May 12, 1917
The Trainors arrived this Saturday morning. It’s their first time up at the cottage this year. Hugh, Margaret and of course, Winnie.
Shannon took the hearse up to Canoe Lake Station to meet them. I went along with Shannon. We waited for the train to come in and it arrived about 10:30. It’s pretty quick to come from Huntsville. Down to Scotia Junction, a 20 minute layover and then on to Canoe Lake. Overall it takes just about 3 hours to come in from Huntsville. It’s easy to come in the for weekend That’s why Hugh Trainor bought the cottage at Canoe Lake.
Hugh, Margaret and Winnie stepped off the train. Winnie gave me a big hug. She was happy to see me. Last time I saw her was in March when I stopped off to see her and the family in Huntsville. I stayed only a few hours. Just enough to have a nice meal in the afternoon, and I took the later train and made it to Mowat later that evening.
It was still too early to use the luggage shoot down towards the water. The Trainors were only staying for one night so they didn’t have much with them. So Shannon loaded Hugh and Margaret in the passenger compartment and I suggested to Winnie that we walk to the cottage. She was happy to oblige. It gave us some private time to talk, a scarcity, even in the wilderness that is the Park.
Shannon took off with the hearse. We began the walk. The road had dried up and Winnie only had to mind her dress dragging in the mud a few times. I suggested that she wear pants, just like I had seen Annie Colson do at the outfitter’s store, but Winnie said she would have none of that. Much as she would like to wear pants, she knew her mother would have a conniption, and the conversation would turn, yet again, to what the proper unmarried women needs to do, if she wants to get married. And it wouldn’t be wearing pants. I laughed. Together, the two of us were the worst unmarried specimens this side of Huntsville.
I told Winnie that I got my guide license and that I would be close to Canoe Lake when the work came up. She knew in my tone of voice that the big unspoken anxiety was the War. It was everybody’s unspoken anxiety. Huntsville’s 122nd Battalion shipped out in April, and would be sailing overseas in June. The boys were writing back from Halifax, having a good time. The mothers were anxious for safe passage overseas. The big story in the letters home was the SS Olympic, the sister ship of the Titanic. They said it was painted in dazzle, to confuse the U-boats. I smiled when I heard this, because Lismer told me the same thing in his letter to me. Ships painted in dazzle. That would be a site. I should paint a canoe in dazzle.
Winnie could tell that I was also anxious about being called up. Borden was back, and it was only a matter of time. She squeezed my hand tight while we walked. But we didn’t talk about it. She knew when not to talk about things, and that’s one thing I appreciated about her.
We got to the Trainor cottage around noon. They asked me to stay for lunch and I obliged. Margaret was pleased at the condition of the cottage and I said that Shanon and I checked it out earlier in the week so there would be no surprises. They came just for an overnight stay, but planned to be up again for Victoria Day and spend a few days beyond the weekend. Hugh said he would be up during the week once in awhile as he needed oversee some of the pine cuts. Margaret was always worried about the appearance of missing church backin Huntsville. She had heard that Ed and Molly Colson had begun doing lay services at their hotel. She wrote a letter several weeks back and requested the lay services be moved to the school for the summer. A tar-paper shack, the school was, but it was more sanctified than any hotel, she said. So tomorrow at 11am, the lay service would be at the school.
As for Mowat Lodge, Margaret considered it the den of iniquity. She tolerated Shannon, only when he wasn’t around. That amounted to that she didn’t tolerate him at all. As for Annie, she was polite to her but cool. So despite being only 200 yards from Mowat Lodge, they had little to do with each other, and when the guests came down to the Mowat summer dock, not 50 yards away, they minded their own business. I was the go-between, the diplomat of sorts, between iniquity and sanctification.
I asked the Trainors if I could store some of my sketches at the cottage. Shannon was getting annoyed at their cluttered presence in the dining room and asked me to find another spot for them. The storehouse was out of the question because it got dusty and the birds would fly in. Hugh said it was okay, the kitchen at the back had lots of room.
I took Winnie out fishing in the afternoon. We caught six brook trout. Enough for a fine meal at the Trainors. In the evening, after dinner, I made a sketch of the sky in the failing light. The dark clouds from a cold front were moving in, smothering the sunlight from the early evening. There was a sense of inevitability in bout the scene I painted. Inevitability about what I didn’t know. After I finished I lit my pipe, and enjoyed the company of the Trainors. We talked about the small things in Huntsville. Margaret couldn’t stop talking about her good word with the Women’s Temperance Union. I could see that Winnie was amused at how serious and earnest I seemed to be on that subject. She knew I was acting. And a good actor I was for Winnie’s parents. I didn’t make it back to Mowat Lodge until late in the evening. Annie left out a burning lantern for me.