April 15, 1917 Spring Thaw.
It’s Sunday today. I thought of going to the Colsons. They have a lay service at 11am but I decided to stay back for Annie’s Bible reading.
Charlie Scrim is here too and I promised to take him ice-fishing before it’s too dangerous so we decided to go in the afternoon after the Sunday dinner.
Charlie and I are very good friends. We met the previous summer when he came from Ottawa for recuperation. He was diagnosed with the consumption and immediately dispatched from the family business in Ottawa to here in the Park. The Scrim’s have a florist business in Ottawa and many of their customers order flowers for funerals and memorials. Since consumption was a major driver of the flower business, I suspect that Charlie’s family did not want him repeatedly reminding them that he might be the next occasion for flowers. More probably, the family didn’t want the word get out that there was a consumptive working in the flower shop. It would be bad for business. Consumptives, like out-of-wedlock pregnant women, had a habit of disappearing without notice. And many of the consumptives showed up here at Mowat Lodge. Not sure where the pregnant women went, but it wasn’t anywhere in the Park.
We spent the morning catching up on the goings on in Toronto and Ottawa. I told him that it was exceedingly unpleasant for a single man to be seen alone in the city, hence my early departure up north. Charlie said much the same of Ottawa, but he said the city was still pretty jittery after the Parliament fire and reports of night-time air raids allegedly coming up from New York. The raids were never substantiated, but after Borden ordered a blackout in 1915, anything was credible. The Black Tom explosion in New York and the incident on the Vermont border put everyone on a vigilant edge. The official word on the Parliament fire was that it was an accident, but the perfect act of sabotage always looks like an accident. The report said flames came out of nowhere in the Parliamentary reading room, most likely from a forgotten lit pipe. But he speculation was an incendiary fluid was poured by a saboteur on the papers to spontaneously combust shortly thereafter.
I told Charlie that Park Superintendent George Bartlett was getting jittery too. Mark Robinson has come back and is staying at the shelter house by Joe Lake Station. Mark’s supposed to keep an eye on Sim’s Pit and the trestles. Bartlett trusts Robinson more than any other ranger. I think it’s because Mark helps him out on his hare-brained live beaver trap scheme. Bartlett is trying to send beavers to city zoos in the US to promote the Park. So far, not one beaver has survived the trip. Charlie and I have a lot to catch up on. More seriously, a couple of years ago, at significant risk to himself, Mark singlehandedly apprehended a killer and his gun in the Park. But Bartlett decided it was an accident and let the man go.
After our chat, I went out to sketch in time to be back for the 11:00 bible reading. I like this time of day in the spring time because of the contrast and angles of the shadows. Between 10 and 11 is the perfect time of shadows and bright sunlight and I wanted to catch a scene well before noon. I hiked up not too far away from Canoe Lake Dump. The path to the dump is pretty much cleared off. Shannon had mentioned he was going to make a trip when it was dry enough so I thought I’d have a look and let him know the condition of the path. It’ll be at least another two weeks before he can make the trip.
Despite being close to the dump, I had a good and pretty view of the lake. So I sketched sitting on old chair I found that had no back. I’m not sure why the chair was in the dump. It could be fixed. At Mowat Lodge much of the furniture has gone through a generation of repairs so this certainly wasn’t from there. I’m sure if Shannon sees the chair he’ll bring it back.
I went ice-fishing with Charlie in the afternoon. We went down to the shore of Canoe Lake just in front of the Blecher cottage. Saying that Mowat Lodge is beside the lake is a misnomer. In truth, it’s about 250 yards from the shore. A good walk for any consumptive. Charlie was tuckered out by the time we got there. We chopped a small hole and managed to catch a couple of ‘ling’. Eel-like fish. We threw them back into the water, because Annie doesn’t want those things in the lodge.
‘Any watery relative of the serpent is not welcome in my establishment’, Annie once acclaimed when she first saw a ling. I thought she was talking about Shannon not being welcome.
Sunday finished out as any Sunday should. I’m planning to write a letter to my father later this evening or early tomorrow. I want the letter to make the train tomorrow morning.