It wasn’t his birthday or Christmas (FGK 258)

A lovely letter to Grandma from Aunt Annie. Dishes are still left/misplaced at the Hall – although we’ve moved to disposable dishes for most things. While there’s nothing quite like having a cup of tea from real china, as a board member I am grateful we don’t have to spend hours washing dishes. It’s kind of fun to see how often the Hall is mentioned in these letters – it really was the hub of the community back in the day. Santa is coming back to visit us there next weekend and I’m really happy to see that we are able to gather together again.

RR no 1, DeWinton

21st Nov, 1956

Dear Edna:

You made one little boy so happy today that I just had to sit down and tell you about it. He came home joyfully with his parcel. It wasn’t his birthday or Christmas so he thought he was real lucky. He liked his tie very much and so do I. They are the smartest things they have thought of for little boys in a long, long time. Of course, it goes without saying he enjoyed the candy and chicklets. He had a wonderful time investigating your lovely Pearce. Thanks a million for the lovely earrings. I am going to enjoy wearing them with my black dress. I don’t know how you remember us when in Florida. You must of had so much on your mind. We do appreciate it very much Edna and thanks again for your lovely gifts.

I have been going to answer the nice letter you wrote after your anniversary but just hadn’t got around to it. In fact I have been laid up with a bad back. Just old age I guess. However, it has slowed me up considerably and all I can do is get the meals and sweep the floors. I hope it will leave me soon as there is so much waiting to be done.

If you find that you can make use of those drapes to your satisfaction you are welcome to keep them. Don’t worry about sending them back. They have been in the dewar down here for 9 1/2 years now. I have these windows in place of two now they only use I could make of them would be to make pillows etc out of them. So you just use them if they are what you want. However, if you think you would like something else you just get what you would like. It’s always fun to dress up windows. If you use these drapes there is one thing you’ll have to do and that is either have them cleaned or wasn’t hem. I was really ashamed to send them to you so dirty but I wasn’t sure whether they would stand a washing or not.

I left my cake plate at the hall the night of your party – isn’t just like me to march home without it. If anybody remembers about a strange plate being there you’ll be able to identify it as mine.

Well, I guess I had better close for now as it’s just about time to get supper for my little family.

Thanks again for everything

Love, Annie


I never saw a pair of jeans all nite (FGK 257)

24 Nov/56


Well the big dance wasn’t at Milo after all it was at Arrowwood and did I ever have a tremendous time. The hall was just packed and they were mostly young people.

There was very little drinking and I never saw a pair of jeans all nite – take note Marsh.

Tell Clarence and Harvey – if you see them – that Roy King and Bill Steiner are going to Mexico for a month next week that is if Roy’s father gets back in time. Mr. King left for the States last week for an indefinite period and Roy’s sure mad cause they can’t leave until he gets back.

I’m going to a show at Champion tonite. Annie’s mother is in the hospital and she doesn’t get out of visiting hours in time so I guess Ted and I will go alone.

Mrs. Oldfield has phlebitis and has been in bed for a couple of days. I worked a split shift yesterday so went over to cook her dinner. Poor woman, no wonder she had to go to the hospital today.

I’m going on nites Fri nite and sure mad too cause there’s a dance at Milo that nite. I get Thurs off and don’t have to go to work until midnight Fri so I might be home over the duration.

Got a letter from Bernice (that girl in Stettler) she sure is bored up there. Was hours cleaning for her mother last week.

Got a new pair of shoes. Black patten leather flats, and guess what they’re a size six 1/2.

I went in and asked for my big eights, I was swimming in them. This country does wonders.

Well haven’t got anymore news.

Love Sheila


Ida and Ollie went to the party too (FGK 254)

“If I wouldn’t eat so much maybe I wouldn’t get sick” these words were soooo relatable. Especially since I’ve spent the last year rebuilding my gut and body after years of cramming my feelings and food down there. Sounds like it was a really nice New Years – she may think she isn’t sharing much news, but I find it fascinating!

Cochrane, Alberta

January 9, 1956

Dear Margie,

Hi kid! I was sure glad to get your nice long letter. I guess I’ll have to give you writing paper more often, eh? I gave your letter to Kay to read on Friday and she forgot to give it back so if you asked any questions, I’ll answer them in my next letter. Ok?

Gosh I’m glad you’re getting along so well Marg. When do you have to see (I forget what you called it) all those doctors? What do they do?

I sure wish I would have known that anyone could visit the hospital on Christmas Day. I could have gone in to see you I think. We didn’t go anywhere.

Sounds like you got less sleep than I did New Year’s Eve. I went to Jumping Pound with Scotts. After the party at the hall, Mr and Mrs Scott went to a house party, and Max and Heather and David and I went over to Ollie Edge’s. Gail and Myrna and Bob and us four were the only ones there because Ida and Ollie went to the party too. We really had fun. We danced , listened to the radio, and ate until 4:00 o’clock! After that, we went to Rowan’s to get Mr and Mrs Scott, and then we went home. I got in the house at quarter to five! So we really celebrated. I didn’t have to get up at six o’clock though. I didn’t get up until ten. I wouldn’t have gotten up then but we were having company for dinner and I had to help.

Gosh, are the teachers ever piling on the homework now. One night, I had four hours of it. I guess they really mean business.

We’re going to record our cantata on Friday. It’ll be kind of nice to have. I really like it because it has so many carols in it.

The choir is thinking of doing Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta “HMS Pinafore”. It’s really hard but it’ll really be fun. I sure hope we do it. It would take about a year to learn so you can imagine. It takes two hours to sing.

Guess what? I think I’m going to cut my hair. I don’t see David until the end of April and by that time it’ll be long again. The split ends are getting so bad that I just have to do something to it.

Gosh, there just isn’t any news around here. Oh – there was a hockey “round robin” yesterday with Bowness, Springbank, Morley, and Cochrane. Morley won. I didn’t see very much of it because I had too much homework to do.

Mum made me stay home from school today because I’m sick to my stomach. If I wouldn’t eat so much maybe I wouldn’t get sick. Oh well.

I guess I better finish this so Dad can mail it.

Be good

Lots of Love, Donna xxxooo


A day in the life in Fort Macleod (FGK 235)

I find these mystery letters quite interesting. It seems this was a pen pal set up through this girl’s Sunday School. I googled and found her mom’s obituary – these types of letters make me wonder how this story of this young girl turned out as she grew into a woman. What adventures did she have? I hope her life has been happy. Mom would have been 13 when this letter was sent, so they’re close to the same age. Both her mom and my grandma died in the same year (2004) although grandma was 4 years older. It’s easy to fall down rabbit holes with this stuff.

Pearce, Alberta

January 27, 1954

Dear Margaret

We get Sunday School Lessons from Mr. W R Johnson in Calgary. He sent us your address so I am writing to you.

I am 12 years old and my birthday is July 11. I live on a farm and have three brothers, 1 older than me and 2 younger and two younger sisters. All buy my youngest sister go to school. We go to school in Fort Macleod on a School Bus. We are 1 mile from Fort Macleod. We get on the bus about 8:25 in the morning and get off about 4 o’clock if nothing happens and the roads are good. We start school at 9 o’clock and get out at 3:30 in the afternoon.

I am in grade seven at school starting my first year of Junior High School. I have four teachers, one we get only once a week for Home Economics on Wednesday afternoon from 1 o’clock until 3:30. There are 35 pupils in my room, 16 girls and 19 boys. Our room teacher is Miss Hyssop, who teaches us mathematics, English, Spelling, Physical Education, Reading for Meaning, and Social Studies which she also teaches to the two other Junior High rooms grade 8 and grade 7 & 8. Mr. Sterling the 7 & 8 teacher teaches us Health, Literature, and Art which we get once a week. The three rooms also have a Student’s Union. We have meetings and programs once a month.

On our farm we have 1 horse which belongs to Jacob my older brother which he broke last year. She is a sorrel and about 12 years old. We have 4 young calves about a year old. 2 heifers and 2 steers which also belong to Jacob. Then we have 2 heifers which will have their first calf this year. One of them I call mine and the other Esther my youngest sister calls hers. We have 4 cows, a red one Garrett the oldest of my two younger brothers owns. A red white face that is also Jacob’s. Then we have a Holstein and a red white face. We have one pig which we want to get rid of as soon as it warms up as it it too cold to butcher it now in this sub-zero weather. We have around 40 chickens now, 3 roosters and the rest old hens and young pullets. Last spring I set a hen and got 8 chicks, 4 roosters and 4 pullets. They were really cute when they were babies especially my little black rooster who disappeared when he was bout 3 months old. He was quite tame. My other 3 roosters we ate. My 4 pullets are now laying eggs. We have 1 dog a white and black one about a year and a half old. He isn’t too much good except that he barks when someone comes. He is really a pest but he sure likes barking at anything.

I didn’t go to school today because it is too cold and we have got farther to walk now than before. Jacob was the only one that went. Last night the bus got stuck coming off the highway. The snow was so deep and full of ruts that you couldn’t expect much else to happen so the driver said we would have to walk that far. It really isn’t so far but it’s so cold outside.

That’s all for now.


Mary Ann deKoning

ps. Hoping that you will write back soon


More cooking, cleaning and gadding about (FGK 234)

How rude of Grandma to give brief details about what Slim had been up to but not go into greater detail. I hope for mom’s sake she heard the stories but that doesn’t help us much now 70 years later does it? Slim sounds like he was quite the man.

Friday 26th 1954

Dear Margie

My! It just did me the world of good to see you yesterday. I always get to worrying about you when I can’t see you and that’s foolish.

Dad and I made all the 12 loaves into sandwiches this morning and now I must hurry to get into town, the roads are going to be really bad and I’ll have to drive slowly. we came straight home from seeing you yesterday and were just having tea when in walks Slim. He stayed for tea and for supper and i could just write a book on all his activities if I only had time. He’s really been busy, it was he who started all the investigating into the Edmonton Police and he even pinched Dr Giffin the other day and took his nice Cadillac from him, he sure kept us entertained, I’ll tell you all the tales when I can visit you. He gave me his phone number and says he’d like to come up to visit you sometime soon – in his uniform – so you’ll have fun with the nurses eh? His fiancé – Marg the nurse in Edmonton up and married another guy the other day.

I couldn’t find a geometry set in the house but I’ll try and buy one for you today. Do you need any clothes at all? Let me know.

Well, I must scram now. I think Sheila is going to bring some girls out with her and the house is in quite a mess. Mr Kumlin’s funeral is at 2pm on Sat in High River and the nurses in Sheila’s class are having a tea at 2pm on Sat and we’re supposed to go to both. What will we do I wonder and how am I supposed to cook and keep house and gad like this, it’s awful. I’m sure glad to see you looking so well. Say, I’m worried about that swell report card of yours, I can’t find it, did it go in to you with the papers etc that I collect in the shopping bag? I sure hope you have it, i haven’t signed it yet and I hold have signed and returned to your teacher long before this. Please look for it amount your stuff, it’s in a long brown envelope with the Red Cross on it. Lots and lots of love dear. Maybe I’ll be able to see you today too if Miss Olson is back. (Thanks for that grand letter I nearly wore it out reading it over and over)

Mother xxxxxxxx


Easter Eggs for breakfast (FGK 232)


Calgary, Alberta

Dear Margie

How are you? Alvin, Dad, Mom, and I are fine. Did you have a nice Easter? We had a nice Easter. Alvin and I found 26 Easter eggs on Easter Sunday morning. We divided them and we had 13 eggs each besides 2 more each. We coloured some eggs for breakfast Easter Sunday.

Dad ran the horses in for Alvin and I on Good Friday, Alvin and I went to Grandma’s place Monday and came home Friday. Grandma and Grandpa bought Alvin and I a pair of shoes. I went to the dentist on Friday

Love, Lorraine


I sure find it hard to keep up with the work and to gab too (FGK 230)

I find it hilarious to read Grandma’s description of her experience at the Glen Miller concert considering one of my favourite stories to tell is how I was constantly (or so it seemed) forced to sit with Grandma and watch the Lawrence Welk show as a child. What the blaring horns were to her the accordions were to me haha. Fortunately I have only made my children listen to 80s music so I’ve prevented them from the same sort of emotional scarring.

RR2 Calgary, Alberta

March 20th 1954

Dear Margie

I hoe I don’t leave any cold-germs in this letter, I’ve had a horrid cold these last few days. Bet you enjoyed Mrs Barkley’s gift and the flowers Clarence sent. I’ll try and thank them soon. Dad has been curling every night and going to town every day and I’ve been trying to keep up with him. Guess I should’ve but the house is so empty and lonely now I hate to stay home. We all miss you so terribly, Sheila and Marshall feel as Dad and I do, you can see it when they come home. It will be a happy day when you are all home together again.

I am going in for Sheila now, she gets tonight and tomorrow off. Uncle Frank called in for tea this morning, he wanted to see Dad’s Bulls. I didn’t get the floor done until just now, I sure find it hard to keep up with the work and to gab too. Mrs Dunne surely is lonely. She was so kind the other day, wish we could do something for her.

I hope they let us see you tomorrow, I’ll ask today. Get one of the nurses to phone if you want anything. I bought a white midday that was on sale at the Bay and I’ll send in this old red skirt of Sheila’s if you think you’d like it. I’ll buy some Dixie cups today and some milkshakes tomorrow if we get in in decent time. I went to see Glen MIller’s show yesterday and only stayed a few minutes, it was awful – such a relief to get outside and away from all the blaring horns and toothie idiots acting. Guess I’m just queer eh?

Well I must hurry and get ready for town. Dad has gone to Grand Valley and I don’t know where Marshall is but I wish he was cleaning the chick’s house.

My it will be good to see you again, it’s terrible when you can’t even write to us. Hope those measles are run out by now. Why does the 2nd floor always be the one to be quarantined so much?

We got your report card last night and it was very, very good. Congratulations. I am going to keep it and let Sheila see it before I take it back. I think Dad and I swill be going in on Tuesday to try and get a man.

Hope you are well and happy dear and improving every day in your exercises.

Lots and lots of love




Haven’t grown as much as Marshall (FGK 225)

I’m so happy to find another letter from Mrs. Barkley, I really like her letters- I wish I’d known her!

May 27, 1954

Dear Margie:-

Received your nice letter sometime ago. Haven’t heard a report of your progress for sometime now. Last report when Sheila was in for a few minutes was good, she did tell us too that you haven’t grown as much as Marshall.

We haven’t any garden in yet. Carmen has some up. have a few peonies at the house here growing nicely but the rest aren’t even through the ground.

Glad you enjoyed “the baskets”. Have really been lazy and not made any since. Seems we’ve been going through so much mud lately and then have to rest for next session of it. Had to go through barn to get the turkeys for about three weeks.

Best wishes,

The Barkleys.


So busy with school and housework and gardening (FGK 224)

I’ve decided to post more of the hospital letters. it’s been a long 6 months for me as I’ve been addressing some way overdue health issues which has slowed my whole world down substantially. It’s created space for healing and reflection – as have these letters.

I don’t read any of these letters until I post them here. I thought at first maybe this was Aunt Annie, but it seems like it was a friend and probably someone who also had been in the hospital with mom. mom would have been 13 when this letter was sent.

Vauxhall, Alta

May 30, 1954

Box 341

Dear Margaret

Now I guess I will have to apologize for not writing to you but really I am so busy now with school, housework, and gardening.

You mean to say dear old Maryanne is still there? Well say hi to her for me. Tell her I still haven’t forgotten about her but I haven’t got any time to write anymore letters than I am now. Also to ______ and Verna when you see them. When you write or talk to Janet ask her for me whose turn it is to write. I think it’s mime but I don’t want to write when it is unnecessary.

It’s sure good to hear that you are getting along so well. You have sure been in the hospital a long time already . I hope you will be able to get out in the near future

Did you ever see Lillian anymore? If you do also say hi to her for me. Does she still come to Girl Guides? how aboutBetty Brown? Does she still come up? If so give her my greetings. I hope you will remember all these but if not it’s ok, I’ll excuse you this time.

Tell your mom thanks so much for all those good things she did for me while I was in the hospital. i will never forget them. She sure cheered us up often.

Last time I was at out-patients was April 9 and I couldn’t come up to see you because we were in a terrible hurry and I didn’t know you were still there. Honestly, we started out right away after we were through at the hospital. We went to Brooks, back around Bow City and the road was terrible. It had rained very hard. When you were between Enchant (?) and home we got stuck so terrible where we sat for I’m sure over an hour. Unit and transport came and pulled us out.

We expected to get home at four or five and we got home at twenty-after-eight. Boy were we tired.

I guess you are tired too of reading by now. So I will close

Bye for now

Write soon




George Copithorne death notice (FGK-223)

George Willian Copithorne, prominent district rancher and horseman, died in Holy Cross Hospital Friday following a lengthy illness. He was 56.

A native of Jumping Pound, Mr. Copithorne spent his entire life in the district except for six years in the forestry branch. As assistant ranger and packer, he helped establish lookouts at Moose Mountain and Black Rock.

During the 1930s, he started a Hereford ranch west of Calgary. He was a successful Calgary Stampede competitor for several years, a member of the Cochrane Light Horse Association, and a member of the Alberta Stock Growers’ Association.

He recently entered partnership with Sam Blood of Cochrane to establish Scott Lake Services, 25 miles west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Mr. Copithorne is survived by his wife, Gertrude; two sons, Lawrence and David; two daughters, Mary and Patricia and three brothers Percy, Frank, Clarence, all of Jumping Pound; and two sisters, Mrs. Jack Buckley of Springbank and Mrs Idwal Jones of De Winston.

Funeral services will be held at 1:30 pm today in Foster’s Garden Chapel. Rev. E.W. Julian and Rev. Dr. J.H. Garden will officiate.

Burial will follow at Mountview Memorial Gardens.