SOME time after this father
determined to enlarge the church, and the Hudson's Bay Company offered to
send their carpenters to do the work, if the missionary and Indians got out
the timber and lumber.
The Indians went into this
work heartily. The first thing was to chop and hew the timber and saw-logs,
and haul all these to some lake or river, from which it might be rafted to
Some good timber was found on
an island in Play-green Lake, about twenty miles away. To this place we went
by dog-train and on snowshoes, father and the men chopping and hewing the
timber, and myself and my school-boys hauling this out to the shore and
piling it ready for rafting in the summer.
We were several days at this
work—men, boys and dogs, all busy as we could be. The woods fairly rang with
chopping and shouting.
An Easterner could hardly
credit the strength of a good big train of dogs, helped by a stout boy.
Then, when the load is out,
the return trip is made on the jump, there being no time lost by the way.
My boys and I had the roads
to make, as well as the timber to haul.
Our open camp was a unique
sight at night. Big fires stretched along the centre, a brush floor down
both sides, fish thawing, fish boiling, fish roasting, fish frying.
Our pemmican we saved for
breakfast and dinner; it did not require time to cook. Then fish is more
digestible, therefore better for supper. Men and boys sitting and standing,
some cooking, some mending moccasins, others drying them —all good-natured
Behind all this, but still in
the light of the fire, are the dogs. These are of all breeds and of all
colors; some lounging, some snarling, some fighting—all waiting, perforce of
necessity, for their supper, which is being thawed at the fire.
After supper, the dogs are
fed, and then the woods would echo with hearty singing.
Father was a good singer, and
between us we taught these people many new songs and hymns.
Then father would open their
eyes and minds by describing some Eastern lands and scenes; and thus the
shorter evenings of slowly approaching spring would pass quickly, and all
would stretch out to sleep, for all were tired.
A few weeks after this there
was great excitement in the village. The first goose of the season had been
seen. To men who had been living for the most part on fish during the winter
months, the coming of the geese from the south is a welcome change.
Presently from all over the village the boys are imitating the wild goose's
call, and the old hunters are getting their decoy heads ready. As for the
bodies, they can make them out of logs near or at the place they may select
for a hunting-ground.
Father and I went several
times to places near by. We would go Friday evening and come home Saturday
evening. Father was an ardent sportsman and a good shot.
I will never forget my first
goose. I broke his wing, and he came down on the ice, and started to run out
on the lake. I had a single- barrelled muzzle-loading gun, and I loaded it
before starting after the big fellow. When he saw me coming he spurted, with
legs and wings. He made good time, and I ran, and ran, and after a long
chase came close enough to shoot him again, and stopped him.
The Hudson's Bay factor and
clerks went a long distance and were away some weeks on the goose hunt.