Father’s Day is this Sunday.
I’m not certain that it was a big day in our household growing up, although certain memories still come back to me.
After my father gave up cigarettes, he became a pipe smoker and one of the gifts he received on Father’s Day were aromatic pipe tobaccos. My brother and I would pick those sweet smelling tobaccos at Ray S. Holmes on Scott Street.
Behind the glassed in oak shelving would be an array of pipes and tobacco.
One year we even splurged and bought him a second carved meerschaum pipe.
Most Father’s Days were spent on Rainy Lake. Before we had a cabin, the day was spent on Stanjikoming Bay. In 1961, Dad had acquired an 18-foot Peterborough Admiral cedar skiff that was powered with two 10 h.p. outboards. The boat was kept at the sportsmen’s property at Frog Creek.
Dad really loved that boat and every spring he would apply another coat of varnish to the seats, the ribs, and deck. The boat then would be rolled over and the fibreglass that ran up to the gunnels would be checked.
The boat always seemed to leak when it went into the water, but after a couple of days, the cedar expanded and the leaking stopped.
We never travelled that fast. The wooden boat seemed to twist and roll with larger waves, and everything was packed under the bow. We were really fair weather boaters and I don’t have any memories of being soaked by rain.
We often were soaked, but that was from the spray of the water.
Father’s Day was spent fishing different spots in “Stanji.” We also would stop at any number of the beaches and swim in the warm waters (“Stanji” always was warmer than any other parts of the lake).
Mom would have packed a lunch for us. They were healthy lunches—cucumber, tomato, and radish sandwiches were in the cooler, along with lemonade that had been made and put in a one-gallon insulated jug.
If that ran out, we would just dip into the lake for a cup of water.
My father had to have had a lot of patience with us. Five people fishing out of the boat with lines running out of both sides had great potential for disaster and there wasn’t a fishing trip that went by without some person catching the propeller as we trolled.
More than once we pulled up on a beach with the nose of the boat pointed outward and the small motor tilted upward. The cotter pin was removed and the prop was lifted off, revealing a shaft wrapped in fishing line. Dad would unspool it while we cooled off in the lake. Mom most likely was holding on to the boat to keep it in place while the repairs were made.
Several years later, “Mother’s Worry” came along and we could travel much further on Rainy Lake. We had a back-up motor in case the bigger one died and used it for trolling.
Both my parents always had dreamed of owning a cabin and on the Father’s Day of the centennial year, the first footings were poured. “Mother’s Worry” carried all the building materials for the shell. It probably was often overloaded.
The cabin became the centre of our summer life, and it remains so today. Dad and Mom’s dream came true.
You can see his work in the stone fireplace barbecue pit he built. His initials are in the walkway up from the dock, and the table he built from clear fir sits in one corner. His old steel fishing rod rests in the closet with the Ambassador Reel my mother had saved for.
I remember his telling me to cast against a rock and let the lure drop into the water. The water exploded and I caught my first bass.
I have used that technique many times again.
After his grandchildren came along, Dad decided they needed a floating raft to swim to and dive off. He bought the materials, and it would be floated out and anchored for the summer in front of the cabin.
As Father’s Day approaches once again, Dad’s memories abound on the lake.
Father’s Day is this Sunday.