May 8, 1917 Violets, Trilliums and Groundhogs

May 8, 1917

I was sent on a mission today by Annie. To pick some violets, trilliums and leeks.

As for the trilliums, Annie read in the paper that the government was thinking about making the trillium the national emblem for Canada. Someone in Ottawa said the white trillium represented purity, the trinity and the foundations of the British Empire – England, Scotland and Ireland. The government wanted to make the trillium the official flower to mark the graves of soldiers. Judging by the number of trilliums I saw in the bush, they won’t run out anytime soon. Another reason to conscript soldiers – too many trilliums in the bush. Annie wanted to set up a bouquet in the dining room to honour the fallen soldiers.

It was only now, almost a month after Vimy Ridge, that we started to learn of the numbers of casualties. Shannon observed that while Canoe Lake did not get many telegrams, the telegraph line was awfully busy. A busy telegraph meant only one thing, lots of death notices being sent to families. I had heard the casualty list was sent to Ottawa first, and then they were divided up to be sent as individual telegrams across the country. Every rail station and post office across the country had become the first bearer of grim news to the families.

As for the violets and leeks, Annie had more interesting plans. The secret to Mowat Lodge’s success was not due to Shannon’s business acumen, but rather Annie’s cooking and culinary skills. She always knew what was the best of the season and could prepare something that was at the pinnacle of the season at hand. She wanted the violets not for its colours, but for its leaves. She was planning to make soups, salad and omelette with the leaves The same with the leeks, she was going to make her famous leek soup.

I went out and got what Annie ordered. I also picked a bouquet for Daphne. When I returned and gave her the flowers. I painted another mason jar. I used the paint I scraped off from my sketches yesterday as the ground for the jar (I added some turpentine to soften). After the ground was done, I painted a nice floral pattern and then I set flowers back in the jar. I asked Daphne to leave the flowers beside the white trillium bouquet as it made a nice contrast.

Annie was grateful for the trillium bouquet but I could see she was a bit put off by the newly-painted jar. Either it was ugly to her, or she was jealous that I didn’t paint one for her. This was my second for Daphne.

I saw Martin Blecher Jr. in the distance today. He has gotten his putt-putt boat out and is making the inaugural voyage to Canoe Lake Station (via Potter Creek). He has a pet groundhog on a leash. I can’t fathom that he brought a groundhog all the way from Buffalo. He must have gotten it here. A groundhog – it’s an appropriate mascot for an American draft dodger. I’ll mention that the next time I’m close enough to talk to him.

One thought on “May 8, 1917 Violets, Trilliums and Groundhogs”

  1. Interesting story about the Trillium and then it ended up as Ontario’s flower.

    I love Tom’s wry sense of humour, feels familiar.

    Annie’s cooking, the secret to success at Mowat Lodge.

    Still looking after the ladies, even the married ones.

    Annie certainly is critical, glad I’m not Shannon.

    Bletcher’s putt-putt is probably a Disappearing Propeller Boat

    like the ones we see at the Antique Boat Show here in the summer

    they are also called Dippys, pretty much a slightly larger but powered version of my rowing skiffs.

    Ground hog as a pet is pretty strange.

    – P


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