Friday, April 27, 2018

The Lansdowne Letters: The Most Terrifying Moment ...

Memory is such a subjective thing!

My four siblings and I were born within nine years of one another 
and grew up in a tightly knit family;
we remain close, in spite of being separated by geography.
Yet, with all the experiences we have shared,
I can't think of one instance when we remember an event the same way.

Bertie Comes Home from the Hospital
Donnie, Barbie, Louise (Me) with Bertie, Gretchen with Roy
Margaretsville, Nova Scotia, Canada
April 1959
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue:  All Rights Reserved

That's true of June 4, 1961 when we were all stranded
on a small island in the middle of Attawapiskat Lake.
Those of us who recall that day remember different things
and were uniquely impacted by the events of that long ago day.

At the time Bertie was barely two,
and she remembers nothing of our time in the North.

Donnie, who was seven, has no recollection of the actual day,
but she has lots of memories of the family stories about it.

Roy, who turned ten one week
before we set out on our adventure,
distinctly recalls different details
and events from me.

Barbie, who was five at the time, vividly recalls several things,
one of which fueled
her nightmares for years.

I, at eleven, cast our stranding
in a romantic, adventurous light ~
especially since we all survived:
We were marooned!

Shortly Before We Moved North
Bertie with Louise (Me), Roy with science project
Barbie, and Donnie with Gretchen
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue:  All Rights Reserved

My mother, who had an unshakable belief in things turning out well
and who trusted my father implicitlysaid of our marooned outing:
"Actually, it's very safe; because there are so many islands,
if the weather turns you can always stop and wait."

For my mother it may have been no big deal;
but for my father, one instant was the most terrifying moment of his life.

The day was beautiful when we pushed off and motored past the Father's Island.
Loaded with seven people, a dachshund, and picnic supplies,
our borrowed canoe rode low in the water;
but we didn't worry because Dad was in the stern
steering our canoe with the tiller on the small outboard motor.

Bertie and Gretchen traveled uncomfortably in the bottom of the canoe.
Bertie didn't think much of canoeing
and sat bracing herself with her small hands.
Gretchen lay in the bottom resting her woeful eyes on her front paws,
the thin skin between her ears wrinkled in distress.

We had a long stretch of open water to cross on Attawapiskat Lake,
and at times it was difficult to distinguish between
the islands and the irregular shoreline of the lake.
The short, spindly trees formed a low dark green horizon in all directions.

Some four or five miles down the lake Dad beached the canoe
on a curved strand of white sand in a sheltered cove.
Scraggily black spruce and thin white birches crowded the sand,
and the silence of the wilderness pressed close.
Although the waterways of Attawapiskat Lake and the Attawapiskat River
had been hunted and fished by the Ojibwa and Cree for millennia,
the forest looked untouched, primal.

The Forest Primeval
Shore of Attawapiskat Lake, Northern Ontario, Canada
June 4, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

The cove wasn't silent for long as we kids scrambled out of the canoe,
ditched our shoes, and dug our bare feet into the cool sand,
then raced for the frigid water and splashed in the shallows.

Our parents quickly got lunch underway, starting with the canned beef stew
that was such a hit on our canoe trip to Joe Alex's trading post two weeks earlier.
There was lots more to eat and drink:
our favorite egg salad sandwiches made with fresh eggs
now that break-up was over, sponge cake, and peanut butter cookies,
orange juice, and copious coffee for our parents.

To this day, Barb remembers what a lovely picnic lunch we had.
We were ravenous after our canoe trip in the cool, clean air,
but our hunger was nothing compared with the hunger we would feel later.

After lunch we hit
the shockingly cold water.

In a few spots we waded
and swam through
the last vestiges of rotted ice,
small crystalline pieces
that slowly disappeared
in the warm afternoon sun.

Roy and I crowed
to each other about
how brave and strong
we were to swim in icy water,
while secretly marveling
that we were.

Waters of Attawapiskat Lake
Northern Ontario, Canada
June 4, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Even our mother couldn't resist the lure of water and waded in.
Not Dad though.  Gone were the Prince Edward Island days
when he would challenge Roy and me to a race into the water
at Cavendish, Stanhope, or Brackley Beach with the cry,
"Last one in buys everyone Coke!"
Roy and I would splat on our bellies in eight inches of water
before Dad could get his feet wet; but he always made good on his bets.

Now Dad was content to lounge
on a blanket and read.

Waters of Attawapiskat Lake
Northern Ontario, Canada
June 4, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

All too soon our parents were loading the canoe for the return trip
amid loud objections from all of us children.
We couldn't believe it was suppertime.
With the lengthening days of a northern spring, it felt like mid-afternoon.

Once we cleared the sheltering arm of the cove
and entered the stretch of open water running to Lansdowne House,
we discovered a steady wind had raised waves on the lake.
They swept straight down the lake toward us, a good two feet high.

That doesn't sound like much;
but our heavily loaded canoe rode low in the water,
and we had miles to go headed into the wind.
My father struggled to keep the canoe perpendicular to the waves,
a difficult job with the small outboard motor.
If we got crosswise to the waves, we could capsize.
It was too dangerous to turn back, so we had to keep going.

At first it was exciting, but the weather deteriorated quickly
threatening rain and increasing the roughness of the waves.
The grey clouds robbed the lake of its pretty blue,
and white wind streaks appeared on the dark waves.
Spray drenched us, and water slopped into the canoe.
Dad yelled at us to bail, and Roy and I bailed and bailed.

There was a small island nearby, and Dad decided to make for it.
He had to turn the canoe at an angle to the waves to reach it,
and we were all frightened as we absorbed my father's tension and fear.
And then a panicked Gretchen jumped in the bottom of the canoe.

"That was the most terrifying moment in my life,"
Dad confided to Roy years later.
"I thought I would lose my whole family."

I don't know how my father did it;
he managed to counterbalance Gretchen's weight,
and somehow we wallowed slantwise up and down
the waves to a gravelly tip on the island.

Dad was into the water and hauling the bow of the canoe onto the shore.
We clambered out, chilled and stiff from the wind and the drenching.

Fortunately the lay of the island blocked the wind,
and Mom and Dad led us into a small opening in the bush.
Everyone but Bertie gathered sticks and brush,
while Dad cleared a spot on the ground and started a big fire.

We huddled close,
rubbing our hands,
warming our fronts
and then warming our backs,
turning round and round,
as we slowly dried out.


We were no sooner dry than hunger roared in.
Just the thought of having nothing to eat made us ravenous.
We shared the meager leftovers from our picnic lunch,
a few cookies and a bit of sponge cake filled with strawberry jam.

The long twilight faded into night.
Dad kept the fire piled high with wood to drive back the dark,
but the mesmerizing flames could not crowd out the knowledge
that we were stranded for the night in the wild.
Gretchen didn't help any by growling at things only she could hear.

Just off to the left beyond the fire a black spruce had blown over.
Its roots stood in a large circle facing the fire,
and there was a shallow depression where the roots had pulled out of the ground.
Mom put a sleeping Bertie, along with Barbie and Donnie,
in a nest of picnic blankets in the sheltered hollow.

With nightfall the temperature had dropped,
and the air was heavy with with moisture.
Roy and I hunkered near the fire as intermittent drizzle fell.

I was thankful there was no room for me by the windfall roots.
I couldn't shake the thought that there might be things under those tangled roots.

I wasn't the only one disturbed by the roots.
For years afterward Barb had nightmares
of roots coming down and strangling her.

I was determined to stay awake, as was Roy.
There were no more blankets anyway,
so our parents let us stay by the fire.
No one said much.
We were too tired and too hungry.

I must have drowsed, for out of nowhere
I heard familiar voices calling across the water.
A searchlight cut the dark, growing bigger and bigger
as a boat motored closer.

What a sight to see the nursing station canoe,
stabilized by two plane pontoons, pull onto the shore,
looking like a strange double outrigger canoe!
Even better was to watch Mike and Milt hop out.
Hot food and my own bed suddenly beckoned.

"I knew you had to be the MacBeaths when we got closer to the island,"
Mike said as he warmed up by the fire with a cup of hot coffee.
"No Indian would build a fire this big."

In no time we were racing for Lansdowne House.
There was no room to take anything back with us.
Nine people and one disgruntled dachshund made for a crowded canoe.

The nursing station canoe, with its large pontoons and big motor
plowed straight through the waves for the lights of the village.
My mother, younger sisters, and Gretchen sat in the bottom
of the canoe wrapped in the picnic blankets.
The three men sat in the back seats, while Roy and I perched on the bow seat.

The bow of the canoe steadily smacked the waves,
and Roy and I were soon soaked with spray
and shivering in the cold wind.
I was so damned cold that I thought I would die.
What a relief to pass the Father's Island
and reach the Hudson's Bay Company dock.
One more minute and I would have been dead.

Bill Mitchell helped us out of the canoe and onto the dock,
and we stumbled through the bush for home.
Mom immediately started slicing bread and heating up Campbell's Scotch Broth,
while we got out of our cold, wet clothes and into warm, dry pyjamas.

That steaming mixture of lamb, barley, diced potatoes and carrots
floating in mutton broth never tasted better before or since.
We gorged on soup and bread and crawled into our sleeping bags on our bunks.

I've never forgotten how relieved people were about our safe arrival home.
They had been terrified at the thought that we had capsized and drowned
in the freezing water of Attawapiskat Lake.
We were very, very lucky.

Were it not for my father's courage and quick thinking,
our family story could have ended tragically. 

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue.

Point Prim, Bay of Fundy,
Summer 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Map of Canada
Highlighting Ontario

Location of Lansdowne House
Wikimedia   edited

My Revised Guess
(After Consulting with Roy)
for the Sandy Beach and the Island We Were Stranded on

Imagery:  Landstat/Copernicus, DigitalGlobe
Map Data:  Google

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Lansdowne Letters: Stranded

The first Sunday in June 1961 brought Lansdowne House
one of those vibrant, late spring days that pulls people outside
with its promise of warmth and freedom
and banishes memories of subzero days and vistas of glittering  snow.

The last bits of rotten ice lingered in Attawapiskat Lake,
as our family piled into a canoe mid-morning and set off in high spirits.
We had no premonition of the danger that awaited us down the lake.

As Calm as a Millpond
Canoeing on Attawapiskat Lake
Near Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
May 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

On Wednesday, June 7, 1961
My father wrote to our extended family:

Hi There Folks:
Last Sunday we had quite an adventure,
or misadventure, depending upon how you look at it.

I borrowed Tim Wabasse's canoe and three HP outboard
and took the family away down the lake on a picnic.
We all enjoyed it, even Gretchen and the baby,
although they don't think too much of canoe trips.

We went down the lake for a distance of about five miles,
and we found the most delightful little white sand beach.
All the children went in swimming, and even Sara went in wading.

A Rare Photo of My Mother
Wading in Attawapiskat Lake
Near Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
June 4, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

It's a good job that we were alone, for the children
all went swimming in either their underwear or their birthday suits,
and even Sara took off her slacks and was running around in her panties.
They were just like a bunch of bloody nudists.

Only Father managed to preserve his Patrician dignity.
I found a most delightfully shady tree
and spent the day under it reading and napping.

The Only Way to Enjoy a Picnic ~
According to My Father
Sandy Beach, Attawapiskat Lake
Near Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
June 4, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


When we started on our trip, the water was as calm as a millpond,
but during the day a rather strong breeze sprung up.
Because our little beach was in a sheltered cove,
we did not notice the increase in the wind,
or that there was quite a sea running.

As soon as we got out of the sheltered cove, we were in for a rather rough passage;
and, because of the waves and the wind, we had to keep going.

In a rough sea, the safest thing to do is to keep headed into the waves.
It would have been inviting disaster to attempt to turn
the canoe around and go back to the cove.

We had about two miles of open lake to cross before we came to an island,
and I can tell you that it was quite exciting.
We shipped quite a bit of water, and everybody was soaked
from the spray before we reached the lee of the island.

At first the children thought that it was quite a lot of fun;
but before the trip was over, the novelty had worn off,
and they were beginning to be afraid.

There was only one thing to do, and I did it.
I landed on the island and made preparations to stay there till the wind died down.

The Sandy Beach ~
Not the Island We Were Stranded On
Roy, Gretchen, Louise (Me), Mom, Bertie
Attawapiskat Lake, Northern Ontario, Canada
June 4, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

If it had only been Sara and I in the canoe,
even if we only had Louise and Roy with us,
it wouldn't have been too bad, and I would have kept on for home.

However, I was frightened that Barbie or Donnie might panic,
and all it would take to upset the canoe would be to have one
or both of them leap to the same side of the canoe,
just as a big wave hit her.

As soon as we landed, we pulled the canoe up on land,
and I started everyone gathering firewood.

I did this for several reasons.  First, we were all wet,
and gathering firewood would keep everyone warm.
Also, there was a damned good chance
that we would have to spend the night on the island,
and if we did, we would need a good fire.

Luckily we had lots of matches, but that is about all we had.
I certainly learned something on this trip,
and that is to never go on a trip like that without an axe,
a flashlight, some sort of tarpaulin, and some spare food.
All we had were matches, and the remains of the picnic lunch,
and I can assure you that this was very scanty fare indeed.

We landed on the island about five in the evening,
and we were there till about eleven-thirty at night
before we were rescued by Mike O'Flaherty
and Milt MacMahon in the nursing station's big boat.

We finally got home after midnight,
and after getting something to eat, we all went to bed.
Since then we have all been busy nursing colds,
of which we seem to have an overabundance right now.

During our stay on the island, we managed to get most
of our clothes and blankets dried, and about nine o'clock
we gave the children what was left of the picnic lunch.

Of course we had coffee going
as soon as we got the fire going.  

It will be a dark day indeed
when the MacBeaths
are unable to have coffee.


Along about ten p.m. it was beginning to get quite cold,
and rain was threatening; but we had a nice fire going,
Bertie was asleep, and the other young ones
were showing signs of yielding to the charms of Morpheus.

Along about this time, we started to notice a light
down towards Lansdowne House which appeared to be moving about.
We didn't know what it was, but in about an hour
we found out that the light came from the nursing station boat,
which manned by Mike and Milt, was out searching for us.

They finally stumbled upon us and our island about 11:30 a.m.,
and when they landed, we served them coffee,
thereby adding credence to the general opinion
that you can always get coffee at the MacBeaths,
even at the damnedest times.

Needless to say, we were very glad
to see and hear Mike and Milt.

I guess that we stirred up quite a commotion at Lansdowne House
when it was discovered that we hadn't returned from our picnic.

Bill Mitchell was the first to become alarmed;
and when he told Mike that he didn't think that we had arrived home,
Mike rushed over to our house and confirmed that we were among the missing.

He and Milt very quickly launched the nursing station canoe,
which because of the pontoons which Mike added
is the most seaworthy boat in Lansdowne House.
He took Milt's ten horse motor and his own 7 1/2 horse as a spare,
along with several tanks of gas and started out on the search. 
Actually, I should say they, for both Milt and Mike were in on the search.

It was about 9 p.m. when they got started,
and they didn't find us till about 11:30 p.m.
They saw our fire about a mile and a half from the island,
but for some reason they came to the conclusion that it was just an Indian campfire.
I guess that the Indians frequently camp on this island.

Anyway, they continued their systematic search of the lake,
instead of coming directly to the fire,
just in case we should be capsized somewhere out in the lake.
I don't know who was happier to see whom when they landed.

Lunch on the Sandy Beach ~
Not the Island We Were Stranded On
Mom, Gretchen, and Baby Bertie; 
Donnie, Roy, and Barbie (back);
and Louise (Me) by Bertie
Attawapiskat Lake, Northern Ontario, Canada
June 4, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

After they had a nice warm cup of coffee each, got warmed at our fire,
and bailed out their boat which had shipped quite a bit of water,
we loaded the kids, the dog, and Sara into the boat,
and I got into the stern with Milt, and we shoved off for home.

We left everything else on the island, including our coffee pot.
It took us about twenty-five minutes to reach the Hudson's Bay dock,
where we were met by a very relived Bill Mitchell
who normally would have been in bed hours before.

Bill Mitchell and an Ojibwa Man
Hudson's Bay Post
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

He and all the other residents of Lansdowne House
agreed that I did the wisest thing possible
when I landed on the island to ride out the storm.

The next afternoon I got one of the survey boys to run me
out to the island where I picked up the canoe
and all our belongings and brought them along home.
I had Roy along for company.

You'd think that our trip had had its share of misfortune,
but just as we were landing below our house,
didn't I have the misfortune to run upon a very sharp rock
and punch a small hole in the canvas covering
of the canoe causing a very bad leak.

Dad punched a hole in the canoe just below this hill.
This is the path to the lake where we got our water.
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
June 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Before I could return it to its owner I had to patch it.
I got a small piece of canoe canvas
about the size of a playing card and a bottle of amberoid glue,
and in about an hour I had the canoe water tight again.
Then I sailed around to the other side of the peninsula
and returned it to Tim before something else could happen to it.

Well, that's the news from Lansdowne House for this week.
I'll admit that it isn't the type of news to bring comfort
to nervous grandmothers, great grandmothers, and great aunts;
but it was exciting and a great adventure,
so I told you all, and I'm glad---so there.

I'll likely never hear the end of this,
and I am expecting great gobs of criticism and advice;
but before you cut loose, please consider
that at least I was sensible enough to appreciate the danger
of our position and come ashore before we got into real difficulties.

Before you all go gray with worry, I will assure you that
that was our swan song with regards to picnics at Lansdowne House.

Northern Ontario Lake
A Beauty You Never Forget

From now on all our spare time will be devoted
to packing for our move to Sioux Lookout.
Besides, I don't think I'd ever have the gall to start on another expedition
after causing everyone so much worry, anxiety, and trouble.
Even if I did have the gall, I don't think that anyone
would allow us out of their sight anyway.

Speaking about our trip to Sioux Lookout, we are going to be
awfully busy for the rest of our time in Lansdowne House.
We have an awful lot of work to do, because we have a lot of things to pack,
and we have to pack it in segregated packages
so that all the things we will need this summer will be in certain parcels,
and we won't have to open everything when we get to Sioux Lookout.

Right now we are involved in long distance house hunting
by means of personal emissary (Mike),
radio telephone (nursing station and H.B.C.), and mail.
I will let you know the results of our search as soon as we find out ourselves.

Anne is going out tomorrow to have her baby, and Mike is going along with her.
He is going to look around Sioux for us.
Also, I have enlisted the help of the Indian Agent at Sioux,
a Mr. Swartman, and have contacted a real estate agent.

Everyone says that we should not have too much trouble finding a nice house,
but everyone also cautions us not to pay too much rent
and to be careful whom we deal with in Sioux Lookout,
because apparently newcomers are all fair game to the natives of Sioux Lookout.

Oh well, I am not exactly an amateur in this game of house hunting,
so I guess I should do O.K.
As I said, I'll let you all know whatever develops.

Well, I just have to sign off now and get this away,
and get some other letters written.
See you all next week


Dad dashed down a postscript to his mother on one of the copies:
Dear Mother:
I have not time to write a personal note this weekend,
but Sara wrote one, and so did Louise,
so I guess that should be O.K., eh?

Dad's Mother and Friends
Before Marriage and Motherhood
(Nana second from left)
Likely St. Peter's Bay, Prince Edward Island, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Are you keeping these circular letters?
I hope you are, especially the ones written since Sara came up here.
If you are, please continue.  If you have not, please start.

These letters are sort of a journal, and I would like to have copies of all the letters.
Sara saved all she got from me, but she doesn't get anymore,
so will you please save them and send them to me as soon as we get to Sioux.

Sometime I just may get around to writing an article for a magazine,
and I think these letters would make a good start
in an article or even a series of articles.
What do you think?  Am I being reasonably hopeful or just ridiculous?

All Sara's family keep remarking on how they enjoy the letters
and saying that I have a gift for writing
and should try to write something for publication.
What do you think?
In spite of everything I say,
I do have great faith in your judgement.

Bye now,

Next week I'll fill in the parts
Dad left out in his letter to the family.
He neither fooled nor mollified the grandmothers,
great grandmothers, and great aunts with his breezy tale.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue.

Point Prim, Bay of Fundy,
Summer 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

1.  Three HP Outboard:
     A small motor attached to the
     outside of the stern of small
     watercraft such as a canoe.
     The motor propels the watercraft
     and provides steering control.

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

2.  HP:  Horsepower:
     "Horsepower is defined as work done over time. The exact definition of one horsepower is
     33,000 lb.ft./minute. Put another way, if you were to lift 33,000 pounds one foot over a period
     of one minute, you would have been working at the rate of one horsepower. In this case, you'd
     have expended one horsepower-minute of energy."  Quotation: 

3.  Amberoid Glue (also Ambroid Glue):
     I couldn't find a good definition of amberoid glue, but I've pieced together a little information.
     Around 1900 the original amberoid glue was made from celluloid scraps and contained the
     organic solvent toluene.  The cellulose nitrate adhesive was valued for its fast-drying and
     waterproof properties.  It replaced spruce gum for repairing canvas canoes.  Later it was
     used as an airplane dope to tighten and stiffen fabrics stretched over airframes to make them
     airtight and weatherproof.  Then amberoid glue became widely used for building model airplanes.
     The glue is remembered fondly by many model makers from the '50s and '60s  for its wonderful
     smell.  Unfortunately, the toluene was an intoxicant and produced a sense of pleasure that was
     not a high from enjoying building models.  Sniffing the toluene fumes in the glue became popular
     and led to drug problems ~ which may be why it is hard to find these days.

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Map of Canada
Highlighting Ontario

Location of Lansdowne House
Wikimedia   edited

My Best Guess
for the Sandy Beach and the Island We Were Stranded on

Imagery:  Landstat/Copernicus, DigitalGlobe
Map Data:  Google

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Lansdowne Letters: Riding High

In early June 1961 my father was riding high in anticipation
of his new job as a supervising principal with the Indian Affairs Branch
of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration in Sioux Lookout.

He and my mother had been through many hardships,
and finally their future was looking brighter and easier.

I can feel his optimism and happiness in the words he wrote 
from Lansdowne house so long ago ~
not to mention a touch of satisfaction and vindication.

A Happy Beginning
Don and Sara MacBeath 
September 4, 1948
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

On Friday, June 2, 1961
My father wrote to his mother,
Myrtle Pratt MacBeath:

Dear Mother:
There is time this morning, (there were occasions when
I didn't think there would be), to write you a short note.

The main reason that I want to drop you a private line
is to thank you for the gifts that you sent to Roy for his birthday.
I particularly admire the book, and I intend to read it
after Roy and Sara have finished it.  Louise has already read it.
She is a very fast reader, just like her old man.

Cracking the Books
The Freshman and His Roommate Graham Boswell
Acadia University, 1946-1947
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Roy is not too bad in the reading department either.
He is not quite as fast as Louise, which is natural
seeing that Louise has had a year more experience,
but I do believe that he is a more retentive
and comprehensive reader than Louise.


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

I am going around in circles these days.
I am so happy and excited with the prospects of my new job.
I will be moving there as early in July as I possibly can do so.

One of the letters that I had to get off this weekend was to the Indian Agent,
Mr. Swartman, inquiring about the prospects
of renting a four bedroom house in Sioux Lookout. 

You can see from the circular letter and from what I told you on the phone
that this is really going to be quite a large and important job.
I am going to be quite busy this year, and especially this summer.

I will be glad to be out in civilization again for several reasons,
the principal one being that now you will be able to visit us
without having to fly in a bush plane.

I am looking forward to seeing you this fall, or winter, or both.
The kids are already making plan's about Nana's Christmas visit.

Christmas, 1961
Dad, Louise (Me) with Bertie, Roy, Donnie, and Barbie
Sioux Lookout, Northern Ontario, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

It is regrettable that I won't be able to come down this summer,
but it just can't be helped.  It is imperative
that I spend the summer working at my new job,
for now that I am started on my way up in the department,
I don't want to do anything that might prejudice my chances.
It's going to be a case of go, go, go!!!!, for about a year,
but it will be a wonderful challenge.

I have one plan along the social line that I hope I will be able to realize.
I hope that I will be able to follow in Father's footsteps and become a Rotarian.
I should have no trouble with respect to category.

I just thought, wouldn't it be ironic.
if there was no Rotary group in Sioux Lookout?

I hope there is, because the next time I am in Charlottetown,
I would love to go down to the Charlottetown Hotel
on Monday afternoon and show the Charlottetown Rotarians
that I am just as good as they are.
Wouldn't it really make Mrs. Miller sit up and take notice
to see that I could belong to the same club as Tom DeBlois?

The Charlottetown Hotel
Now the Rodd Hotel
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, 2012

Oh, by the way, don't noise my new promotion around too much
till it is announced officially by the department.
It might be contrary to departmental protocol.
You can tell the family, of course,
but don't make like Hazel and put it in the Charlottetown Guardian.

Well, I haven't seemed to do anything but brag about myself,
and I have not answered any of your letters; but on recollection,
I realize that there were none to answer in the last mail.
You're slipping, Ma.

I will devote my next letter more to you and your doings,
but time is running out on me now,
so I just have to sign off and get ready for school.

Bye now,

Dad's Mother
As young woman Nana would have loved
the adventure of flying in a bush plane.
St. Peter's Bay, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Circa 1915
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

No wonder Roy and I were competitive!
We were always being compared.

Dad was spot on in his assessment of my brother Roy's
ability to retain information that he read.
Roy has a prodigious memory and a driving curiosity about the world,
and he is a voracious reader.

I can talk with him for hours on wide ranging topics,
never letting on about my admiration ~
not to mention a touch of envy.

I'll go toe to toe with Roy anytime on voracious reading,
driving curiosity, and comprehension,
but I'll never match his long-term retention of facts and figures.
In any trivia competition I want him on my team!

I vaguely remember Mrs. Hazel Miller as Nana's next door neighbor, 
an elderly, proper lady, rather like my grandmother.
Obviously more was going on than my big ears detected
as a small girl in Charlottetown!

Sioux Lookout currently has a Rotary Club, 
but I haven't found out if it did in 1961.
I don't remember if my father ever became a Rotarian,
but he was a proud Mason.
Whatever was behind my father's comments
on the Rotary Club of Charlottetown is lost in time. 

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Chad and Sisters Two
Mariner Cruises Whale and Seabird Tours
Westport, Brier Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

1.  Telephoning the Good News:
     When my father was hired after his interview in North Bay, he was able to telephone his
     mother with the good news, but he couldn't share it with his wife until he had traveled
     by train back to Nakina and flown by bush plane into Lansdowne House.
      TLL: An Unexpected Trip

2.  Indian Agent:
     As the chief administrator for the Indian Affairs Branch in Sioux Lookout, the Indian Agent
      managed most aspects of the lives of First Nations people in his jurisdiction.
3.  Rotary Club/Rotarians:
     Rotary Internation is an international service organization of business and professional leaders
     who provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and
     advance goodwill and peace around the world.  Wikipedia

     In recent years the Rotary Club of Aurora provided student dictionaries to all third graders in
     Aurora, my city.  My students and I always appreciated the Rotarians visits and their dictionaries.
4.  Thomas DesBrisay DeBlois :
     Tom DeBlois was a prominent Charlottetown businessman and community volunteer who served
     as president of DeBlois Likely Ltd. and executive vice-president of DeBlois Brothers Ltd.  His
     volunteer roles included member and president of the Rotary Club of Charlottetown.
     press ~ The Guardian (Charlottetown) 2014-08-28

5.  The Charlottetown Hotel:
     The Canadian National Railroad built the Hotel Charlottetown (informally known as the
     Charlottetown Hotel) in 1931.  Rodd Hotels and Resorts bought the property from Canadian
     National Hotels in the early 1980s and renamed it the Rodd Charlottetown.  It was renovated and
      restored in 1999.  Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed there in July 1973 during Prince
      Edward Island's centennial Confederation celebrations.  Wikipedia

6.  Charlottetown Guardian:
     The Guardian is published six days a week in Charlottetown, P.E.I.  The newspaper's origin
     dates back to the 1870s.  Wikipedia

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

Location of Charlottetown
Prince Edward Island, Canada

Charlottetown and Its Harbour
Prince Edward Island, Canada, 2005