Friday, September 30, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Stressed to the Max

The Times Colonist in Victoria, British Columbia is full
of news and photos about the Royal visit,
and one of yesterday's articles reminded me of how much time
has passed since our family moved North in February, 1961.

Canada's Governor General David Johnston,
Prince William, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
September 24, 2016
(Yes, I took this photo!)
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

On Wednesday Prince William and Kate visited MacBride Museum
in Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory.

While there, they sent a royal welcome on Twitter via a telegraph
that is part of a communications exhibit at the museum.
The exhibit shows how Whitehorse contacted the outside world
from the remote North more than a half century ago.

The royal couple were also the first to sign the museum's digital guest book
using telegraph-to-tweet technology developed by Make IT Solutions.
On hand to assist them was ninety-year-old wireless telegraph operator
Doug Bell, a legendary Yukon operator from that time.

Long before Twitter and the internet, Canadians all across Canada
used wireless telegraph technology to communicate important messages quickly,
like when my father telegraphed his wife and mother
to inform them that freeze-up had started.

The Telegraph Office
Nakina, Ontario, September 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Telegrams were flying back and forth between my parents
as they made arrangements to move our family north.
My mother was under a great deal stress over the move and its cost,
and my "Nana" MacBeath was worrying about us living
in such a remote place as Lansdowne House.

On Wednesday, February1, 1961
My mother wrote to her
mother-in-law, Myrtle:

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

Dear Mother,

I am afraid I worried you by telling you I had lost a lot of weight.
I didn’t mean to.  It slipped out.

I was in to see the doctor today,
and actually he was pleased with my tests.
My blood and B.M.R. were normal.
Not only that, but my B.M.R. was 415,
and in Halifax last summer,
it was 414 which shows it is constant.

It’s the nervious strain I’ve been living under that has caused the loss of weight.
I have been worrying, so I haven’t been sleeping or eating properly.  

He gave me a prescription for tranquilizers.
He says the Maritime Medical is the best.
It didn’t cost me a cent for the tests or doctor.

My Father Traveling in Snowshoes
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Winter, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Don likes it up North,
and I’m sure that he wouldn’t ask us to come if it wasn’t all right.
It will give us a chance to live as a family instead of
everyone rushing their separate ways as they do so often nowadays.

Don is a far better teacher in my opinion than the children have had for a long, long time.
Extra curricular activities can become too much,
and I am sure the children would learn a lot up North.

Don sent me a picture of himself, and I haven’t seen him look
so rested in years, and he has lost a lot of weight.

So far as doctors go, the nurse can do as much as a doctor,
except for operations, and they have a flying doctor,
and in an emergency we would more likely get to the hospital faster.
Certainly it isn’t any more risky than
living near a street in most places or driving in a car.

Flying doctors reached remote places by bush plane.

As far as Don’s pay goes, we would be doing fine
if we didn’t have to pay back old bills incurred last winter and summer.
Even though they haven’t paid him his full pay,
we have been able to pay back a lot of those bills.
Don just wasn’t able to manage things last winter.  

It is certainly wonderful to know that we have more than enough
to live on which is a situation we haven’t known.
If Don’s pay had been through, we more likely would have spent
more at Christmas, and it has forced us to save.

However it has worried me, especially when I had expected it
to be through in time for us to leave.
I sent Don a letter today to see if he can prod them.
The government is just plain slow at paying.

The man in the telegraph office was saying
there just isn’t any way to speed them up.
They are that way with all their employees.

One consolation is you know you will get it eventually,
and most people realize this, especially up North
where most of the people are government employees.

I must get to bed.
With love, Sara.

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

An Old-Time Telegraph Office
Restored CN Telegraph counter on display at the Saskatchewan Railway Museum

People can still send telegrams today, 
and they are an effective communication method,
especially where there is no electricity or internet access.

Having a telegram delivered to your door was an exciting event;
but always an anxiety-inducing one until you knew what it said.
Too often a telegram carried news of illness or death.

My mother experienced a great deal of stress during her life,
and she constantly struggled to keep weight on.
My father likewise experienced great stress,
but he constantly struggled to keep weight off.

Money and financial stability were always issues,
but somehow my parents realized their dream
of all five of their children graduating from university.

I wish they were alive today to see how well each of us has done.
They would know their sacrifices and difficulties were worth it.
I am forever grateful for their love and support.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Crossing Petite Passage
Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia
Photo Copy by Roy MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

1.  Victoria's Times Colonist newspaper: 
     Thursday, September 29, 2016, p. D1
     (For press photos click here and here)

2.  Basal Metabolic Rate: 
     The B.M.R. is the amount of energy needed to support the body’s most basic functions to stay
     alive.  The test is meant to be performed when a person is at rest in a neutral, or non-stressful,
     environment.  That likely explains why Mom spent the night in the hospital.  One thing the test
     measures is the status of the thyroid, always a concern for my mother who had Graves Disease.

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Location of Canada's Yukon, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island   

Location of Smith's Cove
where Mom and We Five Were Living

Location of Lansdowne House
Where My Father Was Living
Northern Ontario, Canada


  1. Money is always a issue, but the best work on through. I'd be nervous about moving up north too. But people sure make due when they have to. Nice shot as well, as the whoopee royals wave away lol

    1. Happy Friday, Pat! At ten years old, I wasn't the least bit worried about moving up north. I was so excited about the adventure of going and living there. We were studying about the voyageurs in my class at school, and I was thrilled about seeing history come alive. I guess I haven't changed much ~ I was right there for the royals! LOL

  2. Your mother and grandmother were beautiful. What a worrisome and exciting adventure to move to such a strange place. The photo of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is lovely. Yesterday I was enchanted by photographs of little George and Charlotte in love with balloons and bubbles.


    1. Hi JJ! It's lovely to hear from you, especially when I've been so sporadic about visiting my blogging buddies. Thanks for the kind words about my mother and grandmother. I, too, have been enchanted about George and Charlotte, and I'm glad to see them having a bit of normalcy in their lives. Have a happy Friday!

    2. Thank you. It's been a good day. I don't base my blog visits on which bloggers visit me. I go where I like as time allows. I enjoy your blog so much and find the letters fascinating. It seems to me that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are trying to give their children a real family life and avoid putting them on display.

  3. A most wonderful Royal visit. I have a friend in Carcross, and am waiting for more pics from her. Yes, sacrifices, we all make them, but our own parents those years ago made them in huge amounts. What a heartfelt letter, your Mum was so brave too.Have a great weekend, we are already into Saturday down here.

    1. Hi, Jean! We've been enjoying the delightful photos of Charlotte and George at the children's party yesterday ~ just darling! My mother was the strongest, bravest person I have ever met. She was an amazing human being. I appreciate that more and more with each passing year. You're probably into Sunday by now! I know the science behind how it all works, but it still delights me to think about how far ahead of us you are! Have a good one!

    2. What a beautiful compliment to your mother.

  4. Your have a beautiful family, Louise! And I love how you present your posts and how you end them with a lovely, smiling photo of yourself! As far as Prince William goes, it seems like just yesterday that he had such a beautiful full head of hair and he is losing his hair at a very rapid pace! He still looks handsome, of course, but he is so young to lose his hair like this. :) I have been seeing and hearing a lot about their visit here in Canada and they all look great! Love and hugs to you, my cherished friend.

    1. Love and hugs right back at you, my special Montreal friend! I noticed William's hair loss too, but what is one going to do??? At least he's handsomely authentic, and every time I look at him, I see Diana. I have enjoyed his speeches, and he is wonderful with his kiddos. I can't believe that we had the amazing luck of seeing W&K, plus others like the Trudeaus and the Governor General and his wife. Have a lovely weekend ~ sending you hugs and love!

  5. What a fabulous photo you took of the royal couple! It looks like a professional photo, it is so well framed!

    I only sent a telegram once in my life and now for the life of me, I can't remember what the circumstances were. Email is much quicker and cheaper now, LOL!

    1. P.S. Do you remember how it used to be a custom for people who couldn't attend a wedding to send a telegram of congratulations to the happy couple instead? Then all the telegrams were read out at the reception. It was like a status symbol to receive a happy telegram.

    2. Hi, Debra! I was so pleased with that photo ~ Everything was happening so fast, and I was behind press photographers. I just kept snapping and got that one. I did edit it to get the final photo I wanted.

      And yes, I do remember telegrams being read at weddings. It was always fun time at the reception. But then Canadian wedding receptions are more fun that American ~ what with the clicking of glasses and the roasting of the bride and groom. Have a great weekend, my friend!

  6. How communication has changed.
    Funny, when stressed, your mother lost the weight and gave it to your father.
    The government slow? That hasn't changed a bit!

    1. Hi, Alex! I've been buried in writing my entry for the IWSG contest ~ a bit of a challenge since I've never tackled fantasy. I have my first draft done and have made one editing passthrough. I'm in the position of having to add words, after several years of writing concise posts.

      I surfaced only to go see the royals departing from Victoria. Communications have truly changed. I've already posted color photos taken with my little point and shoot ~ Something we couldn't imagine when my Dad was in the North! Have a great weekend!

  7. Having met you and two of your siblings, Louise, I am certain that your parents would be very proud of what you all have accomplished and the fine adults you have become.
    And yes, your parents' hard work and sacrifice was what you kids needed. You were very fortunate to have had that 'northern experience' and your parents' encouragement to take the chance at that time.
    Funny how some lose weight with stress and others gain, eh? I lose usually!

    1. Oh Lord, Jim, I wish I lost weight when stressed. I'd look like a string bean instead of a porpoise! LOL I saw the royals off today ~ simply couldn't resist the pull of Charlotte and George! Thanks for your kind words about Barb, and Bertie and me! Have a great weekend, my friend! Take care!

  8. OH my, your mother and grandmother, both beautiful! (See where you get your looks! Not forgetting your handsome Dad, of course.)
    Now, that first photo that you is OUTSTANDING! It needs to be on a Canadian post card, just saying!!!

    1. Hi, Kay! Sorry for the late response; I'm away from home! Thanks for your kind words about my family. I was thrilled with the photo I took! It made standing in line for several hours all worth it! Have a great day, my friend!

  9. Um, yes, Louise, I want to second what Kay said! Your photo is incredibly good. In fact, I assumed you'd borrowed it from a news source. Ha! And I also looked at your mother and grandmother and thought how stunningly beautiful they both were. And I have no doubt that your parents would be immensely proud of you and your siblings. Proud of you but also proud of themselves! Hope you are well and enjoying a beautiful weekend! XOXO

    1. Hi, Audrey! Thanks for all the kind things you have said in your comment, Audrey! I am well and having a blast in Victoria. Terry and I really enjoy coming here. We've already booked for next year, because there is a lot of competition to get a longterm stay at our hotel. Victoria is a beautiful, laid back city, even though it is the capital of British Columbia. And my hotel room is just 98 paces from the Royal BC Museum which is spectacular! I hope your girls are off to a great start in their new school year! Sending you hugs and love!

  10. Louise, how exciting to capture such a great photo of the Royals. You were at the right place at the right time. I don't know how they always manage to look so great all the time with the many photos being snapped! You're very lucky that your family wrote letters and that they were saved. What a treasure to read! Youre in a very lovely place this fall - enjoy your trip.

    1. We are having a blast, Barb! I wish the royals would sparkle a little royal dust over me, because I am definitely fashion-challenged! They are amazing in their ability to look exactly right all the time! They're warm and gracious and authentic constantly too. I sent Noreen a link to your fall colors posts in case she was missing Breckenridge ~ turns out she had extended her stay! But photos of Breck are lovely anytime, and yours are always beautiful! Take care!

  11. That is your photo? That is amazing! So much fun to see this lovely young couple in person. My brother and sister-in-law got a glimpse of the royal couple in Montreal (actually very close!) before they had their two children.

    Oh, your mom. I can imagine how much stress she went through during those years. So many changes, money issues, etc. A lot to worry about when you have a family. My parents dealt with a lot of stress, too, during the early period of their marriage, mostly financial. Times were tough for many.

    1. Thanks for the kind words about my photo and about my mom, Martha! You definitely understand how challenging it can be with young children and financial stress. Our parents were amazing people! One thing we both had in abundance was love! I wish all children were so fortunate! Sending you a big hug!


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