The settlement at the Frostpocket after 1980

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By September 1980 George and Colleen and their three children were living in the Frostpocket by themselves. This was not unusually for them but now they knew that Mary, Philip, Randy or Chris Risk would not be coming back. They too were preparing to leave for Texas. They closed the buildings as best they could and left in the Dodge van that belonged to the leather shop. A few weeks later Chris Risk and his wife June and their two children returned to Machar Township after fourteen months in Alberta. They didn’t return to Chris’ house at the Frostpocket. They moved into Woodland Park and Chris joined the staff of a bakery that supplied bread to the health food store the Adventists ran in North Bay.

The buildings at the Frostpocket were vacant for a year and a half until in April 1982 Wilfred McLaren’s daughter Carol Fogarty and her husband Carl moved into the community house. Instead of paying rent they agreed to maintain the road and care for the property. The following February 1983 they left the house at the Frostpocket because they can no longer coup with the cold. The house remained empty until the spring of 1984 when a camp for delinquent children (called Camp Dare) rented it for the summer. Wilfred McLaren assumed responsibility for the buildings. The rent money was given to him and he used it to maintain the road up the hill and to make essential repairs. Mary suggested that the house could somehow be used to house refugees from El Salvador but its isolated location made the idea impractical.

In August Philip and Seth drove up from Toronto and stayed in George’s house for a few days. The summer camp (Camp Dare) closed for the winter and the houses at Frostpocket were again empty. In December 1984 while Mary was in Toronto for the Christmas season, a young lady from South River, Penny Stoker, contacted her about renting the community house. Penny Stoker owned Zak’s Health Food Store in the near-by village of South River and was looking for a place to live. Mary arranged for Penny to pay $30 to Wilfred McLaren on a monthly basis and Penny took up residence in the house year-round.

In January 1984 Philip, then living in Texas, purchased fire insurance on the community house to satisfy the terms of a 1977 home improvement loan from the Township of Machar. Having someone in the house lowered the cost of insurance. He finished paying off the Ontario Home Renewal Program loan in May 1984 but kept the house insured until the insurance company cancelled the policy two years later. Penny Stoker and Tom Techvonic continued to live in the house until the spring of 1989.

In November 1988 George Mullins made a quick visit to Toronto and Frostpocket from his home in Austin, Texas. Shortly afterward Mary asked the tenants at the community house, Penny and Tom, to vacate the house within two years. Penny had not been paying any rent for the last year and had allowed to road down the hill to wash out. Wilfred McClaren wrote Philip to report that the road needed at least two loads of gravel to make it passable. In the spring Penny and Tom moved out of the house. Until Randy and his family began using the community house as a vacation cottage in the middle 1990s, no one lived on the property.

Year after year, Mary tried to find tenants for the community house. In February 1991 some Franciscan Friars proposed to rent the house for one year but by then the property had deteriorated markedly. By the late 1990s only the community house was connected to the electrical grid. The pole-line to the workshop had rotted away and the wires had fallen to the ground. Trees in the right-of-way to George’s house had grown up and Ontario Hydro disconnected the line to keep it from shorting to ground. After 1980 occasional efforts were made to get the six owners to either pay for the necessary maintenance or to sell the property but, in the usual Ragnarokr fashion, no decision could be made.

Until 2000 Mary took charge of paying the bi-annual land taxes and collecting the money from the six families that hold a share in the land. After 2000 George assumed that responsibility. As the property deteriorated so did the accessed value of the 100-acre lot. As a result the tax burden is not large and there is no pressing reason to sell the land. With the electricity disconnected and the road rarely used there are no maintenance costs either. In the early 2000s a group of hunters purchased the adjoining and downhill lot (Lot 18, Concession 2) and improved the old township road that runs in front of both properties. In 2006 the buildings still stood abandoned. They all had been vandalized and furniture and equipment stolen.

The narrative continues at Baldwin Village, 1986-1987

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