From early spring

Two wheels are both leisurely and elegant. No doubt it was these
considerations which in the beginning of Time decided Romance on riding
in a two-wheeled cart. We cannot imagine Romance anything but leisurely.
She lives where time stands still, yet paradoxically hitches to the
wheels of Progress. It is true we cannot imagine the automobile or even
the aeroplane without a four-wheel carriage. But it is equally difficult
to think of either of these as leisurely. They are the symbols of speed
and utility in a commercial age. Nevertheless, despite the new order of
this age of speed, Romance, though not utterly ignoring car and plane,
continues to ride in her old cart–

“Jiggity jog, jiggity jog!”

Bad roads, or no roads at all, never betray the ox or Dobbin into the
ditch. “Get out and get under” is a song not in the two-wheeler’s
repertoire. Yet of course the slow-coach misses, as by a great gulf, the
thrills which are the auto’s and aeroplane’s very own. So, between two
or four, for the time being, honours are easy.

Yet to the two-wheeler must go the honour of pioneering transportation.
With it began all life in Canada. And there are parts of the Dominion
where two-wheels are still a people’s dependence. All Eastern Canada
still pins faith to the two-wheel cart, whether it be Quebec or dear old
Nova Scotia or the far-away Islands of the Gulf. Big wheel or little
wheel, or whether “_cheval_, _chien_ or _le boeuf_” produces the motor
power, Romance, in the East, still rides in the two-wheel cart.

It appears on every road. Where there are no roads it must go along as
if there were one. Unless a forest obstructs no lesser obstacle can ever
hope to turn one of these old carts from its objective.

One may tramp a country road in Quebec without seeing a sign of life.
Then presently a speck heaves in sight on the distant horizon. Long
before it can be “made out” intuition says, “It is a two-wheel cart”.

As it comes towards you, its own individuality becomes more and more
evident. You can distinguish it perhaps for the cart of the old woman
from Saint Feréol who comes down once or twice a week to sell her
pickings of wild _framboise_ or mountain raspberries to berry-hungry
Pilgrims-to-the-shrine-of-bonne-Saint Anne. For, shrewd old woman that
she is, she knows that even “pilgrims” must eat.

This old weather-beaten French-woman and her cart from the hill country
are well-known characters of the Beaupré road; and every woman having
anything from a farm to sell, hails madame as she drives along, so that
when this particular cart arrives in the town every village housewife is
agog at her door to see what madame has brought them to-day “_pour
diner_”. And as for the cart itself, it overflows with beets and
carrots, potatoes, maple sugar, a jar or two of honey; and, from the
mass, struggling chickens gasping for breath. But “_des oeufs et
framboise_” are all carefully protected under layers of cool leaves.
Some morning we engage to ride back with madame when she has sold all
her berries and what-not. We sit, one on the board beside the fat figure
of madame, the other, on a box among the empty berry pails in the body
of the cart. We ask madame how she got so many tins? “_Du lard,
mesdames, du lard_”, she responds quickly. Looking about on the heap of
lard tins, it seems to us as if the mountain folk must buy lard just to
get the tins for their berries.

At first the springless cart is a little too much of a good thing, but
we soon get used to the jolting and then forget it in speculating on the
sights and sounds of the road. That whirr and buzz is not bees but a
spinning wheel at work. We look in at an open door and there is madame
at the wheel. She and the market woman exchange a hearty _bon jour_. The
houses are fairly close on this road. Scarcely one is passed before
another heaves in sight.

In some yards the hay-cart goes into the barn with a full load. In
another there is heard the heavy thud, thud of the loom. From our high
seat we can see right into the room where madame is at work, shuttle in
hand, bobbins in basket, balls of yarn on the floor.

Then behind us comes the honk of an automobile. Neither Dobbin nor
madame seems to have heard. Their sang froid is in no wise disturbed by
the speeding motorist or the cloud of dust in which he envelops our cart
as he flies past. It is not until we turn off the main highway, where
the catcher-up-of-dust motor





meant little more to madame than a summer whirlwind, that she and Dobbin
rouse themselves to an interest in the road.

The road here does two things. It goes off into deep woods and it begins
to climb up and up. Madame gets down on her side of the cart.
Simultaneously we fall out of it behind. Dobbin gets a drink at a cool
spring. We wash hands and faces.

The old woman cries “_Allez, allez_”, and Dobbin once more takes to the
road, now leafy and sylvan but steep and winding, urged along with many
an admonitory “_marche donc_” from madame. This shade is very grateful
to both Dobbin and his mistress after the hot morning in town vending

It is such a road as the motorist down there would never think of
attempting. There is now a look about Dobbin at one end and madame at
the other of the worn leather harness and reins, and a something about
the lines of the old weathered cart which bespeak the satisfaction of
the master. Down there, the Ford had the road to himself. He flew over
it. But up here, this perpendicularity belongs to this trio of the old,
belongs to the two-wheel cart and the old French market woman.

Just for a moment down there, our heart went back on our conveyance. Our
allegiance weakened. We said, “Oh, for a car!” But up here in this “land
of the sky”, where the road comes out on the mountainous brow of ’Tite
de Cap and the gray St. Lawrence lies far below like a silver ribbon,
the blue mountains of Northern New England against the southern sky, and
away behind to the West, a smoke in the sky that is Quebec, our faith in
the cart returns with smashing convincingness. The two-wheel cart’s the

When madame begins to stop in front of cottage gates to pay out of her
deep pocket the proceeds of each morning sale and we hand out to eager
hands the right number of lard tins going to repeat their mission as
berry containers, to our minds nothing is wanting in the Romance which
weaves itself about the scene and the figure of the old cart and its

But we must not ride forever in this mountain-climbing and thrifty “hope
of the hills”. Other carts are calling. Let us drift down stream on the
bosom of the St. Lawrence, far out where it is “The Gulf”, away past
Prince Edward Island to the Magdalens. In this corner of Quebec the
two-wheel cart is practically the only means of land transportation.
These Island carts, like the islands themselves, overflow with
originality and character. They are soft and full of the sea’s wetness
as they come toward us along the treeless, island-landscape. We notice,
too, a difference in the horse. The Magdalens cart is drawn by an island
pony. Mares are accompanied by shaggy colts, all legs, running beside
the mothers, or following behind the cart, noses over the tail-board.
When the load is a long mackerel boat going into winter quarters, after
a season’s fishing on a distant beach, it is indeed a strange
procession, the up-hill-and-down road causing it now to heave in sight
and now to disappear as if the boat still rode the mobile crests and
valleys of the Gulf.

But the most romantic of all the carts is the procession across the long
barachois, a winding procession crossing the sands–cart after cart–a
Canadian caravan of the desert. All sorts of weird and bizarre shapes of
dusk and distance and creeping sea-fog add to the romance of this
strange train.

What takes the caravan into the desert? Not the trade in rich silks and
carpets of far eastern looms or the bringing of precious stones from one
mart to another, but a trade just the same–an individual and romantic
trade peculiar to the Magdalens–the culling of the clam, the tiny,
hard, white mollusc with as pretty lights in it as the pearl when it
comes wet from the underseas sand-home out there where the wet sea-fog
begins in the eye of the wind.

One may think the path-finding lead-cart of this caravan has nothing to
do. But try to find your own way across these sands and you will soon be
glad to follow along behind any old cart that heaves in sight, even if
it is navigated by an old cow in harness. Out here the sea-wind licks up
the sand and fills in and levels off landmarks just as the Scirocco
levels off the shifting dunes of old Egypt.

Over there, there is the instinct of the camel, the desert knowledge of
the man, and the light of the stars to guide–but out here on the sands
of the Magdalens it is a woman’s hand that holds the reins of the lead
horse. Her cart may be made of bits of driftwood and in the half-barrel
tub, in the waist of this semi-sea craft, a rusty three-pronged homemade
digging fork, and a lantern by her side, may be the only gauges to a
rising tide.

Could your eye follow the long caravan winding its way across the sands
at night, lantern after lantern, a Will o’ the wisp line of light and
black figures in whose path lies the sinister quicksand, you must easily
fall under the spell of this wet and mystical wraith of the night which,
coming nearer, resolves itself into a succession of carts coming from or
bound to the clamming.

Like light comedy, sunny and bright and tenderly human by contrast with
the night caravan of the barachois is the scene of children of the
Islands playing in the two-wheel cart next morning in the home yard.
Elder brother plays Dobbin. Two garcons and a habitant maid occupy the
driver’s seat. Mother in Breton cap and ample apron gives confidence to
the baby who fain would ride too, but fears the big adventure. Another
year, however, and he will ride with the boldest….

At Percé the two-wheel cart is a beach character. Sometimes “_le
cheval_”, but just as often “_le boeuf_”, comes swinging along over the
beach shingles and sand with the cart for codfish heads. Nowhere but
among coastal folk is the codfish head either available or prized as
garden fertilizer. Tradition says that our forefathers learned the value
of the buried codfish as fertilizer from the Indians. The fish-guano of
trade is ground into a powder. But old-timers of the seacoast let nature
do her own pulverizing. They bury or half bury the heads which are now
the only part of the fish spared to the land. Every old woman’s turnip
or potato bed hereabouts rests on a but partly concealed foundation of
heads. Every afternoon when the boats come in from sea with fish you can
watch the old men and boys coming with their carts to spear up with
pitchforks the residue of the splitting-tables. And when it is not heads
that are up, it is a load of seaweed they are after. The sea can always
contribute something with which to make or enrich a garden.

Between the Government pier and the renowned Percé Rock, after a heavy
bit of weather from the North, the beach is strewn with a carpet of
algae rich in the chemicals “good for the garden”. Truly there are
“subjects” galore awaiting the artist in Canada!

All these carts mentioned are big and are found anywhere on the coast.
The dog-cart is tiny and is especially of Quebec. For three hundred
years the dog-cart has been reigning in Quebec. When one hears the
habitant talk of “_le chien_”, one may be quite sure the subject is the
dog which draws a cart. There is no other dog known thus generally to
the whole countryside. Most of these little carts are homemade affairs,
and, strange to say, unlike the larger carts, usually have springs.
Many of the seats in these tiny carts are built up, so that the driver
sits above his “horse”. Many of the carts are fitted with iron
foot-rests which fall below the body of the cart. This arrangement is
handy when the driver happens to be a tall man. The driver and rider in
a dogcart is not always a child as might be supposed. In Quebec
labourers ride to their work of a morning in a dog-cart. Sometimes the
load is as much as the dog can navigate, but having deposited his master
at mill or factory he is free to roam all day until closing time, when
he must be on hand to carry his master home again. For many miles they
come, these little carts and but for the dog how would the workman get
to his work? The dogcart is by no means a toy. It serves a phase of
Canadian life and helps along Canadian business.

Another phase of the dogcart life is seen at noon when from all around
the countryside dogcarts foregather bringing to the workmen hot dinners
the wives have cooked. It is a sight to behold when thirty or forty of
these little wagons dash along the Saint Gregoire highway at noon bound
for the cotton mill at Montmorenci Falls. The driver in each cart is now
a small boy and, dinner or no dinner, there is sure to be a race as to
who gets there first. The dogs look as if they enjoyed the sport as much
as the boys. Coming back, the children take their time, there being no
hurry to get back to home and play with the empty pail.

In many parts of Quebec the dogcart is often enough the perambulator of
the smallest member of the “grande famille”. Older children, in these
cases, usually go ahead of the dog which follows drawing in his tiny
cart the little monarch of the household and the road. On all boyish
adventures the dog comes in, with the cart. Of course, there are dogs
and dogs, even here. Some are finer and sturdier than others and none
are thoroughbred but all are suitable for their work in the little cart.
And it is surprising what loads they can pull. All the carts are
constructed so that little weight comes on the dog.

Such scenes along the Quebec highway where dogcarts may even be seen
taking a bag of mail from train to post office, carry one back to
similar scenes in old France and Belgium. But in the outlying districts
the dogcart’s chief use is for bringing in firewood, in some instances
from the handy pile in the yard, but usually in the form of boughs from
the scrub of the sea-coast, or the distant hills.

The highest form of the two-wheeler, however, though perhaps not any
more picturesque than its humbler brethren, is of course the caleche.
The caleche was the earliest voiture of seigneury times. It had a period
of great popularity. Jaunty in line, it swayed with every rut, in the
day of the bad road. Then the more elaborate four-wheeler was brought in
from both England and France and the caleche fell into disuse, soon
almost entirely disappearing from the Quebec highway. A few lone
remnants of former glory now appear daily before the Hotel Frontenac,
picking up an occasional “fare”. Someone with enough of the romantic
spirit left will wish to see Quebec, city of the Intendents, revert to
the vehicle used in that day. Nevertheless, though the caleche has
practically died out, even at this moment, darkest in its history, there
comes word that it is to have its renaissance; one more proof that
Romance still lives in the hearts of modern life; one more proof that
the two-wheel cart of Romance is still a prime favourite with this old
world, which is more than ever a-wheel.

From early spring until late in the fall, by every highway and by-path
of rural Quebec, and almost as generally in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton,
the visitor happens upon many a housewife turning into multitudinous
service a great iron pot or cauldron, neatly suspended from a log, or
perched skilfully between two heaps of field-stones.

These wayside cauldrons of eastern Canada, with their constant fires,
and their contents always “a-bubble, bubble, bubble”, unlike the
witches’ pot on the heath of auld Scotia with its song of “trouble”, are
to the countryside emblematical not of disaster but of a wonderful
domestic prowess that is far-reaching indeed in its scope and effect
upon national life.

For although many of these wayside pots look common-place affairs in
themselves, the crudest and least artistic of them represents the
individuality and the effort of some man or woman who stands behind it,
who fathers the thought of it and the work it is intended to aid in

Even when you pass one of these out-of-doors pots, whose fires are
extinct until wash-day or dyeing day comes round again, you
unconsciously feel at once through the pot’s suggestion that in that
little farm-house, over there by the barn, dwells a woman with
initiative; some strong capable soul–some mother of invention–who
turns every simple object at her command into a tool of service.

Investigation of the pots in active service reveals a long list of
different works which this one utensil is able to accomplish. The Quebec
habitant woman graciously informs madame, that by means of the pot she
accomplishes the great wash for her “grande famille”, and that in it she
dyes her home-grown wool clipped from the sheep grazing over there on
the Laurentian hillsides. After every operation she scrubs the interior
of the pot thoroughly, so that though one day it accomplishes the
dyeing, the next it may be used to heat the water for M’sieu to convert
the big porker into winter meat for the family, etc.

Madame’s faith in the great pot is expressed in her tones. To her mind
the pot is indispensable on every well-regulated farm, an absolute
necessity in every household. The very children take it for granted.
The wood-pile and the pot-by-the-running-brook are to them as natural
objects of the landscape as the blue mountains or _La Chute de

Moreover, the pots are more than this in their _enfant_ days. The
youngest child of Old Quebec looks upon work _avec plaisir_. To little
French Canadian children, what we are pleased to call “work”, is the
highest form of play. Every child, and nearly every grown-up, loves to
build and keep going, a wood-fire out-of-doors. The great pots of Quebec
and Nova Scotia give children an opportunity to serve at a fire and to
serve with pleasure. They run about and gather the chips and the flotsam
and jetsam yielded by the nearby stream, or fallen branches from the
trees, while an older girl pushes the various contributions of wood into
the bright and cheery bonfire under the pot that, with the strange
faculty of inanimate things, often takes on a look of enjoying it all as
much as the children. Thus, wash-day or soap-making day becomes to these
eastern households a sort of picnic. Many hands make light work, and
madame of the _grande famille_ of sixteen or eighteen children
accomplishes her wash of seventy-five to a hundred pieces with signal
ease and entirely without complaint through the pot’s assistance–the
pot that hangs under the blue skies above the glowing coals–the
out-of-door pot that magnetizes the willing hands of normal children.

Dye-pots, wash-pots, soap-pots are essentially and quite naturally
enough presided over by women. These things come under “women’s work”.
Such pots, as I have hinted above, have their positions determined by
the presence of some small brook that runs through the farm. The place
of the pot, of necessity, follows the vagaries of the brook. (“If the
mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain”.)
Thus it follows that the eastern Canadian wayside pot may be situated
near the house or several hundred yards away, in some pasture through
which the brook flows. The pot is carried to the water, but the water is
never brought to the pot, which is a thing to remember. Canadian women
are canny! And, the farther away from home the pot stands, the more of a
picnic soap-making day becomes for both mother and children. The ways of
these wayside pots are past finding out to the casual man or woman
driving over these rural ribbon-roads of the Laurentides, unless this is
remembered. For one pot may be so close to the road as to cause his
horse to shy, while the next may be off in a field with no house



in sight, and still another may be lost to sight down some stony
river-gorge, the ascending smoke alone telling the tale. But, apart from
the dye-pots and their sisters, there is yet another class of pot found
near the coast regions, pots that play an equally important part in the
upbuilding of Canadian life. These are the tar-pots, the lead-pots, the
seal-oil pots, etc., necessary to the fishing industry of our extensive
Gulf of St. Lawrence and Atlantic coast. These pots differ, too, from
the first class, in that these are presided over by men and boys. From
Percé to Digby, the shore-road throughout its many hundreds of miles via
Cape North and Halifax is “the way of the out-of-door pot” no less than
“the road of fish”.

When the magnitude and the significance of this is realized, it is
easily seen that these out-of-doors pots hold in their iron sides
considerable power over national industries and national life.

The sea-side pot is a sort of freelance. It is a man’s affair, often
wearing a sort of devil-may-care expression, no doubt produced by
environment. When the Nor’easter freshens to a gale it may strike the
old pot abeam, just as at sea it strikes his master’s schooner. But the
pot never capsizes any more than the schooner’s seams, which the tar-pot
tarred, open. So the old pot squints an eye to windward and laughs in
the face of the dun cloud and the freezing spume, knowing the dory will
come again to him for tar.

What fisherman can go after King Cod or any other fish without “a
sinker,” and a heavy one, for his deep-water lines?

So the beach-pot is also a lead-pot. Any bit of lead, sheet-lead that
lines tea-boxes, any old scrap however small, the old-timer saves and
consigns to the magic pot.

The king of the sea-board pots, in point of size is the dye-pot, in use
for cooking the concoction of spruce-bark employed to dye the seines the
pretty art-brown, which coast-fishermen consider the perfection of
camouflage against the piercing “submarine eye” of the silver
herring–so necessary as bait.

A pot of net a-soak, or men and boys spreading the wet net from the pot
on the beach-stones to dry, is a common sight on any fishing-beach of
the Maritime Provinces.

These pots presided over by the men are never kept as neat as the inland
out-of-door pot presided over by the women and children of the family,
but their usefulness is by no means inferior.

Up in the Bay of Fundy, nature in the great tides of that region aids
the work of the tar-pot. When the tide goes out, leaving the bottoms of
the plaster-carriers bound New Yorkward hard-and-dry, then the tar-pot,
aiding the indispensable oakum of the caulker, closes once for all and
to a certainty, the seams that open, insuring the delivery of the cargo,
aiding in its humble way the success of Canadian trade, no less than the
tar-pot of the Atlantic coast and its brother-worker the lead-pot aid
Canadian production.

The seal-oil pot of _Les Iles des Madeleines_ approaches nearest to our
idea of the witches’ cauldron. Standing on a narrow sandpit by the road
to Havre Aubert, the black-smoke and the dancing figure of the man
stirring the oil, the odour, and the gray sea, a stone’s throw away on
either hand, make a dramatic picture such as, I am sure, would be
encountered on no other highway in the world.

“Making things out of wood” seems to be a “gift” with the Quebecquois.
But wood-carving is not confined to Quebec, although possibly it occurs
more generally in that Province than in any other.

All Canada sponsors “woodcarving” in her sons, because of the generous
supply of wood everywhere, with the exception of the Prairie Provinces.
And even these may easily obtain it from their generous sister Provinces
East and West.

Down Nova Scotia way a man seems to concentrate better if he has a bit
of wood in hand to whittle. And as his thoughts are concerned more or
less with the sea; almost without thinking the bit of wood in his hand
becomes a little model of a boat or a schooner, an oar, or a miniature
mast. The wooden-ship was cradled in the fingers of these old-timers.
Her spars may have been contributed by British Columbia, but what of
that. Is not British Columbia, Canada’s Maritimer, too? So it is, from
coast to coast.

Quebec’s carving is of a more domestic nature. M’sieu builds a house, a
little maison with “lines”, _mais oui_. In his conception and execution,
there is a certain deftness purely French. He carves some original
design in the piece of wood over window and door-frame, pointing and
panelling it to fancy, and afterwards painting it some pretty
colour–strong reds, blues and yellows–striking a bizarre harmony,
attractive enough; especially when Madame puts a piece of Royal-blue
wall-paper, sprinkled with gold fleur-de-lys inside the windows as

Down the north shore of the Saint Lawrence one meets little girls
hugging in their arms long sticks of firewood, which ingenious grandpere
has carved into “dolls”, life-size; and to which he has nailed shapely
arms, terminating in rather wooden hands.

The face has been made more life-like with a touch of paint, carried out
in the hands too, if there happened to be enough to go round. There are
no elbow-joints, but the arms turn at the shoulders most ingeniously on
the old nail. And the child who possesses such as one among dolls,
always wears a happy smile on the little, frank, French face of her, as
she totes the heavy stick across the grain-field-path, the waving ears
almost higher than her head and she the envy of every other child in the

For the boy, there is the toy-boat, or the miniature warship, from the
same source–the rough log from the woodpile…. When M’sieu throws the
axe over his shoulder and goes off into the woods to cut firewood
invariably he returns with some old root that has struck his fancy and
in which he sees a latent “figure” of some sort. So, up on the highland
road to Murray Bay one happens on many a farmer who whittles pipe-bowls
from the _little_ roots; and on the Lowland road before it becomes
highland the big root resembling a moose’s head, is the prop of many a
stack of firewood.

Everywhere there is the universal, homemade, wooden Cross and the
handcarved symbol of the Crucifixion standing by all roads.

Every graveyard in Quebec, whether it be in the Laurentides section,
clear against the sky with the Saint Lawrence a panorama at its feet, or
whether it be some Indian graveyard, boasts its handcarved wooden
head-and-foot pieces and, of course, the big central wooden cross.

These wooden memorials of the graveyard are frequently very artistic.
The figure of an Angel in silhouette and life-size, with shoes and
stockings, encountered in one cemetery, appears especially adapted to
the _Paradis_ it would have the passing world remember. Somewhere in
that district there lives a man with the instinct of the sculptor; yet
he works in wood. And the pity of wood is that it is so very perishable.
In a year or two at most, the elements take these wooden memorials in
hand to their destruction, and that is the reason stone is now almost
universally taking the place of these old-timers.

But to return to the houses! Much of the furniture of the farmhouse is
handmade. Tables, with sliding tops, which allow the table to be
converted into a comfortable chair, are the pride of many a habitant
housewife. And, of course, there are the loom and the spinning-wheel,
with its accompanying shuttles and bobbins, all handmade.

But this woodcarving is an art that, though so common in Quebec,
recognizes no Provincial limitations; and so for the climax of profane
carving as against the religious subjects, say, of Monsieur Jobin, we
must go down into New Brunswick and interview Rogerson the master
Figure-head carver of Saint John.

Rogerson is a Scotchman. As you look into his keen blue eyes it is
difficult to realize that eighty-three years have intervened since





he first saw the light of day. He came to Canada in one of the old
sailing ships that held the Atlantic passenger trade ’tween-decks
seventy years ago. One of the sweetest word-pictures ever listened to,
Rogerson sketched, of his old mother cooking their meals on deck in the
brick fire-place included in the culinary appointments of the Atlantic
trip in those days. Soon after his arrival in Canada his father died,
and he was apprenticed to an uncle, a master figurehead carver of Saint
John, about 1850. Figuring it out, it would seem that for a hundred
years at least, there have been figurehead carvers of this one family in
the old city of Saint John, that, with Halifax, is Canada’s Twin-Gate to
the Atlantic.

When Rogerson had completed his time as an apprentice and worked awhile
with his uncle, “he felt”, to use his own words, “that he was repeating
himself.” So he gathered up his tools and went off with them over his
shoulder to Boston, much as any ambitious art-student, whatever his
chosen medium, hies him to Paris. Boston, in those days, was the centre
of the sailing-ship trade in America. “Out o’ Boston” sailed the
“clippers” in the China trade. Rogerson tells how at evening, after his
day’s work was done, he used to go along the docks from ship to ship
studying “The Figure on the Bow.” And he tells, too, how he worked for
first one leading firm and then another of the master figurehead carvers
of old Boston till he himself presently stood in the first ranks, able
to turn out any figure on demand in red-hot time. “Skippers couldn’t
wait in those days”, he adds. And even as he talks you see that his
memory has reverted to the time when “sails” must need _jump_ when winds
and tide beckoned. Then having learned all that he could in Boston, he
returned with high hopes and the skill and confidence of the
“Master-Carver” in his fingers, to the business-opening he recognized in
Saint John, with all the new ships a-building on Bay of Fundy “ways”, at
Parrsboro, Windsor, Hantsport and, who knows how many more of the old
bay’s outports.

And now he follows with such a list of Figureheads, as seems incredible,
until one recalls Rogerson’s long span of life, and that he worked “in
red-hot time.” Among those standing to the credit of this Saint John
carver “The Highland Laddie”, “The British Lion”, “Ingomar”, “Governor
Tilley”, “The Sailor Boy”, “Honolulu”, and “Lalla Rookh,” held high
place. About each, Rogerson relates some interesting legend. Of his
“Sailor Boy” he tells how a man came into his shop some years after it
was carved and told him he had a rival carver somewhere–that “there was
a ship out in the harbour with the finest figurehead on it he had ever
seen!” This haunted him so, that next day he closed the shop, got a boat
and rowed out to the vessel. On coming round her bow, there, above the
waves and himself, stood his _own_ figurehead!

Of “The British Lion”, he says, “It was a rouser!”

The ship that bore Governor Tilley at the bow had a long and successful
career, but was at last wrecked on the Norwegian coast. Through one of
those mysterious channels of Marine Intelligence, that sailors on the
waterfront know, Mr. Rogerson learned that though the ship was a total
wreck the figurehead was salvaged, and that his “Governor Tilley” now
stands in a Museum in Norway; and Rogerson thinks that it should be
brought back to Saint John.

The “Lalla Rookh” he had not seen since it left his hand to sail forth
upon the high seas till we showed him a photograph of it obtained while
the ship, at whose bow it stood, loaded deal at West Bay, near
Parrsboro, for the trenches of France. To think it was so near and yet
this old carver did not see it! Yet it pleased his old heart to know
that “she” was still afloat and carrying-on in the hazardous runs across
the Atlantic, with only sails and the courageous spirit symbolized by
the figure on the bow to aid her against enemy submarines–submarines,
the last word in sea-craft. It was on the “Lalla Rookh” that Frank T.
Bullen served his apprenticeship as sailor.

Of the “Ingomar” Rogerson says: “I always think it was my finest piece
of work. Strange to say,” he continues “I have no photograph or even
rough sketch of it. It was to be, I suppose, for the ship that bore it
was wrecked near here in the Bay. I went out to see the figurehead and
found it had escaped damage and I made every arrangement to return and
take it off; but the very next day a gale of wind came up and when the
gale abated not a vestige of my figurehead remained.”

“Old-timers among ship-owners had fads for names”, Rogerson says.
“Sometimes it ran to Indians, sometimes to mythological figures,
sometimes to reigning sovereigns; at other times to their own wives or
daughters, or to some popular man about town, or to a popular governor,
etc.” Among his Indian figureheads he recalled “The Indian Chief”, “The
Indian Queen”, “Pocahontas”, “Hiawatha”.

When fancy ran to the name of the ship-owner’s wife or to those of
well-known persons, the figurehead carver worked from a favourite
photograph, so that some old figureheads of this type are in fact
sculptured figures of the people themselves, people who in most
instances have long since passed away. The “Governor Tilley” figurehead
is a case in point and Rogerson is right in saying it belongs to New
Brunswick rather than to Norway.

Rogerson’s last piece of work was a labour of love. Not many years ago
he took a trip to Scotland to see the place of his birth and to revisit
the scenes of his early childhood. While in Scotland he collected, here
and there, a number of pieces of fine woods from old historic buildings,
etc., and these he brought back to Saint John, where in his leisure
moments he designed and carved therefrom a beautiful chair, which he
presented to the Saint Andrew’s Society, in whose assembly-rooms it now

Who is it comes so swiftly down the snowy highway? Who is it cuts
“eights”, “eighty-eights” and Paisley patterns, among the snowbound
trees of the northern Canadian forests? Who tames the wild, free,
northern country into proper service? Who follows the fur-bearing
animals to the death far in these same northern wilds? Who but the man
on snow-shoes? And who makes snowshoes?

Dropping down for a week at Indian Lorette in the Province of Quebec we
found “rooms” in a very quaint, steep-roofed, old house in the Indian
village by the Falls of Lorette where dwell the last of the Hurons.

There we came and went–idling the mid-summer days–down the little
lanes in slow and friendly fashion; coming upon children at their games;
women in door-yards sewing or embroidering moccasins, ornamenting them
with fancy designs in dyed moose-hair and porcupine quills; stepping
into rooms where small groups of men, and occasionally a woman, were
building canoes; chancing into still other rooms where men were at work

“_Oui, oui, m’sieu, madame_, the Hurons of Indian Lorette ’tis they who
make the snow-shoes.”

And, who are these Hurons–makers of the moccasin, the canoe, the

“Oh, m’sieu, madame, what will you in one leetle week?”

But at the same time, a week in Lorette _is_ a long time if one gives
every moment to it, as we did, scarcely stealing a moment for _déjeuner_
or _diner_.

The Indian Village that proves itself only partly French, despite its
French name, since it utterly refuses to follow one long street, is
neither all French nor all Indian, but resembles some little escaped
English garden romancing as the capital city of the Hurons–nine miles
by the Lake St. John Road out of the city of Quebec.

The English lanes of Indian Lorette all seem to convene at the old
church. And that too, strangely enough, gives one the impression of an
English village church. Perhaps it is the green in front, with the old
George III. cannon, that village tradition says “came here after the
Crimea”. At any rate “the English atmosphere” is there. But the
resemblance blends into old Jesuit, once we cross the threshold. If
Angleterre speaks in the cannon without, _m’sieu_, the dulcet voice of
France charms as sweetly within. First, we must see “the little house of
the Angels”, let into the wall, high above the altar. It is not very big
but great significance attaches to it, for this little house was used as
an object lesson by diplomatic missionary priests of the early days to
drive home to the Indian mind the sanctity of the home and the value of
the centralizing agency of a house as against the tepee.

“It is a little figure of the house of our Saviour and Mary, his
mother,” an elderly Huron woman told us in a half-whisper, “and some bad
men stole it, one time, and the people prayed and prayed; and one
morning, they got up, and the little house was back. The Angels had
brought it in the night.”

It is a dear little house in old dull blues; and somewhere about it,
lines of ashes-of-roses melt in with the blue, and there’s a little
touch of real old gold to give values. A bit of art in its simplicity,
is this little house from France, the “house of the Angels”, that won a
tribe to architecture and–higher things.

I think the Angels did bring it!

I think, too, they tempered the wind to the shorn lamb in sending “Louis
D’Ailleboust, Chevalier, _troisième gouverneur de la Nouvelle France_”
to be, as the crested tablet on the opposite walls says, “_Ami et
protecteur des Hurons_”.

Born at Ancy in 1612, “the friend and protector of the Hurons” died at
Ville Marie “_en la Nouvelle France, en mai, 1660_”. So reads the third
Governor’s life history as here quaintly but all too briefly written.

One could spend hours in this little church, so French within, so
English without; weaving with its souvenirs pages of history! For there
are many treasures locked up carefully in the sacristy–_anciennes
pièces_ of hand-wrought church-silver from France, and many rich
embroideries and a priest-robe wrought by the hand of court ladies and
presented by the queen of Louis Quatorze. “_Ah, oui, oui, madame, c’est
magnifique!_” In detail–but who cares for detail? It is sufficient that
these valuable relics of olden days are _here_ for our modern eyes to
look upon on a summer day, greatly enriching our experience.
Nevertheless, who would expect this sort of treasure in Indian Lorette?





To the left of the little “international” church lies the old burying
ground where at dusk one parching summer evening we came upon the
graceful figure of little Marie watering the precious flowers growing on
her “family” graves–graves with the curious “wooden” head-stones–so
popular all through rural Quebec–made by the local carpenter or some
member of the family who is also something in the way of a woodcarver.

As all Lorette roads lead to _l’eglise_, so they ramble their lane-like
ways away from it, wandering first by the little village grocery
occupying a cottage–once an old homestead and neat as a new
pin–picking a tree-lined way between little whitewashed _maisons_ in
yards, flower-filled, up to a _grande maison_ with steep pretentious
French roof, vine-covered porch and dormer windows–a house that was
once an H. B. C. Post, according to village tradition. One can readily
believe it. To speak briefly, it shows the “hall-mark”. Nevertheless its
pretentious dimensions are as much of a surprise here in Indian Lorette
as the exquisite embroideries of _l’eglise_, to which all that this
house suggests of frontier life, when this was the frontier, appears so
entirely opposed, and yet, of course, was not.

For in the “olde days” a strange unity often existed between phases of
life apparently wide apart, giving zest and ambition to adventure and
investing commerce and the early church with the halo of a dramatic
interest that still clings.

All over the British Empire are nooks with these touches–the union of
the truly great of time and circumstance with little places. Canada
appears especially rich and happy in the possession of innumerable
villages and towns of this description. One has but to follow “the
trail” to discover them everywhere.

The atmosphere of Indian Lorette is not all of the dead and gone
variety. “_Non, m’sieu_, Lorette is still–a stage in the limelight.”

It is “a stage” that has moved forward its appointments in a truly
marvellous and skilful fashion so as to link up “the Canada of all
time”. For nothing we could name so bespeaks the true spirit of Canada
in one breath as do the things found here in Indian Lorette in the full
swing of production–the snowshoe, the moccasin and–the canoe.

The canoe, especially is a motif–a giant pattern gliding powerfully
through the very warp and woof of the land. To go back–modifications of
the canoe were here long before the Norsemen or Cabot or Columbus. To
go forward–who can foresee the canoeless day?

So, stepping up to a Lorette door and over the threshold, to happen upon
a bright, berry-eyed, deft-fingered woman with sure and certain strokes
tacking a canvas over the frame of a canoe, the boat that typifies
Canada, was like coming unannounced upon the spirit personality of the
land itself.

Ma’am’selle was all graciousness; at the same time artist enough not to
lay down her tools but kept at work as she talked–tapping punctuations
with her little hammer that had a character of its own, taken on by age
and much use.

“_Mais oui._” Many years she had worked at the canoe-making “_avec mon
père_.” “_Mais certainement_” she liked it.

“_Difficile? Mais non._”

The canvas went on as we watched–then the stem-bands. Ma’am’selle
worked quickly but without haste, after the manner of an old hand. The
stem-bands in place ma’am’selle rested and began to talk again.

“Would we not see the beginnings?”

“_Oui?_ Then upstairs, mesdames.” This invitation was accompanied by a
slight bow and a sweep with the hammer in hand towards a little
pine-board stairs. And up we went to make the acquaintance of _le
bateau_ itself in its “beginnings”.

Have you seen a canoe in the making–the swift manipulations, the
decided, skilful movements, in which every stroke counts? Have you seen
the surety of the French-Huron hand at work at this inherited trade, how
fingers, guided as if by magic, lay the thin, slim boards in place; how
the knives swish through the wood at the desired length; how the little
plane disappears in the maze of shavings it has created? A tap here, a
nail there and the last plank is on.–A moment ago, it was a board lying
on a bench. Now, it is–a canoe!

If you have thus watched, then you know the sensation, as we do, of
having beheld a clever trick performed without knowing how it is done.
For to say the least, canoe-making at Indian Lorette is a fascinating
bit of sleight of hand! Ma’am’selle says it takes two days to build a
canoe. But the preparations–oh yes, that takes much longer.

We inquired as to the market, where they were sold. At this ma’am’selle
contracted her shoulders in a French shrug, threw out her hands–still
holding the hammer in the right–and cried, “_Mais oui_–all over

Hand-and-glove with canoes and snowshoes goes the moccasin. The moccasin
in Indian Lorette is an old, old story–as well as an elaborate
one–real and flourishing to-day. It was a surprise to us to find that
the Hurons still wear them, in lieu of shoes, about their daily
business. Men and women pass silently up and down these little lanes,
with no need of rubber heels, where the sole is like velvet.

The tannery lies across the bridge above the famous “Falls of Lorette”.
In the tannery yards moose-hides from the Canadian northland flap in the
wind, side by side with “hides” from Singapore. (For moccasin making
here is a business big enough to call for imported skins.) And yet “the
factory” is small, because most of the moccasin making is done in the
homes. The cutting, cutters and machines are at “the shop” but the
artistic embroideries in coloured beads and porcupine quills grow under
the skillful touch of women and girls sitting on their vine-clad,
tree-shaded balconies or making purchases from the butcher’s or baker’s
cart in the shady lanes, moccasin in hand.

In this way moccasins enter into the home life of this “remnant of the
Hurons” in a most intimate fashion. Even in the days of their prosperity
as a tribe the number of moccasins made never equalled the trade of
to-day. Nor was the market so large or so far-flung. One hears half a
million pairs spoken of with equanimity. One is surprised that so many
moccasins find their way to the woods and boudoirs of Canada and the
United States; surprised, too, that the Indians have made good to such
an extent from the commercial angle, creating, as it were, their own

Followed through all its quills and fancies, it is a pretty, homely
story. But after all it is a story that brings one back to the people
themselves. The chief is Monsieur Picard, residing in the old Hudson’s
Bay Company house. He is a young man who saw service in France. The
ex-grand chief–M. Maurice Bastien of maturer years–is actually the
ruling power. Chief Bastien belongs to “the old school”, is very
dignified, quiet, stands on ceremony, is the real head of the moccasin
industry and has the gift of entertaining. He has an exceedingly
pleasing personality and can carry solemn functions through to a
successful issue. All the responsibility of doing the honours of the
tribe to distinguished visitors falls to him. It is he who owns the
precious wampum and the invaluable silver medals, gifts of
distinguished sovereigns to himself and predecessors in office–one
medal from King George III, one from Louis Quinze of France, one from
King George IV, two from the late Queen Victoria.

Monsieur Bastien lives in a fine house tastefully furnished. On the
table in the parlour stands a photograph of Philippe, Comte de Paris, in
a blue vellum frame, a simple gold fleur-de-lys at the top. The Comte
presented his photograph to Chief Bastien’s father who was the
grandchief on the occasion of the Comte’s visit to Lorette.

There are many other valuable souvenirs but we liked best an old oil
painting of the pioneer days, showing Hurons approaching, as visitors,
the Ursuline Convent in Quebec. As a work of art it is probably of
little value, but its theme–its theme, _m’sieu, il parle_.

As Monsieur Bastien talks of the past while graciously showing his
visitors all these souvenirs, including his own feathered head-dress and
the blue coat with its time-faded brocade which he wears on state
occasions, he has the true story-teller’s art of making the times and
occasions live again, so that through the ages you see the long
procession of great families–Siouis, Vincents, Picards, Bastiens–from
the earliest time down to the present–hunters, makers of the moccasin,
the canoe, the snowshoe.

You see them off in the northern wilds of the Laurentides hunting the
skins that enabled them to fill British Government contracts every fall
for several years after 1759 for several thousand pairs of snowshoes,
caribou moccasins and mittens for the English regiments garrisoning the
citadel of Quebec.

A Sioui is still the central figure in the making of snowshoe frames.
Siouis and Vincents are still keen on the chase. ’Tis they who in season
guide the sportsman from over the border to the haunts of the moose and
_truite rouge_, ensuring plenty of sport.

But at this season of the year the Huron of Indian Lorette is off on his
homemade snowshoes far in the silences of the great fur country and the
timber lands of Northern Quebec working for a living–“hunting the fur
and the big log, m’sieu”.

It is the proud boast of the people of Pierreville on the St. Francois
river, on the south side of the St. Lawrence, that there is no bridge
other than the railroad bridges over any river between Pierreville and
Montreal, and that if you desire to cross any of these rivers you must
do so on the picturesque ferry-scow which m’sieu the ferryman, guides
over the calm water, mirroring reflections on every hand, on a
wire-cable cleverly seized by him in the snapping jaw of a sort of a
wooden monkey-wrench.

We “called the ferry” at this Twickenham of Canada for the first time in
August and set up house-keeping in a cottage on the main street of the
village of Odanak just at the point where the street comes out on the
high bank overlooking the river St. Francois. So that to watch the upper
ferry from our front porch became a daily amusement.

Pierreville and Odanak adjoin each other but enjoy separate
post-offices. Pierreville is the French-Canadian town and Odanak the
village of the Abenakis. Our “maison” was a sort of boundary line, I
believe. Odanak when translated, we were told by the Episcopal
clergyman, means “Our Village”, so what with the picturesque ferry and
literary suggestions of Miss Mitford in “Our Village” name, our August
camping-ground became atmospheric at once.

But wherever there are Indians they take the centre of the stage and
hold it. Odanak is “Our Village” to the Abenakis. And as far as I know
it is the only home-village in the possession of what is left of these

The Abenakis were the “original Yankees”. They came to the banks of the
St. Francois from Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts. If you wish to know
more about their interesting past read “_Histoire d’Abenakis, depuis
1605 jusqu’a nos jours, par L’Abbe J. A. Maurault_”. It is a thick
volume and makes a pleasant tale to read by a roaring fireside of a
winter evening. But this present sketch deals with the living
present–the Abenakis of “our day” from the human interest angle.

Just as the Hurons of Lorette are snowshoe, canoe and moccasin-makers,
the Abenakis are sweet-grass basket-makers. And their market? _Mais
oui_–all over Canada–east and west–, north and south, and the United
States. Rumour says that the turnover to the village and region from the
baskets is in the neighbourhood of $250,000 a year. Men, women and
children work at this basket industry. There is no factory. It is all
pleasant homework. Women at work sit on their porches. Housewives ply
their fingers in the kitchen, picking up the basket, as other women pick
up knitting. Little children braid the grass over backs of chairs in the
door of the little play-tent on the lawn. Schoolgirls make pin-money at
it. Neighbours gossip in dooryards, basket in hand.

Baskets talk in the grocery and dry-goods shops in Pierreville as
successfully as money. If a man or a woman needs a little change, he or
she takes a basket in hand and comes back with the silver. It was a
happy discovery when the founders of this people trekking it to Canada
came by chance on the original grass growing on islands in the river. It
was a still luckier turn of fate that prompted some old squaw to dry it
as a simple herb and in so doing–though she must have been disappointed
from the herbal point of view–to learn the astounding fact that dried,
_the grass gave forth a pleasing odour_–that it was–in her simple

So simple a discovery as this, and determination to put it to use, is
the Abenaki’s stock-in-trade. Out of it he has built up a
quarter-of-a-million dollar business. And he now farms the grass as do
more or less all the French farmers of this neighbourhood, because the
business has grown to such an extent that the natural supply is not
enough. The only part of the basket taken in hand by the men is the
preparation of the splint from the big log. The only factory (?) for
this work stood across the street from our door. It was merely a neat
yard with a board top for shade. Here every morning two big ash logs
were pounded with the head of a wood-axe until the layers or rings of
the tree’s growth could be stripped off. Little by little these strips
were made thinner by a man who separated the ends of each strip and tore
them asunder, through their entire length, by means of two small boards
held between his knees.

Other men ran the strips through a planing machine. Two keen steel teeth
in a board, paralleled the required width, and the wooden ribbon rolled
into a bolt was ready for both the market and the dye-pot of madame. I
should not be surprised if this is the only factory of its kind on this
continent. Certainly it is





the only one with Abenaki labour–and Abenaki atmosphere throughout. Its
counterpart has been here a long time. Its beginnings reach back very
far into Canadian history.

Visiting the dyer, madame, swishing her ribbons into her pots of boiling
dyes and out again even as you watch, speaks with regret, and if she is
an old-timer, with genuine sorrow, at the passing of the old homemade
dye of which her Indian forbears knew so well the secret. “Those dyes”,
she says in her soft English voice full of the plaintive tones of the
red man, and rich with memories of the past, “those dyes were beautiful!
and, oh, we could get such lovely colours with them! Oh, but now we
couldn’t make the dyes. It would take too much, and so we use the store
dyes. And of course we are very glad to get them. But the old colours
were lovely.”

And in dreams, you can see, she still beholds the pinks and blues of
other days. And herein lies what for her is the tragedy of the larger

However, the younger woman snapping the ribbons into splint-lengths with
her sharp scissors has no regrets. She holds up for inspection the
spokes of the bottom-wheel. “Six colours, madame,” says she–“yellow,
purple, vivid green, light blue, red and then pink.”

But the wheel turning in her hand like the wheel of fortune, brings us
around to the grass again without which there can be no basket. The
grass is a story in many chapters spreading out to the countryside and,
crossing the river, trailing its way through St. Francois du Lac, the
large town facing Pierreville, out to the French farms bordering the
high-road to popular Abenaki Springs, where summer visitors go “to drink
the waters” and idle away the summer days.

The grass is grown in a bed. When grown it stands up in long wisps two
to three feet high. Pulled while still green, girls of the farm-family
clean it of decaying leaves but do not bother to clip any clinging roots
because these hold the plant together better for the braiding.
Apparently it is wilted or dried only a few days when the “tresseuse”
takes it in hand. All down both sides of the river thousands of miles of
this grass-braid is turned out. Winter and summer the braiding goes on.
We saw them braiding away in August–the same hands are braiding
to-night. Abenaki fingers learned the A.B.C. of it in 1685 when they
erected their wigwams on the east bank of the river and here in the year
1922 they are still–braiding.

The “braid”, of later years, has grown to be a business in itself.
French farm-families of the neighborhood often grow the grass and braid
it. Then they make it up in hanks or _echeveaux_, and retail it to the
basket-weavers in Pierreville and Odanak. An Abenaki who can make more
baskets than she can grow grass for, is very glad to invest a little
capital in the hanks, as she also invests in the rolls of wooden ribbon
from the factory.

The Abenakis, despite all the work being done in the homes, are a very
neat people. They are nearly all well-to-do. Even if they do put all
their dependence in one–basket! So far it has proved a very safe
investment yielding a high rate of interest. They mostly all own
splendid little homes, some quite fine houses in spacious grounds.

“Our village” is as sweet a village as old Quebec affords anywhere! Its
main street is shaded by tall and stately old trees. In the centre of
the village and situated in a grove on the high bank overlooking the
river is their fine church, a simple yet dignified and peaceful little
place of worship.

Father de Gonzaque, the curé, is himself of Abenaki descent and a most
genial man. Calling on him one Sunday morning after Mass, the Grand
Chief happened to drop in and between them they kept the Abenaki ball
rolling to our enlightenment for upwards of an hour.

Father de Gonzaque is not only of Abenaki descent but he has been priest
here twenty-five years. And this is the Grand Chief Nicholas Panadi’s
third time of office, so we were indeed fortunate that Sunday morning.

Among other things we learned that the present church is the fourth on
this site. The first was a wooden one built in 1700, and was burned in
1759 by British troops, the Abenakis having espoused the cause of
France–and lost in the game for half a continent. But the Abenakis were
good churchmen. They built a second church the following year, in 1760,
this held the riverbank and the tribe until 1818, when it was
accidentally burned. Then for ten years they had no church, and Mass was
said in the council room. In 1828 the third was built and this in 1900
was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, and since that time
the present edifice has been erected, so that in a double sense this is
Father de Gonzaque’s church–for he built it.

An interesting tablet occupies a conspicuous place in the wall on the
left-hand side facing the altar, and reads thus:

To the Honourable Mathieu Stanley Quay, Senator of
Pennsylvania, U.S.A., of Abenaki descent.
“He made glad with his works
And his memory is blessed forever.”
A.D. 1902.

In the grounds of the church, in addition to the parish priest’s house,
the sisters have a large school for the Abenaki children, and there is
also a neat graveyard, and the Grand Chief’s house borders upon a little
lane bounding the church property. In front of the church on a bank
overhanging the river is a large summer house apparently for the
convenience and pleasure of Abenakis awaiting the church service. It is
remarkable for its rusticity, all the work being the handiwork of
Indians. And this in addition to commanding a superb view up and down
the river made it an interesting rendezvous for us of an August
afternoon. Not all the Abenakis are Catholic, however, as is testified
by the little brick church–also beautifully situated in a grove of
trees on the riverside–of the Church of England. The church is of
historic interest in that Queen Victoria herself gave the sum of fifty
pounds towards the building of it. It dates back to 1866.

There is also a Church of England school, and there they teach both
Abenaki and English. So that all in all the Abenaki children are well
taught, and all claim that the Abenakis are very intelligent and quick
to learn.

When the United States Government sent an observer to Canada some years
ago from the Indian Department in Washington to see what could be
learned from Canada as to the government of the Indians, the Abenaki at
Pierreville was one of the tribes and villages visited. The visitor went
back enthusiastic. He wrote pages about them in his report which began:
“In the beautiful little village of Pierreville”.

And this report was certainly borne out by all that we saw of the
Indians there. Like the Hurons they have intermarried very much with the
French, so that there are very few full-blooded Indians now living. One
of the purest is now an old man of eighty. He lives a little way out of
town and spends the evening of his life in comfort though not in
idleness. For he is the toy-canoe maker of the tribe. He specializes in
little birch-bark canoes about a foot long.

Whenever I see, no matter where, one of these little craft exhibited for
sale, it carries me swiftly back to the morning we came on old Joseph
Paul sitting at his bench in the shade of a big tree in his dooryard.
The old man is a little deaf but his pins and tools were all laid out so
neatly! Everything–twine and strips–just where he could put his
fingers on it with the least loss of time. It was inspiring just to
watch him building the little boat in hand. I had always had an idea
somehow that it was squaws who built the canoes till I saw this old man
at work. Is it ten dozen canoes a week he makes?

As I hold one of these little canoes in my hand what does it not

It symbolizes for one thing the voyagings of this people. Even now,
although they have homes here, the Abenakis are still _voyageurs_. In
the summer the men go off as guides to the sportsmen from the “Clubs”.
The reedy places of the wild duck’s nest, the best pools for trout, the
haunts of deer and bear and other wild creatures are familiar chapters
in their nature book. Those who are not guides turn a penny by tripping
it every summer to fashionable resorts of the Adirondacks with their
baskets and canoes. But chiefly baskets! The sweet-grass baskets are
made in many shapes. One company especially, one of the largest
wholesale dealers in Indian wares in Canada or the United States, shows
a sample book with many patterns and each pattern done in several
different sizes. Some are all green and others in colour. The
basket-makers have the trade at their finger tips. Never at a loss, they
can make anything which can be made with grass. The very old women are
expert napkin-ring makers, which is their specialty.

One old woman sits in her garden on the hill-climbing road from the
_traverse_, as the French call the ferry, and weaves her rings that are
to grace the dinner-tables of the east and west. She invites us, in her
frank manner, to sit down, seeing perhaps in the summer visitor a
possible customer. But no, she does not sell retail. “They are all
engaged, madame,” she remarks modestly. Then she adds, “but maybe, I
think, perhaps you like to look?”

So we take the chair madame offers, and a neighbor comes out and leans
over the garden gate and we chat, and on the calm river _le traversier_
ferries the flat-boat to and fro and his passengers in their strange
heterogeneous ensemble present a passing show that carries one out on
imaginary roads that lead back to the age when romance was in flower
here and Louis Crevier was _le Grand Seigneur_ over all this fair

That one may have some idea of the passengers who traverse the St.
Francois at Pierreville the following comprehensive _avis_ or public
notice at the landing-place will tell more in its quaint way than a
dozen paragraphs:

_1 personne 5 cts._
_1 Voiture semple 15 cts._
_1 voiture double 20 cts._
_1 Personne a cheval 15 cts._
_1 Cheval ou 1 bête a cornes 15 cts._
_Plusieurs chevaux chacun 5 cts._
_Plusieurs bêtes a cornes chacun 5 cts._
_1 Mouton 1 cochon 1 veau chacun 15 cts._
_Plusieurs de ces bêtes chacune 5 cts._
_Tout voyage de Bac 15 cts._
_1 Automobile 25 cts._

In addition to the basket-industry, the men at the factory by our door,
make rustic porch-furniture out of their ribbons of white ash. They
paint the frames of the chairs that bright art-red which gives our
porches such an air of welcome on a warm summer day.

Seldom a train goes out to Montreal–and there is just one a day–but
carries crate upon crate of baskets and shipment upon shipment of this
handmade furniture. When you come to think of it $250,000 worth of sweet
grass baskets spells a great many baskets. It spells application and
swift industrious fingers. It spells good homes and comfort for the
three hundred Abenakis living in “the beautiful little village of
Pierreville”, and it spells a dainty sweet-grass basket for many homes
in Canada and the United States.