Reminiscences of Stokes Bay
The Bear Facts

     The Bruce Peninsula always had its share of black bears and many were encountered in the early days around Stokes Bay.
     The very first bear lever saw had followed Mrs. Bob Golden from the field across the river from her home where she had been picking berries. She saw that the bear was between her and the way home so she hurried up the back way and came through the bush in front of our place. The bear was coming along behind her as she dashed in to our place and told our Dad. The bear, now at our gate, was awaiting further developments. Dad, who wasn’t afraid of anything, picked up an old pail and went out and threw it at the animal who growled and stood up but decided he had lost his quarry, and turned and went back in the bush. Mrs. Golden went on her way home the long way through the village and our mother kept us close to home for the rest of the day.
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     Once when we still lived in “Little Egypt”, Dad was on his way to the store at “Big River” as it was called then, when he encountered a bear on the road. The bear stood up and made enquiring noises and Dad let fly the oil can which he was carrying. It made a great jangling and banging, and the bear took off at high speed toward the McIver farm ahead. At that moment Uncle Dick was herding the cows home on horseback. When the horse saw the bear coming full tilt, he threw his rider off and the cattle picked up steam and headed home tails in the air. Uncle Dick took to his heels and beat the horse and cattle home or so he said. The bear veered off to the bush and let the crazy people go wherever.
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     On another occasion when John and I were picking berries on the rocks out behind our new place, John all at once said "Come on we have to go home now.” He took my hand and said “Walk slow”. As we reached the road, he said “Now run as fast as you can. There's a big bear standing up watching us over that big rock." Now speed was of the essence, and we broke the four minute mile easily as we made the safety of our farm gate.
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     This summer (1987) a group of men loaded down with camera equipment and accompanied by two big “bear” dogs, told someone they were going back into “Little Egypt” to hunt bear – not to kill any but just take great pictures. So far as we know they did not see one bear; for that matter they might have encountered a family of bears who ate them hat and boots, as Gramma used to say, we heard no more about them. Have no idea either of what a “bear” dog looks like.
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     A chilling reminder occurred last year when a group of young people from the Bay met up with a raging bear in the “Little Egypt” area – a really frightening experience. The faithful dog that accompanied them was soon killed by the bear as it attacked, and if it wasn’t for the fact thatJim McLay had a rifle along and killed the animal as it charged him, there might have been a real disaster. The bear turned out to be rabid.
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     There are still many bears on the Peninsula and anyone that goes looking for them better be prepared to put on a burst of speed or be a dead-eye shot should it be bear season. No use to climb a tree. The bears can climb better than you can. Never trust a bear. It might just be your luck to meet one that didn’t have his breakfast!

Pages 19-20 of Old Timers’ Tales
A History of Stokes Bay and Area
(Bruce Peninsula)
By Helene Scott