May 1, 1917
The ice went out today. There was a wind last night which broke up the big pieces and by the morning came around the ice had floated down the lake. There’s ice jammed up down toward Bonita Lake. When there’s jams near dwellings, the solution is to dynamite before it gets out of hand. Mark Robinson has been keeping a close eye on things and he doesn’t expect that he’ll need to dynamite anything anytime soon. With the open water, I’m getting myself ready to canoe. I got my canoe out of the storehouse and brought it down by the dock (or what’s left of it by the lake). Mowat Lodge is a good 250 yards from the shore, but the Frasers have a dock and a boat shed not too far from the Trainor cottage. I was tempted to go in the water today, but with ice just being broken and jams, the currents could be unpredictable. I still recall the news when my Uncle Brodie’s son died on the Assiniboine River near Winnipeg. His son (only son) was 19 at the time, doing field work with Ernest Thompson Seton, when his canoe capsized. He swam to the shore, but they didn’t have a rope to rescue him. When they came back with a rope, he was nowhere to be found and they found the body the next day. I think of that every spring, and pay good respect to the cold waters and currents. There’s at least one death every other year or so. I don’t want to be one of those.
As I was down by the dock, I noticed activity by the Blecher Cottage. I was surprised that they were here already. They usually don’t come until later in May. But with Martin Sr. being retired and his son Martin Jr. not being gainfully employed, they have the flexibility to come earlier. I’m wrong about Martin Jr., he is gainfully employed. The last I heard he was employed by one of those detective agencies, but I think his real job was to bust union heads when requested. I think the real reason they are here early, is so he can avoid the draft in the US. I never liked the man, and I doubt I will take a liking to him this summer. I don’t like his mother, either. Louisa Blecher is a territorial battle-axe. She chases anyone off their lease, and won’t let anyone land on the sandy shore to the south of their cottage. She can have her dream of a tinpot kingdom in the middle of Park. I’ll just stay well enough away. Bessie, the daughter, is here too. She’s a school teacher (substitute, mostly). I guess summer’s come early for her too. To sum up, the Blechers aren’t the most pleasant lot, but when they keep to themselves they are bearable. But the one thing that gets everyone up in arms is when they raise the US flag on their pole. Regulations are that the Provincial or Dominion flag must fly with the US flag and be the higher one. Mark Robinson has reminded them several times that this is the case. But they’re back doing the same thing again this year. Someone is agitating with a cause. It doesn’t help that they are of German background. It’s ironic, that since they are Americans, they have more rights than Germans here in Canada. That’s the strange justice of warring nations. Once I brought my canoe down to the Trainor cottage, I went back to the lodge to get my sketching gear. Upon my return to the dock, Daphne Crombie caught sight of me and came down to talk to me. I made sure I could see her husband from the corner of my eye. Although he was laid up on the porch, I could tell he was watching us closely, and I’m not sure he’s pleased with these encounters. Daphne asked me the usual questions about painting, art, etc., and then asked if it was time yet to go on the wildflower picking expedition. I smiled at her, but didn’t answer that question. I finished my sketch and was quite pleased with it. I’ll have enough for my own spring exhibition soon.
Our conversation was interrupted by a bell-ringing coming from the verandah. It was Lt. Crombie frantically ringing the bell. At first I thought he was ringing the bell to interrupt Daphne and me and head off any potential transgression. But then I realized the frantic bell-ringing indicated the ice-out.
Canoe Lake was officially ice-free on May 1st, 1917.