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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  • 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.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

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  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    January 5, 2020 |

    […] 28. The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Why I stand with science? - McNeill Life Stories

    November 11, 2019 |

    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]