Dick Hunt's Blog

November 8, 2011

Frank McMahon’s Canoe and Craig Oliver’s Book

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 10:46 am

Frank McMahon’s Canoe and Craig Oliver’s Book.
by Dick Hunt, Tuesday, November 9th, 2011.
I have been reading a book by Craig Oliver, entitled ‘Oliver’s Twist’.  You may recall that he is a long term reporter, with CBC Radio and then with National TV, now with CTV.  It is an intriguing book containing a lot of Canadian and world history.  It also tells in vivid detail his experiences along with his Canoe Club in running the rapids of many rivers all over Canada and the Arctic.  Craig is now legally blind but still very active in his profession and can still be seen on CTV evenings at 5PM on ‘Power Play’.

I have never run the rapids, but I did own a 20 foot freighting canoe for a few years.  It had a beam of 54 inches and a small flat at the stern on which was mounted an eight H.P. Johnston Outboard.  It had been used on the MacKenzie River in the high Arctic to haul freight to the the Seismograph Oil Crews.  It was given me by Frank McMahon who built McMahon Stadium in Calgary. It was really a very safe vessel when used correctly.

However, I had loaned it to a friend, Alex Manson to go fishing on a lake near Stettler, Alberta.  He was a fairly large man and he had with him a larger man.  Together they were at the stern trying to start the motor.  With the throttle wide open it suddenly started, the canoe went up to near vertical and then twisted 180 degrees coming to rest upside down. Alex and his friend  were thrown clear.  But Alex’s small son was left hanging onto the center thwart saying, “Daddy, I’m scared, it’s dark in here”.  They righted the canoe and the boy was none the worse for wear.  But the motor never roared again.
Having no practical use for the canoe, I got help to mount it on my car top carriers and took it to the Diocesan Church Camp in the Kananaskis Forest District west of Calgary and gave it to the camp to use in their water program on the lake there. It was very windy when I was approaching the camp and I had difficulty coping with the north wind.  It was a large and bulky unit and I was glad to unload it, with help from the Junior staff. That was the last year I served as a summer staff leader  there, as I left that fall to work in the central Cariboo out of Williams Lake, which kept me very fully occupied for nine years.  It also changed our life style, with our four children.

For our first 14 months there, I received no travel allowance, in spite of the immense travel demands in my widespread work.  But God knew what He was going to do. A few days after we arrived, in late August, Ruth had a call from the Vice Principal at the High School. Could she teach High School Commercial classes?  Ruth said, “I am not a teacher”. He explained that if she could help out, they would provide her with a temporay Teachers Certificate. On that basis she taught there until finally they were able to get a qualified teacher.  Then the students complained that they would like Ruth back again as the new teacher was not able to teach like Ruth could. But we were able to cope with the travel costs  in my work, which was a big help.  One day, a student used some loud, foul language in class.  Ruth walked over to him,tapped him on the lips with her forefinger and warned him to not use foul language in class ever again. He promptly went to the Principal and complained.  Ruth was reprimanded.  But when we attended his wedding reception four years on, he gave her a nice gift.

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