Hope Ness, 1908, home at last

(Part 4 of 4)


So far it had been a brutally hot summer in the city, and throughout the rest of southern Ontario. The elderly woman in apartment 307 had had a restless night until the early morning hours when she finally fell into a deep sleep. But she was too soon awakened by the phone ringing on the bedside table. When she answered it someone spoke her name and asked if she was there. It was confusing. She was still half asleep.

“Yes, of course, I live alone.”

The person on the line identified himself as the administrator of the long-term care facility where her very elderly father lived.

“I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

“My father’s dead.”

“No.” Continue reading

Hope Ness, 1908, in the woods with giants

(Part 3 of 4)

Since they buried his little sister, the boy took to going for long walks through the woods on weekends after morning chores to escape the tension at home.


At first his parents had made half-hearted moves to stop him. But finally his mother had said “oh, let the boy go,” and with a shrug, his father had acquiesced. In his heart the boy felt they didn’t care. He could fall off the edge of the world and it wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter to me either, he thought, wondering at the same time if that was in fact what he was doing – searching for the edge of the world. Continue reading

Hope Ness, 1908, a pioneer funeral

(Part 2 of 4)


The preacher from the village a few miles north reached the homestead about midday. He drove a single-horse carriage down the long lane and came to a halt beside the house.  He got down, dusted himself off and looked around, seeming to pass judgement on the house and the surroundings. He was an elderly man, a tall, lean, stern-looking Presbyterian Scot dressed in a suit of plain, black broadcloth and clerical collar that seemed to express the severity of his particular calling.  They were not regular church-goers, so maybe that had something to do with his reserved attitude. He did not appear to be in a mood to offer consolation, but he walked up to the boy’s father, shook his hand, and quietly said something the boy couldn’t make out. Continue reading

Hope Ness, early spring, 1908

Part 1 of 4:


All that remains

Spring had arrived at last after a long, hard winter. The boy was sitting on the front steps of the small, wood-frame farm house. He turned his face toward the morning sun and, closing his eyes, gave himself to the pleasure of its warmth. The family wagon taking his parents to the village for the day had just disappeared around a bend in the road. It was wonderful to feel the warm glow of the sun again. But it was deceptive. There was still a chill in the air. His mother had reminded him to “take good care of your little sister, and make sure she stays buttoned up.” But he had allowed his mind to wander and he was thinking of other things, the sharp knife and the partially carved piece of fresh pine wood in his hands, and especially the splendid hawk circling high over the field at the edge of the woods.

Continue reading