Friday, July 22, 2016

Taking a Short Break

Things have been
a little hectic around here!


My apologies:  I wasn't able to finish my latest Northern post ~
I ran out of time trying to research and understand a complex issue.

At 2:30 a.m. last night,
I realized I needed to cut myself some slack
and take a short break from posting.

Got a plane to meet,
family and friends to greet,
lobsters and scallops to eat.

Bonfires and wine,
I'm going to have a great time!  


I'll be back soon with a brilliant and succinct summary
of that complex issue.  Lord I hope ~ LOL!

Thanks for your understanding! 

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Laundry and Levity

When my father arrived in Lansdowne House to teach in 1960
the white population rose to a total of fourteen.  

With the departure of nurse Margaret Kelly and the arrival
of nurse Mike Flaherty, his wife Anne, and baby daughter,
the white population surged to a grand total of sixteen.
Three were babies under the age of one.

As winter in the remote bush of Northern Ontario
wore on with its extreme cold and extended darkness,
things got a little testy between two roommates sharing 
a tiny, two-room shack with a cantankerous wood stove
and cold running water at a certain Roman Catholic mission.

Something as simple as the arrival of the weekly mail plane
or getting together to talk over coffee could lift spirits and break 
the monotony of the long northern winter and the bleak isolation.

And sometimes, well sometimes, my father just had to laugh!

Northern Nights in the Bush
Flickr:  J.H.   License

On Saturday, January 14, 1961 
My father wrote to his extended family:

Well, here I am again:  
I did one hell of a big wash today.  
It took me most of the day.  
We do one a month up here.
It is so much trouble to set up the washing machine and everything
that we wait till we have a good big wash before we do any.  

I can assure you that today’s wash had no trouble meeting this specification.
Actually, the last time I washed was somewhere around the end of November.

It’s a good job that we have lots of clothes, or we would be
pretty strong by the time that wash day came along.

Uno and I originally had agreed to do the wash turn about,
but the only time he did it, he made such a mess of it,
that I have done it every time since.

Line-Drying Clothes
Flickr:  Zhu  License

I have also taken over the stoves exclusively.
Uno just can’t seem to be able to handle them at all.  
Whenever he handles them, we either freeze or roast.

I wonder if that sob messes these jobs up purposely to get rid of them.
No, he’s not devious enough for that.
That sounds more like a MacBeath or a Pratt trick.

Roommate's Revenge
Uno falls asleep reading his mail.
Photo by Don MacBeath, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

The mail didn’t come in till Saturday this week, 
so as soon as the wash was over, I went over for my mail.
Uno came too, and we ended up at Dunc’s for coffee and a gabfest.

© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

Maureen told us all the news
of the outside world
and all about Duncan’s operation.

I saw the baby too.
He looked a little bit
the worse for wear and tear,
but he acted and sounded
just like his old self.  

Maureen was telling me that the cyst was about the size of a golf ball.
I know that it must have been quite large,
for it was quite prominent on the child’s neck.
In fact, for a while, they thought he had the mumps.
The doctor assured Maureen that there was nothing to worry about.

This evening Mike and Brian came over, and the four of us,
including Uno, went to the show in the hall.  
I don’t go to shows too much up here; 
in fact, I don’t even go too much outside, 
but when you have been up here as long as I have, 
you’ll go to almost anything for a change.  

The show tonight was a real poor one,
even by Lansdowne House standards.
As far as entertainment goes,
this was the absolute last resort.
The title was Prairie Rustlers,
and I am sure it must have starred Tom Mix
or even someone back farther than him.

Buster Crabbe and Al St. John, Stars of Prairie Rustlers, 
in the Movie Shadows of Death, 1945

Well, this is all that happened to me today,
so I will devote the rest of this issue to a dissertation on dog teams.
I have yet to drive a dog team, but I hope that
not too much times passes before I accomplish this feat.

Flickr:  Bud Glunz   License
Credit:  Bud Glunz. National Film Board of Canada. 
Photothèque. Library and Archives Canada, e010962320 /

I think one of the funniest things that I have ever seen in all my life
was the troubles that a poor Indian was having one morning
with a new team that apparently hadn’t been broken to harness too long.
Either that, or they were a bunch of dogs that hadn’t been
worked together as a team too long.  

He loaded the sleigh at the co-op store on the Island
and headed them toward the lake.
From the store to the lake, the road passed twelve trees.
Each dog investigated each tree,
so the whole team made 48 stops on the way to the lake.

After the team finally got out on the ice,
each dog decided to defecate;
and, of course, each one did it at a different time.
Four more stops.

By this time there was a terribly frustrated Indian driving them. 

Flickr:  Jamie McCaffrey   License

There were one or two other stops
before they had gone half a mile,
caused I think, by disagreements among the dogs;
but by the time they got in front of my school
real disaster struck in the form of a female dog in heat.  

Apparently all the dogs were young virile males,
for the whole shebang took off hell a whooping
after this poor female dog.

The driver couldn’t hold them back at all,
and the last I saw of the outfit it had left the ice
and was heading into the thickest part of the bush -
dogs, Indian, sleigh, and everything.

I think it was several days before the Indian finally got
his sleigh repaired, his supplies gathered up, his team rounded up,
and was able to resume his trip to the trapline.

Love, Don.

I feel real sympathy for Uno and the wash.
My dad had been in the military
and took military pride in his appearance.
He could have given Marie Kondo
lessons on socks in drawers. 

One of my earliest memories, in Charlottetown, P.E.I.,
was peeking in Dad's top bureau drawer
and seeing rows of socks neatly lined up,
standing tall like soldiers on a parade ground.  
I was memorably impressed, because none of the socks
in other bureaus in the apartment were so disciplined.

Equally vivid is another memory I have from the same time,
certainly from before I started kindergarten.
My mother was putting crisply starched and folded shirts
in my father's shirt drawer in just so piles under my watchful eyes.

"Why do Dad's shirts have paper in them?" I asked.

"Because they come from the Chinese laundry," Mom answered.

"Why do Dad's shirts come from the Chinese laundry?"

"Because I don't iron his shirts."

"Why not?"

"Because Daddy doesn't like how I iron them."

"Why not?"

"Let me tell you a secret," Mom said.  
"I don't like ironing men's shirts, 
and the first time I had to do your father's, 
I made sure I did a lousy job.  
I did such a bad job of ironing his shirts 
that he never let me do them again."
She smiled and added, "And so you see,
now I don't have to iron his shirts - ever!"

It seems that the MacDonald side of our family
had a few tricks of its own.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Bay of Fundy out of Westport, Brier Island
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


1.  Doing Laundry at the Mission:  
     Whenever Dad did the laundry, he had to gather it all up and lug it over to Father Ouimet
     and Brother Bernier's residence.  Then he had to start the pumping engine for water.  If there
     was no wind to turn the wind charger, then Dad had to start the gasoline generator so as not
     to run down the storage batteries.  Once the laundry was washed, then it had to be hung outdoors
     on a clothesline to dry.  No fun in the winter at 30 below.  Finally, it had to be lugged back to the
     shack and draped on the furniture to defrost and finish drying.  Dragging in stiff, frozen clothing
     is an experience you don't soon forget.

2.  Uno Manilla:  
     Uno was the teacher at the Roman Catholic Day School at the mission.
     He shared a two-room shack with my father.

3.  MacBeaths and Pratts:
     Dad's father was a MacBeath, and his mother was a Pratt;
     both were from Prince Edward Island.

4.  Duncan (Dunc) and Maureen McRae:  
     Duncan worked for the Department of Transport in Lansdowne House.  He and Maureen were the
     parents of Baby Duncan.  Maureen had just returned from a difficult trip by bush plane to
     Winnipeg with Baby Duncan.  His cyst was removed at a hospital there and found to be benign,
     much to the relief of his parents and the community.

5.  Mike and Brian:  
     Mike Flaherty, the nursing station nurse
     Brian Booth, the Hudson's Bay post clerk

6.  The Hall:  
     The Hall was located in the Roman Catholic mission on the Father's Island.  Father Ouimet
      had films brought in on the weekly mail planes.  He would show these at the hall on Saturday
      (and sometimes Wednesday) evenings.  The Indians especially enjoyed The Three Stooges and
      westerns with cowboys and Indians.

7.  Prairie Rustlers:  Movie  
     Father Ouimet could not afford to fly in current films, so he rented earlier ones
     like Prairie Rustlers that was released in November 1945.

     Buster Crabbe, not Tom Mix, was the star of Prairie Rustlers.   Crabb acted in 36 westerns, and
     and his sidekick Al St. John appeared in most of them.  Wikipedia

     Here is a summary from Google which appears verbatim in a number of on-line reviews,
     so I'm not sure of the original source:
     "In a small town, the sheriff is murdered, and Deputy Fuzzy Jones (Al "Fuzzy" St. John), a diner
      owner by day, must take over the slain lawman's responsibilities. The leader of the cattle rustlers
      who killed the sheriff is named Jim (Buster Crabbe), and he bears a striking resemblance to
      Fuzzy's friend Billy (Buster Crabbe), much to the deputy's confusion. Billy comes to town, and,
      to help Fuzzy and vanquish the rustlers, he must face Jim, his cousin, who still holds a grudge
      against him."

8.  Trapline:
      At that time many aboriginal men earned a living in the fur trade by trapping fur-bearing animals
      such as beaver, muskrat, and otter.  Trappers would set traps along a route and travel repeatedly
      over that route to check for animals.  Typically the Hudson's Bay Company would advance them
      credit to buy supplies for their trip to the winter traplines and for other needs.  When the
      aboriginals traded their pelts at the Bay, they were then able to settle their debts.  This
      traditional lifestyle was beginning to disappear when my father arrived in Lansdowne House.
      It's now long gone.

9.  Marie Kondo:
     She is an organizing consultant and author of four books on organizing, including the widely
     popular The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and
     Organizing (2011).

10.  Chinese Laundries:
       When I was a child there were many Chinese laundries and restaurants in the Maritimes.
       What I didn't understand was the brutal history of Chinese immigrants in Canada and why
       so many laundries and restaurants were owned by the Chinese.

       Chinese men first came to Canada as laborers in the late 1770s.  They began to come in large
       numbers around 1858 to work in the goldfields of British Columbia.  When British Columbia
       joined Confederation in 1871, the Canadian government was required to build a railroad linking
       B.C. to Eastern Canada.  Chinese laborers were hired to build the railroad because they were the
       cheapest labor.

       Once the railroad was completed, Chinese laborers couldn't find work and many couldn't afford
       to return to China.  Some of those remaining migrated to the Maritimes where there was
       less Anti-Chinese discrimination.

       Chinese in Canada faced increasingly onerous taxes and immigration restrictions from 1885
       to 1923.  The continuing anti-Chinese fervor led to the passing of The Chinese Immigration Act
       (also known as the Exclusion Act) of 1923 which essentially eliminated Chinese immigration
       to Canada and barred the existing immigrants from most occupations.  Working in restaurants
       and laundries was open to the Chinese because white Canadians didn't want to do such work.
       Saltscapes and Wikipedia 

       Canada's Parliament repealed the act in 1947, in recognition of the efforts of Chinese
       Canadians during WWII.  Wikipedia

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Location of Lansdowne House
Known Today as Neskantaga

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Friday the Thirteenth

I have to smile when I remember how superstitious
my intelligent and well-educated father was.

My earliest memories of him date from when he served
in the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps
in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

At that time my father was a towering, almost godlike, presence in my life,
with his huge size, his parade marshal voice, and marksman skills.

I was in awe of him when we spent Saturday mornings
at the indoor firing range at Alexandra Point Range,
or sometimes even the outdoor shooting range near Tea Hill.

I used to love picking up bullet shells from the floor of the indoor range for him,
something really cool that none of my friends ever got to do
and way more fun than the ballet lessons I had to attend
before going to the range with him.

Big Soldier ~ Kitche Shemaganish
(The Nickname the Ojibwa People Gave My Father in Lansdowne House)
Most Likely Prince Edward Island, Circa:  1952
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

It wasn't until a few years later that I began to feel the 
the incongruity between his size, intelligence, and education
and some of his superstitions,
like his dislike of broken mirrors or walking under ladders,
of black cats crossing his path and Friday the Thirteenth.

He spooked easily, and I have many memories of him
peeking through his fingers at scary shows on television.
The intensity was simply too much for his sensitive nature.
And guaranteed, you wouldn't have caught him whistling past a graveyard!

I suspect he sensed things that no big strong man of that time would have admitted to.

So I smile whenever I read the opening of this letter
and I remember fondly all his Friday the Thirteenth admonishments
to be extra careful and to watch out for black cats and ladders,
and for God's sake, not to break a mirror!
The amusing thing was he was serious! 

On Friday, January 13, 1961 
My father wrote to our extended family:

Hi There, Everyone:
Today was a bad day to get up, and to put it in the words
of that unknown Brooklynite, "I should have stood in bed."  

However I guess as Friday the Thirteenth goes,
this wasn't the worst or the best that I have spent.

We held a health clinic in my school today
and inoculated over one hundred Indians of all ages
against a variety of communicable diseases.

Needles!  Nobody Wants One!
This is a four-year old child in the Philippines receiving a measles vaccination.

I was there all day helping Mike check the records
to determine just who had had what.  

Gorsh, but I had a rip snorter of a headache before the whole thing was over.
I don't think that I have ever heard such a variety of cries
as I heard from the Indian children that day.
They cried in every pitch from A sharp to G minor,
or whatever the two extremes of the scale are.

Bill Guinn, one of the pilots for Austin Airways, was in all night,
and we spent the evening playing pool over at the hall.

Playing Pool

Bill is from Cape Breton, so Bill and I
represented the Maritimes against the world.  
The world did much better than the Maritimes,
as neither Bill or myself is too good at pool.  

We had a good night though.
Bill slaughtered me at checkers several times,
and I took the Brother's measure at chess twice.
I also took Duncan to the cleaners twice at chess.

The Battleground!

Maureen and Baby Duncan are back from Winnipeg,
after having the cyst removed from the baby's neck.
It wasn't a dangerous type of cyst.

They may have taken the cyst from his neck,
but they sure didn't take any of the devilment from his makeup.
He is still as full of hell as ever.

A Bundle of Devilment on the Lam from Uno
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

I'll sure be glad when Sara finally gets that cottonpickin' typewriter up to me.  
Uno is starting to do more typing, and it is not always to easy to get at the machine.
I shouldn't complain too much though, because I really have used it much more than him.

Things are going better than ever in school these days.
My campaign to get the Indian children to speak
more English seems finally to be bearing fruit.
They actually use English occasionally when talking among themselves.

A Teacher Ahead of His Time
with Flexible, Changeable Seating
and Activities to Promote Conversation
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

Making It Fun ~ Bobbing for Apples and Conversation
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

Because of the unaccustomed social activity,
and because of the strenuous week I put in (Foss),
I think I'll call it a day and pack her up.

Bye for now,
Love, Don.

Dad with Brother Bernier
on Another Social Evening in the Mission Kitchen
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I don't share many of my father's superstitions;
in fact I make a point of walking under ladders
and crossing paths with black cats.

My only worries about mirrors are all those wrinkles
that are increasingly reflected back at me,
and Friday the Thirteenth is usually a great day for me.

But I peek through my fingers at scary shows,
and you won't catch me whistling past a graveyard either!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Bay of Fundy out of Westport, Brier Island
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


1.  Alexandra Point Range and Tea Hill:  
      I can't be positive that it was the indoor firing range at Alexandra Point Range Military Base
      that my father and I went to weekly.  However, it's my best guess, because that's where
      the army trained shooters and my dad was a marksman and shooting instructor on Saturdays.
      I am certain about the outdoor range near Tea Hill, because I clearly remember Tea Hill and
      have vivid memories of lying prone in the grass next to my father as he shot his rifle and
      of "army crawling" with him from position to position to shoot.  Bet that wouldn't happen now!

2.  Mike Flaherty:
     Mike was the nurse at the nursing station in Lansdowne House.  He provided basic medical
     services for the white and Ojibwa people who lived in the community.  He was also responsible
     for assessing the health of the Indians and for carrying out government health programs such as
     inoculating them against infectious diseases.  The health clinics were usually held in my father's
     and Uno's schools.

3.  The Hall:  
     The Hall was located in the Roman Catholic mission on the Father's Island.  Father Ouimet
     showed movies there on Saturday nights and sometimes on Wednesday nights too ~ providing
     the films arrived on the mail plane.  I don't remember pool tables, but obviously there was at
     least one.

4.  Brother Raoul Bernier:
     Brother Bernier was a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate,
     a missionary religious congregation in the Roman Catholic Church.
     Father Ouimet was a priest in the same congregation.

5.  Duncan and Maureen McRae:  
     Duncan worked for the Department of Transport, and one of his duties was running the weather
     station in Lansdowne House.  He and Maureen were the parents of Baby Duncan.

6.  Uno Manilla:  
     Uno was the teacher at the Roman Catholic Day School at the mission.
     He shared a two-room shack with my father.
     Although Dad didn't mention it, Uno did return to Lansdowne House to finish the school year.

7.   Mr. F. Foss:  
      Mr. Foss was the Indian Schools Inspector.  Earlier that week he spent a day observing my father
      in his school and another day observing Uno in his.  It was a stressful time for both Uno
      and my father.  Mr. Foss would visit each of his various schools two or three times a year.
      Mr. Foss was stranded in Lansdowne House by bad flying weather for an extra day.  He
      probably spent both nights as Father Ouimet's guest, which meant he also shared his meals with
      Dad and Uno.

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Location of Lansdowne House in Northern Ontario

Location of the Maritimes
New Brunswick (Orange), Prince Edward Island (Pink), Nova Scotia (Red)
Note:  Cape Breton is the Island Part of Nova Scotia, Located to the NE of the Peninsula Part.
Flickr:  Opus Penguin   License

Location of Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

IWSG: Wednesday, July 6, 2016: What Am I Doing?

Happy July to all 
the IWSG members
making the rounds today!

It's the first Wednesday 
of the month ~ 
the day when members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and offer their encouragement
and support to other members.

To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are stepping up to help IWSG founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are:

Yolanda Renee , Tyrean MartinsonMadeline Mora-Summonte
L. K. Hill, Rachna Chhabriaand Jeffrey Scott .

I hope you have a chance to visit them and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate an encouraging comment!
~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Share your struggles suggests the IWSG newsletter.

I struggle.
I feel like a fake.
I wonder what the hell I'm doing trying to write a book.

Word by Word
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I have to constantly beat back voices that shout:
"You're too old!"

"You're wasting your time!"  

"Nothing will come of this!"

"What makes you think you're finally going to get it together
and complete this thing?"

"Look at all these amazing, productive writers everywhere!
What's wrong with you?" 

My husband keeps asking: 
"Are you having fun? 
Is this really what you want to do?"

He's been retired for a a year now,
and out the door he runs almost every day,
lathered in suntan lotion and swinging his pickle ball paddle.
He's ready to play and can't fathom why I want to write.
It looks too much like work to him.

Terry Serves at Fort DeRussy
Waikiki, Oahu
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

So the IWSG Day's new, featured question came at a good time:
What's the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

It made me stop and remember the encouraging things
people have said about my writing over the years:
Heartfelt.  Passionate.  A strong voice.  Lucid.  Vivid.  

But the best thing, the one thing that keeps me going,
is what a composition professor told me:
"I think you have a book here."

I won't tell you how long ago I heard those words.
It's embarrassing.

But I grasp those words like a shield as I beat back the voices.
I am not a fake!  
I know I'm a good writer.
I just haven't written a book before.

I've had a complicated and challenging life,
rich in experiences,
but I had to make choices that didn't include writing books.

Now is my time. 
I can do this.

And yes, Honey, contrary to what the tears, fits of despondency,
and late nights fighting with my computer suggest,
I am having fun.  
There's nothing I'd rather do.

Well, except travel some of the time.

Riding Down from the Top of Mount Solaro
Capri, Italy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Happy writing in July!

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Difficult Times and Not Just for My Father

Don MacBeath, Circa 1950
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

When I read my father's letters
from over a half century ago,
I find it intriguing to see what
my father shared with different
members of our extended family.

When he wrote to his mother Myrtle,
he was at his most revealing.
Some of his deeper feelings
and insecurities often surface.

His mother saved most of my father's letters
that he wrote from the North,
right down to the stamped envelopes.

Many of the letters he wrote to his wife Sara are missing,
but based on those that I have, my father sheltered my mother
from some of the more difficult things he experienced.

I have mentioned in the past that my father had his demons
and that I share some of those demons.  
The most difficult one we share is depression.
Depression runs unbroken through generation after generation
of my father's maternal line.

I know how I have suffered with black periods that can overwhelm me, 
and I have watched my father suffer periodically throughout his life.

The more I read my father's words and understand him from an adult perspective,
the more I am in awe of how he managed to do as well as he did.
Having experienced the family curse, I read between the lines
and I find my love for my father expanding, bursting. 

On Saturday, January 7, 1961 
My father wrote to his mother, Myrtle MacBeath:

Dear Mother:
Well, it’s a long time since
I have felt like writing to anyone.  
I have been very dispirited lately- dreadfully discouraged and lonely,
but I’m snapping out of it now,
and I think I have it licked. 

A Young Myrtle Jane (Pratt) MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

Actually, I had to snap out of it or come home, 
for if I had carried on in the direction in which I was heading, 
I would have had a breakdown.  

It is not the easiest thing in the world to be separated 
from your family, and especially your wife and children.  
However, I have it licked now and am again my own happy self.

It has been very cold up here lately.  
For the last ten days the temperature has held
pretty steadily at about thirty below.
It has dipped lower, and one very cold night it hit fifty-one below.
When the temperature rises to about ten below and above,
we think it is quite warm here.

Winter in the Boreal Forest
Northern Ontario

Uno went out for Christmas, and he hasn’t come back yet.  
He is a week overdue now, and everyone is worrying 
that perhaps he won’t be coming back.  

I know he sure took off out of here like a scalded dog when he left,
and he certainly wasn’t the happiest boy in the world
for about a month before he went home.  

I hope he doesn’t decide to quit though, 
because it will be lonely in the shack without him.  
I’ll go foolish without anyone to talk to.

Uno, Skunked at Cribbage by Brother Bernier
Kitchen, Roman Catholic Mission
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

I imagine that you will have received the latest edition 
of the Lansdowne Letter before you get this, 
so you will know that the part for Uno’s typewriter arrived.
am typing this on his machine.  

I will be glad however when my machine arrives, 
as I have never liked using someone else’s belongings for too long.  

I am glad though that I can get into practice again with any typewriter, 
because I was just at that crucial stage where I was either going to become
a good typist, or I was going to slip back to my former state of typing inability.

I weighed myself yesterday, and although I am losing weight very slowly now,
I am still taking it off.  I now weigh 193 pounds.
That’s 46 pounds that I have knocked off since I came up here, 
and most of it off the pot.  

When I started this diet, I had my sights set on 190 pounds; 
but now I think I’ll try for 185 pounds, 
and if I reach that successfully, I’ll try for 180 pounds.  

I don’t think I’ll have any trouble holding this weight,
for I’m not exactly starving myself now, 
and I’m still losing ½ to 1½ pounds a week.


I am starting to look
more like my father now,
and my height is becoming
more apparent all the time.  

Actually I am becoming
a rather fine figure
of a man now.  

Of course, I’d have to be
if I was to look anything
like Father.

A Very Young Donald Blair MacBeath
with his Father, Royal Stewart MacBeath
Prince Edward Island, 1926
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Maureen had to take Baby Duncan out to Winnipeg for a minor operation.  
Do you remember when I wrote and told you that they thought
that Duncan had the mumps?  
It was a cyst on one side of his neck, just beyond the jawbone.  

They removed the cyst this Thursday, 
and now Maureen and Duncan Sr. are waiting rather anxiously
for the result of the analysis of the cyst.  
They are worried that it might be malignant, 
although the chances are against this being the case.  

Poor Duncan is both lonely and worried right now, 
but Maureen and the baby are expected back
next Friday on the mail plane.

I think I’ll go to the movies in the hall.
I’ll continue this when I come back.

Baby Duncan and Maureen
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Winter 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 


Well. I’m back from the show, and it was one
of the foolishest shows that I have ever seen.  
Actually, to be grammatically correct, I should have said most foolish, 
but anyway, I think you understand that it was a foolish show. 
It was a combination musical and love story.  
A very poor combination.

It is a real cold night tonight.
The snow squeaks underfoot when you walk,
and whenever I open the door of the shack, 
great clouds of condensed warm air are formed, 
when the warm air from inside mixes with the cold air from outside.  

I haven’t looked at the temperature, 
but I’d guess that it is at least thirty-five below
and going down steadily.  
To use a reverse paraphrasing of that foolish song 
that was popular last summer, “It’s thirty-five below and falling.”

I had hoped to have some pictures to send you
of Santa’s visit to my school,
and a visit I made with one of the outlying camps, 
but the film didn’t come back this week.  
I’ll send them to you as soon as I receive them, and
when you are through with them you can send them to Sara.

Santa's Visit on the Ice at Webequie
Major McKinney, Commanding Officer U.S.A.F. Base, Armstrong, Ontario
donated most of the gifts for the Indians at Webequie.  December, 1960
Note:  Woman with tikanogin on her back (middle left)
Photo by Don MacBeath (shadow)
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

I’ll tell you how cold it is right now.  
There is a strong wind blowing, and in spite of the fact 
that I have a real good fire in the shack, 
the storm windows are all frosted over,
the inside windows are also heavily frosted over,
and there is frost on the window shades.  

Not only that, but all the nails in the woodwork
around the windows and the doors are covered with frost.  
Also the hinges and doorknob of the door are covered
with a thick layer of frost.  

However, I have a good fire on, and it is quite comfortable, 
as long as I keep the fire stoked up.   
The temperature would drop pretty quickly though, 
if the fire ever went out.  I know just how cold it would be.  
I’ve had it go out on me during the night and have waked up freezing
and have had to get up and light the cotton pickin thing.
It’s no fun – I can assure you.

My Father's Bed and Uno's Typewriter
in the Two-Room Shack
He Shared with Uno
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

Well, I guess I had better sign off now and get a few more letters written.  
I have to write today’s installment of the Lansdowne Letter, 
and I also have to write one to Sara.  

Oh, could you send me up another typewriter ribbon, please?  
You have all the particulars.  The smudges you see in the two lines above 
were caused by my having to turn the ribbon upside down.  
I feel that I should at least buy ribbons for the typewriter, 
because I do about 99% of the typing that is done on it.

I could also stand some more stamped envelopes, business size.  
I keep asking everyone to send me envelopes,
because you can’t buy business-sized envelopes,
stamped or otherwise up here.  

Perhaps Aunt Maude could send me some
since she is in receipt of the Lansdowne Letter too.  
Mrs. MacDonald doesn’t send me stamped envelopes
because she lives in the States, 
but every so often she sends Sara some money
especially to buy stamped envelopes to send to me.

A Long-Ago Stamped Business Envelope
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 


Stamps are the only thing that you can’t charge up here, 
and since I live in a moneyless world, I nearly always have no money
and have to go scrounging around among my friends
to see if they have any money, if I happen to run out of stamps.  
However, I’ve loaned money for stamps just as often as I have borrowed it, 
so I don’t feel too ashamed.  It is just the inconvenience.

It’s amazing, but no one carries money up here.  
The whites write cheques, and the Indians operate on credit from the Bay.  
They get their supplies from the Bay, and then they sell their pelts to the Bay.  
If they have any over after their debts are paid, 
they usually spend it all immediately so they never have much money either.

Well, as I started to say quite some time ago, I must sign off.

Bye now,
Love, Don.

My Father Snowshoeing Across the Ice
to His Shack between the Church and Wind Charger
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

We all have our demons. 
What matters is how we face them.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Bay of Fundy out of Westport, Brier Island
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


1.  Temperature Conversions:  
      -10º F. = -18º C.
      -30º F. = -34º C.
      -35º F. = -37º C.
      -51º F. = -46º C.

2.  Uno Manilla:  
     Uno was the teacher at the Roman Catholic Day School at the mission.
     He shared a two-room shack with my father.

3.  Weight Conversions:  
      46  pounds = 20.8 kilograms
     180 pounds = 81.6 kilograms
     185 pounds = 83.9 kilograms
     190 pounds = 86.1 kilograms
     193 pounds = 87.5 kilograms

4.  Duncan and Maureen McRae:  
     Duncan worked for the Department of Transport, and one of his duties was running the weather
     station in Lansdowne House.  He and Maureen were the parents of Baby Duncan.

5.  The Hall:  
     The Hall was located in the Roman Catholic mission on the Father's Island.  Father Ouimet,
      the priest, had films brought in on the weekly mail planes.  He would show these at the hall
      on Saturday, and sometimes, Wednesday evenings.  The Indians especially enjoyed The Three
      Stooges and westerns with cowboys and Indians.

6.  Outlying Camp:  
     My father accompanied Santa Claus to the village of Webequie to deliver Christmas gifts to the
     Ojibway people who lived there.

7.  Mrs. MacDonald:  
     This is Dad's mother-in-law, Mom's mother, Ella MacDonald.  She worked as a nursing
     companion in New York City, and we lived in her home in Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia.

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Northern Ontario Communities

Location of Winnipeg, Manitoba