From the book “How Dear to My Heart” by Walter Kilborn Billings


The only log canoe that I can remember appeared first on the Lyn pond. An Indian had brought it down from the back lakes, portaging it from back of Temperance Lake, through the canals, over the dams, and finally pulled it up on the shore behind the Lyn post office. He later traded in the village for groceries, and one day when in the village the grocer asked me whether I would like to buy it. This I did, and drew it home to the farm on the milk wagon. As it was late in the fall I did not have a chance to try it our, but that winter I scraped and sandpapered the outside of the canoe. In the spring my mother gave me a collection of paint cans, each containing a small quantity of paint, which I poured all together and stirred well. The resulting colour did not prove very attractive, being a pinkish yellow. However, with great care I puttied all the cracks, then applied the paint, giving it two coats. I saved a small quantity of red paint and this I used to mark a band along the top edge. On the bow I painted the name “Daisy”, and it was ready for the water. One day when father was away I hitched the grey mare to the stone boat, loaded the canoe on and started to lead the horse down the hill to the creek. I had not put a bridle on her but was just leading her by the halter. As we went down around by the barn she got a glimpse of the canoe behind her, and started to run. I hung on as long as I could but finally had to let her go. She ran along the edge of the gravel pit and the canoe rolled off and over and over to the bottom of the hill. I finally caught the mare and got her back in the stable, then went down to examine my canoe. On its was down the hill it had struck a boulder which had opened up a crack in the bottom. Securing more putty I wedged and plastered the break as best I could, but had to wait for the putty to dry. When all was ready I dragged my canoe into the water and tried it. It did not leak very much, and another application of putty completed the job.


Anyone who has never tried to keep a log cane right side up would be surprised how easily it tips over; I got wet several times before mastering the art of paddling. I suggest that if you want to try you should get on a floating log, put your feet in the proper position sit down and see how long you can balance yourself ! We had a lot of fun that summer with the canoe. We could go swimming, get into the canoe, one of us at each end and then try to tip it over by leaning over the edge, the other boy leaning the opposite way, then the first one would straighten up and over would go the canoe before the other boy would have time to save himself, both usually getting wet.


That summer a few families of Indians came to the neighbourhood to pick strawberries for the farmers, one group living in the little house on our farm. One Sunday two young squaws from the house decided to go for a boat ride. One of them was soon to be married and had bought muslin for a dress. Mother had cut it out and sewed it on our machine, and it looked very neat on the Indian girl, but of course she must put it on for the trip in the canoe. There was only one paddle, and as we sat on the hill watching them, the girl with the paddle put the end of it towards the shore to push the canoe out; the end of it stuck in the mud and as she pulled to release it , it came loose sooner than she expected. Over the canoe went ! They were a sorry looking pair of squaws as they got on their feet and waded to shore, their long black hair hanging about their faces and down their shoulders ! They never tried the canoe again, and in a week or two went back to their homes in St. Regis.


The log canoe proved the source of a lot of fun that summer, and many children of the neighbourhood learned to handle it, which was of some benefit to them when later they paddled the lighter cedar canoes manufactured in the factories.


I do not remember what became of my canoe, but think it broke away and ws dashed to pieces by the flooded stream later that fall when it was carried down the lower rapids.

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