Nipigon Historical Museum Archives
The Fenwick "papers"
continued The News-Chronicle of October 7, 1938
As the strange story of Dodd's find involves John Bloch a good deal it is well to relate what is known of him.
Mr. Sorensen says that he first met Bloch in Winnipeg in the Winter of 1922-1923, and Bloch went to Fort Frances from there, but couldn't get work there. Later he came to Port Arthur and stayed in Port Arthur six or seven years.
"He would be living in Port Arthur in 1928, I met him in Winnipeg," says Sorensen, " I think in 1923 and he told me he was going to Fort Frances. I had been out west when I came back to Port Arthur in November, 1926 he was there. He told me he had been out in the bush for a couple of years working for contractors. I met him around Christmas in 1926 in Port Arthur. He was clerking at the Mariaggi Hotel about 1930, and that was the last job he had. He was rooming in the Ruttan Block a year or two before he left Port Arthur. He was just a short time at the Mariaggi Hotel. Then he went to Winnipeg and was there a year or two and got married. He then went to Vancouver. He was there a year or two and died there. He used to come up to my rooms.
There were five or six young Norwegian engineers working for C.D.Howe and Co. who used to meet in Bloch's rooms in the Ruttan Block, Port Arthur, and I would go there often too. He used to visit me in my rooms in Fort William quite frequently. I never heard of his having any relics whilst he was here, and no one else ever heard that he had any."
Mr. Sorensen said that Lieut. Bloch was about 27 years old when he came to Canada from Norway, after attending the military school there for about a year. The young man was well educated and became acquainted with the few Norwegians at the Head of the Lakes. He had little money and took a room in Port Arthur. Mr. Sorensen knew him during his whole residence there until his departure.
"L was frequently in his rooms and he visited me often. We talked over everything imaginable, including his own experience and prospects. He was of the student type - a very nice man."
"It is possible that he had brought any Norse relics in his possession at any time during his stay in Canada?" the writer asked.
"I can hardly believe it," said Mr. Sorensen, "I can't believe that he would not have mentioned it to me if he had. No, I don't believe any of the stories now told about that. Some of Lieut. Bloch's other friends and myself have discussed these reports and we all think them utterly without foundation."
Mr. Sorensen said that Lieut. Bloch, being very hard up may have helped Mr. Hansen, a small building contractor, who came from the north of Norway, to excavate a cellar for a home on Machar Street. One story current was to the effect, said Mr. Sorensen, that Bloch had found Norse relics while digging this cellar. Another was that he had brought them from Norway. Mr. Sorensen very firmly believed neither of these stories was true, as did other friends of Bloch's whose names were given by the vice consul.
"Lieut. Bloch certainly had nothing of value in his possession. He had been compelled to sell some little personal possessions to live," said Mr. Sorensen. "No relics at all. All he possessed was a college cap and a belt outside of his few necessities."
The Lieut. was quite well known and esteemed by the few friends he made which included Lt.Col. L.S. Deer, Mr G.A.Simonsen, grocer, of 318 Algoma Street, and some Norwegian engineers who worked for the C.D. Howe Company.
"Neither myself nor any other of Bloch's friends ever heard of him having Norse relics till after his death."
Mr. Sorensen produced a photograph of a Viking ship which he and some other Norwegians had built as a float in a local street parade. Bloch had taken a leading part in its construction as he was intensely interested in old Viking days, ships and history. The float conformed to accepted pictures of these old ships, with a number of shields hung along the sides. "We got some tall Norwegian lads to stand behind the shields," said Mr. Sorensen and the photo showed all the features he spoke of as well as the committee which had carried out the scheme. In the group were Mr. Sorensen himself and Lieut. Bloch.
According to J.M. Hansen as reported in The Port Arthur News-Chronicle in January, 1938, John Bloch had brought "similar articles" to the relics found by Dodd from Norway.
It was the Hansen statement which has clouded the situation and caused the newspapers to take Dodd's story with a grain of salt.
MR. RAGOTTE WAS ONLY JOKING
Their unbelief was help by a story in the Winnipeg papers about January 25 of this year that a fellow C.N.R. employee of Dodd's named Eli Ragoote who had at one time boarded with him on Machar Avenue was said to have claimed that it wasn't Dodd but he himself who had found the "sword" on a "pile of cinders" in Dodd's cellar while the two were cleaning up the place.
I saw Mr. Ragotte in Winnipeg on Sept. 20 and asked him about the story.
"I only said it as a joke," he said.
"Then you looked on the report in the newspaper as a joke?"
"Yes, of course. As a matter of fact I had seen what looked like a sword or just an old piece of ruined iron in his cellar - I wouldn't be sure which it was - and am sorry I got into the yarn. I never saw the shield or axe. Of course it was my own fault. I didn't know it might hurt Eddie, and I have no desire to hurt him or anyone else. He has a heart as big as a house."
Mr. Ragotte gave me an affidavit to the above effect with the further allegation that Hansen had once told him that he (Hansen) had personally brought the relics from Norway, and through the kind offices of Vice-President Warren of the C.N.R. at Winnipeg, and Vice-President Kingsland at Toronto went to Toronto at my suggestion to the Royal Ontario Museum, where he met Dr. Currelly and Prof. McIlbraith. Ragotte was shown the Dodd sword and relics there and at once signed a statement for the museum that the sword, or' piece of iron' he had seen in Dodd's cellar was not the sword in the museum. He also gave a second affidavit covering this matter in which he stated that Hansen had never claimed he owned the relics till 1938.
As Mr. Hansen had on September 22 stated to Judge McComber, Dr. G. E. Eakins and myself that he "had never seen" the Dodd relics, Mr. Ragotte's affidavits rather complicated matters.
Hansen had written in May of 1938 to Dr. Currelly asking for photos of the relics the museum had bought from Dodd so he could see if they were the relics he claimed he had got from Bloch. Dr. Currelly wrote back that as long as the ownership of the Dodd relics were in dispute he would not furnish photos of them.
To Judge McComber, Dr. Eakins and myself, Hansen said he had loaned Bloch $25. In his letter to Dr. Currelly in May the amount was placed at $30.
The affidavits in the case will be printed later.
End of J.W. Curran's October 7, 1938 article.