Friday, September 15, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: A Teacher Challenged


When my father arrived in Lansdowne House in mid-September 1960,
he was frustrated, mixed-up, and apprehensive.

He had just endured a confusing one-day orientation in Sault Ste. Marie
followed by more confusing days stranded in Nakina.

He was about to face unexpected challenges that would have had some teachers
on the shortwave radio at the Hudson's Bay Post chartering a flight back to Nakina ASAP.


Flying to Lansdowne House for the First Time
My father wrote on the back of this photo:  
"This is a picture taken from the Norseman just as we were crossing the Albany River
which is about halfway between Nakina and Lansdowne House.
You can see the Albany River down to the right."
September 13, 1960
Photo by Donald MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



During his "indoctrination" by officials from the Education Division
of the Indian Affairs Branch of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration,
my father was informed that he would likely be teaching
twenty to thirty Ojibwa and a few Cree children
from Kindergarten through Grade 6,
many of whom could speak no English ~
But all this would have to be confirmed after his arrival in Lansdowne House.

He found out that he would likely be staying
with the Roman Catholic teacher at the Roman Catholic mission
or possibly living by himself at the Department of Forestry building ~
But all this would have to be confirmed by the Indian Agent after his arrival in Nakina.

My father also learned that his school was located on the "Mainland,"
which was really the tip of a long peninsula sticking out into Lake Attawapiskat;
and, if he boarded on the Father's Island at the mission,
he would have to commute by canoe between the two ~
Fortunately the Department of Indian Affairs would pay for him
to rent a canoe from the Hudson's Bay post if that proved necessary.


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




Lansdowne House Today
Northern Ontario, Canada
Imagery:  DigitalGlobe, Landstat/Copernicus
Map Data:  Google 2017


When my father left Sault Ste. Marie by train for Nakina,
he anticipated waiting a day, two at the most,
for a chartered plane to fly him into Lansdowne House.

Instead, a series of unfortunate events stranded him in Nakina for four nights:
bad weather in Nakina, followed by bad weather in Lansdowne House,
followed by his pilot breaking his leg playing baseball.

My father spend much of his time
waiting on the weather and on a new pilot from Sudbury
trying to track down the Indian Agent
who was supposed to arrange his flight and his accommodations.

While marking time in Nakina, my father played chess with at the telegraph office,
socialized with a teacher from the nearby Aroland Reserve,
and talked to a number of Indians.


The Telegraph Office
Nakina, Northern Ontario, Canada
Photo by Father Ouimet
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



He dug up more information about his new position,
some of it conflicting:
No, he would not be teaching Ojibwa children,
he would be teaching Cree children.
He would have only twenty-one students
from Kindergarten to Grade 4.
But maybe fewer ~
His students could be heading for the winter traplines
because no teacher had shown up.

My father found the news on the mission encouraging:
It had both electric lights and indoor plumbing,
whereas the forestry house had neither.
He fervently hoped he would land at the mission,
for he had begun to dread the thought
of living alone in the forestry building. 

And land at the mission he did, off-loaded
from a cargo canoe on a strip of sand
by a fringe of bush on the Father's Island.


The Father's Island
with the Roman Catholic Mission
Uno's and Dad's "Cottage" is the brown, white-roofed building 
between the church and rectory (middle right)
Photo by Father Ouimet
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




My Father's Baggage 
Off-Loaded on the Beach
Photo by Don MacBeath
September 13, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




A French Canadian Oblate brother emerged from the bush
to help my father drag his trunk and baggage up to his new home.

My father wrote of his new home:
"We have a nice unpretentious little two-room cottage to live in.
The front room we use for a living room,
washroom, cloakroom, and general store room.
The back room we use for a bedroom, a library, and study." 



  

  Nice and Unpretentious:  Back Room (left), Front Room (middle),
   Dad in the Bedroom/Library/Study (right)
    Photo by Uno Manilla
    © M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
      All Rights Reserved



  Dad's Shack on the Father's Island
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue 
All Rights Reserved



And of his new roommate:
"My roommate, or rather my bunkmate companion for the winter,
is a very nice chap by the name of Uno Manilla.
You will probably think the same as I thought at first,
that he is either Italian or Spanish.
Actually, he is of Finnish extraction.
He is very young, but he has taught Indians before."


Uno and Dad with Baby Duncan
on Uno's Side of the Bedroom/Library/Study
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



In 1960 Northern Ontario had 54 Indian schools 
scattered across its wilderness of rock, lake, and muskeg.
My father's was one of the 38 single-classroom schools
and one of three new Indian schools built that year. Table
Imagine my father's dismay at walking into that school and finding it empty.

My father wrote:
"They have a beautiful new school, but there isn’t a stick of furniture in it.
No desks, no chairs, teacher’s desk, or what have you.
I immediately got on the radio and contacted
the Department of Indian Affairs at Nakina to ask them what I was to do.
It is utterly impossible to teach school with no furniture in the school."



The Church of England Indian Day School
The Mainland, Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



The best the Department of Indian Affairs could do
was promise to fly in desks and chairs in several weeks.
My father, more frustrated, but doggedly determined,
started hunting up anything he could find to furnish the school temporarily,
and the people in the community rallied to help him.

Father Ouimet lent him old handmade desks stored in his attic,
and my father hired Indians to ferry them over to his school
in Father Ouimet's 18-foot freighter canoe.

My father made the rounds of the Hudson's Bay,
the Department of Transport, and the Nursing Station 
scrounging card tables and chairs
from the avid, card-playing white community.

A little later he spotted plywood sitting on the DOT dock
that belonged to the Department of Indian Affairs.
Inspired, he had two Indians to carry a sheet up to his school,
and then he borrowed two low sawhorses from Bill Mitchell at the Bay.
The result was a kindergarten table for his youngest students.

After some scrounging and improvising, my father had seats for his students,
but would he have any students to sit in those seats?


On the Water between the Island and the Mainland
with the Department of Transport and Hudson's Bay Buildings 
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



That was the beginning of a number of challenges
my father had to overcome at his new Indian school.

He could not foresee the problems ahead of him:
shoddy construction, falling ceilings,
malfunctioning and dangerous oil stoves,
and slow and incomplete shipments
of equipment and supplies flown in by bush plane ~
not to mention him having to haul all the water used in the school
and having to periodically hand-pump 400 hundred gallons of oil
from 45-gallon barrels into the school oil tanks.

However, my father quickly realized
that if you wanted to be a successful teacher in the North,
you had to be ready to tackle anything.


Bush Plane with Pontoons for Landing on Water








Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



Boars Head Lighthouse
Tiverton, Long Island, Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Notes:  
1.  Shortwave Radio:
     The only way to talk with someone on the Outside was by shortwave radio.  The one my father
      typically used was located at the Hudson's Bay Post.  The only other means of communication
      was via the telegraph or mail.

2.  The Hudson's Bay Post:
     The "Bay" was a commercial establishment where the Ojibwa traded their furs for supplies.
     Anyone could purchase goods at the Bay.   

3.   ASAP:
      The acronym "ASAP" stands for "as soon as possible."  Its use originated in the US Army. 

4.  The Roman Catholic Mission: 
     The Roman Catholic church had an OMI Mission on Couture Island just off the peninsula
     containing the Hudson's Bay Post and the Department of Transport buildings in Lansdowne
     House.  The mission included a church, rectory, school, recreation hall, sawmill, the "cottage"
     Uno and my father rented, and a graveyard.  OMI means Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
     The OMI fathers and brothers are sometimes referred to as Oblate fathers and brothers.

5.  Department of Forestry Building:  The Department of Forestry building was for use as a place
     to fight forest fires in the area.

6.  The Father's Island:
     Officially the "Father's Island" was called Couture Island after Father Joseph-Marie Couture,
     a Jesuit missionary who traveled the region by canoe and dogsled.  In 1938 the Oblate fathers
     took over the far northern Roman Catholic missions.  The Nipigon Museum Blog 

7.  Father Maurice Ouimet and Brother Raoul Bernier:  
     The Oblate priest and brother at the Roman Catholic Mission in Lansdowne House.
     They were members of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate,
     a missionary religious congregation in the Roman Catholic Church.
  
8.  White Community: 
     The white community consisted of the Mitchells (HBC), Brian Booth (HBC), Uno Manilla
      (RC teacher), the McRaes (DOT), the MacMahons (DOT), Father Ouimet (OMI),
      Brother Bernier (OMI), Margaret Kelly (nurse) and my father Donald MacBeath (CE teacher).
      The Ojibwa community would not have had tables or chairs to lend to the school.

9.  Liquid Capacity Conversions:
      400 gallons = 1514 liters


For Map Lovers Like Me:
Map of Canada
Highlighting Ontario




Locations of Sault Ste. Marie, Nakina, and Lansdowne House
Map Data:  Google 2017







Location of Lansdowne House
Wikimedia   edited




My father wrote on the back of this photo: 
This is the Norseman that I flew
from Nakina into Lansdowne House.
The company maintenance man  
and the pilot Rudolph Hoffman "Rudie"
(at the extreme right of the picture).
They have just finished refueling,
and we are ready to go.

D. B. MacBeath, September 13, 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Monday, September 11, 2017

The Premier's Rose Garden ~ British Columbia Parliament Buildings, Victoria


Last September I stumbled across a fragrant surprise 
behind the British Columbia Parliament Buildings:
The Premier's Rose Garden.


The Premier's Rose Garden
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
September 10, 2017
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved






I've visited this lovely spot
a number of times,
and I rarely see anyone in it.

It's quiet, peaceful, and beautiful,
and I enjoy wandering around
seeing and smelling all the gorgeous roses.


Kosmos Fairy Tale White Floribunda Roses
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved







Livin' Easy Orange Floribunda Roses
The Premier's Rose Garden
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved





Buxom Beauty Pink Hybrid Tea Roses
The Premier's Rose Garden
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved





Julia Child Yellow Floribunda Roses
The Premier's Rose Garden
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Henry Whittaker, Chief Architect for the British Columbia Department of Public Works,
designed the rectangular-shaped garden with its boxwood hedges and central sundial.

Paved paths in the shape of a cross divide the rose garden into four quadrants
featuring different rugosa, tea, floribunda, and grandiflora roses.


Central Sundial
The Premier's Rose Garden
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Central Sundial
The Premier's Rose Garden
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Satellite Imagery of the Premier's Rose Garden
Behind the West Annex of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings
Imagery:  Google
Map Data:  Google 2017




The Premier's Rose Garden was constructed
as a relief project in 1935-36 during the Great Depression.
It sits on the former site of one of the original
parliament buildings known as the "Bird Cages."

The garden was dedicated to British Columbia's Premier Bill Bennett
in 1986 and renamed "The Premier's Rose Garden."


The old parliament buildings ("bird cages") and land office
Reference Code:  AM54-S4-: Out P1027
 Copyright Status Public Domain



Anywhere you walk among the colorful roses,
you can smell their beautiful fragrances
and hear the sound of honeybees buzzing among the blooms.


Apricot/Pink Floribunda Roses
The Premier's Rose Garden
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Easy Going Yellow Floribunda Roses
The Premier's Rose Garden
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Buxom Beauty Pink Hybrid Tea Roses
The Premier's Rose Garden
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Living' Easy Orange Floribunda Roses
The Premier's Rose Garden
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Pink/White Hybrid Tea Roses
The Premier's Rose Garden
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


When you sit on one of the quiet benches in a shady spot in the garden,
it's hard to imagine that Victoria's bustling Inner Harbour is only a few hundred yards away.

If you let your imagination drift, it's easy to imagine that you've
stumbled across Briar Rose's enchanted castle.


The Premier's Rose Garden
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Victoria has lovely rose gardens big and small, public and private,
but this is my favorite.

Information Source:  leg.bc.ca




Friday, September 8, 2017

Sometimes I Feel Like Wonder Woman, and Sometimes ...


Sometimes I feel like Wonder Woman ...


Flickr  tacit requiem   Licence



And sometimes I have to admit,
I am not.

This is one of those times.
I simply couldn't finish my Northern post,
although I tried mightily.

But I'll have it by next Friday!
So sorry ~ See you then!


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

IWSG: Wednesday, September 6, 2017 ~ Touchdown





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:
Tyrean Martinson,  Tara Tyler,  Raimey Gallant,
and Beverly Stowe McClure.

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:

Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?
For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in??


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If all goes according to plans I'll touchdown in Victoria
Tuesday evening,
and my brief IWSG post will go up as scheduled.



British Columbia Parliament Buildings
Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


When I pictured myself writing in my retirement,
it never occurred to me that I would be blogging.
Not only was it a new and unexpected genre for me,
it was almost completely unknown to me.

Stumbling into blogging proved serendipitous for me.
The first thing I wanted to tackle writing in retirement
was a memoir on my family's time in the North.

Blogging gave me an opportunity to tackle things in small bites.
It allowed me to experiment with different voices
and to learn to balance my father's voice with mine.

Blogging also allowed me to work through a lot of powerful and emotional memories,
and enabled me to gain some perspective and distance.

The biggest surprise of this surprising genre 
was the fellow bloggers I met.
As I experimented with my posts,
all these amazing people gave me feedback and encouragement,
and became my blogging friends.
I will forever be grateful to them!


Part of a Totem Pole Near My Hotel
Thunderbird Park
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Victoria, writing, and I have gotten along well the past,
so I am looking forward to a productive month of writing.

Wishing you a happy month of writing as well!

Due to flying and arriving late, it may take me a day or two
to get around and visit fellow IWSG members, but get around I will!



Beautiful Beacon Hill Park
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



P.S.  We made it ~ 
except for Terry's luggage which arrived about twelve hours later.

The smoke from all the fires in the western USA
and in British Columbia, Canada is unlike anything
I've ever seen from an airplane.

Here are a few photos to give you an idea:

Yellowstone National Park, USA
September 5, 2017
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Cameron, Montana, USA
September 5, 2017
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Delta (Greater Vancouver)
Frazer River, British Columbia, Canada
September 5, 2017
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




Full Sunshine ~ Lots of Smoke
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Ash fell from the sky like snow on Labour Day
September 5, 2017
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Friday, September 1, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: Indian Education ~ A Beginning


For my next few northern posts, I want to share
some of my father's experiences as a teacher
and some of my experiences as a student
in Lansdowne House's Church of England Indian Day School.


The Church of England Indian Day School
The Mainland, Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



My father applied for the teaching position in Lansdowne House
in the summer of 1960 mainly out of curiosity,
and darned if he didn't land the job.

With the enticement of a good salary, a generous isolation allowance,
and the adventure of teaching Indians in the wilderness,
my father postponed his plans to return to Acadia University
to earn his Bachelor of Education degree and headed North.
I eagerly followed when my family joined him some five months later.

Both of us arrived in the remote community west of James Bay
knowing little about the reality of Indian schools in the Canadian North.
Both of us had experiences we never imagined and never forgot.


The Teacher and the Student
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



The history of Indian schools, both day and residential,
in Canada is long, sordid, unconscionable, and tragic.

Much has been written about that dismal history
over the decades since my family was in Lansdowne House.

The Canadian Indian Residential School System primarily operated
from 1876 (with the passage of the Indian Act)
to 1996 (when the last government residential school closed).
Wikipedia

What people sometimes forget is that there were also community day schools,
like my father's Church of England school and Uno Manilla's Roman Catholic one.

The main difference between the two was that
residential students were separated from their parents for the school year,
and day school students returned to their homes after school each day.

Both were funded by the Department of Indian Affairs and operated by Christian churches,
like the Church of England and Roman Catholic day schools in Lansdowne House.


The Roman Catholic Indian Day School
The Father's Island, Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


The well-documented abuses that occurred in residential schools
also occurred in day schools throughout Canada.

In his unpublished handbook
"The Northern School Teacher" my father wrote:
"The primary purpose or goal of all Indian education
is the ultimate integration of the Indian population with the white population,
and the teacher has to familiarize her charges with the white man's way of doing things."

It sounds innocuous at first glance,
but it was anything but.
It was cultural genocide.

It was a deliberate attempt by government and church
to exterminate indigenous languages, traditions, and spiritual beliefs.

While my father and Uno did not intentionally harm their Indian students,
they were both tasked with teaching their students English,
familiarizing them with the dominant white culture,
and preparing them for assimilation into that culture.

Sadly, some people who were genuinely motivated
to work to improve the lives of Aboriginal people
found themselves operating in a system
initially designed to eliminate them.




"I want to get rid of the Indian problem.
... Our objective is to continue
until there is not a single Indian in Canada
that has not been absorbed into the body politic
and there is no Indian question,
and no Indian Department ... ."
Wikipedia
  

Duncan Campbell Scott
Head of the Department of Indian Affairs 
from 1913 to 1932.  
Wikimedia 




There were a number of events that altered my father's plans
to pursue a career with the Department of Indian Affairs,
but certainly one important factor was his increasing dissonance
over the purpose of Indian education and the results
he observed throughout his time in northern Ontario.


Lansdowne House's Two Teachers (with Baby Duncan)
Uno Manilla ~ Roman Catholic School
Don MacBeath ~ Church of England School
Photo Probably by Duncan or Maureen McCrae
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Aboriginal children who were educated under this system
often felt they did not belong in Aboriginal or white society.
They were not skilled in their traditional ways,
nor did they receive an adequate education to function in white society.
Their feelings of worthlessness rippled down through the generations,
and it led to alcoholism, substance abuse, and suicide.

I didn't have to read any of the vast number of pages
written about Aboriginal history in Canada to know this.

I have been haunted throughout my life
by the stories my Ojibwa friends shared,
by the suicide of one of my young Ojibwa friends,
and by the drawn-out, death-by-alcoholism of a M├ętis friend.

My father wrote his handbook in an effort to acquaint
the novice white teacher with the real challenges
of teaching in the Indian day schools of the North.

He adopted an "informal, reminiscent, and chatty manner" in his handbook
in an effort to inform the new teacher "without scaring him or her unnecessarily."


Unpublished M. Ed. Project Manuscript
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



My father wanted to provide new teachers with practical information,
unlike the "so-called introduction" he received
during "a one day indoctrination course" before going North.

He wrote:
"Far from being encouraging and informative,
the introduction that I received during my orientation course
was a veritable nightmare of half-truths, outright falsehoods,
rumors, and misrepresentation of facts."

The experience left my father so "mixed-up, frustrated, and apprehensive"
that he almost resigned on the spot and returned  to Nova Scotia.

When my father arrived in Lansdowne House,
he walked into a new one-room school with no furniture or desks,
limited supplies, and no school records.

He arrived a week late because of bad weather
that had prevented him from flying into the community.
Some of his students had already disappeared into the bush
headed for the winter traplines with their families,
their parents having concluded there was no school that year.
  
My father was on his own, or so he thought.
He quickly discovered that the small number of white people
in Lansdowne House would rally to help him.


My Father and Two of His Supportive Friends
Father Ouimet and Brother Bernier
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved






Till next time ~
Fundy Blue.










Notes:  
1.  Uno Manilla:
     Uno was the teacher at the Roman Catholic Day School in Lansdowne House.  Prior to our family
     joining my father in the North, my father and Uno had bunked together in a shack or "cottage"
     on the Roman Catholic Mission grounds.   

2.  Father Ouimet and Brother Bernier:
     They were members of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate,
     a missionary religious congregation in the Roman Catholic Church.

3.  My father's Unpublished Handbook:
     The Northern School Teacher:  A Hand Book To Be Issued To All New Entrants To The Teaching
     Profession In The Indian Schools In The Sioux Lookout Indian Agency, 1966,
     Page 14 (Body) and Page 1 (Introduction).



For Map Lovers Like Me:
Map of Canada
Highlighting Ontario




Location of Lansdowne House
Wikimedia   edited