On the Bridge at Chippawa by David Hobberlin


Diving off the Weightman Bridge in Chippawa, 1970s. Photo courtesy of the Niagara Falls Public Library

I love to experience the wind at Chippawa
whenever the Westerly blows strong.
How it presses back the eager boughs.
How it scuffs the tops of the water crests
that so mark the dark river’s frown.
How it seeks to scour this single bridge
that spans the narrows still.
How it empties itself where the Niagara begins.
How it sweeps and then swoops and then curls…
How it harbors all my longing
when it enters the cataract’s pull.
How it soars above the majestic gorge.
How it disperses the spray of a rainbow arc
before flying headlong toward the whirlpool of fate;
there to add to the mix of the new with the old
in a breach as endless as time can permit.
How it encourages joy from where ever it dwells
to flavor one’s hope, one’s heart, and one’s dream.
How it cleanses my spirit.
How it clings to my will.

May, 2020
Source: David Hobberlin
I am a Canadian poet currently living in Chippawa. Over the years my poems have appeared in a number of anthologies and periodicals beginning with the anthology ‘Canadian Poets of 1969’.

The poem ‘On the Waterfront of Toronto’ earned the Monica Ladell Award 2012 for best poem presented by the Scarborough Arts Society.

I have participated in various poetry readings and venues held in Toronto, Scarborough, Welland, St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls.

Grey Borders Books published three chapbooks of my poetry – Inanna  (A Tale of Sumer),  Reflections on the Republic, and Going to Work on a Snowy Morning. Click to visit the David Hobberlin page on the Grey Borders Books website
The Indian Heritage Council of Morristown, Tennessee, published a limited edition chapbook ‘The Pipe Maker and Other Poems’ in the millennial year 2000..

[Father Louis Hennepin] by Captain Flynn

Straight up Frontenac’s Northmost side
Ever a West he sailed,
Crossing in blessed Advent tide,
Landing on great Niagara’s shore.
South he turned to a sullen roar;
His Crucifix on his heart he bore;
Never his spirit failed.

Now Glory to God, whose hand did forge
This wondrous watery road!
On ragged rim of the fearful gorge
South he toiled through brambles and moss,
Past rapids roaring like souls atoss.
He blessed himself with the sign of the Cross
At the cliff where the torrent flowed.

His little altar was quick untied;
Small waxen tapers alight,
He said the Mass of the Sanctified.
Turning South through the wintry haze,
His eyes aglow, his heart ablaze,
At Chippawa’s flow, with a song of praise,
He made his camp for the night.

Source: Ray Corry Bond. Peninsula Village: The Story of Chippawa. Chippawa: [s.n.], 1964.

The Chippawa Creek by Anonymous

chippawa creek
Chippawa Creek, c.1900. Copy from an unknown source by Donna Campbell, 1975. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

As the Chippawa Creek crept along by its banks,
Or, as poets would say, “was a-flowing,”
Though a fish that had spent his whole life in its stream
Could scarce tell you which way it was going,

And this fine gold-laced frog leaped lively about,
Quite gay in his gaudy green coat,
Or the large one in brown made the echoes resound
With the sound of his harsh-croaking throat:

In some places it widened and spread into swamps;
Near the shore it was green, tinged with yellow,
And the mud-turtles crawled, or were perched on old logs,
And the ater-snake basked in the shallow;

And slowly it wended by many a bend,
Till it reached the Niagara’s shore,
And ventured, though shy, its fortune to try,
To join in the river’s rude roar.

Then onward it sped to the loud-sounding fall,
For vain was its puny resistance;
Nay, it seemed to be pleased, as it felt itself eased
Of its former dull sluggish existence.

And it wimpled and danced in many a swirl,
As it ran to the cataract’s roar;
Yet it seemed much to doubt, nor ventured far out,
But kept close to the Canada shore.

Now it neared the rude rock where the traveler oft stands,
At the end of long-nursed Ideality,
And sees with surprise to his wondering eyes
That description has beggared reality.

Still it clung to the shore, and seemed much to dread
That it would soon become a nonentity,
And strove to the last, though hurrying fast
To where it must lose its identity.

And onward it came to the horrible leap,
Yet still midst the rush and confusion,
Its stream you could mark by the matter so dark
That it carried and held in solution.

So a silly young mouse sometimes strays from the nest,
Or perhaps a young frolicsome rat,
And play, till at last they find themselves fast
In the claws of a merciless cat;

Or perhaps a young man leaves his peaceful abode,
And trusts to some frolicsome friend;
And, though first in vice shy, he gets bold bye and bye,
And at last makes a sorrowful end.

He repines and looks back with remorse on the past,
And full fain would resume his condition;
But in vice so far he continues to sin,
Till he sinks in disgrace to perdition.

Source: McCabe, Kevin, ed. The Poetry of Old Niagara. St. Catharines, Ont. : Blarney Stone Books, 1999.

Originally published in The St. Catharines Journal, Dec. 3, 1846. At the end of the poem there appears to be “I.   4.    Alnwick” The spacing, combination of italics and regular font, and the fact that other signed items on the page more resemble a signature line make it unclear if this is an author attribution.