July 1917 - "The only thing for me to do now is what the present duty demands."
Evelyn to Fred
July 1/ 17
Dearest One: -
I have just been looking at the little snap you sent me, the one you had taken at Cheadle station. How very very long ago that seems, yet in matter of fact it is only 4 months.
Last night I was re-reading some of the letters you wrote when you first went east. So long ago that seems. In one of your letters you called me "Evelyn." Don't call me that, Ferd dear, it is too cold and dignified. I never liked that name much, it never seemed as if it really suited me.
In a week your time at Hertford will be up, and than what, I wonder. It has never really seemed possible that you could go to France. I think that is what has made it possible for me to stand your going away.
Last night I was thinking how I hated to go back to Calgary - and law, but I'm so glad I have it to do. I can feel that I am doing something that may help you. And then I have a definite place to fill. I know I'll be ready to go back when my two months are up.You see, it’s only a week tomorrow night since we started, and I’ve had quite a holiday already.
I think I’ll go down to Beamsville Thursday, and Ora and I will go to Owen Sound Saturday. Margaret is home now, and I’ve asked her to go up with us, mother having been fortunate enough to secure a cottage for three weeks.
Oh darling, if only you could be there, just to loaf around and have a real rest. I am going to take you sometime to have a holiday like that. Will you go with me?
We went to church twice to-day to the church down here, Ryerson, and heard Dr. Treleavyn. We saw Fred & Myrtle Davey, Dell Davey, Mrs. Bowlby, Mr. & Mrs Simpson from Stoney Creek, and Grace Freeman and her husband Russell Treleavyn. He has a hand that is paralyzed or something.
Tonight Rita Carey, Stella’s kid sister, sang “A Song of Trust,” just the way Stell does, only she hasn’t the voice that Stell has. I’d like to see Estelle, but there are so many to see here. Wilfred said I was to give her a hug and a kiss from him, but I asked him how I could give away what I never had.
I am sending the life of Dr. Anna Shaw, preacher, temperance lecturer, suffrage worker. Her father and mother were English & Scotch who came out to one of the New England states. Then they went pioneering into the Michigan woods. The father went ahead and built the walls for a house, then went back to the city and sent his wife, almost an invalid and four young children out there. One boy of twenty was there who soon fell ill and had to go east to have an operation. The father stayed in the city for 18 months. It is a hard, hard story of privation.
It's time for sleep - Oh my own, do you feel me leaving you? How contented and happy it makes me to know I have your love, and that when I fall asleep in your arms, I would be there in reality if you had your way.
Your own wife.
Remember three years ago?
Monday July 2/17
We have had the most wonderful day - Yesterday it rained so that to-day there was no dust. The sun shone all day, but there was a lovely breeze, so that the day was neither too hot nor too cold. I washed my hair this morning, and Ora and I cut out a dress for me. Here we go out for our meals in the middle of the day, so to-day Ora and Elleda and I took Mr. & Mrs. Dickenson to the Wentworth Arms for dinner.
Afterwards we drove to the Beach and along the new highway as far as Oakville. The road is paved (pardon the blot, but my pen wasn’t working right & I shook it) and there are charming homes along it. Really, England hasn’t much more beauty than this country around here, except maybe for the flowers and the hedges.
Coming back we stopped at Mr. W. D. Flatt’s at a garden party for the Red Cross. Their grounds are in the lake shore, and have most beautiful trees. We went out by the shore - the bank is high there, and sat under two huge chestnut trees, for about an hour and a half, just talking, or not, and watching the water and the ships.
I said tonight to Ora “If only the boys could have had to-day, in the midst of their present life.” We came home through crowds and crowds. Everybody was out with the whole family it seemed. It did seem as if the world and his family was having a well earned family holiday.
We came home for supper, and then went to a patriotic fête in the cricket grounds - There was a big choir, which sang “Oh Canada” & the Hallelujah Chorus and led all of us in the singing of the songs on the enclosed card, Bruce Carey was leading, and really, it was the most enjoyable thing. Before us lay the green, green grounds, then as a background rose the tree covered side of the mountain.
About a hundred little white clad kiddies danced and played on the green grass, before and after they did their “stunt,” which was a Maypole dancer most beautifully done - There were two bands which played. Once they played “Pack up your trouble in your own kit bag, and smile, smile, smile,” and everyone was asked to sing. A man sang “Rule Brittania” and all were asked to join in the chorus.
Adam Brown, aged 90, made a speech - He had been present at the first Confederation exercises, 50 years ago. A man who also had been present then, opened by leading in the “Lord’s Prayer” which everyone was supposed to repeat. The End was a tableau “Confederation.” First a woman in bridal robes with 2 children came in and took a seat on a throne covered with a Union Jack.
Then the first four provinces, each bearing the coat-of-arms of that province, came in turn and as each came an appropriate air was played by the band. B.C. was preceded by an Indian youngster who went back & beckoned her in, when she was welcomed by all, as were all the late comers.
Before Manitoba came a little Indian child, who also went and beckoned her in. She was a young girl. Before Sask. & Alberta came in, two young cow-boys, with big rakes came in from either side and bumped into each other, then each went and called its respective province.
Then the lady in white got off her throne and “Canada” I guess it was, came in and got on the throne & the lady in white did homage and then disappeared. Whereupon the band struck up “The Land of the Maple” and then “God Save the King.” It was such a charmingly simple celebration we were all delighted. One coloured balloon was sent up, and we saw a few rockets. I never heard a fire cracker all day. Are we learning some sense?
It was a year ago, wasn’t it, that you first went out to camp, and it rained and oh, you came home. How glad I was that night. May it be an augury of your soon homecoming to your loving wife.
Fred to Evelyn
July 3 1917
My darling wife,-
Three years ago today I started at Sarcee camp where I first met Nease. I shall not soon forget that day. Do you remember that it rained hard and as there were not sufficient tents put up, we were sent home for the night. Do you remember my coming home about 4 o'clock in the afternoon? Well today hasn't been much like it. While not so hot as the early part of June today's sun was warm enough while we were drilling and today’s work was quite as strenuous as yesterday’s except that before breakfast our platoon went to the swimming baths instead of taking a five mile run for an appetizer.
But we all take comfort in the thought that there are only 2 1/2 more days of work. I don't think we shall have any more exams. In the practical work they are finished & it looks as if there would be no more written exams. On map reading I got 48 out of 50 - Heeney was first with 50 & Carman also of the 191st, 2nd with 49, Nease had 47.
This morning I had left the breakfast table before the mail arrived. I met the serjeant on the square and seeing his hands pretty full I asked if there was any for me. "Yes," he replied, "You'd better bring a wheel-barrow." Choate brought the letters for Armstrong & myself into the room - 21 in all - 13 for Armstrong & 8 for me.
Even Choate, who rarely gets letters, received 2 this morning. Nease, Heeney, Carman & the others all got a bunch. It’s true 3 of my letters were only Univ. of Alberta News Letters, but even they are interesting. Of the other 5, there was one each from Margaret & Don - and 3 from my little wifie, those posted June 2nd, 4th & 11th.
It's strange that the last one was addressed to the school here, like those I got last Saturday, and yet it went to Bramshott first.
Margaret’s letter was a great surprise to me - of course you know by this time about Ray’s latest misfortune - Diabetes. - Doesn’t it beat all how every step he has attempted to take in connection with the war has been thwarted? I can guess how cut up he feels about it.
And yet, who knows? It may all be for the best though it’s pretty hard to believe that when one is the victim himself. Margaret seems to think Diabetes is very serious. I don’t even know what it is, - but I have thought for a couple years past that Ray had an unnatural color. He hasn’t looked really well for a long time & I can’t but think that insufficient care, lack of rest, overwork, and carelessness in dieting have brought this on.
Perhaps a season’s rest in the society of his beloved chickens will do more for him than Margaret thinks. And Margaret, too, is learning by dear experience that there is a limit to human endurance. She always has had ambition beyond her judgment.
I have been writing under tremendous difficulties. The other fellows are all talking and now and again address me direct which is more or less diverting to one's thoughts so I'll not write any more now, especially as I have to do some sewing. This morning when dressing I found there was only one button on my trousers behind. I hadn’t time then to put on another & I thought one would last the day out. - but by noon, I hadn’t any & I had to use a makeshift belt for the afternoon. So I must use the needle now before going to bed.
Goodnight my sweetheart - wife- I love you, I love you, I love you.
Wed. evening, July 4th 1917.
Tonight’s lecture was “washed out” - ie - called off - so we have the whole evening to ourselves. How different today has been from yesterday. We seem to have been merely putting in time.
Instead of P.T. this morning nos. 3 & 4 platoons were paraded before the company commander 8 at a time when he looked us over & gave us our final grading. Then between 11.30 & 12.30 the whole school was paraded in similar fashion before the commandant who told us what the school's recommendation was in our respective cases. Several lance corporals & corporals were recommended for formation, & most of the serjeants to retain their present rank - as was the case with myself & all other 191 men. In some cases the recommendation is for a reduction in rank.
After today it is possible to say much the same of this school as of the one at Sarcee last summer. The instruction is excellent but the exams. are a farce. The results are based very largely on the reports of the platoon serjeants, whose opinion in most cases in directly related to the number of drinks that have been bought for them. It's disgusting to see how many fellows, none of the 191,
I'm glad to say, have "sucked around" in the way I've mentioned & consequently today were recommended to retain their rank or be promoted when their work doesn't justify it in the least, while others who are proficient and have minded their own business get less than their desserts.
For example, Heeney & Nease are 2 of the best corporals in the school & should have been recommended for serjeant’s stripes - but no, they only get a recommendation to retain their present rank.
For nearly an hour this morning we were confined to barracks on account of another air raid - this time of 15 planes on the east coast near Harwich. The air conditions were favorable to an air raid there being what is called "low visibility" caused by a hazy sky which threatened rain. According to the evening papers the loss of life & property in this latest raid was very slight, though I don't place implicit confidence in the published reports.
This evening I saw some lovely roses again - a climber just covered with full red blooms. On 3 sides of our barrack square one can see lovely flowers in the adjoining gardens too. This morning when drilling I could hardly keep my eyes off a particularly beautiful bush just peeping over the wall - half hidden in the thick foliage of the trees. I think one of the chief charms of English flowers is their presence in such unexpected places.
What a lot of news there was in your last letters. I’m glad you saw Gordon Jones & hope you will be able to see Clara when you are east. From your earlier letter I had thought he was already in France. I hope I can get to see him.
You say Elmer was at Sandling. - That is near Hythe, but as I have already told you he is now at Bramshott & I’m looking forward to seeing him next week. Is Laura staying with her parents?
So Wray’s heart is troubling him. You speak as if it were not the first time. I didn’t know it had ever caused him trouble before, whether smoking is the cause or not. It would do him no harm to ease up on the weed. Poor Wray. He is in a difficult position now. Please be as good to him as you can.
How many troubles there are in the world. I have felt for some time something of what you said about Ruby & Wilfred. Ruby is slow and is often tiresome in her conversation but she didn't always have the hesitating manner she has now, & I feel it is partly from sticking too close to housework. None of the rest of her family are like that. From the little I have seen of them, I should say they are all very good conversationalists.
During the Oaten's first year and a half in Calgary before Wilfred had his breakdown, he was babied too much by both Ruby & Mother O., and of course the brunt of the work fell on Ruby. She’d always wait up for him or go out with him or they had people in, so that she rarely got to bed before midnight - and then she always got up first in the morning & prepared his breakfast so that he could eat it and rush off about 8 o’ clock. She didn’t get enough rest and without realizing it her health was being sacrificed for him.
Until the summer of 1914, when Ruby was east so long, Wilfred had not had enough male society. Then he got going to the Masonic club, etc.. And it was just what he needed, but unfortunately since the baby has come he hasn't realized how little Ruby gets out and now perhaps he is going to the other extreme. It's too bad for really they love each other dearly and I think each has come to think that the other isn’t quite fair.
Of course Mother O's presence doesn't help, but that too is unavoidable. Perhaps if Ruby goes east again, they'll realize from separation how dear they are to each other. Meanwhile, be as good and helpful as you can will you, dearest?
Before my pen goes quite dry I'll kiss you goodnight! If only I could do it with my lips instead of the pen! Sometime I'll make up for the kisses I can't give you now and I'll hug you until you cry quits, my darling - my wife.
Thurs. eve.[July 5]
Nease & I went to Hatfield today & had a lovely time but it's so late now I can't tell you about it tonight and I want this letter to go off tomorrow so I'll tell about it in my next. I finished a letter to your mother tonight & am mailing it too.
Hazel’s parcel came today - with lovely socks & some toffee, maple sugar & chocolate tucked away in the corners wasn’t that nice of her?
Goodnight my dear - my sweetheart.
Evelyn to Fred
Dear Darling: -
You won't get much tonight for I'm very tired. We were up at 6.15 and motored to Toronto and back. After supper I went and posted a letter for Elleda, then I read part of your letter dated the 5th of May to Ora and Elleda, after which I took a bath.
I'll write you a decent letter tomorrow. How I wish you could have been along to-day, it was such a beautiful day.
Your own kiddie.
Well we have been gadding and working hard to-day. Ora and Elleda made four fruit cakes and fudge and Ora washed out my white skirt for me. I sewed at my pink dress, and Ora helped me with that, while Elleda sewed too. She stayed and watched the cooking of the cakes while the rest of us went to lunch. We did a little shopping, and came home and sewed until 4.15 when we went to call on Ruby Hewitt, who is married and lives on this street, we had afternoon tea there. Laura Wight was invited over too. ...
...We called at a new drug store, begun by the people next door, and had most delicious ice cream cones - mine was orange - and we bought some chocolate and gum for you.
After we came home, I read your letters written on your leave - to Elleda, who enjoyed them very much. Wasn’t it funny that in the letter I had yesterday you should say you hoped I’d see her when she came home! I asked her if your pictures were any good if she’d like one and said yes, and then said “Say, young lady, what are you trying to start?” So I told her I had her picked for your second wife - Ora said you had Stell Carey chosen, but I said you liked Elleda better, and anyway, I did and that I ought to have something to say about it.
We have been having such a delightful time, I feel my brain so much clearer. It was beginning to feel fagged. Mrs. Dickenson said they missed young people around so much and were so glad we could be here when Elleda was. I guess it is lonely for all people when their children are away. I hope you don't think I am staying here too long, but it is such a pleasant change.
I'll go down to Beamsville tomorrow afternoon. I'm planning to come down later on and stay a week or more, but I'm not going to try to go making visits, it is too tiring. I was expecting a note from Margaret tonight telling me whether or not she was coming up with us. Mae can't come and Elleda can't, and I think I'll ask Laura. She feels very lonely, and they were so good to me after you went away.
Now darling, I don't want you to try saving £2 a month. Why should you? It makes me feel so selfish when you talk like that, for I haven't been denying myself much. Oh dearie, if you knew how badly it made me feel to think you are skimping, you wouldn't do it. You promised me you wouldn't, have you forgotten that? It will only mean that I'll send you more things, which is an expensive way to do if you can get them there.
This cake we are sending you is a very special kind, so keep it for yourself and your special friends, if that doesn't seem too selfish an instruction. There will also be some fudge, and some rocks Mrs. Dickenson is giving me. I'll get some canned sausages sometime, and beef steak and onions, which we have had very highly recommended.
Your mother will be so glad to know you got her box safely. I am going to tell her I’ll look after you pretty well, or else give her some money to pay postage etc. Maybe that would be better for of course she loves doing things, and I haven’t time to make many things for you. My boxes are so full of bought things.
I wonder if you have received your musketry notes yet. I sent them about a week before I left Calgary. By the way, a man across the road, Mr. Philp, is a cousin of Mr. Clarke’s.
You asked me a lot of questions about the office, Bryenton, as I told you, has gone home on holidays. I don’t know how Ferguson is getting along; the people at the L.T.O., when he did my work when I was sick, thought him slow, but it was dumped on him without any preparation.
Yes, I chum around with Miss Cummer , Miss Scott and Miss Burgoin. They certainly are nice girls, and I appreciate the fact that I have won their esteem, (you know you can often fairly well gauge what people think of you) especially Miss Cummer’s, for she is a critical little lady. Although I don’t think she reads Mr. Winter right, I’ve just been thinking I’d write to Mr Macleod to see if he can give me work. I think I’d like his work, and he was asking me not long ago what I’d like, and told me once before that he could give me lots to do. I’d like to have the right to supplement him in some ways. Does that sound egoistic?
Laura gets the Herald, and she said to-day that Wray’s picture was in the paper, as Gold Medalist, and that it said he was coming home for a couple months and then was going in with Waters. The other reports ought to be in tomorrow.
You spoke about your Aunt Agnes. I forgot to tell you, and I think Lena told me your Uncle Joe died shortly after, I think it was heart trouble in each case - too fat I guess.
...My opinion that Fritz is continuing to put off the evil hour of confession, thinking he'll wriggle out of things somehow. I don't want to be too hard on him, but really, I have about lost my respect for him. I am so proud of you my darling; I can hold up my head for you. It seems as if you must be happy dear, for I feel a peace in my heart, almost an absence of care.
Life could be very sweet for us if only there were no more war. I like a sentence in your last letter the one where you spoke of the church campaign showing us that often we did not aim high enough. You help me to keep mine up, because you believe in me.
Your own wife.
Evelyn to Fred
July 6, 1917
Dearest One: -
Your letter of the 15th of June came last night after Margaret and I had gone up to bed. I came down last night G.T.R. as I had my ticket that way, and nobody was there to meet me. I wondered what was the matter, but rode up with Mr Arness to Mr. Buck's, where I discovered that I'd been expected on Tuesday instead of Thursday, and it seems that I did really write that.
Ray had invited some girls who were "farming" for E.D. Smith down to a chicken dinner and Addie was bringing them up, so I rode up with them. Mabel had come up in the afternoon to help get ready for the guests, so I saw her too.
I was a little surprised at Ray's inviting a crowd like that, for it does make work, but they said that they were glad to do it for him, and that he was taking and interest in things. Margaret says he has been so depressed that she is glad to see him brightening up.
Margaret does not know whether to go up with me or not. She wants to, and yet she does not like leaving your mother and Ray. ... I don't want to urge Margaret to come, and yet it seems as if she doesn't have many holidays. She thinks she might keep Ray brighter by staying at home, so she's in a quandary, but I rather think she's coming up.
There is somebody coming over Sunday I think, and I think Wray Moyer may be home soon, and he might come up. I never realized that diabetes was such a treacherous disease. Margaret said she wrote and told you all about it.
Ray is feeling very much better, and, as I said before, Margaret says the interest in others is a good sign. Your mother seems to be feeling better, and is planning to go to the Falls the first two weeks in August. That may happen to be about the time I had planned to come down, but I’ll see how I can arrange things.
We have just finished supper, and since we began the meal Wray Moyer has telephoned Ray, and wants him to come down, over Sunday; and Pauline Moyer has ‘phoned Margaret. She wanted to know all about Wray Moyer, whether he had gone to war, etc. Did I tell you that it was in the Herald that he was going to be home for two months and then go into partnership with Waters.
Oh, if only the war were over, and we were all home together, and we respected each other as much as we used to.
We are going up to Boughner’s to get chestnut leaves for dad’s hives.
The train goes early in the morning, so I’ll have to go to bed early tonight. Some woman Margaret nursed has her at the ‘phone, but it’s getting dark and I wish she’d let up. She’s getting information about feeding her baby. We’re going now, it seems.
Sat. a.m. [July 7] between Grimbsy & Hamilton
Margaret was all packed up ready to go, and went down this morning to get her stockings, when your mother told her your father was very cross over something. He didn't like it because Ray invited the girls up, but I can't see why he should take it out on the women. Then Ray lost 26 young chickens yesterday, he had fed them meat and they ate too much and died.
It made me sore but I don’t blame Margaret for staying home. She says if she goes away in the fall she’ll have the satisfaction of knowing she did all she could all summer to please him [father]. You know she has signed up for home service & is going to for overseas. Of course there are others better able to go than she, but if she wants to go, why hinder her. Don’t blame Margaret for talking to me, goodness, I know she has to relieve herself and she can’t talk to your mother or anybody else.
I see now, though, that what I have often thought brusque in your mother was her attempt to cover up peevishness on his part. I do not love German characteristics nor Mennonites. There is a book I was told about - Tillier the Mennonite maid which describes the Pennsylvania Dutch down in Pennsylvania & New Jersey. They tried to get an injunction to have its publication stopped saying it exaggerated their faults, but they failed. According to it, they do nothing but work.
I know times have been hard for your father, he's never been able to do what he wanted, but he has let himself become gnarled and embittered, not smoothed and softened by his experiences and for that he must take the blame. And your mother has not revolted, perhaps if she had it would have been better for all concerned, but she had been brought up in the Pauline doctrine of "Wives be submissive unto your husbands." Such rot, and St. Paul was never married. Such a doctrine tends to make a man tyrannical and selfish.
Here we are near Hamilton. I just don't know how you'll like what I have written, but I suppose it's what you've thought only you were too loyal to say it.
Union Station [Toronto] Sat. July 7/17
Ora got on the train at Hamilton but I did not expect her as it was such an early one. It was a pleasant surprise. We’ll have to take the trip to Owen Sound separately however because my ticket is C.P.R. & Ora’s Grand Trunk.
Elleda & Mr. Dickenson were on the train when it started up, and Elleda ran along the platform & fell when she got off, so I just ‘phoned her now, but she said she did not hurt herself. It was a risky thing to do, though.
She said there was a letter there from you, your time must be nearly up at Hertford, and I dread the future for you. Whatever it holds you are always sure of my love.
Fred to Evelyn
July 7 1917
This our last working day at Hertford will always be memorable because it gave most of us our first view of a German air squadron in actual attack. Of course you will get reports in the Canadian papers of today's great daylight raid on London - the worst yet, though tonight's papers don't give details of the fight nor any particulars of loss of life or property damage. Street rumours are flying thick and fast but I don't place much reliance upon them. No other topic of conversation is heard on the streets and reprisal talk is much more general and emphatic than ever before.
What shall I say of the raid itself? We had a magnificent view of it though so far away, perhaps better than many of the Londoners hampered as their vision was by fog haze and smoke. Our first alarm sounded about 9.30 while we were in Ball's Park at bayonet training. We at once took cover under the trees and carried on with our work, being able to hear nothing except an occasional distant gun or see a cloud of smoke from an anti air craft gun shell.
Even this subsided and about 10 we were all gathered under a tree for a lecture, when suddenly in the south eastern sky the first planes of the fleet appeared to the accompaniment of a pounding like overlapping peals of distant thunder. Immediately we acted on the order "Scatter" - doubling off in small groups to the shelter of the friendly trees. And now from between the branches we could see the whole fleet come into view on the south heading north west, in regular formation fan-shaped.
The boom from the guns and dropping bombs now became louder and louder and it became difficult to distinguish the planes from the bursting shells that seemed everywhere about them - around, above & below, while the smoke clouds became so dense they added to the difficulties of our gunners and airmen. We tried to count the planes and I am sure I counted 36, but perhaps I counted some of our own machines, for according to tonight's papers they were up in the air attacking the Bosches all the while the firing was going on.
From the south east these birds of prey flew towards the north west and it looked for a while as if they were coming straight over Hertford, but turning suddenly they proceeded westward, then when almost out of sight, doubled back to the east. For about 20 minutes the noise continued, then no evidence remained to us of the devastating visit except the clouds of smoke drifting across the sky.
How did we feel? I can't speak for all but I believe my feeling was fairly typical - one of deepest indignation and an intensification of my desire to do my bit to bring to a speedy conclusion a war in which such murder of civilians in possible. I didn't have the least fear nor did many others though a few nervous men seemed to "get their wind up" - to use the army expression for becoming excited.
Half an hour after the raid it was hard to believe such a thing had been - so quiet and peaceful the countryside looked and as I write this evening, with the evening sounds coming in through the barrack window and the summer twilight steals over us, it all seems like a dream.
Owing to the air raid we had but little drill this morning and at 12.15 we were dismissed after a medical inspection. Then we had to scrub barracks and our day's work was done. After dinner I went downtown, had a haircut, spent half an hour at the Y.M.C.A. wrote a letter to "Pat" answering one I received from him in the morning asking me to arrange to meet him next Sunday - also one to Gordon Jones in reply to his written from Halifax. I told him where to find me and it is quite probable we shall be able to see each other. I hope so. Gordon is a pretty good sort. I was really surprised at hearing from him.
I told you didn’t I that Hazel's parcel of socks arrived on Thursday - 4 pair instead of 3 - all lovely ones. I gave one pair to Armstong and am taking the rest back to Bramshott. Perhaps "Pat" will like one. Inside the socks were a couple pieces of maple sugar, some gum, toffee & other candy. Wasn’t that thoughtful of her? Everything was so well chosen too and tastes so good. I must write her a letter. Had been intending to send a card anyway.
By the same mail came your parcel, forwarded from Bramshott. I didn't open it but re-addressed it to Bramshott & this evening I took it and another small parcel down to the P.O. and mailed them. I also made up a 14 lb parcel of some of my books clothing and canned goods you sent and sent it by fast "goods" train to Bramshott.
I had altogether too much to carry coming down & as I have accumulated some stuff in the meantime I thought it best to lighten my load for the return journey by sending some things by parcel post & train. That is the reason I didn’t open your parcel.
We are all hoping we shall be allowed to stop off a few hours in London to visit the scenes of the air raid. I hear that Oxford Circus is blown to bits and that considerable damage is done elsewhere. But I fear we shall have to go right on to Bramshott for tonight's orders say our company commander is to accompany us to London.
Sunday evening, [July 8]
I had counted on a quiet afternoon in which to write you and then an evening walk but it has rained steadily all day thus keeping everyone in barracks. For the past 3 hours our room has presented a busy noisy and confusing scene as the fellows have been at work blancoing their equipment shining brasses, turning packs and kit bags inside out, discarding superfluous articles that somehow or other accumulate no matter how short one's stay in a place may be. It is now 5.20 and the room looks as if the air raid had been here instead of in London. I myself have been pretty busy but now have everything finished that can be done tonight. We are due to leave in the morning about 9.30.
I went to the Baptist church again this morning and as usual found difficulty in keeping awake during the sermon. However the reading of the 40th psalm carried my thought westward and at once distance was annihilated and I was sitting beside you listening to Mr. Fallis offering one of his wondrously comforting prayers. How I should like to hear him preach again!
In honour of our approaching departure they fed us today and yesterday on the toughest meat we have had, and for tea tonight there was only soggy cake, bread & margarine & tea. I eked this out with the last of the honey your mother sent and so fared pretty well after all. Choate got a box from home today and he has promised to provide out of it something for a supper for the 191st boys tonight.
Two more letters came from you last week on Thursday Friday the one posted June 18th and yesterday that posted June 14th. I hardly expected anymore so soon and of course was agreeably surprised. I think dearest your idea of numbering our letters is a good one. As this will be posted at Bramshott - the first one after leaving school, it will be appropriate to number it 1.
It is awfully nice to get parcels, but I'm afraid, dearie, that you are sacrificing yourself in order to send me things and I don't want you to do that. Apart from the money, it makes a lot of work getting the boxes ready and sending them off, so please don't send so many.
Your last letters were very newsy. I’m so glad the Fallises have gone away for a holiday and that the Board gave him a purse. It looks as if he were coming into his own to some extent at least. There is a great work for him to do in Calgary and I hope the congregation is now quite united, though of course there must still be a few who look back to the days time of Dr Kerby as being the halcyon days of Central church.
I’m not surprised that Jim Garden has doffed the khaki. I never really expected him to reach the front.
So you are to have a fellow member of your “sect” in the office. I hope she proves congenial. Perhaps her coming will mean that you get more interesting work to do.
In one of your recent letters you spoke of expecting an increase in salary upon becoming a second year student. I am sorry to dash your hopes, but your increase was anticipated and began last June. Ever since then you have been getting the usual second year student’s salary.
I’m glad the Robertsons are friendly with you. I think you will like and appreciate him - yes both of them - more as you come to know them better. In ordinary contact with him, one rarely sees the real man. I’m glad too you know Lena better and like her more than you did. She has not had an easy time in life and though her views may often be narrow they are never bitter - and are usually surprisingly charitable. I am going to send her a card. Meanwhile remember me to her when next you see her.
I suppose by this time you have been to Beamsville and are now probably visiting Elleda. I wish I could see her again. The visit a year ago last Christmas was somewhat disappointing. She didn’t seem like her real self there. Either that or I was “off colour” myself.
You will be having a delightful time with Ora and father & mother & boating and just holidaying. I'm sorry mother thinks I have been neglectful about writing but you know dearie how it has been. I suppose though I might have sent cards frequently. I shall do so after you go home again.
You said you were going to be away two months didn’t you? That means I shall continue to send my letter to Owen Sound for at least 3 weeks more. It was awfully good of father to offer to let you have money for your holiday, but I hope you had enough without it. They should have seen to it at the office that you had sufficient funds, for if they thought about it at all they would know that you were short unless they made you an advance.
Last evening it occurred to me that I had not sent you any post cards of Hertford & that you might like some so I am enclosing a couple of places closely associated with my stay here. I shall also send you one or two of Hatfield Park. I was going to tell you about my visit there last Thurs. but it's getting late and so I shall tell about it in another letter.
Goodnight my own sweetheart. Were we not in Charing 3 years ago tonight?
Tues. July 10th
I'm sorry I missed yesterday's mail dearest. At Hertford Canadian mail goes out Tues & Fri. but at Bramshott on Mon & Thurs.
I meant to write last night but the time slipped by. We left Hertford at 9.30 a.m. in the rain and arrived in London at 11.30. At London it was cloudy but not raining. We 191 boys stayed together first having a wash and brush and dinner at the Union Jack Club, opposite Waterloo station. It is for soldiers & sailors. I had a good dinner served nicely on clean linen with silverware for 11d. Here's the menu: boiled cod, bread, potatoes & green salad.
After dinner we went first to see the General Post Office, which we heard had been completely destroyed in Saturday's raid. Great crowds were coming & going and on the streets near by stood gazing, apparently with feelings of surprised amusement akin to my own at seeing so very little evidence of damage. The walls were intact and while we could see from the street that the top storey was badly wrecked with the roof gone - it didn't look as if the 2nd top story was much injured, & on the 3rd from the top the clerks could be seen through the windows working away as usual. Across the street there were cracks & holes in plate glass window, but for a building which had been struck & set on fire the G.P.O. looked like a dismal failure from the Hun standpoint.
From there we took a bus to Piccadilly Circus - another spot reported to have been wrecked along with a large part of Swan & Edgar's store. Here we wandered about for some time before even a trace of the raid was visible. Finally on the north side of S. & E's store we saw a gap about 2 feet wide in the cornice of the second storey. A bomb had dropped on the cornice, cutting this bit away as clean as if by a saw but the bomb didn't explode & though some plate glass which was broken had been replaced before Mon. noon, the only other evidences then remaining to us were a cracked window across the street and right beside it a hole in the marble facing the wall - about 2 feet square. This was evidently caused by some hard object canoning from the opposite side of the street. Altogether it was an immense relief to us - and we grinned at one another in derisive satisfaction.
From then I went to the R.C.I. to enquire if by any chance there were letters not forwarded and imagine my surprise getting 8 all posted in April, from you in April - which I think accounts for all the April letters, and one for Maj. Bennett. The hall porter said he had no forwarding address? Isn't that strange when they had already forwarded some to me at Hertford? However I wasn't disposed to quarrel with him I was too pleased at getting them. One of them - that posted on Apr 11th was censored but nothing struck out.
Then the other boys all wanted to go to a matinee so not to be unsociable I agreed to go though I wasn't at all anxious to do so, but first I went to the Alta Gov't Offices for a few minutes and glanced through some Calgary papers, where for the first time I saw an account of Mr. Beach’s being wounded.
Then I joined the rest in the gods of the Comedy theatre and saw "Bubbly" a great favorite with the theatre going public though I didn't care for it.
After theatre we had only time to get tea before going to the station. I had only 2 shillings left or I would have bought you some gloves or stockings, dearest. I had counted on doing so but during the last few days at Hertford there were unexpected drains on finances, and I didn't want to come back to Bramshott absolutely penniless, as next pay day doesn't come until the 15th. But the next time I am in London dearest I shall not fail to get you something. Every time I'm there I am reminded so strongly of you, that I want to send you some remembrance of the place which you first grew to love in my company.
We left Waterloo station at 6.40 and it was a lovely ride home. After the rain the landscape looked so clean & fresh and Surrey with its hills and dales is so much prettier that Hertfordshire. Surrey & Kent & Hampshire have a beauty all their own. Owing to the train being pretty well filled when we arrived, we 21st boys obtained a first class coach. But in spite of the easy seats and the beautiful scenery I couldn't refrain from opening & reading your April letters.
Oh, my darling, how they breathe of tenderness and love. We are never really far apart since we love each other so, are we, my own? And I'm so glad you can be brave and helpful and cheerful through it all. Elmer says Laura's letters give him the blues - that she is staying in like a recluse and is becoming downhearted and gloomy. But my wifie isn't like that a bit. Your letters always brighten the day for me, even when you tell me your troubles for somewhere you always rise above them and master them and turn to your good.
It seemed like home to see Liphook station again. We started to walk but burdened with great coats equipment packs & kit bags we soon changed our minds & hailed a passing taxi which brought us here for 1s. each. On arrival at the camp however we realized immediately that changes had taken place in our absence. Our old hut was occupied by 3 serjts of the C.A.D.C. and the Q.M.S,. so for the time being I put my things in one of the men's huts. Of the 191st who came on the first draft more than 150 were in France, along with Sergt Kimmett. C.M.S. Jackson is still in hospital in Liverpool 2 pf Smith & Shaver are away on the ?. Mallett is at B.F. & P.T. school at Shorncliffe leaving only Cornett & Sinclair of the sergts. here.
I renewed acquaintances with many of the second draft, then got my things in shape & set out to find Elmer. By frequent enquiries I finally located his hut away up the lines in the 26th Reserve about a mile away. We had a long chat together and a fairly substantial supper from biscuits & cheese his batman brought from the mess, and candied apricots chocolate creams & stuffed dates from your box which he brought out of his trunk. Oh, my darling they were all so good but you shouldn't spend so much money on things for me. I know you are skimping yourself and if I eat all you send I'll be getting too fat again. So please think more of yourself and less of me.
We talked until midnight and then he suggested my occupying the bed of his roommate who is away on leave for a few days. As the Sergt major had told me I need not attend the morning parade I decided to accept the offer of a stretcher bed in place of my own bedboards without a palliasse, so I stayed.
Whom do you suppose he met while he was at Sandling? Bruce Hunter, who got over somehow and is now temporarily chaplain of the 5th Division at Witley in place of Mr. Robb. Witley camp is only 7 miles away so I hope to see him soon. He also said that Herb Peters & Douglas Robinson transferred from the cycle Corps to the 9th Reserve Bn. next to our lines and that they had called on him last Saturday.
This evening Douglas & Herb called on me and we went up to Elmer’s hut taking with us Fitch’s friend Lt Campbell who came over 2 years ago in the A.M.C. and has just received a commission in the infantry being attached to our battalion. Elmer was out but we found the key, unlocked the door & went in. On the table was a nice cake with a clasp knife beside it. We each had a piece, which along with some of my apricots & dates soon disappeared at a rapid rate to the evident enjoyment of all concerned.
As I was made company orderly serjeant for the week duties commencing this afternoon, I had to leave at 9 o'clock. Being orderly seg't isn't a rest. I have no real work except to attend parades, do some running around etc. Of course it prevents my leaving camp. Douglas & Herb both look well and we had a pleasant time.
Wed. July 11th.
Except that I have to be the first one up in the morning & the last one at night - that is to say, that I must call the roll at reveille & at last post, - I am having a snap. Today I re-read many of your letters - and also a new one that came from you today posted June 20th written the 18th & 20th numbered 7. I think you must have become mixed in your numbering for there is evidently still one missing between June 13th & 17th.
This morning I had a short chat with Norman Weir who is now attached to the 21st having been invalided home from France with trench fever. He says his brother Gordon who was a classmate in mine in Toronto has won the M.C and is now a major in an artillery unit. Norman & Fred Shouldice were together a good deal. He says Fred & his wife have gone on 2 months leave for a visit in Scotland. Also had a short chat with Vic Bowes & Squib Ross who have just returned from a course at Bexhill
This morning I went up to Elmer for treatment of that tooth. It hasn't ached but the jaw has been swollen for some time. He took the crown off & the filling out & drilled into the roots. He thinks he can save the tooth. It must have been putrid for when it was opened the smell was vile. He says the bottom & other filling put in was not the right kind & doubtless caused the present trouble. I don’t know whether the previous work was done by Dr. Freeman or Dr. Callum.
This afternoon being Wednesday was devoted to sports - being a virtual half holiday. I had an hour's nap and a bath and read some more of the Globes that accumulated here during the past 10 days.
I'm proud of the Globe. It's showing itself a real leader of public opinion and I'm proud of some of the Liberals like Dr Clarke Mr. Rowell & others from Ontario.
For once they are giving an exhibition of general sacrifice of party and self interests that will become a landmark in Canadian political history. ... (Letter incomplete - ends here.)
Evelyn to Fred
Dear Darling: -
You’ll think me a selfish girl because I didn’t write you a nice long letter to-day, and so I am. This afternoon I lay down and read, then started the supper. After church we went for a walk, then came home & talked and I read a bit more.
I always feel though when I neglect writing to you because I get interested in something else that you're that much farther away from me and I don't want you to be. Oh my darling, I've often thought I didn't tell you enough how much you were to me. It is you that makes life bright without you - well, I'd try to live as usefully as I could but the joy would be gone.
Did you ever think when we were married that we'd mean so much to each other. We must always acknowledge this, that the war has shown us what we really mean to each other. I am hoping that next summer I may come down to meet you and that we may go camping together.
Your own sweetheart.
This morning your letter written on our wedding day arrived. It had gone to Calgary then to Hamilton and was sent back here. That was really funny about the bed socks, wasn’t it? Ruby said it would likely be hot when you got them. By the way, Ruby’s sister Brownie is going to visit at Sauble Beach, where we go tomorrow.
This morning I also got a dividend of 12.50 from the C.P.R., and a letter from the law society, which I enclose & am also sending a clipping Lena sent me. I don’t see old A.J.’s name. Poor old duffer, I am sorry if he didn’t pass-out. Lilly’s name does not appear, nor Jack Poffenroth’s, and there were others, I feel sure.
I have not as yet received my June cheques either for separation allowance or assigned pay, and am writing to-day to lay a complaint. It is the first time there has been much delay, so that isn't bad, is it?
Dearest, how much money do you have left for yourself? If I could be angry with you, I should for skimping yourself so. Didn’t you promise me you wouldn’t? Why do you want to save £2 a month?
If you get a commission and need money for an outfit, I can send it to you. And I don't want the money you save that way. I get strawberries when I want them, why shouldn't you? If you just knew how it made me feel to think of you being so, so careful you wouldn't do it I'm sure.
This morning we woke up to a thunderstorm. It cleared and about noon a terrific hail storm came up, hail stones like marbles falling in torrents and the rain pouring down till the water ran down the street like a river. It cleared again, and we were on our way down town, but Ora told us to come back because it was going to rain again, and it is at a quarter to four.
How do you like my pictures? Dad says they’re nice pictures but that they don’t look like me. I think they are taken too close for the size of the picture. Your mother, on the contrary said they were the best pictures I’d ever had taken but they are not absolutely like me. The prints of Hertford Castle etc. came through. I should like to have some of them enlarged. You did not say who was in the picture with you. I might get that one enlarged.
I must tell you about Saturday it was the funniest day. I told you about the beginning, how Margaret decided not to come, and about Elleda falling down on the platform. After I had telephoned her, we decided got ready to go uptown. There were two boys and a suitcase so one put the two bags in a locker and chequed [sic] our suit case and went up to Simpson’s to meet May. She had written that she’d had planned to go to Newmarket Friday night but that if we’d meet her Saturday, she’d wait till Saturday night.
I posted the letter at the P.O. in Hamilton before 11 a.m. on Thursday, and she had not got it by Friday afternoon so of course she wasn’t there. She was so disappointed because she couldn’t come up, having to take a summer course in Art. She said it was the first invitation she’d had to attend visit a summer resort, and then she couldn’t accept that Saturday morning, Ora had a headache so I did a bit of shopping while she rested. I got a cute little animal book for David and one for Cassie - very expensive - 10¢ each, and some celluloid knitting needles.
I’m going to make another attempt to make you some socks. Do you like white ones? I met several of the girls in my year, at summer school, and then we met Edith Adams and went with her for lunch at the Laura Matilda. It is a pretty tea room, where they use mauve and yellow dishes. From there we went to the Regent where Edith had a pass for two.
Ora’s train went at 4.15 and mine at 5.25. I wanted Ora to try to get a refund on her ticket but she wouldn’t, she was afraid she’d have some trouble. So she started to leave the theatre about 3.45 and got out, when I realized that my ticket was in my bag which she was going to take, so I rushed madly out after her and stopped her. We couldn’t work it out any way but that I’d have to go to the station with here.
When I got nearly home I said, “If I’d given you the cheque for the suit case and you’d given me the key for the bags I shouldn’t have had to go with you to the station,” but at the time we couldn’t work it out. Accordingly I went back after Edith and we all went down to the station. On the way down Edith said “Why don’t you get your tickets changed?” And I said I couldn’t because mine was part of my return ticket to Calgary, and Ora wouldn’t ask about hers, so I said I would. This I did, and she put her ticket in for a refund.
Then we had over an hour to wait. Edith said she’d had a nice afternoon tea at the Walker House a month before so we went up into the Ladies Room and rested and finally rang for a boy to come take out order. On none replying, Edith and I went out and told the elevator man to send one up. He came and said it was against the rules to serve tea up there, but hung around a considerable time. That made me sore, I wasn’t going to be held up like that. He then said we could get tea at the caffeteria [sic] - whither we went, whither only to find we could get nothing to drink but tea, coffee & milk, while Edith and I wanted lemonade, and for food nothing but the regulation things, pork & beans, pie, etc, it was too hot for them.
Then there wasn’t time to go up to Yonge St, so we went in to Knapp’s right beside the station and had ginger ale, iced tea and sandwiches, which I wrapped up and took on the train. So after a very silly day, I got on the train. It is a long tedious trip isn’t it?
I was up at 5. 20 and got to bed about one. Mother had gone to the G.T.R. to meet Ora, while dad met us both at the C.P.R. It was just pouring, so he had a hack engaged which brought us home, only to find the door locked. Then dad set out to find mother and we waited on the verandah. The tie the key on a string and stick it inside the letter box, but dad had tied the string on a ring on the key which was not tight and the key slipped on the floor. So when he came home he had to get a ladder and climb up on the back verandah in the rain. At last we were admitted.
One of the little brass fasteners things that are around the top and bottom of our trunk like this bottom was half off, but I can get it repaired. Ora’s suit case was burst open. Don’t things get terribly banged around.
You must have missed a letter in which I told you I had the rent reduced to 35 from June on through the summer. I decided I’d not keep asking for the staining to be done on the floor till I came back from my holidays, then it would be fresh for us. I don’t think Dr. Patrick is taking advantage of me; he didn’t haggle about the rent at all; I merely reminded him of his promise and asked him when the reduction was to commence. Oh, how I long for us to be in a home of our own.
What is that plan about Oxford? Would the officers get their pay still? Wouldn't it be grand? We could work together couldn't we, or would we take something different? We'd really have more that way.
My dear, I wonder where you are. When I start to worry about you that verse in the psalm rings through my senses "Then shall no evil befall thee" but this morning, instead of that, as clearly as if someone had said it, came "Stand still and see the glory of the Lord." I do feel too dear, that this preparation is for a worthy life.
Your own wife.
I'll be home by the 23rd or 24th, so send my letters there. E.
Evelyn to Fred
July 10, 1917
There isn’t much to say to-day, and I forgot to fill my pen too, which I do not wish to do now as the others are in bed. We intended going out to the Beach to-day, but it was raining when we got up and kept it up until about four o'clock.
...I got my assigned pay for June to-day, but I have not yet received the separation allowance. I wrote about it yesterday. They are sending out with the cheques inquiries as to whether there are any complaints, if the right amount is sent, etc.
I sewed some to-day and Ora and I went down town in the afternoon. The hail knocked a lot of leaves off the trees, regular twigs. It was pretty bad.
I wonder where you are to-day. I feel so helpless about you dear I can do nothing for your but pray for you and love you, which I do, oh I do love you darling.
Goodnight, with many kisses.
We were busy all morning, and then about 2.30 dad decided we'd come. It had rained so much he was afraid to risk the roads, but as it did not really rain this morning, we came, and really it was surprising how good the roads were. Sometime you must have a motor trip around this part of the country.
It's nearly 9.30, and we are in bed. People go to bed early here, about 9.00 and arise between 6.00 & 7.00. I'll not write any more tonight, but I had to have at least a word with my darling.
Goodnight my sweetheart.
My Dear One: -
We seem to be having a “bee” of letter-writing, Ora, Clara, Mr. German and I are all at it, but Mrs. German is going to bed at ten minutes to nine.
You will be wondering where we are. We are at Sauble Beach on Lake Huron, about sixteen miles north of Southampton. Here the Sauble River runs into the Lake, giving the place its name, we are really nearer the river than the lake, for between the houses and the lake is a very wide, rather desolate looking beach.
I have not been in the water yet, but they say one can wade out about two miles, that there are no holes and that the beach is sandy, - not full of stones, and from what I have seen, that seems true. Across the little river, as I look out of the window, I see spruce trees standing out against the sky just tinged with the red afterglow.
It has rained every day since I came to Owen Sound except Sunday. Last night it poured. Dad brought Ora and me out - it is about 20 miles from Owen Sound, and then went back. He could not bring mother out to-day, as he had to speak at an Orang[e] man’s meeting this afternoon, any way the roads would have been too bad. Every time I woke up in the night and heard it raining I was glad he went back, instead of staying over night.
We have rented this cottage, which is just next door to the Germans', until the end of the month. Isn't it lovely especially since Clara is here? She has the dearest baby, and she is good as can be. Clara isn't all the time fussing over her.
There is a fireplace built in our cottage, but there’s something about a chimney not built yet, so that we cannot have a fire yet. Of course we’ve had a fire in the kitchen stove all day. Imagine, and I said I was coming home to get warm! It was nice weather in Hamilton, but no warmer than it has probably been in Calgary.
An Indian woman came and cleaned the cottages but the dishes had to be washed and a lot of things done. Ora got up early this morning, and had a lot done before I got up. I didn’t sleep very well, I couldn’t get warm, at first. I got chilled turning over, and then I wasn’t feeling very well. Besides, the quilts had been packed up all winter, they should have been sunned and air, but there wasn’t any sun for them. It it’s nice tomorrow, they’ll go out of doors, I assure you. Then after I got asleep I woke up and was thinking of you.
Oh my darling, I don't know where you are. And sometimes when I pray it seems as if the sky is hemming me down, and I can't feel sure of anything - only of this - that you love me.
Ora and Clare went in bathing this afternoon, and when they got dressed, I made hot lemonade for them. We should have had tea, only we didn’t bring it, mother will bring the rest of the things when she comes, tomorrow probably. Last night we were here for supper, wasn’t that good of them to have us? We had a beautiful black bass that Mr. German caught.
I was saying to Ora yesterday, no to-day, as we were walking along the beach, we went for a walk along the shore about two o'clock starting out in the mist, that next summer it would [be] lovely if you and Art were home, and we could all come here. You would enjoy some fishing, I'm sure, and the great stretch of open lake.
After supper tonight, Miss Hambley, Clare's aunt, who lives with them, took us to show us a wild strawberry patch. We had to go through wet places, through a wood, and got good and wet; so she suggested that since we were wet we might as well see if we could get some lady’s slippers. She had a bunch on the table she had got last Friday. So we left Ora and Clara on the road in the woods, and we went down into the swale. I picked three, and the first one I beheaded, I am sending it to you. I see I have broken a leaf off, as I had it in my pocket. I wonder what it will look like when you get it. The leaves are so delicate and dainty now.
This afternoon we were over here playing cards - what do you think of that. I got up and said I was going home to put wood in the store and attend to the beans we had on the store. Mr. German said he’d go, and I meant him to put water on them, but he didn’t. Then after a while he went over again, and came back and said the beans were burnt. They were some on the bottom but not so very badly. I do hate to waste anything now-a-days though.
I was wondering to-day if you got any of my letters telling about Captain Rankin. You did not speak about it, that I remember. He reverted to private and went down to Ottawa, to go into signalling. He said some of the men who did not revert would hardly speak to him. I gave him a little flashlight from us. Oh, I’m sure you must have received those letters, but it’s so long ago I forget.
I may not send you a box this week, in fact, I'd better say I won't. It is hard to get things here, or to make anything to send. I hope you get the one I sent from Hamilton, for it was such a nice one. Then I know Margaret and your mother were going to send one this week. But when I don't send a box, will you please, dear get yourself a treat?
Do you know, I don’t know how much money you have for yourself? I wish you’d tell me. And please don’t try to save any. Why should you?
I don’t think Ray will leave the office. However I’ll speak to him as you suggested. I really forget what questions you asked me in your last letter. I am going to read it over when I go home, and then I can tell you tomorrow. But things seem so far past by the time you write to ask me about them. It does make it seem that we are very far apart, doesn’t it?
How I wish you could go wandering down the beach with me, or through the woods. You are with me in spirit, darling, but how I long for the time when you'll be here in body.
Your loving wife.
Fred to Evelyn II
July 12th, 1917
My darling, -
I wonder whether in Orange Ontario you have been celebrating the "glorious twelfth" today - Apparently England doesn't waste any time over it for I haven't heard or seen it mentioned. In fact I doubt whether I should have thought of it at all had it not been for today's announcement of yesterday's triumph for the Sinn Feiners in the East Clare election. Isn't it remarkable what strength the Sinn Fein movement is developing? I very much fear there will be bloodshed in Ireland on a vaster scale than has been before this thing is settled.
This has been another lazy day for me. From 10 to 12 & from 2 to 4 there is practically nothing to do. I went to Elmer again this morning & had another treatment. Yesterday's work made my face swell pretty badly, but it doesn't ache. While I was in the chair he received a letter from Laura posted ( presumably by her traveller-brother) at Smithville on June 27th. That’s pretty quick work isn’t it.
Elmer is hoping your visit with Laura will have cheered her and stirred her out of her lethargy. Of course you have seen long before this if your original plans were carried out and you went to Beamsville first.
This morning's mail brought what you called your small box. I just opened the top tonight while Herb Peters was here & we with the assistance of the C.S.M. & C.Q.M.S. have despatched the nut candies & salted peanuts. I also had one of the nut chocolate bars. They did taste so good.
Herb was inoculated today and so wasn’t feeling quite up to the mark. I had called at his hut and there saw several Calgary cyclist boys. You know the last lot of cyclists that came over after training for a long time at Chisleden, has been broken up and the boys have been divided among various infantry battalions. About 12 are in the 9th where Herb is. They all seemed very glad to see me and of course I was to see them.
By the way, Maj. Flint is no longer here with the 9th battalion. He is away at some school.
Did I tell you there has been a great shaking up and now there are no officers in the 21st who have not been to France? That's one step in the right direction.
Tonight was the mid-month pay day. I find my pay as lance serjeant is $1.30 instead of $1.20 as I thought. Tonight I got 3 ten shilling notes.
Today brought another letter from you - that posted May 29th & written May 27th & 28th. There is nothing to indicate where it has been lying all this while but this experience seems to be common to everyone here - that later letters are received before the earlier ones.
I had a short note tonight from Gordon Jones saying he has taken his coolies to France & is now on 10 day's leave. He writes from London & says he will be in Witley camp on Saturday to visit a cousin and he hopes to be able to run over to see me then. I hope he does.
Today's letter contained the newspaper clipping about Everett. Herb Peters says it's not a bit exaggerated but all true. Isn't it grand for him to have come through like that? You know, in spite of the filth and blasphemy which one hears so much of in the army, there are very, very many who are true to their principles and are living straight earnest Christian lives. From what I have seen and heard I'm sure Central Methodist boys have been among the best. Oh, by the way, Herb Peters was at the Buck’s that fall he was in Niagara camp & writes occasionally to Addie.
Fitch is still in Calgary isn’t he? Some of His boys - there were only 3 - came over with the last 191st draft. I never thought the 103rd would raise a platoon but I was rather surprised that he got only 3 - and none of these were 103rd men. One of them told me today they all intended joining the 191st. My judgment was vindicated. I wonder what he is thinking of doing now.
I do hope dearest that you are enjoying your holiday. Indeed it is well-earned. I pray that Ontario may be at her best for you and make you forget for a time - but not for long dear old Calgary and sunny Alberta.
God bless and keep you ever my own darling wife.
Goodnight sweetheart. This is our monthly wedding anniversary isn't it? How are you keeping it?
Friday evening, - [July 13]
How I long for the presence of my darling today. I just want you to lie in my arms and I would hug and kiss you - with lots of "pep". Oh, when we are together in our own home again we'll make the best use of every moment, shall we not? I'll not rush through the meals as I used to do, reading the paper most of the time nor will I give you cause to complain that I am thinking all the time about office affairs. We are going to be chums every moment of our lives aren't we sweetheart?
In today's letter you speak of hope. Isn't it glorious that we can look forward to the future with hope and trust? How bright it looks - brighter because of the shadows of today, which only the light of hope and faith and love can penetrate. Somehow I seem able to live in the past and future, and so the present doesn't worry me, and I hope it is so dearest with you. When we are together again we shall know each other so much better shall we not? Yes and understand and sympathize with each other better than ever before.
This has been a very hot day, and this afternoon after a bath I took left off my top shirt. Since then I’ve been more comfortable.
This morning I walked up to Elmer’s office (about 1 mile) and, having to wait nearly an hour, I became sleepy and dozed for a short while. My face isn’t swollen so much as yesterday and I now have hopes of saving the tooth.
It pleases me so much to read of people's kindness to you. Isn't Mrs. Brown a comforter and cheerer? I'm so glad you see her frequently - for her sake as well as for your own. I think she finds you take a little of the place of the daughter she lost. How brave and sweet she is!
I’m glad too, you like Mr. Ford so well. He’s true blue - one of the rare “dependable” kind, that becomes better and better liked on further acquaintance. He really doesn’t show to the best advantage on first acquaintance. Do you know what hospital Harry is in? If I could I’d go to see him.
I was thinking last night that I hadn't often sent special messages to your father or mother or Ora. They know surely that I always think of them and realize that they too have their portion of anxiety and care. How glad I am that you can be with them and for a time lean upon them.
I have also been thinking lately that perhaps I have not been so careful as I might have been to show them how I love them. Perhaps it is natural that parents should be sensitive lest they are being relegated to the background while those to whom they have given birth are transferring their love and care to others. But we don’t want them to think that.
Because of our great love for each other we love them, not less - but more, don't we darling? So please, try to make them understand that if I have been thoughtless it has been all unintentional and that I'll try to do differently in the future.
I’m glad you sent those snaps of yourself, Ora & Malcolm & of the picnic party. I kiss your picture and long for the time when I can kiss - not a picture, but warm, pulsating, responsive flesh and blood.
Of course darling, I think it was quite right to rent the suite to the people to whom you did. I hope you haven't really worried about it.
About John’s wedding present, - I, like you, would like to give him something nice. I haven’t any suggestions to make however and I have every confidence in your judgment. Also do just as you think best about giving it now or waiting until Xmas. By the way, when will the wedding take place?
I was much interested in the clipping you sent about Dr Bland and also in the some other newspaper reports and comment that I read. I think it’s too bad. He is one of Canada’s outstanding men of courageous intelligent christianity. He’s one of the church statesmen who are all too few. But if Wesley College loses him I hope Victoria will get him. He must not be lost to Canadian Methodism.
Must quit now for tonight.
Goodnight my own dear wifie.
Sat. July 14/17
I have just been reading your 2 letters posted June 25th & June 26th - the last one from the train, and looking at the photo of my darling. I’m so glad to have it in spite of what you call the “funny quirk” to your mouth.
I think Mr. Lundrum must have been posing you too much which gives the mouth a rather strained expression, - but I’ll kiss away all the strain and “quirks.” Your eyes look lovingly & fearlessly and bravely into mine. And you look altogether adorable.
I have showed you to the other men in the room and if I told you the complimentary things they said you’d blush.
But they can’t say anything about my darling half so complimentary as I think, - the bravest little woman in Calgary.So Miss Cummer has been very good to you again. She is a sweet brave girl isn’t she? When I think how thoughtful others have been to us in so many ways, I resolve to be more so myself in future. And in that connection dearest I have been thinking that perhaps Art isn't so well supplied with boxes as I am and even though he is an officer & so gets better fare than one in the ranks - still he is in France and has been there a long time - and France is different from England. So if you are determined to send boxes - send some to him and fewer to me - at any rate while I'm in England.
I’m so glad Edna Smith accompanied you on the railway journey. It wouldn’t be like being all alone. And it’s nice for friends to have been so kind to you as you were leaving. The Robinsons are nice people aren’t they? No, I never was in their home but I have had charming glimpses through open doors & windows & can quite believe that it is beautiful - and homelike.
I saw Douglas again last night. He and Herb had been out for a ride. Douglas is becoming a real man, - one for his parents to be proud of. Remember me kindly to the Robinson’s when you see them again.
Your mention of the train ride on the prairie almost makes me homesick it brings back so vividly some of the times I have travelled over the same ground in summer. What is there about the prairies that calls and attracts one so insistently? Even the beauty of woodland, field and hedgerow of England can't blot out from my mind a longing for the vast open spaces of the prairie once more. I'm glad you enjoyed the trip. Perhaps when you return the green will have given way to golden grain. I do so hope you can see the great billowy fields of ripening grain as I have seen them.
So Ray has at last sold some of the H & P stuff. It’s almost like found money isn’t it? I can’t remember exactly what insurance I paid but I remember I figured it up with him at the time the last bit of money was realized from the sheriff, and charging the interest on what I got from Harrison until the respective dates of payment of insurance, what I received was just about the same as a little more than the insurance. I paid - but this was equalized by allowing Ray to keep what was received from the sheriff. If anything - as far as I remember, the advantage was a few dollars to him but he has had all the trouble and I’d say nothing about that.
You say you paid the bank $150 & still owe & 450. Evidently you had borrowed $600 instead of $550 as you had written me. As I understand it you still owe your father the $100 he lent you to go home with. Am I right?
Now darling, please don’t skimp yourself. I can see that you are reigning yourself very close and spending all on me. I don’t want you to do this. I want my darling to be comfortable and happy, and to rest and get well and strong again.
I am sorry dearest you have had so much to do, but I don’t regret your financial experience. It is good training for you, isn’t it? You find Mr. Anderson very nice and obliging don’t you? Please remember me to him when you see him again.
When up at Elmer's office today I saw a News Telegraph of Apr. 22nd which said the Y.M.C.A. fund had passed the $20,000 mark with still some more to come in. Isn't that splendid? When I saw the personnel of the committee I felt sure they would attain their objective. I wish we could do something, but I fear it's impossible to do much. Whatever you decide in such matters dearie, is best.
It is now 4.30 and Gordon Jones hasn't come yet. Perhaps he'll be over this evening. I hope so for I should very much like to see him.
Sun. evening. July 15th.
Being orderly serjeant, the nearest I got to church today was calling the roll at parade. There really hasn't been anything for me to do since about 10 o'clock but I have had to stick around. It has given me a fine opportunity to catch up in correspondence.
So I have written letters to Hazel, Ruby & Norman Rankin and various cards. I also slept for an hour this morning. I just learned yesterday from McKinley where Rankin is. Mac had a letter from him. I have a good deal more respect for Rankin than I used to have. He certainly has played the man. He’s at Crowborough in Sussex - is still a private doing his share of shining harness scrubbing floors, carrying out slops etc. - and his letter didn’t complain about it either. Is Mrs. Rankin staying in Calgary? I never cared particularly for her, but for his sake I wish you’d call on her & the kiddies when you can, dearest.
I have been sorting all your letters and tying them in packages. Keeping each month separate. I don't think any are missing unless it be one or two in April. May is complete and so is June (with the possible exception of 1) up until June 26th. That's a pretty good record isn't it?
The boxes are a little slower than letters. I haven’t received one sent from home about June 20th, nor the one you said you’d post at Winnipeg nor the one which Ruby helped you to pack and which you mailed about June 5th. I think this is one which came to Hertford on July 5th and which I didn’t open but readdressed to Bramshott a week ago yesterday.
I have made enquiries and I think it arrived here the following day and the mail serjeant, not knowing I was coming back sent it back again to Hertford. That’s the only explanation I can give.
I have written both to the Postmaster at Hertford & the caterer serjeant at the school but so far haven’t had a reply from either nor have I seen the parcel. Was this a square one - not cylindrical like most of yours?
Gordon Jones hasn't turned up yet nor has "Pat" whom I expected over today though it's now 6 o'clock.
This morning we had a pleasant surprise at the breakfast table at receiving not the usual mass of sticky porridge, but a dish of really good porridge with a little milk on it. There was some sugar in it but the addition of some of yours made quite an improvement. That lump sugar is all coming in useful now. I use one or 2 lumps every morning in the cocoa or coffee.
I've been giving Jimmie Barnes some too. Did I tell you he is in my hut? He's a fine chap. We have a very quiet bunch now. The Dentals are clean nice fellows. I think one was a theological student at Mcgill. Only one of the six smokes - our former R.S.M. Davidson.
The hills south & west looked lovely this morning, standing out with rare distinctiveness - and inviting to a ramble. About 10 o’clock there was a terrific downpour of rain lasting perhaps 20 minutes. Since then the air has been cooler and everything looks so fresh & green.
I've just been re reading your June letters. Don’t think dearest because I sometimes fail to refer to your quotations of poetry & that I don’t appreciate them. I love your letters.
I have now in front of me the one written June 5th about London on "The Inns of Court" Yes, dearest, I knew about The Old Curiosity Shop. Don't you remember our going to see it one rainy day - Sunday I think it was I remember it was raining a little and that the shop was closed so we didn't stay long. And don’t you remember Ernie Stapleford pointing out to us Goldsmith’s grave?
But the day we were in the Middle Temple it rained too, didn't it and our visit was quite too hurried. Next time we shall see these places leisurely. I didn’t know “Twelfth Night” was first produced in the hall where we were.
Pat just called and we had an hour together as well as one of your cans of pineapple and the last of the candied apricots. He looks very well in his uniform. I wish he had come earlier for the time was all too short but if nothing happens we intend to meet at Guildford 2 weeks hence. Next week-end he is going to cycle to Hampton Court and from there take a boat ride up the Thames to Henley. Wouldn’t that be lovely?
He wanted to be remembered to you and was quite surprised when I told him you were a law student.
I must close now. What a terrible scrawl I write - and how dirty the paper looks but good paper and ink are both very difficult to get here now.
I hope you have had a nice day. If only we could go to church together tonight.
Good night my own love.
Evelyn to Fred
Postmark: Owen Sound
Dear Darling: -
I have just started a fire to make some tea for Ora and Clara, after their afternoon "dip." We are using quite a lot of driftwood for fire, and being chiefly cedar, it burns up in very short time, and makes a beautifully hot fire.
We are expecting Hazel Fleak at any time, in fact she should have been here over two hours ago. She was going to have a very interesting trip - leave Detroit at 1.10 this a.m., change at London, Stratford and Parkhead Junction, arrive at Hepworth station about 12.30, and then drive nine miles out here. I don’t know what has happened, the train may have been late, or she may have changed on to the wrong one.
I did not write yesterday - I was too sick, with a bad bilious attack. I just got myself dressed about an hour ago, and begin to feel like living again. Mother and daddy arrived yesterday in a shower, and they got muddy, but it cleared off and was a lovely day. It rained a bit this morning, then cleared beautifully, and now it’s dull again. Here comes Clara for her tea. They like it after their bathing. She has the baby in a baby Chinese costume.
I’ll try to answer some of the questions you asked me. I haven’t heard anything about Lee Redman going back; I don’t think he had any intention of it. Miss Burgoin had only one operation for appendicitis. She was just sick, from it, before. Mrs. Crawford - I forget what it was she died of. And the minister of Knox church died in the same room about a month later.
The Forsters I spoke of - Mrs. Forster was a girl who lived at Glanford when we lived there. One night when Elmer was away, Laura and I were downtown having supper at Rochon’s. She came up and spoke to me. She was coming in to the hospital. She lives on a horse ranch about a hundred miles north of Brooks, and intended to leave to spend a month before her baby arrived. But the doctor rushed her to the hospital, had to bring on the child to save her, and the baby lived only two or three days.
The Norris Commission - I think the decision was not given. I’m going to drop Mr. Clarke a note it wouldn’t hurt him to take five minutes and tell you about it. And I’m going to drop Clint Ford a line he said he was going to write to you, and he can tell you about the Gas Co.’s case.
I haven’t had any mail since Monday, when I got the letter of the 19th & 20th of June. You said then you were sending the pictures and they should have arrived on the same mail, but did not. There was an English mail in recently for yesterday Mr. German went to the Post Office and brought home the Beach mail, and I noticed several “On Active Service” letters. Dad went home this afternoon and he’ll forward our mail from Owen Sound. The man starts to deliver mail here next Monday.
Last night while the rest were up in front of one of the cottages, watching and helping a post for the mail box be put up, I was lying out on the verandah - alone - thinking of the time when you'd be home again; how last night you would have sat and talked to me, or just sat with me and said nothing. I understand now, better, how Laura feels at home; it's such a gone feeling with no work to be done. Of course I have work to go back to, and every day I'm thankful for it, though I am so glad of a holiday.
I wish I could help Laura in getting something to do. She says her mother and brothers are horrified at the thought of her working. What, I wonder, do they think will fill up her mind and time?
I'm glad you are enjoying the Globe. Ora said Art got rather tired of it. He says he always has to hide it as soon as it comes. I must write to her tomorrow - I certainly have been having a holiday from my friends.
I have scarcely seen a paper for this last week, and do not know much that is happening. Conscription seems to be taking a leisurely course. It sometimes seems as if only those who have someone away remember that there is a war.
You spoke of Elizabeth's illness. I do not know how sick she was. She was in the hospital a week and in bed at home for a week. She was home again before I knew she had been sick and then only via Mrs. Austin and Lena. And Mrs. Clark told me it was only her monthly attack, worse than usual. Miss Burgoin told me - she was across the hall from her, and of course nurses discuss their patients’ illnesses - It was a miscarriage. I cannot expect Elizabeth to confide in me, I know, yet I am sorry to see us all drifting apart, as you must know we are. And I think it is largely due to our different attitudes about the war.
I'll write more in this tomorrow. There's no use closing it as there's no place [to] mail it yet, I think Mr. German is going to Owen Sound Monday with his car.
Oh my darling, I pray that you are safe in every way. How I love you.
We have just come home from Sunday school, which was held on a verandah, there being 27 present, and a collection of $1.53, which goes to the Fresh Air Fund. On one of our motor trips along the Hamilton Toronto Highway, we saw the tents they have for the children, right along Lake Ontario it must be like heaven for the youngsters to get out there, beside the lake, with clover fields at their backs.
But why should these terrible slums exist in Toronto? We came down one of the streets the other day, and there are really awful houses there. Do you know, Toronto does not seem much like home any more. I have not been able to see the people I wanted to see, so often when I have been there I tried to find Mrs Leslie’s address in the telephone book, but couldn’t.
I should like to see her and Mrs Lee, but presumably they are at their summer home. Isn’t it strange that last year was so hot, and this summer so cool. You seem to be having all the hot weather. I built a fire in the fireplace this morning, and it is really quite necessary, even if the sun has ventured a wintry sort of smile.
Isn't it strange that last year was so hot, and this summer so cool. You seem to be having all the hot weather.
I built a fire in the fireplace this morning, and it is really quite necessary, even if the sun has ventured a wintry sort of smile.
This poor lady’s slipper, which of course I forgot to enclose in my last letter hasn’t improved by being pressed. I am sending you also a hair bell. You know
“E’en the light hair bell raised its head
Elastic from her airy tread.”
I’ve often wondered if it did or not, and right this minute I’m going out to step on one and see if I’m heavier than the “she” of the poem, I forget whether it was “Lucy” or “To a Highland Lassie,” no, it doesn’t sound like the latter. I’ve tried it, and it depends on the way you step on them. They do seem to jump up again thought perhaps “raised its head” is more true as an indicator of the speed of its return to a perpendicular position. What nonsense I’m talking.
Oh dear one, were we only together again, I think we’d have a little more of it in our lives. The war has so overshadowed our thoughts and actions since it began, that we have lost a great deal of the joie de vivre, though perhaps what has come to us means more. And, when we are together again, I think the joie de vivre will come back with greater force, because we shall be so thankful at just being alive and together.
Do you know darling, I cannot picture you as fighting? And I guess maybe it's better that I should not try to, for it only unfits me for other things. But it is so foreign to your nature, and so awful, I do not see how you can go into it. But I'll talk of other things. You have always spoken about my letters cheering you so, sometimes they seem to me to be a perpetual rainfall.
Did I tell you that we called at The Dempster’s when in Toronto? Art is still at Chicago, but Jim (the one you met in England) and Nelson, who really ran the bakery business are both in uniform. Nelson is in France, Jim at Petawawa.
They thought they simply couldn’t get along without Jim, but he was so unhappy at home he just had to enlist - I don’t mean his people made him unhappy, but that he felt he ought to go. I remember, dear, how you used to toss and turn at night.
I wonder if you had hardened your heart if you would now be as careless of the war as so many appear to be. I love you and respect you so much more, my own for keeping your conscience clear.
I wonder if I'll get your picture tomorrow. Have you got mine and do you like it?
Your own sweetheart.
Fred to Evelyn
I have just returned after spending the evening with Capt. McNaught who is now attached to the Canadian Casualty Depot at the extreme eastern end of the camp - about 1 1/2 mi from here. I had a very pleasant evening for he is always an interesting talker.
We were discussing conscription, and the need for men. He remarked, "If only some of those people in Canada who say no more men should be sent overseas could only pay a visit to this camp and see men who have been to France 3 times after being wounded each time, could see men fainting on the march in France because they have been sent back before they were fully recovered from their wounds, could see the casualties here trying to go through physical drill to get into shape again, they might change their minds."
I might explain that the Canadian casualty depot, of which there are 3, takes those casualties who are classed by the med. board as being capable of going back to France and put through a course of physical training until they are considered fit to join a reserve battalion for ordinary training. About the only new men the 21st Reserve is getting in now are from the C.C.D. and it looks as if for some time to come - at least until conscription gets working - we shall have to depend entirely upon casualties to fill up the already all too thin ranks of the battalions in France.
Today I was out on the square in a class going through the same old recruit drill as if I had never been to school. And the instructors were so lax and so much time was killed that the whole day was practically wasted. Two hours hard steady work such as we had at Hertford would have accomplished more than the whole day here. It's simply sickening to see such a waste of time, men and money, we really don't deserve to win this war.
This is a beautiful evening. Our camp is on such high ground that from every part of it one commands a wonderful view of the surrounding country and tonight it looks particularly lovely. I'm becoming anxious to get about and see some of the neighboring beauty spots. It's late and I'm sleepy tonight so you'll excuse this short bit for once, will you not dearie? What have you been doing today I wonder.
Tues. July 17/17
Today’s mail brought a bundle of Globes - and your letter posted at Toronto on June 29th. I’m so glad you had pleasant companions and acquaintances on your trip. My experience is that the latter are nearly always to be found if we only we give them a chance to be friendly. At first I couldn’t think whom you meant by Amy quite forgetting that Amy Edwards has lately been in Winnipeg. Wasn’t it nice to meet her that way.
Evidently you had a nice day for your visit in Winnipeg. Yes the Peg is much better laid out - and homelike than Calgary. And yet when I first saw it in 1909 many of the streets that are now so well shaded were almost if not quite as bare as Calgary’s. You noticed how lovely the trees are on Broadway. Eleven years ago they were mere whips. So there is hope for Calgary yet.
Did you pass through Bala by daylight? I wonder whether your eyes roved to the spot near the beach where four years ago I first kissed you and asked you to be my wife. Do you remember you said my kisses didn't thrill you? How little either of us then imagined how our love could grow to what it is.
Sometimes I think we didn't even know what love was when we became engaged. But, thank God, we do know now, as I believe few people know it. It is in very truth our life isn't it my own? Bala will always be a sacred spot to me because of the joy and love that came into my life there. Do you remember our canoe ride that last afternoon? Some day we shall have another one on that same spot. Oh, we are going to have our honeymoon over and over again, are we not?
Today's work has been much like yesterday's. This morning was very hot but it's cool this evening. I have promised to go up and see Elmer. It's now 10 minutes after six so I think I shall go now. We may go out for a stroll.
Wed. evening. [July 18]
It has rained all night and all day. This morning we had musketry instruction in one of the huts and this afternoon being Wednesday and no sports being possible on account of the rain we had a half holiday I slept a little, & read through some of the Globes. I have read carefully all the leading speeches thus far to hand on the conscription debate and have been greatly impressed by the moderation of tone and the spirit of true earnest patriotism that has been displayed.
I can't but feel that Carvell(1) spoke truly when he laid much of the present trouble in Quebec to Sir John Willison and the Borden government. Truly we have sown the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind. Carvell struck the right note to my mind when he said he didn't care whether Borden was sincere or not in his motives - whether he was merely playing politics or not. The only fact that counts is the need of men and the best means of meeting the need.
But how horribly the government has failed throughout. The need now so apparent was just as apparent to any thinking man who had studied the question at all eight months ago, and yet the government blundered along. Bennett made his speeches on National Service practically knocking recruiting, and, I understand that even as recently as within 2 months of Borden's announcement of the Bill, members of the government in the house stated positively there would be no conscription.
As an inducement to sign the national service cards Borden promised the labor men there would be no conscription & then without consulting them he brings in this Bill. I fear there are troublous times ahead for Canada. If only there were more newspapers like the Globe to mould public opinion.
It seems to me the position of Quebec is much analogous to Ireland. Two years ago if it had not been for the old Tories in England I feel sure the Irish question would have been settled by Asquith fairly satisfactorily, but now it looks as if the Sinn Feiners have become absolutely disgusted and the golden opportunity is past. To me it now looks like absolute Independence or revolution & perhaps both. So with Quebec.
The war provided a wonderful opportunity of drawing the 2 races together, but by reason of blundering they have been driven apart and I look with apprehension to the future for I fear Quebec is not now in the mood for conciliation. God grant I may be wrong.
Elmer told me today he received 2 letters from Laura written in May that had been to France and back, and that reminds me there is a 21st reserve battalion in France and sometimes my mail goes there in mistake which accounts for the delays.
The correct way to address me is
895173 Sergt. F.S. Albright
21st Canadian Reserve Bn.
c/o The Army Post Office
The first method of addressing us which we were given on coming here is not quite correct. I thought I had told you before but perhaps I have not done so.
I wonder how much longer I should send my letters to Owen Sound. You have not told me definitely how long you expect to stay east though you once mentioned 2 months, - which would be until near the end of August so I think I shall continue sending them to Owen Sound for at least 2 weeks yet.
I do hope darling that you had a good visit at home and in Hamilton, I wonder if you went to St Catharines.
You said you were going up to Tinlin’s “bush.” Did I ever tell you that once when you were still a girl at school and we were up there [at Tinlin's "bush"] together I wanted oh, so much, to take you in my arms and kiss you and tell you I loved you? I think I loved you from the first day I saw you, though I didn't quite realize it.
But all along you had a power over me no other girl had and I was drawn to you even while I was fighting to keep away from you for I thought I had no right to even think of love when I wasn't in a position to get married. Sometimes I have wished I had spoken sooner. And yet perhaps it is best as it is. I doubt whether we should ever have come to love each other so dearly if we had not had the experiences that our waiting has brought. The glorious thing is that we do love each other now so dearly - yes - and I believe wisely.
Life seems so full of promise and rich and sweet in spite of our temporary separation. You are so dear and brave and good and wise and helpful. Oh, I could pile up adjectives until the page was full and still not have words to express all that you are to me.
Do you know, I often pity other husbands who have to be satisfied with so much less in their wives. I thought this morning when Elmer spoke of how blue Laura is, that my wifie is brave and sweet and cheerful, though her anxiety and pain is greater than Laura's. And so with everyone I know. Elizabeth, Ruby, Roy’s Elizabeth even Mrs. Coutts -none can compare with my own little sweetheart - wife - my blessing, my hope, my Love.
Goodnight my own.
Evelyn to Fred
Postmark: Owen Sound
There's not much to record to-day, but writing seems to keep us so much closer to each other, doesn't it? Three years ago to-day, we started for Scotland with the Cuthbert party. That time seems long ago, doesn't it? I came across their little time-table last night, in a box containing yet a little of the notepaper we bought at the Falls on which to write "thank you's" for our wedding presents.
On the 16th we visited Melrose and Abbotsford and at night arrived in Glasgow. That wasn’t the night I had the hot bath, was it? I think it was the next one, after coming back from the Trossachs. How cross I was on the train at Mrs Sifton and Mrs. Bond. I did not see Mrs. Sifton while in Hamilton in fact I saw hardly anybody I knew. We were out in the car most of the time, and although I should have liked to see the people, it is tiring to see a lot in a short time.
I was disappointed in my last trip east, in that I did not see the people I wanted to see, and it seems as if the same thing is going to happen this time. One needs to know so long ahead in order to make the proper arrangements.
To-day I had a letter from Lina, one from Mrs. Anderson, and one from dad. Lina wanted to know about the position, but I was getting anxious myself and wrote A.L. [Art Smith] yesterday. Also I wrote to Mr. Clarke. It wouldn't hurt any of them to give you and Shouldice a little personal attention, and I don't care if Mr. Clarke is busy or his time valuable, you ought to be worth at least a five minutes letter.
Before I came away, Mrs. Anderson being sick as I told you, I sent her a few little roses. I know an exquisite variety which is comparatively cheap. I spoke to the doctor about your bills, but he laughed and said he’d put it on ice and keep it. So Mrs. Anderson wrote to thank me for the flowers, and wished to be remembered to you.
Dad sent me some medicine. As soon as I have anything wrong, they start fussing. Do you know what he did? While we were out here, to-day, he went to the hospital to have an operation on the end of his spine. He told me in the letter which came late to-day that he was going to have it done to-day, and then go back to the house. He ought to have someone there to look after him but he knows we’re out here, and that it’s hard to get back, so he gets it done now. Isn’t he foolish?
This is three weeks of my holidays gone. If the end of them only meant seeing you as it did the last time I was here! The paper to-day - the Globe spoke of von Bethmann Hollweg's(2) resignation, and of a rumour, reported in the Morning Post, of the Emperor’s abdication in favour of his son Joachim.
By the way, dearie, did I tell you the R.C.I. had written again about your membership? Don’t you mean to keep it up? Can’t you send them a cheque and have you heard anything from the Testers? I came across his last letter last night too. Wasn’t that kind of Mrs. Etherington? I hope her kindness isn’t unlucky.
Goodnight my own darling.
Three years ago to-day we were taking our trip through the Trossachs, and this is just such another day, only the rain is not so furious nor so cold. I am glad I don’t have to take a drive in the cold to-day.
Last night I had a very bad night, and Ora was so tired, having taken mother and Mrs. German rowing, that she couldn't sleep. Then too, I couldn't [help] thinking about Lina coming out with me, and wondering how we’d get along, and oh dearie, I was just so homesick I wondered how I was going to stand living at all. But I took myself in hand and said this, that there was no use comparing the present with the past the present has to be lived and I might better make the best of it than to mourn over it because it isn't what I want. You don't do that.
I was thinking to-day how little you have complained since you went in the army, and how much you must hate the whole business. Hate isn't quite the word to use, it isn't by any means strong enough. I'm afraid I do a lot of telling you how much I miss you and of how I long for you to come back, I know it isn't a very brave spirit to show, but life doesn't seem worth living without you.
Clara has just finished a letter to Gordon, so I told her she could write to you. I notice her salutation is a little too endearing.
Luella and Hazel arrived to-day - in the rain. We have a nice fire in the grate. I wonder where you are tonight. I haven’t had a letter for over a week, and I’m anxiously waiting for your picture from Hertford. Luella and the Ora keep talking at a great rate, but really dear, I don’t feel very much interested in their talk.
I haven't had a letter for over a week, and I'm anxiously waiting for your picture from Hertford.
My heart feels very heavy all the time, but I try not to be a bore or burden to others - there is no use in going about with a long face, even if one's heart is heavy. But just the same dearie, I'm glad you've done what you think is right. I didn't want you to misunderstand what I said about believing in God, but it does seem so hard sometimes to think that He can care for all.
But if we believe He cares for nations and races, then we must believe He cares for individuals. And I don’t think this, that He wills the death of anybody in this way though I believe He can make good come out of it, as He has made it come to us out of our own sorrow.
I'll write more tomorrow, but Clara is waiting to take this,
Your Own kiddie.
Fred to Evelyn III
You will guess from this paper that the box came today. ... It is so nice to have large clean sheets to write on. Do you remember what I said about letter paper before we were married? Many a time I have thought about it - and perhaps I wasn’t sufficiently tolerant of circumstances. Of course that wasn’t war time.
Today's mail also brought your letter of June 20th & 21st posted on the 22nd and telling about the sale of the H & P motor and giving the unofficial exam. reports.
Of course dearie I should like you to be in first place - you are anyhow, aren't you but I didn't expect you to get the highest marks in this exam., what with your office work and the anxiety and worry over my departure. I think you have done marvellously well and I'm so proud of you - prouder than ever, I was going to say but I don't think that is possible.
What you said about Wilfred doesn’t surprise me very much. You said he just sits and looks at you when he calls - and that he is becoming addicted to criticism of other people. Don’t you think, dearie, that the first is because he is reminded by you of lost opportunities and is probably comparing you in his mind with women of less courage and goodness? And I feel sure the second feature is but a description of a mind not at ease.
You say he never could wait for what he wanted. I think that is largely true, remember his early training, - how he was petted and molly coddled by his mother - kept a “nice little boy” and had really no experience of ordinary boy contact with the world. I don’t wonder he did as he did.
And I can’t help thinking that even yet his mother keeps him too close to here apron strings. This has made Ruby’s part very hard - particularly in the first two or three years of their married life.
During the past year or two Wilfred has been out with men more than ever before and has experienced the inner stirring that comes sometime to every man - the longing to be master of his own life - and while he has partially emancipated himself from his mother's swaddling clothes, he feels it would hurt her to break away entirely, and he has so much affection for her he doesn't want to do that. So he is inwardly rebellious against fate and this inward revolt shows itself, outwardly in irritability or worse. I wonder if I make you understand what I mean.
It seems to me he is like a young man or woman at college, - with old props cut away or tumbling, new life vistas opening up, new longings and aspirations stirring, beacon lights beckoning and all the while the old fears, ties and habits of thought keep pulling one back, half fearful half-reluctant. Something of this awakening must come to every person of reasonable mental activity. For Wilfred it didn’t come before he was married - but has come during the last year or two.
And now he feels bound by chains of his own forging. Is it any wonder he is restless? Oh it’s a critical time for him and I pray he may be guided aright - and have the moral courage to follow.
Did you know - I didn’t until a day or two ago- that when before Elmer left for overseas Wilfred offered to come as his batman - not joking, but seriously? At the same time Elmer said Wilfred had never fished in his life nor put a worm on a hook until they two went out fishing together about a year ago.
Do not these two incidents throw a great light upon his conduct now? They do for me. I think he feels he is not playing a man’s part in the world - a natural longing feeling - but one that should be swallowed up in the resolve to be fair and true to those who are now dependent upon him - and to make his world where his lot has been cast. No, I don’t wonder he sits and looks at you. Poor boy. He needs help. - They all do - so you will try to help him will you not darling?
The light is becoming very dim, so goodnight my own darling - I kiss you good night.
Fri evening, July 20th
This has been an ideal summer day - warm and bright but not too hot. I have worked enough to make me feel hungry - yet not enough to weary me. Speaking of grub, all the fellows are not so fond of beans as I am, consequently there has been a good deal of grumbling at having beans in some form at 5 out of the last 7 meals. Wed. evening they were boiled - very much underdone and about 2 tablespoonfuls with bread & margarine constituted our supper. Yesterday's dinner & supper both provided the same only better soaked. Dinner today likewise & supper tonight. A small piece of fat bacon - or should I say bacon fat? - and beans supposedly baked together with bread - no margarine formed our supper.
Yesterday’s dinner & supper both provided the same only better soaked. Dinner today likewise & supper tonight. A small piece of fat bacon - or should I say bacon fat? - and beans supposedly baked together with bread - no margarine formed our supper. Breakfast too has been of a remarkable sameness lately. Fish Wednesday, but hash Tues. yesterday & today.
I was interrupted at this point by a call from Herb Peters. We sat down and had a nice chat, and he showed me some more pictures he has taken then I opened the box which turned up tonight, after having lingered at Hertford for the past two weeks. I doubt whether it would be here now if I hadn't written the postmaster twice. But it arrived intact and in good shape.
This is the box Ruby helped you to pack - containing aspirin, shaving cream, powder, chocolate peanuts toffee etc. Herb and I were discussing the dates, toffee and salted almonds when Elmer walked in and made a third to our little party.
About 8.45 Sergt. Davidson came in and soon after James Barnes and just a few minutes ago Sergt. Jackson. They are all hut fellows. Jackson is a particularly fine chap - born in Shropshire but now a Canadian - McGill undergrad. studying for the Congregational ministry - at present a serjt in the C.A.D.C. I am exceedingly fortunate in my hut companions. Davidson is the only one who even smokes. It’s a pleasure to be able to share a box with such chaps.
Tomorrow the C.A.D.C. basketball team is going to Witley Camp to play a game and I think I shall go along. I want to see the country and it will afford me an opportunity of seeing Bruce Hunter.
Tonight it’s threatening rain, but I don’t think it will spoil tomorrow. We shall hope not anyhow.
We have an electric light here, but there is only one small carbon lamp and the light it sheds on the table is so dim I think I shall not attempt to write any more tonight.
Oh, I meant to tell you dearie that according to the syllabus of training here I shall have to be here at least 7 weeks yet before I can be sent to France.
Goodnight my sweetheart.
Sat morning [July 21]
There's a skylark's nest not more than 300 yards from our hut. Of late I have often heard singing near by but didn't know that a nest was so close until yesterday when our class was having a practice in judging lateral distance. A target was set up in the field with a small moveable figure target on top of it. I was sent out to move this latter target according to the class instructor's directions.
I had no sooner reached the spot then a storm of protest in bird language greeted me and on looking about I saw one look in the air, mounting in the way peculiar to larks, while on the ground the female bird was running back & forth chattering and scolding. Perhaps there were young in the nest near by. Finally the male bird went up higher and higher until almost out of sight singing all the while. Then all at once he dropped straight down to the side of a trench only a few yards from me.
I have never heard a lark sing when coming down, but they always do when mounting. I wonder if it is to tell the little wife on the ground that hubbie is near and watching over here and her nest, and that the song message is the tie that binds them together when distance prevents her seeing him.
This evening I saw the same lark - no, first I heard a song away up in the air and though I looked and looked I could see nothing. Then the song stopped and soon I saw the feathered songster drop - oh so quickly and so straight, to the same spot as yesterday.
When going away from home we may take devious paths, but the return - mine at any rate - will be swift and straight and sure - just like the lark. For why? Because there my little nest is waiting for me with a welcome of glad love light in her eyes, a song of love on her lips and overflowing well springs of love in her breast. "True to the kindred points of heaven and home" - Why shouldn't I be with such a Heaven above and such a home beneath?
I meant to write a lot tonight but Choate arrived unexpectedly from Bexhill for the week end, and we sat talking quite a while. Now it's late and hard to see by the poor light we have. Besides it's bed time. Oh, for the time when bedtime will bring my bed-fellow to my arms.
Good night. My own. How I love you.
Sunday morning. July 22nd
This is the first time I have attended a church service at Bramshott. Unlike Hertford where from 2/3 to 3/4 of the men were in the C. of E. parade, here the great majority are "Other Denominations" - a generic term for all who are not C of E. or R.C.
We marched from the parade ground up the road about 1/2 mile to Y.M.C.A. hut #2. - a long low hut with a refreshment counter & canteen at the back and with the red triangle which is now so well known among the soldiers of the Empire everywhere in evidence. What is there about a large congregation of men that electrifies the atmosphere? Perhaps everyone isn't impressed that way but I am, especially when they join in singing under band leadership such grand old hymns as “Holy Holy Holy” “Rock of Ages” & “Stand up for Jesus.”
Despite the impressions one gets during the week of irreverence, blasphemy and worse, most of the men during the service gave thoughtful attention and though I couldn't read their thoughts, even I could tell from their varied expressions - many with a far off look in their eyes that old home associations and training were gripping them, and for the moment at least, were lifting them above themselves and making them true and aspiring after the better life. To me it was a splendid service. The lesson was the 91st Psalm, one of wonderful comfort and inspiring hope in these times.
Since coming over here I always seem to have two presences in church - one where my body is, for I realize all that is going on (except when I slept as at Hertford Baptist church) - and the other back in Canada with you sitting beside me. Do you remember I told you once that I was sure I loved you because you were always with me in my highest moments? It is always so. Whatever the absorption or abstraction of the moment - if my soul is on the mountain tops of experience you are always with me - my understanding companion, friend, sweetheart, guide, wife.
The sermon didn't appeal much to me - perhaps partly because the preacher was the chaplain of the 194th, Capt. Hamilton, who for some years was a member of the not-too-scrupulous real estate firm in Calgary of Hamilton & McHardy - prior to that a Presbyterian minister. But, sermon good or bad - the service was inspirational. It was all over by ten o'clock.
After returning to the parade ground the band played - oh so beautifully in the still morning air - for nearly half an hour. For a time I sat on the steps of the serjeants mess hut listening, drinking in the harmony of sound and form and color, - looking across the green of the trees and fields in the valley to the blue of the distant hills wrapped in their eternal haze - all the while my mind and heart were bridging the distance and resting with you somewhere in the quiet restfulness of dear old Ontario - far from the sights and sounds of war.
It is so beautiful here that I really must get about more than I have done and see at nearer view some of the beauty spots that the landscape only suggests from a distance. This p.m. I think Elmer & I shall stroll through Hazlemere to Tennyson’s old home unless Choate has other plans.
12.30 p.m. Have just had dinner - a much better one than usual - roast mutton, new potatoes (we have been getting them now for 3 weeks) - greens & pudding with some cherries in it. I shall write a little more now and then go out with Elmer. It's a beautiful afternoon for a walk.
I was telling you before dinner about the high, rough moorland country between here and Witley. The Devil's Cross is an old gibbet where some notorious highwaymen found a sudden ending to their careers about 150 years ago. The exact spot of the particular murder for which they were caught is masked by a stone tablet on the roadside at the bottom of the U the U-shaped valley called "The Devil's Punch Bowl." The road - the main one from London to Portsmouth winds around the rim of the Punch Bowl.
As our car reached the far side we could back away to the southeast & s.west over what seemed very low lying country but is in reality quite undulating ground, much above sea level and if only England could for once furnish a clear Alberta atmosphere our eyes would have rested on the waters of the Channel.
Except for the view, the place itself is not beautiful - quite too barren looking - almost like the place around the Gap O’Dunloe except for the rocks. Here there is nothing but a very light dry sand. I was greatly surprised to see such hills and so much comparatively barren land in this part of England.
Between here & Witley, about 7 miles, there is scarcely any good farming country and Witley Camp itself is on equally barren sand - built on land cleared of small pine trees - with some still standing on the outskirts and along the roads. You mustn't picture one of the camps here as being like Sarcee. Huts there are in place of tents - and so many of them - thousands in one camp - all laid out in regular rows with paved streets, electric light & telephone wires, underground sewers etc just like a young city. Here and there in front of the officer's quarters are flower gardens with occasional vegetables and of course the ubiquitous potato.
Although from The Devil’s Punch Bowl to Witley camp is four miles of heavy down grade the camp itself it is on a hill like an immense knoll with the ground sloping sharply away on all sides. From this you will realize that the country round about is anything but flat - and correspondingly difficult for cycling.
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention from Hindhead to beyond the Punch Bowl the roadsides were covered with purple heather. Do you know what it reminded me of? - The heather covered hill we passed in Wales.
Three years ago today we were in Oxford were we not? How little we then guessed of the storm that was so soon to break, when we wandered through the old college halls, up and down the venerable old streets & idly drifted down the river to Iffly, how quiet and peaceful everything seemed. How far away those times seem now! And yet I feel somehow they will come again.
Of late - I don't know why - I have felt that I will play my part in the war as a man should and that there is a work for me to do afterwards. Call it a superstition if you will - I never felt that way when I enlisted nor until the last 3 or 4 weeks - perhaps I should say 2 weeks. Anyhow the only thing for me to do now is what the present duty demands. God will take care of me and whatever the result we shall uncomplainingly leave the issues to Him, shall we not, dearest?
Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you I called at Bruce Hunter’s hut but learned that he had gone with the Col & some a party to deposit the battalion colors in Belfast and hadn’t returned though expected back the day before. I left a note for him.
After the basketball game, which Bramshott lost, Elmer & I had some cherries, very good ice cream & cake and then called on one of the McTeer boys from Calgary. From him we learned that all of the 89th & 202nd who had been in the 5th Division at Witley left on draft for France a couple weeks ago - Douglas McDougall being among them.
About 6.30 we came home by taxi having to pay 3s each, though there were 7 of us, and we paid only 2/6d going over, but the taxis have things so much their own way they can charge practically what they like. You see private cars are very scarce now and the gov't takes practically the whole of the new output of the factories. As it was we had to line up at the taxi stand like a theatre queue and wait about 20 minutes as there were nearly 50 ahead of us. When we left there were nearly as many behind. Am going now for my walk.
Sun. evening. [July 22]
I have just returned from supper - bread & marg. tea a small slice of cold beef with a couple miniature slices of onion on it, and a dessert of cornstarch. Was out all afternoon and had a lovely walk, but I'll tell you about it in tomorrow's letter. I started for Tennyson's home and walked about a mile in Tennyson's Lane, but the time was too short to go the other 2 miles today so I turned back. It was then about 5 miles from camp so you see I had about a ten or eleven mile walk altogether.
Three letters came today posted in Hamilton June 30, July 4 & one in Toronto July 5th.
I'm so glad dearest you had such a nice visit and restful time at the Dickensons'. It is so nice that they could take you around in their car.
Yes, I agree with you - England can show nothing more beautiful than the district from Toronto to Niagara. If you had the hedges and winding roads & irregular field there it would be very like many parts of England. Oh, my dearest I am so very glad you are feeling better and enjoying yourself.
Goodnight my own dear wifie.
Evelyn to Fred
[Postmark: Seaforth, Ont.]
July 19, 1917.
... Yesterday I had two letters from you written the 22nd, 26th or 27th of June, and to-day came two of the unmounted photographs. I’m glad you got no more than you did. However could the camera make you look like that?
Oh my own darling! I cannot tell you what you are to me. You just about represent life to me - the rest is just existence.
I am glad the boxes came at such an opportune time, but it's a shame you have to depend on them for really enough to eat. It somehow seems as if you'd put up with about everything you could be called upon to suffer since you enlisted. Sometimes I feel a little bitter that things should be so much easier for others than for you.
I haven't had a very enjoyable time since I came here, as I've spent more than half of it in bed. First I had a bad bilious attack, and now I have this. Yesterday and nearly all of to-day I have been in a bed with the foot elevated. I have only been unwell, but so very badly that Luella thought I should have this treatment, and she won’t let me get on my feet at all. She and mother even carried me downstairs.
Now I do not want you to worry about me. I'm not sick only it is weakening to lose so much. If next month I am not better, I may stay longer. I have been on my feet too much doing Land Titles work, but I don't intend to stand so much after I get back. If I have to do Land Titles, I'm going to have a stool to sit on up there. I had a letter from Miss Cummer yesterday and she said they'd had four new girls since I left, three of whom are married.
Mr. Ferguson got behind in doing his own work, while trying to do mine too, so A.J. does the Court House & L.T.O. work - “that is not too important” Miss Cummer said. Poor old duffer. According to the papers he didn’t even pass his exams. I wonder if they’ll keep him on for another year.
I'm not writing you very cheerful, inspiring letters, I'm afraid, but there isn't much inspiration in sleeping and lying in bed. I am thankful though, that I have such good treatment as I always seem to have. I think of you sick in that awful hospital at Bramshott - but it's over now, and thinking of it won't mend matters.
Three years ago to-day we had our trip to Burns land and through the English lakes. We won't take the lake trip so hurriedly again, will we dear? We're going to loaf around there? Oh dearest, when will it be?
Does not the entrance of Greece into the war, and the renewed Russian offensive make the situation more hopeful?
Goodnight sweetheart - Oh, if you could only kiss me goodnight just once in a while.
It seems I was mistaken about what we were doing yesterday - three years ago. That was Sunday and you went to church, was it once or twice? And we went to the Gallery in the afternoon, and lost was it Mrs. Bond or Miss Sifton?
They have brought me out on the verandah, and I have been here since about eleven - It is now four, and has just started to rain. It isn't a thunder storm, just a rain which brings out the odours of the trees delightfully. It is wonderful how fresh the air seems now after the little rain, for it has almost ceased now, but the sky looks gray yet.
I wonder where you are to-day and what you are doing and eating. I am sorry I cannot send you a box this week, for I won't be up and around enough to get it ready myself, and I've been enough trouble without asking anybody to do anything more for me. I have been wondering about your socks, if you have enough and how many pairs a month you'll need to keep you well supplied. Please let me know when you write.
How I wish you could have a whiff of the lovely air from the woods, spruce, cedar, tamarac and, it may be, balsam too. One place, when coming home, we got off the train about 9.30 p.m. after it had been raining all day, and the smell from the woods was so refreshing. When you're going on the train, you don't get anything but train odours, do you? How often I thought about our, at least, my first trip over the north shore route.
Major Daly certainly has had luck, hasn’t he. I don’t think conscription hurried many people up much, rather the majority have sat back and let it take its course. I was thinking last night that I did not know of anyone who had given up so much as you to enlist as a private. You may speak of Pat, [Patterson] but his wife was dead, although I guess he would have gone anyway.
I haven't seen the papers lately, nor did I have much time to read about the Mesopotamian campaign, at any rate, there wasn't much about it in the papers we got. Was that one reason Asquith was put out? I guess to a certain extent he was as much a "watchful waiter" as Wilson. It does make one froth to read the American magazines speaking of Asquith's Micawber like attitude.
Hazel said to-day that she wished I'd go to Detroit and study law there. I asked her what good it would do me to know American law. The way I feel, not if I had to leave Canada, I'd go to Australia, England, France or India, any place except Germany and the U.S. I suppose we are very narrow minded in our antipathy to them, but you know, they praise themselves so much, and so many Canadians have turned Americans that our natural cussedness just jumps out.
I thought I'd get this ready for this mail but it just came and went, so I'll put tomorrow's in too. I'm sorry, hope this doesn't miss a mail, but I never know when they leave.
I hear Clara’s baby trying to talk. She’s a darling, if ever there was one. How I wish you could see her.
I got downstairs on my own feet this morning. Isn't it annoying to get tied up like this when I was counting on the sort of holiday I like? Now Mother will think she has an excuse to fuss over me. Isn't it sad how much unpleasantness there can be between people who like each other, just because each wants his own way? I never could stand it to stay at home now, I'm so glad I got settled before you left. I know how Laura must feel.
Mother is very, very good to me, but if she had her own way, I'd still be a child and so would Ora, which treatment of course Ora can stand less than I can and I feel that Ora thinks I'm being babied, and that she has to do more than I do whereas, if I hadn't had this spell, I'd be only too glad to do my share.
I don't want you to think I'm not having a good time, but atmospheres always worry me, and we ought to have a pleasant one. I always felt there was an irritability about our home which should not exist in a Christian home. And how to get rid of that, without making people over, is the problem. I don't mean your home and my home, I mean when the four of us were together. I think we are all too prone to talk about each others faults, I know I am, and Ora has a caustic tongue. But it's a subject there's not any use dwelling on, unless some good can come of it. I have never said that much, even to you before.
It was three years ago to-day we were in Chester and Llandudno. Do you remember the bouquet of white roses and white sweet peas? And the man in King Charles' tower, and the walk around Old Chester?
I wonder how that old socialist feels now? What do you feel about the war, now that Russia has started again, and Greece is in it? I have scarcely seen a paper this week. You see the papers come home and so we don't get them.
Father is planning to take his holidays next month and wanted to take us on a motor trip, but I think this would be better for me than bumping around. Luella said I had a haemorrhage of the uterus, and that is weakening. Aside from that there is nothing the matter with me, and now it has stopped, completely I hope, for the time being. So you aren't to worry about me dear, because I'm not going back to Calgary until I feel like it.
What do you think we had for dinner to-day. Why, fresh, speckled brook trout. Mr. German gave us half his catch of yesterday, and they certainly were delicious. I'd have given you mine, had you been her just for the pleasure of seeing you eat it. I was planning to-day, about when you come home, and we get living in a house again. You won't have to fear what you did on our wedding trip - Oh my own darling. It seems like years since you went away. I want to be a better girl by the time you come back.
Your own kiddie.
Evelyn to Fred
Postmark: Hepworth, Ont.
Sunday Evening July 22/17
My Own Darling:-
To-day I was reading a new book of David Grayson’s “The Friendly Road.” Do you remember his book that Mr. Fallis lent us? I am going to send you this book as soon as I go to town. I know you haven’t much time to read, but if you could get off with it some Sunday afternoon, I am sure you would feel refreshed. For, for the time you could forget where you were and imagine yourself in a scene you’d like.
Now I want to commune with you. I believe I told you that this time I was sick I had a haemorrhage of the uterus. And as you know before you enlisted last summer, the doctor said I had anaemia while my sickness lasted. I had to keep off my feet but because I had a haemorrhage this time is no proof that I'll have one next time.
However, I realize that I have to be careful at that time. It may mean that I'll have to stay home from the office a day or two at that time, but I can't help it if I do. And I think I got that way from standing up so much at the Land Titles. But now I don't have you to explain those things for me. Mother has now got it into her head, and Mrs. German keeps scaring her, that I am sick, and that I ought to stay home for a year etc. Nobody knows how thankful I am to have a home to come to, but I simply can't stay here all the time. You can't realize how it knocks the bottom out of things to have you away.
Sometimes I hate myself for telling you all my worries, but you're the only, only one I can tell things to, and be assured of being understood. Here you are counting on my telling you about good times I'm having and instead I tell you stories of woe. But I'm better now and am preparing to enjoy myself this coming weeks.
It is so quiet and peaceful here, even the leaves do not stir on the trees. It seems impossible to think of war here, or that you can possibly be in it. I wonder where you are my sweetheart. It nearly breaks my heart to think of what you may be passing through. I pray and pray for you.
But see dear, Mrs. Fallis said once, in speaking of Mrs. Polly's boy "But maybe it isn't God's will that he should come back." Well then, what's the use of praying for anything you want. You might just pray for God's will to be done. Then where do people come in? Only by praying that their will may be God's. Well, that doesn't quite satisfy me. I don't think it is God's will that anybody should be killed in this war, for I do believe that good may come out of evil. ...
Last night and to-day you have been so very, very near to me. How I love you! I never realized what we could mean to each other, did you? In the still, still evenings I imagine you are home again, and we are strolling down the shore together. Do you think you will be home again on our next wedding day? Three years ago to-day we had the lovely motor trip through Wales and had tea at Eastnor? Do you remember?
... How I should like to have you out here for a month. It is so carefree and easy here; it is the kind of holiday that clears up the brain and strengthens the body. I feel so much better to-day. I helped to unpack the dinner dishes, and swept the living room and kitchen, and then Hazel and I washed a lot of lettuce. Dad brought out a Saturday Globe which contained the proposed food regulations, you will likely see them in the Globe. It is such a comfort to me to know that you are getting it and thus knowing so many more things than I can tell you.
I must tell you that Mrs. Macleod wasn’t offering me the position of travelling helper. I shouldn’t have done it for pay, but I’d have been glad to help her had I been on the same train. She got along very well though for Mr. Macleod went as far as Winnipeg with her and her father met her at North Bay, I guess it was.
Your letter of the 4th & 5th and mother’s came to-day. There must be another one not yet arrived for I have received nothing of June 30, July 1, 2, & 3. So maybe that letter will come later. You said once you were going to have Elmer send the things from Bramshott, but as you did not speak of a parcel, I concluded that you had decided to wait until you got back.
We gave Laura the recipe for the cake we sent you from Hamilton, and she said she liked to think that Elmer would have something out of that box, so I told her to tell him it had been sent and then he could happen around if being an officer he could do so.
What you said about exams at Hertford is disgusting, but you have to swallow a lot, and swallow hard to get it down. Great Britain can't be a democracy as long as the army is a what? an oligarchy? The French army isn't like it, is it? One isn't led to believe it is. Art sent Ora an ink well made of shells, and on the bottom is a 5 centime piece, which made me think of it.
I didn’t say much about your pictures, did I? I don’t think I’ll give any to 'nos' parents. You may be in London, and then can get more that really look like you. Why these don’t even show your dimple, which shows how well the expression marks do not show.
...Wasn't that good of Hazel to send you the socks? Did she say how they were to be distributed? She said she was going to make you a white pair with blue stripes, and that she would send some others for distribution. I'll try to write to her today to thank her for you, for you may not get time right away.
Have you heard from Pat lately? I'm going to try to write to Noble while I'm out here; we really were careless of our friends while we were together, weren't we darling? I don’t suppose you’d have time to write - but he is at no. 4 University Base Hospital, Salonika. I suppose a letter would have to go through the A.P.O. Why did a letter addressed to Hertford go to Bramshott first, can you tell me?
Diabetes is a disease caused by sugar in the urine, and is very serious especially in young persons. Did Margaret tell you that the doctor said if Ray hadn't started to have treatment when he did that he'd have been dead in three months? And he probably wouldn't have known if he hadn't tried again to go to India.
Did Margaret tell you she was going to enlist for overseas? I know I'd want to do it if I were prepared or I thought there was any use of preparing for me, I mean. Under the circumstances however, I feel I am doing my duty by studying law. In many ways it would be easier to do V.A.D. work, but I think it's my business to stay at home.
The doctor thinks Ray, by careful dieting, may recover, though Margaret says you can never know for certain that one is cured of it. The disease is often precipitated by nervous shock, and the trouble at Dundas is blamed very largely for supplying the just the necessary amount of shock to bring it on.
Do you know, I feel that I have not been all I might have been to Ray? For he really is a lonely boy, and he used to count a lot on my understanding of him. And after we were married, I rarely wrote to him. I left that to you. That was not a fair way to treat a friend, because he was that before he was my brother in law.
I remember one time, the time I was at your place with you before we were married, well, something he said then still gives me the same choking feeling I have when I think of you at certain times. For then you seem to me as very, very young, and yearning very much for someone to understand you. Ray, probably more than you, has been misunderstood, for to the common run of people, he is at least peculiar.
I don't know how most to help Ruby. She needs it more that you can possibly know. How people change! Work, worry, too much money or not enough, self indulgence oh, so many hearts, under a fairly bright face, one slowly, slowly breaking. Ruby is so thin dear, it would make your heart ache to see her. And Wilfred said to me that she fussed over the baby too much. I shouldn't like my husband to criticize me to a friend.
I know dear, that sometime he is comparing us, and thinking that she isn't systematic or businesslike, and it makes me sore for her sake. If she'd married somebody else who wanted her, she wouldn't have had to work so hard, and might be brighter.
Don’t I know how dead one’s brain gets when one is tired physically? And the weary monotonous treadmill of housework! If it be not brightened by sympathetic understanding, instead of censoriousness, how deadly it is. Especially if there is too much for one’s strength. There’s not much use in trying to attach blame though. One can only see things as they are, and try to help them - as they are - not as they ought to be.
This is quite a dissertation on people, isn't it sweetheart? However, always thankful I am for your dear love and perfect understanding. May God bless you, my own darling.
Your own wife.
The flower belongs to the orchid family, I never saw it before. Isn’t it brilliant.
Three years ago we were at Warwick & Stratford.
Fred to Evelyn
July 23rd 1917
My darling, -
I thought I'd have a long evening in which to do a lot of writing, but a 5.30 parade was sprung on us and after that there was a general moving. I haven't been able to ascertain any reason for it but I am told every hut but 3 had to change around. We had to vacate hut S.6. where we were so quiet and comfortable and now Barnes and I are with 17 or 18 others in B15. We wanted to get into one with only a few in it but couldn't succeed. One compensation is we are now with the other 191 serjeants - Shaver, Smith & Sinclair. The Dentals moved away up the line nearer their clinic. I don’t know where Davidson has gone.
Did I tell you I saw Legh Walsh last night? Yesterday I was surprised to see his name in the register of the White Rock hotel at Haselmere and moreover that he was in Bramshott camp in our own brigade so when I got back from Haselmere I went over to the 15th Reserve Bn. lines to see him and caught him just as he was leaving in a taxi to keep an engagement for the evening.
Under the circumstances we couldn’t talk long but long enough for him to tell me Clarence Smith was here two weeks ago for 3 days - just before my return from Hertford. Clarence’s brother was in the 15th and Clarence was on 10 days leave from France to see him only to find that he had gone to France a few days ago previously. Clarence in now temporarily with a reserve Battalion at Shornecliffe. [Shorncliffe]
Legh said he had called to see me once but was told I was at Hertford. The reason I hadn’t seen him before is that half our brigade - the 15th & 19th bns. from Saskatchewan are across the road in what is known as the north camp. Legh says he has been on draft for a month and is becoming tired of hanging around doing nothing.
Oh yes, I meant to tell you that on Saturday I had another letter from Gordon Jones explaining that time didn't permit of his visit to Bramshott a week ago - and conveying the interesting bit of news that on the train going back to Shornecliffe from Witley he ran into J.V. McKenzie who is now a lieutenant in some battalion located at the latter place. J.V. said he would look me up at the earliest opportunity.
I think I told you yesterday a little about my walk. I had planned to go with Elmer to visit Tennyson's home, but on arrival at his hut I found two of his fellow dentists from Calgary - Capts. Tweddle & Healey. The three had planned to have a game of bowls on the green at the White Rock hotel, Haslemere. So we all went together that far, walking at a stiff pace which on such a warm afternoon had us in a great perspiration by the time we reached their destination. There we had some liquid refreshments - mine being Devonshire cider - and then we [went] back through the garden to the bowling green.
Such a lovely spot it was! I never saw greater masses of rose bloom anywhere , - all along 2 sides of one plot there was a mass of color, and down the path to the green there were 5 arches of roses. Other arches and bowers there were around the outside of the green itself.
The place was tempting even to make me want to linger, but after taking a couple pictures I set out alone for Tennyson's house. I had already walked fully 3 miles - probably more - and was surprised to find that my destination was a good 3 further on. But the road on the other side of Haslemere was so lovely the time passed quickly and in a short while I was at what appeared to be the entrance to a lovely private park - as a matter of fact it is, but here began the road called Tennyson's Lane, where he is reported to have written most of his poetry.
The road is winding of course, - and for the first half mile the up grade is steady. On both sides is woods - not large trees but mostly pines with small undergrowth and bracken but there is a row on each side of the road that almost arches into a canopy making a delightfully shaded walk underneath.
Here and there through openings in the trees one gets wonderful glimpses of the valley and plain lying to the south and east. It is not at all difficult to imagine that here Tennyson received much of the inspiration for his nature poetry. Do you remember those dismal cantos where he speaks of the rain and dripping eaves in "In Memoriam?" I thought that surely this walk would be a depressing place in damp winter weather.
I soon saw I wouldn't have time to go on to the house unless I made my homecoming very late so I decided to retrace my steps and go again when I have more time. Oh, we must visit Haslemere together - yes and the spot where I went after supper. I went to the north camp then turned west along a road which passed a park of as beautiful beeches as any I saw at Hertford.
This road, after about half a mile narrowed into a cutting between high banks lined with over-arching beeches for another half mile until I came to Bramshott church. Then I took a footpath also worn down to a cutting between another avenue of trees.
Oh, there are so many lovely spots I want you to see. We shall have to make a long visit the next time we come to England dear. I miss you so at such places - I want to be alone not with other men who can’t enter into my mood, - and I get most of my joy out of these rambles in planning how we shall visit the same spots together.
On my return as I was walking briskly along this road my steps were arrested by the most beautiful thrush song. I stopped and listened for fully 15 minutes but though I looked and looked into the foliage where the sound came from I couldn't catch a glimpse of him. Some other evening I’m going back to try to see him.
All the while I have been writing this evening Jimmie Barnes has been sitting opposite playing lovely old tunes on his mandolin, while now and again some of the men join in with their voices. What a softening influence music has! It is nice to have it just before going to bed. That's where I must go now. I wonder what you have been doing today dearest.
Has this been for you the end of a perfect day. Oh, I do hope you are having a good time - goodnight my own darling.
Tues. evening July 24th.
Do you remember where we were 3 years ago yesterday? Isn't that the day we spent in Oxford going to London in the evening? Of late I have often wished we had kept a diary then. I find it isn't such a troublesome task if I do it every day, but if I skip one day, there is a strong tendency to repeat the next. But on our next trip we'll keep one shall we not, sweetheart?
Wasn’t it three years ago today that we had afternoon tea with Ernie Stapleford and met Dr. Crummy? Or was it the last Sunday we were in London?
It is so hard to believe what Hazel said about Dr Crummy, and since the dismissal of Dr Bland and others from Wesley College I have been wondering whether the report about Dr Crummy is a trumped up story circulated by his enemies.
I am returning Gordon’s letter in case you may want it for the address.
You ask if I could wear a leather vest under my tunic. I suppose I could, but really, dearie, I don't think it would be a great deal of protection, for if it were surely the men would all be equipped with them.
I have been re-reading your letters of the 1st 2nd 3rd & 4th of July. I am so glad you were able to have such a nice visit at the Dickenson’s. How nice that Ora, Elleda and you could all be there together. And I am sure no one was better pleased than Mr. & Mrs Dickenson.
By the way, what is Malcolm’s number, rank, and address? Oftentimes men we know are quite close to us without our knowing it.
I shall look forward to the cake you said you were sending from the Dickenson's. It is so hard to get any decent cake here now. I have been thinking though that it is rather foolish to pay postage on canned goods like salmon, pork & beans & fruit, for we can buy all of those things here. I know it is nicer to get them in boxes from home, but the postage is so high it really does seem foolish.
Today 2 boxes came - the one you sent from Winnipeg and a smaller one which I haven't opened yet, but imagine was sent by mother. Your box arrived in first class shape - as if it had just been packed instead of having travelled several thousand miles. I haven't gone beyond the top layer for I haven't had time yet, but I shall explore further when I go off duty.
I am on canteen duty this evening from 6 to 9. All I have to do is stay in the men's wet canteen and see that proper order is kept and that it is closed at the proper hour. That's where I am sitting now. Oh my darling, I am so much more fortunate than other men. I don't know of anyone who gets as many boxes as I, and it is so nice to receive them.
Yes, I received my musketry notes about 2 weeks ago. Thanks very much.
So Wray won the gold medal. I am very glad. He worked hard for it - but I hope he hasn't injured his eyes permanently. ... I am looking forward to your next letters telling of your visit to Beamsville. I do hope you had a good time there and that you and mother came to know each other better - my two dearest women.
Wed. evening, July 25/17
I have just been thinking that I was a day out in my recollections of events in 1914 - and that we left Oxford for London on the 24th instead of the 23rd. Is that not right? Just think! How little even well informed people thought in the beginning that it could last so long. And what changes there have been in the opinions about the decisive factor.
Events have proven quite conclusively that, barring extraordinary weather causing practically a crop failure, economic pressure will not defeat either Great Britain or Germany. The common belief in military circles now is that peace can only come after a decisive military defeat.
My own private opinion is that aircraft in numbers hitherto undreamed of will be the deciding factor. It also looks to me as if France is almost exhausted, and as a consequence the allies are not doing much more than attempting to mark time until U.S. can put a large army in the Field, and such vast numbers of aircraft can be built and manned as will ensure our permanent superiority in the air.
I am not going to write much tonight. The remark of a serjeant lying on his bed behind me pretty well indicates my condition. "I'm afraid to lie on my back for fear my back bone will push up through my guts. I haven't strength enough to draw my last breath. They'll have to squeeze it out of me."
Of course you are wondering what is the cause. Simply, doping the food. This is done for two purposes - to prevent the development of sexual desire and to give the men periodic laxatives. Well, the hash we had for breakfast yesterday morning "laxed" with a vengeance, and ever since the paths to the latrines have been crowded with hurrying men. Perhaps there was a bad mixture of the dope - whatever it is - and I got more than my share, for my attack has been unusually severe.
Really this is the first I've had from this cause since I went in the army - the first really serious one, I mean. Last night I woke up about 2 o'clock, and since then I must have made about 20 visits. Shaver and the C.M.S. have been close second and third respectively but I am in the lead. Along with the diarrhoea I've had a nausea which took away my appetite.
At breakfast I had a couple swallows of coffee and 3 teaspoonfuls of porridge. At noon I persuaded the cook to make some mock turtle soup out of one of the packages in the last box. Didn't you say Mrs. Bell put that in? But even this didn't tempt me. I forced myself to eat possibly a cupful and a couple mouthfuls of bread. For supper I had half a cup of Oxo made from one of the cubes you sent and part of a cup of tea. I have slept a good deal today - didn't go out on parade and I think I shall feel better tomorrow morning, but I feel very empty and weak this evening.
I am enclosing a couple picture postcards of Hatfield House. As you know they never give an adequate idea of the place, still they show that it is really palatial in its size and general plan.
I wonder where you are now - still at Aux Sables, I hope - and enjoying the lake breezes and bathing.
Doesn't it seem as if in so many ways things have worked out for the best with us? How nice that you were able to have a pleasant visit and rest at the Dickenson’s, and then to meet Clara Jones and at Aux Sables.
I'm so glad that Margaret went with you - for I assume she did, though I haven't heard yet whether she accepted your invitation or not, she needed a rest - just what your stay any Aux Sables could give.
Oh, I love you so my darling - and I pray that God may keep you happy and serene - my brave little wife.
Evelyn to Fred
Last night I was taken for a row up the Sauble River, and very lovely it was too. As we were rowing along we saw an Indian woman crossing the river. She was standing up paddling her canoe, while her dog sat calmly in the bow. When we passed by we saw that her canoe was made out of the trunk of a tree, just hollowed out. When we got back it was dusk, and the mosquitoes were so bad we didn't go in to light any lamps; we sat out on the verandah, looking at the moonlight on the water, and then went to bed in the dark. So that is why I didn't write any last night.
Three years ago last night we had our trip down the Isis to Iffley, and three years ago to-day we had our lovely day in Oxford together. I wonder how you are spending the day. This morning I packed a box for you There is nothing home made in it, but I haven’t been well enough to bake any, Mrs. German makes a lovely sultana cake, and when we go back to Owen Sound Ora and I are going to make one it’s a huge one - takes 10 eggs, and we’ll cut it in two and send you and Art each half.
Father came out from Owen Sound Monday, and is going back to-day Wednesday, to attend the S.S. picnic. He has to use an air cushion to sit in since his operation, and can’t get about very well. He is over at Mr. King’s now. Brownie Gallagher came yesterday but I haven’t met her yet.
I forgot to tell you about the box - the big cake of chocolate is from mother, & the kisses, and the socks are the second installment [sic] of your Christmas present from Ora.
The other morning yesterday, Hazel and mother went fishing & Hazel caught a black bass, then Mrs. King gave dad two fish that Professor Johnston had given her, because they were tired of it, and last night, Mrs. Reynolds brought over a pike. Having so much fish, we asked Clara, Mrs. German and her sister for dinner to-day. Yesterday Mr. King bought some green peas for Mrs. German in Southampton, so she is bringing them over for dinner too. So by the kindness of the neighbours, we’ll have a good dinner.
This afternoon we are all going to row up to Sauble Falls for a picnic, and Clara is going to take the baby too. The King’s and their guests are to be asked also, if Mr. King goes he’ll be the only man, for Mr. German has gone back to London.
Dad says I can’t go back until the first of October. He says I owe it to you to keep well, and I think so too, and I’m going to write and say I need to stay longer. Mr. Robertson said before I came away “Cut loose from here and don’t come back until you feel like it. Well, I’m go not going back until I feel like it. They paid me until the end of July, but no longer, and we are not getting any more than the Shouldice’s anyway. And above all, there’s no sense in my working unless I feel like it. I think the people will keep the suite another month.
The greatest difficulty is Lina. She could go back with May, if they want her the first of September, and might stay with Elizabeth, or at the Y. for a month. I know it won’t be so nice for her, but I can’t really help it.
Now dear you aren’t to worry about my health; if I weren’t taking a good rest when I need it, you might but you see I’m being sensible for once. I feel so much stronger every day. If you could only feel this lovely breeze from the lake you’d love it. This morning dad said looking around, “Why, this is the laziest place I’ve ever been in. Yesterday was very hot - even here, but to-day there has been a nice breeze all the time. They said it was 100° in the shade at Camp Borden on Monday. Wasn’t that awful?
Father is much worried about the political situation. We are very proud of the way the Globe has come out on the question, but it is heart rending that we should be forced to choose between Borden and Laurier, but even if we have, we'll have to take Borden although we realize all the horrid things that lie behind his administration. But we simply can't throw up our hands and have the war go on without us.
The Russian situation is so unsatisfactory, it's hard to keep hopeful, Luella had a letter from Stan yesterday and he seemed very optimistic. One of our cousins, Jean's brother Ross Collver is a prisoner-of-war. They just got word recently and he was taken at Vimy Ridge, I think. He wants things to eat, poor boy.
Dinner is in five minutes and I want to send this in with dad. You may use the rest of this to write to me.
Goodbye dearie. I love you.
Evelyn to Fred
Postmark: Hepworth, Ont.
I've just finished a letter to Miss Cummer, and I intend to write to Mr. Carson to-day, about staying away another month. In a way I hate to do it, but in another way I don't care. I've given good service, at least, I think I have, even if there were times when I was too busy to put away the books in the library, I think I worked as hard as Bryenton on office work for all the effect he gave of energy.
We went on a picnic yesterday, up the river to the Falls, Clara took the baby, along and Brownie Gallagher was there with the King’s. She says that Ruby says Helen is cute, but that she fails to see it in the snaps she has sent home. She is a cute baby, but I must say, I don’t think she’s nearly so bright as Clara’s baby. She isn’t only about half as old as Helen, and she’ll soon be walking and talking. We’re trying to get her to say a few easy words, and we fondly imagine she knows what we’re trying to teach her.
She sits on the floor and says “diddle diddle diddle” and smiles at you so, she is a perfect dear, but of course I’d never let Ruby know I think any other person’s baby is smarter than hers. But really Helen should have been walking some time ago and there doesn’t seem to be much strength in her little legs. I hope there is nothing wrong with her back.
I'm going to try going in bathing to-day, and it's time now.
The sun was like fire when it went down tonight. The sky and the water were grey and the sun hung suspended like an orange. Then - suddenly it dipped behind a cloud that you couldn’t see was there. There is a boat out on the river, the people fishing. The water is rough enough to roar. Oh I love it.
How [I] wish you were here to enjoy it. And the bathing this afternoon! There were huge waves, and when they’d come up to us we’d jump up to meet them. I didn’t stay in very long, just ten minutes, but it was long enough for the first time. Then I came in and rested again.
We had tea on our verandah to-day, and Mother asked Mrs. King and her sister and Brownie over too. She is very much like Ruby don’t you think? But she doesn’t think they are alike.
Clara and Ora and I are writing to our husbands and every once in a while we stop to talk, and the others outside are talking at us, so we cannot quite collect our thoughts. We've locked the doors and pulled down the blinds, and they open the window from outside and let the blind run up with a jerk. They've evidently decided to leave us alone now and are talking quietly.
I was rather expecting a letter to-day, but none came. I think there is one missing somewhere - the last of June and the first three days of July.
I feel so much better to-day that I think I could go home when my time is up, but I realize it is best to be absolutely strong before I go back. I hope you aren't worrying about me, for there is really nothing to worry about, though maybe my suggestion that you might be worrying might give you cause to think there is reason for it. Rather a cumbersome sentence, n’est-ce-pas?
The paper yesterday brought bad news again from the Russian front, though to-day it was more reassuring from the Russo-Roumanian front. Also, as you will see, there is an announcement about the income tax. I don't know what will happen if there is an election. The military service bill has passed its third reading.
You will notice that the names of nearly all those who voted against the bill are French. I think there ought to be conscription of wealth - of course the income tax is a step in that direction, but certainly the Liberals aren't offering anything so good as the Conservatives this time. It is maddening too, for one knows that they are not truly representing Liberalism, such being the case, those men ought to be put out, but there is no reason why conscriptionist liberals should not be elected. What I am afraid is that if the question goes to the country, it may be defeated.
I am now reading Wells' Mr. Brittling Sees it Through. I am not very far in it, but it is very fascinating. He is speaking of the Ulster gun-running, and of the possibility of civil war in Ireland, It seems strange to read about things like that in a book. To-day the paper said the Irish convention had begun. We shall all be hoping and praying that some amicable, and workable settlement may be reached. Sometimes I wonder if any worse things could happen than are happening now.
The paper to-day spoke of the Russian women's regiment being in action, commanded by the girl, Vera somebody, who had been twice wounded before. Doesn't that seem terrible? The horror of the thing creeps into my very bones when I allow myself to think of it. And then to think of you, my own sweetheart, not because you are mine but because I know what you are, having to go into it almost makes my heart stop beating. And all I can do is to think of you lovingly and pray that it may not be more than you can stand, and that the whole thing will soon be over.
With many hugs and kisses. You said in one of your letters that you'd give me enough kisses to make up for all we've missed, and so the other night I counted up how many you'd have to give me. Just ordinarily there are at least five a day, that makes 150 a month, which would be 1,800 a year, not to count any extras.
Goodnight my sweetheart. Three years ago to-day was Sunday and we spent it in London, just after we had returned from Oxford.
I've written to J.M. [Carson] and just when I'd finished father came in with mail - your mounted picture, your letter of June 29 & 30, and of July 7th etc. from Hertford and Bramshott. Also the enclosed letters.
I want to tell you this about my salary. J.M. told me that now all graduate students got a raise after they'd been in the office about five months. Also Roy and Fitch got $60 in their 2nd year, and Bryenton gets $60. You may say they are men, but I think I can do just as good work as they can. Maybe they don't, but I'll show them, and if I do the work I ought to get the salary. Anyway students are hard to get now. Why I heard of first year students getting $100 a month in Edmonton.
What you said about cheerful letters made me feel rather conscience stricken. Laura wants to get to work, and I know she'd feel so much better if she did. She realizes it too. I’ll write to Mr. Trickey, then maybe he’ll write you a letter - I’ll suggest it anyway.
And don't worry about the boxes I send - I don't skimp myself, and as for time - I take it from things I'd rather do less. I'll stop now, but may write more before I send this off.
Good-bye for the present dear.
Fred to Evelyn
My own Kiddie, -
In a letter from you today - the first one written from Owen Sound you apologized for not writing more on the day of your arrival. I was going to do the same for not writing at all yesterday. There was plenty of time last evening but my insides were still somewhat upset and I felt "tough" so after writing a few lines in my diary and scribbling a note to "Pat" completing arrangements for meeting him on Sunday at Guildford, I lay down and had a rest.
We had all afternoon from 2.30 - off, but had night manoeuvres from 9.15 to 11.45. The latter were not very strenuous. We paraded at the appointed hour with full packs and equipment, then went to a near by field and worked with many intermissions until 10.45 putting up and taking down barbed wire entanglements. As the night was cloudy it was pretty dark except when an occasional star shell or rocket sent up by another party near by, alighted close to where we were working.
Being a serjeant I had nothing to do but look on and help superintend the work. After this was done we went for a very short route march, returning in time for a lunch of bread & butter & cocoa at 11.45. I didn't eat anything but had to wait around until the men were looked after and it was about 12.30 when I rolled in.
Yesterday my diarrhoea still bothered me a little but I was able to eat dinner & supper. Supper was one of the best I've had here - a good helping of cold meat and 4 or 5 slices of good tomato with bread marg. & tea. I might add however that tonight we again had a small plateful of beans with a very small piece of fat bacon with it. But enough grub - I feel much better today as do nearly all who were first attacked, but some others are now beginning with the same complaint. It seems to be no respecter of persons. Even a number of the officers have it.
Did I tell you that Elmer has been treating my tooth nearly every day for 2 weeks? Last Friday he said the tooth was quite well, but as a swelling of the jaw remained, I had an X ray taken. On Wednesday we got the report that the tooth and jaw are both quite normal. I am quite relieved. Elmer has put in a temporary filling and when he returns from his leave week after next he will put in the permanent filling and replace the crown. He thinks massaging will take down the swelling in time. Even now it is no worse and but probably a little better than when I left Calgary.
Elmer expects to start his leave tomorrow. He has bought a wheel and will "let" me have it while he is away. I went up to his hut this evening but he was not in.
Today I had a nice long letter from Norman Rankin in which he says some very nice things about you, as who wouldn’t that knows you? I think I shall enclose it for you to read. It’s the kind that helps one. The same mail brought me a letter from Margaret addressed in your handwriting and 2 from you - posted July 7th & 9th.
I'm so sorry dearest that you didn't have a nice time at Beamsville - and very, very sorry that Margaret didn't go with you. She needed the change and I believe her visit would have done you both good. I hope you'll have a nice time when you go there again.
Poor father! You must not be too hard on him. What you said in your letter is largely true, but there's another side too. He has always been so bound up in his children that he has slaved away and from a mistaken sense of duty has denied himself so many things - particularly travelling about - even going visiting - that he has got into a narrow groove and little things sometimes seem very big - particularly since his illness - and he has been very nervous and often quite unreasonable. It may seem childish that such small things as the party and loss of chickens should upset him, but I don’t think he is entirely to blame.
I fancy he was counting much on your visit - and then when you were delayed he was disappointed and more so when the party prevented really visited with you when you came. So he was irritable and spoiled everything. One can’t judge sick people by well people’s standards, especially when the illness is largely of the nerves.
It is hard to know what to do in such a case, but it seems to me it would have been better for father as well as Margaret for her to have adhered to her plan. I think I have always got along with him as well any in the family and there have been many times when without argument, I have simply gone my own way in superimposing my will on his, - and it has worked out for the best.
When one becomes so obstinate over little things as he frequently does, - the best way is to make him follow the opposite course. He needs to be taken out of himself. But it was too bad that your visit was spoilt. You didn’t say so, but I know it was, - and you were counting on it so much, were you not, dearest? And the day you went from Beamsville to O.S. was rather “messed up” wasn’t it? However the main thing is you got safely home and I know you have been resting and enjoying yourself since then, haven’t you?
You haven't said anything about Ora. Is she well? She must be or you would have said something about her. It was nice for you to have her company to Owen Sound wasn't it?
Thanks for the newspaper clipping with the exam. reports. I was very proud to show it to Scotty McLaws and Peter Drysdale, a young lawyer from Edmonton who graduated in 1915.
I'm rather glad Bryenton didn't land first place - and Brocklington will rejoice that you beat Mahaffy. Give my heartiest congratulations to Brocklington when you see him. I like and respect him. Also to Wray. I'm very glad he landed first place & the gold medal. And don't judge him too harshly dearest. He has better reasons than you know for not enlisting. His path is not one of roses by any means, but he is following with as much devotion to duty as thousands who have donned khaki. I’m sorry for Lilly & Jack Poffenroth, - Jack in particular.
How much shorter the days are becoming. It is now only about 9 yet it is dusk. Must finish a letter to Margaret then go to bed. Goodnight my sweetheart, my brave little wife.
Sun. morning about 10 a.m. [July 29]
This paper is becoming soiled and crumpled, but, bunched up with a miscellaneous assortment of things in my haversack, it could not well be otherwise. As you may guess I'm "somewhere in Surrey." I left Bramshott according to plan last evening.
It was so hot & sultry during the afternoon I thought it best not to start then on the heavy climb between camp and Hindhead - so I had a bath, an hour's sleep - as good as the persistent attentions of the flies would permit, - did a little mending, finished a letter to Margaret, shined up had supper followed by an hour's interesting chat about things military with "Toppy" Frost, and then went for Scotty's [Mclaws] wheel which he kindly offered to lend me.
I decided not to use Elmer’s because it is in bad condition & runs hard. Here I found one of the other fellows had gone off with it, without saying where he was going so I had perforce to wait. This delayed my start but I got away about 7.15.
It is a hard steady up-hill grind to Hindhead and by the time I reached the summit I was perspiring pretty freely. But there are compensations for all things and I scarcely pedalled at all from there to the outskirts of Witley camp, - having about 4 miles of a lovely coast. The evening air was cool and fresh and I didn't regret not starting earlier.
It was my intention to spend an hour with Bruce Hunter then come on to the next village - Milford - and sleep in a bed at a pub. I found Bruce in putting the finishing touches to his four-times to be delivered Sunday sermon. More than an hour slipped rapidly away in pleasant chat and a refection of canned chicken and biscuits sent from home.
I believe I have misjudged or underestimated Bruce in the past. Either that or he has changed. I used to think he played to the gallery too much and was strong for Bruce Hunter, but last night’s chat has compelled me to think he is the “real goods.” He’s out to help the men and he is doing it to the best of his ability without any lowering or bending of his standard of conduct, - which means a good deal in a military camp. Among other subjects we discussed Rev W.A. Cameron who is back in England and tonight will open a whirlwind evangelistic campaign at Witley camp.
I think I already expressed my opinion of Cameron's absolutely false statements in Canadian conditions, as to drunkenness and immorality, of the troops on this side of the Atlantic. Even Bruce hasn't had the opportunities which I've had but his have been better than Cameron's by reason of his chaplaincy and of his hospital work - needless to say Bruce agrees with me absolutely. Cameron either didn't know what he was talking about or deliberately mis-stated the facts. Bruce also thinks his evangelistic campaign will prove a “flash in the pan.”
Well I left about ten as it was getting dark and come on about a mile and a half to Milford. Imagine my surprise at learning there is a camp order forbidding any public house from providing lodging for anyone under commissioned rank. This extends to all within the Witley area. I suppose it is quite right for otherwise a great many would overstay their passes etc - but it is rather a hardship on strangers.
Having no lights, I couldn't go on to Guildford, so I footed it back to camp - routed Bruce out of sleep and got a couple blankets & slept on the floor. This morning of course I couldn't go in the officer's mess, but I had a breakfast of 1 glass milk, 1 cup tea, 2 boiled eggs 2 thin very thin pieces bread & butter for 1/7 at a “tin-Town” shop near by. Bruce had to go to his first service at 8.30. He has a hard day of it.
I learned that Rev Robb is still here. I called but he was out. I also called on Reg. Gundy for a few minutes. He came over with the Brant battalion so did Duff Sleming.
Then at 9.10 I started for Guildford. I'm to meet Pat at 11.30. I have already come about 4 mi, & have 3 mi to go. I brought my camera along but it is dull and cloudy threatening rain. However that makes it cooler riding. I have ridden leisurely as the road is too beautiful to hurry along. The late summer flowers are now blooming in the gardens and the whole countryside is lovely. Oh, passing through Godalming I saw a quaint sign. Here it is - “J. J. Hurley, Bespoke Tailor”
I am now in a lovely green field by the roadside about 1 mile from Godalming, writing with my cap as a desk. A herd of about 50 beautiful cows are grazing near by, and the Sunday morning quiet is broken only by the voice of an occasional passer by or motor, - and the chime of the distant church bells. How sweet they sound! This is another of the trips we must take dearest when we come over again together.
I think I must quit for now & resume my journey or I shall be late as well as Pat. The latter is to be expected of course.
Monday July 30/17
Not having gone about the town much I can’t say anything about it except that it looks like other Eng. towns, has a river - about 20 feet wide - which affords good boating, - and is built on a very steep hillside. Its chief feature of interest to tourists - is of course the castle - a quite extensive ruins now used as a public park.
I didn’t invest in a guide book but Pat informed me this was one of King John’s principal royal fortresses, and that Runnymede is only a short distance away.
All about Guildford the scenery is typically Surrey at its best. War time needs have converted many private gardens - in fact most - ordinarily devoted to flowers into potato patches, but in spite of this there seem to be flowering vines, shrubs and plants everywhere. Scarlet runner beans are now much in evidence and give a pleasing touch of color that partially atones for the lessening rose bloom.
I was interrupted & now must close to catch today's mail. I am enclosing a couple sprigs of heather I picked yesterday coming home.
Evelyn to Fred
This is Saturday the 28th of July. It will soon be around again to the fateful 4th of August. I have been immersed in Wells' Mr Brittling Sees it Through. He describes the sensations of ordinary thinkers very well. How absolutely unable we were to think that Germany could be so foolish as to start a war. And I think we over here, accustomed as we have been, to living on so friendly terms with the only country next us, were absolutely blind to any possibility of war.
To-day the waves have been high. The water was colder for bathing than yesterday, but such sport with the big waves. Tonight is dull and we went for a walk down the beach. I could not go so far as the others and came back, alone. How I exult in the wild waves, the wind and the grey clouds. But I can't write much now, for everybody is talking, so I think I'll leave this letter until tomorrow.
Mother has gone to a song service down the beach, Ora is writing to Art and Hazel and Luella are reading.
I have scarcely stirred off the verandah all day. Someway or other, I feel very languid to-day. This morning the rest of our family and Clara went for a walk out to a point. I'd like to go sometime but it took too much energy to-day.
Mrs. Jo German and I kept the baby for Clara. She is a perfect little darling, so cunning and cuddly, but she is and independent little monkey too, doesn’t want to be bundled up; and will move every particle of strength to get what she wants if she can get it.
This is rather a messy looking letter I’m sorry, but I dropped my pen and blotted other pages too. I finished “Mr Brittling” to-day. I enjoyed it very much intellectually, but emotionally it was almost too much for me.
Oh my own, own darling. It seems incredible that you too are caught up in the terrible service. It is hard to keep bright and optimistic. I don't wonder that Laura is despondent, though I think I could be cheerful, as far as my personal affairs were concerned, if you were in the Dental Corps. I have never revealed to you the horror I have for you, of what you will or may have to do, and I don't mean to do it now. But I’ve often thought, could you wear a leather coat under your tunic?
Now, once and for all, I want to set your mind at rest about the boxes. I am not spending more money than I can afford - and I am not stinting myself. If I have Lina to share expenses, I shall feel almost rich.
When I go back I am going to find out if there is any chance of much profit. I am sure I’ll have enough to pay the note at the bank at any rate, and then our $18 one month & 125 50. the next every three months will be clear. That will pay for your boxes. As for time - I often pack them and sew them up when I have callers. Isn’t that conservation of time?
I did borrow the money from dad, and then from Ora to come home. They never asked me at the office if I had enough, but gave me $80, until the end of July, and I was working only for three weeks in June, so that was really $20 more than I should have had - as the girls always get paid for 2 weeks anyway. But I'm not a stenographer am I?
As for a raise, Bryenton gets 60 as a second year student, and Ray & Fitch both got it when they were in their second year. Of course I wouldn’t ask them for it, but just the same will, do you candidly, think I am worth as much to the firm as P.R.B.? Maybe I shouldn’t have asked you that, for I shouldn’t like you to say I wasn’t, and yet you might think you had to.
I don’t know yet about Lina. Two weeks ago to-day I wrote to A.L.S. asking for a decisive reply, and up to date have received none. She must be settled soon, and I hate holding her off. I told her to apply for some schools, in case there should be a hitch. I won’t ask him for anything else very soon, he is very good-natured but he certainly is not business like. My word, if you aren’t worth as much to the firm as he is!
Well, this isn’t a very chatty letter so far is it? But there aren’t many people here to tell you about. Hazel Fleak is going home tomorrow - dad will come out in the morning to take her to the station. The Keenleysides, who own this cottage, are coming Wednesday and we did intend to go home then, but we are hoping we may get another cottage and stay longer.
How I should hate to go back into a town - the windows in the house where they live are so few and open so little. I should like to go down to Hazel’s, but I’m not sure if I can manage it. I was counting on having here out here, but we came here when I thought I’d be down south, and she is at a summer school in McGill - for French. She is going to Vallyfield One to teach French and English.
I presume that by this time you will have seen Pat. Ora was telling me to-day that somebody told her Noble was in England. I wish I knew where he was, so that I could tell you, and you might see each other. I thought Herb Peters was in France. How did he get back in England in the Reserve Bn.? It makes it seem almost like home for you to meet so many you know. If only that were all.
Have you received the box of paper and the musketry notes? Most of the paper was some of that Bassano stuff, follow paper that was left in your desk. I asked Ray how much a box of the other cost, and he said - “Just send it.” Don’t you mean to pay your fee at the R.C.I or shall I send the money? If you do pay it, you are not to pay it out of your pay, but out of what you have in the bank.
I got my June cheque for separation allowance the other day and have already paid Ora 30 on the 100 I borrowed from her. The June cheque was addressed to Winnipeg, Man. No wonder I did not get it until after a month later. I’ll acknowledge it - I wrote about it and received a reply - and tell them of their mistake. It was just one in typing.
Last night the wind was terrific - at least it seemed so in bed. I told mother I got seasick, the bed swayed and the cottage creaked - and I was afraid the roof would come off, but Mrs. German said the wind wasn’t so bad as it sometimes is.
They are talking outside about the Sunday school in the grove, there were 71 there. That’s pretty good for holidaymakers, isn’t it?
We had a letter from Elleda last night, which I am enclosing. You need not return letters I forward to you, unless I ask you to, because they just take up space.
The letter in which you enclosed two cards of Hertford was received all torn open, and stamped on it was "Received in damaged condition." I forgot to go on numbering my letters - anyway, when we write very day and explain if we miss a day, there is not much need for the numbering.
By this time you should have received the box I sent from Hamilton. I hope you have enjoyed the contents. If you should care to write to Mrs. Dickenson - the rocks were her contribution - her address is 72 Melrose Ave. Your mother and Margaret were sending a box a week later - with a pair of socks.
With Hazels, (Hazel’s) and the pair I sent the other day, you should have enough for a while. But you have your trunk and can keep them. Dearie, those nut chocolate bars I send are milk chocolate. Would you rather have the bars without the nuts? And do you like the salmon, pork and beans, etc? I’m sure you like cakes now, but of course I’m not always able to make them.
Clara sent Gordon a nice box yesterday. Among other things it had in it a nice package of layer raisins. What a lot I have written about nothing at all! But you see out here there isn’t anything much to talk about.
We have been very lazy and have enjoyed it very much - I am sure. Only, only dearest, I want you so much. It is a pleasure to me to look back in our lives together, and to know that there were very, very few impatient words spoken, or unkind thoughts, though I always wanted to have a friendly atmosphere in my home, and I think we achieved it. Only of this I feel sure when we have a "second chance" it will be much more idealistic.
I know now, when I look back three years ago, how selfish and narrow minded I was. Maybe I'm just as selfish, only in a different way. One thing - I am more self reliant and independent only in some places that does not seem to be a virtue. This is a queer world, isn’t it?
I forgot to tell you that evidently some of your letters had been censored - they had little white strips on them, but nothing was struck out.
Goodnight my own darling.
Fred to Evelyn
My darling wife,-
This afternoon I was snatching some time from an instruction period to finish my letter to you but I had to close abruptly. It is now evening, about 7 o’clock and as I sit in the hut I hear the rain pattering on the roof. It has been cloudy and “drizzly” all day although not wet enough to prevent our carrying on outdoors, but now it looks very much like setting in for an all night’s rain.
I was telling you about yesterday and if I remember rightly had reached the point where Pat met me. It was then 10 minutes past twelve. We went to a good hotel where we had a wash & brush up and a pleasant chat in the lounge room until dinner was announced at one o'clock. I had poached eggs bread & butter, plum & apple tart, biscuits & cheese. Pat had a meat course instead of the eggs. The bill was 6/6d for the food & 6d. for service. Then we gave a 6 penny tip at which the fat old butler looked rather sour. But I thought it was quite enough.
After dinner we made at once for the river and of course tried to get a canoe but learned that since the Canadian soldiers have become frequent visitors to Guildford canoes must be "bespoke" ahead and that it's impossible to supply the demand. So we had to content ourselves with a row boat. Pat did the work and I was “lady.”
It was lovely on the river despite the aggravating narrowness which combined with the large number of craft afloat made necessary frequent skipping of the oars and rapid manipulation of the tiller ropes to avoid collisions.
Everybody gave the impression of relaxation and laziness. Like many others we went up stream for perhaps 2 miles then sought the shelter of an overhanging tree where we lay and talked until rumblings of thunder and thickening clouds drove us home much more quickly than we went.
During the last half mile a slight drizzle dampened us a bit but not seriously. Then we sought a tea shop where we had 2 pots of tea, 2 large pieces of cake each and bread & butter. It looks as if the food regulations are easing up a bit
Speaking of cake, there has just been an interlude of about 15 minutes while 6 other chaps - the only ones in the hut - and who happen to be the ones I like best -and I have each had a slice of the finest cake any of us have tasted since leaving Canada - and perhaps for a long time before. I can't tell you what kind it is except that there are nuts and fruit in it. I never tasted a fruit cake like it.
Do you know I thought until I cut that cake that the box was from home. It arrived last week by the same mail as the one you posted at Winnipeg and while there was nothing on the outside to indicate the sender, I was looking for one from Beamsv. as Margaret wrote some time ago that mother was sending one and besides I didn’t think it was time for your Hamilton box to have arrived.
So when I opened the box last Friday and saw the chocolate, gum, peanuts etc and rock cakes I concluded it was mother’s and in Saturday’s letter to Margaret I acknowledged its receipt and thanked them. Now I’ll thank you - oh if I could only kiss you my thanks! Words can’t tell how much I appreciate these things or love their giver.
When I cut this cake tonight I was quite sure it was the one made at Dickenson’s and then too I saw a label with my address stuck face downward on the inside of the cover. It was stuck so fast I couldn’t get it off but the writing shone through and reading it backward as I had to it looked like your writing. This box was a little loose at the edges and I guess that was the reason the rock cakes crushed a good deal.
Round boxes carry best, though that one you sent from Winnipeg was very strong and carried perfectly. But in spite of the fact the rock cakes crushed a bit they too tasted as nothing tastes which one can buy here. I took some of them with me to Guildford and Pat wasn’t the least bit mild in his words of praise. I only wish I had gone deeper into the box and taken him a piece of the cake too.
Oh before I forget, - in a letter from Don [Albright] he said the tax notice for our homestead was sent to him and that he would take care of it. But I don’t want him to pay it for I know he is short of cash. I don’t know how much it is. Will you please write him and find out and pay it? Of course it is not much. His address is W.D. Albright, Beaver Lodge, Alta.
To resume my tale. The sky was so threatening that I decide to start at once for home which I did. It was then 5.45 and I reached Witley by 6.30 without riding hard. I stopped for 40 minutes - had another chat with Bruce & then started on the long climb to Hindhead. I walked the greater part of 3 miles, and then from Hindhead of course coasted the rest of the way home.
The rain had held off all evening until I was about 1 1/2 mi. from home when it began to fall steadily. But a change of clothes, and a brisk rub down soon made me feel fine. It was only 8.30 when I got back here so after cleaning up I was able to get to bed in good time and I had a good night's rest. The whole trip cost only 9 s. and I had a most enjoyable time.
Nothing new happened today. We are plugging away at the same old work. Expect to go on the ranges next week. Now I'll clean up for the morning. Goodnight, my darling. What are you doing tonight I wonder?
Three years ago tonight we were anxiously discussing the day's developments and wondering what the morrow would bring forth. This was the day of panic on the Stock Exchange and the beginning of the run on the Bank of England which on the following morning assumed such proportions.
How long ago that seems and how much we have lived in the meantime! And how changed peoples' minds have changed that they can look with indifference on the awful events of today, and treat them as common places, while 3 years ago the mind could not believe they could happen.
War has become such a horrible all-engrossing reality that today it is almost as difficult to picture peace conditions as before it was to imagine a world war.
Last night I was asleep by 9.30 and didn't wholly awaken, even when some of the men came in drunk about 10.30 and began knocking the tables over, and smashing the lights. Two or 3 times during the night I was conscious of a terrific rain storm, but warmly wrapped in my blanket and great coat, I didn't mind it. All night long it poured down, and when I awoke this morning I saw 5 places where the roof had leaked and the water was dropping steadily beside but not on the beds. The rain continued until this evening so we had all our work inside the huts.
There hasn't been anything new in the work today. It's the same old round - putting in time and accomplishing little or nothing. I'm beginning to realize the truth of what Clifford Reilly said about the conditions in the Canadian army in England. I don't wonder that men who have to stay around here long become "fed-up." It's enough to make one ask himself the question seriously whether one should give up his civil occupation for this. But of course better thoughts prevail. One realizes that it isn't like this in France and that men are needed, oh, so badly.
I learned only tonight that at last our band is broken up, and the members have to train for France. If the present heavy bombardment presages a big push, as everyone expects, all the Canadian reserves in England will be taxed to the uttermost to provide reinforcements this fall. If the Canadian government means its conscription bill to be of any use - or the best use it must hurry up.
This evening I walked over to the 15th quarters to see Legh Walsh but he wasn’t in. I understand he will probably leave for France very shortly. And that reminds me a number of unfits are being sent back to Canada “Tappy” Frost among them.
Friday’s mail brought the little box of candies you sent from Owen Sound on the 7th. I still have some of the last lot left so I merely opened the box to see what they were then put it away for future use.
Tonight on my way to Legh Walsh’s hut I met a woman with tomatoes & bought 4 - each about the size of an ordinary egg for 6d. I ate one & will have the rest for breakfast. The sugar you sent is coming in very useful now. Jimmie Barnes & I have it every morning for our porridge & coffee & occasionally another tablemate gets the benefit of a lump or two.
Now I am going to do some mending and washing. Goodnight my darling wife whom I love more that ever before
Wednesday Aug 1/17
I thought last night the weather was going to settle but about 9 o’clock the rain started again and ever since it has been pouring down.
All the morning work was done in huts and this p.m. is a half holiday owing to the prevention of sports by the rain. I have improved the time by washing clothes. On looking through my trunk I was surprised to find a suit of my good heavy underwear which was put there dirty when I was in quarantine and has never been washed until today. I spent a good deal of time over it today and think it is all right now.
I also washed a suit of pajamas, another one of underwear, 3 towels, 2 pr. socks & 2 handkerchiefs making in all quite a respectable washing. rue this isn’t an ideal drying day but the clothes are hanging up in the hut and if the sun shines tomorrow I shall bleach them then.
Today’s mail brought a letter from Elleda. While she made no direct allusion to the fact I gathered the same impression as you evidently did - that she has really become a daughter of Uncle Sam. In one way I’m sorry if it’s true, although now that the U.S. is becoming a little more enlightened to world affairs and perhaps less self important and more understanding Grt Britain and Canada better. I don’t mind so much. At any rate it was a good letter and I shall answer it as soon as possible.
Before starting to write this afternoon I picked up a guide book of London that was lying on the table and skimmed through several pages. How many of its interesting places we have seen - and how enjoyable it will [be] to visit them again together at greater leisure.
One thing we must do the next time we do London and that is to pay more attention to the east end - that part which originally formed the City. How many places of historic and literary interest are for us mere names - Old Bailey, Aldgate, Newgate, The Bank, St Bartholomews, Cornhill, Cheapside, Lothbury and a host of others. This section may be less attractive than the west end Westminster - the Strand etc - but surely not a whit less interesting.
Then too there are so many day trips by bus boat or railway that we must take. Oh, by the time I have shown you all the places I want you to see, I’m afraid Cornwall and Devon will be cut short again. But no that must not be. We shall have to ramble about the southwest coast shall we not?
Someone just came in with a Pall Mall Gazette, headlined by Haig's(3) despatch "The day has gone well." It really looks as if The Big Push has at last begun. It is most unfortunate that this big rain has come to impede operations, but even at that I believe the Western front is at last going to show a bigger gain than at any previous time.
I went across to the north camp again to see Legh Walsh and once again I caught him just as he was leaving, in a taxi this time, on 4 days leave for London before departing next Tuesday for France. He is just as light hearted and outwardly frivolous as ever. "Oh, I'll be back in Calgary for Xmas," he said. He is a great believer in his "hunches." I hope this one comes true.
On Saturday our class goes to the rifle ranges at Longmoor about 6 miles away. We shall probably be there for 10 or 12 days and as we'll be under canvas everyone is hoping for a cessation of the rain before then. From what I hear the hours may be very long and consequently I may not be able to write much, but I'll do my best. I think I shall address all letters after this one to Calgary, for if you carry out your original intention you will be back there by about the 25th and I judge it usually takes my letters nearly 3 weeks to reach you.
Elleda said you looked very tired when you arrived in Hamilton but were better before she and Ora got through bullying you. I do hope dearest, that before your holiday is ended you will feel quite fit again and that you will take things easier and be sure to get more rest and sleep once you are back in Calgary than you did before you left.
I am enclosing a picture post card of the Abbey hotel at Kelso where I stayed - also a couple of Waltham Abbey. The latter don’t give a particularly good idea of the place but are the best of their kind that I could get. Anyhow they will serve as reminders of the place.
It's supper time now. Don't suppose there'll be much worth going for, - but we have to go through the form. Some day I'll be sitting down to a supper prepared by the dearest girl in the world to your husband.
Evelyn to Fred
Postmark: Owen Sound
I was so busy yesterday that your screed wasn’t written. I forget what I did in the morning - oh yes, I didn’t get up until about ten o’clock. Then we took Hazel over to Hepworth to the train at noon. Ora and I went over with Father, Oh but it was hot. He says it was as hot as in town as last year but you’d never know it out here. Well, after we got home I went in bathing and then we had tea on the German’s verandah, with the King’s also present.
Ora and Clara were reading a story about Tish out of the Saturday Evening Post, and almost immediately after supper Clare and her mother came over to hear to hear the rest of it - In one place it told about Tish making Red Cross pyjamas. She sewed one sleeve into the neck and opened the other sleeve, bound it and put bottoms down the front. Then she served up the front of the trousers and opened them down the back. But the minister’s wife objected to them, for she said, “Men are such creatures of habit.” It is one of Mary Roberts Rinehart’s stories; she never loses a chance to make something absolutely ridiculous happen.
Tonight Luella, Ora, Dad and I were sitting out on the verandah talking. Dad was telling about Charlie DeWitte’s little girl. He is Will Jerome’s cousin, and as Dad says 'Doesn’t bother much about saying his prayers.' They were having a new house built last summer and the little girl aged six and her father were staying at old Mr DeWitte’s at night.
One night she got down to say her prayers, and mumbled them. 'Her father said, “Beatrice, do you think it’s right to mumble your prayers like that?” “Oh,” she said “I know a boy with big brown eyes who doesn’t bother even to mumble his prayers.” They don’t miss much, do they? Even Clara’s baby begins to know when we are talking about her.
I told a lie to-day. Mrs. King’s sister, Willa Yates, is a great friend of the Gallagher’s. Brownie was here with her a couple days. She was saying to-day how highly Brownie spoke of you, and then we were speaking of Helen and Ruby and Wilfred. “They are very happy together, aren’t they?” she said, and I said “Yes” and started telling her how nice the baby was.
I haven’t written to Ruby yet, but hope to get around to it soon. I got my letter to Hazel off to-day. I believe I won’t write on the back of this paper any more, it’s too hard to read, and it’s so light that I can put enough in an envelope anyway.
After it grew dark there was a bonfire on the beach. There is a fine amount of driftwood here and the fire was a brilliant success. The shore is very level, pure sand, with no stones. Of course after we got home it was bed time.
To-day I have worked harder than I have for sometime. Mother and Luella did the washing in preparation for moving, and I washed dishes (helped) three times and helped get meals some too. It was very hot, but always there is a clear fresh breeze from the lake.
Father and Mr. King put up the tent. I think the three of us will sleep out there. Tonight mother and father and Luella got pine needles or twigs to scatter around on the sand. Won’t that make it smell lovely and fresh. I keep thinking all the time, may be Ferd will be home next summer, and we’ll be able to enjoy a lazy time out-of-doors. I cannot, you see, visualize you as being where I am afraid you are.
It is very nice for the Shouldice’s to be having their leave together in Scotland. We seem to want all the good things for ourselves, don’t we lover? We can just look back though, and forward to times when we were and shall be doing as we wish to do.
Do you think you would like it here, with a wide expanse of blue lake in front of you, and nothing to do but what is necessary to be done for living? There is wood to gather and split, meals must be got, and a few other necessary things must be done, but for the most part one is absolutely lazy.
To-day I went in the water a few minutes, just to cool off. Oh the water is great, and the big waves are such fun. Then we had tea on the King’s verandah - Mrs. King had a sort of buttered cake made from bran and flour sugar and milk and raisins, without any butter or eggs. It was very good indeed and cheap.
I must take back my grudging remarks about Art Smith. I had a letter from him to-day, and Lina is to come out with me. He said Mr. Forbes wouldn’t be back until after the first of September, so that maybe I can arrange it for her to go back with me.
Clara asked Ora if she ended up with slush, and she said she did but that I put it in all the way through. What do you think about that? I do not see how Ora knows. She has never read my letters to you I am sure. Why, by the way, should my letters to you be censored?
I haven't seen a paper for the last two days, but from what I have heard dad say the news is not very good. Dad said to-day that he wouldn't be surprised if after the war Canada would be annexed to U.S. I almost went up in the air, and Ora said "If we're anything we'll be independent." I don't know what dad had been reading that was making him so gloomy. Annexed to U.S. Could you imagine it?
It's late dearest, almost 9:45.
Goodnight my own brave darling.
1. The Hon. Frank Broadstreet Carvell. 1862-1924. Held several ministerial positions with Liberal governments in the course of his career.
2. Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg. 1856-1921. German statesman, chancellor (1909-1917.) He opposed the war when it broke out. His continued efforts for peace led to his resignation in July 1917.
3. Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig. 1861-1928. He was Commander in Chief of the expeditionary forces in France and Flanders, 1915-1919.