May 23, 1917 Pre-Show Preparations

May 23, 1917

Tomorrow is Victoria Day, or ‘Empire Day’ as many still call it. I was reading some of Wilfred Campbell’s poetry, I forgot the title of the book, but it was something like ‘Ode to the Greater Empire’. Tomorrow is going to be a big celebration and Annie was busy preparing for the better part of the day today. By comparison, Shannon spent the day drinking and telling tall stories to his guests. I heard some talk about Zeppelins and the Park airship service he wants to set up. Public relations, he calls it. I call it sloughing around.

On the balance Shannon is a good man. Sometimes. What really keeps him on the straight and narrow is the wrath he gets from Annie when he goes astray. I feel for Annie, she’s the one that does the lion’s share around the lodge and that is certainly the case for the holiday.

Shannon is thinking about organizing a regatta tomorrow. Unfortunately he has little notion beyond that it involves boats in the water. We talked about it and the idea of a regatta devolved into some sort of canoe race out and back. We’ll figure out the logistics tomorrow.

I spent sometime talking to Dr. MacCallum. He’s had enough of canoeing and the outdoors (after our rain-soaked trip) so he’s been staying by the fireplace. Arthur starting having eyes for Mildred (Shannon’s daughter). He’s a bit older than her and watching their to-ing and fro-ing has put a smile on more than a few of our faces.
Dr. MacCallum is still aghast at the idea that I might go out to West. He tried to broach the topic a few times over the day, but I was short in my replies – I simply shrugged my shoulders and kept on talking about other things. He also chided me for not sending anything to the OSA Spring Exhibition this year. I could feel my guard go up. For sure I needed the money if a sale came through the exhibition, but I did not want to be subjected to the critics. I wouldn’t do that for any price. He said he’d try to put a few of my sketches on consignment. Bill Beatty’s got a shop at Scotia Junction, so when he leaves he’ll take some sketches for Bill to sell. Scotia Junction’s a good spot because of the connection. The Park-bound tourists from Toronto and from Depot Harbour are well-heeled and like to buy souvenirs of the Park from Bill’s store.

Sketching season is pretty much done. It’s too green now and the bugs will be ferocious until July. With the sketching behind me I plan to do some guiding and help plant the gardens for the Trainors and Frasers. The rule of thumb in the City is to have your garden in by Victoria Day but that’s a risky rule here and things are usually a week later. Judging by the temperature fall this evening, we may even have frost. Sometime frost can be as late as June here. Overall, the weather has been pretty cold and bad and I have only camped a few nights and I’ve been keeping my room at the lodge.

I visited Winnie later in the afternoon. I must admit that things seem a bit awkward between us. I can understand why. She started asking me about the money Shannon owed me and I told her about the arrangement we had where some of the loan would be used for my room and board at the lodge. Winnie was also worried about the conscription bill and what it meant for me. I told her I didn’t want to talk about it, I had more immediate worries and then it came out – she wanted me to marry her. What could I say? Before I even had a chance to react, she said I needed to get the money back from Shannon and that I needed to buy a new suit. The ceremony could be in Huntsville in June and that we needed to find a place.

I felt like I was standing helplessly on the middle of trestle bridge with a train barreling in from the end. There were two options – face the inevitable fate or jump off into the waters below. At that very moment, Winnie’s father Hugh, came out onto the porch, and what was an intensively private conversation turned into bland pleasantries. The contrast was too much and after a few moments, I bid good afternoon to them both. As I was leaving, I announced to Winnie that I would come down tomorrow evening to bring her back to the lodge for dinner. Hugh said he might come up later tomorrow evening to see the show. With that, I made my departure back to the lodge.

Shannon was there upon my return. Annie had gone to bed, so the whisky bottle came out. Dr. MacCallum was in bed, or in his room reading. Shannon and I shared a few shots and smoked our pipes by the fireplace. I had a feeling that tomorrow, there would be a perfect storm.

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