April 24, 1917
I took a walk this morning down Gilmour Road towards Gill Lake and then to Bonita Lake. This is the south end of the Canoe Lake that flows into Bonita and the start of the Oxtongue River. Because of Tea Lake Dam the water level is higher and connects the two lakes. I walked to below Tea Lake Dam when the Oxtongue River starts in earnest and I found a good place to paint. There was still some snow on the sides and the water level was high, but the flow was so furious that it was rapids without sight of any rocks. I was surprised at the amount of snow remaining. There’s nothing left out in the open by the lodge, but I keep discovering different parts of the Park can have different climates. Between two lakes, there can be a half season’s difference in the weather.
By the time I got back I had walked a good ten miles. The sun is getting earlier and stronger every day. It rises at the inhumane hour of 5am but this is supposed to change with the switch to Daylight Savings Time. This is supposed to be the first year for it, but the railways are against the time change so I doubt it will make any difference in the Park. It’s the trains that run the clocks around here.
Word is that things are getting tough in Toronto. They want to send the kids away during summer to help on the farms. The gardening clubs are gearing up too. I’m sure that the Arts and Letters Club is having its first of many gardening committee meetings. Gardening, which everyone did without question on the farm has now turned into a fashionable patriotic duty for the city folk. Oh, that shovelling horse manure should become a patriotic duty too, but the men of arts and letters have to draw the line somewhere. There are plenty of Macedonians for that.
Back at Mowat Lodge, the big topic under heavy debate was predicting the ice-out date. With all the snow and the cold spring so far, this is turning out to be one of the later years. It’s been as early as April 14 (since the arrival of the Frasers in 1908) but this year it’s going to be late. Shannon’s got a pool going and I wagered that it would be May 1st. The current debate centred on the exact determination of what ice-out means. We decided that it means that no ice can be seen across the lake from Mowat Lodge to Hayhurst Point. Shannon wanted to bring the prediction to an exact hour and therefore our definition of ice-out need to be more precise. We decided that from the vantage point of a chair on the top of the steps, looking through the area beneath the Mowat Lodge and the two poles on either side, this prescribed area needed to be free of ice for a period of one hour. When asked who would perform the duty of ice-out observer, Daphne offered up the services of her husband, Lt. Crombie, as he was out the verandah for the better part of each day. We all agreed and we outfitted Lt. Crombie with field glasses and a dinner bell to ring once the ice-out determination was made.
Everyone is in good spirits. It’s getting warmer and I’m glad of my circumstances here. Annie is switching into spring cleaning mode and I’m helping with some of the more arduous tasks. She likes the windows to be cleaned on the outside in the spring and the fall, so I volunteered to climb on the roof of the verandah and clean the windows on the second floor. And I’ll kill two birds with one stone – I’ll fix the roof shingles for Shannon.
Before my walk in the morning, I wrote a letter to Tom, my brother-in-law. It went out with noon mail. In the afternoon mail I got a letter from Florence. I got a letter from Florence. Annie made sure I got it as soon as I got back. I’m sure Annie was worried that Florence’s letter, left unattended in the post office, might set other letters on fire. So she wanted it out of there as fast as could be. Florence confirmed that she’s coming in early May. She’s asked me to reserve a room for her at Mowat Lodge. She’s decided not to stay at the Algonquin Hotel. Too expensive, and she wants to be closer to me.
I also got a parcel from Jim MacDonald. Jim’s wife sent along a jar of preserves made from the garden, black currant jam. Jim sent me four tubes of white – twice as many as I asked for. I’m glad he did because the boards made from the crates are gobbling up more than their fair share of paint, especially lead white.