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Introduction

A box of old letters, discovered in a basement, turned out to contain an absorbing, first hand account of life in Canada, England and on the battlefields of France during the early part of the 20th century. The correspondence between an exceptional couple spans the time of their early courtship, engagement and marriage and their separation when Fred Albright went overseas in World War 1.

Between them Fred Albright and Evelyn (Kelly) Albright wrote over 550 letters. They exchanged gossip about family and friends and told of their activities, no matter how trivial, with humour and insight. They discussed their social lives, religious beliefs, health concerns, relationships between men and women and their feelings about each other. Opinions were freely voiced on Feminism, Women’s Suffrage and Temperance. (Fred and Evelyn supported the Temperance movement.) Views were expressed on such varied topics as popular entertainers, racial concerns, prostitution, food, the science of eugenics and the political events and personalities of the times. When oil was discovered in huge quantities near Calgary in mid-October 1913 the population, Fred and his friends included, rushed to exploit the situation.

The couple wrote of their expectations for marriage and of the roles each would play. They expressed their thoughts on what they believed would be a promising future for them. They were married in June 1914, with no hint of the war to come.

Fred enlisted in June 1916. In late March 1917 he was sent to England for training and to France in September 1917. Fred vividly portrayed his love for England in letters written when he was stationed there during the spring and summer of 1917. He gave eyewitness accounts of the damage caused by German air raids near his camp and in London. His letters from France graphically depicted the daily life of soldiers and civilians in a country in the midst of war.

Evelyn remained in Canada with her family and friends, bravely carrying on with her day to day activities. She too writes frequently to Fred with her news and faithfully sends him food parcels and knitted socks.

This remarkable collection of letters gives a unique glimpse into way of life and a world that have long disappeared.

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