Don’t have an actual photo
, but this gives you the idea
….. Twelve years old, newly emigrated from Scotland
into the vast wilderness of Canada’s Great Slave Lake, where the family
would rejoin our lumberjack father.
Saw this craft four days later, abandoned and sunken up one of the many small creeks that drained the forest into the lake. It had been there for some time, probably stranded after a spring flood, left to rot
and gather debris from subsequent seasons. A wooden built clinker rowboat about 18 ft long, looking solid, heavy and abused.
First thing I noticed was that the level of water
inside the craft was higher than the surrounding waters in the creek. Knew that was a good thing and a salvage
plan began to formulate. The plan was simple, spend the rest of the day cleaning
and bailing out the boat by hand, returning next day from the campsite with some rope
and an axe. Drag and float the boat approximately 2 miles down to the beach, clearing away any fallen logs
or debris in the way. No problem!
My brother Desmond, two and a half years older, was my best and only friend in this Strange Land. Des listened first with amusement then anger, because he knew his young sibling would try to do it alone. Finally he only agreed because he had promised our mother to look after his younger brother.
As planned, she floated that first day and didn’t she sit pretty in the water! Des begrudgingly agreed, despite the two of them being intimately introduced to the swarms of large mosquitoes and a new breed of carnivorous horse flies, unknown in Scotland
. Those things took chunks!
By the end of Day Two, we had made good progress, covering about half the distance to the lake. Sometimes dragging the craft over fallen logs
, other times, re-sinking so as to slip under the obstruction.
Marching home to the tune of “Ye take the high road and I’ll take the low road.” Our spirits were high. The goal was almost in sight and both were having fun.
By the end of Day Four only about another 100 yards had been covered, as the debris became thicker and the creek developed many sandbanks, forcing them to dig small channels with a borrowed shovel.
Raspberry bushes opened them up and the swarming insects finished them off.
By Day Six, we could go no further as the creek turned into a shallow delta
covered with debris.
I could not help but feel guilty as Des worked stoically, never saying a harsh word. Then help in the form of the tough men
from the logging camp came. In the absence of our father, they had been watching these two young Scottish lads, learn the reality of the Canadian bushland.
had turned to admiration and in about one hour six men
had dragged the craft to the lakeside beach.
Day Seven, glorious launch day, good conditions. With some borrowed canoe paddles and lifejackets the lads ventured about 100 yards away from shore and turned upwind into the light chop. At first the small amount of water was manageable but then the seams bled from everywhere and she filled quickly.
Years of sand and mud caulking being washed out. They sank!
Des laughed and said a few words about his young sibling’s intelligence and legitimacy.
At the time, the irony of an older brother making those legitimacy claims escaped the young captain
. He was thinking about how much he had to learn.