The following was arranged from memory in 1998 by Peter Ewart and his daughter, Linda. They were spurred on by the writings of Mike Simington, a friend who had had the opportunity to see the photo album compiled by Clarence Ewart after his honeymoon trip with Edith in the summer of 1917. Peter was born on April 7, 1918.
A Most Unusual Honeymoon
By water, it is 230 miles from Montreal to Yarker, Ontario. It is a route that heads west up the Ottawa River, the waterway that divides Quebec and Ontario, before turning south into the Rideau River, which winds its way down to the Rideau Lakes. From there, through a maze of creeks and small lakes, it is possible to reach Yarker, although the true Rideau Lakes Route described in Dr. Elmer J. Lake's manual and guide runs from Ottawa to Kingston, on the shore of Lake Ontario.
A Most Unusual Honeymoon - Slideshow
This "most unusual honeymoon" was recorded on film and represents one of the first travelogs. This slideshow contains 43 of the photographs with Clarence's original captions.
Clarence and Edith Ewart (ne Doane) became very familiar with Dr. Lake's guide as they paddled for thirty days on what would even today be considered a most unusual honeymoon. Unusual for the fact that this trip took place in 1917, before the days of air mattresses and sleeping bags. There was no bug spray - a smoking stick from the campfire, held for a time inside the tent, would discourage mosquitoes. Wool blankets kept them warm at night. A depression scooped out of the ground to accommodate the hip was a concession to comfort and it was only if they were staying in one place for a few days that they would cut some evergreen boughs to make a softer bed. Food was either canned or fresh. All cooking was done over a wood fire. Clarence was a competent fisherman and so fresh fish were often the order of the day. Supplies were bought as they were needed, at small towns along the route. Rainy spells were opportunities to take a rest from paddling and enjoy reading aloud inside the tent with a fire out front.
The pictures that accompany this article have a documentary quality. They illustrate the various aspects of the trip and show the everyday and the unusual, the still familiar locations and the little known hideaways. Even today this would be a phenomenal journey. For the young couple it was a remarkable experience that heralded the beginning of a full and happy life together.
Clarence Ewart was born in Yarker in 1889. His father owned the general store there and shared his interest in the outdoors with his son. Clarence grew to love nature. He developed an interest in hiking, canoeing and tramping through the woods with his father.
Edith and Clarence first met while attending MacDonald College near Montreal. They became friends and found that they shared a mutual interest in the out-of-doors. Clarence was the proud owner of a sixteen foot Peterborough cedar strip canoe. The college, on a shore of Lake St. Louis, provided opportunities for day trips and picnics which they both enjoyed. The friendship became a deep and abiding love and in 1917 they were married. Edith had never met Clarence's parents so they had decided to take a honeymoon canoe trip to Yarker.
Edith deserves a great deal of credit for her contributions to an experience completely new to her. Although inexperienced with camping and canoeing, she was remarkable for her sense of adventure and her ability to accept a challenge.
Both Clarence and Edith obtained positions as teachers in Montreal. This enabled them, each summer vacation, to take their canoe with their son, Peter, and introduce him to the joys of canoeing. On three more occasions during the 1920's they made the same trip in reverse, transporting the canoe to Yarker with them on the train and paddling home again. These adventures had an ongoing impact on Peter's love of the outdoors. The trips gave him a knowledge and appreciation of nature much like his father's and he eventually elected to pursue a career as a landscape artist. Peter Ewart spent his life interpreting nature in his paintings, the result of his father's and mother's influence so many years before.