My parents built Vance’s Store in Snow Lake in 1950 with lumber supplied by Major’s sawmill. This story took place circa 1949 after the road was built between Snow Lake and Wekusko, the train station.
By Linda C Butler
Told by Georgette Major
My husband Stan worked in the bush in the winter cutting trees for our sawmill near Wekusko Falls, which we operated in the summer months. He was accompanied by Old Blue, our horse who hauled the logs to the shoreline, and by Bruce, our dog. The work was labour-intensive as Stan cut the trees with an axe.
Stan was an excellent bushman, but one afternoon he became disoriented, and rather than risk walking home when he was unsure of his directions, he decided to camp out and come home in the morning. There are few hours of daylight in the north in the winter months and in the remaining twilight he built a shelter, gathered firewood, and fetched water. Bruce, the dog, wandered off, leaving Old Blue and Stan.
In the meantime I was at the house, wondering when Stan would come in. I saw Bruce go to his food bowl and eat his supper. I went outside to speak to Stan, but Stan was not there and Bruce had disappeared.
Bruce returned to Stan, who spent the night huddled by the fire in his makeshift camp. The temperature dipped to minus forty that night, and although Stan had a warm parka, he was chilled. It was a difficult night as he continually awoke to add wood to the fire.
Stan couldn’t get warm enough, and at one point he rolled too close to the fire. A spark landed on his parka and smoldered in the quilted fabric and then burst into flame, burning a hole through the back of the parka. Stan jumped up when he felt the flame on his back and realized that his clothing was on fire. He had been asleep, but he had enough sense to roll in the snow to extinguish the flame. After the fire in his clothing was out, Stan couldn’t go back to sleep and he huddled by the fire for the rest of the night.
I had been worried about Stan, and with the first light of dawn, I dressed in heavy clothes and walked to the Snow Lake road to wait for a passing vehicle to summon help, as we had no telephone. There was little traffic on the road, but I expected that a vehicle would pass during the day.
I was standing on the highway when I saw Stan in the distance walking toward me with the horse and the dog. With daylight, he knew how to reach the highway and he was on his way home.
Stan did not know until I told him, that his faithful dog had come home the night before for his supper while he huddled by the fire with nothing to eat.
This story is published simultaneously on the VanceTurnerConnect blog, a blog about our family and pioneer life on the Prairies.