Friday, October 9, 2015

The Lansdowne Letters: A Lazy Luxury

This latest letter brings back such memories for me!
It's so Dad, and it's routine is written in my heart.

Occasionally people ask
(usually in some mixer or icebreaker activity),
"If you could spend an evening talking 
with somebody famous who would it be? 

Forget famous!  
Hands down I would choose Father Ouimet!

How I wish I could spend one evening 
at his kitchen table talking with him as an adult.

Father Maurice Ouimet, OMI
Photo by Donald MacBeath, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  All Rights Reserved

Sunday, October 30, 1960 
My father wrote:

Is Everyone Ready?
Today’s edition is going to be short and sweet 
as nothing very much happened to us, 
and we did absolutely nothing ourselves.

Dad's Alarm Clock
Photo by Donald MacBeath, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved

We went to bed 
about twelve thirty Saturday night 
and slept right through till 
ten fifteen this morning ... 

when I awoke with a start 
realizing that we had slept 
through the alarm.  

I got up immediately and spent the next forty-five minutes 
getting the fire on and Uno awake and off to eleven o’clock Mass.  

While Uno was in church, I got dressed, 
had some coffee, and did my morning exercises.  

After Mass, Mike and Anne stopped in and had a cup of tea.  
They had Kathleen with them.  
I can’t get over how cute Kathleen looked in the tikinagan.  

I wanted to get a picture of the three of them today, 
but I was out of flash bulbs, and it was too dark 
to take any pictures in the cottage without flash bulbs.

Flickr: Mike Bitzenhofer   License  

After dinner I took in the washing 
which had been out all night.  
It was not completely dry, 
so we draped it all over the house.


It was dry by suppertime, and it is all put away now.  
The only clothes that I have that aren’t absolutely clean 
are the ones that I am wearing right now.

After I finished draping the bedroom and living room with laundry,
I went to bed and slept for the rest of the afternoon.  

No matter how much sleep I get, 
I still love to sleep on Sunday afternoon.  
It is the most luxurious way that I can think of 
to spend a Sunday afternoon.  

Uno went over to Mitchell’s to see Brian 
while I was snoozing.

At six o’clock we went over and had supper and sat around 
for an hour or so talking to the Father and the Brother.

Father Ouimet, Dad, and Brother Bernier
In the Kitchen of the Roman Catholic Mission
Photo Likely by Uno Manilla
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  All Rights Reserved


The Father fascinates me.  
I have only met a couple of other people 
with as much personality as he has.  

He has personality to burn.  
He is really a terrific individual.  
The two of us get along just wonderful.  

He has often told me that he likes talking to me, because 
I am the first person that has ever come to Lansdowne House 
who had an education even approaching his.  

He is very well educated, like all the Oblate Fathers.  
He has his B.A., M.A., B.D., and P. Lice.  
This last degree is a degree granted by Oblate seminaries
and is rated as being half way between an M. A. and a Ph. D.

Duncan MacRae
Outside the RC Church and Dad's Shack
Photo by Donald MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved

When we came back from the Father’s, 
I put away the laundry and spent the rest of the evening 
writing this, except for an hour I spent with Duncan playing chess.  

After Dunc left, I finished writing this, 
and I went to bed.  Good night all.


Northern Evening

I kick myself frequently over lost opportunities.

I have so many questions,
and the people who have the answers are dead.

Why didn't I take the time when they were alive
to ask the questions I have now?

I got so caught up with living my life
and took time for granted.  
Now answers are much harder to find.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

The Brier Island Nature Reserve 
Bay of Fundy
Photo by Roy MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Links to Earlier Posts:

TLL: Damn. Damn. Damn

TLL: Things That Go Bump in the Night


1.  Photos:
     Finding new photos that I can use is getting really hard!
     Click here to see a recent photo that shows Father' Ouimet's Rectory on his island
     (white double story building).

2.  Uno:  dad's roommate and teacher at the Catholic school

3.  Mike, Anne, and Kathleen Flaherty:
     Mike was the nurse at the nursing station,
     Anne was his half-Ojibwe wife,
     and Kathleen was their baby daughter.
     Dad never did get that photo, which I would dearly love to have.

4.  Dinner:
     At that time, Canadians often referred to lunch as dinner and to dinner as supper. 

5.  Father Ouimet and Brother Bernier:  
     They were members of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate,
     a missionary religious congregation in the Roman Catholic Church.

6.  P. Lice. :
     I could not track down what this stands for.

7.  Duncan MacRae:
     Dad's good friend Duncan lived on the Mainland.
     Duncan worked for the Department of Transport,
     and his duties included running the DOT Weather Station.

8.  Brian Booth:  The clerk at the Hudson Bay Post.

9.  Mitchell's:  Brian boarded with the Hudson Bay Manager, Bill Mitchell and his wife.

And for Map Lovers Like Me:

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


  1. The luxury of a Sunday afternoon nap! I smiled at that.

    1. I love them too, Debra! Although I rarely take one. Happy Friday!

  2. Sounds like there was a lot of sleeping going on this time haha that is a lot of education he had too. Must have been a pain to put all that stuff after his name when he signed anything.

    1. No kidding, Pat, on sleeping and education! I'm always fascinated with how educated many RC priests are. Like the Pope has Masters in Chemistry! I am not or ever could be RC, but I am impressed by all their priests have done that is good. Yes, terrible things have happened during the history of the RC church (I'm not overlooking that), but I find their emphasis on education so much better than fundamentalists running around and saying the Earth is some 6,000 years old. Happy Friday!

  3. We all have older family and friends that are gone now who held so much knowledge and experiences. I'm trying to glean what I can now from my parents while they are both still alive.

    1. Do it, Alex! And record it, because your memory will get foggy ~ and I don't mean from mental decline! When they're gone, they're gone! Besides they have so many fascinating stories! Happy Friday!

  4. I, too, wish I had written down so much, or asked, or kept letters, or made notes about days when I was young. Too young to understand the importance of this. Maybe I should write up my life while I can still remember most of it. Thanks again for sharing your Friday letters.

    1. Yes, Jean! You should write the important things down! When we hear things as children or as young adults we think they're boring or we think we'll never forget! Ha! Someone down the road will really care and really appreciate that you did! Have a lovely weekend, my friend!

  5. Dearest Louise, never kick yourself over "what you could have said or done". I have done this to myself a lot and it is no good. My father was a POW in WWII and I often wonder why I never asked him, while he was alive, if he won any medals, where he was kept (such as which concentration camp), etc. Well, the fact is that I didn't and I have to accept this, not hit myself over not having done so or asking myself why. I cannot bring back the past. I don't know why, either, I didn't ask my parents more about their parents, because I knew so little about my grandparents and only met one of them as a child (at least one that I remember), and that was my grandmother on my mother's side. My father's mother died when he was 8 years old and his father died when I was only around 2 years old so I have absolutely no memories of him. All I have are photos. No letters, nothing except photos. I am grateful for the internet and for some kind and knowledgeable people, because I now know the birthdays of my grandparents on my father's side and am slowly gathering some information, but it is difficult being that my family memories are all deceased.

    I would have loved to chat with Father Ouimet as well, Louise, and your beloved dad, too! :) Thanks so much for sharing your posts, I love hearing about you and your family!

    1. What a kind-hearted and uplifting person you are, Linda! I appreciate your caring comment so much!!! Thanks for sharing some of your family history. It wasn't easy to be a POW during WWII, no matter where your father was incarcerated. I think it's awesome that you are piecing some things together on the internet.

      I knew both my grandmothers, but my mother's father died when she was about 16 and my father's father died when I was about 4 months old. I do have a photo of him holding me, and he was thrilled to know he had a granddaughter. These things seem to mean so much more when you get older. A big part of my retired life will be delving into and preserving family stories, one way or another.

      I've been toying around with doing a post on some surprising things about Father Ouimet. Maybe I can get it together for next Friday!

      Thanks for reminding me not to kick myself! I'm far kinder to other people than myself, and I should know from all your positive posts that this serves no purpose!!!

      Have a lovely weekend, my friend! Hugs!

  6. I am glad I asked my aunt to write some family history down for me. She is sadly no longer with us and much of the information would be lost otherwise. There is much I would still have liked to know though.

    Really interesting to read this post.

    1. Thanks, Suzanne! I'm glad that you have that family history from your aunt! This post is tied into my memoir that I'm working on. Have a lovely weekend!

  7. Just a regular day but so interesting. I love that people stop by and visit your dad. I think in this modern age we are losing that type of communication. Now I feel I must call first before visiting my friends and make an appointment. I love it when someone just pops in, but it is getting rarer now.

    1. Happy Friday, Peggy! The only people I pop in on anymore are in my family, especially when we are in Nova Scotia. I loved it when I lived in Newfoundland. and people were always stopping by, or I was always dropping by somewhere. Live is so busy and complicated now. But today I have the chance to be your blogging buddy and to meet other wonderful people around the world. Communication keeps involving, and the blogging world is really something! Have a lovely weekend! Hugs!

  8. Your Dad was making me sleepy!! lol He made that snooze sound so darn good!
    Now Louise, don't beat yourself up too badly about not asking questions to the people that had the answers back in the day!! I know of what you speak....I meant to sit down with an uncle (Dad's brother) and ask him about his family but waited too late as well. He would have remembered all the things my father did not. this is where one can take artistic license and fill in those blanks as best we can with the info we 'creative non-fiction' maybe.
    I have always been intrigued when I hear non-Catholics mention Mass in passing and not partaking in it themselves. I know they don't have to but seems they respect the fact that it is just what RC's do/did. Know what I mean. And they don't /didn't have to!!
    Have a great weekend.

    1. Thanks for the commiseration, Jim! Perhaps if I had all the answers I wouldn't have stumbled across certain things I have learned.

      Dad was always respectful of other religions. And he always sent us to whatever protestant church was available if there was no Baptist church in wherever we lived.

      Ron might get a kick out of this little story. My first year at Acadia I failed chemistry with Professor Zinck. I studied it all summer while I worked at Acadia's library, even fiddling around with the damn slide rule. I had to be out of my apartment at the very end of the summer, so I stayed with Mary Kenny and her family for several days. I was burning the midnight oil on Saturday night, and on Sunday everyone was going to Mass, so I joined them. (first time at an RC service).

      When it came time for Communion I got up with everyone else, because I always partook of the ceremony in whatever church I was in. When I got up to the priest I felt a little woozy and suddenly fainted, pitched right into his arms. I was so overwrought about the exam, had hardly slept, and hadn't eaten and so for the first time in my life I fainted. I came to on the floor with all these people standing around trying to help me. Needless to say the Kennys got me home and fed.

      When I told my father what had happened on the phone he said, "That's what you get for going to a Catholic church!" I still laugh over that; at one time he had considered becoming a Baptist minister.

      As for the exam, I took it on Monday. I ran into Dr. Zinck at a pep rally on the front steps of U Hall later that week. To my great relief he told me I had passed my sub exam squeaking by with a 54. He followed it up with great delight by adding, "But I failed you anyway; I think it will do you good to repeat the course." Rats!

      Anyway I've been to Mass a number of times since ~ no more fainting! LOL

      Have a good one!

    2. LOL! Ron chuckled on hearing this! His grandmother threatened her daughter, Ron's mother, that if she married a Catholic she WAS NOT to bring the kids up Catholic! She listened.
      What is it about fainting? You and Ron can be so dramatic!! lol
      Thanks for sharing that and the Chem exam story. What a Prof he was!!

    3. I could tell you stories about Dr. Zinck! Did you have him too?

  9. I've kept a diary since I was 8, but I've never read them over. Guess I should think about doing that one day. Might be fun, or at least an eye-opener.

    1. Hi Joylene! How wonderful that you have diaries from when you were eight! I've kept them on and off over the years, I cringe, groan, and roll my eyes when I go back and read my teenaged years! LOL thank god I'm not a teenager any more! Happy Saturday!!!

  10. Lost opportunities... I know what you mean. Why do you think my friends call me Blue...

    'It is the most luxurious way that I can think of to spend a Sunday afternoon.' So true.

    1. Well, BG, I hope you had a chance to sneak in a nap this Sunday afternoon! Have a happy week!

  11. "Why didn't I take the time when they were alive to ask the questions I have now?" Ah, Louise...I can really relate to that. I've asked myself that question so many times about the people I should have taken the time to sit and talk with. People that are no longer here. I think we're all guilty of this; we believe we have all the time in the world and get too busy with our lives.

    I laughed with the nap comment! I love Sunday afternoon naps, especially in the dead of winter. The greatest joy! LOL...

    1. Dead of winter is getting closer, Martha! I spent this afternoon watching the Broncos eke out an ugly win. Maybe I should have taken a nap!!! Have a happy week!

  12. Dearest Louise,
    Many many thanks for you thoughts, I still can't resume blogging, I am quite lost without Patrick and everything seems like a mountain to me, down to using a mobile...
    It is so terribly lonely.
    Much love and keep well

    1. Oh, Noushka! How could you feel any other way? To lose your precious Patrick! Don't you worry a bit about blogging!

      You're going through one of the most wrenching things that can happen in life. At some point you'll be able to start dragging yourself up those mountains. And then you'll see a beautiful bird, flower, or dragonfly, and you'll feel a little unexpected delight and joy, and then your heart will start to lighten a little. You will start turning back toward life, and you will carry Patrick close in your heart forever. When I have been devastated by life, it has always been nature that made me start living again. Perhaps it will be the trigger for you.

      How much time you need is irrelevant, because it's your path, and you must walk it your way. I've got you in my heart and send you love and hugs every time I think of you which is multiple times a day. Be kind and gentle to yourself. You're strong and wonderful, and you'll get through this. XOX!!!

  13. Linda's comment resonated with me, as did your regret for not asking more questions. I, too, asked very few of my parents. I have a recollection, sometimes, especially of my mother telling me things and knowing that I was going to regret not paying closer attention some day. I wish I had kept a journal of all the stories both she and Dad told us. But, I didn't and regrets about that would not change a thing. You, at least, have gone a long way to make up for that by publishing these letters and writing about the circumstances around them. Your dad's letter brought back some memories of still-not-dry laundry coming in from the outside line, only to hang throughout our house for several more hours. We also had an alarm clock (just one for the family) that looked very much like your father's. Noticed your mother's photo on your father's desk. Checked out all of your notes including the photo of the rectory. Must go now. I do comments the way I blog.. spend far too much time, but it is always wonderful to be here :)

    1. Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment, Carol. As you can see by the size of some of the comments and replies, I, and others too, spend a lot of time writing them. I try to be concise, but then sometimes I get on a roll.

      Whatever post I read or whatever comment I respond to, I know that person has put precious time and energy into it, so I want to honor that effort. Besides, it's the interaction and getting to know wonderful people like you that make blogging worthwhile. When I first started, pushed into it by Ron, I had no idea that I would find amazing on-line friends.

      I'm glad that my northern posts prompt memories for you and others. If a post makes a connection with just one person and they smile (or weep as my sister Barb said), reminisce, or learn, then it's worth the effort I put into them.

      I decided to start including notes, because someone stumbling across my blog might have no idea who these people are and what is going on. And lately I've been consistently adding some kind of map, because I have readers in different parts of the world (and I love maps).

      Without this blog, I think I wouldn't have had the fortitude to work on my memoir. There are many difficult and painful memories I have had to face and work through, mostly connected with what I experienced in the north. And all the research, checking of facts, and hunting for images for my blog posts has helped me tremendously with the research for my memoir. Not to mention learning how to defeat my computer in epic struggles has taught me so much about technology. And then there is the priceless experience I have gained in writing, especially from reading readers' comments and from stumbling across the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

      Okay I'll stop now! As I read your comment and wrote my reply, I am imaging the three of us and little Black Jack in Harrison's Gallery at the upstairs table. It's cozy and warm, and we have mugs of coffer or tea and are snacking on something delicious from the coffee shop downstairs. But best of all is being with you and Bill in person. Black Jack too, but she's on the alert looking for that mouse that sometimes appears. Happy Friday, my friend! XO

    2. I forgot an important part in the paragraph above! We're having an animated conversation with the content of our comments!


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