March 23, 1917 Return to Mowat Lodge

March 23, 1917

Mowat Lodge

Annie kept the same room for me. Shannon makes the promises, but Annie keeps the promises.

1917 Early Spring

I’ll be here for the next few months at least. I won’t do any camping until the ice is out and I won’t leave for long trips until the flies are gone. That’ll put me to June or July at least.

The trip went well. I left from Union Station at 8:10 in the morning and got to Canoe Lake by 3:15pm. I was going to stop for a few hours in Huntsville to visit Winnie but I decided to go through because I’d miss the connection at Scotia Junction. The trip went well, but it is nerve-wracking on the line into the Park. I knew the train crew. I’ve hitched rides with them in the Park last summer so I wasn’t worried. They knew this line. The hills into the Park they had to put sand on the rails for traction. I was nervous on the crossing of the Cashman Creek trestle – it’s 500 feet long and 80 feet high. The section men keep a close eye on this one so there’s little chance of a German saboteur.

The train wasn’t too full, but there there were a number of people. There were some consumptives going to the Highland Inn. They didn’t talk. There were others that didn’t look too happy. At first I thought they were miners or prospectors, but they’d be going up further North, not through the Park. I think these men were part of a work gang going to the east end of the Park. There’s rumours that there’s still labour camps out there.I didn’t ask questions.

Shannon was there at the station to pick me up. He received my letter but said he didn’t have a chance to write back. Annie’s the one to write the letters, so she was the one who didn’t have the chance to write back. Shannon had the sled. It’ll be another month and half before the road to lodge will be passable by wagon. The snow is deep this year and it’s looking like the spring will be a cold one this year.

When we got to the lodge, I didn’t unpack right away. I wanted to sketch. The sky was a clear blue and the clouds were like white puffs of cotton. I wanted to capture this so I set out just in front the lodge to paint. I was done quickly about 5:00pm.

Right now, I’m the only guest at Mowat Lodge that’s not on ‘Doctor’s orders’. Shannon and Annie got two guests from Ottawa last week. Tuberculosis patients who were ordered to get fresh air in the North. Each morning they are bundled and put out on the porch. Each evening they are brought back in. They were still out there when I returned from my sketching.

For reading I brought a few books with me but Shannon gets the daily papers from the Highland Inn. They’re a day behind and free. I reckon that getting the news a day behind isn’t a big deal. It’s something to read while I’m down by the fireplace in the lodge.

After supper I went up to my room. I’ve had the same room for the past couple of years now. It’s on the second floor on the northeast side. My window is the 2nd last from the end. The bed is one of those old metal hospital beds from when this building was a hospital. Shannon replaced the mattresses, but no matter what, you feel like you’re sleeping on a hospital bed. I don’t mind. I often sleep on the ground with just a blanket so I’m used to the lumps and bumps. I would joke with Shannon that when at Mowat Lodge I feel like a patient of a former hospital.

As I settle into my room I can’t help but be reminded of the painting of Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles. The dimensions of the room in Van Gogh’s painting painting is about the same as mine. The furnishings are similar too. A modest bed, dresser and two chairs. Indeed, the window is in the same place. His window look onto a village street while my window has a grand view eastward looking onto Canoe Lake. I liked what Van Gogh did with the colours and the changes in perspective. Nothing hung straight on the wall and it seems gravity had left for another town. That’s why I liked it so much. He took something so mundane, his room and transformed it into something beautiful. Inspiring.

That’s it for tonight. Tomorrow is another day.

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