01-Sep-2003 -- My husband and I were browsing the DCP site one day, and noticed the link to “first successful visit” on one of the country pages. Hmmm, let’s see which site was first in Canada. The answer was 44N 81W. We felt that the submission was rather slim, just one picture taken on a road, no GPS info, and no write-up. It certainly would have had a hard time passing today’s high standards for a successful visit. So we figured a second visit to that site was worth the 184 km drive from our home just north of Toronto.
It didn’t take us long to find the spot on the road where that first picture was taken, but according to our trusty GPS the Confluence was 385 m South, on some farm property. We spotted a man walking near the farmhouse, so we drove up and introduced ourselves and told him about our quest. Franz Barmet, the owner of the land, seemed interested, but a little confused at first. He came to Canada from Switzerland about 6 years, and apologized about his English, which really was just fine. We suggested that he might understand better if we could show him the Degree Confluence Project site on the Internet. With the help of his two daughters, Daniela and Rachel, we logged onto their PC, and we showed them some of the other CP’s we had visited, and one of the stories from near Lucerne, Switzerland, where Franz was from. He seemed to catch on to the idea, and was willing to help us in our quest.
We headed out to the field, and started walking toward the C.P. to the south. It became increasingly clear to us, that it was going to be somewhere in his cornfield. There was a lot of corn and it was very dense and at over 10 feet (3m) high. We started walking down the east side of the field, hoping that we would end up closer than the mandatory 100m from the point, without having to actually go amongst the corn. The numbers were getting closer, and closer, to 100, but at 103 meters, the numbers started to go up again. With about an 11-meter accuracy reading on our GPS at the time, we knew we would have to go right into the cornfield to get our visit to be counted as successful. Franz insisted that it wouldn’t be a problem, so we all headed in, Franz, the two girls, and Mark and I.
After about 20 meters, we figured we had gone in far enough. It’s not like the corn would look any different if we went the final 79.2 meters. (With an accuracy reading of 3.0m, we were well within 100 m limit.) We took a few pictures of the GPS, the corn, and our gracious hosts, and headed back out. For the record, the altitude at the point we stopped was 358 m above sea level. The field was fairly flat at this point, so it would not be much different at the CP.
Franz thought that we might be able to get closer if we tried going down the west side of the field. This time he offered to take us on his ATV to save time. But once again, we never got closer than 100 meters from the CP. There was a bit of a hill there, which offered a good view of the property. Along with feed corn, Franz also grows hay, and raises a few cows of his own. He said that his 100 acre farm was a nice size for one man to farm with his family. To city slickers like ourselves, it looked like a lot for one person to manage! The CP is right smack in the middle of the cornfield. (I guess that is better than being in the middle of the cow barn!)
We uploaded the GPS track to our PC when we got home. You can clearly see us circumnavigating the field, with the CP in the middle. The small hook on the bottom right corner of the track is where we went right into the field amongst the corn stalks. The line across the top is the road where the first visitors took their pictures.
On our way back home we experienced some of the local culture by stopping in the town of Mount Forest for their Annual Fall Festival. (22km East of the CP, population approximately 4600) There were rides for the children, country fudge to taste, and cow judging contests. The highlight of the fair in our opinion was the competition where pairs of horses would pull ever increasingly heavy loads.
All in all, it was a nice way to spend Labour Day. Special thanks to Franz Barmet for allowing us to have an intimate tour of his cornfield.