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  • Writer's pictureJan Redford

The Udells, A funeral for a twin, Isobel gets seasick -July 14 - July 23, 1915

Wednesday, July 14, 1915

It was awfully funny while I was at breakfast this morning. Some of the children were straggling into school, in the middle were Rolland, eleven, and Mary, nine. Rolland had his arm about Mary and even as I looked he kissed her. The size of the kids! Rolland is a dear boy but very ugly. His mouth looks exactly like a baby robin’s bill. Mary is a fair-haired, blue-eyed, freckled little lady. They looked rather like Beauty and the Beast.

The flies were dreadful in school to-day and I couldn’t blame the children for being restless. But fresh air and flies are better than stale air and stupid children so I left the windows open.

Mrs. Linstead has been telling me tales of ship-wreck, and bemoaning the good old days when anything that came on shore was kept by the people. In Red Bay, she says, is a house entirely papered with papers of pins. Isn’t that killing. She feels somehow defrauded that nowadays the salvage crews do their work so well. No longer does a wreck mean a years’ provisions, or cloth to last for a life-time. It is rather sad from her point of view.

Thursday, July 15

Half of July gone. How nicely time does fly!

I held my first sewing class for the girls to-day. The boys wanted to come too and were quite offended at being left out. As Rolland said, “Little boys can sew as well as little girls. I can sew as good as Mary.” However, including them would have meant a rumpus so I didn’t. By ransacking the whole village the seven girls of the sewing class managed to get a thimble, a needle, and a pair of scissors each. The needles were rusty or too thick, their mother’s thimbles fell off their little fingers and the scissors were blunt. However I had needles enough and to spare and we managed all right. They certainly need instruction in sewing though, so I shall have two classes a week. We are doing samplers now and I tell them tales of how their Grandmothers used to make them when they were little girls.

I had such a hilarious time to-night. After supper I was playing the organ and soon the two windows were crowded with my little boys. When I was playing some jiggly music to catch their fancy, Rolland started dancing so I got my mouth organ and played all sorts of jigs. What fun it was watching their feet go. I could hardly restrain my laughter enough to go on playing. By and by some older boys came and I had a sample of their square dances. By this time nearly all the boys and young men of Loup were around so I brought out a base-ball and bat and started a game. It soon passed beyond me, they knew nothing whatever of the rules, but they could bat the ball, and bat it they did. Mrs. Linstead was weeding the garden in the direct line of fire. She said she felt as if the Germans were on her. And well she might for the ball was knocked to pieces and each man grabbed a bat at the end. I was thankful the ball lasted while the daylight did.

After the game I asked Violet* to come for a walk with me. I was glad I had for we had such a nice talk. I feel so sorry for the poor child. She hasn’t a friend – there is no one of her age in L’Anse au Loup she says – and it is nothing but grind from morning till night with her. However she loves working so it isn’t so bad. She is such a reserved little person and this was my first advance into her confidence. She puts me in mind of a scared deer. I almost feel as if I would have to tame her.

* Violet Linstead would have been 12 years old in 1915. She died January 15, 1916 of Diphtheria.

I think these are Linstead girls but I'm not sure. Winnifred would have been 5, and Lillian would have been 7, and these girls look a bit younger than that.

Friday, July 16, 1915

No one could imagine what huskies howling at night sound like, unless they had actually heard them. Lying out in my tent I hear them start at the end of the village, then in a crescendo of yowls, barks, groans, growls, whines, howls, sweep by to an ear-splitting climax at the other end. Then suddenly absolute stillness, then a low whining moan and they are off again. There is an eerie quality in their howls too that makes you lie awake in strained attention. Sometimes I have to laugh it is so weird. Especially when our dogs join in almost under my head.

More than usually numerous were the offerings to-day – lovely trout from Leo, scent-bottles (?) (a beautifully scented very pretty white flower) that Cyril had to walk past the Spring Brook to pick, flowers of all sorts from the girls, berries from Stanford and Rolland, a little bouquet of house-flowers, arranged on a geranium leaf very tastefully, from Mrs. Cabot, a shell from Ruby O’Brien. Dear of them all and I appreciated them, I think.

My second lecture to the women came off all right. Mrs. Barney’s clock had stopped and she arrived at the end instead of the beginning. My tooth-brush drill is having effect, for six of the mothers brought extra tooth-brushes. I was pleased.

We had some more base-ball to-night and another ball met a premature end. I have only four left, which is very sad.

Saturday, July 17, 1915 stamps 70

The bay presents a very animated scene just now. Mr. Udell and Mr. Baggs, traders, sailed in this afternoon. It is rough and all the little boats tied to the sides of Mr. Udell’s schooner, are bobbing up and down. Other little boats with bat’s wing sails, steered by a sculler balancing in the stern, are bouncing to and from the shore. Mr. Baggs is a hard trader and his vessel is almost deserted. Both ships are white. One has a French flag at her mast head. I wonder why. The people are certainly glad that the traders are here, for provisions are very low and half of them have no boots to their feet. I think they are silly to be so dependent on the traders when they could as easily and more cheaply – send to St. John’s. But the one is their custom and the other would be an unknown venture. And so it is; they have no initiative. If I get the opportunity I shall speak to Mr. Udell about getting whole wheat flour to sell the people and other things too, such as prunes.

This is a photo of a photo I took in Sept 2017 of one of the Udell brothers, Jack (the married one) that is displayed at the Grenfell House in St. Anthony.

Mr. Hunt is here again so I was able to write to-day instead of preparing my Sunday Services. Still another respite. I had a long conversation with Mr. Hunt a short while ago. He is certainly nice, but an irredeemable coward. That spoils him utterly.

Sunday, July 18

I spent such a nice evening to-night. I went into the kitchen thinking maybe the Linsteads would like to have some hymns. The Mr. Udells were there and some of the other men off the schooner. They all came in and we sang hymns till ten o’clock. It was a real pleasure, because they knew lots of hymns and were not afraid to ask for them. The two Mr. Udells and one of the hands who has been sailing for fifteen years in all parts of the world, lingered longer and we had a very interesting conversation on various topics, of course including the war. To-morrow I shall board the vessel and see over her.

Bob was here this afternoon too. He had lots to say. He and Jeff had had an exciting voyage to Blanc Sablon. He said they thought often of how I would have enjoyed it. The Lighthouse ship is expected this week. Bob is going to ride to Schooner Cove Hill and hoist two flags on the mast there as a signal to me. She only stays about four hours, and I am very keen to see her.

We had services morning and afternoon – rather enjoyable. Of course, I had to lead the singing.

It is clearing now with a westerly wind. All day it poured rain. I felt rather desolate and alone. But God sent the visitors to drive away thoughts of self. Now I am more happy.

12 PM

I have just been having a lovely time. If Mrs. Linstead could have seen me perched on the top of her kitchen roof she would have thought I was crazy. For that is what I was doing. I really meant to go to bed an hour ago but I just happened to poke my head out of the window and I saw the glorious stars and – well I just couldn’t resist it. There is a ladder past my tent platform up to the roof and I clambered up and found a damp seat near the chimney – all the sleeping world beneath me and all the stars above. How gloriously wonderful it was. I sat and traced out my darling constellations and made up for the neglect of months. The Northern Lights were tingeing the horizon with ethereal green and by their soft radiance I could see the mist hanging solidly above the little river, winding its way back into the hills. I could hear the ceaseless murmur of the ocean and think untroubled by petty cares, of God’s marvelous greatness. Do you know I think such a sweet half hour is very precious. Nothing is more healing than communing with our Father, through Nature. At least it is so with me. And now I am happy again, truly happy.

I have this photo on an earlier post but wanted to show the ladders my grandmother climbed


Another nice, full day. I examined the whole school in everything they had done since I came. I got some very funny compositions, which I must keep. As a whole the results were disappointing, but now I can direct them to better advantage. After school I had to take some pictures for the Barney’s and then I went for a glorious scramble through bog and briars towards The Battery. I sat on a rock in the midst of a rushing brook and let the sun warm my face and the wind cool my back. I picked all sorts of flowers and heard all sorts of birds. I let the joy of the day sink into me and felt it coursing through my veins.

The Barney Family - Cyril and his sister? and George Barney. Does anyone know what Mrs. Barney's first name and maiden name were?

The little Ryland baby boy really died to-day. (On Saturday they had the blinds pulled down for two hours, then it came to life again). So on my way home I picked all the scent-bottles I could find. Mrs. Linstead gave me some copper wire and I made a tiny wreath of the lovely pure, sweet-smelling blossoms and laid it on ferns. I tied my card to it with white ribbon and a little message of sympathy, and sent it over by Will. Poor tiny baby! It is better off now.

A peculiar combination of sun and fog this morning, made the bay look like Alice-blue silk shot with silver. Does Mother Ocean never exhaust her summer wardrobe?

I spent about half an hour throwing caplin back into the sea to-night. The waves of the ebbing tide threw them into the crannies in the rocks or left them wriggling on the sand. And they were being stranded by the hundreds. But it was too hopeless a task, the silly things would come swimming back and get caught.

To look at the four or five inches of twisted ugliness on the fish-flake you would never imagine that alive the caplin was such a pretty fish. It’s back is dark green with little lights and glimmers. Its sides are silvery and iridescently pink. A wave alive with caplin is a wonderful sight, especially as it breaks, and turns to shimmering silver.

As I write at my open window all the boys of the village are around. They came to hear me play or to get balls or to show off. Some of them are talking to me as I write. They are playing tricks now and having all sorts of fun. One was just pretending to be a whistler round the corner of the house. I enjoy them all like anything. Ronald had a new pair of rubber boots, and looks too cute.

Mr. Ryland met me at the school-house this morning and asked me to make a name plate for the little dead baby. Mrs. Linstead told me what it was, so I cut out a little heart of one of my white pad covers and wrote on it the baby’s name and date of birth and death. The funeral palled just before tea, a pitiful procession, the little coffin carried by the brother and all the relatives following with white streamers round their arms.

(The boys are sitting on the fish flakes now, and singing the Kaiser’s Dream)

To-day was gloriously bright, a splendid day for snap-shooting. I took about a dozen pictures. I do hope they come out as well as I want them to.

I did not go on board the Albert M. because the Udells sent in word that they were tidying her up for my reception to-morrow. They are going to run me out in their little launch to the Battery too, which will be awfully nice.

Wednesday, July 21, 1915

I know what it is like to be sea-sick now for I experienced the feeling this afternoon. This bay is an open one and the east wind was sending huge rollers into the harbor. It was good fun being rowed out to the Albert Moulton and coming down kerplunk on each wave; it was more fun climbing up her sides when the rope-ladder broke, but the experience of being sea-sick, as an experience, was more fun still. I felt fine on deck, though the bow-sprit was making wild plunges. Mr. Udell showed me all around, even the hold and the cook’s galley, and explained everything. He told me all about the different sails and their ropes and taught me their names. I should have loved above everything to climb the rope ladders but I bethought me of my dignity and did not even ask. The cabin was very interesting and the things they had for sale still more interesting, as evidences of the people’s taste. The same room was also sleeping and dining-room.

Very shortly, in it's the close atmosphere, I began to feel squeamish and went up on deck. Once there in the racing wind it did not take me long to feel alright again. So when Mr. Udell asked Marion and I to stay for supper I very eagerly accepted. Partly because it would be such fun and partly because I thought it would be a good test of my land-lubber propensities. Well it was. I had to make a hurried climb for the deck. When I came back I felt fine and sat and talked there for two hours. I saw their charts and their ship’s log and heard such interesting things. Then we came on deck and saw the lingering traces of a glorious sun-set. We got into their motor-boat – just an engine stuck in a trap-boat – and I piloted her past the little boats, and the trawling anchors, and the floating bits of ice into the Linstead’s stage. It was a most pleasant evening.

L'Anse au Loup and the Stage

Seasickness, if it never attacks me in a more aggravated form, I shan’t mind very much, for I did not get the least bit dizzy and it was quickly over. I find excuses for myself that even on shore in the same stuffiness I should feel horrid, but all the same I was disgusted with my lack of will-power.

Now I must go and drink the cocoa Mrs. Linstead has prepared. I am ravenously hungry. I shall sit by the kitchen fire and talk with them all – talks I really enjoy now as I get accustomed to the heat and close atmosphere and to the queer language.

Thursday, July 22, 1915

Mr. Will Udell – the unmarried one take note – came to call this evening. I really enjoyed the visit for I found out lots about fishing and sailing and Newfoundland. I asked him all the questions I had been saving up and really learnt a lot. Before him I had quite a visit from Mrs. Barney, the aunt of the cast-the-eye-heavenwards one. I really enjoyed her. She has a great streak of humour. Next Tuesday is her birthday she says and she is going to invite me for tea. Now what shall I give her? I think a broach would be very nice. She will be sixty-two, but you would never have guessed it.

The Linsteads teased me about Mr. Udell after he had gone. It was really quite funny. I like Mr. Linstead ever so much now. He says “Yes Mam,” to Mrs. Linstead when she tells him to do anything with such good humoured ‘you are the lord and master’ air. And he will show or explain anything to me. It has been lovely here all day, though at Point Amour the fog-horn has been blowing almost constantly. It is strange how that spot always seems to attract the fog. No flags up at Schooner Cover hill yet. I wonder when the Government boat is coming.

I've posted this photo before but it fits better here- John (Jack) Linstead and George Barney.

The same photo is posted in Labrador Gallery with the caption "Herbert Ryland and George Barney, 1930," but Vernon Buckle and I have figured that my grandmother probably sent this photo to the community and the contributor, Alfrieda Normore, put the wrong caption. The ages of the men fit with 1915. If anyone has an updated theory, let us know!


Dr. Grenfell was at Forteau yesterday, so we may expect him at any time. I am longing to see him and board the Strathcona and yet I am half afraid. I hope he will find no fault with me. I hope he doesn’t come to watch me teach – that would be disconcerting, for my methods are unusual to say the least.

There is a clear cold moon outside but I wish she would hurry and retire, we have so few clear evenings and I want to look at the stars.

Both my flash-light batteries, though kept inside, have been spoilt by the dampness of the air. And I have therefore had no use whatsoever for my flash-light. And often I miss it sorely. Oh dear, such a soul-satisfying yawn – I guess I can’t wait for the moon to precede me. No, I really can’t for here is another yaaaawn. (tongue slightly protruding)

Friday, June 23, 1915

The ocean to-night is lovely. She wears a dress of striped blue lawn and looks as if all the little boats in the world could safely rest on her ample bosom and be lulled to sleep. Newfoundland’s distant shore is faintly mauve, above is a cloud bank tinted with pink and above that still, in the pale blue sky is hung the yellowing moon.

To-day has been beautifully warm. The people found it hot, but to me it was just right. The flies are bad though.

This afternoon after the final lecture I examined the women. I received some very amusing answers. Mrs. Barney with sixty years of experience behind her answered the best. Julianne and Marion, who have all their life before them and would therefore benefit most by my advice, remembered but little of it. Such scatter-brains! I am going to take them in hand by themselves though. And Marion has promised to buy a tooth-brush. Each woman admitted that what I said was true but I’ll wager none of them will change their habits. However as one repetition of what they are now constantly hearing it will do its part in the long run.

This time last year a beautiful evening like this would have made me long intangibly for I know not what, with an aching intensity. Now it makes me happier than ever.

Oh there is a disgustingly greedy husky up on the fish flake after the caplin. How did it get up!


Mrs. Linstead and I boarded still another trader to-night. She was a smaller and dirtier boat than the Albert M. and the trader himself was cheeky. Called Mrs. Linstead “Mother” and me “Sister” and made several facetious remarks. The was so still going out that we could see the smooth sandy bottom through its green-blue depths, even at six fathoms. When I came back, Violet and I went for a walk past the grave-yards. She told me that she is studying by herself in her spare moments so we are going to have an hour at it together after supper each night. We say the light of Flower’s Cove Lighthouse on the other side of the Straits and at first mistook it for the Meigle. It was exciting, that thought, for a while.

As a result of my note to Mrs. Ryland, Rebecca is not allowed to come to my school any longer. It is a shame, but can’t be helped.

The path of the moon, now, looks as if Midas had taken up his pencil and scratched across the bay. The waves breaking, sound for all the world like a passing train. I wish I were not so sleepy, for it is a most glorious night. It seems sheer waster to spend it sleeping.

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