tell of his childhood in rural Ontario, Canada – a time that is foreign to
people today. The changes he saw in his lifetime were truly amazing. The
book also includes several stories of his time spent in the Canadian army
including a story of landing on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. The story
titled, The Bravest Man I’ve Ever Known, tells an amazing tale of courage,
as do the other stories during the war. A Good Life is a book that everyone
should read, one that tells the heartwarming stories of a great man.
Ice Boating on Georgian Bay
Winter usually started in Collingwood the day before Christmas and this year was no exception. We skated on Tea Lake, which got its name because the run-off from the tannery coloured the water brown and made it look just like a big pot of tea.
By the end of January, the lake was frozen clean over to the Christian Islands and some people would drive across the ice. I found myself some skates. They were the kind that screwed onto your boots. If you had shoes that were your size and that were strong enough to support your weight, they would work.
The kid who lived next door to us, Bill Willis, and I decided to make an iceboat. We got a good pole for a mast and ran the boat out to Clark’s light and had to tack back and forth many times before finally reaching home. The next Saturday, we decided to try to go down to Wasaga Beach. We could lay down behind a wind break just behind the sail’s mast and once in a while look over the top of it just to see if we were going in the right direction.
We were about five or six miles down the shore when I happened to look up and see that there was an open stretch of water ahead of us. Within a few seconds we found ourselves in the freezing water. We were lucky that the ice was strong enough to hold our weight so we could clamber out. We decided to quickly get to shore. It was only a half-mile or less to the highway so we started to run. We wanted to get out of the cold wind and we made our way through the deep snow. We hoped to catch a ride on a truck or some other vehicle to get home. Our clothes were all frozen stiff and we could only move our knee joints and our arms. At the highway nothing was moving. We ended up having to run the five or six miles all the way home.
We were nearly frozen but it was just noon when we crossed Shannon’s Bridge and we were nearly home. I passed out just as I got into our woodshed at home. When dad got home from work, he took one look at me and my shoes covered with ice. He got out his pocket knife and cut all the laces in my shoes so he could get them off and then the rest of my clothes slipped off fairly easily.
By this time, my mother had a washtub full of warm water and I was soaked in it for about an hour to get warmed up. It was funny but I didn’t even catch a cold after that long run in frozen clothes.
When dad went next door to find out how my friend Bill was doing, they were still trying to get his shoes off. They were chipping the ice to loosen the laces. Thank goodness my dad didn’t care about the laces. He just wanted to get me out of my shoes in a hurry and to get me warm and dry.
I went back to school on Monday morning. Bill, however, suffered with a bad chest cold for two weeks before he was able to go back to school.
A couple of days later, I went back to the scene of our incident to see if I could salvage our iceboat. There was no trace of it anywhere. No doubt it is at the bottom of Georgian Bay.