May 18, 1917 Night at the Manse

May 18, 1917

I was with Winnie last night. I set up my campsite at Hayhurst Point but later in the evening I canoed across the lake to visit Winnie.  By the time I decided to go, the other cottages were dark; there were no lights at the Blechers, and Mowat Lodge, more than 200 yards away, so I wasn’t worried about my landing being detected. Once I made it to the Manse, I never made it back.

Usually Winnie is here with her parents. They arrived together, but I had heard that Hugh was called away suddenly for business and his wife went with them. It was close to Victoria Day (24th) and Winnie had already decided to take the week off so she stayed by herself. I’m not sure whether the circumstances were contrived, but they were circumstances.

Winnie had the woodstove on when I knocked on the door. The temperatures, while warm during the day, would dip down to the low thirties during the night. There was going to be frost. I didn’t mind the temperature drop myself. My blankets were thick and with my woolen pullover, my toque and my other pair of dry woolen socks I could easily survive, even be comfortable. But the temptation was too much, like a Siren calling across the lake. My intention was to visit Winnie for a late night tea only, but when I got into warmth of the Manse, I didn’t have a particular urge to canoe back to a cold set of blankets inside a damp, musty and frosty tent. So I decided for the warmer option. Winnie did not protest that I stayed for the night.

Winnie is a dear. We have a grand time together. Unlike the other girls, she likes to be out in the bush and she loves fishing. I enjoy her company when she’s here. I know she wants more from our relationship, but I’m not sure where or what I will be doing in the near future. She knows about my uncertainty, and doesn’t really want to push the point yet. I don’t want her to the push the point yet either. I don’t know what I want either way. She scolded me for the money I lent to Shannon for the canoes. Had she known, she could have gotten them for $50 cheaper in Huntsville and I’d be that much more in the clear.

I got back early in the morning. Undetected. Later, Charlie Scrim and George Rowe rowed over to give me my mail. Peculiar, because they knew, I’d still be coming over daily, but I think they were worried I might disappear unannounced. They gave me a a letter from Dr. MacCallum. I opened it. He’s finalized his plans. He wrote that the three-week canoe trip was too ambitious and would come up the 19th with his son Arthur and start out from Canoe Lake for a four day trip. They’d be coming to Mowat Lodge instead of the Highland Inn. He said he needed to go up to Georgian Bay afterwards to check on his cottage and he wanted to make the trip before my show that I was planning to do on Victoria Day (24th). I haven’t done much planning. I was just going to set them around the dining room so people could look at them before and after dinner.

I’m pretty much done the sketching for the spring. It’s getting too green for paint and Shannon wants the sketches out of the dining room as soon as possible. Winnie said it was okay to keep the sketches at her parents’ place (the Manse).

I caught a 3 lb brook trout which I had for an early lunch. I caught it with a flyhook at the mouth of Sims Creek. It’s an inlet by an old Indian Camp where they used to make birch bark canoes (Mark Robinson told me this). There’s a sand beach there, good for landing canoes, but the fishing is also good in the inlet. That’s probably why they made camp there.

The sun was high up in the sky. I could see the cottages and the lodge across the water. The reflection on the windows looked like distant diamonds, except for the broken ones on Shannon’s storehouse. They looked like the gaps left behind by broken teeth.

Since I knew for sure that Dr. MacCallum was coming up for a four day trip, I had to get the provisions organized.If we’re to be back in time for the 24th then we’d have to leave late tomorrow or very early the next day.

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