The Purchase of the Frostpocket, November 1970-November 1971
On behalf of the Ragnarokr commune, George and Madelyn began to look for a suitable place in the country. The hippy enclave in Renfrew County was judged to be too distant from Toronto so they began to search for property along Highway 11 that ran directly north from Toronto. In November he and Madelyn located a 100-acre lot about thirty miles south of the city of North Bay, Ontario. The lot was purchased jointly for the six members of Ragnarokr. The price was $3,600. It was agreed that each individual would own a share in the property and so each individual put up $600.00 toward the purchase of the lot. The leather shop provided $2,400.00 from its savings for Mary, Randy, Steve and Philip. George and Madelyn had some money in their account from the sale of Madelyn’s tie-dye clothing and George and Madelyn borrowed the rest from their parents. After a few months the property was named ‘Frostpocket’ because the neighbor said the lot was in a valley and is therefore susceptible to early frosts. The neighbor (a recent immigrant from Germany) asked, “Did you really buy that frostpocket parcel of land?”
During the winter George, Randy and Philip gathered building supplies from old buildings being demolished in downtown Toronto. The plan was to construct a community house that would be shared by the entire commune and their guests. In June 1971 George and Philip Mullins and Randy Rauton begin to dig the basement for the community house at Frostpocket with shovels. With the exception of a gas-powered cement mixer, the entire house was build with hand tools by volunteer labor from used building material. Tom Bonanno spent a week of his summer vacation laying blocks for the basement while studying Shakespeare and fighting mosquitoes and black flies. Jeff Mullins, the younger brother of George and Philip, came from Pensacola, Florida to help as well.
The next month Carol Huebner and Colleen Anderson arrived in Toronto from California for a month-long visit. Colleen stayed at Ragnarokr and she and George fell in love. This caused quite a stir and hurt Madelyn deeply. George and Colleen left the leather shop, stayed with the Whole Earth commune for a while and then went to California where Colleen had taken a leave of absence from her job.
Despite George’s departure, construction on the house at Frostpocket continued with the help of Jeff Mullins and his parents George Jr. and Hazel, Dave Humphries, Tom Bonanno, Frank Tettemer, Madelyn Averitte, Randy and Mary Rauton and Philip Mullins. Numerous other persons also lent a hand, including two friends of Tim Rauton (Mary Rauton’s son) who were visiting from Georgia. Everyone slept in an old horse shed or in tents nearby.
By October the building at Frostpocket was wired for electricity (although the nearest connection point was a quarter of a mile up the hill). The building was only half the size of the building Philip had designed but had 860 square feet of living space and a full basement. By the time the building was weather-tight, it had cost $1,287.45 of which $237.17 was for house wiring. The leather shop provided all of the funds because the building was community property. At the end of the summer, Jeff Mullins tried to revive the leather shop’s old VW van but purchased the wrong part. He left without the van and hitchhiked back to his parent’s house near Denham Springs, Louisiana.
In November 1971 the crew at Ragnarokr consisted of Madelyn Averitte and Randy Rauton in Toronto and Mary Rauton and Philip Mullins at Frostpocket. They were optimistic that the community would grow and briefly considered buying another 100 acres, Lot 15, Concession 3. Lot 15 was another bush lot and was priced at only $500.00. However it had no road access, was a mile away from the existing Frostpocket acreage and was mostly swamp. When Mary declared that she would no longer veto George’s return to the leather shop, Philip wrote letters to invite him and Colleen to return to Ontario.
The narrative continues at Baldwin Village, Fall 1969-Fall 1971