From The Scrapbook By Rev. Bill Randall


March 1993

By Dr. Bill Randall

Steve Savoie’s Mysterious Death

In 1928 a hunter from McAdam hunting near the shore of the southwest end of the Magaguadavic Lake, in a dense pine forest found a skeleton of a man. Obviously the body had been there for some time, so he hurried back to McAdam to notify the police. The police called Dr. Dougan of Harvey, Dr. Dougan in turned called the coroner. Dr. Dougan along with the coroner made their way to the site of the finding of the body. The scavengers had left little of the human remains but with what was left, bits of clothing, a belt buckle, it was determined with the assistance of others that the body was that of Steve Savoie. With so little information and so little positive evidence about, it was determined that no inquest would be required. The remnants of the body were taken to a little island just off the mainland and buried on the island which for many years had been Steve Savoie’s home.

There were many interpretations of this strange finding but to understand it a little better, let’s go back and look at what little we know of the personal history of Steve Savoie. It is likely that Steve came to work for the Fraser Lumber Company, perhaps around 1912, 1915; it is thought he may have come from Caraquet, N.B. Perhaps during the off season from lumbering Steve had determined that trapping furs would be a more profitable occupation than lumbering. With rough lumber and slabs readily available about the mill, Steve built himself a snug little cabin near Money Point, just outside of Schoodic Cove. If Steve had once had a wife and it seemed likely since he is said to have had two sons and one daughter, he had no wife with him but after settling into the fur trading enterprise he did have a young squaw as his companion. His life style being unusual for Magaguadavic people isolated him from almost everyone, except the other trappers he met and the occasional visit to the Scott’s Mill camp where, being entertained by the lumbermen he sometimes became so relaxed that he told bits and pieces about his autobiography. One episode is pretty well known. His companion squaw, being somewhat irritated with Steve took the twelve-gauge shotgun and at close range shot him in the middle part of his body. Fortunately, the shotgun was loaded with very light birdshot; nevertheless it was necessary for Steve to go to Harvey where Dr. Dougan extracted some pellets. Subsequently, Steve kicked the squaw out. The only other people to have met with Steve under these circumstances would have been the occasional trapper he met while travelling through the forest and it was said by them, that after Steve kicked his squaw out that he became increasingly irritable and at times seem to demonstrate an irrational behavior. Gordon Finnie going down lake in his boat about 1926, decided to make a call on Steve but there was no one at  home. Gordon had his two young boys with him so he didn’t wish to make a thorough investigation of Steve’s cabin. Steve’s little brown dog was nowhere about it, his trapping supplies were stacked in a corner of a lean-to; Gordon was suspicious. The next day Gordon went back alone and what he found further aroused his suspicions of foul play. Steve’s cabin had been ransacked, every possible hiding place had been exposed, and even the floor boards had been torn up. The small rock wall Steve had built to surround his tiny back yard garden had been overturned and there again the soil dug up. It turned out that no one could remember having actually seen Steve between 1926 and 1928.

After Steve’s remains had been buried, his sons testified that they had come to McAdam sometime in 1926 in an effort to persuade their father to leave Schoodic Island and live with them. They said he refused. How did Steve Savoie die? A trip line strung across the trail in the woods where Steve’s skeleton was found had been fastened to a gun, fastened to another tree and aimed at whatever tripped the line, but it was Steve’s gun! If Steve had decided to commit suicide it seems like a clumsy way to do it. Where was Steve’s boat, for a trapper a boat would have been essential and Steve had a good one and then one day that too was found near Schoodic Cove submerged and obviously sunken by a load of rocks – why? Did Steve Savoie possess some thing or some knowledge which would have made it important to destroy him? He must have had a considerable store of money, for trapping was very rewarding in those pre-depression days, muskrat hides, 5 & 6 dollars, mink maybe 30 dollars and an otter as high as 75 dollars, yet Steve was never known to have a bank account! Did Steve know some secret of the Indians learned from his squaw? Was there a ghost spirit given voice by the howling wolves or the plaintiff cries of the loon? Or, as Otis Finnie has written in his story, “The Mystery of Muddy Point”, was there a buried treasure off Money Point?

Allen Hood has promised to take me to Steve’s island in the summer of 1993; maybe we will solve the mystery!

Source: Rev. Bill Randall’s “From The Scrapbook Vol. One.”

Recommended Reading

Interested in learning more about the rich history and heritage of the Harvey region? Here are a few blog posts that might pique your interest: