June 5, 1917 Sigillum Militum

June 5, 1917

I finished my first drawing for George Bartlett this morning. I decided to use several design elements of the secret society seals that I’ve seen. There’s a lot of them out there. As a finishing touch, I added the phrase from the Knights Templar, “Sigillum Militum.” It means the “The Seal of the Soldier of Christ.” I switched the order of the words and I’ll let him catch the error if he sees it. I also figure he’ll like the All Seeing Eye on top of pine tree along with Sun, Moon and Stars. It gives the seal an omniscient flair and I’m sure he’ll like that. I’ll get this to Mark in the next day or two. I’ll hide it in my sketch box between my sketching papers and boards. Annie knows enough not to open the box, because it’s difficult to close again. I purposely leave it that way so I will know if anyone has been snooping. I have letters from Florence and Winnie in there too.

I decided to visit Taylor Statten on Little Wapomeo Island. I needed a better explanation of what happened yesterday. He had arrived with his family a couple of weeks ago. He’s staying for the better part of June and then he’s going to a YMCA course in the States for a month. He’s been coming up every month since 1912, and once he got the leasehold on the Island he had visions of setting up a summer camp for boys. He isn’t quite there yet. That’s why he is going down to the States, to get some training on how to set up a boy’s camp. I am surprised that he had some boys there already.

I got to Taylor’s around noon. I timed my visit so I would get a lunch out of the deal. They are always very gracious hosts and I return the favour by giving them catches of trout. Taylor greeted me as I pulled up to shore.

“Morning, Tom.”

“Morning, Taylor”

Taylor helped me pull the canoe onto the shore and, just as I had anticipated, invited me for lunch with Edith and Taylor Junior or “TJ”, as I call him. TJ insisted on sitting on my lap during lunch pulling at my hair and grabbing my pipe. I didn’t mind, but Ethel, seeing my distraction, swept TJ away and disappeared into the other room of the cabin. I didn’t ask her to do that, but most wives of the day automatically follow the “out of sight, out of mind” rule when the men start talking seriously.

“Annie wants to have an Ecumenical Service tomorrow. It’ll be at the Algonquin Hotel. Part of Ed’s lay service.”

“That’s fine. We can be there. It’s at 11?”

“Yep, Annie’ll be happy if you can come”

“OK, I can bring a reading from the Institutes of Calvin, that should be a real barnburner.”

“Annie was also wondering if Edith will be coming to the Bible study on Wednesday.” I was just the messenger.

“Don’t know,” Taylor replied.

I knew not to pursue it further. It was social convention in the small communities for the women to have a weekly Bible study, usually on Wednesday nights. The Bible study was the least important item on the agenda. More important was the sharing of baked goods and gossip. The study also served to ensure that everyone stayed on the straight and narrow. If a woman displayed a wayward thought or intention, the others were sure to detect it and provide friendly advice or genteel corrective action.

With the formal business dispensed with, we got on to other topics. Sims Pit, to be exact. When I asked him about what was going on there, he gave me an odd look.

“There’s a camp there, you know. An internment camp or a prison labour camp. I’m not sure which. But I do know there’s several kids there, not older than sixteen or eighteen. And they can’t speak English.”

The news of the kids at the camp was surprising, but still didn’t count for the strange look he gave me. There was something more.

“Bartlett’s asked me to teach English to these boys, a couple of times a week.” Taylor looked at me sheepishly. “I decided to bring them back with me yesterday. I didn’t expect they’d get in trouble with the canoe.”

I was surprised to hear of Bartlett’s request. But upon reflection, it wasn’t too far out of order. Despite his stern measures, Bartlett considered everyone under his watch to be his charge so that he was ultimately responsible for their welfare. He made sure everyone was treated fairly. There was a scandal with the shanty men a few years back and he had to retrieve some British home children and send them to the Children’s Aid Society in Huntsville.  Whenever there was a death in the Park, Bartlett made sure that things were wrapped up tight. He didn’t like loose-hanging ends, and he would make sure that the lumber companies paid the families for their loss but also to keep them quiet. Death wasn’t good for tourism.

Convict labour camps don’t help the tourist trade either. Bartlett doesn’t like them but he has no choice but to follow orders from the Dominion Government and the Province. But when he found out there were kids in the camp, he went through the roof. He called his friend Sam Hughes to fix the situation, but with Hughes’ diminished influence in the Government he could do nothing. Bartlett, on his own authority, ordered reduced work for the kids and an allowance for English lessons. Since Taylor was closest to the Sims Pit, Bartlett asked Mark Robinson to approach him for the job and he accepted. I was surprised the Mark never mentioned this arrangement to me. Mark and I talked about everything else, but then again Mark was a man who followed orders and gave his unquestioned loyalty. You can’t fault him for that.

I went back to Mowat Lodge and told Annie the outcome of my chat with Taylor. He would do a reading at the service tomorrow. Annie was happy. I could see that this was important to her. Despite the different religions, she wanted some demonstration of harmony in the community. None of the anti-Catholic nonsense from the Orangemen. She was glad there was no Orange Lodge around these parts. I didn’t tell her what was going through George Bartlett’s mind.

Afterwards, I walked up to Hotel Algonquin to relay the successful liturgical addition to Ed, but I saw Molly first. Molly was outside by the linens and she had her whistle in her mouth. She blew a three short tweets followed by a long warblish one. Ed showed up a minute later. Molly had a summoning system that had a different whistle for each employee, including one for her husband. I could tell she was proud to show that she could  summon up any one of her staff at a moment’s notice. I’m sure the guests can’t stand hearing the whistles. I know I can’t.

I went to back to Mowat Lodge. With the poor weather (rain drizzle) Annie’s good cooking  I wasn’t much drawn to leave the Lodge and stay the night at the campsite. Besides, I was planning to write some letters and it would be better to write by the lamplight.

Saturday night was games night at Mowat Lodge. The crokinole board was out and so was the chessboard. After some convincing, Shannon hauled out the shuffleboard from out back and put it on the dining room table. (He doesn’t like heavy labour. That’s why it took convincing.) We played late into the evening, and when the guests trickled back to their rooms I sat down and wrote my letters. Thinking about Winnie. Still no news from her. The next mail won’t be until Tuesday, so that will be the soonest I’ll hear anything. She wouldn’t dare send a telegram.