The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

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Mushrooms

“Let’s leave the rest of the mushrooms,” said Jim. “I feel a pain!”

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, September 5, 1936.

“Mushrooms,” said Jimmie Frise, “are now in season.”

“For me,” I replied, “mushrooms have no season. I like mushrooms on a nice rare steak. I like mushrooms on toast, soaked in their own butter gravy. But, most of all, I like mushrooms in June or January, February or December.”

“But you admit,” asked Jim, “that the best mushrooms are the ones you pick yourself in the woods and cook yourself, about nine p.m. at night at the conclusion of a lovely September day out in the open, mushroom hunting.”

“No, Jim,” I said, “I can’t say I do. As a matter of fact, I have never done that. But my feeling is, I prefer a good professionally grown mushroom that you can buy at any store to the wild article precisely as I prefer a nice piece of high grade beef to a hunk of wild venison.”

“I thought you were a sportsman,” sighed Jim.

“A man can be a sportsman,” I explained, “and still like good food. If your idea of a sportsman is one who sits out in a frozen bog all day nibbling dry sandwiches and then comes in to a good meal of lukewarm canned beans and tea that would make your toes open and shut or float an egg, then I am not a sportsman. I like good edible tasty food, that’s all.”

“Good edible tasty food,” said Jim, “makes me think of a dull, sickening thud or something. It makes me think of fat men who live in furnished rooms all alone and go through life gently and silently staring at everything and nobody knows their name. Good tasty food. It makes me think of the kind of woman you describe as a great little housekeeper. Ugh.”

“You like good food,” I protested.

“Yes, but now and then I like a little adventure,” said Jim. “I like to surprise my insides. Imagine being insides. Imagine spending your whole life at the mercy of somebody outside who does all the picking and choosing. And all you have to do every day for all your life is receive a lot of guck, always the same, never anything new, never any excitement.”

“Radishes,” I pointed out, “onions.”

“Pah,” said Jim. “I believe in giving my insides a surprise every now and then. I like to go to one of these Italian restaurants and eat one of those great big soup plates full of rubbery spaghetti, four feet long doused with meat sauce, red hot peppers, paprika and spices.”

“So do I,” I admitted. “Within reason.”

“Reason nothing,” said Jim. “You just ought to feel my insides when I start sliding that spaghetti down, all cool and smooth and hot and scratchy. Boy, my insides fairly shout with joy.”

“A tall thin cold glass of water,” I agreed, “often gives me that feeling of cheering.”

“A tin dipper full,” corrected Jim, “from a pump.”

“I never really can enjoy a drink from a pump,” I explained, “because of looking down the end of my nose for wrigglers or thinking of pollution.”

Jim studied me for a long moment.

Men Who Lived Gloriously

“There is no thrill,” said he, “like the wild thrill. No flavor like the gamey flavor. We are the flabby descendants of ages of men before us who lived gloriously on what they killed or picked up in the forest. It took us countless ages to arrive at roast beef and ham and eggs.”

“During which time,” I pointed out, “millions died in agony from eating the wrong thing.”

“If you like,” agreed Jim. “But certain things wake in us an ancient thrill, a sense of freedom, a feeling of reality, and among them are mushrooms and venison and partridges and speckled trout.”

“Hear, hear,” I confessed immediately.

“My suggestion is,” said Jim, “that this week-end, we go mushrooming. This is the time of year. Mushrooms are to be gathered at all times of the year, from spring to autumn. But the autumn is the best time.”

“How about toadstools?” I asked

“There are only a few poisonous species,” explained Jim. “And hundreds of edible species.”

“Jim, if there were only the one poisonous species,” I stated, “it would be too much.”

“Wait a minute,” said Jim. “I’ve got a government bluebook on mushrooms here somewhere. I’ll show you how simple it is.”

He hunted around through his files of old newspapers, straw hats, discarded suspenders, old snapshots he had lost for years, and so forth, the usual artist’s files, and then he produced the pamphlet.

“See,” he said, “it’s got pictures. Here’s one I’ve often eaten. Look. Deadly Agaric. No, no, but that one. That is deadly. Wait a minute. Here it is. See this lovely one. The Destroying Angel. No, no, wait a minute. That’s the worst one of all. I’ve got its picture right here. Somewhere.”

He thumbed through the pamphlet, showing me dozens of photographs of the worst-looking creations the Lord ever made. What day these flat, flabby, pallid things were made is not mentioned in the Good Book.

“Ah, here it is,” cried Jim, exhibiting a dreadful bulbous-looking monster that seemed to have a skin disease. This is the Shaggy Mane.”

“Has it got hair on it?” I protested.

“Certainly not,” said Jim. “That’s a poetic name for it. Nothing in nature has such poetic names as mushrooms. My boy, I assure you once you have tried mushroom hunting you will become a mushroom hunter for life. In the cool September weather, in the early morning when everything is fresh and dewy, you go forth into the woods and along the margins of meadows, searching on the ground for these quaint little elfin creations of nature. They are white and cream and tawny brown. Pearly and bluish. They grow secretly in the shadow of trees, along the edges of old logs, in clusters where the long grass suddenly thins. In olden days, the people thought the fairies made mushrooms for chairs and parasols. They thought where the rings of mushrooms grew the fairies had been dancing.”

“I wouldn’t wonder,” I said darkly.

“Mushroom hunting in September,” declared Jim, “is as delightful a pastime as bird watching in May. Besides, you can’t eat songbirds, but you can eat mushrooms.”

“I might go with you,” I said, “but only for the fresh air.”

“Here,” said Jim, turning to the government pamphlet again, “are the rules about how to avoid the poisonous species. Listen. It says, ‘Avoid fungi when in the button or unexpanded stage; also those in which the flesh has begun to decay, even if only slightly, and those that contain larvae or worm holes.”

“How delicious,” I said.

“Avoid all fungi which have stalks with a swollen base,” continued Jim, “surrounded by a cup-like or scaly envelope, especially if the gills are white.”

“It sounds like a snake and a fish combined,” I declared.

“Avoid all fungi,” continued Jim, eloquently, “having a milky juice, unless the milk is reddish.”

“Ah,” said I, “reddish milk is O.K. huh?”

“Avoid all fungi,” read Jim, “which have a bitter, unpleasant taste or an unpleasant odor.”

“I’d be sure to like those,” I agreed, “straight off.”

“You see,” said Jim. “Here it is in cold type, perfectly plain and simple. We can’t go wrong.”

“I tell you, Jim,” I said. “You collect mushrooms, and I’ll collect poison ivy.”

Baskets on Our Arms

But Jim is a man of imagination, and Saturday dawn he had me up and away to that country of beechwoods and pine and ash which lies amidst the limestone of Guelph and Georgetown, and across meadows soaked with dew we strode upward toward the skyline carrying baskets on our arms.

And sure enough, along the edge of a lovely beech wood we found in the meadow little encampments of the common mushroom. And I must confess that it was a pleasure to find them, and to kneel down and pick them, all firm and cool, and see how easily and crisply they broke apart, cap from stem. Jim and I soon had the bottoms of the baskets covered with them.

Into the woods we walked slowly, studying each tree trunk carefully, and finding amidst the pine woods the fluted stalk or Fall Morel, a curiously twisted and wrinkled thing like an old, old lady, but really only a day old; and incredibly yellow coral fungi which Jim said were beautiful to eat, but which looked to me like asparagus gone to the dogs.

On dead trees we found flat fungi as red as Chinese lacquer, and in a quiet and lovely grove of birch trees, already fading to yellow, we came upon a lonely little thing of beauty, white as alabaster, curved and beautiful as a child’s hand, rising like a dream out of the rotting earth mould.

“And here,” said Jim, proudly, “is my dear friend. Amanita Verna, the Destroying Angel. This frail and ghostly little plant has enough deadly poison in him to kill a tableful of guardsmen.”

So we looked at it for quite a few minutes and thought of our poor ancestors who didn’t have government pamphlets or any other knowledge, and then we kicked it to pieces and stamped on it, and wiped our boots on good wet meadow grass and went down afar to another beech-edged meadow to fill our baskets with the common mushroom.

Lunch we had with us in a box, and his we ate on one of those hills looking north across a thousand farms in autumn chintz. The afternoon we wasted splendidly turning up roads never seen before, and stopping at the gates of a hundred farms to see the apples on the trees, or observe the fat cattle or simply to try and guess what some distant farmer was doing. And usually we couldn’t guess.

And through the afternoon haze we turned homeward for the feast.

“Now comes,” said Jim, “the best part of mushroom hunting. Mushrooms are best the day they are picked.”

And his family being on a picnic, we went to Jim’s for the party. We sorted our baskets and set out only the choicest of our joint catch. Washed them and dried them. Put on aprons. Dedicated one whole pound of butter to the feast, and heated the big iron frying-pan.

“I’ll fry,” said Jim, “and you dance attendance on me. Heat the plates. Set the table.”

“Bread?” said I.

“Would you eat a woollen blanket with pate de fois gras?” demanded Jim. “Just mushrooms. Nothing else. This is a feast.”

And into the browning butter Jim sliced the plump mushrooms, where they swelled and curved and darkened and shrank. And on to an oven platter he ladled them out.

“Not done too much,” he explained, “yet not underdone.”

And, in due time, we had fried in butter enough of the succulent nubbins to make a fine black heap on two large plates and an odor so wild and strange and teasing as to make us almost perspire with expectancy.

“Fall to,” cried Jim.

And we fell to, as only men who have been abroad in September can fall. And with our forks we ladled up mouthfuls of the hot and buttery darkness and found them as they should be, chewy, yet tender,

To tell the truth, right at the very start, I imagined I detected a faint bitterness. I did not like to say anything about it, because after all it was a feast and Jim was full of pride. But after I had got down about half of my pile, I slowed up a bit and looked at Jim. And, to my horror, I caught Jim looking at me with a slight look of horror in his eyes.

“Do you – ah,” I said, “detect a slight bitterness?”

“I do,” said Jim, hollowly. We pushed our plates away.

“How soon,” I asked, huskily, “do the pains begin?”

“Sometimes,” said Jim, in a thin voice, “not for two days.”

We stared at each other. What a strange way for our long friendship to end. Boy and man, come Michaelmas, blame near a quarter century. And now toadstool gets us.

“Jim,” I said, “look through this basket here and see which of us is likely guilty. I would feel easier if I thought you had poisoned me rather than vice versa.”

“Let’s leave it,” said Jim, rising sharply to his feet and clutching his stomach. “Here come the pains.”

Sure enough pains.

“Call a doctor,” I commanded.

“No use, no use,” said Jim. “I don’t think there is a cure known for fungus poisoning.”

“Will it hurt much?” I enquired.

“After all,” said Jim, turning green, “does that matter?”

“You’re quite right,” I agreed, slipping back and getting a good grip of my central neighborhood.

And then Jim’s family walked in, loudly, gaily, full of picnic.

“What on earth,” they cried, “are you cooking in that iron frying-pan?”

“Mushrooms,” said we, concealing our agony bravely.

“Did you rinse it out, for goodness sake?” they asked.

“No,” said we.

“Well, it was full of laundry soap the last time I saw it,” said the family, loudly laughing. “And that was this morning. That hasn’t been a cooking pan for about ten years.”

“We didn’t eat any yet,” said Jim. “We were just going to, when you came in.”

“Ha, ha,” said I. “Wouldn’t that have been comic, if we had eaten any.”

But Jim, looking at me, took me by the arm and led me out the back kitchen into the garden, under the stars, and we two walked up and down, pausing now and again, and walking up and down, along the back or bushy end of the garden, until nearly ten o’clock.


Editor’s Notes: Greg and Jim describe spaghetti as a rare and unusual treat, as in the 1930s, Italian food would still be “ethnic food”.

“Dance attendance on me” is an archaic term meaning “obey every command I give”.

Michaelmas is a Christian feast day on September 29. So Greg is describing his friendship with Jim dating back 25 years by that date. This would date back to the early 1910s, which would make sense since Jim’s first comic in the Toronto Star was late in 1910, and Greg started working for the Star in 1912.

Saga of Lost Lake

We pushed on, over ridge and gully, around swamp and over ten thousand dead trees.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, August 21, 1937.

“This,” said Jimmie Frise, “is the worst year for fishing we’ve ever had.”

“Is it any wonder,” I demanded, “with fresh thousands taking up fishing every year and fresh miles of highway being built farther and farther into the wilds every season?”

“All our old haunts are ruined,” said Jim.

“Yet we,” I accused, “thought it was swell when they completed the cement highways to all our favorite spots.”

“Even Algonquin Park has a highway into it now,” sighed Jim.

“Canada’s richest asset,” I declared, “is the tourist traffic. It’s the strangest export business in the world. It brings in three hundred million dollars per annum net cash. And all it takes out is snapshots.”

“We’re selling our birthright,” pronounced Jim solemnly, “for a mess of pottage. When we have ripped our country wide open for the tourist trade, when we’ve criss-crossed it with highways and looted all our lakes and made hot dog groves of all our forests and nothing remains but an empty fraud, and all the annual three hundred millions have vanished, as millions do, into thin air, what will we have left?”

“We’ll have had a good time while it lasted,” I pointed out. “Three hundred million a year is mighty sweet money.”

“We’ll have rotting highways running through barren and useless waste,” said Jim. “Our tourist trade goes into a country unfit for anything but playing in. It has no soil for farming. It is no good for reforesting. When the fish are gone and the wild aspect vanished, the tourists will leave us holding the empty bag.”

“Why, Jim,” I laughed, “within ten years, the American tourists are going to be working their way into our Arctic. Already, hundreds of Americans are going every summer into the Albany watershed, running into Hudson Bay. Already, thousands of Americans are taking hunting trips into the Yukon and the northern Rockies. Our tourist trade is good for another hundred years, with that wild, unexplored Arctic up there.”

“And what about us poor guys,” demanded Jim, “that can’t afford to go two thousand miles north? Is fishing in Canada only to be for wealthy Americans?”

“Oh, they’ll stock up the local waters,” I assured him. “It’s all a question of demand. As soon as the fishing gets bad enough, there will be a violent uproar, and the government will go nutty planting fish. They’ll plant fish the way they have been building highways lately, or the way they do anything else to please the public. A government’s real job, after all, isn’t governing. It’s pleasing the public. They govern for a couple of years. Then they wake up with a violent start and realize that pleasing the public is the whole thing. That’s the way we’ll get fish down around these parts. The day is coming when it won’t be safe to go for a paddle on any water in the older part of the country. The fish will be a menace.”

“Tame fish,” sneered Jim. “Liver-fed fish.”

“You’ll be glad enough to hook them,” I assured him.

“I’ll be an old man,” said Jim. “Too feeble to go fishing.”

Reaction in Pioneering

“If we had any gumption,” I stated, “we’d not be sitting here letting the Americans have all the fun going up to the Albany and the Winisk. We’d be going ourselves. What’s the matter with us Canadians? Why do we insist on puddling around near home, when there is simply incredible wild fishing a day or two north? Are we getting soft? Where is the pioneer spirit that, only fifty years ago was part and parcel of every Canadian’s character?”

“I guess,” said Jim, “that there is a sort of reaction in this pioneer spirit business. Pioneering gets kind of exhausted after three or four generations. We belong to one of the two or three generations that are resting up after the ordeal. Then maybe our grandchildren will feel the pioneer spirit creeping back into them again.”

“By which time,” I pointed out, “the good fishing will be exhausted in the Arctic.”

Then our grandchildren,” said Jim, “will run across to fish in Siberia and northern Russia as carelessly as we go up to Lake Nipissing.”

“Ah, boy,” I sighed, “I wish I could go to a lake my Uncle Ed took me into when I was a kid. I was about sixteen, I guess. Talk about bass fishing.”

“Where was the lake?” asked Jim.

“It is the most lost lake,” I declared, “imaginable. In fact, we called it Lost Lake. It’s still there. It is miles from any human habitation. It is a twenty-mile walk over the wildest, rockiest country anywhere in Canada.”

“Twenty miles,” said Jim. “Whew! Your Uncle Ed must have been a tough guy.”

“Tough is right,” I agreed. “He was a pioneer. I can see him yet, with his great big packsack on his back, full of tent and grub and tackle, climbing over those wild rocks like a goat. I’ve never been so weary in all my life, yet I was a strong husky kid of sixteen.”

“What about the fishing?” asked Jim.

“Lost Lake,” I began happily, “is about half a mile wide and four miles long. It is a great bed of glacial gravel set down amidst the most God-forsaken rock in the world. It never was lumbered because there isn’t anything but scrub will grow on it. There isn’t half an acre of soil within 30 miles. Yet that long, narrow lake, full of bright gravel and boulders and reefs, is simply alive with bass up to six pounds.”

“Oh, oh,” said Jim.

“Jim,” I said,” my Uncle Ed was a fly fisherman. No bait, no worms, crawfish or frogs for him. Just common trout flies, on little four-ounce rods. He taught me to fly fish. We made a raft of cedar logs. We drifted about that heavenly lake for five days. Every cast, with those tiny little trout flies, a great whacking big bass, from four to six pounds. We put on two flies. We got two bass to a cast. We filed off the barbs of the fly hooks. We caught hundreds of bass and threw them all back except the ones we needed to eat. We never even brought any out.”

“Have you never gone back?” demanded Jim.

“I intended to go back the next year,” I said, “but I started to Varsity. Then I kept putting it off year by year, as I got into that silly age around 20, when you never seem to be able to keep your mind on anything really important. Then the war came. And then Uncle Ed got rheumatism.”

“Engraved on My Memory”

“Is it far away?” asked Jim.

“Far enough,” I said, “You go to Sudbury, and then in by train about 30 miles. You get off at a section man’s house and then walk in 20 miles. No road, no trail. Just across the wild barren rock, working by landmarks.”

“You’d have forgotten them,” thought Jim, “by now.”

“Never,” I cried, “to my dying day. It’s engraved on my memory like the path I took to school as a child. Every once in a while, over the long years, I have renewed my memory by going, in my imagination, over every foot of that trip. First you head for a distant sort of ridge or pinnacle of rocks, far in the distance. You can’t go wrong. Then, from this pinnacle, you can see, miles ahead, a series of great muskeg swamps with broken ridges of rock rising between them. You follow that series of ridges between the muskeg swamps as straight as Yonge St., and they bring you smack out on to Lost Lake.”

“Boy,” said Jim grimly. “Let’s go. Let’s go.”

“Jim?” I cried, “will you?”

“Let’s go,” repeated Jim with a sort of anguish.

“It’s a terrible walk,” I said, “twenty miles. With all our duffle. Tent and grub and tackle and pots and pans.”

“Man,” shouted Jim, “a lake like that, lost amidst all this exploitation and ruin of lakes. A lake like that, within an overnight journey in a sleeping car with hordes of people going hundreds of miles beyond to fish waters already overrun with other fishermen. How do you know it hasn’t been found out by now?”

“How would it be found out? I demanded. Nobody but Uncle Ed and two other men knew of it. And who would walk 20 miles nowadays in this age of satin-smooth highways and motor cars and outboard motors? This is a soft, padded age. The modern sportsman won’t go any place he can’t sit on a cushion all the way.”

“One good fill of fishing,” crooned Jim, “one regular orgy of fishing, and I’ll be content to hang up my rods and let my grandchildren go to the Arctic.”

“It’s a go,” I announced.

And we sat straight down and proceeded to examine the calendar and then drew up lists of duffle and supplies.

We decided to spend four days on the lake. One full day to walk in and one full day to walk out. We debated whether to take Jim’s little wedge tent or my big silk one, and we concluded that as we were no longer chickens, it might be as well to be comfortable.

“This business of going light,” said Jim, “is all very well in your twenties. But at our age, we’ve got to get our rest.”

So we wrote and rewrote our camping lists, which, as anybody knows, is the better part of camping. The tent and our two sleeping bags would go into a joint dunnage bag which we would carry between us. Each of us would have our packsacks, containing clothes, tackle, and all the things needful to a happy outing. Pots and pans we would distribute between us pro rata. The grub we would divide equally and stow in our packsacks.

And Saturday night, we left for Sudbury by sleeper, arriving early in the morning and continuing by day coach some miles out to the section men’s shack where the unmarked trail to Lost Lake began.

The section man’s shack, which had been young and red and fresh when I was sixteen was now no more than a worn old shed in which some railway ties were stored and even the rusty old tin cans in its neighborhood looked as if this had been no human habitation for many a long year. It was no longer even a section house, just a relic of a shanty, faded and old.

“Jim” I declared, as the train sped off leaving us alone with our duffle bags, “this is wonderful. I feared we might even find a village where this section house had stood. But look – it’s only a ruin. Lost Lake has stayed lost, for sure.

From a little rocky eminence handy, we could see the remote whitish rock ridges or pinnacles far to the northwest, just as I had described them.

“It’s a good ten miles to them, Jim,” I said. “By keeping to ridges and high ground, we never lose sight of them. We’ll take all morning, just to reach them.”

But it took more than the morning. I don’t know how far a lumberjack carries his packsack. Probably from the railway station to the boarding house, maybe. A distance of 75 yards in most lumberjack communities. Even the pioneers didn’t carry packsacks. They used oxen. Certainly, no pioneer ever carried a packsack ten miles. Or else why did it take a hundred years for the pioneers to work north a hundred miles?

As I said before it was a wild and rugged country, and a number of swamps had moved or side-slipped, during the past 30 years, for I found any number of swamps where there had been none the last time. A swamp is a thing you have to go around. And often you have to feel your way around it, making many false tries, this way and that.

At noon, the delectable white pinnacles were still white and remote. We halted for lunch and got out our sleeping bags to lie on for a little rest. We rested until four o’clock and then pushed on. By six p.m., the pinnacles were less distant and less white, but none the less too far away for a couple of pioneers without oxen to reach by dark. So finding a pleasant little swampy pond in the middle of a muskeg, we made camp and boiled muddy tea and went to bed on ill-made brush beds, and muttered each other awake all night. In the morning, we went through our packsacks and made a cache in a tree of all the articles, many of them costly if not valuable, to lighten our loads and to be picked up on the way out They are there forever, I fear.

Thus lightered, we struck camp and pushed on, over ridge and fully and around swamp and over ten thousand dead trees until at noon we reached the high ridge from which, stretching far to the west, we beheld, as I had foretold, the series of dark swamps between which wended bare bleak wastes of rock. But these wastes of rock were open and grim and barren and easy, and in slow stages between heavy rests, during which our eyeballs protruded and our kidneys ached and our legs grew numb and our arches fell and our toe-balls scalded, we went out across them, hog-backs of rock amidst endless wasteland swamp, straight as a ship sails towards Lost Lake.

“It’s a Mirage – a Delusion”

At five p.m. from the highest of these heaves of rock, we glimpsed a bit of blue.

“Water,” I cried, “It’s Lost Lake.”

And with a sort of spiritual, if not physical, second wind, we pushed on. Jim holding one end of the tent bag and I the other, and clanking with our pots and pans like Mrs. Finnigan’s Cows, and over seven last great hills of rock we came at last to the very last, and there at our feet, half a mile wide and four miles long, lay Lost Lake.

“What’s that?” gasped Jim, softly lowering his packsack from his long and limber back.

It was music.

We eased our weary baggage down and listened.

“It’s ‘Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em,'” I said, “This week’s number one the Hit Parade.”

“Look,” said Jim pointing.

In the gloaming, lights twinkled at almost regular intervals along the distant shores of Lost Lake.

“Cottages,” I said huskily. “It’s a mirage. It’s a delusion. We’re suffering from explorer’s exhaustion.”

Around the point we stood on, a canoe came, and from it the music we had heard rose with increasing volume.

It was a boy and a girl with a portable victrola between them in their cushioned ease. When they beheld us in the semi-dark, frozen beside our packsacks and dunnage bags, festooned with our pails and pans, they too froze, staring.

“Hello,” I called hollowly.

The boy paddled cautiously nearer.

“Is this Lost Lake?” I demanded hoarsely.

“No, sir,” said the boy. “This is Golden Sand Lake.”

“It used to be called Lost Lake,” the girl piped up, “before the highway came by. I’ve heard my dad speak of it by that name.”

“Highway?” croaked Jimmie.

“The highway,” said the boy, “just along the other side, see?”

Three cars, lights just turned on, sailed smoothly along the far side of the lake, headed inexorably northward, northward.

“Any bass in this lake?” I asked lightly.

“Not now,” said the girl, “but my daddy has one stuffed in our cottage, he got the first year we were in here before I was born, and it weighed six pounds.”

“Do you suppose,” I inquired, “we could get a lift across the lake to the highway side?”

“I’ll go and get our launch,” said the boy, immediately. “I’ll take you across and you can get a bus. There’s a bus every two hours. both ways.”

“That’s swell,” said Jim.

So we sat down on our duffle and waited for the launch, watching the car lights streaming past on the far side, and not speaking at all, but just thinking and thinking.

“Is this Lost Lake?” I demanded hoarsely. “No, sir,” said the boy. “This is Golden Sand Lake.” “It used to be Lost Lake,” the girl piped up.

Editor’s Notes: The Winisk River and Albany River are in the Kenora area of Northern Ontario.

Varsity was the old name of the University of Toronto.

Railroad section men lived in section houses, and were responsible for the maintenance of a particular section of the railroad. These jobs were phased out over time.

I’m not sure who Mrs. Finnegan’s cows were.

“Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em” may be referring to the song “Love Me or Leave Me“.

The story was repeated on August 19, 1944 as “Found – Lost Lake”. The image at the bottom is from that reprint. It is also reprinted in The Best of Greg Clark & Jimmie Frise (1977).

Camping

Rusty thrust his head in the tent, a black and white object in his jaws…

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, July 20, 1935.

“The editor,” said Jimmie Frise, “is off for a few days buying paintings for the picture section.”

“Then,” I said, “let’s go fishing.”

“Not fishing,” said Jimmie. “I am tired of fishing. Let’s go camping. There is a sort of anxiety and hurry about going fishing. Camping, you can just dope along.”

“Morally,” I hesitated, “we are justified in sneaking off like this when the editor goes away. Because it is far, far better that we should take care of our health than that we should just stick to the mere letter of the law. We aren’t Pharisees, I hope.”

“Both for the sake of our employers,” said Jim, “as well as for the sake of our families and dependents we should use our initiative in the matter of keeping well and efficient. How long do you suppose the editor will be away?”

“Let’s take a chance on four days,” I estimated.

“I feel poorly,” admitted Jim. “I really do. I feel the need of a few days drowsing in the shade beside some cool lake. The editor doesn’t go away now as much as he used to, does he?”

“We don’t get quite as much opportunity for using our initiative in the matter of our health and well-being,” I confessed. “Let’s take a chance on three days. Nobody will notice it.”

“You remember the time he came back in two days?” warned Jimmie.

“We must remember,” I said, “not to get sunburned. When a boss comes back and finds his whole staff all sunburned it gives rise to suspicions. We working-class people are pretty dumb. You notice the assistant bosses always go golfing on dull afternoons?”

“By jove,” admitted Jim.

“With our families all away,” I proposed, “we can just go on a nice little camping trip, the kind all men want to take but never can. Most men are prisoners. They can’t do what they like at the office. And they can’t do what they like at home. And when the so-called holidays come the poor fellow has to go where the family tell him. Now’s our chance for a three-day escape from prison. Where will we go? Peterborough? Parry Sound?”

“Suppose,” said Jim, “suppose we just get in the car, with a tent and some pots and pans and some grub, and turn either left or right at every fourth gallon of gas?”

“A perfect idea,” I cried. “You drive and I’ll watch the gas. And at every fourth gallon we’ll take the next turn.”

“Real gipsies,” exulted Jimmie. “Wotting not whither we goeth.”

“We won’t fish. We won’t even hunt birds’ nests. We’ll just dangle along all day and when five o’clock comes we’ll look for a place to pitch our tent and there we’ll pitch it.”

“And,” sang Jimmie, “if we don’t feel like getting up in the morning we won’t. And if we find a nice shady spot, by a cool lake, we’ll just stay there. We don’t have to keep on going, do we?”

“Not at all,” I agreed. “The only rule will be, however, that at every fourth gallon we take the first turn, either to the right or the left, it doesn’t matter.”

“Swell,” said Jim.

To The Wide Open Spaces

So, after making a few discreet inquiries around the editor’s secretary and trying to find out from the art department how many paintings it needed for the next while, Jimmie and I quietly slipped away and went to our homes and packed.

“Don’t take much,” ruled Jim. “Your little tent, and my outboard motor…”

“We’re not going fishing,” I cut in.

“It will be handy to have along, in case we want to go for a spin somewhere.”

“And my gasoline stove,” I added.

“And Rusty,” submitted Jim.

Rusty, his Irish water spaniel, had been left home by the family because it takes him so long to get acquainted with the other dogs up at the cottage. In fact, it takes the whole two months, July and August, for Rusty to get on speaking terms with the dogs of the beach.

“Very well, bring Rusty,” I conceded. “You can’t very well leave him for three days.”

And soon Jimmie and I were, with a carefully filled and measured gas tank, on our way up Yonge St. for the wide open spaces.

It was a beautiful day. We who rarely see the highways except when they are frantic with week-end traffic can have no real appreciation of this beautiful land of ours as it appears when leisure fills the main roads and the lush fields wave and blow in the summer wind.

“Ah, Jimmie,” I said, “to think of all those poor chaps and poor girls back in town, sweltering over desks, dancing attendance on machines, tools, boxes, bales. Couldn’t life be wonderful if only we knew how to arrange it?”

“Canada,” said Jim, waving one arm off the steering wheel, “Canada, my own!”

The lazy miles whipped by.

“Curious,” said Jim, “that we put on speed every time we hit a good pavement and so the sooner get off it on to a bad one. Why don’t we go slow over a good highway and fast over a bad one?”

“It would be more sensible,” I confessed.

So we cut down to twenty-five miles an hour and felt Yonge St., beyond Aurora, peel off under us yard by yard at a lovely sight-seeing pace.

It was between Barrie and Orillia that the four-gallon mark arrived, at which we had to turn either right or left. So we turned right, across country road that led us down to Lake Simcoe.

“This means.” said Jim, “that we should follow around the lake and cross into the Kawartha district.”

“So be it,” I agreed.

And through Atherley we drove, following the highway southward and looking, since evening was drawing on, for a handsome place to pitch our gipsy tent.

“Clouding up,” commented Jim.

And out of the west, large majestic white clouds were rearing themselves vastly, with bright, gleaming edges and dark shadows in their midst.

“Did you get the tent repaired that place?” Jim asked.

“I can put a towel over it,” I said, “It isn’t much of a hole.”

“Let’s turn left over towards Bobcaygeon,” said Jim.

“Not till four gallons are gone,” I pointed out.

“But we’ll be back in Whitby before another four gallons,” protested Jim.

“We’ll find a good spot along here soon,” I said, looking out at the clouds.

“What I like about Ontario is the infinite variety. All kinds of earth, rock and soil. All different trees, hardwood here, spruce there. And all kinds of weather. There is no sameness about this country. If it had stayed bright and blue all day, like it was this afternoon, we’d soon weary of it.”

“I like a storm,” agreed Jim, also looking over his shoulder. “There is something bracing about it.”

And Rusty, sleeping on the dunnage bags in back, got up and yawned and looked out, too. He whined.

“There’s a spot,” exclaimed Jim.

We were north of Brechin somewhere, and off to the left, sweet rolling meadows, sloped with spruce and cedar and topped with clusters of birch and pine, beckoned us.

Without conversation. Jim took a rutty little side road. In five minutes we were stopped at the foot of as perfect a camping spot as ever gipsies found. A small, bright brook went by the sloping meadow. Birches on a flat-topped hillock stood ready to shelter our little tent. Grass and herbage made a ready couch for our blankets.

“My own Canadian home,” lilted Jim.

And a faint mutter of thunder applauded him.

“Here,” I said, “let’s get the tent up right away.”

So while Rusty went exploring. Jim and I cheerfully unloaded the car and carried the little silk tent up the slope. Picked a level spot for it to pitch. Strung the rope between two graceful birches. And in five minutes, our home was ready.

“Let ‘er rain,” laughed Jimmie.

And we looked at the mighty towering clouds, which now were much higher and higher, and from them hung down ragged smoke-colored remnants, sweeping towards us.

“Let’s get the stuff in the tent,” I cried.

Blankets and corrugated box of grub, gasoline stove and pots and pans.

“I’ll just bring this outboard motor in,” said Jimmie.

“Leave it,” I hurried, two big drops starting to swing down at us. “There isn’t room in the tent.”

“Car doesn’t lock,” shouted Jimmie, for a gale suddenly bent everything over. “Sure to be stolen if I leave it in the car.”

So he staggered the engine up and we just shoved into the tent as the first deluge plunged down out of the clouds.

“Here, Rusty. Rusty, whit, whit,” whistled Jimmie, Rusty having disappeared.

“Shut the flaps,” I shouted.

The little tent was all cluttered and abulge with bundles, boxes, stove, engine, pots and what not. I sat on the stove and Jim on the tank of his engine.

And the little tent bellied and clapped loudly with the gale, while a regular thunder of rain beat, like bursting ocean waves, against the frail silk.

“These summer showers,” I cried, “are soon over.”

Troubles Multiply

“Thank goodness,” called back Jimmie, “we have your little gasoline stove. Dry wood won’t be found after this.”

“We forgot to get gas for it,” I remembered. “We can siphon some out of your tank.”

“If we have a siphon,” shouted Jim.

And then thunder roared and lightning hissed and cracked, and Jim found a small stream starting to run under the tent and across the ground.

“Get off the stove,” said Jim, “and I’ll set the grub box on it to keep it dry.”

“So I stand up?” I inquired.

I half stood up and half sat down, while the walls of the tent sagged looser and looser, and the thunder growled and the ground grew all wet, and we kept shifting things around in the cramped tent.

“I wish I knew where Rusty is,” said Jim.

“Fighting some local dog,” I suggested.

“Rusty hates rain,” said Jim.

“Sure, he’s a water spaniel,” I explained. Jim peeped out the tent flaps.

“Very black over by the east,” he said.

“Sometimes, these summer storms that come up in the late afternoon,” I said, “mean an all-night rain. And a westerly blow.”

“Rusty, Rusty, whit, whit,” went Jim out the tent flaps.

“Aw, let him alone,” I exclaimed, “He’s probably found somebody his own size.”

The rain seemed to slacken.

“Jim,” I said, “while I’m seeing if there is any gas in this stove tank, take a run down to the brook and get a pail of water so we can make tea. It looks like an indoor supper to-night.”

When Jim was gone with the pail, I looked, and as I fully expected, there was no gas in the stove tank.

Jim scratched hastily in through the flaps.

“The creek,” he said, wiping rain off his face, “is running yellow mud. Pure mud.”

So we sat and listened to the thunder and blinked to the lightning and shoved articles of furniture up against the corners of the tent to keep the steadily sagging walls from coming entirely in upon us.

Ants, spiders, striped worms and small beetles began climbing up everything that was dry, such as us.

“Pshaw,” said Jim, “think of our poor ancestors who came to this country in the early days. They didn’t even have tents. They had to rush up some kind of a roof over their heads, made of split logs. Think of bring huddled in here with all your family, including little babies, in a storm like this. And they had storms like this in 1800.”

“Our ancestors,” I taught Jim, “were simpler folk than we. They came from mud huts in Ireland and shacks made of granite rocks in the Highlands. My ancestors used to have the chickens roost on the foot of the bed when they first came to Ontario.”

“What I mean,” said Jim, pulling his feet up under him, “is that we ought to have, just underneath our skins, the makings of good men. Tough men. Men who can suffer hardship like this. It can’t have gone out of us completely in only two or three generations.”

“I wish I had my plus-fours on,” I said. “Did you ever have an ant up your pant leg? I don’t think our ancestors wore pants.”

“Think,” said Jimmie, brushing off couple of spiders and a small green hump worm, “of our Scottish ancestors, coming to this country in kilts.”

But a loud flash and bang of lightning made us stop thinking of our ancestors.

The ground was now squishy under our feet. The rent in the tent that we had got last fall was dripping water into the left rear corner, and I was in the right.

“Skunk,” said Jim suddenly.

“Phew,” said I.

And Rusty thrust his dripping wet face in the flaps.

“Get out,” I yelled.

Rusty backed out. But in a moment, he thrust his head in again, this time gripping in his wide jaws, and his eyes glancing proudly above, a black and white object limp in his jaws. And of overpowering fragrance.

“Get out. Scat.”

Even Jimmie threw a pail at him.

Hating To Admit Defeat

And so we had whines from Rusty outside, to add to the things we had to listen to, as the darkness continued to deepen, and the thunder went away and then came suddenly and surprisingly back again. And the wind changed direction and began shoving at the front flaps.

“Jim,” I said, “we can’t stay here.”

“Let’s wait and see,” said Jim.

“Put that engine out and give us some room,” I insisted.

“Nothing doing,” replied Jim.

“We have no water, no wood, no gas for the stove,” I complained.

“Maybe it will clear,” said Jim.

“That dog,” I said, “has put the kibosh on everything. I can hardly breathe.”

“We have to take him home in the car,” pointed out Jim.

“I say we beat it,” I concluded.

“Where to?” asked Jim.

One hates to admit defeat. I gazed hopelessly about the little tent, its dripping walls sagging close to our heads.

“Jimmie,” I cried, looking about at the grass and herbage on which our beds were to be laid. “What’s that plant right beside you there!”

“Gee,” said Jim, drawing up his hand.

It was three-leaved, glossy green, reddish tinges at the base of the leaves. It was cool, cold, cruel looking.

“Poison ivy, Jim.” I gasped.

“I guess we had better go,” agreed Jim half rising, which was all he could do.

And as we stepped out the door, a long glorious blade of evening sunlight burst across the glade. The dripping world shone and sparkled. Rusty barked hoarsely and started to show us his latest victim.

“How about it?” asked Jim. “We’ll go. But where?”

“Home,” I said, for both of us.

And into the back of the car we stuffed the soaking tent, just bundled in anyhow, and the engine and the stove and the grub box. Jim scrubbed Rusty with bunches of grass, to no purpose.

“Zing,” said something.

“Now the mosquitoes,” said I.

And before we had the car loaded, the soft, muggy summer evening was alive with great big after-the-storm mosquitoes, focusing on our ankles and wrists.

“Make it snappy,” said Jim.

“I’m ready,” I snorted. “What about Rusty?”

“Whit, whit,” said Jim to Rusty, and Rusty, all damp clambered in.

And under a radiant, starry sky, we drove down to Whitby.

“Four gallons, exactly,” said I, as we rounded the turn to Toronto.

And so to bed.


Editor’s Notes: The Pharisees were a Jewish social movement that were legal experts in traditions, so when Greg said “we aren’t Pharisees”, he meant that they were not strict rule-followers.

Jim was quoting the Bible, John 12:35, specifically the Tyndale Bible of the 16th century, “He that walketh in the darke wotteth not whither he goeth.” This would be more recently translated as “Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. “

Brechin Ontario is on the northeast edge of Lake Simcoe.

A Dunnage bag was the type of large bag that sailors would use to carry their belongings. It would more commonly be referred to as a duffle bag today.

My Own Canadian Home” was a patriotic song written in 1887. It was considered “Canada’s National Song”, but it’s popularity faded by the mid-20th century.

Plus fours are trousers that extend four inches below the knee, and were popular for sporting activities.

This story appeared in Greg Clark & Jimmie Frise Outdoors (1979).

Overcapitalized

All the din and snorting and beeping that accompanied us as we pedalled up toward Bampton was enough to shatter your nerves.

By Gregory Clark, illustrated by James Frise, June 9, 1934.

“We’re all hopelessly,” said Jimmie Frise, “overcapitalized.”

“I have no capital,” I demurred.

“No, but you’ve got a car and a house and a lot of furniture and everything,” said Jim. “You’re overcapitalized.”

“It sounds interesting,” I admitted. “I’m overcapitalized.”

“We are all putting on too much dog,” continued James. “The whole world has got to pipe down.”

“But how can we be persuaded to start?” I asked.

“Tens of thousands of us are being persuaded already,” said Jim. “I’ve a good notion to get a couple of bicycles. One bicycle for me, one for the family, and a few pair of roller skates. That’s about my real speed.”

“I remember,” I said, “the bicycle days. Good old days, they were. I can dimly remember meetings of bicycle clubs in High Park, hundreds of bicyclists, men and women, gathered for a hike through the pleasant country roads west and north of Toronto.”

“Those were the good old days,” said Jim; “when a twenty-mile journey was all the far a man or a woman wanted to go away from home. The Gay Nineties! The age when all our ancestors had group photographs taken in their funny derbies, the ladies sitting with a graceful droop and the men standing, legs akimbo, with one hand resting on the back of the chair, as if to say, here we are; will there ever be a generation like us again?”

“And carpets were tacked,” I said.

“And paper under the carpets,” said Jim. “You could hear it crackling.”

“And curtain stretchers,” I said.

“And elderly ladies with tall lace collars held up with little pieces of whalebone,” said Jimmie, “seemed to be the boss of everything. They wore watches pinned to the front of their black pleated dresses. Pearl sunbursts at their throats.”

“Old ladies,” I said, “and every Thursday they baked cookies and put them in big blue starch tins.”

“Let’s get a couple of bicycles some day,” said Jim, “and go for a ride out through the country, and go sailing leisurely along.”

“What kind of costume do you suggest we wear?” I asked. “The bicycle costume I remember in my boyhood were rather cramping for these days.”

“Let’s wear sport shirts and khaki shorts,” said Jim, “and golf socks, and those tennis visors. Just nice airy costumes.”

“And we could carry small haversacks,” I said, “with lunch and cooling beverages.”

“When do we go?” cried Jim, happily.

“Let’s not get excited,” I said. “The first real fine afternoon. And you arrange where we can rent a couple of bikes.”

The two that Jimmie delivered at my house at noon were the same size. We lowered the seat of mine several times, until it rested on the cross bar. But it still felt a little stretchy to me. Jimmie and I set forth for the pleasant highways that lead northwest from the outer edges of Toronto.

The breeze was lovely in our faces. Our speed was easy and natural. Except for a slight stretch at the end of each shove of my legs, there was really no effort to riding, and all the balance and skill of my boyhood returned. Jimmie was a little inclined to get ahead of me, and he wanted to “scorch” on all the small hills, but quite merrily we bowled along until we came to the Centre Rd., leading to Brampton.

And as soon as we touched the asphalt, the tooting began.

I trust I shall never again toot my car horn at a bicycle. Of all the din and snorting and beeping that accompanied us as we pedalled up towards Brampton, it was enough to shatter your nerves. Not a motor car felt free to pass us, although we hugged the edge of the pavement, without a long, deafening blast on the horn.

Road’s Too Much Used

You would think we were a public menace the way drivers shouted brief nothings at us out the windows as they went by.

Jim was leading and he kept up a continual chatter which I could not hear. If I pedalled up alongside him, two cars had to pass, immediately beside us, and while I wobbled back into position in rear, the two cars jammed brakes, tooted and shouted at us.

“Let’s get off the highway,” I called to Jim. “Let’s find some pleasant country lane to travel in.”

So Jimmie turned west off the highway and we went merrily along, side by side.

I heard a car coming and I had just time to run my bike into the grassy ditch when a couple of young girls in a roadster flashed between us with a snort of a double horn and a couple of derisive yells.

“Even the country lanes,” I sighed, remounting.

“How are you coming?” asked Jim.

“A little achy,” I admitted.

The road grew sandy, and at the hills we both dismounted to push the bikes up. But there were farmers to talk to whenever we came to them and places you could slow down and look at cows and chickens. I picked some wild flowers at a dell and stuck them in my visor.

“Ah, Jim,” I said. “This is the life.”

One of those modern cars had crept up to within ten feet of me, let go its snort and swished by. Both of us fell in the ditch.

“There ought to be a law,” cried Jimmie, “requiring these modern cars to carry sleigh bells.”

“Let’s get off this road,” I said. “It is too much used.”

We turned north on the next road. Within fifty yards we had to take to the ditch for a truck that slammed past in a cloud of dust. Five times before we came to the cart tracks leading back east, we had to leap for our lives. Then we came to two cart tracks, not a road but just a happy track leading to the east, with grass growing between the ruts and in the distance, woods and wide fields.

So Jim took the right hand rut and I took the left, and at last we had perfect cycling. There were birds to see and farms to stop at for drinks out of pumps. Farmers to talk to across snake fences and homecoming country school children with little red lard pails emptied of lunch. A flock of sheep watched us go by with startled interest and lambs raced away at our approach. We came even to a large pig lying in my rut, and I had to get out and go around her, because she just turned up a very nasty little eye, with long Hollywood eyelashes of a dusty color, and dared me.

We came to a woods and sat down for our sandwiches. My legs ached on the insides and they had turned a rich red color.

“You burn,” said Jim. “I just brown.”

We lay in the grass and finished our sandwiches, even the crusts, and the sun blazed down and my ache grew and my burn was stinging and the hide just above my knees began to feel stiff.

Aches and Splinters

“Jim,” I said, “I think we had better get headed back for home.”

“We can take back roads home towards dusk,” said Jim, half asleep in the deep grass. A herd of cows was coming lazily up the road.

“My ache is growing,” I said, “and I feel as if this sunburn is going to stiffen. I forgot when I put on these shorts that so much of my leg would show, sitting on a bicycle.”

“I brown,” said Jim, drowsily.

So while Jim snored gently, I patted my sunburn and massaged the thick muscles on my legs. But I sensed a growing discomfort.

“Come on, Jimmie,” I shook him.

“This is the life,” drowsed Jim.

We mounted the bike and my skin felt as if it would crack above my knees. They were scarlet.

We pedalled easily eastward and came to a steep hill with an old wooden bridge at the bottom.

“Wheeee,” cried Jim, letting her go down, scorching.

I heard him rattle over the bridge. I dipped the front of my bike down and in a moment I had lost the pedals. My legs felt so stiff I couldn’t get a grab at them. I was so busy steering I had no time to waste feeling for pedals.

I felt the front wheel hit the plank bridge, the bike went north and I went south and I had splinters in me. Jim pedalled back down the far hill.

“Where’s the bike?” he asked with interest.

“It went your way,” I said, moving over to a shady spot on the bridge without having to get up.

Jim rested his against the bridge and hunted high and low.

“Maybe it went into the crook,” said he.

It no doubt did. We got long poles and scratched around in the muddy water, but without any luck.

“What on earth will we do?” asked Jimmie, amused yet not amused.

“I go home on your handle bars,” I said.

And since it was easier to ride on the pavement than on the county back roads, we stuck to the pavement. And if it was any of you who saw us as Jim pedalled me carefully along the edge of the pavement, amidst all the rushing evening traffic, and if I made faces instead of smiling when you tooted your horns warningly at us, it was on account of sunburn and discomfort, rather than any indignation with you.

“How about putting on a happy expression?” asked Jim, as he shoved southward towards Cooksville.

“Relax. Lean back. Look like the Gay Nineties!”

But it is difficult to look happy on handle bars, with your legs stiff from sunburn and your shorts kind of pinching and your tennis visor continually slipping down over your nose.


Editor’s Notes: This story is shorter than most, for unknown reasons, but was not that uncommon in the earlier ones.

The 1890s were a period of huge interest in cycling, since early cars were still very expensive, and the “safety bicycle” was invented in the late 1880s.

Paper was placed under carpets as an early carpet liner to help prevent the ingress of dust from gaps between boards. A curtain stretcher was a large wooden frame designed to hold a lace curtain tightly in position in order for it to dry without creases and retain its shape during the drying process. Curtain stretchers were useful when it came to caring from delicate fabrics that could not be ironed.

Jimmie said “crook” to refer to a “creek”, which was not uncommon.

Goose Hangs High

Jim hung head down, vainly attempting to unbuckle his skis…

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, February 1, 1936.

“Skis,” said Jimmie Frise, “are not enough.”

“They’re plenty,” I assured him.

“Once you find the stores filled with all kinds of gadgets,” said Jim, “you know skiing has arrived. For years, all that the stores sold were skis themselves, ski boots and ski poles. And skiing was nothing more than a sort of half-hearted hobby of the few. But all of a sudden, skiing takes on major proportions. It is becoming a cult. It has its uniform, its badges, its accessories. Why, I was in a little shop the other day that sells nothing but ski stuff.”

“Ye Ski Shoppe?” I asked.

“No,” said Jim. “It was just called Ski Art. And beside skis costing fifty bucks, made of some sacred wood found only in Lapland, they had two walls lined ten skis deep with skis of every sort and size. Big heavy jumping skis, slim, tooth-pick skis for racing. They had vast piles of ski jackets made of silk, satin, leather, pigskin, canvas and fur. All the colors of the rainbow. Then you could take your pick of ski harness ranging all the way from fifty cents to twenty dollars. There were ski harnesses so perfect that all you have to do is stand still and you go shooting over the snow at sixty miles an hour.”

“Pff, pff,” I protested.

“Then, ski wax,” said Jim. “All the way from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. They call it smearing. It comes in little tubes like shaving sticks, and in tin cans like floor wax, and in sardine tins, now that the world has gone ski nuts.”

“You can’t ski in the Congo,” I pointed out.

“They’ll be taking it up,” decreed Jim. “They’ll ski on the great, green, greasy Limpopo river. But there is one kind of wax for dry snow, another for wet snow, another for crusty snow and another for crinkly snow. Then there are ski poles you use for just ordinary ski-touring. And another kind for hills. Another kind for jumping and doing Hendrik Ibsens or whatever it is.”

“He was a dramatist,” I scorned.

“Don’t tell me,” cried Jim. “Let me guess. Then there are boots that lace and boots that buckle. There are boots with a great thick cowhide tongue that comes right across the front of the boot. Then there are canvas gaiters, red, white and blue. And ski mitts, ski toques, ski ensembles, scarf and belly bands. Comforters and stomachers, all knit in wild jig-saw designs.”

“I like knitted things,” I admitted. “Have they socks?”

“Long socks and short socks,” recounted Jim, “high mitts and short mitts, fairy-light canvas mitts with leather palms, and little woollen bands to go around your head with ear flaps to keep your ears snug against your head so your ears won’t slow you down when you are sliding.”

“It sounds nutty to me,” I agreed.

“Ski nuts,” said Jim. “It’s worse than golf ever was, even the year of the big wind.”

“What year was that?” I inquired.

“1929,” said Jim. “Golf is a mere piker’s game to skiing. Skiing has more gadgets than golf, tennis, lawn bowling and twinkle-twit put together.”

Gadgets and Twidgetts

“What’s twinkle-twit?” I begged.

“You hit dingus with feathers,” said Jim. “What you call it, badminton!”

“I kind of like the sound of skiing,” I confessed.

“No sport is any good,” said Jim, “unless there is a lot of gear, costume, gadgets and twidgetts to it. Like fishing.”

“You said it,” I agreed warmly. “But in the winter there isn’t any fishing.”

“Our last effort at skiing,” said Jim, “was somewhat frustrated by our attempt to keep pace with the young. I suggest if we do any, we get right away from the young people. The very sight of them, so muscular, so smooth and graceful, seems to dampen our spirits right at the start.”

“We could sneak off somewhere,” I suggested.

“I have in mind,” said Jim, “up around Belfountain. It will be grand to see a trout stream in winter, even if we come to grief on skis.”

“Jim, I appreciate this,” I informed him. “I think we have a memorable week-end in view.”

“I’ll borrow one of the daughter’s skis for you again?” asked Jim.

“If you please,” I said. “And I’ll attend to the gadgets myself.”

“We’ll shop together,” suggested Jim.

Thus we bought ski boots made so heavy, as the young gentleman explained, that no matter what you did you couldn’t land upside down. And we bought ski pants of a material so light, so windproof, so warm, that really you would think you had no pants on at all. And ski jackets, mine yellow, Jim’s red, that were a joy to wear, and so like the Olympic games advertisements did we look. And elbow high mitts, and a tiny woollen headstrap to keep our ears streamlined, and a canvas black cap like a brakeman’s. And ski wax, of several kinds, I favoring light fluffy snow and Jim, being more pessimistic by nature, favoring slushy, wet snow.

The only way to go skiing is to start at daybreak Saturday morning, after a large breakfast of ham and eggs, plum jam and thick toast. I am told the proper thing for a ski breakfast is a box of sardines. But with our breakfast stowed, Jim and I, scorning all questions from our various children of ski age, drove off for Belfountain. Soon the gray sludge and slush of Toronto was blooming into the glittering white snow of Halton county.

“We Canadians,” said Jim, “should sooner or later realize our affinity with northern nations and races, and drop from our hearts all memory of sultry southern climes. Do you realize that our clothes here in Canada are designed by Americans? And that the clothing trade centres in St. Louis?”

“Preposterous,” I assented.

“Our clothes,” declared Jim, “should be designed no farther south than Inverness or Stornoway. If we want to stay British, the least we should accept in the way of clothing, is what the Scotsmen of the north wear. Imagine us Canadians slowly congealing in garments and textiles decreed by gentlemen in St. Louis, Mo.?”

“Utterly absurd,” I agreed.

“These Norwegians,” said Jim, “are, latitudinally speaking our brothers.”

“I’m not much on sardines,” I protested. “And I should admit right away that I prefer the violins of Italy to the bagpipes of Ross and Cromarty.”

The Real Color of Canada

The white landscape wheeled past, the beautiful bare barns, the bleak and desolate homes of our country cousins staring haggardly from the pinched fields. Fences wove away, and dark patches of evergreens made color against the dazzling pale morning sky.

“The real color of Canada,” said Jim, gazing at it appreciatively. “Our artists wait patiently all year for a week of autumn leaves, and then go mad for few days, painting what they pretend is Canada. For eight brief weeks in summer, they paint like fury, getting the lush greens, the gay blues of water and sky. But they ignore the true Canada. The Canada of grays and grims, and pallid leadens and faded yellows and browns.

“You mean our artists should paint like those dull Flemish and English painters, in dampish, wet grays, grayish greens?”

“Not at all,” said Jim. “There is nothing dampish about our grayness. Our country is under a harsh, livid light. But there is no excuse for artists hiding in fear from Canada, the way it is for nearly ten months of the year, in order to paint it only in the brief summer and in the briefer autumn.”

“They paint snow,” I protested.

“Pink snow, mauve snow,” said Jim. “But snow is mostly gray, platinum, grim.”

“And splendid,” I said.

“And terrifying,” said Jim.

We were now climbing the Caledon mountain, and the highway sloped skyward, a chill came with every leap of the car over the snowy pavement, the morning blue was changing to a platinum sky, and there was a sense of shadow across the great valley behind us.

“Terrifying?” I laughed.

“Why,” asked Jim, “do we Canadians huddle along the southerly border of our great land? Why do our artists avoid, with furtiveness, the truth of our magnificent country? Why has no musician written us a noble symphony, a tone poem, even?”

“We’re young,” I explained.

“Because,” said Jim, menacingly, “all these great north lands are the last refuges of the mysterious, the magical, the dread. Because in Canada, as in Norway and Finland, there are trolls, like in Peer Gynt; and little people, such as the Irish dream about: and goblins and banshees; because Thor and Wotan are the gods of this vast country; because it is a land of legends where there are no legends yet; because, in the face of this country, artists are struck helpless.”

“Pooh,” said I.

“Why do we cuddle to our hearts the folk tales of those safe and sane little countries from which we came?” asked Jim. “Because we are afraid to sing our own songs. Why do we all try to love Canada with the love an Englishman has for England, or a Scotsman for Scotland or an Irishman for Ireland? Why don’t we love Canada the way a Canadian must love Canada?”

“Why?” I inquired, looking about at the fields which spread away at the top of Caledon Hill.

“Because,” hissed Jimmie, “because we are afraid to!”

There lay the gullies with their dark and forbidding cedars. There lay the rolling hills, with their small, unpainted farm houses and barns. There lay the bleak skylines. And the snow was not really white. It was only pallid.

“I love Canada,” I stated.

“You love it best,” sneered Jim, “when it looks most like Ireland or Scotland.”

“I love it the way it is,” I said. But as I spoke, the wind picked up a large ghostly wisp of snow and whirled it around into a shape, a phantom, which swept down upon us and engulfed the car, making hissing sound on the windows, and causing Jim to wobble the steering gear.

“See?” said Jim in a low voice. “What do you suppose that was?

“Pooh,” I laughed.

“The Indians,” said Jim, “used to call that a Wendigo. They knew what it was.”

“Where do we turn in here for Belfountain?” I inquired. “Let’s see what a dear familiar trout stream looks like in winter?”

But Jim’s words had caused the day to take on a gloomy and desolate aspect, and I leaned back and watched the passing landscape with troubled eye. It really was rather depressing.

Across every field we passed were the shining tracks of skis. And though it was only Saturday morning, we saw groups of cars parked, and across the ski-line, parties of skiers filed, each bearing a little knapsack, heading away for some sequestered glen of cedar where they could make a fire and boil a pail of tea, and eat their onion and cheese sandwiches.

Whirling Snow Ghosts

At last we drew aside at a lonely spot, where, in the distance, limestone cliffs rose darkly up, and half-hidden patches of sombre cedar told of hills and rolling country. And we slid out our skis, and buckled on our harness, and climbed barb wire fences and commenced a ski-tour.

Jim led. We toiled up slopes and slid down slopes. We came upon a chime of two or three hundred snow buntings, silent, faintly chippering little birds that rose like blown leaves off the snowy fields, to suddenly chop down again to earth, as if they were all connected by invisible threads. We followed them a mile, watching them rise and pitch down, and some of the sinister aspect of our native land was softened by these small buffy white creatures.

We startled out a couple of big jack rabbits immigrants like us from the Old Country – and with comically narrow backsides, they leaped with terror away from us, keeping straight on until they had crossed the farthest sky line.

“If we humans,” said Jim, resting, “find it hard to love Canada as it really is and spend so much time trying to imagine it otherwise, what about those poor jack rabbits, designed for the soft and humid climate of England, being dumped down here to make a fresh start.”

“Yet they grow bigger here than they do in England,” I stated.

“Maybe they have to,” said Jim grimly. And as he spoke, from over the scrubby tree tops floated, on wide wings, a gray-colored hawk, large, sinister, its beak tucked under its chin, and its baleful eyes staring downward, spying every square yard of snow. So intent was it, it did not notice us until it passed so near we heard the bitter hiss of its wings.

Jim waved his ski poles arrogantly at it and it banked wildly, as if contemplating the idea of stooping to one of us, probably the meatier of us.

“Track!” cried Jim giving himself a scoot with his poles across the snow.

But the higher we worked, the more grim loomed the limestone cliffs, the more darkly bronzed the cedars in the gullies. The wind was rising, and the ghostly whirls of snow seemed to seek out Jim and eddy around him spectrally. He laughed.

“They’re after you,” I laughed back. But immediately wished I had not laughed. Because even as I laughed, the sky seemed to darken slightly, a leaden sky, with no warmth, no kindliness in it.

“Let’s work to the top,” shouted Jim back to me, “and then we can slide down the far side, wherever it leads, and have lunch somewhere in shelter.”

“I think we have gone far enough,” I called back. “I’m winded.”

“Come on,” shouted Jim, shoving with his ski poles.

I saw another snow ghost, larger and bigger than ever, begin to gather itself, whirling and swirling madly, like a Dervish, and I paused to watch it. Straight at Jim it spun, growing bigger; and spectral arms seemed to reach out from it. I could almost hear a faint moaning sound from it….

“Jim,” I called sharply.

But with another shove, he plunged forward. The snow ghost caught him, wound itself around him. And then….

Jim vanished.

Vanished right off the pallid face of the earth. He faded, as the snow wraith embraced him. It passed. And Jim was gone.

I stood rock-still for a moment, blinking my eyes and swallowing. I tried to call. No sound came. I shoved myself with a heavy effort, a few feet forward. Then my voice returned and I shouted: “Jim.”

No answer. The white unbroken expanse of snow lay featureless except for the tracks of Jim’s two skis. And there they ended. The tracks just stopped.

Immensity, chill and dreadful and silent, surrounded me. Should I go forward and examine the snow for signs of giant wings? Or giant cloven hooves? Should I look for eagle marks as of some great god’s helmet?

I decided not. I decided the best thing to do was turn down hill and slide as fast as skis would carry me. And then, with plenty of loud, noisy, hearty help, make search for Jim, if search were of any avail.

But turning on skis is not easy. I was in process of turning, when I heard a faint call.

“Jim?” I replied.

“Hoy,” came the faint cry.

I slithered up the slope. Unseen from where I had stood, was a sudden sharp declivity and a limestone cleft, of which there are any number in the Belfountain neighborhood.

And in that cleft, hung by his skis in the limbs of leafless and stunted oak tree, was Jimmie head-down, vainly attempting to unbuckle his ski harness.

“Just a moment, my lad,” I shouted heartily, removing my skis and clambering down into the crevice. And in a couple of moments, Jim fell heavily to the snow beneath, uninjured but a little red in the face.

So we finished the climb, rode Valkyrie like down into the farther valley, built a fire and boiled a pail of tea and had onion sandwiches and Norsk cheese.

“Jim,” I said, as we sat on the bench made of skis and poles, “I see color in snow. I see mauve and pink.”

“I don’t,” said Jim.

“The country is full of color,” I cried. “Why, it’s just a splendor of green and blue and gray and mauve and …”

“White,” said Jim.


Editor’s Notes: Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright famous for his story Peer Gynt.

Belfountain is north-west of Toronto, situated in t he Caledon hills, where skiing still takes place.

People may be aware that the 1936 Summer Olympics took place in Nazi Germany, but the 1936 Winter Olympics took place in Germany as well, in the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria. It was the last year in which the Summer and Winter Games both took place in the same country. Sonja Henie, the famous figure skater, won her third consecutive gold medal in that Olympics.

A Snow bunting is a small white bird seen in the north.

This story appeared in Greg Clark & Jimmie Frise Outdoors (1979).

Oh Canadaw!

Jim was the first to tumble out of the house as it lay on its side over the hole in the ice…

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, January 25, 1936.

“Oh, Canadaw,” sang Jimmie Frise, “de dum, de dum, de dum. Dum, dum, de dum…”

“Brrrrrr!” said I.

“As a matter of fact,” said Jim, “there are a lot of people living in Canada and calling themselves Canadians who ought to get the heck out of here.”

“Indeed,” said I.

Yes,” went on Jim, “they ought to go on back home to England, Scotland or Ireland or wherever their misguided parents came from. Or else they ought to migrate to California or some other sissy clime.”

“Is that so?” I argued.

“If a person finds,” said Jim, “that he can’t stand the climate, if he comes to the conclusion that a mistake has been made, even after two or three generations, he ought to quit beefing about the country and go on back home.”

“Home,” I snorted.

“Yes, home, wherever that is,” declared Jim. “Because to tell you the truth, there is not, in the whole vast round world, a more beautiful, entrancing, satisfying country than Canada. Where else can you show me a land where, without moving a muscle, you can enjoy the luscious beauty of the tropics in summer and the glorious splendor of the Arctic in winter? Less fortunate people than Canadians, and by Canadians I mean those who can take it, have to go to Switzerland in the winter for a little skiing, and then move a thousand miles to the south of France or Surrey or County Antrim for a little beauty in the summer?”

“A Canadian,” I admitted, “has to have a versatile hide.”

“Instead of agitating for more population,” stated Jim, “I recommend that we comb out of the country all the belly-achers who bawl all summer about the heat and who squeal all winter about the cold.”

“I wasn’t squealing,” I informed him. “I was merely saying that I would be glad to see the first of May. Which, by the way, Jim, comes on a Friday this year. That means, we leave Toronto Thursday night to be on the trout stream at sunrise Friday. And we’ve got the whole three days for the opening of the trout season!”

“It often puzzles me,” mused Jimmie, “that a man as fond of fishing as you are doesn’t go ice-fishing.”

“Ice-fishing,” I replied, “is for them as likes it. First of all, there is the long drive over wintry roads up to some place around Lake Simcoe. Then there is the locating of some queer old duck who owns a few fishing houses. Usually, you spend about three hours trailing him around a village of seventeen houses, and when you do find him, he has rented all his houses for the day.”

“Then,” said Jim, “there is the long walk, with icy wind digging in under your chin and forcing you to shut your eyes, while you cross glare ice two miles to the right spot where the fishing huts have been placed.”

“The huts,” I said, “are about four feet square. Inside is a bench, a stove made out of a gasoline can, and a hole in the ice about the size of a suit-case.”

“Correct,” said Jim. “And you inhale wood smoke from the gimcrack little stove; and if you check it down, you freeze; and if you let it burn up, you smother.”

The Herring Hole

“Yes,” I agreed, “and you sit, bent over in that tiny little shack, with nobody to talk to. And you dangle a line from your hand, baited with a minnow, down into the green depth. That shadowy, mysterious green depth; and hour by hour, as you sit there bent over, sniffling, coughing and peering, suddenly, suddenly your heart stands still…”

“A shadow,” said Jim. “A ghostly shadow stirs in that jade-green depth. Suddenly, like a streak of silver, a herring, soundless, swift, dreamlike, darts like a flicker of light, across the dimness!”

“Then,” I cried, “two, three, twenty, fifty, a thousand! The herring streaming, silent, soundless, glorious, beautiful, across your vision. Jimmie, let’s go! When can we leave for Simcoe?”

“We could leave now,” said Jim, distastefully eyeing his drawing board.

So we went, and through a dry blizzard that tinked small countless flakes of snow against our windshield, we drove up Yonge St. and far east around the bottom of Lake Simcoe and drew rein at one of those little villages which in summer are so busy, and in winter, so silent, sleeping.

At the gas station, we asked who owned fishing huts for rent and were given the name of a gentleman who spent part of his time snaring rabbits, part of it cutting wood, and the rest of it renting fishing huts. And as was expected, we spent all of an hour tracking him down in that hamlet of eleven silent white houses. We located him at last at the gas station, where he had been all the time sitting in the back, but nobody had noticed him.

“Gentlemen,” he said. “I’ve rented four of my five shacks this morning. But I have one left for this afternoon, and I was figuring on doing a little fishing myself. But I’ll let you have it, rather than see youse disappointed after your long drive.”

“Have they been catching any fish this last while?”

“It was real good about two weeks ago,” said he. “But they are getting plenty right now. I wouldn’t be surprised when we get out there to find they’ve had a record catch. This here hole I will take you to, there was 400 herring taken out of it three days ago.”

Jim and I exchanged a look. It was a matter of moments for Jim and me to change out of our city clothes into our mackinaw coats and leather topped rubbers. And all arcticked up, we joined the old man for the tramp across the icy waste to the fishing huts visible far out on the lake. There were about fifteen houses clustered together. Like dots they were in the afternoon blizzard. The wind raked across the ice and gathered a sort of concentrated chill. In us, the wind found something to cuddle to, for warmth. It fairly embraced us.

“Chah,” we breathed through bare teeth, bowing our heads and following the rapid footsteps of our guide.

The wind was stronger than ever, and by the time we got half way out to the fishing huts. I was for turning around and heading for any of the various parts of Scotland from which my misguided forebears came. I would even eat haggis. I would even sit, in a kilt, on the top of Ben Lomond.

But though I felt my brain congealing and trying to push, like the cream on a milk bottle, out the top of my head; and though my ears went numb and my cheeks ached with cold, we finally reached the fishing huts, and at our approach, a hairy-chested man in his undershirt stepped out of one of the tin shacks to welcome us.

“How’s she doing?” asked the old man guiding us.

“I got six herring and a whitefish,” said the stranger.

“Anybody else doing anything?”

“Everybody’s got a few,” said he. “There’s going to be a blow. You can tell. The fish are heading out deep.”

“Well, anyway,” said our guide, leading us down past a double row, a sort of street, of fish huts to one at the far end.

He lighted the gasoline can stove with kindling, I struggled inside the tiny cubicle to warm my frigid members, and the old chap, with a big chisel fastened to a rake handle, jabbed away the fresh ice out of the fishing hole in the floor of the hut. He scooped out the cracked ice and checked off the stove.

“If she don’t show you any fish in half an hour,” said he, “I’ll stick around and move you to a fresh hole. I know a hole over here a ways where two weeks ago, a party of us got 400 herring.”

Removing our heavy coats, Jim and I sat in the little hut, side by side, and prepared our lines. The lines were wound on a stick bobbin, and on the hook we impaled an inch-long minnow of which our guide left a lard-pail full.

So far back in our language that the schools think nobody but scholars are interested, there are tales of dragons and monsters inhabiting the depths of the sea; of Beowulf is one, and of the chill and slimy clasp of Grendl is another; and since we all come from little islands hemmed about by the sea, and since rooted in our very souls are the tales of the sea, and the dark humor of the sea, and the darker fear of it, there is a curious homesickness that touches us as we sit in the fishing hut watching down into the depths. For the first few moments of mesmeric staring in the window through the ice of a fishing hut, we are of this time and of this place; but presently, the faint forgotten legends of our blood begin to stir. That dim green window in the ice beckons. Down in its eerie kingdom, dreams abide. Within an hour of watching in that jadey half-light, a man goes fey. He is half tempted to lean a little too far forward, to pitch down and dive forever into the adventures of the past and of the future.

“Jiggle your bait,” said Jim, thickly, after the first hour.

“I haven’t seen so much as a mudcat,” I husked.

And for another half hour, we sat, jiggling and staring.

“Some, wind,” said Jim.

“It’s a gale,” I admitted. “I hope it will be behind us and not against us.”

A rap on our door roused us from our dozing.

“They’re biting over a bit,” shouted the old man. “I’ll go cut a hole for you. Get the shack on the runners.”

We donned our mackinaws and went out into the hurricane. Dusty snow was whirling and dirling. The houses next door were half obscured by the rushing mist of snow. The sleigh-like runners on which the fishing huts are moved about from place to place were leaning against our shack. With a shovel, we broke away the snow packed around the bottom of the hut. With a skillful tilt, Jim hoisted one end of the shack on to the runners.

“Where to now?” I cried, looking about for our guide. But in the blizzard he was nowhere to be seen. Out of all the other little shacks, merry smoke curled and eddied.

We shoved the little shack down the aisle of houses, the wind helping us. We turned it, and shoved it back. No sign of our old friend.

“Where’s he gone?” asked Jim, peering into the blast.

“Well, I’m not going to freeze,” I said, “let him come and get us when he’s ready.”

And I got inside the shack and fed a few more sticks into the fire. And in a jiffy, Jim joined me.

“Some climate,” said I.

“We’ll get fish in the next hole,” said Jim, unbuttoning his mackinaw. “You never get fish in the first hole, ice fishing.”

“Jim,” said I. “we’re moving.”

“So we are,” said Jim. “Maybe the old gent is pushing us to the new hole.”

We felt the house gliding smoothly across the ice, with tiny ribby sounds.

“Let him push,” said I.

We waited.

“Seems like quite a long push,” said Jim, reaching up to unlatch the door.

A Terrific Splash

And then I knew, by the smooth, racing, pebbly, humming sound of our runners on the ice that no human hand was pushing us.

“Kick her open,” I shouted.

“The button outside must have dropped,” cried Jim, thumping against the door. In the eerie flicker of the small fire, I could see he was putting his weight into it.

“Jim,” I bellowed.

For now I knew the wind had us, and the sound of the runners on the ice rose to a high and throbbing hum. The tiny shack seemed to lift like an ice boat on the arms of the gale, and loved it.

“Jim,” I cried, “get a pick. Get anything. Kick a board out.”

“That’s what I’m doing,” grunted Jim.

But the men who build fishing huts are lazy, patient men. When they nail on a board, they nail it on. We kicked. We joined forces and shoved. We rocked it. But we could not rock it over.

“Take it easy,” shouted Jim above the throbbing sound of the ice racing underneath our runners. “The whole lake is frozen over. Sooner or later we land up with a bump on shore.”

“Very well,” I agreed, “let us sit back and enjoy it. Do you suppose such a thing as this ever happened to anybody before?”

And Jim gallantly leaned forward and fed some more kindling into the stove.

We bumped over ridges, we careened over drifts. We slowed up and then gained speed. The wind had us, and the wind did what it liked.

“How far can we go?” I asked.

“If we hit the narrows,” said Jim, “we can go up Lake Couchiching. And if we go through a few locks, we can get down the Severn to the Georgian Bay. And once we are out there…”

“Jim,” I said, “I think I heard voices.”

We listened. Undoubtedly, there was shout.

“Hey,” yelled a voice, and something struck our walls.

Zip, said the runners. Zip, zip, and then a terrific splash.

“Good-bye, Jim,” I roared.

For green water was gushing up the hole in the floor through which we were lately fishing, and the big home-made sled on which the house had stood, started slipping away from under us.

Then outside, voices shouted unintelligibly. In chorus, Jim and I replied. We felt the fish house heave and fall, and we were flung on our backs as it rolled over. We heard a hand scrabbling with the button that locked us in.

And then glorious daylight burst upon us.

Jim was first out. The scene that met my gaze was enough to freeze an Eskimo’s marrow. Seven men with a team of horses were grouped about in attitudes of astonishment. They were cutting ice, and wide lanes of green water gaped before us. In one of them, our sled bobbled peacefully. And our shack lay on its back on the edge of the perilous gulf.

“Gentlemen,” I said to the group of rescuers. “On behalf of both of us, I wish to express our thanks.”

They grinned at us eagerly, and the two nearest us shook their heads.

“No spik,” said the first man, and the others added, “no spik.”

“Don’t speak English?” I asked.

“No spik,” they all agreed heartily. Such big, ruddy men they were. With wide faces and glowing cheeks and an air of might about them. The blizzard seemed to be agreeable to them, the way they stood up to it, eyes open.

“No spik?” I asked. “What are you? Italiano?”

“Suomen,” said the first one, and all the others nodded their heads and added “Suomen.”

“Finns, Jim,” I translated. “And I guess that dim shadow over there is land. What do you say if we head for land?”

“Land, ho,” agreed Jim.

So we shook hands, mitts and all, with our seven friends, and walked for the shore while they stood and gazed with amazement.

“Jim,” I said, as we neared what was undoubtedly terra firma, “what do you say if we hand this country over to the Finns?”

“Let’s stick around until May,” said Jim “before we decide.”


Editor’s Notes: Gimcrack refers to something that is poorly made but looks nice.

Mackinaw coats would be the traditional outdoorsmen outfit of the time for the winter.

Ben Lomond is a mountain in Scotland.

A lard-pail was a large metal pail lard was sold in at the time, like a paint can.

Ice cutters would be out cutting blocks of ice in the lake for storage in ice houses for the use in ice-boxes or other uses throughout the year.

This story appeared in Which We Did (1936).

Nothing Like a Camping Trip

You didn’t have to be a naval architect to tell right away that there was something wrong.

By Merrill Denison, August 16, 1930.

“The thing you need after your operation,” said Greg’s letter, “is a short camping trip. Lots of fresh air, violet rays, and all that sort of thing. A touch of roughing it, in competent hands.”

I thought it mighty generous of Greg. His were to be the hands, and “in competent” was spelled as two words. The letter went on to sketch an idyllic few days during which I would loaf in the middle of a canoe propped up on cushions, while Greg did the paddling, portaging, camp making, cooking and other labors, which go to make camping a delight for those who delight in camping.

All I was asked to do was to provide the canoe. Greg had everything else needed for a short camping trip, including a silk tent which only weighed seven pounds and occupied a little less space than a pocket handkerchief.

Along in the afternoon of the day appointed, Greg drove up to the cottage. I could see at once that he had brought everything we were likely to need. If he had brought one more aluminum frying pan, either he or it would have had to come by train.

“You won’t know yourself when I’ve got you back from this trip,” were his first words, and I can’t recall offhand anyone ever making a truer prophecy in my hearing.

From the first, Greg wouldn’t let me do a thing. He wouldn’t even let me carry the silk tent. When I offered to help him unload his covered wagon, he said, “No. Your job on this trip is to rest. Have you got the canoe?”

By this time hall the veranda was covered with little bags and big bags, little pots and big pots, little fishing rods and big fishing rods, little axes and big axes. I tried to compare the canoe with the pile Greg had brought.

“I’ve got the canoe all right, Greg,” I said, “but I don’t think it’s going to be big enough. It’s only a seventeen footer.”

“Haha!” laughed Greg. “You’ve no idea how this stuff will compress into a small space. Camping equipment is very deceptive when it’s piled loosely like this.”

I took his word for it because he was an expert, and all the camping I’d ever done was of a most primitive sort. I didn’t even ask why there were so many rods, and axes, and bags. I supposed Greg used a big axe for a big tree and little axe for a little tree, and let it go at that.

Greg was for getting under way at once, but I thought it mightn’t be a bad idea to have a last night’s sleep, so he agreed to wait till morning.

“That’s fine,” said Greg. “It will give you a chance to look over my camping equipment. I’ve got some lovely stuff here. Not one unnecessary thing, and everything designed for maximum compactness and convenience.”

As a sample of how convenient his camping gadgets were, he allowed me, as a treat, to light my way to a match in his waterproof matchbox. With the help of a pair of pliers I emerged victorious. I suggested it might be a good idea to take a couple of pair along on the trip, but he pooh-poohed the idea.

“Who ever heard of taking pliers on a canoe trip?” he said, but since he was taking everything but the kitchen stove and family album, I thought I ought to be allowed to take along one pair of pliers. It was a good job I did. Next to the canoe, the pliers were the most useful tools we had.

Greg was so keen to start camping right away that we had difficulty in keeping him from pitching his silk tent out in front of the cottage, and we dissuaded him only by agreeing to spend the evening looking at the cooking equipment.

Everything was made of aluminum because of its superior lightness and the marvellous way it retains heat. The only trouble with aluminum is that the way it retains heat just about ruins the lightness unless you have a pair of pliers handy.

The Least Bit Bow Heavy

Before we went to bed we talked over the trip. Greg had it all planned on a government map. It was to be a short trip of about fifty miles, with a couple of easy portages. Greg knew exactly where we would stop for lunch, where we would camp, where we would pause and catch a few fish for supper. On the map his arrangements looked well nigh perfect.

“The beauty of a camping trip,” said Greg, “is that you can tell just where you’re going. It’s not like a motoring trip with detours, and torn-up roads, and hotels you can’t get into. On a canoe trip you can plan ahead. You can always find water enough to float a canoe. Then pick some delightful spot in a grove of birch trees, pitch your little silk tent, cut a few balsam bows for a bed, and there you are.”

We decided to get up with the sun and make an early start, but something must have happened, because neither of woke up till half past eight. By the time we had breakfast and Greg had carried half a ton of camping conveniences down to the beach it was about ten.

Then we had to load the canoe. The canoe looked all right and was made by a reputable manufacturer, but it was easy to tell something was wrong with it the moment that Greg started to pack the things in it.

Nothing seemed to fit quite the way Greg thought it should. There were four large sacks and the only place these would fit was between the centre thwarts. But this was the place in the canoe where I was supposed to do my resting and lean against the lazy-back. It looked as if the outfit or I would have to remain behind.

“Don’t bother about me, Greg,” I said. “I can squeeze in the bow. It will be just as comfortable, and there’s no other way to get all this dunnage aboard her.”

“It will certainly make things easier,” said Greg, and set about stowing away the various trifles that for some reason or other he had not been able to put in the bags. Finally he tucked away the fishing rods and I climbed aboard. Greg pushed off.

You didn’t have to be a naval architect to tell right away that there was something wrong with the way the canoe clove the water. Where I was sitting the cornice was about two inches from the lake, while down at Greg’s end the canoe looked like one of these racing sea fleas which only touch the water every second Tuesday. Greg had to lean away over the edge to wet his paddle.

I noticed that the canoe wasn’t steering very well, but didn’t like to say anything about it because I was a passenger. I thought Greg would probably find out for himself anyway. He was trying to steer the way the Indians do, with a sort of slosh and twiddle stroke, but wasn’t making much headway. Then he tried dipping bis paddle first on one side and then on the other. Each time the paddle changed sides I got a shower bath in the bow.

“Sorry,” said Greg, “she doesn’t seem to be balanced quite right.”

“What’s the trouble?” I asked.

“We seem the least bit bow heavy,” said Greg. “I think we’d better shift the load.”

So we went to shore and shifted the load. That got us into the same trouble we’d met before and Greg decided that we had better empty one of the duffle bags and pack its contents separately.

“We’ll empty the blanket bag,” said Greg, and then shook out on the sand a nest of little canvas bags all neatly labeled flour, cornstarch, tea, hard tack, corn meal, salt pork, and other staples of an invalid’s diet.

“Where are the blankets?” I asked when about twenty little bags had poured out on the sand.

“They must be in another bag,” said Greg, “but we know where the food is anyway.”

We got under way again and this time the canoe was balanced, but I wouldn’t like to say the same for myself. I was sitting in the middle of the canoe on top of the three largest rolls and felt as if I might have gone crazy and entered one of these tree-sitting competitions. I was about a foot above the lazy-back.

“Just sit still and you’ll be all right,” said Greg, paddling tenderly. “Now let’s see where north is.”

Keeping to Schedule

I knew where north was, but Greg didn’t I want me to tell him. “Half the fun of a camping trip is finding things out for yourself,” said Greg. “Now, where’s the compass?”

It turned out that I was sitting on it. Not on purpose, but just in the way people always sit on things on camping trip. I tried to get the compass but my resting perch was too precarious to permit much action, so we put ashore and got the compass.

Greg decided that the blue needle must point north because the white one was pointing at the sun, and the camping trip got under way in earnest. I never saw north make such a difference in a man.

According to Greg’s schedule, we were supposed to reach the portage about eight in the morning, daylight saving time, but because of one thing and another, including a slight leak that we tried to ignore but could not, we arrived at the portage at five-thirty in the afternoon, standard time.

“Now, you’re not to carry a thing,” said Greg. “You walk on ahead and wait at the other end of the portage. You’d better take a fishing rod along. You might find something below the rapids.”

I protested. “I may be recovering from an operation, but I’m not a feeble invalid,” I said. “Surely I can carry the silk tent or something.”

As portages go, this wasn’t bad one except for about a hundred yards where it led through a barnyard. This was about the only place you couldn’t take a rest if you wanted to, but on the other hand it was about half way across and so was the one place you had to take a rest whether you wanted to or not.

I reached the end of the portage quite awhile before Greg turned up carrying a bale of stuff tied to his forehead, but I didn’t bother doing much fishing because there wasn’t enough water. I didn’t say anything to Greg about the water because he was in a hurry and besides he liked to find things out for himself.

So I had a rest while Greg staggered back and forth with all the luggage, and finally the canoe itself wobbled into view with about eighteen inches of Greg showing beneath it.

The minute he put the canoe down I could tell that something had gone wrong. Greg doesn’t very often get angry, but this time he was in a towering rage. When I heard what had happened I couldn’t blame him a bit.

It would hardly do to repeat what had happened as Greg told it, but even a censored account will give some inkling of its harrowing nature.

After a superhuman effort, Greg had managed to get the canoe on his shoulders by crawling under it and pretending he was Atlas. Although he expected to be crushed to earth at every step, all went as well as could be expected until he reached the barnyard gate. Here he had trouble with the steering gear.

Although the opening was eight feet wide, Gregory said it was almost impossible to find it with the bow of the canoe. Three times he charged the opening with the canoe only to run foul of the fence on one side or the other. The fourth time the bow of the canoe slipped over a fence post and stuck there.

But this gave Greg a chance to escape from under the appalling weight, which had been growing greater each moment, and to see exactly where he was and get a straight run at the gate. But in his haste and anger he failed altogether to notice one very important fact.

Portaging Through a Barnyard

It being around milking time, the cows had I wandered back from pasture and were dotted idly about the barnyard waiting to be milked. Gregory said the first time he knew that he had cows for company was half through the barnyard, when one of them stuck her head under the canoe and “mooed” at him.

Fearful that the cow’s horns would get entangled in the canoe, and somewhat startled by the unexpected sight and noise, Gregory swung the canoe sharply up and to one side, an excellent manoeuvre, had not the first cow’s sister (an elderly bell cow) been standing directly in the path of the canoe’s stern. Stern met stern, it seems, with a mighty smack. Frightened and indignant, the old bell-cow set up an enormous clatter and in a moment the whole herd was in a panic.

Greg couldn’t tell how many cows had joined his aquatic rodeo, but he figured there must have been about six hundred. It was a desperate situation. He couldn’t see. He daren’t move for fear of offending another cow. He didn’t want to let the canoe down for fear of offending himself when he came to pick it up.

He waited there like a ship at sea with foghorns blowing all around it, until at last things got quieter and he heard a man’s voice.

“What’s the trouble, mister,” it said. “Canoe kinda heavy?”

“Canoe nothing,” said Greg. “This portage is full of cows.”

“‘Tain’t now,” laughed the farmer. “They’re back in the pasture just scared to death.”

Greg thought we’d better camp where we were for the night, so that we could get a good start in the morning.

It didn’t strike me as much of a camping place. There wasn’t any grove of birches, I couldn’t see a balsam, the cows had been making free with what little water there was left in the stream.

I pointed out this last drawback to Greg, and it looked as if one of us would have to go back to the lake and portage some water, but I realized that the farmer would probably have a well. So I left Greg to unpack and start a fire while I went for water.

The farmer was a nice man and gave me some water and some information. “Where do you lads figure you’re going?” he asked me. I told him we were going on a canoe trip. “Then you’d best hire a truck,” he said. “There ain’t no water below here for about six miles since the Hydro’s dammed the lake for storage.”

I asked the farmer to come with me and tell Greg about the Hydro. He did and Greg got out his maps. The farmer said the map wasn’t any good till September, when the Hydro let the water out. Greg said we couldn’t wait till September. The farmer said he didn’t know about that, but that he had a couple of tourist huts for rent and we could get a good meal at his house for sixty cents.

The idea appealed to me but made Greg very angry. So the farmer left and Greg went on getting supper. It was a good job we were in a field, because there never would have been room in the woods for all Greg’s labor-saving devices. Our camp covered about half an acre.

Greg sent me off with the little ax to get some firewood, so I went back to see the farmer and made a deal with him for a wheelbarrow load of stove wood for fifty cents, f.o.b. the camp-fire. Greg was so angry he could hardly speak when I returned with the farmer and the wheelbarrow. I also brought back pie, which Greg threw in the middle of what was going to be the river in September.

“We’re on a camping trip and that’s not cricket,” said Greg.

“Who ever heard of playing cricket on camping trip?” I said.

“‘You know what I mean,” said Greg. “There are rules for camping, just the same as every other game.”

When I understood it was a game we were playing, I said no more. Greg went on cooking. If hotels took the room Greg took to cook supper for two, it would require about two square miles of kitchen to provide a medium-sized banquet at the Royal York. The piece de resistance of the meal was flapjacks.

Back in the Farmer’s Truck

I never found out what a flapjack is like I when it’s young and tender, but Greg talked about them as some people do about pate de fois, or truffles aux pimpernells, or planked porterhouse steak and onion soup.

They caught fire twice and I had to rescue them with the pliers because the aluminum pan was too hot to touch without asbestos gloves. There was only one each, for flapjacking rules require that you flip them in the air over the fire. Greg lost six that way.

The rules of flap-jacking require that you flip them in the air over the fire.

After we had stayed our hunger on flapjacks and brownish liquid which Greg said was coffee, we put the tent up. “Now for some balsam boughs,” said Greg. “A real night’s sleep and you won’t know yourself.”

“Wouldn’t some other tree do?” I asked. “Why,” said Greg. “Because I don’t think there’s any balsam around here.” “Nonsense,” said Greg. “There’s always balsam. You go that way and I’ll go this.”

So Greg went off one way and I went up and made a deal with the farmer to fill the tent with hay for a dollar and fifty cents, the hay to remain his property after we had gone. Then I had some supper.

I made a deal with the farmer to fill the tent with hay for a dollar and fifty cents.

Greg was gone almost an hour and couldn’t find any balsam, which made him sore, but he was much sorer when he found his silk tent packed so full of hay you could hardly burrow into it.

“It’s disgraceful,” he said. “It’s worse than cheating at cards. I’d sooner sleep out on the ground than on hay on a camping trip.”

“That’s all right for you,” I said, “but I’m recovering from an operation. I’ve got to take care of myself.”

What worried me was the waterless river we were supposed to go canoeing on in the morning. I tried to tell Greg that the farmer had a truck, but Greg said the farmer had done enough harm already.

“Wait,” said Greg. “I’ll think of something before morning.”

He did. Along about dawn he roused me with what seemed wonderful news. “I’ve got it,” he said. “There’s no water below, but there’s a lake full of water above. All we have to do is to remove the obstruction that is keeping the water back. Take out a couple of stop logs and we’ll have enough water to float a steamer.”

So I went up and bribed the farmer to take some stop logs out of the dam while Greg got to work and piled everything in the canoe. When I got back he had the canoe out in the dry bed of the stream and was sitting in it.

“Get in so’s we’ll be ready the minute the water hits us.”

We were ready and waiting. First a small trickle of water arrived and then a little bit more, and then I heard a roar and looked back. Greg says the wall of water wasn’t over three feet high, but it looked more like a three-storey house to me.

“Hold tight,” said Greg, “we’re going.”

“Hold tight,” said Greg. “We’re going!”

We went all right. Everything went. Fortunately the stream bent right ahead of us so that most of the things, including Greg and myself, were washed on a rocky knoll. Then I realized what a true camper Greg is. No sooner had he been flung safely from the raging torrent than he said: “Quick! Let’s dump the canoe and get going while the water lasts.”

“I don’t think I’d better, Greg,” I said. “I don’t think I’m strong enough yet to stand any more camping.”

“You wouldn’t go back now in ignominy and disgrace?”

“No,” I said. “We’ll be going back in the farmer’s truck.”

August 16, 1930

Editor’s Notes: Though I normally only post stories by Greg, I included this one by our old friend Merrill Denison, since Greg is a character in it. It is an example of an older story before the Greg-Jim stories started. The image at the end shows how the overall illustration was placed on the page. The operation he mentions is having his appendix out, which he also wrote a story about on July 12, 1930, which Jim also illustrated.

F.O.B. means Free On Board, a transportation term that indicates that the price for goods includes delivery at the seller’s expense to a specified point and no further.

Cave Men

Softly and terribly the low moan came from the darkness ahead

In the shadows on these ghostly walls, I thought suddenly he was wearing a skirt

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, July, 8, 1933

“I was out for a drive Sunday,” said Jim, “and near Bronte I hear there is a great cave where William Lyon Mackenzie hid in his flight to the United States when the rebellion of 1837 blew up.”

“It would be nice to go exploring caves,” I said.

“That must have been a great adventure,” said Jim. “Only the pioneers would know about the cave. Maybe the Indians had told the pioneers, and along came Mackenzie in the night, with the Redcoats hunting him high and low, with £1,000 on his head, and some pioneer in his little log cabin hearing a rap on the door…”

“William Lyon Mackenzie,” I put in, “was dressed as a woman at that time. You know that gas station at Trafalgar, on the Dundas Highway? Well, sir, back of that gas station is an old roughcast tavern, a hundred and thirty-seven years old. It was a stage coach headquarters, and there Mackenzie came in the night, exhausted, and they dressed him in women’s clothes and hid him in an upstairs room while the soldiers who were hunting for him sat eating and drinking down in the tavern.”

“Well, then,” said Jim, “some pioneer down the Twelve Mile Crick heard a rap on his door and there stood Mackenzie in his women’s clothes, exhausted, beaten, bitter, alone. So they took him out across the little clearing and through the bush to this great cave on the hillside of the Twelve Mile. And he hid there until the posse of Redcoats on horseback came down the wild road.”

“You make it real,” I said.

“And the troop would stay out in the road while one Redcoat rode in,” went on Jimmie, “to shout out to the settler if they had seen a man, a little, fiery man with glittering eyes, come by. And the pioneer, with all his children locked in the roothouse for fear they might speak, would shake his head patriotically and say no, he had not seen any such a man come by this way.”

“Let’s go out there,” I said to Jimmie. “Let’s visit that cave. You don’t know what we might see in there. Or meet, for that matter. It is nearly a hundred years since Mackenzie hid there. Maybe the spirit of Mackenzie would appear to us.”

“They say it is a hard cave to get into,” said Jim. “It is on an estate called Woodlands; it used to be the homestead where Sir Thomas White was born and raised.”

“I’d like to spend a night in it,” I said.

So Jim and I got overalls and flashlights and pickaxes in case of trouble, and we drove out to the lovely Woodlands farm. On the way we stopped at the tavern at Trafalgar. All the gas station men knew about it was that it was very old and that Governor Simcoe used to stop there on his journeys by stage coach between York, Niagara and London.

The gas station men took us inside. The floors are of pine boards twenty-six inches wide, and the timbers are hand hewn. Upstairs the rooms are tiny, not much larger than pantries, with little low roofs. There is a front stairs and a back stairs and a most mysterious trap door stairs. It is mostly empty now. But if you stop and hold your breath you can hear very small sounds, such as spirits would make as they came to look at you, intruding in their private place.

Where Mackenzie Hid

“What a lovely bit of yesterday!” said Jimmie, eyeing the broad boards, the little sloping ceilings, the doorframes made by hand a century and a quarter ago by Canadians.

“Is there no record of which room William Lyon Mackenzie hid in?” we asked.

But the boys at the gas station did not know about that. They only knew about Governor Simcoe, which shows they are Tories.

We went from room to room and Jimmie finally decided it was the little room on the west side, looking out over the fields-toward the Sixteen Mile Crick, which Mackenzie would have to cross at dawn on a fallen tree before he could get to the Bronte creek, the Twelve Mile, to hide in his great cave.

The Mackenzie cave is hard to find. Even to-day it would be a good place to hide from the soldiers.

As Jimmie and I went through the deep woods, filled with flowers, we began to feel the spell of the past, and several times we saw Indians and Redcoats slipping from tree to tree, watching us as we advanced to the hundred foot high banks of the Twelve Mile.

A path leads steeply down to the Mackenzie cave. A path worn mostly by a century of boyhood.

On a shelf of the steep and sheer bank of the Twelve Mile Crick, which you pass on the long bridge over the Dundas Highway, we found the Mackenzie cave.

Its entrance is just a split in the great limestone rocks. Just a huge mouth, slightly open, as if the cliff were holding its breath.

“Or as if it were smiling,” said Jimmie, as we rested at the cave mouth and peered into the dim and forbidding entrance.

At first sight, the entrance to the Mackenzie cave appears too small for a person to enter. In fact, a big man would have trouble even crawling on end like a worm. It is about two feet high and fifteen feet wide, a wide grin of an entrance.

“Somehow,” said Jimmie, “I don’t like the way the edges of this cave mouth turn up. It looks a little leery to me.”

“Somehow,” said Jimmie, “I don’t like the way the edges of this cave-mouth turn up. It looks a little leery to me”

I shot my flashlight into the gloom and saw twenty feet in large limestone rock blocking the passage, but over it appeared the deeper shadows of an inner room.

“Look overhead,” said Jim. “Millions of tons of damp earth and rock. What if our talking and moving around in there were to dislodge some little pebble and the whole thing collapse on us?”

“William Lyon Mackenzie wasn’t afraid of it,” I said.

“He had soldiers after him, dead or alive.”

It was bright summer sunshine outside. But a cold breath came softly out of the great mouth.

“Hello, in there,” I shouted. “Anybody in?”

My voice echoed queerly.

“Let’s come out some other day with a gang of us,” said Jim. “Just in case. Suppose anything happened, who would know we were here?

“Hello, anybody in there?” I shouted. Around us lay the bright summer stillness. Inside lay shadow, gloom and chill.

“I’ll go in here as far as that rock.” I said to Jim. “I’ll see what lies beyond.”

You lie down flat and work your knees and elbows until you reach the rock. By the time you get that far the roof over your head rises, and you can stand in a stooping position.

The soft trickle of a little stream of ice-cold water makes an eerie sound as you gaze into the dim shadows ahead, still faintly lighted by the day,

An Unearthly Sound

“Come and see, it’s a big room,” I called.

Jim, being larger, had a lot of trouble but presently got beside me at the barrier of rock. We shot our flashlights ahead and their beams were lost against an extraordinary darkness.

Beyond us, twenty feet further, lost in inky dark, was a huge cavern, its ceiling and walls marbled with stalactite traceries, like dull ice, from which dripped thousand trickles of water.

The vaulted ceiling was twelve feet high, and the chamber was perhaps fifteen feet in diameter.

Along the low, rock-roofed passage, with icy drops falling on our necks, we crept, and stared at the ghostly room.

“Unless they smoked him out,” whispered Jimmie, “they never would have got him.”

My flashlight began to flicker.

“That looks like a pool there,” said Jim. “That whole chamber is floored with a pool of water.”

We were not near enough to see the bottom of the cavern, and just as we started forward to get a view of it, our hearts froze with an unearthly sound.

“Oooooooohhhhhhh!”

Jim’s flashlight clattered from his hand and went out. Mine, grasped tightly in my hands, flickered and faded.

We gripped each other. “OoooooOOOOOhhhhh!”

Softly and terribly, the low moan came from the darkness ahead.

An icy drop fell on my neck. Jim and I clutched convulsively. My flashlight, calmly, quietly, went out.

“Get your flashlight!” I whispered soundlessly to Jim. Lingering, he let go of me and I heard him pawing around on the rocks.

Something went splash ahead of us.

We clinched again.

“Get your flashlight!” I whispered tensely.

Dimly, a little daylight filtered behind us and Jim started toward it, on all fours.

“Wooooo!” came the low howl.

They say in a theatre panic, it is terrible to see everybody trying to get through the one small exit. It is terrible to see two gentlemen trying to get out the same exit of a Mackenzie cave. I don’t know whether it was my elbow or Jim’s knee that caused the jam, but before we knew it, we were jammed headfirst in that tunnel, panting for breath.

“Back up!” I shouted.

“You go forward a bit!” roared Jimmie.

But backwards or forwards we were stuck.

“Don’t struggle too hard!” warned Jim. You might dislodge something and down all this would co-ome!”

Patiently we wriggled and backed and shoved and wormed, without avail.

“Jimmie, we’re stuck!” I announced hopelessly.

“We’ll have to stay here until we shrink with hunger,” said Jim. “When we lose weight, about the third or fourth day, one of us can work out.”

“And maybe we’ll have enough strength to climb that hill out there for help!”

We lay still.

“What would that be in there?” asked Jim.

“What else could it be?” I retorted.

Ahead of us we could see the glimmer of day. Our feet lay stretched behind us in that cavern filled with ghostly hooting.

Icy water dripped on our heads, our hands.

“Gentlemen,” said a voice behind us, “can I be of assistance?”

We lay stiff.

“You seem to be struck,” went on the voice. It was old and dry and soft.

“Perhaps,” it went on, “if I were to take hold of one of you by the heels and pull?”

“Yaw!” we yelled, kicking our heels frantically behind us.

A strong hand seized me by the foot. Then it caught my other foot and I felt myself being dragged backwards.

“Jimmie!” I shouted. “Hold me! Hold me!”

“Is it pulling?” demanded Jim.

“Yes.”

“All right, a ghost can’t pull,” said Jim. “Let him pull.”

The Force behind pulled and yanked, this way and that, and I felt myself giving. Suddenly the jam was broken. As I backed up, hands took hold of my shoulders.

“Don’t be alarmed, gents,” said the ghost. But Jimmie was vanishing like a groundhog out the tunnel.

“Who are you?” I gasped.

“Just a homeless man,” said the ghost. “I knew of this cave when I was a boy, so I just came up here for a day or two. It makes a good home for a hobo, doesn’t it?”

“Why did you go woo at us?” I demanded.

“I didn’t want any other residents in here,” said the ghost. “You seemed scared, so I did the natural thing.”

He located Jimmie’s flashlight and turned it on. I beheld a small, grizzled-haired man of about fifty, in ill-fitting old garments. His eyes were steel gray and brilliant. His hair was long and he had side-burns growing in front of his ears. He had a quaint look, if you understand me.

“Come into the big room and have a look around,” he said. There was a Scotch accent.

“Yoo-hoo, Jimmie.” I called. “Come on in, it’s all right.”

“I’ll stay here now I’m out,” called Jim faintly.

The little man smiled and led me into the big cavern.

Under the marbled and icy dome, with its wavering lines of stalactite drawn down the curving walls, lay a pure pool of water, six feet square. It seemed bottomless. In it you could make out sticks and logs that had been thrown in by people trying to see how deep it was.

“Did you ever see so pure a pool?” asked the little man.

“There might be some relics of William Lyon Mackenzie in there,” I said. “He was here, you know, in his flight to the States.”

“Was he, indeed?” said the little man.

“And if we dug around in that pool, might find something, preserved all this hundred years, some old papers, a pistol perhaps, some secret thing.”

“He threw nothing in there,” said the little man.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Because I have scraped around it and found nothing,” said the little man with a whimsical smile.

I began to feel uneasy.

“Well,” I said, “it’s beautiful. It is strange and eerie and beautiful. I guess I’ll be going now.”

“Oh, stay a while. Smoke a pipe. Don’t rush away.”

The little man had such large lapels on his old coat.

“I don’t mind certain kinds of visitors,” said he.

He had a wide, grim mouth that was sweet when he smiled.

“It all depends,” he said. “It all depends.”

In the shadows cast off those ghostly walls, I thought suddenly that I saw he was wearing a skirt!

“Well, sir, I must be going,” I said huskily. “I really must!”

“Good-day to you, then,” said he. “And don’t believe all you hear. And don’t take any plugged shillings.”

He handed me Jimmie’s flashlight. I bowed down and worked out the passage, lay down and wormed through the tunnel, and all of a heap, came out to the dazzling sunlight where Jim was crouched down watching me emerge.

“What’s the matter?” asked Jim. “Who was it?”

“I don’t know.” I said.

And the fact is, I don’t.


Editor’s Notes: William Lyon Mackenzie is well known to students of Canadian history.

Semi-Nudism

“We’re fried,” I said. “My friend here can’t turn over and I don’t bend anywhere but in the middle.”

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, August 25, 1934.

“Look at you,” declared Jimmie Frise. “Almost at the end of the summer and you haven’t a speck of color.”

“I got a good tan in July,” I said.

“It’s all gone now,” stated Jim. “You look as pallid as a garment worker. You have no more color than a sheep. The summer is the time we Canadians should soak up the sun and warmth to carry us over the long and blood-chilling winter.”

“I don’t tan,” I said. “I burn.”

“Everybody tans,” corrected Jim. “Some of us have to take it in easy stages, but we tan. Tan is the sign that you have done your duty, as a good Canadian, in so far as storing up energy against the winter. Like bees storing up honey.”

“I guess I have it inside of me,” I suggested.

“Look at those kids now,” said Jim.

Two girls and two boys were walking along King St. ahead of us. The boys were both shock-headed blonds and the girls were sleek brunettes. The boys were bare-armed, bare-necked and they were tanned a gorgeous orange shade. The girls, their backs and shoulders bared by print dresses, were a deep chocolate.

“There,” cried Jimmie, “are true Canadians. They will survive the winter. They will be full of pep next March when the last fatal blizzards blow.”

“Jimmie,” I accused, “I believe you are a nudist at heart.”

“No, just a semi-nudist,” said Jim. “I’m going down to Sunnyside this afternoon and lie in the sun. I think you should come along.”

“It’s a pretty hot day.”

“This late-season sun doesn’t burn,” assured Jim. “It has lost its sting. The sun is already sloping far down to the south, only we don’t realize it. The weather is still hot because all the heat the sun has been baking and pouring on to the earth this last two months keeps things warm. The earth has been doing what we should do. It has been soaking up the sun. But there is no kick in the sun now.”

“I’ll come,” I said, “but I think I’ll bring a parasol.”

Jimmie looked at me with contempt.

“You don’t deserve to be a Canadian,” he snorted. “You act like a soft Californian or a Jamaican. To be a Canadian you have got to be able to take it, hot or cold.”

“We will have bathing suits?” I inquired.

“Trunks only,” said Jim. “I’m going to wear my trunks and a sweat-shirt in the car until I get there.”

After lunch Jimmie picked me up at the house. He was handsome in bright blue trunks and a yellow sweat-shirt. I wore my striped dressing gown over my regular bathing suit. I beckoned him to come into the side drive to pick me up. With my family, away. I don’t want the neighbors seeing me traipsing around in a striped bath robe. Sunnyside is all right. You are lost in the picture there. But summer bachelors have to use discretion.

Spectacle of Happiness

There were thousands spread along the Sunnyside shore. Bathing, beach bathing, sun bathing, in clots and mobs and family parties, along the bright shore and the blue water, they made a spectacle of color and health and happiness.

“Now,” said Jimmie, coasting along the highway, “it is illegal for us semi-nudists to parade in half a bathing suit, so we just have to hunt along the beach until we see an unfrequented spot. There are hundreds of our fellow sun-worshippers there on the beach, lying flat and out of sight. The only time the police pick you up is when you walk around in full view.”

“It would look fine in the papers,” I said, “in the police court news-‘journalists pinched for nudism.’ I can’t take any chances, Jim. Not with my family. Let’s drive out to the country somewhere and lie down in the middle of a ten-acre field with a hollow in it.”

“The beach is the proper place,” said Jim. “What would the cows think of seeing us in their field? And, anyway, it would be a far worse crime to be semi-nude in the middle of a ten-acre field in the country than semi-nude on a city beach. You don’t understand the rural mind.”

“I’ll only tan my legs and arms,” I said. “And if the cops see you I’ll pretend I don’t know you.”

Jim parked the car. Down even with us on Sunnyside were scattered bushes and long grass and far away to the east and well off toward the west were bright crawling hordes of sun-worshippers, but in front of us were just a few scattered couples.

“This is ideal,” said Jimmie. “You can’t see a person lying down here.”

We walked down the terraces and out across the grassy and sandy approaches. The few scattered couples paid no attention to us. I observed that several of them were exposing gleaming backs to the bright rays of the sun. The water was glassy. It was a gorgeous afternoon.

Jim chose a nice spot, well distant from any others, and we lay down on the sand. Jim skillfully peeled off his yellow sweatshirt and I removed my dressing gown and spread it for a quilt to lie on.

“Ah,” we said. And it was lovely We chatted lazily about this and that. About the ancient peoples who worshipped the sun as the giver of life. About nudism.

“The Germans started this nudism,” said Jimmie. “I think it was symbolical. They went nude to show the world how thoroughly they had been stripped by the war and the pence.”

“No,” I said, “there has always been nudism. It is a deep instinct in us. It harks back to the ages when we all went around nude. But of course in those days we wore a heavy hide of fur all over us. But whenever a race gets weak and worn out nature starts stirring in their blood old hankerings and ancient instincts. The Germans after the war were weak and defeated, and to bring them back to life old Mother Nature waked in them the idea of running about naked. That explains all this stuff about the old gods and Hitler trying to bring back the ancient German virtues. It is like a sick man trying to show how strong and active he is. He sticks out his chest and talks in big deep voice, but he doesn’t fool anybody.”

“Mmmmmm,” said Jimmie. His eyes were closed. The sun was like a flood. I looked discreetly about and as far as the eye could see was just blue water and yellow sand and couples and groups of delightful people minding their own business. And not a cop was in sight anywhere. So I slipped off the shoulder straps of my bathing suit and peeled it politely down to my waist. I lay back.

“Jimmie,” I said.

“Mmmmmm,” said Jimmie.

So I just lay there and drowsed and I fell asleep.

Jimmie waked me.

“Turn over,” said Jim. “You are done on the front. Now for your back.”

I turned over. It felt cool and dry.

“What time is it?” I asked.

“About three-thirty,” thought Jimmie. “Isn’t this swell?”

“It ought to be part of the public health laws of Ontario,” I declared, “to spend so many hours a week taking the sun.”

So we talked on our stomachs for a while about ants and desert sand and grass and so forth. We thought of this good old earth with all the vasty face of it covered by these countless, uncountable grains of sand, of all the blades of grass standing pointing at the sun in a sort of Hitler salute…

“Mmmmmm,” said Jimmie, who has been tired of Hitler for four months.

I lay watching the ants and the small bugs and the fatheaded baby grasshoppers working out their silly destiny at the end of my nose, and the great sun fired its millions of life-giving electrons or whatever it is into my back and down my legs. I could feel them tingling rather tightly.

“Jimmie,” I said quietly, “did you say the August sun had no power?”

“Mmmm,” said Jim, his head on his arms.

So I fell asleep, too, and I dreamed I was Gordon Sinclair snapping my fingers under the noses of tigers in Samarkand and climbing mountains in Asia on the southern slopes, where a sun like a furnace fried my back.

Jimmie woke me.

“Wah-ho,” l yawned. “Ouch!”

“It must be six o’clock,” said Jim.

The sun was far over Hamilton, London and points west.

I started to roll over.

“Jimmie,” I said.

“Now, now,” said he. “I’m still on my face myself. Take it easy.”

My back felt as if it was all bound up with court plaster. It had a cold feeling, As I lay there a kind of shiver ran across.it. I tried to straighten my arms to lift my upper part clear of the sand. But my elbows would not bend.

“Jimmie, my elbows won’t bend!”

“Not as bad as my knees not bending,” said Jim. “Fifft! Woe is me!”

I turned my head, but something was holding the back of my neck. I moved one leg, but the skin on the back of my knee had stiffened and I had a feeling it would not stretch, like skin, but would crack, like glass.

I could see Jim. He was a bright fiery red.

“You look boiled,” I gasped.

“I would sooner look boiled than fried,” said he, looking me over.

I found that my middle section, covered by my bathing suit, still had a joint in it. Somehow, despite terrible lacerating sand and cruel spikey grass, I got turned over and sat up, with arms, legs and neck held carefully rigid.

“Boy,” I yelled, and even my voice felt crackly, “boy, come over here!”

A little boy was passing and came over.

“Please go and get somebody,” I said, “a policeman or a fireman or a doctor. Get somebody and bring them here.”

“We’ll Pay For the Ambulance”

The little boy scampered away down the beach, and in a little while he returned with a great black-armed, black-chested, black-faced life-guard in a red bathing suit and a white hat.

“Well, gents,” said the great mahogany life-guard.

“We’re fried,” I said. “My friend there can’t turn over and I don’t bend anywhere but in the middle.”

“Where’s your car?” asked the life-guard.

“Level with us up there,” groaned Jimmie.

“I’ll carry you up,” said he. “Once you get home you can go to bed and call the doctor.”

I didn’t like the thought of the great walnut hands gripping my skin. I felt as if large slithers of skin would slip off me wherever he touched me.

“Perhaps,” I said, “if you could send for an ambulance with a stretcher it would be better. We’ll pay for the ambulance.”

“Just take it easy,” said the life-guard. walking muscularly and bow-leggedly and very chocolately away.

In a few minutes he came back with two planks and a wheel-barrow.

“Easy,” I begged. Jim and I were not speaking. In fact we hadn’t spoken at all.

The life-guard laid the planks down beside me, rolled us on to the planks, skidded us on to the wheel-barrow and tenderly trundled us across the rolling sands and through the harsh grass and over all the ants and grasshoppers, up the terrace to our car.

“This happens all the time,” he said gently. He lifted Jim in his immense black arms and I noted the contrasts between his color and Jim’s. It was different.

He laid me on the back seat.

“Now,” he said, “you’ve got a good beginning. Let this lay a couple of days and then, if you don’t blister or peel, come on down for another dose. In about two weeks you’ll have a nice color.”

“You’ve very kind,” Jimmie and I whispered.

Jim, like a jointed doll, slowly turned on the switch, stepped on the starter.

“I’m glad,” said Jim, “there aren’t many turns on the road home.”

“Think of to-morrow,” I said hollowly.

“What’s the matter with the police force in Toronto!” demanded Jimmie, angrily, not moving his neck. “Why don’t they get on the job and stop this semi-nude stuff on our beaches!”

“You’re right,” I said.


Editor’s Notes: It was still illegal in 1934 for men to go topless in public. That is why when you see old pictures of people in bathing suits, the men have an undershirt part to it. Also at this point in history, Adolf Hitler had only recently became Chancellor of Germany and started consolidating his power. He would be a prominent news figure, and curiosity, but not likely considered a real threat yet.

Samarkand is a city in southeastern Uzbekistan and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia. The writer Gordon Sinclair was famous during this time for his stories of travels to exotic locations.

Court plaster, is just another name for an adhesive bandage.

Bear with Us

By Greg Clark, August 3, 1935

“What I like,” said Jimmie Frise, “is blueberries.”

“I’m with you,” I assured him. Strawberries are very nice, if they aren’t sandy. But they give me hives. Raspberries are good, if they haven’t got little white bugs creeping about them. And raspberry seeds get between my teeth.”

“Thimbleberries,” contributed Jim, aren’t bad, but it is hard to get a feed of them. I like a feed of wild berries.”

“The wild strawberry,” I took on, “is probably the finest wild berry in the world. The French-Canadians preserve them.”

“Yes, but give me blueberries,” said Jimmie. “I don’t mean blueberries you get in the city, with the blue down all rubbed off them, and looking kind of damp. I mean blueberries you pick yourself and eat right out on the rocks.”

“I follow you,” I assured him.

“They are so tight in their skins,” said Jim. “They burst, they pop in your mouth.”

“Like celery, sort of,” I helped.

“Not at all,” said Jim. “Nothing like it. They are alone, unique, unequalled. Tight in their skins, with that cool, downy powder on them, and a kind of faint wild spicy flavor.”

“That’s it,” I moaned. “Faintly spicy.”

“Not rough and harsh, like Oriental spices, but a delicate Canadian spiciness,” said Jim. “Dear me, excuse me, my mouth is watering.”

He got out his handkerchief and attended to himself.

“The thing I like about them, too,” went on Jimmie, “is the way they burst in your mouth, a whole big handful of them.”

“Do you like the bright blue ones or the darkish, blackish huckleberry kind?” I inquired.

“Well, it’s hard to choose,” agreed Jim. “The dark ones often have a rich spiciness, yet on the other hand, the bright blue ones have a kind of tang. I don’t know.”

“The bright blue ones,” I pointed out, “are lovely to come on when you are wandering around on the rocks, blueberry picking. You walk along, looking here and there, and then all of a sudden, in one of those big cracks or crevices in the rocks, you see a whole hedge of little bushes that are a vivid sky blue.”

“The Jesuit Relations say,” stated Jim, “that in the olden days, away back in 1600 and something, the Indians used to pick great bushels of blueberries and spread them out on the rocks to dry and then pack them in big birch bark sacks. In the winter, they would use these dried berries to eke out their dog meat and pounded corn porridge.”

“I prefer to think of going somewhere this afternoon,” I submitted, “and picking about two quarts of blueberries and eating them right there as I pick. I’m blueberry conscious.”

“There’s no place handy where we can go on short notice,” Jim thought. “Wonder if there are any blueberries this side of Muskoka or Parry Sound?”

“Would you be game,” I inquired, “to take a run up as far as Midland and hire a boat and go out to one of those rocky islands that are fairly covered with blueberries?”

Doing Something Silly

“Do you mean in the middle of the week?” Jim exclaimed. “That would be silly.”

“Everybody ought to do something silly once in a while,” I offered, “like loosening those little twisters on the end of a banjo handle, so as to relax the tight wires. We’re full of tight wires. Can you think of any silly thing to do that would be as pleasant as driving up to Midland and hiring a little boat and going somewhere to bulge ourselves with blueberries?”

“This heat is getting you,” suggested Jimmie.

“I’m full of tight wires,” I said. “I’m going to reach up and loosen those little tighteners. I’m going to do something silly. And it might as well be pleasant.”

“I could go,” said Jim, “and think. Us artists have to do some conceiving. We ought to be free to run off and hide now and then to invite our souls.”

“The same with writers,” I agreed. “You can’t make a flower grow by walking out very day and yelling, ‘Grow, damn you, grow!’ can you?”

“Artists and writers,” said Jimmie, “are just like flowers. The heat gets them.”

“How about it?” I demanded.

“How long would it take?” asked Jim.

“If we drove to-night,” I said, “we’d be there in three easy hours. Sleep in the car, right in the tourist camp. Rise with the lark, drive down and hire a little launch for a couple of bucks, and scoot half an hour out across the lovely morning water…”

“That’s done it,” said Jim.

“Spend from, say, seven or eight o’clock till noon picking and eating berries,” I said. “Then the boat picks us up by prearrangement and scoots us back across the lovely water to Midland, we hop in the car, and saturated with that noble and patriotic berry, we drive home to Toronto, arriving about 3 p.m., much to everybody’s astonishment.”

“What would we say?” asked Jim.

“We’d say we slept in, or something,” I offered. “Or maybe in this heat nobody would have observed our absence.”

“Well, I guess,” said Jim sleepily.

And before the five o’clock whistles had stopped blowing in the suburbs, we were pointed north for Midland. And the sun was still high when we arrived in that pleasant town. Under the long, lingering sunset, we watched the boats coming and going and observed all the white-clad summer resorters so busily coming and going, probably driving their launches fifty miles for a package of phonograph needles or a camera film. So busy. So intent.

And with the floating sounds of summer in our ears, we folded ourselves up in Jim’s big car and went to sleep. Dawn and a cramp woke us. We took no breakfast, though the light was still burning in the Chinese restaurant as we drove down the street to the docks. The man we had hired the night before was sleepily waiting for us in his little putt-putt. It was just a row boat with an engine in it, but it could not have been better.

Gaily Across the “Open”

“If it is blueberries you want,” said the boatman, steering out into the bay where we could look far across the shining “open” of the Georgian Bay, “you ought to go to a point I know where I take my folks on picnics. It’s up from Beausoleil Island a piece. It will cost you a dollar extra, each way. But it has more blueberries than any other I ever heard of hereabouts. The Indians never picked berries on it because it was supposed to be haunted, or something, and they never went near it.”

“Take us there,” we agreed.

There are cottages on nearly every point of the Georgian Bay, but far in through the channels we came to an inner point, a withdrawn and rather rough and homely point where there was nothing but rude, jagged rocks and burnt-over woods and dead trees sticking up in all directions.

“Here she is,” said the skipper. “Not very handsome, but lousy with blueberries.”

And with promises to return a little before twelve o’clock, he putt-putted noisily away.

We scrambled up the rowdy rocks. Literally, the point was burdened with blueberries. Maybe three hundred yards this point juts out from that vast and practically uninhabited mainland of the Party Sound country of rock and scrub and little hidden lakes and beaver meadows. A blueberry paradise.

“Jimmie,” I said, between munches of the first handful, “don’t let us start right here. As a couple of old blueberry pickers, let us survey the land and find one of those mossy crevices hedged about with two-foot blueberry bushes where we can actually recline at our ease and pick and eat without moving except by either crawling or rolling over.”

“I know the kind of place,” agreed Jim. stooping for another fistful. And so stooping and pausing and staring and walking, we surveyed the point. There were rock gullies and little rock cliffs, little clumps of woods and sheltered spaces all clad in deep bronzy green moss. And around those little clumps of bushes and along the shady margins of those damp mossy carpets the blueberry bushes were massed and dense. And they glowed with a million fat jewels of dusky blue.

“Let’s start here.” cried Jim, finding a little island of birch and pine about the size of a street car, which was entirely surrounded by a ten-foot margin of mass. And the hedge of bushes around the copse was like a belt of azure.

“This is the place,” I admitted, kneeling down on the moss.

“You take this side,” said Jim. “I’ll go around to the far side.”

And around he vanished.

“How is it over there?” I called.

“Just about the same as your side,” said Jim.

There were both kinds. The higher bushes were the bright blue kind. And hidden in amongst the taller blue bushes were the squatter bushes of the big, succulent, black huckleberry. You would take three handfuls of the blue and follow with one of the black. Some of the black ones were as big as grapes.

“Um-yum,” I said, loud enough for Jim to hear.

“Slurp, slurp,” said he. I use the word slurp. but it hardly conveys the astonishing and slightly disgusting sound Jimmie made as he picked, unseen by me, on the far side of the little copse.

“Mind your table manners, Jimmie,” I said.

“Swush, swush, swush,” retorted Jimmie, from beyond the bushes.

“Boy,” I said, “you ought to come around to this side.”

“Whoosh,” replied Jim.

I thought how curious it is: you know a man for years and years, and all of a sudden he comes out with some curious and hitherto undetected habit.

“Jim,” I said, through a full mouth, “it may have been funny the first time you smacked your lips like that, but it is getting a little on my nerves.”

“Squish, sqush, slurp, whooof!” retorted Jim.

“Aw, cut it out,” I retorted, and hinched myself another yard along the hedge. Ah, such berries. Now I was abreast of a three-foot-high dense hedge that positively sagged with the vivid blue ones, big as alleys, clustered like grapes, cool to the touch, cool and firm and thin-skinned.

“Ah, yum-yum,” I confessed, making a little racket myself.

The sun grew warmer. I began to fill up. I could hear silly old Jim working his way around to meet me. And he was slurping.

“Jim,” I begged. “For goodness sake. You’re awful.”

It was at the next hitch I took of a yard further along the bush that I saw Jimmie was wearing a fur hat. I was mildly surprised, because at the moment my eyes were gloatingly beholding surely the greatest blueberry bush ever seen in the history of Canada. It was four feet high, it was laden, as if with blue dew, and deep within its stems I beheld the darkly glowing shapes of scattered huckleberries of size I had never seen before. My mind was divided between these two spectacles – the greatest berry bush in the world, and Jim wearing silly fur cap in the middle of summer.

Finally, with a sudden tiny tingling of my scalp, I withdrew my fascinated mind away from the berry bush in deal exclusively with Jim’s fur cap.

And I saw, to my intense astonishment, that Jimmie’s fur hat had movable ears.

“Not To Endanger You”

I stood up.

So did the bear.

With its short front legs held quaintly before it, and its head cocked on one side, it surveyed me across the bushes.

It was a youngish bear. It was about my size. It was glossy black, with brown ruchings, and its mouth was slightly open in a friendly grin. Frothy blueberries fringed its deckle-edged lips.

“Er-hello?” I said.

“Squish, squish,” replied the bear, swallowing. I could see it was not as surprised as I. I was not wearing a fur cap.

“Where’s Jimmie? Mr. Frise?” I asked weakly.

“Mmmfft,” said the bear, cocking its head on the other side.

“Yoo-hoo, Jimmie?” I inquired, not very loudly.

“Sniff, sniff,” said the bear, looking away to one side, as if not knowing exactly what to do.

“Oh, Jimmie?” I repeated, just a little louder. “Are you there?”

The bear looked at me again, and I detected a more serious expression in its small, twinkling eyes.

“Nice berries,” I said, conversationally. I was backing slowly across the moss to where my boots, hat and coat lay piled.

The bear disappeared by dropping on to his four feet. I backed more quickly. The bear appeared at the corner of the copse and again stood up. His stomach hung very low.

Without removing my eyes from him stooped and fumbled for my boots and clothes. I continued backing.

The bear was now looking, with an expression of immense satisfaction, at the very large patch of berries I had discovered at the same instant I had discovered him.

I half turned and backed quartering away.

The bear dropped down and sat, as I had sat, before that shrine of blue. I turned and ran. In my stocking feet I ran, careless of the hot and ragged rock. Up a cliff or two and down a couple of gullies I scrambled. Looking back, I could see the bear sitting. like a schoolboy, before that feast of blue.

No sign of Jim. I felt badly to have left him. Where could he be? Had he tired of the plenty and gone wandering farther inland? I decided to avoid endangering him with shouting. I decided to go right out to the end of the point and wait for him.

When I came to the rough headland of the point, there, on the outermost pinnacle of the rock, ready to jump into the blue Georgian Bay, was Jimmie, looking fearfully up at me.

“Jim!” I accused. “You left me without a sign of warning.”

“He came out of the bushes just as I left you to take the other side of the patch,” said Jim. “So I just went right on walking.”

“You did, eh?”

“I decided not to endanger you by shouting,” said Jim.

“You did, eh?”

“I decided to come out here and wait for you,” said Jim.

So we both waited, right out on the very little and point of rock, until the boatman came for us at twelve sharp.


Editor’s Notes: The Jesuit Relations are chronicles of the Jesuit missions in New France, written annually and printed beginning in 1632 and ending in 1673.

Beausoleil Island was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2011.

This story appeared in Greg Clark & Jimmie Frise Outdoors (1979).

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