Hugh McIntyre’s Night of Fright

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Hallowe’en month is upon us, so watch out for plenty of scary Spirit River stories here on Town Spirit! Starting with this one, entered in Hugh MacIntyre’s diary when he visited the area back in 1912:

Hit the trail again and we sure made up for the good going of the morning. Travelled all afternoon along the flats and the mud was a sight. Night found us tenting on the roadside with the horses tied to a couple of trees close to us. We put lots of pine brush on the floor and spread our slickers and then our beds on top of that again. After supper, we were all sitting around–oh it must have been about 9 o’clock–smoking and resting peacefully when we heard the most terrifying snort and again and again. We had been hearing quite a lot about bears and we were right in the heart of the bear country now so you can imagine how we felt. To make matters worse our shotgun was useless. What good is a 12 gauge when your shells are 16? Alex bought a revolver in Edmonton but it dropped out of his pocket last Sunday as already chronicled.

We all scrambled outside but nothing was to be seen. Our horses were very restive and to tell the truth we were too. The snort that Geordie gave was the most frightening sound I ever heard. We wouldn’t have been so bad if we’d had a gun but nothing heftier than a couple of axes. Sleep was out of the question so we built a big log fire a little distance from the tent door and this served to quiet our horses and also to make the situation a little cheerier for ourselves. The moon was completely hidden by the clouds and it was pretty dark in the bush. Every time we looked out of the tent door Geordie was standing there with his ears cocked and head erect staring straight into the bush to the South. Say it gives a fellow a kind of an eerie feeling to be out there in the bush on such a night–the fire throwing a fit ful glare –lighting us for about 20 yds. All around the outside of that darned circle lay the bush with it’s terrors–real and imaginary. How many pairs of eves were watching us?

Well to make a long story short we all escaped with our lives but with mighty little sleep. Twice again at 3 a.m. & 4 a.m. did the horses show signs of terror snorting like railroad engines. They reminded me of that picture of Pharaohs horses in the storm–the very embodiment of fear. Alex had quite a job leading the horses down to the water in the a.m. for the water hole lay to the South of us and again when hitched up and ready to start they showed signs of alarm when passing the same spot. We felt quite sure that there was a bear close by during the night but of course they are not dangerous and Mr. Bear was likely as scared of us as “our horses” were of him.

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