“So you knows the Mayor?”
“Yes I knows the Mayor”
I was sitting on a bench in a lunchroom at a depot and a conversation about the weather had turned to this, after we both realized we were both from Central. The guy I was talking to had moved away many, many years before I did, but he still sometimes went up to a buddy’s cabin way up in Sandy Badger. When I said I was familiar with the area he asked. “So you knows the Mayor?”
The Mayor, was the Mayor of Sandy Badger. The Mayor lived at his cabin, way up in the bowels of Sandy Badger on an old logging road that no longer went into some nameless pond, somewhere between the main haul road and Sandy Lake. To be fair, he did not actually live at his cabin, he owned a house in Grand Falls, which he shared with his wife and, 150 year old mother in law. After he retired from the mill years ago he spent a lot of time up in the woods. There was at least one year that he said he spent 301 days up in the woods. To be fair, back then my father used to spend so much time up there he would have been assured a place on the council.
You see we are pretty sure the Mayor only went “North” to Grand Falls to make homebrew, and to bring up food and other supplies and more homebrew. The need to bring up food was one of the reasons the Mayor had a small farm at his camp, I know he grew some spuds, other root crops and once he gave us a head of lettuce. He also kept chickens, and one rooster.
Somewhere between Point of Woods Brook and Cripple Back Pond, in a country where you’d be surprised to see a person on Wednesday, there is a place called Rooster Hill. I guess the Mayor wanted a steady supply of eggs and eggs are normally bought at the store in Grand Falls and carried up over 50 plus kilometers of woods road plus another several clicks over a portage built in the 1950’s. The Mayor decided the keep some chickens. I am not sure how it happened but one of the chickens turned out to be a rooster, and the rooster was a real arsehole. He was as saucy as anything and violent, I heard that he had killed one of the chickens. He generally pissed off the mayor so much he had to be dealt with. Normally, a chopping block and a date with the soup pot was the answer to a saucy rooster, but the Mayor who had slew umpteen thousands of rabbits, dozens of moose and other assorted woodland creatures over the years didn’t have the heart to kill the rooster. After all, as saucy as it was, it was still sort of a pet.
So the Mayor decided to take the rooster down the road somewhere and hope that nature would take its course, Mr. Rooster might mate with a grouse or be eaten by a bear. But as I had mentioned, the rooster was an arsehole and a tough old arsehole at that. The rooster survived, the rooster survived for a while. People would pass by and see a rooster or would be out checking their slips and hear a cock-a-doodle-doo. Then they would wonder if they were losing their minds. “I seen a rooster on the hill by the Mayor’s” a few people remarked to dad on their way down, but dad knew the story. I for one never saw the rooster, but I heard about it from a few people, including the Mayor himself. Now folklore might have added a patina on the story, but the rooster was there for a while before some lucky predator finally took him down, but he was there long enough for a number of people to have seen him and who knows he still might be out there.
So how did the Mayor get the name the Mayor? I guess it was because he spent more time in Sandy Badger than anybody since old Noel Paul or Tom Joe themselves and because he was responsible for public works in the area. When Abitibi was up cutting and replanting in the area they kept things up in pretty good shape, but the road to the Mayor’s camp had been built by A.N.D (thought it was upgraded a bit in the 80’s) although for some reason an abundance of juniper keeps the alders off the road, the road is still prone to drainage problems and washouts. So the Mayor would fill in some potholes and place some culverts when he could get them. No in one case he posted a notice: “This culvert will be buried on Sunday August XX any help would be greatly appreciated, no flowers by request.” Safe to say the old wit was like a glass of Brut (not the aftershave).
Now the Mayor was an old man and it was hurricane Igor they say got him, I was told he, at the age of 83 overexerted himself while fixing up a washout or something after the storm. He passed away a few months later and true to his last request, his mortal remains were spread over the driveway at his camp. So he still might be up there still, him and the rooster.
A few years after the Mayor died there are reports that Stats Canada delivered Census forms to some of the cabins in this neck of the woods.
if I ever come across a Chicken-Grouse hybrid, I will let you know.