Mattie and the Adventurer

The Rev. Dr. Worcester, an American clergyman and adventurer, made many hunting and travel trips to Newfoundland at the turn of the century; from 1897 to 1905. The following anecdotes are excerpted from the book; Life's Adventure: The Story of a Varied Career. published in 1932 in New York, by Charles Scribner's Sons.

Mattie and the Pearls

Mattie and the Thief

Mattie and the Caribou

Mattie the Tracker

Mattie the Bedmaker

Mattie the Story Teller

Mattie and the Mysterious Candle

Mattie the Salmon Fisher

The first one apparently occured in the summer of 1897. The exact time of the others is uncertain at this point. I have not laid my hands on the original book yet, which presumably will clarify the dates. My source was a photocopy of the excerpts sent to me by C. Martijn. His source was Gerald Penney Associates Limited, St. John's NF which showed the period as 1896-1906.

Mattie really comes alive in these anecdotes as Worcester quotes Mattie in the vernacular. We don't know how much Worcester exagerated Mattie's speech but it has a definite French flavour, not unlike our currrent prime minister.

Worcester's opinion of Mattie is very high in all respects and at times he sounds like a press agent, promoting Mattie as a Davey Crockett like figure. e.g.

  • " I engaged a Micmac Indian, without exception the greatest and most resourceful guide and woodsman I have ever known" or
  • "Mattie Mitchell was remarkably tall for an Indian he must have stood at least six feet three. His body was lean and sinewy and his strength prodigious. Many a time I have seen him swing a pack onto his shoulders, which I could hardly lift from the earth, and sustain it lightly over very difficult rocks and ground for two or three miles." or
  • "He differed from other guides in that he knew all parts of the island of Newfoundland equally well. When I mentioned him to other guides, they would say, 'I knows my own river and my own hunting ground, but Mattie, sir, knows everything. He's been walking all over the island since he was a child, and you can't lose him anywhere.' " or
  • "In his sense of direction and in his marvellous ability to find his way through trackless spaces, I have never known Mattie's equal." or
  • "Mattie possessed a vast fund of Indian mythology and folk-lore. When he visited a hamlet the fishing people would gather around him and he would amuse them with his tales for hours at a time." or
  • "Among his other accomplishments, Mattie was the best salmon fisher I have ever known."

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