Bo's Poets Contest - 2010 ... October to the end of year 2010

January, 2nd, 2011 ... Bo's judging is complete and the winners are ...

1ST PLACE ... Poem 1 - by Alex Thompson
Prize: ... 3 days and 2 nights guiding service by Bo on Sec Lake

2ND PLACE ... The View from Lower Spectacle - by Mark Scarlett
Prize: ... 25% discount on the next White Partridge Express

3RD PLACE ... The Wild Life - by Stewart Brownscombe
Prize: ... guaranteed hot spots for speckled trout, even in summer

TC-1-The forests and wildlife of Algonquin.

1st Place Winner!

Poem 1 - by Alex Thompson

Off we plow in stern and bow,
Among the wind and wave;
Against or with, I care not how,
Any, to leave this cave.

Of noise and sick and custom too,
That flap like the devil's tongue,
That press against my skin to blue;
So normal but felt so sprung.

But good I am to know so well,
That liquid sits at scale!
With pine stood round, and simple sound,
And skies stirred pink and pale.

That fire can flicker and snap the air,
About the starry night;
The shadows it casts, so flippy so fast!
Touching around my site.

That blow can wrap my heading face,
Like a sheet spread round a dove;
And wipe me to some empty place,
Where it is light, and love.

Off we plow in stern and bow,
Among the wind and wave;
Against or with, I care not how,
Just so long I stay.

TC-1-The forests and wildlife of Algonquin.

2nd Place Winner!

The View from Lower Spectacle - by Mark Scarlett

Under brilliant blue, a solitary loon,

head down, fishing.

What can it see in these tea dark waters?

We drift closer, silently,

closer. Surely it will dive.

I am amazed by its dazzling feathered complexity,

intricate rows of white on black, black on white,

spectacular checks and stripes, whiter than white,

blacker than black.

Too long unmoving,

still head down,

I see, it does not see.


Its head tilted, just so,

a ruby eye reflects the sun,

empty, clouding over.

Close enough to touch,

I do not.

An awed spectator,

wonderstruck by beauty

and death,

I drift on.

TC-1-The forests and wildlife of Algonquin.

3rd Place Winner!

The Wild-life - by Stewart Brownscombe

The forests and animals are not alone

We are wild, we are animals

We from the city have come to be wildlife

From bright lights and loud noises

From the ceaseless masses we come

To be wild, to be animals

Not to conquer or to vanquish

(That has already been done)

But to commune, to return, not to think but to be

As wild and alone as the forest and animals.

TC-1-The forests and wildlife of Algonquin.

Paddling Free - by Mike Ormsby

Easing the canoe from its resting place on the shore
Silently launching into the still water of a cool morning
The first stroke of the paddle gracefully slicing through the liquid surface
You and the canoe forming almost a ghostly figure
In the early morning mist rising above the rocks, trees and water

The sound of the water makes as it drips off the end of the paddle
Yet nearly all is complete quiet and silence
As stealth-like as an owl on wing you travel along the shore
The rhythm of the strokes as one with the rhythm of Mother Nature
You become one with your surroundings

As you glide across a watery wonderland
A beaver slaps its tail as a warning of your presence
The morning stillness is interrupted by the call of a loon as the day awakes
A red squirrel scolds you from an overhead pine branch
A moose munches on aquatic vegetative delicacies in a quiet secluded bay

The morning mist now long melted away in the glow of the sun
You easily send your canoe forward with each stroke
Now and then feathering your paddle to rest
And take in all that abounds along the lake
Peace and serenity, the exhilaration of being out on the water

But there is much going on along these shores
Turtles basking in the sunlight slide off a log as you approach
Slow paced almost statue like, a great blue heron stalks dinner (or is it lunch)
But still you lose track of time as you drift along
Forgetting cares and woes, finding strength in each paddle stroke

As you near the far shore’s portage, you feel fresh, ready to carry the canoe
Over the short yet rocky trail into the next small but distant lake
Perhaps even to a welcoming campsite under the pines
Settling down for the night under sparkling stars
Maybe even catching glimpse of a shooting star or the Northern Lights

The cedar and canvas canoe rolls up onto your shoulders
Not too much weight, a bit more than you remember from last year
Just enough to let you know you’re still alive
You double the carry over so you don’t overdo it
Or maybe it’s just to take more time to see where you’re at

As you rest by a waterfall beside the path, you reflect on the day….on what lies ahead
Still a few hours left before the sun sets….should be a full moon tonight
Maybe you’ll hear the howl of a wolf…. the echo of a loon from a nearby lake
You feel good….at ease….at home….and far from being alone
The canoe and you have journeyed far…and still have farther yet to go

For each trip takes you away from the daily grind
With each paddle stroke, there is definitely a greater peace of mind
So you pick up your pack, walking the last of the portage
Upon arrival, you launch the canoe onto the shining waters
You and the canoe dance on into the remaining daylight

TC-1-The forests and wildlife of Algonquin.

The Experience - by John Vandalen

The gold and silver glow ripples across the sun water as the sun,

Peacefully glides under the horizon.

The loons, sings it to sleep and call up the moon.

The waves roll unto the shore as if they seem to be reaching for the

wind blown trees, farther up on the rocky cliffs.

Pink, orange and red soon join the many colours of the setting sun

And the stars come out to play in the remaining light.

A gentle wind blows my hair across my face and kisses each tree

With it’s warm breath.

My eyes bring in the beauty of the north.

My hands rest on the ancient cracks of rocks.

I smell the aroma of the forest behind me and slowly close my eyes.

I hear the crickets calling for the night’s cold, animals scurrying up trees to hide from the darkness and plants dancing with each other in the wind.

For a moment all is silent and calm as I open my eyes.

The sun takes a last glance at the north as it’s rays disappear behind the hills. While the moon comes and lights up the sky with it’s ghostly shine.

I stood ,climbed and walked.

But it is my time to sleep.

I will rise with the sun when morn.

TC-1-The forests and wildlife of Algonquin.

Poem 2 - by Alex Thompson

O ripple, you have slid to me!
From no place—it has been said,
As trees cannot fall where cannot be seen;
No ripple could have been.
But you're here and you move—
I see you clear!
A lump on this liquid mirror.
Inch by inch, you slip me by,
Bulging those clouds and sky.
And you I call a ripple,
And this is what you be,
When light move from you to me,
And tell me what to see.
But shrink me down to the frantic fly,
Who lay wing in, wing out:
I gasp for air at a timed breath,
As lake teases my spout.
And ripple it comes like tidal-tank,
To me, blacker than death.
For hit me wrong, no use to shout,
Underneath rotates my spout.
Me to scream and you to rest..
By the colors below your boat.
By the ripple pass—smooth on glass,
That turns me over to choke.
Ripple to you and Rumble to me;
To it—we can not see.
But to it is right, slipping through night,
Alone, away from sight.

TC-1-The forests and wildlife of Algonquin.

Last Paddle - by Lee Gilbert

Her depths remain warm
Yet she wishes to change.
The cold has come
winter’s now in range

Fog in the shallows
The white pine frozen
The fir, The asp white
This my day chosen.

Ice breaks on my bow
Pushing forward is slow
Should I push on?
Where should I go?

Options of exhaust fumes
and of human chatter?
A day pushing ice
Nothing really matters.

Stuck on the ice
I’ll choose the last
More appealing to me
Than discussing the past.

The ice gives way
Just north of here
Pictographs with ravens at play
Canoes, demons, deer.

The evenings are short now
Sun closing down
Stoically and relaxed
My feet touch the ground.

My boat on my shoulders
I begin the portage
Mounted, engine started
Soon back in the garage.

I switch off the engine
And stare off into space
A day in Algonquin
To redefine my place.

TC-1-The forests and wildlife of Algonquin.

Algonquin Heaven - by Diana McElroy

To step out of the tent into a still and chilly night
Under a tapestry of stars
Listen to the land breathing
And the secret life moving all around
The wolves singing their magic across the water

To sit at dawn on slanting granite by a lake
While mist swirls over calm water
Watch the brightening day
Beside a red pine that leans out from the shore
Waiting for the sun’s warmth

To wind along a creek between brushy shores
Paddle alone across a lake
Pause to watch the fish dart in the amber water
Pause to wet a line
While the wind ruffles the surface
And sends clouds dancing across the sky

To lie on sun-warmed rocks at end of day
The work on river and portage done
Camp made and supper finished
Watching the light slowly leave the sky
Listening to the spirit voices in the water
As they tell a bedtime story
As they sing a lullaby

Heaven has many faces
Meets us in many places

TC-2-Algonquin in the past.

A Moment of Algonquin's Past - by Grant Dawson

It's day break and the sun is burning the morning mist off the lake.

Though not alone you are the first to greet the day.

You can't help but let your mind wander and think about how it once was.

A time long ago when the trees were large and the hardships larger.

A park for recreation it wasn't, but a place of work it was.

The sounds of hand saws and horses echoed across the frozen lakes.

Imagine a time when canoe routes gave way to horse drawn sleighs piled high with the day's harvest.

You picture a time when men sat around a cabin table anticipating ice out and the log float to the mill, not the season opener.

Oh, how times have changed.

One can't help but think of those who lived and died in this park to provide for their families.

History can't be changed, can't be rearranged but should be embraced.

We all learn from our past and for that we must be thankful.

May this park live on for generations to come.

TC-3-Tom Thomson and other Algonquin artists .

Ghost Canoe - by Mike Ormsby

Painted using a mixture of regular marine grey and an artist’s $2 tube of cobalt blue
There was little chance of mistaking Tom Thomson’s distinctive dove grey canoe
Yet when it was found floating upside down in Canoe Lake
Offshore and unattended, riding free in the wave’s wake
Little could anyone have realized the great mystery about to unfold
The legend and the lore of the man, the story that might never be told

Discovering Thomson’s body bobbing near Little Wapomeo Island
With a bruise over the temple, blood coming from the ear
Could this be the result of an argument that got out of hand?
At the very least finding Tom such had been the greatest fear
With so much talent and surely a prosperous future just ahead
It was sad that by July 1917, at age 39, Tom Thomson was dead

But would anybody ever know how he had met this terrible fate?
Over the years memories fade and facts become less than straight
What is to be made of the ankle wrapped around with fishing line?
Was Tom killed by a waterborne whirlwind or likewise divine?
And what ever became of the missing favourite paddle?
So much that is hard to fathom or begin to try to straddle

What of the two paddles lashed inside the canoe as if ready to carry
But apparently haphazardly tied in with less than an expert’s knot?
Had Thomson decided to head out west, to leave without further tarry?
Was a loan to Shannon Fraser involved, a debt for canoes recently bought?
Were harsh words over the war with Germany allowed to enflame?
Was Martin Blecher (or was it Bletcher?) that was the one to blame?

Would the truth ever come out of what had happened to the artist cum guide
Had he drowned standing up attempting to pee over the canoe’s side?
Was it a case of possible foul play or even suicide?
Had Tom Thomson gone missing due to a matter of family pride?
Had he promised Winnie Trainor that they would wed?
Or was his death the result of a fatal blow to the head?

Was there a baby that was soon to be due?
And who really last saw Tom in his canoe?
What is to be made of the report of the artist’s frequent swings in mood?
Was Thomson a gentleman, true in his word, or a drunkard sometimes crude?
Was he happy or sad? Was he bi-polar or even depressed?
So much remains unknown and never properly addressed

The coroner arrived after Tom had been embalmed and already buried
Holding a brief inquest that found death to have been accidental drowning
When to some such a finding seemed at the very least somewhat hurried
Even the coroner’s report becoming lost can only leave one frowning
What of the bruise on the temple? Was it on the left or the right?
Surely there must have been talk from the locals of a possible fight?

Accidental drowning may have been the official word
But this just seems far too simple and even absurd
Most thought Tom was more than adequate in the water; it was known he could swim
He was also considered a good enough paddler to keep any canoe reasonably trim
No water in his lungs? So long for the body to surface? Did something prevent it to rise?
Too many questions for such a quick report….too much unanswered to just surmise

What of the questions of the actual burial site? Is Tom in Leith or at Canoe Lake?
Was there really a body in that sealed metal casket? Or merely sand meant to fake?
Why has the family never allowed exhumation? Was undertaker Churchill sly as a fox?
Who was dug up in 1956? Thomson or someone of Native descent left in the same box?
Why did Miss Trainor continue to place flowers on a supposedly empty grave?

Whatever we may know about Tom Thomson’s demise
And no matter that we may have to just simply surmise
Canoes do weave in and out of Thomson’s story; he often painted from a canoe
Canoes appear in his art, even that of his distinctive Chestnut, painted grey blue
A canoe was involved in his death and in the name of the lake where he lost his life
Maybe from a debt over the purchase of canoes, money he needed to take a wife?

Some even say a ghostly figure can be seen on misty mornings paddling a canoe on Canoe Lake
But supposedly a silent, even benign spirit, hardly scary enough to keep one up nights wide awake
So through much of the tale of Tom Thomson is the image, ghostly or not, of the canoe
But what became of his beloved Chestnut, with metal strip down the keel, and grey blue
Little is known where it ended up; maybe rotting at Mowat Lodge or on a portage trail?
Years after Tom’s death, a local camp even tried to locate this canoe, but alas to no avail

Painted using a mixture of regular marine grey and an artist’s $2 tube of cobalt blue
There was little chance of mistaking Tom Thomson’s distinctive dove grey canoe
Yet when it was found floating upside down in Canoe Lake
Offshore and unattended, riding free in the wave’s wake
Little could anyone have realized the great mystery about to unfold
The legend and the lore of the man, the story that might never be told

TC-3-Tom Thomson and other Algonquin artists .

Canoe Lines - by John Scarlett

Forty-five years ago

I began trying to write

haiku inspired poems

whenever paddling a canoe

in Algonquin Park

not cutesy spamku

but real ones

like the Japanese are writing

every day by the thousands

after hundreds of years

you know like this one

    looking up

    between spindly spruce

    first star

I still do

no camera

just three short lines

Back home in town

and now on the farm

longer poems do happen

to cope with the death of a son

to list the advantages of oxen

to wonder where the waters

in our hay field ditches

flow to

but on canoe trips

no haiku has ever stepped off

the maintained trail

to bushwhack its way

onto a fourth line and beyond

to return as a trip-poem

about for instance those four

bare breasted young women

whose canoes suddenly

turned a corner and met us

as close as a guy could wish for

and we all said good morning

or about the regret

we still feel after paddling

too close to those two loon chicks

and one never came back up

or how difficult it is

to describe the emptiness

that fills me without seeking

over the days of a canoe trip

until driving home I realize

I am thinking

one thought

at a time

and letting it


TC-3-Tom Thomson and other Algonquin artists .

Tom - by Mark Steele

Paddling on the lake,

Thoughtful, happy,

Floating, gliding, seeing,

He's at home-

Imagining, wondering, dreaming,

Quiet, Peace,

Resting on the shore

Archived Poetry

This part of the "Resources" section carries readers' poetry that describes the Algonquin experience, submitted over the past decade. E-mail in your submissions.

An Old Indian Prayer (Prayer) First Nations, Nov. 2, 2004
A Day In Algonquin (Poem) Tom Yates, June 23, 2001
Memories of Big Crow Lake (Poem) Chad Little, 2004
My Algonquin (Poetry Collection) Ken Born, 2004
The Experience (Poem) Alex Thompson, 2004
Wild Algonquin (Poetry Collection) Betty Lennips, 2004