‘It was so quiet, it was downright spooky’

From our January 2014 issue

By Harold Thom – Nakusp, B.C.

The winter of 1946-47 at Candle Lake, north of Prince Albert, Sask. was cold with lots of snow. There were a lot more wolves than usual too. We could always hear them howling off in the distance, but this winter, they were coming right into our yard at night.

At the age of 14, I was the oldest of five kids living with our mother. We had been here only a short time and knew nothing about wolves. Having them so close was a bit unsettling, to say the least.

Our neighbour had lived in this area for years and told us not to worry, as long as our animals were in the barn, it would be our dog they’d be after. It would be a good idea to lock him in the porch at night until the wolves moved on – they were just passing through.

We had a two-mile walk to school and had often seen wolf tracks along the road which was more of a trail really.

Mom was concerned about a wolf attacking us kids, but our neighbour told us this wouldn’t happen. He’d never heard of an attack on a human in all his time in the north. If we spotted wolves, we were to just carry on, stay calm, and they wouldn’t bother us.

A couple days later about halfway home from school, it was almost dark, and I had the feeling something was in the bush moving along with us as we walked.

I didn’t say anything to the younger kids. Maybe it was just my imagination because no matter how I looked, I couldn’t see anything. It was so quiet, it was downright spooky. Usually, you’d hear squirrels chattering or ravens squawking as we walked, but there was nothing.

I dropped back to walk behind the kids so I could keep an eye on them and still keep checking behind without them noticing. One time when I glanced back, there were three big wolves walking about 200-feet behind us, two grey wolves, and one bigger black wolf. I just about messed my pants.

About this same time I spotted a couple more just off our trail on the left, moving through the trees the same speed we were walking.

Then the younger kids spotted them, and they all wanted to run. I finally got them settled down and huddled in a group and told them what our neighbour had said: we should stay calm and walk along slowly, the wolves wouldn’t hurt us. I didn’t let them know that I wanted to make a mad dash for home as bad as they did.

I noticed that as we stood huddled together that the wolves behind us just sat down and waited. One was licking the snow from his paws. No sign of the ones in the bush.

The kids were settled down a bit so we decided to just hold hands and walk along normally and see what happened.

We started walking. The wolves started walking, not gaining of us, just poking along behind. We didn’t see any more in the bush and once, when I glanced back, the three behind us had vanished as quietly as they had arrived.

We kept moving along slowly until we got home, never seeing them again. They sure raised heck around our house that night. Between the wolves outside and the dog raising a ruckus in the porch, we didn’t get much sleep.

The next day to and from school was uneventful. There were lots of tracks in the snow but no wolves. The following day though, four of them, all grey, followed us for a few minutes before disappearing in the bush.

We never actually saw them again, only heard them howling a few nights, farther and farther away each time, moving off up the lake to the north.