John McCullagh August 27, 2006
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Soon after our arrival in Canada, my father and Barney Quinn got a job with a local farmer, clearing bush from his land. Chopping away one day they spotted what they took to be a wolf eyeing them warily from a distance.

 

We had been brainwashed in Ireland into believing that Canada was a wilderness inhabited only by half-naked blood-thirsty savages and ferocious wild animals.

That night at supper our father told us about the wolf – embellishing his tale as well he was able, being experienced in the storytelling tradition.  We heard how it had sat glaring from a distance: then trotted in a wide circle, ever glancing over its shoulder.  Wolves hunted in packs so the rest of that pack must be nearby.   Dad and Barney had only bush hooks as weapons of protection if they were attacked!  Little enough against a pack of hungry wolves!

I had previously heard of wolves as big as bullocks: of bears as big as horses, and horses so large you had to use a ladder to put their collars on them!   But our greatest fear was of wild Indians!

My sisters and I listened enthralled by my father’s story.  Unintentionally these exaggerations planted in our minds the seeds of fear and terror, which were to bear bitter fruit in the very near future. 

… Mushrats …

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