By Frank Eames, January 8, ‘31
What a morning ! Such promise or a glorious day! Mercury ? W-a-y down. Fourteen below zero, that’ fourty six degrees o’frost is making ice too heavy for the Pelican [Motor launch] to break down, so out comas our Ferryboat, general work craft and knock-a-bout; an old reliable for bad weather and a very comfortable in any season, cold or hot..
It is always first in the water in spring and last out in the fall of all the powerboats in this part of the Island region. As we have to keep it in commission by reason of the obstinacy of the currents at this point.
The flow of the river is impeded just at Melville Island, by the continuous chain of islands that lie directly in the path of its progress from the wide water above that leads onward to the open water westward. (Lake Ontario)
Hanging Rock is directly due to the erosion of this current.
It is exactly before its flow from which point it must swing north two hundred yards then onward and eastward to the sea for nearly a thousand miles.
The Pelican is about five tons displacement, powered with a twenty-five horse Gray motor, well for twelve to fourteen miles an hour in decent weather. Just now, the boat must come out.
Our gear consists of worm gear tackle, four sets, slung to large iron clevis which straddle seven by seven timbers doubled, one above the other.
A set of the gear is hung at each quarter and two men may lift tile boat four feet clear of the water level in thirty minute after the slings are placed.
The cold, though intense, is bracing, dry and healthy. As It frequently happens, this cold is unaccompanied by wind, but, as it does happen sometimes to be born with a breeze, you may then have occasion to cover the sensitive parts of the face or be frozen.
Just fancy falling into the water during such a temperature,
It happens the fool hardy, the unwary, the carless ones and those heedless sofa warning, there is a crop of accidents every year which not only places the principle in danger but frequently others assume risks for their rescue which involves the greatest courage and some strategy at times.
A young lady – daughter of Larry Trimble, the celebrated trainer of the Wonder dog… Strong Heart of move fame... Janet, she went to town by crossing Black Buoy Shoal. She was warned by ne niece at MacDonald Island) Mrs. Albert Harris, of this spot being treacherous; in her enjoyment of her wild race to town on skates, she halted to rest on her sleight upon the ice at Black Buoy without realizing that she was out of her course.
Hardily had the poor creature got seated to rest than the ice began to settle, the water appeared and… to late… then Jane saw it. She did her best to get away… she went in. Fortunately for her she is young, sturdy, strong and trained to swim extra well.
Just how much swimming could one be expected to do with below hips learning coat on over other warmer garments, high leather laced hunting boots with skates attached and submerged in water on such a day! The mercury stood at exactly zero all that day too!
Well she swam in the icy hole till nigh exhausted ant then on the point of giving up was rescued after all. She is now married and resides with her husband on a nearby island.
. . . . . . .
The dogs, Judge and Laddie are out saluting the morning sun with sharp, clear bugles, romp and wallow; the chitter of the myriad snowbirds, the scolding squirrels scurrying among the branches of the great conifers, every living thing seems to have some form of acknowledgement of this glorious day.
The conifers referred to are so heavily laden with snow, that like great fluffy plumes their branches are engine even to the ground. Very often one may see an entire tree so loaded with snow as to cause it to bend its trunk, branches and all; we take delight in photographing unusual sights and some are wonderful to observe.
One feature of this severe weather is the sharp crack of the bursting tree bark. This is due to the expansion of moisture by freezing and the echoes of the reports may be heard repeatedly on clear, silent days, travelling from island to island.
The scared, scowling faces of “Moneysunk’s” rocky wall is emblazoned a quarter mile of west ‘ard, its yellow lichens and it grays and browns harmonize with the salmon red tinges of its granite crowned with snow.
“Tis the pebble toss from Money Sunk to Emerald Isle, forlong (sic) and still owned by the Misses Shillington, one of whom I read had passed away at – was it Faversham, Sussex, recently?
Emerald forms one of the chain abreast the river. Leave it to any island of such a name to run continuous within joined to the likes o’ Forsyth, Macdonald Douglas, Atkinson, Melville; I say would be reasonable to expect any island of such a name to rest in such company without bein’; agin’; somethin’ ?
But, it is peaceful there and many summers of happiness has passed away on this beautiful islet of towering rock; crowned with is green.
On Melville Island the bed rock is part sandstone or of the formative class, and part granite. Layers of brecia and the true conglomerate are in evidence.
Near the cottage were we reside and north a pebble toss, is a rugged old gray faced rock some forty feet high by eighty feet long.. part of the cliff.. which overhangs some forty feet without other support than the cantilever action of its adherent red rock. Hundreds of tons will fall there someday and shake the pretty Moorish designed, three-cornered bungalow of our nearest neighbours.. Messrs Staebler Bros. to it foundations; it is build on the cliff rock, of concrete blocks about as far north of Hanging Rock as we are to the south. The rock itself is on the property on which we reside and is within its boundaries.
Front the plateau of Hanging Rock the view in any direction is indescribably grant; to the north-east the arable land of Melville falls away in a broad stretch of gently undulating fields until it is sunburned grasses mingle with the broad swords of the wild iris and the grain rushes, which thrive on outward from the shallows, far out where the river deepens and their twelve and fourteen feet tapering spears are lost, conquered by the mass of pike grass which forms the favorite haunts of this great northern fighter.
Here he may lurk, pending his wild and furious, slashing rush upon some chance marauder of the finny tribe, or the artistically decorated lure of the sportsman.
To the south, one may count not less that fifty islands were they not all so overlapping (sic) as to blend together like a solid coastline. And all these, apart from Grindstone Island whose rolling ridges may be seen from head to foot, some seven or eight miles, east and west. (change in typing format)
To see the sun;
At dawn, when Night that hurried ion,
Fling from the east to real flare.
Fling from the swat it is regal flare,
And rising to the crest of the great hill at it eastern extremity, slowly rest there awhile it seems prior to its long gay swing to the west is never to be forgotten sight. It so impressed me that I made a large picture of it depicting from the imagination, an Indian, Swart, Muscular and rigid, with arms far reaching to the sun upon the great dome of Grindstone, pouring out his most sacred invocation to his Manitou and ruler of the Garden of the Great Spirit.
Thus he called the Thousand Islands.
An imaginative New York journalist called the Thousand Islands a name of his own invention for the time of this tale or reference He coined the name Manatona. Picturesque and easily assimilated as of Indian origin, it is, unfortunately, not the native name for the GARDEN OF THE GREAT SPIRIT.
In parallel perspective to the north along the north, along the bank of the river, and exactly one mile from our wharf to the Town dock, lies the town of Gananoque.
Village Founded in 1792 by (the good Colonel) Joel Stone (And his wife Abigal,)it is still under four thousand population.
Could the Creator have made a more lovely spot for man to halt in ? hardy.
A waterway to the world lies at the door – but its main inland communication is a muzzle for high freight raters that still clamps it from expansion, the Town has been bottle fed by a feeder in the form of a spur lines from the old Grand Trunk or, as it is now called The Canadian National Railways.
Three miles out in the country races the Sunset Limited, which ignores and roars at what was once the most important factory town along its route between Montreal and Toronto. In other words, the town is off the mainline. A hundred years and the automobile industries concentrating at large centres westerly, whereby the assembling is more easily and better facilitated and the freights tariffs are less by one hundred miles or more shortened haulage – these are the primary causes of lack of growth. Yet ‘tis beautiful to be here.
The late Miss Agnes Maule Machar, (FIDELE) authoress of some dozen or more important Canadian works – se so loved it here that she same early spring an stayed till late fall in her high retreat within the town limits.
It is a wooded area which crests a very high red granite wall of rock which rises precipitously from the water of the river.
It is a last piece of the old primeval forest most jealously guarded by “Fidele” and posted throughout with warnings polite to those who would pluck, dig, or break, flower, root or stick.
The great black column of the Water Tower frowns from Blockhouse Hill. It stands precisely upon the site of the old blockhouse, built to defend the place … to late.
In sharp contrast in the bright sun rears the red tower o’ MacDonald’s goodness. [Note the word goodness was crossed out and the words, “Kindness to the town.” was written in by pencil.]
Twas Charles MacDonald’s birthplaces. He loved it; spent large sums to enjoy his stay here after retirement; threw up his read brick tower and dedication its top to Chronos, whose great bell thunders the passing of time to those so fortunate as to be with-in its range. This was his gift to Gananoque.
The three Fingers of Heaven point their tapered shafts upward in silence – Christ Church, Grace Methodist, St. Andrew Pres. St. Johns gray walls can be seen standing high but spireless on the bank of the Gananoque River, whose confluence with St. Lawrence is but three hundred yards south.
I stated that the blockhouse was built to late. It was. Captain Forsythe to raid the town and destroy its stores if possible. He succeeded and go away again; retaliation was made by ten volunteers, sent on a gunboat which called soon after, and the crew of that vessel. Some damage was done to the U.S. depot at Sackets Harbor and the vessel returned safe without los.
During the assault some men were killed and wounded.
Mrs. Stone was shot through the hip by a soldier who fired his musket at her door… but she, thrifty body, saved her gold [Note, word “gold” was crossed out and “silver” and then written in pencil: “doubtless to say no one found it afterward, it dissolved”] services by dropping it in a barrel of soft soap. (added but crossed out “They were quick thinkin’ them days…” [
Note: The remained of the piece is difficult to read. However there is a reference to politics here, as Frank Eames was a proud member of the Conservatives. He goes on…
A ‘twixt the Stone and the MacDonald… John hove in here about 1813 and went into a partnership with the Stone, wha’d a blithe daughter, Mary… Well, a ‘twixt them they made a toon, and’ a finer sight ye’d hunt for a deal afore ye found it.
I love it and all its people but two. One’s a grit, whose conceit and bitterness are distasteful; the other’s a tory with rotten principles… but, I’d rather him than ‘tother; I cannae bear-r-r- a grit!
Not that I’m starting to dress my enemies in point lace I’ll be turnin’ me attention west’ard.
From Hanging Rock I can scan two miles with Sir Johns island in the far distance and as many forty between it and ]manuscripts ends[