Manitoba or Bust

Peter Nichol met us at camp that summer and we were promptly shipped off to Capreol to catch the CN line's passenger run west.  What I remember most about the first evening on the train was a guy asking if anyone would buy his wife (loudly) from the other end of their car.  I offered a quarter (really) to which he asked if it was Canadian.  I said, "No, it's American." He refused me.  

But that's not the good part.  That evening a westbound freight train, carrying grain, failed to cross onto a siding near Allanwater, causing the train to collide with another grain train going east.  200 cars were derailed.  All of the crew members of both trains managed to jump free, but the railbed was a mess.  Our train was diverted to the CP line!   We had to go to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and wait for the eastbound train to return and bring us into Allanwater from the west.  Thus, John Lehrman and Mike Ketchel eat your hearts out, Section E 1981 was the first Keewaydin section to brave the Manitoba Territory!

             Bill Seeley, 10/26/99

Heb's Tumps

Early in the season,  I had tried to undo the knots on my wannigan tump as taught me by my previous staffman.  Heb flew into a bellowing rage (I am sure it wasn't a rage, but I was horrified all the same).  He said, "Those tump knots haven't been undone in 20 years.  I'd gotten them just right." 

          Bill Seeley, 11/2/99

The Time We Almost Drowned Wendy

On another portage, Heb's tumpline broke. Rather than reach for a spare, Heb decided to repair the tump on the spot with his rivet kit.  Meanwhile, we had gone ahead and spooked a moose at the far end of the trail. As Heb was taking some time with his task, some of the section went for a closer look. Wendy, following suit, swamoff to "catch it."  We who remained behind could hear Wendy yelping in the distance (a sound which seems to have had no effect on the moose hunters).  When Heb finally arrived, tump newly riveted, he asked where Wendy was.  We relayed the tale and he flew into a rage using words not fit for the family stage.  

Fearing for his dog's life, he launched his canoe, curtly ordering Bill into the bow seat, who was in his canoe for the day*. Off we went to find the pig beast who had swum out past the reeds after the moose and gotten "lost".  Well, if you are familiar with Starbucks enticements to his fellow whalers on the hunt in Moby Dick you have a picture of what Bill went through.  If not a little research will enlighten you.  

Dave to this day can still remember Heb propelling his 18-footer almost out of the water with each stroke. And he can still remember the terrified expression on Bill's face, which ebbed and flowed from bad to worse, each time the canoe surged forward. When they reached the terror-stricken Wendy, Heb called out, "Low brace!!!" and lunged for her, pulling her in by the scuff of her neck, as Bill leaned away as if to save his own life. Anyway, the pig dog lived.

           Bill Seeley & Dave Chapin, 10/26/99

* Heb had, as a good math instructor should, constructed an elaborate rotation schedule to ensure that every lad spent ample time in the stern and in the staff's and guide's bows. This way he could get to know each camper and be sure that all learned all aspects of canoeing life.

Where's My Keewaydin Jacket?

In 1980, Ted Forbes presented one of the boys in Section C with a wool

jacket at the final campfire, putatively for the feat of having gone

swimming every day of the trip. I remembered that, and thought that this

was a hard and fast rule. As a result, with the ambition of a zealot, I

convinced Dave, Chuck, and Brett that we should also go swimming every day

so we could get wool jackets at the final campsfire (like real staffmen,

except not a green and black one). I am not sure if they were as convinced as I

was, but we went every day all the same, even in cold rain, and even one

night when there was more green slime off shore than water (that night we

had to use a paddle to clear a space in the algae for dunking).

When we left Allanwater for base camp, I envisioned myself standing in front of camp at the final campfire accepting that jacket. Well, Pete wasn't sure that he wanted to be the purchaser of four wool jackets. Instead at a Tim Horton's, we got to share a dozen donuts four ways instead... Thanks Pete.

         Bill Seeley, 11/2/99


One day as we paddled into a stiff wind helicopters and float planes kept 

passing low overhead. Finally, at the end of the day, after what I remember 

as a long push, a helicopter  settled directly overhead and just watched us for 

awhile sending Heb into a tizzy. The wash was threatening the buoyancy of the 

canoes. The helicopter finally wandered away and we were met shortly thereafter by some

"fire jumpers" in an aluminum skiff. 

They told us the route ahead was on fire and that we really would have to turn 

back since it was a narrow river that we intended to travel. Heb was not happy. 

They could have turned us back earlier. In any event, we rerouted. I recall two days 

later spending a late afternoon watching them bomb a fire in the distance, and then waking up in a cloud of condensation and ash the following morning.

          Bill Seeley, 11/2/99




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