May 1917 - "I am always thinking of you as the beauty and brightness of my life."
Evelyn to Fred
I was going to write a long, long letter tonight, but it’s nearly eleven and I’m just started. Lena came over to stay with me tonight, and I was going to do up a parcel for you. But before I got started Miss Sheppard and Miss Warner - her room-mate came in, and stayed until a few minutes ago. They are jolly girls, and it is good for me to know some like that.
I sewed up Pat's parcel, and will send it tomorrow, but you'll have to wait a day or two for your's, I'm sorry dearie. You don't know how I feel when I sit down to a good meal, and wonder if you're hungry. I want you to tell me just what you can get there, and what you'd like best for me to send, for I am going to send things. Miss Sheppard said Max's mother sent him a box every week, and he had spoken of receiving only one. I hope you will be more fortunate.
I am sorry you have been sick. You haven't much reserve strength darling. Don't you think some Bland's pills would be good for you? If you can't get them, I'll send them. I think I'll ask the doctor. But I'm glad you were in the hospital where you were at least dry. Is there any clothing I could send? Please, please tell meanything that will add to your comfort.
I've just been thinking I may not get any C.P.R. stock. That money in the bank could get you a lot of things. I've just figured out that the money we get from Union Bank stock will supply you with a small box of "eats" every week. Oh my own darling, it is cruel that you and the others should suffer so and men who stay at home should have everything they want. I'm telling everybody what you've said. Goodnight for now.
Capt. Cameron of Bloor St. Baptist church, Major Binks and Capt. Bishop Pearson will speak at our church tonight. I had planned to go, and asked Elizabeth and her mother to have supper with me, so that we could go together, but last night upset my plans for tonight. I have not had a chance to write you a good letter for weeks, and I have not written home this week either. Moreover I wanted to do up your parcel, and I’m tired, so I stayed home.
Fritz was in several days this last time, and he says he can’t hope that things will continue as well as they have done. There is a chance of getting a house built, but Elizabeth said tonight the kind the man was building wouldn’t be big enough for them - a six-roomed bungalow. She’s getting the dining-room and kitchen papered. I know she doesn’t know anything yet. It will come pretty hard when she does know. She’ll find though, she can be happy with smaller ideas of certain things, and bigger ones of others.
I was thinking while walking along the street to-day, that I didn’t express my love for you as much as I might have done. I knew I loved you, but never knew how much till you went away. It seems as if you are scarcely ever out of my thoughts, and I am coming to see things more as you did.
Yesterday I was walking home with Mr. Robertson and started in the store for something when he said “I tell you. Come home with me for lunch, and take pot-luck.” “But what will your wife say?” I asked, “Oh,” he said, “Never mind, I’ll fix her.” When we went in he went to the kitchen and called “Eunice, Eunice, here’s a visitor.” I heard her say “Oh I can’t appear,” and he said, “Here’s Mrs. Albright for lunch.” Whereupon she came in the hall and said “Oh, I’m so glad you’ve come.” They were housecleaning, but I guess she did not mind, and I’m sure I enjoyed myself. I’m thinking you’ll find me almost perfect when you come home, dear one.
We had quite a bit of excitement last night. A leak started in the ceiling of our bathroom, and dripped steadily for a while. I tried to rouse the janitor. then I went upstairs to tell the people up there. I was in my kimona, and the man appeared in his pajamas. They were raw silk, like yours, honey, but I didn’t think he was you. I came downstairs and was in the bathroom reading a psalm when the janitor opened the door. Poor fellow, he had been in bed, but I was afraid the plaster would come off the ceiling. However, it didn’t. I’m afraid Lena didn’t sleep very well, and I know I didn’t. I’ll let her sleep on the lot next time, and keep it for her. She went “hem” once in the night, and woke me up. So I’m getting pretty old maidish, eh dearie?
Tomorrow after five I’ll go to see Miss Burgoin, and maybe in the evening I’ll go over to the General Hospital to see Mrs. Forster. Her baby arrived early Saturday morning. Oh, by the way, the Forsters’ next us in the Sheppard’s house, have a - I forget whether it’s a son or a daughter. And Mr. Jack Crawford’s wife died last week. They had been married only a little over three years, and were engaged ten.
I was at the C.H. library to-day, and had quite a talk with Mrs Noton. Sometime we’ll have her over for tea. Did you know she was Irish? She said to tell you she hoped you’d be well soon, and that she was glad you got over safely. Laura Munro was asking about you - did I tell you her mother died - and Miss Gould. there is a “fellowship of suffering” isn’t there, my own one?
...I let Roy read most of your letter. He got telling me things,and do you know dear, he has only 2,000 insurance? He was talking to his father about leasing their house & buying furniture. They can get it for 35 for 3 years - unfurnished, and rents are going up. But he doesn’t know whether or not to put money in furniture. He thinks we will have conscription soon, and he said Elizabeth was crying the other night. It certainly isn’t a bright outlook for her if he goes, for she isn’t strong enough to work. And they do try to look after, to some extent, the fellows who have gone. He says he’d be willing to go, but he doesn’t know what would happen to her. Morley ought to go from that family. It makes it beastly hard for Roy, doesn’t it?
I also read most of your letter to Mr. Robertson, and went in and read it to Mr. Howard, who seemed very pleased to hear it. ...
Elleda sent me a New Republic, and there’s some good reading in it. I’ll tell her to write to her you, and I’ll tell Hazel to send on the socks. In a letter I had yesterday, she said she had three pairs ready, and that if you didn’t want them you could pass them on to somebody who did.
Mrs. Coutts was in a little while last night. I was going down to the library with her, but when the other people came in, I didn’t go. Miss Sheppard had met her about five years ago, and remembered her face. That’s a memory for faces, isn’t it?
Did I tell you I am to go to the Brecken’s for over this Sunday, and that Mrs. Brecken is going to have a little party Saturday afternoon? I’ll be quite gay, won’t I?
Miss Cummer’s brother sent home a military medal he had won. It is very pretty. Oh, I hope you will all be home soon. My darling, my darling. I am not really alone, am I, only I want to feel you, and to talk out loud to you.
Your loving wife.
Look out for the Globe. I’ll send for it tomorrow. Then you’ll have enough “waste paper.” N.
Evelyn to Fred
My Own Darling:-
I started to pack up your box tonight, but I had nothing suitable to hold the things, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow. I went upstairs to see if Miss Fick had one but she didn’t and as the girls were going out, I sat and talked to Miss Scott for a while.
I had so much to do, I should have come home, but I've been very lazy tonight. I feel rather depressed tonight. Things seem to hang fire and drag along so slowly. My darling, it is awful to think of you being hungry and cold. I was trying to think last night of something that would be warm, but they would all be so bulky to carry. I am going to make you some bed socks on Saturday. And I am going to sew up your parcels in little towels, which you can have washed, and can have to use for a short time.
It is very cold and rainy here. The farmers are getting anxious about their crops. Mr. Taylor 'phoned me to-day that he got the C.P.R. at 155 3/4. The report of the commission sent things upside down. I was going over to the General Hospital tonight but Mrs Forster’s husband and mother were in, so I did not have to go, and I was very glad for it so cold and disagreeable.
There doesn't seem to be much to write about tonight, except that I love you so much, my darling.
Mrs. Bell was here to-day and cleaned me up. She is a great woman, isn’t she? They are going to buy the place they are in for 600. I think that’s pretty cheap for two lots and a five roomed house. She is quite enthusiastic over it, says she’ll have it like a palace, in time. You’d laugh to see the way she fixes this room. We have a little wicker table, and two upholstered chairs of the Wrights. I generally have the lamp and the table fern on the table. She had the big fern on the dining room table, the lamp in the window where I kept it before we had a table, and the two rugs, the pretty one square in front of the fireplace, and the other one parallel to it a few feet distant. I really do not know how I’d get along without her.
To-day Mr. Macleod asked me to get two new keys made at a locksmith’s, on fourth street, and he apologized for asking me to do anything not strictly “legal,” but he said he knew I went right past there. As if I cared what I did, or weren’t glad to do a little thing like that.
I'll go to fold up the clothes now, and get in bed early. I overslept this morning. You can't do that, can you. I got some Bliss Native Herbs last night and on opening the package tonight, found they were a powder, so they'll have to be taken back. Goodnight my own one, and may God keep you and bless you. With a world of love and kisses. Nora
May 5. [Sun.]
I did not write last night, because it was too late after I got my work done, and your parcel done up. This is the first one, and I'll tell you the contents as I send them, so that you can know if you get them all. A can of pineapple, one of pork and beans, a box of oatcakes, lump sugar, chocolate bars of various kinds, fruit candies, gum, native herb tablets, and aspirin, and a towel. The fruit candies you are to use if you go on marches. Mrs Irwin told me, and will make you less thirsty, if you just keep sucking them.
You can put pieces of sugar in your pocket, and have it to slip into your tea and coffee, and I guess there's enough to pass around. If you like having it, it is good stuff for filling in corners. Harry was telling me that people are sending hard boiled eggs, but I'd be afraid they wouldn't be good when they arrived.
This is a wonderfully beautiful spring day - it smells like spring - I am going over to the Bucken’s for over Sunday. Mrs Bucken is having a little party this afternoon, Elizabeth, Ruby, Mrs Guy Morton, and one or two others.
I think it is warm enough to wear my new suit. I haven't sent you a sample yet, have I? It is green, about the shade of these blotters. Sometimes when I think of what you don't have I feel that I have been extravagant, but again, I know I have to be clothed, and I got the suit, with a waist, which makes a dress, for thirty dollars, and there isn't much nowadays you can get for that price.
I was talking to W.C.B. Reilly yesterday. He is discharged and is in civilian clothes. Isn't he fortunate? I didn’t ask him why he didn’t stay down in Quebec. I thought it might be an embarassing question. He says you'll never be warm until you get back here, but that I should send you potted meats and sweet things. He is forever fixed in my memory, as being the first one to speak to me after you went away. Did I tell you what he said? As the train passed out of sight, and I stood at the end of the platform, he came up and said "Do you want to be perfectly miserable, or do you want to talk to me?"
The mountains are wonderfully clear this morning. I wish you had some of the sunshine to warm you right through to your bones.
I went to the bank yesterday and got of loan of 550. The stock cost 778. and I had enough in the savings to pay for over one share. We’ll soon be getting our June dividend on the Union Bank stock. I am going over to see Mr. Taylor now.
I have not as yet received my assigned pay for April, and I just 'phoned about it. I learned that Captain Hill had left for the States. Evidently he's going to get a commission over there. How would you like to serve in the American army? Harry Blair is in mufti again, driving their big car around. ...
I've been over to Mr. Taylor's office. He spoke very nicely of you, and he has been so kind and obliging to me, ... He wanted me to get the policy changed so it would be made out to me, which I have done by having Ray sign a declaration that I was the same person as Evelyn Kelly.
... I haven't been very busy to-day, having got the accounts straightened up. I'm afraid business is falling off some. Mr. Robertson thinks so - not that we are losing our clients, but that there isn't so much to do. The loan work and foreclosure work appear to be keeping up. I think after Arthur goes I can manage the L.T.O. and Court House work.
...I thought there might possibly be a letter today, but it seems that there isn't. I hope you are better, but I hate to think of you going back to a tent. It would be nice if you could have stayed in the hospital until you got your first leave. A.L.S. was asking about you. Clarence was wounded, but was back again.
Your loving pal - for I've been thinking what good chums we are.
Fred to Evelyn
4th May 1917
My dear wife,-
The vagaries of the mail service are hard to follow. Letters of a later date often arrive ahead of those written first. On my return last evening to camp I found awaiting me your letter of Apr. 9th along with one from Pat. Today brought a short letter from Art and yours of Mar. 25th. Your letters are like oases in a desert.
Yesterday I slept in pretty late - had breakfast about 10 o'clock consisting of porridge without sugar (sugar is no longer allowed with porridge) a roll, butter, haddock, a small sausage, marmalade & coffee. Then I did a bit of running about to get ready for leaving London, had a small lunch of cocoa & 2 poached eggs on toast, and went to the matinee to hear the first performance of the Carl Rosa Opera company, in English, at the Garrick theatre.
Yesterday the offering was Tales of Hoffman I went in the "gods" for 1s. 2d. and had a seat from which I could both see and hear very well. There was an all-star cast and as far as I can judge it was excellently played. I enjoyed the music thoroughly, but I had never before heard this opera and was rather disappointed in the plot. I should like to have heard the same company in some of their other operas eg. Faust, Madame Butterfly etc. Oh my darling, some day we must enjoy these things together. Life is not half living apart.
I came out of the theatre about 5 and strolled up to the Circus [Piccadilly] looking in Swan & Edgar's windows to see if there was something I might get for you. While standing there, L/cpl Hutton of 191st from Macleod slapped me on the shoulder and confessed he was bent on a similar mission. I found a collarette - (Is that what you call it?) - that took my fancy and so we went in.
Finally we both bought the same kind of thing, and he very kindly helped me pack mine for mailing as he had formerly been a dry good's clerk himself. I do hope it pleases you and that the color will harmonize with your dresses. I was afraid it was too large, but the salesgirl assured me it would not be. I thought the collar and cuffs looked very pretty when displayed on the salesgirl. I sent them by registered mail so they should arrive safely.
I wish you were here dearie, you would let me know what size of glove you take. If I had known I would have bought you a pair or two. Gloves are still cheaper here than in Canada I think.
By the time we had got our parcels off it was 6 o'clock. We hurried into a restaurant, had tea & poached eggs on toast and then had 15 min. to reach Waterloo station in time for the last regular train for Liphook, (the Bramshott camp station) True, there was a special train for the soldiers leaving Waterloo station at 10.30 but that would arrive here at midnight with a 2 mile walk afterwards and I didn't relish the idea.
It was a beautiful evening and I enjoyed the ride (1 1/2 hours) very much. Vegetation had advanced a good deal since we left, and the fields now are quite green. There are very few flowers out yet nor are the leaves out but surely another week or two will bring them.
Arrived at Liphook at 8 - I went into an eating place for soldiers where I got a ham sandwich and 2 glasses of good milk for 8d. It was getting dark when I arrived back at camp. - only to learn that a mobilization order was out and everyone had to draw his Webb equipment - (You know we discard all the leather equipment in England), - and get ready for leave at a moment's notice. This kept us busy until about 11 o'clock. After that I slept the sleep of the just until reveille at 5.00. We had a muster parade at 5.30 and then were told to be ready for a route march with full equipment after breakfast. Breakfast was cocoa - bread, marg, porridge without sugar or milk, & hash.
As I still fell a little weak after my grippe, the serj. maj. told me not to go on the route march but to report sick. So I got some tonic pills from the M.O. and stayed in my hut. I slept about 2 hours this morning and 3 this afternoon, & feel much better this evening.
Oh did I tell you I saw Colin Macleod in London Wed. evening? He was cashiered you know for drunkenness. He is now in “civies” but expects to go to France in a week or 2 as a private with the Nova Scotia Highlanders.
Patterson again reverted to a private in order to go to France ahead of his time - only to be quarantined on the following day for mumps. - He has now been in quarantine for 2 months and he is chafing under it.
I find I can get pictures developed here without danger so will do so at the first opportunity. I have just found the developed film I took in Canada, with a few of the prints I am enclosing them.
I am also enclosing the letter of the Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs dated Mar. 9th re Victoria Square, which I find I omitted to enclose to you some time ago.
I am also enclosing some little flowers - (are they daisies?) that I picked at Dryburgh Abbey. I hope they don't wither. In their brightness and sweetness they remind me of you. You are in very truth the flower of my life.
Must close now for tonight. Goodnight and pleasant dreams to my sweet love.
Sat evening, May 5th.
There is nothing new under the sun. The immediate cause of this remark is a terrific dust storm that has been raging for about 2 hours and shows no sign of abating. I thought Alberta had invented and patented dust storms but Calgary has never produced for my inspection anything to equal what Bramshott is showing this evening.
I think I have told you that the soil here is a very light sand and it seeps through everything. I had intended going down to Liphook this evening to leave my films for developing but the dust storm deterred me.
We haven't done much today. All who were on the route march yesterday returned tired and hot and dusty. Yesterday was the hottest day of the year unless perhaps today beat it. So they were allowed to sleep in this morning until 6.30! After breakfast we started to polish the brass on our Webb equipment.
When I tell you there are 72 pieces of brass in a set you will understand why it took all morning. As a matter of fact my job extended even to the afternoon. But it looks good now. We had only an hour's parade today for the purpose of dividing us into classes for training. One of the orderly room serjeants - who used to be a stenographer at Lougheed & Bennetts - told me I was chosen as one of 6 to go to an N.C.O.'s school at Hertford, but I haven't heard anything official yet.
Had a long chat yesterday with Will Osbourne who was on a draft for France 3 or 4 weeks ago but was taken off because of an attack of laryngitis. He is better now & expects to go next week, along with Russell Morrison - another Calgary boy. there are quite a lot of 187 serjeants here. Do you remember a nice looking fellow named Rogers who used to come to church frequently with Sybil Sprung? He’s here too.
Last evening I strolled into the Y.M.C.A. tent across the road. Several officer's wives were helping. They take turns in coming, and some of them make very good waiters. The Y is greatly patronized. It puts on a good concert once or twice a week - provides a reading & writing room, - sells eatables etc & conducts services every Sunday evening - and occasionally during the week.
Our church parade is at 8.30 tomorrow morning. I think I'll go on it and to the Y.M.C.A. service at night. I suppose at this hour you are just leaving the office for the day. How I wish I were able to spend the afternoon with you. You were right in saying we'll make better use of our Sat. afternoons when I get back. We'll work less and play more.
Sun. evening [May 6]
I'm in the "Y" tent now waiting for the evening service. If I were to tell you the truth I would say there was another reason for coming over here early - to get out of the way. Of late there have been small fires raging in the vicinity and yesterday's high wind has evidently made some of them dangerous. North of the camp, dense clouds of smoke have been visible all day.
About an hour ago a party of 100 men with 2 or 3 serjeants set out to fight the fire and just before I came over here another party was called for. It was rather amusing to see how scarce everybody tried to make himself. I had no compunctions about skipping out because I expect to have a heavy week and there are plenty of serjeants who haven't done a thing for 2 or 3 weeks.
Had a great sleep last night - from 10 to 7. Towards morning I became slightly chilly as the weather had turned suddenly cold. I find Alberta hasn’t a monopoly on sudden weather changes. Also had a couple hours’ sleep today.
Had good breakfast this morning of bread & marg. cocoa, porridge (without sugar or milk of course) and 2 generous pieces of haddock. The fish we get here is always good. After breakfast we had church parade and I was surprised to see Charlie Taylor at its head. He has been at school at Bexhill but was summoned back to go on the next draft to France. Somehow he has managed to “get by” the med. board in spite of his eyes.
We had a short service but the sermon was very good. The hymns were "Onward Christian Soldiers," "Rock of Ages" and "Abide with Me." We have an A1 band and the singing was very good. After church service I spent an hour with Charlie Taylor in his tent. He was greatly cut up at learning of Everett's death and is going to write Mr Fallis of whom he thinks a great deal. I don't know whether to write to him or not. It's so hard to say what one would like to say. ...
I wasn't sure until yesterday it was Everett and was hoping against hope it was not. Poor Mrs. Fallis! I don't know that she feels it more keenly than he but somehow she seems less able to bear it. At any rate they both have the supreme consolation of knowing that through all Everett remained pure and true to his manhood and his God - and that's a good deal in the army, especially for a boy as young as he.
When the wind fell a little this afternoon I went with 3 other of the boys for a walk to Haslemere - about 3 mi. away. It would be a lovely walk a little later when the trees and flowers are out. Even today I enjoyed it. Of course the road was fairly active with soldiers. Sunday is their only day off, and they get out of camp as fast as they can. Haslemere is cosily situated in a pretty little valley, with a couple fine country seats just visible through the trees on the hillside. I took my camera along but didn’t take more than one picture. I thought I’d save the films until later when the countryside will be so much prettier.
I found out today that Serjts. Armstrong, Choate and myself and 6 corporals - of whom Fred Nease is one, are to take the school at Hertford - reporting there on the 12th - next Friday. I understand the course is 6 weeks. It is an Imperial school so we shall probably have to work pretty hard. Another welcome bit of news today appeared in Battalion orders - that henceforth we may send letters postage free to Canada or the continent. Until now this privilege was extended only to soldiers in France.
I haven't written any letters except to you and one to mother & one to Mother O., but last night I sent off several cards. Oh I changed my mind dearie and sent that little volume of The Lay of the Last Minstrel to Aunt Sarah instead of to you. I remembered how fond she is of everything Scotch, and that you said once you didn't care much for Scott's poetry so I thought you wouldn't mind. I know Aunt Sarah will appreciate it so much.
I wonder what kind of day it has been in Calgary and what you have been doing. It is such a comfort to know that people are good to you. Apparently you think more of the Wrights than you used to - and of Lena also. I am glad of this, for Lena's faults are largely the exaggeration of her virtues. She is really very kind hearted and one of the best intentioned people in the world. Of course the Coutts are tried and proven friends.
I see wheat has been going to dizzy heights lately. I do hope Fred has stopped for good but I can’t feel certain so long as he doesn’t tell Elizabeth. I hope he has by this time.
I also see the C.P.R. stock has been dropping a bit and is now about 167 1/2. I think it would be wise if you have a bit of money to buy some as long as it is in the fifties.
There was a really good service - mostly song. Each week the "Y" brings down 3 or 4 artists from London. Tonight there were a cellist and soprano soloist, - both very good. While the soloist was singing I was thinking of you dearie. - Among other numbers she sang A Perfect Day How really perfect the days will be when we are together again.
Have I told you how to address may mail? You see I may be moving about, so please always address it as foll:-
#895173 Sergt F.S. Albright
21st Reserve Bn. C.E.F.
Army Post Office
Goodnight my darling.
Evelyn to Fred
...We did not go to church tonight, and this is the first service of the special ones that I have missed. But you see, Mr. Brecken goes to the Y. in the afternoon and doesn’t get back until late. At any rate my back and neck have been hurting me, and I’m glad of the chance to rest and to be out-of-doors. This is the time of year when one misses our nice airy house.
I have been thinking darling, that it is maybe wrong of me to let you know how absolutely I miss you, but that is the chief thing in my life. It is so hard to have you where you are, and facing what you are.
I am quite enamoured of the place up here and think I should like to live up here. That's true. The view of the mountains is really magnificent, across the city, and up the Bow valley. You may find, when you come back, that I have bought a lot up here. How would you like that?
I got our quarterly report yesterday, and it did not state how we stood last quarter so I asked Mr. Polly this morning. He said “Well, you won’t be able to keep up what Mr. Albright was giving, will you?” It means, dear, that there is almost nothing to give to other things. There is nearly forty dollars to pay to pay up to the end of the year. Of course, there will probably be some at the end of the year, but that doesn’t help much now, unless I let the weekly offering fall into arrears. But I’m not worrying about it.
My new dress irritates me very much. It is too tight in the sleeves and across the back of my neck, and has added to my nervous pains. The coat is too tight too, so I'll have to take it back. I simply can't wear it the way it is. It is very annoying, and I hate to find fault with it, but I simply can't stand the way it is, and I paid enough to have it done right.
I wish I were down east, but I haven't said anything yet about going, except to Mr. Robertson. I do not know what to do with the apartment. I suppose I could get somebody to take it. Dr. Patrick hasn’t the tennis court in order yet, but it ought to be right away.
This has been another golden day. I wish you could have a few such, and they’d soon warm you up. I was telling Ruby yesterday that I was going to make you some bed socks, and she said she wished I’d let her give you a pair of Wilfred’s which he did not need. I accepted her kind offer at once, so I’ll send them in a day or two.
P.D. said he wrote to you at the R.C. I’ll be glad to hear that you have got some of my letters, and what you did on your leaves I suppose it will be over now. I hope you thought to drop a line to the R.C.I. for there would be letters there as soon as you arrived in England, I should think. Ruby got back a letter she sent to Halifax, but I didn’t get any back, so I have concluded that you got all I sent there.
Mr. Fallis preached this morning. He said it was easier for him to do it than not to. The central part of the church was full, and the galleries were nearly full. The organ is not quite finished being tuned, consequently the recital is put off until a week from Monday night.
You are very near to me at all times, my darling. You were beside me this morning. ... What shall I say, darling, that conveys my love to you? I suppose you can only measure it by yours. Though I often think that means mine is more selfish than yours, for I know I am thinking a lot of myself when I think of you. But I can't help it. You are so absolutely necessary to me. How wonderful it is that we have come so close together!
... In a letter from his brother a few days ago he [Mr Brecken] said that Gordon Jones(1) was to conduct a party of Chinese coolies(2) who are being taken to France to do work behind the lines. You heard of that, didn't you? There are thousands being sent to France and Russia, to release the fighting men, who are doing the work behind the lines. The work Gordon and Mr. Lundy are to do is to look after the feeding of the men etc.
Goodnight my own one, with a world of kisses.
Fred to Evelyn
Mon. May 7/17
My dear wife ,-
Today we began our real training. Considering that I have had no training for 7 months and have not been well for the past 3 weeks I stood it very well. In fact I don't feel very tired tonight and I am getting back into trim. It wasn't so strenuous as I expected. We arose about 6, had breakfast at 7, and were on parade in full kit at 7.45. One difference between the drill here and at home is that here we do all our drill, except physical drill, in full marching kit - to get us used to it.
About 3 hours of today's work consisted of instruction in musketry, which is largely a repetition of what I had at the musketry school at Sarcee, and is therefore old ground to me. I expect that when we get to school at Hertford we'll have stiff work, and so I am glad of the training this week as a preliminary to get me partially at least into shape!
This has been a fine day and this evening was tempting for a stroll but instead we had a lecture from the M.O. for half an hour, then I chatted quite a while with Scotty McLaws - and later had a hot bath. Our shower baths aren't working yet but there is plenty of hot water and the basins are large enough to sit down in. It is nice to be able to get a hot bath every day after a perspiring day on the parade ground.
I called at Major Flint’s hut tonight but he hasn’t been in all day. I think he has a fairly easy time of it. I heard tonight that Reg. Stewart, who was made Lt. Col. just few days ago expects to get away to France within 3 weeks.
France is calling for reinforcements at a rate that will use up all available material in a short time, and I'm sure I don't know what the Canadians will do then. It makes me boil to see the way the Canadian government is playing with the situation. Canadians have done well in this war but Canada has done rotten. I have been wondering how many of the 103rd have gone into camp, and whether our office has been much depleted. I have been thinking too, that very soon you will be hearing the results of your exams. I am hoping to see your name at the head of the list.
How is Fritz making out at Drumhellar? And has Wray gone east yet. I am going to write him in a day or two and think I'll address it to St Catharines. I hope Wray did well in his exams.
My watch stopped last night. I can't make out what is wrong unless it's merely dirty. The mainspring is all right. Up until now it has kept excellent time. I don't know what I would do without it. At the earliest opportunity I shall take it to a watch repairer but when one is busy all day it's hard to find opportunity. Must quit now to shine my buttons & boots & do a little studying.
Goodnight my sweetheart.
Wednesday May 9/17
Every Wednesday and Sat. afternoon is a half holiday from regular work but is supposed to be devoted to sports. This forenoon was lengthened out until 12.30 with dinner at 12.45 Then we fell in again at 2.20 and were divided up into classes for games such as baseball, football, leapfrog etc. Greatly to my delight Charlie Taylor was put in charge of my class and he must have seen the expectant look in my eyes for after we marched off the parade ground he came up to me and said "Do you want to do this?" "No" I replied "if I can get out of it." "Well," he said "You beat it. Here! You take my coat & belt and stick back to my hut and that will give you an excuse if anyone stops you. You don't mind do you?" "Certainly not," I said, "but I'm afraid if I go in my own hut someone will find me." "Well then," Charlie said, "you stay in mine and write or do whatever you like." Wasn't that decent of him? He's also much concerned because I haven't a commission and is going to try to get me one, but I don't think anything will come of it. The rule is pretty strictly adhered to now that no commissions are granted, except to men who have been in France.
Maj. Bennett told me today that in the 21st Reserve Battalion there are 125 officers - while there are only about 500 class of A men - ie - men fit for front line duty in France. One sees here a great many things that don't tend to smooth one's feelings. For instance Maj. Bennett hasn't done a thing since he came here. He still wears a major's uniform. The lieutenants have all been sent to school at Bexhill but the senior officers simply put in time. They don't even take physical drill. I understand a large number have been asked to revert to lieutenants and have refused. One would think they would immediately be ordered back home, but they still stick around drawing pay and doing nothing.
Of course there are a few who are sent back, e.g. Capt. D.G. Shouldice, quartermaster of 137th Lt. Col Morfitt. I don’t think there is any officer who is so despised or criticised by his own men as Lt. Col. Morfitt. I can’t say any more in a letter.
Well, on my way to Charlie Taylor's hut I passed Maj. Bennett's open door & he called me in and gave me some maple sugar and we chatted for about an hour. Then I came back to my hut and wrote a little while before supper. Today's meals have been heavier than usual. Breakfast - coffee, bread, marg. porridge & hash. Dinner roast beef, (very small portion) with gravy, potatoes, carrots, bread, marg. (the first time we've ever had it for dinner) & rice pudding. Supper, soup, baked beans, & a sort of crumpet cake. Not only was the quality better, but the quantity was ample.
I didn't write yesterday because I was on the jump all day and in the evening went with Maj. Flint to call at "Pitfold" where Mrs. F. is staying. It is about 1 1/2 mi. from here on the way to Haslemere and as it was 10.30 when I got back I felt tired I went to bed.
"Pitfold" is the home of a retired Indian Judge. He and his wife - who are about 75 - felt they wanted to do something to help in the war and, as their children are all grown up and away and they have been alone, they rented their house with about 150 acres free, except for payment of taxes to Major Thurston of the Can. Army Veterinary Corps(3), and Judge and Mrs. Hetherington moved into the gardener's lodge where they have been living without servants. They are extremely well-educated & cultured - have a splendid library in the house - with lovely pictures.
The house is large - there is a beautiful garden - a private chapel, stables etc. Now here's the irony of the situation - Major Thurston, who pays no rent other than taxes, has filled a full complement of servants and takes in as boarders - officer's wives - and even some officers, who somehow have leave to live out of barracks, and is making money out of it. He keeps pigs & chickens - put in a small field of oats and is farming all the available land. Isn't it disgusting?
To tell the truth I didn't enjoy myself last night and I think I shall not go again. There were 4 officers' wives who live, most of them - perhaps all - in a far better house than any of them ever lived in before, with better service, better furniture - and they don't do a thing but eat the food which has been cut off poor peoples' rations or has even been cut off the army's rations, and they talk about the beautiful country and how they have enjoyed their stay in England. Enjoy! Save the mark! I can't understand what stuff they are made of, to talk about enjoying themselves out of the very conditions that bring misery & sorrow to millions of others. These parasites don't know there's a war on.
If I hadn't been a guest last night I'd have spoken my mind pretty freely - but I didn't. In addition to the ladies there were 7 or 8 officers most of whom I fancy just dropped in for the evening. Two of them have not yet & never will see France. I must confess I'm disappointed in Maj. Flint. He has a staff position here & apparently doesn't think of going to France.
Mrs. F. [Flint] was out most of the evening helping at a Y.M.C.A. hut near by. She got home about 9.15. She enquired about you, - she looks very well, says she is thinking of going back to Canada next month.
This hasn't been a very cheerful letter has it? I fairly boil when I see some women so thoughtless & selfish & think of you cheerfully bearing your cross - and working away like a real patient and true and loving wife. Oh, some day I'll try to tell how much I love you for it.
Evelyn to Fred
It's too late to write tonight, but I can't go to bed without telling you how I love you, and giving you a goodnight kiss. It seems as if you become dearer all the time, though it scarcely seems possible that you can be any dearer than you are.
I had a letter from Laura [Wright] tonight. They had a day and a night in the east, time enough for them to go over to Hamilton to see her mother, and to visit the next day in Toronto with Elmer's mother and brother who came up from Picton. Well, I won't write any more tonight. I'll try to get up in time to write a bit in the morning.
Your own sweetheart.
This is Tuesday night. I did not get up early enough to write this morning. I am very tired tonight. Arthur has left, and I was trying to do Court House and Land Titles work. I could have done all there was to do, if I had known how, but being new, it is rather confusing. And there is so much standing in it.
Do you know dear, I hate to ask them for an advance to go on my holidays. I may get it from the bank. I'll see. You needn't stew for by the time you get this, it will probably be done.
I had a letter from Edna Smith in St. Kitts. She is going to Victoria, and coming back about the middle of June - I’ve just been thinking that it would be nice if we could go east together. She always promised to visit me if she came west, and so she’s going to stop off on her way east.
I was filing a caveat for Mrs. Bell to-day, when suddenly I remembered that I did not have any money. Wray happened to be there, so I asked him to lend me some, and he said “By George, I owe you some, don’t [I]. I’ll pay it to you now.” And he did. It was very fortunate I got it then, for I had just broken my watch, and was in need of some extra money. It’s funny how many driblets I’ve had, I was counting them up to-day and they amount to nearly $30.
Tonight sweetheart, I have been fancying that you were calling me, and I've been afraid you were ill. Oh, I hope you are not. You are so very far away, and yet - and yet so very, very near.
I was up at Ruby's for dinner. Helen is as fat as can be, but she can't walk yet. She can say a few words. They all wished to be remembered to you, and Mother O. [Oaten] said she would write to you soon. ...
Please tell me how often you write home, If you cannot get time to write often, I'll make a special effort to write. I want to go home, and yet I don't want to make the move. Sometimes it seems impossible that you can stay away much longer.
...I was talking to the sheriff to-day. Those men on the committee think a lot of you dear. Send them another card, if you can do no more; they passed the one you did send, around and around.
I don't think I ever opened my heart to you re our Real Property exam. Mr Adams asked me to-day how I got on with my exams. and I groaned and he laughed. I told him that Mr. Brockinton told me that two of our questions were set on foot notes, and he said that was basing the questions on fundamentals all right. Wray says it gives him a heart ache if any one can answer a question, and I said I certainly must have gladdened his heart. He seems to have set a lot of papers, and none of them decent.
They are talking now of the Militia Act being enforced as to the first two classes. Newburn - I think it is - has the idea that if these men are once taken away from their work that they will enlist. We shall see what we shall see. But why do they so cling to the voluntary system. Mr.Taylor & I had quite a little 'conflab' the other day, and he thinks there is a "weak ministry." ...
Goodnight, my sweetheart, ... my loved one.
Evelyn to Fred
My Darling: -
I had a letter from you to-day, dated the 17th and the last one was dated the 8th of April, so I concluded that a letter in between was missing, particularly as you spoke of having had “another” musketry drill, and when you wrote before you were in the hospital. I am thankful to get one letter a week, but I’m sorry you had not thought to write to the R.C.I. as soon as you landed, for I’m sure there would be letters there for you by the 17th of April - However, I suppose your leave is probably over too.
I was very busy to-day. After we got out, I went with Miss Scott and Miss Davidson to Rochon’s, and then came home. This is Wednesday, and I fully intended to go to prayer meeting, but I didn't and instead am going to bed about nine. This weather is lovely, but I think it tries one dreadfully. But someway or other, even though I am so tired, I wish I had gone to prayer meeting. I think you would have.
Oh my dearest, dearest one, I don't want to live without you. I suppose you would say that you are here in spirit: But I want you in body. There is a robin singing its goodnight song, the pink light still lingers in the west, and I want to be out-of-doors with you. Spring is in a robin's song, isn't it? It makes me think I'm home again - and "home" seems to be either Toronto or Thorold. I think of our apple trees "in the spring -in the spring." And the lilacs and roses.
Mr Macleod said to-day that Col. Newburn wanted to call up the two first classes of men, and chose from them enough by lot. I haven’t said anything about holidays to anybody but Mr. Robertson - and the girls - and as I told you, he spoke of it first.
Things seem so very unsettled at present. J.M. does make me cross, he spends so little time in the office. ... But there's no use grouching. One must learn not to let what one can't help, worry one; or for that matter, what one can help either. By the way, is that gown in your room yours? If it is I'll put your name on it. P.A. took it to wear to-day, and he thought it was yours. It got so dark I had to turn on the light.
...You had not heard of Everett's death when you wrote, had you? I wonder where your letter would go. Did I tell you I had a couple pictures from Art? They are postcard size, full length, and very good.
I am glad you have been able to get a little extra to eat. Tell me what would be most acceptable from here. I was just thinking that some night I'll make a lot of "rocks" and I'll send you a box full. Maybe I'll do that next week.
The doctor hasn’t had our floors done yet. I must speak to him about it tomorrow. And the tennis court isn’t marked off yet. It’s a shame, these lovely days, though personally I’ve been too tired since exams. I guess I need some sulphur and molasses. Ugh! It’s a horrid combination, isn’t it?
The robin is still singing. I think I'll mend my gloves, and a pair of stockings, and then go to bed. Tomorrow night I must trim up my panama hat. I'm wearing my new one, but I don't want to wear it for every day.
Goodnight my own sweetheart.
Thursday, May 10/17
Mrs Coutts was coming down tonight, when Mrs. Stuart ‘phoned to see if she’d come to help sew tags for something, so I’m going with her to the “Y” for a while, but she doesn’t want to go. (We went and talked to Mrs. Horner & Mrs. Wilson. The L.A. money is all paid & they have a balance of $200.)
Mrs. Bell came down for here papers, about her house, and as I was just getting my dinner I had her stay. I gave her a recipe for amber marmalade and we talked about gardens and canning fruit. She brought me some more eggs, she says I’m to take them raw. Isn’t she good?
Your letter of the 13th of April arrived to-day, in which you told me you were leaving the hospital. I was hoping you'd be allowed to stay there until the weather got better.
I'm sending you some boxes of "canned heat." They are supposed to burn four hours continuously. I did not get a stand, but I can if you need it. But you can stand this little can, say between two bricks, and put a basin over it, and away she goes. I think it isn't very heavy and you might take it on a march, with some Oxo cubes, and you'd have something refreshing to drink. The cans cost only 15¢. That isn't so bad, is it? Bread is now 2 for 25¢, the little cans of salmon 20¢, canned things 2 for 35¢, sugar $2.10 for 20 lbs; but on going into a drug store tonight to buy some aspirin, I was surprised to find that I got it for 20 instead of 25¢.
I sent some aspirin and some native herbs in the parcel last Saturday, but I’ll send some more. I can’t be sure that you will get any particular parcel I send.
Tomorrow is Arbor Day and we have a holiday. I'm going to transplant my plants. ... I need some more earth, so I'm going to beg some from Mrs. Robertson in the morning. If the tennis court were only ready we'd have a game, but it isn't. I think it's a shame. I went to speak to the Dr. about it tonight, but there was "nobody home." And I was going to speak about the floors too.
Mrs. MacWilliams was asking about you tonight, and the stenographer in the District Court Clerk’s office. I don’t know here name; she’s English, and tall and has fair hair.
I can't realize sweet one, but that you are coming home, soon, soon. You are so much with me, even though you are so far away. How I caress you, my darling. Oh, life would be so sweet if you were only here, my own, my own. Next spring - ah next spring, maybe we'll be having a garden again. Life can be very sweet, or it can be very bitter or very sad. I suppose we can always keep it from being bitter.
I am always your own loving girl.
Evelyn to Fred
My Darling :-
There will not be a very long letter tonight, but I’ll write a bit and send on Ora’s letter which you may find of interest.As I said, yesterday, we had a holiday to-day. I stayed in bed till about a quarter of twelve, sleeping, and thinking of you by turns.
I was going to do so much to-day, but instead spent most of it out-of-doors. I did not have enough earth to set out my little plants, so I went over to get some from Mrs. Robertson. She was planting sweet peas ... After she finished we went out to Bowness Island. It was very hot down on the island.
Did I tell you the motor club had taken over the Hextall house as a club house? And a Bowness Golf Club is being started. We went up to take a look at the club house, and it's really very fine. Twenty-five dollars a year to join.
Mrs. Robertson made me stay to dinner after we I got home, and then afterwards I went over to see Mrs. Forster, who is going home tomorrow. While waiting for Mrs. Robertson to get ready, I went up to see Miss Burgain. She is beginning to walk about. She thinks she can’t have any holidays, but Mr. Robertson said I might set her mind at rest on that point, and he said he thought the firm would pay her doctor and hospital bill. I hope they do, because if they don’t, she won't have any money to go away, and she needs a trip to the coast to put her in good trim.
There isn't much to eat in the parcel I'm sending you, but it was more convenient to do it up this way. A pair of bed socks from Ruby, to keep your feet warm, some aspirin & native herbs, two cans of sterno, one of condensed coffee, and some paper. I could not put chocolate in, as I was afraid it might melt and ruin the socks.
I did not get the cakes made to-day, but I will do it tomorrow. I had so many things to do, I should have stayed at home, but then, it isn't every day one has a chance to loaf in the lovely sunshine. It was such a beautiful day. My dear one, we'll enjoy little holidays more when you come home. I won't be so fussy. I'll be able to leave things, I think: and you're not going to spend all your time at the office. If we had not been so much to each other, we should not miss each other so terribly.
I think so often, when I'm going some place alone, how I did not really realize your comradeship. At the windows as I went past I saw husbands and wives and children. I wonder if some of them were any nearer than you and I, separated by an ocean and nearly a continent. Oh my darling, I feel so helpless. I cannot help you, only God can do that now. It is hard to trust, isn't it, for who knows what His will may be.
I would tell you how much I love you. After all, isn't that the part in the letters one turns to most of all, and rereads the 'oftenest'? And it's true in life, isn't it? Love smooths the way and lightens burdens, and gladdens hearts. We should be happy, then.
Evelyn to Fred
Sunday May 13 
My Darling :-
This is Sunday night, and I didn't write to you last night, because I was making you cakes. I lay on the bed and slept a couple hours and read a chapter or two of London, an Intimate Picture. I enjoyed it immensely dearie. I forgot about the present, and thought of the past and the future. The present is too awful to think about.
I was in at the Fallises after church, and he [Mr Fallis] read an extract from a book which has been banned but which got through from England, which said that if the truth were known about the drink question, and the social evil following it, all Canada would be on fire. He said to me afterwards "One wonders if England were worth fighting for. If it weren't for a bigger thing behind it, one would hesitate." "England!" I said, "No, we wouldn't fight for England," meaning it was an ideal for which we would sacrifice. He went on to say "Well, I know one thing, if the war goes on, they won't get another boy of mine, if I can help it, unless some things are changed."
Oh darling, that's the bitterness of it, to think the sacrifice may be in vain. How can we expect God to give victory to a nation which appears to care more for drink than for honour. ... Yet our own country is to blame too, so we cannot wholly blame the British government. But as I said to Lena, the war is the most immediate thing now. On the other hand, if these things can't be cleaned up in the face of so great a danger, will they afterwards? It takes a lot of faith in God to trust that things will work out to His glory, but it will take a lot more than faith. But when I look at your dear face, I take courage, things will come right sometime.
Lena came over for supper and is staying all night, but she’ll have to sleep on the cot.
We went in to the Fallis’ to say that ask Mrs. Jackson to come over here to stay, thus giving them a spare room for conference, and they seemed quite pleased. They have to find billets for 100 men for conference but there has not been a very hearty response. The service this morning was lovely. You were beside me. Even if you couldn’t her the minister or the organ.
... They [the Fallises] had a letter from Everett's colonel, and learned that he had gone through the fight, and was guarding a captured trench when a sniper got him. That seems harder than if he had been killed in the fight.
Elizabeth was in the hospital and I never knew it. Lena told me to-day and I asked Mrs. Clark why she didn't tell me, and she said she supposed I knew it, that everyone else seemed to know it. It is her common trouble, only in an aggravated form, and she has to stay in bed a week yet.
I had a letter from your mother yesterday, which I will send on. Poor woman! She cannot "speak out" much to your father because of his views - and too - because one can't talk of such things to people who are not or have not suffered. By the way dear, I looked in vain for the holly leaves, the mention of Blarney and our happy days brought a lump into my throat. Yet I feel, as for you and me, that all will be well. But what about the thousands of others? There is a lot of work to be done to make the world a good place in which to live. Do you feel as if you are being prepared for something? I do, and I know it is as we bear this testing that our future usefulness will be gauged.
Lena wishes to be remembered to you. Mr. Cushing, Flossie Wilson, and others were asking about you. I feel as if Central in our home, and I don't like going any place else to church.
Will ‘phone Mr. Baldwin to see how finances are. I paid up for the year.
I will write more tomorrow with a world of love and kisses for my only sweetheart.
Monday night [May 14]
We certainly had enough walking to-day, I went to the office as usual, and Miss Cummer came home with me for lunch. After five I went with the girls down town and got home about six. Lena came over for her suit case, and Mrs. Edmanson called for me and she and I walked over to Elizabeth’s, and walked back. On the way over, we stopped in at her house with some strawberries and had some to eat. Elizabeth certainly looks white. Fred seems to be doing pretty well at Drumheller, at least he was the last time I saw him.
Mrs. Smith had a letter from Clarence to-day, Roy was telling me. He was wounded in the nose, but doesn't think it will leave a scar, but his two hands and feet were all cut up. They were on a two day's expedition across No Man's Land into an enemy trench. And according to the accounts we hear, Fred Shouldice took 15 or more men single handed. I have been wondering if you would see him while on leave. You will soon be getting the Globe now, and though it will be belated, I know it will be a great source of pleasure to you.
Somehow, of late, darling, although there is no reason for such a feeling, I have felt personally more optimistic; and I can now stand it to hear Fritz praised, and see Elizabeth [Edmanson] hang on to Roy's arm, without being madly - not jealous - but envious. I must not let this experience embitter me; it must rather make me more kindly and charitable, if it is going to do me any good. And I want you to have a reason to be proud of your wife when you come home. I know what you'll say, that you're proud of her anyway. Ah, I know you are but you don't know how proud she is of her husband, and how she loves him, every bit of him.
Do you feel me caressing you, my only sweetheart? Do you know that you lay your head in the crook in my arm, and that I kiss you a million times? ...
...It's time for your girl to be in bed. Goodnight, my dearest darling. You have received some letters by this time sweetheart, I'm sure.
Mon. May 14/14.
It will soon be our wedding anniversary. I wanted to get a picture to you by that time, but my dress isn't quite finished.
Evelyn to Fred
Dear One: -
I’ll write just a few words tonight, but I must write some. It is late, for the choir concert was long. It thundered and lightninged [sic] and rained all through the performance. It was rather effective, the way the thunder would roll when the organ stopped.
There wasn’t a very big crowd the weather looked bad and there was a Dickens recital at the Grand. I had thought there would big a big crowd and was disappointed. The main church - not the schoolroom - and the galleries were pretty well filled. I should have liked more organ and less choir work, but it was all good. ...
... I couldn't help a tear or two in a certain passage of Finlandia. That's the one you like so well - I was thinking tonight that I do not visualize you as being where you are, and suffering the discomforts you do. It is rather that there is a big gap; I know I shall never get over the feeling until I have you back in my arms again. Sometimes in a flash of something you have said or done, or a tone of your voice comes to me, and almost smothers me with longing for you.
You must not think, dear one, that I would not have had you do your duty, but duty is a "stern daughter of the voice of God" and does not take the place of a longed for presence. Tell me loved one, would you rather I didn't "spill over"? I do not want to depress you. Perhaps if I wrote in the morning instead of at night it would be better. At any rate, I'll leave you for tonight - with a world of love, and all the kisses you can take.
Wed. May 16/17
What do you think about wet canteens? Mr. Graham says it is "little Canadianism" that make the W.C.T.U. interfere, and I said that if we allowed our men to go to England to train, we had a right to be heard by the British government, and that it had no business instituting wet canteens in Canadian Camps. We had quite a set-to. What do you think about it? We were talking about England, not France. I said the men needed enough to eat more than they needed beer.
Are the Canadians under Canadian or British control when in England? He said they were under British control, but I understood they were now under Canadian management. I'll never make a lawyer. I hate scrapping. But I'm not going to let him say a thing like that unchallenged. He hasn't anybody at the front. Not that I'm afraid for you, except for this thing. We have heard so much about venereal diseases being so prevalent, and where men are all crowded together. I am afraid of contiagion. [sic] Oh, how do you spell that word. Don’t make me go into the library to look it up.
My, but I am tired. I am going up to Mrs. Coutts to stay all night. I was going to prayer meeting, but my resolution weakens. I have been up so late the two last nights, that I’m very tired. It rained steadily from about nine last night until about four this afternoon, and I have the hot cold feeling you have when you’ve been damp. You ought to know what I mean.
I had your letter of the 23rd of April [letter missing] this morning, in which you said you had put in your requisition for Kelso. Didn’t you remember, dearie, that Mr. Roinanes was in Edinburgh. I do not know how far Kelso is from there, maybe not very far. You also sent some holly and some little yellow flowers. Surely there must be more than two Canadian mails a month. Of course by this time you will have had your leave, and be in London. I am sure that then you would get my letters at the Institute. I am very sorry I did not get the letter off to Eleanor; I hope everything was settled satisfactorily for you.
Do not apologize for your letters being cold, dearest. I wonder you were able to write at all under the circumstances. It seems to me as if even you would have a hard time to persuade me that you loved me less than I think you do.
Harry just came in, and wants to know how you are getting on. He is all alone now that Clarence has gone, and the other boys.
By the way, the night Dr. Kerby preached he did not say a word about Mount Royal College, neither did he say much about himself I thought that in just common ordinary justice I must tell you that.
I am very glad I am so busy. Time does not hang heavily on my hands. I can scarcely get time to write letters. I haven’t written home yet this week, but will do so tonight. I get too lazy to write on Sundays, but if I don’t the days so soon slip away. And they expect a letter sharp on time I don’t want to neglect them, but I don’t think they quite understand how busy I am, and how tired I am when the days work is over.
There is to be an [Alberta Provincial] election on the 7th of June. Our choice in S. Calgary will be between Mr. Irvine - 2nd. Dr. Blow and a Mrs. McCollum, whoever she may be. I won't vote for either of the others, so "there you are." A.L. Sifton(4) and Miss McLung speak at the Grand tonight but I'm too weary to care about politics I'd rather rest my feet.
I smiled at what you said we'd have for supper if you were home. We should have had fresh strawberries though, or maybe a shortcake. I can hardly wait until you come home again to cook for you. I am going to send you salmon, in fact I have several cans bought for you. I shall try to get your cakes packed tomorrow night.
Well, I must go. I send you my love, a million times.
Your own wife.
Evelyn to Fred
Miss Scott came home with me from the office and stayed for the evening. Mother O. came down too and brought your letter for me to read. Ruby was afraid you wouldn’t want me to know of your privations and, I think this is funny, that you didn’t have enough money to buy ink for your fountain pen. I guess you’ll have it by this time though; and it has been a comfort to know that there was a little money to your credit in London.
It was cold and rainy last night, it blew very furiously in the night and rained and snowed in the morning. I stayed at the Coutts’ and Mr. Coutts went to hear A.L. Sifton and Mrs. McLung. They both spoke very well he said.
I have been wondering about going home. I hate to go, and yet I think I need the change. I ought to go about the middle of June, and if I do, you should start sending your letters home, 1072 Third Ave. W. I saw Mrs. Brown to-day and she said Vic said that after a six weeks’ school, he was due to leave at any time.
I have not really made up my mind to the fact that you are going to France. Dearest, it seems as if I cannot let you go, and I am so powerless. Maybe I ought not to feel so, but you are my life. I didn't know it so well when you were here, but without you, there is not much joy in life, it is duty and work. And nobody really wants that, especially one who is young.
Mrs. Brown just called me up. She wanted to know if I’d go to a concert tomorrow night, but Miss White is coming to make a white skirt for me and I can’t get around to it. Anyway, I think I’ve been out enough this week, and I want to get some things done. It is the night to do up your parcel, for one thing. I sincerely hope you’ll get some of them.
Mother O. said they wanted Wilfred to write to you tonight, but he said “What’s the use? He won’t get it” But we must keep sending you so many that you’ll be sure to get some.
Miss Cummer and I ate at the Empress to-day, at the same table as P.R.B. He aims at being a citizen of the world liking this motto “The world is my home, all men are my friends, to do good is my religion.” the man seems to me to be striving hard to attain something beyond his grasp.
I wish you'd send a letter to the paper, something like the one you sent to Mother O. I cannot bear to think our country is so indifferent. It might wake us up a bit if we had a real taste of war. Why do you call the Germans "Cannibals." We have heard that they have boiled their own dead for grease. Is that what you mean? That seems to me almost more brutal than things they have done to the living, though I suppose it isn't. Mr. Fallis says that if they can do such things, extermination seems to be the only thing for them.
Goodnight my own sweet lover. I thank God for you. Whatever would I have known of the joy of life without my own darling?
I have just finished packing your box. This time it contains rocks, chocolate, nuts, sugar and gum. When I get the right shaped boxes I'll send your salmon, canned fruit, etc. I had a letter from Mother to-day and she said she would send a box next week - Let us know if you need socks. She has a pair, Hazel has some Mrs. McGarise (?) has a pair, and Mrs Adams says she'll soon have a pair for you.
Miss White, the dressmaker, was here to-day, and nearly finished a white skirt for me; she also cut out a waist which I shall make myself. I hope you don't think me extravagant; I have to get clothes even if I care more about other things.
This morning I overheard Spankie and Mr. Kelly at the Court House talking about enlisting; at least Spankie was speaking about the motor transport, and Mr Kelly was telling him the casualties in it from all causes was only 8%. It made me sneer to myself. The evening papers, I am told, say that some form of conscription is going to be put in force at once. I wonder what Wray will do. And our Ray too, for that matter.
I am enclosing an extract from this morning’s paper. I told you about the sermon, and how he got after an editorial in Fairplay You don’t have to look far to think you see who wired the censor at Ottawa, if anyone did. Any man who would do that is a pretty petty lot. He makes me sick.
... Mr. McLean was asking about you to-day. Did I tell you about P. Harcourt O'Reilly asking me "Do you ever hear from Fred?" It runs in my head that I told you that, but it struck me as being very funny.
...This isn't a very lovey letter, and yet it is. Did you know that you kissed me on the street to-day, right in front of Chapin's? Well, you did. I kiss you now, a million times, my lover.
Evelyn to Fred
Sunday May 20/17
I didn't write last night, but promised you a good long letter to-day. I was going to write so many - but -. This morning I woke up at eight, and then at ten. It was raining and my neck, back and shoulders were aching, so I went to sleep again until twelve. Lena came over for dinner and we gabbled away. Then I went down to the station to see Edna Smith from St. Catherine’s, who was going through to the coast.
...Yesterday afternoon I decided I'd bring my music upstairs, so Mrs. Bell went with me, and we found it, and my box of letters you wrote to me, and your musketry notes, lying there as calm, cool and collected as if we'd never been looking for them and accusing everybody of having them. I want to send them to you, but first I think I'll find out how long it would take to make a copy. One never knows what will be sunk, and although I'll register them I'll not be sure of them reaching you.
Lena said that in last night's paper, Borden(5) had promised Dominion prohibition and Dominion woman suffrage. Evidently his visit to England has made him see the gravity of affairs. It is reported that men married since the war are to be treated as single men. It will work hardship in some cases, where babies have arrived.
...I think J.M. is rather sore on me, but I can’t help it. I guess maybe I haven’t been at the office on time, but neither has he not a lot of the rest of them. He seems to be spending less and less time there. I hate to ask him about going away but I know I’ll have to, but I don’t quite see who’ll do the work if I go. It’s rather too expensive to pay a stenographer to do it.
P.A. was simply fuming the other day - A man has his wife, children two sisters, mother and mother in-law, living in two mortgaged houses - He has joined the 103rd and absolutely refuses to pay any rent. He said to Mr. Macleod, “There’s your lovely 103rd! I hope they conscript him!” But Mr. Macleod calmly replied “They won’t conscript them as soon as they do the others.”
Mrs. Bell was here yesterday and washed and cleaned the kitchen cupboards. I mended and sewed. Really, I can scarcely afford the time to go away every Saturday afternoon; I need some time to look after my clothes. It is rather nice being at home on Sunday too, if I have somebody here. Last night Miss LeSoeur and Francis Coleman, a niece of Miss Coleman in Toronto, who is at Mount Royal college, were over. She thinks they have a good staff of teachers over there, and the place is crowded. ...
I was talking to Mrs. Shouldice tonight after church, and saying that I thought it quite probable that you would see Fred Shouldice in London, and she seemed so pleased, and asked me to let her know if you did see her. Stanley has been in the hospital for five months now.
Do you know dear, someway I feel that nothing will happen to you? You are in God's hands, and I pray for you often, but cannot help you in any other way. Ora said she felt that way about Art, and he's certainly come through safely so far. Some of my happiest moments are spent in planning what we'll do when you come back. The thought of anything else is too awful to contemplate. It seems to me as if the nations are getting more prepared for peace; I mean they are growing better. This is a rather different from what I wrote last Sunday night, isn't it? It's a good thing to be optimistic, isn't it?
I was talking to Fritz tonight. He says things are a little dull out there now, but he seems quite pleased with it. I gave him your address and he said he would come in to see me, that he was going to be in town several days. Elizabeth is better, but pretty weak after being in bed so long. I was out only once last week, but I haven’t much time. I wonder what he wants to see me about.
I had a letter from Rosa last night, and a card from Elmer from Halifax, wasn’t that singular? She says she thinks one is better among friends than at home. And I think it’s true too. One does not have so much time to think of one’s own self.
I sent you a box yesterday, of rocks, chocolate, gum, and sugar? Do you like gum? Tell us a couple months ahead when you need more socks.
Mr. Baldwin gave me these papers for you. Did I tell you Crandell & Sinnott were dropped from the Finance Committee, & Mr. Sprung, Mr. Graham and Mr. Osborne put on.
With my heart's love, Your wife.
Evelyn to Fred
I had your two delightfully long and delightful letters to-day, the two first ones written during your leave. I only hope mine make you as happy as these have made me, but I'm afraid they can't. For they have made me forget the purpose for which you are there, and have taken me back to a happy time three years ago. They have made me feel that our sorrow will soon be ended. You may think me too optimistic, and maybe I am; but somehow, I feel that way. It has been almost like being there with you to read your letters; oh, I love you so my darling.
I was thinking, when reading your letters, that however much I miss your protecting care, what I miss most is your ever ready comradeship. I do not like being in business; I do not like being independent, but I can be that easier than I can be without my friend and lover.
I told the men about what you’d been doing and whom you’d seen, and they seemed very much interested. And what do you think? Mr. Nicholson came in my room, and, as he often does, asked what word I’d had from you. I read him the part of your letter telling about Scotland, and dear, he actually stayed five, if not ten minutes, away from his work hearing and talking about Scotland.
... Percy wanted to know what you thought about the means of conquering the submarines. Of late, especially this morning, we have heard optimistic reports, and that certainly does mean something coming from England. I want to tell you this, too, dear, that Mr. Robertson has been unexpectedly kind; one would not just expect him to be sympathetic, but he really is. Oh yes, Mr Nicholson keeps inquiring if you have any chance of a commission. He's a good old scout, and a most loyal friend.
...When a registered parcel came, I thought it was the book you said you got at Abbotsford. ... By this time I had got to the box and saw on it, "Ladies fine silk hose"! and thought I was getting silk stockings. By the way, I wear 9‘s and 6’s in gloves.
Well, we certainly were delighted with the collar, as soon as Miss Martin went out, in came Miss Cummer. At once she said "How nice it will look with your green suit." So when the girls were putting on their wraps, I took it out and showed it to them, and nearly every one said, "What good taste he has." Somebody, I forget who it was, said, "It shows he doesn't forget you." ...
This will reach you sometime near our wedding day. I had hoped to get a picture to you by that time, but my dress isn't quite finished. So for the present I'll send a snap Lena sent me the other day. Poor girl, she is evidently finding pretty hard to live without her husband.
This was the annual meeting of the Y. and I intended to go, but I was tired and wanted to have a good visit with you, so I didn’t go. Mrs Bell tells me I can’t go out every night, I have to take things easy. She’s better at giving than at taking advice along those lines.
Do you know, dear, I think as much of Mrs. Bell as I do of a lot of the other women I call my friends? She is lacking in some things that culture would give her, and perhaps is a little narrow in here viewpoint, but then so are many others, with immensely better opportunities than she has had. After you come back, and we have a little more money, I want to give her a little more money. She insists on taking no more that 1.50 a day, and on bringing me potatoes and eggs occasionally.
I shall miss her when she gets too rich to come to work for me. I think I understand the lifelong attachment that sometimes exists between servants and their mistresses. Mrs. Bell is not servile by any means, but on the contrary, she has excellent manners. Many people think they are showing that they are as good as the next one, whereas they are merely being vulgar and rude.
I am going to have parts of your letters typed to send to our fathers and mothers. I thought your mother's letter was pathetic. She is glad for your sake that you are married, but is sorry for me. But she doesn't mean she is sorry for my sake that we're married. No matter what the sorrow is, our love is worth it all, isn't it darling? I know what you'll say. You don't need to sing that old song I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now do you, for you know that you are kissing your own wife.
Fred to Evelyn
My dear wife,
This has been another strenuous day - no less felt because the air was hot and sultry. I may not have told you before that we actually fall in 10 minutes before the hour named for parade and we are never dismissed before the hour - generally from 5 to 10 minutes after. In the course of a day this means in the aggregate about 1 hour more work than would appear from a reading of the syllabus. Today was particularly offensive in this regard and the space between periods was cut down to about 5 min. each time, which gave us very little opportunity for doing the cleaning that is expected of us.
How - To add to the already full day's work we had our tea time shortened by a 10 minute speech from a C of E. clergyman who gave a talk on the benefits of baptism & confirmation, and an invitation to have these rites performed if they have not already been done. However we all survived and immediately after the lecture tonight I made for the bath house, and soaked for about 15 min. in a hot tub bath. Now I feel reasonably free from perspiration and quite fresh again.
Last night I went to bed about 9 o'clock and fell asleep immediately. About 9.45 I was awakened by one of our boys asking if I'd like some Devonshire cream & cakes. In the army no word is so potent to waken a man as the name of any kind of food and I sat up immediately. Carman then produced a pint jar of real Devonshire cream, sent to him from Devonshire by his sister-in-law. He also had a couple biscuits for each of us. These with a generous thickness of the cream sandwiched between made a most palatable supper. I can't tell you what the cream tastes like, but it's a sort of combination of cream & cheese in flavor, very nice indeed. In a few seconds after I had despatched mine I fell asleep again & knew nothing more until reveille.
I do wish you could see this place now - and especially the field where we drill. It is encircled by magnificent trees and they are also scattered here & there all over the grounds - or park - whichever you wish to call it. This morning we came back to barracks by a new road - between green hedges and for the greater part under overarching branches. Fruit trees & flowering shrubs with horsechestnuts in bloom in the adjoining fields made the whole look like a beautiful garden spot. In fact I'm not sure but we came through a private estate. I'll find out later.
At one turn of the road there were 2 large lilac trees - one white the other blue - simply covered with flowers - and beside them was a larger tree smothered in flowers - I don't know what kind, though they look a good deal like japonicas. If you were only here you'd know all of their names.
Speaking of lilac bushes - there’s one of the finest I ever saw in a garden just behind the barracks - and another along a wall about a block down the street. As soon as there's a bright evening I'm going to take a picture. For the past several days every evening has been cloudy. Now I'm going to copy out some notes. Goodnight my darling.
Wed. evening, 23rd May.
The same tale of the same driving speed, with no let up from our reveille to 6.30. - Today was slightly hotter than yesterday but one of the afternoon periods was devoted to a lecture instead of drill, hence was by that much the easier. Otherwise today was largely a repetition of yesterday and there is not much new to report. Tomorrow is the 24th but in Eng. it is not kept as a holiday - so we gain nothing by it other than the usual Thursday afternoon early quitting of work at 3 o'clock. We were also told today that next Monday - Whit Monday(6) - the afternoon will be devoted to sports and I suppose that for the majority of us that will mean nothing more strenuous than looking on.
Last evening we had a lecture on gas by a lieutenant locally called "wretched" - a cognomen that was given to him and has stuck ever since the first day when he said to us as we were fidgeting on parade - "Why don't you keep your wretched babies still?" He may be a good enough officer but the men do not take kindly to being bawled out for not looking smart by a specimen like him - vacant looking with protruding teeth & receding chin, and legs looking as if each hated the other and wanted to get away from it.
Our own platoon commander on the contrary is a man whom everyone likes. He is soldierly in appearance & a gentleman in his manner. A large crescent scar on the back of his neck bears silent witness to his service in France The school commandant has also seen service there and now goes about with an artificial leg and an artificial arm. Our company serjeant major is a fine man - well liked and efficient if ever there was one. The regimental serj. maj. is also a wonderfully good drill man - with a magnificent military figure and a voice like the bull of Bashau. You can hear his whisper across the parade ground.
In tonight's paper I see an item of Canadian news that there has been a rush to enlist since Sir Robt. Borden's announcement that a compulsory service bill will be introduced shortly into parl. I wonder if this is really true, and if so how many of your pet aversions have donned the khaki.
No Canadian mail yet. I wonder whether you get my letters or whether you too look in vain when the mail man calls. I hope not. I must copy some notes now so again goodnight - my own dear wife.
Thurs. evening 24/5/17
My first 24th May in England would have failed absolutely to give even the semblance of a holiday had it not been for the timely (?) appearance of a hostile Zep. It seems this vicinity is a favorite hunting ground of the Zeps, - and of course there are standing orders what to do in case a Zep. alarm is given.
Last night at 1.25 we were awakened by our platoon serjeant with, "Waken the men on each side of you. Dress and have rifles & bayonets handy, then lie down again until further orders. On no consideration strike any light." We rubbed our eyes and amid much grumbling at the disturbance of our rest groped in the dark for socks, boots, tunic etc, occasionally glancing out of the windows at the searchlights playing across the sky, which last night seemed more brilliant and numerous than usual.
Everyone was dead sleepy and in a few minutes we were again all asleep or dozing, but in about a quarter of an hour, the serjeant again appeared and ordered us to put on great coats belts & bayonets and then lie down again until further orders, but again we fell asleep ruefully thinking of the precious minutes taken from our rest.
Whether it was this disturbance or a rather heavy supper I ate I don’t know but I dreamed the postman brought me 9 letters from you. Alas it was only a dream for today was letterless like its predecessors.
The next thing I knew was the announcement in the dim morning light that there would be no parade before breakfast. A great wave of relief swept over us and we all turned over again, happy in the thought of the extra hour's sleep this would give us. So you see the Zep was a blessing in disguise to us - for while it robbed us of possibly 15 min. sleep it gave us a whole hour additional and besides saved us the trouble of dressing this morning.
We learned this morning that it was some distance away and so far as we know it did no damage. However some of the staff here were up nearly all night. One of the cook house orderlies said to me this morning "Hi wouldn't mind so much hif they'd Honly coom. Hit's 'aving Hall the trooble fer nothinck what Hi 'ates. 'Ere Hi am Hup from 'arf pawst twelve to 'arf pawst foh - and then the bloomin' thing never turns hup."
Of course this being Thursday we knocked off work at 3.30. Some of the men had to practise for the sports next Monday, but I took a couple pictures - went down town for some stamps & have done a little studying. Tomorrow will be a big day again but Saturday will be short. We expect an exam. next Monday. I have now caught up some of my lost sleep - though I don't know when, for I haven't had more than 7 1/2 hours any night this week - At any rate I feel all right again, - and on Sat. afternoon if it's nice Nease & I are going to the park where we drill and are going to do some studying under the trees. I'm also going to try to get some more pictures on Sat. & Sunday.
There are a lot of things here that at first glance strike one as a waste of time in the midst of war, but after all they are all good for discipline and physical training . I find my muscles are losing their stiffness, and respond more readily to the nerves than they have for years. I have an appetite like a horse and the grub continues good and nourishing. In this regard we are much better off than at Bramshott.
One of the things we at first thought silly is stick drill - ie - drill in the proper carrying of a stick when walking, saluting, etc. It's astonishing how awkward we are in the simple motions of changing a stick from one side to another etc. We had one hour's drill at it last week & one again today. I don't know how much more there will be, but if when we leave this school we don't "swank" it will not be the fault of our instructors.
Do you remember 2 years ago today when we went with the Pats, the Moyers, the Wrights & the Oaten’s to Bowness Park? I wonder how you have been spending the day. Happily, and out of doors, I hope. Perhaps next year we can spend it together again. Then we'll not work but keep a real holiday, n'est-ce-pas? I'm sure that we'll know better how to enjoy life after the war and that we'll take and make more opportunities for being out of doors than we have in the past.
Today the commandant & the adjutant rode into the barrack square on their horses beautiful high spirited well bred animals and I thought - some day we'll have horses like those. Won't it be glorious to ride over the prairie in the early morning or in the long summer evenings? So many of my dreams have come true more gloriously true than I had dared to expect. Surely this one will.
I find I forgot to enclose those flowers in my last letter. I'm putting them in this. I don't know flower language, but they are meant to remind you that I am always thinking of you as the beauty and brightness of my life - in very truth its flower.
Evelyn to Fred
This is the night before the “glorious Twenty Fourth.” It was two years ago tomorrow since that we went to Bowness for a picnic, wasn’t it, and got in the thunderstorm? Or was that the first of July? I think last year we were going out to see Mrs. Bell, and it snowed. It has been dull and rainy again to-day, in fact it has been so for nearly two weeks now. There is no heat nor hot water in this place now.
The boiler burst yesterday; the janitor said it was choked up with mud - I'm thankful for the gas grate, but I don't like the fumes, and so I keep the window open. But then, I always think about you and what you're enduring, and things here seem paltry in comparison.
I did not write last night; I was ironing and went to bed when I got finished. Miss Burgoin came down and “sat” and crocheted and talked; then Miss Ruppe called for her on her way home and we had some ice-cream. Miss Burgoin walks very slowly, with a cane, but is getting better at a fair rate I think.
Miss Burgoin was across the hall from Elizabeth when she was in the hospital, and told me what was wrong with her though she thought I knew. I wonder if you didn’t know before you left, and if that wasn’t your reason for thinking Fritz ought no to tell her, and if that wasn’t why you told me to be good to them. Miss Burgoin said, the nurse said she seemed very disappointed. I never dreamed that that was what was wrong.
It has been thundering a little and there was a sharp flash a few minutes ago. Almost immediately afterwards Mrs. Edmanson rang up to see if I was frightened, and to suggest that I go over. But of course I wouldn’t think of Roy coming over for me at this time of night. It was very thoughtful of here wasn’t it?
Roy was reading me a letter he was writing to the “Albertan” on “The Conscription of Wealth.” He said he and J.E.A. were talking about it yesterday, and J.E.A. doesn’t believe in it. He said if there wasn’t conscription of wealth, and he went and came back, that W.M. Davidson wouldn’t be in it with him for radicalism.
This afternoon at the Court House, there was a dollar lying on the counter and I pretended to take it. Mr. Kelly said "You need it, don't you?" Then he went on to say, "I've just been picturing my wife doing what you are, living on an allowance, with the three children." I answered, "But I don't live on it; I couldn't." "No," he said, "You couldn't. And my wife isn't a business (mark you) woman like you; she wouldn't do what you are doing." "Well," I said, "You won't be going." He straightened up and said, "I'd volunteer before I'd go as a conscript." I said, "No, I used to think that too, but I've quite changed my mind, and think that the system, as it obtains in France or Germany is the fairest one, if there has to be war."
We didn’t finish as he went out to see if he could find a judge to sign a cheque for me. I heard Mr. Fisher discussing with him how his wife and family could get along. If this were a truly democratic country, there would be a living separation allowance, and those who stayed at home would go without as many things as the dependants of those who went. When you see the new cars this spring, you have ample proof that that isn’t the case, for you may very sure it isn’t the soldiers’ dependants who are buying cars.
I was going to go to Mrs. Brown’s for supper and go with her to prayer meeting, and then up to Mrs. Coutts to stay all night. When I ‘phoned Mrs Brown, she wasn’t in, and her mother said Mr. Brown was sick in bed. So I didn’t call again. I came home very tired, I had been irritable all day, and slept. Mrs Coutts called me up and said she was sure David was getting the measles, so I decided not to go up. I went back and slept again, until Lena called me up, when it was too late to go to prayer meeting.
I was just taking myself to task, and deciding that I wasn’t going to let Bryenton spoil my disposition, by grouching about him to myself or anybody else. He seems to try to make things hard instead of easy, when he might know I’m trying to do all I can. For instance, he makes up his bills at the same time he makes up say his statements of claim or executions. Then sometimes before I’ve been up to the Court House or Land Titles office, Miss Mayhew is in after disbursment [sic] slips. It’s bothersome when I have so much to do to go over my things and make out slips, when if they were held until the next day, the slips would be in. I’m going to tell her to hold his up a day, just as a matter of course. It makes more work for her too.
Yesterday he wanted me to wait for something to take up to the sheriff, merely to hand to him, just when I was going our the door - I hadn’t been up long when he came along himself, and he could just as well have brought it as have me wait. And he calls to me across the room, and just sort of keeps driving, driving, to get his work done; it doesn’t matter how much else there is to do. And he’s not so frightfully efficient as he would have others think. Mr. Henderson says nobody else from our office sends up such statements of claim as he does; and he’ll never admit that he’s wrong, it’s always somebody else. But I tell you, that after this outbreak to you I’m not going to let him bother me.
I had a letter from Lina yesterday, and she think she’d like to buy the Land Titles position. So, last night about twenty to five I asked J.M. if I could speak to him a few minutes after five, and he said right away. So I broached the subject of holidays and he said he was glad I spoke, that he'd forgotten about them. ... Then he told about the old days, how long he went and how long you went without holidays; described the old offices to me; who came in and when; how you used to file your papers, - in envelopes; how you and he used to post the books; the docket system of collections; how stupid Pat O’Reilly was; what matters he handled; how you drew up a transfer on an hotel without any previous experience - and got it right...
At six he remembered he wanted to call up a woman and tried to but she'd gone. He finished by saying to go when I wanted, that they could arrange matters, that they’d expected me to want to go, and that Mr Robertson had told him I was wanting to go. ...
Finding I could go east when I liked, I next approached Mr. Smith. He was sure he could fix it up, so that Lina could come out with me the last of August. I'm not counting on going east till near the end of June. Then Ora and I will be home most of the time together.
...Mr. Henderson, in the district court was talking about enlisting. He said he told his wife the only time he was sorry he’d married her was after the war; that she didn’t count but that the children couldn’t look after themselves. No, it is not right that the separation allowance should be absolutely inadequate.
MacNiven wrote asking Ray to respond to or make the toast to “Our Fallen Heroes” at the Vic. Old Boys Re-union at Conference. He showed me the card and I said “Oh, they’re going to have a re-union! But only for the men!” He had been speaking about getting one up, say - having a luncheon downtown. He had a funny look on his face when he said, “I don’t think I’ll do what he suggests.” His was and is a hard position. And I know there are many more in tight places.
I was making up a few of our accounts tonight, but it made me very, very homesick for my chum. Your handwriting, entries of "lunches" made me so homesick. Oh, how I long to put my arms around your neck and lay my head on your shoulder and know that you are safe and comfortable again. One does not get used to the loss of what one loves most, though I shouldn't say that, I should say physical absence.
Sometimes, early in the morning, I wake up for no conceivable reason. I wonder if it is you calling me. This morning it was 5:30, and I awoke from a dream that we were sleeping in single beds, and that you were just stretching out [y]our arms for me, and we were just almost kissing each other. It seemed as if some strong force just made me wake up.
Good night my darling.
Evelyn to Fred
This is the Twenty-fourth. How we used to plan for and look forward to it, but now it’s just a day when one doesn’t have to go to work. Out here there’s not much use planning, for it generally rains as it did to-day. I haven’t been out at all, and have been glad of the chance to put in a few much needed stitches, but I realized as I sat sewing how hard it must be for those women who have to sit at home and sew, and not get and see other people. ...
Did I tell you yesterday that Lina [Moyer] thinks she'd like to try the L.T.O. position? I hope she and I will get on together. ... Do you think if Lina comes, we could afford to rent a piano? I should like one so much. She asked how much it would cost. Shall I tell her twenty-five? It will be more than that of course, but even at that it would be cheaper for me.
I am so lonely for you to-day. There has been no paper; I haven't been out, and it has been so gloomy to-day, and I have been thinking of you in the rain without any fire. Oh dearie, the war is a terrible thing. I cannot bear to think of you going into it. I sometimes feel as if I'd like to leave all this and go over and nurse or do something. What I'm doing doesn't seem to be helping any, and I cannot afford to give money, very much at any rate.
Last night I read the third chapter of 1st John, and it showed me how wrong I have been to judge other people so harshly and to feel so bitterly towards them, instead of trying to help them. Fred, my darling, you seem so far, so far away. When I think that it takes at least three weeks to get a letter, and what may happen in that time, my heart grows heavy. I can't live without you. I suppose it's not kind to write such letters to you; you have enough troubles without any more, but I've go so used to telling you about my glad times and my sad times that it seems as if I can't help it.
Good night, dear one. God grant you may be here when the next Twenty-fourth comes around.
... There is no heat on here, and with the grate going it is chilly. I shouldn't think much of the English way of heating, or not heating rooms. I told you, didn't I, that the boiler burst Tuesday? The water hadn't been hot, really hot for several days, and the janitor said the boiler was full of mud, that that was what made it burst. ...
Yesterday Ray and Mr. Whittleton [sic] went over to the Alberta Sash & Door and boarded up all the windows. He’s got a power of attorney from Harrison, one from some other fellow, and has yet to get it from Ponton. Mr. Whittleton said that there is a company wanting just such a plant for something, I forget what it is, and he’s to be manager of it. He thinks it would be a good buy at 3000. Ray said he’d sell for 2000, but Mr. Whittleton is going to ask 3000. Ray told him he’d as soon give him a good commission as anybody else. Wouldn’t it be fine if we could get the thing sold now?
Mrs. Macleod is going home about the middle of June. She was telling me to-day that she’d put up with a lot of nonsense this spring in order to have the nurse go to Halifax with her, but the other day she said “Mrs. Macleod, would you be very disappointed if I didn’t go with you? I am thinking of going being married,” “But,” Mrs Macleod said, “The man’s at the Front.” “Oh,” she said, “it’s another man.” Mrs. Macleod said there are ten other men that she knows were or thought they were engaged to this same Dorothy. I guess fickleness isn’t all on the side of the men, is it?
I saw Miss MaGarvie to-day, and invited her over for supper Sunday night. I haven’t been over for your socks yet, and I asked her if her mother was beginning to think I didn’t want them. “Yes,” she said “Mother is as home all day and doesn’t realize how busy people are.” As a matter of fact, I haven’t been out a night this week, it’s been so rainy and cold and I’ve been so tired. I’m getting to be a regular fiend for staying in and going to bed, or reading a bit. Don’t worry about me dearie; I am tired out nights but if I am it is best to rest, and I’m soon going to have a holiday.
I forgot to tell you Mrs. Macleod is wanting to know of someone going east. She said she'd pay their meals, take them in the drawing room, and maybe help them on their ticket, for helping her with the children on the train. Shall I apply for the position. I said we might arrange to go at the same time, and I'd help her, but she said, "Oh no, that wouldn't be any pleasure for you. Flora is a nice child if you belong to her but she talks all the time whereupon she gave me a sample of the way she runs on and on."
I think I’ll ‘phone Ruby tomorrow and go up for dinner Sunday. Did I tell you that Mr. Adams has been in bed for nine days with the mumps? It’s remarkable how many people have them, isn’t it? David is all broken out with measles to-day, his mother said. Ora had had a letter from Elleda, and she was laid up with them.
Do you want any reading material? Or do you have time for absolutely nothing? Let me know anything you want dearest. When I get your letters, you seem so very, very near, then as day goes by and there is no English mail, you seem to recede; then come letters, and you are here again?
Oh my dear, I had hoped and trusted you would never have to go overseas; now I hope, though rather faint heartedly, I must admit, that you'll never have to go to France. I don't see how people stand it when their men go to France. Upstairs I hear the man and his wife talking to each other. Three years ago we little thought things would be as they are now I feel selfish in that I do not write more letters, but I feel so lazy, and it's so easy to put things off. Tomorrow evening, I think I’ll go to Mrs.McGarvie’s and then out to see Elizabeth for a while. I’ll start good and early, so that I can get back in decent time. Fritz has been in town all week.
Harper Miller hasn’t enlisted yet. Poffenroff is getting in the flying corps. He was born in the States; I hope his name doesn’t get him into any trouble. I heard Abe Barron to-day saying that his brother had left Tweedie’s office and that he was going in with him at the beginning of next month.
Miss Cummer's brother, Harold, went away with the battery. They are going to Petawawa. They took their guns with them; I didn't know that. People are saying they are getting them down there in case there is trouble in Quebec over conscription. I said it was a pity we couldn't dump Quebec & Ireland into the middle of the ocean, but Mr. Macleod thought that was too mild; he'd put them in the middle of Germany.
The reports of our exams aren't out yet; perhaps it's just as well. Mother is sending you a box this week; be sure to tell me what's in it.
With my heart's best love.
Fred to Evelyn
Fri. evening, 25th May 1917
We are frequently told that work never kills and I suppose are compelled to believe it. At the same time we occasionally get "fed up" with it, - and no one is at all sorry that tomorrow is Saturday when we are due to knock of work at 11. 15 a.m. Today has been quite hot and when one stands in the position of attention executing various movements involving muscular tension for a half of three quarter hour on end he sometimes longs for “Night or Blücher.”
True, tonight's lecture was called off to enable us to practise for the sports on Monday, - but that wasn't much of a rest. We went to our usual parade ground in Ball's Park, - and a team of scrubs from our platoon pulled against the platoon tug-of-war team that will uphold our honor on Monday. Then we watched some trial heats of foot rolls - 100 yds. dash, relay races etc.
The officers were all out in force, even to the commandant with his wooden leg & arm. Some of them were in uniform but most were in flannels & blazers. At a discreet distance a few ladies attired in summer costumes gazed languidly on the scene, while farther off others of the fair sex played tennis. I lay under the shade of a spreading oak and drank in the beauty of the evening scene as if it were nectar.
I said to Nease on the way back to barracks. "In many respects the war seems farther away here at Hertford than it did in Calgary." I don't know why unless it's because there are no other soldiers about - except a few convalescing returned men - and it is so hard to associate the grim ravages of war with the bursting bud and leaf around us.
This afternoon we had our drill again on the grounds I first spoke about. We hadn't been there for more than a week, and they were greatly changed. The trees are now in full leaf and the whole grass covered field is studded with buttercups & daisies. I picked some and will enclose them in this letter.
Some ladies were lazily poling along in an old punt on the ditch or river - while farther down a group of boys, untrammelled by bathing suits were making another use of the water. Nearer by a couple nursemaids were carelessly watching over their charges, more intent however upon our drill than their own work. Again I heard the skylark - 2 of them in fact. It's delightful to hear one and not be able to see him. You watch and wait however and by and by he comes into view dropping, dropping, dropping, straight to his mate's nest. I thought as I watched him this afternoon - that's how my thoughts are centred - on my mate in her nest at Calgary - out of sight yes - but never out of mind.
I haven't done any work yet tonight - but must do a little now, as we shall probably have an exam on Monday. I hope to get time to do some reviewing tomorrow.
Sat. Eve [May 26 1917]
Oh, if you were only here tonight! I wish I were an artist or a poet that I might paint for you a picture of the beauty of this evening. It has been hot with a bright sun all day - and after tea - about 4.45 (remember we have daylight saving here so this means only 3.45 Greenwich time) Nease & I took the camera and a couple books and went to Ball's Park. In the daytime when we have been there it has been alive with soldiers drilling, but now it was silent and still, except for some cricketers and a few sets of doubles at lawn tennis.
I took a couple pictures and then we lay down under the shade of a spreading tree and studied for a couple hours. Great shapely beech, elm, lime, horsechestnut, chestnut, oak and locust trees were all about. The horsechestnuts are in full bloom - and are far larger trees here than any I've ever seen before. Through the trees we could catch glimpses of Ball's Park House - the residence of Sir G. Phillips, Bart., and of the lodgehouse - while to the north lay the town of Hertford, half hidden in the valley behind the thick foliage of the trees that abound everywhere. The turf was dry and beautifully soft.
We took off our tunics & caps and stretched at full length on the grass. We would study for a time and then stop & gaze at the scene, or listen to the evening songs of the birds that made the whole park vocal. I hope we may come here after the war and enjoy the same scene together.
About 8 o'clock we left and returned to town by a lane which we entered from the main road by a stile. It led us down dale and up hill to Queen St. - one of the best residential parts of the town. Here were beautiful gardens with borders of flowers whose names I don't know, shrubs of various kinds, and everywhere beautiful horsechestnut trees, lilac & snowball bushes in full flower. We came along a couple avenues of overarching trees - out by the principle church. Even as I write I look out of the window to the stone church tower rising above the trees that surround it, and the twitter of birds comes through the open door. Oh, the next time you come to Eng. it must be in May.
This has been an easy day and I feel much rested. Tomorrow I have nothing but church parade, so will ramble and rest and catch up with some delayed correspondence.
Sun. evening May 27/17
I am lying on the turf in Hertford Castle grounds. On benches nearby are 15 or 20 convalescing soldiers in their blue & grey uniforms. Here and there stray couples are spooning in half sequestered spots, while all about the kiddies are holding high carnival. A number of them were intensely interested a short while ago in my camera as I was taking a picture of a monstrous lilac bush at the corner of the Castle. I wanted to take several more pictures here but the light is not quite right this evening so shall do it another time. As it is I have taken several pictures today - 2 this evening and 5 this afternoon in Ball’s Park, where Nease, Heever & I went, - they to sleep - I to write letters. I wrote Ray today.
This has been a quiet restful day - quite hot - and therefore we were glad of the chance to loll about. At 10.30 all non-conformists had church parade - the R.C.'s at 10 & the C of E. at 9.30. All non conformists - Presbys., Baptists etc. marched to the Wesleyan church. Arrived there at 10.40 & had to wait until 11 for service to begin. Heard a very good sermon & remained for Communion.
One sentence of the communion service struck me as never before - "Go in peace," and notwithstanding the peace in my heart now I'll be glad for the time when that can be said with reference to a world peace. After service I refused an invitation to tea because I wanted to write this afternoon, but accepted one from the minister for next Sunday. People are very kind. The congregation is woefully small, and the only men of military age look sickly & unfit. What a contrast to any similar scene in Canada!
I have from time to time put off writing to Mr & Mrs. Fallis because it's so hard to say what one would like to, but I intended doing so tonight, only I find I have no more paper and there is no place where I can get it. But I shall write to them tomorrow without fail.
I hope dearie you don't mind very much my writing to you on this cheap [Y.M.C.A.] paper, but I find money goes so fast I like to economise on everything which I can get for nothing. Then too it is sometimes soiled, but it is so very hard to keep it otherwise with the facilities I have. Paper is one of the many things that is very scarce & dear. Good writing paper is hard to get at any price. Oh! that reminds me - In church this morning the preacher read the King's proclamation urging the people to economize on food & particularly cereals. It made one think of the waste at home. If only people there would realize conditions on this side of the water, surely, surely they would act differently.
I wonder how you are spending this day. Are you very lonesome on Sundays? When I get back Sunday will be a chumming day will it not? Am at the end of ink & paper, so goodnight my dearie.
Mon. eve. 28th May 1917.
Yesterday being Whitsunday, of course today is Whitmonday and a holiday everywhere. I told you we had the afternoon off for sports in Ball's Park. In truth, we didn't do much this morning either for everybody seemed to feel languid & disinclined for real work. So the instructors merely put in time and at 11.45 we were dismissed. We had dinner immediately after and then fell in for parade to Ball's Park at 1 o'clock. I took my camera and writing materials along and in the intervals I wrote to father & mother while lying under the trees. I also took a couple more pictures. I’ll soon be spending all my money on pictures. One spool is now being developed & I have 2 others ready.
I had hope the postman would leave some letters this morning for me to read this afternoon - but I've come to the conclusion that the maintenance of the post office department is a useless expense. However I'm in no worse plight than the other Canadians here - if that's any comfort.
You never attended a Sunday school "treat" in England, did you? Well. today's affair reminded me of one. Like all English sports that I've seen be the contests never so close - there's an almost complete absence of cheering. The English take their pleasure with reserve! So this afternoon I fancy that had it not been for the Canadians there wouldn't have been a single cheer. There was a goodly crowd of civilians - and a motley crowd it was. Summer finery, real and attempted mixed with the khaki and the flannels and blazers of a few of the semi-gentry and officers. Straw hats were in evidence today for the first time. The events were well contested but I didn't stay until the finish.
It had been announced that tea would be served at the barracks at 5.30. So about 4.30 Choate & I strolled back but when we entered the serjeants' mess we learned that the serjeants and officers were having their tea at Ball's Park. About 15 other serjeants were in like plight, and rather than go back to the park we decided to get what we could. The matter ended by our getting tea out of bowls instead of cups and having plenty of bread & butter & jam, though we had to use 4 knives among the lot to cut & spread the bread & jam, for all the other knives & forks had been sent up to the Park. But we had enough to eat, and now we have a long evening all to ourselves. The barrack room is almost deserted, only 1 Englishman & 4 other 191st men being here - all busy writing.
It will soon be 3 months since I left Calgary, but it seems much longer. Before another 3 months has passed you will have had your holiday and it will be harvest time. I wonder if it is nice in Alberta now. I do hope there's a good crop again this year - not only for the sake of Alberta but for the sake of the whole world.
How is the new church & organ? Are there good congregations?
Goodnight my own dear love
Evelyn to Fred
I have another pair of socks for you. I went over to get the ones Mrs. McGarvie made for you. She and Miss McGarvie both send their kindest regards. ... I’m going to put some lysol in some water and wash your socks in it before I send them. Miss McGarvie was coming to supper tomorrow night, and Roy and Elizabeth are coming. I went with them to the Bay for lunch to-day. I like Mrs. Roy very much on further acquaintance. I think I have been rather supercilious in my judgements in the past.
I saw Percy Scott to-day. He’s having another try at enlisting. He and Poppenroth are both trying for aviation. He says he’s felt just awful once Art went, he didn’t know he was going. Neither he nor Harold Cummer had to go in this draft. He says if he can’t get in the aviation he’ll try the motor transport, but says his ankle isn’t strong enough for the infantry. Harper Miller is also trying for aviation.
Fritz has been in town all week. Guess I’ll go out Monday evening. Lloyd Morrison is coming through to-day or Monday. Has Fritz written you yet? I saw Wilbur Horner on the street tonight and he asked me up for supper a week from tomorrow. I’ve got rather tired of going out Saturday nights to stay over Sunday, it takes all my Saturday afternoon to get ready to go.
It makes me feel rather selfish when I buy fresh things I know you'd like and know you can't have them, asparagus, lettuce and pineapple, but I know they're what I need and there's no use of my going without them, yet it doesn't seem right all the same. Every time I see Mr Irwin in the store he asks about you and I ask about his boy. He came through Vimy Ridge. His father has Huntley & Palmers send him a box of biscuits every week, and somebody else a tin of jam, and they send him boxes from home too. I wish my boy had that much.
Through the day I think I want to go home, but when night comes I want to stay in the place where we have been together. I often think of that last prayer of yours, the day you left. It was all for me, not any for yourself. I feel so absolutely selfish. Oh, I wish I could do something. What has licking war stamps to do with winning the war? In so many ways it seems as if we have the easiest part, certainly physically we do. I love you so my darling I would I could tell you something tender and sweet and good, but all I can tell you is that I love you more than words can tell. I feel you with me now, my sweetheart and my husband.
I certainly have been having a bad time. Last night in the middle of the night I heard someone knocking on my door and calling me. It was Mrs. Seymour who wanted to know if I had left the water running, saying that it was leaking down into their suite. I jumped up in my nightgown put on my slippers and ran out to the kitchen. I had left a little cold water running on the milk, and here the pipes had become stopped up, the tub was full and running over. The water was all over the kitchen and half over the dining room floors. I stopped the water, took a pailful out of the tub and then we started to sweep and mop. Finally we got it done. I was afraid it might have hurt something downstairs, but she said nothing, not even her temper.
She is a wonder, isn’t she? I got my feet wet, and as I was just getting sick, I was a little anxious, so I stayed in bed all morning. Lena came over at lunch time but has gone back again. I can’t get the janitor, there’s nobody there, and I can’t get the pipe clear, although I’ve emptied the tub and poured lye down the pipe. ... I‘ll have a little rest and then go at it again.
Lena said Mr Fallis went down to light the furnace fire and the jets were on, which he did not know, and the gas being free in the furnace exploded and burnt him badly. He was not able to preach this morning. It does seem as if everything possible was going wrong with him.
I got the pipes cleaned out at last, I'm glad to say. I rang and rang and rang for the janitor, but he did not appear - There's no hot water tonight either, it looks as if he had gone off.
Miss McGarvie did not turn up tonight, so it looks as if the baby is sick, but I have not phoned to-day. I was talking to Ruby tonight. She says she is going east in September; she does not want to go for the summer lest it be hot. They are talking about her staying all winter and mother O. and Wilfred taking a small apartment. I do not know yet what Wilfred is going to do.
We went to the parsonage a few minutes after church but did not see anybody but Mrs. Jackson, Wesley (from the head of the stairs) and Harold. This is a very trying time for Mrs. Fallis. Mr. Westman preached tonight, from the Sermon on the Mount. I am thinking we needed a severe shock to make us realize how far from it we were living. One thing he said was “Anyone who works at a business, merely for the money he can make, is doing an immoral act.”
But it is time for bed now. How I missed you to-day. I saw a man in uniform coming down the street, and I thought if only that were my own darling. But it wasn't. I have this consolation, that he is some place, and loving me as I love him.
Evelyn to Fred
A letter to-day! Talk about blue Monday! Not when it brings a letter from my sweetheart. How many were anxiously looking for an "English mail" on Monday, and how many, alas, have ceased to look for it. Mrs Wilson said last night “Whatever would we do without our letters?”
I am so glad you sent the little book to Aunt Sarah. I was looking for it, and fearing that it had gone astray, but I know she’ll be greatly pleased with it. You probably do not remember that you bought a little tartan-covered copy of “The Lady of the Lake” royal Stuart plaid, I thought it was at Abbotsford, but I see you have written in it “Loch Katrine” July 18, 1914.
I think I said before how very much I liked the collar and cuffs. I wish I could give you a real hug and kiss for you thoughtfulness. As to gloves. I think I told you I wore sixes. I should like it if you could get me some more of those chamoisette gloves, white or yellow or gray. They are $1.25 here; you know I got them for 15¢ before, over there. I don't need any long kid ones but I could "do with" short ones, white or black. As to stockings, which you did not mention, I wear nines.
Lena came over this evening. She is sewing. I was reading when she came and had not washed my dinner dishes, so I got some help. It is raining and is so nice to come into warm cheery rooms and sit down and read. I have been burning the gas grate quite a bit, it is so cheery. I am so glad I am not boarding, with only a bedroom where I could be private.
Roy was telling us last night that Fritz was almost running for Conservative member in Didsbury. There were three men to be chosen, ... Fritz said he had no money to spend that way, and some of the mine owners said for him to say how much he would require and they would put it in the bank before he was nominated. ... The Drumhellar men were late in arriving at the meeting and the others would not wait for them ... I am very glad Fritz did not get it. I'm pretty sure he hasn't told Elizabeth yet, and like you, I fear for him until he does. He's getting off too easily at present; not that I want him to suffer...
In case you did not get my letter telling about it, I’ll tell you now that I got 5 C.P.R at I think it was 1553/4, a pretty good buy at any rate.
I saw Fitch to-day in at Esmond’s. Miss LeSoeur and I had lunch there. I think on rainy days it is better to stay down town for lunch. We had a little piece of meat, with carrots & a few peas in it some sort of baked dressing, lyonaise [sic] potatoes, bread and butter, currant pudding with a lemon sauce on it, tea or coffee, with one of those little pitchers of real cream, all for 25¢. I was thinking about you when I ate it, a slice and a half of bread and a pat of butter.
I have been reading a little of Alfred Noyes poetry, some of Yeats, and a book “The Caravaners” by the Countess van Arnim, author of Elizabeth & her German Garden. ...
I had your letter to-day in which you told me about going to Pitfold. My poor boy! It is hard for you to see such injustice and to be unable to do anything to right it. We are having to take a lot and say nothing just now, aren't we? I will not write much tonight. ...
Your letter makes me think that you'll soon be in France. I have hoped and prayed that you'd never have to go, I can do nothing now but pray for you, and sometimes it seems as if my prayers do not get up very high. I miss your prayers so much. I need you all the time, dear one, I never realized how much two people could need and miss one another.
Good night dear - You must have a picture soon, for I prize yours so much - I look at you and you seem to speak.
Good night, dear one.
Fred to Evelyn
29th May, 1917
My darling wife,-
Last night I went to bed about 9 o’clock and when I rose this morning I felt more rested than at any time during the past week. I needed to for this has been a very hot day and then there were no short hours like yesterday & Saturday.
Nothing of much moment occurred today. It was the usual round even to the absence of mail. True, the syllabus changed a little in that we commenced infantry instruction. Until the present we have been drilled by our platoon serjeants, but from now on a couple hours each day is spent in our going out in turn and taking charge of the class, instructing as if we had a squad of raw recruits. It is tiresome but not so strenuous as the work we have been doing for there's a certain amount of standing at ease in it.
The boys thought they had a good joke on me yesterday. At the sports there was a refreshment booth where cakes & ginger beer were sold. One of the ladies in the booth was endeavouring to draw ginger beer from a barrel, but it wouldn't run freely. After several attempts she asked one of the girls to call her husband to see what was wrong. I remarked, "if you take the cork out of the tap it will run." "Ah yes, to be sure!" she replied suiting the action to the word and drawing the cork - and at the same time giving me a grateful upward glance. "That's what it is to know. But you see I never was a boozer." The implication greatly tickled some of the fellows who have wondered at my teetotalism and they all gave me the "Ha Ha!"
Do you remember 3 years ago today? It's the day we went from Killarney to Dublin. So many of the places we visited have been ravaged by war. Dublin of course still bears evidence of the revolutionary riots - and now in today's papers it is announced officially, (which was unofficially reported previously) that the town on the south east coast of Eng. which suffered so in last Friday's air raid is Folkestone.
I wonder how much news you get of what happens here. I have seen some Alberta papers - and we are all amused at their forecasts of the speedy termination of the war. They seize upon some local success of our arms such as that at Vimy Ridge early in April and turn that into a wonderful advance. They haven't the proper perspective or they wouldn't make such foolish prognostications One doesn't hear them here.
... I have some lecture notes to copy yet so must stop for tonight. Goodnight my darling.
Wednesday. 30th May 1917.
For a short time today there was a flutter of excitement coupled with a few extra polishes on our drill by the R.S.M. in anticipation of an inspection tomorrow by Lord French.(7) However at about 3.30 it was announced that he would not favor us with his presence after all. Whether the pleasure is only deferred or is to be withheld altogether I don't know. He visited the last class, & if reports be true was greatly impressed by the work of the school so it is possible we may see him later.
Occasionally a Canadian letter does arrive after all. Today Sergt. Choate got one written Apr. 24th which arrived at Bramshott and was readdressed and posted there 2 weeks ago. What it has been doing in the interval I can't imagine.
I found out yesterday that a shrub or tree now in full bloom of pink flowers which I have greatly admired lately is called May Pink. They are very plentiful around here, as are also laburnums which are at their best now. During the past few days the hawthorn blossoms have come out and now there are great masses of white on the bushes and trees. The lilacs are beginning to droops although the white ones are still in full flower. These with snowballs are very thick along the road to Ball’s Park. I can’t remember seeing any snowball bushes since I left Ontario until this past week. Each new day brings some fresh surprise in bud & blossom.
I noticed too today that the potatoes in our back yard are coming up. Perhaps you didn't know we had a back yard What I refer to is the space east of the barrack square and outside of the original barrack wall, between the bath house, cookhouse, canteen and some of the new barrack rooms. All the spare space between the paths and the buildings has been planted to potatoes. I'm afraid they'll hardly be eatable before we leave here.
Of course you know the hours of selling beer wine & spirits in Eng. have been limited, but there seems no diminution of places where the stuff may be sold. I understand Hertford has 79 pubs, - and by the way, quite frequently, when one enquires the size of a town here is answered by "Well it has -- pubs." In fact that is the first thing we heard about Hertford. Another colloquialism is description of distance. If you ask how far it is from X to Y, you will not be told in miles but, "It's -- minutes walk." I never noticed this before but it has been very marked ever since I landed in Eng. this time.
Last evening when down town, feeling very hot and seeing a place where ice cream was sold, I went in & had 4d worth. But I shall not repeat. I don't see why they can't make decent ice cream & lemonade in this country, but they don't.
Thurs. evening. 31st May
Three years ago today next month we arrived in London from Dublin. Do you remember the trip? In spite of the roses the country was not nearly so beautiful then as it is now. I always thought England was at its best in June but I believe one month earlier is better. Oxford must be very pretty now with the ivy coming out.
Do you remember Mrs Leslie & Miss Cassells spoke particularly of springtime in Oxford. I believe though spring is now past and summer is here. If I remember aright, England considers Whitsunday the beginning of summer.
Today it was announced that we shall have our first exam next Monday. No one here takes the examinations very seriously and I doubt whether the officers do themselves. As nearly as I can judge it is like other English schools in paying more attention to one's being present at a given number of parades and eating a given number of meals and doing a certain amount of work during the term - generously intermingled with sports - (cricket preferred) than to examinations written or oral. But we shall see.
It is so long since I have seen any Canadian news that I feel woefully out of touch with things. Here I go on day after day writing about myself and my doings, when perhaps you are longing for my advice on matters that have been troubling you. It makes me feel so far away when I think of this - but then I remember that God looks down with equal eye everywhere - and that you are in His keeping.
I wonder whether Sir Rob. Borden's announcement re compulsory service has caused a cataclysm in C. C. & M's [Clarke, Carson & MacLeod]- or whether business is going on as usual. There are so many things I'd like to know - whether you are on your holidays yet - how you are - what success you had in the exams - whether you are getting plenty of outdoor exercise, whether Fitch has left yet. What Bryanton intends to do, how Fritz is getting on at Drumheller - whether Wray has been East - how the new organ works, what congregations Central is having - how Mr & Mrs Fallis are - and all our other friends. These and a hundred other things I'd like to know. I suppose you have answered many of these questions in the letters that must be on their way somewhere. Tomorrow it will be exactly 4 weeks since I received my last letter from you. Just think of it. Are mine as long in reaching you?
Today being Thurs. we quit work at 3. I now have my notes copied, my Webb equipment whitened and various other duties performed and I think I shall go to the park to see the baseball & cricket games. Even if they are not interesting the place is beautiful enough to compensate me for the walk, and the evening is lovely. With daylight saving we have very long evenings - and there isn't as much early dew as usual, so a stroll in the park is delightful. It only needs your presence to make the evening perfect. At any rate you are present in the thoughts of
Evelyn to Fred
Where do you think I've been? Down to the C.P.R. station, but you could never guess whom I've seen, so, not to keep you in suspense, I'll tell you at once. Gordon Jones, in charge of a half a train load of Chinese coolies. One man, naked to the waist, was stretching himself out of the window. Elizabeth was too modest to look at them, but I wasn't. One called out good-bye, some waved their hands, and some stuck out their lips. I took a good look at them, and they really had quite different features. Gordon says the most of the Chinese here are from Canton, but these in the train were from some place which is British territory, acquired at the time of the Boxer rebellion. Some wore funny caps, which looked as if they were made of gray squirrel skin.
Clara [Jones] is coming home too, she left on the second of May and her father and mother were to meet her in San Francisco. He [Gordon Jones] says the ships coming from the Orient are all crowded and that she had to book her passage a long time ahead, and even at that, she and the baby had to be in a berth with two other women. He looks the same as ever, only a little heavier. Won't it be nice, we can see Clara this summer. Mother mentioned three places we might go for a rest, and one was Sauble Beach where the Germans go.
Gordon had sent a telegram to Fritz, so Elizabeth and I went down. We thought there might be a mistake as Information knew nothing of a train coming in at that time, but it was on time, except for a minute or two. I told you before about the coolies, didn't I ? They are to do work behind the trenches in France.
I gave Gordon your address, and Art’s. Art’s now is Canadian Light Horse, France.
After Gordon had left Elizabeth and I went over to Rochan’s and had some hot chocolate. It got cold out on the station platform, for although the day was bright, it was cold. We stayed there a long time talking until Wray came in with Mr. Waters and another man. I hadn’t mentioned conscription to Wray, but Elizabeth said he did not know when he’d go East, and he said tonight that he was waiting to see what form the bill was to take before he went. If they had several weeks to enroll, he could go and get back. His heart is acting up just now, and we told him he was smoking too much. He said he’d just been wondering about that himself.
I’ve been having my lunch down town again, with Miss LeSoeur lately. I don’t like coming home when it’s rainy.
You know I told you that I was going to ask Dad to get me the money for my trip if I couldn't borrow it from the bank, and almost by return mail I got his reply. He says he still owes me 25 or 30. I don't want to take that. Maybe you think I'm foolish not to ask it from the firm. I'm going to ask for the advance on insurance, but that's all. I'm not going to have them think I'm sponging no matter what I may think about the unfairness of our monthly allowance. It means a lot to know, when you're so far away, that I have a father and mother to fall back on.
I went to get rates for the trip east to-day. I could go to St. John for the same R.R. [railroad] fare as I can to Hamilton. There is a C.P.R. boat from Ft. William to Owen Sound, so think I shall risk the boat trip, though maybe I'm silly. But it's good for one's liver to be seasick, isn't it?
I intend to go to Beamsville, even if it isn't for very long. Your mother spoke about my going east, but never mentioned going to Beamsville, and I wondered if you had explained to her why I might not go. I did not mean to intimate that she did not want me to go, but that, very tactfully, she did not force me even to mention it.
And I had a letter from Margaret, very different from the one wherein (to you) she expressed the opinion that she had hoped I should be satisfied with a home and children. I wondered if you had not been at work there too explaining things. You are my guardian angel, aren't you darling. How I love you,
Your own wife.
June 1/17 - Friday
Our lucky day again. And soon it will be our wedding anniversary. Little did we think when we were married, and our future looked so bright, how we should spend our third anniversary.
I’ve just had my supper, consisting of some new potatoes, some chicken that Mrs. Bell brought me, and some grape juice. I’ve been scolding myself that I didn’t give it to you last winter when you were sick; I had almost forgotten its about its existence.
I didn't fully realize how sick you were when you were first in England, but I've been thinking how uncomfortable you must have been. And in the letter that came to-day, you spoke of looking "pale and thin" in London. As I look at your picture and the little snap at Cheadle station, I realize more vividly than ever the sacrifice you have made, in enlisting at all, and in enlisting in the ranks. But, were it not for what you have to take, I'd be glad you went in the ranks. I know how your blood must boil at some things, and am glad you can speak out to me, at any rate. None of your letters have been censored as yet.
The letter I got to-day was dated the fifteenth of May, the last before that was started on the seventh, so there’s one in between, telling how about how you got to Hertford, probably. It may come tomorrow. The one to-day made the best time of any yet.
I have been sick yesterday and to-day, a bad bilious attack. I got up yesterday morning, but was dizzy, so went back to bed. Mrs. Bell was here. I tell her she’s always here when she’s needed, and she looked after me. Lena came over about seven, she was coming to stay all night anyway. She got my supper and my breakfast this morning, and sent the doctor up. There's nothing wrong, only I haven't been getting enough rest, I’m ashamed to say. Please don’t scold me I know I should go to bed earlier.
...at a dinner at Conference last night, Victoria old boys and girls, with wives and husbands, and Elizabeth stopped in on her way home, and came over to-day and got my lunch. Wasn’t that good of her? She seems quite resigned to going out to Drumheller, but does not know why they are going, except that Fritz thinks they can get along better there. She asked me if I’d heard the reason Moffatt gave for Fritz’s leaving the firm, and I said, yes, I’d heard somebody’s explanation. She said she often wondered what explanation he gave. At the time I was sitting up eating my lunch, and I got dizzy, not so very, but it was enough to mention, and the talk drifted around. I could not have told her; it wasn’t my place to tell her.
Tonight Miss Cummer came in with some Ophelia roses. Wasn’t that lovely of her? I told her I didn’t think I deserved them, as it was my own fault I got sick. She heard Dr Endicott speak last night, and he was talking about bequests. He said “We don’t wish these people to die, but if they do, they’re better off, and so are we.” So I told her that I didn’t wish her to go to Heaven, but that if she did, I’d send her flowers.
Had a letter from Hazel to-day. She said she heard that Dr. Crumny was being compelled to resign from Wesley College on account of - drink. I can’t believe it. She said Mr. Wallace, her principal, told her that on shipboard he indulged. She was always a great admirer of his. But if that were so, he wouldn’t be sent to a church at Moose Jaw, do you think? He was to have spoken at Conference here, but just did wired he was not coming. I never heard any explanation.
...Got $18 from Union Bank yesterday, very prompt. And Mr. Taylor says the C.P.R. quarterly dividend will be due us too.
Am sending this down with Frances, [Fallis] so will write more later.
1. Gordon Roseburgh Jones, Toronto University, 1907. Chinese Labour Corps. Second Lieut., May 1917; France, July 1917; Acting Capt., October 1917; Lieut. November 1918.
2. For an account of the transportation of the Chinese Labour Corps see article "Secret Trains across Canada 1917-1918" by Elizabeth A. Tancock. The Beaver, October-November, 1991. pp 39-43.
3. For information on Canadian Army Veterinary Corps see “The History of the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps in The Great World War” by Captain Cecil French, edited by Cliff and Ian Barker
4. Arthur Lewis Sifton. 1858-19212. Premier of Alberta. Prominent figure in the Liberal party.
5. Sir Robert Laird Borden. 1854-1937. Prime Minister of Canada during World War I.
6. Part of the Whitsuntide holiday.
7. Field Marshall Sir John French. 1852-1925. First commander of the B.E.F. in France and Belgium. Resigned after Battle of Loos (September 1915) in favour of Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig.