April 13, 1917
This morning I went out behind Mowat Lodge. The sun was back out, and the ice pellets that fell early in the morning were quickly melted away by the sunlight. The snow is still deep in many places and along the paths that have been travelled on by sleds and still solid with the snow. It’s a contradiction that the better travelled paths in winter are the most difficult to traverse in spring time. I walked along one of the paths and came upon this nice scene later in the morning.
This path in the sketch is one several paths that run off from Gilmour Road down towards Canoe Lake. I could see the lake in the distance, still iced over but the ice is getting rotten and blue. Birch trees are on both sides of the path, and there is the occasional spruce tree. These paths were used to haul the pine logs down towards the lake and then towed up toward the sawmill.
I also helped Shannon this morning to get some balsam boughs. He was going to George Rowe and Lowrie Dickson to help him out but they had a falling out. Shannon said emphatically, “They were drunk, so I fired them.” I knew that this wasn’t a big deal, because he’d hire them again the next day.
The balsam boughs are the latest in Shannon’s scheme to promote the health-compelling benefits of Mowat Lodge. Drafty doors and windows also provide health-compelling benefits according to Shannon. Every week he puts fresh boughs of balsam in the rooms of the consumptive guests. Apparently the emanations from the boughs are helpful for breathing. For an extra charge, Shannon also makes bed mattresses out of the boughs. He got the idea when he heard that the Nominigan Lodge uses the boughs for bedding. It doesn’t look too comfortable to me. I asked Shannon about the shingles on the roof. He said he’d get to it, once he got some new hired help.
In the afternoon I decided to pay the newly-fired employees, Lowrie and George, a visit. They live about a half a mile north the lodge on a small point of land just across from where the lake splits into Potter and Joe Creek. When I walked there, I passed by the cemetery, on the right, up on the hill. The cemetery has good view of the lake, and it’s easy to locate because of a large birch tree. It must have gotten a headstart after the clearing, because it was alone, and it was larger that the other birch trees in the area. As it was the only decent tree in the area, it must have been the reason why the cemetery was located there.I could see the path up to the cemetery, but it was still covered in snow – there was no reason for any to go there. There’s only two graves there, the one is recent, from 1915 when Alexander Hayhurst died from diptheria. The family’s cottage is across the lake, near where I camp. I remember when Mark Robinson had to bring the casket across the lake by Canoe and Shannon brought it up to cemetery. A sad affair.
George and Lowrie live together. They’re like father and son and they are the extent of the Canoe Lake labour market (they’ll get re-hired again by Shannon because they are the only option). Their house is one of the old Gilmour cabins. They invited me for the evening (I warned Annie that I might not be back) and the liquor came out fast and furious. Dinner was nothing fancy. George had a stash of ship biscuits, which he soaked in water first then heated up in bacon grease. It went well with the whisky. Truth be told, anything goes well with whisky, even nothing.
George told me that he got a lease from the Province for the northern part of the Canoe Lake Sawmill. He was planning to build a new cottage on part of the old foundation and use what wasn’t already scavenged by the locals. He wasn’t worried about getting materials because he had ‘connections’ in the Park. He said he wanted to build a private indoor bathroom, just like what Bartlett had at the Park Headquarters. To his knowledge that was the only one in the Park. Even the at the Highland Inn, the rooms didn’t have private bathrooms. George wanted his own private throne in the Park. I had to admire for his acute resolve and lofty ambition.
We drank the evening any and I stumbled back in darkness.There was a thunder and lightning storm earlier in the evening but we didn’t much attention to it. I heard a few parting rumbles of the storm and saw the lightning strike the other lake.