Friday, September 5, 2014

The Lansdowne Letters: The Beverley Baxter of the Bush

I've been busy with my northern materials.

Instead of calling my Northern posts Human Refuse

I've decided to title them The Lansdowne Letters.

My brother Roy really got me thinking 

when he commented,
"You know, Louise, 
Human Refuse doesn't capture 
the wonder and the delight of the North.  
It sounds too grim.  
Don't you remember all the good times we had?"

Well, yes I do, Roy,
and you're right.

I've been letting the wrongs and the injustices
I experienced so deeply
overshadow the delight and the wonder.

And one thing I know about our family
is that good times together are a constant.
(We even have fun squabbling and competing,
as five close siblings can do spectacularly!)

Still Good Times Together!  
Donnie and Roy, Two of My Sibs
Making Dinner Remains a Family Effort
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, 2014

Dad's Northern letters are filled 
with the wonder and the delight 
of an adventurous place and time.

Lansdowne House
Northern Ontario, Canada
Photograph by Rev. Father Ouimet, OMI
Fall, 1960

Once he arrived in Lansdowne House,
my father quickly settled into a nightly routine
of writing letters to his wife, mother, and extended family.

On September 28, 1960 he wrote:
"Good Evening, Everyone.  
This is Donald MacBeath
from Lansdowne House speaking to you.
I feel just like the Beverley Baxter of the bush.  
I think I should call this nightly effort of mine
'The Lansdowne Letter.' "

The Beverley Baxter of the Bush
Lansdowne House, Fall 1960

I had to google "Beverley Baxter" to learn
that my father was referring to Sir Arthur Beverley Baxter. 
Baxter was born in Toronto in 1891,
and he had a successful career as a journalist, theatre critic,
and politician in the United Kingdom until his death in 1964.

So I snagged Dad's title,
which feels appropriate because the letters he wrote
are the primary resource for my Northern manuscript.

I've been sporadic with my Northern posts.
I haven't written one since last May (post).
But I'm home for now and plan to publish one each Friday.

And thanks to my brother Roy,
who has never hesitated one nanosecond
to tell me when he thinks I'm wrong.

Here’s to a plan and to the best siblings!

We Five
Roy, Louise (me), Donnie (in back), Bertie, and Barb


  1. I adore reading/seeing this. I really love the picture of your dad. It brings me back to pictures of my dad hard at work. I was lucky enough to hang out with all of his sisters last month, let me tell you, they are the best cast of characters around. Just like your siblings. They laughed, fought, laughed and had a great time together. Good for you!!

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment, Elsie! Have a good one!

  2. How lucky you are to have those siblings! Great post about your dad and his letters.

  3. How wonderful to have your dad's letters and your siblings to bring out the best moments. :)

  4. Wow what lovely family photos. I love family life and you all look so happy!. Having siblings that you're close to is fantastic, it can be so much fun
    I loved this post, it's so amazing that you're able to look back at your dads letters too :)

    1. Thanks, Dawna! I hope that you are enjoying your weekend!

  5. haha always good to have someone not afraid to tell you when you're wrong, unless they are wrong telling you you are wrong, then it just gets confusing.

    1. This confusing turn of events can lead to squabbles with fireworks, LOL! Take care!

  6. Yes, I like Roy's idea too. Thanks for filling me in on who the hell Beverley Baxter was.

    1. Thanks, Debra! I thought the same thing, and of course, I think of Beverly as a female name. Have a good one!

  7. What a great and fun family! Lucky you!

    1. I am lucky, Terry. I'm grateful every day! Have a happy Sunday!

  8. Hey Fundy! I can't find your email address - can you shoot me an email so I have it for next month's co-hosting of the IWSG? Thanks!

  9. That's the best way to make dinner, right?! Together.

  10. What are sibs for anyway?! To give us their opinions for us to consider. I dawned on me though, Louise, that maybe you took your approach because you are the oldest in the family and saw things that the others may have not. So please don't 'write off' your perspective altogether because it is what you experienced. I know in my family the oldest ones' lives were pretty different and influenced in many ways that were exactly opposite of the younger ones in the family. Both are valid of course because each sees what they see.
    Looking forward to hearing these 'Lansdowne Letters'.......maybe a documentary is in your future, Louise. You write so well and with such enthusiasm, these would be great Canadian history segments/docs/essays etc.

    1. Thanks, Jim! Wait until you see my post for tomorrow! I did appreciate what Roy was telling me, because there was so much that was amazing in a good way. But there was bad too. I'm plugging along! Thanks for the encouragement!

  11. Jim and I were discussing this fact re: sibs positioning in the family and how it seems that each one has different memories of the very same existence. My brother and I are 4 years apart and so see things like black and white which makes for a long distance in connecting in all facets. But as Jim and I have pondered many a time we are what we are and if your views are in a certain vain then they are valid. It's so important to get a point across succinctly for the listener so that they understand completely!


  12. Hey Ron! It constantly fascinates me how we all can remember the same thing five different ways. What else is fascinating is that sometimes one thing is a powerful memory, and another involved sibling might not remember it at all. And we have different perspectives on each parent ~ which is definitely reflected in our birth order and what was going on with each of our parents at different times. Endlessly fascinating. I'll bet Jim has stories coming from such a huge family. I'm working on succinct! LOL! thanks for your thoughtful comment! Your evening is probably just about over ~ hope it was a good one.


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