A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 101. Millers Bridge Camp

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The Millers who hired us came down at the end of April. They seemed to be nice people, but we wondered why they would hire us several months ahead of the fishing season.

We got the answer from the neighbors. It was like this: the Millers could not keep any employees, they all took off in the middle of summer which was the busy season. If they hired immigrants from overseas, those people could not go back home, so they would stay. Mamma mia, were they that hard to work for? This talk did not bother us one bit, we came here to work and that was what we were gonna do. My job was to get everything ready for the fishermen: i.e. boats and cabins, and to do repairs and clean up.

There was plenty of work and a good man to work for. Margaret cleaned cabins and beds and did all kinds of household chores. This had to be done before the fishermen arrived, the beginning of June.

Boats had to be made leak proof and painted. The outboard motors were gone over, which I enjoyed, because now I found out what those were made of and why they kicked, spluttered, misfired, grunted and sometimes refused to go altogether.

I also learned that summer how boats were built. There was an old fellow by the name of Haaf, who built better boats than the famous factory Peterboro's, the fishermen claim. It was interesting to see how he steamed hard wood to a point that it became pliable, and twisted it in any form to fit the contours of the hull.

Then I painted a big sign board, "MILLERS BRIDGE CAMP" and a sign for the boss's cabin, "OFFICE".

We stayed with them until August. Mrs. Miller was an impossible person to get along with. I felt sorry for Mr. Miller. He was a fine person, but we could not take the abuse of his wife. Then we found out that the other camp owners, all Americans, were guessing amongst themselves how long we would last. Immediately, another camp owner offered us a cabin, "I don't have a job for you, but if you want to stay in my cabin, you are welcome to use it, no charge." We accepted.

I got a job with the only contractor, Cecil, which was a new experience. We did carpentry around the camps. Most everything went by boat. All the camps were on the water so it was easier. We threw everything in the boat: tools, materials, etc. He had an old wooden ship with a Durant car inboard motor, about 6 metres long called "QUEEN MARY."

Another fellow was working with us too. At noon, Cecil said to one of us, "Leslie or Carl cook the kettle." Then we sat down and had lunch. He also had a big flat scow.

One day, he took on a challenging job to move a cabin, by water, of course. With cables, winches, ropes, pulleys and rollers, we dragged the unyielding obstacle onto the scow. From there, the Q.M. churned and splashed her way to the new homestead of our passenger to serve mankind for years to come.

In the winter time, we cut wood, but the snow being a metre deep, the only way we could travel was by snow shoes or skis. There were more skis than snow shoes, so Leslie and I slid to work through the bush. At noon, we slid home again. In the afternoon, it was the same. It was hard going, those dang things were slippery. The falls were cushioned by the deep snow, and we embraced many trees to stop our speed but still landed in branches and shrubs. It was not an easy sport, we did not have poles, so you kind of walked. Trying to miss trees was the hardest part, specially going down hill, but we never had any serious accidents.

The work we performed could be compared with a government employee. We sure put in long hours, ha, but not working, for sure.

I guess Cecil was the easiest boss I worked for. He was never in a hurry. He himself drove a Ford tractor, equipped with an extra set of wheels with a rubber belt and cleats, like a tandem. A big V plow in front: with this machine, he could practically go anywhere.

Skiing through the bush was lots of fun. Leslie, a young fellow, seemed to be related to Cecil's wife. He also figured, "Don't worry about work, that will never go away".

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