Page 61 - Alex Gillis and the Big Sleigh or, "The Servant on the Mountain"
ISSUE : Issue 46
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/8/1
wood, you know. Dead wood. They were roll? ing in under her. And still it didn't put her off, out of the ditches--she was so heavy. And the skids were so long. (Had you intended for this wood to fall off and do that?) No. One of the things that happened in her favour. (After the run) they took a sleigh-and-a-half load down off the face of the mountain. My two brothers took it home. They had two sleighs, took it home from the level ground, in about two days. (This was a sleigh-and-a-half load that had fallen off?) Yes. (How many normal sleigh loads do you think you had on that one big sleigh?) About be? tween 25 and 30. (Any idea how much some? thing like that would weigh?) No. I don't know the weight of hardwood. (Would it be a winter's wood?) Oh, yes. Over a year's wood. Of course we used--in the summertime we used fence poles and spruce kindling. They're not so hot in a house. But they used the split wood, too, for cooking meals in the old-fashioned stove. (So that was all aboard too. That was all on this big sleigh.) Yes. And I sawed some logs (for) the mill, too. (All on this sleigh-- some sawlogs, your winter's wood, some wood that you might use for fencing.) I mentioned the fencing because in the sum? mertime we used spruce for quick fires. But the hardwood is mostly for heat, heat? ing the homes. No furnaces. (So tell me about the day you brought the wood down.) Oh, we waited for a--there might have been enough snow, but we wanted the ditches full of snow, so it would crush down and form a--the weight would cause it to slide, like on ice. That type of a day--weather came, with the show, and the ditches seemed to be full-- and we started up. When we got up there, it was snowing and raining for all those months, and it collected in under. And it was solid in ice--the two skids in blue, solid ice--shaded from the sun, with the load. No bulldozer, no dynamite. We couldn't go near the sides or the front of it--too dangerous. You never knew when it might--you might just rattle something or touch something that would cause it to go. So we didn't dare go near the front or the sides of it at any time. We had to do all the work from behind. We got a ratchet jack, a heavy ratchet jack. We took it apart and put it in two sacks, two bags, and we walked up--with it. Put it together. And we jacked one skid af? ter the other. We jacked the first one up, at the rear. And we put a little crimp or roller. And we let it down on that. And then the second one--we raised it, and we put a prop about 3 feet long under the rear, where we jacked it up. That was a kind of a trap ready to snap it, just be snapped. A pointed prop. And I told him, "Try and knock it down." It was leaning, leaning, and it just--last blow did it. She just rattled for awhile, the whole sleigh. It bounced down, and it rattled, and it cleared itself free of the ice. And she started in the nice ice trenches. The other (skid) was on a roller, and she just took off. It rattled for a little while--oh, a split second. And then she started moving. She left us on the hill with nothing but the tools! And the cable we had tied back. I think that one went also with it. We (had) coiled it up and threw it. We had to be careful that there was no cable would-- while we would be working or watching the sleigh--that something would catch you and take you along with it. You have to be pretty careful. And the ground was frozen at that time, and quite slippery. Well, the 4th of February. It was the next day after the Mabou Asylum burned down. I didn't know. But I remembered that. And I asked.the keeper years after what day it was. The building burned down on the 3rd of February, 1947. And the sleigh came down on the 4th. Late in the evening. It took us quite awhile because of the jack? ing, the delay, because it was frozen. (What did it sound like when it started out?) Oh, the crust of the earth, of the mountain, was frozen. And it made quite a roar--to us,-anyway. And it disappeared for awhile. There's a dip in the face of the mountain. We couldn't see it, but we could hear the roar, so we knew it was travelling. And we could see the boulders. It was taking boulders out of the frozen ground. The weight, you know, so many of Cfiow VAN f00 Fully Licensed Restaurant OPEN DAILY 11 A.M. to 1 A.M. FRI. and SAT. till 2 A.M. SUN. till MIDNIGHT Major Credit Cards Accepted Gift Certificates * Ample Parking mmmm'' Oriental and Canadian Cuisine in a relaxed and elegant dining atmosphere Daily Luncheon Specials Banquet Facilities -Available Take Out Orders Delivered Enjoy the Lounge OPEN 11 A.M.tOl A.M. OPEN TILL 2 A.M. FRIDAY & SATURDAY .??5460 Grand Lake Rd • Sydney 562-0088 or 539-2825 (61)
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