The following adventure was written down in German on June 5, 1921, by teenager Ulli (Ulrieke) Schilling who was at that time 15-years-old.
The Schilling family settled in Darfield, a small village in the North Thompson Valley in 1912. They worked hard on clearing land on their homestead and were able to establish a goat herd to provide milk for their own family as well as selling goat milk products. Some years later they changed to cattle when the price for goat cheese and butter dropped so low that it was no longer profitable. To this day, members of the Schilling family are still living and farming in Darfield on the original homestead.
In the “old days” family members had to take part in working on the farm, but they also had some fun. A favourite activity was to go fishing on lakes close enough to reach by walking there. This is the story about one of those trips, but this one turned out to be very different from what they had expected.
Ulli had to write an essay for her school homework, so she chose to write about her own memorable experience and titled it “Going Fishing On Fish Lake”.
Here is the translated version of Ulli’s essay.
“On the 5th of June 1921, a Sunday, we went to Fish Lake and from there on to Allen Lake. We started out in the morning at nine. Volkmar, Mother, Roy and I. We had Beauty, our horse with us as well.
“We were going to meet Mr. Riesberg to go with us a far as Allen Lake because he knew the area well. There are supposed to be more fish in Allen Lake than in Fish-Lake and a cabin was near the water where we could stay overnight.
“We waited for a while where we were supposed to meet Mr. Riesberg, but when he did not show up we decided to walk on by ourselves. It was a very long trail to Fish-Lake, it goes mainly through alder brush and there was still water on the trail everywhere from the Spring runoff. When Mother stepped into a large puddle she got soaked all the way up to her knees.
“There were lots of ups and downs on the trail, and we were getting tired walking on it. It was very colourful all around the trail with flowers blooming everywhere. Johnny-jump-ups, lady-slippers and cranberry bushes were all in full bloom. When we reached a large meadow everyone decided it was time for a rest, but not for long. This place was about three hours from home and we still needed to walk at least two more hours before we would reach our destination.
“We came to a nice little pond which was called Beaver Lake, probably because there was a really large beaver house and a dam at the outlet that feeds into Goose Creek. When we reached the top of a hill we had a great view all around us, and from there we could see both Allen Lake and Fish Lake. Mother was so excited about the view that she just had to take a picture of it.
“After another short downhill walk, we arrived at Fish Lake. We came to the North West end of the Lake where the inlet to the lake is and which is only about three feet wide. We carried on to the lower end where the outlet is and also the main campsite.
“We rested for a while, but since Mr. Riesberg did no come, we decided to go on to Allen Lake by ourselves. The trail was terrible. There were windfalls everywhere, some so high that we had to pull our horse along behind us. The outflow from Fish-Lake goes into Allen-Lake and from there into Petersen Creek which is big and strong flowing.
“We had imagined Allen-lake to be quite small, but when we got there it looked really big. But all those mosquitoes!!! We could not stand still at all!
“We checked everywhere, but did not find a cabin, and so we went back on that terrible trail and it was getting dark when we arrived back at Fish Lake. We all rushed into building up a camp as fast as possible. We gathered a bunch of wood for a campfire and then constructed a wigwam by leaning trees against each other.
“Then everyone rubbed fat on themselves to stop the mosquitoes from stinging us which made us look like zebras. After getting some water we finally had some supper, looked after our horse and then talked about what to do the next day. But we were so tired we just wanted to sleep.
“During the night we heard coyotes howling quite close to our camp, they really know how! This howl goes through muscle and bone, it goes through a person and leaves you shivering – not like dogs howling at all.
“Loons were calling and we heard the bears moving through the bush. It was a true wilderness concert. Our poor horse was so upset, it stomped and snorted all night.
“The next morning we were happy to see daylight, but we were all so cold. We ate something quickly, packed up fast and “beat it home”.
“We swore never to do this again, but mother said that is “what you think now”, but when some time has gone by, we would probably think differently.
“On another trip, we will know what to expect and will have time to ‘go fishing’.”
Article compiled and translated by Elli Kohnert.