As the Almonte Gazette went to press in August of 1934 word reached the newspaper of a narrow escape from dire consequences. Something so frightening was experienced by two Almonte anglers who went to fish at the Black Donald Mine on the upper reaches of the Madawaska River.
The two citizens in question were iconic ice cream man Louis Peterson and his friend (William) Harvey Scott. As they were anglers of long standing they realized the importance of being on the water early in the morning. So they set out for their destination the night before and on arrival built themselves a wigwam in the woods, in which they proposed to sleep.
Both of these gentlemen having clear consciences and being tired fell into an untroubled slumber as soon as their heads touched the pillow. Mr. Peterson does not know how
long he had slept but suddenly he was awakened by a strange sniffing sound close to his *sylvan bower.
Peering out under the bows into the almost impenetrable darkness Mr. Peterson was horrified to see a large bear within a few feet of him. With a loud shriek he awakened
Mr. Scott, who, upon finding out the cause of the alarm, also emitted a yell of terror.
The bear may have been as much taken aback by these unearthly sounds as the two anglers were at the sight of the bear. Be that as it may, the bruin (or is it bruno?) scampered off into the impervious gloom.
The two perspiring anglers then bounded from their leafy couches and held a council of war on the shores of the river. Their voices trembled so violently that it was some time before either could make himself understood.
“We must climb a tree,” said Mr. Scott, “bears can’t climb trees can they?”
“Can a fish swim?” replied Mr. Peterson with heavy sarcasm.
After much debate one of the anglers remembered an adventure book he had read when he was a little boy in which it said that hunters in the jungle always lit fires to keep
wild animals away.
With trembling hands the agitated Isaak Waltons gathered twigs together and applied a match —and oh how glad they were they had matches and didn’t have to depend on one of those fandangled cigarette lighters.
The two Almonters, it is alleged, spent the remainder of the night sitting around the
fire with chattering teeth, peering furtively into the surrounding gloom to make sure bruno was not at hand. They inquired anxiously of one another if one did not see a pair of gleaming eyes over there or hear a snorting sound in the other direction.
Finally Mr. Scott suggested it would be a good plan to sing as it would keep up the good, old courage.
“Well if it don’t keep up the courage it will at least scare the bear,” Mr. Peterson observed.
So this is what they sang:
“Who’s afraid of the big bad bear tra la tra la!”
it was a great performance while it lasted, and the fact may be significant that a black bear was seen the next morning twenty miles distant with a look of utter distraction on
its face, and its paws clamped tightly over its ears.
All things come to an end, but the hours of that night dragged so slowly an indelible impression had been left on the fishermen’s minds. It is said during the dark watches
of the night when they were tending their fire they were thinking of the fairy tale about the sad fate of the lost babes in the woods.
Both Mr. Scott and Mr. Peterson reached a definite conclusion to lead, better lives.
“One thing we will -never, never do,” they said. “Is fish on Sunday.”
“What! never?” observed the echoes on, one side of the river.
“Well, hardly ever,” replied the echoes from the other side of the
river next to the Peterson Ice Cream factory.
Some people who think there are no wild animals in this part of the country
are invited to consider what happened in the township of Pakenham,
the other, day. * Ernie Miller, well known farmer of that district, shot
a four hundred pound bear. He wondered what had been after his
sheep and when he saw the bear he knew May 1936
Clipped from The Ottawa Journal, 14 Nov 1953, Sat, Page 38