Our Confidential Vacation Guide

Toronto Star Weekly/May 21, 1921

Any steady reader of obituaries is familiar with the phrase “He had not taken a vacation in twenty years.”
Of course there is no ironbound rule about the period. It may be that the dead man had not taken a vacation in ten years, in thirty years, during all the time he was mayor, or during his entire lifetime. It all points toward the same false moral. It seems obvious that if the poor chap had only accepted the vacation his employers kept forcing on him, he might be alive today.

This is very wrong. The trouble is that newspapers do not make a practice of printing as a cause of death this statement: “He spent every summer at Lake Milkitossup,” or, “The deceased was in the habit of spending the month of August at Lake Wah Wah.”

A few statements like these would clear up matters. Newspaper readers would then realize that the reason the first man lived twenty years was because he had carefully preserved his health through abstaining from vacations. The reason that the other splendid fellows had dropped like ripened grapefruit at the end of their thirty years, mayoralty terms or lifetimes was the fact that they had never visited such places as Lake Screaming Water or picturesque Bum View. Just a few seasons at Giggling Perch Inn or the New Nokomis, American plan, would have cut them off like flies in the pride of their young manhood.

If you must take a vacation, read this confidential guide on places to avoid. It has been compiled at great labor and is available here for the first time. It means a longer life and happier to stay away from the following:


How to reach Poachdale Inn—this is not important.

How to get away from Poachdale Inn—Bounce in a hurdling Ford through five miles of mud. Wait at the railway until the train comes. There is no train on Sunday. Try not to be hysterical when the train comes in sight.


Beautiful Lake Flyblow nestles like a plague spot in the heart of the great north woods. All around it rise the majestic hills. Above it towers the majestic sky. On every side of it is the majestic shore. The shore is lined with majestic dead fish—dead of loneliness.


will sleep all afternoon—then he will lie awake all night. Then the Jarvis’s rooster will crow again and it will be another day. He has thirteen more to go till he gets back to his office.

Will he last it? Or will the vacation kill him?

(Source: William White, ed. Ernest Hemingway: Dateline: Toronto. Simon and Schuster, 2002.)