Friday, March 16, 2018

e kala mai iaʻu

e kala mai iaʻu

That means "I'm sorry" in Hawaiian.
I've been having trouble connecting to the internet
at my hotel, and I've been spending time
at the Apple store trying to keep up with blogging.

It's been difficult, and I haven't been able
to reply to all the comments on my posts,
let alone visit my blogging friends.

I've decided to take a break until I can access better internet
for enough time to blog properly.

I appreciate all the kind and thoughtful comments
you have left on my recent posts.
I'll be back on March 30th with my next post.

Waikiki from the Top of Diamond Head
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
March 10, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Lansdowne Letters: The Voyageurs

“Oh yes, Louise and Roy came with Duncan and me.”
This throwaway sentence in a letter my father wrote
referred to one of the most spectacular days in my life.

It was Victoria Day in Canada:  Monday, May 22, 1961,
and we did not have to go to school.
Our parents were tired and sore after paddling up the lake
to Joe Alex’s for a family picnic the day before,
and Dad made an irresistible bargain with Roy and me.

If we cleaned the house up spick and span,
he would lend us a canoe,
and we could have it all afternoon to practice paddling.

This was a most positive development,
and Dad made the bargain with us because,
the day before at Joe Alex's,
we had made progress in the art of compromise.

Only a few days previously our father had vowed 
we would never set foot in a canoe again,
because of his frustration with our constant circling
and squabbling when paddling a canoe.

I can blow a better bubble than you!
Roy and I (Louise)
On the front steps of Grammie's Home
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
Summer, 1955
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Late in the morning, with our part of the bargain completed,
Dad borrowed the Department of Transport canoe and we began paddling.
Our circles lengthened into oblongs and our oblongs into straight lines.

In our minds we became voyageurs paddling to the Bay,
our canoe loaded with piles of lustrous furs to trade.
Little did we know that we were about to have
an adventure that I would never forget!

Trading Furs at a Hudson's Bay Post in the 1800s.

Suddenly our father and Duncan McRae raced to the lake shore waving frantically.
The ice had gone out several miles down the lake
toward the base of the peninsula on which Lansdowne House sat.
Nakina had radioed that a mail plane was going to land there
to drop off mail and supplies,
and they needed the DOT canoe to meet the mail plane.

My Father Donald MacBeath with His Friend Duncan McRae
In front of the Roman Catholic Church
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
October 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Our father shared his account of our adventures
in his letter of Tuesday, May 30, 1961:

Hi There Again Tonight:
Can you stand any more bragging about the job in Sioux Lookout?
I hope you can, for here I go again.

Mr. Waller advised me not to buy a house in Sioux Lookout,
for he said that they have their eyes on me,
and I can count on being in Sioux Lookout only a few years.
He said that if I do as good a job in Sioux Lookout as I did in Lansdowne House, 
I can count on moving up the ladder quite rapidly.
He predicted that I will be in Ottawa before too many years have elapsed.

Well enough about Sioux Lookout.
The object of these letters is to interest my readers, not nauseate them.

Oh yes, I believe that I was going to tell you further about the break-up.
I mentioned that the first plane in
had to land about three or so miles down the lake from the settlement,
and that I went in one of the canoes that went to meet the plane.

It was quite the trip.  Three canoes went.
Duncan and I went in one,
the Father and the Brother went in another one,
and two Indians and Brian Booth went in the third one.

My Father with His Friend Brian Booth
Roman Catholic Mission
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

We had to travel down the opposite side of the peninsula
from that that the plane landed,
because the shore along the south side of the peninsula was choked with ice.

When we got down about three miles,
we came to a narrow part of the peninsula
and portaged our canoes across a distance of about 700 feet.

Lansdowne House Today
We paddled down the lake, portaged across the peninsula, and paddled up the lake.
Imagery:  DigitalGlobe, Landstat/Copernicus
Map Data:  Google 2017

I don’t know how the Indians do it,
for they certainly don’t look too robust,
but they certainly made Duncan and me look sick
when it came to portaging the canoes.

Duncan and I tried to take our canoe, a large eighteen-foot freighter,
across by lifting it up on our shoulders and carrying it,
but we nearly killed ourselves getting it up in position;
and then when we only made about 100 feet
when we just had to set it down to rest.

While we were resting, this middle-aged Indian,
and a most poor looking example of manhood,
came along, took one look of pity and contempt at Duncan and me,
picked up the canoe himself, and carried it across without stopping once to rest.
I can tell you that we felt slightly ashamed of ourselves.

On a Portage

We had to wait about an hour for the plane to arrive,
and the Father was lamenting that we made a mistake
not taking a couple of decks of cards along,
so we could play a couple of rubbers of Bridge.

Poor Father, he looks forward so much to playing Bridge.
He was supposed to come over tonight for Bridge with the Brother,
but I guess he won’t be playing much Bridge for a while,
as he had a rather nasty accident today.

This morning he accidentally stuck his hand in a planer and lost part of a finger.
He is going to be in considerable pain for a few days or weeks.

Father Ouimet, Don MacBeath, and Brother Bernier
October 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

While we were waiting for the plane, another canoe
driven by two Indians came up the lake on the side that we couldn’t navigate.
The ice shifted enough while we were going up the other side
to allow them to get through.

It was a good job that they came along,
for when the plane came along it was loaded.
Three canoes would never have held all the mail and freight.
Oh yes, Louise and Roy came with Duncan and me.

On our way back to the bay, we had quite a time fighting
our way through the ice which was in the process of shifting in to shore again.
About a mile from the Bay (we went down the south side
instead of portaging back to the north side), we got stuck.

We had to get over some rocks that were quite near to the surface,
and with the freight and Louise and Roy, it was drawing too much water.
We had to back up and go to the shore
and make Louise and Roy walk the rest of the way home.
Even without them, it was touch and go getting over the rocks and through the ice.
We made such slow progress that they were waiting for us
on the dock when we arrived at the Bay.

The Tip of the Peninsula

Credit: Lansdowne House and the Father's Island, 1935,
Credit:  Canada. Dept. of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Library and Archives Canada / PA-094992

Our ice went out with rather dramatic suddenness on Tuesday afternoon.
It was Monday when we met the plane.

On Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. the lake was quite choked with ice.
At 4:00 p.m. the oddest looking black cloud appeared,
and we had a short, violent, vicious rain and wind storm
of about twenty minutes duration.

When the storm was over, the lake was almost clear of ice.
There was only a little bit to be seen along the south shore of the lake.
It was really something to watch the ice being driven against the rocks
and shattering on the rocks like great sheets of glass.

Well, that’s it for tonight.
I will finish this letter tomorrow night and get it into the mail.

Bye for now,

Northern Ontario Lake


The mail and supply run was one of my most favorite days ever.
Heading down the lake in the DOT canoe,
accompanied by the Father and the Brother in one canoe,
and two Indians and Brian Booth in the Bay canoe, thrilled me.  

I was living Canadian history,
canoeing with a French Canadian priest, a Hudson's Bay man,
and Ojibwa Indians.
I was a dauntless voyageur for real! 

Father Ouimet's canoe led the procession, 
followed by our canoe, and the Hudson's Bay canoe close behind.
3½ horsepower outboard motors powered the canoes,
with the men paddling wherever rocks made it tricky to use the motors. 

I sat close to the bow searching the sparkling water
for rocks lurking beneath the surface.
After a mile or so, with the sun beating on my back
and the lazy chirping of birds, I began to drowse.
Even living history can be soporific.

Occasionally loud booming startled me
and broke the droning of the outboard motors or the rhythmic paddling.
With each boom, a new crack opened or closed in the ice farther off shore,
and I realized how easily those jaws of ice could crush our fragile canoes.

Soon the peaceful canoe trip was over, and the men began
the tedious portage across a narrow part of the peninsula.
Roy was loaded with the paddles and gear,
while I was presented with the small outboard motor.
Dad and Duncan managed to shoulder the freighter canoe
and started up the tricky path.

The bush crowded in about us,
the birds quieted down,
and the hum of flies replaced their chirping.

In the middle of the trek toward the high point of the portage,
we came across a patch of slippery snow.  
Dad and Duncan slipped, and the canoe went down
as they floundered in the cold, wet, snow.
Fortunately, an Indian came to their rescue
and carried the canoe to the other side of the peninsula.

I sat down by Father Ouimet and began the long wait for the plane to arrive.
Each second oozed out ever so slowly.
The warm sun made me drowsy again,
and I stayed awake only by batting at pesky flies.

A particularly constant drone caught my ear,
and I hoped its owner was not thirsty.
The irritating drone increased in volume,
and I sat up in a snap, eyes searching.

That was no fly or mosquito.
It was a plane, the mail plane!

Far across the shimmering blue lake,
winging over the spruce-hemmed horizon,
I spotted a tiny silver plane.
It quickly grew larger and larger
as it ate up the distance between us.
Then it banked and glided to the surface of the lake,
a spray of water trailing from each pontoon.

A Pontoon Plane Landing

The men piled into the canoes and rushed out to meet the plane.
Everyone hurried because the breeze was shifting
and that meant the ice near Lansdowne House might shift as well.
The pilot was anxious to take-off in case
ice was driven into the area where he had landed.

It took a good forty-five minutes to off-load the mail and supplies.
As soon as one canoe was loaded, 
it motored for Lansdowne House at the tip of the peninsula, 
plowing through the water immersed almost to its gunwale.

Our canoe was the last to leave,
and the moment we were clear of the plane,
the pilot started the engine and taxied to take off.
Soon the plane disappeared over the horizon,
and we were alone in the silence of the wild.

As we traveled up the south side of the peninsula,
we could see that the ice was moving toward the shore.
We had to beat the ice.

It was tough going as our heavily-loaded canoe
wallowed through the water and the ice closed in.
Dad and Duncan fended off floating pans
and hacked at narrow passages with their paddles,
their faces glistening with sweat despite the chill of the nearby ice.

As we were forced closer to the shore, 
rocks in the shallowing water became an increasing danger.
The ice ground against the shore behind us 
as the wind drove it up on the land.
Roy and I could feel the rising tension in the adults.

Dad groused, "If only we could get rid of a couple hundred pounds,"
and Roy and I found ourselves unceremoniously dumped on the shore.

"Follow the shore up to the top of the peninsula.
You'll be fine," Dad yelled,
and off we took, hurrying through the bush.

It was quite a novel experience for us
to push through the scratchy thickets,
but it wasn't scary.
All we had to do was keep the lake on our right
and the bush on our left.

Soon we reached the first Ojibway houses
and followed a well-trodden path to the school,
past the nursing station, by the DOT complex,
and on to the Hudson's Bay dock.

We watched Dad and Duncan race for the shelter of the dock
as the ice closed up the water behind them.

Three hungry and weary voyageurs-for-a-day arrived home,
looking for a hot meal and a comfortable bed.
There were few times in my life
when food tasted better and bed feel softer.
It was the best of days.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Beautiful Cove, Long Island,
Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia

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



Wednesday, March 7, 2018

IWSG Wednesday: March 7, 2018 ~ Bubbly and Flames

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

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:
Mary Aalgaard,  Bish Denham,  Jennifer Hawes,  
Diane Burton,  and Gwen Gardner

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:

How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/finish a story?


How do I celebrate ...
I crack open a bottle of Dom Pérignon,
drink it quickly,
jump up on the nearest table,
and dance madly!

Okay, that was in my glory days,
and the champagne was not Dom Pérignon.

Now l fall into bed and sleep more than eight hours.
That's because I often stay up until three or four a.m.
to finish a project, and then I'm wiped out.

I have lived plenty, but not learned!

Meanwhile I'm still in Hawaii.
My internet connection hasn't been working so well,
so I write in my room and head to the Waikiki Apple store
to do anything that requires the internet.
I'm a regular at the store's Studio Hours,
and the trainers are awesome!

Exploring Another Form of Story Telling with Friends
Hula Lessons
Marianne, Carolyn, Peter, and Louise (Me)
Cultural Programming, Royal Hawaiian Center 
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
March 6, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Last year I decided that one way I could support
the Insecure Writers Support Group
was to read five books by IWSG authors.

This year I'm aiming for eight,
and in February I read Flaming Crimes by Chrys Fey.
Chrys's Flaming Crimes was an enjoyable and romantic read.
The threat of a devastating fire lurked throughout the story,
adding to the suspense of the mystery. 

As I discovered after starting the book, it is the fourth
in a series of disaster crimes about characters Beth and Donovan Goldwyn.
It succeeded as a stand alone novel, because Fey adds just enough background, 
to catch you up on the couple’s harrowing past
without giving away too much to spoil the earlier books in the series.

Beth and Donovan are happily married and pursuing their careers:
Beth as the owner of The Fighting Chance where she teaches women self defense
and Donovan as a monster truck racing competitor.
After all the dangerous challenges of their past,
the two are settling into married life and trying to start a family.

It’s the calm before the latest storm,
because Beth must suddenly fire an assistant instructor
for sexually preying on a student,
and Donovan becomes a victim of life-threatening sabotage.
Meanwhile wildfires ravishing Central Florida grow closer and closer to their home.

With the help of their good friend Detective Thorn, 
they work to solve the mystery of who is cutting brake lines on Donovan’s monster truck
and who is leaving disturbing, bloody messages at their home.

Is it the disgruntled employee fired from Beth’s studio,
or a jealous competitor from the monster truck world?

Or could it be someone from their past,
even though their former enemies are vanquished or behind bars?

Is Beth the ultimate target?  Or Donovan?  Or both?

A horrific fire erupts by their home and the two fight to save it.
But unexpectedly they contend with a chilling and psychotic enemy
determined to destroy them and the future they are building together.

Will they survive the deadly fire and the deadly hunter?
you’ll have to read it to find out!

It was a satisfying and well-written read!
I will read the series, with the first of the series, 
Hurricane Crimes, at the top of the list. 

Happy writing in March!

Fueling at a Coffee Shop
for a Late Night of Writing
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Winter 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Lansdowne Letters: An Unexpected Trip

With break-up over, my father resumed writing
his Lansdowne Letters to his extended family.
Carbon paper, the technology tool of the day,
enabled him to type multiple copies of his May 25th letter,
and those copies went out in the mailbag
on the Friday mail plane on May 26, 1961.

His mother’s copy contained a private postscript
in which my father shared that he would be traveling
to North Bay in July to interview for the job of
Supervising Principal of the Sioux Lookout Indian Agency.

Little did he know, when he dashed off that postscript on Thursday evening,
that he would be accompanying the mailbag out on the plane the next day.

Austin Airways Plane at Dock,
Nakina, Ontario, Canada, 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

On Tuesday, May 29, 1961  
my father wrote of his unexpected trip:

Hi There Again Tonight:
Quite a lot has happened to your northern reporter
since the last edition of the Lansdowne Letter,
so I just had to write to you all tonight
and tell you about the recent developments.

First, to cut the suspense,
I’ll just tell you right off
that I got the job in Sioux Lookout.
As of the first of July, I am
the new Supervising Principal
of the Sioux Lookout Agency.

Things came to a head quite rapidly last Friday morning,
when Alex Suganaqueb, the Indian who works at the Bay,
came to my school and told me that I was wanted immediately
on the Austin Airways radio by Mr. Gowan.

Austin Airways Office (left)
Nakina Motel (right)
Nakina, Ontario, Canada, 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I was quite worried, and immediately thought
that another letter about the poor Indians
at Lansdowne House had hit the national press.

I didn’t feel any better after having talked to Gowan,
for he wouldn’t tell me what I was wanted for.
He just told me that I would be coming out on the plane in the afternoon
and that I would be informed of the purpose of my trip when I got to Nakina.

A soon as I arrived at Nakina, Gowan told me that I had to catch
the first train to North Bay, Ontario to meet a Mr. Waller from Ottawa.
He didn’t know why, but I’m sure he thought I was in some sort of trouble.

As soon as he mentioned North Bay and Mr. Waller,
I knew what it was all about, but I was still uneasy,
for I didn’t expect the job interview to take place till July.

Nakina Train Station
Nakina, Ontario, Canada, 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Naturally I was quite keyed up all the way down
on the train from Nakina to North Bay.
I was lucky I was able to get a berth,
for it is an all night trip, from 8:45 pm to 9:45 am.

It was one of the most miserable and anxious trips which I have ever experienced.
I did not know whether I was being called to North Bay to be fired or promoted.
I fully expected the former, but was fervently hoping for the latter.

I arrived in North Bay and was met at the station by Mr. Waller and Mr. Shaw.
Mr. Waller is the Deputy Chief of the Education Division
of the Indian Affairs Branch, and he is in charge of personnel.
Mr. Shaw is the regional School Superintendent for Northern Ontario.
You can see that I wasn’t interviewed by just a couple of minor clerks.

We went up to Shaw’s office and Waller said,
“Are you still interested in Sioux Lookout, Mr. MacBeath?"

An Aerial View of North Bay
on Lake Nipissing
December, 2008

I replied “You bet,"
and he said, “Good, then you can consider yourself hired."
That was my interview.
The rest of the time was spent telling me about my duties.

I will be starting my duties as soon after the first of July as I can.
This was a surprise, for I didn’t think
that I would be taking up my new duties until September.
I will perhaps be able to get two weeks holidays
in the latter part of August, if things aren’t too busy.
My salary will be approximately $7000.00 to start.

This is going to be a big job, for I am going to be
supervising about 35 teachers in about 20 different schools.

Besides this, I will have to keep an eye on
the building program that is starting this fall
and will be responsible for the administration of the schools in my area.
This involves seeing that they are equipped with the necessary supplies, etc.

I will also be responsible for the in-service training of the teachers in my schools,
and I think I may have something to do with the hiring of the teachers, etc.

There will be no actual teaching to my job,
but I will be expected to help out
any teacher who gets into difficulties, and on occasion,
I will be expected to demonstrate proper teaching methods.
I just hope I never have to show them how to type or spell.

The job involves a lot of travelling and the great majority of it will be airplanes.
Only one of my schools can be reached by train and none by car.
I will be away from home about a third of my time.

This summer I am liable to be away over half of the time,
for I will have to cover my entire district
as soon as I can to get acquainted with the set up.

In addition, Mr. Waller said that he hopes that he can get me to Ottawa
for a couple of weeks this summer to learn the ropes up at H.Q.
Additionally he hopes that I will be able to spend at least a week
at North Bay with Mr. Shaw learning how the regional office operates.

Well, I am quite tired after all the excitement and the trip out,
so I’ll just sign off for tonight and continue this tomorrow evening.

Bye for now,

I don't remember my father's sudden departure and quick return.
Our parents sheltered us from their worries,
and we were busy and happy being kids.

I'll always be grateful to my mother and father
for allowing me to have a carefree childhood. 

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

Location of North Bay
on Lake Nipissing

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Lansdowne Letters: Canoeing Lesson

Sometimes my narrative gets ahead of my father’s letters,
and sometimes my father goes back to a previous event.

A little of both occurs
as I share the rest of his letter dated
Thursday, May 25, 1961
when my father wrote:

Hi Folks:

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

On Victoria Day, which was a holiday,
I rented a canoe and took the family on a picnic.
All of us, including Roberta and Gretchen, piled into a big freighter canoe,
and Sara and I paddled up the shore to Joe Alex’s place,
which is about a couple of miles up the peninsula.

Lansdowne House Today
Our parents paddled our canoe up to about the narrowest part of the south side of the peninsula.

Imagery:  DigitalGlobe, Landstat/Copernicus
Map Data:  Google 2017

Then we went ashore and ate.
Sara had some canned stew,
which I was never very fond of at home,
but which tasted delicious when it was heated up and eaten outside.

She also brought along lots of bread and butter,
coffee, and orange juice for the children.
Also, she baked a lovely cake for the picnic.

The picnic was actually on the Sunday before Victoria Day,
which was Monday, 22 May 61.

After the meal, Gretchen went swimming,
and Barbie and Donnie sneaked in wading.
I don’t know why all three of them didn’t die of pneumonia,
for they were right in among the ice cakes along the store.
I put a stop to the whole thing when I discovered it.

Donnie, holding Bertie, with Barbie
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
Summer 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Roy with Gretchen
Margaretsville, Nova Scotia, Canada
Christmas 1958
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Roy and Louise took the canoe and went out a short distance
on the lake and practiced paddling the canoe.
It was most amusing to watch them.

Paddling a canoe requires co-operation,
and those two don’t know what the word means.
All they could do is compete.
As a result, they got nowhere for a while,
except around in circles.

They would get the canoe all lined up where they were trying to go,
and they would start out with a flourish.
Very shortly they would find the canoe swinging off course.

All that would be required at this stage would be for one of them
to shift sides and paddle on the opposite side;
but of course, each one would roar at the other one to shift,
and at the same time be too stubborn to shift themselves.

The Uncooperative
School Photos, Fall 1960
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Very shortly, the canoe would swing through a complete circle,
and they would be heading back where they came from.
It was an education in itself to listen to the recriminations
that were flying back and forth between them when this happened.

After about an hour of this futile floundering,
they finally caught on to the fact, that as much as they disliked it,
they had to co-operate and one had to be the boss
and tell the other one when to shift.

At this stage I interfered to tell them that the natural one
to command the canoe was the one in the stern,
because the canoe is controlled from the stern.

This immediately started another row,
because Roy was in the stern,
and Louise wanted to be in command.
She had jumped into the front at the start
because she thought that the front position was the most important.

The only reason Roy didn’t fight for the front position
was that I had had him out with me before the picnic,
and I had taken the stern.
I told him then that the most experienced paddler always takes the stern,
and so Roy was quite willing to take the stern.

I finally had to take a hand and tell them
that Roy could command the ship for a while,
and then, when I told them, they were to come ashore and shift positions.

Once they learned about co-operation and settled their jurisdictional dispute,
they got along great and could go anywhere they wanted to.
This canoe episode was a better lesson in co-operation
than all the lecturing that I could do in a year.

Somewhat Working Together
Roy and I (Louise)
Attawapiskat Lake, Northern Ontario, Canada
Victoria Day, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Right about now I can just see Nana, Grammie, Great Grammie,
and Aunt Maude all sitting down to write me letters
scolding me for allowing the two of them out alone in a canoe.

I can assure you that the canoe I had on the picnic
was quite different from the one I had last fall.
It was a small two-man canoe and was as skittish as a strange cat,
and it would upset if you looked at it incorrectly.

The one I had on the picnic was a big eighteen-foot
freighter canoe with a four-foot beam.
It was as steady, as safe, and as hard to upset as a Newfoundland dory.
They are one of the safest crafts afloat.

Don’t worry.
I wouldn’t have allowed them out in it alone
if it was the least bit dangerous.

Survivors of Childhood 
Roy and I (Louise)
Beautiful Cove, Long Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
August 2, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I don’t think I ever mentioned Joe Alex’s place in any descriptions of Lansdowne House.
Joe Alex was a Jewish free trader who had a store
about two miles up the peninsula from the Hudson’s Bay store.
He was running in competition with the Bay.

He had his own private plane.
About three years ago he crashed the plane and killed himself,
and since then the place has been deserted.
It is slowly falling into ruin.

After about two hours at Joe Alex’s,
I loaded the family in the canoe, minus our baggage
and headed further up the lake.

About a mile further on, the lake was completely free of ice.
I have since learned that for the last week of break-up the lake
was free of ice except for three or four miles square around the settlement.
This area was still frozen over for some reason.

We spent a delightful time paddling around the water, and then we started home.
On our way we stopped at Joe Alex’s to pick up our baggage,
including some of Roberta’s diapers which we had left drying on a bush.

For a photograph of Ojibwa "Diapers" from that time period click here.

Ice Free Northern Lake
Somewhere Close to Lansdowne House
Photo by Don MacBeath, September 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

We arrived home about six in the evening,
happy, but tired and sunburned after a day in the open.
It is hard to believe that we went on this picnic,
and if it wasn’t for my red face,
I would almost think I had dreamed it,
for yesterday and today have been miserable.
We actually had quite a bit of snow the last two days.

I don’t think I’ll ever cease to be amazed
at how essentially polite and courteous the Indians are.
True, they never say please or thank you,
and they make the women do the hard work,
and the men get the preferred treatment,
but this is a result of their culture and customs
and not because of any inborn impoliteness.

In the old days the men were the hunters and provided the food,
and the women ran the homes, cut the wood,
hauled the water, and did all the dirty work.

They had to, because the men were away hunting so much.
In fact, the women’s lot was so hard,
that it was not uncommon for the Indian mothers to kill their female babies
rather than to let them live to spend as hard a life as they had.

Times are changing though,
and now you see quite a few of the younger men
hauling water and cutting wood and even carrying the tikinagans,
something you never would have seen fifty years ago
or even twenty-five years ago.

Indian Mother with Baby in a Tikanagan
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Photo by Don MacBeath, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

But I started to tell you about the politeness of the Indians.
There were a lot of canoes out that Sunday,
and most of them had outboard motors.

Whenever one of the canoes came near our canoe,
they would throttle back the motor and go past us as slowly as possible
so as not to swamp us with the wake from the motor.
A couple of them even shut off their motors and paddled past us.

I can imagine what would have happened
if the canoes had been operated by white people, especially teenagers.
The Indian teenagers were just as polite as their elders.

And I wonder where, outside, if anywhere, that you could leave
all your equipment, including a camp stove and dishes and jackets
on a beach for a couple of hours and come back and find nothing disturbed.
We didn’t even bother to lock the house,
although we were away for most of the day.

Well, I have an awful lot more to tell you about the break-up
and meeting the first plane (I was in one of the canoes),
but I have to sign off now and get some official mail ready for tomorrow,
so I’ll have to continue this narrative tomorrow and send it out next week.

All the members of the family are well and thriving on this northern life.
Roberta has gained a lot of weight, and Sara looks wonderful.
I am holding down my weight.
Roy has been bothered some with his tonsils
and will have to have them out as soon as we go outside,
but he is ok just now.
Tomorrow is his birthday, and he is quite excited about it.

Well, this is an example of damned poor planning,
having to start a fourth page like this.
I really had intended to finish it in three pages,
but the end sort of snook up on me.

If I had the time, it would be the logical thing to do to finish this new page,
but I just haven’t got the time, so I’ll have to sign off now,
new page or no new page.  Bye for now.
See you all next week.

Love, Don.

Returning from Joe Alex's
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
Photo by Don MacBeath, Victoria Day, 196
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My Father continued in a handwritten postscript to his mother:
Oh well, Mother, it gives me some space to write a private note to you.
Roy’s parcel arrived safely and on time.
He doesn’t know about it though.
He hasn’t opened it yet, but it wasn’t damaged or anything.
Will write next week and tell you all about the birthday.
Thanks for Roy’s parcel.  

It’s good to see that Aunt Maude is up and around again
and is more like her old self again.

I am glad that you are finally rid of the property,
although I feel queer in a way to think that we no longer own the corner,
but it was the only thing to do, because I’ll never be living in Charlottetown again - 
at least not till I am retired,
and especially if I get this new job in Sioux Lookout.

My Grandmother MacBeath's Apartment Building and Home
at the Corner of Fitzroy and Edward
(We lived in the two-story apartment with the red and white door in the mid-1950s.)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Oh yes, they are going to meet me in North Bay for the interview
some time in July - date to be announced later,
and I imagine it will be in the first week in July.

I think I am almost certain of getting the job.
I hope so, because it would be a wonderful promotion.
Sunday school is proceeding well.
Thanks for the carbon paper.  It is just what I wanted.

Well, I got to sign off now.
I hope this letter lives up to my promise of a nice long letter.
Next week’s will be just as long,
for I have more to tell about break-up.

Bye for now,
Love, Don

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Waiting for the Ferry to Tiverton
Eastern Passage, Digby Neck, Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

1.  Victoria Day:
     Victoria Day is a federal public holiday celebrated in Canada on the last Monday before May 25,
     in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday.  It is the Monday between the 18th to the 24th, and thus it
     is always the penultimate Monday of May.  The current Canadian sovereign's birthday, Queen
     Elizabeth II's, is officially recognized on Victoria Day.  Many Canadians consider it the informal
     start of summer.  Wikipedia

by Alexander Melville, 1845

2.  Aunt Maude was battling cancer.

3.  Sunday School:  My father was conducting regular Sunday School lessons with us, because
     only itinerant Anglican ministers visited Lansdowne House.  Reverend Harold
     Mitton of the First Baptist Church in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island regularly sent my
     father materials.

    It's funny to see four digit telephone numbers nowadays and to realize that you could mail a letter
    in Charlottetown to be delivered in Charlottetown and just write "City" in the address.

Mother's Day Church Bulletin
May 14, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Mail for My Father
from Reverend Mitton
May 15, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Map of Canada
Highlighting Ontario

Lansdowne House, Ontario

Attawapiskat Lake and Lansdowne House
Map Data Google 2018

Attawapiskat Lake  
An Unusual Depiction of Life There 
Original Source Unknown
Found At:  hypenotic