Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
When. they left us we gave the old Indian a lot of stores-sugar, tea, corned. beef, etc. When he had got as much as he could carry, lie told us he liked us very much, so we felt we had created a good impression.”
Canoe Travelling in Canada – In a Gale “For your life sit quite still!”
This was said to me by my canoeman on Gull Lake. It is one thing to glide smoothly and noiselessly in your birch-bark canoe over the calm surface of one of the lakes, where the woods and sky are reflected on the dead smooth water as if it were a looking-glass, but it is quite another thing to be fought by the storm, with seething, great waves which threaten at one moment to surge in over the end of your boat and at the next to roll it bodily over sideways.
That was what we were going through when Jim, my canoeman, made his remark to me, and a bigger wave than usual was curling and breaking towards us above the heads of the others as if to swamp us.
Jim was in the stern, and Ben was in the bow, while I sat tight in the middle. They were old hands at the game. Both of them knelt, facing forward to use their paddles – that is the regular way to do it. The man in the bow does the navigating, while the one in the stern helps him to steer the boat.
In this case, as the great wave came on, they almost stopped the canoe, and, with a quick turn, made her face the wave and thrust her gently forward to meet it; then, just as she reared up in front, Ben seemed to lean forward with his paddle over the bow and to cut the shock of the water, while somehow the seething monster subsided under us, and we had a wide view for an instant over the stormy surface of the lake, and there, behind us, was the wall of water rushing away to leeward.
But the canoeman did not pause to admire it; they twisted their boat round in a second, and, taking advantage of the rather smooth spell which immediately followed, they rushed the little boat along as if they were in for a race.
In this way they gained a good many yards before another curler began to show itself above the rest, bearing down upon our broadside, and when it got close they repeated their manoeuvre of slowing the canoe round to meet it.
And that was the way we staggered along for mile after mile. Never were two waves alike; they all wanted slightly different treatment.
Sometimes they were short but steep ones, so that, as our bow went up, our stern went down, and was in danger of getting buried.
At other times a wave that had not been big enough to turn to, or which was not solid enough to lift us, would slop its top in over the gunwale, which was only four inches above the surface, and so added to the water that was swashing about in the bottom of the canoe, and which it was my duty to bale out again with a birch bark dipper.
We had a lively time that journey, but cold and wet as it was, the work done by these two expert canoemen was so interesting to watch, as they took each wave in a different way, that it did not seem long, and I felt almost sorry when at length they ran her quietly in under the lee of some rocks, and we safely reached the end of our adventurous trip at the other side of the lake.
You who have read that delightful book of Canadian adventure; “Snowshoes and Canoes,” by W. H. G. Kingston, will remember that a canoe is built of a light skeleton of keel, ribs, crossbars, and gunwale, made of strips of cedar-wood, and then covered outside with sheets of the tough, thin