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The Halcyon In Canada
by [?]

The halcyon or kingfisher is a good guide when you go to the woods. He will not insure smooth water or fair weather, but he knows every stream and lake like a book, and will take you to the wildest and most unfrequented places. Follow his rattle and you shall see the source of every trout and salmon stream on the continent. You shall see the Lake of the Woods, and far-off Athabasca and Abbitibbe, and the unknown streams that flow into Hudson’s Bay, and many others. His time is the time of the trout, too, namely, from April to September. He makes his subterranean nest in the bank of some favorite stream, and then goes on long excursions up and down and over woods and mountains to all the waters within reach, always fishing alone, the true angler that he is, his fellow keeping far ahead or behind, or taking the other branch. He loves the sound of a waterfall, and will sit a long time on a dry limb overhanging the pool below it, and, forgetting his occupation, brood upon his own memories and fancies.

The past season my friend and I took a hint from him, and, when the dog-star began to blaze, set out for Canada, making a big detour to touch at salt water and to take New York and Boston on our way.

The latter city was new to me, and we paused there and angled a couple of days and caught an editor, a philosopher, and a poet, and might have caught more if we had had a mind to, for these waters are full of ’em, and big ones, too.

Coming from the mountainous regions of the Hudson, we saw little in the way of scenery that arrested our attention until we beheld the St. Lawrence, though one gets glimpses now and then, as he is whirled along through New Hampshire and Vermont, that make him wish for a fuller view. It is always a pleasure to bring to pass the geography of one’s boyhood; ’tis like the fulfilling of a dream; hence it was with partial eyes that I looked upon the Merrimac, the Connecticut, and the Passumpsic,–dusky, squaw-colored streams, whose names I had learned so long ago. The traveler opens his eyes a little wider when he reaches Lake Memphremagog, especially if he have the luck to see it under such a sunset as we did, its burnished surface glowing like molten gold. This lake is an immense trough that accommodates both sides of the fence, though by far the larger and longer part of it is in Canada. Its western shore is bold and picturesque, being skirted by a detachment of the Green Mountains, the main range of which is seen careering along the horizon far to the southwest; to the east and north, whither the railroad takes you, the country is flat and monotonous.

The first peculiarity one notices about the farms in this northern country is the close proximity of the house and barn, in most cases the two buildings touching at some point,–an arrangement doubtless prompted by the deep snows and severe cold of this latitude. The typical Canadian dwelling-house is also presently met with on entering the Dominion,–a low, modest structure of hewn spruce logs, with a steep roof (containing two or more dormer windows) that ends in a smart curve, a hint taken from the Chinese pagoda. Even in the more costly brick or stone houses in the towns and vicinity this style is adhered to. It is so universal that one wonders if the reason of it is not in the climate also, the outward curve of the roof shooting the sliding snow farther away from the dwelling. It affords a wide projection, in many cases covering a veranda, and in all cases protecting the doors and windows without interfering with the light. In the better class of clapboarded houses the finish beneath the projecting eaves is also a sweeping curve, opposing and bracing that of the roof. A two-story country house, or a Mansard roof, I do not remember to have seen in Canada; but in places they have become so enamored of the white of the snow that they even whitewash the roofs of their buildings, giving a cluster of them the impression, at a distance, of an encampment of great tents.