Friday, April 10, 2015

The Lansdowne Letters: Anyone For . . . Kokosh Wiass?

By mid-October 1960 
winter was approaching 
in the Northern Ontario bush.

In Lansdowne House people were dealing 
with inclement weather, illness,
storm-delayed bush planes,
and the challenges of living in the North.

As I work on a family memoir 
based on my father's letters,
I try to track down information
that documents what my father wrote about.

Fifty years is a long time ago, 
and I waste a lot of time in fruitless searching,
but once in a rare while, I get lucky.

My Father Outside His "Cottage"
Lansdowne House, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

October 15, 1960 
My father wrote:

Well, here we go again:
Today I never left the house,
except to go to the Father’s for meals, 
and I even skipped one of those 
because it was too nasty 
to be bothered to go thirty feet for a meal.


The weather was positively disgusting this weekend.  
Rain, snow, sleet, and hail, 
and every day colder than the day before.  
Right now, it is fifteen above 
outside our little house - BRRrrr!!!!
(15º F or -9º C)

Young Duncan McRae has the mumps, 
so we haven’t been seeing too much of the McRaes, 
because I didn’t want to expose the baby 
to the flu on top of the mumps; 
and Uno has been sticking clear of them 
because he has never had the mumps; 
neither has Duncan Sr.

 Uno and Dad with Baby Duncan (Before Mumps)
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

They are not sure that it’s the mumps, 
because Mike is only a nurse and not a doctor, 
but they are reasonably sure.

I slept and read all day today, and, 
as soon as I am through with this edition, 
I am going to take a bath.  

Now, that’s quite a procedure too.  
We only have cold running water in the house, 
and we have to heat all the water we use.


I wish I knew how other people 
manage to sit down 
in one of those confounded
round wash tubs.  

I have tried just about every position possible, 
but I just can’t get all of me into the tub.  

Oh well, next year I will have hot and cold 
running water and a proper bathtub.

I just ran across what I think is a very interesting article 
in The Indian Recorda paper that the Father gets,
and I thought that I would reproduce it word for word here.

It should prove interesting, 
and it contains some more Indian words 
for your Indian vocabulary.

“HERON BAY, Ont.  
What a repast it was at the testimonial banquet 
given by the Heron Bay Indian Reserve 
to mark the advent of Hydro in the area.

First on the menu was 
Kitche-Oginiminnabo, or tomato juice.  

Then there were Mitagog (olives), and Ashkoki (celery), 
and Kokosh wiias (which is pink ham, of course).

Then, as further enhancements, 
there were Opinig (potatoes) 
to go with the Kokosh wiass
Dagondkigan (salad), and Pakwejigans (rolls), 
Meshkawa-Koding-Bimaigan (ice cream), 
and Mishimin-Pitossitchigan (apple pie), 
Nibishabo-gonima and Makate Mashkikwako (tea or coffee), 
and Sisibakwatonsan (bon-bons) 
rounded out the meal.”

Well, there we are.  
How’s that for a menu?
The typing errors are all mine, but 
the grammatical errors were in the newspaper.

That finishes it for today.  
See you all Monday.

Bye now,
Love,  Don.

The Father is Father Maurice Ouimet, O.M.I.,
a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
in the Roman Catholic Church.

Father Ouimet served in the Roman Catholic Mission
in Lansdowne House for many years.

My father rented a cabin from the mission and ate
his meals at the mission with Father Ouimet, Brother Bernier,
and fellow teacher Uno Manilla.

If anyone has some tips for tracking down
obscure information in old Canadian newspapers,
I'd love to hear them!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue


  1. lol has to be bad weather when you don't want to go 30 feet to eat. Ugg, hope I never have to try and maneuver a wash tub haha

    1. Been there! Done that, Pat! It was an adventure! When we joined Dad in Lansdowne our place had no electricity or running water. With seven in our family, I spent a lot of time lugging water from our water hole on the lake ~ and a lot of time chopping with an icepick through the night's freeze to keep that water hole open. And after the baths, I usually got to dump the water outside too. I sure love my shower with its wonderful hot water at the turn of a tap! Have a good one, Pat!

  2. "It was too nasty to be bothered to go thirty feet for a meal." -- Yup, that's Canadian weather!

  3. if that was the menu I would have crawled the 30 feet..

    1. LOL! Don't call me late for dinner! Have a good weekend, Jackiesue!

  4. Tough when it's too bad to go out for a yummy meal. When I grew up on a small farm, we had rain water in tanks. When these got too low, I would have a bath in a huge bucket at the cowshed, that relied on pump water from underground. And sometimes there wasn't enough water to do laundry, so we had to take it to my Grandmother's, where they had town water. This was in the 1940's to 1950's.But no snow anywhere there. Your Dad's letters are treasures.

    1. Thanks, Jean! Your comment sure brings back memories! I'll bet that pumped water in the cowshed wasn't hot or even warm! LOL! Have a good weekend!

  5. Seems like you have a lot of information to complete that memoir, and the history is so rich.

    1. Thanks, Peaches! Sometimes the material I have seems overwhelming, so I just keep plugging along. I'll get there! Have a good weekend!

  6. Good thing supper time is close, Louise, because that menu is making me hungry. :)

    1. LOL, Linda! Enjoy! My hubby's away, so I just might go out and get a big juicy hamburger with blue cheese crumbles! Have a great evening!

  7. As always enjoyed your dad's adventures. I wondered how many years he loved there before his family joined him.

    1. Hi Peggy! It's so good to see you! You would not believe how much a month away from home will throw you off! I'm slowly getting back on track again. Hope all is well with you, Don, family, and the adorable Sadie! All shall be revealed in future posts ~ shorter rather than longer! Hugs!

  8. It sounds VERY cold there. Always wonderful to hear of your Dad's adventures x

    1. Thanks, Kezzie! That's "Indian Summer!" It got lots colder! Have a great weekend, my friend!

  9. Your father's letters are so "Canadian"! LOL... I dread opening the door to reach into our mailbox for our mail. Hahaha. Well, winters can be frighteningly cold. Thanks for sharing another fun post about your dad's adventures.

    1. Canadian they are, Martha! I used to laugh here in Colorado when the school administrators canceled recess if it reached 20º F with wind chill ( -6º C) here. I used to go outside for recess at 50º below (minus 45º C) in Lansdowne House. That's 70º (21º C) colder! I never heard of wind chill when I was Up North! LOL Have a great weekend!


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