Friday, August 26, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Cursed

I remember when my father's Lansdowne Letter written on January 17, 1961 arrived.
It contained two of my father's Indian stories that had such a powerful impact on me.

His Indian stories had already propelled
idealistic me to act,
and I was well into a project
as a surprise for my father,
one that would powerfully impact
him in return.

Ten-Year Old Me
School Photo 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Dad's letter described two incidents that I have never forgotten,
although I find that my perspective has changed from that of my ten-year old self.

On Tuesday, January 17, 1961 
My father wrote to his extended family:

Hi There Again:
Today was just trouble from the word go.  
As you can see, I can’t even type right, 
why, it got so bad after a while, 
that I figured what else can happen?  

This question was answered for me before the end of the day, 
when an old Indian woman put a curse on me.  

I had cuffed her grandson on the ear in school, 
so she came down with someone who could speak
both Indian and English and proceeded to put this curse on me.  

Oh, it wasn’t one of their more serious curses,
just one that was calculated to cause me considerable inconvenience.

I am supposed
to get quite sick
for a couple of days
and not be able to eat,
or get out of bed,
or anything like this.  

Dad's Bed in His Two-Room Shack
Photo by Donald MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The amazing part of the whole thing is that
they put a lot of faith in curses and all such jazz.
Apparently anyone can put a curse on anyone else. 
But the older you are,
the more potent your curses are supposed to be.
This old gal was no spring chicken, I can assure you.

It will be interesting to see just how powerful her cursing powers are.  
If she really has the touch, I should learn it from her, and go visit S/L Lewis, shouldn’t I?

My Father's Classroom
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, 1960
Photo by Donald MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

This reminds me of something I was reading 
in the medical records over at the nursing station the other day.  

I was helping Mike type up some of his records,
and I came across the case history of a woman who was mentally deranged,
or as the Indians put it, possessed of a Wintigo.

This is how they proceeded to treat the poor woman.
They cut a hole three feet square in the floor of the shack where they lived,
and then they dug a hole of the same dimensions under the shack
to a depth sufficient just to bring her head just above the floor of the shack,
and they put the poor creature in the hole
and there she stayed for over three years
coming up only to answer the call of nature.  

Apparently the calls of nature that she answered
when she was out of the hole were many and varied,
for the record states that during the period
that she spent in the hole, she bore two children.
She finally died of T.B.

This sounds like something that you would hear about during the Middle Ages,
but it happened in Canada, in the early forties or late thirties,
just about the beginning of the war.

A Mother and Child Under Happier Circumstances
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, 1960
Photo by Donald MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

As I started to say, this has been one hell of a day.
I came to school this morning to find both stoves out.
It was 33 below when I went to school this morning.  

After I got the stoves lit, I went down to the water hole; 
and, in the process, I managed to drive my ice pick
right through the ice and straight down to the bottom of the lake.
I had to buy a new one with my own money,
and they cost $7.50 each.  

After I got the hole opened, I managed to spill
half a bucket of real cold lake water down inside my right overshoe.
After this, one of the kids spilled ink down my shirtfront,
and I ripped my pants on a packing case. 
And all this before dinner yet!!!

I can’t remember just what happened to me after dinner,
other than the curse being put upon me,
but I had my moments in the afternoon also.

Well, I must sign off now and get to bed.
Bye now,
Love, Don.

Lansdowne House
Members of the Fort Hope Band watching a floatplane arrive
at the dock at Lansdowne house at Treaty Time, June 1956.

John Macfie Transparency  Reference Code: C 330-14-0-0-95  Archives of Ontario, I0012712  © Queen's Printer for Ontario
The materials on this website are protected by Crown copyright (unless otherwise indicated), which is held by the Queen's Printer for Ontario.  
If credit is given and Crown copyright is acknowledged,the materials may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes.

When I was ten, the things that struck me about the cursing incident
were how funny it was that my father had been cursed
and wondering if the curse would work on him.

Now what impacts me is my father writing,
"I had cuffed her grandson on the ear in school."

If I had ever physically hit a child in my twenty-five years
of teaching in an elementary school, I'd probably have lost my job.
But at the time my father wrote this letter,
corporal punishment was practiced, not only in the North,
but throughout all of Canada.

I have a vivid memory of eight-year old me 
standing at the front of my one-room school 
in Margaretsville, Nova Scotia.

I see the white faces of my kindergarten through grade six classmates
as my teacher strapped me with a leather strap:
three forceful smacks on each of my outstretched palms.
For passing a note.

My Siblings and I in Margaretsville, 1959
Donnie, Barbie, Me with Bertie, Gretchen (Our Dachshund), and Roy
Photo Likely by Donald MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I remember the pain, the humiliation, and my fervent wish
that my parents wouldn't find out.
I had always been told that if I got in trouble at school,
I'd be in far worse trouble when I got home.
I also remember clenching my jaws and refusing to cry,
even though my eyes filled with tears.

Of course, my getting strapped in school was all over that tiny fishing village in no time.
Odd thing was, I didn't get into worse trouble at home.
My parents told me never to get caught passing another note,
or I would be in worse trouble at home.

Now I read my father's sentence with the knowledge of the horrific treatment
of Indigenous children throughout the Canadian North.
My strapping doesn't begin to compare
to what generations of them endured over many years.

I, in no way, condone my father's cuffing any child in any school;
but I will say, that as a teacher, my father usually managed
his students with rapport, humor and fairness.
It was rare for him to physically discipline students
whether as a teacher or as a principal.

The Anglican Church Mission School at Fort Hope, 1910
Ojibway children are still taught their own language by the English missionaries.

Note:  By using this photo, I am not implying that abuse was occurring in this instance.

As for the second incident, I have never been able to erase
the image of that poor woman stuck in a hole for the last three years of her life.
I was shocked as a ten-year old, but I am less shocked now.

I have come to realize that people everywhere in place and time
have grossly misunderstood and mistreated the mentally ill.

I will end with a question my father asked over fifty years ago
regarding the incident described in his January 17th letter:

"The whole event, including the birth of the two children
is recorded in detail at the nursing station at Lansdowne House,
and was confirmed to me by the resident priest.
What has never been explained to my satisfaction though is this:
If there was a nurse and if there was a priest at Lansdowne House,
why was this situation allowed to persist?"

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

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


1.   Mike Flaherty:
      Mike was the nurse at the nursing station in Lansdowne House,
      and he provided basic medical services for the White and Ojibway people
      who lived in the community.

2.  Wintigo:
      I am using my father's spelling, which is one of the many variations of this word.
      Wintigos occur throughout Anishinabe legends and mythology.  They are depicted in different
      ways:  as man-eating giants or as people possessed by a Wintigo for committing sins such as
      selfishness, gluttony, or cannibalism.  A wintigo's appearance is that of a huge ice-coated monster.
      Typically, the only escape for a person possessed by a wintigo was death. 

Ojibway Cosmos

3.   33 Below:  -33º F. = -36.1º C.
4.  My Father's Question:
     Source:  The Northern School Teacher (an unpublished handbook written by my father)

5.  Resident Priest:
     It was Father Ouimet who confirmed for my father that this incident had occurred as described
     in the nursing station records.  What is not clear is whether or not Father Ouimet was the
     resident priest at the Roman Catholic Mission when the woman was confined to the hole.

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Location of Neskantaga (Lansdowne House)
Human Rights Watch Report on the Safe Water Crisis 
in First Nations Communities in Ontario

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Dogs and Death

Whenever my mother, Sara MacBeath, opened the latest letter
from my father in Lansdowne House, we never knew what to expect.

The contents could be funny, shocking, poignant,
or alien; but to me, they were always fascinating.

Guaranteed I longed to see and to experience it all!

A Hitched Dog Team 
Cambridge Bay, Northwest territories, 1953
Credit / Mention de source :
J. C. Jackson. Canada. Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. 
Library and Archives Canada, e010674356 /
Flickr:  BiblioArchives/Library Archives Canada  License

On Monday, January 16, 1961 
My father wrote to his extended family:

Well Hi There:
I meant to tell you something else about dog teams,
but I got off on that prospector tangent,
and I didn’t have time to tell you last night, so here goes.

It is very interesting to watch them training a pup to be a sleigh dog.
I have never seen a whole team trained at once,
but judging from the difficulties that I related to you the other day,
it must be an exasperating job.

The way that they break in a pup with an experienced team,
though, is quick and produces results.  
Of course, it is kind of rough on the pup, especially if he is a stubborn one.
They just hitch him in the middle of the team and start traveling.  

The pup comes along whether he likes it or not.
He has two options, he can come on his feet or he can be dragged.  

I was watching them train a reluctant pupil a while ago,
and he elected the latter course.
He just lay on his back and put all four feet straight up in the air.

A Playful Sled Dog
Pixabay:  badamczak80   Licence:  CC0 Public Domain

That did hold things up for a moment.  
The driver just started the team, and off they went
at a rather lively clip, dragging the pup.
They must have dragged the poor animal about half a mile
before he managed to get his feet under him.

As I said, it certainly isn’t too humane,
but it sure does produce results.
After his rather rough initiation, this pup,
while he objected strongly to be harnessed,
always behaved well once he was hitched to the team.

Crossing the Ice
Pixabay:  skeeze   Licence:  CC0 Public Domain

The Indians are very cruel to their animals, all except their cats.
They only feed the dogs enough to keep them alive in the summer,
because it is the summer and they aren’t being worked
and are not earning their keep.
As a result, the dogs are just about starving in the summer.  

Even in the winter their diet, while it is ample, is a long way from being luxurious.
All the dogs are fed on frozen fish – one or two fish a day being their daily ration.

Full Speed Ahead
Pixabay:  violetta   Licence:  CC0 Public Domain

It is not that the Indians are purposely cruel;
it is just that compassion is one quality
that seems to be missing in the Indian’s makeup.

One of their children could be dying on the floor,
but the Indian would just sit there and watch it.
Oh they are concerned and sorry that they are going to lose the child,
but they wouldn’t be half crazy like I would be if it were one of mine.

Their attitude seems to be that if it is going to die,
it’s going to die, and that’s that.
They will wail and mourn something fierce after the child is dead,
but the only emotion they express during the dying is extreme interest.

If an Indian dies, they don’t hold anything like a wake or a lying in state.
They are terrified of dead bodies, and they don’t even wait
for the body to cool before they get it out of the house.

The Father says that he has, on several occasions,
gone into the church to light the fire in the morning
and has tripped over the dead body of someone that has died in the night.
The Indians wouldn’t even wait till morning to get it out of the house.

If the person died at two, he would be put outside at five after two.
If they can’t get him to the church, they will tie him up in a tree,
away from the dogs, till it is time to bury him.

Well on this cheerful note, I’ll end.
Bye now,

Love, Don. 

Ojibway Mothers and Babies
Fort Hope, 1910
(about 50 miles SW of Lansdowne House)

I think there are many things that White people
did not understand about the Ojibway people a half century ago.

Perplexing behaviors that my father observed,
like the way that the Indians treated their dogs,
were probably rooted in their not too distant past
when life was tenuous and survival was uncertain.

John J. Honigmann wrote in his 1948 anthropological report
on the Attawapiskat Indians west of James Bay
that the Indians expected to be hungry and to lack food
because in the past they had faced serious starvation 
in lands chronically short of large game animals.
Understanding that makes their treatment of dogs fathomable.

I don't know how my father learned about the behavior
of the Ojibway with regard to dying and death.
It's apparent that he discussed the topics with Father Ouimet.

I'm guessing there was a lot that my father didn't know and understand
about local Ojibway beliefs and practices.

He and Father Ouimet represented the government and the church,
and no matter how well-liked they were personally,
their institutions were pursuing policies of assimilation
by suppressing native languages, cultures, and traditions.
I would not be surprised to learn
that the local Ojibway kept many things private, hidden.

I had several close Ojibway and Métis friends.  
Based on the intense conversations we shared,
I don't for a moment think they lacked compassion.

I think my father mistook fatalism for dispassion.
Again, I think the fatalistic streak I observed among 
the Ojibway and Métis I knew was rooted in 
the experiences of generations of their ancestors
living in a severe and intractable environment.
Wawatay ~ Northern Lights
Symbolizing Some of the Ojibway Teachings and Practices
Pixabay:  diapicard  Licence:  CC0 Public Domain


My only experience with death and the Ojibway in Lansdowne House
happened one weekend morning when the nurse,
Mike Flaherty, dropped by our house.

He was on his way over to the Island to see Father Ouimet
and wanted my father to go with him.
My father wasn't home, but Mike stayed to chat briefly with Mom. 

Curious me had to ask why he wanted to see Father Ouimet.

"I have a package to give him," said Mike,
reaching into his pocket and pulling out
a small object wrapped in brown paper.

"What's that?" I asked, looking more closely.

"It's a dead baby.  I'm taking it to Father Ouimet so he can bury it."

"That's a baby?" I exclaimed.  
"It can't be any bigger than a pink eraser!"

"It's a fetus," said Mike, glancing at my silent mother.
"The mother miscarried and wanted me to give it to the Father."

"But it's so tiny!  It's hardly a baby."

"It is a baby, and you can't just throw it away.
It means a great deal to the mother
that Father Ouimet gives it a proper burial."

I was speechless.

Well, I better get on," he added, 
tucking the dead baby back into his coat pocket.
"Tell Don I'm looking for him,"
and he headed out the kitchen door.

I was shocked at the juxtaposition 
of Mike casually slipping the paper-shrouded fetus into his pocket
and the grief of the mother who had lost her baby.
I wondered if the rituals of the church would alleviate her sorrow.

That was the first time in my young life that I sensed
what a real and tragic loss a miscarriage must be to a woman.
It was also the first time that I sensed
the power of the Roman Catholic church
and the comfort that faith might bring.

I may not have learned much about Ojibway beliefs,
but the incident swiftly precipitated 
a series of fascinating conversations with my mother! 

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

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


1.  Miles to Kilometers:
     1/2 mile = 0.8 kilometer  

2.  Father Maurice Ouimet:
     He was a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate,
     a missionary religious congregation in the Roman Catholic Church.

3.  Treatment of Cats:
      My father wrote in his letter of October 11, 1960:  "The Father tells me, that in spite of
      all his efforts and the efforts of the Protestant Padre, the Indians still consider that all cats
      have either a benevolent or malevolent spirit residing in their bodies and treat them with
      considerable deference."

4.  John J. Honigmann:
     Honigmann was an American anthropologist who conducted field-based research on the First
     Nations people of the SubArctic of Canada, including the "Attawapiskat Indians" in the area on
     the western coast of James Bay.  One of his papers was Foodways in a Muskeg Community:  An
     Anthropological Report on the Attawapiskat Indians.  The report was written in 1948 and
     distributed by the Northern Co-ordination and Research Centre, Department of Northern Affairs,
     and National Resources, Ottawa in July 1961.

5.   Mike Flaherty:
      Mike was the nurse at the nursing station in Lansdowne House,
      and he provided basic medical services for the White and Ojibway people
      who lived in the community.  

6.  Wataway ~ Northern Lights:
     Wataway means Northern Lights in Ojibway.  It is also the name of a newspaper serving the First
     Nations peoples of Northern Ontario.  One of the Ojibway teachings is that the northern lights or
     wataway are the spirits of their ancestors celebrating life and reminding the Ojibway that they
     are part of creation.  The dancing northern lights make a path for souls to follow as they journey
     to the next world.

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

Map of Northern Ontario showing adhesions to Treaty No. 9 
covered by the Report of Commissioners Cain and Awrey. 
Map 30. Ontario: Department of Surveys, 29 Sept. 1930
J. L. Morris fonds
Reference Code: F 1060 Folder 3, map 30, AO 6907
Archives of Ontario, I0021544
- See more at:

Copyright Information: © Queen's Printer for Ontario
"The materials on this website are protected by Crown copyright (unless otherwise indicated), 
which is held by the Queen's Printer for Ontario. 
If credit is given and Crown copyright is acknowledged, 
the materials may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes."

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Forerunners

I'm sure that when my father wrote this letter in January 1961
he couldn't possibly imagine what was to happen
to the people of Lansdowne House in the coming decades.
I don't think anyone could have imagined.

Beautiful Lake Attawapiskat
Photo by Don MacBeath, Spring 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

It's not my purpose in this post to address the violence, 
the strife, the despair, and the worsening poverty 
into which the community descended 
as its traditional lifestyle 
was replaced by government dependency.

Nor am I going to write about the long, difficult struggle 
of its aboriginal people to attain self-determination
and to preserve their culture, traditions, and values,
a struggle that continues today amid dire living conditions
and a persistent suicide crisis among its youth.

But I will comment on a recent occurrence
that has the potential to dramatically improve 
the standard of living for the people of Lansdowne House
(now known as Neskantaga) 
and other remote aboriginal villages in its vicinity.

My father had no idea, when he chatted with two visitors at Father Ouimet's,
that they were forerunners of others whose work
could change this part of Northern Ontario irrevocably.

Sunday, January 15, 1961
My father wrote to his extended family:

Hi There:
Today was one of those days that just didn’t
seem to get off the ground till sometime after supper.  

Actually I got up quite early (for Sunday that is),
and although I seemed to be as busy as a beaver
I didn’t seem to get a hell of a lot done,
except carry in wood and write a long letter to Sara.
I slept all afternoon.

There were two prospectors who came through Lansdowne House today,
by air, and they stopped at the Father’s to hire an Indian as a guide.

Another Evening, Another Prospector
Father Ouimet's Kitchen
Pilot Chicago Bill, Uno Manilla, Father Ouimet, Brother Bernier, Prospector Mr.  Baker
Photo by Don Photo MacBeath, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

Of course, I can’t remember their names,
but they said they were working for an outfit from Toronto,
and I asked them if they knew Herbert Cox.  
They didn’t know him personally,
but they said their boss was a friend of his.  

I asked the name of their boss, but they declined to tell me
because they were up on a rather hush hush project;
they wouldn’t tell us where they were going,
or for what for, or who sent them.

There is a lot of activity about these parts.
They are developing quite a large strike at Fort Hope
which is only about fifty miles southwest of here.

I think it is a copper mine,
and I think that it is Anaconda that is doing the development.
I’ll check on this with the Father tomorrow, and let you know.  

In addition to this activity at Fort Hope,
the bush of Northern Ontario is lousy with prospectors.

Tonight Uno and I were invited to a nice turkey dinner at the Flaherty’s.  
It was Anne’s birthday.  Duncan and Maureen were there also.

I must have eaten too much turkey,
because I feel definitely uncomfortable now,
four hours after the meal.  

You know, I have been spelling that name wrong
for quite a time.  Actually it is O’Flaherty.

I think that I had better sign off, as it is late.
I am dead on my feet, or to be more exact, on my seat,
and I want to get up early and get a good start for the first of the week.

Bye now,
Love, Don

After checking with Father Ouimet,
my father added on his copy to his mother-in-law, Ella MacDonald:

Dear Mac:
Re:  Fort Hope and mining development.
Not too accurate at this.
It was gold, not copper,
and there are three companies in here:
Hollinger, Dome, and Pioneer.

Thanks so very much for the books you sent.
They will be greatly appreciated by all concerned.

Bye now,
Love Don.

Another Evening, Another Letter
The Bedroom in My Father's Two-Room Shack
Lansdowne House (Neskantaga) Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved 

In 2007 all those decades of prospectors tramping around 
in the Northern Ontario bush paid off big time 
with the discovery of one of the world's largest chromite deposits, 
now known as The Ring of Fire mineral belt.

These deposits contain an array of other valuable minerals, 
including copper, zinc, nickel, platinum, vanadium, and gold.
Estimates of the value of the minerals vary wildly,
ranging from  tens of billions to over a hundred billion dollars.

Lansdowne House (Neskantaga) is one of nine Ojibway and Cree communities
that belong to a group called the Matawa First Nations.
This group is impacted by the location of the mineral belt in its traditional lands.

These communities recognize the economic potential
of the mineral-rich Ring of Fire,
but they are also keenly aware of the environmental threat
that mining poses for the wetlands and forests.

The Ring of Fire extends from the boreal forest into the Hudson Bay lowlands,
two vast and biologically diverse ecosystems
largely intact because of the remoteness of the region.

Hudson Bay Lowlands
Flicker ~ Ted and John Koston   License

The Matawa Nations maintain that they have the right
to be consulted about development on their traditional lands,
that they must give written consent before that development can proceed,
and that they must share in the economic benefits of that development.

They have opposed the construction of a north-south access corridor
that would cross three major river systems, including the Attawapiskat,
cutting through the heart of their ecologically sensitive lands.

They are currently studying a possible east-west road
that would link the Ring of Fire, Lansdowne House (Neskantaga)
and three other first Nations communities to Pickle Lake,
the most northerly community with year-round access by road.

If the necessary infrastructure is approved and built, 
it would dramatically improve the living conditions
for these First Nations communities by providing them
with potable water, cheaper food, fuel and supplies,
and grid electrical power.
And jobs!

It would also provide mining companies with the access
they need to develop the mineral resources in the Ring of Fire.

Unfortunately, everything is a standstill for now with plenty
of blame to go around:  legal battles, environmental protests,
lack of infrastructure spending, government ineptitude,
mining policy, and a commodity slump.

I am no expert on the Ring of Fire and the complex social, environmental,
economic, and legal issues surrounding its potential development.
But it is my hope that when the Ring of Fire is developed,
the First Nations peoples of Northern Ontario will prosper,
living in sustainable communities in the land they love
and preserving their rich culture and heritage.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Shore of the Annapolis Basin
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
July 24, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


1.  Father Ouimet:
     He was a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate,
     a missionary religious congregation in the Roman Catholic Church.

2.  Herbert Cox:
     Herbert Cox was the stepson of my father's Aunt Maude.
     I know almost nothing about him.  Herbert's father, Harry Cox had died well before this time.
3.  Uno Manilla:  
     Uno was the teacher at the Roman Catholic Day School at the mission.
     He shared a two-room shack with my father.

4.  Mike O'Flaherty:
     Mike was the nurse at the nursing station in Lansdowne House.
     He was married to Anne (Garrick) O'Flaherty.

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.  Chromite is essential in the production of many metal, chemical, and manufactured
      products, especially in the manufacturing of stainless steel. 

7.  Matawa First Nations: 
     The Matawa First Nations is a tribal council consisting of nine Ojibway and Cree First Nations in
     Northern Ontario, including the four communities closest to the Ring of Fire:  Neskantaga
     (Lansdowne House), Nibinamik (Summer Beaver), Webequie, and Eabametoong (Fort Hope).

8.  Ring of Fire:

     I read dozens of articles and papers on the Ring of Fire before writing the above summary;
     some of the most helpful were:
     Wawatay News  12/01/15    The Sudbury Star 3/8/16    The Globe and Mail 4/21/16  

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

For a map showing the location of the Ring of Fire:  Click here

For a map showing the location of the Matawa First Nations:  Click here   
It gives one the sense of just how much surface water covers Northern Ontario.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: Wednesday, August 3, 2016

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:
Tamara Narayan , Tonya DreckerEllen@The Cynical SailorLauren@Pensuasion, Stephen Trempand Julie Flanders.

I hope you have a chance to visit them and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate an encouraging comment!
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Happy August to all the IWSG members making the rounds today!
I'm off again, this time visiting my family in Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia
where we have gathered from near and far for our annual get-together.

This Time I Landed!

I have to dash this down quickly while I've got an internet connection
and a brief time alone: no activity, no family ~ just relaxation!

This month's question is:  
What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer?
Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

I first realized the thrill of writing in my fourth grade classroom 
at Royal Canadian Air Force Station, Greenwood, Nova Scotia.

Royal Canadian Air Force Station Greenwood
Now Canadian Forces Base Greenwood
Home of 14 Wing
Nova Scotia, Canada

Our teacher was introducing us to paragraph writing,
and we were writing a paragraph together.
Ms. Fox would go from student to student asking for the next sentence,
and she would write that sentence on the board,
building the paragraph as she wrote.

There was a  dark cave ...  and my early contribution sent
a paleontologist inside to stumble across dinosaur bones.
When Ms Fox wrote those words in chalk on the blackboard,
I had shivers all over.
I suddenly knew deep down inside that I had to write.

That sentence vanished in a smear of disappearing chalk
as my teacher erased our finished paragraph from the blackboard,
but I have never forgotten the power and thrill of that moment.

I'll be home in a few days, and I will make the rounds visiting your blogs.
Enjoy IWSG Day!

Me, Standing on the Shore of the Annapolis Basin
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
July 24, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved