Monday, April 15, 2013

HR5 Heading Out!

Hi Darling: 
wrote my father to my mother
on Thursday, September 8, 1960.

Well, the convention is all over,
and tomorrow morning 
I set off for Nakina at 6:15 a.m.

I catch the Algoma Central Railroad train
from Sault Ste. Marie to Oba
and then catch the CNR to Nakina.

(The distance from Sault Ste. Marie to Hearst
is about 344 miles or 553 kilometers by road.
Oba is about 90 mi (145 km) SSW of Hearst.
Nakina is about 190 mi (306 km) NW of Oba.
Maps are hard to come by!)
                                                                                 Stops Along ACR:Source:  Wikipedia

        Nakina to the left.
        Ontario Highway 584
        between Geraldton
        and Nakina above.

    Canadian National Railroad Station, Nakina

I will probably be one or two days in Nakina
before a plane can be chartered
to take me in to Lansdowne House.

A charter plane will be necessary
because I will have missed 
the regular weekly mail run
which flies every Friday.

Bush Plane with Pontoons for Landing on Water

You will only be hearing from me
once a week after I get in there 
because of the weekly mail run on Friday.

However, each weekly letter will be quite long
because I plan to write some every night or so.

I would like you to mail letters regularly, Darling.
If you only sent one a week, 
and it didn't happen to to catch the mail run,
I would be heartbroken.

Mom and Dad
Before Kiddos!

As for me, there's no chance
that I would miss the mail run.
From what I can gather, 
the arrival and departure of the weekly mail run 
is the zenith of excitement at Lansdowne House,
and all events are referred to as
before mail plane
or after mail plane.

Tell the bank manager that I will be paid 
on a 10 month basis and will be sending
more than $300 monthly down to N.S.
I have to send it all, or nothing,
so my whole salary will be sent to Digby,
and I will write a cheque 
once a month to cover my expenses.

A World Away from Northern Ontario
 O'Neil Fisheries Ltd., Digby

However, Darling, you carry on as planned
with your $200 per month.
We will just let the rest accumulate
to live on in July and August.

Tell the bank manager that I have arranged 
to have all my cheques sent to Digby.
However, tell him that it will be 
God only knows when he will receive
formal notice to that effect
because all such notifications have to originate 
with the Treasury Board at Ottawa,
and you know how long anything takes
to get through Ottawa.

Canadian Money

Now there's a big woops!
Thanks for the LOL comment to set me straight,
Let's try a real iconic Canadian coin,
even if it wasn't around in 1960:

You've Got to Love Loonies!
Should Have Gone to Wikimedia Commons
in the First Place!

After the convention was over,
I wandered down to the river
and watched the Great Lake water traffic
going through the Sault Ste. Marie locks
which were built to navigate
the Ste. Marie rapids
between Lake Huron and Lake Superior. 

Soo Locks and International Bridge
Source:  Wikimedia Commons

Sault Ste. Marie

There is a rise of about 28 feet between
Lake Huron and Lake Superior.  
There are (I think) 
five steps in the locks,
and when I was there,
there was a boat in every step up the river side
and two lakers and an ocean going freighter 
tied up and waiting their turns.
There were also three boats coming through the locks
in the downstream side.
It is all very fascinating.

A Boat Pulls into the Poe Lock

When we come up next year,
I believe we will fly to Sault Ste. Marie
and spend a couple of days sightseeing.
There are little boats that take you on a tour
of the locks and the rapids.
I believe that the children and you would enjoy it.
I was too busy to take the trip myself.

Talking about next year,
Mr. Foss told me that the material 
for the new teacher's residence 
is going to be hauled in this winter,
and that it will be built and ready
for occupancy next year;
so I will be able to have you all up with me.

Unfortunately, I don't think they build
residences with three bedrooms,
so we might have to double up some way,
but it will be better than being separated.

The rent for a furnished residence 
is somewhere between $40 or $60 per month.
That's even better than PMQs.
(Permanent Married Quarters ~ military)

Alfred Hitchcock's movie "Psycho"
is playing in the theatre right next to the hotel,
and I am going to see it tonight.
They say it is terrific,
if you can stand the suspense.
Wish you were here with me.

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho Trailer

You can start writing to me, Darling.
My mailing address is
Lansdowne House
via Nakina, Ontario.

Well, I must sign off now and get this mailed
and get off to see "Psycho."
Bye now, Darling,

Somehow things never go according to plans!

To be continued...

Links to other northern posts:


  1. Psycho, damn that has been out for a while
    Now not so vile
    But is still good
    Beating many in the hood
    Wish I could live off $200 bucks a month this day in age
    That would be all the rage
    I'd be richer than rich
    But if that was all I'd end up in a ditch haha

  2. Hi Pat!
    Yes, I'm writing about long ago
    as to the north my dad did go.
    $200 bucks a month, five kids, and a doggie,
    I'd be lying awake worrying and groggy!
    Thank God we stayed at Grammie's place.
    It was the perfect waiting place.
    It was a bummer missing Dad
    and dreams to join him we all had!

  3. How wonderful to have such a letter, such a glimpse into the past. Very moving, Fundy. So ordinary and yet extraordinary! Could have come from a Margaret Lawrence novel!

  4. Thank you for the kind words, Francie! I'm glad that you found it moving ~ I know Dad was writing about ordinary things, but to me they are extraordinary. And for us all it was the beginning of quite an adventure. Because it's personal it's hard to be objective, so I'm just going to keep plugging away. I hope if I go astray readers will rein me in! Before long Dad will make it to Lansdowne House, and then it gets more interesting! I'm trying to record what I see as personal Canadian history. Now I'm going to have to google Margaret Lawrence!

  5. I love these letters! And I love that photo of your parents. It is the sweetest thing. It sounds like they were very devoted to each other and to all of you. I was surprised at the mention of the movie 'Psycho'. It's a reminder of how long ago this letter was written. Time sure passes quickly, doesn't it?

    1. Thanks Martha! My dad and mom really loved each other through all the ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies of their marriage. Barb told me when I was with her in Calgary last month, about a conversation Mom had with her when Mom was going through renal failure and close to death. Mom asked Barb if Barb thought she would be with Dad when she died. That was her great hope. I'd like to know for sure they are ~ or maybe meeting again in another life together. The "Psycho" reference surprised me. I wasn't anticipating that in my Dad's letter. It cracked me up too, because I've seen Dad peeping through his fingers in many scary shows! He had a terrific imagination, and he felt things keenly! It floors me how quickly time flies!

  6. He sounds very calm in his letters but I wonder if he was full of apprehension? In 1960 it was quite probable that people did not know much about reserves or northern living conditions.

    Just FYI, played a trick on you -- that's American money, LOL!

    1. Hi Debra! Thank you for your kind comment! Dad really had no comprehension of what was waiting for him! He did seriously consider turning back more than once. But Mom and five little kiddos were counting on him! And, OMG! That is American money! How funny is that! Thanks for pointing it out! Definitely LOL!

  7. Hey Fundy its Barb - needless to say I am loving these posts - you are doing a wonderful job of capturing our parents and the choices they were faced with. On another point, I can't believe you haven't read Margaret Lawrence - I must be miss understanding your need to GOOGLE her.

    Keep up the Northern Tales - love them & you,

    1. Love you, too, Sis! And keep me on track! I want to let our parents words tell their story and let people draw their own conclusions. No, you didn't misunderstand my need to google Margaret Lawrence. Now I want to read her. My pile of books to read is multiplying!

  8. Oh my goodness what a treasure!! To have a letter like this from your father to your mother. This must create so many emotions inside when you read this.

  9. Hi Keith! Thank you for your kind words. This letter, along with the others I have, tell a unique story about teaching in the north and Canada's Indians. But each letter does create many emotions ~ often powerful. But they also make me feel very close to my parents whom I've been missing many years. I'm sure the pictures of your beloved Papaw Gordon and Mamaw Frances have a similar affect! Have a good one!

  10. Oh, your post made me wish I had some letters from my parents - although since they weren't separated, I'm not certain they ever wrote each other! What an interesting life your parents lived - I bet they had many adventures!

    1. Hi Dreaming! Thank you for your comment! My parents did have an interesting life! I'm working of a biography/memoir of my family's time in the north, and I am fortunate to have a collection of letters from that time. I'm sad that people don't write letters much any more. They are such containers of thoughts, feelings, and events ~ historical documents in some cases. How nice that your parents were never separated! Stay warm today; the weather is interesting to say the least!

  11. Screech, Screech, Dagger, Dagger, Knife Blade, Knife Blade, Blood, Blood SWIRLING FOREVER down the the bathtub hole!
    I loved Psycho, myself!

    Loving you story!


    1. I'm so glad that you are loving my story, Ron! My goal is to keep pushing on day by day! I still find Psycho a little intense; and, you can't imagine how many times I've thought of it when taking a shower alone in the house or in a hotel! I haven't come across any comment by my dad about "Psycho" after he saw it (so far), so I expect it scared the heebee geebees out of him! I'm sure "Psycho" will haunt me all of my life! Have a good day, Ron! Give Sophie a hug for me and my best to Jim!

  12. Amazing -- those letters... This reads like a historical romance :)

    1. Hi B&R! Thank you, thank you for your encouraging and kind words! I hope that you are having a great day!

  13. Hi Louise! I love this and it certainly makes me wish I had some letters between my parents. I think I'll tell them to write each other some love letters so I can find/get them 20-30 years from now. They will probably laugh at me! It's also a nice reminder to keep and take good care of my letters to/from Alain. I'm sure my girls would love to have them one day!

  14. Hi Audrey! Thank you! Comments keep me plugging away! And, for sure, save those letters for the girls ~ trust me; they will mean a whole lot!!!

  15. Hi Louise! It's Jim...your 'long-lost friend'!lol
    Where did this week go? Had the flu for a few days....
    Your post makes me wish I had Dad's 'war letters' to Mom....don't know what became of those letters. My sister and I used to read them up in the attic when we were kids and giggled all the way through them.
    What a treasure you have as I am sure you are aware. Your choice to let us the readers come to our own conclusions is good. I know you must and do have feelings about this time in your life. It is wonderful that you are letting your Dad speak for himself, very respectful.
    I LOVE that photo of your parents....before kiddos!! Isn't it interesting to see them living with just their love for each other and dreaming what the future will bring. They would be so proud of you Louise and how you are honouring them here with us. Thanks for sharing.


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