ma Bell. We would spend weekends here in the summers as very young children, my brothers and I, frolicking in the water and playing with our cousins that lived around the corner. While most of the adults pounded back the alcohol lakeside, my grandfather would be doing his own thing in the late Fred Bell's workshop in behind Ma Bell's house. The house itself we never entered, until now, and in pitch blackness, it proved to be far less interesting than the workshop. The cottage where we spent most of our time as children, was now sealed tight, and the lakeside shack has been demolished.

As we wandered the property and poked around in the workshop, my older brother regaled us with stories that continued to trigger memories in me. My father out on the lake fishing with a case of beer and returning to shore hammered with dinner, which my grandmother would prepare on the stove in the cottage. My grandpa stashing and sneaking cigars and liquor, some of which we found still stashed away in the workshop. "Don't tell your Nana boys, our secret." he'd always say. There was no running water in the cottage, my brother told us. And the STINKY sign above the door of the outhouse instantly refreshed my memory, and I chuckled. My brother unraveled a newspaper he found on a shelf in the workshop, it was dated the summer after I was born. Our grandfather would have read that paper, folded it up and placed it in that very spot, we concluded. In fact, our grandfather would have been the only one using this workshop since the early seventies. These old vices and jars of nuts and bolts. These moonshine bottles and aspirin tins. This is literally where I come from.

Ma Bell's front entrance
Ma Bell's front entrance

Ma Bell's living room
Ma Bell's living room

Ma Bell's Rideau heater/oven/stove
Ma Bell's Rideau heater/oven/stove

Ma Bell's fridge
Ma Bell's fridge

Ma Bell's dishesMa Bell's dishes

Ma Bell's broach
Ma Bell's broach

123456789*0#
123456789*0#

STINKY
STINKY

STINKY
STINKY

My grandfather's workshop exterior
My grandfather's workshop

My grandfather's workshop interior
My grandfather's workshop

NO BOTTLES OR TINS
NO BOTTLES OR TINS

The jars
The jars

My grandfather's moonshine bottles
My grandfather's moonshine bottles

The Globe & Mail Sports August 12, 1978
The Globe & Mail Sports August 12, 1978

Another family vice
Another vice

TRUMP CIGAR
TRUMP CIGAR

ASPIRIN
ASPIRIN

FAST RELIEF
FAST RELIEF

Fred J. Bell's train and Outboard Motor receipts
Fred J. Bell's train and Outboard Motor receipts

I literally walked into the light
I literally walked into the light

Every explorer's must have tool
Every explorer's must have tool

My grandfather's moonshine bottle
My grandfather's moonshine bottle

RRR RADWAY & CO. MONTREAL CAN
RRR RADWAY & CO. MONTREAL CAN

Horseshoe for good luck
Horseshoe for good luck

Buried in history
Buried in history

We lifted up the ice box and propped it up
We lifted up the ice box and propped it up

Fred J. Bell's blueberries dated July 01, 1953
Fred J. Bell's blueberries dated July 01, 1953

Cordova Lake
Cordova Lake

Again, thanks for sharing in our adventures, it is always nice when you stop by. I'll definitely cherish this visit for the rest of my life, it was a wonderful experience to share this rediscovery with people that I love.

In part 5, we'll explore a creepy old house further up the road, still containing hunting gear and complete with it's own abandoned grow-op trailer, as male voices outside appear to be approaching.

click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES

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