Toronto had its mysterious tunnel that turned out to be a literal man cave. Nelson has its puzzling stone circles along the Burlington Northern Trail.
Robert George inquired about a series of circular stone foundations alongside the trail and sent the pictures you see here. What is it, he wonders. “A hippie hogan from the ‘60s? A leaky hot tub with no thermal spring nearby? Local elfish activity?”
Several have sandy bottoms and look like fire rings, but there’s no indication they’ve been used that way. Some also have steps to climb either down to or over and into them.
There are about half a dozen between the Svoboda Rd. and Stanley St. trailheads. The largest, in a clearing, is the size of a small swimming pool and looks like it would have required heavy equipment to build. When I walked by recently, someone was sitting in it, reading a book.
There are also a couple of similar but smaller structures on the connector trail just above the cemetery.
So what are they? Railway relics? A more recent addition? Do they signify something? Protect something? Prevent something?
I had no idea, but soon after posting this column, my colleague Bill Metcalfe said they were the work of a local man named Malcolm, and then former Star reporter Sam Van Schie provided a link to a short YouTube video produced almost five years ago by Jessica Gates.
The description reads: “In the mountains surrounding Nelson, a joyful eccentric builds huge rock circles. Along the journey Malcolm conveys a story of a modern conflict between pagan and Christian beliefs. In contrast to Malcolm’s playful enthusiasm the story reveals to us how fear can deprive us of the gifts that others have to offer.”
In the video, the barefoot Malcolm is seen lugging the huge boulders into place with his bare hands. It’s quite something to watch.
Malcolm has another claim to fame: he was the last upstairs tenant of the building that was home to the Redfish Grill, which burned in July 2010, the same month the above video was uploaded. However, it had been some time since he lived there.
At the time, Gina Kwan, who formerly ran Amanda’s restaurant there, told me Malcolm “was part of the building. Everyone knew him.”
Is he still around? Let me know.