Friday, September 23, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Keepers and Burners


Readers of my northern posts sometimes remark on 
how many letters I have from my past; 
but I often think about how many are lost.

My "Nana" Myrtle Pratt MacBeath 
was an inveterate letter saver, as am I.
It's because of her that I have so many letters preserved.



The  New Mrs. Myrtle MacBeath
Royal Stewart and Myrtle Jane Pratt MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



My "Grammie" Ella Cossaboom MacDonald
burned just about every piece of paper that came to her.
I can see her still, standing by an old oil drum
at the edge of her field in Smith's Cove,
feeding letters, newspapers, and receipts to the hungry flames.
I'm sure that she used that quiet time to mull over 
her day and the lives of her children and grandchildren.



Grammie with My Brother and Me
In Her Backyard
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Circa1952
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Dad, too, had the burning habit,
and I know that many letters from Mom, Roy, me, and others
started wood fires in Dad and Uno's cantankerous stove.
In a few letters I have, both Dad and Nana exhort each other
to burn certain private letters.
Boy, I'd like to get my hands on some of those!



Flickr:  Sarah Wynne   License


My mother wrote letters constantly,
but many of hers vanished into flames.
Thank goodness for Nana,
or I would have hardly any of Mom's from this time.


Thursday, January 26, 1961 
My mother wrote to her mother-in-law, Myrtle MacBeath:

Dear Mother:
Another week has gone, and I must get a line off to you.  
I went to the hospital Tuesday for the B.M.R.
(basal metabolic rate) and arrived home Wednesday.
I won’t know for a while what the result of the B.M.R. is,
but I imagine it is all right.

The children have had colds this week; the weather changed so quickly.
I am not sending them to school until Monday.
It has been so cold outside, the worst we’ve had this winter.
The children are fine now.  Their colds weren’t much.

Don has been writing.  He seems to be very contented with his work.
I have been packing dishes and summer clothes in case we leave.
Mostly though, I have been washing.
It’s a big problem without the dryer.

Uncle Cecil drops in to see how we are.
Grammy and Aunt Nan have both had colds.
Also Mary Lou and David.  I guess it's on the go.

Louise is already talking about her birthday, and of course, Valentine’s Day.
She talked the school Red Cross into collecting clothes
for the Indians and sending them to the Red Cross.
The Red Cross evidently will send them wherever they request.

I must close now and write to Don.
With Love,
Sara



A Rare Photo of My Mother 
on Lake Attawapiskat
Near Lansdowne House, 1961
Photo by Donald MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


I don't know how my mother did it: 
five kids, ten and under, down with colds,
drying clothes outside in the winter air 
on a clothesline that ran to an old apple tree,
packing for a move she wasn't sure we'd make,
squeezing in an overnight hospital stay for a test,
no car, and a daughter crazy for parties and Valentines.

Thank goodness for my Great Uncle Cecil,
who was hoofing it up and down the road checking on
his mother-in-law, Sara Cossaboom,
and his niece, Sara MacBeath,
not to mention caring for his own wife, Nan,
and looking in on his daughter-in-law
Mary Lou and his nephew David.

Meanwhile Kelsey, Mary Lou's husband,
the one person in the bunch with a car,
was keeping four households going 
with grocery and medicine runs
and taking my mother to and from the hospital.
I miss those times of multiple generations
close by and helping each other out.

As for my Red Cross project ~
Never under estimate the power of a ten-year-old idealist!!!







Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Kelsey and I
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia
on the Annapolis Basin
off the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia
Photo Copy by Roy MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved







Notes:
1.  Basal Metabolic Rate: 
     The B.M.R. is the amount of energy needed to support the body’s most basic functions to stay
     alive.  The test is meant to be performed when a person is at rest in a neutral, or non-stressful,
     environment.  That likely explains why Mom spent the night in the hospital.  One thing the test
     measures is the status of the thyroid, always a concern for my mother who had Graves Disease.

1.  Smith's Cove People: 
     Grammy:  My great grandmother, Sara Cossaboom
     Aunt Nan:  My grandmother Ella's sister (both were daughters of Sara Cossaboom)
     Uncle Cecil:  My Great Aunt Nan's husband; my substitute grandfather, since mine had died.
     Mary Lou:  My "aunt" who was married to Nan and Cecil's only surviving child, Kelsey.
     David:  My cousin, son of Mary Lou and Kelsey.  I adored my "Uncle" Kelsey.



My Great Grandmother, Sara Cossaboom
In Her Backyard with Sweet Peas Running Amok 
Smith's Cove, NovaScotia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




For Map Lovers Like Me:
Canada   Wikimedia



Location of Smith's Cove




Smith's Cove on the Annapolis Basin



Lansdowne House, Now Neskantaga 
Northern Ontario, Canada



Friday, September 16, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: It's a Go!!!

Well, here I am, temporarily writing from a new place,
smaller than my father's shack in Lansdowne House,
but with many more amenities than his fifty plus years ago:
Starting with awesome communication and hot running water!

  
Home-Away-From-Home 
Helm's Inn
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
September 15, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



In addition to the usual edition of his Lansdowne Letters,
my father sometimes wrote additional letters beyond his regular circle,
like to his cousins in Prince Edward Island.
This is one such letter ~
Forgive me if it includes some things written about in previous letters ~
But I've been traveling, plus celebrating our arrival in Victoria
with pizza and drinks at the Sticky Wicket ~
so this is the best I can do tonight!



Our Substitute for Parkway Bar and Grill
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
September 15, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



And it revealed something about Father Ouimet that I had long forgotten.
Father Ouimet was an iconic figure in my life,
and I will love and admire him always. 


Saturday, January 21, 1961
My father wrote a group letter to several of his cousins:

Hi There:
It has been quite some time some time since I have been doing any writing to you.
The typewriter went on the fritz just as freeze-up started,
and I just received the necessary replacement parts about two weeks ago.
I have spent the ensuing two weeks catching up some
very pressing official correspondence that I had to attend to.

During the time I was without a typewriter,
I confined my letter writing to Sara, Mother, Sara’s mother, and Aunt Maude.

The reason for writing to the first on the list should be obvious
and to the second should be understandable.
As for the third, I am one of those lucky and unusual characters
that is on good relations with my mother-in-law.
Besides, I enjoy writing to and receiving letters from Mrs. MacDonald.

I see that I am still suffering from hoof and mouth disease
(every time I open my mouth, I put my foot in it),
for I have inferred that I don’t like writing to
and receiving letters from you, which is not the truth.
The thing I am trying to say is that Mrs. MacDonald is really
a member of my immediate family, like my mother.

Oh hell, let’s drop this subject - 
I really shouldn’t have started it in the first place.
I think you all know what I am trying to say anyway.

As for writing to Aunt Maude, she has been very sick,
and letters are as beneficial to her as medicine.

I think that the big news in the MacBeath family
is that we are going to be reunited in the near future.
Sara and the children are coming up to Lansdowne House
to join me on 18 Feb 61.

I have managed to secure permission to occupy a house at Lansdowne House
which belongs to the Department of Lands and Forests.  It is small, but adequate.
It has two bedrooms, a nice kitchen and living room, and a bathroom.
It is completely furnished, including a propane range,
a kerosene fridge, and a gasoline washing machine in the kitchen.



The Forestry Shack
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Sketch by Maureen McRae
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



I don’t have to pay any rent for it,
and the Department of Indian Affairs will supply the oil for the furnace.
The only thing I will have to pay for is the cost of the propane gas,
which should come to about $15.00 a month.

The house has no electricity or running water,
but I have arranged to get a line run over from the nursing station.
This will give me 110-volt power in the living room.
I should be able to use an electric kettle, iron, and a tri-light.

I’m wrong about the running water.
It does have running water – whenever I run to the lake after some.
However, everybody in Lansdowne House is in the same boat.
When they build my new teacherage next summer,
there will be running water and electricity.
There will also be three bedrooms in the house.

Incidentally, I like this place so much that
I’m going to stay up here for several winters.
I had a visit from the school inspector,
and he was most pleased with my work.
He said that I was a very successful Indian teacher,
and he would be delighted to have me stay
at Lansdowne House for as long as I wish to stay.

He told me that he has visited all the schools in his district
and that my pupils have made a showing equal to all of them,
and better than most.  He also told me that my pupils were speaking
more and better English than most of the schools in his district.

Freeze-up was quite an experience for me.  
It was the first time that I had ever been cut off from civilization,
and cut off we were.
The only way I could have gotten out during freeze-up
would have been by dog team.
It would have meant a trip of over 150 miles
and would have taken over a week.  

I never saw water freeze over so quickly in my life as it did up here.
On a Saturday afternoon or late evening around the first of November,
I went across from the island to the mainland and back in a canoe,
and on the following Monday morning, I walked across the same stretch of water.
And I didn’t venture across till I saw a rather heavy Indian
cross it with a four-dog team and a heavily laden sleigh.
Most of the Indians were walking across on Sunday night.

I suppose that with a rapid freeze like this, you are wondering
why the freeze-up last for four or five weeks.
It is all on account of the airplanes.
They have to have either open water or nine inches of ice to land on.

It only requires two inches to support a man walking.
The first two or three inches form very rapidly,
but as the ice gets thicker, new ice forms more slowly.
Snow, of which we had several heavy falls,
also hinders the formation of ice.
 
We had a week of just perfect skating up here before the snow came.
All the whites, except Bill Mitchell who is an old country Scot
who never learned to skate, were out trying out their skills.




These skating skills ranged
all the way from mine,
which is almost non-existing
to the Father’s.

The Father had a chance,
before he became a priest,
to become a professional hockey player
with an N.H.L. team.

Father Maurice Ouimet
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved





However in spite of my limited ability, I enjoyed myself a whole lot.
One afternoon, after school, I skated about five miles
down the lake and back.  It was wonderful.
There was no wind and the temperature was about five below.
It was just a perfect day to be alive.

A couple of paragraphs back I mentioned a dog team;
and now, I would like to relate to you something very funny
that I saw involving one poor Indian and his dog team.

This dog team was evidently just newly broken to the sleigh,
or the Indian was inexperienced at handling a team.
For sure, as you will shortly see, there was something amiss.

I watched the Indian load his team at the co-op store
on the island and head his team toward the lake.
Between the store and the lake there are twelve trees,
and each dog investigated each tree.
This made for 48 stops before they hit the ice.  

After they got out on the ice, each dog decided to defecate,
and each one did it at a different time.  This meant four more stops.  
After this, there were a couple of more stops,
caused I think, by fights among the dogs.

The Indian must have been pretty exasperated by this time,
but when the team got up by my school, real disaster struck,
in the form of a female dog in heat
who happened to cross the path of the team.
The team must have been composed of young healthy males,
for the whole shebang took off hell-a-whooping after this poor little female.  

The Indian couldn’t hold them back at all,
and the last I saw of the outfit, it had left the ice
and was heading into the deepest part of the bush -
dogs, sleigh, Indian, and everything.

I heard later that it was several days before that poor Indian
finally got his team rounded up, his sleigh repaired,
and was able to resume his trip to the traplines.



Dog Team Running on the Ice


I was quite amused watching an Indian training a young dog to the sleigh the other day.
The pup didn’t take too kindly to the whole thing,
and the Indian had one hell of a time getting him hitched in the team.
The Indian hitched him in the middle of an experienced team.
The pup was quite stubborn though and lay on his back
and stuck all four paws straight up in the air.
This didn’t hold up the team though, and they started off
at a real fast clip and dragged the pup about a half a mile on his back
before he managed to get his feet under him.

That cured him of that habit right quick.
For although he still runs away if he sees the Indian coming with the harness,
once he is in the team he behaves himself and pulls his share of the load.

I have not managed as yet, to drive a dog team,
but I have hopes of accomplishing this feat before too long.
When I do, I’ll let you all know about it.

I have, however, had my initiation on snowshoes,
and find that they are a novel means of locomotion to say the least.


  
Novel Locomotion
Dad on Snowshoes
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


I went out one Sunday with the nurse (male)
and one of the DOT boys taking water samples.
We only walked about five miles on snowshoes,
and although the temperature was 25 below,
I was soaked with perspiration by the time the afternoon was over.
I happened to weight myself before the trip started and after it was over.
I lost three pounds through perspiring.

Talking about weight, I have lost over forty pounds since I came to Lansdowne House.
I weighed 239 pounds when I arrived here, and I only weigh 192 pounds now.
Not bad, eh?  I feel an awful lot better for it.

Well, I guess I have to sign off now and write a letter to Sara.
This has been one of my multiple letters (three copies),
and I hope the people who get the carbon copies can make them out.
I am including a map of Lansdowne House with this letter.
It is only a rough map, but the proportions are fairly good.
It should give you some idea of our fair community.

Bye now,
Love, Don.

Hi Don and Anna:  
Hope you can make out this carbon copy.
I do believe that my typing is improving, eh what?
Don  





Winter Night, Hudson Bay Lowlands 
Flickr:  J.H.   License


I think the main reason I used this "summary-of-past-events" letter
my father wrote to his cousins is because of his mention
of Father Ouimet's skating abilities and his path not taken
to a career as a professional hockey player.  
This was a new piece to the "mystery" of Father Ouimet, 
for I had not read this letter before.

I've never understood the concept of being called to serve God,
not having experienced that pull myself.
I simply accept that some people have this powerful feeling
that overrides so many things most of us can't imagine living without.
The more I learn about Father Ouimet, the more I am intrigued by him.  
I wish I could talk to him and ask him about what compelled him
to devote his life to a small Indian community in a very remote place, 



Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



Not on the Bay of Fundy!
Victoria, Brisitsh Columbia Canada
September 15, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved








For Map Lovers Like Me:





Location of Lansdowne House
Known Today as Neskantaga




One of My Father's Sketched Maps of Lansdowne House
#15 is the location of our future home in the forestry shack.
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue

All Rights Reserved




Friday, September 9, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Changes


That northern time, when my father wrote his Lansdowne Letters,
can feel as close as a breath I took a moment ago;
and then, suddenly, an ordinary sentence or two of my father's
can slam me with the weight of a half century of change.
  


Winter Night, Northwestern Ontario
Flickr:  Jeremiah John McBride   License




On Thursday, January 19, 1961
My father wrote to his extended family:

Hi There:
I can never seem to get a good edition off on Thursday,
because I usually have so much official correspondence
to do that night.  This Thursday is no exception.  

However, I think that this week’s output is quite respectable
considering the curse and everything.  
It's not every editor that works with such a handicap, is it?

I’ll have to beg off tonight though,
because I am swamped with correspondence.  
If I had my own typewriter,
I might be able to write more, because I could
bang out my correspondence on the typewriter.
I can really rattle along on one now.  

However Uno wants to write one short letter on the machine,
so that means that it will be occupied for the rest of the evening.

I don’t see why he doesn’t write his official correspondence by hand.
It wouldn’t take him nearly so long, and they would look a whole lot neater,
considering the amount of mistakes he makes.
Either this, or allow me to type his official correspondence for him.

I type a lot for Mike and even compose his letters for him.
He just gives me a general idea of what he wants to say and sets me loose.

Well Uno is beginning to pace the floor, so I better sign off.
Bye now, till next week.

Love, Don.


Winter Night, Hudson Bay Lowlands 
Flickr:  Emmanuel Milou   License




I type a lot for Mike ... 
Mike was the only nurse in remote Lansdowne House,
and he provided basic medical services for people in the community.
Today it's hard for me to imagine that my father often went
to the nursing station and typed medical letters and records for Mike.

Just this morning I went  to my doctor's office for an appointment. 
I had to sign in on a sticker on a clipboard when I arrived.
That sticker was removed before another arriving patient could see it.
I usually take my medical privacy for granted
and forget how different things were even a few years ago. 

Here was my father typing medical information 
about people he knew in that tiny place.
That's how my father discovered the medical record
of the Indian woman possessed of a Wintigo,
whose tragic story I shared in a recent post. 

Those remote nursing stations scattered across the North
may have operated with a rough-and-tumble casualness,
but they were no laughing matter.

Life was precarious in the far-flung First Nations villages,
and the presence of a nurse could mean life rather than death.



My Father Collecting Water Samples in the Bush
as He Works with Lansdowne House's Nurse
Photo by Mike O'Flaherty
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Just two days ago,
I found a sadly prescient letter of Father Ouimet's,
as I browsed through piles and piles of old papers.
He wrote to my parents in his terse English 
of the nursing station and community 
on December 18, 1982: 

"We lost our Nursing Station -
Government cutting on expenses.
The nurses moved to Fort Hope - 
but they keep a clinic over here -
coming every 2 weeks for 3 days.

"School still going - lots of kids in town.  
A few accidents - 
a girl 21 years old committed suicide 
(Tim W.'s daughter called Lynn).

"Another young fellow was drunk. 
Made too much fire - 
Burnt his home and himself on September 21/82.
He was 29 - Joe S.  Married with a wife and two young kids..."



The Best of Friends:  Father Ouimet with My Father
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Now Lansdowne House has the Rachael Bessie Sakanee Memorial Health Center.
It coordinates health care services through the community's newest nursing station, 
and it provides a variety of physical and mental health services,
including access to specialized medical care via videoconferencing.

From a single nurse with a shortwave radio 
to a nursing station and modern health center with videoconferencing, 
health care has dramatically changed in fifty years.

But all that change doesn't much matter
when someone commits suicide
or has a senseless, alcohol-fueled accident.  

There is still a long way to go to resolve
the complex health issues in the Canadian North.




Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



On the Shore of the Annapolis Basin
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
July 24, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved







Notes:
1.  "Considering the curse and everything"
      My father was cursed by the grandmother of one of his Indian students:  TLL: Cursed.   

2.  "possessed of a wintigo"
     My father wrote of a mentally-deranged woman who lived and died tragically:  TLL: Cursed.

3.  Rachael Bessie Sakanee Memorial Health Center:  
     Services  


For Map Lovers Like Me:





Location of Lansdowne House
Known Today as Neskantaga


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG: Wednesday, September 7, 2016: What Helps Me Find Time to Write.






It's the first Wednesday 
of the month ~ 
the day when members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and offer their encouragement
and support to other members.









To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are stepping up to help IWSG founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are:
C. Lee McKenzie , Rachel PattisonElizabeth SeckmanStephanie Faris, Lori L. MacLaughlinand Elsie Amata.


I hope you have a chance to visit them and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate an encouraging comment!
~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~


Happy IWSG Day to everyone making the rounds!
I'm home now ~ for another week.
I'm planning to accomplish more writing
this fall in Victoria than I managed last year.



Next Stop:  Beautiful Victoria
British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Do you like the new feature for IWSG Day? 
I certainly do!

It's fun to respond to questions about writing;
but what I truly enjoy is reading
the inspiring answers of other IWSG members.

I'm hoping to get some galvanizing ideas,
because I struggle with the topic of September's question:
How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

I work in spurts fueled by pressure.
I've never been able to settle into a schedule.

I've been writing a memoir, and it's proven
to be much more difficult than I'd imagined.

What keeps me moving forward with my memoir
is my Friday Northern blog post.
Were it not for my blog, I'd have given up long ago.



Lots of Hot Coffee Helps Too!
Aurora, Colorado, USA
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


When I started writing several years ago,
I had no idea how to proceed.
I had piles of letters, photographs, and maps  
and a morass of memories that I had skirted for decades.

Things that happened during my time in the North
changed how I felt and behaved in the years that came after.
Some things affected me profoundly,
and some things I did as a result haunted me.

The only way I could wade into the emotional muskeg 
confronting me was with tiny steps, a blog post here, a blog post there.

Sometimes I'd attempt a series, 
like my inner gingerbread man posts,
thinking I could handle it, but I couldn't.
I'd drop it abruptly with no explanation.

I was clueless about blogging,
and the most unexpected thing happened.
Bloggers reached out and supported me.

I was shocked.  
I had no idea such a thing could happen.

So slowly I began writing what I could look at,
following my father's letters chronologically,
and floundering through the cold, wet muskeg.



Northern Muskeg
Flickr:  Rover-Thor   License


I'm not all the way there yet.
I may be the slowest memoir writer ever,
but I'm making progress,
I may actually get it done!

If it weren't for the amazing people I've met through
blogging and the Insecure Writer's Support Group,
I wouldn't be writing at all.
I would have given up in despair.

The pressure of getting that next Northern post out
locks me into a weekly writing schedule
that keeps me moving forward almost every day.

I'm more binger than scheduled, but I am writing.
It's not finding time, more squeezed by a deadline.

Through this process, 
I can't believe how much I've learned about writing,
and how much better I understand my life.
I've become kinder to that younger me.
I can look at her and perhaps understand her.

Not all of this is connected with the North, of course,  
but it's my experiences in the North that sent me spiraling.

Gotta go!  Gotta binge on Friday's post!  LOL
Happy writing, Everyone! 


My Family and I Exploring This Summer
Cape Split, Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, Canada
Photo by Barbara MacBeath
© All Rights Reserved



Friday, September 2, 2016

The Lansdowne Letters: Teaching the Non-English Speaking Student


I've spent a lot of time since I retired from elementary teaching
thinking about my father as a teacher and a principal.
In Lansdowne House over fifty years ago,
he was intuitively doing many of the things
ELA teachers do today, but with no training or direction.
He was a gifted and a forward thinking teacher.

I say this, not because I'm his daughter,
but because I've worked with hundreds of students
over my teaching career who were ELA
or English language Acquisition students.

I've been trained in strategies and techniques
that I experienced him using as his student
in Lansdowne House so many years ago.

He did everything he could to help his Indian students learn,
even going so far as to put my four-year-old sister Barbie
in kindergarten with his youngest Indian children,
so that she could model and explain in her way what to do.




Donnie, Bertie, and Barbie (right)
A Few Months Before Going North
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada, 1960 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Not that that always worked the way he had hoped,
because Barbie was strong-willed and a scamp.
My most vivid memory of her in Dad's classroom 
(aside from the fact that the Indian girls adored her)
was her stuffing an eraser up her nose
and having to be rushed across the field to the nursing station
so Mike could extract the eraser.


On Wednesday, January 18, 1961 
My father wrote to his extended family:

Hi There:
I hope you are ready for the daily blurb, because here it comes.  
It will be a short one though, for Uno wants to use his machine, 
and I don’t feel too well.  
Hope the old girl’s curse isn’t starting to work.  

I will be so glad when my typewriter gets up here, 
so I don’t have to use Uno’s any more.  I
feel guilty, and besides, there are often times 
when I feel like typing and Uno is using the machine.




My One Photo of Dad and Uno together
with Baby Duncan
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



It is awfully hard to teach children when they only understand
about a third of what you are saying to them.
I nearly drove myself up the wall today trying to teach one
of my beginners to recognize the largest of a series of numbers and to mark it.

I just couldn’t get it across to her what I meant by big and small.
I finally got it across by using about three sheets of foolscap
and putting down about twenty-five series of numbers.  

Alongside each number, I would put a group of dots corresponding to the number.
After I finished each series, I would count the dots after each number
and cross out the number having the largest group of dots.

After each series, I’d draw another series and see if she could do it;
and if she couldn’t do it, I’d repeat the whole process.
She finally caught on to it at the twenty-third series of numbers.
By this time I was really seeing dots before my eyes.  

I wonder how many series I’ll have to draw next week when I
attempt to teach her to recognize and mark the smallest number.



Some of My Father's Younger Girls
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



The weather is quite cold today.  
It was about 34 below 
when I was passing the nursing station.

When I went down to the water hole, 
there was about two or three inches of ice.
This formed in only about 18 hours.  

Oh yes, as I was drawing the water out of the hole, 
I spilled another half bucket down my right overshoe again.  
I’ll have to figure some way to stop that, 
because it is down right uncomfortable.

I weighed myself today, and while I’m not making any 
spectacular progress, I am holding my own.  I
haven’t reached my goal of 190 pounds yet, 
but I have only two pounds to go.  That’s not too bad – 
239 to 192 in about three and a half months.  

I have been up here longer than that, 
but I have only been working on losing weight 
for about the time mentioned.  
Nothing I own fits me now.  
Maureen will have a large job taking in my pants.  
I have lost about five inches or more in the waist.





Well, I must sign off now, 
as Uno is getting impatient
to use the machine.
Bye now,
Love, Don.

Dad Typing His Lansdowne Letters
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Lansdowne House was not the only place
I was fortunate to have my father as my teacher and principal.
He was my principal throughout high school,
and my home-room teacher my senior year
when he taught me history, economics, and current affairs.

He was also the Supervising Principal of Indian Schools
when I lived in Sioux Lookout.
It was so odd to stand with my classmates 
and say, "Good morning, Mr. MacBeath,"
when he came to observe my teacher Mr. Keast
working with my Indian classmates.

I've had a lot of teachers and professors over the years.
To me, my father was always the best of the bunch.



My Favorite Teacher and I 
at My Graduation
Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, 1971
© 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






Notes:  

1.   Mike Flaherty:
      Mike was the nurse at the nursing station in Lansdowne House,
      and he provided basic medical services for the White and Ojibway people
      who lived in the community.

2.  Uno Manilla:
     Uno was the teacher at the Roman Catholic Day School at the mission.
     He shared a two-room shack with my father.

3.   34 Below:  -33º F. = -36.6º C.
      
4.  Weight Conversions:
      190 pounds =   86.1 kilograms
          2 pounds =     0.9 kilograms
      239 pounds = 108.4 kilograms
      192 pounds =   87.0 kilograms

5.  Inches to Centimeters:
     2-3 inches =  5-7.6 centimeters
        5 inches = 12.7 centimeters

6.  Maureen McRae:
     Maureen was the wife of my father's best friend Duncan who worked for the Department
     of Transport in Lansdowne House.  She sometimes helped out Uno and my father who rented a
     small cabin at the Roman Catholic mission in Lansdowne House by sewing for them.
     Maureen and Duncan were the parents of Baby Duncan.

     

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Location of Neskantaga (Lansdowne House)
Human Rights Watch Report on the Safe Water Crisis 
in First Nations Communities in Ontario