Friday, July 31, 2015

The Lansdowne Letters: Human Refuse 4 Revisited ~ Indoctrination

A long trip chasing Bucket List Dreams
seemed like a great idea,
but it has wreaked havoc on my blogging.

It's 1:23 am on June 23, 2015
and I'm reposting the next
in a series of my earliest Lansdowne Letters
from 4/13/13:

Indoctrination was the purpose 
of my father's trip to Sault Ste. Marie
before he departed for Lansdowne House
in the Northern Ontario bush.

Lansdowne House
is somewhere 
to the left of the word

We're talking 
wild and remote
at that time!

Map of the 
James Bay Region 
in Northern Ontario 
and Quebec

Aerial View of Northern Ontario Wilderness:  
Water (white) and Land (dark blue-green)

Location of Lansdowne House
Sketch Based on Map of Ontario from 
Atlas of North America:
Space Age Portrait of a Continent
National Geographic 1985, pages 166-167.

In September 1960,
the Education Division of the Indian Affairs Branch
of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration
held a one-day course 
to introduce novice teachers to their assignments
before sending them to remote areas in the north.

Dad later wrote of this introduction
in an undated paper called The Northern School Teacher
in the summer of 1965 or 1966:
Far from being encouraging and informative,
the introduction I received in my orientation course
was a veritable nightmare 
of half-truths, outright falsehoods, rumors,
and misrepresentation of facts which,
instead of being informative, helpful, and reassuring,
left me so mixed up, frustrated, and apprehensive
that I almost resigned there and then
and returned home.

My father quickly connected with
two fellow Islanders 
to spend the orientation day with,
Preston MacAskil from Charlottetown
and Frances Rooney from Vernon River,
Prince Edward Island.
After a disheartening day, 
Dad returned to the Windsor Hotel 
to write letters to his Sally and his mother.

Well, I have been 
finding out 
some things 
about my new home.

I believe I will be 
teaching all grades 
from primary to grade 6.

A lot of the 
primary children 
will be learning 
English for the first time. 

I will have between 20 and 30 pupils, I think.  
The Indians belong to the Ojibway tribe, 
with some Crees.  
(This will all have to be confirmed later.)

Traditional Range of the Oji-cree
(Ojibway and Cree) Shown in Violet:
Includes the Indians of Lansdowne House,

There is another interesting feature.
If I stay with the Catholic teacher
at the Catholic Mission,
I will be living on an island in Lake Attawapiskat. 
The Protestant school,
the Hudson Bay Post, and 
the Department of Transport Meteorological Station
are on the mainland.

The island is about 50 yards from shore,
and I will have to go to and from the island by canoe.
Rental for the canoe will be paid for
by the Department of Indian Affairs.

Northern Ontario Canoe

I have another alternative.
The Protestant Padre at Fort Hope,
who is also the teacher there
and who commutes to Lansdowne House
on a hit or miss basis about once a month,
told me I could live at the Forestry building,
but that I would be alone there.
I don't think I could stand that.

However, all this will be settled when I get in,
and I will tell you all about it. 

There is no resident Protestant Padre at Lansdowne House.
There are two Catholic priests (I think),
the manager of the Husdon Bay Store and his wife,
two clerks (don't know if they are married),
two Department of Transportation men and their families,
a nurse, and a sizable Indian reservation.

Well I must sign off for now.
I don't know my mailing address as yet,
but when I do,
I will let you know so you can write to me.

Bye now, Darling.
I am very lonesome for you.
Give my love to the children.

Letter to Sally:  September 7, 1960


             Give My Love to the Children 

Louise in an Apple Tree in Grammie's Back Yard, Smith's Cove, Fall 1959
Donnie, Barbie, Louise with Bertie, Gretchen (dachshund), and Roy,
Front Yard, Margarettesville, Nova Scotia, April 1959

To be continued...

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue


  1. Bet it took a lot of adjusting to get even somewhat settled up there indeed

    1. Indeed it did, Pat! I was in Halifax for a couple of days before coming down to Smith's Cove. The city has changed so much since I lived in Nova Scotia ~ It's a lot more fun, and there is so much history that I didn't appreciate when I was little. It's fun to see my native province through more experienced eyes. Hope all is well in your corner of beautiful Nova Scotia!

  2. It all sounds so very long ago as well as far away - and yet it was within our lifetimes. Thanks for including the maps and charts and photos - they make it easier to envision the distances and types of country involved.

    I love the photo of you with your siblings. :)

    1. Thanks, Sue! That family photo is one of my favorites, and it is the first one of us all after Bertie was born. I'm sorry that I haven't been to your blog lately. It ha been challenging to blog lately because of where and when I have been traveling. I will get around soon! Hope all is well with you!

  3. It probably wasn't easy to make such a big adjustment. Louise, I love your family photo!!!

    1. I'm so glad that you are enjoying my family photos, Linda. They mean the world to me, and I'm getting a lot of pleasure sharing them. Stay cool, my Montreal friend!

  4. I can't imagine the sacrafices the whole family had to make. It must have been very hard and Probably lonely for your father.

    1. It was unbearably lonely for my dad sometimes, JarieLyn. It wasn't so bad for the rest of us because we had each other ~ well we kids anyway. I'm sure it was lonely and hard on my mother because she was looking after five kiddos. Have a good one!

  5. Your Dad, your Mum, and each one of you had to adjust to a totally different life then. Vast isolation, learning to teach in another way to children who maybe had never know about lessons before. I so enjoy the Friday letters, and can see you are having a wonderful time further Eastwards. Live it up with friends, I'll tune into Facebook to see all the photos.

    1. Thanks, Nancy! I'm living it up so much that I can't even get photos up on Facebook, let alone do a blog post. I'm determined to at least answer all my comments. It's 1:00 am, and my sister Donnie is reminding me that we have a three hour hike tomorrow. Actually that's a good thing because we have been eating desserts and drinking wine while playing a well-battled game of hearts with the family. I need about a thirty hour trek to work off just the chocolate! I do hope Hugh is home and feeling better! Especially having less pain! It's hard to get back into shape after surgery, but it must be such a relief for Hugh just to have the surgery behind him. Got that beautiful quilt finished yet? Hugs!

  6. Thanks for your kind comments, everyone! I'm now in Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia after an amazing time in Halifax with some of my family and friends Ron and Jim. My sister Barb, niece Heather, and SIL Sue picked up my brother who flew in from Kuwait at the Halifax Airport. Then we high-tailed it down to Smith's Cove where I'm staying with my sister Donnie. We arrived just in time for a big bonfire with cousins and friends. My sister Bertie flies to N.S. tomorrow, and then We Five will be together again! I'm hoping to catch a little time tomorrow to visit my blogging friends. Have a good one, everyone!

  7. It must have been very daunting for your father not being sure what to expect during his orientation day especially as he was missing the family. It takes me back to memories of being separated from my husband waiting to join him in Italy to settle and looking after a baby and a two year old, but it must have been worse for my husband as a young man coming to find work in England and leaving a very different life from the one in his isolated native village in the mountains. Communication and life in general has changed so much since the 1960s, but you don't forget the feeling of separation from loved ones and trying to adjust to a very different way of life. Glad you are having a good time with your family.

    1. I'm having the best time, Linda! Although I'm burning the candle at both ends and eating too many wonderful Nova Scotian desserts! It's amazing what the need to work motivates us to do. But look where you are so many years later! You both must be proud of all you have accomplished as a family. Thanks for you thoughtful comment!

  8. The canoe picture is breathtaking.
    Like the handbook they issued. The days of typewriters and no copy machines...

    1. Thanks, Alex! I'm so glad that we have computers! I remember only too well typing with carbon paper! And trying to correct errors! And did you ever use a ditto machine? We thought that was a wonderful device. Have a good one!!!

  9. This is an amazing story--in 1992, I paddled from near Hearst, ONT to Moosonee, I loved the country but couldn't imagine living there all year (but it would be exciting). Thanks for telling us about your father's adventures.

    1. Thanks, Sage! What a great canoe trip that must have been! I've always wanted to go to Moosonee! I'm glad that you are enjoying my dad's story.

  10. Oh gosh, Louise, what a great post, with all the maps and photos.
    You know, I really love the way that your Dad could recognize the half truths in the booklet that he was given.
    It kind of reminds me of history books in school.. Not that they are half truths really but the fact that history is much more complex than what we are given to believe. (Hope that makes sense, I went to the doctor today and I on medication...that is my excuse anyway. LOL.)
    You are such a great writer, just like your Dad! xx

    1. How good to see you! And you make perfect sense! Hope you are A-OKAY! Terry and I were at the site of the Battle of Little Big Horn a couple of weeks ago. Talk about half truths I learned and read. Very powerful experience! I'm visiting my family in Nova Scotia and burning the candle at both ends. Maybe tomorrow I can visit blogs starting with yours! Hugs, Kay!


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