The Honourable James Bartleman (27th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario), Port Carling

My Muskoka – Winter 1949

Every evening when I was a kid in the 1940s, I’d manoeuvre rough logs up onto a sawhorse and use a small bucksaw to cut them into stove lengths, afterward splitting the larger pieces into smaller sizes. After carrying in armloads of wood to fill the box beside the stove, I’d return to sit outside, paying no attention to the weather. Alone, except for the reassuring company of our sleigh dogs, I’d think over the events of the day, enjoying my thoughts and cherishing the silence of the village in winter. Sometimes, if I was lucky, the night sky would erupt with the breathtaking spectacle of the northern lights as dancing spirit warriors reclaimed the souls of the departed and swirled down from the heavens to shimmer and crackle above the rapids in the nearby Indian River. Other times, I’d sit quietly in the falling snow and watch as snowflakes drifted soundlessly through the light of street lamps in front of our old house and blanketed the silent highway, disturbed rarely at that time of the day and year by passing cars and trucks. I would never, I thought, find greater peace of mind no matter how long I lived.