24 December 2006

Merry Christmas!


Well, we're having a mild Christmas Eve here
on the south shore of Nova Scotia. I think it's
quite wonderful, although some of my friends
would like a white Christmas rather than the
green one that's in store for us.

I went for a short walk along the old mining
road. It's rather greasy with lots of water filled
pot holes. After stepping in a dozen or so of
those holes, I decided to make my way back
to the house.

As I was returning home, I saw Santa and the
raindeer pass high overhead. The old fella must
have been drinking, because I heard a bottle fall
amongst the bushes not far from where I was
walking. I soon discovered an empty rye bottle
caught up in the limbs of a small fir tree.

I suppose we should forgive Santa for having the
odd drink on Christmas Eve. After all, he's got
millions of homes to visit all over the world. He
must get scratched and bruised and black all
over from the soot of so many chimneys!

As I waved to the tiny image receding in the far
distant sky, I thought I heard "Ho Ho Ho! Gimme
me another bottle, Rudolph," on the breeze
blowing in from the southwest.

All the best!

18 December 2006

The Flight of Jim Charles -- Part 6


Below is the final part of the short story about
the legendary Jim Charles. I've enjoyed the process
of giving it in a series of posts.

I'll be back with a new post later in the week!

All the best,

Part 6

"Now, soon afterwards, Jim's wife went home, and was
visited by a lawyer who told her that he didn't think Jim
would hang for killing the man. When Jim heard this news,
he quickly returned home; besides, after all he had been
through, he really didn't care what they did to him.

"Well, Jim and this lawyer went to Annapolis, where
Jim had to stay in jail until the court date. At the trial,
Jim was found 'not guilty,' and released. He was a free

"In the meantime, Jim's wife had gotten quite ill. She
had been sick, even before Jim went to jail. She had
wanted Jim to get gold from his mine, to pay for her
medicine. But, he was afraid to visit the mine – afraid
of the dead man's ghost!

"So, when Jim got home, he found his wife on her dead
bed. She passed away that night." Here, Louis paused
again, as if thinking back to that horrible night, years

"Well, Jim pretty much lost his mind over her death. He
burned the house and barn. His little boy never forgot
that fire. He helped his father burn everything to the

"So Jim took his little boy to Bear River, and left him
with the Mi'kmaq people, there. That's where the little
boy grew up to be a man. It was also the last time that
anyone ever saw Jim Charles.

"Some folks say that he drowned in Rossignol. Other
people claim that the dead man's ghost still chases Jim –
that they've heard him. Another story says that he went
back to the gold mine, and that the dead man keeps
him there. Me, I don't know? Maybe one day someone
will find that gold mine – it's hard to say for sure.
I don't know."

Louis sat quiet, plucking the grass at his feet. I was
silent, also, as I pondered the flight of Jim Charles. I
looked around at the beauty of the place. The tall pine
and hemlock, the beautiful field slopping to Kejimkujik
lake, with its islands and sparkling water.

Then it dawned on me. I looked at Louis and said, "Your
last name's Charles! You must be that little boy! Are
you Jim Charles' son?"

Louis lit his pipe again, and took a few puffs. He looked
at me and grinned. "I think maybe you make a pretty
good guess," he said.

-- The End --

15 December 2006

The Flight of Jim Charles -- Part 5


I hope everyone is having a good December. Here is
the next part of the Jim Charles story.

All the best,

Part 5

"This torment went on all summer. Every night he'd
hear the sounds, and he's have to run and hide in
some hole, where they couldn't find him. In the
daylight, he was fine. He was able to sleep, catch
fish, and eat berries.

"There were nights when Jim would find a beaver
house; then, he would dive under the water, and
enter that beaver house. The beavers understood
him. He would stay there all night with those beaver.

"Jim would hear the hounds on top of that beaver
house, scratching and digging, and whining until
daybreak. The beaver would stay close to Jim, and
keep him company. If those frogs would start calling,
the beaver would swim out and smack the water
with their tails. The sound would scare the frogs, so
they would scatter and stay quiet. In the morning,
Jim would dive back into the water, and leave that
beaver house.

"In the fall season, Jim found himself near Rossignol,
where fish were plentiful. One day he looked far
upstream and saw a canoe carrying a man, woman,
and little boy. But he was afraid to go closer. He
figured it was his brother, with Jim's wife and little
boy, on their way to his brother's winter camp,
where he would trap and hunt moose."

Here, Louis paused, to fill his pipe with tobacco. I
looked out over Kejimkujik lake, imagining how this
place must have looked to Jim Charles.

"Now, by this time, Jim wore only a few rags tied
around his body. When he finally decided to visit his
brother's winter camp, his wife and child were terrified
of the wild looking man that suddenly entered the
lodge! But Jim's brother knew him right away.

"The little boy, he never forgot how Jim looked that
day. Jim explained how he had been chased by
hounds all summer, but his brother assured him that
neither hounds nor white men had chased him.
But, Jim wasn't convinced. He said that he had heard
the hounds every night.

"So, Jim's brother said that maybe the ghost of the
dead man had chased him? Jim got to thinking that
his brother's words made sense. It explained why he
had such difficulty keeping the hounds off his trail.

to be continued . . . . (The final part of the story
will be posted on Sunday evening.)

12 December 2006

The Flight of Jim Charles -- Part 4


Now, the story get's interesting, as Jim Charles
takes flight into the wild back country of south-
western Nova Scotia!

Part 4

Louis tapped on his pipe to loosen the tobacco,
before placing the pipe stem back into his mouth.
He puffed away on his pipe, as if considering his
next words.

"Jim was plenty scared. He jumped into his buggy
and drove home like a mad man. He was afraid the
authorities would hang him, but his wife tried to
convince him otherwise. ‘No, that other fella started
the fight,' she said.

"But, pretty soon Jim started hearing things – he
thought he heard the white men coming up the hill to
get him. So, he left his wife and little boy, and ran
away into the forest.

"Now, Jim Charles was the best hunter that ever lived
in these parts; he knew all the woods between
Kejimkujik, Rossignol, Little Tobeatic, Big Tobeatic,
and Bear River. He figured he'd hide in those woods,
and after a while he'd move far away, change his
name, then send for his wife and little boy.

"When he left that night, he took a fish line and
hook – he knew that he could easily build a trap,
and he even left his gun for fear the white man would
hear him shoot. Jim wanted to vanish into those
woods, and never be heard from again.

"So, he left home, wife, and family, going deep into
the woods where nobody could find him. Then, one
night, for some reason, Jim began to get very scared.
He kept thinking about that man he'd killed, and how
he looked lying there, dead. So, he quickly tramped
out the fire, and sat there in the dark, listening.

Pretty soon, he thought he heard blood hounds
barking, and was certain the white man was coming
for him. In Jim's mind, even the frogs in the swamp
were mocking, and calling at him. 'Shut up, you frogs,'
Jim called, but that only made them call louder!

"Jim jumped up and began running, falling over logs
and rocks, wading and swimming in the stream
where he caught that trout. He knew the hounds
couldn't track him in water. Soon, he got very tired,
and came on shore to rest – but he heard those blood
hounds again, so he ran back into the water, and
made his way upstream. After a while he left that
stream, and ran through brush and swamp, half tearing
his clothing from his body. And, the frogs, they were
still calling after him.

to be continued . . . .

07 December 2006

The Flight of Jim Charles -- Part 3

Hi Everyone,

Now, to continue with our story, let's
go to Part 3.

Returning to the camp site, I found the fish
prepared, and the tea steeping in a pot on the
coals of the fire. We ate a hearty supper,
then lit our pipes, and enjoyed a quiet spell,
while listening to the water lap the shore.

"Louis," I said, "who built that old road going
up the hill to that beautiful field?"

"Jim Charles," he answered, giving me a slight

"Oh, of course," I replied. "That's why this is
called Jim Charles Point."

"That's right," he said, as he broke a twig
between his fingers.

"Will you tell me about Jim Charles?" I asked.

Louis nodded. "Very well. But, there are many
stories about Jim Charles. He was a well known
man in these parts."

Louis puffed on his pipe stem, while I considered
my next words. "C'mon then, let's walk up to the
field. I want to hear the story, while we sit up
there on the grass."

Arriving at the clearing, we walked out into the
field, and took our seats in full view of the
blue grass, and near the rose bushes. We filled
our pipes and prepared for the story. Louis
considered his words, carefully, before commencing
the tale.

"Jim and his wife built a fine house on this
field, and Jim pretty much felt like he had the
best place in the whole world. You see, he had
this gold mine, and whenever he needed money, he
went to this mine and got a chunk of gold. He
would sell off the gold, and buy whatever he

"Why, he had himself a team of horses, and the
best buggy that money could buy! He built the road
all the way down through the woods to the white
man's road. Then, Jim and his wife could drive to
Annapolis, Milford, or wherever the white man's
road would take them.

"Well, bine bye Jim started drinking pretty heavy.
He'd go into town and stay late. The white men all
tried to get Jim drunk so he'd say where the gold
was located. But, Jim was smart -- too smart for
them. He'd drink all the liquor while keeping his
mouth shut about the mine.

"Then one evening he had an argument with his wife.
She didn't want him to go drinking in town. Well,
he left and when he got to that saloon, someone
asked him about the gold mine. Jim says, 'That's
none of your business!' Well, the man hit Jim.
Now, that was a big mistake. Pretty soon that man
was dead!

to be continued . . . .

04 December 2006

The Flight of Jim Charles -- Part 2


In any event, as I was saying last time, we arrived
at a cove where we intended to have supper and
camp for the night.

Part 2

While Louis prepared our meal, I decided to scout
the area to see what I might discover. I was
especially interested in cutting a large piece of
birch bark. He pointed over his shoulder, telling me
that I should head northwest, as there was a huge
white birch tree that would suit my needs. He said
that I would come to an old road, and that if I
followed the road, I would soon discover the tree.

I quickly located the old road, deeply gutted and
partially grown over with bushes. I was more than
curious about the road, and wondered why it was
created in this thickly wooded area, miles from
the nearest village? In my fascination with the road,
I completely forgot about the birch tree.

I was quite interested in following the road, to see
where it would take me. And, I wasn't disappointed!
Soon, I could discern a clearing up ahead, but, I
wasn't expecting what I found.

I walked out upon one of the most beautiful places
on earth! At my feet was a field covered in blue
grass that slopped down to the shore of Kejimkujik
lake, dotted with islands, and sparkling in the late
afternoon sun. I could certainly understand why this
was the fairy lake of the Mi'kmaq people – a large
blue and shoreless lake, dotted with green islands,
on which few but the little people have ever dwelt.

Walking down over the field with the thick blue
grass parting before my feet, I was surprised to find
several cultivated apple trees, loaded with fruit. Also,
I found there, old-fashioned red roses in full bloom,
and, nearby, a foundation grown over with bushes.
I looked around, soaking in the beauty, and wondering
who might have lived here, and why such a beautiful
place was abandoned?

to be continued . . . .

01 December 2006

The Flight of Jim Charles -- Part 1

The Jim Charles Story

Jim Charles was an interesting character who
lived in the Kejimkujik area of Nova Scotia in
the 1800s. The area most frequented by Charles
is now Kejimkujik National Park.

It's a fact that he discovered gold in the area,
and became wealthy -- he would visit his mine,
periodically, but always kept it a secret. A
number of people tried to locate the mine, but
always failed. When Jim Charles died, the
secret location of his mine died with him.

The following story is based on a short story,
"The Flight of Jim Charles," written by Albert
Bigelow Payne, and published in 1906. I've
basically followed Payne's storyline from
beginning to end, adding new material as I go

I would like to thank Ken Thomas of Bridgewater,
Nova Scotia, for bringing Payne's story to my

The Flight of Jim Charles

We left the little hotel in Milford on the morning
of June 7th, 1905. My guide, Louis, had joined
me there, and together we loaded supplies for
our sojourn into the wilderness area lying east
of Annapolis and Milford, Nova Scotia. It's a
large, rugged area of wilderness, replete with
lakes, streams, rivers, and a variety of fish and
game, including moose and bear.

Now, some seventeen days later, on this 24th
day of June, we've succeeded in exploring much
of this country, without meeting another living
soul. Louis knows this place like the back of his
hand, and seems always to know where to fish
the lakes, streams, and rivers. As a result, we've
eaten like royalty, and I've no doubt that given a
few hooks and a piece of line, Louis could survive
for months on end in this country.

This evening we arrived at a cove closed in by
large pine and hemlock trees. Coming on shore,
we pulled the canoe well into the bushes, and
carried our supplies to a clearing where Louis
said he had camped three years earlier. It's a
beautiful place, sheltered from all but the winds
and storms that might strike from a southerly

Louis set about preparing supper from the trout
we caught earlier that day. He's an excellent
cook and guide, having travelled the land for
most of his life.

I like my trout crisp and brown, and always look
forward to the evening meal. Often, Louis makes
luskinigan in a frying pan. It's an Indian biscuit
bread that's been made by generations of Mi'kmaq
people. It's especially delicious with a cup of hard
boiled black tea. The tea keeps one's innards
working, and is a relaxing way to finish a hard day
of paddling and portaging.

To be continued . . . .