Story Starter June/July 2017 – H. Bassett

Our June/July Story Starter features work by H. Bassett.

As we mentioned when we introduced our special Ontario 150 and Canada 150 Moose Factory Story Starters contest earlier this month, for the duration of this round of Story Starters, we will be contrasting some of the newest photography of the Moose Factory, Ontario area with some of the oldest. We at the OWC are very fortunate to have access to some of the earliest photos known to exist for the Moose Factory area.

This month’s next photo is “Moose Factory Water Works, 1934” (Photographer: H. Bassett) and is republished with kind permission of the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba:

Moose Factory Water Works, 1934 (H. Bassett), republished with kind permission of the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba.

To enter, write a 100 word original story in English based upon the picture above and copy it into the comments section below. There is no restriction of age, location (subject to local laws), or cost associated with entering the contest. You have until midnight on July 13, 2017 to submit your story based on “Moose Factory Water Works.” Check the full entry rules and format here.

Finalists and Winners will be determined by judges selected by the OWC and MoCreebec Eeyoud Council and will be announced later this summer.  

We look forward to reading your Story Starters based on this moment frozen in time.

Want to check out past contest entries? Click here.

Feeling inspired? Paste in your 100-word original entry below!

** Please note, there is a delay between comment submission and approval, so please submit an entry one time only. Thank you. **

  • The dog watched stoically as the horse and its man approached, their feet crunching in the snow. On the icy breeze it could just detect the faint smell of blood, of wolf, just enough to make its ears twitch. The dog theorized that the horse and its man must have encountered trouble while hauling their sledge through the woods. Getting to its feet, the dog plodded into the trees, following the clear tracks the sledge had left in the snow, spying the occasional drop of blood; salivating salivate at the thought of fresh wolf meat as the sun slowly set.

  • Dr Velma McClymont June 22, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Praisesong to The Works
    Man with horse memorialised
    In time’s gallery

  • Dr Velma McClymont June 22, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Praisesong for the hands
    That left an indelible
    Mark on Water Works

  • The Mare of Moose Factory (A Tanka Poem)

    He stands sentinal
    As quiet as secrets kept
    Eyes fixed on the road
    Ice Kissed in Moose Factory
    Brings biting, blustery nights
    Oh how he longs for summer

  • Onward horse-drawn plough
    Lone workman plods with his dog
    Snow silent as death
    Moose Factory caught in shot
    Like insects trapped in amber

  • Onward horse and plough
    Workman with his dog ahead
    Snow silent as death
    Moose Factory comatosed
    Like tongue preserved in aspic

  • Onward horse-drawn plough
    Across snowscape with
    Man silent as death
    Moose Factory trapped in time
    Like tongue preserved in aspic

  • Jean Pierre Chabot June 24, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Two years after the railway twas extended to Moosonee (1932)
    I and my horse decide not to bend our tired knee
    Time will tell whose locomotive is better for these parts
    Dog knows how peaceful is the sound of horse drawn carts
    We are all defiant in the wake of yonder noises
    Here in Moose Factory we choose to gather water with our horses

  • Jean Pierre Chabot June 24, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Two Years Defiant (1932-1934)

    Two years since the railway was extended to Moosonee (1932)
    I and my horse, we refuse to bend our tired knee

    Time will tell whose locomotive is better for these parts
    Dog knows the peaceful sound of horse-drawn carts

    Despite the yonder whistling and smoking noises
    Here in Moose Factory we prefer to draw our water with horses

  • You can see the frozen icicles
    And hear the fresh new snow
    As it crisp’s from each step that has been taken
    Through the grey wooden fence
    Hours of silence is in the air
    As the sun rises on another cold blistering day
    Trying to peak through the dark grey clouds of the morning
    The sound of the morning takes a spread
    Another gloomy day but nothing but the love is in the air
    The purity of hope rings bells of each and every heart
    True to a purpose of another living day
    A honorable name stands its ground

  • What was that “roof” who goes there, oh they came back already that was fast or was I just asleep for that long. I don’t think they saw me sleeping. I wonder what they brought back today. It was nothing big because they didn’t round up the boys today but he doesn’t seem that happy or is he just cold.
    “Hey Gregory, how was it today?” he asked the horse.
    “Same old, same old…” the horse gruffed.
    Back to my nap then.

  • Michelle Dinnick June 26, 2017 at 2:18 am

    When this photo was taken, my father was only 5 years old. He died when he was 80; when I was 35; 2 months before my first son was born. My son, who is now 7, remembers that I cried a lot when he was little, because I missed his Grandpa Howard so much. I still do. Miss him. And cry. Why is it… Every time I see the date on something, I can’t help but think… my Dad was alive then… or, my Dad was already dead then… or, my Dad wasn’t born yet… Why do I do that?

  • This old snapshot is the only one I have of Dad working. The rest burned in the fire . I was just 6 years old when my teacher took me by the hand to the principal’s office . “Where is your father ? ” the principal asked.
    “Gone goose hunting ” I said.
    “When is he coming home ? ” he questioned.
    “I don’t know ” I was scared.
    I looked at my teacher and she rubbed my head and said, ” Nita, you’ll stay with me until your Dad comes home , OK?”
    “Why, where’s my mother and lilttle brothers?”
    I asked but I already knew the answer.

  • Man and horse stand
    On the threshold of now,
    Recalling past steps of travel,
    And embracing where they are bound:

    A photograph’s chronicle of one 1934 second,
    A moment preserved—
    Man, horse, and dog unforgotten.

    And treasure
    This one significant contribution,
    Among many,
    To the Canadian capsule.

  • Moonshine in my stomach to fight the frigid cold; government commissioned photographers cannot afford much else. Waiting to capture the trading of frozen pelts, by those risking everything to make a dime. Crossing ice bridges for luxury fashion, that any lady of mine could never afford. My interest in such trades parallels that of the dog in the enclosed photo. Mother, I send you this to prove I really am in Moose Factory, as you like to joke there is no such place. My god, sometimes I wish that were true. Though oddly, this place has become home.

  • She died during the night. No one came to help, though he shouted. He sat by her side waiting to see if morning would bring her back.
    When it didn’t, he let the fire go out and left. Had his job to do. Horse to care for. All day he worked, his grief hung over his shoulders like a bundle of rotting furs.
    One more barrel to the Company, then he’d get the older women to come. They would know what to do with her body. With the body of their child who had not taken a single breath.

  • This is Mushom or Grandfather in English. He looks small behind that horse, but he was a huge man, to me. I love this picture. My Mush worked for the store hauling water until the accident. That job was rare for a Cree in 1934 since the rail had arrived across the river. He was a proud man , happy he could provide for his family. Yeah, Mushom was a big man, a giant of a man and now he is a big angel in heaven.

  • Matthew Robitaille July 2, 2017 at 10:49 am

    “We’re almost there my love, almost there” Mr. McNab calls out to his horse while he guides her up the path to Moose Factory. “Once we have this load delivered I’ll mix you a special blend of oats and hey” With a touch of excitement in his voice he adds “I’ll even give you my last apple. What do you say to that eh! Does that sound good to you?” His horse nods in agreement. That’s my girl.” Side by side the two companions finish their journey… companions whom together, will work until death takes one away.

  • Impasse

    The March crossing to Moose Factory Island was turbulent. Upon arriving, the young woman vomited in a snowbank. Midmorning, the Hudson Bay Company clerk found her resting on her suitcases.

    “You’re the new teacher,” the man said.

    “How’d you know?”

    He shrugged. “The last one skedaddled, so…”

    “Oh.” The woman’s gaze drifted to a lone sled dog sunning itself against a picket fence.

    “Ever taught before?” the man asked.


    He lit a cigarette. “You gonna stuff their heads with nonsense?”

    “Knowledge is key to children becoming what they dream of,” she said.

    “Suppose they dream of being Cree?”

  • Jon LeBeuf had recently retired from the Hudson’s Bay Company in Moose Factory. His friend Tom had died last Tuesday. Before passing he gave something to Jon.

    Jon asked his brother to meet him. He was concentrating on a photograph and hadn’t noticed Jaques until he sat down.
    “What’s that?” Jaques asked as he looked at the photo.
    “Tom gave this to me before he went into a comma. He said, ‘The answer’s in this picture.’ That’s the last time he spoke.”
    “What did he mean?”
    “I don’t know. I don’t know the answer or the question,” Jon replied.

  • The frigid air brought a sting to her nose and sadness darkened her gaze. She struggled to move one foot in front of the other. Ahkamēyimoh [try harder], she must try harder. Another hour of daylight and if she didn’t reach the house, crowded as they were, and sick as he was, Webby would be frantic with worry. Her father’s family had taken root here two hundred years ago with the arrival of the white-man. Her mother’s people were the heart of this sacred land. Her soul felt the joy and the struggle of belonging to both family lines.

  • It was unusually cold during the winter of 1934. Alex wondered what he let himself in for when he came to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Moose Factory was no less a challenge than his home in the Hebrides Islands of Scotland.

    Filling a barrel with endless pails of water was not a pleasant task, but it became his designated job to deliver water to the small community. Both he and his old horse Jack endured the bitter cold of winter until the warm days of spring smiled upon the land, breathing life into everything once again.

  • As he slogged through the snow, Sam hung his head.

    “Back and forth, back and forth, hauling things from that big building over there, to smaller buildings, then back again. No wonder they call me a work horse. That’s all I do. Work. In abysmal conditions. Who else is expected to work in minus 40 weather without even a sealskin for warmth? Nobody but Sam!”

    Sam whinnied in exasperation. “After 40 years, I’ve had enough. It’s time for my golden horseshoe … my silver sugar cube…my bronze carrot.”

    He looked left, then right. “Where’s Sid Ryan when you need him?”

  • Hi Steve.
    Hey Shep.
    How many is that for you today?
    I dunno. Maybe fourteen?
    You’d think they’d give you a bit of break, given your age.
    Yeah, you’d think. But they never do. I know this route like the back of my hoof.
    Wish I could help you out but I’m kind of tied up at the moment.
    That joke never gets old.
    An old guy like you, hauling water all day to the Post. Something tells me there’s gotta be a better way.
    Let me know if you figure that out.
    Will do. See ya Steve
    Later Shep.

  • Cynthia Englert July 13, 2017 at 7:51 am

    **CONTEST CLOSED** Good luck to all who entered! To enter the currenr contest, please go to

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