The last time I was in Lindsay I had a little visit with Bill and Lil Graham and noticed a beautiful color poster of an Indian in full head-dress adorning their living room wall.
"Looking at that poster made me think of an Indian gentleman who lived not far from here on King Street, by the name of Chief John Paudash," I said.
"Yes John, and a couple of other fine fellows were Tom Longboat and Albert Smoke Sr. and his family" Bill replied.
"Did you know that Smoke was purported to be quite an athlete?" asked Bill.
I told him I had vaguely heard something about him but it was years ago.
Having attended school with members of the Smoke family and having chummed with Albert Jr. I became more and more inquisitive about Albert Smoke Sr., the athlete, and went to see Guy Mills who I knew would know the history behind Smoke as he lived reasonably close to their home that was located on King Street just east of St. David Street.
Talking to Guy I learned that Smoke was an Ojibwa Indian and a very quiet unassuming person and extremely friendly.
I went to school with some of his children and had, on more than one occasion, visited his home and played with his son Albert, whom we called "Smokey."
I learned that he was the proud winner of numerous medals that he had won in racing competitions all over Canada and the United States. Smoke had won everything from short, medium and long distance competitions but was never one to brag about his accomplishments.
I saw some of those medals when I chummed with Albert Jr. whom we called "Smokey" but thought they might be some kind of war medals and did not bother to ask what they had been awarded for nor did he or his family offer any information.
"Did you know that Albert was invited to run in the Olympics?" asked Guy.
Not being aware of this I asked why he hadn't accepted the challenge that would have brought fame to himself and the Town of Lindsay.
"Well," said Guy, "there are two different stories concerning this man's reason for rejecting the chance. One was that he received word, anonymously of course, that if he was to accept the offer he would be shot! The other story was that he, purportedly, was unable to raise the money necessary to cover the cost of entering the games."
"Whatever the reason, Smoke never entered the Olympics and seemed to give up competitions from that time on" said Guy.
I do recall the Smokes having a dog that could climb a tree as quick as any cat and reminded Mills of that and asked if he could recall what kind of a dog (meaning breed) it was.
"Gee," said Guy, with a big grin on his face, "I'm not sure Jack but I guess you'd be safe if you called it a "Tree Climbing Dog"
(We later come to find out that Albert Smoke did indeed, run in the Olympics in Belgium in 1920 and in several other competitions for some time after that.)