Sunday Drives (FGK-57)

I remember when Grandma’s dementia was getting worse and it became too challenging to take her out to do things, but she still wanted to go out and do things, we began doing longer car rides. Sometimes it was just around the neighbourhood, and sometimes around Moose Mountain, or just through Kananaskis. Just getting out and watching the scenery go by seemed to really help her feel happier. Since Covid kept us home for such a long time, I started doing the same for my girl who rarely left the house. She fought me at first, especially because she remembered us also doing the same for mom on cold days when she’d been trapped in the house, and didn’t want to have to be driven around “like an old person” (I told her to instead think of it like taking the dog for a car ride which didn’t go over much better). But she always felt better when we got out and went for a drive. It seems these “Sunday Drives” were a thing for mom in the 1950s as well. How lovely that Grandma was able to get her out for these. I’ve mentioned this before, but I realize how much I learned about how to care for people from my parents and their siblings. I watched how they looked after Grandma as she got older and the love and respect they gave her right to the end and it taught me how to look after my own parents the same way. I have watched my cousins do the same as well, and to those of you who have had to experience this my heart extends to yours with deep love. Our family is truly a gift and I feel incredibly blessed to have a strong tribe on both sides of my family.

RR No.1 DeWinton, Alta

12th Aug. 1954

My dear Margie

I was so pleased to receive such a long newsy letter from you a short time ago. I was certainly very happy to hear that you are getting about a bit more each day. I think you did wonderfully well to pass your exams with an A1. You surely must have your head screwed on properly. I am sure I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all you did during the year and pass with an A1 standing too.

I do hope you’ll be able to drop in to see us some Sunday while you are out for a drive. We would all love to see you and have you to ourselves for at least a wee while.

I haven’t much in the way of flowers to see this year as they have had a good hailing twice already this summer. I guess there can’t be any nice dahlias this year. Ed is positively sick when he looks at his lovely crops. They have just about been pounded out of existence. I did manage to get twenty pints of peas in the deep freeze. I don’t think there will be any more by the look of the pea batch. It looks pretty sick right now.

I have had a few visitors this summer. Tuella Kirkland nee Pollock stayed with me a few days. She has two children, a boy eight and a girl ten. Everything hummed around here while there were here. It seemed very quiet after they left.

The girl friend from Ottawa that was up there years ago was back again this year. She stayed from Monday until Friday. She is going on to Kamloops, Vancouver, Victoria, and then back to Trail. She surely has a trip mapped out for herself this year. She has a month’s holidays so she has quite a bit of time to do it in.

Clarence has been just fine this summer and is beginning to talk a bit now. He has a pup that he likes a lot and Auntie Margy brought him a kitten last week. He has a big time with the two of them. However, the pup and the kitten don’t get along together any too well.

We three went around that new road through the Forest Reserve last Sunday. We went with Ed’s sister Esther and her husband (Mr. and Mrs. Herb Jenkins). They have three children so you see we were a real car full. It was the first time I had been over it. We went in through Turner Valley and Long View. It was the first time I had seen the famed “Stampede Ranch”. I was a bit disappointed with it and thought it would be more distinguished looking. It sure didn’t look like much. That is the ranch that the late Guy Weadick built up as a dude ranch.

I was to see the dentist the other day and what do you know, I got them all patched up in one hour. I usually have to go back several times.

Well Margie my dear, it is getting late and I seem to be running out of chatter too. I guess I am getting too sleepy to write properly. So until net time I’ll say “cheerio Margie dear” You’ll be hearing from me again.

Much love

Aunt Annie


Everywhere I went folks seemed glad to see me (FGK-55)

What I remember most about Aunt Gertie is that she always had a smile on her face. When I saw her at a family gathering I always looked forward to visiting with her because I knew I would walk away with a smile. What a great way to have people see you in the world – wherever you go people are happy you’re there!

I love her letters, she describes things so well I feel like I’m there, and it was kind of fun to have a little tour around Alberta.

Cochrane, Alberta

Nov 9, 1954

Dear Margie

Well since I last wrote you I’ve covered some 100 miles and had a really grand trip.

The first day we went to Wetaskiwin, Camrose, Banff and Rosalind. It’s this last place we visited my friend Ruth Ballard and her family and stayed there for the night It was so nice to renew old acquaintances and get caught up in the news.

Next day we drove to Castor and Coronation. We stayed here for 2 days visiting Butterfields. Ray and May got me my first tea schools(?) near Veteran. They both teach school. May teaches Household Economics and Ray is the principal. When we arrived at the school Ray was conducting cadet performances outside in the school yard. They were very interesting to watch. Besides the boy cadets he had organized a girls cadet corps. They have smart uniforms too. They wear short black jackets and green and white plaid shirts. They have dark tame(?) with an insignia on the front. Ray was the first teacher in Alberta to have a girls cadet unit. Since then other troops have organized one too and various interesting competitions have resulted.

May showed me through her economics room. It is lovely with such a wonderful kitchen unit with built in cupboards, a gas stove, and an electric stove, a refrigerator, mix master, washing machine, and ironed. On the sewing side they have large cutting tabled, mirrors for sheering, fittings of dress, etc. And some fine sewing machines.

In the evenings we had good companionship. George and Ray got along famously. They went hunting one evening after school but didn’t have any luck. Around Wetaskiwin we saw huge flocks of ducks and geese.

We went back to Veteran where I used to teach and I met several I used to know and some of the students I had, They are nearly all married with children of their own now. It was 23 years ago I taught there so I thought they did well to remember me. Everywhere I went folks seemed glad to see me and I came home with such a wonderful glow of happiness.

When we came back to Didsbury we stopped and visited Alf Allan and his wife. We had such a wonderful supper there and they showed us all through their ____ school. It accommodates 500 students and is truly modern in every sense of the word. What a difference from the schools I attended!

Coming home we stopped at Brushy Ridge for the card party and raffle. It was lots of fun. Needless to say we didn’t get home until 12:30.

It’s so lucky we went when we did. During our absence our hired couple found a new job – closer to town. They had helped us get all caught up and the house was just shining so we were grateful for their help. However now we are on our own we won’t be able to make anymore wonderful visits like this one.

Annie and Ed were here Sunday. They are looking just fine and Clarence David is such a Bonnie boy.

Sibyl and Jack were here too and Albert Shickey and Ralph Kerr so we had a real nice visit.

Well Margie, I keep looking forward to the day when I can see you. I hope it won’t be long now

Lovingly yours

Aunt Gertie


Sorry I Haven’t Written, I’ve Been Too Busy Wrestling (FGK-51)

Honestly, these letters make me realize how pathetic my social life is, and not because of Covid. He says he hasn’t had enough exciting to write about, and then describes more activity than I’ve seen in like 3 years haha. I am much relieved though 70 years later to not be the one ratting out my uncle for climbing out the window, instead it was the other kids (it’s always the other kids). Seriously, these Mount Royal days sound like a lot of fun.

Writing Marsh in these letters feels a little bit like the time, years ago, when my son touched my cousin’s husband’s moustache. We were all frozen with fascination and horror, but knew that it was something that shouldn’t happen and never, ever would again.

My uncle would have been almost 16 when he wrote this letter (mom would have been 12.5) and it seems his love of airplanes had already started. I absolutely love that he was going to take his airplane engine into the hospital to show her. I would imagine that would have given everyone there something to talk about!!

Mount Royal College

May 12, 1953

Dear Margie

I’m sure sorry that I didn’t write much sooner but I just don’t seem to be able to think up enough things to tell you that would be worth while to put in a letter. Last night before I got the last card you sent me I started to write a letter but just before that I had a wrestling match with Bernard. We were so evenly matched that the fight went on for a long time until both of us were too tired to fight anymore. I started to write you but fell asleep for the whole study period so I had to do my homework this morning after breakfast.

Last night the other two boys in the suite with Wayne and I crawled out of the window and got in their car and went across the bridge to get some milk-shakes. When I woke up there was a milkshake waiting for me. They’re darn lucky they didn’t get caught. The window to the suite is very easy to get in and out of as they sure make use of it. I haven’t used it yet but I think I will soon, just for the fun of it.

Last Saturday I was plowing with the new John Deere and boy is it slick. To trip the new plow, instead of pulling on a rope you just push the hydraulic lever ahead which pumps oil into a cylinder on the plow and trips it. I suppose that you do not understand all that lingo but it works on that principal. There is only room for one person to ride on it because it is a big high tractor like this:

We just started to plow on Saturday. Bill and Ken are going at it full force now I guess. It’s still pretty wet out there though.

Well, we sure got a big slug of calves now. Must be 250. I’ve got 27 I think and should have three more coming.

Last Saturday I got Red in to ride and he hasn’t been rode for quite a spell so when I climbed on I had to pull leather for a while because every time I went to grab the horn it wasn’t there. Well I sure rode him when I got everything straightened out. He never piled me though, but I guess that ain’t my fault.

I’m truing to sell these Stampede Queen tickets, butI guess I aren’t a very good salesman. That is the most hopeless job there ever was. I’ve had them a month and only sold two of them.

Did I tell you that I bought a little airplane engine? It’s a real internal combustion engine that is like a car motor. It burns high octane gasoline. I am mounting it in a boat which is a model cruiser. It should go about 15 miles per hour. I will bring it in to show you on Sunday. I started it up this afternoon and it sure roared. Tonight in study period I was fooling around with it and I accidentally started it. I sure was scared and I couldn’t shut it off. I grabbed the flywheel to stall it and the thing only turns over about 10,000 times every minute so I slightly burned my thumb but I finally got it stopped! I was sure scared the study teacher would hear because it makes an awful roar.

See you Sunday xxx



Fur Coats and Casts (FGK-49)

I had a little giggle at the thought of Grandma writing this letter while at the hairdresser’s. Getting her hair done was one of Grandma’s sacred activities and it was always important to her that her hair was done nicely and she was presentable. In fact right after she died, my aunt in a beautiful act of love and kindness sat down and did her hair properly before the funeral home took her away. I sat with my aunt while she did that, and it has always remained with me as one of the greatest acts of love that I have witnessed. It also was the only time I ever saw Grandma’s hair down.

I remember as a teenager Grandma deciding she needed a new fur coat. I was lucky enough to only be pulled into that process for one day, but trust me- it was not a 10 minute process. It was not even a 10 hour process. It perhaps was a 10 day process, but it felt more like a 10 week process. Aside from my personal ethical issues with fur coats, that experience guaranteed I would never own one! She sure loved it though, and it was certainly the style at the time.

Finally, there have been several mentions in these letters about packs and casts. I did a little bit of research about why these were used And you can read the atricle here. But here is an excerpt from the article “Early treatments for paralyzed muscles advocated the use of splints to prevent muscle tightening and rest for the affected muscles. Many paralyzed polio patients lay in plaster body casts for months at a time. But long periods in a cast often resulted in atrophy of both affected and healthy muscles. Treatment of polio was revolutionised in the 1930s by Elizabeth Kenny, a self-trained nurse from Queensland, Australia. Kenny developed a form of physical therapy that used hot, moist packs and massage and exercise and early activity to maximize the strength of unaffected muscles and stimulate the remaining nerve cells that had not been killed by the virus.” I remember mom talking briefly about how painful the treatment sessions were and this kind of makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Poor mom.

Tues 4:30 pm

Dear Margie

I’m writing this while under the dryer at the hair-dresser’s. We came to town – Dad and I – to buy me a fur coat. Think of that! Aren’t I lucky? Dad said we could easily do it in 10 minutes so I didn’t dare shop around for one but got a very nice one at the Hudson Bay. A Persian Lamb.

Uncle Harry is coming up to visit you with me tomorrow so be prepared for fun and have a few jokes to tell him too if you can – he has wanted to see you for a long time now. I may not wear my new coat in, the car is so hard on it – I’ll keep it till Sunday to wear eh?

Kay Whittle and I are on the refreshment committee for the Eastern Star tonight so I made 2 angel food cakes and a loaf of chicken sandwiches and left them at Aunt Ruth’s. So Dad and I are going to a show now and then go up to Cochrane and not go home till after the Star meeting. Pretty soft life eh? But we’re retired now you know – haha.

It’s sure nice being without a hired man though and Ken likes it too I think. Most of the cattle are over in Grand Valley and down at Springbank so others have the work.

I have been hoping and praying that you will soon have that old cast off, let’s hope soon anyway eh? Maybe tomorrow.

This blouse and skirt are not very expensive but are good enough tor lying in bed don’t you think? Everything is half-price now except the better wool skirts and they cost $20.00 so I just got those. They see you for a long time now. They are rather pretty I think.

We are supposed to go square dancing Wednesday night. Dad has Lodge meeting Thursday night and there is a dance in the Hall Friday night and Winnie and I have to make the sandwiches so I won’t have any dinner parties this week – we’ll be staggering tired by Saturday.

Well I must close now and will see you tomorrow. Sure hope you are well and happy.

Loads and loads of love dear

Mother xxxxx


Everyone Has Television (FGK-47)

Last summer my girl decided she wanted to paint her bedroom. It is the “blue room” at Grandma’s – one of the original bedrooms in the house. I tried to explain to her what a nightmare it had been 25 years ago when my sister and I painted the living room, dining room, and hallway. A nightmare because walls had shifted and the amount of repair work was unbelievable, but also kind of fun because it was like uncovering a time capsule. There were several layers of wall paper, then different portions of the wall were painted. We could even see where one time Grandma had painted around the furniture resting against the wall in a panic because she was having people over. It was an experience, but one I’d be just as happy not to do again.

The girl uncovered at least 5 layers of wallpaper in her bedroom, a mystery door frame, as well as a window on the wall joining her room to my room (Grandma’s room), which made sense as it had once been the end of the house. After several months of work and buckets of frustration tears, she decided to wallpaper over the walls. There was no way we were ever going to get the walls in good enough shape to paint them with our level of expertise. But now the room looks fantastic. There really is something to be said for how fresh walls change a room.

This letter was a little over 3 years after mom got polio.

Cochrane, Alberta

Oct 24/1954

Dear Margie

We’ve sure had a busy week. The paper hanger was out and hung paper in six rooms. Some of it I like and some I’m rather disappointed in, but anyway they look nice and clean. Somehow papers don’t always look the same on the wall as they do in a small demonstration piece.

The school children had their field day on Friday. Brushy Ridge came and competed too to add a note of interest. They did very well too but when the final totals were taken our school was a few points ahead.

Our new refrigerator came on Friday. It holds a lot more food than our old one did, especially in the freezing compartment.

This week the men almost filled the barn loft with hay. Then the children came home and they had a wonderful time playing in it. They built tunnels and houses and played hide and seek for hours. Boy were they dirty and dusty when they came in. They sure needed a good bath and clean clothes.

The boys were getting to be good shots with their shot guns. They bring in ducks or chickens every week and today they had to break the ice in the lake ahead of the boat so they could get the ducks that were shot down over the water. I guess winter can’t be too far of as the ice is forming thicker all the time.

Hector McDowell, who built our barn, was back last week and built a nice sun porch on the front of the bunkhouse. It is 22’x8’. Someday I may use this place as a cook house so I won’t have quite so much work every summer.

We weaned our calves this week and there sure was a racket for 3 days with their eternal bawling. This is about the last of the fall work so we are just about caught up. I’m so glad so I feel like getting out and visiting folks once again.

Everyone around here seems to be getting television sets. We can’t and now we don’t have 110 volt power. I’ll bet you’ll enjoy seeing the one at your home when you get back. George says it sure is a nice one.

Well so long for now. Hope you are already improving

Lovingly yours

Aunt Gertie

PS Last night George and I went to see “Seven Wives for Seven Brothers”. It was quite comical and we really enjoyed it. I want to see “Brigadoon” when it comes too.


Margy’s Boys Had Little Lambs (FGK-46)

So, I’m sitting here with my morning cup of tea thinking about how I have so much driving to do today – I have to go “all the way” to the far South of Calgary and do some errands. Which means a trip on the TCH-1 and then on the new Stony Trail. The easiest driving you can imagine. I am struck in many of these letters at how much driving they did in the ‘50s, way before the Trans Canada Highway was a thing (I do have a love/hate relationship with that road, it’s sure made life convenient, but man is it loud to live by). But they just zip around all over the place and seem perfectly happy to do so.

I don’t remember Aunt Margy, I’m not sure when she died. But she is someone who I often thought of when my kids were little. In our family history book it was written that when she had work to do she would lasso one of the twins to a fence, knowing that the other one would stay close by, so that she could work without worrying about them. Now, I never actually had to lasso one of my kids to a fence, but it was always nice to know it was an option!! Seriously though, imagine how difficult it must have been for these women, raising kids, cooking for so many men, looking after the house, and doing whatever else was necessary. It impresses me.

RR2 Calgary

Feb 21st (envelope is stamped 1954 and cost 4 cents)

Dear Margie

How are you getting along? Swell I hope. Thank you a million for your nice Valentine. It was very thoughtful of you to remember me.

We had a lovely time at your mom’s and dad’s last night. We missed you there, Uncle Harry was there, and he was the same fun as ever. He won the travelling prize, a very nice pocket knife. I played with him at the last table and he sure was a comic.

Sheila and two girls she had with her had to be in by twelve so they had to leave early. Marshall and Harvey took them back and then we met them above Barkley’s and Harvey came back home with us.

The curling is stopped, till we get more cold weather to make ice. Clarence’s team won in the bonspiel. Harvey and I lost out in the third game. The ice was getting very heavy.

Doug Munn is in, and had another operation for adhesions, he is having a bit of a time of it, that is, his third operation this winter.

Mr Hemming wasn’t very well last week but Mrs. Hemming said he was much better today, she is feeling fine she said and asked about you.

One of Jonny Robinson’s girls had mumps so Clarence figures Don will get it. So what a job they have to look forward to and aunt Irene has never had it either.

There is a few cases of jaundice around here. Wally was the last to get it I believe.

The boys have all the little lambs now. There was one set of triplets – all living. The rest were mostly twins They sure look cute jumping and bucking around.

Must close for now

With lots of love

Aunt Margy


Valentine Letters from Jumping Pound School (FGK-45)

I love these group letters from the kids at Jumping Pound School. Of course, the typing doesn’t reflect it, but the printing and handwriting shows the varying ages of the kids writing the letters. Bless Mr. O’Brien for organizing the kids to write these letters. I don’t know how the girls in school felt, but I kind of want to learn how to do the woodworking!! That said, I could use help learning how to properly care for my flowers as well haha. I didn’t do all that well on the Canadian Quiz, my history degree isn’t really making itself all that useful it seems.

Stamp Dated Feb 16, 1953 (cost of this letter was 4 cents, it was a heavier one)

Letter One

Dear Marg:

You know Mr O’Brien is always thinking of something now for us bright students to do. Well today we are writing you numbered letters. I got number one so I’m writing you the first letter.

I hope you will be back and helping us do these things soon.

Thanks for the candies and the lovely Valentines you sent us. You should see some of the fancy figurare(?) we have drawn today. They’re not bad for use Janet is visiting us today.

Your pal Rose

Letter 2

Dear Marg

I see a Valentine


Letter 3

Dear Marg

We started our new English book. We are having a Valentine party. The boys have started woodwork


Letter 4

Dear Marg

Wear a making a letter for you on Valentines Day. We are going to start our games at twelve o’clock. The teacher told us to write a letter to you. Today is James’ birthday. Jim, John and Lawrence are doing woodwork



Letter 5

Dear Marg

The boys have started woodwork. And the girls are making flowers


Letter 6

Dear Marg

We are having a Valentine’s party today. Elaine and Rose made a Valentine box on Wednesday. We started the Red Cross corner this week. Lawrence made a pen ____ for the corner.

Yours Sincerely,


Letter 7

Dear Marg

We are having a Valentine’s party. Elaine and Lawrence are sick today and couldn’t come. Rose and Elaine are making flowers. Lawrence, Jim, Dave and I are doing woodwork. I have made Rose a cabinet for her bedroom. I wish you many happy returns

Sincerely John

Letter 8

Dear Marg

I see a Valentine


Letter 9

Dear Marg

We are having a Valentine party



Time Waits For No Man (FGK-42)

My memories of Aunt Agnes and Uncle Harry are all good ones. Of course, Uncle Harry built the grandfather clock that sits in our living room, and there are several other ones in the community he built as well. Aunt Agnes painted the fences surrounding their yard in beautiful landscapes, and always seemed to have a bright warm smile whenever I saw her.

I only remember going to their place one time, Grandma brought me and I think I drove Grandma about crazy by the time she was ready to leave because I was so fascinated with their place and couldn’t keep my hands in my pockets. Not only did I have to spend much longer than was necessary looking at all the paintings on the fence, but when we got inside there were so many interesting little things in the house, including clock pieces and art supplies, that I could barely control myself. I just remember sitting in a chair, under the stern gaze of Grandma, itching to jump up and touch everything.

I had no idea Aunt Agnes was a writer as well as an artist, reading her short story here makes me wish she’d made it a longer story. I was captivated.

RR2 Calgary Alberta


Dear Margy

Hi, how are you doing? You didn’t get stuck in the honey jar I hope!

We were walking down the street one day. Harry was puffing and steaming and said, “By gosh, I wish it would snow.’ The sweat was just rolling off him. He had expected it to turn winter and had just put on his red flannels that morning.

No fooling, the weather is grand. I am taking full advantage of it too. Doing a lot of gadding about so that when winter comes I’ll be satisfied to stay at home.

I am sending you a short story. I have a longer one to send you when I get it whipped into shape. I had to re-write it, but I think eventually it will be pretty good. This one I am sending hasn’t been criticized yet.

I am very busy painting and writing. I don’t want to give up either. Although I know I should. I suppose I will settle for one of the other eventually. But right now I can’t choose between them.

I finally broke down and got myself a typewriter. David, Lawrence, and Mary are thrilled to death with it. They hang over my shoulder and ask questions and bother the life out of me! Lawrence especially, is simply dying to get his fingers on it. But I don’t know if I can let the kids play with it or not. Of course I’d feel like a stinker not letting Lawrence try it out once in a while.

My little grandson is a cute little feller. I’d like to take him home with me. Just a little doll. I think he’s going to have brown eyes.

I painted Harry’s portrait on Sunday. I don’t think he was too flattered!

Well the children are coming home from school so I must get at the cinnamon toast. Never saw such creatures for cinnamon toast. I could make a stack four feet tall and it would last no more than two minutes.

Luff and best wishes


Time Waits For No Man

The last few days had brought a different feeling to the weather. The crows were holding meetings in great flocks and an occasional vee of geese honked southward.

Daniel looked anxiously at his ten acre field of barley, standing tall and golden. Waiting for the whirl of the combine. Tomorrow they would finish his father’s field. The day after was Sunday and Daniel knew his father would not work on the Sabbath. A deep resentment welled up in him.

That evening he said to his mother, “If I lose that field of barley, that registered seed barley, I will leave home. It has been ready for five days but as always the old man has to get all his crop safe in the bin first.”

His mother sighed. There was always strife between the father and this youngest son. Both were headstrong and wanting their own way. The boy always having to give into his father’s superior wisdom.

At the evening meal on the following day Daniel broke the silence. “We should work tomorrow,” he said. “The weather will break any day now. I do not want to lose my crop.”

His father laid down his knife and fork. “Six days shalt thou labour,” he said. “And the seventh rest.”

“We can rest after the field is cut.” Daniel argued. “We can sit on our backsides all winter.”

“Honour the Sabbath and keep it Holy,’ the old man quoted self-righteously.

Daniel insisted, “I see nothing Holy in waiting for the frost to kill my barely. I see nothing wrong with saving my crop on the Sabbath.”

“Let us hear no more about desecrating the Lord’s day,” exclaimed the old man defiantly. “the youth of today are indeed an ungodly lot.”

Daniel pushed back his chair, leaving his meal unfinished. “If the snow falls on my crop, or if the frost kills it, you have seen the last of me.” At the door he turned. “Time waits for no man.” He said.

The old man scowled and looked across at his wife. “This unruliness among the young folk comes from the softness of today’s living. The unholy picture houses you allow him to fritter away money on, against my wishes. The colleges where they apparently spend more time and thought on Atheism than the Word of God.”

Looking over at his eldest son he went on, “Thomas here, never went to college, nor does he to my knowledge squander any money on the pleasure dens of the town.”

Thomas kept his eyes on his plate. He burned inwardly at his father’s words. No, he thought to himself, his heart in his shoes, I am too big a coward to go against them. All my life I have bowed to his wishes. Now I seem to have no will left of my own. It will seve the old man right if Daniel leaves.

On Sunday morning it turned cold. The crows screamed it was time to go. The geese passed over in greater numbers and its increased urgency.

Daniel sat morose through the morning meal. Having finished, he rose abruptly and without waiting for family prayers he left the house. His mother watched him go. A mixture of pain and sympathy in her heart. She knew so well how he felt, being very close to this youngest son. She brooded relentlessly throughout the day until she heard him come in and go up to bed after the others.

On Monday morning a thick blanket of snow covered the fields. At the breakfast table no one spoke. From time to time the Mother glanced anxiously at Daniel who though silent, ate his meal as usual.

When he had finished he went up to his room. They could hear him moving about. So, his mother thought, he is going. Well, I cannot blame him. He set such great store on the barely, to have money of his own for college this winter.

She went up to his room. He was dressed in his best trousers and windbreaker. His bag was on the bed, packed.

She went to him and he put his arms around her, holding her close. She rested her forehead on his shoulder and struggled against tears. He voice choking she said, “You will write?” And he answered, choking a little also. “Yes mother, as soon as I am settled I will write.”

He smoothed her hair a moment, then losing her, picked up his bag and was gone from the house.

She stood at the window watching as he went down the road. When he was gone from her sight, she turned and walked heavily down the stairs thinking as she went, He is right, Time waits for no man.


Hazing Days at Olds (FGK 41)

Fortunately Froshing, or Hazing was no longer allowed by the time I reached high school or university, but I certainly read stories and watched it in the movies. Clarence’s description does not sound as bad as some of the more graphic stories I saw in the movies, but I’m still glad I avoided it. I grew up not really knowing his children, but about 4 years ago I had a rather dramatic crash off my horse and shattered my shoulder. Clarence’s son was the doctor at the cast clinic who looked after me, proving that Copithornes are everywhere, and the world is still a small place.


Nov 5/52

Dear Margie

Well how is my favourite cousin? Not too bad I hope. All the reports I hear are getting better.

Well I’ve been up here about 2 weeks now and it’s not too bad when you get to know some of the kids. The initiation is over now. You know what that is, the kids who were here last year have the right to be boss over the new kids like me. Well this went on for a week and I’ll tell you what we had to do. They made us call them “Most Excellent Second-Year” whenever we met them, get off the sidewalk for them, polish shoes, make beds, and sweep floors for them. And we couldn’t object or they would throw us in the shower and soak us to the skin. We had to wear different shoes and different socks for a whole week along with wearing a towel or scarf around our head. We also couldn’t comb our hair for 1 week and we could only shave one half of our face. We had to wear our pants rolled up six inches about our boot tops.

If the “second-years” saw us doing something we shouldn’t be doing they could send us out to do some dirty job. Some of the kids were sent out with a water pail and soap and had to wash al the stop signs in Olds which is quite a few. Some of the others had to wash the dean’s car. I was a good boy so I didn’t have to do any of these things. The last day of the week was the worst. They made us wear all our clothes inside out and backwards along with all the other things I mentioned. the girls had to wear stockings over their hair and wrong shoes and stockings

On the last day they made the girls do up their hair in different ways. Pin curls on one side, curlers on the other side, braids on another side, and straight and uncombed on the other side. They also had to smear lipstick al lover their mouth. It looked really funny. On Saturday afternoon they put us all on a long rope and herded us all over town and that night they put us through the initiation ceremonies. They blindfolded us, walked us up a plank over wet macaroni, sprayed wet gooey stuff all over our face and then gave us a real shock when we weren’t expecting it. But after that we had a good dance and we are supposed to be real student of Old School of Agriculture now.

We were down on Tuesday to Calgary and went through the Burn’s Packing Plant. It was interesting with lots of blood and gore.

Say hello to your Dad and Mum for me will you? I think I’d better close now before I bore you too much so bye for now.

Clarence B


Written on Birch Bark (FGK-39)

This is by far the coolest letter I have discovered so far. Not in content, but because of the “paper” on which it was written. It is indeed birch bark. He must have peeled some off a tree and used it. I can’t believe that 68 years later this bark is still intact. What a treasure. This letter is from mom’s cousin Lawrence.

For some interesting family trivia, the coasters that are holding the birch bark flat were created by Lawrence’s talented great nephew Yarrow and gifted to me at Christmas time because I bought one of his amazing wooden cutting boards for my boy.

Box 58

Cochrane, Alberta

July 16, 1953

Dear Margie

Queerly shaped paper I’ve got here isn’t it? I guess you know it’s birch bark. It’s not bad stuff to write on.

I just got your letter today. Gosh I wish I could have seen you the day of the parade! I’m sure glad that you had so much fun.

There was a man out from William Goett Co. Ltd the other day who sold us a machine called a rototiller. It is the same idea as the seaman(?) tiller your dad has.

A salesman sold mom a nice sewing machine yesterday. She was very happy.

We are going to Banff now so I have to go.