From The Scrapbook By Rev. Bill Randall

FROM THE SCRAPBOOK by Dr. Bill Randall

September 1994

Among the scrapbook clippings I found recently is one that speaks of the St. Croix River and I will share it with you but at a certain point I will interrupt the item to give you my recollection of this story as told to me by the late Harry Cleghorn

Men of St. Croix River Still Tend Grave of Unknown

 Child Who Died in 1899

LOON BAY LODGE, N.B. – June 15 – it is astonishing how quickly a man can get to be an old hand at a new thing. A couple of trips to a hospital for check-ups and an accountant is ready to devote all his time to medical research.

It’s about the same way with travelling fast water in a canoe. An angler sitting on a cushion in the bow soon develops the air of sophisticated detachment that he imagines he displays at a horse show. He may even condescend to give his guide a lithe advice now and then.

Nothing will sophisticate an angler so fast as a trip down the St. Croix River to Loon Bay Lodge, a distance of twenty-two miles through a half dozen fairly rough rapids, over one low but hazardous falls, and through lesser fast water here and there.

On the trip, which I took today with Assistant Forest Ranger Henry Launder in a canoe, the angler can fish many a fine trout pool and riffle and may even take a few from the rapids if he is accurate and quick enough with his rod.

But his growing expertness as a sort of tie deadheading fast-water expert Is most interesting.

At Elbow Rips, the first rapids of any consequences, his slight shakiness is tempered by his knowledge that the man at the paddle has done it many times and is still alive. At Mile Rips, a long but not very rough rapids he Is confident enough to light a cigarette half-way down.

By the time he enters Tunnel Rips he has got the thing made. It is at about this time that he is requested, with no particular emphasis, not to scrooch around in his seat so much. He has begun to shift sideways to chat with the guide.

There is nothing personal about all this. As for me, I was a model of correct deportment. Lounder gave me some advice a couple of times, but I didn’t need it. Probably he just wanted to let me know he was still back there. In any case, he elected to go over Little Falls alone.

Not long after that we came upon the river drivers, about fifty men on the bank and in three large boats with outboard motors. They were “piking” four-foot pulp wood logs from jams into the current. Some were wading waist deep in the fast water. All were working hard and they were all hard men.

A little later at Duck Point, Lounder left the canoe to see whether the baby’s grave had been tended. The baby was found in the river a long time ago. The grave was fenced with iron pipe, freshly painted blue, the gravel on it was carefully raked. A geranium had been planted there.

On the wooden headboard was carved: “Child Found in the River and Buried Here, June 29, 1899.” The hard men of the river have been refreshening the nameless child’s grace every spring for fifty-seven years.

Harry Cleghorn says, “Every time we went to Duck Point, the boss would hold the whole drive up and go to the bank, there was a bunch of Injins you know, from Marysville, you know that time you couldn’t  work on the American side but the Injins could. We went to Duck Point and that’s where the little baby was buried.” Author asked, “Who buried the baby?” Harry, “I don’t know. Somebody found it. I think it was drivers. Well, the Injins hewed a cedar and they made the nicest head stone you ever seed. Carved right out of pure cedar,
and we fixed that up every spring we drivel. That’s the truth.”

Below the drivers, fishing was no good. The river was full of floating pulp wood and the water was thick with bark and bits of wood.

Until then fishing had been fine. We kept four brilliant dark brookies, the largest weighing a pound. We had two for lunch on the bank. We released several smaller trout and four landlocked salmon that did not reach the required fourteen inches. Spinning lures, streamers and dry flies hooked them.

This river running can be something of a thrill for women and timid souls. To us old hands, it just makes a breeze on a hot day.

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

Recommended Reading

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