This Friday my father’s Lansdowne Letters
have me thinking of a time centuries ago
when the first Europeans ventured into the New World.
I'm talking post Vinland Vikings here ~
At the time my father began writing his letters,
Newfie George Decker had just led two Norwegians,
explorer Helge Ingstad and
archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad,
to the Old Indian Camp mounds
at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland.
L'Anse aux MeadowsOnce excavated, the mounds
UNESCO World Heritage Site
UNESCO World Heritage Site
became the most famous Viking settlement
in North America outside of Greenland.
But these are not
the Europeans settlers on my mind.
A "Viking" Walks to the Settlement
at L'Anse aux Meadows
I’m talking November 14, 1606,
when the Order of Good Cheer had its first meeting
in Port Royal, Nova Scotia.
Replica of Champlain's Habitation
at the Port-Royal National Historic Site of Canada, Nova-Scotia
|Samuel de Champlain|
Samuel de Champlain
as a premptive strike
against land sickness or scurvy
which was thought
to be caused by idleness.
Food and entertainment.
As someone whose ancestors
have lived near Port Royal for some three centuries,
it is only natural that Dad’s letters reminded me
of Champlain’s Order of Good Cheer,
then and now.
Champlain and the Order of Good Cheer
To hold back the blackness of nights in the wilderness,
people have always turned to making their own fun.
The fourteen white people in Lansdowne House
were really not that different
from the fifteen Frenchmen of birth
(sufficient social standing)
who founded the order in the wilds of Nova Scotia
on the shore of the Annapolis Basin.
On Friday, September 30, 1960
my father wrote about
the social scene in Lansdowne:
How’s everyone tonight?
Another nice long week has just ended,
and I am looking forward to
some peace and quiet on the weekend.
I love children, but sometimes
one would rather love them at a distance.
I received nice letters from Sara, ‘Mac,’ and Mother,
and I will be expecting Aunt Maude to write me
as soon as she is better and feels like writing.
The rest of you, however, keep up the good work,
for mail from home is awfully important up here.
Lansdowne House (Mainland), 1960
Uno and I are going over to the MacRaes'
for bridge this evening,
and I am going over to Mitchells' with the Brother
for bridge tomorrow evening.
One of you, I forget who,
told me to try to make a couple of Baptists
out of the Father and the Brother.
I’m afraid this wouldn’t be possible,
but I keep them aware of the fact
that I am Baptist every chance I get
without being too difficult.
For instance when I came up here first,
I was invited over to Mitchell’s for bridge on Sunday night.
The first time I went because I didn’t want to refuse
the first invitation I received at Lansdowne,
but the next time I was invited on a Sunday,
I asked in a diplomatic manner to be excused,
because Baptists don’t enjoy playing cards on Sunday.
Actually, I enjoy a good game of bridge any time,
but I just thought I would let them know
what Baptists think about the matter.
As you can see, I shifted the bridge night
from Sunday to Saturday by my mild protest.
Bill Mitchell was telling me
that it was the Father’s suggestion
that the bridge night be changed to accommodate me.
Map of Lansdowne House
2 ~ Dad's and Uno's Shack
12 ~ Hudson Bay Store
14 ~ Mitchells' House
18 ~ MacRaes' House
29 ~ Usual Path of My Canoe
I also bow my head and say grace
when everyone else is crossing himself.
Actually, it is a good experience for me living with a priest.
I find myself paying more attention to my own religion
than I would normally.
Today was mail day,
but other than that, it was uneventful.
There was considerable suspense at first,
because the sky was heavily overcast,
and there was a chance that the plane wouldn’t get in.
But thank goodness the sky cleared
and the plane arrived three hours late;
but better late than never, I always say.
There have been no more misadventures
with the canoe to relate.
I have been getting along quite well in it lately.
I can actually get where I want to go now
and not end up half a mile from my destination.
That’s all for today.
Till next time ~