Rough traveling this Christmas? Burt Hill can sympathize:
On December 22, 1926, leaving the Island early in the morning for Ashland, wading through snow knee deep from Sand Bay to Bakke’s where I found that Mr. Bakke had left for Bayfield shortly before my arrival there. After a rest I proceded on my way by foot to Albert Nelson’s farm which is quite a distance from the Bakke Farm.
Here I hired a rig to take me to Bayfield, where I took the train to Ashland, reaching there after dark. Mae was still there, having been there since November 28, and we spent a very pleasant Christmas with Percy and Marguerite. This was the first Christmas that we spent away from Sand Island since we moved there.
On December 27, we returned home. The trip was one that we will always remember. We hired Mr. Bakke to come and get us at Bayfield and he took us as far as his farm. From there we were compelled to travel by foot the balance of the way. The three of us had skis, but Mae had never been on skis before. The trail down the ravine was rough and crooked and she fell down many times and I had to help her up. I had a fifty pound pack on my back and helping her up was no easy job, especially on skis.
We left the Bakke farm at 2 P.M. and did not reach home until way after dark. The ice was very rough which made it hard traveling and both Mae and I were pretty sore for a couple of days after. The trip did not affect John. Ambrose had a lantern on the ice to show us where to go ashore.
What sort of distances is Burt Hill talking about in this excerpt from his memoir? Two miles across the ice to the mainland, and then most likely another three or four up hill and down dale. Burt would have been 55 at the time, Mae 50, and their nephew John Shaw about seven. “Ambrose” is Ambrose Gordon, their hired man. An Ojibwe from Red Cliff, Gordon was a long-time Sand Island fixture, working for Mae’s father, Frank Shaw, before the Hills took over his fishing outfit in 1910.
Sadly, this would be the last Christmas Burt and Mae spent with their daughter Marguerite. She died of breast cancer the following December, age 31.