It was nearing the end of October which, around here, traditionally means you can't count on the weather anymore. From this point forward any attempt at predictability goes out the window, and Mother Nature makes obscene gestures at the well-learned meteorologists who try to understand what she's doing. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, I set out to chase down one particular abandonment I feared may not survive the coming winter. If it finally succumbed to the elements, I would no longer have the opportunity to see it first hand. I didn't want to lose the chance.
So, I set out with my new buddy, Max. a 5-month old Siberian Husky mix who had already come to love road trips. He's a great travel companion, and even at this age, surprisingly well-behaved... Most of the time.
We stopped at several places along the way to stretch my feet, and his, and to enjoy the local color. It was a pretty long drive and it was nice to break it up a bit.
My target was an old Catholic church built in 1949 after fire destroyed its predecessor. It served the community until it was closed in May, 1997, because of its deteriorating state. The older it got, and the longer it went without care, the worse that situation became, leading to my eventual trip in 2015.
We arrived at our hotel and checked in, tired from the trip and had a good night's sleep.
The next morning, despite the rain, we set out to explore the church a short distance away. Time and neglect had done obvious damage, yet it was difficult not to be impressed by this looming structure standing alone on the point. I got out of the truck, and began looking it over from the outside. After a cursory look around, I made my inside to see what remained of the interior. I stepped carefully down from the missing staircase into the basement. It took a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, but when they did, something on the far side immediately caught my attention.
When I went over to see what it was, I realized that I was not here alone. Before me was the final resting place of Father Couture, aka The Flying Priest. I found out, after returning home and doing some research, that Father Couture was quite outstanding! He traveled to many of the outlying native communities, often by canoe or dogsled. He covered countless kilometres serving up to 36 individual missions. Over time, however, arthritis got into his knee and he was no longer able to do this.
Not one to be kept down, he asked the church for permission and funding to train as a pilot and acquire a small aircraft. It was granted and he set about continuing his outreach to the people who would name him, "The one we love to see come." After his retirement, it took five priests to cover his workload.
After taking many pictures of the inside of the church, I went back out, hoping that the rain had stopped so I could put up my drone for some higher-angle shots of the church. It hadn't. Instead, Max and I spent some quality time wandering around to see what else the area had to offer while waiting out the weather that refused to change. Nightfall came and I decided that, although I had to begin my return trip, I might be able to squeeze in some time in the morning. Perhaps the weather would cooperate.
Max and I returned to our hotel room and called it a night.
The next morning, we went outside immediately so Max could file his morning report. My hopes for improved weather were somewhat dashed as I realized the rain had given way to an almost horizontal downfall of heavy, wet snow. If I couldn't fly yesterday, I sure wasn't going to fly today.
We ate breakfast while I tried to think of someway to get around this. We drove back out to the site and as we waited, luck finally visited me. The snow stopped, the wind let off, and I saw a window of opportunity. I jumped out of the truck and immediately prepped the drone for flight. I took off and got several shots before the weather told me its patience was wearing thin. The snow began again, and I packed up to leave.
I began the drive home, happy that I had gotten most of the shots that I wanted. You can never get everything, but the weather at least afforded me some opportunities outside. Now I decided I would stop near Lowther to check out a rather interesting abandoned house I had noticed on my west-bound trip.
There wasn't a great deal left, and the walls were certainly about to give up their work once and for all, but the layout seemed so unique, I couldn't help but be interested.
Finally, with Max impatient to get home, we continued the rest of our journey interrupted only once by a nice police officer who offered me a memento of my trip. *sigh*
I should also note that, after my return, I made inquiries to determine if Father Coutours' remains would be moved elsewhere since the church is essentially falling down around him. It appears, however, that the church was sold and it is considered the responsibility of the current owners to see to his final resting place.