Allan goes hunting again

My life-long friend, Allan Kielczewski, at 76, reports his illness has returned, but also reports his regular deer-hunting party is ready to accompany him again this fall.
Allan told me it’s now 60 years since we hunted together on a Rainy Lake island next to his father’s fishing camp at the Rat River. That’s where we bagged a big one-spike buck, and I haven’t ever had the time nor inclination to go deer-hunting since.
Meanwhile, he’s been hanging ’em up every fall while my own interests involved farm animals and cattle. Allan’s present companions include better-known Emo-ites such as Reeve Russ Fortier and they may range far and wide, probably by plane.
Maybe he wondered whether I wanted to go hunting again because he phoned the very next day after I contacted his oldest son, Larry. We had much to talk about, including Mine Centre friends from our school days.
I had believed Allan’s illness left him, but cancer was not dominating our conversation because more hunting lies ahead.
His group must have already covered much of this whole area in past hunting seasons. Now they’ll go at it again and there’s no more capable leader than Allan, who grew up on our boundary waters and never left them.
Remember, his commercial fishing career goes back to dealings with the Fort Frances fish house, which has been closed more than 20 years. It brought the Kielczewski fish by the ton in the days of the late Dan McCarthy and Spike Struve.
Allan’s dad, who raised two other sons with the same expertise with guns and fish nets, came here from Wisconsin and could keep us kids listening to his stories—like about how he provided railroad builders with wild meat and also served as an early deputy sheriff.
Frank had a previous family including Orrie, who brought up his children close to Kettle Falls before moving them to Alaska, where his daughter wrote a popular book.
As I said about Allan, outdoorsmen fits this family very well. So when hunting season rolled around again, the deer of this region were never safe. If my own walking had not slipped so badly, I might apply to accompany Allan’s party for one last go-around—and a venison steak.
The lure of hunting is always present for farmers like me, of course, and there were times during my fall plowing that I wished I had my rifle along. I’ll never forget all the opportunities I passed up to fill our freezer with wild meat.
But that isn’t the same as the success that thrills a party on filling their hunting licences with a trip.
So I wish Allan and his party the best of luck again this fall. There isn’t anyone more deserving after all his many hours of hunting, especially when this comes at a time when his hunting years may be limited.
Good luck, anyway, Allan, and remember to share your experience with the others. Just make them buy their own bullets!
• • •
My daughter, Sara Ann, is now Mrs. Ted Aarestad since her wedding Saturday, Nov. 29 in Winnipeg.
Many will want to know because she is well-known here. She moved her computer business to Winnipeg several years ago.
Her home has now become Sioux City, Iowa.
• • •
When our old shoemaker named Tront had his name misspelled as “Toronto” in my recent column on Scott Street, that was not my mistake. Usually I go over my column before it runs, but missed doing that or hopefully I would have caught the error.
The Tronts, located next to Shorty Labbe’s cafe, also took over his restaurant when Shorty died. That was next to Bud Stinson’s old gas station, on the post office corner.
• • •
It was probably that I left the idea last week that gold can still be found at Mine Centre, because I never had a column that attracted more interest! One of the callers, in fact, suggested I should write a book on that subject.
Readers will be much relieved to learn that will never happen.
It was a Mine Centre-ite who suggested the book, too, but he’s of more modern vintage, being Carl Huber, who has settled on what’s known today as the Zoochkan fields.
That had a different name during my time there. John Zoochkan Sr., a local CNR section foreman, evidently bought the land we knew as the Larocque farm. That’s on the north side of the railroad.
I refer to the Foley road across the tracks, leading from the village to the old Foley mine and long-vanished old Mine Centre—the ghost town that was long considered a good source of gold.
Old Mine Centre and the Foley were located more than 10 miles south of the present village. This intrigued me and one summer day, I sent a former Times reporter, Dilys Buchan, out there to look it over.
But all she could find was a long forgotten graveyard and a silver cup that was next to a wooden cross.
The last Foley mine manager I knew was named Staggey, and I’m sure Joe Bliss, who has always lived at Mine Centre, could tell more than I know about him.
Staggey always shopped at the Bliss store, then managed by Joe’s dad, Ed, by the railroad. As a boy, I’d see Staggey come to the store with a horse and cart, same as “Ma” Albiston, also from the Foley. She rented a Fort Frances home from my folks.
She was married to a noted violinist, Harry Albiston, and my dad created a concrete headstone when that couple was buried here.
Earlier, she got me to show her the lower riverbank here because they lived there before going to Foley mine. Although very old, her memories were strong concerning whiskey profits at that site during the U.S. prohibition.
Mrs. Albiston had a hollow wall in her home here full of whiskey bottles! The police came and pounded there, to no avail, because her bottles were packed in tightly so as not to make the wall sound hollow!
Another local lady who remembered the mines had been a school teacher at the Golden Star. Her husband was our historical photographer, Cecil Howarth. His son told me the other day that much of Cecil’s work has been preserved.
While teaching, Zelma Howarth, she told me much later, was savagely attacked by a dog tied up at the mine. Dog teams were once popular at Mine Centre and, in fact, we could not have gotten along without sleigh dogs.
And that’s pretty well where my knowledge of Mine Centre days ends. To do a book, maybe the fellow to ask would be the modern prospector, Jack Bolen, who has researched it and been all over the place. He seems to own much of the old mining properties today.
Because the little I can remember from my own boyhood close to Bad Vermilion Lake would never fill a book, although a lot comes up concerning my family’s circumstances. We rode in probably the first old car to travel to Pacitto’s mine, where my father was employed for two years, long before our present road was built there.
If I got started writing, I’m sure much of my book would be dominated by our colourful one-room teacher, Fanny McKenzie, and not the gold.
But she, like others there, was certainly priceless and deserves a book all by herself. It was all the wonderful characters around us at Mine Centre who kept my memories alive.

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