Friday, October 10, 2014

The Lansdowne Letters: On Canoes and Procreation

No, the canoes and procreation aren't connected!

I'm sure somewhere, sometime
canoes have been used for such.

My father was having trouble enough
just trying to negotiate the strip of water 
between the Father's Island
and the DOT dock on the mainland
in his little Hudson Bay Post canoe.

The Father's Island from the DOT Dock
Photograph by Rev. Father Ouimet, OMI
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Fall, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

It's Friday, and that means
another post based on 
my father's Lansdowne Letters
from long ago and far away.

I'm sharing two anecdotes 
from Dad's letter of Tuesday, September 20, 1960:

On Canoeing ~ in my father's words:
"I think I have finally mastered that confounded canoe.
Before yesterday I was having a lot of trouble in rough water,
especially if the wind was against me.  

"There were a couple of days 
when I just couldn’t get across to the mainland.  
Luckily this was before school had started.  

"The Father got me all straightened out though.  
It is all a matter of where you sit in the canoe.  

"On a calm day it is easiest to control it from the stern, 
but mostly you sit in the center.  

"On really rough windy days, though, 
you have to sit right up in the prow, or you just can’t steer it.  

"Yesterday I almost had my feet hanging over the front, 
but I got across, even though there were whitecaps on the water.  

"Whenever you sit either in the stern or on the prow, 
it is necessary to carry about fifty pounds
 of rock in the other end as ballast.  

"Shifting this ballast around is a lot of exercise in itself.  
I have taken over an inch off my waist already, 
most of it being sweated off in or around that confounded canoe."

Looking Toward the Hudson Bay Post
and the DOT Dock
from The Father's Island
Photograph by Donald Blair MacBeath
September, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

On Procreation ~ in my father's words:
"I had quite a long talk with the local Indian chief today.  
He does not speak a word of English, 
but he brought along his interpreter – big time eh?  
Just like a bunch of bloody diplomats.
"The chief is Protestant, 
and he is quite disturbed 
that I am living across at the Mission with the Father.

"I explained that it was the only place 
that I could find to stay."
Friends gather in the kitchen 
at the OMI Mission in Lansdowne House.
OMI:  Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate 

Center: Father Maurice Ouimet, OMI
Flanked by:  Chicago Bill (left) and Mr. Baker (right)
Back Row:  A Sleepy Uno Manilla and Brother Raoul Bernier, OMI
Photograph by Donald Blair MacBeath
September, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


The chief "was very pleased to hear 
that I was bringing up my family 
as soon as the government built a new teachers residence.
"He was also interested to hear that I had five children.  
He said that maybe I could work hard 
when I get my squaw up with me 
and catch up to him.  
He has eleven."

I just have to say,
"How can you not love men?"

They're the same everywhere ~
Here, there, now, then.
Fundy Blue signing off.

Canoeing in Northern Ontario


  1. Absolutely loved this post. It just got better and better as i read along. I'm not sure about canoes and procreation though. Canoeing down the Yukon Rover taught me that it is probably safer to procreate by getting out and facing the bears on land than by trying anything so boisterous in the canoe! :)

    1. LOL, Francie! I'm glad that you enjoyed the post! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. You do know, of course, Pierre Berton's definition of a Canadian? "A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe." Not an easy feat to accomplish!

    1. Actually, I didn't Debra! I've got that filed away for future reference! And yes, I think that it would be very difficult to do! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. lmao oh I'm sure plenty have been made in a canoe. Another 6 would sure be a lot of work haha

    1. I think that you're right, Pat! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  4. What a great post! I love all the photos, too!

    1. Thanks, Linda! I hope you are having lovely fall weekend and looking forward to Thanksgiving! Take care!

  5. Fascinating and funny. Thanks for sharing:)

    1. Thanks, Sandra! I'm working on my first book which is about my family's time in the North. Fortunately I have my father's letters and pictures from that time! I hope that you are enjoying a good weekend. It's gorgeous here in Aurora, CO.

  6. Very interesting about rowing positions in different conditions. I never really thought about it, but it makes perfect sense.

    1. Hi Terry! Dad's letters are full of info about the unusual details of life in the North. They are fun to read and to remember. I hope you are snuggled up somewhere warm on this cold and rainy afternoon. Take care!

  7. Another great post down the memory lane of your family. Love it! I especially love that there is humour in it.

    1. Thanks, Martha! My Dad had a great sense of humor and fun, and I am trying to capture that. I hope you are having a great weekend with your family!

  8. Aurora,'s got to be beautiful:) Happy Sunday, friend.

  9. Great pictures - I especially love that last one!

    I went canoeing on a lake in Ontario (our friends who live in Toronto have a cabin on a lake up there). It was lovely.

    1. Thanks, Trisha! Canoeing on a lake is a beautiful way to spend a day! Have a good one!

  10. I look forward to the tales of your dad. What a treasure to have his letters. I can just imagine him paddling along fighting the waters. His words are like a movie in my head. And I love the accompanying photos.

    1. Thanks you for your kind comment, Peggy! It is a treasure to have his letters, and I hear his voice every time I read his words. He writes like he talks. I've been missing my dad for over thirty days, but writing this memoir is like having him back at least a little, both sad and wonderful. Happy Monday!

  11. How fortunate fro you, not to mention us, that your father wrote all this down, Louise! An interesting lesson in paddling a canoe for me! I didn't know that!
    MEN! I am happy I am a 'mixture'!! lol

  12. Hi Jim! I'm glad that you are enjoying them. It means a lot to me. I am so grateful to have Dad's letters. Our extended family looked forward to reading them. They certainly had a profound impact on me.


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