Nipigon Historical Museum Archives
The Fenwick "papers"
October 7th 1938 continued
Having failed to get action from his friends he tried an outsider. Dr. E.M. Burwash, of the Department of Mines, was in Port Arthur "three or four years ago," (James E. is exasperatingly uncertain about when things happened), on his annual rounds as a teacher of classes for mining prospectors. Perhaps Dr. Burwash would like to see the stuff. Dr. Burwash, a mild and obliging man, would. He thought his friend Dr. C.T.Currelly of the Ontario Museum might be interested. Finally, about two and a half years ago as is stated Dodd took his relics to Toronto, being paid his expenses on the trip.
Dr. Currelly believed the relics were worth investigating. He sent photographs to experts in Norway and back came word that the Dodd 'junk' was really a Norse warrior's equipment. The Museum man had been looking for just such a set for thirty years, and Mr. Dodd had the first he had ever seen.
"How much do you want for them?" the Doctor asked.
"You set a price," said James E. Dodd.
"The Museum is not allowed to do that," the Doctor is reported as saying.
"Well," said the Port Arthur man, "after all the work and expense and trouble I have had I think they should be worth $400."
'We will do better than that," said the Doctor. "We'll give you $500."
And as James E. now thinks he well might. For the Doctor didn't buy a bit too quickly, the report goes. Dodd probably could today get enough for his relics to keep himself and his family in comfort for the rest of their lives. That is if he hadn't sold them to Dr. Currelly after having them lie around the house for five years.
Then when the deal had been completed and the money paid at the museum, the Doctor asked among other questions if Mr. Dodd had found anything else. Thinking the matter over, Dodd recalled that on top of the handle of the shield lay what seemed to be a shallow bowl of iron, but this was so fragile that when Dodd touched it with the shovel it just shattered into pieces. So he paid no attention to it, and presumably the fragments were lost in the shovelling out of the trench.
Dr. Currelly expressed the view to me when relating the particulars that this shallow bowl was the "boss" on the ancient shield - an iron protection for the hand of the man who held the shield. He showed pictures of old Norse shields with a "boss" in the centre of the front of the shield, and drew attention to Mr. Dodd's statement that the "bowl" had rested on top of the handle, the right place for it to rest as the shield lay on the ground with the face of the shield and its "boss" uppermost.
The story of James Edward Dodd, 54, Canadian National Railway freight conductor, regarding the finding of pieces of old iron on his Beardmore claim, afterwards identified by experts as genuine Norse relics of 11th century make, is clear enough. As to the year of the find, however, he was a little hazy at first. When he first told me the story he said it was during the spring of 1931, "after the snow went off." On this and all other points I questioned him closely, even suggesting strongly several times to him that the right date was 1930. I merely wanted to see if he would wobble on the matter. We talked the whole matter over a couple of times, and three or four days after our first meeting which was on Tuesday, September 13, Mr. Dodd said that maybe the date was 1930 - he wasn't sure.
"It happened so long ago," he said, "and I have worked pretty regularly on the claim since staking it in 1925, but what happened each year since then, I am not sure I can remember."
"It is very important," said Judge Alexander McComber, "that all dates be fixed clearly."
To be continued: