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Saturday, September 29, 2018

As Different as Chalk and Cheese

I finally get around to talking about Castle Hill National Historic Site, where the British and the French battled for control of the cod industry during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The cod on display is the real thing, just ask Chris he can probably describe the smell for you in detail.  Fortifications at Castle Hill go back to 1693.  The Basque, Spanish, Portuguese and French were fishing the area for a century before the French founded a permanent settlement in 1662 and named it Plaisance.

The fort atop the hill protected the colony from attack from British warships.  I can't even imagine warships in the harbor!  Though just a mile or two around the way by boat there were warships and planes in Argentia during World War II...I can't imagine that either!

We watched the short filmstrip which described how the fort was built and Leacey gave us a demonstration on how to chop the head off fish.

The map below was an interesting look back in time - notice the beach of Placentia which today is completely covered in residences and other buildings was mainly used for drying fish and not as a permanent settlement.

Cousin Sarah works at Castle Hill for Parks Canada and if you visit she can help you with your questions whether you ask them in French or in English!

Cousin Sarah asks Cooper if he wants to try on some period clothing

Cousin Sarah became my hero of the day when she hauled out the period costumes that are used for re-enactments.  Heck, yeah!

Cooper and Chris strike a pose

I told Cooper to get up there in the woods and let's make it look real! 

We all laughed a lot as we staged the photographs, it was so great to have a young person along to get us in a playful mood.

All that was missing was the boom of a cannon, the flash of a musket through the trees.

Even though Cooper's brother Jack was in a leg cast we even got him to put on the coat and hat and get in on the game for a few minutes.

Brothers at war!

Jack and Cooper are as different as chalk and cheese...never heard that one?  Me neither until this trip home.  Research says it's an old English phrase that likely was coined for its short and snappy alliteration.  Being a fan of alliteration I'm down with that!  The English language is full of these phrases, think of the bees knees, chump change, hoity toity, and riff raff.  I could go on all day, but hey maybe someone will add a few more in the comments section...

Anyway, due to the cast Jack had to stay behind at the Visitor Center so we tried to make our look at the fort further up the hill as quick as we could.  But it isn't a visit to Castle Hill if someone doesn't sit for a photo on the canons!

Cooper climbed up on to the stone walls that were unearthed, disassembled and rebuilt in the 1960's when this park was established.  I encouraged this foolish behavior, of course.

Honestly I'm surprised they let me near him at all, I'm a terrible influence!

We didn't get a view of "Plaisance" on that day, but I returned on a different day when the sun was out and the fog was gone to get the view that I never get enough of.

On that day I walked down the hill to Placentia just like the soldiers would have done.  The path is easy to access just to the left of the canons above, and in especially steep portions stairs have been built.  But hundreds of years ago those stairs weren't there and the soldiers would walk up and down the hill carrying supplies or going back and forth to work side jobs.  Can you imagine the leg muscles they had?

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