Friday, February 16, 2018

The Lansdowne Letters: Stages in Ice

And then it was gone!
After long weeks of waiting, 
break-up was over in Lansdowne House on May 23, 1961.

An Ice Free Lake Attawapiskat
Lansdowne House, Ontario, Canada
Photo by Don MacBeath, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Mail planes, bringing welcome news from the Outside
and much-needed supplies,
had switched from skis to pontoons 
and were landing in a spray of water
instead of rooster tails of snow
and taxiing to the Hudson's Bay Company dock.

The tension of being cut-off from everything eased,
and people looked forward to the brief summer
and long warm days of abundance and fun.

No one in our family anticipated the dramatic events
about to happen during the next few weeks.

Two Pontoon or Float Planes
By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday, May 25, 1961  
My father wrote:

Hi Folks:
Break-up is finally over for this year.
It ended with rather a sudden dramatic decisiveness Tuesday afternoon.
Actually, the first plane came in Monday afternoon
but had to land four miles up the lake,
as we were still ice-bound right around the settlement.

The plane was met by four canoes, 
and the goods and mail were transported by canoes to the settlement.
I was only able to get one letter to Mother out by this plane,
so for all practical purposes, this is the first letter after break-up.

Breakup was so peaceful that I almost dreaded to see the end of it.
We had a delightful time during this period.
I got several nice paintings done, and Sara and I were able to play a lot of Bridge.

Rock Causeway to the Father's Island
(An Alternative to Crossing on Ice)
Lansdowne House, Ontario, Canada
Painting by Don MacBeath, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

It was most interesting to watch the ice slowly melting in the lake.
The snow went rather rapidly, but the ice remained in the lake.
At first, it was startling to see the grass starting to turn green on the ground,
and then to look out on the lake and see
the Indians still traveling by dog team on the lake.

I have only watched one break-up, but from what I was able to observe,
there are four definite stages in the deterioration of the lake ice --
no actually, there are five stages.

The first stage is when
the DOT pronounces the ice dangerous for planes.
Then we have our last plane.  

The next stage is reached
when the Father stops using the snowmobile on the ice.
As long as the Father continues to use the snowmobile ,
we know that in an emergency a light plane like a Cessna could still land.
However once the snowmobile is laid up,
we definitely know that we are cut off until the lake is open.
This year, the second stage was reached very shortly after the first one.

This is a late wood-bodied Bombardier B-12 snow bus,
This is similar to Father Ouimet's snowmobile or "bombardier."  (bomb-ba-deer)
Circa 1951

The third stage is reached
when the Father stops using the light Ski-Doo,
which is sort of a motorized toboggan.
When the Ski-Doo is laid up,
we know that the break-up period is about half through usually. 

The fourth stage is when
the Indians decide that the ice is dangerous for traveling with dog teams.
This is an interesting stage,
mainly because of the compromise measures worked out 
by the Indians for getting by this period.  

During the fourth stage,
the Indians can’t travel by canoe because there is still ice on the lake,
and they can’t travel safely by dog teams.

Since the fourth stage usually occurs at the height of the muskrat trapping season,
it is necessary for the Indians to be mobile,
so they get around their difficulties in an amusing way and a practical way also.

They lash their canoes to their sleighs,
put all their gear in the canoes,
hitch the dogs to the sleighs, and start out.

If the ice breaks, they jump into the canoes,
pull the dogs in with them, and paddle till they strike firm ice again
when they haul the sleighs up on the ice and resume their journey.

For a photo of two trappers with their dogs, click here
(Copyright holder:  Government of Saskatchewan)

The fifth stage is when the ice goes out, and the first plane lands.

The Indians can tell when the fourth stage has arrived
by watching the ice change colour.

First, the ice turns black all over, and the fourth stage has arrived.
Then it turns snowy white again.
It remains white for anywhere from several hours till several weeks.
This year it remained white for three days.

Then it turns black again.
Once it turns black again, it is just a matter of waiting
for a good strong wind to break the ice up and clear the ice out.
If no wind comes, it just sits and rots.

For a photo of the black ice phenomenon, click here   (4th photo down)
(Copyright holder:  Sunset Country/Northern Ontario Travel)

This year we had a period of two weeks
after the second blackness before we got our wind.
During this two-week period the water rose,
and the ice all melted around the shores,
and everyone got out paddling around in the canoes.

No Longer Ice-Bound
Lansdowne House, Ontario, Canada
Photo by Don MacBeath, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

This letter of my father's was very long,
so I'll continue it in my next Northern post.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue.

1.  The Father:  Father Maurice Ouimet

Father Ouimet with My Father and Brother Bernier
Roman Catholic OMI Mission Kitchen
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

2.  Snowmobiles and Ski-Doos:
     Joseph-Armand Bombardier developed large tracked vehicles that could hold up to twelve people,
     one of which Bombardier gave to his friend Father Ouimet in 1949.  My father referred to this
     as Father Ouimet's snowmobile, but I also heard it called a bombardier (bomb-ba-deer).

     But what was really needed in the north was a machine for one or two people, something that
     would make Father Ouimet's work easier in his northern parishes.  Ouimet suggested this to his
     friend Bombardier, and from this idea Joseph-Armand created the Ski-Doo.

     Were it not for a publisher's error in a sales brochure, Ski-Doos would have been Snow-Dogs.

     In the winter of 1959 Joseph-Armand hand-built the first two Ski-Doos, and in April,
    1959 he personally delivered one of them by bush plane to Father Ouimet in
    Lansdowne House.   The Canadian Encyclopedia 

       I have wonderful memories of riding with Father Ouimet on his ski-doo.  Father Ouimet's first
     Ski-Doo, the one I rode on, was obtained by the The Museum of Ingenuity J. Armand Bombardier
     in 1969.  Sled Magazine 


For Map Lovers Like Me:
Map of Canada
Highlighting Ontario

Location of Lansdowne House
Wikimedia   edited

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Lansdowne Letters: A Picnic Unlike Any Other

The days rapidly grew longer and warmer as spring filled the land,
but the rotting ice lingered in May 1961, 
and Lansdowne House remained cut off from the Outside.

Rotting Ice
Pointe-du-Chêne, New Brunswick, Canada
Flickr ~ Shawn Harquail   License   Cropped

Spring fever ran rampant, and suddenly our home seemed dark and cramped.
Everyone wanted to be outside stretching his or her limbs in the warm sunshine
and breathing the fresh, wholesome air of the North.

Two unusual days that I have never forgotten occurred in late May,
following one after the other, Sunday and Monday.
Both brought canoes and broke the monotony of waiting for break-up to end.
Both were wonderful.
Here follows the tale of the first.

Pussy Willows
Harbingers of Spring in the North
Flickr ~ fryed_2010   License

On Monday, May 22, 1961
My father wrote to his mother,
Myrtle MacBeath:

Dear Mother:
I just have time for a short note to you,
to let you know
that break-up is over, after a fashion.

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

The lake is open down about five miles,
and I just found out that there is a plane coming in,
and they are going down to meet it in canoes.  

However, the break-up still isn’t over for sure,
because the ice could shift tonight and close up the open space.
I would have had a long letter ready for you
if I had known last night that there was a plane coming in.

Yesterday we had a lovely day.  I rented a canoe
and took the whole family, including Gretchen, and went on a picnic.
There is enough open water around the edges of the lake
to allow you to travel by canoe.  
We went up the peninsula for about three miles.  
It was lovely, but Sara and I are both sore today from paddling.  

We took a camp stove and canned stew and really had a lovely feed.
I don’t remember when anything has tasted better.

The baby didn’t think too much of the canoe trip.
She was frightened of the water.  Ditto for Gretchen.

Family Picnic in the Bush
My Mother and Barbie
You can see the lingering ice on Lake Attawapiskat in the background,
the camp stove, and a bit of the canoe on the right.
Photo by Don MacBeath, Spring 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

Everybody is feeling great,
although Roy has been bothered
off and on by tonsillitis. 

He is going to have them out
as soon as we get out.  
They are quite bad. 

Roy with Donnie and Our Dachshund Gretchen
Christmas, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

Sara is continuing to gain weight slowly,
and I am holding my new weight and not gaining.
The baby has gained three pounds or so since she came up.
She looks as healthy as a pet pup.

I will be glad when the break-up is over for good,
because we are running out of food rapidly.  
This has been a longer break-up than usual.  

Right low the ice is just sitting in the lake rotting,
and unless we get some strong winds for several days, 
it could sit there for three weeks more.  
A strong wind would break it up and clear it out in two days.  

Right now there isn’t a breath of wind, 
and there is none forecast for the immediate future.

Well, I must sign off now,
as the canoes are leaving soon to take the mail down the lake.
Don’t be expecting regular mail till you receive my next letter,
which will be a nice long one.  

When you receive my next letter, break-up will be over, 
and regular mail service will be in force again.  
However, I won’t guarantee when that will be.

Bye now,

The Tip of the Peninsula and the Father's Island
We canoed along the right edge of the peninsula toward the bottom of the photo.
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada, 1935
Credit: Canada. Dept. of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Library and Archives Canada / PA-094992

Our family picnics were a staple of entertainment throughout my childhood,
from meals served on a picnic table in the backyard,
to sandwiches and pop on a blanket in a local park,
to wieners and marshmallows roasted over a fire by the ocean,
but this was most unusual picnic I had ever experienced.

We lugged the camp stove, boxes of food and cooking utensils,
blankets, and layers of clothes down to the Hudson’s Bay dock
to load the canoe my father had rented,
a big freighter with five seats and plenty of room to stow
seven people, picnic supplies, and one unenthusiastic dachshund.

The novelty of piling everyone into the canoe 
added a dash of adventure to a Sunday outing on a brilliant day.

Dad pulled the front of the canoe up on the shore,
so Roy and I could steady it.
He and Mom settled Donnie and Barbie on the seat toward the front,
baby Bertie on the floor by the middle seat,
and our dachshund Gretchen on the floor
toward the back among all the picnic supplies.

Mom hopped in and took the seat in the bow,
paddle in hand to push off.
Dad, Roy, and I gave the canoe a huge shove,
waded into the water alongside it, and gingerly climbed in.

Bertie was my responsibility, 
Gretchen Roy’s.

Bertie and Me
Summer, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

As our parents paddled the canoe
through a strip of water between the ice and the shore,
the familiar Hudson’s Bay post,
the Department of Transport buildings and dock,
the nursing station, and the school slipped by,
followed by a cluster of Ojibwa homes,
and then we were skirting the wild peninsula.

The sight of spindly spruce and birch standing above
an impenetrable tangle of shrubs was intimidating.
In most places the lake water lapped up against
rounded flat boulders, sparse grasses, and low-lying plants
that abruptly yielded to trees and brush.

The dip and pull of our parents’ paddles in the still water
was hypnotic in the warm sunshine;
but even drowsing, I could sense the cold ice floating nearby.
The bush was alive with birdsong and insect voices,
but the land felt empty, primal.

My parents landed on a suitable patch of ground
about two miles up the peninsula
where we could pull up the canoe and spread the blankets.  

The site contained the remains of a deserted store
that was falling into ruin.
The owner, a free trader named Joe Alex,
had crashed his plane and died several years previously.

In short order Dad got the camp stove going and coffee perking,
while Mom heated canned stew and sliced and buttered bread.

Does anything taste better than hot stew and homemade bread in the wilderness?
Well, maybe orange juice and cake to follow,
if you’re a kid with hollow legs,
and we all had hollow legs and the appetites to fill them.

Afterwards Dad curled up on a blanket
with a favorite magazine to read and enjoyed a smoke or two,
while Mom relaxed and watched us play.

Roy and I took the canoe out and practiced canoeing.
More correctly, we argued over controlling it
and spent much of our time going around in circles
until Dad sorted out our squabbles.

Roy and I Canoeing on Lake Attawapiskat
Near Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Photo by Don MacBeath, Spring 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

Meanwhile Barbie and Donnie sneaked into the icy water
to wade, and Gretchen decided to go for a swim.
Add in a toddler who loved running around on her unsteady legs,
and my parents had their hands full.

Later they corralled us all into the canoe
and paddled another mile up the lake along the peninsula.
Here we discovered the lake was wide open and clear of ice,
a fact that figured in our adventures on the following day,
but that’s a story for a future post!

Hudson Bay Lowlands
Flicker ~ Ted and John Koston   License

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.  Free Trader:
     A trader who operated independently from the Hudson's Bay Company.

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Location of Lansdowne House
Northern Ontario, Canada

Lansdowne House Today
Our parents paddled our canoe up to about the narrowest part of the peninsula .

Imagery:  DigitalGlobe, Landstat/Copernicus
Map Data:  Google 2017

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

IWSG: Wednesday, February 7, 2018 ~ Under Different Suns

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

To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today,
along with IWSG founder Alex Cavanaugh are:
Stephen Trump,  Pat Garcia,  Angela Wooldridge,  
Victoria Marie Lees,  and Madeline Mora-Summonte.

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


Every month the IWSG poses a question
that members can answer with advice, insight,
a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts.

Or, the question can inspire members
if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day.

Remember the question is optional.
This month's featured question is:

What do you love about the genre you write in most often?


I’m glad that the year has turned over!
I’m back to working on my memoir and blogging,
and writing is going much better for me,
as I settle into a writing routine in Honolulu.

Writing in the Breezeway Again
Royal Grove Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
February 6, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

This month’s IWSG question asks
what I love about the genre I write in most often.
That would be memoir, and in writing a memoir
I discovered something surprising that I love.

I have many reasons for writing the story of my family’s time in the North,
but the most compelling reason, the reason that drives me,
is that I want to preserve the voices of the people I knew from that time.

They’re ordinary people:  teachers, nurses, priests, bush pilots, trappers,
fishermen, homemakers, Hudson’s Bay Company clerks,
parents and children, Ojibwa and white;
but their stories are not ordinary, and neither are their voices.

Ordinary People:  A Priest, a Teacher, a Brother, a Prospector
(Father Ouimet, Donald MacBeath, Brother Bernier, Mr. Baker)
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

They are individuals who were born in the North
or answered a call to work in the North.
Some landed there by happenstance.
But they all, natives and transplants, faced the challenge
of living in a starkly beautiful but unforgiving environment
in a part of Canada that is still isolated today.

The surprising thing for me is the reason I love writing memoir:
I discovered that I was pursuing a journey into myself.

This journey has been painful and healing.
It has allowed me to understand and to make peace with
difficult things that I experienced.
It has given me a new perspective about those events
and has deepened my belief in the courage and humanity of ordinary people.

Hudson's Bay Company Manager Bill Mitchell
with an Ojibwa Man
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My memoir is not so much about me,
but the process of writing it has been all about me.

I love that one of the results is understanding
more about who I am and why.

My Brother Roy and I Canoeing
Lake Attawapiskat, Northern Ontario, Canada
Spring 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Last year I decided that one way I could support
the Insecure Writers Support Group
was to begin reading books by IWSG authors.

I set and accomplished the goal of reading five different IWSG authors.
This year my goal is to read books written by eight more.

The first book I chose this year was J. L. Campbell’s “Sold!”  
This is a perfect love story to curl up with and enjoy.  

Single mother Feechi Anoduro is worried about Christmas.
Finances are tight, and she needs to replace her old car
and to tell her young son Jack
that they cannot afford to keep Max, a dog that he adores.

While working at an auction, Feechi impresses wealthy businessman
Carsten Raimes with her professionalism and competence.
Carsten askes Feechi for her help at an upcoming auction.
It sounds like a good opportunity for Feechi,
but she is not sure that she should accept his offer.

A bad experience in Feechi’s past has left her disillusioned and reserved.
She helped her lover Dennis almost a decade ago
and wound up pregnant with Jack and alone.
Her sister Dee worries that this has left Feechi difficult and secretive
regarding men and that she has buried herself in work and in caring for Jack.

Carsten quickly realizes that Feechi would be a valuable employee
and is determined to hire her.
When offering her a permanent job does not work,
Carsten asks her out on a date.

In the days leading up to Christmas,
Carsten and Feechi mix business and pleasure,
with Carsten determined to capture Feechi’s attention
and Feechi determined to resist the charms of a man
who is clearly out of her league.

Meanwhile, Carsten has two unexpected allies,
Feechi’s son Jack and mischievous Max
who have both taken to the new man in their lives.

Will Christmas bring love for Carsten and Feechi?
Will Jack have a new dad?
Will Max get a permanent home?
J. L. Campbell’s heartwarming characters and sunny Jamaica
had me flying through the pages to find out! 

Happy writing in February!

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Winter 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Eight Miles High

I'm eight miles high during the next two days.
I'l be back with my IWSG Day post on Wednesday, February 7th
and a Northern Post on Friday, February 9th.
I'll try to visit posts and comment in airport lounges.

See you later!
Take care!

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

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Lansdowne Letters: A Home with Amenities

Are you a fan of HGTV's Property Brothers, Fixer Upper, 
or one of its other renovation shows?
I often listen to them in the background and tune in for the big reveal.

It amuses me when buyers and potential renovators
discuss the features of the home they're viewing.
They are often critical of the kitchen and bathrooms and say things like, 
"Those cabinets are so outdated.  They'll have to be replaced."
Or, "One sink in the master bath simply won't do."
Or, "We need a bedroom for each child and at least three bathrooms."
They might not have fared so well in the North a half century ago!

The Property Brothers
Flickr:  Mingle Media TV’s Red Carpet Report   License

At that time the Indian Affairs Branch had a difficult time
luring teachers into remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario.
Typical bait included a good salary, an isolation allowance, and a furnished teacherage with heat and light provided for $40.00 to $60.00 a month.

Unfortunately the teacherage for the Church of England Indian Day School
in Lansdowne House had burned down the year before my father arrived.
The only place for our family to live was the vacant forestry house.

Department of Transport Housing
Lansdowne House
A Teacherage Would Be Something Like This
Photo by Don MacBeath,  Fall of 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The forestry house was small, consisting of four main rooms and a tiny utility room.
Seven of us crammed into, at best, 500 square feet of living space
with no electricity and no running water. 

Our unusual home came with amenities that I have never forgotten.
Take the oil burner for instance.
It sat in a space outside the door to the utility room
and between the doors to the two tight bedrooms.
On cold winter nights it radiated heat and kept the bitter cold at bay.

But that's not what made it memorable.
Yes, sometimes we cranked it up so high I swear it glowed red,
and it was the perfect spot for rising big bowls of bread dough;
but what made it memorable was filling it with fuel.
My father, and sometimes I, had to go outside to the fuel drum,
hand pump the oil into a portable container,
carry the fuel inside, and pour it into the burner.
This was the most fun on -50º F nights with the Indian dogs howling nearby. 

Inside the Forestry House
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, 1960
Sketch by Maureen McRae 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

No electricity necessitated another amenity, our kerosene lamps.
Lighting these two hissing lamps was the one task
our father never allowed my mother, Roy, or myself to do.
It was too dangerous, and we would watch Dad light them at twilight each day,
holding our breath and wondering what might happen.

Dad always started by checking each lamp at the kitchen table.
He would examine the mantles and top off the kerosene while whistling tunelessly.

If a fragile mantle needed replacement,
he would remove the lamp's glass chimney
and snip off the old mantle tied above the burner.
It often crumbled into a pile of metallic fragments
that he would swipe up with kleenex.

Then he would tie a new mantle above the burner.
The small silk bag with its tiny strings often frustrated my father's big fingers,
and I'm sure having an audience didn't help.

It was fascinating to watch him burn off a new mantle with a match.
It seemed magical to me as I watched the white fabric 
change into a dark and brittle mesh.
I didn't understand that I was seeing rare earth metallic salts
embedded in the fibers oxidizing in a chemical reaction.
The silk burned away, and the salts converted to oxides,
forming a ceramic shell in the shape of the original silk mesh.
Actually, it still seems like magic. 

Next Dad would pump a hand pump to pressurize the kerosene fuel.
This forced fuel and fumes up into the lantern
where they came in contact with the oxidized mantle.
Then Dad would carefully stick a match inside the lamp and light the burner.
The burner flame heated the mantle until it glowed brightly.
My father could adjust the brightness of the mantle glow
by increasing or decreasing the fuel forced into the lamp.

Sometimes things went awry.
Despite my father's care in fueling the lamp,
a little kerosene might spill or fumes linger
and the kerosene lamp would flame.

Other times Dad might turn the lamp too high,
and black soot would fill the chimney.
If he didn't turn it down fast enough, the soot would catch fire,
and the kerosene lamp would flame.

In either case he'd roar, "Open the door,"
grab the lamp with a towel,
and race outside to toss it into a snowbank.
He was always successful, for he never burned the forestry house down.

A Modern Coleman Lamp
You Tube:

Another atypical amenity had its own corner in the utility room
which it shared with a small sink and a gasoline wringer washer.
The sink was nothing more than a basin attached to the wall
that drained into a bucket which my mother emptied several times a day.
The washing machine had intimidating rollers my mother wouldn't let anyone near,
and I have blotted out any memories of how this arcane contraption worked.

However, I've never forgotten the chemical toilet
planted in the corner of the tiny utility room.
It was basically a large bucket under a toilet seat standing on legs.
We called it a chemical toilet because we added chemicals to tamp down the odors.
A family of seven meant it had to be emptied almost daily,
and I couldn't even pretend to like this chore, adventurous though it was.

We had a garbage pit in the backyard where we emptied 
the buckets the kitchen and utility room sinks drained into.
The chemical toilet was another matter.
It had to be dumped into the community pit.

My father often undertook the unpleasant chore of lugging
the chemical toilet through the bush to the community pit.
When he couldn't, I did.

It was mortifying.
Everyone knew what I was carrying;
and I had to slog slowly and carefully,
switching the heavy bucket from hand to hand
as I tramped through the bush
trying not to slop the contents on me or the snow.

The community pit stood apart from the DOT buildings
and was topped with a sturdy wooden cover.
I would open a hatch and carefully empty the chemical toilet inside.
No way I was looking down the hatch.
The smell was staggering, far worse than any outhouse I had visited.
I always hurried home holding the offending bucket at arm's length.

We Five, Shortly Before We Moved North
Roy, Donnie, Louise (Me) with Bertie, and Barbie
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
Photo by Sara MacBeath,  Fall of 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The forestry house was furnished with the bare basics:
a kitchen table and chairs, a water barrel, a chesterfield,
a small daybed, a coffee table, and a bookcase.
My mother frequently hung clothes to dry
on several clothes horses squeezed into any open space.

My parents had a double bed in one bedroom,
while we five kids shared two bunkbeds in the other.
Our parents slept in sheets and blankets,
but we burrowed into heavy Arctic sleeping bags.
Our close bunks made for intense, multileveled pillow fights
that got Gretchen barking and sent feathers flying.

My mother liked the kitchen cupboards stocked with canned  goods 
and the new propane stove, but the small kerosene fridge not so much.
Dad had to store frozen meat outside in buckets hanging from the eaves, 
out of the reach of hungry Indian dogs.

Seen Through Donnie's Eyes
The Forestry House, Lansdowne House, 1961
Drawing by Donalda MacBeath
Text:  Dear Nana, This is a picture of our home.
Note:  Indian Gods (Dogs), Buckets of Meat Hung from the Eaves, 
a Box of Groceries on the Roof,
and the Weather Vane on the Chimney
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I carried water from a hole chopped in the thick ice of the lake,
dragged groceries home from the mail plane on a toboggan,
helped my mother bake bread, cakes, cookies, and pies,
and rearranged endless clothes drying on the clothes horses.

Our weekly bath night was a major production that involved
hauling water, heating water, and pouring it into a galvanized steel tub.
We would take turns scrubbing down and rinsing in the small round tub, 
and then Mom or Dad carried the tub out 
and dumped the water into the garbage pit out back.

The forestry house was a tight fit for the seven of us and our dachshund,
and its amenities made it unique,
but it remains one of my favorite homes ever.

We kids were warm, well-fed, and sheltered by protective parents,
and our days were filled with school, outside fun, and indoor games.
We kids squabbled, made up, negotiated, formed shifting alliances,
competed, dared, and tried to outwit each other.
It was the best of times.

Sometimes I look at all the beautiful homes in HGTV shows,
and they seem cold, sterile, and big just to be big ~
And maybe just a little bit boring!

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

Beautiful Cove on Long island,
in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Surrounded by Water
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Lansdowne House, Ontario, Canada