Friday, 27 May 2011
Cow Dung Lake
Lowry seems from an early age to have taken an interest in unusual or exotic names which he built into his work.
In Under The Volcano, Hugh recalls an "idiotic verse" which refers to a series of places in Saskatchewan. Year later, Malc referred to these names in a letter to Clemens ten Holder:
p.120 Silly, unimagainative names in the state of Saskatchewan. They have some beautiful examples in British Columbia of which Cow-Dung Lake is perhaps the most expressive.
I have started trying to track down images for the places named in Lowry's works for my Postcards from Malc blog. I cannot imagine that Malc ever visited all these places as elsewhere he mentions looking at an atlas searching out unusual place names. The searches on those long nights in his Dollarton cabin probably recalled his youth in his Inglewood home where you can imagine him looking to where you could go in the world!
I failed to find Cow-Dung lake until I discovered that it had been renamed:
This lake near the Yellowhead Pass has been known by several names. In 1824, Hudson’s Bay Company governor George Simpson, heading for the Athabasca Pass, noted, “the track for Cranberry Lake takes a Northerly direction by Cow Dung River.” The Cow Dung River was the Miette and Simpson’s Cranberry Lake may have been our Yellowhead. In 1862, when the Overlander gold seekers crossed Yellowhead Pass (which they called Leather Pass) they camped on Cow Dung Lake. A year later, the lake was known to Milton and Cheadle as Buffalo Dung Lake. In 1872 George Grant suggested its present name, recalling the namesake of the pass.
“It is a very charming litle sheet of water,” wrote Arthur Wheeler, “four miles long, with a greatest width of half a mile. There are several narrows, and the irregularities of its form are by no means the least part of its charm. For the most part it is surrounded by green forest and is distinctly one of the most beautiful lakes in the district. In colour the waters are a creamy sap green.” Read more on Spiral Road