April 17, 1917 Ugly Shores

April 17, 1917

The shores of Canoe Lake can look pretty ugly. Especially in front of Mowat Lodge. It’s part to blame with the rise in the lake levels. The Gilmour Lumber Company needed to raise the water levels to connect the lakes to the Oxtongue river so he built a dam at Tea Lake and another at Joe Lake Creek . The junk trees left behind and close to shore died a pretty quick death so now you have these corpses of trees ringing around Canoe Lake.

Canoe Lake used to be the Park Headquarters but that moved to Cache Lake. They said it was to be closer to the railway and the centre of the Park but I think the real reason it was so goddamn desolate, the Park authorities wanted to get out of here. Even the Presbyterian missionaries left. Despite the size of the Mowat Village in its heyday, they never managed to establish a church. On occasion they held services and the Lord’s Supper at the Manse – the Ranger’s residence, but a church never stuck. The scores of shantymen working at the mill were never in the mood for salvation. As for the school, the only other institution of worth in Mowat, it never graduated beyond a tar paper shack. I had heard there were several dozen students there at one time, but now it’s down to eight or nine.

Yes, it’s apparent. My mood is not the best today. I didn’t venture out too far. I just went down to the shore just north of the cottages down below. The clouds were pretty thick today, and the ice on the lake is turning a sickly blue. It’s getting thinner but it’s still a foot thick. It’s probably ok to walk on it, but this is the time of year when foolish men disappear.

So I sketched on the shore. You can see the carcasses of the trees, but there is some second-growth too. The birch trees are the first to come. The second growth attracts a lot of deer. Indeed there are quite a few deer in the Park and a kill is planned to ship the meat to the City. There’s lots of wolves too. But even more deer. The deer are plentiful because the food is plentiful. Mark Robinson told me that he thinks they’re inbred. They’re usually bigger, about 250 lbs for a buck, but they’re coming in well under 200 lbs. Around 150 lbs. Inbreeding. So a good cull is in order.

The weather is getting better, but it’s that time when the spring muck grabs your boots and won’t let go of you without a fight. So I’m staying around the lodge these few days and helping with the chores. There’s always lots of things to do for Shannon and company.

I’m also considering getting my Guide’s license. I’m going to stick around the Lodge and spend time with Charlie. Judging by his coughing, he’s not long for this world so I’m going to stay. When Shannon heard that, he said that I better make sure I was doing guiding for him, not for Algonquin or he’d double my board bill. I said I would take the jobs when and wherever they came from – Joe Lake or Mowat Lodge. I spoke to Mark about getting my guide’s license and he said that George Bartlett likes to have a heart-to-heart chat before he gives out the guide’s license. He’s had a few problems in other years. The guides that were poachers were problems, but the real problem were the ones that would drink. Alcohol is not allowed in the Park and the Temperance act meant it was now an especially grave sin.

I finished my board and now have about two dozen at the lodge. I put some in my room and I’ve set some out in the summer kitchen in the back (not in operation yet). Annie will need that space soon, so I’ll have to figure where else to put them. I’ll probably start leaving some at Mark Robinson’s place or at the Trainor’s.