5 – End of the Road
Another mystery . . .
Where were all the locomotives that roar up and down this busy transcontinental railway? We hadn’t seen or heard one in four hours. Had the beaver blockaded the tracks east and west?
On the way back to The Wadge, I proposed a side trip. Do you know where Camp 12 is? I said. It’s on a hill just before Manitou Falls, John said. Perfect, I said.
We turned into a side road that had two signs: Manitou Falls and Camp 12. Manitou Falls does really exist. Camp 12 does not exist. Really. It has not existed for forty years. So, naturally, there is a sign to direct travelers to this imaginary location. That’s in the nature of bush signs.
The road, which headed toward the Pic River, pinched in until it became a trail. At the non-existent Camp 12, it deteriorated to the status of a path. A sign identified the imaginary Camp 12. Camp 12, it said. Here, it implied. There is no Camp 12. There have been hundreds of bush camps in this region but few of them have signs. Camp 12 has a sign. But it does not exist. This makes perfect sense to a bush historian.
Camp 12 was built in a clear cut some sixty years ago. Today there is no Camp 12. The clear cut is a plantation of jack pine about forty years old. On this site one can hear the roar of Manitou Falls. It was a perfect location. But I was thinking like a writer.
You see, my first mystery novel, The Beardmore Relics, sprang from a hole in the ground. My current mystery novel, Geraldton Back Doors, directs the reader to a clearing in the bush. I’ve been looking for an appropriate venue for my next mystery novel, tentatively called The Manitou Cave. An ideal venue would be a beaver pond in a swamp. There is no beaver pond at Camp 12. There is no beaver pond at Manitou Falls. But.
Here’s the thing.
I can imagine one. Just like people today can imagine Camp 12. And how you imagined Manitou Falls when I alluded to its roar.
To be the kind of writer I am, it helps to be a bush historian. At the risk of repeating myself, remember that bush historians are crazy. This has helped me immensely as a writer.
Try it sometime.
For the record, we got back to The Wadge without driving into a trench. That’s always a good sign.
Now, John will continue his search of Taradale. He will search for the lost cabin which no longer exists. He will search for the lost grave of the King of Tara.
He will find the cabin.
And he will find the grave.
And then there will be tales to tell and bibulous celebrations around many a campfire and countless papers delivered on the subject at the International Sesquicentennial Conference of Bush Historians.
I believe that most sincerely.
But remember . . .
I’m . . . Well, I don’t have to tell YOU.