May 25, 1917
I did make it back to my room last night but I remember nothing beyond the last stop at the verandah. And here I am, once again, back in my room, with a dreadful headache, but a different headache than yesterday.
Yesterday. It started off well enough. The weather was good, but as my headache predicted, the clouds rolled in and the rain began. The temperature dropped like a rock into the low forties. To my disbelief, a few pellets of hail wafted down from the heavens above. Spring should not be so fickle in giving way to Summer.
Despite the weather, I was excited about my exhibition. It was going to be the biggest event that Mowat Lodge had seen for a while.
I came down for a late breakfast that Old Mrs. Fraser had set aside for me. I helped her clean up the kitchen and prepare lunch for the guests. Having the late breakfast, I skipped lunch, and instead, had a smoke by myself on the verandah. I still needed time to recover my full faculties.
After my smoke on the verandah (several, actually) I spent the afternoon preparing the dining room for the exhibition. Before Annie went off to start cooking evening dinner, she dusted and swept to the place to the level it would pass the white-glove treatment. Mowat Lodge might be considered rustic, but because of Annie, it was clean as a whistle.
Shannon decided to cancel his canoe regatta/race, on the advice of George Rowe. The rain and wind would prove too treacherous for the women in their dresses. George didn’t want to be responsible for fishing people out of the lake. He’s done that too many times. With the cool weather, the lake temperature hadn’t risen and people (or more specifically, women in dresses) could still die from hypothermia in a matter of minutes. It happens almost every year in the Park. This year would be no exception, but not on George’s watch.
Mark Robinson dropped by too. He had to have a word with the Blechers. Martin Jr., specifically He was flying the US flag on his flagpole. Regulations stipulate that the US Flag cannot be on its own but must be flown with the Dominion or Provincial flag, and the be lower flag. Martin was a repeat offender on flag-flying and Mark said in passing that he thinks that Martin is a German sympathiser or worse yet, a spy or an espionage agent.
Shannon and I hung the boards on the wall. There were over fifty and it was a sight to behold. I made sure that they were arranged in chronological order so I could show the transitions of the season. Occasionally, a guest would try to wander into the dining room and we would shoo them out. The dinner and art exhibit was to begin at 6pm and I wanted to unveil the exhibit all at once. Dr. MacCallum came in despite the shooing and looked over the sketches. He said he wanted to have the two sketches of the Northern Lights and he picked out a couple that he would put on consignment.
To mark our successful efforts for the afternoon, Shannon brought out the whisky and shortly after we were both in the soup. I shouldn’t have drunk so much so soon.
Around 5 pm, I went up to my room and cleaned myself. I went down to the Trainor cottage to get Winnie. I wasn’t sure how to deal with last night, but I would try to face the situation with an air of normalcy. When I arrived, Winnie opened the door and let me in. She gave a smile that betrayed the knot I knew she had in her stomach. Her parents were in the kitchen. Their greeting to me was cold. I said that Winnie and I should be getting up to the lodge as the dinner started at six. “Fine,” they said, “Have her back by 10.”
As soon as we were out the door, Winnie grabbed my hand and said we had to get married. And it had to be soon. Then it dawned on me, and the knot appeared in my stomach too. If I were to state the situation obliquely, married men with young children or an expecting wife would be excused from the draft. The realization hit me like a brick and if it weren’t for the whisky, I’m not sure how I would have reacted.
I looked back at Winnie. I didn’t say anything, but my look communicated the exact understanding of the situation. What I said next, I’ve come to regret, ‘You don’t know for sure. It takes a month.” She could barely contain herself, but she knew I was right. And she knew I wouldn’t commit unless there was a duty-bound obligation and neither of us knew that yet.
The dinner started at six and there was quite the crowd. Ed and Molly Colson came over and so did Annie. I sat with Dr. MacCallum and his son (and with Winnie, of course) and Daphne Crombie and her husband Robin. There were other guests from Hotel Algonquin. I ended up giving a good portion of my sketches away. The remainder Shannon stuffed into a potato sack. I have it beside me. All my spring’s efforts hardly fill a potato sack. Pathetic.
It’s late.. After 11am. I’ll go down for breakfast. I’ll finish this entry this evening.
May 25 evening – By the time I got down for breakfast, Annie was cleaning up from earlier meals and starting to make lunch sandwiches. Shannon was getting ready to leave to meet the 12 o’clock train, taking along Daphne, Robin, Dr. MacCallum, and Arthur. Winnie’s taking 12 o’clock too. I could go with with Shannon to the station to say goodbye but I won’t. Chances were that Martin would bring Winnie up in his putt-putt boat and Canoe Lake Station did not need to have a dramatic departure scene. My absence would be most welcome..
I went to Dr. MacCallum’s room. He was busy packing with his son Arthur. He was taking my two Northern Lights sketches and said he would deposit money in my account back in Toronto. Another sketch, he was going to drop off at Bill Beatty’s store at Scotia Junction. He said he was glad he came. He said he could take my other sketches down, if I wanted to. I told him they were at the Trainor cottage and fetching them at this very moment might not be a good idea. Winnie had fled in such a rush last night that, I was sure I would not be received well by her parents. I’ll wait a few days before I approach them. I need to sort through the sketches to see which ones I’d send down. I don’t Winnie’s want parents glowering over me. I figure I’ll wait until Winnie comes back up in the next couple of weeks and we could set things right again. I’ll write her a letter in the next couple of days.
Just before supper, Shannon came in the back kitchen and said he finally got the cow back to the barn. This is the cow they bought from Renfrew to replace the one that died about a month ago.. It hasn’t calved yet. It should in about a week or so. Then Mowat Lodge will once again have a fresh stream of milk.
Shannon said that Martin did take Winnie to the station. Shannon said he was surprised to see her with Martin (I wasn’t) and he assumed that she asked Martin to take her up to the station. He goes up most mornings on Potter Creek with his putt-putt boat to see the trains. It wasn’t a stretch for Winnie to ask him for a ride. Their cottages are almost next door to each other.
Last night is still a haze for me. I haven’t yet asked Shannon to remind me of all the details, but I recall him giving me a bag to pack the remainder of my sketches. From what I gather, I brought them down to the Trainor cottage and left them on the porch by the door. I want Winnie to have them because I knew they could fetch a reasonable price, if need be. I figured they’d be worth well more than $500 dollars, if she had to sell them. She had said I could leave them at the cottage for safekeeping. So I did, with the eventual intention of giving them to her if she needed the money. Despite what went on between Winnie and me, I felt the sketches were more secure there than if I left them with Shannon. He had a tendency of making things his own to sell. If a guest left something valuable behind, he would make little effort to reconcile it with its owner. Once someone left a gold watch behind. Shannon said he would keep it locked in the post office, until the owner sent a message for it. But the watch eventually disappeared. I’m sure my sketches would have the same fate. They should be safe at the Trainor cottage until I decide what to do with them. I’ll probably send them down to Toronto later on.
In the late afternoon Shannon went to meet the 1st Class Passenger and retrieved a honeymoon couple, newlyweds, Charles and Emily Robinson. Shannon told me that Emily was upset because she ruined her new wool suit sitting on a nail in his wagon. I caught my pants on that very nail last week when we picked up Dr. MacCallum and Arthur. I had planned to hammer it down, but alas, other things got in the way.
Chubby, Shannon’s storekeeper joined me for a smoke on the verandah. Chubby made a remark about Shannon’s finances not being as rosy as his optimistic outlook.
As I was getting ready to go back to my room I noticed my poison oak is coming back. I have the red bumps on my forearms and I can feel it on my ankles. I got it years back and for some mysterious reason it comes back every year around this time even though I haven’t been close to any. It’s not as bad as the first time, but it’s a discomfort. The more worrying thing is that when it comes back, it’s considered a bad omen. It means that something that’s not quite right is getting worse, not better. Annie says it’s because of bad spirits. And George Rowe, the resident medicinal expert, says the best cure for poison oak is horse liniment rubbed on the skin along with a good shot of whisky to flow through the blood. The combination of the two is the ‘magic cure’, he says. I’ll go down later today to see if he has the liniment. I’ll get the whisky from Shannon.
The black flies are biting now but I am planning to return to my camp at Hayhurst Point. I need to be alone.