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
Indoctrination was the purpose
of my father's trip to Sault Ste. Marie
before he departed for Lansdowne House
in the Northern Ontario bush.
to the left of the word
wild and remote
at that time!
Map of the
James Bay Region
in Northern Ontario
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.
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
about my new home.
I believe I will be
teaching all grades
from primary to grade 6.
A lot of the
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