April 21, 1917 Washing the Blankets

April 21, 1917

The ice is still on the lakes but it’s flooding everywhere else. Especially by Potter Creek. Below Canoe Lake Station the creek turns into a narrow channel that drains into the lake and it’s this channel where the ice breaks first. Both Potter Creek and Joe Lake drain into Canoe Lake. Joe Lake Dam keeps the water lower but with Tea Lake Dam holding it back and the flow from Potter, the water level rises considerably. The islands in the lake, Big Wap, Little Wap, Gilmour and Cook used to be peninsulas.

The sun is strong today and it’s warmer than it’s been for awhile. There’s a bit of snow left but that’ll be gone today or tomorrow. There’s only snow left in the hills now.

I wrote a letter to Dr. MacCallum and then I walked up to Joe Lake Dam. The water is a sight to behold there. There’s ice out in the lake but it’s all broken up by the dam and the water’s pouring through with a thunder. The dam is holding its own but another year or two, it’ll need repair or it’ll be swept away.

I saw a beaver dam. It looked active with fresh chewed-through wood.  I saw a wolf in the distance; no doubt scared away when I came. It’s looking for a meal of beavers. The birds are coming back in full force. The Gray Jays are quieter now because they are nesting. The geese and ducks are back and they are looking for open water. They are congregating near Potter Creek and Joe Lake dam the only two open spots of water. More than just beaver for dinner. It’s no wonder the wolves are hanging about.

The wildflowers are starting to come, too. I see green shoots in the bush but nothing in bloom yet. If I see something I’ll bring them back to Daphne. She’ll be happy about that.

I could see some activity at Algonquin Hotel. The Colsons are washing the blankets and hanging them outside to dry. Mostly red blankets, but a few grey ones too. Makes for a nice display of colour set against weather-beaten log exterior of  the hotel. Ed and Molly should be ready to be open by May 1. Back at Mowat Lodge, Annie will be washing the blankets soon and I need to get my camping blankets washed. It’s a two day affair to do the blankets spring washing so I’ll help her out. Shannon’s been promising one of those kerosene-powered washing machines from Eaton’s but my bet is that a Zeppelin will appear on the scene before the arrival of any domestic labour-saving device.

Mark Robinson said that more men and materiel will be coming through the Park. Mostly grain from out West but also some munitions and parts shipped in from the Lakes.  It’s my guess that some parts will be coming in from the Kennedy Foundry in Owen Sound. Mark said the Battalions are coming in from all parts of the Dominion to be shipped out overseas in early June. Bartlett’s going to have his hands full making sure the trains get through. No more deaths in the Park I hope.

In the evening I sat by myself reading in the corner. I am feeling pleased with myself, looking at the sketches set out around the dining room. I’ve been up for nearly a month and I’ve made a sketch every day. I’ve scraped some but made another right after. If I keep this up until Victoria Day, I’ll have over sixty sketches. If Dr. MacCallum comes up, I could have my own Spring Exhibition. It would be a good way to celebrate.

April 21, 1917 Letter to Dr. MacCallum

Mowat P.O.

Apr 21, 1917

Dear Dr:

I have been here for over three weeks and they have gone very quickly. For the last two or three days the weather has been fairly warm and last night we had quite a heavy thunderstorm and the snow is pretty well cleared off.  Just patches in the bush on the north side of the hills and in the swamps, so now I will have to hunt for places to sketch when I want snow. However the ice is still on the lakes but it is very thin this year on account of deep snow over it through the winter so it will not last very long.

If you come up here this spring I would suggest that you come some time around the 10th of May as the flies are not going properly until about the 24th.

It is likely the ice will be out sometime this month.

Have made quite a few sketches this spring. Have scraped quite a few and think that some that I have kept should go the same way. However I keep on making them

Yours truly

Tom Thomson