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  • Writer's pictureJan Redford

Isobel Climbs a Fifty Foot Flag Pole! July 1 - July 6, 1915

Thursday, July 1, 1915 After tea

It has been such a perfect day that I had to change my opinion of the ice and rejoice that I had the opportunity of seeing it. It cleared up during the morning session and the sun so warmed the air that we had to put out the fire I had had Cyril build in the school.

Cyril Barney

I walked this afternoon to the hill over Schooner Cove. If only half of the pictures I took of the ice come out, I shall be lucky. I couldn’t resist the beautiful reflections and the queer shapes – a witch’s hat atilt; a trap-boat, sail bellied by the wind; a rustic bridge, water gliding over the rocks beneath – these were only some of the strange and fantastic things I saw.

The ice stretches from shore to shore of the Straits – here eleven miles wide, but it is but loosely packed and in the middle is a broad land of open water where the ice is floating free. When I started, after school, I could see the shores of Newfoundland quite plainly, after a bit they were blotted out by a little gathering of fog, then as the sun sank lower and lower he seemed by some invisible power to draw up the curtain of fog till as I neared home the first wisps were driving across the headlands. Now we are in the middle of its opaque greyness.

I had two new patients to-day. Mr. Belbon has sores from fish-hooks – horrid looking things. Mrs. Barney is in bed with a bad feverish cold as I take it. She is suffering “dreadful; wunnerful pains in my stomach” and she points to her chest. If these people have any pain at all it’s always in their stomach. Last night George Babcock, carrying a heavy load, fell and strained his stomach. Do you think I know anything about these cases? Neither do I, but my patients do.

Mrs. George Barney

Saturday morning at Sister’s

Such an eventful day yesterday was. Marion Linstead, Mrs. Babstock and I started off for Forteau at two o’clock. I wanted to make the Lighthouse for half-past three and it was a hard struggle. I had started with a valise that I thought contained only necessities and it was frightfully heavy; and I was warmly clad, but up there on the heights we got none of the cool winds of the ice and the sun beat down with terrible force. Then too I had to leave the others and run the last part of the way and even so I was two minutes late. Disgusting! Well, I got washed and cooled off at the Light. Jack showed me the little baby calves, darling glossy little things. And Bob dared me to climb the fifty feet of rope-ladder up the flag pole. I stung him because I did, and stood on the cross bar at the top and shouted to he and Geoff pointing to the top part of the Lighthouse.

The Wyatts came with us most of the way to L’Anse Amour carrying that bothersome valise. At L’Anse Amour the ice was free of the shore and Mr. Doane, a fur man, said that he would take us as far as he could in his funny old launch if we would wait till after tea. The others were anxious for the motor-ride, an unprecedented event in their lives, and I was glad I had waited, though it did waste our time because we had such fun.

Isobel's first time in a dory (with Marion Linstead? Mrs. Babstock? Mr. Doane?)

The ice closed in again round Crow Head so they poled the launch close to shore, then Mr. Doane jumped out, and one of the boys, and made a bridge of stones into the rocks exposed by the tide. I got over safely but Marion – the whole trip was worth-while just to see her flounder and trip on the tippy stones and finally in a panic to plunge through the water and land with a final splash on the rock near me. She is the most awkward creature. Rather fortunate that she is good-natured for we all roared. The walk to English Point was fun for me, because I jumped from rock to rock quite sportively. Mrs. Babstock had the valise. It was free enough at the bay there for some men to row us across to Buckle’s Point. It was my first trip in a dory. The tippiness satisfied even me but I wasn’t afraid because Mrs. Wakefield says they never really go over. It wasn’t long from Buckle’s Point to Forteau and I burst in on Sister Baily at nine o’clock. You know Sister is not very demonstrative and first I felt as if I were not welcome, but I got over the feeling. We talked till twelve o’clock. Wasn’t I tired! I hope to come by myself next time then there won’t be innumerable stops to visit friends and long waits while Teacher plays the organ. It is funny how many organs these poor people have and no one can play them except occasional souls like myself. They most all twiddle with the accordion though and are really fond of music.

The Meigle came in last night and lay to till day-break, by that time the ice had moved sufficiently for her to land the mail. I wonder if she got in at L’Anse au Loup. I would not have come here had I thought she had any chance of doing that, but anyway it’s an exciting pleasure to look forward to on Monday.

We are having such glorious weather! To-day from my windows seems just as nice. I am lazily writing in bed. Last night the bay was a picture. A glorious moon and Venus turned the waters past the ice into a shimmering wonder, nearer lay the black shadow of the Meigle, one red light and five yellow ones, and then the ice, in fantastic shapes and shadows silvered here and there on shining surface and heaving gently as the wind moved it. But I think the dress of opalescent hues the bay wore a few hours earlier was more beautiful and certainly more dainty. It reminded me of hepaticas and Luna moths and ethereal things like that. And all that changed it from the crisp white and blue checked gingham dress of the afternoon was the setting sun. What a wonderful artist light is.

Sunday morning in bed

How blissful it is to lazily lie in bed. I just revel in being lazy. I don’t know how the weather is going to be to-day as it is foggy yet. I hope it will be fine.

Sister and I spent a quiet day yesterday. We did a little visiting, a little reading and writing and a good deal of talking. At night we developed and printed. Of my two dozen exposures, eighteen turned out fairly well, the two I could not turn were of course blanks, two I did not place well and two were overlapping. I am anxious to have them printed to see if they will be good enough for slides.

Sister gave me lots of good advice yesterday. I told her of how Parson Richards had made me feel that I was under him and so had got my consent to an English Church Service. Sister says it is all rubbish, to have my organ at Mrs. Linstead’s and to have an undenominational meeting on Sunday nights. I will conduct the confirmation class for him and the Sunday School in the schoolroom. Sister also told me not to help the people in a medical way at all because they are in her district and they ought to send word to her. She knows all about them and their peccadilloes. I don't, and they would take me in every time. They are awful liars on this coast you know. I’m so glad I have Sister to advise me for I know so little and these people are the dickens to understand. I shall go back to Loup with a still clearer idea of what I ought to do.

Parson Richards won’t call me a gracious young lady next time he sees me.

This is possibly Parson Richards but there's no caption on the photo

Monday, July 5, 1915

I have just arrived back in Loup- too late for morning school. Bob drove me to Schooner Cove then we walked the rest of the way. I had a nice visit at the Light. We sang hymns till quite late and then the girls told me innumerable tales of the funny people on this coast. I was in fits of laughter over it all. But I had a still nicer time on my way over. Jack James took me across in his sail-boat to Crow Head. The ice blocked any further progress. We sailed before the wind and Jack let me manage her. Gee it was great. The nearer we got to the bank of fog by Crow Head the colder it got. Soon my hands were almost numb. We landed on a ledge of rock – ice blocks all around – only to find that the tide had isolated our landing place. They started to try and push the boat in among the ice to the next rock, but I said to get out the long oars they have and I could walk across to the rock on them. Two oars made a splendid bridge and I got safely on dry land. One of the Ryland brothers coming with me had water tight boots so he was all right. It was fun watching her get off, the ice was crashing and pounding all around her and she needed careful maneuvering.

The Ryland man carried my valise almost to L’Anse Amour then he struck off over the hills for home. I never had such hard walking. Desolate sand dunes stretched for a couple of miles by the shore and it seemed as if for every two steps you took you lost one. It was far worse than jumping from rock to rock as we had to do on the first part of our journey. Just wasn’t I glad to reach L’Anse Amour, and to find the Wyatts there. I hadn’t to bother with that wretched valise anymore and they made me feel so very welcome.

It is very disappointing but the Meigle couldn’t get in here for ice on her way to Battle and then she got stuck with fog and ice in Chateau. She left there early this morning and now I am waiting in fear and trembling, lest being so late she should pass Loup on her return trip too. I think the fog is clearing. I do hope she gets here soon. I am crazy, just crazy for letters.


No sign of the Meigle yet. It is so bothersome because I can’t seem to settle down. Always waiting – waiting. When will this fog lift. Bob Wyatt says that July is the foggiest month here so maybe it will be ages more before it lifts. I think I shall just pretend I have had it and make it up to suit myself.

Tuesday, July 6, 1915

Fog, fog, fog, nothing but fog. Oh when will it go.

Noon hour

It is pouring rain. But I rather like it, at least it is a change from the monotony of fog. It is the first time it has rained where I have happened to be since I left Montreal. The children were perfect little villains this morning and I had a hard time with them. But there were some nice things such as Leo presenting me with a dozen little trout he had caught. And how can you be cross with a little girl who puts up her arms and says, “Kiss me, my ‘cool-teache.’” They are darlings.

The people think that the Meigle has crossed right over, so both my mail and provisions are delayed till her next rip. This is better than waiting anyway, but I hope she reaches us on time next journey, or I shall really expire.

I had some Alexander and dry boiled peas for dinner. Where in the world did they get the name Alexander. It is a leaf and is cooked like spinach, so are dandylion and dock-weed. I had them at Sister’s. Dock-leaf is the nicest of the three. I shall get Mrs. Linstead to cook me some. For dessert I had a kind of pudding made of flour, grease, water and raisins. It was heavy, but I chewed it well and picked all the raisin seeds out. I am hungry enough to eat anything.

After supper

The trout Leo gave me were simply luscious. I had eight for supper. That sounds greedy but they were only tiny, truly.

Leo and Lawrence O'Brien and Cyril Barney

I wish the little Linsteads were not so dull. I tried to teach Lill and Winnie Esther their alphabet this afternoon, but I don’t think they remember any of it. You spend five minutes hammering into their heads the difference between e and f and one minute later they are hopelessly muddled. There is nothing for that infant class but a pounding policy. If I leave them at the end of their summer sure of the alphabet, I shall consider it a triumph.

Do you know I often wonder at the number of splendid healthy looking children of between three and eleven. Most of them are really pretty. The explanation is simple of course; under three they get no fresh air for fear they should catch cold; over eleven they have to work so hard that all their healthy colour fades and they get stooped and misshapen. It all makes me so futilely angry.

This afternoon a fleet of Newfoundland fishing-smacks sailed into the bay for anchorage. Their ghostly shapes gliding, as if guided by some uncanny hand, from the enveloping fog; brought to my mind thoughts of the Flying Dutchman or the ghostly ship which bore the Ancient Mariner. Little shivers ran up and down my back.

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1 Comment

Natasha Gordon
Natasha Gordon
Feb 07, 2018

More information about the Meigle....

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