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Hendy's Northern Spasms
W.R (Hendy) Henderson

Mr. Henderson lived at Herb Lake in the 1920s , and staked some mining claims in the area.  He became the postmaster and later a magistrate at Flin Flon.

This collection of his poetry, entitled Hendy's Northern Spasms was found by Alma Mardis in an abandoned house at Herb Lake in the 1960s. The verses were typed and there was a handwritten inscription that read: "To my good Swede friend Gus Harmbier? With all good wishes from W. Henderson "Hendy"  The Pas, Man. 22 April 1927". The poem, The Sloppy Road to Flin Flon may have been an addition to the collection as it is dated at Flin Flon, 9 Sept 1927.

By W.R (Hendy) Henderson

There's a lot of men up in the north
Who,ever since the war,
Do not appear to realize
What they are living for.
They used to all be boasters
Before they felt war's shock
Now all they seem to understand
Is knock, and knock, and knock. 

They used to think the northland 
The very best on earth,
And were proud to boast of Canada
As the land that gave them birth.
In these old days 'twas pleasure
To listen to their talk,
Tho now the more you listen,
The more you hear them knock. 

There were others too who came here
From the corners of the earth,
And were never tired of speaking
Of the  northland and its worth.
It didn't matter if their names
Were Nola, or Fritz or Jack
They always smiled in those old days
And you never heard them knock. 

The earth has seen its ups and downs
But so has all the world
Since that glad day in 18
When the battle flags were furled.
The Northland is the same northland 
The rock's the same old rock
That it was a few short years ago 
Before you learned to knock. 

The war was cruel and terrible
But it would have been worse,
If the boys had quit the job and kicked
When they met with a reverse.
So take your lesson from these boys
Who at reverses mocked.
Just start again to boast today
And forget you ever knocked. 


By W.R (Hendy) Henderson

Who's optimistic all the while?
Who always wears a winning smile?
And who will some day make his pile? 
"Dad" Taylor

Who, never yet was known to knock,
Another's claim, another's rock?
Who boasts each time you hear him talk? 
"Dad" Taylor

Who knows the game from "A" to "Z"?
Who knows the signs from gold to lead?
Who, in all matters keeps his head? 
"Dad" Taylor

Who, to his friends will ne're be cold?
Who's heart's as good as high grade gold?
Who's always young although he's old"
"Dad" Taylor

Who travels with the real live wires?
And on the portage never tires?
Who'll do more that his share requires? 
"Dad" Taylor

Who'll go in company or alone,
Without a sigh, without a moan,
Who's s called by all   
"one of God's own"?
"Dad" Taylor

By W.R (Hendy) Henderson

Three sturdy Swedes went through the weeds
Some mining claims to stake.
They boarded Axel Nordane's boat
And sailed to Sandy Lake.

Now Charlie was the captain bold,
Axel, the engineer.
While Nels looked after tent and grub,
But took along no beer. 

The lake was very wet that day
And the crew were very dry,   
"Ere we cut loose, go get some snoos."
They heard the captain cry. 

The motor started off. Phutt, phutt ,
But the speed of the boat was laggin'
When the captain shouted out to Nels ,   
"Here, pass the Copenhagen."
He ordered the crew both here and there,
His voice was cruel and gruff,
Till all at once, his orders ceased,
His mouth was full of snuff. 

They may not stake a mining claim,
They may not kill a moose.
But they'll have a good time anyway,
They're well supplied with snoos.

By W.R (Hendy) Henderson 

'Twas a dark and stormy day sir
And the sun shone out alone.
When we started out the B.G.R. 
With a load of broken stone. 

The conductor's name was Bradley,
A man bold and persistent,
And as engineer and brakeman
He had Willie as assistant.

The signals were against us,
So we went the other way,
And as long as I remember,
I shall forget that day.

The track was on the upgrade,
They built is so for fun.
Our speed was sixty hours a mile,
Or maybe sixty one. 

Now as we crissed the crossing,
We were in an awful mess,
As Willie had run out of breath
And the speed was growing less.

Just then we struck the down-grade
And Willie got a shock,
For somebody had taken off 
His hand-embroidered rock. 

The train had gathered speed sir,
And Willie, out of breath,
Cried: "Save that damned conductor
And I'll go to my death."

Just then she jumped the track sir
Pandemonium was loose.
We wrecked the blinking train sir,
But we rescued the caboose.

The bloodshed sir was awful,
Over it I will not linger.
For Willie broke his vocal cords
And Bradley bruised a finger. 

You want to know the trouble sir:
It surely was a corker.   
Who took that hand-embroidered rock?
The villain's name was Walker.

By W.R (Hendy) Henderson
Theres a spot in the North that is known as Herb Lake,
Undiscovered by churches or preachers.
But neve-th-less, it's a heaven on earth,
In summer, when crowded with teachers. 

Some are tall, some are short, some are stout, some are thin,
Some are serious, others are witty.
Some are blonde, some brunette, But you'll sure win your bet,
If you gamble that each one is pretty. 

Prospectors and trappers, boys, youths and old men,
Are in love with these charming young creatures,
And wherever men gather, you'll find that the talk,
Is something connected with teachers. 

The bachelors gather and fight 'mongst themselves,
Though nobody knows why the fight is.
The fact of the matter is, all of the boys,
Are suff'ring acute teacheritis.`

By W.R (Hendy) Henderson

Try the rocky road to Dublin on an Irish jaunting car,
Or the road to Mandalay, inside a coach,
But never try the portage from the Landing to Camp 2
On the box seat of a cart with Mickey Roach. 

I've travelled on the highways of all countries on the earth
I've tried them all; the north, south, west and east,
And some of them are wonderful, and some of them are not,
But the rocky road to Flin Flon's sure a beast. 

I'm very fond of horses and therefore did not ride,
But tramped the sixteen miles right through the mire,
And if anybody tells you, I enjoyed that little walk,
Just tell him nice and gently, he's a liar. 

When I'd covered half the distance, I was wet, and sad, and tired,
With a thirst that would have satisfied a brewery,
And I kept that awful feeling over all that long, long trail
Till, I saw the smiling face of Peter Durie. 

Two gov'ments are responsible for laying out that road,
And doubtless think they did it fairly well,
They should give up building highways on this vale of tears
And build a road to take them all to Hell. 

Flin Flon, 9 Sept 1927           


By W.R (Hendy) Henderson 

Away to the shores of Wekusko,
Away from all civilized signs,
I went with my pack on my shoulders,
Away to the northern mines. 

Away from the powder and lipstick,
Away from the flapper's sweet ken,
I went with my pack on my shoulders,
Away to the haunts of real men. 

Away where the moose and the musk ox,
The wolves and the cariboo roam,
I went with my pack on my shoulders,
Away from the place I call home. 

Away from my friends in the city,
Away from my friends on the farm,
I went with my pack on my shoulders,
Away to that country of charm. 

Away from the civilized places,
I felt like a very small child,
But I still went on with my pack sack,
For I'd heard the "call of the wild".

The rocks and the muskeg allured me,
My body and soul had been sold,
For a craving that never will leave me,
A mad, insane passion for gold.  I

I've tramped through the snows in the winter,
And rested at night where I fell.
I've tramped through the muskeg in summer,
When the flies and mosquitos were hell.  I

I've shared in the last beans and bacon,
A trapper divided with me, I
I've shared with a chance-met prospector,
The last of my sugar and tea.

I've thought of my life in the city,
Where I lived in a first class hotel,
And I've pitied those I left behind me,
The dif'rence is heaven and hell.
For the men of the northland are real men,
Whose birthrights are physique and health.
Don't compare them with men in the cities,
And their weak chested scramble for wealth. 

The friendships up north are real friendships,
And the men are real men; young or old,
Who pick up the true Christian spirit,
While they are prospecting for gold. 

The man who finds gold's never happy,
And seldom if ever has wealth.
But the man who remains in the northland,
Has God's greatest blessing; that's health.

I've got to return to the city,
And oh; how I hate city life,
But I'm coming back with a partner,
A partner for all time; my wife. 

Then away to the shores of Wekusko,
Away from all civilized signs,
We'll go with our packs on our shoulders,
Back; back to the northern mines.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  The poems of W.R. (Hendy) Henderson are in public domain and may be freely copied.

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