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A Colourful Local Figure, Denby Scales

by: Mary Celia Thomson Moodie

In the years following the exciting times of mines and hotels in the first thirty years of the 1900's, Sesekinika had a number of described best as interesting senior citizens.  Among them was Denby Scales whose family and background were unknown, even to his closest friends.

Denby came from the Kingston area where he had worked on the electric railroad between Kingston and Ottawa.  When the steam railway came north in the early 1900's, he was employed as a foremanresponsible for his men and the amount of steel and ties used daily.  Like many others of that era, Denby had no schooling, and being unable to read or write, he kept the daily information in his head until passing it on to the timekeeper.  In all his time as foreman, there was never a dispute with his crew over hours.

When his lack of written records was discovered, and the railway discharged him, Denby settled in the Sesekinika area where over the years he farmed, raised cattle, and used his horses year round to freight materials for the local mines where they were working; as well as logging work and odd jobs around the lake.  In addition to hauling soil and building material over the ice, he worked on and built several cottages including Gord MacDonald's old cottage.

While it is uncertain if he was ever licensed, he always drove a vehicle of some description.  At one point, when the muffler gave out on his Studebaker, he promptly built himself a new one.

To all appearances a gruff, unemotional man, on many occasions he did quietly help people when he saw their need.  It is said his premises were always spotless.  In appearance he was described as handsome with a wide brimmed hat shadowing bright blue eyes.

In the winter of 1967 when his health and memory started to deteriorate, local residents worrying about his being so far out of town, moved him into the old Shea cabin at the edge of the village.  He was moved later to the Old Folks' Home in the Chateau in Kirkland Lake, where he died.

Truly a noteworthy citizen of the Sesekinika community.

Written for the 1997 Sesekinika Lake Association Newsletter


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