The Bruce Beckons

The Bruce Beckons

WILLIAM SHERWOOD FOX
CLARE BICE
VINCENT ELLIOTT
Copyright Date: 1952
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt1287qkd
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  • Book Info
    The Bruce Beckons
    Book Description:

    Separating Georgian Bay from Lake Huron, the Bruce Peninsula's remarkable natural history and richly varied wildlife today continue to draw thousands of visitors every year.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5703-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  3. AN INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xv-xviii)

    AT his first sight of the Bruce Peninsula the visitor cannot but be aware of a land astonishingly unlike any he has seen before. The kind of shock he gets—pleasant or the contrary—depends upon his own particular way of looking upon the world of physical things. The tidy soul who feels no thrill except in cosy landscapes or in fitting every act of life into the pigeonhole marked for it by a community long set in the ways of propriety, will not be apt to warm to The Bruce. But he will never forget what he saw there....

  4. PART ONE: THE BRUCE

    • Chapter 1 THE ROAD TO TOBERMORY
      (pp. 3-20)

      TO ramble with most profit in The Bruce we must be certain of our bearings before leaving the beaten paths. So let us away, on the winged wheels of fancy, for a quick survey of this remarkable unit of land. On its small scale our journey will not be unlike a flight from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. There is one difference, as we shall see more clearly presently: here, we have two Land’s Ends from which to start. One thing both journeys have in common: their destinations are Scottish, for about three-quarters of a century ago the Tobermory...

    • Chapter 2 A GARDEN NORTHWARD
      (pp. 21-26)

      THE Lord God who planted a garden eastward in Eden did not forget to plant a garden northward as well. It is none other than the great clear-cut promontory of the Great Lakes of which we have just made a cursory survey, the Bruce Peninsula of Ontario, or, simply and crisply, The Bruce. Those who do not at once recognize the name know but little of this corner of the world. But a garden? you protest. This long, steel-grey blade that cleaves a whole lake in two? Yes, truly a garden. I know it well. Moreover, it is a garden...

    • Chapter 3 AN UNKNOWN LAND
      (pp. 27-38)

      THESE words of Samuel Sieur de Champlain are the first we know to have been written concerning themainlandof the Bruce Peninsula. They set forth partly what he himself saw of that tract in mid-January of 1616, and partly what he learned about it from its Indian inhabitants. But sixteen years passed before the words appeared in print and were supported by a map. In so long an interval many important details must have faded from even so keen a memory as Champlain’s. His statement must therefore be examined with the greatest care. There is another, almost startling, reason...

  5. PART TWO: SHIPWRECK AND FOLKLORE

    • Chapter 4 PERILS OF A FRESHWATER SEA
      (pp. 41-48)

      THE crisp note written by Gother Mann in 1788 beside his outline of The Bruce was more than a warning to the mariners of his own day; it was a solemn omen of events yet to be. What he really said was simply this: one must always expect wrecks to occur off the rock-bound shores of Lake Huron’s great promontory. In 1815 David Thompson, the Astronomer Royal, added, as we have seen, a warning of his own.¹

      Though both warnings refer only to canoes and other cockleshell craft, their mention of the lack of landing-places would make them apply to...

    • Chapter 5 THE EIGHTIES TAKE THEIR TOLL
      (pp. 49-60)

      WITHIN the span of a single day, September 11, 1881, there took place two wrecks of vessels engaged in the Lake Huron trade. The almost simultaneous occurrence of these events brought into relief a fact of great importance to navigation, an obvious fact and one as ancient as ships and the art of sailing, but one all too often ignored: the nature of a cargo and the way in which it has been stowed away can create conditions in which even a very moderate gale may with amazing swiftness send a vessel to the bottom.

      On this fateful day in...

    • Chapter 6 WEST SIDE, EAST SIDE
      (pp. 61-69)

      IN 1895 the steam bargeAfricawas not what she used to be; in the social scale of lake steamers of that day she had lost caste. Well built in a good shipyard in 1872 as a propeller she plied the Lower Lakes with the worthy rank of a carrier of passengers. Her length was designed to permit her to pass through the St. Lawrence and Welland canals. In the early eighties, along with the side-wheelersMagnetandSpartan(the latter of which the writer knew on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence), she was transferred to Upper Lake routes...

    • Chapter 7 FOLKLORE OF THE FISHING ISLANDS
      (pp. 70-76)

      THAT the Fishing Islands, on the west of the Peninsula, like White Cloud and others on the east, have mysteries of their own is the most natural thing under the sun. Their very fabric, the perils of dubious shoals and channels that beset them, give manifold reasons for wonder. It is hard to find a likelier place for the brooding and hatching of folklore. Long before the white man came these islands were the scene of wreck and death to Indian wayfarers in the great Freshwater Sea. It was with fear and trembling that even the boldest of the early...

  6. PART THREE: NATURAL WONDERS AND RESOURCES

    • Chapter 8 THE TIDES O’ BRUCE
      (pp. 79-93)

      MANIFESTLY, this is salt water language! And yet here we are listening to it on a little bay of a great freshwater sea. But the parody of Shakespeare is not just a joke. In Pleasant Harbour—one of the loveliest inlets of Lake Huron—you will really find a very marked ebb-and-flow of the waters. And that is the same phenomenon that forced the anglers, whose skipper’s voice we overheard, to tarry a few minutes at the mouth of the lagoon in North Boat Cove. It was their ill luck that they had tried to make the open lake at...

    • Chapter 9 IN THE DAY OF THE WILD PIGEON
      (pp. 94-107)

      OF the many gifts that Nature bestowed upon The Bruce one in particular will never be seen there again. Indeed, it has vanished from the face of the earth. It is known now only in museums, in slim dockets of old records, and in the memories of a very few men of exceedingly great age. All too soon there will be not a single one of these left who can say: “With my own eyes I have seen this once marvellous gift—the vast armies of the wild passenger pigeon.” Among my elderly friends there is only one who saw...

    • Chapter 10 THE GREAT DRAUGHTS OF FISHES
      (pp. 108-120)

      ON his map of 1815 Captain Owen clearly shows lying off The Bruce a line of small islands one of which is larger than any one of the others. He leaves them nameless. But in 1822 Captain Bayfield fills in the gap by writing across it the name “Ghegheto” and, close by, the words “Fishing Islands.” In another document the Indian name is spelt “Gaheto.” There is reason to believe that this form is none other than the Huron or Petun word forislandorislands. Until 1885 the tiny archipelago belonged to the Saugeen Indians who in that year...

    • Chapter 11 THE SERPENT IN THE GARDEN
      (pp. 121-132)

      EVEN the Garden of Eden had its serpent. Whether it was physically as well as morally venomous, the sacred narrative does not say. But Eden is not alone in this distinction. At least one other garden shares it. Not long ago a journalist declared that Ontario is not only the garden of Canada but a veritable Garden of Eden. Nor did he pause here, but added, with all the earnestness of parochial loyalty: “In this beautiful garden of Ontario there are no venomous snakes.” Thus with a single patriotic breath he blew away the last of the barriers which, during...

  7. PART FOUR: PLANT HUNTERS AND THEIR QUESTS

    • Chapter 12 JOHN MUIR WAS HERE
      (pp. 135-143)

      THAT John Muir, the famous American apostle of conservation, early in his career drew from a prolonged sojourn on the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron a measure of the inspiration that made him what he was, is a bit of history known only to a few. Among the parts of this region in which he fared was the Bruce Peninsula. That fact is enough to entitle him to space in our pages, though he was more familiar with the territory east of Owen Sound. It is an honour to the whole region to have a valid though small claim to...

    • Chapter 13 THE TRAIL OF THE ALASKA ORCHID
      (pp. 144-151)

      IT was in a book that I was introduced to the Alaska Orchid, and it was the author himself who opened the book for me. Though this happy event took place in the early nineties the memory of it is as fresh as if it happened yesterday. At the time it meant much to me that the author of the little green book,¹ who was my teacher of botany, had, twenty-five years before in another Ontario school, taught my father also. “The proof of the pudding” applies to teachers as well as to the sweets of a repast. Father, having...

    • Chapter 14 “THE HERB CALLED HART’S TONGUE”
      (pp. 152-159)

      THE same teacher who in my teens kindled my zeal to follow the trail of the Alaska orchid also launched me on the quest of another unusual plant of The Bruce. This, in the quaint words of a Welsh folktale, is none other than “the herb called hart’s tongue.” Actually this “herb” is a true fern, though at first glance few people would know it as such. “It is very rare in North America,” said our teacher, “and grows among the rocks and forests of the Bruce Peninsula.” These words, coming from one who had the gift of making even...

    • Chapter 15 ORCHID AND FLOWERPOT
      (pp. 160-168)

      WELL, now that at last you have found the “big thing,” is there anything around here worth looking for?” That question was thrown at us the morning after we had found the Hart’s Tongue fern in its native lair in The Bruce. It nettled me a bit, probably without real reason; I seemed to sense in its tone a hint—no more than a hint—that for a man on the far side of seventy to take on another long chase was the height of rashness. My reply was quick though perhaps too sharp: “Yes, there is something else; and...

  8. PART FIVE: FOREST AND WOODSMAN

    • Chapter 16 AND THE TREES TROOPED OUT
      (pp. 171-180)

      AND the trees trooped out! Yes, they trooped out in companies, in battalions, in divisions, in armies. Then, mustered afresh in certain strategic places, they were reformed and sent forth over many routes to diverse destinations. The process of evacuating the forest stronghold of The Bruce did not last many years (though longer than seemed possible at the start), but when it came to an end it was alarmingly near to being complete. In but few areas was there left any reason to expect that some day they might again raise a force of the most sought-for trees—the pines...

    • Chapter 17 THE MILL AT GHOST LAKE
      (pp. 181-191)

      COULD a zealous angler ever bless the day when his luck utterly failed him? The very idea seems preposterous. Well, I did once; indeed, I still do. If the fish had been biting on the day when I first cast a line in Ghost Lake I could never have known the halo of lore and authentic history that surrounds the name of a remarkable lake.

      The Indians of the Bruce Peninsula called this unusual body of water Ghost Lake. Today the prosaic white man knows it as Gillies Lake, a name which though it fits the history of the region...

    • Chapter 18 THE MILL AT STOKES BAY
      (pp. 192-200)

      AS we know, the mill at Ghost Lake was not the only sawmill of the early days of The Bruce. Of the others not a few have left behind fragments of stories telling of mingled success and failure. Some of these are written in the form of ashes, rotten logs, and crumbling stone walls and foundations spread over the barren surface of unsightly clearings. Indeed, several of these stories of unlucky venture can be found, in certain files, recorded in the red ink of still unpaid bank borrowings. One of the brighter tales, though not wholly untarnished by spells of...

  9. PART SIX: SKY PILOT AND SETTLER

    • Chapter 19 PILOTING ON THE NEW FRONTIER
      (pp. 203-219)

      AFTER the Jesuit Mission to the Hurons came to its tragic end in 1650¹ nearly two centuries passed before the white man renewed his efforts to bring his religion to the Indians of the Peninsula. In 1834 the Reverend Thomas Hurlburt, a Methodist, started a mission among the Saugeen people on their lands near the present Southampton. He must have been a man of great energy and tact and of self-effacing devotion, for when after three years he moved to another field he left behind him a congregation of about one hundred persons. To this day most of the Indians...

    • Chapter 20 LILACS AND LOG CABINS
      (pp. 220-226)

      THE Bruce has many notable traits, but one stands out above all others: her spectacular ways of proving the indestructibility of life, its refusal to be smothered out by any conditions, however adverse. On every hand she parades her proofs of its tenacity. Let every tree be laid low on any given tract of the Peninsula until nothing but bare ground and naked rock is to be seen: yet, after no more than two summers, the unpromising surface is green with the tender foliage of seedling aspens, pin cherries, and birches, under whose shade will be nursed the young of...

  10. Appendix WHEN SIR JOHN A. PUT HIS FOOT DOWN
    (pp. 227-238)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 239-245)