Evelyn to Fred No 1
Sunday June 3/17
...This is Sunday evening 7:15, and a lovely evening too. Frances [Fallis] has just left for church, but I did not feel like going. I am a little weak in the legs as yet. If it is nice tomorrow I’ll go down to the office for a little while.
There may be another letter from you, and, often as you write the letters seem so far apart. What must it be like for you, when you don't get any for two weeks at a time? I sent a large number to the Royal Colonial Institute, there must surely be some there for you. There is still one of yours missing, which may come tomorrow. Mrs. Robertson was telling of a friend who numbered her letters. Let's do that, dear; it will be an easy way of telling if any letters are missing.
I just phoned Lena, and she has been in bed all day; she's afraid she is getting appendicitis. I do hope not for how could she manage to finance it? It's awful to be alone, and sick, and to have no money behind one. I'm certainly more fortunate than many. Yet sometimes that thought does not bring much comfort. I have fairly ached for you to-day. You do not say much about being homesick, or anything about the dreadful future; I wish I could be as brave and bright as you are.
Frances came up Friday night to stay while they had delegates at Conference. I was disappointed in not being able to go to any of the meetings. I have never been at Conference, except for that few minutes last year in Lethbridge
Do you know what I have just done? I keep a box with things in it for you, and I went and "borrowed" a cake of chocolate. I want to know, dear, exactly how much pay you get, and I want you to get yourself what you need and want. I find occasionally, that I have a craving for chocolate. Why should I get myself a cake of it when I want it, if you skimp yourself? I did not get your parcel packed last week, but shall try to do so early in the week.
I feel relieved that you are getting better meals, and that you can get little extras, and I want you to do it, for it's probably cheaper than sending things from here. I can send you more money when what you have is gone. Now dearie, you said you would not skimp yourself, but £2 a month is only $10 which is only 33¢ a day, and that isn't much. I feel selfish taking the money to go home, if you are going to skimp yourself.
Frances said Everett's kit bag was sent home, some mail, some boxes and some money. They have had letters from many people, telling of his bravery, how he was in command after all the other officers had fallen, and saying that if ever anyone won the V.C. on the field, he did, but although his mother is very proud of him, these things, she says "do not bring him back."
The other day the last son of a widow, whose other three sons were at the front, two of whom had been killed, came in to have his papers signed. Dorothy listened at the table while this was being discussed, and then piped up, “Well mama, I guess she has more to worry about than you have.” And her mother said, “Yes, Dorothy, I guess many people have much greater cause for sorrow than I have.”
I was thinking the other night that I never considered you as being beset by any temptations, but that surely you must be. And that one of the most insidious would be the temptation to let injustices rankle in your heart, I find it so with me. Therefore I pray for you darling, that you may continue to be big of spirit and gentle and brave. I cannot tell you how much I love you, and moreover, how much I admire you.
Miss Cummer’s brother, Jack, is at Bisley too, taking the same course as Mr. Patterson. I should think sixteen weeks. His fiancée rooms with Miss Kerr, or Carr, in Mr. McLean’s office. She was engaged to Ted Broad.
Miss Cummer’s other brother, who got a medal, has also been recommended for a commission, in fact his papers were forwarded before Jack’s were, but he has never mentioned it to them himself. All he said about the medal was that he’d got it, but he didn’t know what he’d done to get it.
Miss Le Sueur ran up for a few minutes after church to see how I was. I thought that was very nice of her. I had a card from Laura, saying that Elmer [Wright] is at Sandling camp. I never heard of it before. I am going to write to her tonight.
Aunt Em 'phoned me yesterday to go down for the holiday, but there isn’t any holiday for one thing, except at the Banks and government offices.
It's a year ago that we went down. I've always begrudged that week away from you, as well as those extra two months I was down east.
I did not write yesterday; I did not get up in the morning, and in the afternoon I straightened things up a bit, and then lay down again.
Carrie Cunningham asked me over for dinner and Ruby 'phoned for me to go up and stay over Sunday. I was to go to the Wilbur Horner's for tea tonight, so I could have been a lot of places. You know I seem nearer you when I'm here, and I hate to leave.
I often think of your prayer before you left, and that place is sacred to me. It's three months since you left; will you be home in three more? I had hoped the war would be over this summer, and it might have if Russia had kept up her end.
With love and hope -
Evelyn to Fred No. 2
June 5, 1917
Dearest Darling: -
I simply must write at least a page tonight. Last night Ruby came down and helped me pack your box, and it was about eleven when she left, so I went to bed. Tonight after I had had my dinner I sewed up your box, and was just finishing a note to Edna Smith when Mrs. Edmanson came. I had let my hair down, and got into my dressing gown, and was going to write to you and Lina and go to bed early, but it is now eleven. ...
In your box Ruby put some chocolate, chiclets, pork and beans. The socks are from Mrs. McGarvie. I set Ruby at writing the labels, and I guess she was glad when the tape was all used up. You had better sew them on any socks that may be sent you.
Did I tell you Hazel said she was knitting you a white pair with a gold and blue border? She is also sending you some gray ones - oh, I forgot, I sent her letter to you. But in case you should miss that, the gray ones are to give away.
I went down to the office about half past one and stayed until five. J.M. asked me when I wanted to go east, so I think it will be in a couple weeks. There is a second-year student here from Moose Jaw - rejected for military service whom he may take on temporarily. Bryenton wants to go East about the time I do, we might travel together. How should you like your wife travelling with a man like him?
The notice for you Sun Life Insurance came the other day, so I asked Mr. Nicholson which man I’d better ask about the money. “Well,” he said, “You can get anything you like from Mr. Macleod but Mr. Carson knows more what there is on hand, and to tell you the truth, there isn’t that much.” “Well,” I said, “I don’t see why I should go to the bank for it, and at the same time why we should pay out over $300 in disbursements for the Glengarry Ranch.”
He quite agreed with me and we decided that if I asked for the money, and there weren’t enough on hand, that then something might be done about getting some money in. Not long afterwards I heard Mr Smith come along and ask for an advance of $200. I spoke to Mr. Carson, and he said “Sure, don’t you worry about that. Give it to me, and I’ll see about it.” So I gave it to him, but I’m going to make sure he doesn’t forget it, ...
I don't know if you know the little old elevator man, not the white haired one, another. He's always giving me his stool to sit on. When I came in yesterday he said, "Well how are you? I was asking about you but nobody seemed to know how you were. ... and I thought to myself 'Here her man's away fightin' for his King and country and they're not looking after her very well.' I didn't know what your name was, so I asked him where the little girl was, because I hadn't seen her around for a while." He has a son in France, and I ask him about him and he tells me when he gets a letter from him. “The fellowship of suffering” again.
Mrs. Brown called up tonight and wanted me to go to Banff with her over a week-end. She said it wouldn't cost so very much as we could take rooms at her cousin's, but I hardly think I'll go. For one thing, I don't like to take a day off now, since I've been sick and am going away so soon. They're good to me at the office, but I don't like to impose on good nature.
Mr. Macleod suggested to-day that I'd better board, that it wasn't good for me to be alone, but I told him I thought your cousin [Lina] would be coming back with me, and he thought that would be better. He said I must get almost green with melancholy, being alone and thinking about myself. I am counting on Lina coming out, but if the Tories get in, that little scheme will be bashed in the head.
I have your letter written the tenth of May; it came on Monday, while that on the 15th came on Friday. You write me such long letters dear and mine seem so scrappy and short. I don't see where they can all be; I hope you have got them by this time. I noticed with joy that you did not doubt but that there were letters - evidently you think that "the girl you left behind you" still thinks of you, and loves you. And thinking that, you're not far wrong: she loves you better than she ever did, and longs for you continually.
You are evidently having hard work, but I do not feel so badly about that as I did that you weren't getting proper food and were cold and wet. Now dearest, if your pay is reduced, I do not want you to assign so much to me. I can get along nicely on less. You see, I'll be home for two months, and then if Lina comes back, my expenses will be less.
Moreover, I'll soon be a second year student - I hope - the reports are not out yet. It's almost six weeks. If you do get less pay and continue to assign so much to me, I'll only have to send it to you, which will be a bother. I want to know too, about the things I send, whether they are cheaper over there, easier to get or whether you'd rather have the money.
We had a card from Dr. Blow to-day, asking us to vote for him. Will you? I vote down here near the little grocery, and my vocation is that of “homekeeper.” You are down as “soldier lawyer.” In one respect I am still, am I not darling, for your heart still has a home, even if your body is away.
I have a very interesting book about the Inns of Court. Did you know that The Old Curiosity Shop abutted on Lincoln's Inn Fields. At Lincoln's Inn Fields, no 13 is the museum of Sir John Soane, architect of the Bank of England & the Dulwich Galleries. It is a wonderful little museum, it would seem. The Lincoln’s Inn company of soldiers was called “the Devils Own” because when Lord Erskine paraded them before Geo. III and told him they were all lawyers, the king said “Call them the Devil’s Own. It is now the 27th London Regiment. ...
I may make a few notes for you of things of interest; you may possibly have another leave before you expect it. ... There are doorways there designed by Wren, I remember one in that court where we stood in the rain;. ... Why dearie, we didn't one-half see the place - quite near us, in the Middle Temple & Inner are the places where Thackerey, Goldsmith, Lamb and hosts of others lived. Twelfth Night was first produced in the Hall where we were. Bacon lived at Gray's Inn, and there is an old catalpa tree there, nearly dead, which Raleigh brought from America and which he planted. Evidently also he had a great deal to do in laying out the gardens at Gray's Inn.
But it is late; I must go to bed. Oh my darling, there is so much in life for us of work and play that it seems a cruel, cruel waste for you to be doing what you are. I do not say anything about your being reduced in rank; I can't help any by talking about it, but you know how sorry I am. I have such confidence in your ability though dear, that I do not think it will be for long.
Goodnight my darling.
Evelyn to Fred No. 3
My Own Darling:-
I sent off your box to-day, but I sent it to the 21st Reserve Army Post Office, because I thought if it reached you at Hertford, it would be very near the end of your stay, and then you'd have to carry some of the things back. Besides, since you get better fare at Hertford, you'll be gladder of the "eats" at Bramshott, though when I come to think of it, there isn't really so very much to eat, but what there is, I know you'll like. It is the nicest box I've packed to you, I think, or maybe I should say "we" because there were contributions.
I went down to the office about a quarter after ten, and took a little rest at noon, and think I’ll be all right now. It is lovely weather, and it’s enjoyable to be out. Miss Cummer, Miss Scott and I went and had sodas tonight after we got our. At lunch I was at the Edmanson’s, and Miss Burgoine was there too. She is feeling better. I wonder if all women in business long to be in their homes as much as I do.
I wonder if all women in business long to be in their homes as much as I do. As I was lying on the bed at noon, our life at home together seemed very far away. This seems like an interlude of absolute suspense after which it seems our life will be resumed. For this doesn't really seem living. I guess I really have had an easy time of it all my life, that is, compared with the lives of many of others I know.
Tomorrow Miss Cummer has asked me for lunch down town, with her sister-in-law, a friend from Edmonton who is a friend of Mrs. Baker’s at Thorold, and Miss Scott. Isn’t she kind to me? Tonight I was embroidering my dress, and Lena came over for about half an hour and and brought Madeline. Monday afternoon I sat out on the balcony and David and Mrs. Coutts came over for a little while.
Mrs. Coutts was wondering if she could send sausages to you, packed the way your mother does them, only she was afraid you might not be able to cook them when you got them. If you would like some, say so and I'll send you some.
I think I'll go home in about two weeks, I'll advertise the suite tomorrow if we're not too busy - voting. I really do not know about voting - I won't vote for Dr. Blow, nor the Rev. Wm. Irvine, but I know nothing about McNeill. Mrs. Coutts said "I won't vote for Dr. Blow and I won't vote for a man who says he doesn't believe in God." “Well, does McNeill,” I asked, “I don’t know,” she said, but I don’t know that he doesn’t, and anyway, I want to vote the first chance I get. “At which evidence of logical selection we both laughed, “long and loud.”
Mr. Macleod said I ought to vote for the Conservatives, seeing the Liberals had disenfranchised my husband. I said who knew but what you might be elected as M.P.P. yourself, and he wanted to know what good that would do you in France.
He said Davidson was the only man he really cared about seeing defeated, and I laughed and said he was the only one I really cared about seeing elected. He said he wasn’t intellectually honest, that he knew about what he wrote in his paper at the time of the oil. To which I responded that I knew nothing of that. He said he had never stood for any good thing or something to that effect. Immediately I thought of the prohibition campaign, free hospitals etc, but said nothing. What’s the use of arguing with a Tory before Election time, especially if you like him. Let him say what he likes and he soon runs dry.
I was accused of being a socialist to-day, by one of the men at the Land Titles. It was a very friendly argument, with my "woman-hater" friend, who thinks I have my work in good shape.- He asked Percy Carson at lunch if I were a socialist. It made me laugh to myself, for while theoretically I may be somewhat that way inclined, yet when it comes down to ignorant people with dirty faces and rude manners, ...
Well darling, I think I'll go to bed early for a change. I rather think the people upstairs have moved. Oh my dear one, I love you, I love you, I love you, and I long so for your return. I was just wondering if I am any better for this sorrow, and I cannot really see that I am, though, the queer part of it is, that I can see how you have grown. I am so proud of you.
I was thinking to-day of last Christmas, I don't know why, and how anxious you were to please me with a Christmas present. It always seems as if I don't show my appreciation of the things I care most about. I wonder why that is.
Oh my dear, you seem tonight to be wanting to be caressed, and it has always made my heart ache for you, for you seem to be a little boy, longing to be understood and loved. You don't know how I treasure that baby picture your mother gave me. I have it stuck up in the mirror where I can see it every morning as I dress.
Miss Romanes had a letter from her brother telling about your visit and he seemed very glad to have seen you. Mrs. Coutts said she was coming over some night with the letter.
Goodnight darling. Three years ago you were on you way east.
Your wife, then and now and always.
After the office I went over to Mrs. Brown's for a while. I did not mean to stay long, but I wanted to tell her why I did not want to go to Banff. Mr. Brown is at the Coast on business, and so I stayed for tea, and then she wanted me to go out to the cemetery with her. ... I'm glad I went with her; I had work to do at home, but it would have been lonely for her if I hadn't been there.
Then I went in again, and we had some more tea, ... She started talking about Donna. I think she just wanted to talk, so I stayed on. I know how sometimes it is a relief to talk to a sympathetic listener. I never knew how she got the disease, did you? A German washerwoman, who was just getting over it, broke quarantine and went there to wash. It was almost like murder, wasn't it? Ignorance and poverty. When will our country learn the lesson that those cannot exist without bringing sorrow to someone.
Mrs. Brown walked over with me, and it’s now late, so I’ll have to go to bed. I felt pretty tired this morning, and didn’t get up very early, nor get to the office early. I’m afraid you might think me careless, but I was too tired to go all day, and I thought I’d better go for what I could. But Mr. Clarke was going up to Court, though it wasn’t ten when I was going down and I’m afraid he thinks I don’t work very hard. But I think I do, and I guess some of the others do too. I cannot stand it to work as hard as the men can, and I don’t think they expect me to, at least, they never act as if they do.
I was at the Bay for lunch with Miss Cummer and her friend from Edmonton. There were five of us, quite a nice party.
The Election returns are fairly well in - North Calgary - W.M. Davidson - 500 majority - over centre Calgary, Hillocks, Alex Ross Labor - 120 majority over Tweedie South Calgary - Dr. Blow 2500, Rev Wm. Irvine 15,00. McNeill 12,00, or something like that. Centre Calgary was certainly a surprise. Why, I think I’d have voted for Mr. Tweedie there.
And Irvine! Mr. Coutts said he thought he’d lose his deposit - I am anxious to know for whom the soldiers will vote. They say in Clarisholm, Mrs. Kinney, sister of Dr. Crummy is in a neck and neck race with the Liberal member, and that Ed Mitchener has a majority of 22. Not much to boast of in one’s home town.
My own darling, how I love you. You are not far away, are you, for you are ever in my thoughts.
Fred to Evelyn
8th June 1917
My darling, -
Corp. Riggs just came in complaining about the heat and it reminded me of 3 years ago when I was on my way east to get married. You may remember how hot it was. I haven't had such a hot journey by train as that from Portal to Detroit. Today hasn't been nearly so hot as that of course but when one is drilling at the pace we go the heat is felt more. For most of the day it was cloudy, but tonight it has cleared
More mail today. This morning a news letter from the University. At noon a box from mother & tonight - the Globe of May 11th. The parcel arrived in good shape though not quite so good as yours. The box - a tin biscuit box broke at the bottom, but the wrapping of cotton cloth prevented things from coming out. It contained 1 pr. socks, 22 cookies some of them containing jam - and I tell you they were good - a large loaf of nut bread, some peanuts raisins & gum and a small jar of jelly. The jelly ran out a little but I don't think it has spoiled. - I haven't opened it yet. Of course I passed the cookies around and cut part of the cake for the same purpose. Anything from Canada would taste good to the Canadians - and they weren't slow in making away with these eats. I still have about 1/3 of the cake left.
I have just been talking to one of the boys in our room, Corporal Davidson from a Nova Scotia battalion. He is only 19 - of French Canadian & Scotch descent - and has worked in the coal mines ever since he was 13. He is very intelligent but never had more than a year's schooling - and now he is trying to make up for the mistakes of his youth. He says that joining the army is the best thing that happened him. Then he couldn't write. Now that he has met other fellows and seen new places and realizes the need of some education, he has been busy studying in spare moments, - reading dictionaries, newspaper scrap & practising writing until now he can write a very good hand, and read and spell enough to successfully perform the duties of his rank. That's the kind of stuff that wins out in the end. He will make good all right.
Tonight I arranged for a sitting for a photo tomorrow. The day will be pretty full. I hope it is fine. If only you were going with me!
Sunday Evening June 10th
It was 9.30 when I returned last evening and by the time I had a bath and got my pants pressed - by wetting them with a sponge and hammering or smoothing them with a clothes brush & then placing them on the bed boards under the palliasse.
Lights out (10.15) bugle blew and although it was not absolutely dark I couldn't see to write so I tumbled into bed.
Oh my darling, if only you could have been along with me yesterday & today. In the morning after dismissal I went to the photographer's and sat for a picture - and got my bike, then back for dinner. Many of the boys, including 4 of the 191st, had got passes to London & they left before dinner, but I wasn't in such a hurry. It was a very hot day and I ate a rather heavy meal to ride on but I felt hungry. After dinner I packed my haversack for the journey with camera & an extra roll of films - Tennyson's poems & writing materials - neither of which I had time to use - a spoon, your can of baked beans & a generous piece of mother's nut bread.
While getting ready L/cpl Carman, who was a school teacher at Alix,(1) said he'd like to go too if he could get a wheel. I was afraid it would delay me and I had planned to leave about 1.45, but I couldn't refuse his company so I let him have my bike to ride while hunting one for himself. At 2 o'clock he was back with a ladies wheel, but when he got on it the back tire blew and so we hunted up a repair shop.
After about 15 minutes quick work on the part of the shop assistant, who by the way is a returned man who has spent 2 years in France and is convalescing, the tire was put on and Carman mounted only to have another blow-out. This happened still a third time & then the tube which was absolutely rotten was taken out and a secondhand tube was put in, the whole, including work costing only 1s. When we finally left Hertford it was 3.10.
Waltham Cross is on the London Road, about 11 mi. away. The first 3/4 mi out of Hertford is a steep grade and by the time I had reached the top I was nearly winded. I thought I must be very soft, especially as for the first 4 mi it is mostly upgrade & I was finding the going very hard until I changed wheels for a time with Carman. The tremendous difference made me realize the fault was all mine.
At Haddesden we stopped at a bicycle shop & got some oil which helped a good deal but even after that I found my wheel to push very hard going up hill. And no wonder for I found when I took the wheel back this afternoon that I had been travelling on the highest instead of the lowest gear as I had thought and it was geared up to 108. So I wasn't so soft after all. When I told the owner about it he looked surprised that I had made the Hertford hill at all.
It was a lovely ride along the London road, through the villages or towns of Haddesden, Broxbourne, Cheshunt and Waltham Cross. At Cheshunt there are the greenhouses & nurseries of the famous Paul firm - one of the largest establishments in England. I never before saw such immense areas under glass. The whole establishment must occupy at least 1000 acres, Paul's are famed as rose growers, but this year they say many of the rose houses are growing tomatoes & other vegetables.
Just the same the district and town showed evidence of the proximity of nurseries in the beautiful gardens with their variety of flowers, shrubs & trees. Peonies, snowballs rhododendrons and roses were everywhere. This was the first I had seen domestic roses in bloom. They are just coming out, but I saw many different varieties, - single & double, white yellow pink & red, bush & climbing roses. They were all in evidence and in 10 days should be at their best.
Oh, if you could only be here to see the country now! We must visit it together dearest, when the war is over. Well, about 4.30 we arrived at the town of Waltham Cross so named after the Eleanor's Cross erected along the road - an exact counterpart of Charing Cross & the others commemorating the same event. Waltham Cross is now a very important place as some of the largest munition factories in England are located there - and it has been the objective of many of the German air raids.
Neither Cuffley nor Potter's Bar, where 2 of them were brought down - is so very far away. But important as Waltham Cross is, nowadays the business part is unchanged & is a typical Eng. town. From here there is a tram line to London - also a bus line giving a half hour service. It made me think of the day I and my sweetheart visited St. Albans. Do you remember that day? It was lovely, wasn't it even if we were too tired to enjoy Harrow as we should have done? The next time we shall take in Waltham as well as St Alban's.
We stopped at a small shop & had tea - with 2 glasses milk each instead of the ubiquitous tea - then went to the Abbey - about 1 1/2 mi. east of the town - along a road thick with homecoming munition workers. From here we could see the tall smokestacks of the munition factories both to the south & north. I would like to have visited some of them but of course knew it was no use.
The Abbey itself was a wee bit disappointing. Nothing remains but the nave and aisles - and while it is a fine example of Norman architecture its smallness is disappointing after having seen Westminster, Canterbury, & St Alban's. It is in a fine state of repair - so much so that it almost looks modern - & is now used for church services.
It was built by King Harold, and a small footbridge near by is called Harold’s Bridge. About 3 miles farther east and south begins the famous Epping Forest and we were tempted to go there but the lateness of the hour prevented us. On our way back into Waltham Cross I espied some beautiful strawberries in a window. Needless to say we didn’t pass by. Enquiry elicited the information that they came from Southampton and were worth 1/2 ( One shilling & twopence) per lb. Sixpennyworth suited our purse if not our stomachs and in a few moments we were standing in a lane near by making short shrift of them. They were absolutely the first of the season and they did taste good.
On our way back into Waltham Cross I espied some beautiful strawberries in a window. Needless to say we didn't pass by. Enquiry elicited the information that they came from Southampton and were worth 1s. 2d. per lb. Sixpennyworth suited our purse if not our stomachs and in a few moments we were standing in a lane near by making short shrift of them. They were absolutely the first of the season and they did taste good.
We didn't return by the direct route but took a side trip towards Potter's Bar as far as Temple Bar. Did you know that the original Temple Bar had been removed from London and was set up on a private grounds near Waltham? Such appears to be the case. This was I believe one of the very most beautiful rides I ever had. We passed by an old churchyard, more beautiful than any others I have ever seen even in England. We strolled through but if time had permitted I should like to have lingered.
Beautiful yew spruce, hemlock & pine trees lined the paths. Roses of all kinds lent their fragrance to the evening air. One rose tree growing upon a grove really looked as if it were 50 years old, and on the extreme top was one of the most perfectly formed flowers you could wish to see. Rhododendrons & snowballs there were in profusion, along with many other old fashioned flowers whose names I don't know. In the centre of the yard was a low church of rubble stone. How quiet & peaceful it did look! But we had to hasten on.
We passed through a forest where I saw such quantities of rhododendrons I plucked some for you, but of course I can't send them in a letter. Oh I thought of you all the time. It seemed as if you must be beside me. Later we stopped at a gate in a hedge and lay down on the grass in the adjoining meadow bespangled with buttercups & daisies. Here we had our simple supper - some of mother's nut bread & your can of baked beans. None ever tasted better.
Soon after this we made for the main road again, rejoining it at Cheshunt, and from there we went straight home only stopping at a pub at Broxbourne for a glass of Devonshire cider. In the cool of the evening the ride was even more delightful than before and again I was reminded of our wedding trip - the evening we went to Wye.
It was hard to realize that the country is now at war. The countryside didn't look more peaceful on that summer evening 3 years ago than it did last night. At 9.30 we were back in barracks however thus reminding us of the present grim reality. I had a hot bath immediately and then to bed.
This morning I had a short note from Elmer [Wright] at Bramshott. I didn't know he had left Canada. He says he has a parcel for me - I think I shall have him send it on.
I must close now. Oh my darling how I love you, my precious, my wife my all. God bless and keep you.
Evelyn to Fred
It’s Saturday night again and I must write before turning in. Lena is here to stay all night, and I thought she was going to stay for dinner tomorrow, but she’s living on raw eggs now, so there isn’t much use in inviting her to meals, is there?
I didn't write last night because I was up at Ruby's all night. Mrs. Oaten is taking Dell Jones' position for six weeks while she is away, and that leaves Ruby with everything to do. I feel sorry for her.
I often think she is pokey, but she really isn’t well, and work then seems very hard. Last night we were talking and she said “Mother O. says, ‘Well, what would you do if you had four children and no help’? I suppose I’d go on until I ‘bust’, and sometimes I think if it weren’t for Helen I’d I wouldn’t care, I’d just as soon ‘bust’ as not.” I was astonished to hear her talk like that, and said, “You ought to be thankful for what you have, that you have your husband with you,” and she said “Oh yes, but that isn’t everything.” I said, “I guess you’d think so if you didn’t have him,” and again she said, “No, that isn’t everything.”
Wilfred goes to Rotary Club dinners, lodge, etc. and Ruby gets out but very little. It seems as if they are drifting apart, and it pains me to see it. I think "Fred and I wouldn't act like that; if we could only have your chance of being together." But it is hard, with Mother O there, for she sees Ruby's faults only too plainly.
This morning I noticed the difference in the tone of her voice when she said good-bye to Ruby and to Wilfred. I think Ruby likes me and is glad of a friend, and I'm going to do what I can to help her. I know how easy it is to become embittered when tired and overworked, how easy it is to think that one isn't treated fairly, or well loved.
I advertised our suite to-day, but got no calls this evening. I lent a book to Mr. Robertson and went up to get it to take it back to the library. He was deeply humiliated at my having to go after it and tried to make up by asking me to stay to supper. I didn’t however, having left mine on the stove, but told him I didn’t mind going there.
Mrs. Robertson is very friendly and generally starts to take off my coat and asks me to stay. She says that she and “Billy” like to have people come, but that they don’t go out much and don’t really ha make friends easily. Her sister Mrs. Gardiner was there, and was very much confused to learn that you had enlisted. She is very nice, isn’t she? The baby has three teeth.
Your pictures came through splendidly; the little envelope wasn't even unsealed. None of your letters that I have received have been censored. ... No, we have not heard the results of our exams. ...
Last night Mr. Clarke brought me home from the office. He had just got a card from you and was asking all about you. He seems a different man when "off duty" doesn't he? ... Guess I'll take my bath now, before the other people take all the hot water
Sunday [June 10]
It has been raining all day so far and looks as if it intended to keep it up. Lena and I are going out to Elizabeth's for tea, Fritz isn't home this Sunday. ... Mr. Fallis spoke this morning on "Christian Selective Conscription" about how Christ, out of his followers, chose the ones he thought best fitted for the work. The downstairs part of the church was filled, I couldn’t see the gallery, but that was good for a rainy Sunday, wasn’t it?
I had so much to tell you, but it seems to have gone out of my head - I want to write a bit from Edith Adams’ letter. I’ll maybe write a bit more tonight. I expect to go east in about two weeks, I want to be there before the end of June, to see Elleda, and Edith Adams before she leaves for Denver, she'll be gone about a month. I think I'll go to your place first of all, and maybe Ora will go too, for a while.
I intend to write to your mother today or tonight but Sunday seems very short. Lena is talking away and I can't write. Anyway I ought to get ready to go out to Elizabeth's. She said we were to come early, that I always just went for a meal and didn't stay any time, and that if I didn't come for more than that I might stay at home. So I guess I'd better go, but I will write more tonight, for I feel I haven't talked with you, and you seem so much more with me when I write you a good long letter.
People ask about you ... You aren't forgotten by them - but by me? I fill my time with dreams of "after the war."
Goodbye for the present my own darling.
Evelyn to Fred
... I expect Lina will come out with me, and I find myself looking forward to her coming. ... I like Lina a lot, but in such close quarters as these, I'm afraid we might not get along so well.
I am looking forward to my holiday so much. If only you could be there! Do you know dear, that often and often when I start to worry about you that verse comes into my head. "There shall no evil befall thee neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling place ... "
I was so angry this afternoon and was coming home to tell you all about it, but what after all is the use? It would only put unkind thoughts in your heart, and for me to have them in mine is enough in one family, don't you think?
Some people came in tonight to see the suite, and I think I'll rent it to them for $35, what we pay. They will take it for two months, and I think will take good care of things, just a man and his wife. ... By the way, I got the receipt for your Sun insurance premium to-day. I wonder how A.L. got along, if he got his money.
I was talking to C.B. Reilly to-day. He says he's back to normal life again, in his own home. I said, "Don't you think you're lucky?" and he said "Oh, horseshoes all over me." We talked about the conscription measure a bit, and agreed that conscription of wealth and industry should come at the same time.
I'm sending you the Herald, you'll be getting the Globe by this time though, with a much fuller account. I should like to have attended the meeting at Massey Hall when Rowell and Dr. Clarke spoke. I'd have cheered when the latter remarked that because the Americans were in the war, he as a Canadian, was not absolved from doing his duty. It has fairly made me sick when I've heard that idea expressed, more often than you'd realize.
Mr. Polly told me yesterday that they had had a letter from a friend - saying that the fifth Reserve Division Garnet Hughes - ( son of Sir Sam Hughes) had not left England. Several times they went to entrain and were turned back because there were not enough men.
Miss Desarte is afraid her second brother is killed. Ottawa says so, but only about 5 days before they got word she had a letter from England saying he was going on leave. She is wondering if he could have been killed in an air raid.
I wasn't sore at anyone in the office - it was Fritz [Moyer], something he said last summer. Now he and Whetham are advancing this argument "Wait and see, after the war, if these loyal people will consult the men who have gone overseas and got out of touch with things." I can't be good to him and love him. He's never had to suffer for his wrongs, and he won't be the better for that. I just hope he does see a thing or two after the war. He was greatly exercised about the soldiers being deprived of their votes. A lot he cares about the soldiers. I don't see how you could be so good and forgiving. ...
Ray and Clint Ford are disappointed in the flimsy stuff he used at election time, about the moratorium act - I notice Dr, Blow doesn’t find any fault with it. I suppose I’m wicked, but it makes me sore to see the kind who are left behind.
This is what Edith says about Ernest Manning - “You know we have been rather disappointed in Ernest Manning. He promised Ed Stevenson that he’d go the minute he did, as a private, anything to get over at once! - Well, Ed is there all right; but Ernest is busy writing him such rot as that he is showing the stronger spirit & making the greater sacrifice by staying home with his wife! Of course Ed thinks this latter statement is absurd, as he wanted to get married himself just before he left. - Myself, it seems hardly flattering to Ernest’s wife,” He may after all be making a greater sacrifice - that of his honour.
I suppose after this outburst I'll pray to be forgiven for such a nasty spirit, but you notice I have my fling first. Mr. Peggler at the Court House says there's a row every time he mentions enlisting. His wife says "But someone has to stay home and run things, why shouldn't you?" Poor woman, poor woman! I would not judge anyone for finding it hard. I often think of how you answered me when I said "Why should we if others do not?" You said, "Why should others and not we?"
You are constantly in my thoughts, darling. Is that any comfort?
Goodnight, with hugs and kisses. Do you know what tomorrow is? The anniversary of what brought the biggest joy - and sorrow too - into our lives.
Fred to Evelyn
June 12 1917
My darling wife,-
June the twelfth! What memories this day brings forth. I awoke this morning with the thought "this is my wedding day." On the way to the drill grounds the tramp of the feet beat out the same tune "This is my wedding day." During the drill exercises, my mind was thousands of miles away and I would bring myself back to the present with a jerk from the thought "This is my wedding day."
I wonder, dearest, how you have spent this - our first anniversary apart. Have you been terribly lonesome or have you been thinking as I have with joy and love and gratitude for the past and expectant hope for the future? Oh, you have been with me - no- I have been with you all day. You must have felt my presence, for my every thought has been of you.
I never imagined 3 years ago that I could love you as much - not half as much as I do. I can't tell you how much but you must feel that you are in very truth my love, my life, my all - And isn't it wonderful how we have grown together - help-meets in the truest sense - with the same ideals and aspirations each striving for the others' welfare, with life's rough places made smooth and it's difficult places easy by love's magic power?
When I try to look back and think what manner of man I was 3 years ago - and then contemplate the change that you have wrought, I thank God that he gave you to me - and pray that I may be spared to show in some degree by life service that I am trying to live up to the best in me which you have called forth.
The mail man was kind for once. He didn't let this day pass without a message of love from my darling. Yesterday brought two of the longest and best letters you have written those written on May 13 & 14, & 15 & 16.
No, dearest, I don't think you "spill over" and I do want you to write just as you feel. If you can't tell your troubles and worries - big and little - to me, then to whom can you tell them? And don't think I am having things so hard. Here at Hertford we are being fed and housed well and I really am not undergoing hardships. I only wish you were with me and that we could enjoy the beauty of England together.
In tonight's paper I saw an article suggesting whereby any Canadian officer who so desired might take a special course of lectures for 6 months or a year. Wouldn't it be lovely to do that after the war with you here?
Am sorry there was unfavorable weather for the organ recital. I did so hope there would be a crowded church. How much money did they make? And is Wilfred satisfied with the organ?
Evidently friends are still very kind to you. I am so glad dearie that we have so many real friends. Anyone who is good to you while I am a way will have a sure place in my good books.
... Poor Ray, he is in a difficult position. I hope dearie, you try to help him all you can. I had a nice long letter from him today. He is very good about writing to boys overseas. I’m afraid he is so disgusted with J.M that he’ll take a rash jump and quit one of these days. I hope not.
I think I’ll write him again repeating what I said in my last letter - that I think he would be wise to stick it out. I know how galling it is to see J.M. getting so much & doing so little and worst of all, not playing square, but Ray’s action in leaving at such a time would alienate the good opinion of some people whose good opinion he ought to try to keep. Besides, looking at the matter from a financial standpoint, he is probably making as much as or more than he would now if he made a change. Would you mind putting a flea in his ear if you have a chance?
I wonder how you celebrated our anniversary day. My especial celebration consisted of a bowl of strawberries & cream. I had a great deal of trouble getting them. I tried several tea shops but without success. Finally I bought 1/2 pound of berries at a fruiterer's for 6d. Then I hunted for cream & sugar but the former seemed equally difficult to obtain. At last I was directed to the Jersey dairy I told my troubles to the shop girl. Yes, she could sell me cream, but sugar? No, they didn't sell sugar. However I finally prevailed upon her to take a jardiniere off a marble table and allow me to eat them. She brought a small cup of cream - probably 1/4 pint for 4d. - with a bowl of sugar a teaspoon & a plate for 3d. additional.
Just at this juncture the proprietor came from a back room & I asked him to replace the plate by a bowl. Certainly! And soon he reappeared with a cut glass round shallow dish. I paid 6d for berries, cream, sugar & service & set to. I hulled the berries, cut them with my spoon in the real old way, put the sugar on to soak & then poured on the cream - lovely rich yellow cream from his own Jersey cows - as the man proudly informed me. It was a dish of real strawberries & cream. Oh, how I enjoyed them!
At first I had not intended to get them, they seemed so dear. But then I thought you would want me to do so if you knew, and I'm glad I did. In one way it hasn't been like a wedding anniversary today but in another it has for we have been together in heart & spirit. I pray tonight that, if God wills, we may spend the next together in body too. So I kiss you goodnight my own dear wifie. God bless and keep you.
Wednesday June 13th.
Three years ago today we spent at Niagara Falls. Do you remember the lovely breakfast in the breakfast room of the Clifton House[Hotel] - and the call at Corrinne’s & the Myers’. It was a warm day wasn't it - almost as hot as today has been here - especially in the evening at Niagara Falls N.Y. when I found there was no diner on the Buffalo train and rushed about trying to get something to eat. Supper that night was rather a comedown from the morning wasn't it? It has been just the opposite with me today.
Breakfast was the same old slice of fat bacon & bread & butter & jam & tea: but the rations were supplemented by 2 cookies from Corp. Weatherby of Amherst N.S. and 2 pieces of fruit cake from Sergt. Armstrong of the 191st. Both of these men received parcels today. So did I - the one without eats in it - like the first one it arrived in fine shape, but it did seem rather incongruous to come in the barrack room with perspiration oozing from every pore and running in streams down my face & arms - and then opening the parcel to find for my comfort - bed socks and canned heat - I felt as if I were a parcel of animated canned heat myself.
Just the same both the socks & the canned heat will come in all right a few months later - and it was dear of you to send the things. I think I have a sufficient supply of aspirin now. And thank Ruby for the bed socks. They are so soft and warm they will be lovely.
Oh it has been hot today - and all morning there was a haze over the sky making the air heavy and muggy. Before breakfast instead of the usual hour of physical drill it was our platoon's turn for the swimming baths. How we did revel in the fresh running water! This is to be a regular thing so our turn will come every four days.
Between 10.15 & 12.30 we drilled on the Meads. Several times during the course of the morning we heard aeroplanes but only saw one - yes and a dirigible balloon that came down quite close to the barracks & circled around 3 or 4 times just after breakfast. Well about 11.20 the air raid alarm sounded and we were ordered to lie down under the trees. When we marched back to barracks for dinner each platoon came by itself. But nothing happened here.
We heard this evening that the East end of London was raided. Evidently some of the planes we heard this morning were German, for their usual route when making for London is from a point on the coast North East of here - then following down a stream just about 3 miles east of here, right into London. So you see we are near their path.
What have you been doing today I wonder. Has it been hot in Calgary? It must be lovely there now on these long evenings. Perhaps you are at prayer meeting tonight. I wish I could hear one of Mr. Fallis' prayers again. They seem to touch one's real needs don't they? Must quit now to write some notes. I kiss my darling goodnight.
Thurs. evening June 14th
If only you were beside me now. It's 7 o'clock but the sun is still up at least and hour. All about are evening sounds the hush following a hot day's varied labours making the shunting of a railway engine in the valley below stand out with peculiar distinctiveness. From the distance comes the soft coo-ing of doves while nearer at hand in bush and tree are subdued chirpings and twitterings with now and again some bird singing his evening song. Nearby is a rabbit preserve with tall brake from & into which they are scurrying by thousands. As I lie under the shade of a large lime tree on soft green turf I can look eastward across the valley in which Hertford nestles to the woods and fields beyond. All about the field in front of me are elder bushes now in full bloom of beautiful white.
Behind me is the home farm of Ware Park with the farm buildings peeping out of the trees. I am under one of the many trees that form the finest avenue of limes that I have ever seen. Ware Park is a private grounds between Hertford & Ware, - and is reached by a lane just beyond the Mead where we sometimes drill. Approaching it that way one first climbs by a well worn footpath a rather steep heath covered for the most part with tall brake. Then a magnificent avenue of beeches - wonderful trees comes into view running at right angles to the path which leads into the lime avenue along which I am now.
This last must be nearly a mile long with enormous trees forming a complete arch overhead - about 10 yards apart, except where here & there mammoth, upturned roots tell the tale of a terrible storm that visited this part of the country several months ago. Evidently this was originally the main driveway to the house but was on account of damage to the tree roots a new road was made on one side and now this is used only as a footpath, - during war time open to the public. I first came by last Sunday evening & was so charmed I decided to come this evening. I have brought along some nut bread & jelly and will have a bite of supper presently.
3 years ago today we were in Boston. That was a hot day too, wasn't it dearest. Next time we go there we'll know how to make better use of our time & will enjoy it more shall we not? Do you remember the dinner - fried chicken, Boston baked beans etc., etc., etc?
Yesterday's air raid was much more damaging I fear than the newspaper reports would lead one to believe. There was another one this p.m. which kept us in barracks for a couple hours. We didn't see any planes however & don't know where they attacked though it is rumored that they dropped bombs north of London.
The roses are coming out beautifully now. This morning I saw a lovely cluster of perhaps 15 or 20 peeping over a wall - they were of the deepest red - and perfectly formed. While crossing a brook tonight I plucked a wild rose bud which I'm enclosing. It made me think of you - so modest, sweet bright, lovely and true.
Now I'm going to have my supper. I have opened the jar which I thought contained jelly and find that it's blackcurrants. They ran out a little at the top, but otherwise have carried all right.
I am enclosing a few more prints that are only indifferently good. The films seemed to develop well but the printing was a disappointment. I don't want however to send the films home until I know that the prints I have already sent arrive safely.
It is so quiet & restful here, I hate to leave but have to do some work when I get home, so must close.
Goodnight my own dear love.
Evelyn to Fred
I'm going up to Mrs. Coutts to stay all night. I've shortened a skirt and she'll "hang" it for me. It's time for me to go, but I wanted a word with you first.
It’s rained and the sun has shone to-day. Do you remember what a perfect day it was three years ago? I was pretending to-day that we were comfortably “fixed” and this is the trip we took. We had a roomy motor - for two - and we started off for the south-down to Glacier Park, then east, down through the New England states into Virginia and Kentucky. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
There is a bird singing, I think it’s a robin. Do you have robins in England?
I hope you have had your trip to St. Albans, and that you had a better meal than we had there. I think we'll take a walking trip next time, taking a train or 'bus any time we take the notion. Won't that be simply delightful? Oh dearest, we are so much better chums now than three years ago. I always thank God for giving us to each other.
How dearly, how dearly I love you.
Your own wife.
I’ve been up to Miss Scott’s for dinner. Miss Gould had just had word that Bill Green had been killed. One of her brothers was also killed some time ago. Oh my dear, it's so hard to trust God that all will be well, for we want His "will" to be ours. Sometimes my heart seems tied up in a knot, and I feel so hard and selfish. It seems as if I have almost lost the capacity to feel, but then it always returns with intensified power. But I can't talk about that dear; anyway it isn't brave.
I haven't sent you a box yet this week and it will be a little one. Next week will be a big one which will have to last you for two weeks, until I get home.
I had a letter from Edna Smith last night and she is leaving Portland the 18th, so that we shall likely leave a week from Monday, or the 25th. I expect to go to Beamsville first, and meet Ora down there. Elleda will be home for about ten days then, so that I’ll see her too.
I didn’t get any letter Monday - none since Friday, and I’ve been wondering if you’ve started sending my letters home. It will be a long time to wait for them.
I thought that nobody remembered yesterday, but to-day I got a letter from mother which I am enclosing. I’ll explain to her how hard it is for you to get any time to write.
I don't know what you'll think about me renting our suite. Mr. Robertson got a good report of the people, but he's here representing the Gold Seal Liquor Co. I asked Roy what to do, and he laughed and said if that was my only scruple, to go ahead. I liked the woman, I think she'd be careful, and I've rented it to them. The first month's rent is to be paid in advance, and I'll have the cheque presented to the bank before I let them in. I think they are all right that way, although I don't like their business.
Mr.Fallis’ case was up to-day. Algor Bailey said he was “only doing his duty” in drawing the attention of the censor to the fact that he had quoted from a censored book. Doesn’t that make you sick?
To-day has been a lovely bright day. We have not had very many this spring and they are much appreciated when they do come.
When you come home again we'll make the most of nice days, won't we dear? I don't want to stay in the office any longer than necessary. I am getting tired of Land Titles work, but I shouldn't complain. You have such tiresome monotonous work, and you don't find fault. We are told our exam results will be out Tuesday that will be almost two months from the time we wrote. Isn't that unfair to be so slow?
Nothing much has happened. I have been getting my lunch down town lately - there is a girls’ Caffeteria [sic] downstairs in that Home Delicacies, where you can get very nice things. To-day we had shepherd’s pie, bread & butter, raw tomatoes & caramel pudding for 25¢. That’s reasonable enough, isn’t it?
Mrs. Bell will be here tomorrow, so I’ll need to get up a little early. Have I not said that before? It seems to me I have.
I have been meaning to tell you that they’ve taken down the fence in front of the N.W.R.M.P. [North West Royal Mounted Police] and it looks nice now, with the lawns in that whole block all in one.
We have heard that Fred Shouldice is up. Sometimes I wish you weren’t so unselfish and I get tired of doing my duty, but we have our own self respect, haven’t we?
I think I’ll have a “wash and brush up” if the water is hot. We have a new janitor - a big fat one who looks like a butcher. I haven’t any dealings with him yet. I think they had a flood upstairs last night, for our walls are stained, and there was water on our floor when I came in tonight, but nothing else was damaged.
Good night my darling. Tell me what you'd like me to write about. I love you.
Evelyn to Fred
I’m not staying home much these days. I came home for lunch to-day, thinking that possibly Mrs. Bell might be here, but she did not come. I am afraid she is sick. She was at Ruby’s yesterday, but was all right then. To-day after I left the office, I went to the store and got some wool with which to knit mother a jacket. Then I went to Mrs. Brown’s for supper and she started the knitting for me. Mr. Brown is still away, and as her mother was up at Mrs. May’s, we were alone. We sat and talked at the table, about England and you and Donna.
You certainly made nice friends for me sweetheart. I saw Elizabeth in Glanville’s, and Mrs. Watts - who asked about you. John’s engagement was in the Globe the night before last. What shall we do about a wedding present. I’d like to give a nice one from us for several reasons, but maybe we’d better wait until Christmas. I’d like to have your opinion.
The janitor - he’s new and fat and lame and foreign - told me he had had three calls about our suite. I had put our own telephone number in you see. Well, there’s no use fussing. But I do hope you don’t think it was wrong of me to rent it to those people.
Mrs. Brown and I went to prayer meeting. Afterwards we went for a drive with Mr. and Mrs. Cushing, first down to say good-bye to Mrs. Morton and Mrs. Jaynes who are going to the coast tonight, then for a drive, then to take Miss Bradley home, and finally Mrs. Brown and me. It’s the first drive I’ve had for a long time.
To-day has been a real summer day and it was lovely tonight. Everything smelt so fresh and lovely. Mrs. Jaynes gave us each a bunch of lilacs. My bunch isn’t out very much. hey make me think of Thorold, and Mount Hope. At Mount Hope we had four big bushes, which grew immense big bunches - oh so lovely. It has always been my ambition to have a white lilac bush.
Three years ago to-day we sought for some time in vain for a church to enter. Do you remember? I'll never be sorry we spent our honeymoon trip the way we did. Because of going where we did, particular days stand out in our memory, and we can say - - years ago, we did this or this, or were here or there.
Did you see anything of the last air-raid? It was simply fiendish. Think of the mere babies, torn to pieces. I wonder those pilots aren't dashed on rocks for such hellish work.
Mr. Fallis’ case was dismissed with costs - to Algar Bailey. It seems that the book the man tried to sent [sic] Defeat Defeat - was not sent, but that the book which did arrive was not a censored book - i.e. Defeat - with Victory. So Bailey got it, didn’t he? He ought not to be allowed to live in a decent city. He knocks nearly everything that’s good, and then sets himself up as a broad minded public benefactor.
They’re having a time at Wesley college over Dr. Bland. They dismissed him, I don’t know why, some say because of his socialistic views, but have been forced to reconsider their action.
I see where Westmount Que. has put itself on record as in favour of conscription of men and wealth, and Westmount is wealthy. They say the income tax will affect those having more than 3,000 a year.
I told Ray to-day that if conscription came in he ought to have more insurance, and that if he could get anything out of the Harrison & Ponton stuff, he could use it. While we were talking, Mr. Robinson - Mutual Life - ‘phoned him. He said he could finance another 3000. Even that would make it only 5000, which isn’t very much.
I was thinking tonight of Tinlin’s maple “bush”, and that I’d go up there on the brow of the hill and talk to you. It’s a long time since we were there together, isn’t it? In fact we have never been there since we have been really “together.”
I haven’t had a letter since Friday, the one you wrote on the Sunday when you had to be on guard. I hope you have been able to go to St.Albans. Do try to have as good a time as you can, and do not skimp yourself in your spending money.
I am really looking forward to my trip east - If only, if only, I knew you were safe, I could stand the separation. Mr. Fallis prayed for me tonight, at least it seemed to me he did. I think dear, the essence of the Christian religion is in hope, and love of course - But hope. When things turn black here, there’s always the hope of something better farther on.
I saw Pat Allen to-day. He doesn’t know me, but I look at him and am sorry for him, and hope he’ll soon get better. The paper tonight says that Major Silken, having been missing for some time, is presumed to be dead. “After the war” won’t mean much happiness to some people, will it dear one?
Every time I write to you, I'm thankful for paper pen and ink, the postal service, and intelligence which enables us in some way, to communicate with each other.
June 16/17 Saturday afternoon -
Last night I packed your box and washed my hair in preparation for having my picture taken, and when I got through it was time to go to bed. Now, having finished my lunch I'm going to have a sleep in order to look fresher in my picture - you see, I'm doing my best to have a nice one, and if I don't succeed you really can't blame me very much, can you dear?
Three years ago this morning I nearly made you miss the boat. I won't do it next time, I promise you. Just give me the chance.
Goodbye for the present, my dearest one.
Fred to Evelyn
15th June 1917
My dearest, -
Air raids are now becoming a daily occurrence and the alarms are causing a serious upsetting of arrangements among the N.C.O.'s at school here. More than one has complained that the least they could do by way of compensation would be to show themselves to us. I don't know what damage was done yesterday, though the papers say that a Zep was brought down and make no mention of any other aircraft.
Today's alarm came this evening about 6.30 just as I was about to go down town - and of course there was the usual C.B. order. About 8 o'clock it was announced "All clear" but now (8.30) the alarm is on again. Not a trace of anything unusual is visible to us. It's a perfect June evening with a cloudless sky.
This morning we had our first parade at 6.15 instead of 6.30. I think I told you a few days ago that reveille is now at 5. It is practically impossible to get to sleep before 10.30 so that gives one only 6 1/2 hours. I was remarking today on the fact that I used to think I needed 8 while now I don't feel any lack. It's because I am in so much better health, I think. I don't know when I have felt so thoroughly fit.
I don’t know I have any insides except for the stomach’s call for food & drink. Even after the heaviest meal there isn’t the least load on my stomach and it needs to be in perfect condition to digest some of the pudding & bread we get. For example the pudding today was a steamed roll - soggy & heavy. A spoonful of jam was put on top of each piece and this helped it on its downward way. Needless to say we didn’t make it linger to prolong the taste though really there was no bad taste flavor.
As for the bread, it has been getting tougher & harder every day for some time past. The gov't. in its wisdom, (or foolishness) has ordered that no fresh bread - i.e. under 1 day old - be sold, thinking thereby to lessen consumption. Perhaps it does, but it also means waste, for I am told several loaves were thrown out here yesterday because they were mouldy And all of the mouldy bread wasn't thrown out either. And as for hardness, it's an actual fact I skinned a knuckle on it at tea when the knife with which I was trying to cut a new loaf slipped. There wasn't any butter this evening so we had tea dry bread & jam for tea.
Three years ago today we were in Boston. Do you remember the drive around Brookline & Harvard University? And the supper at Child’s in the evening? I thought of it when eating tonight. What have you had for supper, I wonder. Some fruit and something green, I’m sure. I wish I could drop in on you, but as I can’t I send you my love with a thousand kisses
Sunday June 17/17
Three years ago yesterday we set sail from Boston and today we were basking in the genial warmth of the Gulf Stream: also if I mistake not it was on this day that you first made the acquaintance of Mrs. Crosby as I was trying without any marked success to locate your deck chair where you wouldn’t get the odour from the ship’s galleys. Who would have guessed from her first somewhat brusquely impatient tones that we would later find her so truly kind and helpful? First impressions are not always most accurate, are they?
Last night for the 2nd time we were aroused and ordered to get dressed because of an air raid. 12.10 was the hour when our slumbers were disturbed, but after dressing & putting on belts & bayonets with rifles near by we lay down again & slept until morning.
It is reported today that 2 Zeps came over and 1 was brought down. Another raid is expected tonight. It looks as if we may expect almost daily visits from now on, and as if the Germans in desperation at the comparative failure of their submarine campaign were trying to divert their people's attention from the Western front by air raids on Eng.
You asked my opinion about wet canteens. I am not really certain how they are run in the camps, but am under the impression that only beer & ale are sold - but no wines or spirits. Certainly I have not seen any drunkenness as a result of them. True there is some drunkenness but it is caused by the men getting whisky and other liquors when in the towns and villages.
Of course many Canadians drink beer or ale over here who never touched it at home, but the situation is slightly different. You know yourself how difficult before the war it was to get cold water to drink here. Now it's impossible. Milk is also out of the question. And so one is driven back upon the everlasting tea, the vile lemonade or other soft drinks if he wants anything other than water.
As for myself, I don't & there are some like me, but I should say 90% drink at least an occasional glass of beer or ale or stout. Yet I have my doubts whether these same men will want to drink back in Canada. I am inclined to think the harm and danger are greatly overestimated in Canada: at the same time I believe it would be a better policy for the Canadians to have dry canteens. The Canadian army in England is not under English, but is still under Canadian management so far as all such things are concerned.
The drink question in the British Isles is a terrible one. Much good has been done by lessening hours of sale & raising prices. A marked decrease in drunkenness has been evident to me even in the short time I have been here. And yet the waste and squalor and disease and poverty caused by drink is alarming.
At first blush it looks as if the government were being led by the nose by the liquor "interests." But I am not so sure of that. I rather incline to the belief that the government would dare the "interests" to do their worst if it could be sure of the support of a majority of the people. It is the greatness of the common people, the workingmen, who are so strongly opposed to giving up their pint of beer or ale which they have been taught to look upon as a food and a necessity.
Today I was re-reading Tennyson’s “Northern Farmer” old style”, and I thought how he typifies the average Englishman’s attitudes on this great question. He must have his pint of ale, doctor or no doctor, whether it cause death or not. So I can have a great deal of sympathy for the government in its problem.
I fear the average citizen of these Isles must come to the point where he can see the dangers to the state of his “personal liberty” which he so jealously cherishes. But it is hard to drive out of an Englishman’s head the prejudicial notions of centuries.
I fear the average citizen of these Isles must come to the point where he can see the dangers to the state of his "personal liberty" which he so jealously cherishes. But it is hard to drive out of an Englishman's head the prejudicial notions of centuries.
You spoke of venereal diseases. They are shockingly prevalent - more so than the Canadian people have any idea of. I think I remarked in a former letter about what the Rev. W.A. Cameron was reported to have said - He may be honest in his belief, but one in his position doesn't get to know the true state of affairs. A man in the ranks does, and I have been astounded at the way so many people act here who would live moral lives if at home.
As for the danger of contagion, you needn't fear for me dearie, for I am very careful at all times when using a public lavatory or bath. Besides the precautions taken by the medical authorities to prevent the spread of disease by the use of disinfectants etc. are very good indeed.
As I write I hear the church bells ringing. From across the wall comes the chirp & song of birds and through the opened barrack room windows there floats on the evening air some of the old-fashioned hymns sung by the boys from home. How unreal the war seems on such an evening!
If only you were with me and we could go together to church and after that for a stroll through the beautiful English lanes. But I can only walk and talk with you in spirit now. Some day the pent-up love will find expression. Meanwhile God bless and keep my own little one.
Mon. evening, June 18th
I intended writing a great deal tonight there is so much I wanted to say but I have spent so much time reading that I have very little time left, especially as I want to go to bed a little early. Being on duty last night I got only 2 3/4 hours sleep and some fitful dozes snatched while I was supposed to be awake.
Today the sky has been overcast, threatening thunder storms, and this p.m. we were driven under the trees a couple times so the air has been cooler. Then too they are not working us quite so hard as they did and we were under the shade tree a good deal - comparatively speaking of course. From now on I understand the work will be somewhat easier.
Corp. Hunt, one of the 191st men - spent the week end at his fathers home in Suffolk near Ipswich, and about 3.25 yesterday morning was awakened by the bombs falling about 5 mi. away from a Zepp. Then he saw the fight and finally the Zep. came down in flames. Wasn’t that an interesting experience.
Apparently the mails are running much more regularly now. I have given up hope of receiving the letters that you wrote between Apr 7th & Apr 25th but I think I have all the others. I’m afraid those went to the bottom.
I'm glad the collarette & cuffs arrived safely and that you like them so much. I would like to see them on you.
That is a dear picture of you at the station when Elmer left. It’s very good of Elmer & Laura also, isn’t it? Thanks very much dearest for the clippings from the papers. You don’t know how interesting they are. So Lina is thinking of going to Calgary to live with you. I think that would be a capital arrangement But I should think she’d want to teach instead of work in the L.T.O. There’d be more money in teaching I would think.
I do hope you soon start on your holiday. A good rest will work wonders for you. At any rate I assume you will be east by the time this letter reaches Canada so I am following your suggestion & addressing it to Owen Sound.
Perhaps you have accepted Mrs. Macleod’s offer. It really was very good of her wasn’t it?
I am returning your father’s & my mother’s letters. You may want to keep them. They are real parental letters, are they not. Poor mother. She has been so accustomed to repressing her feelings that she can’t use affectionate language but she does feel - and deeply. I used to be much the same way. Perhaps I am yet, but oh, my dearest, I do love you as I think no man ever loved woman before. You are my own darling sweetheart.
I hold you close to me and kiss you good night.
Evelyn to Fred
My Own Darling: -
Three years ago to-day we were on the boat, and by this time were probably getting acquainted with the Crosley’s and the Ramsay’s.
I wonder if such good times will ever come again for us. I wonder if you ever feel as I do, so helpless before distance. I know you are somewhere, and that I could go to you, yet I have to stay here and can see you and hear you and feel you, only in memory.
I was thinking while lying down a few minutes ago that I didn't know how I could stand it to have you go to France, but quickly following that thought came the one that I was always thinking about how I could stand things, not how you can. And I do not know how you can do it. All I can do for you is to pray for you and to love you, and sometimes, as far as this world is concerned, that seems very little.
I was at the Fallis' last night. They had had a letter from you, also one from Jack Beaton, telling where Everett was buried. On one side of him is, is his name Gerald Costigan, from here, and on the other a young lawyer from Toronto, whose people were intimate friends of Mrs. Jackson’s family.
Mr. and Mrs. Fallis, with Janet and Annie Dorothy and Wesley are going to the Coast tonight. He will have two Sundays away and when he comes home, Mrs. Jackson will go out with Annie.
I did not write last night as I was sewing. I cannot get the dressmaker to do these few odds and ends for me. She is too busy, so I have to do them myself. Lena came over to stay all night.
I went down and had my picture taken yesterday afternoon. I hope it will be nice - I’ll tell you tomorrow for I’ll have the proofs then, I’ll get Elleda to take some snaps for you. She is good at that you know.
I was to go to Dr. Anderson’s to spend the day. She was not at church this morning, but I did not think much of that and went over myself. Imagine my surprise to find her in bed - She couldn’t get up this morning - trouble with her heart, which she never had before - they are nice to each other dear, and act as if they loved and did not hate each other.
When he left her this afternoon and kissed her, I thought of you - It is so long since I’ve had a real kiss. I never told you, did I, how surprised I was when I went home and mother kissed me? It did not seem to have much “pep” to it. Any way, I did not want to stay, but they wanted me to. I talked to Mrs. Anderson and had dinner with the doctor - a delicious dinner of roast beef potatoes, asparagus, home-made bread and lemon pie.
When you come home I’ll make up to you for what you’ve missed. Only you might get fat again, and that would never do, would it? They told me that the girl who is coming in our office - a friend of Mr. Clarke’s, is Greta Plater who visits them. She was in my year at college at Varsity, and quite a friend of Sue Findlay’s. She has been teaching in Edmonton for several years.
You spoke about the rush to enlist. It hasn't been so great as to take all the eligible men. I think I told you how I overheard Spankie talking about it. He is still around, however. No, none of my "pet aversions" have as yet seen fit to join up.
John Poffenroth, whom I liked, got into the Aviation Corps and has gone to Toronto. A little girl with hair down her back is doing his work, I think it’s absurd, but of course one can’t use what one hasn’t. They’re trying to get a student at Lent Jones. Harper Miller asked me the other day if we wanted another student. I didn’t tell him what J.M. said - that they weren’t going to take on any students eligible for military service, “And of course” he said, “they’re only temporary.”
It’s been hot and windy and dusty here lately. I do not like the wind, it makes me feel awful.
I wonder if you have got any mail and boxes yet. I have sent all the boxes to the Army Post Office, fearing they might not reach you at Herts. I sent a small one yesterday, containing salmon, pineapple, chocolate and candies - I hope you have received the other letters? Did you leave word at the Royal Colonial to forward your letters? If you did I do not understand why you have not received more. I hope your dream of getting mine really came true.
To-day Dr. Anderson was wondering if you were far from Hatfield. It seemed to me you mentioned changing trains there. There is the family seat of the Salisbury’s. I hope you have been able to get about a little, and see places you wish to.
I don’t think I told you that Jim Earden is in civies again. Think of all that good cloth wasted. What will he do with his uniform? Miss Bradley asked him the other night if he was discharged. She hasn’t much respect for his size, has she?
I must get dressed for church now.
Good-bye my own darling.
Evelyn to Fred
Dearest One: -
I’m glad I wrote your letter last night when I did, otherwise it might not have got written. I went up to Ruby’s after church. Roy and Elizabeth, Miss Gould, Mrs. Roseborough and Mr. Scott were there too. It makes it awfully late when you go any place after church, especially if the service is long.
Mr. Fallis read a statement which I enclose, and F.M. Black spoke concerning the Y.M.C.A. He spoke very well. He has a delightful accent which shows itself only occasionally. They are starting a campaign for 20,000 this week. Mr. Peters is chairman of the committee. I wish we had something to give, for it and the Red Cross appeals very much to us here who have to stay at home.
I saw Clint Ford to-day. He said Harry was wounded at Vimy Ridge, had his arm broken above the elbow. I like Mr. Ford in many ways. He doesn't seem to stoop down to be on a par with a woman's intelligence for one thing.
He started telling me about his case - the early attempt to quash the early closing bye-law. He said he studied for six weeks on it, and then wasn’t called. Likewise the Collings case in Ottawa, he wasn’t called in that. I asked him to write to you and gave him your address. Has Fritz written yet?
I received your skylark letter to-day. Oh my darling, you don't realize what it meant to me to get a letter like that to-day. It showed me that we are nearer, far nearer than some who see each other every day. Do you know darling, I'm so sure of your love, that you'd have to work overtime to prove I didn't have it. But it doesn't make me take it as a matter of course; rather it makes me want to be more deserving of it. If I could only tell you all that is in my heart, both of gladness, because of you, and of sadness - because of others.
Did I ever tell you of the little songs Mrs. Adams has in a book of half minute songs -
“To understand another’s sorrow, You must have one all your own.”
And I realize it more and more. My own darling, there are worse things than having you go to the front, since we love each other as we do. It seems to me darling, as if you will not be long away, but that this is just what we both need in order to make our lives full and rich and sympathetic.
My own darling, there are worse things than having you go to the front, since we love each other as we do. It seems to me darling, as if you will not be long away, but that this is just what we both need in order to make our lives full and rich and sympathetic.
Do you know dear, I'm so sorry for the unkind critical things I say about people, for so often afterward I have had peeps into the depths of their hearts, and the sorrow that is there crowds out the critical spirit in me. I suppose that is the way you feel towards Fritz. I saw him at a distance to-day, but was not speaking to him. Wray does not expect to go home until the end of the month.
I was talking to Spankie to-day. I froze him for a long time, but what’s the use of making one’s self obnoxious? He was asking me if I knew of a student. They want one in their office, whosever [sic] office it is. He told us he wasn’t getting fifty dollars a month yet.
We expect our exam results tomorrow. I’m through in Kent Power’s papers, he practically told me, and so did Mr. Macleod, but I knew that. It’s Dr. Scott’s that worry me. I hope I’m not plucked in them. Brock had 95% in Powers papers. I called him Mr 95 this morning, and told him I’d be about fifty-fifty. Is that a gambling phrase.
This afternoon he introduced me to a man from their office, a Mr. Watts, I think his name is, an Englishman. I’ve met him in the L.T.O. occasionally and was talking to him one day. He has a son in the 202nds. Well, he said he’d never been formally introduced but that he’d heard about me before he knew me - His daughter told him “the pluckiest woman in Calgary. She’s keeping her husband’s practice together.”
I laughed at that and explained that I certainly was not doing your work. “Well”, he said, “You’re keeping it together, aren’t you.” “No”, I said, “the firm is. But I’m only a student, I couldn’t do his work.” “Has your husband a good practice then?” or something to that effect, and I said that you were a member of the firm. I can assure you, you don’t lose in prestige when I do the talking.
Then we talked about England and about what ships we crossed on, and he told me about coming over to New York a long time ago on a 2,500 ton boat. Oh, he’s a very polite old fellow, and as spruce as you make them. I do think dear, that anyone who realizes the conditions in England, is glad to see women getting to work here.
And I must say, that so far as I am concerned, I have had helpful treatment all the time I’ve been in business. You know I’m not bragging, darling, but I know how it pleases you to know that people treat me well. We are very jealous for our dear ones, aren’t we?
Mr. Robertson wants me to go to the circus with Mrs. Robertson tomorrow. He says he can’t spare the time, “and besides,” he said, “You know a man never wants to go to a circus with a woman. He wants to go with another man. And a woman with a woman.”
Mr Macleod was asking about you to-day. He just got back from Winnipeg where he was fortunate enough to have business, thus accompanying Mrs. Macleod that far. He brought back a first edition of Thackeray’s “The Virginians” with illustrations by Thackery, an old book of Congreve’s plays and a good black and white print of “the Fighting Temeraire.”
I must tell you that they are going on with the Mackie block. It is called “Lancaster Building” and is being furnished like the Canada Life. It is very interesting to watch it go up, and the strangest thing is that I seemed to think that when finished it would still be a dirty-black and red - as it has been ever since I knew it. Don’t you think that shows a singular lack of imagination?
I went to look at the proofs of my pictures to-day. I'm not tremendously pleased with them. The eyes are good, but there is a funny quirk in the mouth. I admit, sadly, that my mouth is straighter and more set than it used to be. I try not to let it get that way, but one can hardly face stern problems without having the traces of the fight showing somewhere. I used to have a pleasant mouth - made for smiles. You'll have to help me to round the corners again.
Oh my own darling, I love you so dearly. My skylark mate. I love that idea.
Wednesday a.m. [June 20/17]
Wednesday a.m. Or rather, it’s not a.m. being 12.30. I went up to Mrs. Coutts to stay last night. Guess it will be the last time before I go away. It rained and was sunshiney by fits and starts yesterday. To-day is cold and disagreeable, but the weather does not make so much difference when one is busy, does it?
I have a mignonette, a phlox and a garden chrysanthemum all in bud in my box. They’ll be at their best while I’m away. I think that I’ll keep the box here all fall and winter - put some fresh earth and some fertilizer in it, and get some geranium slips, take a slip from a begonia we have at home, and some of that green vine Lena brought us. You ought to see the way it has grown.
When you come back, and I go back to civilian life, I’ll give you my box. Mr. Darker has one in his window downstairs, and it’s very pretty. I’ll fix it all up for you, and if you won’t water the plants, likely your stenographer would do it, particularly as your room isn’t far from the tap. Also will have some of our pictures frames from for your room. Do you remember one, in brown, on the Downs, and another Seascape? There’s so much room in them. And maybe you’d like the one we have of The Embankment by Moon light.
The clouds are breaking, so suddenly they do it here. May the clouds which now overshadow our hearts, soon disappear.
You ask if I am lonely on Sundays. I generally try to have them full, and I sleep some then too, but there is always the lonely ache. It doesn’t seem like going to church, not to have you there. When you come home - oh, it seems as if everything happy begins there.
Mrs. Noton, did I tell you, thought I might take her position for a month, along with my own work, and so get about 20 extra. That was kind of her, was it not? She always asks about you, and sends her kind regards.
Yesterday Mr. Brockington said, “I hope you beat Mahaffey so badly that he can’t see you.” I asked why and he said “Oh, my natural antipathy to parsons.” I asked him then if it extended to parsons’ families and he said “No. Then there are parsons and parsons.” “Well”, I said, “My dad is one who comes after the ‘and’.”
He was telling me one day that in Lancashire they have a crooked hammer which they call a “methody.” Even the “Methodies” themselves call it by that name. He was telling me that old man Watts one day was going to take an affidavit, and was told he shouldn’t take it in the office, “Oh, indeed” he said, and took it down to Rochon’s, where he signed it. He’s 65 and as erect and fresh looking, except for his iron-grey hair as many men at fifty.
are going to keep on taking proper exercise when you come home. Wouldn't it be glorious to have horses of our own?
It's after lunch time, so must leave you.
Your own wife.
No. 7 - I think.
Fred to Evelyn
June 19th 1917
My darling, -
Today brought another letter from you - that written on May 25th & 26th - also a short note from Mrs Etherington - the lady whom Everett Fallis called his English mother - saying Mrs. Fallis had written about me and that she would be glad to have me spend a week-end at their home any time I liked. Wasn’t that nice of her. I’m afraid I shall not be able to accept, for they live in Wiltshire - which is in the west of England - too far away to go unless I get another leave of several days, - and I can not reasonably expect this.
Several Globes came today also - and at noon your mother’s box. I opened it this evening and everything was in very good condition except that the biscuits broke a good deal and the cheese package burst and messed adjoining things a wee bit. The butter looks good and is most timely for ours has been uneatable for several days. I have promised a couple of the boys some real butter for tomorrow’s breakfast. The honey looks good too. I have never tasted any really good honey in England. - and for that matter - none of any kind since leaving quarantine.
The biscuits or cakes in the bottom are in good shape & I didn’t unwrap them tonight. I’ll leave them for tomorrow. The top ones were all despatched this evening. It was is lovely to get boxes like that. I have been very fortunate - during the past couple of weeks, I think I’ll have to write to your mother instead of you next time. How will you like that?
I wish the letters wouldn't come in bunches but would spread out. And yet, it is nice to get a lot at once too. Apparently you hadn’t heard the exam. results when you last wrote. Of course you have by this time.
I'm sorry you have had so much trouble with the apartment. You never said anything about a reduction in rent. Didn't Dr Patrick reduce it for the summer? It seems to me he has been very negligent and is taking advantage of my absence. He should lower the rent and stain the floors at least, and of course the plumbing should be kept in repair.
Yes, I knew before I left that Elizabeth [Moyer] was expecting to have a baby and that was partly the reason I asked you to be kind to her. I'm so sorry she was ill - and I suppose, though you didn't say so, lost it. I hope she wasn't very ill. I would like to hear from Fritz. I think I shall write him soon. I sent Elizabeth a card when on my leave. I also wrote Wray a couple weeks ago. What is he doing now? Am so sorry Mr. Fallis was injured. I do hope it was not serious. I suppose he got off all right.
Thanks very much for the church & Southern Alberta Oil reports - and the various clippings you have enclosed from time to time.
Nothing very new has happened here. We aren't being worked quite so hard. Heard from Bramshott today that all the 191st serjeants (including myself of course) have been reduced to lance serjeants, which means reduction to corporal's pay. I am not sure whether the separation allowance is reduced or not, but I'm afraid it is. You see there is an accumulation of about 150 serjeants in the 21st reserve and there are only about 400 men. No non-commissioned officers go to France as such, and I suppose this is the plan to get them to go.
I have been expecting it for Col. Stewart told me about it before I came here to school and now he has gone to France & Major Hewgill is in command the new broom is beginning by sweeping clean. I don't care for myself but I do hope your allowance isn't affected.
Must close for tonight. Good night my own sweet girlie, my chum, my love.
Wednesday evening. June 20th 1917
You will remember my speaking of Ken. McLaws who was at the school at Sarcee with me. He left the 191 & came over with the 78th battery of Lethbridge. I wrote him about 4 weeks ago not knowing where he was & today received a reply from France. He says he spent 7 weeks in quarantine at Shorecliffe & there was sent direct to France without getting any leave.
This evening the report of our first exam. was published. Nease was top man out of about 250 in the company. Choate & I were equal at 6th place. We shall have another exam early next week.
Well we had the butter today - and it didn’t last long. Of course those sitting near me at the table helped me in the work of destruction - and one and all expressed their thanks to be conveyed to the donor. We ate the last of it at tea. It was pretty soft, but tasted sweet - like real butter. It really is surprising that it would carry so well in warm weather when so long on the way. Tomorrow we shall have some of the cheese.
This evening I took the last of mothers nut loaf and went again to the Jersey Dairy after having bought some berries at the same place. My nose did peel for 3 or 4 weeks - though not nearly so. They were cheaper this time 1/2 lb for 4d. but the cream sugar & service cost the same as before - 6d. They did taste good.
Just at this point I was interrupted by Armstrong who came in with a pound of strawberries, and he & Choate & I went to the canteen and ate them along with some of the fruit biscuits your mother sent. Later Choate bought a cup of cocoa for each. So I had a pretty generous fare tonight.
I was looking at myself in the mirror today and have come to the conclusion that I look in better health than for a long time. My nose did peel for 3 or 4 weeks - though not nearly so badly as last summer - but my skin must be getting tougher for it is not feeling much now.
There does seem very little time for study. The evenings pass without accomplishing much, - but I must do a little studying tonight. Most of the men have gone to a concert in Ball's Park, but a few, perhaps 7 or 8 of our room are here copying notes or studying. So I'll quit for tonight and join the crowd.
Good night my darling.
Thurs. June 21st 1917.
One year ago today I signed the attestation paper that made me a soldier in the C.E.F. How the time has flown - and yet, how long it has been too! So many changes have occurred, - except in the progress of the war - and it has dragged along with but little variation of fortune in spite of the tremendous struggles and the awful sacrifices that have been made. One thing is certain, the past 12 months have wrought changes in our characters - or perhaps I should say developments, rather than changes - that will influence all our future life. And I can't help but feel that these developments have all been for good.
Isn't it anomalous that war, which is so horribly evil in itself, should in so many cases work out to the betterment of the individual? Surely it teaches us that all things provide us with opportunities which we may turn to our advantage if only we will. Don't you feel, too, dearie, that we will be the better in after life and be more to each other because of the year that is gone? I do, and, while I have never had any premonitions or positive feeling that I would come out of the war unscathed, it does seem as if our training now were meant to serve some useful purpose in after life.
I have now received all Globes up to and including the issue of May 30th and I have been reading with much interest about the conscription question and other problems in Canada arising out of the war. What a crucial time this is in Canada's history. Just when we seemed to be on the verge of a better understanding and a solution of the racial problem in Canada, there comes the schism on enlistment.
I can't help feeling that the present situation is largely the outcome of the Conservative election campaign of 1911, but no matter who was to blame for it, the difficulty is here and must be overcome if we are to prevent the growth of a problem in Quebec, as bad as if not worse than that in Ireland. I am disappointed in Laurier,(2) and I am proud of the Globe. Laurier's stand now makes the work of almost any other man in Quebec well-nigh impossible. I think the conscription bill must carry and yet if it does there will be trouble. But if it is withdrawn, the situation will be just as bad - perhaps worse for in the event the French Canadians would almost inevitably feel that they had won in a test of strength against the rest of Canada - and after that woe to the rest! God grant a solution may soon be found and that Canada may emerge united instead of divided, as now looks most probable.
I noticed in the Globe an announcement of Maggie Cause’s marriage to George Karr, - also that Dr McCaulay and family have been visiting in Toronto. I couldn’t help wondering whether he gave anything to the Building fund. Perhaps I am harsh in my judgement but I can’t work up a tremendous admiration for him.
Oh, I have meant to ask you before - what was the result of the Norris Commission Co - Medicine Hat Wheat Co case? If you don’t know, would you please ask Mr Clarke? I’d also like to know the judgment of the Supreme Court in the City of Calgary - Gas Co case. Perhaps it hasn’t been delivered yet though I saw mention in a News Telegram of the hearing taking place about 6 weeks ago.
I am enclosing a few clippings from The Times & Westminster Gazette. Am also enclosing 6 prints - 4 from Bramshott & the other 2 taken here - all are very poor partly due to the amateur photographer but more due to the amateur developer & printer. I had these done at a different place from the others - and I’m not going back again. They aren’t much good, still the may serve to give as a reminder in days to come.
Speaking of photographs, I got mine yesterday. I am having only 1 mounted & the other 3 unmounted thinking they might carry better that way, and that you can get them mounted in Canada. They aren’t very satisfactory but are the best I could do. Photography apparently hasn’t reached a very high stage of development here except in the large centres. Luckily I got only 4. I thought you would want to keep 1 and perhaps 2 and that you might give 1 each to our parents. On account of the uncertainty of the mails, I am not sending all at once. I am forwarding under separate cover by today’s mail 2 of the unmounted pictures and will send the others later. Thinking you will be at Owen Sound soon I shall address all mail there for 3 or 4 weeks.
Your box arrived today in good shape. I opened it this evening and didn't delve right to the bottom but had some of the rock cakes - they are lovely - and took out one package of chocolate & some gum and nuts. You ask whether I like gum. I am not partial to it. Perhaps in France I would like to have it but while I'm here in Eng. I'd rather have something else.
It is nice to get boxes but I'm afraid dearest that you are spending too much time and money over them. Now, while you are on your holidays I want you to loaf and rest - not work. Get built up and strong so that you will be able to enjoy work when you go back to Calgary.
It was a good deal cooler today. We were worked fairly hard this morning but being Thurs. we quit at 3 this p.m. so have had it fairly easy on the whole. Had lettuce & jam for tea tonight. This is the second time we've had lettuce. It was beautifully crisp & fresh. The butter is still uneatable but the bread has improved. I heard yesterday that in addition to rye, barley, oat & wheat flour it is composed of rice. Whatever the ingredients it is substantial & sticks to one's ribs.
I wonder what you are doing this evening. Playing tennis, I hope, - or perhaps you are getting ready for your trip east. Anyhow, wherever you are you are always my nearest and dearest.
Evelyn to Fred
My Own Darling:-
I have some good news for you, only they might be better. It’s only about half past seven and I was starting to do some sewing when I decided to write to you first. Miss Burgoin and Miss Ruppe are coming down this evening, and Ruby just ‘phoned that she might be in. That means I would be late in writing to you, and I’m not going to let my boy be jockeyed out of first place, as I have a few times.
I was reading some parts of some of your letters to Berta and George [Coutts] last night and they both remarked about how much time you must spend, quite probably when you were tired too. So many men wouldn’t do it, but there’s another point where my man cares.
Now for my news. Ray got a cheque for 775 for the two motors from the Alberta Sash & Door. The people who bought, and Mr. Cunningham, who gets $50 commission out of the cheque, have to do the moving. So you see there’s some money to apply on our note at the bank I am so glad it came before I go away.
The Y.M.C.A. is out on a campaign for 20,000. Ray is in Mr. Howard’s team. He says “that man Shaver is a corker.” The firm gave 250. Ray is giving enough more to make it 25 from him. He told the men to go after the firm individually too.
I should like to take about $25 and give $10 to the Y.M.C.A. $5 to the Belgian Relief, & $5 to the Red Cross, & $5 to the University Alumni for its base hospital in Salonika. There's this dear, even with you overseas, we can still afford to give something. I think you have assigned me too much money, and I want you to draw on the London Bank, and have enough money to use.
When I come back, and Lina is with me, I will have more money. Then too, I ought to get a raise soon. Now dear, please do that, I don’t like sending money through the mail: I’m never sure you get my letters. I don’t stint myself unduly, in fact very little, and oh, please, you promised me you’d not try to scrape along darling. Here’s Miss Burgoin.
I didn't get time to write any more last night. Lena came in for a little while, and of course Miss Burgoin. Ruby came down later, and Wilfred came after her. It was eleven when they left. Wilfred acts so queer, he just sort of sits and looks at one. I don't like being inspected like that.
This afternoon I got your letter of the 29th, 30th & 31st of May. This is the 21st of June - exactly 3 weeks. I can't understand why you haven't had some letters and parcels. I don't know what to do, where to send them so that you'll be sure to get them. And to cable wouldn't be much use. I feel so absolutely helpless. At any rate, you never doubt but that I have written. That's one great comfort darling, which I have but lately realized; we are both absolutely sure of the other's love and fidelity.
I'll answer your questions in order - Then in another letter I’ll answer them again. So far as Borden’s announcement re conscription is concerned, there has been no change in the office. The men seem to be in favour of it and are willing to go in their turn, and all seem to think Bryenton & Ferguson will be among the first to go and quite willing that it should be so. As for what they think, I don’t know.
Mr. Henderson at the Court House was telling me yesterday that relations were strained between him & P.R.B. since they had a certain talk, in which the latter said Canada had no right to be in the war, and also that it was now time for the U.S. to take it’s share of the burden. The said P.R.B. has, I think, left tonight on his holidays - going home. Personally, I wonder if he’ll come back. I don’t say anything more than is absolutely necessary to him, and so was not on hand to say good-bye, though I was in Ray’s room when I saw him going out with his bag, and presumed he was leaving. But, oh well - you know what I think of him. He’s an egoist.
I expect to start Monday on my holidays - for two months, going first to your place and Hamilton, and then to Owen Sound. I didn't get so far as to tell you about exams last night, and will tell you more about interviewing Mr. Adams maybe tomorrow.
If I remember correctly these are my marks - Real Property 58, Equity 65, Common Law 78, Canadian Constitutional History 92, Contracts 95. I got about what I thought I did. I believe I am third, 1st being a man named Knight from Edmonton, a Toronto grad in mathematics, and a man named Munson from Med. Hat. Poor Jack Poffenroth didn’t get through.
We expect the official reports tomorrow. I feel pretty well satisfied, because dear, it was so hard to concentrate on law, when I wanted to be thinking about a lawyer. I should have liked to stand first for your sake, but I'm glad I've done as well as I have, for I know you'll be glad. If you were only here to give me some kisses. I'll just have to pretend you've done it.
I’m not outdoors much, for I’m getting ready to go away. Besides it has been cold and rainy so much, that inside is the best place. Also I’ve been away visiting so much, that I’ve had considerable walking.
I don't think Fitch has gone yet. All his men went away with the second 191st draft. Wray [Moyer] hasn't been east yet but expects to go the end of next week, after court classes. Oh, it makes me sick to see them hang on and on. He is wearing glasses now, 'me eye' is bad. So you see?
The new organ is beautiful, both in tone and appearance, but to be perfectly frank, I don't think Wilfred is getting as much out of it as he might. I think he has let himself become too self absorbed and grouchy. Honestly dear, he does find so much fault with people - Mr Fallis because the board gave him a purse and he went to the coast whereas Miss Bradley hadn’t any holidays.
At once I asked Mr. Graham who said they had arranged for her to have a month’s holidays and 50.00, so I told Wilfred. He thinks, I know, that Mr. Fallis gets away too much in proportion to what he does. That may or may not be, but what he overlooks is that Mr. Fallis is in his prime, and that he is a young man. I feel pretty sure that at his age Mr. Fallis wasn’t getting anything like what he is, even comparing living expenses than and now.
The trouble is, he could not wait for what he wanted until he was ready for it. I feel sorry for him, but he’s spoiling his disposition. Mrs. Fallis looks very thin, and they both suffer very keenly. As I told you, they have gone to the coast for some holidays.
The congregations have been pleasingly large, the downstairs filled and the gallery well filled at nearly every service. I haven’t seen Fritz for a couple weeks, but I believe I told you he was well pleased with the place when he first went out there.
Now I'll be wondering how you are getting along in your exams. But I don't really wonder, for I know. Goodnight my own lover. It will be three years tomorrow since we landed. Remember how we stayed awake all night tonight.
Your own wife. No 8, I think.
I sent a large number of letters to the R.C.I. much very many more than you have received. Am sending you a box of paper.
Fred to Evelyn
June 22 1917
My darling, -
For some reason I feel more tired tonight than I have for some time past. I don't know why because the work today has been only the usual and the weather has been cooler. In fact the last couple mornings have reminded me somewhat of the early mornings at Sarcee camp. This morning it was our turn again for the swimming baths and many of the fellows thought it was too cold and either didn't go in the water at all or made their dip very brief. As for myself, I enjoyed it thoroughly and after a brisk rub felt a warm glow suffuse my whole body. The water really was not cold - the thermometer must have been about 60. If I were going to be here longer I'd make a serious attempt to learn swimming.
Had a hair cut tonight at a new place - and the clippers & shears both pulled. Then to complete my misery the barber shaved the edges with a dry razor. Truly the ways of the English barbers are hard to love. On my way back to barracks I passed a street cart on which were cherries, berries etc. The berries were rather small and to get rid of his small remaining stack the man offered 1/2 lb for 3d. - I couldn't resist the temptation and bought 1/2 lb. Though small they were very sweet & I ate them as I walked along the street. The continued dry weather is seriously affecting the strawberries. Gooseberries were on sale today. How the time is flying!
I have been interrupted several times and now it is bed time so I must close for tonight. Do you remember how we spent the night before we landed at Queenston? Do you remember the refreshments in Dr Watt's cabin? Goodnight my darling - more my sweetheart than you were even on our honeymoon trip.
Sat. evening, June 23
I intended doing a great deal of studying today but have done practically none. After dinner I felt sleepy and along with most of the others in my room stretched out & didn't wake up until tea time. Then for about 20 minutes I munched away at dry bread and a bit of so-called cake filling up the vacant spaces with numerous cups of tea. The butter is still absolutely uneatable and for some reason there wasn’t any jam yesterday. There was a small piece of cake for each man, but apart from that dry bread was our only solace.
After tea I went down town, got the one photo which I left for mounting, called at the Y.M.C.A. & read a few papers, - strolled through the market - & then came back.
Gooseberries are coming in and cherries - small red ones - have been on sale for several days at 8d. or 9d. a lb. The strawberries are not nearly so nice as they were & are selling from 6d. to 9d per lb. Tomatoes - with cards marked "English grown" - were selling from 1s. 2d to 1s. 4d per lb. - and such miserable little things they were many of them no larger than walnuts! Lettuce, cress, onions etc are plentiful but radishes are very small. Oh, by the way, we had a few onions last night for tea.
After I got back to barracks Choate, Armstong & I started an argument which lasted until about 8. Then I studied a few minutes until Nease, Heeney & Hunt came in and I went then we 191 boys went to the canteen and had some supper. I finished 1 of your rock biscuits apiece a package of soda & the cream cheese your mother sent. Hunt got some more cakes & biscuits & Nease some coffee. So we had a real supper.
Do you remember how we spent the evening 3 years ago today - the day we went from Cork to Killarney? And the ride from the station in the jaunting car, the beautiful avenue of trees - the imposing array of servants in the hall - my dress shirt episode, - the dinner in that beautiful dining room overlooking the lake - the stroll in the grounds after dinner - the heavy evening dew, - and then the hour afterwards in the big drawing room with its cheery grate fire, and then the big inviting beds for our tired bodies?
How much was crowded into every day during that trip! The next time we shall rush less and enjoy more shall we not? But even as it was we had a wonderful time didn't we dearest? The memory of it brightens the dull grayness of the present.
Sun. evening.- [June 24]
Somehow I haven't felt much like writing today although I intended doing a good deal. It was so cool this morning that I put on my undershirt again - for the past 2 weeks I have been wearing only the khaki shirt. For a change I went to the Baptist church this morning and except for the preacher, who was not the regular pastor, but an old congregational minister from Croydon who was charging off for the day and was very tiresome - I liked the church much better than the Wesleyan. It is a nice new building - the service is brighter - and the people are a much better class.
One noticeable thing this morning was the large number of women and girls in black. Really one doesn't see any young men in Hertford who look physically fit and are not in khaki. What a contrast to any Canadian town or city!
I see by the Globe that the announcement of the introduction of a compulsory service bill caused a great spurt in recruiting. I have been wondering whether this was true of Calgary as well as of the cities & towns of Eastern Canada. Whatever happens it is to be hoped that Canada sends more men over here soon, else the reserve battalions here will be absolutely depleted of men.
Had a good dinner today but tea was as bad as last night. We had tea, dry bread & a small spoonful each of a salad which was merely lettuce, onions, cucumber & tomato. I am going to supplement this shortly by some bread I brought away from the tea table & a little of the black currants mother sent. If the meals don’t improve soon we intend to make a vigourous protest.
In the last batch of pictures I sent you was a picture of lilacs & wisteria along Fore St. Hertford. Today on passing the same spot on my way to church I noticed a large shrub of orange blossoms covered with beautiful blooms. There are some new flowers out every week, though not so many as during the latter part of May & the first 10 days of June.
The roses are lovely now but there aren’t as many of them as in Kent - particularly of the climbing variety. Still Hertford is lovely - and even our barrack room has been brightened for some days past by beautiful rose bouquets which one of the boys has got from friends in town.
I do wish we could grow roses in Calgary. I think I shall go now and get have my bread & currants.
I shall have to correct what I said about the roses here. After I had a bit of bread, a couple of your rock cakes & some black currants, I took a walk along the Hatfield road through Hertingfordbury - a little hamlet 1 1/2 miles away and for nearly a mile beyond. All the way the road, though a main one, is narrow & winding. In many places it is overshadowed by oak beech or lime trees. I passed the entrance gates of 2 fine estates, one that of Lord Desborough. I wandered up a footpath through some wonderful beeches & oaks in his park, until I came to an open space where there was a wheat field, and all around the outside was a land red with poppies.
All around Hertingfordbury and in the hamlet itself is one of the loveliest spots I've seen - quaint cottages, old farm buildings, green hedges & high walls giving tantalizing peeps into the grounds behind. I saw roses in profusion on shrub & vine - red, white, pink & yellow.
One bush in particular presented such a mass of bloom as I have never seen before. I would like a picture of it but did not have my camera with me. Orange blossoms there were too and many a garden of old fashioned flowers whose names I don't know. It was so lovely and I did so long to have you with me. This is one more place that we shall have to visit together after the war.
Meanwhile goodnight flower of my life. I kiss you in my thought and press you to my breast.
Monday evening June 25th
I thought there might be Canadian mail again today but never a letter bore the Canadian post mark. Perhaps the increased submarine activity will make our mail more irregular again. The May mail has come through very well indeed and everyone is hoping there will not be a reversion to earlier conditions. I think I have said before that I have given up all hope of the April mail.
Officers & serjeant instructors were all in a hypercritical mood today. Nothing seemed to please them in consequence of which the work was made harder for the classes. But every day has its ending and perhaps tomorrow will be easier.
According to the syllabus the last 2 periods tomorrow i.e. from 3.30 - 4.30 & 5.30 - 6.30 are to be devoted to a “swabbing period” which means we shall have to scrub bed boards, floors etc. wash windows & clean up generally.
In the army great stress is laid upon being outwardly clean. One gets the impression that they don't much care if there is dirt so long as it is kept out of sight. This isn't the way on board ship. I have a distinct recollection of the captain's inspection of quarters there, and he poked his flashlight & his long nose into the dark hidden corners to see if by chance there was dirt covered up he had something forcible to say. On board ship one feels at least that cleanliness and sanitary conditions are sought as much as possible.
This evening I had a couple more of your rock cakes and the first of the honey your mother sent. I didn’t know honey could taste so good. It carried in perfect condition & seemed to touch the right spot today. And your rock cakes though a month old taste as good as new. I can’t tell you how good they are.
According to our platoon serjeant we shall be leaving here 2 weeks from today ie - July 9th. The course will end on the preceding Saturday but we shall remain over until Monday probably filling in the time on Sat. afternoon & Sunday in cleaning up for the next class which will enter on July 16th.
The country is so beautiful around here I wish I could get about & see more of it, but I don’t like to spend money for a wheel & to walk far takes more time than I have at my disposal. I’ve seen enough to make me plan how we’ll spend some of our time when next we are here together.
You should receive this letter by the middle of next month, and I hope that long before then you will have begun your rest. I have been wondering whether or not you are going to Bala this year. Probably not as there are so many nice camping places within reach of Owen Sound.
How nice it will be for you to be home again and with Ora there at the same time. I can see where your father will be more chauffeur than preacher for the next 6 weeks or so. In so many places church work has become so difficult since the war broke out. Sometimes I think of the post war days with a good deal of apprehension.
One of the boys got a couple Calgary Heralds of May 24th & 25th in one of which I noticed that Fritz formed one of a delegation from Drumheller to the Conservative convention for Didsbury constituency, and that his name went before the convention for candidate. I do hope he doesn't mix up in politics. He can't afford to do anything but look after his practice for some time to come. I have been wondering how Elizabeth is. I do hope she is better again - and also Mr. Fallis. This has been a hard year for that family hasn't it?
3 years ago today we made the trip up the Killarney lakes. In spite of the hot sun & the hard ride over the Gap O'Dunloe it was an enjoyable day, wasn't it dearest? What day wasn't when we were together?
Your own husband.
Evelyn to Fred
[June 22 & 24, 1917]
Dearest Darling: -
Your letter of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th came this afternoon. I read the first page through anxiously, to know if you had had any mail, and you had had none. But over the page I learned the welcome news that you had at last received something, and had proof that you weren't forgotten. I'm afraid you won't get those letters though you haven't had all sent to the R.C.I. I should imagine. And the Globe should be arriving by this time.
Tonight I was sewing, then Lena and Mrs. Austin came in, and I’m very tired. I took Miss Scott, Miss Burgoin & Miss Cummer to have ice-cream tonight.The asked to go, and I don’t like to appear stingy and cheap, though I’d much rather you had it. That’s one thing, unfortunately I can’t send you.
I am glad you liked what I sent, and only hope you got the box with the cakes. I think I'll put a paper with a date on it inside the box so you'll know and I'll know, by keeping a record how many you really get. I got some popcorn to fill up your box and I keep eating it as I write.
Tomorrow [Friday] will be my last day at the office for a while. I hope the reports come out before I leave. To-day Mr. Clarke asked me when I left, and how they were going to get along without me. I can't say that what you said about the Shouldice's pay worries me. We'd take it if we could get it. Only, I think, she gets $40 separation allowance: I know Ora does, she gets $90 altogether.
I do work hard at the office, but I don't go at nine, and often take a few minutes extra at noon. But after all, I'm supposed to be paid for what I do, and I am. We haven't much to complain of in comparison with others. Of course, financially we have given up a lot, but it doesn't make us any nobler minded to be thinking about it, does it. This isn't meant as a criticism of you, my own. I am talking to myself.
I must go to bed now, but first would tell you how much I love you, only I can't. Your letters a mere chronicle of events? Hardly, they are my greatest pleasure in life, except thinking about you. On the contrary, my letters when I re-read them seem like staccato notes, so I don't re-read them. I'll be getting my pictures tomorrow, and hope they won't be too bad.
Your loving wife.
You don't know how happy I felt when I knew you'd had some letters.
June 22/17 - where are we tonight?
Sunday afternoon: [June 24/17]
I'll write more tonight. We've just been at the Robinson's for dinner and out for a drive, and now we're going to the Coutt's for tea. I'm sending a picture which I hope you'll like. As it's nearly five I won't write any more.
Your own wife.
[June 24, 25 & 26 1917, Calgary
and en route East]
Evelyn to Fred
Dearest Darling: -
This is Sunday night, and I meant to write you a good long letter tonight, but Mrs. Oaten came over after church to wait for Wilfred, and Lena and Mr. McNeil came in a little while. Mrs. Oaten and Edna found out they had common friends, and after they Wilfred came they talked on and on. So now it is late again.
Edna Smith came in on the train in the night and got here about eight o’clock this morning. I don’t know whether you remember her or not, she was out at our place the day before we were married. Isn’t it nice we’ll have the trip East together. She met the Robinsons at Banff on her way to the coast, and so we were invited up there to lunch dinner to-day. Afterwards they took us for a drive and then they we went to Berta’s for tea. Miss Romanes was there. She was coming over to see me, but didn’t get here. She said her brother thought you were one of the nicest men he knew.
I saw Fritz and Elizabeth this morning, and I told him you asked about him in almost every letter. Also I asked Mr. Coutts and Wilfred to write to you, so it isn’t my fault if you don’t get letters.
Oh my darling, I have been loving you so much, it seems as if you must surely soon come home again to be loved in a real way that you can see and feel, not just a "faith" love.
Were you ever in the Robinson’s house? It is perfectly lovely, and the rugs. Beautiful Persian rugs, a beauty in the living room, two in the hall, and two big beauties in the bedroom upstairs. And the rooms are so beautifully large. All the same, it’s a lot of work to take care of them.
Yesterday Miss Cummer brought me a box of candy to eat on the train. Wasn't that dear of her. It made me think of the time you went away and the girls gave you candy.
There is a lot of work to do tomorrow. I packed up your clothes last night, wondering all the time how long it would be before you wore them, and fancying I saw you in them. I miss you when it comes to packing up, as at every other time. I suppose it will make me more self reliant to go to buy my own ticket and plan everything for myself, but all the same, I don't like it.
Goodnight my own darling.
June 25 [En route east]
A pillow isn't the best possible writing case. I'm in bed, and is late but I thought I'd scribble a few lines. I certainly have had a full day I'll tell you all about it tomorrow - I am very tired tonight. We had a regular farewell reception, Lena, Elizabeth, Berta, Roy & Elizabeth, Ira Sheppard and Ruby & Wilfred were all in, and Ruby & Wilfred came down to the train with us. When we got down to 4th St. I remembered that I'd left my watch, so Wilfred went back after it. He had to get the janitor up - who swore, but, anyway he got it.
If I hadn't had so much company, I'd have had a blue fit, for it seemed as if in leaving the suite, I was leaving you. I remembered the day you went away. Oh, I'm not getting used to living without you. I love you so, my own darling.
I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for a kid with black curls to get finished writing, and at last she’s done, just as we are nearing Moose Jaw.
We got up late this and all morning sat out on the back. It was very dirty, but pleasant, so nice and warm that we didn't need any coats. I have noticed so many more things of interest in the prairies than I did before. Wild roses are in bloom along the tracks, and some kind of red and orange flowers in perfect masses, and the blue vetch too. The wheat looks nice and green, but it will have to grow fast to be ripe before the frost comes.
Days like to-day should bring it along. I notice some building going on in the small towns and fine new barns. Mr. Cushing says his business is good, but it’s hard to get lumbermen.
I certainly had my own time getting things done yesterday. In the middle of packing I had to go down to the bank and buy my ticket. I got 80 from the office - until the end of July. From the two motors we sold, I got 195.70. Ray says he hasn’t any record of how much you paid in insurance but thinks you paid out as much as you got in 1914 and that is my impression too.
Will you please let me know just how much you did advance? I gave Mr. Anderson a cheque for 150, so I still owe 450 at the end of three months. A dividend will soon come in, Mr. Taylor says they are paid at the end of the month. I had borrowed a hundred dollars from dad to come home with.
I paid your Canada Life Insurance, so that’s all paid up, and there’s twenty dollars or so in the bank and I have 40 with me. Besides, I have not yet used any of the June government money, so you see dear I am getting along very well. That is why I want you to use the money in the bank and so have enough to get what you want. A letter came from the Royal Colonial Institute I thought you would have paid your membership fee when you were there.
There is a little youngster here who has been screaming with fright, being afraid of a little Teddy Bear a little girl had.
Edna may stay a day and a night in Winnipeg, but I shall stay only the day. This in the Montreal train we are on now, but I’ll get on the Toronto train by staying off in Winnipeg. She will want to go boat from Ft. William anyway, and I don’t, because I want to get down as soon as I can. I have taken my ticket back by boat. Ticket to Beamsville, returning by Owen Sound, with berth as far as Winnipeg, cost me 102.95. That’s a lot of money for a “working goil”, isn’t it?
I have a box here for you, which I will post at Winnipeg. It contains a lot of chocolate, some raisins and dates, a can of tuna fish, some candies and popcorn and some potted meat and some soup cubes, the meat and soup being sent by Mrs. Bell. There is some more of it, but I could not get any more in the box. Wasn’t that kind of her?
Here we are at Moose Jaw. We've been off for a time and had ice cream cones. It is really very warm, but there is a cool breeze. I should not be surprised if it rained.
On the car coming down to the station last night, was Mr. Black. I told him where you’d be on your leave, and he said to give you his kind regards and to say he envied you your trip to Melrose and Dryburgh. His son has recovered from his fractured ankle will soon leave for Petawawa with the battery. So you may see him.
Have you as yet received a letter from Gordon Jones? I had a nice one yesterday from him, in which he said he’d written you - I’ll forward his letter when I’ve read it over again and shown it to Ora. He has had to wait at St. John for some time. He got Clara by telegraph from North Bay and she met him in Montreal for a few hours. It's too bad he didn’t know how long he could stay in St. John.
We’ve been laughing at the two youngsters the little boy is 22 months and the little girl 20 months, and she took it into her head to hug him, where upon he howled at the top of his lungs, which only seemed to increase her ardour. It certainly was funny.
I had a little sleep this afternoon, and dozed off, thinking of you. If you were going to come home with me as you did last time! Yet your love seems all about me. However I shall never be satisfied or really happy, until once more I feel your arms about me.
I’m sorry this paper is so messy and dirty, but I wrote part at home, then it was packed in my bag and under my pillow. I hope you get the box of paper I sent some of it I took from the office, and some of it was Berkeley Heights paper. By the way, I looked at your file re Victoria Square, and you had already written to the men mentioned in the letter you forwarded to me
Where were we three years ago to-day. Let me see. Leaving Killarney for Dublin, weren't we? We got in to Dublin Saturday night and left Tuesday, if I remember correctly. Oh my dear, my dear. It was a lovely honeymoon, but not so happy a one as we'll have when next we take a trip together. Your idea about going to Niagara on our wedding day, and then on to Boston is a fine one. Would that we could carry it out, but it would be a happy ending to a time of sorrow. God grant it may come true.
Your sweetheart and wife.
Fred to Evelyn
June 26 1917
My darling wife, -
I'm afraid we are all becoming a little stale on our work here. For the past week or 10 days nobody seems to have put the same ginger in the work that we formerly did. The pace has slackened a good deal and the men have all grown rather lackadaisical. For example, today was fairly easy during every period and at 3.30 we were dismissed to clean up barracks & billets, so there is no apparent reason why we should all feel languid but such is the case.
Formerly, given such an opportunity, most of the fellows would be down town but this evening scarcely anyone has left the room. All are sitting around on their blankets - a few writing - one or two reading, as many working, while the majority are aimlessly whistling or staring into vacancy.
Still no Canadian mail - except that Armstrong received a belated box which was mailed May 1st. It contained among other things a can of pork & beans and some cookies, a few of the latter were broken but most of them were still entire & they tasted very good.
In 2 more weeks we shall be back in Bramshott, 3 months ago tonight we arrived at Halifax - 3 years ago tonight we first saw Dublin. Do you remember arriving at the station, our meeting the American girls and arranging with them for a cabby - the drive to the Shelburne - and the ride on the train along Grafton & Sackville streets later in the evening? How little we thought then of the plots that were being hatched, or of the seething undercurrent of discontent that later found vent in the rebellion.
I don't know how much news you get of the Sinn Fein movement but as nearly as one can judge from the papers here, the Sinn Fein movement is growing alarmingly fast, and that despite the government's announcement of an Irish convention. Things look ominous and I fear there will yet be a great deal of bloodshed in Ireland - perhaps before many months have passed. Many former Nationalists are now openly espousing the Sinn Fein cause - and "no compromise" appears to be their slogan. Goodness knows what the end will be.
There is a general order proclaiming Dominion Day a holiday for all Canadian troops in Eng. and we have been wondering whether it would be observed here. This p.m. our fears were set at rest by the announcement that as July 1st was Sunday we would be given the whole of next Thursday - ie July 5th instead. It doesn't seem quite the same but as very few would be going out of town anyhow I don't suppose it really matters. I wonder how you will spend the day.
Do you remember July 1st last year? It fell on Sat. and I got my hair clipped short. We worked for a while in the garden and then went to the Coutts' for tea, did we not?
How long it does seem since we lived on Fifth St. Do you know who is there now? If for no other reason our stay in the Romane's house will always be pleasant to dwell upon because while there we became such good friends with the Coutts’s. What true friends they are !
Wed. June 27th
This morning instead of P.T. we had our turn at the swimming bath again. The air & water both were cooler than last time, the water’s temperature being 59°. Many of the boys didn’t go in at all and very few stayed long in the water, though as for myself I didn’t mind the cold a bit. I am warmer blooded than most I think.
We had drill all morning but this p.m. we had 2 lectures during which several men went to sleep. I dozed a couple of times partly because of the uninterestingness of the lecture and partly because I really felt sleepy, notwithstanding went to bed earlier last night than for a long while. We should have had another lecture this evening and were marched up to the Park for it, only to be dismissed after waiting around for nearly half an hour.
Of late I have noticed a marked falling off in bird songs. Swallows & sparrows chirping we hear of course, but the real songsters have been silent. I have been wondering whether it is because the eggs are hatching. Isn't it remarkable how each season has its own peculiar attractions and how one season passes into the next gradually and yet oh so quickly?
Soon the strawberries will be gone and pears & apples will be ripening. From week to week we can see them swell on the trees in the barrack grounds. The potatoes too are growing fast and I see by the papers new potatoes are coming forward freely from the Channel Islands & Kent & Surrey. I dare say it will be a long time however before we taste any. I do hope there are plenty of vegetables ripe while you are east - tomatoes in particular for I think those we get in Calgary don't taste so good as the Ontario tomatoes.
Just think of buying a twelve quart basket of beautiful tomatoes in Beamsville for 15¢ while here miserable little runts are selling for more than 15. per lb.! From the householder’s standpoint Ontario is still pretty hard to beat.
Thurs. evening June 28th.
For several days past examinations in drill have been in progress. I had mine in squad drill today. I don't know how many more there will be although I think that company drill is the only remaining one for oral examination, and I think there are only 2 or 3 written papers. No one is taking the exams very seriously and there is a feeling in the air of uneasiness - waiting for the end. There will be only 7 more working days - & the most strenuous ones are past.
I suppose the Canadian papers are publishing the report on Mesopotamia. It doesn't make pleasant reading and the papers here don't mince matters in advocating punishment of the culpable persons. Of course a few of the papers which have always been after Asquith's(3) scalp say that he should be impeached, although with remarkable inconsistency they haven't a word to say about the other members of his war cabinet committee or about Austen Chamberlain(4) all of whom were equally to blame with him - if any of them are. It looks to me like another case of breakdown of the present military system which practically prevents an inferior officer from making complaints, except through his immediate superior. The army must be democratized if it is to become a really efficient organization.
The weather continues moderately cool although today has been sultry & showery. Haying in this district is in full swing & every night & morning we see belegginged girls & young boys on their way to and from the hay fields. I often think that more might be accomplished by the farmers in Eng. if they would use less inexperienced help and more machinery but it's hard to get them out of the old grooves.
I’d like to smell some new mown clover, but there isn’t any within sight or smell of Hertford barracks. Perhaps you are revelling in the smell of new mown hay near Owen Sound. I hope so.
I hope you have left Calgary in time to be home by July 1st at the latest and that you manage to get to Beamsville while the sweet cherries are ripe. Eat some of them for me dear - and some tomatoes & strawberries & cream too. Ontario is a pretty good part of the world to live in just now isn’t it?
I hope some mail comes tomorrow. Haven't had any since a week ago Monday. Your letters always bring you so much nearer to your
Evelyn to Fred
Canadian Pacific Railway
My Own Darling: -
We're stopping somewhere, but I don't know the name of the place. It's almost two hours ride from Winnipeg, being now nearly eight and I'm certainly going to bed early. Last night we got talking to a man who talked and talked and talked until quite late, and we had to be up at a quarter to seven. I don't suppose that seems very early to you, but I haven't had enough sleep for the last two or three nights.
Amy [Edwards] came down to the train to meet us, [in Winnipeg] but missed, but finally by the kind assistance of the Traveller's Aid, I got her by telephone, and we met at Eaton's while we were having our breakfast. Then the three of us went out to City Park and looked at the scenery and the animals.
We came back to Eaton's for lunch and then Amy had to go to work for a while. Edna [Smith] and I took a jitney ride out through the residential part of the city and then out to another park, and looked around the shops a bit.
After that we went to the Y. for Amy who came downtown again. Edna then met her friend in Winnipeg, and will stay over a day or two. Amy and I had tea and she came down to the station with me, but I’m afraid she got wet, as a thunder storm came up while we were getting on the train.
I have enjoyed my trip very much so for, except for one reason. You know it, for you have travelled alone to places where we have been together. In the dining room at Eaton's, I remembered that we had last been there together. On the train I miss you intensely. We are now getting into the rocky burnt over region. I remember the first time I came over it, with you and Captain Daly and Major Stewart. Do you like to be told you are missed? I do, even if it does raise a lump in my throat.
It has rained all along here and the air is fresh and the sun is now shining. I think I shall go outside until I go to bed. Oh. I am so glad to be away from work. I told Edna I never before knew what holidays were. If only you could have some too. It’s like a half of one’s self having a good time isn’t it? If only we could have any reasonable grounds for hoping that next year would be different.
I meant to tell you about the man to whom we were talking last night. He started at the dinner table. He is a shoe man from Vancouver, Mr. Henderson, and used to live in Winchester. He knew a girl in Vancouver whom we know. His wife’s father is a Methodist minister so at once we felt a bond. He was on a buying trip down East. It seems that they make very good boots and shoes at Kitchener. Did you know?
He was showing his Canadian passport. It contains a great deal of information - his weight, height, colour of eyes, business, name of 4 business men known to the authorities, and picture. The U.S. passport is less bulky, but contains the same information.
I liked the trees and lawns in Winnipeg. Calgary did seem bare in comparison. One has to have imagination and optimism to think of it as a beautiful city. It was laid out on a narrow minded plan, wasn’t it, such narrow streets, when there was all the room of the prairies. I just looked out the window and saw a few yellow water lilies.
I wonder if anything is happening to you, I feel so depressed tonight. Perhaps it is not having anybody to talk with, but maybe also it's because I'm tired.
Lottie Middlebrook, who was in my year, got on the train at Winnipeg. She has been teaching at the Dauphin and lived with Lottie Leonard, who is now in Moose Jaw. She however has a sick sister from Victoria, and three youngsters, with the aid of her brother-in law, to look after. I forgot to tell you that Muriel and Edna Davieson came down to the train to see us at Maple Creek. We got there about noon yesterday. It was election day, and the government was sustained.
I hope you are getting the Globe You should have got a big bundle at the time you got the bunch of letters, I should think. I think you will be pleased with the Globe editorials, but what do you think of Sir Wilfrid's attitude? Amy Edwards says the F.C's [French Canadians] wouldn't make decent soldiers any way, they're so degenerate physically and mentally. Her year in Quebec makes her say that the church is at the bottom of the trouble. She says they have such huge families and live so poorly that they can't be strong physically.
Do you really enjoy my letters. They seem to me so choppy and wooden but if they bring half the pleasure to you that yours do to me they will be worth while many times over. I think now I'll go outside for a time.
My Own Darling:-
I went to bed last night about eight nine o’clock, and didn’t get up until after eight this morning, so you see I had a good long rest. This morning I got talking to a very dark woman who had been on the train from Calgary to Winnipeg. She has just completed a five month’s trip to China and Japan. Her hair is beginning to get gray [sic] and I don’t know how old she is, but we have become quite well acquainted. She is a college grad - has taught for a few years, and then has taken care of an invalid father and mother, who have both died. I think it’s sad for a girl to be left like that. ...
I hope you will be able to read this, it is so hard to write decently.
I wonder what you are doing now. I feel so out-of-touch with you when I'm where I can get a letter. There may be one get to Hamilton almost as soon as I do because you see I stayed the day in Winnipeg and so expect to stay tomorrow - Friday night, in Toronto.
We have now come out of the Thunder Bay rugged region, and reached a quieter region, with lovely lakes and dainty white birch trees. Aren't they the dear lovely fluttering things.
When you come home, I want us to have holiday in Muskoka.
Oh my own darling, when I go to sleep I seem to fall asleep near you. Ours, I was thinking to-day, is the most beautiful thing that has come into our lives; therefore we should cherish and care for it.
Your own wife.
I’m afraid this envelope will not carry any more, so I’ll put tomorrow’s in another.
Evelyn to Fred
My Dear One:-
This is Friday evening, and such a calm peaceful evening it is. There are robins singing in the trees, maple trees too, I think they are, or maybe elms, I can’t see them from where I’m sitting but there are maples in front of the house.
I stayed off in Toronto between trains, but nobody was home, at least Edith [Adams] wasn't, being in Denver on her holidays. I was glad to get out of Toronto, it was too filled with memories of those no longer there. I came down Yonge Street and passed a couple shops where we bought flowers and candy four years ago when we went over to Toronto one day.
I got off in Hamilton to stay overnight. I may go down to Beamsville tomorrow for my best clothes. Then I'll come back here and stay for a few days while Ora and Elleda are here. Honestly, I was too lonesome to go down tonight, and of course they did not know exactly when I was coming, because I didn't know myself when I was going to arrive. I hope they'll think my arrangements are all right, but I wanted to come here while the girls were here. At present we are composing a personal for the Spectator. I’ll send you a copy of it as soon as Elleda has it finished, if she’ll let me see it.
Here we stopped, because Laura [Wright] came to call. We went for a stroll up to the drug store, and down to her home, which is near here. She says she feels as if she'll lose her personality, she is so much an "adjunct." Her mother doesn't see why Elmer needed to go, which makes it so much harder for her. She will be more happy when she gets busy at something.
Going down the street, in front of a house was a huge Union Jack on one side and the Stars and Stripes the same size on the other. Elleda said, "See our flags." I said "The first one." She said "No. Our flags," and then went on "you'll feel very differently in a year." I said, "Maybe." But nobody, I shouldn't say that, but few people can rouse me on that subject.
If the U.S. is going to be the saving factor now, it would have been years ago, and their cause of war is no greater, (only an aggravation or accumulation of offences) than when the Lusitania was sunk. Many thousands, maybe millions of lives have been lost since then, which, if they are to save the situation, might have been saved by them. However, there's no use being too harshly critical, and in this case, the wisest thing for me is not to be drawn into discussing the subject.
I miss you so my sweetheart if you want to know it. It's just an ache that will never be satisfied, until once more you hold me in your arms. Goodnight. We were going to London a year ago tonight, weren't we.
We have had the loveliest day - only - I sort of feel empty without you. If only I had a camera, I could at least send you pictures of the lovely spots we have been. They go out for lunch here, so there's not much work to do. We did a little shopping afterward, then came home, poked around and went to meet a train.
From there we went up on the mountain, which was perfectly lovely, and went along a road at the top of the mountain, and came down the Red Hill into Stoney Creek and down to the Beach where we had our supper. I made a fire while Ora and Elleda got the supper ready, and we made toast on the coals. It was lovely down by the lake, so calm and still. Some men were fishing in a boat a little way from shore, catching nothing but very small fish.
Had a letter from mother to-day, and she can get a cottage at Sauble Beach from the 9th of July until the 1st of August. So I think we'll go to Owen Sound a week from Monday, the 9th. We are going to ask Margaret and Mae to go up with us. I hope Margaret will be able to go. Then in August daddy will motor us down, and I will be at your place again for a while.
Every once in a while I get quite excited about it, and think what a lovely time we'll have, and then I think of you, and where you are, and my heart is saddened. I know what people mean when they say the joy has gone out of life. Yet it has not wholly, don't think I mean that, but I know that I don't get all the joy I might out of life, because you are not near.
They have a little patch of strawberries here, which is just bearing, and such beautiful luscious fruit it is. We saw some fields of grain to-day, well in head, that looked as if it would not be long before they turned yellow. The country is beautiful now; there has been so much grain that everything is green.
I wonder if you are getting the Globe. Really, the government is so dilatory. Tonight's paper speaks as if there might be a general election before the conscriptive measure is brought in. And what should we do if the party were beaten on that measure? Why can't they think of the country and not politics.
Laura said Elmer was talking to Reg Stewart who said there was every reason to suppose you would soon get a commission. I don't know whether I want you to have one or not, not if you'll be in any more danger. Dear, could I get you a leather coat made, and could you wear it? Under your tunic?
You will probably know before you get this that Elmer [Wright] is at Bramshott.
Our Owen Sound address is 1072 Third Ave. W. I'm to be away until the 23rd of August.
Your own loving wife.
1. Alix - town near Red Deer, Alberta.
2. Sir Wilfrid Laurier refused to join Borden in a national government during the issue of conscription in June 1917.
3. Herbert H. Asquith. 1852-1928. British Prime Minister, 1908-1916.
4. Austen Chamberlain. 1863-1937. Held several key positions in the British cabinet. Secretary of State for India, 1915-1917.