June 3, 1917
Saturday’s newspaper came by train last night. Shannon, as he was wont to do at times, had to read me a sensational story on the front page. No, it wasn’t the headline about the labour strike was about to paralyse the country, it was a story entitled, “Chased Husband Across Canada.”
“This is why Protestants shouldn’t marry Catholics.” I looked at him puzzled. I didn’t understand his introduction to the story.
Shannon continued, “Listen here, “
“Domestic trouble ensued between, Mr. Brennan, who is a Roman Catholic, and his wife, who is a Protestant. Following a quarrel in Winnipeg, Mrs. Brennan surreptitiously left with her daughter and journeyed to Stratford, Ontario. Mr. Brennan pursued her to Stratford and managed to prevail upon the police authorities to regain custody of his daughter. But Mrs. Brennan, using the services of two private detectives managed to seize back her daughter while he was on his way to Toronto.”
I now understood his logic. Catholics shouldn’t marry Protestants. Domestic strife would inevitably ensue. If the wife was Protestant, according to Shannon, she would be the guilty party.
“How about Anglicans marrying Presbyterians, Shannon?” I asked.
“It’s all right, I guess. So long as they don’t get married in a Catholic church.”
I failed to see Shannon’s brilliance in the matter, so I decided not to pursue the topic any further. At Mowat Lodge, Shannon’s point of view is the rule of law.
Shannon began again “You were spending a lot of time with Winnie when she was up in May. You two should think of gettin’ married. Might get you out of conscription.”
I realized I had subconsciously led him to the topic of marriage. I looked at him and didn’t say anything. He knew to stop the conversation then and there, and leave things unsaid. “I’d better be gettin’ out to the horses.” He disappeared into the back kitchen.
Marriage wasn’t the foremost topic on my mind. It was conscription. Actually, it was both. The other prominent article on the front page was Borden’s offer to Laurier to form a Coalition Government until War’s end. In the article Borden had offered half of his Cabinet posts to Laurier in the hope that he could get the support from Quebecers bitterly opposed to conscription. I didn’t really understand all of the politics and implications but it mean that conscription was coming closer and closer. The paper also had a big announcement for a mass meeting to discuss conscription at Queen’s Park. All the signs are pointing to the inevitability of conscription – or marriage.
It was shortly after ten, when Annie asked me to walk up with her to Hotel Algonquin. I had told her yesterday, that I had managed to convince Taylor Statten to come and do a reading. She was grateful for my efforts. The lay service was at eleven. Ed did his reading and Taylor did his. I paid attention to neither. We concluded the service by singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” accompanied by Molly on the piano. The piano was in dire need of tuning after the winter, as it made a proper Christian hymn sound like a saloon standard. It was rather comical, but I think I was the only one who saw the humour in the situation. We had some tea afterwards, chatted some, and I walked back to Mowat with Annie.
“Tom, I’m worried about you. Are you worried about this conscription?”
We arrived at Mowat without saying another word.
After lunch, I went fishing on the lake. It’s warmer now, so I have to go deeper and troll with copper. I fish as much to get away from the black flies as I do to seek solitude. Fishing is more restorative than any religious service I’ve gone to. As well, Shannon’s plans for a day-long pageant tomorrow turned out to be a bust, so I wasn’t needed for the preparations. Nobody was interested after George Bartlett put a damper on things. It isn’t like in the US, where the Americans have just joined the War and people still want celebrated sending their boys to War. That will change soon enough. Here, we don’t celebrate that any more Now we are just relieved and thankful when somebody comes back. That was the feeling around Canoe Lake when we heard that Mark Robinson was coming back.
When I got back Shannon said he had received a telegram in the late afternoon. Two guests were coming in from Ottawa. They’d be on the First Class train arriving at 3:30pm tomorrow. The instructions were to have them set up for a short canoe trip complete with guide and supplies.
“Tom, you got a guiding job, tomorrow.”
Indeed I did. But I have a funny feeling that these aren’t just any ordinary tourists coming in from Ottawa. I was wondering why they didn’t go to the Highland Inn instead. My guess is they want to be more discreet than rustic. I’ll find out tomorrow.