June 23, 1917 Victims of Circumstance

June 23, 1917

It was a muggy day today. The sun was out but not too much. There were big thunder clouds in the sky but enough sun that it became quite warm and things dried up.

I decided to canoe over to Little Wap Island. That’s where Taylor Statten has his cabin and he’s there with his wife and son. I got there around noon. I don’t like visiting too early. I asked him about the strange voices I heard last night.

“It’s part of the YMCA internment education program. I had heard about the education programs they were doing in the POW camps in Europe and I asked to do the same here.”

“Internment camps!” I was surprised that he was blunt with a fact that was otherwise intrigue and speculation.

“Yeah, Sims Pit. There’s a few kids working there. They can’t speak English.”

“I thought there was some secret weapons program going on there.”

“Indeed, no!” Taylor laughed. “I heard about Sam Hughes’ secret program. They’re doing nothing more than cutting up firewood to ship to the City. There’s a coal shortage, you know. The kids are free labour because they are enemy aliens.”

Taylor’s story sounded right. He was always concerned about helping youth. The kids at Sims Pit were victims of circumstance beyond their control. I’m sure some government bureaucrat thought that hard labour in the North would turn these young boys’ loyalty towards the Dominion and Empire.

Taylor invited me for lunch and I obliged. He was getting ready to go to the US. Getting his cabin ready for Dr. Howland and his family. They’d be arriving in July.

After lunch I canoed back to my camp site. The weather began to worsen and by 6 o’clock it became a downpour. It rained for a solid hour and the water began streaming around my tent. Almost every day this summer so far, it’s rained. In ordinary weather, the tent stays high and dry but with all of the rain the ground is saturated. The water has nowhere to go but straight into the lake and right by my tent.

The sun came out later in the evening, just around sunset. I could see the mist rising in the distant hills. I no longer hear the peepers, but instead the deep-throated warbles of the bullfrogs. I saw more than my share of snappers today. They’re looking for places to lay their eggs.The geese are out with their goslings. They are growing at an astounding rate.

I was planning to go to to Mowat Lodge to see if there was any mail for me, but I decided to continue the solitude from the greater world for another day. I didn’t really want to know what was happening, because I knew as much as I needed to. The march towards conscription is inevitable. All I know was that I have to go and soon. I need to get a message to Winnie, but I am not sure by mail that it would even get to her. Mail has become a risky proposition and I need to find another way to send a message. Going to Huntsville myself was certainly not in the cards. I must find a trusted messenger. I could ask Charlie Scrim. He is feeling better and making excursions out of the Park. I could ask him to go to Huntsville for me.

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