“For Friends’ Intelligencer”
IN THE THOUSAND ISLANDS
CAMP STE. ANNE, GRENELL, NY.
Eight Month 18, 1901
A second moon has looked down upon the Thousand Islands since we pitched our tents and launched the boats at Camp Ste. Anne. Last night it shone out from between two dark, purple clouds, while the afterglow of a gorgeous sunset still adorned the heavens and was mirrored, ruby red, in the waters beneath, ---the beauty of the sky and bay holding us spell-bound. Supper was spread on the roof, where we might watch until the last golden lines had faded. The many canoes that had been enjoying the sunset, then glided along home-ward in the twilight, reminding one of times when the Indian warrior moved stealthily along in the dusk on the war-path.
All was still save the dipping of the paddle, the lapping of the waters, and the note of the whip-poor-will on Murray Isle. We moved closer to the water’s edge and some of the canoes pointed toward our landing, and there, grouped on rock, pier, and canoe, friends enjoyed the quiet together, when suddenly a huge steamer, heavily laden with passengers and a band of music, emerged from behind the island and turned a powerful search-light on party, camp, and canoe---studying every feature.
Earlier in the season there was a hush in the pleasures on Grenell Island, and our flags were all half-mast, for Mrs. Grenell was dead. A beautiful steam yacht bore her body away to a distant burial place, and as it passed down the River many islanders gazed sadly and reverently at the departure of their aged friend, a pioneer of the islands and one endeared to all.
The camp is fragrant with the odor of sweet grass today, for our friends, the Indians, have been here. We bought their baskets, and gave them food and drink, which afforded an opportunity to listen to their conversation. There are no real Hiawathas here, nor do we find many unmistakably pure Indians as our friends, the Navajos, or Hoppas; but so akin to Canadian that the French language is as familiar to them as their own.
Now they raise their tiny sail and start for another island, while we push off for the “Narrows,” to enjoy the beauties there. The steamer “St. Lawrence”, which brings the mail, is just touching at Murray Isle; and the “Nightingale” is waiting for its turn to effect a landing at the same place. Across the bay the steam yacht “Where Now” passes some smaller sailing craft—the “Hornet” and “Water Witch’. Bright sails dotting the river for miles, rise and dip with the wind.
It is gossiped about the islands that the “Erro,” the fastest yacht on the St. Lawrence, has a rival—that a new launch has appeared, making still greater speed; but, ask the oarsmen and they’ll say, The “‘Erro’s’ all right.”
Our boats return from the “Narrows” laden with water lilies, sweet fern, and some reeds held together with a long, picturesque bird’s nest, who owner had deserted it, leaving it rocking above the waves perhaps to be occupied another year.
After the camp chairs and blankets are spread about on the deck we have two other visitors. These appear to be Sisters of Mercy, soliciting alms for the erection of a hospital in Manitoba. They had sweet faces, the smaller one being frail and delicate. Seated under the awning, looking about admiringly, and we thought, longingly, at rock and tree with the water lapping at her feet, she said: “It is very beautiful here; how restful it must be for you!” and then added, “we are not permitted to go on pleasure trips; we have a mission. We are working sisters’—nurses.”
When taking their leave, four of us happened to cross hands, when one of our party hesitatingly drew back. “O, yes!” said the sisters, “Please make the sign of the Cross!” and so, to gratify her, the farewell was taken with crossed hands.
Just at this date the fishing is fine. This was not so early in the Seventh month, as the eel-flies were here those myriads of exceedingly delicate creatures whose life seem to terminate the instant they come in contact with any foreign body. These insects the fish recognize and jump from the water to seize. Fat and satisfied they then ignore the choicest bait offered them. So fishing for a time was unsatisfactory. At present fine pickerel and black bass are quite plentiful. Our neighbor has just caught a muskalonge (sic) four feet long, weighing twenty-six pounds. We thought it quite absurd that one should catch that huge creature with a tiny hook and live bait, but the proof was there.
Huckster and butcher alike come to our tent door in their canoes, either from Canada or the New York shore. It makes one fairly sigh if the market man sails by to another island, forgetting to make his regular call. It certainly means row or fish for your dinner.
Last week the program included a trip to Gananoque, which was made in a larger sail-boat going in and out among many beautiful Canadian islands as well as those belonging to New York. Among the State lands are several reservations tastefully arranged with pavilions or other attractions for pic-nincs (sic).
As the vessel bounded along with well filled sails, and waves breaking into silver spray across her bow, it made a pretty picture, indeed; and while the sunlight rested on the mist and spray, it held a rainbow there. Nearing the opposite shore it became noticeable that the steamers answering to our bugle call all bore the British flag.