Warren Powers – The man behind the hermit
Like most people who live as a recluse, there is a mystery about them. Questions of why and how they lived liked they did. I think it would be unjust to put them under one category and call them crazy hermits for they all have their own story which is as unique as their own individual lives.
Warren was born in the United States, his mother a clearer his father a chauffeur. At the age of three years old, he was sent to live with his uncle who was a McAuley in Big Baddeck, Cape Breton, Cabot Trail Nova Scotia. The census of 1921 had him at 10 years old living in McAuley’s car. He was student.
Best to my memory he died in 1980 which would make him around 70 years old when he died but I feel he was old then that. Perhaps the census or the information I got about the census was incorrect.
Most of Warren’s adult life was spent as a recluse in the woods in the Big Glen area 20 km outside of Baddeck, Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He came to Baddeck to pick up supplies once a month. I assume a small pension check was his only means to money. When he arrived in the village of Baddeck to pick up his supplies, there were people who were all to ready to take advantage of Warren’s good nature and asked him for money. Warren being a generous man would always reach into his pocket and give them something.
I remember he would sometimes walk the 20 km trip from his cabin in Big Glen into Baddeck with a knapsack on his back. It would be a four hour walk for a younger men then he. If the local gentry seen him walking on the lonely county road, they would pick him up and drive him to town. Most trips into Baddeck he would go to my grandmother’s home. After his visit, if Dad, Uncle Wilfred or Uncle Johnny were available, they would drive him to the road nearest his house. It would still be a long hike into his cabin for the average 15 year old gamer of today, but for Warren it was just a short jaunt.
Warren was a good Christian and knew the bible. He frequently would discuss it at Grammy’s house because there the bible was a frequent topic of conversations. I remember Warren telling my brother John P. and I one day, “It seems some people are in a boat rowing against the current; they are rowing in life but they are not getting any where”. I suspect he meant that they are not growing mature or getting anywhere spiritually. Perhaps that was one of his deep observation that he was having when he stood staring with a distant look on his face as some people made fun of him. Some locals though he was spacing out when he did this; it is not my belief that he was. Perhaps deep in pain or disbelief from how he was being treated or maybe just deep in thought and disappointment with humanity’s cruel ways – a very hard thing to say for sure. In my opinion I believe Warren was a man of deep thought and great intellect and never really space out at all. He was a man that searched deep into his sole for the truths before he spoke – a deep methodical thinker; careful with his words, true to his life’s unique wisdoms – a wisdom that could only be achieved by living a painful life that was so ever searching for the truth while living as a recluse in his lonely cabin in the woods.
Some that did not know Warren well and lack the maturity or time to try to understand him, dismissed Warren as just an old hermit. Some even called him crazy. Yes, he lived alone in the woods and perhaps the isolation allowed him to forget about the egotistical shallow ways of society. He forgot he was to groom his eyebrows, dress in certain clothes, speak a certain way, and speak without thought like most people do. Not that he didn’t have what it takes to blend in to society but where Warren spent most of his time isolated, his interaction skills were outdated. Warren was a very clean, cleaned shaven man. He dressed in a clean jack shirt and sometimes wool pants even in warmer temperatures. He smelled like the woods – not a dirty smell but just woodsy. His supplies for the month was organized in his back pack that he toted – the pack seem to become a symbol of his uniqueness – a back pack I would love to have as a keep sake. For those who new Warren he was lovable, kind, very knowledgeable about nature, survival, life and God.
His voice soft and gentle, his laugh was a unique one simple “huck” sound. For such a simple sound it was sure memorable. His unique character, unique way of living, and wisdom was dearly missed but no place cries out the missing of Warren then the people of Big Glen and the people at Grammy’s house.
Lorne, a friend and distant neighbour of Warren put it elegantly; “Warren was a unique man harmless in his ways. He liked people very much but did not always understand their ways so he preferred to live alone”.
Perhaps we could all learn from Warren but it would not be an easy task to follow his foot steps. I suspect it would be a painful journey to live a recluse’s life so humble, modest, and kind. I suspect a modern man attempting to learn from Warren would find it most difficult to put aside his egos and inflated sense of self worth. RIP Warren.
P.S. I will admit that I myself have hermit tendency so can relate to and fastened by hermits.