June 13, 1917
I was minding my own business when Martin Blecher came by in his putt-putt boat.
“Get out of the way! Can’t you see where I’m going?” He yelled at me as he passed me on Potter Creek. The wake from his boat rocked my canoe.
Martin got an Evinrude motorboat last summer and now he thinks he owns the Lake. From what I could see, he had a pail of beer with him.
I know exactly where he was going. He was going to see the train come into Canoe Lake Station. It was part of his daily routine. The No. 52 First Class from Depot Harbour comes in every day at 12:23pm – just around lunch time. The eastbound freights and the lower classes come earlier in the morning. The No. 52 is by far the most interesting train to watch coming into the station because you never know who or what would be coming off. Most Park visitors come in from Toronto or Buffalo. They take the train north from Toronto, transfer at Scotia Junction, and make the final leg on the Grand Trunk to Canoe Lake Station – or more likely, Algonquin Park Station where the Highland Inn is. Joe Lake Station, only open in the summer, is 3 minutes down from Canoe Lake Station.
I was in my canoe, near the Canoe Lake Lumber Mill when Martin came charging through. He’s pretty proud and arrogant about his boat. There aren’t too many like it around. There was another one up by Cache Lake but the owner got drunk, broadsided three canoes and hit a rock or a deadhead. The boat went to the bottom of lake and he got rescued by the canoeists he hit. Martin’s saving grace is that there are fewer canoes to hit on Canoe Lake.
I don’t have much to do with the Blechers. The father is friendly, but the rest of the family, they keep to themselves. I don’t see them much. The Blecher cottage is just a bit south from the Trainor Cottage. Not too far away, but far enough to ignore everyone. There’s the four of them, Martin Sr. and Louisa, and their kids, Martin and Bessie. I wouldn’t call them kids, because they’re adults, but they act like kids. I hear them fighting often. Bessie is a teacher and Martin is private investigator (so he says) during the winter months when he’s back in Buffalo.
My view is that Martin is a blowhard. I never believe anything he says. He is supposed to be an electrician but he says he has started working for the Burns Detective Agency. There was a new hotshot in the Department of Justice, J. Edgar Hoover. He ordered mass roundups of enemy aliens, mostly Germans but Russians too. Burns did the dirty work of rounding them up. Martin said the expression on an enemy alien’s face is priceless when you bang down their door at 4am. Made the job all the more worthwhile. Needless to say, I don’t like Martin. I did wonder out loud once that he was of German descent, may be was a German and Swiss descent, and he was the most red-blooded American there was.
So I guess Martin is a red-blooded American too. I was going to ask him why he was on vacation in Canada when his compatriots were being drafted and going off to war. I decided to not to say anything while on the water because a Canadian in a canoe is no match against an American in a motorboat.