Friday, August 18, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: C'est la Guerre

Have you ever experienced dental pain so bad
that you wanted to grab a pair of pliers and rip the tooth out of your jaw?

I have.  Nothing makes me crazier than dental pain.

I recently had to abandon a flight from Calgary to Halifax
and fly home to Aurora because of a sudden and serious dental abscess.
I was lucky.  I accessed expert dental care very quickly.

We take such things for granted today,
but a half century ago in remote parts of Canada people couldn't.

A Last View of Calgary
as I head for Denver instead of Halifax
July 23, 2017
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Photo by Louise Barbour 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Dental care was a concern and a real problem for people
in isolated communities like Lansdowne House back then,
especially during freeze-up and break-up
when there was no way to get out to a dentist.

When my mother wrote to her mother-in-law
shortly before break-up about Milt MacMahon's dental woes,
it's fortunate she couldn't see into her own future.

On April 20, 1961 she had written:
Milt's teeth were bothering him so much, 
he had to get Mike to pull five of them out.

Mike froze his teeth and pulled them,
and then Milt went over to visit Duncan and then home.
When he got home he passed out.

He had a bad reaction to the needle.
It happens in one case in a million I guess.
He was unconscious for half an hour.

Poor Mike, at one point he thought he couldn't save him.
Milt went into shock, his blood pressure shot up, 
and I guess his heart missed a beat.

However Mike saved him.

My mother had no inkling of her own dental future.

The Only Way in and Out:  by Bush Plane
A Norseman on Skis
Flickr ~ NOAA:  Rear Admiral Harley D. Nygren   License 

On Monday, April 24, 1961
My father wrote:

Hi There Everyone:
As far as can be determined, the last plane
before break-up will be in tomorrow morning.
The ice is still good up here,
but it is getting pretty bad down south in Nakina and Armstrong.

Just in case tomorrow’s plane is the last one,
I thought I would get another note off to you all, in spite of the fact that
my last effort is still reposing in the mail sack down in Mitchell’s office.
Because of this, you lucky people will have to suffer through
two of my efforts, instead of the usual one.

The last of our freeze-up----damn it, I mean break-up order arrived today.
I can’t ever remember having so much food in the house at one time.
We have enough to last for four or five weeks and even for six in a pinch,
although we will hope that we aren’t pinched.

The Hudson's Bay Post
where the departing mail waited and food could be bought.
Clerk Brian Booth
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario
Winter 1960-61
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I was a bit horrified when I got to see the bills
and discovered that the bills for the break-up order came to $195.00;
but actually, that’s not bad, when you consider that we bought a whole month’s supplies.

We usually have to spend at least this every month on food,
but it is divided over four weeks and doesn’t look so bad.
I’m just not used to buying everything in one swell swoop like this. 

I have lost about half of my pupils for a while.
They have all gone out trapping muskrat.
They won’t be back till after break-up.

Muskrat Tracks:  Wikimedia          Muskrat on Ice:  Wikimedia          Three Muskrats:  Flickr ~ Eric B├ęgin   License

I was worried that this would reflect on me, and I was wondering,
if I had made my school a little more interesting, they might have stayed.

Bill Mitchell and Sara put my mind at rest on this matter though.
Sara surmised, and Bill definitely stated, that this is an annual occurrence
and the Indians have been doing it for generations.

I can’t see why the men don’t go out for the three weeks alone
and leave the mothers and children home,
so the kids could go to school;
but I have found out that Indian fathers are more interested
in their sons becoming good trappers than good scholars
and that their daughters become proficient in curing the pelts.

I suppose when you look at it from the point of view of the Indian,
it is a practical way of looking at things.
After all, this is the way that a great majority of them
will be making their living when they grow to be adults.

Into the Bush, James Bay Area

Poor Sara had to get a tooth pulled today.
It was causing her a lot of agony,
and the dentist won’t be in till June or July.
A dentist could probably have saved the tooth,
while the best Mike could do for her was to take it out.

This is one of the greatest drawbacks to living in the north.
It is so hard to get dental care when you need it.  

Bill Mitchell was saying that if your teeth won’t last
one or two years between overhauls,
then, if you are going to live in the north for any length of time,
you are just as well off without them.
He had his all out a long time ago.

I am lucky.  Mine haven’t caused me any trouble since I came up here,
and the last time I had any work done to them, except for cleaning them,
was before I got out of the Air Force.
Now Sara, on the other hand, had her last dental appointment
just before she came up here.

Mom (Sara)
Before Five Kids and Dental Woes
Dating Dad at Acadia University
Fifteen Years Earlier ~ 1946
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I was just looking at the amount that I said I spent for food every month,
and I realize that the food we have on hand is a five weeks’ supply;
and actually this works out just right,
for Sara has just told me that we usually spend about $35.00 a week for food up here.
The actual cost of the food is not very much, if any higher than in the Cove.

What costs up here is having it brought in by plane at ten cents a pound.
This is what really hurts.

Well, here I am with a nice clean white page in front of me,
and all of a sudden, I can’t think of anything else to say.

Oh yes, it’s Duncan’s birthday tomorrow, Duncan senior that is,
and we are going over to help him celebrate.
Mike and Anne are also coming over,
so I guess there will be no bridge, but just a nice gabfest.
Oh well, I always did like a good gossip session occasionally.

Dad and Duncan
Northern Ontario, Canada, 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I have been doing considerable painting lately.
I painted a lovely large picture of the Father’s Island,
18 inches by 24 inches, and I gave it to him for his birthday,

I did another one of the Anglican Church up here and sent it to Mother for Mother’s Day.

I did another one of a small wooded island out in the lake in front of our house,
and Duncan asked me if he could have it, so I am giving it to him for his birthday.

It is a winter scene, and I think it is a pretty good one.
I almost get a chill from looking at it.
I find that painting is a great way of relaxing.

I did another painting of the same island that I did for Duncan,
although it is a different view,
and I believe that it is the best that I have ever done yet.
Sara liked it so well that she claimed it for a birthday gift,
before I got a chance to give it away to someone else.

It’s a funny thing, but once I have finished a picture,
I am no longer interested in it
and can only think of what I am going to paint next.

Well, it is getting late, and I was up late last night trying to beat the break-up deadline,
which I thought was going to be today, so I think I’ll sign off now.

Will be seeing you all via the printed page after break-up.

Bye now, love, Don.

The Father's Island
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Circa 1960
Photo by Father Maurice Ouimet
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My mother's dental ordeal was not over.  
Break-up arrived and so did more difficulties for my mother.

My father discussed the situation in his unpublished handbook
The Northern School Teacher:

"Medical and dental care is a problem in the bush,
for anything serious always entails a trip out by aeroplane.
The government pays the cost of all such emergency transportation
for medical and dental treatment, it is true,
but there are periods when it is just not possible to get out.

I refer especially to the freeze-up and break-up periods,
which usually average about a month each,
but can last as long as seven or eight weeks.

During the break-up at Lansdowne House,
Sara came down with a horrible toothache.
She just could not bear it.

Mike O'Flaherty, the nurse, whose enthusiasm
frequently exceeded his ability,
said he could pull the tooth out for Sara.
Since anything was preferable to the agony of the toothache,
Sara consented.

I accompanied her to the nursing station,
where Mike sat her down on an ordinary kitchen chair
and proceeded to pull the tooth.

After much wincing and crying, swearing and cursing,
and prying and pulling, the tooth was successfully extracted.

Unfortunately, it was the wrong tooth,
and the whole agonizing process had to be repeated.

Once outside we had to get a partial plate to fill the gap in Sara's mouth.
As the French say, "C'est la Guerre."

"C'est la Guerre," indeed!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Bay of Fundy out of Westport, Brier Island
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

1.  Milt MacMahon:
     Milt was one of the two Department of Transport employees in Lansdowne House,
     and his duties included running the weather station.

2.  Mike O'Flaherty:  
     Mike was the nurse at the nursing station and had to handle whatever came up,
     especially when planes could not fly in or out of Lansdowne House. 
     He and his wife Anne had a baby daughter Kathie who was about 5 months old.

3.  Brian Booth:  
     The clerk at the Hudson Bay Post.  He was seventeen when he first arrived at the Bay
     in Lansdowne House.

4.  Break-up Order:
     Typically white families in Lansdowne House ordered most of their food and
     and supplies once a year and had them delivered by tractor train.  The tractor trains
     (sometimes called cat trains) delivered the orders during the winter when it was
     possible to travel over the frozen land, muskeg, and water.

     My parents arrived too late to put in their annual order, so they had to fly everything
     in by bush plane.

A cat train on the move to Tigvariak Island
 Alaska North Slope, Spring 1949

A cat train on the move across the tundra 
carrying equipment and supplies for the construction of the DEW Line.
Alaska North Slope, Spring 1949

5.  Bill Mitchell:  The Manager of the Hudson Bay Post.

6.  Duncan and Maureen McRae:
    Duncan was the other Department of Transport employee.
     He and his wife Maureen were good friends with my parents.

7.  Unpublished Handbook:
     Recorded in Dad's unpublished 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 25.

For Map Lovers Like Me:

Location of Lansdowne House
Known Today as Neskantaga
Hudson Bay Lowlands (green)

Lansdowne House Lies in the Wilderness
West of James and Hudson Bays

Lansdowne House, Armstrong, and Nakina 
Northern Ontario, Canada

To see a map that shows the northern limit of connecting all-weather roads or rain lines, Click Here.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: The Occasional Dog Fight in the Kitchen ...

The forestry shack that our family rented in Lansdowne House
was smallest place we ever lived in,
with the exception of a tiny log cabin at a fish camp on Lac Seul.

In one way the house was well ahead of its time, 
for the kitchen opened into the living room
forming a kind of great room that is so popular today.

Not that it was great ~
when we were not sleeping in the two tight bedrooms,
our family of two adults, five children, and one dachshund
crammed into a living space crowded with a kitchen table and chairs,
a 25-gallon water drum, an oil burner, a couch, a coffee table, a daybed,
and a bookcase, perhaps all of 325 square feet.

The Forestry Shack
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, 1960
Drawing by Donalda MacBeath, Age 7

Text:  Dear Nana, This is a picture of our home.
Note:  Indian "Gods" (Dogs),  Buckets of Meat Hung from the Eaves, 
a Box of Groceries on the Roof,
and the Weather Vane on the Chimney 

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

Inside the Forestry Shack
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, 1960
Sketch by Maureen McRae 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Everyone was on top of everyone.
If Mom was teaching Roy and me to play Bridge at one end of the kitchen table,
Dad was at the other typing while our three younger sisters
played around the couch and coffee table,
and Gretchen found a spot wherever she could.

In mid-April 1961 the approach of break-up on Lake Attawapiskat
prompted my father to dash off a series of personal and professional letters
before the ice became too weak to support mail-carrying bush planes from the Outside.

In an excerpt from an April 16th letter, 
my father wrote to his mother Myrtle
about our "semi-disorganized" life in the heart of our home.

Father Ouimet, Dad, and Brother Bernier (left)
Myrtle Pratt MacBeath (right)
Lansdowne House and Charlottetown
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Apart from the possibility of the new job in Sioux Lookout,
the nearness of the break-up, and the occasional dogfight in the kitchen,
life in the MacBeath household is proceeding in its usual semi-disorganized manner.

The last mentioned occurrence was something that usually happens to me,
but darned if I didn’t sleep through the whole thing.
I guess that Sara told you about it.

Apparently, she was in the kitchen working, when the door burst open
and in ran a dog closely pursued by a dog team of four other dogs,
intent upon committing mayhem on the body of the first dog.

A Dog Team on the Yukon River
NPS Photo, By Ranger Josh Spice

The dog team was in turn closely followed by the driver of the dog team,
and a more embarrassed Indian you never saw in your life.
For a time life in our kitchen was complicated, crowded, and exciting to say the least.

I wish I had awakened, for I bet it was amusing.
However Sara won’t tell me too much about the whole thing.
If I had seen it, most likely I could have written several pages on the subject.

Incidentally, the dog team mentioned earlier was complete with sleigh and load,
including a large pair of snowshoes, and our kitchen is not very large.

I don’t see how they were going to find room to fight,
but this little consideration of space didn’t seem to worry the dogs too much.

Dog Team on the Ice
Location Unknown, 2017
pxhere   Creative Commons CC0

Sara is trying to start Louise and Roy at Bridge.
The first lesson is in session right now.
I don’t know just how successful the attempt will be, 
but I don’t think it hurts for anyone to learn this game as soon as possible.
Louise for certain is ready for the game, and I think that Roy is too.

If nothing else is accomplished,
I hope that we can get them started playing together
and perhaps do something towards overcoming
the intense rivalry that seems to have grown up between them.

Right now they don’t know what cooperation means.
It would be wonderful if they learned to cooperate through Bridge
which is a game requiring cooperation between partners.

Early Rivals
Three-year old Roy laughs as the photographer tells four-year old me
to pull down my skirt because my underwear was showing.
Living Room, Our Apartment, Charlottetown, circa 1954
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Sara is glaring at me right now
(the Bridge lesson ended in a fight between Louise and Roy),
and now she wants me to get away from the table
so we can have our dinner.
I will finish this after dinner...

I think the only person
besides Dad who doesn't
remember the dog team
plunging through
our open kitchen door
is my baby sister Bertie.

Bertie in her cousin's home
Montreal, Quebec, February 1961
Photo:  Thanks to Dawn MacDonald White

It was all Whitey's fault!
The dog team belonged to our Ojibway neighbors the Jacobs,
and the lead dog on the team was Whitey.
On this day he looked healthy and fattened up,
but that was not how he looked when we first met him

I don't know what the Jacobs called "Whitey."
That was the name we kids gave him.
He was one of the scrawny Ojibway dogs that bedded down
in the snow near our house,
the "little god" Donnie drew in her letter for Nana.

Our mother and we children were terribly distressed
when we first moved into the forestry shack 
and saw how malnourished the Ojibway dogs were.
Whitey was the runt of the bunch, and he often lost out
to the bigger dogs when scrambling for scarce food.

We made Whitey our special project by driving off the bigger dogs
and feeding him the choicest scraps left over from our kitchen.
We fed the other dogs too, but we made sure Whitey got the most.

When Donnie and Barbie went to the door to scrape off their lunch dishes,
they had no idea that Dad's student George Jacobs
would be heading off to the bush with his family's dog-team.
It was muskrat season, and he was leaving for the traplines.

Whitey took one look at my sisters on the doorstep and raced for the door,
dragging the rest of the team and George behind him.
The other dogs knew exactly what was going on,
and they rushed for their share of the leftovers.

Donnie and Barbie fled into the kitchen
toward my mother who was washing dishes,
as the snarling, viciously-snapping dogs exploded into the kitchen
and squeezed between the water drum and kitchen table.
Roy dove over the couch, and I jumped up on the daybed
as the fully loaded sled tangled up in the kitchen chairs.
Bertie and our dachshund Gretchen scattered.

With the growling and yapping and shouting and screaming
of dogs and people and the crashing chairs and smashing sled,
it's a wonder that Dad didn't wake up from his nap;
but then, my father was a master napper.

A frantic and cursing George managed to unhitch
the dogs and drag them out the door.
Then, mortified and apologizing, 
he untangled the sled from the pile of chairs,
yanked it out the door, and disappeared.

George on the left, Simon on the right
in Dad's Classroom
Photo by Don MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Fortunately for George, by the time he returned
from the trapline with his family,
the pandemonium had died down ~ but was not forgotten!

Meanwhile Roy and I continued our own dogfights
in the kitchen, on the school grounds, and around the village.
To this day we battle fiercely over cards,
every game of which is meticulously recorded in
the diary of my generation's answer to Samuel Pepys, 
my brother Roy.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Crossing Petite Passage
Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia
Photo Copy by Roy MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

My Three Younger Sisters:
Donnie with Bertie and Barbie
Grammie's Backyard, Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia
Summer, 1960
Photo by Sara MacBeath 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

1.  Unit Conversions:
     325 square feet = 30.1 square meters.

2.  Muskrat Season:
     George Jacobs was one of my father's older male students.  In mid-April 1961 he was expected to go
     to his family's muskrat traplines as break-up approached.  Ojibway fathers often considered their sons'
     training in traditional hunting and trapping skills more important than attending school.  The Ojibway
     primarily trapped muskrat and other small fur-bearing mammals for their furs which they traded
     for supplies such as flour, sugar, lard, and tea at the Hudson's Bay post.  Sometimes the animals' meat
     supplemented the Ojibway's food supplies.

3.  Samuel Pepys:
     Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) was an administrator in the navy
     and a Member of Parliament in England.  He is famous for the
     private diary he kept from 1600-1609, with its detailed accounts
     of the Great Plague of London, the Great Fire of London, and
     the Second Dutch War.  Pepys' Diary is an important primary
     resource for the English Restoration period.  Wikipedia 

     My brother Roy has consistently kept a daily journal since the
     mid-1960s.  Roy takes great delight in recording events big and
     small, and he often writes in his meticulous small script in his
     latest leather-bound journal while enjoying a glass of scotch or

     I am happy to report that I beat everyone playing Thirteen
     in the one game I played while in Calgary recently.  Thirteen
     is a great card game that Roy and his wife Susan learned
     while traveling on the Mongolian Steppes last summer.
     I know my brilliant win is recorded for posterity in Roy's
     current journal.  Pepe's Portrait:  Wikimedia

For Map Lovers Like Me:
Map of Canada
Highlighting Ontario

Location of Lansdowne House
Wikimedia   edited

Lansdowne House
Sketch by M. Louise Barbour
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Rough Sketch of Lansdowne House
by Donald MacBeath, Fall 1960
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

This sketch shows the Father's Island and the tip of the "Mainland" peninsula
that contained the community of Lansdowne House.         
                                                                    #23 My Father's Church of England Indian Day School
                                                                    #15 Forestry Shack (Our Home)
                 Black Dots ~ Indian Homes

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: On My Father's Mind

As April 1961 flew by in Lansdowne House,
my father had two things foremost on his mind,
the approach of break-up with its complete isolation from the Outside
and the possibility of a promotion to District School Superintendent
in the Sioux Lookout Indian Agency office.

Saturday, April 22, 1961
(with excerpts from an April 16th letter
and minor editing for clarity)
My father wrote:

Dear Mother:

This will most likely be the last letter
before break-up, as the ice is getting
pretty bad for planes to land on.
It is still safe enough to walk on,
but there is a lot of slush on the ice.

Donald MacBeath Walking Louise (Me)
Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, 1950
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Last night when Roy and I went over to the Island to get the Brother to cut our hair,
we had to wear rubber boots, and the slush almost went over the top of Roy’s.
Besides, when you consider the ice, you have to remember that
it would be twice as bad down south as it is here.

My Father with Brother Raoul Bernier 
Kitchen, Roman Catholic Mission
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I got your wire today, and I am glad that you liked the painting,
but I am badly confused about what you say about selling the house.
Who is buying it?  How much are you getting for it?
When are you selling it?  Will you still live there?
These are just a few of the questions that run through my mind.
How about answering them, eh?

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

I came over to the school to type up these letters that I have to get out before freeze-up,
and I see that I have forgotten to bring over your last letters, so I can’t answer them,
but I believe that there were no questions that were pressing for answers,
so I can just make this a newsy letter till I run out, and then I can sign off gracefully.

I finally heard from Ottawa regarding that proposed position in Sioux Lookout.
They wrote telling me that an interview would be arranged at the end
of the school term at a place mutually convenient to both the department and myself.

It looks as if they are very interested in obtaining my services.
But, even if I don't actually land this position,
it is very gratifying to know that they think
highly enough of my work to consider me at all.

However, I think from the latest letter,
that if I make out all right in the interview,
the job's mine for the asking.
I also think that the interview is not so much to assess my suitability for the job
as to thoroughly brief me on my duties.

However, I may be deluding myself with wistful thinking.
Perhaps they are corresponding with a half dozen candidates;
but never-the-less, it is still nice to know that my name is under consideration.

If I get to the interview, I think I will stand just as good a chance as anybody else,
and perhaps better than most teachers,
as I have had a wide experience in meeting with and talking to highly-placed officials.
It sure would be wonderful to get that job.

Hindsight is 20/20 
Barbie and My Father, School Superintendent
Sioux Lookout, Northern Ontario, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Enclosed you will find a letter from Brigadier A. W. Rogers which is self- explanatory.
I am sending it to you just to show you what loyal friends I have.
I think it is wonderful to have friends who will stick by you, isn’t it?

Of course, I must have pleased Rogers when he was in the regiment,
or he wouldn’t have been so generous in his praise,
so I guess the time I put in for the regiment wasn’t wasted after all.

Letter from A.W. Rogers, Brigadier 
Privy Council Office
Charlottetown, Price Edward Island, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Now I know for sure that it was Foss who recommended me for this position.
Please return the letter to me.

Incidentally, I have already written to Brigadier Rogers
thanking him for his recommendation.
Originally I had written him, as soon as I had answered the first letter from Ottawa,
telling him that I had referred everyone to him for references.

It appears however that Foss was well ahead of me,
for he wrote to Rogers before he recommended me at all.
At first I could not figure out where Foss got the name,
but I remember now that I gave these names when I first applied for this job.

Don MacBeath ~ Prince Edward Island Regiment Days 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I really have been painting like mad since I finished the picture of the church.
Each one seems to be better than the one before it.
I gave the one I did of the Island to the Father for his birthday,
and he seemed very glad to get it.

Since then I have done two lovely scenes of the lakes
and the woods around here, beautiful snow scenes.
One I gave to Sara and one to Duncan Sr. for his birthday.

There was someone visiting the Father, and he saw that picture
that I painted for the Father’s birthday and the other two that I did.
He was so impressed with the one of the Island he came over to see my other work.

I don’t remember what his name was,
but he is connected with commercial art in some way.
He told me that my work is way above average
and that I should paint up as many as I can and contact Eaton’s
or some other art gallery in Toronto and try to arrange to sell them.
He said I could get anywhere up to $50.00 for a picture
the size of the church and more for larger ones.

The Anglican Log Church
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario
Painting by Don MacBeath, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved
                                     Lakes and Woods
                                     Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario
                                        Painting by Don MacBeath, 1961
                                          © M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
                                                                 All Rights Reserved

Naturally, I have no intention of forsaking the teaching profession
and trying to make my living as Kelsey does, but it is a great
satisfaction to know that strangers think my work is good,
although I really don’t think it is good enough to sell.

Perhaps in another ten years, if I keep it up, I might be good enough to sell a few.
It would be a lovely and relaxing way to earn some extra money.
I have no intentions, though, of pursuing my art to the detriment of my profession.

If I paint another real good one, and if you would like to get another one,
perhaps I would send one to you.
What I am trying to say is that I would most definitely
send one to you if you should want another.
The doubt that I am trying to express is not that I would send one,
but whether you would want another one.

Well, I have to sign off now and get on with some other letters
that I have to get out before break-up.
Any news that I forgot to put in this letter
will be in the circular letter anyway.

Bye now,

Playing with Paint and Perspective
Winter Lakes and Trees
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario
Painting by Don MacBeath, March 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

It's difficult for me to hear the mix of insecurity and hope
in my father's long ago words to his mother.
As he mulled over his prospects and shared
Brigadier Roger's letter with his mother,
I know he was trying to bolster his spirits.

The Canadian press stories about my Junior Red Cross project
(the collection of winter clothing for the Ojibwa of Lansdowne House)
had riled up a number of government officials
from the Indian Agent in Nakina,
to highly placed officials in the Indian Affairs Branch,
to the Minister of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration herself,
The Right Honourable Ellen Louks Fairclough,
and my father could only hope that the project had been buried.

But my project wasn't dead,
and my five large cartons of clothing were on the move.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

Grammie, Mom, and I,
Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


1.  Brother Raoul Bernier:
     Brother Bernier was a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate,
     a missionary religious congregation in the Roman Catholic Church.
     Father Ouimet was a priest in the same congregation.

2.  My Grandmother's House:
     My father's mother, Myrtle Pratt MacBeath, owned a building at the corner of Fitzroy and Edward Streets
     in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.  During the Great Depression my grandparents had a
     small grocery store in the building, and my father grew up in my grandparent's home in the building.
     My grandfather was a Civil Engineer and traveled extensively while my grandmother ran the store.
     At some point the building was divided into apartments, one of which my family and I lived in for several years.
3.  Brigadier A. W. Rogers (1912-1975):
     Brigadier Rogers was a soldier and civil servant.  He attained the rank of Brigadier General in the Canadian
     Army.  He served as an Aide-de-Camp to Governor Generals Michener and Leger and Lieutenant Governor
     Prowse.  He was also the Emergency Measures Officer for Prince Edward Island and Charter President
     of Sport P.E.I.  islandregister

Current Brigadier General
Shoulder Insignia

Headstone for A. W. Rogers and His Wife Joan
The People's Cemetery, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Photo by Lynn Ellis

4.  The Prince Edward Island Regiment (RCAC):
     This armoured reconnaissance regiment of the Canadian Army has been active from 1875 to the present.  
     My father was a soldier in the regiment in Charlottetown in the early 1950s.

5.  Painting:
     Both of my parents were painters.  My father preferred oils and my mother watercolors.  Unfortunately 
     the responsibilities of working and raising and educating five children made it difficult for my parents to 
     pursue their passions.  I am humbled by the sacrifices they made for my brother, sisters, and me. 

6.  Kelsey:
     My father was referring to my mother's first cousin, Kelsey Raymond.  My "Uncle" Kelsey was a well-known
     Nova Scotian painter.  He was born in New York City in 1926 and died in 2000 in Digby, Nova Scotia.
     I spent many happy hours in his paint shop in Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia when I was growing up.  He usually
     painted with oils applied with a palette knife, and his favorite subject were coastal landscapes and old buildings.

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

For Map Lovers Like Me:

Location of Lansdowne House

Aerial Photograph of Lansdowne House
The Mainland and The Father's Island (Couture Island), 1935
You can clearly see the Father's beach where canoes landed.
Credit: Canada. Dept. of Indian Affairs and Northern Development / Library and Archives Canada / PA-094992

Location of Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia

Canada   Wikimedia