Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Human Refuse 2: Lansdowne House

Where to begin?
I planned to go to bed last night at a reasonable time and wake up before our 5:20 a.m. alarm.
Instead I stayed up until almost 2:00 a.m. reading some of my father's letters.

Some of My Dad's Letters

I didn't wake up until almost 10:00 a.m.
My ever-patient husband had gone to work lunchless over three hours earlier.
He had left behind a pot of coffee
and the newspaper just outside the front door where I could reach it easily.
He is so good, and I am so bad!

I couldn't stop reading my father's words,
his hopes, his dreams, his worries and fears, his love for my mom.
It breaks my heart every time because I know how the story ended.
Not just for him, but for others.

My father Around Three or Four
So I headed down to Terry's office in our finished basement,
and I looked at the awful mess everywhere.
The manic had been at it again!


Strewn about were books, photos, research papers, and letters.


Many of these items I have lugged about for decades.

Letters and Papers

The first step yesterday seemed so easy!
The Beginning!

The next step seems so hard!
I will do this, if I have to do it one word, sentence, or paragraph at a time!

Human Refuse 2:  Lansdowne House

     Lansdowne House is a northern outpost on Lake Attawapiskat in the James Bay region of northern Ontario.  It has moved and changed since I first went there.  In 1961 fur trapping supported the community, and much of the village activity was centered about the Hudson Bay Company trading post at the end of the peninsula.  Without a constant supply of rich furs:  beaver, otter, mink, fox, and muskrat, the community would have ceased to exist.  Clustered about the Bay was a nursing station, a Department of Transport weather station, a vacant forestry bunkhouse, and an Anglican school.  Offshore from the Hudson Bay Company was a small island known locally as "the Father's Island."  The Father's Island was the site of an Oblate Mission and school run by Father Maurice Ouimet, a French-Canadian Roman Catholic priest who devoted most of his adult life to working among the Ojibawa Indians of the region.  The homes of the Indians and the handful of white people were scattered about the government, Bay, and church buildings.   With the arrival of my family the white population swelled from eleven to seventeen.  The Indian population fluctuated depending on the season.  Sometimes the winter trapping season emptied the village of Indians, leaving a scant 150 to 200 people behind.  During the summer canoes would glide in from the lakes and the rivers in the surrounding wilderness and the population would balloon to 800 or 900 Ojibawa Indians and many hundreds of hungry sled dogs.
  The Father's Island 
as Seen from the Hudson Bay Dock
Fall 1960



  1. Hi Louise. The 'setting' is something I was aware of but never knew anybody who actually lived in similar circumstances. SO the RC's and the Anglicans were both there in the same area?

    Look at all those letters your Dad wrote! what a treasure to have....a history of your family through his eyes.

  2. It is a treasure and a responsibility. The setting was wild and dangerous, and I will never forget the power and the beauty of the wilderness. Yes, the RCs and Anglicans were both there. Father Ouimet was there for many years and kept in touch with us throughout his life. The Anglican priest came in once or twice a year. I am so grateful I got to experience all that I did. Thank you for following my blog. You have no idea how encouraging it is.

  3. I can tell this is going to be an eye opener, Louise.

    As I just mentioned on FB, I was just down in the basement looking for WHS pics and I opened box after box of family pics and War2 needless to say I never found the WHS pics. No matter I do have some time on my hands and will straighten the whole basement at the same OCD!

    Question? Did you live in Wolfville before going north? I'm a little slow sometimes and I need help chronologically!


  4. Wolfville was right after. We left Sioux Lookout late in the summer of 1963, and I started in grade eight in Wolfville that fall. I should be OCD and tackle the problem areas in my house, but I'm having way too much fun! I can't believe how great it is to be retired!


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.