How quickly the unexpected and unfamiliar can become normal. Such was the case with my mother and we five children at the Garrick family's log cabin at Two Point River on Lac Seul. On Thursday, June 22, 1961 My mother wrote to her mother-in-law, Myrtle MacBeath:
We are all fine in Lac Seul. It is beautiful here, and the children are having a marvelous time. We find all kinds of turtles on the beach.
The children all loved the pudding you sent them. Donnie and Barbie took theirs to bed with them. The Imaginary World (List of Ice Creams and Desserts) The Imaginary World (Jello Box (Canada) w/ car coins - front)
I have two sauce pans of rhubarb cooking now that the children picked this morning. Louise made a cake yesterday and iced it with icing sugar and fruit cocktail. The boys, Fritz and John, are very good to us. They are 22 and 37. They wired the house for us and brought me up an icebox and radio.
Mrs. Daley, the minister's wife, has been very good to us. She loaned me a lot of linen, a coffee pot, the list is endless.
Well, Sunday we went up to the reserve to church. The Indians are much different here than in Lansdowne House. They dress the same as we do. There is a lot of intermarriage here. Fritz and John are half-breeds. Their mother is Indian and doesn't speak any English. (The boys just caught a trout bigger than Roberta). She is a very nice person, though, and very fond of the children.
I've never forgottenthe generosity of the Garricks and the Daleys: People who had so little, but who didn't hesitate to help my mother and we five children abruptly dropped in their midst. My mother managed quite well in Two Point after the initial shock of finding herself there. We kids flourished in the warm and caring attention of the Garrick boys and Kokum.
Six o'clock often found several of us waiting on the dock for Fritz and John's fishing boat to return, as we anticipated an evening of croquet and stories with them until our mother dragged us off to bed. Many times I was lulled to sleep by the sound of Fritz, and sometimes John, chatting with my mother at the kitchen table over a last cup of coffee or two before calling it a night. The Garrick's fish camp contained a number of grey-weathered outbuildings, some of which we didn't enter. One was a workshop that contained a generator which the Garricks used to provide intermittent electricity for the workshop and their home. When Fritz and John "wired" the log cabin for us, they strung an electrical line across the field to our cabin from their home.
We never knew when we would have power, but it was rarely for more than an hour or two at a time. Whenever we did and Mom could catch us, she would made us sit down on the floor in the front room and listen to a classical music record on a record player Dad had brought Mom when he came for a visit. Fortunately, the radio ran on batteries, and I listened to it every moment I could. It brought us the news of the outside world; but more importantly, it brought the Hit Parade. Pat Boone's Moody River became the soundtrack for my Lac Seul sojourn.
Notes: 1. Adult Western Painted Turtle: My mother was likely referring to the Western Painted Turtle. This turtle is found primarily in
Northwestern Ontario, in rivers, lakes, ponds, and marshes with muddy bottoms and basking sites. borealforest
2. Rhubarb: Rhubarb is a herbaceous perennial that has been cultivated in many areas in Canada. It can run
wild like a weed. As a kid I often found it growing around abandoned homesteads in Nova Scotia.
We picked its reddish green stalks for free. My mother cooked them with sugar and water to make
stewed rhubarb for a dessert, sometimes serving it with whipped cream. I make a rhubarb and
strawberry crisp that Terry loves. It kills me to spend $3 to $4 for rhubarb that I used to pick
A gift of boxes of pudding from Nana was a big deal, because our family had few pennies to spare
for such luxuries at this time in our lives. The pudding she sent was Jell-o Instant Pudding which
required no cooking. She may also have sent a box or two of Royal Instant Pudding. This always
tickled we girls, because we delighted in tormenting our brother Roy by calling him "Royal
Instant Pudding." Although Roy enjoyed the pudding, he did not enjoy the teasing. Roy's actual
name is Royal, hence the niggling with "Royal Instant Pudding."
4. Hudson: Hudson is an unincorporated community about 17 miles (26.8 kilometers) from Sioux Lookout.
Located on Lost Lake on the English River, it is included in the municipality of Sioux Lookout.
Historically Hudson has depended on its sawmill and tourism. The mill has repeatedly been
bought and sold, open and closed. The Garricks had a small home in Hudson. One day, when
I was twelve, I sold a lot of Girl Guide cookies in the Hudson sawmill. Wikipediasiouxlookout.ca
5. Reserve/Church: The "reserve" refers to the Lac Seul First Nation's treaty lands given to them as a signatory to
the 1873 Treaty 3 between the Ojibwa First Nations and Queen Victoria. Wikipedia "Church" was likely Saint Mary's Anglican Church. lacseul.firstnation
Mrs. Daley was probably the Anglican priest's wife.
6. Half-Breeds: Today this term is derogatory. Fifty years ago, in Canada, it referred to someone who was of
mixed First Nations and European ancestry. Métis is the correct term, and Canada's Métis people
were recognized in the Constitution Act of 1982 as one of Canada's aboriginal people. Wikipedia
Thanks to Debra(She Who Seeks) for giving me helpful insight into the complicated legal
and colloquial Métis terminology (See her comment below). Fritz and John thought of themselves
as Métis, rather than Ojibwa; but, their roots are Anglo-Métis rather than the French Métis.
7. Fritz and John's Mother: I only ever heard Fritz and John's mother referred to as "Kokum" which means "Grandmother"
in Ojibway. She understood English, but refused to speak it, and her sons understood Ojibway
but refused to speak it. Fritz told me toward the end of his life that his mother's grandfather
was a Scot with the last name of Wesley who was the manager of a Hudson's Bay post on James
Bay. I haven't been able to track down any information on him yet. Kokum was very kind to us.
She never allowed us to take her picture.
For Map Lovers Like Me:
Location of Lansdowne House, Nakina, and Sioux Lookout
It's the first Tuesday of the month, and we're posting today because tomorrow is July 4th. Today, as always, members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group will share their writing struggles and writing successes and offer their encouragement and support to fellow writers. Next month we will be back to posting on the first Wednesday of the month.
To visit the IWSG website, click here. To become a member of the IWSG, click here. Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today, along with IWSG founder Alex Cavanaugh are: Nicki Elson,Juneta Key,Tamara Narayan,andPatricia Lynne. I hope you have a chance to visit today's hosts and thank them for co-hosting. I'm sure they would appreciate a visit and an encouraging comment.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Every month the IWSG poses a question that members can answer with advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts. Or, the question can inspire members if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day. Remember the question is optional. This month's featured question is: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Happy July 4th to all the American members of the IWSG. My husband Terry and I are on the road today, heading for the mountains to celebrate the holiday with family. Throughout my life I have had an ultimate writing goal of publishing a memoir about the time my family lived among the Ojibwa in northern Ontario when I was a young girl.
Life interfered, and I was unable to pursue this goal until I retired. Now I'm well underway with my memoir.