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


  1. His promotion and success has seemed to cheer him up. It made me smile! I am relieved he "got his groove" back. :)

    I wish we knew if he became a Rotarian!

    Thanks for sharing these stories, Fundy.

    1. Thanks, Sandi! I'm going to be checking with my siblings to see about Dad and the Rotary Club. Now that I'm home for a bit, healthy, and almost caught up with household things, my goal is to get ahead with my posts. I hope last night was the last Thursday that I wasn't up past midnight working on my post. Wishing you a lovely weekend!

  2. Service clubs and members-only organizations like the Rotarians and Masons were SO big in that era, weren't they? Kinsmen, Elks, Lions, Shriners, Knights of Columbus also leap to mind. And they were all "men only," I believe, with separate "women's auxiliaries" for "the wives." All are suffering greatly decreased membership in our modern times though. Their time has largely passed.

    1. Happy Friday, Debra! They were a big deal then. When I was a kid in Nova Scotia, there were taverns for men and ladies tearooms next door, so I didn't think anything of the "all men" clubs. I do remember Mom grumbling over having to memorize all these passages and rites for the Eastern Star which Dad encouraged her to join. Mom was not a joiner, but Dad got a kick out of his Masonic membership. Have a great weekend with your Rare One!

  3. haha sounds like there was more going on there than your big ears detected. Maybe you two always being competitive made him compare you, backwards logic lol go go go isn't a bad way to be. Getting that job had to be exciting indeed.

    1. Hey, Mr. Hatt! Hope all's well where you're at! You have a point about the comparison bit. Take care, my friend!

  4. Fundy Blue, what a great post. Loved the story told through letters and photos and maps and notes to those of us who find these settings very exotic. Very visual. Thank you so much for sharing!


    1. What a lovely surprise to log on and see your very kind comment, Denise! I've been in love with maps since I drew my first one in the fall of Grade 3. And photographs that I've been taking since I was about four or five: first one, a hen at my Great Uncle Chester's farm in St. Peters Bay, P.E.I. Writing came later. All the best to you this weekend!

  5. Roy sounds like he could rival my trivia knowledge

    1. I think Roy could give anyone a run for his money ~ especially in history! Have a good one, my friend!

  6. Travel and communication are so much easier now!

    1. It's a totally different world now, Patsy! Although, Lansdowne House and the area around it remain one of the least visited and remote areas in Canada. Have a great week!

  7. What a great post! I have to admit, I've never been a reader of books, but I do like to read. Weird! LOL! I guess that's what makes us all unique! I loved school, where both my brothers hated it! LOL! Love all your pictures and stories!! Big Hugs!

    1. Hi, Stacy! I have to read ~ every day! I'm an addict! I'm so glad that you enjoy my stories and photos. I'm on a quest to write 100 words/100 days and loose weight. It's 8:09 pm, and I am exhausted. I'm trying to walk a minimum of 250 steps every hour from 9am to 5 pm. That's just something to get me moving. I'm wiped out ~ LOL I'll be visiting around tomorrow. Right now, to bed! Wishing you a great week!

  8. Greetings Louise. A well-written post that I enjoyed reading. It's nice that your Father got rewarded for all of his hard work by being promoted - well done to him. He sounded like a good provider as well to all of his family, you must have been proud. Glad you have your fond memories of your loving family. Thanks for sharing. Blessings to you. It is now Tuesday, haven't been online for a while!

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew.

  9. Hi Louise! :) Great post today, it was nice reading your father's enthusiasm! I love that "don't noise around" lol...I'm going to use that!!! :)

  10. Very impressive post. Thank you for sharing.
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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate the time and energy you put into making them very much.