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This is a very strange time to be in Cobalt, Ontario. There are all these poets walking around. There are all these weird events. And vandalism is encouraged! Especially if it’s poetry written in chalk on the rocks in Poetry Park.
Now this kind of thing may go over well in Toronto – oh, except for the graffiti part, I forgot about Toronto’s War On Graffiti – but Cobalt, Ontario, is a mining town, or at least it used to be. It’s built on big chunks of granite, and silver, not poetry, runs through its veins.
Which makes it all the more fun.
Where is Cobalt, Ontario?
Cobalt, is 8 hours north of Toronto. There was a train, the Northlander, but it went the way of the dodo bird – so now it’s either a bus or car.
A history of silver
When silver was discovered in Cobalt in 1903 it was akin to the Klondike Gold Rush, only, of course, it wasn’t the Klondike and it wasn’t gold.
Nonetheless, the sums of money generated were LARGER than the gold rush! It’s hard to imagine. It’s also hard to imagine a bunch of sexy silver diggers in cancan outfits flocking in, as the gold diggers did in the Klondike. It’s far easier to visualize 30 plus poets descending on the town for the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival founded by poet David Brydges, which is taking place now.
Official poetry observer in Cobalt, Ontario
That’s why I’m visiting Cobalt in an official ‘poetry bystander’ capacity. This entails wandering this northern former mining town, mouth agape as I stroll down Silver Street.
And going from venues such as the Cobalt Mining Museum and the Cobalt Train Station to the Miners Tavern and the Rock Walk Park in the neighbouring town of Haileybury.
An abandoned mine
Oh, and I toured an abandoned mine, too, but as far as I know, no poetry was engaged in down there – at least not out loud.
The crescendo of the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival will take place this afternoon with a – wait for it – Flag Raising Ceremony in Poetry Park.
And why is this the highlight, you ask? Because there’s a marching band! What’s a poetry festival without a marching band? At least I hope Haileybury Pipe Band marches. And if they don’t, perhaps the poets could march. It’s possible, because at the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival in Cobalt, Ontario, anything can happen.
Where to Stay in Cobalt, Ontario
There are no hotels in Cobalt but Haileybury has a couple of motels. The Presidents’ Suites on Millionaires Row, where the mine owners built their big houses, was once a mine owner’s mansion and overlooks the large and very deep Lake Temiskaming. If you want more travel information on Ontario check out ontariotravel.net.
Read more about the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival in Cobalt on my article at Vacay.ca.
Read more about traveling and writing and why they go hand in hand