James Dodd's Story of Finding Norse Relics Is "Absolutely Right"
Investigations Conducted by J.W. Curran of Sault Ste Marie Are Aided by Judge A.J. McComber and Dr. G. E. Eakins of Port Arthur - Claim Doubter Discredited
From the Nipigon Historical Museum Archives
The Fenwick "papers"
The News-Chronicle, October 7, 1938 \page 11
"I absolutely believe Dodd's story is right," said Dr. G.E. Eakins, when asked by the News-Chronicle for his opinion on the reported find of Norse relics in the vicinity of Beardmore in the light of recent inquiries made by J.W. Curran, editor of the Sault Daily Star, who makes a study of such things and spent several days in Port Arthur and vicinity in September.
Dr. Eakins, a former president of the Thunder Bay Historical Society, and also deeply interested in such matters, corroborated with Mr. Curran in gathering the material which the latter has used in interviewing various parties who might be able to offer relevant material.
"After checking up," continued Dr. Eakins, "I can't see how anyone could make up a story like that. Moreover, Dodd is a smart fellow and would know that his statements would be subject to verification. The Ontario Museum is convinced that the articles now in their possession, are genuine and I am told that Eli Ragotte, fellow trainsman of Dodd's , who first cast doubt on the story by saying he had seen similar article in a Port Arthur basement, has since visited the Museum and made the statement they they were the same articles."
"Then, Dr. Eakins went on, "there is the story about a man named Bloch bringing them over from Norway. This story I believe to be a myth. Bloch, from all I can gather, on speaking to those who knew him, was an educated, cultured and intelligent man. He would have an appreciation of the value of such relics and would not permit them to be thrown in a basement as rubbish."
"We also have the fact that Professor McIbraith, representing the Ontario Museum, made a visit to the location of the reported finds near Beardmore and himself found another somewhat similar character."
"In my opinion the Dodd story is corroborated."
Following is a story prepared by Mr. Curran on the basis of his inquiries in Port Arthur and published in his paper, The Sault Daily Star:
By J.W. Curran
"If James E. Dodd of Port Arthur really found priceless Norse relics on his Beardmore mining claim in 1931, how is it that he said nothing about them for some years afterwards?"
That is what the world asks.
Why didn't he try to sell them sooner than 1935? Why did nobody hear about them till then? He was a poor man, - had only averaged five months work a year during the depression - and if he had only told a newspaper he could have sold them for the money he admits he so badly needed.
The questions and doubts are natural enough, and reasonable enough until you meet James Edward Dodd. As a matter of fact Mr. Dodd didn't keep quiet about them at all. He hawked them here and there and had people coming to his house to see what at first were supposed to be Indian relics. He had them at the Mariaggi Hotel - for long the swank hostelry in Port Arthur. His friends seem in fact to have grown a little weary of having him talk about them.
Mrs. Dodd found some of these visitors a little trying. Her husband was in the habit of coming home at all times with men who really didn't want very much to see old mining tools or Indian relics or whatever they were but they like "Eddie," as he known to his many friends, and didn't want to hurt his feelings by refusing. His palls on the C.N.R. were claim stakers - and what railway man in Northern Ontario isn't "interested" in a mining claim - wanted to talk mining more than scrap iron. "What s- gave those things to you?"had asked Pat Bohan, section man at Dorion right after the find in 1931 when he was at the Dodd cabin on the mining claim. They joked about James Edward and his find and at last as one put it " thought he was bugs". No wonder James E. retired inside himself.
THEN A SCHOOL TEACHER ARRIVED
The along one day came a "school teacher from down around the Soo" (it was really near Kingston) and gave Dodd the idea they might be valuable, if only somebody could say what they were. "A man from the U.S." talked the same way. And so the owner got more interested in what people called junk, and the more he thought about the stuff the more he wondered.
It was the Kingston school teacher who first wrote Dr. C.T.Currelly, curator of the Royal Ontario Museum at Toronto about Dodd's find. The Doctor thereupon wrote to James Edward but he says he got no reply.
He kept the relics "in a box under the sink", and so Mrs. Dodd got tired moving them every time she wanted to sweep. So they were moved to the cupboard, the cellar, and the good wife followed them with what patience she could muster.
"Once I found them behind the china cabinet," she told the writer. Finally, patience gone she threw them out in the yard. But that was after she had offered to gild them and hang them on the wall where hubby could get his fill of looking at them and where callers wouldn't need to haul them out an muss up her kitchen. Husband wouldn't let them be gilded she said as that" might spoil them." But after they landed in the yard, Mr. Dodd considerately put them in the woodshed. Even as she told the story Mrs. Dodd sighed with relief.
"You don't know how old things like that clutter up a place and make work," she said. "Of course men don't know how trying a few old iron relics cam be to a housewife."
It wasn't James Edward's fault that the world didn't know about his find. And after a while he found even his friends a little bit diffident about going to see the articles or even talking about them. From indifference they began to joke, and James E. had occasionally to hear a jeer or two. Fact is he could do his part as a brakeman or a freight train conductor, but as a publicity agent for old iron articles found on mining claims he was a failure.
To Be Continued