January to August 1913 - "I'm tired of this uneventful existence."
Fred to Evelyn
2118, 5th Street,
Calgary, Alta. Jan 1/13
Dear Evelyn, -
Happy New Year! May every day bring some new joy and brightness into your life so that when the cycle of days is once more complete you will look forward to 1914 with the greater anticipation because of the true happiness that 1913 has brought you.
What kind of day has this been in old Ontario? I always like to think of the first day of the year as one of sunshine and brightness. If it is any augury of the future days of the year, 1913 should be a glorious one for us here. A brighter day with clearer sky or more beautifully clear bracing air could scarcely be imagined. There was just enough keenness to the atmosphere to give a tang to one's blood and to bring a healthy red to the cheeks.
Such a glorious opportunity for a ride could not be missed so Fritz and I got 2 of the best saddlers in town and were out for a 3 hours ride. It was simply glorious. I don't know of anything better than a gallop over the prairies with the fresh light Alberta air fanning one's cheeks and the towering mountains with their everlasting snows looking down with their message of strength and the majesty of creation to drive out of a man's mind all petty thoughts of business and the daily tasks that so engross us. To me it is like a flight to another world of loftier thought and longer vision. I'm glad I started the New Year that way. How did you?
Thanks more than I can say for your Christmas remembrance. Everything you say seems just the right thing at the right time. To do and say the right thing seems to be a sort of instinct with you. I like that personal touch of the few words you wrote, I'm getting tired of the elaborate business of Christmas giving. It seems to me in our thoughts about the thing we send we oft times forget the person to whom we're sending it . Whenever I get or hear or read anything from you, I always feel intensely your personality behind it. I never knew anyone else who affected me in the same way. But everything you do seems to take on a part of yourself and to be a part of you.
I hope you have had a merry and thoroughly enjoyable Christmastide. You don't know yet just how much it means to be with your ain folk at this season of the year. But if there is one time more than another when a bachelor away from home feels the uselessness and emptiness of his existence, it's at Christmas. This was my third Xmas away from home, but really I never felt quite so useless as I did this Xmas. Even Fritz and I wandered the streets, our own shopping all done and saw everyone else, their arms full of bundles and their hearts apparently equally overflowing with happiness, preparing for a glad day at their own firesides with their own people. I never felt so restless or at a loss to know what to do with myself. We decided at one time to go to the theatre. But on enquiry we found the price was $2.50 , and the quality of the performance was doubtful, so after mooning about our offices for a time we again took to the streets. What didn't lessen the feeling of loneliness and I began to understand why so many fellows try to drown their senses in drink. In sheer desperation I bought Ralph Connor's Corporal Cameron, but when I got home I really couldn't interest myself in it. To tell the truth it's a great disappointment to me. I just finished reading it last Sunday and my opinion is well expressed by the reviewer in The Canadian Magazine.
Xmas day was spent quietly: in the morning and at high noon Fritz and I made some calls. In the afternoon we took Miss Ferguson (the housekeeper) to her first hockey match and in the evening we all went to Mount Royal College for dinner. Dr. and Mrs. Ruby are very kind indeed This is our second Xmas dinner at their home. There were about 20 guests all told, all but ourselves and 2 or 3 others being members of the staff.
Today as I have told you, Fritz and I had a ride in the morning. We made a few New Year’s calls in the afternoon and, at night had dinner at Ford’s. You knew didn’t you that Ford was married in October? One by one the old guard is wavering and falling. Brownlee is supposed to have got ”spliced” a week ago Monday. Fritz expects to tread the mill in February or thereabouts and then with the prophet of old I shall exclaim “And I, even I, am left alone!”
Friday evening [Jan. 3]
It seems almost impossible for me to start a letter and even more impossible, if that is possible, for me to finish one at a sitting. Do you know I think we are about quits now, and I propose we turn over a new leaf with the New Year. You were so long in answering my last I meant to heap coals of fire on your head and to write the evening I received it. Well I didn't, and now I've been just about as long (not quite) as you But old things are passed away. I'm starting the Year with a letter. Will you reciprocate?
So you are headed for the Faculty of Education. I heard as much through another source, Fritz. I think. Have you been really and truly resting this year? For heaven's sake do think once in a while of yourself instead of what you are going to do, and one of your first considerations should be your health. Do I always seem to be preaching? I know it's a horrible habit, but somehow I can't help it in this case.
Have you done any reading lately, or writing? ... Did I tell you that I read The Shepherd of the Hills and The Calling of Dan Matthews on the way back from the east last summer? If you haven't done so already, read them. There's a fine spirit about the first book. The second to my mind, is a better novel, but there is a possible evil influence in the attitude toward the church that I don't like. I wouldn't advise a very immature person to read it but there are too many good things about it for a person of matured opinions to miss it. I'd like to hear your view.
I suppose you are having plenty of ice and lots of opportunities for skating. The ice on the river here has not been very good yet and the rink has not been going long, so I haven't been out at all. What with the usual congestion of work in the office and the added duties of my position as lecturer in economics of the new University of Calgary my own now is kept pretty close to the grindstone.
Did I tell you we had Rev Dr. Graham as guest at our house about 2 months ago? He spent Sunday in Calgary preaching twice in Central church. Last summer he promised me to have a meal with us on his next visit to Calgary and although suffering from a very severe cold he kept his promise. It’s an inspiration just to be near such a man. I’d be a better man if only I could occasionally come in contact with some of the old professors - and I know of no one around old Vic. who stands above Dr Graham. I’d like to see him the next chancellor of the college but I suppose his educational attainments are not high enough.
I see I'm nearing the end of my letter. Give my kindest regards to all the other members of the family. Tell Ora I mean to write her this year, but I have to write Ray [Albright] first, I haven't written him since last August.
Evelyn to Fred
Jan. 1, 1913
My Dear Fred,
New Year's day. And Ora and I are spending it alone! The first time in eight years, it is, that we haven't had some member of The Bunch together. However instead of to-day, we're going to celebrate at your Uncle Freeman's tomorrow night. Do you remember that first New Year's when Fred and John came up, and we dressed up like Indians and paraded through the town, and some people thought we were members of a "show" and remarked that we ought to be run in? And the boys managed to miss the bus and Mr. Moyer too.
Here’s something for you to laugh at by yourself. It’s not for Fritz. Wray’s having quite a time because the wedding is to take place in the chapel - says it’s all right for them but he’ll have to live it down after they’re gone. He wanted to know if he had to go. We told him he did, and that after it was over he had to kiss the bride and say “Welcome to our family.” I teased him and said the reason he didn’t want it to take place there was that he was afraid some of the girls might make a mistake and think it was he who was married.
I saw quite a bit of Elizabeth(2) when I was in Toronto. I was over several weeks ago, and although I always liked her very much, I admire her still more, and think that Fritz is pretty near getting more than he deserves. She has promised to help me if I take a year's course at the Lillian Massey. [School of Household Science, Toronto.] She'll show what three months did for her and then will remark, "But Evelyn Kelly is taking a whole year's course, so she'll be better than I in the direct ratio of eight to three." I'm making her a cushion. You see how great a thing I can do for my friend. If you pick out a girl I like, and tell me a month ahead, I'll make one for her too, that is, a pretty one. But if you choose a girl I don't like, I'll make her an ugly one.
Thank you so much for the book. I got five this year and every one a book that I like. I now have three of [Henry] Van Dyke's.(3) He is one of my favourite authors. ... Oh, have you read Stephen Leacock's Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town? They are delightfully humourous, sprinkled with bits of irony and pathos, and with bigger spots of wit. You must get the book. I bought it in Toronto when I was there. It has received Dr. Edgar's(4) sanction. He didn't like the two first books, but does enjoy this one. It is truly Canadian in its matter, and is like nothing else in its style. Don't let yourself be prejudiced against it because Professor Leacock was an ardent opponent of Reciprocity. Mentioning politics makes me think of an article by Margaret Deland in the last issue of the Ladies' Home Journal, entitled "A Third Way in Woman's Suffrage." It is the sanest thing I have read or heard on the subject, and if you haven't already read it, you might do so with profit.
I'm expecting to start studying music again. I'll be glad to get at something. Also I'm going to start the second part of Faust, and I have many other things which will employ me pleasantly and profitably this winter.
I must not close without offering you my heartiest congratulations on your admittance into the firm. Please teacher, what is its name now? You told me once, but ach! I have no memory.
Wishing you the very happiest of years. I remain
Fred to Evelyn
Our last letters must have crossed. It isn't such a great while ago but events have crowded each other so rapidly since then that the then impending events have now passed into history.
Has Wray Moyer lived down the disgrace? It was bad enough to be compelled to witness such a tragic and disgraceful affair as a wedding in the chapel but to be impressed into service as best man! Can anything more dire be imagined? I guess after all Wray wasn’t the most excited, for Ford tells me today that he actually forgot to kiss the bride. I was once present at a church wedding when the poor unsophisticated groom either forgot or was too bashful to perform this interesting bit of the ceremony, but the minister reminded him and so, as under compulsion, the deed was done. But apparently in Fritz’s case there was no prompter, and so poor Elizabeth remained unkissed for whole long terrible minutes until after the newlywedded pair had gained the comparative privacy of the vestry and had signed their names in the register.
Yes, Mr and Mrs F.C. Moyer [Fritz & Elizabeth] are now residents of Calgary guests of honour at the bachelor abode of Albright & Edmonson(5) Who was the last of Sir Arthur's Knights of the Round Table? Whoever he was I compare myself to him. And not only I, but kind friends also commiserate with me and with touching sympathy of voice and manner, admonish me to follow the example of my former companions, Ford, Brownlee and Fritz all departed and I am left alone with my glory and the cushion.
Today we took the bride and groom to church to show them off. Roy and I got breakfast and even then the others couldn't get ready in time and we entered church fifteen minutes late. The show was expected by several, and of course our entrance caused quite a flutter particularly in the choir, I'm sure several worthy ladies lost a good part if not all of the discourse in a close scrutiny and appraisement of the brides costume. Roy and I felt quite distinguished in a reflected sort of way. Virtue is its own reward and of course we're glad to have Fritz & Elizabeth here but it's rather hard on bachelor cooks to prepare meals and sling on agony à la company style for days in succession.
You know we intended breaking up our house last month, but in mistake I overpaid a month’s rent and as we couldn’t get a refund we had to stay during February or lose $60. It’s really too expensive for just 2 so we decided to stay on and “bach.” Accordingly Miss Ferguson left on Thursday. Roy and I are both fairly handy in the kitchen and can get along alright for ourselves - but yesterday morning about 8:15 just as we were finishing breakfast, Fritz phoned. Their house isn’t ready nor is their furniture here, so in a moment of weakness I urged them to come up and stay with us. They’ve been here ever since though they are out tonight for tea. We all went to church this morning and we had a regular dinner after we got back - soup - steak, vegetables etc. it was rather late when we got through and feeling rather weary in well doing I decided not to go to church tonight. You see you’re getting the benefit of my overburdened soul.
We're all invited out for lunch tomorrow night. In fact there are invitations for almost every day in the week. Before we expected Fritz and his bride, Roy and I had spread the news among our friends that we would be "baching" and that invitations would be welcome. The hints were kindly taken and we had a pleasant time in prospect. But instead we're now entertaining....
Did Fritz get a good shower of confetti when he left St. Kitts? He has always been about the worst one to play tricks on to others, and the night he left home for the east a few of us went to the station with him. But he got as mad as a wet hen, just another illustration of the fact that usually those are most thin skinned who have least consideration for the feelings of others.
No I haven't read Sunshine Sketches although I've heard many favourable comments. I must get the book. To tell the truth, while for some time I've admire Leacock's cleverness, the things of his that I've read don't appeal to me. Possibly Sunshine Sketches will prove an exception. ... I haven't even had time to do sufficient reading for my university lectures and I'm not doing justice to them. But I enjoy the work and have a very good class, an average attendance I should say of about 12 or not bad for a new University is it?
Tomorrow night is the University Prom or Dance. There was a little one some time ago which I attended but I'm not going to this one for various reasons although I expect there'll be a large crowd and a good time. Prof. Ward (Vic '04) is the moving spirit and is indefatigable in his efforts to make it a success.
Oh say did I tell you yesterday I forgot to order bread. Last night I was out at a musical evening given by Mr and Mrs Oaten (our choir leader) and on my way home I remembered I had to pilot home a couple teachers of Mount Royal College. I told them of my predicament and so at the witching hour of midnight we raided the college kitchen to provide me and mine with the staff of life for today.
So you're teaching again. Taking good care of yourself? This is horribly short and scrappy but I'm tired and must to bed. Don't wait for letters from me but write.
Fred to Evelyn
My Dear Little Sweetheart,
Please excuse the paper, but I'm at the office with a few minutes to spare while waiting for a client and if I make use of the moments now I'm afraid I'll have very little time later in the evening. It's nearly nine o'clock. I didn't get dinner until after seven and then I had to rush right back to get out an agreement that had to be signed tonight as one of the parties leaves at eleven o'clock for Winnipeg.
I didn’t get instructions from my client until after the office had closed and the girls all gone so I was forced to employ a public stenographer - Miss McGarvey. You’ll get to know her some day dearest and I hope you’ll like her. She’s a very good friend of both Fritz and myself. I don’t think I ever knew anyone more bright and cheerful in the face of such troubles and trials as don’t fall to the lot of every woman. To begin with she’s lame and has used a cane from the time she was quite small. Her infirmity has necessarily barred her from sports of all kinds and from indulging in most of the pleasures of normal young people. But you would never think to see her in the house or at a social gathering you forget all about her lameness. She’s a beautiful pianist and a fairly good alto voice though she never sings solos.
The whole family is musical and when they lived in Toronto their house was a rendezvous for young college people of musical tastes. One of her brother is now leader of a choir in Saskatoon. The father is dead and the mother lives here in Calgary with Miss McGarvey and another daughter who is married to Dr. Taylor. Irish is the predominating strain and “Bert” is a true exponent of the wit that flourishes on the Emerald Isle.
Sometimes her repartee would leave a little sting if you didn’t see the good natured smile that accompanies it. About 3 years ago she became engaged to Charlie Ley, a brother of Elmer Ley of ‘08. The family worshipped him and he apparently cared just as much for her, but there is a peculiar streak in the Ley family where women are concerned and he, like Elmer proved fickle. It nearly killed “Bert” and after the engagement was broken off she went to the Coast for a visit. While there she was taken very ill with typhoid, brought on I believe by overwork and heartsickness and for along time she lay on the borderland between life and death. Finally she recovered and came back to Calgary.
The experience has chastened her but not embittered her - and she’s a better woman because of it. She has had other experiences that have also left their mark and I think it’s a remarkable evidence of her true womanhood that she’s kept sweet and pure and useful through all. She’s the kind of woman you’re proud to have as a friend. I guess I’d better stop or you’ll be getting jealous eh pet?
I'm home now but as I've started on this paper I'll finish the same way. All the other fellows but Smith have gone to the opening of the winter's Mock Parliament of the Young Mens' Club of Central Church. ... For the rest of this week I'm going to be more than usually busy at night and I may have to cut down my letters a little so if they are not so long as usual you'll not think dearest it's because I care for you any less but because I am so pressed for time. Of late I've been getting to bed later than I should and the nights are too short. I find I must plan to get nearly 8 hours sleep and don't feel at my best.
Well, for the rest of this week I'll have to do a good deal of work at night, reading law for a couple of cases and also preparing a course of lectures. The Law Society is arranging lectures for the students this winter and I've promised to be responsible for the subject of jurisprudence. It only means a lecture once a fortnight, but I've got to do some work this week planning the course as the first lecture is on Saturday. Lectures are a boon (or a curse whichever way you want to look at it) that were unknown in my student days, but a beginning was made last year and while not an unqualified success, were of sufficient interest and help to make a more comprehensive scheme attempted this year.
I've promised to teach the bible class of Victoria Methodist Church for the winter. I've done no S.S. or League work for a little over a year, and I've felt the need for some time of getting into harness again. When I quit I think I acted wisely for up until that time I had been attempting too much both in and out of the church and I needed a rest. There were other reasons also, certain internal complications in connection with the young peoples' work and the then assistant pastor, the secretary of the Young Mens' Club and other leading officials, that made me think it the font of wisdom to withdraw for a time and so keep out of certain eruptions that were sure to come and did come. It’s not necessary to particularize now. Well, after I got out of the work it was so good to feel free that I became selfish and stayed out longer than I intended or needed to.
I suppose in one way it will go hard to tie myself down again for Sunday afternoons but this seemed to be the only door that opened just now for work for Christians. I couldn't refuse. The Superintendent of Central S. S. wanted me to take a class there, but there was no adult class available and I'd much rather teach grownups than children, and then too, there seemed no one in sight for this class at Victoria which is a smaller church. So I’ve made the choice as I have. I start next Sunday. I may not make a shining success of it but I’ll do my best, and that best will be better than any best I’ve ever done before because you will be looking and helping me. I can’t be worthy of you, darling, but I can at least try to be and by God’s help I’m going to be a man of whom you can say “He follows the gleam.”
I was just looking in my pocket for your letter when I pulled out the one I wrote last night and meant to mail this morning. I'm awfully sorry, dearie. This is the first time such a thing has happened, in spite of my forgetfulness, I always see that your letter is posted the first thing in the morning so that it is sure to go out in the mail that leaves here at 2:15 and which should reach Toronto at 4 p.m. of the third day following. I can't understand why of late it should take longer for my letters to reach you than formerly. The delay must be on the railroad or at the other end of the line for it isn't here. ... This morning I was rushed for time and I expected to pass the P.O. about eleven o'clock on my way to keep a business appointment so I put the letter in my pocket. Unfortunately the business engagement was broken, I didn't pass the P.O. and forgot all about your letter. It must seem unforgivably thoughtless and careless of me, but you will forgive me won't you please dear?
So you are disappointed if a day passes without bringing you a letter from me. I was wondering if you felt as I do about it as if there is something lacking and the day isn't quite right. I had decided to write five times a week, skipping Wednesday because you'd not get a letter written on that day until Monday, ... on account of the half holiday, Saturday afternoon, I often am out in the air more than usual and taking exercise that makes me too sleepy to write well at night. But since you feel about it as you do, and I'm glad you do, I'll try to write every day after this. I don't want to start out by disappointing you before marriage, there'll be only too many times afterwards without my beginning now.
I may have to go to Red Deer on Saturday and if I do I'll stay over Sunday. Did you know that about a year ago I tried to get you a position on the staff of the Presbyterian Ladies College there? You see I've been trying for a long time to get you to come west and when all other means failed I saw there was no way but to go after you and fetch you myself. Strange to say, I have come to the conclusion that the last way is the most satisfying of all.
Tomorrow Elizabeth holds her postnuptial reception, the lady looked for an occasion when she can display the glories of her gown with a tail. Poor Fritz! It's a case of dinner downtown for him tomorrow now. Say do all brides have and hold post nuptials? Perhaps I'd better not say too much if I'll retain your good opinion. Anyhow I know that even such an event wouldn't make you forget your husband that is to be.
Evelyn to Fred
Mar. 8 1913
My Dear Fred,
I've just got home from Sunday School, and someway or other, I always feel particularly nasty when I get home, and life seems quite useless. I don't know exactly why, but I have two reasons I think may be the cause. It's then I feel lonesomest for my chums, when I see the other girls off together. Oh they're friendly enough to me, but I don't want them, I want my own. But I guess I'll have to get used to it, for it's not likely I'll ever have them again, not for long at any rate. The other reason is that I dislike our teacher so. He's a little bit of a squirt, bull-headed and conceited, and yet he means well, and is really very polite to us. But I object to being taught by one who isn't much if any older than I am, especially if he's of the other sex. I think he was a gump to come and take the Young Ladies' class, young and unmarried as he was when he came here last year. He married one of the girls, of course, and they don't come to much in the church except Sunday school. But why continue this unpleasant subject? I suppose such people serve their purpose, and they have their friends too, strange as it may seem.
I did think I felt so nasty because I was hungry, but I ate a piece of cake and don't feel any better. I know what's the matter. I'm tired of this uneventful existence. I'd like to see somebody different. I'd like to go to some place where people were dressed in their best, and where they had their wits sharpened for the occasion. Don't smile, but I'd like to go to a Senior Dinner. I enjoyed three of them, and the last the most. Last year I was so fortunate as to have for my partner one of the handsomest, best dressed, best-mannered and brainiest men of our year. If he heard me say that I'll bet he'd put on a few more inches. That same man was Mr Evans. I don't know him very well, but don't you think that adds to the delight of the time? When one's antagonist has an unknown skill, the game is much more exciting. Oh, there is a difference in just ordinary mortals and a crowd of students. Of course, after a time, they become ordinary mortals themselves, but they have a flowering time. I'm so glad I saw it all once, and then I can think about it, even if it does make me lonesome.
That's rather a lengthy paragraph for me. Two of them would make a letter.
Did I tell you that last fall I applied for a position in the Ladies' College at Red Deer? I'm going to try again, maybe some teacher'll be getting married by this time. But Emily Scott told me there weren't many eligibles in Red Deer. I want to teach next year, and the next year too, and then go to Faculty. It sounds grim, but I really like some parts of teaching, and I know I'd like the higher grades. I may get a little school here after Easter, just fifteen minutes walk from here. What I'd like to do would be to go to the States and teach in some boarding school there. Mother wonders why I want to go away but I can't stay home all the rest of my life, and I'm not going to stay till I get too old to go at anything worth while. I think I'd like newspaper work, but there's no opening, because I'm a woman, and anyway it wouldn't lead to the desired goal.
We have been feeling very sorry for you, supposing you to be roaming the streets in search of a home. Just where and how are you living? I shouldn't be surprised to hear you are married and have your home bought and have quite settled down, you believe in doing things with so much speed.
This is the kind of day that reminds me of when I was a youngster out at Millgrove. There’s just the hint of that mildness that comes at the end of March or beginning of April, when we all played marbles, and when my chum and I used to race around playing shinny after supper. My chief delights then were reading and being outdoors. I guess the close life at Beamsville was too big a contrast for me, really there was a great difference, though it seems ludicrous to call life at Beamsville cooped. It won’t be long before the hepaticas in Tinlin’s ravine will be out in all their beauty. Don’t you wish you could be there to see them? I wish I could. I always thought the view from their lane, about half-way back to the ravine, was particularly beautiful. You could see the mountain curving from behind you, out to meet the lake, with the village and the lake at your feet.
And then I think of the walks I loved in North High Park and Reservoir Park. The Bluffs, and up over the hill and around the old belt line, coming out in the Rosedale Ravine. Last year I heard a bird sing, for the the first one I heard, and I stopped a long time and listened. I remember the very spot, and How I hated to go in for dinner. I’ll have to go hunting flowers this year. There’s a girl here who’ll go on Saturday. I like her very much, but she has a chum, and I don’t like her so well, but she’s nice enough.
Mother is snoring, dad's asleep and Ora's getting supper. Last Sunday Clara German(6) was here. She was here two weeks, and we went to the Falls one morning after a heavy snow-storm, and the trees and islands were things of beauty indeed. As usual there, the beauty of the scenery was enhanced by the presence of loving couples. There was a long thin preacher, with his bride. We supplied him with subjects for the next two or three months, drawn from the sights and experience of his trip to the Falls.
Clara is a good kind of visitor - she liked the bread I made and praised it up to people who hadn’t tasted it. She’s a good kind for many other reasons, can’t think of one why she isn’t.
I guess tea is done, so won't start another page. "Don't wait for letters from me, just write."
P.S. I've had my supper, and being of a most amiable disposition, I'll purr if you pat me. What time are you coming home this summer? I think you'll be agreeably surprised at the change in me, but I mustn't boast. I might get a devil just before you come. Do you know one reason why I was so irritable last year? Well, Elleda teased me about you, and it made me mad. If I'd been in good health. I should have been able to overlook it, but there are times when one strains at gnats. It always has made me most indignant when people teased me about you, and they did in Toronto too. Seems funny doesn't it? But some people don't seem able to comprehend anything beyond their own experience, and I guess they weren't so fortunate as to have a big brother friend like you. I wonder if you know how much you had to do in educating me? I think I might have worked out my theories without you, but when you set your seal of approval on them it was like looking up the answer to a problem, and finding you had it right.
Our two old apple trees look very bare, yet picturesque. I always like the outlines of trees when their leaves are all off. I remember these last year. I was just in time to see them in bloom. Do you think it funny that suddenly I start talking about the out-of-doors. The reason is that I’m sitting by the window, and when I finish a sentence, I take a look out, and that starts me on another line of thought.
This is the longest letter I've written for a long time, but I've had a very good time writing it, and I hope you'll enjoy reading it just as much.
Fred to Evelyn
Your letter, written on the same day as my card to you, was the nicest tonic for a day's work I've had for a long while. I've done so little writing lately I can't complain but I haven't heard from home for a couple weeks and your letter was like an April breath from Old Ontario. It told of singing birds and smelled of budding trees and springing grass and bursting flowers and all the sweet incense of spring in Canada's golden spot. But best of all, it spoke of yourself in a way few of your letters have done of late, now don't misunderstand me, I don't mean that you were talking about yourself, for that's something you rarely do. What I do mean is that your real self as I always think of you, unconsciously revealed itself in your letter. And to my mind that's the essence of good letter writing. A letter is nothing if not a personal, intimate thing. If formal, or stiff, it's nothing more than a mere communication. Don't you think so? I never enjoy a letter because of the facts or fancies it contains, rather because of the fancies it inspires in me and of the personality of the writer revealed in and through it.
I don't know how to characterize my mood tonight. I'm alone. ... I feel tired, the past fortnight having been an exceedingly strenuous one, and yet I don't feel sleepy or even like resting. Somehow, whether it's the influence of your letter or not I don't know, I can't keep my thoughts today, away from Ontario. Even in the rush of business hours a sort of spring fever came over me and I felt an almost uncontrollable desire to pack my bag and rush off to the station and buy a ticket home. Perhaps it's partly due to the influence of the newly-weds. For several years I've felt the uselessness and incompleteness of single life, but now, seeing Ford, Fritz, Art Smith, and several others of my young friends, with their wives, I really feel lonesome ... Not but that my friends are all good to me, I don't believe there's a man in Calgary who has more best friends among young married people than I have, and I have received no end of kindnesses and hospitality at their homes. And I'm not so utterly envious that I can't rejoice in their happiness, but sometimes it's hard not to come home and indulge in a little self-despication and say
s "What's the use of a life like mine anyhow?"
Now don't think I'm a disgruntled sorehead, I manage to extract a wee bit of honey out of life as I go along and I don't think I look entirely like a misanthropist. For one thing, though there seems a never ending and never-lessening pressure of work,-it's a case of working hard all day and a good part of the night if one would make a success of law, I can't be entirely invisible to the fact that I'm learning a little all the time and gaining a knowledge of practice that few are getting.
There's a real sense of satisfaction in the knowing that you are increasing in efficiency and ability to do things. Whether or not the general public know of it, it's nice to feel inside yourself that you are all the time becoming less incapable of handling and solving the big problems that come with every day's work. I like my work, I don't think there's another office in town with a finer set of men to be associated with, or a nicer office staff to work with. I can respect all the other members of the firm - (which certainly isn't the case with every firm). I know that I have their respect and confidence, and I see the business increasing every month and with it the public's confidence in us and in our ability as a firm.
I can feel that I have had a part in the upbuilding of our firm and that upon me rests a share of the responsibility for maintaining our present position and for its future advance---all these things bring their own sense of satisfaction and pleasure. But none of them does much to build up a man's real life or to call forth and develop his best and truest manhood. In fact there's always the lurking and insidious danger that the attainment of professional success may be bought at the price of one's highest development. Business is so engrossing. I'm always afraid of falling into a slough of indifference to Life's best things. This is the great haunting Spectre of the West to me.
It was partly to overcome the materialistic influences that I took the lectureship in Political Economy at the University this year. But I've found the work too much added to my regular work and I haven't been able to do it justice. Overwork brought on an attack of La Grippe about a month ago and then I told Dean Braithwaite I'd have to give up the lecturing. A substitute was found, but though a PhD. and an able man he wasn't satisfactory to the Dean and I either had to go back to work or put the Dean in a hole. So I'm back at lecturing again, 2 hours a week. It means a lot of night work and I'll be glad when the term closes, although I have a fine class to lecture to and would thoroughly enjoy the work if I could devote enough time to preparation.
I had the Grippe the week after Mr. & Mrs Fritz [Moyer] arrived and I went to the hospital for 4 days to save trouble. Do you remember asking me once to call on Dr. Moshier?(7) Well I never did, I'm ashamed to say until I consulted him professionally. Since then I've seen him a few times and have formed a very high opinion of him as a man. He's all you ever said and a good deal more. As a doctor he's very highly thought of and it will be only a matter of a few years until he's at the top rung of the ladder. Last night he left for the East. He denied ulterior motives, but I have a faint suspicion he’s on matrimony bent and that his affections are centred on none other than your friend Dell Flatt of Mill Grove. I have no positive data to go on, but the circumstantial evidence is strong. Am I right?
You know Miss Estelle Carey(8) of Hamilton. She is a great personal friend of the Oaten's (Mr. Oaten is our choir leader and organist) and they persuaded her to come to Calgary to assist at a concert given by the choir on Tuesday night ... Except for Miss Carey and a tenor from Vancouver the talent was all local. The concert was a tremendous success ... I heard many say they never before heard such a good concert from a church choir. And the remarkable feature is that outside of the soloists not more than 7 or 8 of the choir have ever had any lessons whatever in voice culture. I think a whole lot more than I can say of the Oatens and since the concert have been in a corresponding state of elation.
But the greatest success of the concert was Miss Cary. The Oatens had not stinted in their advance praise of her and I fully expected to be disappointed but she took everybody by storm. All winter she has been suffering from laryngitis, and before leaving Hamilton she contracted a severe cold, but in spite of that her singing was simply marvellous. I never heard anyone sing so easily. Her voice is beautiful and clear as a bird’s and she stands up there and sings just as easily and simply as a canary pouring forth its morning song. And added to the beauty of her voice is the charm of her personality. Most singers get what I would call a “public” manner and seem to expect adulation. But she seems just as natural and simple and unaffected as a child. I was at the Oaten’s and had the pleasure of meeting her personally. I believe she’s engaged. Whoever has won her has a treasure. She said she’s to song in St. Catharines next week. I suppose you’ll go to hear her.
I’m glad you are feeling so much better. In a recent letter Maggie (Fred's sister) said you were going to Grimsby to consult Dr Smith and would stay at our place. Have you been there. I thought perhaps from your reference to Tinlin’s ravine that you had been at Beamsville lately. I know Maggie would enjoy the visit so much. I often think of bringing her our here and then again, I haven’t any home to bring her to and I don’t think she is strong enough to work in a millinery store as she had some thought of doing last year. I’d like her to come out for a visit anyhow if it could be arranged.
Fritz’s furniture arrived last this week and tomorrow afternoon I’m going over to help them get settled. They have been getting natural gas installed and they'll not move in until next Monday. Since we broke up housekeeping they have been living with Fords’.
So you've been worrying about our quarters. Well, we're boarding at restaurants and hotels again but our rooms are the best in the city. We're in a well furnished house, owned by a young married couple, both univ. grads. - he a civil engineer in charge of P. Lyall & Sons Ltd for the West. Everything is spotlessly clean. We each get a clean towel every morning and everything else corresponds. The house is heated by gas. We have a sitting room with a fire-place and a fine bed-room. The people are very good to us. Nearly every evening they bring up a tray with cake and grape-juice. Everything is as nice as possible. But it's not a home after all.
So you're thinking of coming to Red Deer. Hurray! Generally speaking the west isn't nearly as nice as the east for a woman, and yet I think you'll like it.
I don't know yet when I'll go east this summer. We haven't yet planned our vacations, but I expect to as far as I know now to take mine in August. You're the greatest girl for imagining things. I never thought you irritable last summer. I did know you weren't feeling well, but drive the idea out of your head that I thought you weren't your own charming self. In fact I thought you were even more thoughtful of others than usual, and that's saying a good deal. I'll bet I've written more than you. If you enjoy reading this half as much as I did you'll feel like being good even after Sunday School.
Fred to Evelyn
... I'm only beginning this letter tonight and do not expect to finish. It's now 10.15 and I still have at least an hour's work to do. I suppose I really should be out in society tonight - for 2 reasons, because the people to whose house I was invited are among the nicest in the city and have been more than kind to me on man occasions and because it would please [Roy] Edmonson. There is a charming daughter in the house and Edmonson is there. I don’t think I need say more but you can make your own inferences. Suffice it to say that if coming events cast their shadows before, already the shadow of a departing room-mate is falling across the sunshine of our companionship.
I so enjoyed your letter that I intended to answer the day of its arrival last Saturday, but I had had an unusually heavy week and Saturday evening I went to bed early, Sunday I slept late but got up in time for church, where I spent a profitable half hour during the sermon (which was quite too dull to listen to) by reading part of Hamlet out of a pocket edition which I sometimes carry with me to places where I expect to be bored. After lunch I had an hour's nap and a good walk and then Roy and I were invited downstairs for tea. After tea, church again, a walk home with Mr and Mrs Fritz, a half hour's reading and then bed. Not the most profitable way to spend Sunday, but I was thoroughly rested and refreshed for Monday morning.
Yesterday [Tuesday] I had to go down the line about 75 miles to a small place called Vulcan to defend a man on a charge of theft. I didn’t expect the case would take more than an hour and thought I’d employ the rest of the day in writing. The theft case was soon disposed of, but then other business arose which kept my time fully occupied until train time. Returned to Calgary at 11.30 pm. Tomorrow is provincial election day. There is really no issue - the question is merely one of in or out, and so I don’t approve very heartily of my own party in this province I haven’t taken any part whatever - haven’t even attended one meeting. As you probably know the Conservative leader is Ed Michener - and for him I have very little use. I don’t think he’ll be burdened with the cares of office yet for a while.
Just now I was interrupted by a smash on the stairs. Mr Singley bringing up the usual evening tray of cake and cocoa, stumbled over himself and there was almost a catastrophe. Enough was rescued from the ruins to provide a very pleasant refreshment and, barr his shins Mr Singley is none the worse for the accident. This tray of refreshments in the evening is a daily affair. The people of the house couldn't treat us better if we were members of the family.
I thought I’d have leisure time on my Lethbridge trip to finish this letter, but I was on the jump until the last minute and then had to run to catch the train. I guess I’m having an attack of spring fever for I’ve felt tough all day. I went to church this morning and heard Mr Bolton - one of John R Mott’s associates. His subject was China and he presented a phase of the situation and problem of missions that I hadn’t heard before. I listened with an unusual degree of interest for his matter was certainly excellent. But I must say I was somewhat disappointed nevertheless. I didn’t like his manner - and I was not alone for he failed to hold the attention of the congregation. It seems to me he tried to ape John R Mott’s manner - cool - stern - impassive - unemotional and self-contained. I’ve seen so many of Mott’s associates adopting the same platform manner and it makes me tired. Motts strength as a speaker doesn’t consist in his manner at all to my way of thinking - rather, he holds people by the force of his personality - and the power of his conviction, in spite of his manner. Then when smaller men without Mott’s bigness think that by being like him they can wield some of his influence, they lamentably fail. I don’t think the Mott style will ever supersede real platform oratory. At any rate I don’t see why people , - and public men particularly, cannot develop their own personalities.
But when all is said by way of criticism I thoroughly enjoyed the service this morning. After church I went home with Fritz’s to dinner - then had a nap - came home and had another nap, - and we were again downstairs for supper. I‘m stealing the time from church now to write you. After church a number of us are invited to Mr. Oatens’ for some music. Oatens have been great friends to me.
I’m enclosing a clipping from yesterday’s Herald “Calgary of the Plains” by Pauline Johnson. I hope you like it. She has caught the spirit of the place and Calgary’s chiefest charm is beautifully described in the last three lines. There are many many things that lend beauty and joy to life which Calgary has not now and never will have, but the glory of her air and skies is unrivalled anywhere.
So you think I have always misunderstood you - or at least your views of woman's sphere and marriage. Will it sound egotistical if I say I think for a long time I have understood you better than you really did yourself? I never credited (or debited) you with the views you think I did, I think the thing that attracted me when you were a little girl was the real true womanliness which would make itself felt. But it did seem to me for a long time that you were wandering off after strange gods and were attempting to hide your real nature under a mask. Not that you really changed at heart, but in your reaching out after knowledge and your flight into the great world of truth and beauty and endeavour and power and ugliness and goodness and sin, you were unconsciously encasing yourself in a shell of reserve and fortifying yourself against attack and contamination by donning a mask. Isn't it so?
Do you know I think most girls are not quite natural at college. They never seem to quite forget that they are under inspection and the attempt to keep their colors always flying makes them stilted, formal and unnatural, not among themselves perhaps but to the public generally and particularly to men. I may be judging hastily for while at college myself I had almost nothing to do with the girls, but this is my observation. And what a change there is afterwards.
Elizabeth is one bright example. You know she always seemed so precise and intellectual and correct, but she is revealing charming traits of feminine weakness, human frailty and just ordinary good companionship. In lots of ways you wouldn't know her, and I guess she's as much a surprise to herself as to any one. She and I have lots of good talks and times. She seems more like a sister than a cousin-in-law. Was awfully glad to hear from Ora again, and mean to answer her letter soon. Thought she'd forgotten me. When is she to be married? Elizabeth said today she had a letter from Miss [Clara] German today saying she expected to visit Ora in Edmonton this fall.
Meant to write the rest of this sheet but I'm very late now. So have torn off the next sheet for I do hate to see a blank one in a letter. Looks as if one had run out of ideas. The quality of mine may be indifferent but the quantity is unimpaired.
Evelyn to Fred
April 27, 1913
My Dear Fred,-
Your letter arrived on Friday, although I expected it on Thursday, nevertheless you wrote it on Sunday, as I was quite sure you would. I suppose you wonder why I am thus heaping attention on your unworthy head. To be quite frank, at present your head is very worthy because you’re about the only one who is foolish enough to pay any visible attention to my efforts. I don’t blame them, immersed in exams, and I suppose I ought to be generous enough to send them some letters. Expecting none in return.
But as I said before, whether it was to you I know not, letters are my only dissipation, and it is necessary for my own happiness that I receive as well as give. Then too, you know the perversity of my nature, that I would rather do what is not exactly necessary than perform the task that lies before my eyes. The third and last reason is that it affords me a great source of pleasure to force a busy man to idle away his valuable time in writing to me.
I am doing my best to prevent you from becoming entirely engrossed in business affairs. Indeed, when I reflect on it, I find you owe me a great debt of gratitude; I am your benefactor. Having ended my long list of reasons for this letter, I’ll add another, nay two more. I have found some plans in your recent letters which I must needs set clearly before you. Also, I just want to talk, and there are only three people I very often choose as my listeners. And for reasons quite unexplainable, you’re the only one I consider fit at present to sit at my feet and catch the words of wisdom as they fall from my glowing lips. How’s that for a sentence?
Susie, that’s one of my best chums says that I don’t write good letters, and I was forced to agree that I didn’t to her. Perhaps the reason is that I wrote when I thought she’d expect me to. more than when I felt like it. Also she says that people don’t write good letters unless they write often, because they get unacquainted in the long intervals.
Really, I have to smile, almost audibly at one of your recent criticisms. You said one of my later letters was more personal than they had been for some time. That sounds strange coming from you. I wonder if you ever realised how sealed up and coated with reserve yours generally are. As a rule they may all be divided into three heads.
1. The Alberta weather.
2. What you are doing, how terribly busy you are.
3. People you have met.
Don't get sore, I wouldn't say it if I didn't think you could find it in your heart to laugh. Sometimes I have remarked that you must think I want to invest in Calgary, you talked so much like a real estate boomer. You'll say I've missed the point I haven't. What you meant to convey was your deep enjoyment of certain parts of your life. I wonder if you don't enjoy the air better because of the things you lack. It's like this, you have so much power to enjoy things; there are things from which you really can derive no satisfaction, and thus you take that much more pleasure from the enjoyable thing.
I take issue with you in your statement that I have encased myself in order to keep myself from contamination. In the first place, I’ve found more good than bad in the world; I believe the world is growing better. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t known anything of sorrow. Maybe not much in comparison to what other people have had, but enough to know what it feels like at any rate. And I think that it will take a good deal more than is likely to fall to the lot of one person to make me believe differently about the world and people. If I happen to blunder, if people are unkind to me, if I am deceived, I have this assurance, that there are true people for I have seen them and known them, there are kindly people, for I have known them. It is a good capital to take with one into the world, isn’t it?
I cannot resist the temptation to speak concerning the suffrage question. Let me say as a prelude, that I know very little about the movement. I have little opportunity for learning much about it just at present. I do not believe in universal suffrage, for either man or woman, and Margaret Deland's contention seems very just. She says that women should be content to go slowly in this matter, and find some way so that when the suffrage is extended, the balance will tip in favour of wisdom and righteousness. It does seem senseless to rely so much on woman's superior morality, especially if she is unlearned as to the subject with which she has to deal.
But what makes me mad, just hot, fighting mad, is for a man or boy to claim that because he is a man he should vote, because I am a woman, I should not; that he has any more interest in government than I have I resent and deny, what is implied in that contention, that is the superiority of the man over the woman. As it has been said so often, there is no question of superiority, it is one of difference. Heretofore, women have been treated as inferiors so much they had no voice in the government. You'll have to acknowledge that the suffrage has always been guarded as a great asset of privilege, that Reform Bills have only been passed grudgingly on the part of the privileged class.
For men to say that woman has no genius for legislation is idiotic, because she hasn't tried it yet. Judging from the success she had made of other things she has undertaken, one would have to be compelled to say that she is likely to do that quite as well as man. ... It isn’t the question of voting, it’s that attitude of implied superiority attitude that galls me. And as for a woman going into public life, I can’t see why a woman is any less womanly if she tries to get pure food for her family, if she tries to remove temptation from their way, if she tries to present the cruelty of war. Suppose she gets up on a platform and talks. Is a woman discounted because she sings before a crowd? What’s the difference? The one is for everyday, practical use and the other for pleasure, there, I've given you quite a dissertation, and have said nothing new.
I'm glad you find Elizabeth so charming. I think you, as well as so many others judge us wrongly. I was not in the innermost circle of her friends, but I knew some of her charm; one needs to know a person thoroughly to see all of it.
... I intend to go to Faculty, but I don't know that I'd love the work. I wish I had a decided bent in some direction, and I'd follow it. But I feel so shiftless. I always knew it would be like that when I got through college. It's not well for a person to be without aim, and sometimes I feel the most downright disgust for myself. The things I want to do are all very vague. I'd love to go there a year then to France and Germany, writing if I were able, only I'll never be. I haven't enough initiative. or creative power or imagination, or something or other. I've never forgiven you for telling me not to worry about what I'd do when I got through college, that maybe some man would want to marry me. Imagine that held up to you as an aim, maybe some one. So definite isn't it? And sit down and wait placidly smiling in the meantime. How enjoyable.
There’s no more room. Must write to Elleda.
Fred to Evelyn
The weather, myself and my doings and other people all being tabooed topics of conversation, I really am at some loss to know what I can safely write about except yourself. Now while there is no one to whom I would rather talk it's a different thing to talk about you. Saying nice things is difficult. In the first place it's hard to say them just as nicely as one feels them, and in the second place, if one were able to do it, you would think them more or less insincere and perhaps wouldn't believe what I said on account of your deep rooted modesty and low appraisement of yourself.
So you see I’m between the devil and the deep blue sea or in less vulgar language, between Scylla and Chorybdis. Whither shall I fly for refuge: I surely may safely talk about your letter anyhow. Especially as you have led the way by holding up the mirror to me. Only, unlike you, I don’t intend to even approach near to the threshold of the critics’ sanctum. I’m not saying this by way of sarcasm though it may seem like it, for I’m glad you were frank enough to print out some of the glaring faults in my letters. You know it’s hard for one to realize just how his words are going to strike the other person. “Oh wad some power etc."
But to return to your letter. In the first place it came at just the right time, on Friday morning. I had been expecting it and would have been disappointed if it hadn't come through. I know I had no right to expect it. And I'm glad it was a nice long one. When I opened it and saw you had returned to paper of ordinary thickness I was afraid, and here I had pleasure number two. Then I enjoyed it because of the interesting things in it and the interesting way they were said, not excepting even the woman suffrage discussion regarding which I must say I hold opinions similar to your own. And last, but by no means least, in fact best of all, it was from You. How soon may I have another?
Please may I say a few words now about myself? I came pretty near going east a week ago. I didn’t say anything about it to anyone for fear there might be some slip and I was foolish enough to believe that if I were expected and didn’t come some people might be disappointed. You see it’s this way. The C.N.R., for whom we are solicitors, had a trial in Wisconsin and wanted some Alberta barrister to give evidence regarding the Alberta statutes on a certain point. I intended to go and then go down home for I’d get my expenses paid the whole way, and while it is not convenient from the stand point of the office for me to take my holidays now, it seemed to me worth making a shift to get free transportation. But the trial has been postponed until fall, so the trip is off. Do you ever work on Sunday? I never studied for exams, but once, but today I’m going to mark some exam papers. I think I told you before I lectured on Economics at the University.
Convocation is tomorrow and my papers are not ready yet. So I don't see any way out of it. We expect to have a rather big time tomorrow. Rex Falconer will be here for the day. At noon he speaks at a Canadian Club luncheon and in the afternoon he will give an address at the Convocation exercises. Strictly speaking, we should not call our affair a convocation, for there will be no degrees conferred this being the first year of our existence but it corresponds in nature as closely to Convocation as may be.
Do you ever wish you were back at college again? Elizabeth was telling me one day she would like to go back. I told her I didn't think she would really like it for she would find things had changed, her views had changed, her interests were different, and it would seem like going back to an apprenticeship after one had been a master craftsman. To me, life should be a progression, and while I often wish I had made different use of some of my time in the past and if I had to live my life over again, I would do so many things different in the light of present knowledge. Still I don't want to go back. I want to go forward. I think people often forget that if they were starting over again thy would again start as beginners and not with the added wisdom and knowledge acquired while going over the road before.
A very good illustration was given me recently. Art. Smith, one of our firm, was married last Sept. to Miss Sarah Ryan of Winnipeg. A daughter of the millionaire shoe man. She was one of a large family,was used to lots of company and luxury of every kind and had hosts of friends. After marriage, like the true woman she is, she adapted herself to changed circumstances, living in a moderate sized house and doing all her own work. She had never been in Calgary before, and all her friends [who] were here were new ones. For a while her health wasn’t very good and she really became a little homesick and thought she didn’t like Calgary.
So in March she went home for a six weeks visit. In 3 weeks she was back and she said Calgary never was so attractive before. She found she couldn’t go back to her old house and take up the old life. Not that Winnipeg or its people had changed so much, but she had herself. She had new interests and the old things and the old friends hadn’t the same attraction as of old. Before she had been a girl - now she was a wife. And that is as it should be. College life, boyhood and girlhood - and childhood are all right in their respective times but when we have passed beyond them there couldn’t be a satisfactory return to a normal man or woman. Don’t you think so?
Tonight is Young Mens Club night at the church. Edmonson and Shouldice are to speak. Roy has spent a great deal of time on his speech and is rehearsing it this afternoon to the birds of the air on the baldheaded prairie. It’s very well prepared, - a little too much so - I’m afraid for I fear it will sound a wee bit stilted and forced. However we’ll see.
Have you decided to apply again for a position in Red Deer Ladies College? If you have, let me know and I'll put in a word for you for I know some of the Board personally.
When is Ora to be married? Pleasure ended, Duty begins. Ho! for exam papers!
Evelyn to Fred
May 11 1913
My Dear Fred,
I wonder if you'll be expecting a letter from me so soon. For fear that you are, lest you be too much disappointed, I am writing to you, but you can't help being disappointed some because I'm not going to write you a good letter. I'm tired and I feel blue, and in an effort to keep my letter from sounding that way, it will take on a stilted and likely, a colourless tone.
I expected your letter the time I got it on Thursday night, and you got mine Friday. You see, I don’t post mine till Monday mornings and so they don’t go out until the afternoon. Before I proceed to discuss other matters, just let me ask if you purposely misconstrued my letter. I did not find fault with you for talking about yourself. I merely pointed out how really ludicrous it was to expect me to write letters that were at all personal when yours were absolutely the reverse. Perhaps I didn’t give my meaning a well-fitting garment, and how you came to judge it falsely, if you really did.
...Do I ever wish to be back at College? Do I? I read in a story some time ago this sentence "Isn't being happy just doing what you know how to do best, and having it appreciated?" Well, I've never found anything I could do as well, and enjoyed as much, as my work at college, and appreciation was not lacking. What you say about people thinking that if they could live again that they would do so with their acquired experience seems very true when I think of it, which I never did before. And I suppose life should be progress. But I see none in this year, except that my health is better, I have learned a very little music and earned a very little money. Yes, and I've seen some of my fondest brightest-hued illusions smashed all to atoms. Perhaps that is progress. If it is, I'd rather stand still. That’s just the opposite of what I recall writing some time ago. I quoted Arnold in his impression of his desire to “see life steadily and see it whole.” What I think is all no, not all, but largely, according to the way I feel.
...I have been making flower beds, and it is the purest delight imaginable, except for one which is greater and that is to look up at the blue sky through a bower of cherry blooms. I have never felt such thrills of rapture as when gazing so. ... The walk to my school in the morning along the canal has been a daily delight, ever since the buds began to show themselves. Mountain and valley and lake, blossoms and trees. Can your prairie offer anything akin? Now, I have laid myself open for a very severe retaliation. Ora expects it to happen sometime in September.
This is all I'm going to write, it's all you did. Besides I want to read Meredith’s Lord Ormont and his Aminta. Ever read “The Egoist”? Great - needs to be read aloud.
Fred to Evelyn
Friday morning when the office boy was opening the mail, I looked through the pile of private letters expecting one from you. I looked the pile over twice without finding any and was turning away disappointed when an impulse made me sort the letters once more and then I found yours at the bottom. You said it was not a good letter without making any comments I’ll only say - send me lots more of same kind.
Have just come home from church. Both services today were splendid - away above the average. A couple of months ago there was a virtual request to Mr. Marshall to resign and as many of the board felt that he wasn’t just the kind of man needed in Central Church, but the trouble has all blown over and he is to stay another year. Lately his sermons have had a new note of earnestness and sympathy, possible born out of Mr Marshall’s own sufferings. Before he seemed to lack human sympathy and while his sermons were excellent from a theological or literary standpoint, they failed to grip the people. Today, however both were heart scorching and helpful - the evening sermon especially so - the clouds of poverty, suffering work and persecution. It was wonderfully well presented and the preacher ended with the scorching question “Will you be able to stand confident in the day of Christ’s second coming?
Do you remember you once asked me how I knew I was saved? I don't know how I answered but I remember with what conviction I felt my sonship of God and how certain I was that I would one day be rewarded as one of his obedient children. I remember too how I used to wonder at what was called "backsliding." I couldn't understand how anyone who was truly a Christian could become careless or unmindful of duty or grow apathetic in Christian work. And do you know I have fallen just such a state? And the worst of it is I can't break out of it. I feel as if I were bound by invisible chains which I can't burst. I try to pray, but my prayers seem nothing but vain words that rise no higher then the ceiling. Many of the rites and ordinances of the church positively grate upon me. I never did like the communion service but now I go away every time after having partaken of the communion feeling that to me the whole thing has been a mockery. Each time I think maybe there will be a change but there isn't and I'm at a loss to know whether I should continue in the hope that somehow and sometime it will become real and meaningful to me, or whether I should abstain until I have a real change of heart.
I calmly think of my life and how fruitless it has been of all that is really worth while. I'm appalled and I wonder if many other people feel the same way. One day I was discussing this with Elizabeth and she was trying to tell me that doing one's daily work, honestly and conscientiously, and winning the respect of one's fellow citizens was contributing a fair share to life. It seems to me she's wrong. Her view would be all right from a purely human standpoint but surely something more than that is expected from Christian. I've been trying to think of one single person whose soul I've ever helped in winning for Christ within the past five years and I'm ashamed to confess I can't point to one. Isn't that a terrible confession to make? The one thing above all others that I profess to value has been thought so lightly of that I haven't done anything to bring it to others. Of course you'll say that hasn't been my conscious intention. Quite true, but there's the result. What can I do about it?
You'll begin to think this is a book of lamentations, so I'll change the theme. I've already told you that I board with a bunch of fellows known as the Hermitage(9) gang. This morning all of them but one went riding. One of the fellows is a newcomer from Montreal who has never been on a horse's back more than 4 or 5 times in his life so you may imagine the ride was not an unmixed pleasure for him. Once when the horse stopped suddenly Smith continued in the way he was going until he found himself sitting on terra firma which was really rather firmer than he desired. And so on - when they returned Smith was very stiff and sore. This afternoon he was out for tea, and as we knew the place where he was visiting, about six o’clock I called up the ambulance and had it call around for him to take him to the hospital. I haven’t heard yet whether Smith or the ambulance driver was the more in need of hospital attention. I suppose I’ll hear all about- it in the morning for one of the other fellow was at the same place.
Another newcomer to the Hermitage is one of the young Fearmans of Hamilton. He has been in Calgary for about a year and is in charge of one of P. Burns & Co Ltd’s branch stores here. He seems like a very nice fellow indeed. I believe his people are members of Centenary Meth. Church in Hamilton.
Today the choir were installed in their new seats for the first time and they are very well pleased indeed. They are much more comfortable than chairs and they make a better appearance too. Mr Oaten deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the work he has accomplished. The chair has attained a degree of proficiency unexcelled by any choir in Calgary and the members are beginning to take a very keen interest in their work. Next Thurs. evening they give a Wagner recital in the church and on the 27th they go to Edmonton to compete in the Alberta musical festival. They may not win the trophy but they’ll certainly give a good account of themselves.
The Oatens are very good friends of mine and I am frequently at their house. Was there last night for dinner.
There was some talk of a teachers excursion in July but I believe it is not going to materialize. The Hamilton Old Boys however are planning one in August and unless something changes my plans I expect to go East then. It isn’t just the nicest time of the year to visit in Ontario because it’s often so very hot in August, but our firm is so large that in a arranging holidays no one person can utterly disregard the others and from present indications August will suit best all around.
Did you know I had attained into the dignity of examiner for the Law Society? I set the final paper in Jurisprudence. The papers are to be examined by a large number of barristers. Five men from our office are among the chosen - Carson, Macleod, Smith Robertson and myself - a pretty good representation for one firm.
I'm enclosing one of the programmes of the first closing exercises of Calgary College which may be of interest to you. It was different from an ordinary convocation in that no degrees were conferred, but it was very pleasant nevertheless and needless to say was inspiring because of the presence and address of Rev. Falconer.
Evelyn to Fred
May 25 1913
My Dear Fred,
... When your letter didn't come on Thursday night as I expected, I was disappointed, ...
It's a beautiful clear, cold day but I just didn't want to go for a walk. I've had a lonesome fit on for the last two or three days. Thinking about a year ago I suppose is to blame for it. I have missed things so much though happily for me, I have been very much occupied, so that it hasn't been as bad as it might have been. I've had a rather strange feeling this spring, a feeling of expectancy, as if something very lovely were going to happen.
I sometimes wonder about next year, and yet I don't feel one bit as if I should bestir myself to make anything come as I want it. In fact, I don't know what I do want, and I don't care enough to worry about it. This spring has been a marvellous one in many ways. I don't feel the least bit grown up, in fact I feel like a very little girl. And do you know how you appear to me? Sometimes you appear very much grown up and sophisticated. I wonder if you really know how to play. I have had two boyfriends who did, and we have had the greatest fun when we took a day off from being grown up. But one has gone away and I guess will never play any more, and he was the best one too. And the other is so busy. ... Sometimes on my way to school I have been fairly mad with the beauty of the spring, and I’ve wondered why it didn’t make my face shine so that people would say “What have you?”
You say you are in a state of apathy. Sometimes I wonder whether I'm not so myself. But if I am, I don't care. You say your prayers seem to go no further than the ceiling, and at once I ask "For what do you pray?" ... Often, oh, so often, I don't really pray. Yet there have been times when I have really, and I have been considering the last day or two, and I realized that when I prayed hardest it wasn't for myself directly, though I should be benefited indirectly by the results but it was for those who were very dear to me. ...
You spoke about trying to lead others to Christ. Do you know I never spoke to any girl about it? I have always taken it for granted that my chums were Christians. But do you know I got a shock this spring? I got a letter from a friend in which she spoke of finding God. And yet I was her most intimate girl friend, she had confided her troubles to me and prayed with her. I don’t exactly understand about being converted. I never was. I don’t see why one can’t grow up a Christian. It doesn’t seem consonant with Christ’s teaching that we must grow up wicked and then change. It seems to me that our spirits, coming from God, must be good, and that by careful training the childish soul should grow towards God as the plant towards the sun. There must come a time of decision yes, but conversion implies a turning and if the soul has been God-ward before, how can it change? But it ought not to be so hard to seek to have others love the good God. He is Good. He is Beautiful. Everything that is such is one of his attributes. Why should not one love Him and seek to fulfill His plans.
...And now about communion. I often go unprepared, but I alway feel it has a meaning. Suppose before the next one you read the account of the Last Supper and of Christ’s betrayal. Then it cannot fail to have a meaning. It is an act which puts us in the place of the disciples, it is done in memory of Him.
What are you doing to bring Christ's Kingdom in? We met a man last night at our corner, a young boy, reeling and staggering. To make him such an object of scorn is not dealing justly. I am told that there is in your city a street set aside as the abode of prostitutes. And a doctor said that it was necessary in order that women might be safe on the other streets. That sin is the one above all others which makes me mad, I mean mad. Sometimes I am afraid it will eventually make me a lunatic. It is the one thing above all others that is breaking women's hearts, and causing their moral tone to be lowered. And its effect on the race is disastrous. And the conditions that make such things possible are not in our hands, they are in the hands of men. Oh, I do not mean to shift the responsibility from ourselves. It is on us in many respects, in regard to our dress, our actions, our influence. ...
I'm tired writing ...
Fred to Evelyn
Last Sunday I had a strong impulse to write you even though it wasn't my turn. The only thing that saved you was a call from Fritz to go over to their place, where I spent the day. So you didn’t get my letter of the week before as soon as you expected. Was it intentional and by way of reprisal that you delayed your answer for a day? Anyhow it didn’t reach me until yesterday. ...
It has been a glorious day. This morning Roy and I went for a walk over the hills north of the river and the mountains showed up grand and sublime. It made me want to jump on a train for Banff then and there. When we are so near it is a shame not to run up into the mountains frequently, but I haven't been there for more than a year. Two obstacles are always in the way - time and money. I always feel I prefer to save both so that I can go east as often as possible. This afternoon I've spent on the verandah. Ours is one of the too few places in Calgary where there are nice trees and today their shade gives just the right tempering to the sun's heat. I’m writing this letter with a magazine in my lap for table, so you’ll know one reason on for its illegibility.
Apropos of the clipping you sent - I have been re reading snatches of “The Fighting Chance” and I happened to run across this bit - “Out of these little windows called eyes we look at one another and study surfaces and try to peep into neighbours; windows. But all is dark behind the windows - always dark in there where they tell us souls hide.”
You accuse me of reserve and excessive seriousness. Perhaps I appear to others too much like a stick and encase myself in an armour of reserve as you say. But I have always felt that I'd prefer to have my real inmost self unknown to the world and to everybody except one woman. Even to my most intimate friends I want to keep a holy of holies that none but her can enter. It may be that I have gone too far and appeared too solemn even in ordinary things. Well, even I have my times when the spirit of foolishness and irresponsibility holds sway. But I think in most cases joviality is as much a mask as is seriousness. I know it is so with me. It's often easy to fool people with a smile and a laugh.
Did you ever read “The Fighting Chance?” Some time ago it appeared in serial form in on the the Curtis publications, either The Ladies Home Journal or the Sat Eve Post. I just happened to pick it up again today and before I realized it I was interested. When I first read it I disliked it. As a story is is strongly written but I don’t like the parading of the evils of the smart social set of New York. It seems to me there’s too much laudation nowadays or at any rate, too much obtruding upon the public of a certain phase of society life that is abnormal and unwholesome. I will say this though about “The Fighting Chance” I do like the thought that no matter what a persons’ hereditary tendencies he can if he will overcome them and live a straight, good life.
I have just come home from Fritz’s. Harry Ford (‘15) came to town unexpectedly today and after church he and his brother’s family with myself all went out to see Fritz’s pup (?) and incidentally to have a chat about Vic. Harry is very much like Clint, only more so in many ways. If you know either of them you will understand my meaning. Harry hasn’t decided yet on his life work. I think he’s oscillating around the work of the ministry and while he’s in his present uncertain state of mind he is going to give his mind an opportunity to settle while teaching a summer school west of Edmonton. He says Wray Moyer was probably jollying when talking to Ford, but perhaps he is seriously thinking of the ministry. I hope he is. I believe Wray would find his place there and do magnificent work.
Do you ever hear anything about Ray Albright? [Fred's brother] It’s hard to get any information from him and equally difficult to get an unbiased opinion from the family or near relatives.
Tonight one of the elevating topics of conversation was the comparative beauty of the girls of the various classes at Vic. Clint Ford has always stoutly maintained that ‘07 had a good looking lot. I never heard anyone else say the same thing. We are willing to concede ‘07 girls goodness, cleverness and all other fine qualities but I can’t see the beauty. Fritz of course lays claim to the beauty prize for ‘09 and so far as my knowledge goes I think ‘09 is entitled to it though I wouldn’t acknowledge it to him. After a half hour’s argument and dissection we left the question still an open one. What do you say?
This letter is becoming almost serial. I hope you’ll not think I’m careless for not finishing in time for Monday’s post. But Sunday night I was so tired I had to quit for fear of falling asleep. Yesterday was an unusually busy day and last night I was marking Law Exam papers until midnight. I have just now returned from a meeting of the Hamilton Old Boys Association. We expected to have a definite offer tonight from the railway but were again disappointed, so it is possible our excursion may fail to materialize. But excursion or no excursion I am going East this summer.
Today being King's [George V] birthday we closed the office to the public and disconnected the phone during the morning, but all the staff went back to work. This afternoon, the staff (exclusive of members of the firm) all had a picnic - fine and warm.
So Rex Fleak is back in Gleichen. I’ll try to get in touch with him and see if I can do anything to help him. I’m awfully glad he got off. I had never heard anything but what you wrote in a former letter and I didn’t know what had happened.
You ask me what I am doing to bring in Christ's Kingdom. I'm ashamed to say I don't know. Not long ago I had a long talk with Elizabeth about Christian work. I like to talk to her, for she always has ideas. True I frequently disagree with her, but it's nice to talk to one who thinks seriously on life's problems and isn't afraid to discuss them. I told Elizabeth I have come to the conclusion that it’s untrue to say one profession or calling in life is as good as another. I used to think so but I’ve changed my opinion. To me the minister of the gospel is really and truly a man set apart and his work is better and holier than that of the ordinary layman . He touches life at its vital and crucial points - birth - marriage and death. It’s all very well to say a man is doing his duty if he does faithfully and honestly the work of the day whatever it is.
And it’s all very nice to say a man should glorify God in all his work. But as a matter of fact, where a doctor is busy over a very sick man, his thought must necessarily be to save the man’s life and thoughts of the soul are crowded to the background. Similarly, when a lawyer is busily engaged straightening out a nasty tangle of company organization, he may have the large and noble ideal of serving his Maker, but in the immediate present his whole attention is given to the technical legal aspects of the case. So in everyday life, the work of the day necessarily obtrudes itself willy nilly and crowds back thoughts of immortality and the greater part of the layman’s working hours being so spent. We each develop spiritually as can the man whose whole time and thought are occupied with questions of immortality. The minister breathes a difficult atmosphere and the influences, though unconscious, is deep and abiding. It should make him and, thank Heaven, it usually does - a man of God.
You speak of the great social curse of today. Evelyn it's simply appalling. You can have no idea of the extent or terrible degradation of this thing. Thank God you don't! One Sunday last summer, Fritz, "Rosie" and I were out driving and we drove past the quarter outside of the city limits known as the red light district. I'm not very emotional but I could scarcely keep the tears from my eyes at the sight. I never saw such pitiable human beings in all my life. To think of girls, somebody's daughters, born with all the high and noble impulses that are the part of every woman - sold and degraded and killed, body and soul to satisfy the cravings of bestial lust! What is the solution of the problem? Segregation? It has been tried and found wanting. Contrary to what you think, we have not segregation here in Calgary and never have had. The vice district has always been just outside the city limits.
About a year ago the Mounted Police cleaned out the last of these and now the houses of prostitution are all over the city. Every little while the police make a raid, the girls are brought up and fined and then the business goes on as before. Really I often wonder whether the thing can be eradicated. Certainly not until the men are punished equally with the women, not by the law alone, but by society. The trouble is now that men who are known to live impure lives are received in fine houses and their sins are overlooked. I don't think lasting reform can come until people ostracize men as much as they do women for impurity.
I always seem to get off on dismal themes. At any rate you can't reproach me with writing a short letter this time. I don't write as many pages as you but I took the trouble to make a rough estimate and I find my verbosity has been such that this letter exceeds your last by a couple hundred words at least. ...
Evelyn to Fred
June 12, 1913
My dear Fred,
Once more I am attempting a letter. I got started the other day and then I tore it up, it seems so silly. The kids are playing school, and the 'teacher' is making the most noise. I wonder if that is the ideal way. ...
...We had a lot of company this week. Reg Smith was here Sunday on his way home from Convocation and a friend of Ora’s was up from the Falls. Then two of our cousins came to stay overnight, and Dell Flatt is coming this afternoon.
I certainly am very busy now-a-days. Did I tell you I was taking osteopathic treatment for a kink in the back of my neck? It's a great deal better, but yet I have to go down three times a week. I have joined the tennis club, though I haven't been over much yet, I stopped my music for a couple of weeks till school is over, and then I'll take a month at it. We have lots of fun over at the tennis courts, and expect a great deal more. We are all to go to Port Dalhousie this Saturday to make arrangements for a tournament. This just a sort of social prelude to the real business and I suppose will stand around and eat sandwiches. I
'm going to wear my best shoes, they're very pretty, velvet and satin. Ora says that for an educated person my thoughts are too much centred on pretty things, that I ought to think of weightier things than she. The look of velvet or the feeling of silk. She has a great deal of fun at my expense. When I went to get a hat, there was a pretty one with a beautiful blue feather. She encouraged me to get it. (I didn't though) and ever since has teased me about wanting. I guess my senses of smelling and sight are really almost over-developed. But I certainly love to look at pretty things.
This is rather a disjointed letter, and I fear is going to be rather short, but if I attempt to make it lengthy I'll never get it done. I haven't been so slow in writing just to "pay you back" but because I didn't feel like writing before.
When you spoke of your reserve, you touched the vital spot in our controversy, if it may be dignified by such a high sounding name. I hope you do not think I wished to penetrate behind any reserve you might put up as a barrier between yourself and the world. All I objected to was that you would be pleased when sometimes I allowed you into the outer court of my castle. I think I am less reserved than you, to my intimate friends, but I like to think that I don't tell all my thoughts even to them. But you see natures differ, you are Dutch, and although I see quite a lot of that in my own make-up, I also see an occasional streak of the irresponsible Celt. I find on re-reading this, that I haven't said exactly what I mean. I guess what I really have tried to say is this. Some time ago you said that my letters were very impersonal, and you appeared displeased. You had no right to be - they but matched yours.
...I see this letter growing into a regular booklet. I gave the kids an exam, and let them out early tonight. It’s so very hot, it seems hard to breathe. I have half an hour to waste before my car for the city arrives. Ora and Dell went down earlier and they’re to come to the doctor’s for me to come home with them. ... Yesterday was the first day this year that I’ve smelt the sun. Did you ever do it? It’s just the smell of the hot south, when the sun seems literally pulling the plants up, higher and higher. My flowers aren’t coming up to my hopes when I planted them, but there’ll be some at any rate.
It's only two weeks from holiday, and I'm glad. Is that proof I don't like my work? I really do, but some of the material here is pretty poor. I don't think I want to keep at it forever and ever amen, but as Miss Addison(10) wisely said, when I started I'd start for one year only, and thus the years would pass without overwhelming me, whereas if I thought when I started that it was a life-long sentence, it would take all my courage and endurance to bear the thought, and none would be left for the work. I have it figured out that in four years I can go abroad, one year for Faculty expenses, two years to save, and then I'd say farewell to my native land. By that time, having me off their hands, dad and mother could have enough to come too.
I’m going to save for a house. I’m going to buy the lot and get the trees and shrubs planted before I build the house, so that they’ll have a good chance to get big. I suppose I might build the house and rent it before we get ready to move in it, but I want it to be new, I’m tired of “following” people.
We're thinking some of going to Muskoka for a few weeks in August, but I don't know how our plans will materialize. We want Dad to go west and will have to see how the money hangs out. I'm nearly strapped because I lent most of my spare money to mother. You see, she has a lot in Edmonton and had to make a second payment some time ago.
... It's time to go. I think you were very generous in picking out Elizabeth for Fritz. Why didn't you get her for yourself? If you can do any better for yourself, you are a marvel. I saw your Aunt Carrie Wednesday. She feels anxious about your uncle, but the doctors say he is getting along very well.
Fred to Evelyn
I looked in vain for the usual semi monthly letter. ... I have been wondering whether you have delayed sending by accident or design, whether it is because I was late in mailing my letter to you a week ago, which is it?
When you expect something and it doesn't come it's just like having a prop fall out from under all your structures. Last week was a succession of nasty snares and I was looking forward to Friday for your letter which is always like a tonic to me. When Friday turned blank I thought "Oh well, it will come tomorrow and be a nice wind up for the week" But the tomorrow was no better than the yesterday and I guess I've been rather peevish ever since.
It has just come to me that I promised Brownlee to go out to his place this afternoon and I had forgotten all about it. I think I’ll telephone my regrets and talk to you instead. First for a little gossip. Did you know Elizabeth’s mother came about ten days ago The day of her arrival I was out at Fritz’s and ran across these two apropos epigrams in “Life” - “What is a cookbook without a mother” and “What is home without a mother in law?” Naturally I couldn’t resist the temptation to point them out to the bride and groom.
Mabel Durham came with Mrs Clark as far as Winnipeg. Then Miss D. took the northern route to Saskatoon and Camrose where her brother Frank lives. She is expected to spend a couple of weeks in Calgary and Elizabeth is planning a little Victoria Old Boys and Old Girls picnic. There must be at least 25 living in Calgary.
Just received the Univ. of Tor. exam results last week and was particularly glad to see Ray did so well. From what he said a short time ago I inferred he didn't feel in too good shape. But then I suppose everyone feels that way before exams. Edmonson marked the Vic. men who took high stands and seems to think the major share of high honour rests with the old Brown Stone building this year. Most of the married are strange to me but I recognizes a few of them. Harold Smith was in town last Tuesday and was very much elated at his brother’s success. Harold never loses an opportunity of lauding his kid brother.
I am now truly left alone of our old gang, for last Thursday, Patterson ["Pat"] followed the example set by Fritz and Ford and joined the sacrificial throng of Benedicts. Last year he told me he would get married as soon as he wrote his final exam but I didn't expect him to do it quite so soon. The exams ended only a week ago yesterday. It was a quiet church wedding and apparently very successful, although to my inexperienced ear there seemed to be some innovations in the service. For example the "honor and obey" part was omitted, and instead of "with all my earthly goods I thee endow" there was substituted, "with all my earthly goods I thee wed". Nor did the groom kiss his bride. In discussing this point afterwards Ford said kissing at a church wedding had become unfashionable. I think I'll have a house wedding
Both bride and groom seemed quite self possessed, through what I thought was an unusually long preliminary service. Pat said afterwards that he was frightfully nervous until he got a chance to do some of the talk himself, but that after he heard his own voice it went all right. Both Pat and his wife are to be congratulated for they mutually excel each other.
So you see our old numbers of 934-6th(11) are broken up and even our former housekeeper Miss Ferguson is to be married in September. Then I'll be the only one remaining of the originals. People here are beginning to despair of me utterly. However, while there's life there's hope. Here's hoping.
Yesterday Henri Bourassa(12) spoke at the Canadian Club Luncheon. I heard him speak in Convocation Hall in 1907, and would like to have heard him again but I was very busy and I knew there would be an unpleasant crush so I stayed away. Those who heard him were more than pleased. He is a wonderful, if dangerous man.
...What are you doing with yourself these beautiful fine days and evenings? Counting the days until school closes? How school teaching does drag during June! As I remember the children are restless, the attendance uncertain and the lure of the out-of-doors enough to fairly drive one crazy when cooped up in the unlovely brick walls of the average school room. You never talk about yourself or your work. Have you a large school? Do you like the work? Where is it anyhow? I have an impression that it is just outside of Thorold. Am I right?
I suppose Ora is busy with the usual ante-nuptial flutterings and that you are caught in the swirl of the current too. If my intentions didn't outrun my deeds I'd write Ora a letter. I mean to yet before I go home though to preserve some semblance of truthfulness I'm not setting any definite date. Speaking of going home - I'm beginning to count the days.
It looks as if our proposed Hamilton special train will not materialize for the railroads refuse to give any special rates. If I had known this earlier I would have made arrangements to go East July 1st but other plans have been made for vacations of the firm and I can’t very well change them now.
In one of your letters you asked what our firm's name is now.
It's too long to write so I am enclosing our ad. Our name is like a triple expansion engine ....
We are now the biggest, and, (shall I say it?) the best firm in Calgary. Was up looking at our new offices yesterday. Think they'll be ready by Aug. 1st.
Am expecting a letter from you tomorrow morning to start the week right.
Evelyn to Fred
June 22, 1913
My Dear Fred,
What a fuss you make about not getting a letter at the expected time. I should think a grown up person with serious things to think of would scarcely find time to notice the absence of such trifles. ... I wish you were here this afternoon out under the trees - I'd put up the other hammock (I'll bet you laugh here. I see some humour in the implication.) for you. Then I wouldn't have to be bothered writing, and I'd lie down and you could do the work. You could read, for I have a book here too, but I haven't opened it yet.
My head aches a little, a very rare thing for it, and I feel just good-for-nothing lazy. We have been visiting this afternoon and it was hot coming home. ... Art [Ritchie] is trying to get a position for me in Edmonton. Can't you get busy in your town? ...
You must ask me to give you Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes to read when you come home. I wish you'd read The Egoist if you can possibly find time. I marvel at Meredith's insight into woman's processes of thought and feeling. I read Lord Ormont and his Aminta and though there is much of truth in it, I don't agree with its teachings. I'm too old-fashioned and set I guess. I don't think that because a woman comes out of her infatuated dream of her husband, and in the light of broad day finds she loves another man, I don't think she should go and live with man number two. Divorce cannot settle the question. She may refuse to live with the first man, if she has strong grounds, but she mustn't live with the other.
But some one would say “It is wicked for people who do not love each other to be joined together.” I answer “Yes, but whose fault was it in the first place?” In this case it was partly the girl’s ambitions to make a big match, and partly the fault of her training. The lawyer for the defence would ask if she must then suffer through her whole life for the indiscretion used in her education. It does not seem fair, but it is what each one has to suffer. The people in the story were perfectly sincere, but their example was a very bad one. Such ease in breaking the marriage tie leads to ease in forming it.
...Do you know that about half your letter was of weddings, etc? I guess you aren't thinking very much about it, or you wouldn't talk so much of it. It would be very good for you to get married, because you're a man. But how would you like to be a woman, and to think of having to get breakfast every morning? That's the thing that keeps me from even thinking about it. No, Ora isn't in any whirl yet. I told her you were going to write, so she's expecting a letter by any post.
Dad is going west in a couple weeks and Ray [Albright] is to supply for him, so that I can tell you more about him later than I can now. We expect to go to Bala the last week in July, but only for three weeks, so you'd better arrange to visit us the last part of your visit. We're going to have a room and get some of our meals at the hotel.
I know you will be feeling very badly about your uncle’s death. Dad is too. And you will be alarmed at the change in your Uncle Freeman. Wray said he was scared when he first saw him when he came home. There is nothing I can say to you, except that I know what it means to have a very dear friend go away. But she has left a very happy memory behind and I’m always glad when I think of her, that I knew her. I was only a child, but I knew how to love a dear woman.
I'm at the end of the paper, so I'll be generous and give dad the hammock. Only one more week of school, and then I can lie here all I like. Wish you were coming in July.
Fred to Evelyn
Only one more day until the end of the half year! Do you remember last July First? I wish I could be down in Ontario again at this time but it can't be. However it will not take long for another month to roll around and then Eastward Ho!...
They say the Skagway voyage is one of the finest to be had in America and from its popularity I can easily believe all they say of it. Notwithstanding our newness and bareness in the prairies, holiday advantages abound. For my own part I'd like nothing better than to get together a party of 4 or 5 with pack horses and camp equipment and lose ourselves for 3 or 4 weeks in the mountains. One could start from Banff, Camrose, Bankhead or Loggan and following the valleys either north or south could spend and ideal holiday in the wilds. Apparently a thousand miles from civilization. Some time we'll do it.
... Thanks for your kind offer of a hammock. Wouldn't it do just as well for me to put up one on our porch? So you are expecting me to read to you. Now I had planned just the opposite. I just feel for once I'd rather be talked to or read to than to bore anyone myself. To tell the truth I have got so out of the way of reading I've become thoroughly rusty and moss grown and I've been looking forward expectantly to a little mental stimulation from my visits with you. Your mention of this,that, and the other book, which I really want to enjoy and have not even dipped into makes me fairly envious. Longings are kindled in my soul but they fall back like blackened embers on the hearth, unpursued and unsatisfied. ...
Is your father coming as far west as Calgary? If he hasn't left when you receive this urge him to come. It will not cost much more than a ticket to Regina or Weyburn and I'd like him to see what a change there has been since his visit here 6 or 7 years ago. He wouldn't know Alberta now. Everything is very new and unformed yet but I am firm in my belief that ultimately Alberta will be the banner prairie province and it's good to see a place in the making. ...
I don't know what's wrong with me today. I want to talk to you and yet somehow I don't feel in the mood for writing. My pen will not say what my mind wants it to. I think I'll stay right here and finish later. The mechanical effort of guiding the pen serves to interrupt my thoughts so I'll just lie down on the couch here in the sun and let my thoughts run away to a certain shady lane in Thorold.
Evelyn to Fred
July 6 1913
My Dear Fred,
... I am going over to Toronto tomorrow to stay till Saturday. ... Then I am to go to Muskoka the following Wednesday. Elleda wants Ora and me to spend a week with her before and aft, so Ora insists that I go first. You'll send your next letter there and keep me from getting homesick for my family. Are you going to stop off at Bala on your way down? Ora says you may. ... If you don't stop over you must at least let us know when you are coming, so that we may come over to the station and greet you.
So you refuse the offer of my hammock! You always were so horribly independent. But you'll suffer, because if you lie on a hammock on your hot, sunny old porch, you'll get all burned. I hope you do. And I am to read to you. Here are the tables turned in good style. And you have the advantage because you'll be a guest and I suppose I'll have to make an effort, painful as it will be to be polite, and so I'll have to do what you ask. ...
The other day I got dinner, or at least I put the stuff on the table. It was too beastly hot to cook meat so we had it cold - not raw though. And I gave them lime juice to drink. I don’t like our tea it tastes like straw. Dad didn’t object until I brought on grapefruit for dessert. He loves that but still he felt compelled to ask if we were going to have more “juice.” I have decided that when I pick out a man I’ll get one who likes raw fruit instead of puddings and pies, because I don’t like the latter except once in a while. If there’s one thing more than another that makes me cross it’s to cook a dinner on a hot day. Hot weather makes me feel as if I had been stretched till I was about ready to break with a snap. To cook dinner certainly brings out the snap. But to-day is cool, so why retail the agonies of yesterday? And tomorrow I’ll likely be seasick. I do wish the wind would go down.
Father expects to start Tuesday of this week, and to be in Taber(13) by next Sunday. So I presume he'll happen in on you the week following. He said he wasn’t going to let anyone know he was coming. He can’t, I’m doing it for him. ...
I remember a remark you made about girls at college being so stiff. One of the men in our year was here some time ago and he told me that the men thought we were a crowd of impudent snobs. Nice classification, isn't it? Well, we didn't think very highly of a good number of them but we wouldn't make quite such a cruel statement. Of course, most of them would deny that they thought that if we asked them. I wonder how many really did.
I must have made the most of my stock-in-trade, because the number of books I have read this year is very small indeed. I don’t regret the fact very much, I have been doing a little thinking on my own account. I used to be too lazy to do that, not that I am boundlessly energetic. Even yet, but last year and this I have grown a little more wide awake.
Your letter sounded as if you were just about fagged out. Isn't it terrible to feel your nerves all smashed up? You don't know what one to touch lest you get hold of the wrong one and cause an outbreak. I am inclined to think that a trip into the mountains, such as you described, would do you more good than a tiresome trip home. But of course you want to see your folk. It's too bad Margaret is leaving just as you come home. You won't see much of her. I haven’t seen her since last summer. That’s one advantage of living near each other you never see each other at all.
Will you be expecting another letter from me before you come home?
Fred to Evelyn
... Have time for only a few lines today. I've been nearly working my head off to get things closed up a little bit so I can get away. Added to that every night for the past week I've been examining papers until midnight or after. The students are beginning to clamour for the results, and while some of the examiners haven't nearly finished, I want to complete my work tomorrow. The weather has been very hot for Calgary all week and particularly so today. So I have spent most of the day lying down resting and sleeping.
This morning we attended the opening of the newly built Grace Presbyterian Church. It is a fine stone building with some pretence at architecture and seats 1,300 people in the main auditorium. There is also a large Sunday school room, a gymnasium, club rooms, a kitchen and the other quarters that are needful in an institute as a church. This is the second largest Presbyterian church in the city. The first one is Knox. Knox are also building a new church and expect to have the formal opening in a month or 6 weeks.
The service this morning was splendid. Dr. Ester, the pastor came to Calgary from Cooke’s church Toronto. He is being assisted in the present dedication services by his predecessor and successor at Cooke’s, Dr. Patterson, now of Dublin, Ireland, and Rev John McNeill. Dr. Patterson preached this morning. He has a typical Irish face and it harmonises perfectly with his brogue.
So you are suffering slightly from "ennui" at Bala. I only wish I could spend 2 or 3 weeks in Muskoka but my time is going to be very short. You haven't told me yet how long you expect to be at Bala. I want if at all possible to spend a day or two there before you leave - for old times sake. I have pleasant memories of Bala notwithstanding your fancied ill-treatment. I can't say yet when I'll leave Calgary - very probably next Saturday or Sunday, but it may be later. I have to go via Edmonton and must attend to some business in Winnipeg that may delay me one or two days. My present intention is to take the Northern boat from Port Arthur(14) to Sarnia and after spending a few days at home, to go to Bala. But if you will have left before that time I might shift my plans so as to go all rail and then stop off at Bala on my way home. So I wish you would write me immediately on receipt of this letter stating what your plans are. If you address the letter to Winnipeg it will arrive there before me. If you write address as follows
c/o R.H.Baird, Supt. Alberta Branches. Union Bank of Canada, Winnipeg, Man.
“Hold until called for.”
Do you not see I don't command you to write but am asking you? Even I can learn sometimes.
Had a very pleasant visit with you father and he seemed to enjoy himself thoroughly. Dr. Moshier was especially good to him and took us around in his car so that your father got a much better idea of the city than he could otherwise have obtained. I like Dr. Moshier very much. He’s exceedingly clever and already, young as he is, occupies a very high standing in his profession.
At the end of this month we leave our present rooms and move to the "Hermitage," where I have been getting my meals for some time past. Mrs Singley’s brother is coming here to live and we’re crowded out. Anyhow we shall be glad to go to the Hermitage for the quarters there are sumptuous and the fellow are a good bunch. Only I do dread moving.
Hope to see all of you soon.
Evelyn to Fred
July 30, 1913
My Dear Fred,
... I went to church this morning, but can't say that I was especially uplifted of mind. In fact, I don't feel in the proper frame for anything in particular.
I've felt particularly stupid and dead this last week. I try to explain it like this. I had a ripping holiday in Toronto. Then I should have had some time at home, and should have done some work in order to appreciate coming up here, but I was home only three days before I started off again. Ora is coming Wednesday and mother Thursday. Mother is coming G.T.R. and is going to stop off in Hamilton for a night to see Aunt Belle. They are moving to Detroit the last of this month. They are going to keep a grocery store, and they rather expect Rex [Fleak?] to join them later.
Ray [Albright] was at our place last Sunday, and created a very favourable impression on the people, in so far as I was able to find out. He speaks well and without notes. There is a certain rather forced quality in some of his tones which sounds rather forced, but it isn’t very apparent. I noticed it most in the way he said man. I could not but smile at his numerous references to history and quotations from famous authors. It was quite evident that his college studies were yet with him. Knowing the people, who are not an intelligent class, I concluded that he talked rather over their heads sometimes, but and that may have been why so often the verdict was that he had “the makings of a smart man.” Rather a dubious compliment to a preacher, but their meaning was clearer from their expression of it.
Wray Moyer came out in the afternoon and we asked him to stay for tea, Ray said he’d either have to go home or stay home from church. So he chose the latter. I asked John out for tea, and Ray made me retract the invitation. He’s a regular despot. He said he was nearly bursting with a lot of questions he wanted to ask me, but he asked me only three. I wonder if that’s his idea of a lot. He made me laugh. He said he wanted to ask me something only he was afraid it wouldn’t be tactful. When I got it our of him it was something about women calling so many men women-haters. I wasn’t able to answer his question because I’d never seen that sort of specimen of humanity.
When I build my summer cottage, I'm going to have it away off from anywhere. I don't like crowds around the stations and post office. Crushes tire me frightfully. ... I'm not going to write any more. I'm getting very sleepy and I'll wager you'll be snoring by this time.
Fred to Evelyn
On board S.S. Assiniboia
August 31, 1913
My own dear little sweetheart.-
It would be too bad if after promising to write to you every month, I should fall down on the very first one hence among other reasons, this letter.
Didn't our parting yesterday morning seem too hurried to you? I was hoping for a few minutes with you alone. At the time I couldn't realize that I was leaving you and everything sort of cold and formal, but afterwards there was a dull ache and longing to see you and kiss you once again. How I wish you could be here this morning! ... The air is as soft and balmy as the Muskoka lakes, ... and it's good just to be alive and feel the pulses stir with the joy of health and strength. ... What were you doing all yesterday? If we had only known I would have waited until the next car, for our train was half an hour late. This cut the time short in Hamilton. ...
I had about 2 1/2 hours in Toronto as the boat train did not leave until 12:45. I called on Mr. Arnup and had a few minutes pleasant chat with him. Was I telling you that he is trying to obtain subscriptions for a volume of poems by Jim Pearson ‘10. I had treated the matter as a joke pure and simple, but Arnup says Pearson’s work really possesses distinct merit. Prof. Wallace, University College even said that there are distinct and positive evidences of genius. Pearson himself, who was always supremely egotistical, is obsessed by the idea that he is born for wonderful things in literature. He never gave any indication of this at college for he was about as crude and unlettered as any student of Vic in my time.
But it seems that while taking post grad work and theology at the Univ. of Edinburgh he suddenly developed a taste for literature and philosophy and he now feels just as distinct a “call” to write poetry as any would be missionary the call to the foreign mission field. His self assurance and egotism are really painful, but Arnup thinks he needs encouragement. In many respects his work is crude to the point of impossibility as literature and the whole book of poetry which he wants to publish is a curious compound of brilliancy and banality. After all this I am really quite curious to see what has been brought forth from this modern Nazarene and I’ve decided to subscribe.
I had a good deal of business still to do in Toronto and I took chances on being able to get lunch on the train. I also took chances of getting a berth for at the ticket office they told me everything had been sold and they could make no reservation for me. I was slipped up in the former for the train did not carry a diner, and you may imagine I had a fair appetite for dinner at seven o'clock. I was fortunate enough to get a good berth in one of the best staterooms on the boat. I had a short nap yesterday before dinner and last night, though it was glorious on deck and really too nice to go inside, I forced myself to try to catch up some sleep and retired at about 10:30. Had a magnificent rest and arose this morning about 7:30 feeling fit as a fiddle.
The boat is crowded to more than her capacity and a few people, who like myself had no reservations, couldn't get berths last night although they are likely to after we leave the Soo [Sault Ste. Marie] today. There is the finest crowd I have ever seen, from the standpoint of intelligence, culture and beauty. There are quite a large number of teachers returning to their work in the west. I am going to look over the passenger list presently and see if Miss [Hazel] Farley is on board I hardly think so as she would not arrive in Regina for the opening of school unless she had gone earlier.
One teacher however, I do know, Nora Lewis ‘08. I don’t know whether you know her. She is daughter of John Lewis of the Toronto Sat and is one of the cleverest girls of our year. She is a great friend of Elizabeth’s and in fact is the intellectual Mount Robson of her college friends. I had not seen Miss Lewis for 4 years and it was a very pleasant surprise to meet her yesterday. She is teaching classics at Fort William.
I went down on the "Keewatin" which is the C.P.R. flagship and supposed to be the best boat of the fleet. As a matter of fact I was greatly disappointed in the service particularly the table service, but I don't think I mentioned it for fear you would think I was always talking about meals, but things weren't inviting. The food was plentiful and well cooked, but there was just a suspicion of lack of cleanliness that was accentuated when you passed the kitchen and got a whiff or a glimpse. On this boat, everything is immaculate. There is a marked absence of the "boaty" smell or look about the kitchen and the same thing is true of the entire service. I never had better. I was talking to one of the stewards this morning and he said that practically the whole of last year's "Keewatin's" kitchen and dining room staff is on this boat this year. Certainly nothing more could be desired so far as I can see.
The writing desks are all occupied and I am using as a support The Winning of Barbara Worth which I bought to read on the boat. ... Here we are at the "Soo." I am awfully sorry I didn't give myself more time, but I want to post this here so must close, though it's a sinful waste of good paper.
What's the orthodox closing for a love letter? I don't know and what's more I don't care. Only this is from your own true love
Are you writing to me every month?
1. John Edward [Jack] Brownlee (1884-1961) A close friend of Fred Albright.
Lawyer - appointed King's Counsel in 1922, politician - held sevaral prominent positions in the Alberta Governemnt. Brownlee was was Premier of Alberta from 1925-1934. John Brownlee was forced to resign in 1934 after allegations that he seduced a young woman.
2. Elizabeth Clark, Victoria College class of 1909, an Annesley resident "active in the Literary Society" and in Debates. She has shown her all-roundness by the part she has taken in the sports and social life of the college, and not the least important part of her college life has been the friendships she has won. "
She married Fritz Moyer in February 1913. They enjoyed a close friendship with Evelyn and Fred.
3. Henry Van Dyke, 1852-1933. Poet, author.
4. Oscar Pelham Edgar, died 1949. Lecturer in English at Victoria College and literary critic.
5. Roy Manning Edmonson, Victoria College, class of 1912. "... a member of our Debating Team ... every inch a gentleman."
6. Clara German, Victoria College, class of 1909. "A clever and painstaking student...particularly interested in Y.W.C.A. and Missionary effort, and has done efficient service on the College and Federal Executives. Her deep moral earnestness and cheerful wholesome philosophy of life and conduct cannot have failed to make their influence felt."
Married Gordon Jones.
7. Dr. Heber Havelock Moshier, Fred's physician and friend. Graduated Toronto Medical School 1909. Practiced in Calgary and was later Professor of Physiology at the University of Alberta. Held senior rank in World War 1. Mentioned in dispatches June 3, 1918. Killed in Action August 29, 1918 as he went forward to choose the position for an advanced dressing station. See University of Toronto Roll of Service 1914-1918.
8. Estelle Carey, Fred Albright's cousin.
9. The Hermitage was the house in Calgary where Fred lodged for a time with some other men. He moved there at the end of July 1913.
10. Miss Margaret Addison who was Dean of Women, Victoria College, 1903-1930.
11. 934-6th was Fred's address in Calgary.
12. Henri Bourassa, 1868-1952. Journalist, politician. Founder of newspaper Le Devoir. Fostered national movement in French Canada. Opposed Canadian participation in World War 1.
13. Taber - a small town between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, Alberta. The Kellys had family living there.
14. Port Arthur and adjacent Fort William are now Thunder Bay.