Friday, February 17, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: Be Back Next Week

I'm sorry, everyone.
I've been unable to get a post together this week.
I've been down with the flu and tackling a long To Do List.

It's my intention to catch up on commenting, visiting your posts,
and getting a post out by next Friday.
Thanks for your understanding! 

Winter in Northern Ontario
Flickr ~ J.H.   License

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Bay of Fundy out of Westport, Brier Island
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: Nubile Sons and Daughters

When I arrived in Lansdowne House in late February, 1961,
I was a month shy of eleven, and my parents were already concerned about my age.

The Hudson's Bay Post
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario
Winter 1960-61
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

They were looking ahead and anticipating one of the most difficult problems
they would have to solve, a problem that troubled all white families
with growing children in the remote communities of northern Canada.
What to do with nubile sons and daughters?

Roy and I
Not Quite Nubile, But Getting There
School Photos, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

In my mother's letter of March 9, 1961
that I shared in my last post,
she wrote a little about the background
of the Hudson's Bay manager's wife
Mrs. Mitchell.

Mrs. Mitchell, Wife of  Bill Mitchell
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My mother mentioned that the Mitchell's had three children,
a boy and a girl in their twenties and a twelve year old son.
What Mom didn't relate was that the young Mitchell boy
did not live with his parents in Lansdowne House.

I have no idea where their son was living
whether with relatives or at a boarding school,
but guaranteed, he was away attending school on the Outside.
It wasn't just a question of their son obtaining a better education.
It was also about allowing him to associate with white children.

© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My father addressed
the problem
of older children
in his handbook, 
The Northern School Teacher:   

One of the biggest drawbacks a married teacher
faces in the bush is the rearing of his children.  
The teacher is faced with one of two equally onerous choices.
He can keep the children with him in the bush,
or he can send the children out to a boarding school.  

If he keeps them with him, he deprives them of
the association with young people of their own race and kind,
and of educational advantages which are just not available in the bush.  

If he sends them out to boarding school, he deprives himself and his wife
of that wonderful relationship between parents and children,
which should be the God-given rights of parents and children the world over.

This particular problem and these dreadful choices
are not peculiar to the Indian teacher.
They are the lot of all married couples who elect
to spend their lives in isolation,
people like Hudson’s Bay personnel,
Department of Transport employees,
free traders, and missionaries.

Apparently association with one’s own kind is considered more vital
to a child’s upbringing than association with parents,
for it is always the choice of sending children out to school which is finally taken.

It would have been my decision, too, if fortune had decreed
that I was to spend the rest of my life in the bush.

The problem is always intensified,
and the decision takes on a sense of greater urgency,
if one has a nubile son or daughter;
for, wonderful as the bush Indian is,
and some of them are very fine people,
white children from educated families and Indian youths from the bush
have nothing in common except sex.  

A union of two young people from such wildly divergent
racial, religious, and socioeconomical backgrounds
can only lead to heartbreak and tragedy.

A Growing Family
We Five Just Before Heading North
Photo by Sara MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My parents were confident that my father could meet Roy's and my educational needs,
and they assumed they had several years before they were forced 
to send Roy and me to live with relatives or to boarding school.

What they didn't anticipate was that their sensitive young daughter
would form close friendships with Ojibway members of the opposite sex  
and that those friendships would have long-lasting consequences. 

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Bay of Fundy out of Westport, Brier Island
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

For Map Lovers Like Me:

Lansdowne House Lies in the Wilderness
West of James and Hudson Bays

Lansdowne House 
Northern Ontario, Canada

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: A Cardinal Rule of the North

Extending hospitality was a cardinal rule 
in remote communities of the North a half century ago,  
and tiny Lansdowne House was no exception.
It is amazing how much socializing and entertaining
went on among its twenty-two white people
(fourteen adults and eight children).

A Social Evening at the Roman Catholic Mission
Father Ouimet, Don MacBeath, Brother Bernier, and Mr. Baker (a Prospector)
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I say white people, because at that time
whites and Ojibway didn't mix socially, 
except at special events, during church, 
or at the movies at the Roman Catholic Mission.

My father had a good relationship with the Ojibway in the community,
but the reality was that the Ojibway rarely visited white homes,
and white adults rarely visited Ojibway homes unless on official business.

My father, who worked for the Department of Indian Affairs,
was operating under prohibitions which he articulated
in his handbook The Northern School Teacher.  
Two regulations that northern teachers strictly adhered to were
"No fraternizing with Indians of Opposite Sex"
and "No drinking with Indians on or off school property."

Bill Mitchell Talks with an Ojibway Man
Hudson's Bay Store, Lansdowne House
Photo by Donald MacBeath, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

As a girl of ten, my interactions with Ojibway children took place primarily at school,
although we frequently played with the Kitchejohn girls outside our home.

As for my best friends Simon and George,
they were six or seven years older than I,
and it would have been inappropriate for us
in both cultures to associate outside of school.
Furthermore, as older teenagers, 
the two boys had increasing responsibilities at home.

The Ojibway treated my family with courtesy and kindness.
The adults quickly realized our family was unaware of
some of the inherent dangers in the bush,
and they kept a sharp eye on us when we were outside playing.

If Baby Bertie so much as stumbled or sat down playing outside,
any nearby Ojibway adult came running,
usually with a stick of wood or other weapon,
for fear of a dog attacking her.
Stories of Indian dogs mauling or killing white children
circulated around the north, and even I had heard them.

Sled Dog ~ Not All Were Tied On

Most days in Lansdowne House were routine ones,
and life for us quickly settled into a pleasant rhythm,
with the white adults socializing among themselves
and entertaining visitors from the Outside.

On Thursday, March 9, 1961 my mother wrote 
to her mother-in-law, Myrtle MacBeath:

Dear Mother:-
Another week has flown by.  
Mr. Pratt, Assistant Manager
for Indian Affairs, 
was down to Lansdowne
for nearly a week
and came in for a couple
of evenings to visit us.  

Sally (MacDonald) MacBeath
Acadia University, 1947
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The first time was to show us the plans 
for our new house they are building 
and to ask for any suggestions for color schemes.  
They meant to get them from me when I arrived in Nakina, 
but decided I would be too tired.  

They suggested colors that were used in the last house they built,
so we said we wouldn’t make any changes.  
The plans look very nice, and it will be modern with electricity,
running water, bathroom complete with plumbing, etc.

We played bridge with Uno and Mr. Pratt Tuesday night, 
and Uno and I beat them.  The score was very close. 

Wednesday night Don and I went
to the Mitchell’s for bridge.  
We had a nice time.  
Mrs. Mitchell is quite a talker.  

She has been in the North since
she married when she was nineteen.  
She is somewhere in her fifties,
I believe, and looks very young. 

Mrs. Mitchell, Wife of  Bill Mitchell
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Her husband came from Aberdeen Scotland
about thirty-five years ago, 
and he had lived in the North all that time.  

They have a very nice home.  
They have three children,
a boy and girl in their twenties and a boy twelve. 

Mr. Mitchell and I beat Don and Mrs. Mitchell.  
The score was very close again though.

Dad had to go to Nakina overnight on school business.  
When they took off they flew low over the house to bid us good-bye. 

Mike came in to light the lamps for me, 
and if Don is detained by weather tomorrow, 
the men will get together and bring us over water. 

A Modern DeHavilland DC-6 "Twin Otter"
The North Relied on Bush Pilots and Their Bush Planes

I am teaching school tomorrow morning,
perhaps in the afternoon too.  
Maureen is looking after Roberta for me.  
It will be quite an experience, 
for I imagine the Indian children won’t talk to me.  
All the Indians here are very friendly.

Don was unable to write for he didn’t know until this morning 
that he would be leaving for Nakina.  
I assured him that I would write and tell you the news.  

The children are all fine and happy.  
Don bought them a toboggan, 
and it is hard to get them in the house 
they love it outside so much.  
They are building a toboggan run below the house.

I must close now and get off the mail and finish up the supply list.
I find it difficult to figure out exactly what we need, 
but after a month of it I imagine it will come automatically.  
I make all our bread except for the odd loaf.

I hope you and Aunt Maude are well.  
Louise had letters started, but didn’t finish them.  
We had to have everything in order 
so we could get an early start tomorrow morning.

With love,

Donnie and I, Still Tobogganing
Photo by a niece or nephew, Christmas Eve, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My mother's newsy letter looks ordinary on the surface,
but it points to some real differences from life on the Outside.

Hospitality is one of them.  
My father wrote of this in his handbook:
"When you are in the north be hospitable to all transient guests
such as pilots, missionaries, Indian Affairs Branch officials,
Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario Provincial Police, and others.

"Always offer coffee or tea and invite them for a meal.
If guests of this nature have to stay overnight
always offer them a place to sleep.

"All travelers in the north carry sleeping bags and air mattresses,
and a chesterfield or even a smooth floor in a warm room will suffice.  

"The need for hospitality can not be over emphasized.
Travel in the north depends upon mutual hospitality,
and from a practical point of view,
you never know when you may be forced
to accept the hospitality of someone else."

Have Bed, Will Travel

During early 1961 we had a number of pilots and priests
bunking on the chesterfield in our living room.
I'm guessing that Mr. Pratt spent his week staying at the mission
or with Dad's former roommate Uno.

Guaranteed Mr. Pratt made the rounds to visit
all the white people in Lansdowne House
for coffee or tea, a meal, or an evening of bridge.

The only place outside of northern Ontario 
that my family experienced the level
of hospitality we enjoyed in Lansdowne House
was in the outports of Newfoundland.

There too, people lived on the edge
with unreliable access to larger communities and services.
The most generous and compassionate people I have met
are among those who had the least.
When your very life might depend on another's hospitality,
you were hospitable under any circumstance.

I'll get to some other differences between the north and the Outside in my next post.

An Evening of Cards
Uno and Brian
Photo by Donald MacBeath, Winter 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue.

1.  Our New House:  
     The teacherage in Lansdowne House had burned down before my father arrived in the community.
     That is why he had to room with Uno and why we couldn't join him, until he got permission to use
     the Forestry building.

2.  Sleeping Bags:  
     Fifty years ago sleeping bags were not the mummy-shaped marvels of lightweight fabric,
     waterproof synthetic down, and advanced construction available today.  In Lansdowne House our
     family slept in sleeping bags rated for Arctic weather down to -30 ºF or -34ºC, similar to the
     Woods Arctic Eiderdown Sleeping Robe pictured above.  The sleeping bags were toasty warm,
     and they had an outside flap sewn to the top of the bag that we could pull over our heads and
     shoulders.  Our house had a stove fueled by oil which my father kept turned low at night.

3.  A Personal Note:
     I am on the road again which is why this post is late today.  I may not have access to internet for
     the next day or two.  I will respond to comments and visit your posts as soon as I can.

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Map of Canada
Highlighting Ontario

Location of Lansdowne House
Wikimedia   edited

Lansdowne House
Sketch by M. Louise Barbour
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Peninsula and Island
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario
Credit: Canada. Dept. of Indian Affairs and Northern Development 
Library and Archives Canada:  PA-094992

Rough Sketch of Lansdowne House
by Donald MacBeath, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

This sketch shows the Father's Island and the tip of the "Mainland" peninsula
that contained the community of Lansdowne House.

2 ~ Dad's and Uno's Shack
12 ~ Hudson Bay Store
14 ~ Mitchells' House
18 ~ MacRaes' House
22 ~ Site for the New Teacherage
between Dad's School and the Nursing Station
29 ~ Usual Path of My Canoe

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

IWSG: Wednesday, February 1, 2017 ~ Two Sides of the Same Coin

It's the first Wednesday 
of the month ~ 
the day when members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and offer their encouragement
and support to other members.

To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are stepping up to help IWSG founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are:
Misha Gericke,  L.K. Hill  Juneta Key,  Christy, and Joylene Butler. 

I hope you have a chance to visit them and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate an encouraging comment!

This month's IWSG featured question is:
How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I've thought about the relationship between writing and reading throughout my life,
especially since I began teaching children to write and to read in the late 1980s.

I don't think you can be a good writer without reading widely,
and once you start writing, I think it changes your reading experience forever.

Reading and Writing:  Two Parts of One Whole
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Reading and writing are so intimately related that participating in the two
over time deepens, enriches, and improves the experience of both.
I have come to view them as two sides of the same coin.

Back in 1990 or 1991, early in my teaching career,
I had the good fortune to attend a writing conference in Denver.
The keynote presenter was the incomparable Shelley Harwayne.

Shelley Harwayne

For those of you who aren't familiar with Shelley Harwayne,
she was involved with the public schools in New York City for over thirty years.

During this time she worked as a teacher, staff developer, and superintendent
and was the founding principal of the New Manhattan School (P.S. 290, NYC).

As co-director of Columbia University's Teacher College Writing Project,
Shelley mentored and inspired a generation of writing and 
reading teachers around the country and the world.

At that Denver conference Shelley said something I have never forgotten.
She said that if you wanted your students to become good writers
you had to marinate them in good literature.

As a result, my classroom and many others were stuffed
with the best children's literature we teachers could buy.

My Teammates and I on a School Field Trip
These colleagues were amazing and generous teachers
who inspired their students to read and to write
across their wide curriculum.
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

IMHO, one result of the focus on obtaining the best children's literature by teachers
was an explosion in the publication and availability of wonderful,
at times profound, children's books in an array of genres.


Some of My Personal Favorites
See Notes Below

However my students, and others in classrooms around the world,
didn't just read excellent children's literature.
They examined that literature to learn how authors wrote and structured books,
and they applied that knowledge to their own writing to improve it.

As the reading and writing processes spiraled around 
throughout the year and in following grades,
students became better readers and writers,
and their awareness of how authors wrote good books deepened.
Students began to enjoy the books they read,
not only for the story or the information in them,
but also for the craft and beauty of the writing found in those books.

I have walked that spiraling path throughout my life,
and I have long passed the point where I value and enjoy
a book simply for its story or information.
I learn and derive pleasure from understanding
an author's skill in the craft of writing
and in his or her choice of words.

If a book is not well written, its impression on me
lasts as long as a bite of cotton candy on my tongue.

If a fiction book is skillfully and beautifully written,
I find myself reading and rereading passages to savor the actual writing,
even as I long to gallop ahead to learn the ending.

As for non-fiction, when a book is well-structured
and written in cogent, fresh language,
I understand the content better,
I acquire insight into improving my writing,
and I enjoy observing the craft of the writer.

Three of my Personal Favorites
See Notes Below

Some books I will reread entirely to better understand how
the author created an unforgettable reading experience for me.

These reading and writing experiences accumulate in my mind,
and the spiraling continues, both enriching my life immeasurably
and deepening my pleasure in both processes.

J.R.R. Tolkien was a giant among writers and readers,
certainly among those I admire most.

One of his many well-known quotes is about the process of writing,
and it is the one that resonates most with me as a writer and a reader.

He said of writing The Lord of the Rings that the story
“...grows like a seed in the dark out of the leaf-mould of the mind:
out of all that has been seen or thought or read,
that has long ago been forgotten, descending into the deeps.”

Personally, I expand the meaning of Tolkien's quote
to include my understanding of story as a reader.
My understanding of story as a writer
has added to my subconscious "leaf-mould,"
and it has enriched my reading experience
in ways that are hard to articulate or measure.

My treasured books are my treasured friends.
I hope my pleasure in writing and reading
continues to deepen the rest of my life.

IWSG Reads:
Since I joined the IWSG, I have read a number of books
by fellow Insecure Writer's Support Group members,
notably books by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Pat Hatt
that I have thoroughly enjoyed and reread.

Alex J. Cavanaugh Books
I Have Enjoyed and Reread

Pat Hats Books
I Have Enjoyed  and Reread

I've made it a goal this year to read at least five books
published by Insecure Writer's Support Group writers.

I just finished reading my first for the year,
Matowak: Woman Who Cries
by Joylene Nowell Butler

If this book is any indication,
I will have a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience
ahead of me as I achieve my goal.   

Amazon   Blog

This book is a fabulous read!  
It's a murder mystery set in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada.
The book is grounded in reality all the way through.
The RCMP police work is engrossing and realistic,
and the details of the Canadian setting ring true throughout.
The two memorable main characters, RCMP Corporal Danny Killian
and suspect Sally Warner, lead readers on an intriguing chase
which kept this reader double guessing herself to the end.

And yes, I appreciated Joylene's effective use of foreshadowing which she does exceptionally well in her skillfully written book!

I'm looking forward to reading your posts to hear
how writing has changed your reading experience.

Have you read any good books by IWSG authors
that you can recommend?

Happy writing in February!

1.  Shelley Harwayne  Bio

2.  P.S. 290, NYC:   Public School #290, New York City

3.  IMHO:  In my humble opinion

4.  In Flanders Fields:  The Story of the Poem by John McRae
     by Linda Granfield   (WW1 History and Poetry)   Thriftbooks

5.  Oscar the Herring Gull
     by Roberta Heembrock  (Fiction with Non-Fiction Notes)   Amazon

6.  If You Are a Hunter of Fossils
     by Byrd Baylor   (Poetry ~ Science:  Geology)   Goodreads  

5.  The Prince of the Pond
     by Donna Jo Napoli   (Fiction ~ Fantasy)   Goodreads

6.  Howling Hill
      by Will Hobbs   (Fiction)  Amazon

7.  The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
       by Chris Van Allsburg   (Fantasy)   Amazon

8.  The Hidden Reality:  Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos
     by Brian Greene   (Physics and Cosmology)   Wikipedia

9.  The Trojan Horse
     by Warwick Hutton   (Mythology)   Thriftbooks

10.  Alone Against the North:  An Expedition into the Unknown
       by Adam Shoalts   (Exploration)   Amazon

11.  Tolkien Quote:
       J. R. R. Tolkien:  A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter, p. 131  Google

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: Letters in Nana's Mailbox

A half century ago everyone in Lansdowne House
eagerly awaited the mail plane on Friday.
Sometime around midday, a small bush plane from Nakina
would come winging over the southern horizon
bringing mail, supplies, and sometimes visitors.

Santa with Mrs. Mitchell
(The Hudson's Bay Company Manager's Wife)
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Photo by Donald MacBeath, December 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

This meant that the community's white adults
spent Thursday evening writing letters and supply orders
to go out on the plane's' return trip to Nakina.
Roy, Donnie, and I quickly found ourselves joining
the adults in the Thursday night ritual.

On Thursday, March 2, 1961
my brother Roy wrote to 
our grandmother, Myrtle Pratt:

Dear Nana,
All we have up here is gas lights 
and a gas stove.  
We are having a lot of fun.

February 28th it was 30 below zero.  
Daddy got 40 barrels of gas.

© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


It snowed yesterday and part of last night 
and it snowed all afternoon.  

The snow is three or four feet deep
before you get to the ice. 

The only time the ice is good for skating is in the fall 
and sometimes the ice is eight feet thick.
Love Roy to Nana.

Gas Light (Coleman Kerosene Lamp)

Roy's Letter
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

On the same day, 
Thursday, March 2, 1961
I also wrote to Nana (Myrtle Pratt):

Dear Nana,
I am having a wonderful time up here.
The night I arrived we went
to the McRae’s for supper
and then to our new home.
It is very large and roomy.
We have to use gas lamps!
I sleep in a top bunk.

© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The next day there was no school,
and we spent our time trying to talk with the Indians.  

The next day, however, there was school.
Donnie and Barbie had desks, but Roy and I sat at a card table.    

We did the usual things, 
but we had a couple of hilarious times
in school the next couple of days,
like Barbie putting her coat on upside down. 

I have made two friends.
Unfortunately they are boys.
Their names are Simon and George.

Last night I went baby sitting and had a great time.
The McMahons fixed me a nice lunch,
and in the middle of enjoying it,
the baby started kicking the bed.
Of course, I didn’t know what it was. 

I ran to the kitchen, found a butcher knife
and never let go of it all evening.

I earned two dollars and spent it in two minutes
on a hobby, and that is beadwork.
These are the things I bought:  
yellow, blue, green, white, orange, and blue green beads.
There are seven tubes of them in a different color.
Also special needles and thread. 
Love, Louise.

P.S. Next time I will write a better letter. 

Drawing of Beadwork Supplies
in My Letter
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

While Roy, Donnie, and I sat at the kitchen table writing letters
by the light of the hissing kerosene lamps,
our parents took turns typing theirs on the newly refurbished typewriter.


On Thursday, March 2, 1961
My mother wrote to our extended family:

Hi Everybody:
Don insists that I write a line on this letter, 
but when he sees the mess I am making 
he will never let me do it again.  

I have just finished making out a list for a week's
supply of groceries for the week after next.
It is very confusing.  However we won’t starve
for the survey gang left a ton of supplies behind.

© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Louise made two dollars baby sitting last night and was as proud as punch,
but worried when we told her not to even hint at money
for everyone here helps anyone that needs help out.

Poor Louise was practically in tears when she arrived home.
She was afraid we would make her take it back.

She invested her money today in the beads for her beadwork.
She also bought six suckers for fifteen cents.  Quite a change.

The jackets and moccasins
the Indians make here are beautiful.

They trim them with beads
in flower designs and with fur.  

Maureen and Anne were in this afternoon,
or I should say at the door with snowshoes on.

Even the snowshoes were decorated
with puffs of pink and white wool.

Mukluks Wikimedia

The children get along well with the Indian children,
and everyone here is good to them.
Maureen had Louise in helping her bake the other day;
and of course, Louise loved it.
Iona likes Barbie to go over and play with Glennie,
while Maureen loves Donnie and says to let her
go over and play with Dunc Junior anytime.

We’ve had lots of fun playing bridge.
Both times the score was very close,
even though I was on the losing side both times.  

The first night I couldn’t get any cards,
but the last time I had good ones.  
One hand Don took me to task for making a ridiculous bid.
I bid one no-trump, Maureen bid two no-trump, 
so I bid three no-trump.  
They all laughed at me and said that I didn’t have a chance.
I made it without any difficulty at all and with no help from my partner.

Playing Bridge

It is really beautiful here,
and we have been very comfortable.  

We walked over to the Island one evening.
It was a lovely moonlit night
with lots of stars.
It was a nice walk.

Well I better stop messing up this letter.
Love, Sara


One of my vivid memories of Lansdowne House
is the first time I babysat outside my home. 
The McMahons hired me to look after Baby Glen
while they played bridge next door at the McRae's.

I was only ten (almost eleven); but I had had lots of experience
looking after my baby sister Bertie and my younger siblings,
and I arrived at the McMahon's home filled with confidence.

I had snuck a copy of one of my father's
Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazines to read during the evening,
and after checking on Glennie, I settled down to enjoy the stories. 
That was a big mistake for a young girl with an overactive imagination.

Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine 
Vol. 5, No. 11, November 1960

When I suddenly began to hear strange banging noises,
I was acutely aware that I was alone in the wilderness
surrounded by Indians and wolves and worse.

My heart began to pound and the palms of my hands liquified.
I could hardly breathe, and I could hear
something crawling up to the back steps.
I exploded from the couch and raced to the kitchen
to grab a butcher knife out of the drawer.

When I turned toward Glennie's bedroom, 
I could see a shadow on the wall beyond the fridge.
Someone was crouching with a long thin club ready to strike.
Clutching the butcher knife and creeping toward the fridge
was perhaps the scariest thing I had experienced in my young life.

I swung around the fridge with the knife raised high,
only to find a broom leaning against a stack of cartons.
The light from the back porch was casting their shadows on the wall.

When I worked up the nerve to check on the baby,
I discovered that Glennie was kicking his crib.
Talk about feeling stupid!

I made it back to the couch and held the knife the rest of the evening.
I did not read anymore Hitchcock that long night.

The moment I heard the McMahons saying goodnight to the McRaes across the yard, 
I dashed back to the kitchen and slipped the knife in its drawer. 

What I don't remember is my parents' reaction to my letter to Nana.

But I do recall my father telling me not long after 
that you don't stab down with a knife.
Instead you thrust up, making it more difficult 
for someone to turn the knife back on you.
Fortunately, I've never had to test that advice.

Norseman and Fuel Drum
Noorduyn Norseman Ski Plane  
Waldorf, Howard Special Collection 008 Noorduyn Norseman
San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives (SDASM)

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

The Brier Island Nature Reserve 
Bay of Fundy
Photo by Roy MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


1.  Barrels of Gas:
Tractor trains traveled across the frozen landscape to deliver all the fuel that the community needed to run its generators, stoves, and other machines.  The fuel came in 45 gallon drums.   The 40 barrels of gas Roy referred to was for the stoves to heat the school.

Oil Barrels or Drums in the North

2.  Gas Lights or Lamps:  The Coleman kerosene lamps my father used to light our home made
     quite an impression on Roy and me.  Each evening my father would light the lamps, a task we
     watched with keen interest because we never knew when Dad would yell, "Open the door"
     to throw a wildly flaming lamp into the snow.
    The lamps had a fuel container at the base.  My father started by pumping a hand pump to
    pressurize the fuel.  This forced fuel and fumes up into the lantern where they came in
    contact with the mantle.  Then Dad would carefully stick a match inside the lamp and light the
    mantle.  He could adjust the brightness of the mantle glow by increasing or decreasing the fuel
    forced into the lamp.  The You Tube video below shows how a modern, double mantle lamp
    works which gives you an idea of how the older Coleman lamps in our home worked.  I watched
    my father change the mantles in the lamps many times.

You Tube:

And for Map Lovers Like Me:

Location of Lansdowne House
Sketched on Map of Ontario 
from Atlas of North America:
Space Age Portrait of a Continent
National Geographic 1985, pages 166-167.