Friday, June 30, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: Suckered!

In my last post I said that our Easter break in Lansdowne House
was one of the happiest times in my childhood.
We had many happy times when I was growing up,
but in retrospect, this was a special time.

We were together with everything we needed:
warmth, food, water, and shelter from the cold and snow.
My parents were healthy and relaxed,
and they had the time to spend with us,
with their friends, and with their passions.

My mother and father had been seriously ill in the past,
and would be so again in the future.
They had just survived another lonely separation
and would endure others; 
but for now we were all together,
jammed into a tiny house buried in snow, 
doing chores, playing, squabbling, and dreaming big dreams.

Four in the Wayback!

A Rare Everyday Photo
Roy, Donnie, Bertie, and Me
It was Barbie's turn in the middle seat with Nana,
while Mom sat in the front with Dad.
Somewhere between Ontario and Nova Scotia, Summer 1963
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

On Sunday, April 1, 1961
my father wrote to his mother:

Dear Mother:
We have been snowbound all weekend - since Thursday to be exact,
and we are hoping that the plane finally gets in today,
as the Easter Bunny, or rather his wares, are riding on that plane.
We haven’t had the usual Easter egg hunt yet.
I guess we’ll have that on Easter Monday morning instead of this morning.

I hope that I can get this letter out on today’s plane,
for it will make an extra letter for you in your next mail,
and it will help preserve continuity with the letters preceding it.

A Lansdowne Letter:  April 1, 1961
Photo by Louise Barbour
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

In the last letter that I wrote to you,
I mentioned that the Mitchells were coming over for Bridge last night,
and that I was expecting Rhea and I to take a bad trimming at the hands of Bill and Sara.

Well, we didn’t take a beating.
We trimmed them by 2200 points (6100 to 3900),
and in so doing I realized a life-long ambition.
I bid and made a grand slam-seven no trump.

I think I would bid seven no trump!
Photo by Louise Barbour
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

It was really that hand alone that got us the victory for the evening,
for it gave our score a terrific boost.

First, 7 no is worth 220 points;
and since Bill doubled it, it was worth 440 points.
Then, because we were vulnerable,
we earned a bonus of 1500 points.

Finally, because it gave us a quick rubber,
we earned a further bonus of 700 points;
and because we were doubled,
an additional bonus of 50 points
for making a bid that was doubled.

All told that one hand gave us 2690 points.

Bill with an Ojibwa Man
Rhea on the Ice

© All Rights Reserved

Sara gave me a lovely pair of mitts for my birthday,
similar to the ones I gave her for Christmas, but nicer.
The cuffs are solid beadwork, and they are trimmed in muskrat fur instead of beaver fur.
They are lovely and warm and will make a nice souvenir of the north.

I would send you something made of moose hide, except for the smell.
I know you wouldn’t like the smell, seeing as the smell
of the slippers I sent you caused you so much distress.

I am, however, preparing something for you made by myself,
and I’m going to send it to you for Mother’s Day.
It is something that I think you will like, and there will be no smells to it.
If I get it finished in time, I will get it out before break-up,
and it will arrive before Mother’s Day,
but if I can’t get it finished before the breakup then it may be a bit late,
but never-the-less, it will still be your Mother’s Day gift.

Barbie and Dad,
with Dad Sporting His birthday Mitts
Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Winter 61-62
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I am sure that the plane will be in today, for it is a lovely day today.
The sun is shining, and there isn’t a cloud in the sky.
It would be a lovely day to wear an Easter bonnet to church,
except Sara has no bonnet to wear or church to wear it to.
Oh well, if I get that job in Sioux Lookout, she will have both next Easter.

Talking about Easter, I am glad that you don’t want flowers,
for it would be well nigh impossible to arrange for flowers up here.
I hope though, that you had a nice Easter, and that you got out
to Aunt Maude's or that some of the family got in to see you.

I hear signs of life from the bedroom,
so I believe poor Sara is again among the conscious.
The poor girl is very tired; and so, I let her sleep in this morning till now, ten thirty,
while I got up to see that the children got their breakfast,
and got dressed properly, and got out to play.
In spite of the fact that the sun is shining brightly, it is quite cold out.

Properly Dressed and Out to Play
Roy, Donnie, and Louise (Me)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Circa 1956
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Louise is over at the McRae’s house babysitting Duncan Jr.,
while his father and mother are away snowshoeing with Mike and Anne.

It is a lovely day for snowshoeing, and if it is nice tomorrow,
Sara and I are going to borrow Mike and Anne’s snowshoes and go out ourselves.


Like Mother Like Son:  Family Snowshoers
Nana with Friend:  St. Peter's Bay, Prince Edward Island, Circa 1917
Dad:  Lansdowne House, Ontario, Circa New Year, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I think I hear the Norseman circling overhead,
so I guess I better wind this effort up and get it down to the mail.
I will write and tell you all about the snowshoeing if we go.
Bye for now, Happy Easter.
Love, Don 

My Parents, Don and Sara MacBeath
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Circa 1949
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I have a vivid memory of Easter Sunday, April 1, 1961.
In his letter Dad neglected to share how
he rousted we five out of our warm snuggy sleeping bags.
He suckered us, especially Roy and me, so bad!

Although the weather had been cold and snowy,
Roy and I had break-up on our minds.

Every year freeze-up occurred in the late fall, 
a period when the villages of the north were cut off from the Outside
while the lakes froze up enough to support the weight of bush planes.

Likewise, every year break-up occurred in the late spring, 
another period when the northern communities were inaccessible,
while the lakes melted and cleared of ice so bush planes could land on water.

Roy's and my curiosity about this phenomenon was raging,
and for days we had been waking up and racing for the front window
to see if the ice had gone out.
We had badgered our father with endless questions
about what break-up would be like,
fueled by romantic notions of being unreachable and alone in the North.

It didn't matter how many times Dad pointed out
that planes were still landing and taking off on the ice;
every morning we scrambled out of our sleeping bags and ran for the window.

"Louise, Roy, everyone come quickly!"
my father roared to wake us that Easter morning.
"The ice has gone out!"

We tumbled out of our bunks.
It was a free-for-all as we five tried to squeeze through the narrow bedroom door,
run past the space heater, and rush into the living room.
I don't think Bertie understood what was going on,
but for sure she wasn't going to miss out.

We pressed up against the window and looked out
at the white lake and the nearby black-treed islands.

Out Our Front Window
During a Snowstorm
Painting by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

 "What do you mean, the ice has gone out?"
I asked, puffed up with indignation.

"April Fool!" Dad sputtered, unable to stifle his laughter.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue.

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

1.  The Mitchells:
     Bill Managed the Hudson's Bay post, and Rhea was his wife.

2.  Bridge:
     My father loved a challenging game of bridge, and he played to win.  My mother also enjoyed playing bridge,
     but she couldn't remember cards the way my father could.  Her greatest pleasure in bridge was putting a good
     licking on my father who had a tendency to crow and lord-it-about when he won.
     Bridge is a card game played by four people using a standard deck with 52 cards with no jokers.  The players
     form two partnerships, and partners sit opposite each other at a table.  The objective of the game is to bid for and
     make the most tricks possible in each hand and to score a total of 100 points before the other partnership does.
     The game has several variations and scoring methods.  Wikimedia  

Omar Sharif Playing Bridge
A well-known actor, playboy, and bridge player:
“Acting is my business,” he once said, “bridge is my passion.”  

3.   Grand slam-seven no trump:
      I found a reasonable explanation of a grand slam-seven no trump at
      Quote:  "A slam* is a bid of six in any suit or notrump, which requires that you win 12 tricks.
      If your side can win 12 tricks, it is not sufficient to bid only game; you must bid six to receive the slam bonus.
      A grand slam is a bid of seven in any suit or no trump, which requires that you win all 13 tricks."

4.  Mitts:
     The mitts that my father so appreciated were made by a local Ojibwa, and my mother probably bought them
     with the help of Bill Mitchell, the Hudson's Bay manager.

5.  Norseman:
     The Norseman was one of the bush planes that regularly flew in and out of Lansdowne House, and the sound
     of it passing overhead as it came in for a landing or took off is one of my favorite memories of the north.  
     The Norseman was a single-engine bush plane produced in Canada, starting in 1935, with over 900
     manufactured during the following 25 years.  It could operate from unimproved surfaces, like a frozen or 
     open lake, and it was known for its stubby landing gear.  Wikipedia  To me it is synonymous with the wilderness
     of northern Ontario.

Red Lake Floatplane FestivaL 2009, Northern Ontario, Canada
You Tube ~ 7018lh

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Map of Canada
Highlighting Ontario

Location of Lansdowne House
Wikimedia   edited

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: Food of the Angels

Easter Break in 1961 was a snowy one in Lansdowne House.
Even though my family was snowed in
and the Easter Bunny was delayed by the heavy snowfall,
we were having fun playing games, reading, and celebrating my father's birthday.
I remember that time as one of the happiest in my childhood.

Birthdays were always significant in our family,
and March was the month for birthdays, 
with four of us turning older within two weeks:
me (18th), Barbie (19th), Bertie (27th), and Dad (30th).

As a family we didn't have a lot of money for presents,
but each of us always had our favorite cake
and were excused from chores on our special day.

Back When We Wanted to Do Dishes!
Donnie dries dishes for the first time, while Roy stands by ready to advise.
Candid shots meant a startling flash.
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, Circa 1956
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My mother wrote letters as well as my father,
but many of hers have not survived.
We used to joke about Mom's letters when we were older,
because she usually mentioned what she was cooking.
This one was typical.

On Friday, March 31, 1961
My mother wrote to her mother-in-law
Myrtle MacBeath:

Dear Mother:
We are all fine.
I imagine it is beginning to feel
like spring on the Island.
The weather here has been lovely.

However one evening this last week
was very wintery
with lots of snow and a strong wind.
The drifts were over our waists.

Sara Margaret (MacDonald) MacBeath
Acadia University, Wolfville, Circa 1950
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Yesterday was Don’s birthday.
He loves the shirt you sent him,
and it looks very good with his bluish grey suit.

I made an angel food cake for him with your boiled icing.
It turns out well for me now since I have a candy thermometer.
However I think I should beat it after I take it off the hot water.
Do you?

We didn’t do much this week.
Uno was over for dinner on Sunday.
We had chicken and Boston cream pie.

We played bridge with the Mitchells on Tuesday night.
Mr. Mitchell and I won.

Last evening we played bridge with Duncan and Maureen.
Dunc and Don really put a licking on us.
The Mitchells are coming over to play bridge tomorrow night.

Don has started painting again.
He painted a very nice picture of the log church next door.
I like it very much, and it will make an interesting souvenir.

The Anglican Log Church
The corner of our home is in the middle left of the painting.
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Painting by Don MacBeath, March 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The children are all fine.  They like having Don as their teacher.
Louise says he is the most interesting teacher she has ever had.


We have been doing a lot of reading lately.
Right now I’m engrossed in a huge book entitled
“The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” by William Shirer.
I was telling Don it is giving me nightmares.

I hope that you had a pleasant Easter.
Don had forgotten all about it,
so we had to radio out for Easter eggs.

I must close now and get dinner going.
It doesn’t look as if the plane will be in today.
The visibility is practically nil.
And it’s snowing heavily outside.

With love,

Flickr ~ mdornseif   License

Hands down, my father's favorite cake was angel food cake with boiled icing.
It was a rare treat in our house because it was tricky to make,
especially in the North with no electricity.

The task involved a lot of beating
with an old-fashioned, hand-held egg beater.
Man, I hated hand-cranking that beater,
and if I did it a long time,
both hands would get sweaty, even blistered.
Beating it fast was an aerobic activity. 

Flickr:  Bre Pettis ~ Adapted   License

Angel cake, dubbed "food of the angels," is white and airy
because it contains no butter or egg yolks
and requires cake flour milled from a soft wheat.
It is baked in a tube pan because it rises five or six inches high.

       Angel Food Cake
          a.  in a tube pan               b.  on a plate
          Flickr ~ Bev Currie          Flickr ~ Bev Currie
           License for Both 

Because of the cake's delicate nature,
we had to tiptoe around the kitchen
so the cake wouldn't fall while it was baking,
and no one dared open the oven door
for fear of shocking the cake into collapsing.

My mother had to gently cut it with back-to-back forks
so the cake wouldn't compress into a spongy mess.

Regular icing wouldn't do, because it was too heavy,
so my mother always made Nana's fluffy white boiled icing.
Personally I thought the sweet, sticky icing
was the best part of the cake.
The actual "food of the angels"
tasted bland and felt too spongy in my mouth.

I wasn't alone in my love of Nana's fluffy white boiled icing.
We kids all battled over licking the whisk and the spatula and the pot.
The icing made perfect mustaches!
We loved to paint our upper lips, let the icing set, and lick it off!

My mother was a great cook and baker.
She never learned either skill because her mother
didn't want Mom underfoot when she was working in the kitchen;
so my mother learned to cook and bake after she was married.

She made sure that we all learned the basics
which for me included baking bread, making jam and pickles,
and turning out my father's favorite angel food cake with fluffy white icing.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

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

1.  The Island:
     We always referred to Prince Edward Island where my Grandmother MacBeath lived as "The Island."

2.  Uno Manilla:
     Uno taught at the Roman Catholic School on the Father's Island.  My father roomed with Uno before he was able
     to rent the forestry house and move us north.  

3.  The Mitchells:
     Bill Managed the Hudson's Bay post, and Rhea was his wife.

4.  Duncan and Maureen McRae:
     Duncan worked for the Department of Transport, and one of his duties was running the weather
     station in Lansdowne House.  He and his wife Maureen were good friends with my parents.
5.  Painting:
     Both of my parents were painters.  My father preferred oils and my mother watercolors.  Unfortunately 
     the responsibilities of working and raising and educating five children made it difficult for my parents to 
     pursue their passions.  I am humbled by the sacrifices they made for my brother, sisters, and me.  

6.  The Rise and Fall of the Third Reicht:  A History of Nazi Germany:
     My mother was a secretary in the Royal Canadian Air Force toward the end of WW II.  Part of her job was
     to type letters informing families about loved ones who had been injured or killed.  She actually had to type
     letters to people she knew in her village of Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia.  Understandably, reading Shirer's account
     of the rise and fall of Nazi Germany was distressing for my mother.

     William Shirer, a journalist who reported on Nazi Germany for six years, based his book on captured Nazi
     documents, the diaries of Joseph Goebbels, Franz Halder, and Galeazzo Ciano, evidence and testimony from
     the Nuremberg trials, and a variety of media sources.  Published in 1960, the book was an award-winning
     bestseller, acclaimed by journalists but less so by academic historians, perhaps because of its journalistic rather
     than academic style.  Wikipedia  
     I tried to read it after Mom finished it, but I found it too dry as an eleven-year-old and quit reading it.

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Route Map for Austin Airways, 1985
with Lansdowne House West of James Bay
Nakina is near Geraldton.

Location of Nakina

Location of Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia

Canada   Wikimedia

For Bakers Like Me:
(Actually I haven't had the guts to bake these for decades!)

Mom’s Angel Food Cake
1¼ - 1½ cups sugar
1 cup cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups egg whites (10-12 egg whites)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract

Use a 9-inch tube pan, with removable rim.  Do not grease.
Preheat oven to 325º F.

Sift twice 1¼ - 1½ cups of sugar.
Sift separately before measuring 1 cup of cake flour.
Resift the flour three times
with ½ cup of the sifted sugar and ½ teaspoon salt.

Whip until foamy the 1¼ cups of egg whites
(10-12 egg whites, 60 - 70º F, separated just before use)
with 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Add 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
and whip the egg white mixture until stiff, but not dry.

Gradually whip in, about 1 tablespoon at a time,
the remaining ¾ to 1 cup of sifted sugar.

Fold in (by hand, gentle and firm, avoid breaking down
the cellular structure of the egg whites which have trapped air)
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract and ½ teaspoon of almond extract.

Sift about ¼ cup of the sugar and flour mixture over the batter.
Fold it in gently and briefly with a rubber scraper.
Continue until all the sugar and flour mixture is added.

Pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan.
Then draw a thin spatula gently through the batter
to destroy any large air pockets.

Bake about 45 minutes.
Remove when a toothpick
inserted in the cake comes out clean.

To cool, turn the tube pan upside down on an inverted funnel,
if the tube is not high enough to keep the cake
above the surface of the table.
Let the cake hang about 1½ hours until it is thoroughly set.
Remove it from the pan before storing.

Do not cut with a knife,
but use two forks back-to-back to pry cake gently apart.

Nana’s (Mom’s) Fluffy White Boiled White Icing:
Makes two cups

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 egg whites    
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar 
OR a few drops of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Stir until the sugar is dissolved and bring to a boil
2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water.

Cover and cook for about 3 minutes,
until the steam has washed down any crystals,
which may have formed on the sides of the pan.

Uncover and cook 238º F or 240º F
(as measured by a candy thermometer).
At that temperature the syrup will spin a very thin thread
on the end of a coarser thread
(when suspended from a spoon or spatula).
This final thread will almost disappear.

Whip until frothy 2 egg whites and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Add the syrup in a thin stream, whipping eggs constantly.

When these ingredients are combined,
add 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar
OR a few drops of lemon juice
and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Continue whipping.

When the icing begins to harden at the edges of the bowl,
it should be ready to put on the cake.
Do not scrape the bowl. 

If the syrup has not been boiled long enough
and the icing won’t harden, beat it in strong sunlight.

If this doesn’t do the trick,
place the icing in the top of a double boiler
over hot water (not in),
until it reaches the right consistency for spreading.

If the syrup has been overcooked
and the icing tends to harden too soon,
adding a teaspoon or two of boiling water
or a few drops of lemon juice will restore it.

If raisins, nutmeats, zest, or other ingredients are to be added to the icing,
wait until the last moment to incorporate them.
They contain oil or acid, which will thin the icing.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: Another Crisis in the MacBeath Home

Another crisis hit my parents in the spring of 1961,
but at least this one could be contained and resolved.

Snowy Day in Lansdowne House
Out Our Front Window, Forestry Department 
Northern Ontario, 1961
Painting by Don MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 31, 1961
My father wrote:

Hello Everybody:
Thanks goodness that we were snowed in today,
or I would never have gotten this off this week.
Last night (mail night) was my birthday,
and Duncan and Maureen came over to help me to celebrate the occasion.

Duncan and I gave the distaff sides of the two partnerships
a terrible trimming at bridge.  We beat them by about 2200 points.

Best Buds
Dad (left)  Duncan (right)
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I have been sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear
from Ottawa regarding that position in Sioux Lookout.
I don’t imagine I have a hope in Hades of getting it,
but a fellow can hope.

Actually, in spite of my pessimistic pronouncements
on the subject, I am quite hopeful.
I can’t imagine they would have written to me regarding it,
if they hadn’t been giving me, or my name, some consideration.
It would sure be wonderful I did get it.

Sara has gained another five pounds and has now reached 110 pounds
for a total gain of 15 pounds since she came north.
She is looking better every day, although the faint possibility,
which I thought was so preposterous when she first arrived,
that of having to get her a girdle,
doesn’t seem nearly so preposterous now.

She is threatening to go on a diet now.  The very idea!!!!!
She hasn’t looked so good or so healthy in a long time.
I have hopes of getting her up to at least 120 pounds by spring.

My Mother, Sara MacBeath
Location Unknown, Circa 1950
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

In the previous paragraph I used the phrase
“before spring,” because it is still very much winter up here.
In the last ten days or so we have had a couple of bad blizzards
and a real bad ice and sleet storm.

Also, the night before last, Lansdowne House received some fleeting notoriety.
We had the dubious honour of being the coldest place in Canada--17 below.

Right now Sara is making like a chartered accountant
and is trying to get her account books in order.
I can’t help her, for I am afraid that her mathematics
are too devious for a mere man like me to follow.

I must give her credit though, for after a series
of darns, gosh darns, and oh damns,
she always manages to get everything to balance.

We are facing a crisis right now, that of an Easter Eggless Easter,
but I imagine we will weather it by substituting chocolate bars and other forms of candy.
We still have not become completely accustomed to the northern method
of ordering everything like this months in advance.

Chick with Eggs

Tomorrow night the Mitchells are coming over for bridge.
I am looking forward to a beating then, for Sara and Bill always play Rhea and me,
and while they seem to click like they had been playing together for twenty years,
Rhea and I have yet to reconcile our different systems of playing and bidding.
If it is possible at all for us to misconstrue each other’s bids, we do it.

I was just thinking how amazing it is that two people can view
the same situation and experience such different emotional reactions.
For example the Easter holidays have started, and while I am positively delighted
that I am able to stay home from school for the next ten days,
Sara is utterly appalled at the prospects of having
the four children home for the next ten days.

The Father and the Brother are also coming over soon for bridge
-- next Tuesday to be precise.
However since I always play with the Father and Sara plays with the Brother,
and because I enjoy the same success with the Father that Sara enjoys with Bill Mitchell,
and also because Sara and the Brother are bothered like Rhea and me,
I am looking forward to a successful evening.
That last sentence was a whopper, wasn’t it?

Father Ouimet, Don MacBeath, and Brother Bernier
Kitchen in Roman Catholic Mission 
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Sara is now reading back issues of The Guardian.
I just heard her exclaim with surprise that Liz Taylor was sick.
She just asked me if Liz had died.

Now she has just discovered that George Formby had died.
Nothing like being up to date on the news, eh.

The aerial for our radio just arrived,
and Duncan is coming over to help me put it up the first fine day.
Then Sara ought to be able to keep up with the news with more success.

Well, I have just about dried up as a source of news for this week,
so I’ll let Sara get in a few licks and close out this week’s letter for me.

Bye now,
Love, Don.

Sara and Don MacBeath
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada, circa 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My mother added to my father's letter:

Hello Everybody:
I am also reading the Contract Bridge Section in the papers,
so I can disappoint Don when we play with the Father and Brother.

There isn’t much more that I can think to say
except that I hope you are all well
and that the Easter Bunny is good to each and every one of you.

Love, Sara.

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

My father had a childish delight in Easter.
I'd like to say it was all about the Christian celebration of Easter,
but it wasn't.  It was all about him hiding eggs as the Easter Bunny.

There were always treats that were almost impossible to find.
He divided whatever house we were living in into sections for each of us to search,
and he adjusted the difficulty of the hiding places according to our abilities.

We didn't have Easter baskets filled with goodies like our American cousins did.
We had to hunt down every egg and other items, one by one.

We earned our booty,
especially as our father had a streak of devilment in him that surfaced every Easter.


I can still hear my father going from area to area
and helping his perplexed kids with an encouraging,
"You're getting hotter, hotter."
Or "colder, colder."

Like I was going to find the egg
replacing a battery in his electric razor
or the egg hidden in hollowed out slices
in the middle of a loaf of bread
without his, "You're hot!  You're burning hot!"

Meanwhile our mother was also helping us, going from area to area.
She had assisted my father hiding the Easter eggs the night before.
He had spent hours at it, laughing with delight as he went about his bunny duties,
especially whenever he found a really original hiding place.

Dad was driven by the theory that since we kids had waited so long with such excitement
that he should make the fun last as long as possible.

Mom, taking pity on us, would nod toward a hiding place
with a slight tilt of her head or a subtle point with a finger.   

I can still remember, as second grader,
searching our living room in Alymer, Ontario.
The very first things I found were two fluffy chicks
and a marshmallow egg underneath the edge of the chesterfield.
The thrill of spotting those yellow chicks
shot down through my body right to my toes:
The Easter Bunny had really come!

As much as hunting down those eggs frustrated me at times,
I'd dearly love to have Dad hide a few for me next Easter.
How we all loved those Easters!

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.  Mail Night:  Typically the once-weekly mail plane flew into Lansdowne House on Fridays to drop off and pick
     up mail.  That meant many people spent Thursday night, or "Mail Night" writing personal and business letters to
     make Friday's mail run.

2.  Duncan and Maureen McRae:
     Duncan worked for the Department of Transport, and one of his duties was running the weather
     station in Lansdowne House.  He and his wife Maureen were good friends with my parents.
3.  My Mother's Health:
     My mother had Grave's Disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism or overproduction of
     thyroid hormones.  Four years previously my mother had had an operation to remove her thyroid.  Unfortunately
     her parathyroid glands were accidentally removed also.  She struggled throughout her life to keep weight on.
     Grave's Disease also impacted my mother's vision.

4.  Weight Conversions:  
        5  pounds  =     2.3 kilograms
      15  pounds  =     6.8 kilograms
    110  pounds  =    49.9 kilograms
    120  pounds  =  108.4 kilograms
5.   Exclamation Marks:
      It was fun to discover, when I was working with my father's letters, that he used exclamation marks liberally too.

6.  Temperature Conversion:  
       -17º Fahrenheit  =  -27º Celsius

7.  Bill and Rhea Mitchell:
     Bill was the manager of the Hudson's Bay Post in Lansdowne House and married to Rhea.

8.  Father Ouimet and Brother Bernier:  
     They were members of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate,
     a missionary religious congregation in the Roman Catholic Church. 

9.  The Guardian:  Newspaper published in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island since the 1870s.  Wikipedia

    10.  Liz Taylor: 
    Quoted from Wikipedia:
    "Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, DBE (February 27, 1932 – March
     23, 2011) was a British American actress, businesswoman, and
     humanitarian. She began as a child actress in the early 1940s, and was
     one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the

     Photo:  Wikimedia

11.  George Formby:
     Quoted from Wikipedia  
     "George Formby, OBE (born George Hoy Booth; 26 May
     1904 – 6 March 1961), was an English actor, 
     singer-songwriter and comedian who became known to a
     worldwide audience through his films of the 1930s and

     Photo:  Wikimedia

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Location of Lansdowne House
Known Today as Neskantaga