Turtle soup

Most people know what a canoe is. It’s a boat originally used by the tribal peoples on the east coast of North America for hunting and fishing. It’s a long and thin boat pointed on both ends. You kneel in the boat and propel it by the stroke of a paddle. It takes some expertise to do this, particularly to steer the boat. I was born in a canoe. I may even have a photo of my birth, but if I don’t I at least know that I have a photo of my cousin and myself in a canoe as proof. As I mentioned a canoe is generally a thin boat, but on the east coast of Canada, wider ones were made for salmon fishing so you could stand up and spear the fish. My father had one of these east coast canoes custom made out of canvas and cedar-wood. It even had ribs made with strips of cedar. You can hardly find a real canoe made like this anymore, and if I know my father that canoe is still hanging in his garage somewhere. The special thing about a canoe is that it can travel in very very shallow water and it is absolutely quiet. It is perfect for fishing and hunting in marsh areas.

As a boy one of my favorite past times was to take this canoe into the marsh behind my grandfather’s cottage and catch mud turtles. My cousin Kenny and I used to do this quite often and on a good day we could catch 20 or 30 turtles! We would quietly drift into the marsh and if we were careful not to stir up the water we could see the turtles actually swimming right below us and reach down quickly and grab them out of the water. An average mud turtle had a 6 inch diameter shell. It would be our contest to see how many turtles we could catch in a day. After a few hours it would be quite a scene to see 15 or 20 mud turtles crawling in the bottom of the canoe at our feet. I only wish we had photos of this. So what would we do with so many turtles? Do you think we made them into turtle soup? Noooo, we would always return them to the swamp once we were done; our goal was just to see how many we could catch, not to eat them.


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