It was in the winter of 1883 that Peter Fraser and Nathan Squires set out on a hunting expedition from Bangor, near Morrell, to Lot 65 in the Cornwall district, Prince Edward Island. The distance, roughly was forty-five or fifty miles, not a great journey for men who were accustomed to travelling almost every day on foot. Their route of travel took them across country passing through Riverton, Lorne Valley, York, North River and Kingston, reaching the great forests of Lot 65 after passing through the last-mentioned settlement. On 22 January 1883 a great snow storm began. Lost and confused, tragedy struck the two hunters.
- The Guardian, March 29, 1949, Legends of P.E.I by Uncle Joe.
Both men had made the trip before, but not in the month of January. They took with them their guns, two dogs and enough food to last a few days. Extra supplies, so they had reckoned, only would retard their progress and they wanted this to be a record-breaking trip.
The men left Bangor at 7:15 in the morning of January 21. The weather was quite cold and a light snow covered the ground. The going was good and they reached the fringe of the forest about 9 o’clock that evening.
On January 22, a great storm began and the keen frost penetrated through the crude brush camp they hurriedly had made the night of their arrival. As the day advanced, the storm increased in its fury, driving before it a smothering mass of swirling snow which soon covered the ground to a great depth.
The men ventured forth, each in turn, to take a shot at a rabbit or some other creature that would afford an extra meal for themselves and the dogs. But their efforts were without success. During the next six days the storm continued, and each day the hunters and their dogs lay about the camp, shivering and starving.
On the morning of January 28, they killed one of the dogs, roasting the meat on the ends of their muskets. The flesh, though not very relishable under normal conditions, proved an excellent diet now that starvation was staring them in the face. The uneaten portion of the carcass was taken outside and buried in the snow, but sometime during the following night it was stolen by foxes or bears.
The morning of the 29th was clear and calm so, Squires and Fraser decided they would push on and try to find a habitation where food and shelter might be procured.
Peter Fraser’s diary, found in his pocket, tells the tragic story of how he and his companion spent their last hours in this world: “January 29, returned to camp and killed the second dog. Ate part of it. We are both sick and badly frozen, with skin peeling off our feet and hands. The cold is biting us to the marrow. Made a try for a settlement today but got hopelessly confused. No luck at all.”
Fraser’s diary continued: “Squires seems to be sinking fast. It don’t seem as if I can last much longer. I just looked at my watch. The time 10 pm. Squires has just passed away. His last words were ‘Give my money and clothes to my brother John.’ I look at his cold, stiff body and think how lucky he is to be gone. Time 11:20 pm. This is the end, all my belongings and property I have I leave to mother.
Not until spring were the bodies of the lost hunters discovered. Side by side they lay, Squires and Fraser, snow for their winding sheet, a crude brush camp for their grave.