Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Time Out

I am without internet access for the next few days,
maybe even the next week.

I'll be back to visiting my blogging friends
and publishing my next northern post
as soon as I can get back on-line.

Heading Through Ancient Sand Dunes
Somewhere Along I-70 in Utah, USA
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Family is the Best!

Where would we be without our families?
I can't imagine not having my mine.
For generations we've always been there for each other.
It's true now, and it was true in February, 1961
when we moved to Lansdowne House in Northern Ontario.

The Latest "We Five" Photo
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada   8/7/16
Back:  Barb and Roy
Front:  Bertie, Me (Louise), and Donnie
Photo by Our Cousin Pat Ryan (left)  or Our Brother-in-Law Martin (right)
on God Knows Whose Phone!

My mother faced the daunting prospect
of traveling halfway across Canada
with five children aged ten, eight, five, four, and one
via car, boat, train, and bush plane.
And let's not forget Gretchen, our little dachshund.

But thanks to our extended family, 
in Nova Scotia and Quebec 
she didn't face the trip alone.

On Friday, February 24, 1960 my mother, 
Sara MacBeath, wrote from Lansdowne House:

Hi Everyone:-
We had quite a trip down.
It was made easy because everyone helped me so much.
Aunt Nan spent a couple of days helping me pack.
Mary Lou made our dinner for us and sent it down on the day we left.
Muriel did the housework, and we all went together to the boat.

The boat trip was fine most of the time,
the baby loved to run up and down the corridors.
However just before we docked in St. John, she became very tired.

We got on the train without any trouble,
a Red Cap looked after our baggage,
and we flopped into bed and went off to sleep.
John and Arthur, Dawn's husband, met us at the station,
and John took us shopping for a birthday gift for Donnie.

We had a grand time at John's and Esther's.
They have a lovely new home.
Esther made a birthday cake for Donnie,
and they had all kinds of gifts for her.

The next day we had a lovely turkey before Arthur
took us to the station to see us off, along with the whole family.
Joanie, Faye, and Sandy are such lovely children.

Auntie Esther and Uncle John (Mom's Brother)
Dawn, Baby Joanie, Sandy and Faye, 1958
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Thanks to My Cousin Dawn MacDonald White for This Photo

The night before we left I phoned Barbara, and she met us at the station.
We had only a few minutes, but it was nice to see her.

The trip on the train was nice,
the baby became accustomed to the motion,
and soon I had to keep her from trying to leave the bedroom.
She went to sleep before we reached Nakina.

At Nakina, Austin Airways took over.
They carried the baby for me,
got our baggage and loaded us
plus poor Gretchen on the plane.

Was Gretchen happy to see us!
I guess she had given up hope of ever seeing us again.
I put the coat I made for her on her,
and Louise held her on the plane... (to be continued)

Austin Airways Office
Nakina, Ontario, Canada, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Reading my mother's letter reminds me of
that amazing time when my sister Bertie was "the baby."
I remember Donnie and Barbie as babies,
but Bertie was my living baby doll.

From the time she was born, I held her,
fed her, changed her, bathed her, dressed her, 
and carried her with me many places I went.

Our First "We Five" Photo
Donnie, Barbie, Bertie with Me, Roy with Gretchen
Margaretsville, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1959
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Some of my strongest memories of the trip north are of Bertie.
She was twenty-three months old and a relatively new walker
(probably because I was always carrying her around,
and if not me, then guaranteed someone else).

Bertie was very sweet and loved to be held,
but once she discovered her feet, she never stopped moving.

When we crossed the Bay of Fundy on the SS Princess Helene,
from Digby, Nova Scotia to St. John, New Brunswick
Bertie was in her glory,
all decked out in a red velvet dress and a red barrette,
and tetter-tottering around in her little white shoes and socks.

On the ferry Bertie would not stop,
and Roy, Donnie, and I chased her all over the place.
I remember Donnie and I on our knees, arms wide open,
in the passenger lounge, maybe fifteen feet apart,
and Bertie staggering back and forth between us
shrieking with laughter, as the ship rolled on the waves.

SS Princess Helene
Ferry Passing through Digby Gut, Nova Scotia, Canada

What stands out for me on this journey north
was the love of our extended family
and the friendly help we received from neighbors
like Muriel who helped Mom with the housekeeping
and from strangers like the man at Austin Airways
who took Bertie from my very tired mother
and carried her to the bush plane for our flight to Lansdowne House.

I can still see my Great Aunt Nan and Great Uncle Cecil
together with their son Kelsey and his wife Mary Lou
waving good-bye to us as the ferry pulled away from the dock in Digby ...

And Uncle John, Auntie Esther, and their family
waving good-bye to us at the train station in Montreal ...

And "Aunt" Barbara, Dad's first cousin, living in Peterborough, Ontario
and meeting us on a station platform somewhere along the way.

Baby Bertie at My Cousins Dawn and Art's Home
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 1961
Thanks to My Cousin Dawn MacDonald White for This Photo

Many of my relatives who helped us in February 1961
are long gone, but the love they gave us will never fade.
Family really is the best!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Crossing Petite Passage
Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia
Photo Copy by Roy MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

1.  Dawn and Arthur (Art):
     Dawn was Uncle John and Auntie Esther's oldest child, and she and Art were relative newlyweds.
     I had the best fun staying with them, but that's for next week's post!

2.  My access to computers will be limited during the next week.
     Thanks for your understanding!

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Digby Gut Through Which the SS Princess Helene Sailed

Location of Canada's Yukon, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island   

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Ready to Go!

Neither my father or mother had much time for writing letters
as our departure for Lansdowne House approached in February, 1961.

My Parents at Acadia University
Pre-Five Children
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada, Circa 1948
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Dad was busy teaching and preparing for our move
into the forestry department shack on the mainland,
and he had discontinued The Lansdowne Letter again
because Uno’s typewriter was not working well,
and he disliked using it too much.

He dashed off a long, hastilly-written letter to his mother
a little over a week before we were due to arrive up North.

Another Thursday, Another Deadline
Letters, Calendars, Tools of the Blogger's Trade
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Nana had decided to sell her apartment building
at the corner of Fitzroy and Edward streets
where she had lived for many years
in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  
Her plan was to move to southern Ontario and rent a place
in senior housing while my family lived in the remote North.

I'm not including the first part of the letter
which addresses my grandmother selling her house,
but I am sharing the latter part about our family.

My Grandmother MacBeath's Apartment Building
(We lived in the two-story apartment with the red and white door in the mid-1950s.)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

On Saturday, February 11, 1961
My Father wrote to his mother, Myrtle:

Dear Mother:
Well, the trip up here is all settled.
Sara is leaving Tuesday or Wednesday
and is arriving in Nakina on Monday, February 20, 
and will be flown directly in by Austin Airways.
She is laying over in Montreal for several days with her brother John.
I am quite excited and happy about being reunited once again with my family.

I am winning my battle of the bulge.
I am now down to 187 pounds, and my waist is 37 inches.
Some difference from 239 pounds and 41 inches, eh?

My problem now is that nothing fits me, except my shoes and hat.
Everything else just hangs on me.
Oh well, at least when Sara comes up,
she will be able to take in my pants for me.

Clothes Falling Off
My Father Standing Outside His Two-Room Shack
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I don't know what I will be able to do about my coats.
Guess I'll just have to wear them big till I get outside
to a tailor and have them altered.

Perhaps it is just as well if I don't rush into altering all my clothes,
because this loss in weight may be temporary.
However, I am going to make a real effort to never let
my weight go above 190 pounds again.

I have revised my goal downwards.
At first I was going to be satisfied if I could get down to 200 pounds.
Then I thought 190 pounds would be good.
Then I set my goal for 185.

My ultimate goal is going to be 180 pounds.
At this weight I will actually be underweight,
but it would be nice to have a 10 pound margin to come and go on.

It is really amazing, Mother ~
even my shirt collars are too large for me now.
I could wear a size 14 1/2 shirt, certainly a 15,
instead of the 16 that I have been wearing for so long.

I am enclosing some pictures of myself,
and of Maureen, Duncan, and Duncan Junior.
The pictures of me on snowshoes were taken the day
I went with Duncan and Mike to take water samples around the peninsula.

I believe I wrote you about this adventure.
We walked between 4 and 6 miles ~ 
one mile through heavy bush when we crossed the peninsula.

Collecting Water Samples
Around the Peninsula
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

That picture of me coming out of the woods is very good.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the camera was unable to record the language
which just about then was eloquent to say the least.

Though you can't see it, I am towing a sleigh and am on snowshoes.
That cotton pickin' sleigh seemed to get stuck or hung up on every bush I passed.

Also, I lost my snowshoes once or twice.
You are really helpless without them,
because the snow in the woods is just about waist deep.

Maureen McRae Hauling Groceries
Roman Catholic Church and Dad and Uno's Shack
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The temperature that day was just about 20-25 below, but I sweated gallons.
I happened to weigh myself before starting out,
and, out of curiosity, I decided to weigh myself when I got back.
I was three pounds lighter.
However, this weight loss was temporary,
and I gained back two pounds as soon as
I satisfied my thirst which was monumental.

The other pictures of me are taken at the door of the shack where I am,
(or by the time you receive this, was) living with Uno
and on the steps of the church.

Dad and Duncan McRae
Outside the Roman Catholic Church
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I still can't see why you can't come up and visit us at Lansdowne,
especially if we helped out with the costs.
I really think you would enjoy the place,
and the flight in would be an interesting adventure.
However, we won't settle this point now.

I wish though, that you didn't sound so discouraged or down in the lip
over the prospect of the children coming up here.
After all, it is not going to be forever, and, if it is at all possible,
I'll try to at least get Louise, and possibly Roy,
down to the Island for a while this summer;
and, I am almost certain that I will be down myself for a while,
unless my plans misfire dreadfully.

Well, I must sign off now.
I have a lot of work to do today.
It is wash day again
I want to have as few of my clothes as possible dirty when Sara arrives.
Beside it is at least three weeks since I have washed.

Bye now,
Love, Don

Duncan McRae on the Ice
Between the Father's Island and the Mainland (Peninsula)
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

P.S.  The Lansdowne Letter is again out of print due to typewriter difficulties.
Uno's machine is on the fritz again, and mine hasn't arrived yet.

Also, when Louise, Roy, and Donnie are with me,
I will initiate them into the good Lansdowne House custom
of Thursday night letter writing.
I'll make sure that they all write a letter to Nana on Thursday nights.

This has been quite a year for Charlottetown, hasn't it?
What with Prowse Brothers going out of business, S.A. also,
Henderson and Cudmore's expansion, and the Kennedy Affair.
I wouldn't be too surprised if I read the Bishop of Charlottetown turned Protestant.

I surely appreciate The Guardian.
It is the only newspaper I get,
and I read it from front to back ~ even the Classified ads.

Prowse Brothers
(Between Electrical Poles, Center)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Well, bye now,
Love, Don.

My Father Traveling in Snowshoes
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Winter, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 20, 1961, 
a lot of people were waiting on that date!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Crossing Petite Passage
Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia
Photo Copy by Roy MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

1.  Charlottetown's The Guardian newspaper 

2.  Duncan and Maureen McRae:
          Duncan, married to Maureen, worked for the Department of Transport,
          and his duties included running the DOT Weather Station.
          They were the parents of young Duncan.

3.  Weight Conversions:  
        1  pounds =     4.5 kilograms
     187 pounds =   84.8 kilograms
     239 pounds = 108.4 kilograms

4.   Temperature Conversion:
     -20º F  = -28.8º C
     -25º F  = -31.6º C

5.  Distance Conversions:
     37 inches =   93.9 centimeters
     41 inches = 104.1 centimeters
     4 miles =  6.4 kilometers
     6 miles =  9.6 kilometers

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Location of Canada's Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island   

Location of Smith's Cove
where Mom and We Five Were Living

Location of Lansdowne House
Where My Father Was Living
Northern Ontario, Canada

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: A Grandmother's Worries

Things were moving quickly as my family prepared
to travel North to Lansdowne House in February, 1961.

I don't remember all that my mother was doing
as she packed for our unknown adventure.
Nor do I remember her worrying about the trip
and Dad's delayed government paychecks.

Our Last Family Photo
Before Going North
Louise (with Bertie), Barbie,
Roy (with bean plant), and  Donnie (with Gretchen) 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

I was ten years old and my imagination was on fire.
I was immersed in thoughts of living in the wilderness,
of Indians and snowshoes and wolves,
a priest and a brother (Just like in my history book!),
northern lights and bitter cold, ice holes and bush planes.
I was beside myself with anticipation.

The Wild North
Northern Ontario, 1923

But I was still a fifth grader in Smith's Cove,  
immersed in performing in a play,
writing my first lengthy story,
wrapping up my Red Cross project,
and memorizing Longfellow's The Wreck of the Hesperus

I was thrilled that we weren't leaving before Valentine's Day!
I had recently discovered boys,
and the romantic mystery of the legendary North 
was not my only romantic interest.

I was excited about whose valentines would land
in the valentine boxes we were crafting at school.
My poor mother, on top of everything else,
had to hunt down shoe boxes for the three of us in school ~
not to mention, help us make valentines.
Valentine's Day was not so commercial then.

Meanwhile, Dad's mother,
my Nana MacBeath in Charlottetown, P.E.I.,
was worrying about real and imaginary dangers
which Lansdowne House posed for her grandchildren.

I'm sure my Grammie MacDonald, in New York City, was equally worried;
but her letters surely fed the fire in the battered oil drum
at the edge of her field in Smith's Cove.

On Friday, February 3, 1961
My father wrote to his mother, Myrtle:

Dear Mother,
I can’t understand what may be happening to the letters I send to you.
I guess perhaps I had better just stick to the regular mail (after this letter),
for otherwise, I can just rely on the memory of the pilots
to mail the letters I send out with them.
I am inclined to suspect that a few have gotten lost,
or someone has mislaid them.

For instance, I thanked you for the snap you sent to me
in at least one, and I think two, different letters.
It was lovely, and I was glad to get it.
I have only one criticism.  It’s too posed.
I like them better when they are candid snaps.

I am sending you the negatives of the two island snaps
that you liked so much.  In fact, I’ll send you all the negatives.
You can develop what you want and return the negatives to me.
I wouldn’t mind you keeping the snaps,
if it wasn’t so hard to get copies of them up here.

I am sending two photos in this letter,
one of Uno and Brian Booth playing cribbage,
and one of Brian and me.
Both snaps are posed actually.
Brian is the clerk at the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Uno Manilla and Brian Booth
in the front room of the two-room shack Dad and Uno shared
Lansdowne House, Ontario, Canada
Photo by Don MacBeath, Winter 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

The letter of Sunday, January 19th,
which just arrived today
is full of a lot of worries about the children,
so I’ll proceed to try to set your mind at ease.

First, regarding fires, there is no more danger from fire
in the forestry shack than in your apartment building.  

Less in fact, because the shack is equipped with a “Selkirk Chimney,"
which is a special type of insulated metal chimney designed especially
for use in wooden buildings in northern climates.

Also, there is a new oil burner and a new propane range.
Besides, if a fire ever did break out,
all the windows and doors are easy to get out of,
and all within three feet of the ground.
However, we won’t leave them alone in the shack.

My Father and Brian Booth
in the front room of the two-room shack Dad and Uno shared
Lansdowne House, Ontario, Canada
Photo by Uno Manilla, Winter 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

About their education.
Naturally I don’t intend to keep them at the level of the Indians.
I intend to let them progress as rapidly as they are capable of doing,
with proper testing to see that they are learning everything.
And I won’t roar at them.  

I also plan to be a better father and give them more of my leisure time.
Togetherness is going to be the mantra of the MacBeath family.

Don’t worry about the water holes.
They are all covered by heavy covers.
Besides only the DOT water hole is large enough to fall into,
and it is protected by a shack with a locked door.

As for bad ice in the spring,
I promise to lay down very strict rules
regarding the ice at breakup and the lake in the summer,
if we are here.

Sara has instructions as to what to bring in the line of clothing.
Actually the real severe cold weather will be over 
or just about over by the time they arrive.
The winter is pretty well shot by the time March rolls around,
even if the ice hangs on in the lake till June,
and they won’t be arriving till 20 Feb.

I don’t see why the possibiity of visiting Lansdowne is too remote.
Aside from the flight in, which only takes 1¼ hours,
it would be no worse than coming to Alymer.
Besides, I thought you were adventuresome
and didn’t mind air plane trips.

Northern Bush Plane on Skis
Flickr:  James Tworow   License (Photo Edited)

I will write a letter to Mr. Mitton inquiring about
regular quarterly Sunday School papers and lessons,
and I plan to have family worship every Sunday.
The McRaes and the McMahons all do.
It should be a very rewarding experience for us.

I think that by and large,
the children should benefit from their northern experience.

Well, this is about all I have to say right now.
I am very busy at school and preparing for Sara’s arrival.
Both projects are progressing favorably.

My weight has been stationary for several weeks at 192,
but this week, darned if it hasn’t shot up to 195.
I am going to have to really struggle to keep it below 190 ~
in fact, to even get it down to that level.

I am afraid Dr. Leigh was correct when he told me
that I was a heifer, and there was really nothing I could do about it.

However, I am getting rid of the paunch pretty well,
and I won’t let that come back.
If I do get big again, at least I’ll be in good shape,
and I’ll be big like Grandpa Pratt or Uncle Alex, stout, but not fat.
However I am going to make a real effort to keep the weight down.

I have had to discontinue the Lansdowne Letter again,
as Uno’s typewriter is not working too well,
and I don’t like using it too much.

Besides, he has started using it more,
and I find it hard to get a chance to use it.
I am still waiting for mine.
Sara sent it to Yarmouth for an overhaul,
but it hasn’t come back from there yet.

Well, I must sign off now and get to bed. It is quite late,
and I have to get up early and pump oil into the school tanks.
I have 450 gallons to pump.

I have to have all the oil drums empty
in time to send them back on the next tractor train.
Pumping oil is a pain in the tail end.

It takes about 10 minutes to pump a drum, and I have ten drums.
However it is quite cold standing still just pumping,
and I have to go inside and get warm
(especially my feet) after every drum or two.
However it shouldn’t take me more than three hours
or 3½ hours to finish it.

Bye now,
Love, Don

An Early Tractor Train
Date and Location Unknown
Nor Can I Determine Copyright
Google   Source???  

I realized as I wrote my introduction to this post,
that I had reached a major turning point in our northern story.
My voice and memories are starting to overtake my dad's.

I smiled as I typed my father's words
because I know how things turned out
and how well his plans were realized.
He tried to predict what would happen,
but he was wrong on many points.
One shocking and unimaginable event for my parents 
was already gathering momentum and beyond their control.

Ten-Year Old, Grade Five Me
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

Meanwhile I remember that valentine box
covered with white construction paper, 
loaded with red valentines,
and sporting a pink cupid with a heart and arrow
and that all important slot into which valentines would fall.

remember standing in front of my schoolmates 
and wearing grownup clothes to perform in the play,
but nothing of what the play was about.

Most of all, I remember standing in my classroom
and dramatically reciting The Wreck of the Hesperus.
I was that frozen maiden lashed to a drifting mast,
my hair floating about me like seaweed on the waves.

At the height of my young infatuation
with daredevil Richard Halliburton and passionate Lord Byron,
I was ready for my first real adventure in the wild.  

He cut a rope from a broken spar, And bound her to the mast.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Shore of the Annapolis Basin
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
July 24, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


1.  Recitations:
     I went to school in a place and time when poetry recitation was still in vogue.
     In addition to reciting Longfellow's The Wreck of the Hesperus to my class (poem),
     I had previously recited Noyes' The Highwayman to them (poem).
     During my elementary teaching career, I occasionally assigned short poems to memorize
     as homework, something neither my students or parents embraced with enthusiasm.

2.  Adventuresome:
     Dad's mother had traveled to Europe and Morocco as a young, single woman.
3.  Mr. Mitton:
     In 1954 Rev. Harold Mitton became the pastor of Charlottetown Baptist Church which my family
     attended when we lived in Charlottetown from 1952 to 1956.

4.  Weight Conversions:
     190 pounds = 86.1 kilograms
     192 pounds = 87.0 kilograms
     195 pounds = 88.4 kilograms

5.  Liquid Capacity Conversion:
     450 Imperial (Canadian) gallons pounds = 2045 liters

6.  Tractor Trains:
      Drums of oil, heavy equipment, and large orders of food and other supplies were transported to
      remote places in Northern Ontario by tractor trains.  Bulldozers or "cats" hauled sleighs loaded
      with supplies across the frozen muskeg and lakes during the winter to reach these communities.
      I'm guessing that my father saw some of the last tractor trains, because they were already
      disappearing in the Canadian north, replaced by trucks traveling on winter ice roads.

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Location of Smith's Cove

Smith's Cove on the Annapolis Basin

Location of Lansdowne House
Known Today as Neskantaga