Looking back on the history of the ferries on Francois Lake

Here we go starting out another week and the weather is not too good. Saturday last we had a terrific wind and rain storm. As I look back I just don’t think we used to get these wind storms.

Here we go starting out another week and the weather is not too good. Saturday last we had a terrific wind and rain storm. As I look back I just don’t think we used to get these wind storms.

Canada Post

This is no reflection on our local post offices as they are doing a good job and we pat them on the back. But I ask this question, where is the tie up?

I received a letter from my cousin in Nova Scotia that was posted in June. Where has it been? There was a correct address on it. Are others having problems with lost mail?

Old pal

Last week I had the pleasure to bump into my very good friend Ray Fletcher. Ray has been doing a lot of traveling which he well deserves.

He was our minister at St. Luke’s, Francois Lake for many years. It was a very sad day for us all when he retired and left us. Ray always loved doing his photography. He was very good at it. We have some of his work in our living room. It’s really priceless.

The weather we have had this summer is so different than we are used to. It has changed not for the better.

Our weather

Last week I was visiting with one of my friends and of course the weather came up and as Mark Twain said every one talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.

He claims the weather change is due to the damage the pine beetle has done and the heavy logging. He has made a study on this. The forests we used to have control the weather pattern and now they are disappearing we can expect more weather changes and maybe not for the best.

He also claims we will get more runoff in the spring so our lakes will be higher causing more damage to our lake shores. The trees used to slow down the spring runoff. But all in all we live in a wonderful country with wonderful people so we must look at the positive not the negative.

When we stop and compare our way of living to most other countries we are so fortunate. When we talk about the weather everyone has a different idea on what’s causing the change at least it gives us something to talk about other than their relations or their neighbours. And of course the government.

New doctor

The good news is we will be getting another doctor in Burns Lake. This will no doubt relieve the pressure on our present doctors. It will be awhile until the doctor gets settles I would think, but it’s good news at that.

Darn Vandals

It seems that the vandals are once more hitting our town. I just wonder if these creeps realize the harm they are doing. The theatre is for everyone and it’s such a plus to Burns Lake.

I wonder if they realize that most of the management and staff are volunteers trying to bring something good to Burns Lake and for the enjoyment for young and old.

I wonder if they will one day grow up. Burns Lake is a nice town and what would you creeps think if our theatre had to close because of you? Something for you to think on.

Ferry ride

I always enjoy crossing the lake on the ferry. We are so fortunate to have such high class service. The ferry crew are always so efficient and caring.

Now I’m going to go back a lot of years when we first came into this district now over 70 years ago. There was a ferry then too.

It was small compared to our modern ferries. The ferry made four trips a day and in the summer months it made five trips.

A special ferry cost $3. Captain McKinnon was the skipper and Hunter Corner was the engineer. There was a tube from the wheel house to below decks. Also bells for the engineer to give different speeds.

When the lake started to freeze the ferry was docked until the spring, it was too small for ice breaking. During the summer months there would be two trips on Sunday, morning and evening. It cost $3, $1 for the skipper, $1 for the engineer and $1 for the government.

If there was a nice warm evening folks would talk the skipper and engineer into taking a cruise. Folks brought lunch which was shared and our neighbour Wally Jeffrey would bring along his bagpipes.

Being out on the lake the sound of the pipes would carry for miles. There was always a collection taken up for the both the skipper and the engineer. This would be unheard of by today’s standards.

In those days the cattle were trailed into the Burns Lake stock yards. So they were driven on the ferry loose. There was a gate at both ends of the ferry to keep the cattle on. The decks would be a mess and had to be cleaned.

The captain just dreaded these trips with livestock. A sheep rancher from Marilla brought a flock of sheep down to be shipped and some jumped overboard and had to be fished out, this was a bit exciting.

Captain McKinnon was one happy skipper when the cattle trucks came onto the scene.

I was fortunate to take part in one of those cattle drives from the landing to the Burns Lake stock yards.

We spent the night with the herd at Tchesinkut Lake and then finished the drive to Burns Lake the next day.

We had a few cows cut back but we had good horses and we never lost an animal. Folks from town came out to take pictures of the last cattle drive. I was sure happy to be a part of it.

Some of our readers have asked me to put in some of the old stories so I have done my best as my memory serves me. In 1949 the old Jacob Henkel took over the runs, much larger and much more efficient. The old Francois Lake ferry did a good job but was just too small. As the population on the Southside grew a new and much larger ferry was a must.

The old Francois Lake ferry was run aground twice. This happened on our side, the North side. Due to a heavy fog the ferry was grounded just about a quarter mile east of the old ferry dock. Jack Nicholson’s tug pulled the boat off, I have the picture and the next time was due to a very bad wind storm. The boat was close enough to the dock so it was able to pull itself off.

The scary part of this last time was a loaded cattle truck onboard. No one hurt and no damage. Considering the many years and the many times the old ferry made across the lake I would say it had an amazing record.

Take care, slow down, as I always say the life you save could be your own. Remember God always loves you and so do I.


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