Friday, October 21, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Family is the Best!

Where would we be without our families?
I can't imagine not having my mine.
For generations we've always been there for each other.
It's true now, and it was true in February, 1961
when we moved to Lansdowne House in Northern Ontario.

The Latest "We Five" Photo
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada   8/7/16
Back:  Barb and Roy
Front:  Bertie, Me (Louise), and Donnie
Photo by Our Cousin Pat Ryan (left)  or Our Brother-in-Law Martin (right)
on God Knows Whose Phone!

My mother faced the daunting prospect
of traveling halfway across Canada
with five children aged ten, eight, five, four, and one
via car, boat, train, and bush plane.
And let's not forget Gretchen, our little dachshund.

But thanks to our extended family, 
in Nova Scotia and Quebec 
she didn't face the trip alone.

On Friday, February 24, 1960 my mother, 
Sara MacBeath, wrote from Lansdowne House:

Hi Everyone:-
We had quite a trip down.
It was made easy because everyone helped me so much.
Aunt Nan spent a couple of days helping me pack.
Mary Lou made our dinner for us and sent it down on the day we left.
Muriel did the housework, and we all went together to the boat.

The boat trip was fine most of the time,
the baby loved to run up and down the corridors.
However just before we docked in St. John, she became very tired.

We got on the train without any trouble,
a Red Cap looked after our baggage,
and we flopped into bed and went off to sleep.
John and Arthur, Dawn's husband, met us at the station,
and John took us shopping for a birthday gift for Donnie.

We had a grand time at John's and Esther's.
They have a lovely new home.
Esther made a birthday cake for Donnie,
and they had all kinds of gifts for her.

The next day we had a lovely turkey before Arthur
took us to the station to see us off, along with the whole family.
Joanie, Faye, and Sandy are such lovely children.

Auntie Esther and Uncle John (Mom's Brother)
Dawn, Baby Joanie, Sandy and Faye, 1958
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Thanks to My Cousin Dawn MacDonald White for This Photo

The night before we left I phoned Barbara, and she met us at the station.
We had only a few minutes, but it was nice to see her.

The trip on the train was nice,
the baby became accustomed to the motion,
and soon I had to keep her from trying to leave the bedroom.
She went to sleep before we reached Nakina.

At Nakina, Austin Airways took over.
They carried the baby for me,
got our baggage and loaded us
plus poor Gretchen on the plane.

Was Gretchen happy to see us!
I guess she had given up hope of ever seeing us again.
I put the coat I made for her on her,
and Louise held her on the plane... (to be continued)

Austin Airways Office
Nakina, Ontario, Canada, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Reading my mother's letter reminds me of
that amazing time when my sister Bertie was "the baby."
I remember Donnie and Barbie as babies,
but Bertie was my living baby doll.

From the time she was born, I held her,
fed her, changed her, bathed her, dressed her, 
and carried her with me many places I went.

Our First "We Five" Photo
Donnie, Barbie, Bertie with Me, Roy with Gretchen
Margaretsville, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1959
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Some of my strongest memories of the trip north are of Bertie.
She was twenty-three months old and a relatively new walker
(probably because I was always carrying her around,
and if not me, then guaranteed someone else).

Bertie was very sweet and loved to be held,
but once she discovered her feet, she never stopped moving.

When we crossed the Bay of Fundy on the SS Princess Helene,
from Digby, Nova Scotia to St. John, New Brunswick
Bertie was in her glory,
all decked out in a red velvet dress and a red barrette,
and tetter-tottering around in her little white shoes and socks.

On the ferry Bertie would not stop,
and Roy, Donnie, and I chased her all over the place.
I remember Donnie and I on our knees, arms wide open,
in the passenger lounge, maybe fifteen feet apart,
and Bertie staggering back and forth between us
shrieking with laughter, as the ship rolled on the waves.

SS Princess Helene
Ferry Passing through Digby Gut, Nova Scotia, Canada

What stands out for me on this journey north
was the love of our extended family
and the friendly help we received from neighbors
like Muriel who helped Mom with the housekeeping
and from strangers like the man at Austin Airways
who took Bertie from my very tired mother
and carried her to the bush plane for our flight to Lansdowne House.

I can still see my Great Aunt Nan and Great Uncle Cecil
together with their son Kelsey and his wife Mary Lou
waving good-bye to us as the ferry pulled away from the dock in Digby ...

And Uncle John, Auntie Esther, and their family
waving good-bye to us at the train station in Montreal ...

And "Aunt" Barbara, Dad's first cousin, living in Peterborough, Ontario
and meeting us on a station platform somewhere along the way.

Baby Bertie at My Cousins Dawn and Art's Home
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 1961
Thanks to My Cousin Dawn MacDonald White for This Photo

Many of my relatives who helped us in February 1961
are long gone, but the love they gave us will never fade.
Family really is the best!

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.  Dawn and Arthur (Art):
     Dawn was Uncle John and Auntie Esther's oldest child, and she and Art were relative newlyweds.
     I had the best fun staying with them, but that's for next week's post!

2.  My access to computers will be limited during the next week.
     Thanks for your understanding!

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Digby Gut Through Which the SS Princess Helene Sailed

Location of Canada's Yukon, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island   


  1. Love today's post. Wonderful memories of those days together.

    1. Thanks, Jean! I'm glad you enjoyed it! And thank you also for your latest email and helpful comments on my fantasy story. I really appreciate it, but haven't replied yet because we've been busy with appointments and getting ready to head out. I think I'm going to sleep for two days when we get to Vegas. You're the best! Love and hugs to you and Hugh!

  2. What a nice post, Louise! Great memories to cherish, beautiful photos, and I love the recent one of yourself and your family! I hope you have a great weekend, my cherished friend. :)

    1. Thank you, dear Linda! I'm going to have a busy weekend guaranteed! You can always tell how in or out of control my life is by whether I'm making my blogging rounds or not! I've been blessed with a wonderful and loving family, both on my side and on Terry's. I am forever grateful and never take my good fortune for granted. Have a wonderful weekend too, my special Montreal friend! Sending you lots of hugs and love!

  3. Bertie was a good climber as well.
    Your mother had a lot of help, which she certainly needed with that many kids.

    1. Hi, Alex! I suspect Bertie had a little help getting up there, LOL! But it was quite a challenge keeping her safe up north. She could get loose and head for the bush or lake in a heartbeat. She was definitely watched by the Indian dogs who considered her a tasty-looking morsel. Have a great weekend! Hopefully I'll finish polishing off my entry by Sunday night. Take care!

  4. Oh Louise, I look at that wonderful recent picture of you and your siblings and I am so happy for you that you have always had your family. There are so many people who do not have that family love to depend on. Your mother's account of the trip shows how important relationships are and how people could count on others to help them out. I hope that in this modern age we do not lose that sense of kindness.

    1. My heart aches for all the people who do not have a family or who have family and are not close, Peggy! And we are fortunate to live in countries like the US and Canada where we can be free to pursue our passions and spend fun times together. I am very distressed over what has been happening in the Middle East and especially in Syria. I see the anguished faces on tv, and I wonder, "Why do I have it so easy and others so hard?" They are no different from me; we share a common humanity. And they love their families as I love my mine. It's a mystery, I'll never grasp. I hope you and Don have a lovely weekend! Sending you hugs and love!

  5. The adventure begins! I bet that dachshund was a big hit up north!

    1. Hi, Debra! Gretchen was a huge hit ~ Certainly the Indians had never seen anything like her! Our big worry was the Indian dogs, because they would have happily eaten her! Have a great weekend with Your Rare One, my friend! Sending you a big hug!

  6. Family sure helps out, especially the good ones and get us to where we need to go. Lol quite the climber indeed, must have thought he was a cat.

    1. Bertie has never been afraid to tackle anything, and by sheer determination and grit she outdistances her other siblings in surprising ways. She's still running all over the place! Have a great weekend, Pat!!!

  7. Your closeknit family is really wonderful and to hear of the support of the extended family is really touching.xx

    1. Thanks you, Kezzie! I know that I am very fortunate. We were destined to be a close family because of the way our parents and our previous generations had acted, but I think our experiences in the north made us even closer. Have a great week!

  8. Louise, you have gotten us there! Let the adventures begin!
    How wonderful that you mother had so much assistance from family. It is almost like it was the only obvious thing to help get you all up north safely. What beautiful memories indeed.
    I love that family photo of you kids in Margaretsville. You really look 'in your element' with baby Bertie.
    I had a student from Margaretsville for two years at Nictaux School outside Middleton back in 1974-76.
    Good luck in your house 'search'.

    1. Hi, Jim! Somehow I missed your comment and Kezzie's yesterday ~ too much to do! LOL Like get a story off that I had written for a writing contest! One step at a time, I'll get through today! Terry is sick with a cold, and I'm fighting a lower version, so tomorrow could be interesting. Never a dull moment.

      I've only been back to Margaretsville once, and it was so much smaller than I remembered. It was an amazing place to live as a eight and nine year olds. Roy and I were convinced we were going to find pirate treasure and dinosaur bones. We were all over the shore,wharf, woods, and fields. We never found gold coins or other booty, but we did drag home the head and bones of a cow's skeleton that we had found in the woods. Mom had to explain to us that it was not a dinosaur. No problem! We made necklaces out of some of the teeth and small bones and pretended that we were Indians. You gotta love kids ~ That's why I became a third grade teacher instead of a high school teacher!

      Have a great week with Ron and Sophie. Terry may have a possibility lined up today! Sending you hugs!

  9. Are the schoolhouse and the home you lived in still standing? Have you ever returned?


    1. Hi, Janie! My grandmother's home in Smith's Cove was just torn down in June. My sister Bertie and her husband are building a new, up-to-code home in it's place. My old school is now a firehouse for the community. As for Lansdowne House, I have never been back, although I hope to return sometime soon. Actually the whole community has moved several miles up the peninsula and away from it's original site. There have been a lot of changes and challenges for the village. Hope all is well with you!

  10. Beautiful letter, lovely memories. Thanks again for sharing these moments with us.

    1. Thanks, Sheena-kay! This is a rewarding process for me to go through, and I'm glad when someone appreciates my post! Have a good one!

  11. Family really is the best . . . and your mom's letter, your written observations, and the wonderful photos show that love!! Reading your blog tonight was a wonderful way to end my day. Thanks!

    1. Hi Susan! I'm so glad that you enjoyed this. Terry and I are down with colds, and trying to turn around for another adventure starting Monday. Argh! Hope you are doing well. Sending love and hugs!

  12. This is a beautiful post, Louise. So much love and sentimentality in it. Looking forward to more!

    1. Hi, Martha! Sorry to be replying just now, but I've had very little access to the internet. At least now I can get on, if I take my computer to a library. What a year!!! Thanks for your kind words ~ hope all is well with you and George!


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