Friday, July 21, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: An Ever-present Concern

This will be a quick and dirty northern post
because I am leaving to fly to Canada in four hours.
Terry will be manning the home front while I'm gone.

I don't know how much I will get to use my computer while I am away,
because internet access is a challenge in Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia.

April 1961 was racing by in Lansdowne House,
and my family was settling into a northern routine.
But even ordinary events are not always routine
in the isolation of a northern village.

On Thursday, April 20, 1961
My mother wrote to her mother-in-law
Myrtle MacBeath:

Dear Mother:
Nothing very much
has happened this week.

Poor Mike had quite a time
last Friday.

Milt's teeth were bothering
him so much,
he had to get Mike
to pull five of them out.

Sara Margaret (MacDonald) MacBeath
Acadia University, Wolfville, Circa 1950
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Mike froze his teeth and pulled them,
and then Milt went over to visit Duncan and then home.
When he got home he passed out.

He had a bad reaction to the needle.
It happens in one case in a million I guess.
He was unconscious for half an hour.

Poor Mike, at one point he thought he couldn't save him.
Milt went into shock, his blood pressure shot up, 
and I guess his heart missed a beat.
However Mike saved him.

The Causeway to the Father's Island and the Ice-Bound Lake
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Painting by Don MacBeath, March 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Don received a letter about the position in Sioux Lookout,
but won't know until spring whether he will get it or not.

Maureen and Duncan were over for bridge last weekend.
Maureen and I beat Dunc and Don by thousands.
I never had such beautiful hands,
especially when my partner had the same luck.

We went over to Maureen's and Dunc's Monday night
to listen to the Academy Awards.

Best Picture 1960
April 17, 1961, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
in Santa Monica, California.

Don has been painting pictures like mad and doing a wonderful job of them.
He paints lovely snow scenes and just painted a beautiful one
of the island across the way from our living room window.

Out Our Living Room Window 
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Painting by Don MacBeath, March 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I wish you could see Roberta now.
She is putting on weight now,
eats like a horse,
her cheeks are rosy,
and she is tanned.

She is outside every day,
almost the whole day.
It's a fight to get her in to eat.

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

I imagine you will soon be planting your gardens and getting the cottages open.
It seems hard to believe up here with all this snow.
The weather has been beautiful, mostly sunshine.
I keep wondering if the daffodils I planted in the Cove will bloom.

I guess that you have had a very bad winter,
and you will be glad to see the spring.

Barbie is learning to read.
She is so proud!
Whenever she is home,
she insists on reading
out of her book to me. 

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

Little Daisy, who is in
the same class as Barbie
and about the same age,
insists on taking
her reader home too, like Barbie,
so she can read to her mother.
Her mother can't understand
a word of English.

Little Daisy, on the left
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The children are all outside all the time playing witch,
and Don got them a ball.
They all love going to school to Don.
They find him much more interesting
than any teacher they ever had.

The days seem to be long here.
There is so much to do,
but we are really enjoying ourselves.

There doesn't seem to be much to write about,
for this last week was quite uneventful,
so I will close for now.

With love,

Don says you won't have to open the cottages this spring.
It must be a relief.
They were so much work.


The MacBeath Cottages 
Brighton, Outside Charlottetown, 
Prince Edward Island, Canada
Painting by Don MacBeath, March 1961,
as remembered from his childhood
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Milt's tooth-pulling issue highlights an ever-present concern
in remote communities throughout northern Canada.
No one ever knew when they might be hit by a dental or a medical emergency,
and the adults were always aware that they might not be able
to get to a hospital or other emergency location Outside.
Lansdowne House was fortunate in that it did have a nurse and nursing station.
Northern nurses had to handle all kinds of emergencies.

Planes were still flying in and out of Lansdowne House
prior to the spring break-up when no one could get in or out,
but for whatever reason, probably extreme pain,
Milt couldn't wait for a plane to come and take him out to a dentist.
So Mike did the best he could filling in for an emergency dentist.

From Lansdowne House 
to Charlottetown
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

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

1.  Mike O'Flaherty was the nurse at the Nursing Station.
2.  Milt MacMahon:
     Milt was one of the two Department of Transport employees in Lansdowne House,
     and his duties included running the weather station.

3.  Duncan and Maureen McRae:
     Duncan was the other Department of Transport employee.
     He and his wife Maureen were good friends with my parents.

4.  The 33rd Academy Awards were held on April 17, 1961, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa
     Monica, California.  Bob Hope was the MC.  This was the first Academy Award ceremony to be aired on 
     ABC television.  "The Apartment" was the last black and white film to win the Best Picture Oscar during a
     time when black and white movies were common.  Wikipedia
5.  Painting:
     Both of my parents were painters.  My father preferred oils and my mother watercolors.  Unfortunately 
     the responsibilities of working and raising and educating five children made it difficult for my parents to 
     pursue their passions.  I am humbled by the sacrifices they made for my brother, sisters, and me.  

6.  Cottages:
     My grandmother MacBeath owned several cottages in what once was Brighton outside of Charlottetown.  
     Charlottetown grew into the Brighton area, and the cottages are long gone.  My brother Roy and I had spent
     the summer of 1960 there.  The cottages were right in the middle of the outlined area below.  

     This morning  (7/21/17) in Calgary, I found a pile of family paintings, and low and behold, there was one
     my father had painted of the cottages in Brighton.  The memory was from his childhood, and the small trees
     along the dirt lane grew up into beautiful lime trees that my brother and I loved to climb in.

Brighton, Charlottetown, P.E.I.

7.  Personal Note:
     This post was a rush job, and I've only scanned the preview.  I apologize for any mistakes in advance.
     I don't know if I'll be able to get any more northern posts done until I return home.  We shall see ...

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Route Map for Austin Airways, 1985
with Lansdowne House West of James Bay
Nakina is near Geraldton.

Location of Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia

Canada   Wikimedia


  1. A dentist is bad enough, but having to go all make shift dentist would stink indeed. A reaction just adds to the aggravation. Sure one major downfall to isolation. Sounds like every one were happy campers otherwise that week, uneventful can sometimes be good. Enjoy your trip back to NS land.

    1. 100th Day Celebration in Calgary tonight for my first great niece (on my side of the family) and then off to NS land early tomorrow morning. I can't wait!!! I hope that you are having a great weekend, Pat.

  2. That's a really nice watercolor.
    Pulled five teeth and he nearly died? That sounds horrible. That is not the place you want to be and not take care of your teeth.

    1. Sometimes no matter how well you take care of your teeth, bad things happen. Certainly in the North, you needed to be on top of everything. Thanks for the kind words about the painting. Have a good one, my friend!

  3. Amazing write up my friend ,though in hurry but you managed to write it beautifully !

    I almost felt the toothache of mitt ouch!
    reactions of any treatments are scary sometime as i saw my late mom suffering with one.

    your mother's later to her mother in law is lovely and reminds me my era of letter writing 26 years back.

    wishing you all the best for flight and stay at new city .take care my friend.
    have blessed stay

  4. Enjoy your time in Nova Scotia, Louise!

  5. The things we take for granted! Another good post. Enjoy Canada.

  6. Hi Pat, Alex, Baili, Debra and Sage! Thanks for your kind comments! I'll visit each of you, if there is a lull in our fam-jam! Have a good one!

  7. Sounds like you are off to meet family and catch up where the place was once so familiar. Enjoy N.S. have internet when you can, and safe travels. Isolation, emergencies, a real worry, and in very remote places here, way back in the 1930's, the teacher/missionary/ had to be dentist, doctor and nurse as well. My aunt was in a remote area maybe about 1930 or so.. and an old man came and said he had toothache, " which one?" he pointed, she pulled it out, off he went, the next day was back again, it was the next tooth along !! So she pulled that one out as well, goodness knows what with, maybe engineering pliers!! Lovely paintings, and your words today are wonderful, a great start to my Saturday morning.

  8. Another great post, Louise, I love the watercolour and photos! Enjoy your time, my cherished friend.

  9. Wow! Five teeth--that's a lot to have pulled by a dentist. The man must have been in a lot of pain to ask to have them pulled right away. Your dad's watercolor is so pretty.


  10. Hi dear Louise!
    I nominated you for Mystery Bloggers Award if you can check it out.

  11. My teeth are hurting, reading about this!! Ouch!! LOL!
    I love the paintings! They are beautiful!
    I hope you're having a great time away!
    Big Hugs!

  12. I cringed at the teeth pulling. And five at the same time! That is tough. And traumatizing.

  13. Hi Pat, Alex, Baili, Debra and Sage! Thanks for your kind comments! I'll visit each of you, if there is a lull in our fam-jam! Have a good one!



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