Marie Lake: A Final Farewell – Chapter 11 of 11

Written by Harold McNeill on September 28th, 2010. Posted in Family 1940 1965


Picnic on Marie Lake

Photo (by Mom): Mr. Goodrich (L), Louise, Dad (C) and I prepare for lunch while Dad and Mr. Goodrich were doing some work along the lake. It would be our last summer in that idyllic setting.

Link to Next Post: Old School House (The start of Part IV)
Link to Last Post: Winter Trip to Cold Lake
Link to Family Stories Index

Early Spring, 1949

On the final day, as we were about to leave in the boat, a small seaplane circled lazily overhead. Then, to our surprise, it landed in front of our home and taxied in. While I had seen a few seaplanes around Cold Lake, none had ever landed at Marie Lake and I had never been close to one. 

Cessna 140The pilot of the small two-seater, Don Hamilton, (see photo in the footer) said he was just passing by and decided on the spur of the moment to land and say hello. Dad and mom knew him from their time in and around Cold Lake as Don used to work with Charlie Pinsky, a local fish buyer to whom dad had often sold fish.

Photo: This Cessna 140 on floats is similar to that flown by Don Hamilton.  His aeroplane, of course, had Canadian call letters (CF-???)

Everyone stood around the dock chatting for a few minutes and dad told Don we were just moving. When Mr. Hamilton was ready to go he asked Dad if it would be OK if I flew with him back to Cold Lake. Of course, neither dad nor mom had any objections.

I suppose, in a way, the anticipation of taking my first aeroplane ride helped to overcome at least some of the deep anguish I felt about leaving Marie Lake. It had only been two years, but they were two years that had left a deep and lasting impression on my very being; Mom and dad, Mr. Goodrich, the dual wheeled wagon, wolves in the wilderness, my pet mink, the smell of fresh sawdust at the mill, hauling rotting manure and logs with Louise, building the playhouse; the anguish Louise and I felt when we thought we had lost our mother, then our father, and the joy of learning they would live, can only be experienced.

Photo: An early spring picnic on the shores of Marie Lake below Mr. Goodrich’s cabin. Mr. Goodrich and Louise work over the fire while Dad and I look on. A few short weeks after this picnic we left Marie Lake for a whole new way of life.

As I climbed aboard the aeroplane, I looked at Shep sitting beside Louise on the dock with his head cocked and ears flopping forward.  I mouthed: “See ya soon good buddy.” His knowing look as he turned away said this would be our final farewell. Mr. Goodrich, with tears in his eyes, waved, then turned and with Shep close by his side, walked off the dock toward his bachelor cabin and away from the two children and the family with whom he had shared so much of his life and love over the previous two years.

Harold McNeill

Link to Next Post: Old School House (The start of Part IV)
Link to Last Post: Winter Trip to Cold Lake
Link to Family Stories Index

Cessna 120

Photo (from Web, Summer, 2014):  Don Hamilton and his first aeroplane, a Cessna 120 taken at some airport.  It was this aeroplane, on floats of course, in which I took my very first aeroplane ride. This was to be the first of many aeroplanes Don would own on his way to building an Edmonton based company called Flying Firemen.  In later years, Aaron Pinsky and I used to fly various planes owned by Don as we hauled fish and fishermen around lakes in Northern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Don Hamilton arrives in Cold Lake (Link):

In 1948 Don heard of an opportunity transporting fish from lakes to nearby processing plants in Northern Alberta. He ended up in Cold Lake where he quickly earned the reputation of being a pilot willing to help in any situation. To this end, Don was involved in numerous search and rescue missions in the North and flying polio patients from Cold Lake to the hospital in Edmonton.

In 1949 Don saw the opportunity for flying passengers between Cold Lake and Edmonton on a routine basis. Using a Cessna 195 and a 12 passenger Anson purchased from Canadian Pacific Airlines Don started the “Cold Lake Air Service”.

In 1950 Don was approached by the Department of Transport to fly personnel around Alberta to locate a site for a new military base. Don suggested the Cold Lake area as being a suitable choice and based on Don’s recommendation the Cold Lake air base was built. The airline turned out to be a great success flying passengers working on the construction of the base between Edmonton.

It operated until 1954 when Don headed further north to help with the construction of the Distant Early Warning Radar Line (“DEW Line”) in the Arctic and later flew as an executive pilot for Chevron Standard flying Anson, Lockheed Loadstar and Beaver aircraft.

Don Hamilton Book:  Flying Overloaded (Indigo Books)

Don Hamilton can readily be called a pioneer Ice Pilot. His over fifty-year career spans a historical period of development in the Canadian North. Don flew a wide variety of aircraft, from Fleet Canucks to AT-6’s to DC-3’s to Gulfstreams and from Piper J-3’s to Cessna 206’s – from wheels to skis to floats. From growing up in southern Canada to living on the Arctic frontier, Don not only lived history, he helped create it.

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    July 25, 2021 |

    Glad you enjoyed Craig. It was fun researching and writing that particular post. It seems I was in school many years before you, the 1950s to be more precise. Cheers, Harold

  • Craig Patterson

    July 18, 2021 |

    Thank you for sharing this. I grew up in Cold Lake (former town of Grand Centre) and we’d heard many stories over the years. Today I was talking to my Mom about the Kinosoo and I came to this article when I was searching images of the fish — I recall when I was in school in the 80s where was a photo supposedly taken (I think it’s the one of the ice fisherman above).

  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.